"Well, of course Harry's coming home to the Burrow. Where else would Harry go?"
Severus tried not to smirk at Molly's stubborn avoidance of any pronoun when speaking of Harry and threw himself back into their 'debate'. "Potter's home is Twelve, Grimmauld, and Spriggs and I both think it would be more restful for her to—"
"'Restful'? Is that what you call Harry's condition? Severus, Harry has no idea how to be a witch. Harry has no idea how to be pregnant. Harry will need my help—and Grimmauld's precisely that. Grim. Old. It's no fit place for Harry to be right now."
"Perhaps she'll renovate it, given that she'll be raising a child there."
"What are you talking about?" Molly demanded.
"The solicitors were here last week. You know what your son and his wife intended."
"What do they know about a baby? And who can say what Harry will want? You and Spriggs have barely let me speak to Harry. Don't you think that Fleur would be a more—"
"Mum!" Ginny exclaimed. "That's enough. Ron and Hermione were perfectly clear in their Wish Scrolls. Justine is Harry's child, now."
"I don't want to fight about it."
"But Ginny, you know that Fleur will—"
"Mrs. Weasley," Snape interrupted, "will have to learn to live with yet more disappointment."
"You horrible man," Molly said.
"Old news," Severus retorted.
"Could you two just stop," Ginny demanded. "It's no wonder Harry doesn't want to see you, Mum. You have to leave her alone. She's barely managing to keep up a brave front as it is."
That wasn't helpful, Severus thought, glaring at Ginny.
Molly looked stricken. "Harry doesn't want to see me?"
"Oh, bother. Of course she does, but—"
Molly dropped the basket she had been holding and fled down the corridor before Ginny could complete her thought.
"Sod it. There's a month's knitting on the floor," she said, kneeling to shove the wool, needles, and various articles of infant clothing back into the basket. "I don't know what she's so worried about. It's not as though Harry is going to take Justine away. Even if she were, Mum's got plenty of grandchildren living near to her. Oh. Shite. That was awful of me."
"I'm the wrong person to judge," Severus replied, offering Ginny a hand up.
"That's true—sorry. I shouldn't have said that to you. It's just that this is all so difficult."
"Thank you for trying to persuade your family to give Harry her privacy."
"You're welcome. They hate me for it, but I understand."
"They don't hate you." They didn't even hate Percy when—
"Well, Charlie asked if I was planning to um, 'stand by my woman', you know. He hates me because I told him yes," Ginny replied, coloring.
"How is Miss Bulstrode?"
"Demanding, but that's nothing new, and it has its rewards: the warden's made her a block captain."
"Ah. I expect the inmates at Azkaban are wishing for the Dementors back."
"See what you can do with Molly. I don't want to have to ban her."
"Good luck ever trying that, but I will," Ginny said. "Going after her, now—and you might want to see to Harry. She's taking things hard today."
Of course she is. We're weaning her off the calming draught, Severus thought, finding himself back in Harry's room before he realized that his legs had carried him there.
Percy Weasley was standing with Harry, an arm around her shoulders, looking out of the window.
"You always have a plan," Harry said, in that new, softer voice of hers. "How is that possible?"
"You need to ask?" Percy inquired pompously.
"It would make Molly happy if I were to live with you, but . . . ."
Unspeakably unmitigated bastard!
"You don't have to decide today. They aren't releasing you until July second, so you've a few days, yet. And, if you'd prefer, I could come to stay with you at Grimmauld."
Plonker! "Forgive my interruption," Severus interjected quickly, before Harry could answer Percy, "but it's time to draw more blood."
"So they send a vampire," Harry retorted, turning to glare at Severus.
"I'm certain I'm needed elsewhere," Percy informed them. "I'll talk to you, later," he said to Severus. "Goodbye, Harry."
You won't be able to speak when I cut out your tongue, Severus silently threatened Percy, while gazing as impassively as he could at Harry. "Well? Roll up your sleeve," he told her, drawing his wand.
"There are mediwizards to do that, you know," she replied, rolling up her sleeve and thrusting her right arm forward.
Severus cast the blooding spell and drew a quantity of Harry's blood out of her arm and into the beaker he had just conjured. As soon as the blood mixed with the other fluids in the container, the entire mixture turned a muddy purplish-brown.
"I'll be reducing your dosage again in the morning."
"Fine," Harry replied, lower lip trembling.
"You might speak to a mind-healer."
"Why do you find Weasley an appropriate substitute for professional assistance?" Severus asked, Vanishing the beaker and sheathing his wand.
"Why won't anyone talk to me about what happens after? I mean, how long am I going to stay this way—until Justine's weaned? Damn. I don't even know how to breast feed—how do people expect me to take care of a baby without any sort of preparation?"
Severus watched Harry pace the room while his mind emptied itself.
Suddenly, Harry turned on him. "You're shielding your thoughts from me."
"Gilderoy Lockhart could shield his thoughts from you."
