Fest Fic: Foul Deeds Will Rise Author:eeyore9990 Title: Foul Deeds Will Rise Prompt: 5a. (obviously slash Check the rating. Mpreg without slash. Muahahaha.) Mpreg is impossible in the wizarding world. Or it was. Until Harry Potter. Characters: Harry, Severus, Lucius, Voldemort, Ron, Hermione, mentions others Rating/Genres: R, Horror, AU/AR, Gen (yep, Gen) Warnings: Character Death, Torture, Mutilation, and…. Oh yeah, Mpreg. Also, random quotes from Shakespeare's Hamlet, from which the title and summary are also drawn. Disclaimer: Characters and situations owned by J K Rowling and various companies. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made. Word Count: 8940 A/N the first: A very special thanks to those who held my hand through this fic, especially unbroken_halo and r_grayjoy, my pre reader and beta, who may just be the only people who ever read this fic. But hey! I wrote Mpreg, so that's gotta count for something. *listens to the sound of Mpreg cherry popping*
He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.
Harry stepped over what appeared to be Kingsley Shacklebolt's right arm—it was still clutching his wand—in a numb sort of disbelief. The ground was littered with the bodies of Aurors and Order members and all he could think was that something had gone horribly wrong with the universe because this was not supposed to happen.
The sound of his name being screamed rushed toward him but didn't burst the bubble of disconnectedness that engulfed him. He blinked down at the ground, head tilting slightly as he watched a bead of red blood drip from the top of a blade of brightest green grass in a slow slide to earth. Even the grass is bleeding.
But no, a moment later another drop landed on a patch of bare dirt a few inches away and without thinking, Harry glanced up. The sight that met his eyes sent him stumbling backward, his stomach rolling with the effort to purge itself, even though there was nothing left to expel. He landed on the ground several feet away, body wracked by dry heaves even as his feet attempted to continue pushing him away from the sight of Dean smiling down at him.
No, no, not smiling. Not smiling.
He clenched his eyes closed and held onto the ground, grabbing handfuls of grass to anchor himself as he saw the image that had imprinted itself on the inside of his eyelids. Dean's face had been eaten away below his nose, leaving his teeth to gleam from a sea of torn muscle and cartilage in a macabre, frozen smile.
Dean. He'd been left to rot in the lowest branches of a tree, left for the animals to dispose of. Harry dragged himself up and returned to where Dean was tangled among the branches of the tree, trying not to look at his old roommate's face as he wrestled the dead weight down to the ground. When he had accomplished that small task, he sat still for a moment, rocking in anguish and self loathing.
Dean's corpse looked up at him, the opaque, filmy eyes seeming to accuse him. If you had killed Voldemort by now, none of this would have happened. I would not be dead.
Harry shook his head in horror and grief even as a surge of life returned to him. They had killed one friend; now he felt the overriding need to find his other friends, find everyone he loved and see them, touch them. Know that they were alive. He needed to find them. Now.
His name came again, an agonised wail that broke through to his suddenly frenzied mind. He turned sharply, recognising Hermione's voice. He ran toward the sound, his imagination supplying him with one horrible scene after another. When he finally found his friend, he nearly collapsed with relief.
She was fine. She and Ron were both fine. He ran toward them, stumbling over the uneven ground, and found himself enveloped in two pairs of arms as Hermione and Ron hugged him tightly, shaking with relief at finding him still alive. They were both hurling questions at him, trying to determine how they'd become separated from him, and he cut them off with a sobbing sort of laugh.
"I'm here. I'm… I'm fine. I—" He shook his head, mute once more as the memory of the battle and its aftermath washed over him. "I'm alive. And so are the two of you. That has to be enough."
Hermione placed one hand against his cheek, her face red with the effort of suppressing her tears. "Don't ever scare me like that again. I don't think I could bear it."
Harry looked down, shaking his head as he placed his hand against her rounded belly. "You shouldn't be worrying for me, Hermione. You shouldn't be here at all." His tone was lightly chiding and he sent a dark look toward Ron.
"Don't, Harry," she said, her voice harsh with the beginning of anger. "I couldn't… I have to be here. I can't be the woman who sits at home waiting, never knowing if her…" She swallowed roughly and looked up at Ron with horror in her pretty brown eyes. "Never knowing if you were coming home to me."
