The Unexpected Greatest Gift of All (1/2), for dementordelta Title: The Unexpected Greatest Gift of All Author:calanor Giftee:dementordelta Word Count: 15,585 Rating: R Pairing:Harry/Severus, Harry/OCC, Severus/Kingsley, Draco/Hermione, Ron/Luna, Sirius/Remus/Lucius, Neville/Bill Warnings: Ignores books OOTP, HBP and DH. Disclaimer :Nope. Still poor. Not mine... * sigh * Summary :Severus and Harry are gifted with an unexpected gift.... Beta :The Southpaw, The Northpaw, Lady L, Lady S, and Sister N. Author's Notes My dear lady Dementordelta said 'Surprise her'. Through many wayward bunnies, I fought and battled, when this one came to me with hopeful eyes, we plunged forward. In the end, I hope I did. Happy Christmas!!
The Unexpected Greatest Gift of All
Juliana stood tall and proud, waiting for Aunt Minnie to call her name. Her long dark hair was in a single braid, done that morning by her Papa as her Da rushed around their rooms packing the last of her things for her trip on the Hogwarts Express. Her little brother, Jared, and younger sister, Mary Grace, were both on the floor playing.
She was finally starting at Hogwarts.
It had been a long road, but she'd made it, along with her stubborn fathers. They were tough and bull-headed, but she gotten them to see things her way; that they belonged together.
And they learned they couldn't resist the unexpected--and she had definitely been unexpected.
Ten years earlier.....
It was late morning when Severus Snape, Professor of Potions at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, glided up from the dungeons towards the Headmaster's office, robes snapping as he moved swiftly through the halls. Albus Dumbledore had summoned him moments ago via the inner-school Floo system, it was a matter of the utmost importance. Quickly leaving one of the apprentices in charge, Severus made his way towards the tower room where the headmaster awaited him.
Ten minutes later, Severus was staring at a chubby, dark haired baby. She had beautiful blue eyes, curly hair, a pert little nose, and a rosebud mouth. Two little teeth peeked out from her bottom gum when she smiled.
Juliana Olivia Martin-Innes, the daughter of one of his Slytherin students, and her American partner. Juliana's mother came from Ireland, and a strong Catholic Muggle family. The local priest had almost killed her, trying to burn her in the town square as a witch, when the letters had started arriving from the magical schools. It had been decided by the Ministry of Magic, that the best decision for all parties involved would be for her to become a ward of the school and placed with a magical family.
That had been the first mistake.
The second had been the Ministry never checking on the girl and the family.
No one knew how far the family had gone in their mistreatment of the girl. And no one had ever bothered to check up on her. They had just assumed that she would be fine with the magical family.
Severus had just reached out and gently touched the soft cheek with a potion stained finger when the large oak door opened, admitting a frazzled-looking Harry Potter.
"What is it Albus? I don't have time--I need to find my god--"
Harry's mouth dropped and a stunned expression crossed his face, when he spotted her sitting comfortably in the Headmaster's lap, Severus standing next to them, his finger against her cheek. "Oh! Juliana! But how?"
Severus straightened and clasped his hands behind his back as he faced the younger man. He remained silent, his expression blank, as the Headmaster spoke.
"Mr. Potter, I am Moreen's executor and friend. She entrusted me to ensure her and Annie's daughter was taken care of. In her last will, she placed Juliana in the care of Professor Snape and yourself. She had Mr. Micah Red Cloud, as the ladies' solicitor, brought her here and made sure she was settled."
Severus panicked for a moment. A child. Moreen wanted him and Potter to raise her child.
Micah cleared his throat. "There is one condition, gentlemen."
Harry and Severus both stopped what they were doing and turned towards the quiet man, they'd neglected to notice, sitting in a chair by the fire. He had long dark hair tied back with a beaded leather strip. He was dressed in dark trousers and a multi-colored shirt. He had seen this man at Moreen's funeral, and at Annie's a year earlier. Definitely, not a person who'd disappear into the crowd. The man stared quietly at him with eyes almost as dark as the Potion Master's.
Harry shivered involuntarily, at the thought as he rubbed his chest over his heart, trying to still the constant ache. He still couldn't believe that Moreen--his kindred sister--was gone. On many a sleepless night, spent in the Hogwarts' kitchens, they'd sat with cups of hot cocoa and fresh biscuits still warm from the ovens, consoling each other's hurts and fears, eventually bonding more strongly than if they'd come from the same family. In her, he had found someone who understood intimately what it was like to be hated by family who were supposed to love you. She had been the first person he told about the Dursley's. Hermione and Ron were his best friends, but she had been his rock in the storm that ruled his life in both worlds. She understood what others couldn't begin to comprehend. Now she was gone. He shook himself free from his memories and looked at the solicitor. Harry cleared his throat before speaking.
"And what would that be, Sir?"
"Moreen knew Annie's family wouldn't take the baby. They'd been angry when when Annie and Moreen had bonded. Annie's mother made it quite clear that if she took in Juliana, then she would be raised in a very strict environment. And under no circumstances, would she allow the child to be trained as a witch. Her magic would be bound."
Harry closed his eyes. "She was the dark haired woman who made a huge commotion last year, at Annie's funeral."
"Yes. She's a Muggle. She and Annie's father divorced not long after she was born, when he learned of Annie's magic. Annie's father died right after Annie graduated from Salem Academy. "
"What are the conditions, Mr. Red Cloud?" Severus asked as he watched the dark haired baby drool all over Albus' rainbow colored robes.
"Both of you must raise Juliana together. Not just Mr. Potter, or Professor Snape. She is to have two loving parental figures in her life, not someone who would be there as a part time parent."
"Mr. Red Cloud, how am I, a Professor of Potions, to care for an infant full time? I have three apprentices, and am one of the Heads of House here at Hogwarts. I also..."
"Could you give us a few moments, Mr. Red Cloud," Harry butted in, silencing Severus.