"Yes, I doubt he has much else to do. Calm down. It's not good for the baby for you to—"
"Her name's Justine, Severus. Ron named her as he was dying. The least you could do is to call her by it."
"'The least' I could do? Damn it, Potter! It seems like the least you could do is to remember that not getting Ronald Weasley is not enough of a reason to begin working your way through his brothers!" Severus yelled, before he could stop himself. Fuck.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
Harry sounded so much like Molly had in the corridor earlier that Severus almost laughed.
"I never . . . not with Ron—and I wouldn't with Percy. How could—"
"Yes, how could you? Ron married his great love, and Percy, or so I thought, was quite resolutely mourning his."
Harry's eyes widened in amazement. "You pig-ignorant fuck! What's wrong with you?"
Severus strode forward to purposefully loom over Harry and demanded, "I could ask the same of you, you foolish bint. Do you want Children's Welfare to find you unfit to adopt Justine? Wish Scrolls or no, if it looks like you're spreading your legs for all the Weasley boys, they'll—"
Severus was jerked back and thrown away from Harry before he could conclude his insult; drawing his wand and righting his feet before he could fall, he spun about to discover Percy glaring at him.
"Leave. Now. Before I draw my wand."
"This doesn't concern you!" Severus snarled, feeling mortified and furious and remorseful.
"You've insulted and threatened a member of my family. I won't stand for it. Now, get out."
"Percy," Harry said.
"Don't upset yourself. You and Severus will want to continue your conversation later when you're both calm."
"I think I should decide that, don't you?" Harry demanded, swaying a bit.
"No. In fact, I think that you should sit down before you fall down—and Severus? If you don't leave now, I'll have to ban you."
"That would suit her," Severus spat, Disapparating the moment he crossed the room's threshold.
Harry did a little banning herself after Percy's altercation with Severus, her visit with the Children's Welfare representative assigned to Justine's case, and Fleur: she asked Florence to revoke her Allowed Visitors list. As there was no further need of healing wards or hourly checks by healers, her room, on the night before she was due to be released from St. Mungo's, was blessedly quiet. In the absence of any calming draught coursing through her veins, her grief was awful, but Harry's insistence to herself that sadness was bad for the baby kept her from becoming overwhelmed by it so that she could plan for her future.
Harry was not certain how she would fare once Justine was born, but she did know where she would be going once she was released—and that she would be going there alone. She had made up her mind on that score after Percy's display of "chivalry" and seeing Vivian Marchbanks.
The Children's Welfare representative had found Harry's choice an odd one—"Given that the Weasleys are prepared to support you in this confusing time," she had said—but Harry had known that it would be too hard on herself, on everyone, were she to go to the Burrow.
Fleur would be there all the time. Mrs. Weasley would never stop fussing over me. I . . . I'd think of them too much.
Of course, just because Harry was not going to be living at the Burrow did not mean that she had not constantly, at the back of her mind, been thinking of Ron and Hermione, but she kept these thoughts to herself because she did not want to be told by Spriggs that she ought to see a mind-healer; Harry had seen enough mind-healers after the war to never want to see any of them again.
When no one would bring her any back issues of the Daily Prophet, Harry had broken the anti-summoning charms she had discovered placed on her room and got them herself, Vanishing them after a night spent reading Skeeter's appalling suppositions.
God, I hate that woman! She never gets it right. Of course Shacklebolt's got me down as a witch. He's a stickler for having his facts straight—but this isn't permanent. . . . Stupid cow.
Ron and Hermione's solicitors were now hers, and Harry had engaged them to, among other things, see to it that Dobby was sent to her. He had immediately agreed to quit Hogwarts, become her house elf, and make Grimmauld Place a suitable one for Justine. He had also carried her letter of resignation to Shacklebolt, who had, Dobby had told her upon his return from that errand, been expecting it.
Dobby had also brought Harry several books on pregnancy and child-rearing, which she had been reading since she had banned any further visits from concerned well-wishers.
"I'm so scared," Harry whispered, putting one of the books down and getting out of her bed to wander over to the window.
There were no stars in the sky, but she could see the candlelight of her "supporters" flickering in the street below; they had been holding a vigil for her since news of her transformation had first been reported, or so claimed the article Harry had read about it.
Everyone wants to know about me. Everyone wants to protect me, to make decisions for me. Everyone wants to be . . . involved.
Suddenly, Harry couldn't bear another moment of being cooped up in hospital, surrounded by the suffocating sense of other people's concern.
I need to get out of here, but how? I know—I'll cast a glamour over myself, catch the Knight Bus to my neighborhood, and walk the rest of the way. Damn I'm glad Grimmauld's still Unplottable.
Conjuring some parchment and a quill, Harry scrawled a note explaining her actions, drew some blood using the charm Severus had employed, and smeared it on the underside of her pillow to serve as the anchor of an illusion. Casting her spell, she was pleased when "she" blinked into existence on the bed.