Ron took his wife gently into his arms, making soft shushing noises as he met Harry's worried gaze over her head. "I know, love. I hate it, but I know. And it's not like we've ever been able to do anything without you, is it now?"
Harry looked around, feeling a chill creep through him at the stillness of the afternoon. Bodies lay everywhere; the ground was muddied with blood in some places. "We need to get back to Headquarters and see how many we lost today. We need to regroup; Voldemort will be more confident than ever after this… fiasco. How could we have been so badly overpowered?"
"We were ambushed, Harry. They have one of our people working for them."
Harry shook his head, forehead furrowed with anger, and opened his mouth to say something when he heard a coolly mocking voice say, "Expelliarmus!"
He shouted and grabbed for his wand, but it was too late. Three frail lengths of wood went spinning off through the afternoon, landing in the gloved hand of Lucius Malfoy. With a smirk, Malfoy snapped each of the wands, the sound oddly dry in the still air. Harry swallowed roughly and hurried to place himself in front of Hermione, noticing from the corner of his eye that Ron was doing the same on the other side of him.
"Crucio!" Malfoy said, his voice stripped of all emotion so that it was reduced to coldly conversational tones. Harry fell to the ground, writhing in agony, biting his tongue and the insides of his cheeks with the uncontrollable spasms that the spell generated. As he screamed and flopped about on the ground, he listened to the conversation taking place around him, needing to focus on something other than the searing, mind-numbing pain of the Cruciatus Curse.
"Step away from her, boy, or you will suffer the same fate as Mr Potter."
"Ron! Please, Ron, just… just do what he says." Hermione's voice was shaky, as if she was trying to remain calm but her nerves were overriding that effort.
"Yes, Ron. Listen to your pretty little Mudblood and do what I say."
"Don't you call her—"
Harry heard Hermione's screams before the thump of Ron's body reached him. His own screams became worse; the physical pain of the Cruciatus was nearly unbearable, but knowing that Ron had just died… He wanted to give himself up to the pain eating away at him, but just as he made the decision to succumb to it, Malfoy lifted the curse.
"What a pity. The Dark Lord will be most displeased to know that I was forced to take the life of a pureblood wizard of breeding age." He tsk-ed and smoothed his gloves over his hands before lifting his wand again to train it on Harry and Hermione.
Harry spit the pooled blood from his mouth and rose shakily to his feet, still feeling the tremors of agony that sliced through his body—the lingering effects of the curse working through his system. He tried not to look at Ron's dead body lying so still on the darkly green grass, but a broken sob from Hermione pulled his gaze down.
His breath caught at the dull blue eyes that stared lifelessly up at the sky.
"Ron," he whispered in a broken voice, sinking back to his knees. He felt a hand on his shoulder before Hermione lowered herself next to him, her hand feeling small and frail where it gripped him.
Harry and Hermione both ignored the order and held one another over Ron's body, seeking comfort in their overwhelming grief. Harry reached out and touched Ron, his hand hovering unsteadily over Ron's eyes for a moment before he gently lowered Ron's eyelids over his sightless eyes.
Hermione let go of Harry to clutch at Ron as she wept over her husband's corpse.
"SHUT UP!" Harry screamed, looking up at Malfoy with rage burning through him. "Just shut up! You have no… no right to… to…" Shaking, he couldn't find words to express his fury, his emotions choking him.
"Right? I have every right, Potter. Haven't you ever heard the expression 'Might makes right?' I hold the wands, I have the power. It is my might that gives me the right to tell you, now, to get up."
Hermione was insensible, sobbing uncontrollably, and didn't even flinch when Malfoy told Harry, "Shut that thing up or I will kill it, as well."
Harry shook his head against the futility of it all and reached down for Hermione, patting her gently on the shoulder as she shook harshly, her tears jerking out of her. His eyes, though, he kept on Malfoy. He would protect Hermione with his life, and he would not look away again. Using the pretext of comforting Hermione, he placed himself once more between Hermione and tip of Malfoy's wand. Wrapping his arms around Hermione, he pulled her to her feet, shushing her and running his hand through her hair.