As soon as the man stepped out of the office, Harry threw up Silencing Charms wandlessly and rounded on Severus, "Moreen believed in us, Severus. We can't let that child be brought up in the same environment that she was. Unloved and treated harshly. Juliana deserves to grow up knowing love, and--with her magic."
"Please, Severus," Harry pleaded. "I can move to the castle. Albus has been trying to get me to head up a Drawing or Fine Arts class for the Upper Years. Mum Weasley would gladly come to the castle and watch her if both of us are in class. She's been dying for some grand-kids to spoil. Sirius and Remus will help, and so will Lucius. He would jump at the chance to spoil a little lady such as Juliana. You know he always wanted a daughter."
"You will have to share quarters, my boys. Little Juliana shouldn't be shuffled from one set of rooms to another." Albus, silent to this point, piped in.
"What about my Slytherin's, Albus?"
Albus was looking up towards the ceiling when he smiled. "Our dear Lady says she can expand your quarters to accommodate both Juliana and Harry."
Severus walked across the old office and stared out the window overlooking the ancient castle grounds. Moreen had never asked anything of anyone. Her brilliance in the Potions field had been astounding. Her ideas and intelligence would be greatly missed--as would any future contributions she may have made from her Potions research. Her child should have the same advantages that both of her parents did. Grow up with magic… grow up with love... and an understanding of her abilities.
The Dark Lord was right about one thing. All magical children should be checked on. Children, magical children, were far and few between these past generations--the Weasley's not withstanding. Severus turned away from the window. Harry was now holding the child, and the picture alone of man and child made something ache in his stone cold heart. Not understanding the odd feeling, he ignored it.
"I am not an easy man to live with, Potter."
Harry looked up from the drooly face and turned an amused gaze toward the older wizard. "As if that's news to anyone within a hundred kilometers," Harry sighed as his expression became serious. "I know that, Severus. Remember, I lived with you, Sirius, Remus, Lucius, and Draco while you trained me for the final confrontation with Snake Face! The five of you, plus Albus, tried to drive me batty and daft with all the arguing and pranking. Lucky I didn't end up with permanent blue hair and pointed ears."
"Well, then you could have starred in one of those Muggle Science Fiction programs on the telly that Albus is so fond of."
Albus snorted quietly in amusement behind them, as Juliana squealed in delight.
Harry opened his mouth to retort, but was halted by Mr. Red Cloud. "Gentlemen, please."
No one had noticed when the reserved man had stepped back into the office.
"Have you made your decisions?" he asked, choosing to draw no further attention to the budding argument he had walked in on.
Harry looked to Severus. It was all in his hands, the final decision.
Severus stood with his hands behind his back, and took a deep breath. "Juliana stays. As Mr. Potter stated, Moreen wanted her daughter to grow up with two parental figures and a magical home. Which, I believe, we can provide."
Micah Red Cloud exhibited his first smile since meeting the three wizards in the room, a silent sign of approval of their decision. "Very well then, there are papers that need to be signed. Let's get started, shall we?" He motioned toward a table and chairs near the windows. Juliana squealed as if she agreed, and held her arms out as Harry placed her back in Albus' arms.
Four hours later, Harry was standing in the middle of Severus Snape's quarters. The Castle had been busy as they finalized all the paperwork for both Ministries; American and British. He remembered rooms being decorated with dark wood and shades of pale cream. Instead of the basic rooms for Staff Professors, this room had doubled, almost tripled in size. Dobby and Winky had already brought everything down that Micah Red Cloud had removed from Moreen and Annie's home in St. Louis. A home that was closed up for now, until Juliana was old enough to return and decide what do to with the home that her mother's had made for them, and then left behind for her.
Lady Hogwarts did indeed add three rooms to Severus' existing rooms. The smaller one was done in greens and blues. Clouds floated around the magical scenes on the walls, with magical creatures frolicking among the trees. A window opened to the outside but was warded from intrusion. Harry feared that someone might target Juliana, not only because of him...but because of Severus as well.
Contrary to everyone's belief, Severus Snape's apartments were not down in the dungeons, but a level above. His potions lab was accessed by a door to a set of stairs that connected to the lower levels. Harry had Severus' personal house elf, Dickens, make the living area baby safe while Dobby finished unpacking his things in the room he'd claimed as his own.
Lady Hogwarts had added an art studio for him as well, without asking, thus saving Harry from having to convert a room somewhere else in the castle. He told Dobby that he would unpack those things himself later, when Juliana was napping.
Albus was more than happy to hear he was going to take him up on his offer. Now he needed to design classes for all seven Years. For that, he needed Hermione's help. But first, Harry was going to have to go through the chest that Micah had given them before they left his office.
And the letter. That had to be read too--something Harry dreaded doing. It would just be another sign that Moreen was gone. He sat, the chest on the table in front of him, as he turned the sealed scroll over and over in his hands. He wondered what Severus' letter said. But the older man had taken his and gone off somewhere, to read it in private. He would only share its contents if he chose to.
Moreen had great respect for Professor Snape. She'd often told him throughout their years in school that he was one of the very few that had believed in her. Harry glanced over at Juliana, sleeping soundly in her bouncing cradle, beside on the sofa. He slowly popped the wax seal and opened the scroll.
I always looked at you as the little brother I didn't have. If fates had been kinder, in a different world, we could have run off and taken care of ourselves and to hell with everyone else. But that wasn't to be. They put their lives and fates on your shoulders and expected you to save the day. And you did. Blew him up and burnt him to a crisp. Just like you said you would.
Remember when you came to my flat in New York? You cried and yelled, ranted and raved for hours because the Prophet published that your choice of a Muggle University and major in Art, instead of attending Auror Academy? You told me if you didn't follow your heart, then what was the purpose of living?
