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Let your Heart Walk

Recipient: ivylady
Author: winoniel
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: ~20,000
Warning(s): * bottom!snape; mpreg *
Prompt/Summary: The Wizarding world is in trouble and only Harry and Severus can save them with a ritual that requires they make the ultimate sacrifice.
A/N: Dearest ivylady , I couldn’t manage to fit all of your kinks in, but I tried to incorporate those that would fit with your prompt. It was fun to write, so I hope you enjoy it. My sincere thanks go out for the efforts of my betas, blaines09 and the incomparable <eeyore9990 and the patience of the snarry_swap mods!

Let your Heart Walk

“Making the decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” ~Elizabeth Stone

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Harry! It’s so great to see you!” spoke a bundle of brown, bushy hair atop a pair of arms that were currently squeezing the breath out of Harry.

“Hermione! Give the man a chance to breathe!” Ron grinned, coming up to the door and pulling his wife away.

“Hullo, Hermione, Ron. It’s great to see you both,” Harry said, giving them both big hugs. He dropped his bags, lifting his voice. “So, where are my darling godchildren?”

“Uncle Harry!”

“Uncle Harry!”

Rose and Hugo, five and three years of age, respectively, ran to Harry to be swept up into his arms. After much tickling, kissing, and laughter, he turned to his oldest friends. “I’ve really missed all of you so much,” he sighed.

“You could see us much more often, if you really wanted, Harry James Potter! Why must you live so far away?” Molly Weasley said, bustling into the room and giving him a big hug.

Harry shook his head ruefully. The Weasley matriarch would never change. She wanted her family around her, no matter what the circumstances. That scenario, however much he loved her and the rest of the Weasleys, would never include Harry.

After his defeat of Voldemort, he had rushed back to the Shrieking Shack where he had left Severus Snape with a bezoar down his throat, and a crude bandage stanching the flow of blood from his neck. Within 72 hours, he had shown the Wizengamot Snape’s memories, had testified on behalf of the misanthropic spy, and had copies of the official exoneration published in the most-read wizarding papers.

Harry Potter had made a contingency plan in the extremely unlikely event that he’d been victorious over Voldemort. Cleaning the living room at the Dursleys’ the summer after his fifth year, he had caught glimpses of a travelogue on the telly when Dudley had fallen asleep. It showed the Olympic Peninsula in the United States, and the unspoiled lakes and rivers, the tall stands of ancient trees, and the towering mountains had captured his imagination. What had most impressed him, though, had been the miles upon miles of land uninhabited by people.

Within 120 hours of his defeat of Voldemort, Harry had all of his funds transferred to the Seattle branch of Gringotts, made his goodbyes to everyone with whom he’d grown close, and left the wizarding world forever, or so he’d thought. He’d set himself up in a former hunting lodge outside the small town of Sequim, WA, and began reading.

The teen had felt as if he knew nothing of the Muggle world, which was true. The Dursleys had kept him so isolated that he’d experienced very little of Muggle life. Well, any life, actually. Even once he’d discovered the wizarding world, he had found himself often isolated from that as well.

Harry had read all the subjects he’d missed by not attending Muggle schools, only coming out of his lodge to hike the mountains, sail his small boat, Bay Rover, around the Dungeness and Sequim Bays and the Puget Sound, and to eat in the many fantastic restaurants dotting the Peninsula. After discerning an ‘inner scholar’ in himself, he found himself rereading the many books he’d only read enough to get by in his Hogwarts schooling. Upon finally getting a decent sense of the content of his schoolbooks, he’d been interested enough to look up a number of other books, ordering them from the local Seattle magical bookstores by owl mail order.

The area in which he was primarily interested had been warding and protective magic. The many years of having very little privacy in the magical world had made him prioritize his ability to keep that world away from his new life. He had perfected his own version of the Fidelius charm on his home, and had developed a name (not Harry Potter, but Evans Jameson—not exactly the most inventive choice, but serviceable nonetheless) over the years in the Americas, Africa, and Asia as a warding consultant. In the ten years since he’d left, he’d ventured into Europe and Great Britain only on rare occasions, primarily those concerning his friends like weddings and births.

Smiling, Harry returned the hearty embrace, then picked up his bags, preceding his friends into the sitting room. “I really like my life without the drama of the British wizarding world, Molly. If it means I have to live halfway around the world, I’ll deal with it as a small price to pay for peace and quiet.”

“And here I’d thought that you would wither and die without the fervent adoration of your long-time fan base, Potter,” a silky, sardonic voice quickly responded.

Harry set his bags down with a small grin. “Master Snape,” he said, with a respectful half-bow.

A shocked silence, then, “Mr. Potter.” A tall figure emerged from the shadows in the corner of the room. “Or should I say, Master Potter?”

“Master Potter? You have your mastery?” Hermione exclaimed, “You never told us, Harry!”

“Master? Of what?” Ron asked, surprised.

“Well, it was just recently, actually,” Harry said, self-deprecatingly. “I had been warding for years before it occurred to me to get my mastery. I’d already developed a reputation without it, but clients were always so surprised that I worked so effectively without it, that I’d decided to just go and take the exams. It just makes things more official.”

“Well, congratulations are in order, then aren’t they?” Arthur, who had been sitting with Snape, said.

“I think more than congratulations are in order, this calls for a celebration!” said Molly, bustling back into the kitchen. They all chuckled as Harry placed a bundle on the table next to Snape.

“Here you are, Master Snape. M. melanotarsa, commonly known as the dark-footed ant-spider, fresh back from my trip to Africa. Arthur didn’t tell me what form you wanted, so I brought several of each. You have egg sacs, embryonic and larval stages, male and female spiderlings, and male and female adults. I also have extra legs and eyes in dried form.” Harry indicated each as he removed them from the environmentally secure carrier.

“Many thanks, Master Potter. And while I had indicated quite clearly to Arthur that I required adult spiders,” here he cast a dark glance over at the Weasley patriarch, who smiled sheepishly, “I am certain that I can use all of these ingredients at some point in my experimentation. What do I owe you for all of this?”

“Nothing at all,” Harry said, waving a hand. “I was going to Lake Victoria to do some warding for an Ugandan wizarding compound, and I knew I would be coming back to England for a bit to visit Ron and Hermione, so I really didn’t have to go out of my way. It took just one morning out in the bush to get the spiders.” He looked around at the gobsmacked expressions on the faces around him. Apparently, they had been expecting a flare-up of the old animosity between the Harry and Snape. He sighed inwardly. Couldn’t people understand that everyone, including the two of them, grew up at some point? He turned (and said,) “And please, call me Harry.”

“Then, Severus, if you please.” A dark head inclined towards Harry.

“So what exactly is this experiment?” Harry asked, picking up Rose and settling with her into one of the commodious wing chairs. “Are you working for someone in particular, or is this general research?” At his meaningful glance, the others in the room gathered themselves, and conversations resumed.

They had been talking for a while, surprising even themselves with their amicability, when Molly entered the room, bursting with self-importance. “Arthur, we have a Floo call from Luciana Bivarque, of the ICW, she wants to talk with you.” (1)

Harry stood quickly, eyes narrowed. Putting Rose down, he said quietly to Severus, “This may have to do with me, so I may be leaving suddenly. Someone from the ICW has been trying to reach me for weeks, but haven’t been able to get through my wards.”

“You?” Severus asked sharply, his voice similarly lowered, “The British liaison with the ICW has been endeavoring to communicate with me as well. Like you, I have had few positive relations with any wizarding administration, and also preferred to avoid any contact.”

Arthur returned quickly, apologetic, but determined. “Severus, Harry, I am really sorry for this. Members of the ICW have wanted to talk with you two for the past several weeks on a matter of international security. I understand that you may not want to meet with them, but as a member of the Ministry of Magic, I beg you to at least give them a half hour of your time.”

Harry asked, bitterly, “So, knowing that we would both be here, you set us up?”

“No, Harry! I only mentioned that I would talk to you. Madame Bivarque only called to ask if I had talked with you yet. Please, since she is available, would you talk with her, for me?”

Sharing glances, amazed that they seemed to be thinking the same thing, Harry and Severus nodded reluctantly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“What? You mean to say that you’ve been containing a demon for over fifty years?” Harry was appalled.

“Grindelwald summoned it during the last moments before he was defeated by Albus Dumbledore,” Lo Yunshan, the Supreme Mugwump of the ICW, said. “It was his final weapon, an extremely powerful, high-level demon that survives by extracting and absorbing living energy—the source of magic and the essential element of all life on Earth. Theoretically, the rites Grindelwald had used to invoke it would have controlled it. However, we will never know.

“Upon the defeat of its summoner, the demon could only be contained by a magical chamber hastily conjured by the members of the ICW that called upon all of the extant free magic in the atmosphere. The containment chamber was designed to be self-maintaining, but over the years, the demon has acquired minuscule infusions of power from the chamber itself. The chamber then had to call upon ever greater amounts of magic to keep the demon controlled. It began to draw on not only free magic, but wild magic as well, and soon after—”

“Wait a minute, isn’t free magic and wild magic the same thing?” Hermione interrupted, then paled as she realized her gaffe. Gamely ignoring the horrified glances from Arthur and Ron, she said, more quietly, “My apologies, Mugwump Lo.”

“Not to worry, Mrs. Weasley,” the aged Chinese wizard responded kindly. “Free magic is that energy that pervades the troposphere surrounding the earth, while wild magic is that emanating from witches and wizards with poor control over their magic, usually children or ill adults.”

Lo slowly took a breath then just as slowly, let it out. “We have since discovered, to our horror, that over the years, the containment chamber has even begun to draw upon the energy that sustains the magical cores of those who use their magic regularly. Our magical detectors have noted a 9% decrease in the magical power of citizens of every magical country in the past year, with a 12% decrease in those living in Germany, the country in which the demon is actually contained.” He sat back to silence.

Harry looked around at occupants of the room. The ICW members had originally demanded to speak with Severus and Harry in private, but Harry had told them that they would speak in front of his family, or they would not speak at all. There was Lo and two other members of the ICW, Luciana Bivarque of Brazil and the Kenyan Esyei Mindogno, as well as Arthur and Molly and Hermione and Ron. Everyone looked grim. “So essentially you’re saying that, in time, the containment chamber will absorb all of the magic of every witch and wizard in the world, leaving those dependent upon their magic powerless. Then, once there is no longer any magical energy to sustain it, the chamber will collapse, and loose a demon upon the earth whose very existence is antithetical to life here.”

Almost helplessly, Bivarque shrugged, then nodded. “When I joined the Confederation five years ago, we’d just discovered our supposed ‘solution’ was doomed to failure. We have had our best researchers trying to solve this since then, with little success. We had no hope of there being anything else to try until recently.”

“Recently.” Severus echoed, deadpan.

“Yes. We realized that there was another source of information with the publication recently of the rather embarrassing expose written by Rita Skeeter about the relationship between Gellert Grindelwald and his vanquisher, Albus Dumbledore.” Bivarque looked around at the rather red faces of the Weasleys, who had worshipped Dumbledore, and the rather amused expressions on the faces of Harry and Severus Snape. “We thought that Dumbledore would have some insight into the mind of his erstwhile friend and lover. We have gone to interview his portrait on a number of occasions, and he refuses to talk with us on the matter.”

Harry was confused. “So why have you been trying to talk with us?”

“Dumbledore says that he will only talk with you two, and only if you both come to see him together,” Mindogno said, his eyes willing them to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

“What?”

“Absolutely not!”

Both Harry and Severus sprang from their chairs.

Harry, indignant, slipped his wand into his hand in preparation for Apparating. “I’ve been controlled my whole life by that scheming old sod—sorry Molly, but it’s true, and you know it. I don’t care if he’s dead or alive, I will not be manipulated by him into attempting to save the world yet again.

“I can’t even stand to be in the magical world for any longer than it takes to ward my clients’ homes—why would he think I would lift a finger for it?” He turned to leave. Every time he came back, he was reminded why he was justified in keeping a great deal of distance between himself and wizarding Europe. The combination was just a recipe for imminent disaster in his life.

“Harry,” Hermione burst out desperately, “What makes you think it has anything to do with you? Maybe he only feels safe discussing it with you two. You were the ones who ultimately carried out his plan to defeat Voldemort—oh, for crying out loud, Ron, he’s been dead for over a decade!”