"Hermione, please," he whispered into her ear. "Please think of the baby. Ron wouldn't want—" His words stuck in his throat and he swallowed around the sudden lump there, continuing in a bare breath of sound, "Ron would want you to do whatever it took to keep the baby safe."
Hermione shook harder at that, but at last was able to control the noise of her tears. Full blown sobs quieted until there was once again silence in the clearing, broken only by her shuddering breaths. Tears continued to pour from her eyes and defeat was written in every line of her body.
"We will get free, Hermione. Just remember that. Hold on to that thought."
Hermione looked up at him, her eyes dull behind the sheen of her tears. "What good is freedom now, Harry? He's dead."
A new wave of grief rolled through Harry at those words, but he pushed it down for now. A sharp sound made him turn and look behind him only to see that Lucius Malfoy was standing there, impatiently tapping one gloved hand against his thigh.
"We will be leaving by Portkey. The location to which we are travelling is inaccessible via Apparation and your little Mudblood would have difficulty Apparating, regardless. Really, Potter, you should have known better than to let it breed."
Harry just blinked at him, numbness finally settling over him. "Go fuck yourself, Malfoy."
Two steps and Malfoy's gloved hand was squeezing against his jaw, forcing his mouth open for the tip of the man's wand to press painfully against his tongue. "Mind your tongue or I will cut it from your mouth, Potter. The Dark Lord does not require that you retain the ability to speak." Malfoy's threat was made all the more horrifying by the fact that he never once raised his voice or showed any emotion beyond a very slight irritation.
As Harry gagged on the press of his own tongue against the back of his throat, Malfoy continued. "Now, you will collect yourself and your little Mudblood and you will be ready for the Portkey when the time comes. If not, I will Stupefy you both and take you, regardless. Only your situation will be much, much worse when you wake, I can assure you."
Harry jerked violently in Malfoy's grip, but was unable to throw the other man off. Malfoy had the strength afforded those who were insane, and merely waited patiently until Harry had tired of his struggles. Removing his wand from Harry's mouth, he allowed Harry a moment to formulate his reply before raising one eyebrow in impatience. "Well?"
"I will never submit myself to you or your mad lord."
"Ah. Well, then, Stupefy!"
To define true madness, What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
When Harry next woke, he was cold and hungry and trapped in a tiny windowless cell. In reality, it was more of a box, as there were no visibly discernable doors. Harry felt a burst of panic as he realised this, but quickly pushed his fear down and began to feel along the doors and floor for some sort of hidden exit.
Before he'd made it halfway around the room, a voice reached his ears and he turned to see Voldemort standing in the middle of what had been, he knew, nothing but blank wall. "Ahh, Mr Potter. So good of you to come."
"Fuck you," Harry said, edging into the corner to ensure no one else could sneak up on him. "How did you get in here?"
Voldemort's lips twitched into a facsimile of a smile and he spread his long, bony fingers wide before Harry's face as he said, a trifle theatrically, "Magic!" A low, hissing sound filled the air and Harry realised the insane man was laughing. "Yes, Harry, magic. What makes the world go round."
"No, you idiot," Harry said, feeling brash, "the conservation of angular momentum* is what makes the world go round. Even Muggles know that." He was only able to feel a burst of momentary satisfaction at the recollection of that ancient trivia from a television programme as seconds later he found his face being ground into the flat surface of the floor. He felt the bridge of his nose snap and couldn't hold back a howl of pain at that, which was when the pressure on the back of his head let up. He rolled over, hands cupping his injured face as he tried to swallow back moans of pain and choked on the blood that was freely flowing down the back of his throat.
"You would do well to court my favour, Harry Potter. Because if you do not, I may find that I have no use for you. If that happens, I will be moved to give you into the care of my lieutenants." A cold, lipless smile filled Harry's tear-blurred vision before Voldemort whispered, "I find it oddly reassuring to keep the most insane of my followers as close to me as possible. On a short leash, you might say."
"You're all insane," Harry said, his voice muffled and distorted by the blockage in his nose.
Voldemort laughed again and stood quickly in a rustle of robes. "Come along, Mr Potter. You wouldn't want to miss anything, would you now?"