The Healer told me I had Ovarian Cancer when I was pregnant with Juliana. They told me just before Annie died. I had a choice. Give birth and die or abort our child and live. There were no guarantees that if I aborted the child that I would survive.
My heart could not let the child born of our love be discarded. And Annie agreed. We followed our hearts and chose life for our baby. And then we agreed on where and who would raise our child. Why you and Professor Snape?
You, my dear Harry, would give her all the love in your heart and soul. And by watching the both of you together, I know that I made a good decision. Professor Snape will protect her. He isn't the cold man many believe him to be. He only guards his feelings and emotions very carefully. Open your eyes and you will see it too. Trust me, my brother. I have always been open and honest with you.
I know you will mourn me. Cry for me, but not for long. Celebrate my life. Have Albus watch Juliana, go down to the pub and do me up right--the Irish way. Have Seamus arrange a Wake in the way only he can do. Invite all our friends and remember only happy thoughts. Shed only happy tears, Harry. I'll be there with you--and Annie too, if only in spirit.
Tell our daughter about us, Annie and me. Tell her about all the mischief you and I got up to. Don't let her forget where she came from, but be her family for me, please. Hug and kiss her everyday for us. Micah has the portrait you painted of us. Please hang it in her room where she can see us any time she wants to, especially when she first wakes. Teach her about Quidditch, deep-fried Twinkies, Muggle baseball, and classical music. Teach her love is love no matter what, and no matter with whom. Love is where you find it.
I'm getting morbid. Enough of that, But if you teach her to like milk and Pepsi, I will haunt you, Harry Potter! We will be watching you three become a family. You can do it--I know you can. Just give Severus a chance.
I love you, my brother, and always will. Hugs and kisses,
P.S. When she's old enough, give her my Chocolate Frog Card collection.
Harry leaned back in to the couch, tears falling freely. How do you let go of someone like Moreen? How do you say goodbye? He hiccupped, as he sat and let his emotions and his grief overcome him.
Severus Snape stood amongst the old battlements of Hogwarts, letting the late cold September wind whip around him, the letter was clutched tightly in his hand. Moreen had been a sweet and beautiful child. Cunning and smart. He hadn't known of her friendship with Potter until their Seventh Year, when he found her healing him after the Welcoming Feast. His Uncle had left him bruised and beaten, barely able to walk.
The Potions Master would never claim to be an evil man like the Dark Lord, but in that one moment, he understood why magical children should be raised in magical homes. Not in a place where Muggle's didn't understand them. Were afraid of them, and usually tried to destroy what they feared and didn't understand. He also remembered Moreen had been raised in a magical home and suffered similar treatment at the hands of the ones who claimed they would care for her as well. Sad proof that magical families were no guarantee of a loving and secure upbringing.
Now this bright flame was gone. When the news came that she had died of cancer, Severus spent the entire night draining his sorrow in a bottle of Firewhiskey. Hoping against hope that when he woke the next morning, it had been some joke or a figment of his imagination. But sadly, it wasn't. He couldn't attend the services as his Mother's sister had passed, and he was required to attend her memorial the day before and then there was the obligatory family gathering afterwards.
Moreen asked him to watch and protect her most precious prize. Juliana.
And with Potter of all people. She even threatened him, if he taught her daughter how to sneer or snark, she would come back to haunt him. He snorted through the tears he allowed to fall. What he would teach her was how to be a Slytherin--to protect herself from all dangers.
All she asked of him was to make a family with Potter and Juliana. She knew his greatest secret. Learned it from him at a Potions Conference in Italy five years ago. She was having a rough time with Annie and he was feeling lonely. They shared some fine rich wine one night, and poured their hearts out. Not that he would admit to that--not to anyone.
"Who is it, Professor?"
"Severus, Moreen. I am no longer your Professor."
"You're avoiding the question, Severus."
"He's powerful... Beautiful... Rich... Perfect."
"Sounds like a dream."
"He is. And that is all he will ever be to me. A dream... and untouchable."
"Who is this dream?"
Severus mumbled into his wine glass.
Moreen cocked an eyebrow at him, "Sorry. Didn't quite catch that."
"Oh," she whispered.
They changed topics to other things of importance that night but Severus never forgot his confession. The words spoken making it all the more real. Unattainable but real.
But what did he know of babies? Indeed? What did he know of babies?
"Severus, what a fine night it is to be out and about," Albus spoke, as he appeared silently from the shadows.
"Albus.' He brushed hastily at his eyes and cheeks before turning to face the Headmaster. "Did you seek me out for a reason?"
The older man sighed a deep weary sigh, speaking without acknowledging the reddened eyes or the damp cheeks. "Moreen had her reasons for choosing the two of you to raise her daughter. She believed in both of you. Don't let her last wishes go unanswered."
Severus was quiet for a long moment. "How do I know I can do this? I grew up in a proper Pureblood home. I was raised by a nanny and house elves. My parent gone most of the time, and painfully proper when they weren't."
"Moreen knew. She could see the potential in both of you. Harry, with all the love in his heart and his gentle ways, despite his upbringing. He will teach her love, compassion,and empathy. You, on the other hand, will be stern and demanding when needed, and fiercely protective of the child. You will teach her how to read others and how to protect herself. She will grow to be a well-rounded, strong and emotionally sound young woman some day. In Harry and you, she will have two very fine fathers to look to when she thinks her world is ending. Or beginning."
"Moreen and Annie will miss everything, Albus. They'll not see the child born of their love grow up into a beautiful woman," Severus whispered. "Miss her first steps. First words. First spell. All of it. And they want a broken down old man to raise her."
"I don't understand, Severus."
"Because you are the best man for the job. And it will be both you and Harry--raising her together. The two of you complete each other, and will give her a very well-rounded upbringing." Albus tugged on his long beard. "I wonder if I can teach the little tike to call me Grandpa?" The older man reached out and squeezed Severus' shoulder as he walked away chuckling.