Surprisingly, Severus responded quickly, “Mrs. Weasley, I believe that Master Potter knows Albus Dumbledore enough to recognize that the only reason he would need to see the two of us would be if he plans on tasking us with yet another ridiculously involved mission. While I would rather not see the demise of the wizarding world, nor that of life on Earth in general, I cannot allow myself to be drawn into another of his soul-destroying plots.”

Molly stood with a no-nonsense air. “Your soul looks quite all right to me, Severus. Besides, it cannot hurt to just find out if he has a solution, can it? Then you can pass it on to the ICW, and not worry about it anymore.”

Severus raised an eyebrow in Harry’s direction. “I am certain it will not be as simple as that.”

Harry, ignoring the interaction behind him, had gathered his bags, and was preparing to say his goodbyes when little Hugo toddled into the room.

“Uncle Harry, are you leaving? We didn’t play yet!” he demanded indignantly.

Harry turned back, and picking up the little boy, gave him big hug and kiss. Holding the boy tightly, he asked in a strained voice, “Madame Bivarque, how long before the chamber totally fails?”

“By our estimates of the drain on our magic,” the stately woman said, “The people of Germany will be virtual squibs within three years, followed by Europe a year later, and the rest of the magical world the year after that. However, the chamber will fail sometime before that. The released demon will absorb any remaining magic along with the life energy that sustains human and animal life, causing the collapse of life on earth within four to four and a half years.”

Harry turned to Severus, eyes beseeching. Harry knew that he couldn’t let anything happen to his sweet godchildren, nor any other children, sweet or otherwise, not if he could help it. Severus, however, had no such Gryffindor self-sacrificial instincts. He also had no friends or relatives that would cause him to overlook the loathing he’d felt for Dumbledore’s machinations. Harry knew that they had left the old acrimony behind. But Harry had nothing with which to convince the other man if he really didn’t want to deal with this mess. Still, the Boy Who Lived Twice would try.

“Severus,” Harry began.

“No need, Master Potter. Heroes need a wisecracking sidekick on their heroic quest. I will accompany you on this fool’s errand,” Severus said, with an unreadable glance.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He’d convinced Severus Snape to help him. The next step was trying to get the elusive truth from the portrait of Albus Dumbledore.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Smiling sloppily, Harry Apparated onto his porch and automatically checked his wards. The intricate network of protection, fortification, and security wards that he’d designed was the fruit of many months study of architecture, arithmancy, defensive runes, and shielding charms. It was this study that had prompted the educational journey that had resulted in his warding mastery. Assured that his wards were undisturbed and at full strength, he sat in a sturdy glider and gazed out at the view from his lodge.

The view was one of the selling points of this lodge. From his commodious wrap-around porch, he could see luxuriant forests dominated by Douglas fir, western red cedar and lodgepole pine. There was a glint from the one part of the Dungeness River as it curled through the forest, and the majestic Olympic mountain range rose behind him. He could see the flashing of the historic lighthouse and the dark bay beyond. It was a magnificent view, and gazing at it often put his petty problems into perspective for him.

He was a bit drunk, he knew, and that made him sentimental. Even knowing that, he had to admit that one of the best ideas of his life was to leave behind an insular, backwards British wizarding society and forge out to find his own way. He had made a name for himself that was totally separated from that of the Boy Who Lived, he had found a friendly, welcoming way of life that was grounded in the mutual respect of diversity and privacy, he had found peace with himself, and he had found a home.

He really missed Hermione and the Weasleys at times. However, he knew that while they really loved him, they were incapable of protecting him from or teaching him to negotiate the madness of the British wizarding world. Its obsession with him, which swung crazily between lauding and vilifying him and its feeling that it was justified in prying into his every thought and move was one of the primary causes of his insecurities. He was well rid of it.

The other cause of his insecurities, his upbringing—actually, the role that Albus Dumbledore had played in its misery—was the reason he had been drinking this evening. He’d gone to the elegant Belmont, his favorite restaurant in Port Townsend, trying to forget his conversation with the former icon. As anger at his old suffering was layered on the newer, almost unthinkable demands of him, he had downed his drink and quickly ordered another, then another. The dinner was excellent, as usual, but in his fury and resentment, he could barely enjoy it.

Well, this time, he told himself, he wasn’t going to give up his life for ‘the greater good’! He’d done enough. Harry was preparing to work himself into a royal rant when the faces of little Hugo and Rose floated past him. Realizing that even if he wasn’t going to accede to Dumbledore’s latest outrageous scheme, Harry would have to come up with some way to defeat the latest developing disaster. He sighed and prepared to make a Floo-call to Severus Snape.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Wizards can get pregnant?” If the circumstances were not so dire, Harry would be highly amused to see Hermione so flabbergasted. Not as inhibited as Harry, Severus snorted.

“Yes, Hermione,” Harry answered quickly. He knew that Snape had mellowed a bit over the years. However, the chances of the older man responding caustically were too great, and Harry didn’t want to alienate Hermione when they could really use her help. “Apparently, when the wizards involved are extremely powerful and really feel strongly for each other, they can conceive, though it is very rare. The last officially documented male pregnancy was in 1767 in Korea.

“After the death of Dumbledore’s sister, Grindelwald had fled when he discovered that he was pregnant. He’d toyed with the idea of exposing the pregnancy as a bid to demonstrate his strength and supremacy, but realized that he was too young to implement many of his plans. So, he sacrificed the child soon after its birth, using its blood to power the ritual that summoned the demon Ghastigloer. He bound the demon, and released it back to its plane, knowing that the binding would force the demon to return at Grindelwald’s command.”

Hermione’s eyes widened with realization and horror. “And he summoned it during the duel with Dumbledore?”

“Yes, and according to Dumbledore, a demon thus summoned can only be vanquished by the blood of a child ritually conceived by two people as magically powerful as the original pair. According to Dumbledore, Snape and I are that pair.”

“He wants the two of you—” Shuddering, she brought her hand to her mouth, her eyes darting from one to the other.

Severus ended her sentence for her. “He wants the two of us to conceive a child, carry it to term, then when it is sufficiently old enough to endure it, use enough of its blood in a ritual to banish the demon. It is his opinion, after doing a great deal of study through visiting a number of other learned wizards’ portraits that the child would not have to die. He said that Muggles ‘do it all of the time.’

Hermione was both aghast and incensed. “Muggles do not ‘do it all of the time.’ Some Muggle couples, when they have a child that needs a blood marrow transplant and haven’t been able to find a compatible donor, might have another child to provide the closest possible match. In most of those cases, however, they are already married, theoretically in love, and potentially would have had another child anyway, I might add. They are not just having a child and taking the chance it might die!”

Severus responded, his voice grim. “I assure you, Mrs. Weasley, that while our present danger is certainly grave, I have no intention of bringing a child into this world solely in an attempt to ameliorate it.”

“Wait, Severus,” Harry interjected, “You know more than anyone that there is no love lost between me and the wizarding world. However, we know the demon will not stop until every single iota of energy—magical or otherwise—has been consumed. The devastation will kill every living plant, animal, and human on the planet.”

“You cannot possibly be thinking of implementing that madman’s plans, Potter!” Severus said, shaken.

“Of course, not, Severus! That’s why I asked Hermione to join us here at Grimmauld Place. I want to go through the Black library to see if we can devise any alternatives to Dumbledore’s theory.”

Severus snorted. “Alternatives that have not been sought by the best and most knowledgeable minds in the wizarding world?”

“Well, since they hadn’t talked with Dumbledore, they didn’t even know where to start, did they?” Harry answered, playing his last card.

Silence. “You do have a point.”

“Wow, I’ve impressed Severus Snape, I can die fulfilled!” In spite of the severity of their situation, Harry threw a small grin in the direction of his former professor.

One brow lifted, Severus snapped back, “If this demon is freed, that will happen a lot sooner than you would have expected.”

“What I don’t understand,” Hermione said slowly, “Is how Dumbledore found out so much, and why he hadn’t said anything sooner.” She looked at Harry, who shrugged.

“It is an example of the speed of the former headmaster’s thinking that we know as much as we do, Severus answered. “I surmise that he learned of this during that final duel. There are eyewitness accounts that they had fought long and hard, with neither managing to overcome the other. It was then seen that Grindelwald began to taunt Albus, who first faltered then quickly began to fight with a hitherto unseen fury. Members of the ICW began to appear, and just as Albus overcame and bound Grindelwald, a barrier fell between onlookers and the combatants.”

Severus began pacing, his voice low and mesmerizing in its intensity. “It is my belief that Grindelwald told Albus of their child during the duel. That information caused Albus to flounder, as his mind rapidly assimilated several incredible truths. First, to conceive a child through male pregnancy, he and Grindelwald had to have been the most powerful wizards of their time. Second,

the depth of emotion that initiated the child’s conception had to be incredibly profound. Third, that depth of emotion, and the man to which it was connected, was forever lost to him. And finally, he had had a child.”

Severus stopped at the window, looking out, but his eyes did not seem to be taking in the view. “If Grindelwald had stopped there, with Albus Dumbledore at his emotional nadir, he would have triumphed, and the history of European wizarding society would have taken a dramatic turn after 1945. Instead, he probably then shared the information that he had used their child as a sacrifice to invoke the thralldom of a demon.

“That knowledge incited Albus to muster the rest of the ICW, acknowledging that the situation could rapidly get out of hand. When Grindelwald began to call the demon, that also pushed Albus to bring every weapon in his dueling arsenal to bear, defeating Grindelwald handily then binding and Banishing him to a cell in Nurmengard. The ICW members shielded the onlookers and hurriedly created the containment chamber.”

Severus turned from the window, gloomily. “Albus told them that Grindelwald had summoned the demon, but omitted the details about the child and their relationship, and probably assured himself that no one else need ever know. They had no way of foreseeing the flaw in their design of the chamber.”

Harry snorted. “And for once, I suppose we have the persistence of Rita Skeeter to thank that we could even be pointed in any direction at all.” He sobered, taking in the other man’s forbidding expression.

As Hermione and Snape began to debate which books would best commence their search, Harry’s thoughts whirled madly. The man had seemed exceptionally desolate at the mention of Dumbledore’s loss. Could it be that he mourned the lack of such emotion, however fraught, in his own life? Over the years, Harry had come to terms with the exceptionally rancorous dealings between him and Snape. He knew the man would never like him, but after Harry’s testimony before the Wizengamot and the respect he’d shown the older man, they had reached an accord of sorts.

Now, Harry realized that even when he was the focus of Snape’s obsessive bitterness and spite, there was always an unbelievably highly-charged quality to their interaction. Harry could only imagine the fervent passion with which he would have thrown himself into an amorous entanglement.

Wait, Harry asked himself, had he just thought of Snape in a sexual way? Harry shook his head and looked up to see Hermione and Snape staring at him with bemused expressions.

“I’m sorry, what?” Harry asked.

“Harry,” Hermione said tentatively, biting her lip. “I’ve started to look at these books, and most of them are really dark. I mean, I knew they would be, to be in the Black library. And anything that had to do with summoning or banishing demons probably wouldn’t really be pleasant, after all, but I….”

“Is it a bit too much?” Harry asked soothingly.

“I want to help, but I can’t do this!” She looked close to bursting into tears.

“That’s really okay. Actually, there is something else you could help research. Dumbledore’s thought about using the baby’s blood for a sacrifice presupposes quite a bit,” Harry said slowly.

“You’re not actually thinking of the two of you—” Discomfited, she broke off, her eyes averted.

“Actually, even though neither Severus nor I wish to contemplate it, we should investigate all of our options.” Harry caught Snape’s eye over Hermione’s head and shook his own slightly. “We should really know, before we consider or dismiss it, how much blood can be drawn before endangering the baby’s life, the effects of Blood-Replenishing Potion on babies from one month up through one year, transfusion procedures, if we can draw blood over a period and store it to be re-administered, etc. Could you undertake that research?”

“Oh, Harry,” Hermione said, eyes gleaming, “I will get right on it! I’ll need to get home to use my parent’s computer, and I’ll need to reference some of my potions books….” Muttering, she began to gather her things, gave Harry a quick kiss, waved a distracted hand at Severus, and quickly left.

“Good, she’s off, then,” Harry said as he took up her position at the library reading table.