"I'm fine here," Harry said, completely reversing his decision to find a way out of this room at the eagerness Voldemort showed in attempting to remove him from it.
"Stubbornness is not an attractive quality, Harry. Imperio!"
Harry felt his mind immediately detach from his body and sort of float away. The thought, I should get up now, flowed through him and his hands and feet moved immediately to obey. The giddiness that overwhelmed him as soon as he'd done so made him smile lazily, his blood-stained teeth showing through his bruised lips.
When he felt the compulsion to walk through the wall, however, a rather idle thought stopped him from doing so. But why? There is a wall there, after all. Harry stumbled, and just like that the curse was thrown off, though it took a toll on his mind and body.
"Bastard!" Harry spat, stumbling as he tried to stop his head from spinning.
"Harry, Harry. You would make this difficult. But there are so many ways I can ensure your cooperation. For instance, wouldn't you like to know how your friends are faring?"
Oh, God. Ron! Harry felt his stomach roil as he once again saw his friend fall under the force of Malfoy's Killing Curse, but that was not the friend to which Voldemort was referring. With a wave of his wand, and a muttered spell that Harry had never heard before, one wall of Harry's prison began to show different scenes.
In one, Fred and George were on separate sides of a room, a gag in George's mouth to keep him from making noise—and it must have been magical because not even a whimper escaped him as a blank-faced woman methodically severed his ear with a sharp knife—and a blindfold blocked Fred's vision. On Fred's side of the room, Lucius Malfoy stood with a roll of parchment and a Quick Quotes Quill floating in the air beside him.
"Tell me what you feel, boy. Concentrate on your brother and tell me what you feel."
"I—I… nothing! George! Where are you?!" Fred screamed as he thrashed on his bed, straining against straps that held him to the mattress.
"Your pulse is elevated. Tell me why."
"You sick fuck! Let me up! What have you done to my brother?!"
"You tell me. He is, after all, your twin. Tell me what you feel from him. It is well-documented that twins share a certain aspect of their psyche. Stretch out your magic and find your brother."
Voldemort waved his wand again and a new scene flooded the wall… an outdoor scene. Harry had thought this was a wall that held the twins on the other side 'til he saw the long line of house-elves marching through snow. Harry made a low noise as he caught sight of Dobby and Winky, stripped of all but their tea towels, shivering and skin gone a sickly grey from the deadly cold. Winky fell over and Harry watched Dobby struggle to help her, but before his thin arms could reach for her, a human dressed for the weather came over to her with a stick.
Picking her up with one arm, the human swung the stick at her exposed legs. Harry heard a dull "thwack" and watched as the human shot red sparks from the tip of a wand.
"Oh, God," he said, feeling bile rise up the back of his throat. "What are you doing to them?"
"House elves are remarkably curious creatures. Their magic is difficult to identify. Lucius has devised a way to document their abilities with a series of experiments. With this one, we are attempting to discover just how far their recuperative powers extend."
"You're killing them."
"Yes, well… they're expendable. A dozen more of the filthy things for every one of them that dies."
Harry shook his head, his mouth opening and closing as he attempted to find the words to explain what an atrocity this was. But then he looked at the calm enjoyment on Voldemort's face and felt a cold pit of knowledge harden to a lump in his stomach. It did not matter. To this man, to those who followed him, everything they did here…. It did not matter.
"What do you want with me?" Harry asked, his voice small and tight. It had never truly dawned on him just how mad Voldemort was. It wasn't just a lust for power. It was a complete and total incapacity for human emotion. Harry gulped down a rush of panic and waited to hear what was in store for him.
"You, Harry, have a very special choice to make. You may join me of your free will, or you may find yourself the subject of one of Lucius' experiments."
"You're mad," Harry whispered, shaking his head as he backed away from Voldemort, immediately running into a wall.
"Make your decision, Harry. One way or another, you will cease to be a thorn in my side."
"I'll never join you," Harry said, swallowing a knot of terror at the thought of what that meant for him.
"So be it. Stupefy!"
Find out the cause of this effect, Or rather say, the cause of this defect, For this effect defective comes by cause.