Severus snorted, his uneasiness tempered but still lingering. He stepped back and slowly made his way down the castle steps toward his rooms. He and Harry needed to do some planning.
When he stepped into his rooms aftermaking a quick pass through the halls looking for any stragglers out after curfew, he found Harry stretched out on the sofa. Juliana lay across the young man's chest held protectively with strong arms, as they both slept peacefully. Severus could see the magic surrounding them, ensuring the babe would not roll and fall off onto the floor while they slept.
He sat on the sofa table and just gazed at man and child. Both had dark hair and easily could be mistaken for father and child. But he knew that the young women had used a magical surrogate when Moreen became pregnant with Juliana.
Severus reached out with a potion stained finger and lightly caressed Juliana's cheek, before stroking the dark hair. Hesitating, he barely touched Harry's hand as he pulled his own away. They couldn't sleep here all night. And the baby needed to get used to sleeping in her new surroundings.
Sighing, he spoke, "Harry," he called quietly.
Harry was dreaming, his eyes moving to and fro beneath their lids, long dark lashes brushing his cheeks. Severus hated to wake him, knowing that sometimes the younger man had trouble sleeping. He reached out to shake him gently, when he noticed a slight smile on his face. Severus wondered what he was dreaming about?
"Harry?" he called softly.
Harry was walking towards the Loch, near the cottage where he and his partner lived. He could hear laughter as he moved closer. Climbing the rise and looking down, he could see a tall man, with a long dark braid trailing down his back, almost brushing his waist. A little girl was running around chasing butterflies, another child came running behind her, on chubby legs squealing, "Juls!"
He stopped for a moment, basking the feeling of family and love. When his partner looked up, Harry only felt love and devotion. It was a dream come true. Finally.
"Harry?" he heard from a distance. And again. "Harry."
Green eyes opened groggily. Arms tightened around the warm bundle on his chest. "Severus?" he asked.
"You fell asleep on the couch. Juliana needs to sleep in her cot. It will take some time for her to become accustomed to her new surroundings. We should begin to establish a routine right now."
"I know," he whispered. "I found her stuffed elephant that she always slept with. I gave it to her when she was born...." Harry said as he sat up slowly, cradling Juliana close. "Shall we do this together?"
Severus steadied Harry as he stood, then rose to his feet. "Shall I take her?"
Harry knew that the older man had yet to hold the precious burden, so he gently handed her over. She settled her head on his broad shoulder with only a large contented sigh.
"So much to happen to such a sweet baby," Harry commented, as he gently rubbed her back.
'Much the same could be said about you, Harry,' he heard his inner voice say.
Severus gazed at the younger man. Moreen was right. Harry was a man full of love. It's what made him who he was. Even after all the hell life threw at him at such a young age, and throughout his Hogwarts years, he still had the capacity to enjoy life and embrace it, and to care for others.
It didn't take long to settle the ten-month-old into her new but familiar room. Harry, along with his crazy elf, had cast spells to make the room look like the one she'd left behind. Blues and greens, and dancing animals. A wardrobe and dresser made from antique pine, in the same washed white as her cot, also occupied the room, as well as a wall of shelves to hold books and toys.
The only new feature was her mothers' portrait that hung immediately above the cot, so they could watch her and she could always see them. They left the door open as they quietly stepped out into the cool hallway. Harry's room was beside Juliana's and Severus' was across the hall. Harry waved his hand before turning to face Severus.
"I've set up a baby monitoring spell. If she wakes, the spell will alert me. I'll take the first night, since you have classes in the morning."
"We share the care taking, Harry. Don't forget that."
"I won't. But it is her first night away from her real home. And mine as well. So the both of us trying to sleep... "
"If it gets to be too much, wake me. I will come and sit with her as well."
Harry cocked his head to the side, and looked at Severus with a puzzled expression. Just as the older wizard was about to ask him what he was thinking, he was interrupted.
Harry shrugged, and turned toward his door. "Goodnight Severus. Pleasant dreams."
As Severus was preparing for bed, he suddenly stopped. Kingsley.
His on again, off again lover was not going to be happy with this new situation.
Not when it involved Harry Potter living with him in his rooms--no, now their rooms.
Not at all.
The first week was a rough one. Juliana woke up the first morning, and cried, looking for her Mama. Even the portrait wasn't good enough. She wanted Mama. And right now!
Mum Weasley came and helped by walking the floor with the upset child. Even Albus in all his glory and crazy robes abandoned his office to hold and comfort the crying child.
Poppy recommended a Calming Draught for babies. Severus had to make a trip to Diagon Ally for the book, Potions for New Mother's. The woman at the counter actually flirted with him, asking him about his new baby, after she checked his hand for a bonding ring. He just gave her 'the look' and left with his purchase.
The Daily Prophet hadn't wasted time in reporting the newest addition to Hogwarts' population, and, that Harry Potter had gone to live there as well. Speculation as to whom the child belonged, ran rampant, both in print, on the wireless, and through gossip on the streets and in the cafes. It continued, until one day Harry finally got angry enough to Firecall Luna Lovegood. The young blond came and did a beautifully written piece, that didn't give up too much information, and requested the public to please leave them alone while the child adjusted to a new home and new life without her mothers.
At the end of the second week, Harry caught Colin Creevey down in the dungeons with his camera.
It wasn't a pretty sight as Harry Potter, The-Man-Who-Defeated-The-Dark-Lord, was seen stalking through the halls with a petrified body floating behind him. Colin never had a chance. It took them a couple of days to determine how he was able to access the castle despite the wards put in place to keep out the Press. Harry was hard pressed to leave Juliana alone after that; afraid some other reporter or photographer would make another attempt to get to his god-daughter.
As both men adjusted to living together with Juliana, Severus noticed how well Harry fit into his life. Obviously, there was little disruption to his own life. He gave more responsibilities to his apprentices during and after classes, but he still did the grading for the Seventh Years and brewed potions for the Infirmary.