“You knew that she wouldn’t have helped us here?” Severus inquired, startled.

“I didn’t think she would have been able to handle it. Besides, I really wanted her expertise on the Muggle transfusion techniques and the baby care information, but if I had asked her to investigate that initially, she would had a fit, claiming that I was being sexist and patronizing. This way, she was included, and made her own decision to do what I wanted her to do from the beginning.” Harry waved a hand, Banishing the books they’d already examined back to the shelves. He thought for a moment, wrinkling his forehead, and a number of other books began to glow on the shelves. Again waving a hand, he Summoned the glowing books, and set them between the two men.

Hearing no response, he turned to see Snape staring at him, face inscrutable. “Is something wrong, Severus?” Harry asked, concerned.

“I—you—your wandless magic has become quite impressive, Pot—Harry,” Severus said, his voice rather soft. Before Harry could answer, however, the older man shook himself and continued, “I was simply going to say that your handling of Mrs. Weasley was quite Slytherin.”

“Why, thank you, sir,” Harry teased, grinning at the other man’s surprise. “The Sorting Hat originally wanted to put me in Slytherin, but having met Draco Malfoy, I begged for any house but that one.”

“I shudder to think of the havoc you would have wreaked in the house of the snakes, Potter,” Severus drawled, settling himself with several of the Summoned books, a quill, and some parchment.

“You’re not the only one,” Harry agreed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A few days later, Harry heard the sound of the Floo. Knowing that it was only open to Snape, Hermione, and the Weasleys, he summoned a pot of tea, accompaniments, and the crumpets he’d made earlier.

“How goes the research?” Severus asked, entering the library. Harry held up a hand, finishing up a sentence before closing the book with disgust. “That well?”

“Well, I have more information, but as for a solution, it goes not at all.” Harry turned thoughtful eyes to the other man. “I got another owl from the Supreme Mugwump. They want to know what progress we’ve had with Dumbledore.”

“You haven’t told them that he gave us a supposed solution?” Severus asked, surprised.

“Well, I’m holding out until I have something more concrete to tell them. Even if we do not come up with an alternative to Dumbledore’s plan, I certainly will not tell them his suggestion. They will find some way to legislate our mating, or something, for the ‘good of wizardkind,’ or some other bullshit.”

“You said you had information,” Severus stated, smirking slightly at Harry’s cynicism.

“I placed a Floo-call to several associates regarding some work we’d done in the past. I agree with Dumbledore that the demon is probably Ghastigloer. It’s frightening to contemplate, given his destructiveness, but he is actually only a mid-level demon. However, he has the most curiosity about humans, and consequently allows himself to be summoned a great deal. He had not been seen since the early part of the century, and now we know why—he’d been imprisoned all of that time in the ICW containment chamber.”

“How do you know so much about this demon?” Severus asked.

Harry moved over to the small tea table, sat in one of the wing chairs, and poured tea into cups. “One of the establishments I’d warded a couple of years ago in Bali had been regularly terrorized by a number of imp bands. As with most demons, they cannot be killed by humans; the protections can only keep them from harming us. I had to do a bit of research into demonology to eradicate their portals, and there were several experts with whom I consulted.”

Severus looked impressed as he sat in the other chair. “How much work do you do in Asia?”

“Quite a bit, if I do say so myself,” Harry replied with satisfaction. “Until I’d left England, I hadn’t realized how insular English wizarding society is. It really is just a small, rather insignificant part of the magical world, yet it has such an inflated sense of self-importance. Even Voldemort was rather shortsighted in his plots and schemes, thinking that conquering England was a major step towards conquering the world. I thought that leaving England meant that I was giving up, but I had to go, because I was suffocating there.”

Harry put his cup down, and turned to Severus with enthusiasm. He didn’t know why, but he’d never wanted someone to understand his choices as much as he did right now. “I quickly learned that I could have a happy life away from England, and all that is associated with the English wizarding world. There is a diversity of people, viewpoints and lifestyles out there that British wizards can’t even imagine! I developed quite an extensive network of contacts and friends without stepping into Great Britain for years. Most of my work is in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. I’ve struck out for myself, on my own, with no one’s assistance. And I love my life, and love every minute of living it!”

Severus sat back, cradling his cup. “That’s understandable. Life in England did nothing but assail you on every front.” He stared into his tea. “You didn’t let the British wizarding world define you. That took strength of will. Everyone just assumed that you would settle down with a redhead like ‘Mum’ and produce several Weasley/Potter hybrids.”

Harry grinned ruefully. “Well, that depends on which redhead. At Hogwarts, I thought I liked Ginny, but that was more proximity and the desire for a normal life with a normal girl. You can imagine my surprise when I found myself actually more attracted to Bill or Charlie.”

At a raised eyebrow, his smile widened. “What about you, did you have a picture of what your life would be like with a family?”

Severus said, deadpan, “Do I look like I like children, Potter?”

Harry smirked. “Well, often one dislikes other people’s children, but finds that they love their own. You’re saying that if you found the right witch—well, one that will put up with you and your, erm—idiosyncrasies,” Severus snorted again and Harry laughed aloud, “you wouldn’t have a couple of little Snapes?”

“It would appear that we share the same predilections, Potter. I have no intention of settling down with a witch, no matter how forgiving.” Severus paused then continued, “But we have digressed greatly from our point. What else can you tell me about this demon?”

Harry frowned, remembering his insight from earlier. He’d have to think about Snape’s sexual preferences later. “Ghastigloer is one of the few of the demon pantheon that voluntarily deals with humans, basically out of curiosity, but that doesn’t mean that it is a sympathetic creature. It is curious more to find the quickest and most efficient way to use us to strengthen itself than to learn about us. If it was invoked through the sacrifice of a newborn, and promised our magic as a boon, only a similar sacrifice can be used to banish it permanently. I haven’t completed my research, and I would ask you to double check my conclusions, but Dumbledore may be correct.”

Severus pushed his cup away, seemingly having lost his appetite. “You’ve been unable to find another alternative?”

“Severus—” Harry began.

“Damn you, Albus!” Severus spat out, leaping from his chair and whirling away to begin pacing. “And I will damn myself before I sodomize a former student who is the son of a former childhood friend!”

Harry tried to inject a bit of humor into the moment, “Hey, mate, I top exclusively. If anything, it will be me plundering your delightfully-hidden ass during this ritual. In fact—” His voice caught in his throat as Snape froze mid-stride, face paling as a strange expression crossed his face.

Harry could have smacked himself. What an idiot he was! In the flurry of collegial activity, jokes, and shared confidences, he had forgotten just that quickly that Snape wasn’t yet a friend, hell, he was just barely not an adversary. They had been getting along so well, and Harry had to put his foot in it! “Severus, I’m so sorry, my mouth runs away with me sometimes. Please accept my apologies.”

After a moment, Snape nodded, looking away. “Of course, I accept, but I am not offended.”

“Good,” Harry began slowly, “Because, all joking aside, I have to ask you something. If we can’t—I mean if this is…. If there—”

“Merlin save us from blundering, babbling Gryffindors. Potter, just spit it out, man!” Snape muttered, dropping back into his chair.

Harry decided that he wasn’t a Gryffindor for nothing. He’d have to think of the ramifications of his question later, but it seemed right now that this path upon which he was about to tread was his only option. “Severus, if there are no other alternatives, would you help me to banish this demon?”

“You are asking me to have sex with you, father a child with another man, partially drain its blood, and conduct a ritual to expel a demon back to its plane forever,” Severus asked blankly.

Harry looked at him with steady eyes. Once he’d realized he was gay, he’d thought he would never have children. Even in his wildest imagination, he’d never thought he’d embark on having a family like this. But like other horror-fraught times in his life, it seemed he had no choice. “Yes.”

The other man stared. “You do realize that for our ritual to have as much strength behind it as the original, we would have to duplicate the situation as much as possible. Dumbledore and Grindelwald were real lovers, not just sexual partners. They discussed magical theory, politics, government, their hopes and dreams at every opportunity. We do not know each other very well, Potter.”

Heart pounding so loudly he could barely hear his soft voice over it, Harry said, “That can be changed, Severus. We can take some time to get to know each other before the baby is conceived. We have so much in common, that I think it will be rather painless. You would just have to put aside your almost instinctual reactions to me.”

“Why should I have to?” Severus spat bitterly, “Why should you? Why should we have to do this for a world that will never accept us for ourselves, Po—Harry!”

Harry put a hand on Snape’s shoulder calmly. “I don’t have to. Neither do you. All you have to say is ‘No,’ and I will never ask again, nor will I hold it against you. You have my word.

“We can spend the next few weeks continuing to search for alternatives, and while we’re doing that, we can see if there is any way we can grow to care for each other enough for this to work. Let’s say that if no other options have been discovered, we revisit this in a week or two?” Harry held his breath. He was pretty certain that there were no other options. However, he knew what it felt like to have to give his life to ‘save the world,’ and after all the other man had been through, he was not going to put him in that same position.

Snape had that unreadable expression again as he nodded his head sharply, once, saying, “Very well. We will revisit this topic once more in two weeks. Do I have your word that will be the only discussion on the subject?”

“You have my word.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was exactly ten days later that a voice was heard at the Floo. Harry’s heart sunk, recognizing it was Luciana Bivarque, the ICW representative from Brazil. He sat in a chair before the hearth, gesturing to the other chair as Snape entered the room.

“Good morning, Master Potter,” Bivarque said in her musically-accented English. “Have you been back to see Headmaster Dumbledore? Were you able to get any more information from him?”

“Good morning, ma’am. I do have some information, but I am afraid that I had to swear a Wizard’s Oath of secrecy to get it from him,” Harry began, lying through his teeth. He saw Snape’s startled expression, and raised a supercilious brow at him. Two can play this game!

“First of all, there is very little about his suggestions that I can share with you. Your suppositions about the demon are correct, though I can tell you little more than that. I can say that of the suggestions he gave regarding solutions, the majority of them are unusable. I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to research them.”

“What? Dumbledore gave you some solutions, and you haven’t told us? We could have had our experts working on them!” Bivarque was livid, and Harry knew that if he didn’t start talking quickly, some ICW Security Aurors would be gearing up pretty soon. They couldn’t get to him at Grimmauld Place or his home in Sequim, but they could get to the Weasleys, and he knew that with the wizarding world’s future at stake, the ICW would not be above some serious blackmail.

“Erm, ma’am, I swore a Wizarding Oath, remember?” Harry asked, thanking every god he knew of that he’d finally managed to learn Occlumency. “Even if I wanted to, my magic would do its utmost to keep me from breaking it.”

“You said that the majority of his solutions are unworkable,” the ICW witch bit out, furious and frustrated. “Are you suggesting that there may be a workable solution?”

“Ma’am, it will take weeks before I will know that. If it is workable, it can only be done by me.” Harry left Snape out of it, not wanting the ICW to put pressure on the other man as well. “And it can only be done over the period of a year before the final stages can be conducted.”

If Bivarque could have come through the Floo, it was obvious she would have. She almost screamed, “A year? Have you taken leave of your senses? The magical drain will be noticeable by then. What do you suggest we tell the people of our respective countries?”

Harry was enjoying this. If nothing else, those many contretemps with Snape over the years had given him a mental image of how to be intimidating. His voice cold, he replied slowly, “Quite frankly, Madame, that is none of my concern. And I would suggest that if you need or want my help, you refrain for alienating your only hope for a solution. Good day.” With a wave, he closed, locked, and warded his Floo. Let them stew!

“Impressive, Potter—Harry,” Snape said, inclining his head as he corrected himself. “To what purpose are you stringing them along?”

Harry smiled, leaning back in his chair and stretching. “Well, I want a couple of special considerations from them. I want a Confederacy Declaration that if I succeed in this, they will never call upon me again. I will also demand that they set a Media Taboo on my family and me. Unless some eager reporter is willing to lose their magic, and their newspaper its charter, I will never have to see my name in the wizarding papers of the world again.”

“Family, Harry?” Severus raised a brow.

“I’m still holding out for you, Severus.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A few days later, after repeatedly refusing calls from Bivarque and Mindogno, Harry had won his concessions from Lo. It was on that day that Hermione came over, and walking into the room, caught the last part of the conversation with the Supreme Mugwump.