As Harry came slowly to consciousness, he groaned and considered that this was not his favourite way to wake up. This time, however, instead of waking in a small box of a room, he found himself under glaring white lights with a hard sort of mattress beneath him. He was stretched out on his back and could move nothing but his head, which he immediately twisted and turned, trying to discover where he was and if there was some way to free himself.
As he turned his head to the right, his eyes widened in horror. Hermione was strapped to a bed that put Harry in mind of old, Muggle mental institutions. "Hermione!" he called, and watched as Hermione turned to him, her eyes nearly lifeless.
"Harry," she whispered, her voice raw. "I'm so sorry, Harry. So sorry."
Harry shook his head, trying to breathe around the lump that had formed in his throat even as his eyes burned with tears. "Shh, Hermione. Shh. You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing. I love you, Hermione. Don't be afraid."
Hermione blinked and looked at him, her eyes so sad. "I'm not afraid, Harry."
Then, to Harry's horror, Lucius Malfoy stepped into the room, his parchment and Quill trailing along behind him. Looking at the wall, Lucius smiled and bowed slightly, murmuring, "My Lord, you grace us with your presence."
Clicking his fingers, the Quill hopped slightly more upright than it had previously been as Malfoy began to speak. "Experiment number seven-three-one. The subject of this experiment is to determine the natural protection a magical child is imbued with from the moment of conception as well as to determine whether the adult male wizard would be able to carry children in the event adult female witches are unable to do so."
Harry looked at him, his face twisting with disbelief even as his eyes widened in shock. "What are you doing? What are you doing?!"
Malfoy ignored him completely and stepped toward Hermione, slowly sliding his gloves from his hands as he raised his wand. Waving it in an intricate pattern, he began to speak low and slow and in less than a heartbeat Hermione began to scream.
And then, suddenly, she stopped. Her body went from straining against her bonds to lying there, limp, and Harry felt a moment of heart-stopping terror at the thought that she, too, had died, when she turned her head toward him. Her lips were slowly draining of colour, her whole face was actually, but in the tiniest thread of a whisper, she managed to say, "Don't let my baby die."
Harry shook his head, not understanding but wanting to reassure her. However, at that moment, a terrible, horrific pain started up in his abdomen and he looked down to see his belly distending grotesquely. Lucius Malfoy's experiment description came to him, then, just before his vision went grey, then black.
'Tis a fault to Heaven, A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, To reason most absurd.
Severus stalked through the halls of the horror chamber Lucius managed, wondering what possible reason the Dark Lord had for calling him here. He was generally excused from these monstrous experiments as the Dark Lord had greater need of him elsewhere. He pulled his robes closer around his body as the screams of the souls trapped in this place began to break through his cold façade.
In a swirl of robes, he rounded a corner and saw the Dark Lord standing there, smiling at a panel in the wall in such a way that Severus' skin felt as if it wanted to slither off his body and hide in a dark corner. Coming to a halt, Severus waited patiently to be acknowledged, barely twitching when the Dark Lord suddenly began speaking after a long moment of silence.
"He will die either way; whether the experiment succeeds or fails, he will still die."
The pure satisfaction on the Dark Lord's voice sent ghostly shivers down Severus' spine. "My Lord?"
"Potter, of course."
Severus accepted these words with a short nod of his head. Buried deep within his subconscious, a series of contingency plans began to form. "He is here, then? The plan was a success."
"You sound surprised."
"Not at all, my Lord. I simply did not trust that the informant would truly offer us information that could be quite so advantageous."
"Indeed. But I saw into his mind."
"Yes, my Lord."
There followed another long silence while the Dark Lord watched whatever was happening in Lucius' special chamber before his voice broke the stillness again. "I'm sure you wonder why I summoned you."
"I am curious, my Lord, though it brings me great pleasure to serve you whenever you wish."
"This place does not agree with you."
Severus did not deny it. His distaste for Lucius' twisted experiments was well-known and had caused a wide rift between the Dark Lord's two most trusted lieutenants.
"I have need of your skills, Severus."
"I am happy to supply them, my Lord."
"Walk into the room, Severus. You will need to be informed of the situation… the experiment, in order to form an idea of the potions that will be needed."
Severus lifted his hand, placing it over the edge of where he knew the door to be, and hesitated.