With permission from Albus, both men took breakfast in their rooms where they fed Juliana together. It had become habit for Harry to cook his own breakfast, and with Winky's assistance, he continued to do so.
Severus found himself eating full English breakfasts that would make most grown men cry in gratitude. Harry Potter, the same man who at one time couldn't make a potion to save his life, could cook like a dream. Bacon cooked to perfection. Eggs and toast with his favorite jam or marmalade. Blackcherry fruit spread and a delightful Blackcurrant jam.
He even woke one morning to eggy-bread, something his Muggleborn Aunt would make when he would spend an occasional weekend with her and his Uncle Joseph. Life with Harry and Juliana was surprising comfortable and peaceful.
Juliana liked to eat egg and soldiers, or buttered toast, or a bit of porridge with her milk. Most mornings she was a good baby, but once in awhile if she had a bad night, she would throw her food on the floor, or at her Muppas and Poppas. After the second morning spent hastily changing robes before classes, both men learned to place shielding charms on their clothes.
Harry had warded a place in his workroom so he could work on commissions and Juliana could keep her eye on her Godfather. Winky or Dobby would stay nearby or play with her on the giant playmat that Hermione and Molly had bought for them. If Juliana's squeals of laughter were any indication, she loved it.
As September disappeared and October began it wasn't until the end of the third week that Juliana finally slept through the night. Sirius and Remus came and stayed in the Castle that week, to begin caring for the young lady when both Severus and Harry had to be away, or Mum Weasley couldn't come. But now they had another problem. Juliana would scream when either Severus or Harry left the room, only to quiet immediately once they returned.
Sirius came up with the perfect distraction, allowing Harry and Severus to leave the room. He would transform, and Juliana would squeal to be let down. She would crawl over as fast as she could to Padfoot. Pulling on his ears and patting his head. He would crawl along on his belly and roll over for her, then sit up and offer her a paw. Remus would sit on the floor to be at her level and talk quietly to her, in a soothing voice, and sometimes sing little nonsense songs he remembered from his childhood. It took close to six weeks, but finally one day, when Sirius and Remus arrived for their day with her, she waved at Harry and Severus, then had eyes only for her caretakers. Clapping and squealing, she babbled, trying to say 'dog.' Severus just shook his head, as surprise showed on Harry's face, before he led the younger wizard out the door.
With all the changes to their rooms completed, the castle and the elves started on Harry's studio, creating an open airy room with a multitude of windows to let in the natural light. The walls were lined with shelves and cabinets to store all of Harry's art supplies and reference materials. There were large tables in the center of the room, and his favorite easels sat near the windows. The walls were a pale cream color and creamy colored blinds were mounted in the windows to allow control of the light streaming in. It presented a neutral background to not distract Harry's creativity.
When they were finished, they started on his classrooms--a large section of the fourth floor. Three large classrooms on the eastern side of the castle had been merged into one, arranged for both lecturing and hands on teaching. It too was in the shades of Harry's studio, and the walls opposite the huge windows were also covered with shelves and cabinets. There were large tables and enough easels for a class of no more than twenty-five students. The lecture area was surprisingly casual compared to the other classrooms in the castle. The bookshelves around it were filled with books on Literature and Art of both the Muggle and Wizarding Worlds.
Harry surveyed both areas when they were finished and was very pleased. It actually made him anxious to get started, as he added a few of his favorite art pieces in the classroom. If only other changes and adjustments in their new lives had been as smooth.
It was time for Harry Potter to join the staff of Hogwarts as the new Professor of Fine Arts and Literature.
And the return of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
In all the commotion of his life, Severus had forgotten about the other man while he was away in the States on special assignment. A foreboding overcame him, because he knew as sure as the sun would rise tomorrow, Kingsley would not be happy at all about this intrusion into his life.
Kingsley Shacklebolt stepped from the Portkey room at the Ministry of Magic. He had just spent six weeks in America, with their Aurors, doing training exercises in tracking and apprehension of Dark Wizards. Throughout the experience, he learned, that over across the pond, their views of Dark Wizards and evil were different from those here. After a long day of training sessions and lectures, he had spent many an evening at the local bar, arguing about and discussing the differences. Vampires, Were's, and other Dark Creatures had more rights over there than here in Britain.
He pulled open the door to his office, walked around his desk, and sank down into his leather chair. On the corner of his desk he had a picture of himself and his lover. Picking it up, he stared at the faces looking back at him. His own face raised an eyebrow at him, while the face of Severus Snape remained stoic. He loved the contrast of their skin when they made love. Especially when he shagged Severus, all that lovely pale skin. He made such pretty noises when he cried out. Sighing, he set the picture back on his desk. He'd missed Severus, and it was time to go see him. It had been too long.
He looked up when he heard someone knocking on the door frame. "Dora!" He smiled at the younger Auror Metamorphmagus, who was sporting short spiky purple hair today. The usually cheerful woman, was frowning.
"Hey, boss. How was the trip?" She leaned against the doorway, her Auror robes open over a faded t-shirt and pale jeans, her wand behind her ear and a newspaper under her arm.
He shook his head. "Different. Them Yanks, have allot of different views. Let's put it this way, we have a difference of opinions. A BIG difference of opinions."
"Well, King, that's to be expected, I guess." She walked across the room and perched on the edge of his desk. "There's been some excitement here while you were gone."
Frowning, he wondered where was the hyper active woman that he was accustomed to? "What's going on, Dora? What's with the depressing mood?"
She tossed him the paper.
Kingsley picked up the paper, opening it to the front page of the Daily Prophet. The issue was a few weeks old. The headline, 'Harry Potter and Severus Snape: Fathers!'
Sitting up in his chair, he skimmed the article quickly, his frown deepening as he read. Dora watched him silently, sensing his growing displeasure. Good, he would be a valuable ally. She'd been trying to catch Harry Potter's attentions for some time now.