“Harry, that sounded suspiciously like blackmail,” she said mildly, shaking her head. Harry was delighted to see yet another example of them growing up. The old Hermione had been slavish in her deference to authority. He supposed he was a bad influence on her.

“Actually, it was giving them a little of their own back. Join me for tea?” Harry motioned to the table he’d set for himself and Severus.

“Just you?” Hermione looked around. “Where is Prof—I mean Master Snape?”

“Severus is meeting with a mediwitch who specializes in obstetric and pediatric medicine. We had some questions about the Blood-Replenishing Potion that we wanted answered.” Harry summoned the sandwiches and scones, and poured the tea.

“Harry! You two haven’t decided to go ahead with that insane idea, have you?” Hermione asked, dismayed.

“No, not yet, even though it looks like the only viable option we’ve manage to discover,” Harry said soberly.

“But Harry, you two don’t even like each other, how can you even think it would work?”

“Hermione, we respect each other and value the other’s contributions over the years. That is at least a first step, isn’t it? And wouldn’t ‘saving the world’ be worth the time it would take to make that more?” Harry demanded.

“But Harry, you’ve already given up so much for us all. To have to give up your future, yet again—don’t look at me that way, that’s what you would be doing!” Her anger dissolved as she gazed at him gently. She brought a hand up to his cheek. “A child isn’t something that you can put away when you are done with this mission. You would be stuck with a man and a baby you hadn’t planned for. The child would be your responsibility until is grown up, and the child’s other father would be a part of your life until that happened, as well.

“And we haven’t talked over the past few days, so I don’t know if you realize this, but children become a part of everything you will consider for the next twenty to thirty years. They are an important part of your life, something you may not appreciate right now.”

Harry leaned into her hand, smiling gently, but resolutely. “I know that, Hermione. Severus may not know all it means to have a baby, and even if he agrees to this, he may not be able to take it once the baby is here. But I’ve seen you and Ron with Rose and Hugo enough to understand the enormity of what I’m considering. It is still what will need to be done, and afterwards, if I have to raise the baby alone, I can assure you that I know that this is more than just for a mission.”

“Before you decide what I can or cannot take,” Severus spoke from the door, causing Hermione to start up and slosh her tea in her lap, “why don’t we hear if this is even possible? I believe that Mrs. Weasley was going to report on the viability of Albus’s plan.”

Between mopping up the spilt tea, and spelling her lap dry, Hermione managed to report her findings. They learned that they could administer the Blood-Replenishing Potion to babies from the second day after birth. If the baby was on a Blood-Replenishing regime, it was possible to draw an eighth of a pint of blood every other day. If any more that that was taken, the baby would begin to weaken.

“And from my calculations, for the purposes of a ritual requiring the blood of a baby, we will need draw up to a pint of blood from him or her. We can then immediately replace that with stored blood that had been taken over the course of two weeks, with the only side-effect being exhaustion on their part.”

Hermione bit her lip. “Theoretically, yes.”

No one looked at each other. Hermione drank down her remaining tea, and leaving her notes on the table, gave a Harry a big kiss and left, reminding him that he promised to come to Sunday dinner at the Weasleys. He returned to the room to see Severus reviewing Hermione’s notes, cross-referencing them with several potions journals and his own voluminous comments. He took a book, Quintilian Trapbridge’s Rituals, Rites and Ceremonial Magicks, and sat on the sofa to read.

After almost a half hour of silence, Severus turned to Harry, who put his book down and looked up expectantly. He knew that Severus was a good man, but he also knew that he was asking a lot. Would Harry do it, if the roles were reversed? If he didn’t care what happened to the world, and was sick of demands being made of him? Harry didn’t know. He did know that he had grown rather fond of Snape’s snarky conversation, of his brilliant, incisive mind, and was actually growing fond of the taciturn man himself. It wouldn’t be so hard living with him.

“Yes,” Severus said, pouring himself a brandy with a rather shaky hand.

Harry, bemused by seeing Snape drinking so early in the day, almost missed the one word. “Erm, what?”

“I said ‘yes,’ you vexing little twit! Yes, I will do what I can to rid the world of this new threat.” Severus snarled.

“Did you just snarl at me?” Harry asked, amazed. “I mean, I’ve read it in books, but didn’t think that was physically possible for a human.”

“Potter—” Severus warned.

“I’m sorry, that was pretty amazing!” Harry enthused. “At any rate, thank you, Severus. You won’t regret this, I promise. I’ll even—I mean, I’ll let you—” he stammered.

“What exactly are you trying to say, Harry?” Severus asked.

Harry took a moment to gather his thoughts. “We hadn’t talked about the logistics of our plan. I was simply trying to say that since I am younger, and my body will adapt more readily to the changes necessary, I will carry the child. That means, in terms of the actual, erm—”

“Mating?” Severus asked, amused.

“Yes, well—yes, the mat—conception of the child, I was going to say….” Harry spluttered to a halt, watching a strange expression take over Snape’s face. It was calm and tender, an unusual combination for Severus Snape. “Severus, is everything all right?”

The older man shook his head and turned his gaze on Harry. “Hmmm? Oh, yes, what were you blathering about?”

“I was going to say that since I will be the bearer, you will be on top when we have sex.” Harry didn’t want to say what a concession that was for him. It had never been about the power implied in the positions, but the few times he’d allowed his partner to penetrate him, Harry had never enjoyed the sex as much as when he was in control. He wasn’t sure why—it was possibly the mindset of the men he’d been with, in which they were more concerned about their own pleasure rather than that of their partners—but he often felt used, rather than cherished, as his lovers said they felt after their lovemaking.

Lost in his thoughts, he failed to notice the silence. “I’m sorry, Severus, did you say something?”

“No, nothing,” the man said, and then took a breath. “Actually, I had said something.” Lifting his head, he looked up, and in his eyes Harry saw some of that courage and strength of will that had sent Snape back to spy time and time again. “I said that I never thought I would actually have a child.

“I overheard part of your conversation earlier with Mrs. Weasley, and I know that you are concerned that I will not be a good parent. Quite frankly, I am even more concerned than you could ever be. I can promise you that I am not just interested in conceiving this child simply to eliminate the threat to our world. However I can, I would like to help with it after we have performed the ritual and banished the demon.”

Harry beamed. “I thought you would, and I would happily let you participate in the sprog’s life in whatever way you feel comfortable. Now come here, you.” He gestured towards a spot on the sofa next to himself.

“What?” Severus asked suspiciously.

“Well, if we are going to conceive a child, don’t you think we should get comfortable with each other?” Harry asked soothingly, as he got up and pulled the other man to the sofa.

“Well, I thought we were going to get to know each other better,” Severus responded stiffly. He did follow Harry, albeit awkwardly, to the sofa and sat down.

“And we’ve been doing that, don’t you think? But I have to admit, Severus, I’m not on bottom a lot, and I have to be really comfortable for that to happen. So maybe we could practice a bit?” Harry said reasonably. He lowered his voice. “I wasn’t joking about your ass; it really is quite delightful, from what I can see.”

He moved his hand to the buttons of Snape’s robes, but found it halted by the other man’s. “Come on, Severus, we’ll have to explore this!”

“Perhaps, but I’ve given this more thought over the past couple of days. There are potions that can be used to the make the prospective bearer’s body more receptive to the possibility. It is a relatively easy potion—” Severus gasped as Harry silently Banished his robes.

“And I’m confident that you will make it flawlessly, and I will happily take it,” Harry interjected, his hand rubbing reassuring circles on Snape’s back. “But as you said a couple of weeks ago, Dumbledore and Grindelwald, both powerful wizards, were also in love with each other.

“Now, we can’t hope to duplicate the depth of their emotion, at least not immediately,” he said with his confident, Gryffindor grin, “but we can make sure that our lovemaking—and I do mean lovemaking, not sex, Severus—is as pleasurable as possible for both of us. And that will only happen when we are comfortable with each other sexually.”

“It almost sounds like you want to have sex with your greasy, old potions professor, Potter!” Severus sniped, pushing Harry’s hands—which had been roaming quite freely—away.

Undaunted, Harry moved closer, smiling to himself when his growing erection met an answering bulge in the other man’s groin. “Nice alliteration, Severus. As to the sex, no, I hadn’t been fantasizing about you all through my Hogwarts days—” he grinned cheekily at the explosive, ‘I should hope not, the very thought is disgusting!’

“But now that I’ve allowed myself to think about you as a potential partner, Severus, I have to say that I could do much, much worse. You have a way about your walk—all that swooping and whirling is really hot, you know? Your voice could make custard hard, (2) and I have always thought your hands, in their efficient movements, were like watching a potions-brewing ballet.”

“A potions-brewing ballet,” Severus echoed expressionlessly. “Potter, you really have to get out more.”

Harry chuckled joyously. “I know, but not tonight, all right? Can I please kiss you, Severus Snape?”

He didn’t wait for an answer. The moment the other man’s mouth opened to respond, Harry plunged his tongue in. He shivered as sparks skittered up his spine as the two muscles slid against and stabbed at each other, taking turns being sucked and exploring the other’s mouth. Harry’s hands moved restlessly over the small of Severus’s back, until he reached those delicious buttocks. He grabbed one in each hand, squeezing and pressing them with enjoyment. He thought he couldn’t find that moment any more pleasurable, until he heard a rumble that resolved itself into a moan spilling from Snape’s mouth.

Panting, his hand slid into the crease between those taut globes, stroking gently as Severus seemed to melt. He maneuvered the other man on top of him as he lay back on the sofa, but slid his groin up, gliding slowly and steadily against the other man, relishing the sounds of sighs, grunts, and groans as they moved more and more rapidly against each other.

Severus froze for a moment then sighed inaudibly against Harry’s lips. As he felt the moisture seeping through their trousers, Harry fell into his own climax, stilling for a moment before thrusting his hips rapidly for several pulses with a long groan.

Murmuring nonsense, Harry cast a wandless cleaning spell, and pulled Severus closer, nuzzling the skin in the crux between his neck and shoulder. He spelled a soft blanket over them and heard Severus sigh. Well, that was at least a start, he thought as his eyelids drooped.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sitting on the sofa, Harry rolled his eyes as he drank yet another Strengthening Solution. Citing his general ‘scrawniness,’ Severus had been brewing them to build up Harry’s constitution. He had also insisted that they would not undertake impregnating the young man unless he was under the care of a mediwizard or healer.

“Aw, I knew you cared, Severus,” Harry had said, delighting in watching the muscle in the older man’s jaw twitch.

“I am simply trying to deal with the details, particularly those that could go wrong. Reviewing every step and trying to account for variables allows one to plan efficiently. I realize that as a Gryffindor, such cautious preparation is well outside your usual type of planning, most of which usually consists of ‘On the count of three, ready?’” Severus sniffed. Harry howled, taking no offense at the snub to his house.

They’d suggested and, for various reasons, eliminated many of the most well-known, discreet healers. Finally, they decided that since she was aware of the former headmaster’s foibles and quirks, as well as some of the situations and dangers they had both been a part of over the years, they would just take Poppy Pomfrey into their confidence and ask her to oversee Harry’s pregnancy.

When she arrived, she reiterated her vow of confidentiality, and asked them for the particulars. She was properly horrified at Grindelwald’s actions, she rolled her eyes at Dumbledore’s machinations of the ICW and them, then she proceeded to smother Harry with suggestions and advice, all the while conducting numerous diagnostic procedures, humming and clucking her tongue the whole while.

“Well?” Severus spat out, impatiently.

“Hmm? Oh, yes, Harry’s fine,” she said, recording her findings in a notebook. “He’s actually healthier than when he was at Hogwarts, up to his proper weight and all muscle. Though I agree that the nutritive potions are a good cautionary idea, Severus. The pregnancy will wreak all sorts of havoc on his system, and prenatal is imperative in these cases.”

She asked, without any sense of embarrassment, when they planned on the conception, and suggested a fertility potion geared to Harry’s chemistry. While she and Severus discussed various potions, Harry looked at the man with whom he was going to create a child.