There. Now no one will know I've gone until morning, she thought, hastily charming herself to look like a mediwizard—it never occurred to Harry to charm herself to look like a mediwitch—and exiting the room.
The healers still conducted nightly rounds.
Some of the other passengers on the bus were talking about her when she got on, and Harry marveled at how strange it was to be the focus of so much attention and still feel so lonely. She missed Severus.
I'm an idiot. Even if Severus did want me for more than shagging, I know he wouldn't want to raise a child with me. He hates children. . . . I still miss him, though—but just for the shagging.
The idea of accepting Fleur's "offer" to take Justine, which the witch had couched in terms of the difficulties faced by single mothers, flitted through her mind, but Harry dismissed it, damning herself for allowing her fears to temporarily get the better of her.
I saved the sodding world! I can learn to change a nappy. I can buy formula. I can raise Justine alone if I have to!
Thinking it almost made her believe it.
Harry was just opening the door to Grimmauld Place when the hairs on the back of her neck rose.
Someone's there! she thought, drawing her wand and turning around to see Severus standing in the street.
She felt her throat clench.
He's only doing his "duty," she thought angrily, sheathing her wand and kicking open the door, which she did not bother to close.
Dobby appeared in the entrance hall, looking excited. "Dobby did not think Harry Potter would be here until tomorrow!"
"Yeah, well she's here now," Harry snapped, as she heard the door close behind her.
Dobby's ears quivered. "Is Harry Potter well?"
"She's fine. Leave us alone," Severus ordered.
Dobby made no move to obey him, exclaiming, "Dobby is not Severus Snape's house elf!"
"It's all right, Dobby," Harry said soothingly, feeling guilty for having snapped at him. "I'll call you if I need anything. I promise. You can go."
"Dobby will go, but Dobby will not leave," the house elf replied, shooting Severus a warning look and vanishing.
"You're not the only one who knows how to create an illusion," Severus said, following Harry as she went upstairs.
"And illusions are easy enough for you to detect," Harry said, throwing herself down on her bed.
Severus sat down on its edge. "They are when I've got my own monitoring charms in place. Why did you leave?"
"Why did you follow me?"
When Severus did not immediately reply, Harry turned over to look at him. His expression was guarded, but curious—and curiously not reproving. Without thinking why, she gestured for Severus to join her, which he did by stretching out beside her.
Nice, Harry thought, feeling the warmth emanating from Severus' body. I wish—
"This is . . . pleasant," Severus murmured.
Harry smiled ruefully. "Too bad we've never done this before."
"The pregnancy has affected your memory, Potter."
"No, I mean, we've never just been—"
"In bed together when we weren't shagging," Harry replied, frowning. "You always leave—and if you want me to remember your name, you might try using mine."
"You never ask me to stay, Harry," Severus replied, reaching out to brush back her fringe.
"That's nice, too," Harry whispered, moving her face closer to Severus' and refusing to consider what it was that she was doing.
In the past, Harry's habit of not considering what he was doing with Severus, or even that it was Severus with whom he was doing it, had always made things easier between them; Harry saw no reason to change that as Severus leaned over and pressed a light kiss to her mouth.
Oh, Harry thought, as her body responded to Severus' kiss in a manner that was largely unfamiliar to her.
She had found opportunities to look at her new body, of course, to grow used to it in some respects, but the lack of privacy in St. Mungo's had kept her from exploring it properly.
But I'm—we're—alone now, Harry told herself, threading her fingers through Severus' hair and pulling him closer to deepen the kiss.
When their tongues began sliding together, she moaned into Severus' mouth and shifted so that she was lying on her back, and Severus followed her lead, covering her body with his own. Thrusting her hips into his, it surprised Harry not to feel the half-expected friction of her prick rubbing Severus' own, but what she did feel was more than welcome—and Severus did not seem to mind the change.
Thank God, Harry thought, her head swimming with arousal, as Severus moved his hands over her body. Mentally reviewing what her books had told her about shagging during pregnancy and not remembering any warnings against it—just notes on the use of pillows as positioning aids, which was advice that she did not yet need to employ—she broke their kiss to whisper an urgent, "Stay."
"Never really left," Severus told her, before kissing Harry with a fierceness that made any further conversation impossible.
Several hours later, after Harry felt that she had made a fair go of experiencing what it was to be a girl, she murmured, "Fleur is going to try and take Justine away from me, Severus, and I can't let her do that."
"I know, Harry. I . . . understand," he said, running a hand lightly up and down her back. "Don't worry about that now. You should try to get some rest."
"I should have tried this witch thing a long time ago," she replied playfully, smiling into Severus' shoulder.
He gave a half-grunt, half-laugh in reply, and then, not long after, began to snore.
Harry giggled. "I didn't know you snored," she said, nuzzling more firmly against Severus and allowing herself to sleep.
When she woke up, Severus was gone.