"My patience with your squeamishness is not limitless, Severus."
"Yes, my Lord. My apologies." Severus clenched his teeth against a prickle of irritation and pressed on the door, stepping through without pause when it opened.
A young woman lay on the laboratory table closest to him, her feet facing him. The sheet that covered her to the neck was wet with blood near where her thighs would be and he very deliberately did not allow images of what could have happened to her to cause such blood loss from that area of the body to enter his mind. He took a step forward before recognition hit him, and the shock of it nearly caused him a misstep.
Hermione Granger. No, Weasley now. Sweet Merlin.
From the way the sheet lay flat on her abdomen, a clear picture of what had happened to her formed in his head and he had to take a silent breath before turning to confront the rest of the room and the madman responsible for Granger's condition.
"Severus. How kind of you to join us." The sneer could be plainly heard in Lucius' voice. He didn't bother to temper his loathing for Severus when they were alone. Severus' status as a half-blood might endear him to the Dark Lord, but never to the pureblooded among the Death Eaters.
"Good God, man. What have you done here?" Severus asked, not bothering with the indifferent mask he wore for the Dark Lord, though he knew well they were being watched. The Dark Lord, after all, was fully aware of the rivalry between Severus and Lucius and found it amusing.
"It is my greatest triumph." Lucius couldn't contain his excitement; Severus couldn't recall the last time he'd heard anything other than cold scorn or sarcasm from the man.
"Just show me. I do detest your sense of theatrics."
Lucius nodded shortly, visibly irked, and sent the parchment across the room toward Severus with a flick of his hand. Severus plucked it from the air and quickly read through the details of the experiment before blinking in disbelief and reading it once more, slowly this time.
"You… This worked?"
Lucius smirked, but any reply he would have made was drowned by the sound of tortured screams ripping through the room. Severus started at the sound and turned to see a figure writhing on a laboratory table on the far side of the room. The screams kept coming, pausing only long enough for the person making them to draw breath.
Severus crossed to the bed, gripping the flailing body by the shoulders and lifted until he could see the face. Somehow, during the various shocks he'd received since entering the room, he'd forgotten that they'd managed to capture Potter. When he saw that familiar face, nearly completely drained of colour though the mouth was bright red with spots of blood where he'd bitten through the skin of his lips, Severus almost dropped the boy.
As soon as Potter felt himself lifted, however, he latched onto Severus, hands winding into his robes as his body curled in on itself. His screams slowly quieted until he lay silent against Severus' chest, then he lifted his head and looked straight into Severus' eyes.
"Don't let me die."
Severus felt blood rushing through his head in what would have been panic in anyone not quite so familiar with death and destruction. Within moments of uttering those words in a raspy, broken voice, Harry Potter went boneless in his arms, driven to unconsciousness by the horrors inflicted on his body.
Severus stared at the bulge protruding from Potter's abdomen and fought against the urge to pray to a God he knew didn't exist. Instead, some ingrained sense of self-preservation made him release Potter, allowing the boy to flop back onto the table. Stepping back, Severus wiped his hands against one another, rasping the skin of his palms harshly together until he felt clean, before turning to Lucius.
"What have you done and how in the name of all the seven hells am I supposed to help you in your quest to commit such atrocities against Nature Herself?"
"Do you fear your ancient goddess, Severus? How very quaint."
Severus ignored him; Lucius could not be convinced of the existence of any gods other than the one he served. Severus' gaze flickered toward the panel set into the wall before landing once more on Potter's still form.
"What do you need from me?"
"The transplantation of the foetus was a success. Thus far it is still alive, whether by its own magical aura or the fact that the uterus was transplanted intact."
"It would not matter if the uterus was intact. The foetus should be dead."
Severus sighed, muttering, "Idiot" beneath his breath. Flattening his mouth in resignation, he turned to Lucius and began explaining, slowly. "The foetus would have required oxygen to survive. Oxygen that it would have received from the mother. When you removed the womb from the Granger girl, I'm certain you did not think to reattach the umbilical cord in some manner to Potter's bloodstream. Of course, you would have needed to determine if Potter's blood type was a close enough match to Granger's for that to have been effective, regardless." Crossing his arms over his chest, Severus stopped speaking and simply narrowed his gaze on Lucius. "Again I ask: what do you need from me?"