Severus was standing stiff-backed and intent, conferring with Poppy over some ingredients to which she thought Harry might have developed sensitivity. His alert, black eyes snapped as Poppy teased him about some aspect of the pregnancy, and his thin lips twisted as he shot back some biting comment. Having seen him without his robes on a number of occasions, Harry knew that the tall man’s body was lean, lightly muscled, the long expanse of pale skin broken up only by thinly-scattered black hair. He was not classically attractive, but he was intense, resourceful, and capable. Once committed to an undertaking, he would expend all of his energies to make it happen.

Now that he had allowed himself to think of Snape as a possible partner, now that he’d begun to think of him sexually, Harry realized that he wanted the man, all of him. Harry didn’t want Severus to ‘be a part’ of his child’s life. Harry wanted them to be a family.

Right now, however, Harry was daydreaming about that body. He had slowly divested Severus of his clothing, and was nibbling and licking his way down that slender chest, giving some attention to the nipples, teasing and tickling a belly button, following the happy trail to—

“Potter!” Harry leaped to his feet, wand out, only to see Severus staring at him. Smiling apologetically, he saw that he’d been so absorbed in his fantasy, he hadn’t even noticed Poppy Pomfrey leaving.

Oh, sod it! Harry moved to the other man, and sliding one of his hands up Severus’s back, cupped the man’s head, guiding their lips together. Their lips met with an explosion of tingles, and both men moaned, violently crushing their mouths together, tongues and teeth sliding and crashing, gnawing and tearing at each other. Harry’s other hand, as if drawn to a magnet, slid to cup Severus’s ass, drawing a long groan from the older man.

Harry knew that he had to bottom to conceive their child, and he knew that he should start out as they needed to go on, but he couldn’t help it. He wanted Severus, he wanted to feel his erection sliding into the man, he wanted to feel that tall, dark, intense man come on their bellies while Harry came in his ass. He knew that wouldn’t happen, but he still couldn’t control his desire to feel Snape’s ass, to caress and hold it, to perhaps play with that pucker.

And if the pants and groans he was getting from Severus were any indication, he was quite receptive, as well. Every time Harry squeezed the man’s buttocks, Severus would respond with a moan, grunt, or a guttural whimper. Harry pushed the man back against the wall, undoing Severus’s trousers with a greedy whine, and pulled out a long, dripping erection.

Harry’s tongue thrust between those thin lips that usually framed a tart remark, but now opened in a piercing keen. At the same time, his hand gripped Severus’s cock firmly, stroking the length, teasing the tip with his thumb, stroking in the other direction, and then lightly compressing the man’s balls.

Severus’s head drooped, making it easier for Harry to keep up his punishing kisses, all the while sliding his other hand between the man’s buttocks, searching for that tight pucker. He could feel the tension building in the other man as he slid closer and closer, and when a fingertip slid in, up to the knuckle, Snape’s knees buckled, he gasped loudly, and long ribbons of hot cream spurted over Harry’s hand.

Gentling his kiss, Harry continued to stroke the highly-sensitized flesh soothingly, casting a cleaning spell and tucking it away. With his other arm, he supported Severus’s weight, guiding them to the sofa. Laying the older man down, Harry continued kissing with gentle touches on Snape’s neck, chin, eyelids, and with a big grin, a big, loud smooch to the prominent nose. The nose snorted, and bottomless black eyes opened, gazing at Harry in something like wonder.

Harry closed them with another kiss. His own erection was raging, he had most certainly not gotten into the proper mindset to allow himself to be impregnated, and he had pretty much attacked his soon-to-be-fellow parent, but right now, he felt like everything was right in his world. Severus Snape didn’t know it, but he needed cherishing, and Harry was just the right man for the job.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Potter, you are deliberately sabotaging our mission!” Severus hissed. Underneath the irritation, though, Harry could hear his concern. This was the third day he had been administered the fertility potion, and it was the third day that he’d sicked it up. He lay back against his pillow, sipping his Stomach Draught, waiting to see if the ginger and chamomile would settle his nausea. He could feel the long, cool fingers first against his forehead probing for a fever, and then sliding under his sleeve to check his racing pulse.

“If you keep going down a bit, you can check to see if something else is elevated,” he joked. All right, it was weak, but having just heaved up both his breakfast and lunch, he wasn’t at his best.

“Your juvenile humor will not help you avoid this, Harry,” Severus said as he sat on the edge of the bed. “You are certain that you are not allergic or sensitive to the ingredients of the fertility potion?”

“I’ve never been before. This could be a new development, or…” Harry paused in thought.

“Or?” Severus prompted. “For the sake of our task, I need you to be honest. What’s wrong?”

Harry thought he knew what the problem was, and he wished he didn’t have to tell Snape. He’d promised that he would keep this as trouble free as possible for the other man, and he knew his speculation would not be received well.

He took another gulp of the Stomach Draught, and swinging his legs over the side of the bed, stood up. “I’ll tell you, but you won’t like it.”

“I already don’t like it, Potter! What more can you say that will further aggravate the situation?” Severus almost shouted.

Harry moved closer to the door, the better to make a quick exit when Snape blew up. “Apparently, my preference for being on top is compelling my body to reject the potion. My mind is telling my body that I want to make love to you. That I want to cherish and care for you, and by extension, the baby.”

Watching Snape’s face grow more and more unreadable, Harry took a breath and continued, “I guess subconsciously, I want you to carry the child.” Figuring he’d come back once Snape had the chance to cool down a bit, Harry Disapparated.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Harry spent the afternoon at Ron and Hermione’s. When he appeared at their door, he warned them, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Taking him at his word, they laughed and joked over lunch, and Harry played all sorts of games with Rose and Hugo. After the two children had been put down for their naps, after great delays and pleas of ‘One more game, please Uncle Harry?’ Harry sat down with his two oldest friends.

“So, is everything all right?” Ron asked, his calm blue eyes gazing warmly at his friend.

Harry shrugged and said, “Yeah, things are okay.” Ron had never been very comfortable with his friend’s homosexuality, preferring to just pretend it didn’t exist. Harry had always ensured that Ron was never confronted with it, and with the situation so undefined between Snape and himself, there was no satisfactory way he could discuss it with the two of them.

“Would you rather I clear out so you could discuss it with Hermione?” his friend asked shrewdly.

Harry smiled at Ron. No one would have imagined it as they were growing up, but Ron had a sensible head on his shoulders. The quick-tempered redhead had not only grown to recognize when a situation was beyond his ability, but had also learned to accept those times graciously. Harry couldn’t have chosen a better friend if he’d tried.

Unfortunately, Harry had also learned over the years that there were things that he had to handle himself. Dealing with the man that Harry had convinced to father a child with him was one of them. “No, I really just needed to spend some time with you, Hermione, and the sprouts.”

“Harry,” Hermione said, her voice earnest, “You know that you can talk to us anytime of the day or night, whenever you need to, right?”

He gave them both fervent hugs. “Yeah, I know. And when I need it, I promise I’ll take you up on your offer. Until then, you know I love all of you?”

Hermione murmured, from deep in his embrace, “Yes, we know.”

“Good. I have to go and get a ‘make-up’ gift.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Opening the door to the library of Grimmauld Place, Harry levitated his bundle into the room, and then waited. At Snape’s exasperated, “Get in here, you infuriating little dunderhead!” Harry plastered on a confident smile and entered the room.

“Ah, it sounds like you’re talking to me, at least,” he said.

“Only you would consider insults the indicator of a conversation, Potter. What is this?” Severus asked, holding up the package.

“A ‘sorry-I’m-a-selfish-asshole’ make-up gift?” Harry ventured, tentatively.

“You were not an asshole—well, no more than you had been before,” Severus said dismissively. He opened the bundle, pulling out all of the protective padding, and then put it down on the reading table in bewilderment. “Is that a Mongolian Jeweled Jade plant?”

Some of his vaunted Gryffindor bravery deserting him, Harry suddenly became deeply interested in his shoes. “Well, I knew that it could be used in a variety of potions, and it was often given in Chinese wizarding diplomatic circles as a token of peace, so I thought it was appropriate for us.”

He looked up and said, “I am sorry that I’ve been mucking up our plans. I wish I knew how I could have such control over my body at times like this, but I couldn’t manage to do more at other times.” He left unsaid what those other times had been—the many times in the war when lives were at stake, and he was unable to save them—but he knew that Snape understood.

Severus nodded. “The answer to that is quite simple. You have such power now because you triumphed over a very powerful wizard.”

“You think I am more powerful because I vanquished Voldemort?” Harry asked, distressed.

“No, you imbecile, because you triumphed over Albus Dumbledore!” Severus retorted. “Remember, since you are the Master of the Elder Wand, that means that you have prevailed over all of its previous holders. You have a little of their power underpinning yours, and that is one of the reasons your wandless and wordless casting has grown to be so effective.

“It also means that of the two of us, you are the most magically powerful.” Severus added, thoughtfully.

“So I’m—” Harry stopped, stunned. Did Snape actually acknowledge someone as being more powerful than him? Why were there never any witnesses to something like this?

Severus cocked an eyebrow, smiled slightly, and in a softly velvet voice, warned, “You only have more raw magical power than I, Potter. It seems I need to remind you, however, that I am more experienced, talented, capable, and ruthless. Do not begin to think—”

“No, no, of course,” Harry rushed to assure his companion. This was no time for a pissing contest, which they both knew Snape would win handily.

“However,” Severus continued inexorably, “remember that male pregnancy is a magical construct, and is not under the control of human agency. Regardless of what we wanted, if the magic considers you the stronger of the two of us, it will never accept you in the position of the bearer. If there was an emergency, and magical power was necessary, you would have to be free to protect the bearer, who would be hampered by the pregnancy.”

Harry gazed at the plant, though he was focused on the implications of Snape’s statement for their mission. “So, if your speculation is true, Albus Dumbledore was magically stronger than Grindelwald, who bore their child. And since I overcame the person who defeated Dumbledore, I am stronger than him. That means any ritual involving our child would have to be more successful than Grindelwald’s!” Harry finished, jubilantly.

“Wait a moment, Harry,” Severus cautioned, “Remember that Grindelwald actually sacrificed his child. It wasn’t necessary for the effectiveness of his ritual, but he did it anyway. We will have to be careful to complete each step precisely to compensate for the lack of an actual bodily sacrifice of the baby.”

Harry couldn’t believe his ears. It sounded as if Severus had accepted the fact that he would be the one to be pregnant. As if he actually would allow Harry to— It couldn’t be true, could it? He needed to know, but just having gotten out of one mess, how could he ask without getting hexed senseless?

Shaking his head, Harry decided to just rely on his much-vaunted Gryffindor recklessness—uh, bravery. He asked, “Does this mean that you will be the bearer?”

The dark head inclined. “Yes, it would appear that I would have to for our undertaking to succeed.”

Harry was skeptical. “And you won’t mind letting me be on top?”

“I….” Eyes looking anywhere but at Harry, Severus paused before concluding his reply, “… believe that I would prefer it.”

Harry knew that he had to consider trading his ears in for a better set. Snape preferred to be on the bottom? Harry was dumbfounded, yet intrigued.

From what Harry could see of the wizarding world, sex was more than just the physical experience, so frequently was it tied into individual self-image, power, and control. Homosexual wizards were so defensive about their manhood and authority that regardless of their personal preferences, they would often insist on taking the dominant position in bed. And male braggadocio aside, Snape had always seemed to have such power issues that Harry just imagined the former spy would demand to be on top. That was the reason Harry had volunteered to bear their child, hoping to eliminate one objection Snape might have had to the plan immediately.

But now that he found that Snape’s preferences were so closely aligned with his own, the man became even more desirable. The thought of pleasuring and possessing him made Harry’s knees weak, and he leaned back against the table, snatching Snape by the waist and pulling him into demanding, fervent kiss.

He was glad he had the support when Snape’s hands came up to card through his hair, making the already tousled mop even more unruly. He couldn’t believe that just the feel of the man’s fingers in his hair made Harry’s penis blaze from interested to painfully hard in seconds. He groaned. He’d wanted so much to take this slowly, savoring every touch, every sensation, but that wasn’t going to happen, not this time. He muttered a spell, and opened his hand to let the vial of lubricant that came flying from his bedroom slap into his palm.

“Wait!” Severus’s eyes had snapped open at the sound, and those black orbs grew deeper with lust. He picked up the jade plant and carefully put it on a sideboard, then whirling back to the table, promptly swept their notes, books, quills, and ink onto the floor.