Kingsley's mood had just gone downhill. "Where did this child come from? And why is Severus helping Potter? It's his Goddaughter."
"The woman who died was a student of Snape's. She was one of his Slytherin's, and a Potions Mistress in the States. Her Partner was Annie Martin. Remember, she was on the team that hunted down that Dark Witch from Asia? She was hit with that unknown dark curse. The one where it sucked the life out of her day by day. Turned her into an old woman, before killing her."
"Hell of a way to die. Too bad we didn't have that when we were trying to get rid of that snaky bastard..." He tossed the paper back across the desk.
"Yes, well, Harry was the Chosen One," Dora stated. She knew this irked the older man. "He was able to send the beast to hell without an ancient spell."
"Yes, well how did Severus end up in the middle of this? He hates children. Potter must have talked him into this," Kingsley growled.
"Do you really think anyone could talk that wizard into doing something he didn't want to do? Especially after everything he's already been through?"
He had to speak to Severus, and speak to him now. Standing, he circled the desk. "I'm going to see Severus and get to the bottom of all of this. The Prophet isn't exactly a reliable source of information."
He only nodded at her as he exited his office. Dora hopped down from the desk and hurried after him, a bounce in her step again. Dora had been trying to get Harry Potter to go out with her for awhile now. He claimed that she was too much like a sister, or made other excuses. She heard from the rumour mill that he dated both sexes, but didn't date very often. He stuck close to home and worked on his art. He'd had a few showings, a couple of which she'd attended when she could. Harry had done very well in the Art world, both Magical and Muggle.
She remembered that right after the War, when he'd refused to join the Aurors, he'd said that his place wasn't off chasing Dark Wizards anymore. He'd had enough of killing and death to last him a lifetime. He wanted to live now.
Many in the Wizarding World were not happy. Cornelius Fudge, instead of pestering Albus all day about rebuilding the Wizarding World, turned to sending owls to both Albus and Harry. Harry started to burn his messages, much to Albus' delight. Two years later, when the people had finally had enough of the bungling, they ousted him by a No Confidence Vote. The annoying owls finally stopped. And in a rare moment that day in the Auditorium of the Ministry of Magic, a very old and ancient tradition came alive. Fawkes and four of his brethren appeared before those gathered that day and chose, much to the surprise of many, Neville Longbottom-Weasley, to become the new Minister of Magic.
The young man had found his self-confidence and determination during the war. Being from one of the oldest and most affluent pureblood families, he'd had the best schooling and training in all things, including knowledge of politics and economics in the Wizarding World. His Gran had seen to that. When he took the oath of office, he only spoke briefly, and that was to tell everyone he would clean up the mess left behind by Voldemort and Fudge, and to issue a mandate that everyone was to now leave Harry Potter alone, since he had fulfilled his destiny as far as the Wizarding World was concerned. When he finished speaking, he waved to everyone, before taking his husband's hand and disappearing into his new office.
Dora remembered Kingsley wasn't happy about that either. Neville was just a kid in his eyes. Someone with more experience should have gotten the job--voted in by the people, not chosen by an over grown flaming chicken!
'At least it wasn't Potter!' she'd heard him say days later. She knew he was still miffed because Albus Dumbledore hadn't asked him to help train Harry Potter when the time came. Maybe now with Kingsley back, he could separate the two men, then she'd have a chance. She followed him out of the Ministry of Magic towards the Apparition point, then watched Kingsley turn in a swirl of robes facing Dora.
He shouted, "Hogwarts!" and disappeared.
Harry was currently fussing over Juliana. She had just returned from a day with Sirius, Remus, and Lucius. The three men had taken her to Muggle London for a day in the park, not that she'd gotten to play much. But the men enjoyed the day and so did their little girl, if the rosy cheeks and bright sleepy eyes were any indication.
Somehow all three men had stopped at a Halloween shop and come back with a costume for Juliana. Even though the eleven month old was still too young for any festivities, Harry thought they could dress her up and take her to the Staff Room and let the other Professors see her. Harry looked over at the costume again. He wondered how the three men agreed on the flower costume. It was a green dress with a flower shaped hat. Harry's best guess was a daisy. Maybe he could get her play a bit in the outfit and do some sketches of her, for a painting.
His life had taken so many directions in the past weeks. Caring for Juliana. Living with and adapting to life with Severus.
He had her bathed and in her fresh nappy, doing so now with practiced ease. A clean sleeper came next, and she was set. Winky had a warm bottle ready and waiting on the table in the lounge when he walked in.
Severus was hanging up his teaching robes when he saw Harry and Juliana come into the lounge, as Winky was setting the warm bottle out. They needed to start teaching Juliana to use a trainer cup. She was getting too old to be drinking from a bottle. All the books they'd been reading, and Poppy's advice said the same thing, that Juliana was holding onto the bottle for security and it was familiar. This would have to be done delicately, but first, he had to convince Harry it was time. Severus sighed. No easy task ahead then.
Harry stopped and watched Severus hang up his teaching robes, then start to unbutton his waist coat. Dobby was standing nearby waiting to take his garments so they could be cleaned. When this was done, the little elf disappeared with a quiet pop. Severus held out his hands towards Juliana, as had become the daily ritual. Whoever returned first would ready her for her late nap, then when the other returned home, they would all sit together on the sofa for some quiet family time. Her sleeping patterns were still off, but she was adjusting slowly in the eight weeks since she'd come to live with them.
Harry couldn't help but swallow back a groan at the sight of Severus undressing. The man had been an object of his dreams these past four weeks. It didn't help that he'd seen him in his pajamas, shirtless, barefoot, and other various states of undress.
"We should try the trainer cup and see if she'll use it."
Juliana gave her own version of a glare at her Seb. Her baba was her baba. But she held out her hands to Seb anyhow. He had a nice voice that was low and deep, and made her feel safe. And her Muppa, made her feel safe like her Mama had.