"I need you to stabilise Potter and the child. Only until I can determine if it is feasible to transplant unborn magical children into men if it becomes necessary. Simply think of all the children we could ensure if each man and woman carried a child."
"Why stop there?" Severus asked, his voice thick with sarcasm. "After all, you could use Muggles to carry magical children and then—"
"Absolutely not! The object is to breed out the Muggle influence. We will ensure the might of the magical world one way or another. If we have to overwhelm them with sheer numbers, so be it."
Severus just stared at Lucius for a long moment before saying, "You do realise that a simple potion will not be enough to do what you desire."
"Do what you must, Severus. But understand this: the Dark Lord is very interested in the outcome of this experiment. He supports it fully. Your hesitation to embrace the implications of this test will have been noted, I am certain."
Severus did not allow his reaction to Lucius' words to show in any outward manner, but inside he was seething. How could he have been so stupid? Seeing Granger and Potter had clearly shaken him more than even he realised. He would have to be so very careful now; he would be watched closely and could not afford another misstep.
Ignoring Lucius as he left the room, Severus quietly approached Potter again and began examining him using a variety of medical scans he'd learned from a long association with Poppy Pomfrey.
O, woe is me, To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
They were alone. As alone as it was possible to be in a room with a view, at any rate.
"Of course it does, idiot child. The male body was not created to bear children."
Severus blinked down at him. Surely the boy wasn't that brainless…
"Why are you doing this?" As his voice broke on that question, Potter's eyes filled with grief and rage, his face mottling with impotent fury.
"That's it? That's the answer?"
Severus sighed and ran one hand over his face. "They do it because they can, Potter. Because they have the power to do it. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely," he murmured under his breath. He flicked his wand, reading the words that poured from the tip as it passed over Potter's distended abdomen. "Enough of this talk. I have managed to stabilise the foetus but…"
"But what?" Potter asked weakly.
"It is likely that this will… not be a viable pregnancy."
"What does that mean? Of course it's not a viable pregnancy. I'm not a woman," Potter said, choking slightly on the words as his eyes flickered toward where Granger's body had once lain.
"It means the foetus is unlikely to survive. Already I expect it to be severely brain damaged, if not totally brain dead."
"What? What?! No! No, you have to save it," Potter said, frantic, pulling at Severus' robes as he tried to lever himself into a sitting position. "You have to save it. You have to. It's all… it's all that's left of them. I told her! I told her I'd save her baby! You have to!"
Severus' eyes flared as Potter began to hyperventilate; checking his vitals again, he saw that his blood pressure was steadily increasing, as well. Emotions that would normally have caused only mild distress now exacerbated his fragile condition.
"Potter! Calm down. Calm down now or you will kill the foetus." Severus clutched at Potter's shoulders, forcibly pressing him back to the thin mattress on the table. Potter struggled for a moment before taking several deep, shuddering breaths.
"Don't let it die, Snape. Isn't that your job? Make it live. Make it healthy!"
Severus started at Potter's question, then clenched his teeth. "Yes, Potter. That's my job. To help you produce a healthy infant so that Lucius can then turn around and kill you both." He regretted his words almost instantly as Potter again began to struggle.
"Stop," he commanded, and was surprised when Potter obeyed. A first. Leaning down, he murmured a Lumos to make the end of his wand glow and pretended to inspect Potter's ears as he murmured, "Be prepared to leave this place. I will return you to the Order as soon as I find a way to move you."
Potter went still before breathing, "How can you believe I would trust you now?"
"Idiot boy, that is your only hope of survival."
"You're just depraved enough to offer me hope and then jerk it away from me as soon as I reach for it."
"Thank you. Your faith in me is touching."
"Fuck you." It was said loudly yet with only a bare trace of malice, almost a return to the impossibly stubborn boy Severus remembered. It gave him hope that Potter would survive this, after all.
"Not likely, Potter. I won't have you claiming the brat is mine."
A hissing sort of laughter trailed through the room, causing Potter to begin shaking uncontrollably. Severus clenched his jaw and went back to work, calming Potter's heart rate before attempting once again to find a way to create a steady supply of oxygen for the foetus.