Harry’s gasp of dismay at the peremptory treatment of their research turned into a lusty growl when Severus dropped his trousers to the floor, kicked them out of the way, and bent over the desk. The younger man deftly removed his own trousers, the blood pounding in his ears as his body seemingly screamed, ‘At last!’

Panting, Harry took a moment to gaze at the magnificence of the vision before him. Though thin and sinewy, Snape’s rump was gleaming and pale perfection. His arched back made the older man’s ass jut out proudly, and his legs were spread, exposing that wrinkled orifice that had been the subject of Harry’s fantasies.

His viewing was curtailed by Severus, who said between gritted teeth, “Stop staring like the empty-headed clod I suspect you are, and get to the task at hand immediately, or I will give you an impromptu lesson in unhexing yourself!” Gulping, Harry quickly poured a thin stream of spice-scented liquid onto his fingers, and stepped up behind Snape.

Harry slid his slick hand slowly up and down the crevice between those luminous buttocks, taking delight in how even that slight touch set Snape’s flanks aquiver. His left hand stroked the man’s back, but just as his middle finger slipped in, Harry bent over and bit a cheek, causing Snape to moan and shudder violently, while a little pre-ejaculate dripped from his needy cock. Adding a second finger into that pulsing sheath, Harry twisted them until he found that mound, pressing against it again and again.

God, the man was tight! Just thinking of how that hot, tight passage would feel around his penis, Harry almost swooned. Closing his eyes, his fingers sliding in and out of Snape’s ass, trying not to listen to the sighs, gasps, and moans pouring from the normally self-possessed man’s lips, Harry tried to think of something, anything, that would keep him from coming before he even got a chance to enter the man. Minerva McGonagall in a slinky nightdress began to slow him down; he threw in Binns giving her a backrub, and he was confident he could last a bit longer. He started to add Dumbledore to the vision, but was afraid he’d get soft.

“Potter,” Severus whined, he actually whined, Harry thought triumphantly. “Potter, unghh, please, in me, now….”

“All you have to do is ask,” Harry muttered, pulling out his fingers. He poured more of the lube onto his fingers and slicked it onto his cock. Taking a deep breath, he slid into tight heat, into the stuff of his fantasies. He was someplace the young Harry, or even the more mature Harry Potter of a few months ago would never have been able to contemplate: he was having sex with Severus Snape.

He was in no position to think about how he got here, but he incoherently thanked Grindelwald, the ICW, even the demon Ghastigloer for the opportunity to plunge into that slick, hot, overwhelmingly irresistible channel. What was humbling was how right, how natural it felt. Harry reached around to gather that long, beautiful cock in his hand. The older man began to push back to meet Harry’s thrusts, then jerk forward to pump into Harry’s hands.

“Yessss, Severus,” Harry hissed. “That’s it, fuck yourself on my cock, hmmm, yes, fuck my hand, oh, yes!”

At those words, Snape flung his head back, his black hair quivering slightly as he trembled. He opened his mouth, gasping and grunting, uncaring at the spectacle he made, focused only on his pleasure, dropping any similarity to the poised, guarded persona in which Severus Snape habitually enclosed himself.

Harry marveled at the abandon engulfing them. He felt his individuation sliding from him as they moved in glorious synchronization. It was almost as if they were riding the same decadent, pleasure-drenched waves cascading over their senses, like they were feeling the same lack of oxygen, and they were sharing one surging, pounding breaker as it threatened to crash them against the shore.

They were both panting, groaning, grunting, muttering stupid, senseless sounds, and Harry knew that this was a moment that he would remember always, this sense of being so perfectly in harmony with another person, this feeling of impending climax of their bodies, but more vitally, of their emotions and spirits.

Oh, too soon, Harry thought, he could feel the gradual tensing in his groin, could sense his toes starting to curl, and his hips picked up their speed, setting a lightning pace, slamming into that tight, hot ass. He bent over, licked up Snape’s back, then shoulder, then neck before whispering harshly into his ear, “Come for me, Severus. Come for me now!”

Tightening his grip on the man’s cock, Harry felt hot, thick streams of fluid flowing from Severus over his hand, up on the man’s belly, down onto the desk. Yes, he exclaimed inwardly before his own body spasmed several times, the growing tension burst into bright, slicing spangles of pleasure. He loved this, loved the feeling of two men united in pleasure, loved how he met his partner’s needs and took him on their journey of mutual sexual exploration.

This was one of reasons he enjoyed being on top so much. He felt the responsibility of directing their activities, but he also relished the opportunity to make his partner, Severus, feel treasured and adored. Because Harry adored what they’d experienced, but he was also beginning to adore how he felt when he was experiencing anything with Severus Snape.

Straightening, he felt his softened penis slip out of Snape, and he turned the man to face him. The air of transcendence surrounding Severus was dazzling, and Harry felt his own bearings break into dozens of pieces at the peace and beauty on the other man’s face. Cursing his lack of height, he pulled Severus down to meet his mouth, and they stood there, languidly exploring each other with lips and hands, tasting and touching everywhere they could reach.

Taking Snape’s arm, he warned, “Hang on,” and Apparated them into his bedroom. It was Cherish Severus Snape Time. This was the part of lovemaking that Harry enjoyed almost as much as the sex itself. He had gotten them into his bed, under the duvet, had tucked Snape in his arms, and was nuzzling the man’s hair before he realized the man had yet to speak. Suddenly concerned, he gazed intently at his lover and asked, “Is there anything wrong, Severus?”

Holding his breath in preparation for the type of sarcasm for which Severus was known, Harry was surprised when the man sat up suddenly and grabbed one of the vials of Strengthening Solution on the end table, tossing it back with a grimace. He sat back against the headboard, still not speaking, but seemed to be focusing intently on something, so Harry waited, though with little patience.

He’d opened his mouth to repeat his question, when Severus said, “Well, it would appear that our hypothesis was correct. Our magic seemed to respond to me being the receptive partner.”

Bewildered, Harry asked, “That’s good, but how can you know for certain? I mean it was certainly good, and I could feel how the two of us were responding to each other, but we won’t really know until you conceive.”

“That’s right, Harry. But unless my perceptions about there being more than just the two of us at the end of our physical encounter are drastically flawed, we have indeed conceived a baby tonight.”

Harry was speechless. Just like that? One time, and they had conceived? Exactly how powerful were they? He got his wand—he didn’t want to inadvertently miscast the pregnancy diagnosis spell and get an erroneous conclusion. He cast the spell Poppy had taught them, and watched in awe as a light surrounded Severus, then coalesce into a small, bright glow that hovered over his abdomen.

“Severus! Wow!”

Severus smiled indulgently, “Wow, indeed.”

“We did it, we’re going to be parents! We’re going to be parents!” Harry murmured, blankly, before his eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted back into the pillows.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Uncle Harry!”

“Uncle Harry!”

Footsteps careened down the stairs, and Harry felt two bundles of energy crash into his midsection. Harry dropped his bags, and lifted his armfuls of toddler up into the air. It was only because Rose and Hugo got there first that Hermione didn’t do the same, he could tell. She stood at the door, slightly disgruntled, with Ron’s arm on her shoulders.

“Rose! Hugo! Give the poor man a chance to breathe!” she scolded, while Ron and Harry shared a fond glance of understanding.

“Uncle Harry, I’m going to be four tomorrow!” Hugo said. “I’m going to be a big boy!”

“Yes, I know, champ, that’s why I’m here, for the big boy birthday party.” Harry said, smiling. He walked into the kitchen with them, listening to the children babble with one ear, smiling at the sound. He sat down and accepted a plate of bacon, eggs, and toast, sharing small talk until everyone had finished.

After the children were sent out to play with instructions to ‘Play nicely’ and ‘Share!’ the adults were left alone to clear up. Immediately, Hermione cast several privacy spells, and pounced on Harry. “So tell us, how are things going?” she demanded.

Harry smiled knowingly. He was amazed Hermione had held out as long as she had, one of the reasons he’d chosen to arrive during breakfast, to allow himself a moment to breathe before the questions began. “Everything is going well. Severus is pretty far along, and Poppy has scheduled the surgery for next month.”

He took another sip of tea, trying to think of what they would consider important. “We still don’t know the sex of the baby. Apparently, there is so much magic involved in a male pregnancy that it impedes most of the diagnostic spells. He or she is definitely healthy, though, if the activity level is to be believed. It’s like a wrestling match inside of Severus!”

“This is amazing, Harry!” Hermione exclaimed. “I wish you could be closer, the whole male pregnancy concept is so understudied. I would have loved to be able to document the steps with Severus.”

Harry grimaced, and leaned forward intently. “The study aspects I’m sure are fascinating, but you know that our primary goal is the security around our mission. If anyone were to see Severus, and word got around to the wrong ears, the notoriety would be disastrous!” He didn’t want to add that one of the situations he and Severus had wanted to avoid was his best friend’s insatiable curiosity and her questions about the pregnancy.

“I know, Harry!” Hermione was quiet. “I guess I thought that with everything going on with the ICW, you might be around more.”

“I know, Hermione,” Harry said soberly. He wondered, if he and Severus were unsuccessful, would he regret not having spent more time with his friends before the end? He sighed, because even if he knew their time was limited, he would never regret carving out the time he’d made for himself and Severus. England would never be the home that his lodge in the Olympic Mountains had become.

After much discussion, he and Severus had moved to his lodge. They both agreed that its wards were unassailable, and they believed that if the ICW were to know the nature of Dumbledore’s ‘solution,’ the two of them would have little control over how the demon was to be battled. The ICW had lived up to its part of the bargain; there was a media blackout regarding Harry Potter. To keep them from becoming too impatient, Harry let it drop to Bivarque that a solution was in the works, one that they felt had a great chance of success.

Severus had quickly adapted to the rustic, isolated location. He’d established a potions lab in one of the scattered outbuildings on the property and proceeded to ‘nest,’ as Harry teasingly called his proactive brewing. He had brewed every prenatal potion potentially useful in a male pregnancy, nutritive potions for himself and the newborn, versions of the Blood-Replenishing potion for the newborn that were based on the unique combination of his and Harry’s chemistry. He also began to research and stockpile newborn versions of all of the common wizarding childhood potions.

They also took walks in the forests surrounding the lodge, and before Severus began to show, Harry took him to many of his favorite restaurants and out several times in the Bay Rover, reveling in Severus’s appreciation of his adopted home.

They spent their evenings talking, often sitting in Harry’s best-loved spot, his wrap-around porch, with cups of cider or tea. They also often took advantage of their sexual compatibility, after Poppy had informed them that they could have sex up through Severus’s seventh month. After that they would have to employ ‘adaptations,’ as she delicately put it, to their sexual routine.

Shaking his head, Harry returned to the conversation. “Well, I’m here now, for Hugo’s birthday. If all goes to plan, we will be free of this terror in time for Rose’s.”

“I’m all for that,” Ron chimed in. “So, Severus will have to have surgery? I guess I hadn’t thought about how that was all going to happen.”

“Ron has spent the last few months studiously avoiding thinking about it,” Hermione said dismissively, rolling her eyes.

Harry laughed. He loved the predictability of his friends. “Yes, the surgery is scheduled for about two weeks before the baby is due. Poppy didn’t want there to be any danger of Severus going into labor, because that would complicate things.”

“Labor? You mean he could actually have the baby the natural way?” Ron asked, not really sure he wanted to hear the answer.

“Supposedly, the baby would come out the same way it got in,” Harry said carefully. “But Severus’s body would go through a lot for that to happen. Since it is possible to avoid that, plus we need him operating at full capacity as quickly as possible, Poppy said it would be simplest to just surgically remove the baby. He would heal from magical surgery much quicker than from a magical male childbirth.”

“I would imagine so!’ Hermione contributed. “A woman’s body is pretty much constructed for childbirth. I shudder to think how Severus Snape must be handling all of the changes!” And she did actually shudder.

Harry grinned. “Severus has adapted remarkably well, but there are some things about pregnant wizards that took some getting used to.”

“I bet,” Ron said, nudging Hermione. “Hermione had some pretty drastic mood changes. Has Snape? Or rather, can you tell?”

“Oi, watch it, mate! That’s my baby’s father you’re talking about!” Harry laughed. “Well, for the most part, he has mellowed a bit, but yes, there were some really scary days. Severus Snape dealing with raging hormones is not a sight for the constitutionally weak.”