"Seb!" she squealed. Severus glared at the little creature, but smirked. She tried his name, but still called Harry, Muppa.
"Are you sure about the trainer cup, Severus?" Harry was worried about any change for Juliana.
"It will not harm her Harry. Just bringing her up to where she needs to be. She's standing now, saying more words--though many are still undecipherable at times."
"Baba!" Juliana cried and she held a hand out toward her bottle, making a 'gimme' motion with her fingers.
Handing her the bottle, Harry grinned. "Well, that one is understood well enough!"
Severus rolled his eyes, "During meals, we will introduce the trainer cup."
"Yes, Severus," Harry agreed while playing with Juliana's toes, eliciting squeals of delight from the small child.
Moving to the sofa, Severus sat carefully, readjusting Juliana in his arms so they were both comfortable. Once they were settled, Harry sat down beside them, a little space between them and his body turned a bit so he could face them.
Juliana was just beginning to drift into sleep, when they were startled by a loud and harsh knocking on their door. Severus stood with Juliana to answer when someone spoke an older password. A frowning and foreboding Kingsley Shacklebolt stepped through the now open door. Something that at one time wouldn't have bothered him much, but now, with his new circumstances, made Severus very angry at the intrusion. Turning, he passed Juliana to Harry, who immediately shushed the fussing child and hurried into the nursery, closing the door behind him.
"Kingsley," Severus drawled. He was not happy about this unannounced intrusion. "A simple note to let me know that you had returned would have been sufficient--considering the hour. Barging in, unannounced and uninvited, is not appropriate."
Kingsley stood with his arms crossed. "Stopping by on a whim has never been a problem for you in the past." He glanced at the clock on the mantle. "And this is early compared to the times I usually arrive."
"There were changes while you were away."
"Yes, about that. Don't you think you should have waited till I returned and had spoken with me before making such a commitment?"
Severus drew back, "My life and decisions regarding it have never been up for discussion or debate."
Kingsley glared as he stepped forward. "No, but we've always discussed things that alter our lives."
"We are friends, Kingsley. Occasional Lovers. Not permanent-- not 'in' love. Just 'friends with benefits' if you will." Severus turned on his heels and moved to the cabinet in the corner. He poured himself two fingers of Old Ogden's and swallowed it back in one go, before turning back to face Kingsley.
"I enjoy your company, and it is my wish that we continue, but I have a new responsibility now. And, I take that responsibility very seriously."
"And how did Potter talk you into this one? You hate children, Severus. You've said it often enough."
Severus pinched the bridge of his patrician nose. There was no love lost between Harry and Kingsley. Even though Harry had never done anything to provoke the older man, there was still an animosity there. The battles between Albus and Kingsley and Sirius were legendary in the early days of the war. It was Kingsley's attitudes, threats, and one very bloody pain-filled training session that had led them to take Harry into seclusion after he'd finished Hogwarts. They wanted Harry alive to face the Dark Lord, not crippled or even worse, dead before he had the chance to rid them of the demon. And if they had let Kingsley do as he wanted, there wouldn't have been a Harry Potter to defeat Voldemort.
Now here he was again, angry and combative still, where Harry was concerned. But this time, it was worse. There was a small child involved who had already been hurt enough by losing her mama's. Severus shook his head in disgust. The hulking man really did need to let go of old grudges.
"Harry," Severus stressed, "did not talk me into anything, Kingsley. Juliana's mother was a pupil of mine, and a fellow Potions Mistress. We were friends and contemporaries, and it was her dying wish that we raise her daughter together. I gratefully accepted the honour bestowed upon me, despite my differences with Harry in the past. Juliana's happiness and well being is of the utmost importance now. All else is of lesser importance until she is grown and on her own in the world."
"So," Kingsley swept his arm in a wide arc, "I'm swept to the side while you care for Potter's Goddaughter?"
Always so melodramatic for one so cool on the job. "No. I'm adjusting to having Juliana in my life, along with sharing her care with Harry, which was specifically outlined by her Mother's will. We were both asked to take up her care or she would go to her other Muggle Grandmother."
"Well, then, she should be raised by family, not you and Potter." Kingsley snapped.
"You don't know the reasoning behind her request, so don't presume to judge what you don't understand, Kingsley. I've barely walked in the door from teaching. I'm tired and want to relax. This can be discussed at a later date--an arranged meeting." Severus stepped to the door and held it open. "Good night, Kingsley. I will owl you tomorrow."
Kingsley stopped in front of the slightly shorter man. Eyeing him for a moment, Kingsley came to a decision. He grabbed Severus and pulled him flush with his own body, one huge hand cupping the back of his head and neck and the other cupping his arse, pressing their bodies together. He took Severus' mouth in a possessive and aggressive kiss that lasted several minutes before releasing him so suddenly it caused the other man to stumble.
"We will discuss this decision, and why Potter is living with you, Severus. I promise you that." Kingsley's voice was rough with arousal and anger. He stepped out the door and was gone down the hall.
Severus closed the portrait door, and laid his forehead against the rough wood. He always knew deep in his soul that Kingsley was possessive and just accepted it, even delighting in it sometimes. But, now it was apparent to him what a problem it had become. If he decided to end it and just remain friends, there would be problems. And if he wanted the future Moreen had hinted at, with Harry and Juliana, then he needed to let Kingsley go... or make him realize that they were no longer going to work, unless the man learned to bend--and think of others besides himself.
"He's gone, Harry. I apologize for the intrusion."
"It's alright, Severus. Juliana is down for her nap. Dobby is waiting to set up for tea if you're hungry."
Severus turned around and faced the younger man. "Kingsley and I..."
"Your personal life is your business, Severus. If I had someone who cared as fiercely as Kingsley does for you, I would be jealous of me." Harry was quiet for a moment then two. "I think I'll skip tea. I have some grading to do, if you'll listen for Juliana."
Severus saw the defeated look in Harry's eyes. It wasn't a secret that Harry had loved and lost already. He'd met and been totally taken with a fellow Art student, Xander Reinhardt. They'd lived together off campus for almost two years, before Xander was killed by a rogue Death Eater late one night as he was returning from a late night study session. Harry had sworn off relationships after that. If he attended openings, one of his friends accompanied him. Severus remembered a blushing Minerva, when Harry took her to an opening in France, introducing her as his Aunt. She had been sought out by a number of the male attendees, and received flowers and invitations for months afterwards.
Otherwise, Harry had been living a solitary existence.
Severus knew in his heart he deserved more. Having little Juliana in his life was a start. In the six weeks since he and Harry had started cohabitating, he'd felt more at ease, as if a missing part of him had finally come home. His rooms were now home and called to him when he was in class. They were filled with laughter. He looked forward to retiring for the day. Oh, he knew that he and Harry were far from best friends or lovers, but life had become easy and almost carefree.
Poppy had joked at breakfast one morning the previous week that he no longer smelled of potion ingredients, but of baby powder. He tried scowling at the Mediwitch, but ended up smiling to himself. Then he saw Minerva hand Albus a galleon. "What was that for?" he asked.
Albus pocketed the gold coin chuckling, "I told her that little Juliana would put a smile on your face for the world to see."
"And I said you were too private of a man to let the world see." Minerva added.
He'd just shaken his head and returned to his meal, leaving them to their laughter and their wagers.
Severus sat down on the couch and picked up his tea cup from the tray that Dobby had brought. Now that Kingsley had barged back into his life, things were going to become complicated. His relaxed evenings with the baby and Harry were going to be disrupted. Kingsley was possessive man. At one time, Severus had basked in it, having no one before, that took to claiming what he thought belonged to him, and wasn't afraid to let others know it. Maybe now, he shouldn't have let the other man take charge, and make decisions. But, previously, it had been easier than arguing and somewhere along the way, Severus had forgotten that part of himself. Lost it.
Now it was time to regain it. There were others to consider now.
He stood before the empty canvas. He stared at nothing and at everything. Harry felt unsettled, for the first time in a long while. He couldn't stop thinking back to the week before, when Kingsley had burst in like a rampaging Hippogriff. Then before leaving, he'd grabbed Severus and kissed him, as Harry watched through the slightly open nursery door. It'd been the hottest thing he'd ever seen. He'd originally opened the door to make sure Severus was okay, and hadn't expected that or, the curl of jealousy in his belly. He wanted to kiss Severus like that, or be kissed by him like that.
But he was scrawny little Harry Potter...the Wizarding World's all purpose hero! Nobody ever saw past the facade that they'd painted of him... well, except for Xander. He sighed sadly. Severus was a man, an experienced man. What could Severus possibly see in him, when he had a man like Kingsley?
Kingsley had always scared him. Intimidated him when he was younger. The one and only training session they'd had together, he ended up in the Hospital Wing for a week. Poppy had been livid, as had Minerva. Albus...Harry had never seen the older man so angry before. Not even with Tom Riddle. He was very glad that anger hadn't been aimed at him.
Severus and Harry had taken Juliana to the Halloween Staff Party last evening, in her costume. Of course, dressed as a flower, she wrapped everyone around her little finger. Remus had charmed a set of wooden animals to animate. Juliana squealed and laughed as they danced for her. "Muppa! Mus! Mee!" she cried. Harry had blushed while Severus smirked at him.
Remus blushed at his name that Juliana had begun calling him. She couldn't say Remus or Remi, but 'Mee' came out loud and clear when he entered the room.
The previous afternoon, Juliana had been with him in his studio, sitting on her playmat while he worked on a commission for a client in Spain. The man wanted a portrait done of his family for the entry hall. They had sent a series of photos and Harry had them pinned up on the wall next to his easel. And of course, he had the music cranked! Today it happened to be a CD that he'd picked up on his last foray into London.
Harry was swaying and grooving to the music, the rock beat giving him a skip to his step as he worked. He turned when he heard Juliana yell, "Muppa! Mus!" She had pulled herself up to a standing position, and stood there bouncing and attempting to move her feet. Severus had just walked in to tell Harry to lower the volume when he saw Juliana standing, trying to imitate Harry's dancing.
"Def Leppard and babies?" Severus had drawled, one brow raised. "You are going to corrupt the child."
"She likes it!" He turned to look at her and gasped. "Juls! Look at you, my little bean!"
Harry set down his brushes and palette, and reached down to swoop up Juliana and swing her up in the air, causing her to squeal with delight and kick her legs. Severus watched, a smile creeping over his face. He'd never seen Harry this happy--not since before his lover died. But somehow, he seemed happier than even then. Maybe a family was what the young man really craved.
Severus wondered where he fit into the equation. For now, he would just enjoy the feelings these things gave him.
A week later, Harry and Juliana had taken to leaving their rooms whenever Kingsley showed up. The larger man just radiated unwelcome feelings. So they would go up to Albus' tower or to the Staff Room. Sometimes they would take a carriage to Sirius, Remus, and Lucius' place where the little girl would be the princess to her faithful followers.
When he and Juliana returned to their rooms, Harry could feel the negative vibes, even though Severus was alone. Kingsley and Severus had argued evidently. The older man was trying to put forth a calm facade, though Harry could tell he was upset.
This had been going on for weeks, ever since the Auror had burst into their rooms in mid October. Either Kingsley would come to their rooms while Harry and Juliana were away, or Severus would meet the Auror elsewhere. It didn't matter, though, because Severus always had an unsettled air about him afterwards. He would sit and hold Juliana, rocking her for hours as he held her close. He wouldn't complain as Harry chattered on, trying to behave as if things were fine and not draw attention to Severus' discomfort. Harry just wanted to be there and be supportive. Severus would work things out on his own, only asking for assistance if he felt he really needed it.