Ron was fascinated. He was obviously having some difficulty imagining the bane of Gryffindor as pregnant. The models presented by the motherly Mrs. Weasley and loving Hermione were so dramatically different that they were not helpful.

“So tell us, did Severus have morning sickness?” he asked.

“Yes, during the first trimester, it was every single day, and that ‘morning’ nonsense was simply that: nonsense. He was nauseated for 15-18 out of every 24 hours,” Harry said.

“You mentioned the mood swings, what about cravings?” Hermione, in spite of herself, was also curious.

“Yep,” Harry said, nodding emphatically.

“What kind of foods does he crave?” Ron asked, spellbound. Harry almost laughed in their faces.

Severus never had any of the food cravings, no, not his lover. Short and simple, Severus craved sex. During his second trimester, he became insatiable. His demands on Harry would have been incapacitating if Harry had been older or less hungry for physical intimacy. He would go down on Harry at the breakfast table, call Harry over to the potions lab to return the favor during the morning, hunt down the younger man at various other points during the day for kissing and fucking, to be wanked or sucked.

What blew Harry away was the abandon with which Severus dedicated himself to their pleasure. No position was beneath his dignity, he seemed to no longer care about such societal constructs, allowing the needs of his burgeoning body to dictate his behavior. He ate, drank, and gave himself over to sex with the same zest.

Harry’s mind drifted to a wondrous example of that new Severus Snape. Once, Harry had gone over to British Columbia for the day, doing an assist on a consultation with a woman with whom he’d worked on several jobs. Steffi Kindlmüller was a brilliant wards mistress, particularly adept at using many of the old-fashioned rituals that had fallen into disuse. They were incredibly effective and powerful, but extremely finicky, and they required a level of knowledge and precision that few could boast. She had been very helpful on his Bali job, proving to be well informed on the more arcane practices of demonology. She was also one of the people he had called upon for some opinions on summonings and had pointed him to some useful books for his research.

Kindlmüller had the contract well in hand, but needed Harry’s opinion on the rune array she had devised. He had developed a reputation among the younger generation of warding masters for the quality of his rune warding and his arithmancy computations, and was often called upon to collaborate with a number of his colleagues. He looked over her designs, and based on his ideas, they had rearranged several patterns and shifted the range of one more, but on the whole, it was an easy day’s work for him.

She had invited him to join her assistant and her for dinner after they’d finished for the day. He’d said that he had tentative plans, but would call and see how firm they were. He pulled out his cell—to which he had added several ‘modifications,’ privacy spells and the like which would have been totally illegal in Great Britain—and called home.

“Hi, Severus,” he began.

“Potter, thank you for calling. I was just preparing to dial you.” The dark voice on the other end said. “Please remember to pick up the sequoia charcoal that I’d ordered.”

“Got it already,” Harry said, cradling the phone between his shoulder and ear while he looked through his parcels. “I also got more rattlesnake fangs and rattles, since the supplier had a fresh shipment.”

“Good. Did you have more planned to do today?” Severus voice sounded a bit strained.

“Not really, I was trying to decide if I should grab a bite with Steffi and Tomi, or come straight home,” Harry said.

“Come home, if you please.” The voice was firm.

“Is everything all right, Severus?” Harry asked, concerned.

“Now.” And the connection was severed.

Harry quickly made his good-byes, and Steffi gave him a date on which his share of the commission would be deposited in his Gringotts account.

Apparating to his living room, Harry called out, “Severus, where are—umphh!”

Harry found himself embraced tightly by Severus, who kissed him passionately, thrusting his tongue deeply between the younger man’s lips. Harry groaned at the forceful handling, each thrust sending electric sparks to his cock. He was flung into a side chair and Severus dropped to his knees in front of it, working madly at the opening of Harry’s trousers.

As his rapidly hardening erection was exposed to the cool air, Harry hissed, blown away by the sight of Severus, eyes glittering with undisguised desire, panting and grunting before swallowing the cock before him. Harry’s eyes rolled back at the incredible feeling of that mouth sucking in the head, teeth lightly scraping the sensitive ridge on the underside, the tongue darting out to slip into his urethra, causing him to scream, “Severus, my gods, yes!”

It seemed only a moment when the mouth was removed, pulling a inconsolable keening cry from him as his hips thrust spasmodically up into the empty air. Opening his eyes, he saw Severus spelling off his own and Harry’s trousers, muttering a spell, then flinging his wand away before straddling Harry’s lap.

Harry had only a moment to gaze at the gentler, softer look to Severus’s body. He was six months pregnant, and was carrying their child high in his abdomen, but the sight of his rounded belly over his red, angry-looking cock made Harry’s mouth dry. Then, he realized Severus’s intent. Mouth open in unbelief, Harry whimpered at the sight as unbelievably, with no preparation other than a hurried spell he’d presumably cast on himself, Severus positioned himself, lining up his dripping hole over Harry’s erection, then without a word, dropped down heavily, spearing himself with Harry’s heated member.

They both screamed. Severus ducked his head into the nook between Harry’s neck and shoulder, shuddering with the pain. Harry’s murmured, “Oh, love, sit still, let me hold you,” was shaky. He himself was quivering with the effort to keep still with that glorious, tight sheath on his cock. What he wanted was to stab upwards, forcing himself even deeper in Severus’s ass. He wanted to slam harder and harder, faster and faster, but he waited, feeling as if he would fly apart if he had to tarry much longer.

Slowly, Severus opened his eyes. Staring deeply into Harry’s, the man lifted himself, then dropped again, Harry whispering nonsensical encouragement, lightly holding his lover’s head. Their eyes locked, Severus picked up speed as his body adjusted. His thighs were quivering with the effort, but he continued to lift himself and drop back down on Harry, both men grunting with each plummet.

Harry was mesmerized, captured, held by their stare, by the sensations scurrying over his nerve endings, by the sounds of flesh squishing, the chair creaking slightly, and their guttural moans. He was caught, his heart was captured by this ugly, beautiful man, this cantankerous misanthrope who had willingly volunteered to carry Harry’s child.

Severus dropped his head, all of his energy going into keeping up his punishing pace. Harry lifted it to his, licking and kissing, sucking and biting any part of Severus that he could reach. His hand snaked down between them, and began pulling, stroking, slapping, and pinching the other man’s cock, causing the rhythm between them to become erratic.

His tongue thrusting, Harry grabbed Severus’s hip with his other hand, holding the man still. He shifted a bit in the chair, getting his hips directly under Severus’s loosened hole, and slammed upwards, again, again, and again. As he quivered, thrusting his tongue and his cock into the other man, he chanted, “Yes, gods, yes, so good, fuck Severus, you’re so perfect.”

At those words, Severus’s head snapped up. His mouth made an ‘O’ and his eyes, blazing with some unknowable expression, locked on Harry’s as ropes of thick cream spattered onto their chests. The slick contractions accompanying Severus’s climax squeezed Harry’s cock, and coupled with the feeling of inexpressible connection between them, the sensation pushed him over the edge. His world shattered as flashes of desire, need, pain, beauty, and love sliced through him, piercing his skin, smashing his mind, and lifting his heart.

Severus kept his head down, but Harry could feel hot drops (sweat, tears?) drip over his chest. He murmured soft, soothing words in Severus’s ear, nuzzling and kissing the sensitive spot below it on his neck. When his head came up, the former spy’s expression was painfully open and vulnerable, with something that looked like love shining out at Harry.

“Harry? Earth to Harry!” Harry sat up as Hermione nearly shouted in his ear.

“What? I’m sorry, what did you say?” Harry asked sheepishly.

Ron howled. “You were miles away. Wherever it was, the smile on your face made it seem like a nice place to be!”

Hermione smiled, too, casting an exasperated glance at her two favorite men. “Harry, Ron had asked what kind of cravings Severus had.”

Harry shook his head wryly. “You don’t want to know.”

“Oh, come on mate, it couldn’t be worse than the sour cream, olives, and licorice that Hermione wanted!” Ron crowed.

“How about sex, anywhere from four to ten times a day? How about getting sucked off while I’m eating breakfast, wanking him while I’m on a conference call with a client, how about my begging him for a couple of hours of peace so that I could rest?” He looked around at their stunned expressions, and laughed softly in the dead silence. “I thought not.”

A few more seconds of silence, then, “Wow, mate,” Ron said with grudging respect. “You certainly won that pissing contest.”

Harry’s cell phone rang, cutting into their uproarious laughter. “Severus, hi! We were just—”

“Come home, Harry, immediately, and bring Poppy. There’s something wrong with the baby.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Harry returned home with Poppy, doing a Side-Along Apparition in three leaps of incredible power. Even the woman who had seen Harry grow up at Hogwarts was amazed that he not only was able to Apparate across the Atlantic, but to do that transporting another person. Harry gave it no thought, his anxiety over Severus’s well being the only idea on which he could focus.

They found Severus in bed, trying to perform his controlled breathing, but the sheets were soaked with blood, and his forehead was clammy. Poppy immediately took control of the situation, directing Harry to bring supplies from her bag, and setting him to cleaning up the area.

When they had gotten him stabilized, he managed to tell them that he was just brewing when the contractions started, and he called immediately, but the situation deteriorated rapidly. Poppy, in a matter-of-fact voice, told them that they were alerted early enough that she could still perform the surgery. Severus look stricken, almost begging, “Isn’t there a way to stop the contractions? This is too early for the baby to be born; he won’t be able to breath or eat properly.” Harry took Severus’s hand to reassure the older man, but he, too, looked for Poppy’s answer.

Poppy tried to reassure them. “I know it’s early, Severus, but when the baby tries to come early, there is usually a reason. If he or she is in distress in the womb, it would be better to have them where we can control their environment. It’s not too very early; many children born up to six weeks early have adjusted quite well and were perfectly healthy.”

Severus appeared to be both frustrated and guilty. “What could I have done to ruin this? Was it my brewing?” Unspoken, was the thought Harry could almost read in the other man’s eyes, Was it the sex?

“Nonsense, Severus. We have no idea how long a normal male pregnancy lasts. And even with normal female pregnancies, more than half of all first pregnancies begin labor early. We can handle this, but only if you relax.”

“Shush, Severus, Poppy is right; you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. We’re going to take the baby out of you, and we can take just as good care of it together.” Harry said soothingly, his thumb rubbing calming circles on Severus’s hand.

Poppy gave Severus a Calming Draught. She said that they would wait for about an hour, to allow it get into the baby’s system as well, then she would start the surgery. She set up the room so that Harry could alternate between assisting her and calming Severus. She then had Harry prepare extra sheets and sets of clothing for both Severus and the baby.

After an hour, she started the surgery. She’d given Severus potions to dull the feeling of the incision, and he was able to talk with them both. Harry wished he had a Pensieve, so he could call up these images of Severus, relaxed and joking. He looked over at Poppy, and she seemed quite unruffled about the whole process. Once she make the incision and began to withdraw the baby, however, she paused in shock, “Oh!”

“What?” “What’s wrong with the baby?” They exclaimed, their voices shrill with fear.

“I didn’t think it was necessary to mention earlier, Severus, but another reason a baby comes early,” she said tranquilly, handing Harry a gorgeous baby boy to clean, “is when someone is carrying twins.” She then removed another baby, a girl.

Harry slumped to the side of the bed, gently cradling his burden. “Twins?”

Severus seemed as surprised. “Twins.”

“Yes, you are the proud parents of a baby boy and a baby girl. Congratulations.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

At long last, their plans of the past year were about to come to fruition. While Severus cared for the babies, Harry walked around the ritual room. They had chosen the lodge, figuring it was the most comfortable for the babies, and if they failed, it didn’t matter if the integrity of their home was compromised. They had both memorized the ritual, going over it until they could have performed it in their sleep. It was a modification of the one Harry believed Grindelwald used, or it was close enough for their purposes. Considering its significance to the further functioning of the world, it was actually rather simple.

The most complex aspect was the set-up for the ritual. For the ritual they had a perfect circle about thirty feet in diameter outlined in pure sea salt. Within the circle, drawn so that its points touched the circle, was a five-pointed star drawn in sands found in the oldest of pyramids. Then within the center of the pentagram was a triangle drawn in a paste made of ground unicorn horn and the waters of the Well of Kildare, outlined so that its points touched the outline made by the interior lines creating the star’s points.

In the center of the triangle was an altar made with an ash foundation and comprised of adamantine with obsidian tracings. On it Harry had affixed two candles made of beeswax from hives of bees fed solely on saffron crocus. On either side of the candle were the two goblets, each of which would hold almost a pint each of blood donated by their beautiful babies. They framed the small clear crystal that was the containment chamber’s main operating mechanism. While the chamber itself was in Germany, the crystal would function as a remote, opening the chambers at the moment that Harry began the summoning.

He checked the circle and pentagram again, ensuring that the sand or salt had not been disturbed. There was a table set up with the equipment for the blood transfusions so that the blood used in the ritual was freshly drawn. Immediately after, Severus would then take the babies back into the house, though they both knew that would be no protection if Harry failed.

Taking a breath, Harry returned to the house. He couldn’t see them, but he knew that all around the perimeter of the massive wards around the lodge was stationed the major portion of the ICW Security Force in the event that he failed. Severus was sitting on their porch, holding the babies in his arms. Harry picked up Matting, leaving Amaigraine on her father’s lap. The babies had Harry’s green eyes, but they both had silky black hair, much closer to Severus’s than Harry’s. Both were pleasant, laughing babies, accepting the frequent blood deposits taken from them with equanimity. Neither suffered side effects from either the procedures or the Blood-Replenishing Potion. A month after their birth, they were almost as developed as they would have been if delivered later in Severus’s pregnancy, for which (Severus and Harry) were both thankful.

“Everything is ready,” Harry said after a moment of silence. Severus nodded. Without a word they stood and made their way down to the ritual room. The babies gurgled in their matching rompers, gifts from Ron, Hermione, and the Weasleys, along with a roomful of toys. Harry and Severus had insisted that no one visit yet, perceptive enough to realize that no one would let them go through with the ritual if they actually met the beautiful pair.

Moving to the tables, careful to not disturb the sea salt, they lay the babies on the table, and Severus cast the spell that would keep them calm and immobile. He and Severus looked at up at the same moment, the barely masked panic matching that in the other’s eyes. Harry cleared his throat, and Severus said, hoarsely, “Don’t say it, Harry. It will be impossible for me to do this if you do.”

“Severus, I have to say at least this much. We entered into this because of necessity, but we now have so much more—”

“I know, and I want many more years of it, Potter,” Severus interrupted, his voice reminiscent of the years of teaching. “So might I suggest we attend to the matter at hand, and you can get your pathetic hide back up to the house to help put the children to bed at a decent hour?”

Harry smiled gently, and leaned forward to kiss Severus. They paused a moment, their foreheads pressed against each other. The light of the full moon outside cast a silver gleam over Severus’s silky soft hair, and Harry drank in the sight. His smile broadened and he said, “Sure, then maybe I can make love to their father without interruption?”

A snorted, “It is my fervent wish that we can stay awake long enough for that, Harry,” was his answer.

They moved to the cold cabinet in which the stockpiled blood was stored. Severus got out the bottles, labeled with each child’s name, and took the two goblets from the altar. He inserted the tubes, one from the stored blood into the carotid artery, the other tube which led to the goblets he inserted into the jugular vein. He checked for any air in the carotid tubes, and when assured that all was well, opened the jugular tubes. He cast several spells to monitor their vital signs.

The blood began to flow into the goblets, and they could hear the babies’ heartbeats quicken. When the goblets where half full, Mattin began to writhe, followed by Amaigraine a moment later. Harry’s heart sped up to match and he kept glancing up at Severus. “How much more?” he asked anxiously.

Severus said nothing, shaking his head slightly, and at some sign that Harry couldn’t define, opened the tubes from the stored blood, allowing the blood to flow back into the babies. Harry relaxed, only to start when both babies cried out, their bodies jerking. He would have interfered, but stopped at a sharp glance from his lover, his heart aching at the sight of their dear children in pain.

Severus cast another relaxation spell over the babies. Then, with a keen eye on the level of the blood in the goblets, he finally tapped the jugular tubes to stop the flow, removing the tubes, and casting a spell to heal the insertion points. He handed the goblets to Harry while keeping his eye on the levels in the storage bottles. After they were finally drained, he quickly removed the tubes, spelled the insertion points, and gathered up the two children. Turning to Harry he opened his mouth, but Harry interrupted him. “I know,” he said somberly.

“Hurry up, Harry. We have children to feed, bathe, and put to bed, and hopefully some lovemaking for ourselves,” Severus said simply, but his eyes were more revealing. Harry saw determination, faith in their plans, strength, and most importantly, love, for their children and for him. They kissed briefly, lips cold and dry, then Severus turned without looking back, and left the room.

Harry placed the goblets on the altar. He lit the candles, then removed all of his clothing, having taken a ritual bath earlier in the evening. He banished the clothing and the lighting taper to the outside of the circle, then took his silver dagger, dipped into each of the goblets and then used it to make deep slices along his arms, the blood dripping on the altar and into the goblets.

Stepping before the altar he lifted his arms, staring intently at the crystal. As it began to heat, growing darker and smoky, he envisioned the demon Ghastigloer imprisoned in the ICW containment chamber.

Lifting his voice, he called out firmly, “ I summon a demon from plane of origins and destructions. I summon through the sacrificial offering of the energy of pure life. I summon Ghastigloer, of the second Hierarchy of those who travel between the planes. By the blood of those I have sired, and by the blood of my own power, I summon, and I call!” He released the containment power of the crystal, and repeated the summoning.

Standing before the altar, Harry’s skin began to crawl as the energy began swirling in the room. His hair lifted and flapped around his face. The candles fluttered madly, but neither the salt nor the sand moved in the slightest. In the rising winds Harry could smell something horrid, like the scent wafting from an abattoir on a hot summer day. A thickening gray mist with bright flashes darting around within it began to coalesce before him. It acquired form and matter, gradually resolving into a large creature about 10 meters high, with three pairs of arms ending in pincer-type appendages capped with razor sharp claws, a vicious-looking pointed tail, and long horns, all covered with thick scales. Its face wore a sinister smile that was belied by the scowling brows, and the sly, insane eyes.

“You dare to summon me, mortal? Do you imagine you have the power to make demands of me?” The voice, less a tone than a rumble in the ground and rafters, blew his hair away from his face, and finally, the candles blew out, leaving him with just the light from the moon silvering the room.

Harry almost swooned at the immense power that slid around its essence, tickling out towards him. He was protected in his triangle, but he could still feel the drain on his magic even so, and quickly set to his task. He levitated one of the goblets to the demon, which sniffed it before turning to him.

“Acceptable, incredibly pure. You sacrifice the blood of your own children? Interesting. What do you want of me?”

“Simply to return to your dimension.” Harry tried to keep his own voice resolute, difficult as he could feel himself desiring only to sleep. Something seemed to be sapping his energy. Standing straighter, he remembered his mission, though it was becoming more and more difficult.

“And why should I do so?” The being laughed, the sound like the screams of tortured souls.

Harry raised his voice over the din. “Because I have a sacrifice you require, and I have the power to bolster it.” He could feel a force crushing against him, forcing him to bow or perhaps to kneel before Ghastigloer. He fought back, his magic rising like a shield to push the force away. The demon’s eyes narrowed.

Harry could feel the skin on his body drying and begin to split, peeling off in the high winds still emanating from the demon. His bones felt softer, as if they were melting within him, and he began to fall over. His tongue started to swell, and he could barely breathe. The floor felt like it was covered in shards of glass, slicing and piercing his bare feet. His guts were churning, and he thought they might have been swelling as well. The windows in the room suddenly shattered, showering him with glass from above as well.

He was starting to think that he didn’t have the power to defeat Ghastigloer, but he thought back to all of the people who were counting on his victory. They were not nameless, faceless inhabitants of the wizarding world, but people who had also sacrificed and suffered to vanquish evil. He called on the strength that allowed him to walk to Voldemort and meet his death. He remembered the power of his mother protecting him when he was a baby just a year older than his twins. He invoked the will that kept Severus alive during those terror-filled years in Voldemort’s service. He pulled into himself the beauty of his babies as they laughed on the living room floor between Severus’s legs as the older man drifted off to sleep, exhausted by his parenting duties. He absorbed all of the passion, intensity, and emotion of his relationship with Severus over the years: the hatred, the bitter battles, the budding respect, and the growing love between them.

Harry shouted, flinging back the demon’s force with such might that it pushed the colossal creature back a few paces. Ghastigloer roared, snapping its pincers, and small sizzling fires burst out in the corners of the room. Harry levitated the goblets to the demon, as he heard a cracking sound, and looked up at the exploding rafters just in time to leap out of the way. He could feel his wand grow hot, and dropped it on the ground, summoning his Elder Wand.

The demon flicked an arm, and the goblets flew back towards, but Harry righted them before they spilled their precious contents. He screamed, “NO! You will accept the damned sacrifice, and you will accept my task!” The winds had reached gale force levels, and Harry could hear trees being uprooted and tossed about like matchsticks. He started to lose his footing, and held onto the altar as the wall behind him burst into flames. It quickly consumed the tables on which Mattin and Amaigraine had lain. Harry was glad he wasn’t wearing clothes, as they would have caught aflame easily. As it was, he kept batting out sparks that landed in his hair.

Harry flicked the Elder Wand, and concentrating on his magic, he gathered it into a narrow column that he banished towards the demon. It batted it away, but Harry narrowed his eyes, thinking that it seemed to be moving slower than it had before. He created another column, but before he could fling it at his adversary, it held up an arm and said, “No! I accept the sacrifice!” It grasped one of the goblets and drank the blood from it. Holding the second goblet it said, “I have one question. What happened to the one who summoned me before?”

Harry answered, “He was defeated by one who was defeated by the one I defeated!” It was convoluted, but he hoped the demon could follow it; Merlin knew Harry didn’t have the strength to parse it better.

“Very well,” Ghastigloer said, shrugging. It gulped down the rest of the blood, and said, “I return to the Chaos plane, mortal, until another of your pitiable race has the hubris to call upon me again.”

The demon’s body gradually lost its integrity, turning to mist, then to smoky wisps of vapor before finally dissipating. Harry cast dozens of detection and analysis spells. After almost a half hour of tracing what was left of the demon, he was satisfied that it was indeed gone. He sent a Patronus to Severus and another to the ICW force to stand down, then dragged himself wearily up to the house.

Severus met him at the door, taking in his blackened skin, hair burnt off in patches, the limp, and the way Harry was protecting his abdomen. Without a word, he sat the young man down, giving him a number of potions, and casting as many healing spells as were safe and wouldn’t counteract each other. Severus rubbed a healing salve into the burnt, raw, shredded skin. Harry began to drift off, only to jerk awake when Severus led him into the bedroom. Under the bedcovers, he curled around Harry’s battered body, kissing and nuzzling him until he fell asleep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Harry! Severus! It’s so great to see you!” Ron said, opening the door wider to let the men enter with their children. “And this must be Mattin and Amaigraine!” He took a baby in each of his long arms, smiling widely at their giggles and waving hands.

They entered the room filled with Weasleys, as well as old friends from Hogwarts and the Order. This was the first reunion that Harry and Severus had attended, and people were agog at the news that not only were they together, they had two children through a male pregnancy. Many of them, recognizing Harry’s reasons for living elsewhere, tried to control their curiosity, hoping to get the full details from Ron and Hermione later, and were surprisingly cordial.

Near the end of the evening, Harry looked over and saw Severus on the other side of the room, discussing something with Arthur Weasley. Severus looked up, and their eyes locked, deep black and intense green. They both looked around at the clamorous gathering and smiled ruefully. They could spend these few hours surrounded by people because they knew they had their sanctuary awaiting them in the States.

They had sacrificed much for these people, and looking back, they wouldn’t have done anything differently. Even their children had sacrificed. But it didn’t matter that they gave a bit of themselves here. They knew that they could always replenish their hearts at home with each other and their children, those precious bits of themselves that taught them to let their hearts walk.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

(1) The International Confederation of Wizards, a governing body overseeing the various individual nations’ councils and ministries.

(2) I wish I could take credit for this lovely phrase, but alas, I read it penned in “Dandelions” by ac1d6urn and sinick

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