Loathe as he was to admit it, potions would only go so far.
And my imaginations are as foul As Vulcan's stithy.
Severus pressed the door open rather more forcefully than was necessary, scowling around the room until he spied Lucius standing in front of a cart that held a red-haired corpse. Lucius was scribbling something onto his ever-present parchment himself, foregoing the need for the Quick Quotes Quill. Severus arched a brow in curiosity despite his ire.
"What are you doing with this one?" he asked, flicking his gaze down on the body of one of the Weasley twins. "Or rather, what were you doing?"
Lucius waved an impatient hand at him, finishing whatever notes he had been taking before turning to Severus. "How is the experiment proceeding?"
Severus folded his arms across his chest and simply stared at Lucius, affecting a look of extreme patience.
Lucius sighed irritably and explained, "I had intended to show that he could survive nutrition deprivation by drawing on his link with his twin." Compressing his lips, he shook his head and said, "Ah, well, there are two additional sets of magical twins in our custody to complete this series of tests on."
Severus just refrained from rolling his eyes. Really, Lucius' 'research' was not merely a series of experiments in perversity; they were also a demonstrable example of Lucius' own stupidity. The man couldn't possibly believe they would succeed.
Severus shook his head and turned the subject to the one Lucius was most interested in at this moment. "Potter—"
"I'm sorry, what?"
"We refer to the experiments by their number. To do otherwise might make one humanise them and that could affect impartiality in the process."
"Subject seven-three-one is not reacting well to the… ah, environment. I would like your permission to move him—"
"The subject." Lucius narrowed his gaze, his lips thinning with impatience.
"Excuse me, of course. I would like your permission to move the subject to a location more suited to maintaining a… is the subject allowed to have a mental state?"
"As the subject is referred to by its number, I simply assumed there would be some alternate phraseology for the subject's mental state, as well."
"Don't try my patience, Severus."
Severus smirked at Lucius, but continued without further antagonising the man. "The subject's physical state hinges on its mental state. In order for the experiment to succeed, its mental state requires a change of environment. Its vital signs are fluctuating in such a way that I am required to split my time between stabilising it as well as the foetus."
"Why is that a problem?"
"Lucius, if you expect me to find a way to make this… male pregnancy concept a viable one, you would do well to heed my concerns. Even females require a calm mental state when pregnant."
Lucius drew a deep breath in through his nose, holding it for a long moment as he thought through Severus' logic. Expelling the breath on an irritated sigh, he waved one hand at Severus and said, "Yes, fine. Take Rodolphus with you."
Severus sneered. "That imbecile wouldn't know aconite from asphodel. I have no need of him."
"Even you must sleep, Severus. And do be cautious with your words. Rodolphus is… family."
"Not mine, thank Merlin," Severus muttered as he turned to leave the room.
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Disposing of Rodolphus Lestrange had been laughably easy; moving Potter from the new location to a safe spot, however, had been nearly impossible. They moved at night and slept during the day at abandoned houses. Severus didn't allow Potter to speculate on why so many houses had been abandoned, but they both knew it did not bode well for either the wizarding or Muggle worlds. Britain was no longer safe.
Flooing was out of the question. It was a near certainty that the Dark Lord would have taken the Ministry, and with it, the Floo Network and Portkey Authority. They were reduced to travelling on foot and by Muggle vehicle as Severus couldn't risk Apparating with Potter in his current condition and the brat wouldn't allow him to remove the foetus. That conversation had been a short one at the house they stopped in on the third night of their flight toward freedom—freedom, in this case, being France. Then Germany. Severus' German was far better than his French.
"We have to remove the foetus, Potter."
"It's killing you. You could both die if I don't remove it."
"It will certainly die if you do."
"The foetus isn't even alive, you little idiot! It is a parasite, nothing more."
"It is the last thing I have of Ron and Hermione," Potter had said, leaning against a wall, then sliding down it as his face contorted in pain. "And I won't let you kill it. If you want me to stay alive, you had better find some way of keeping the baby alive as well."
"Damn your foolish sentimentality," had been Severus' only reply to that.
By Severus' calculations, Granger had been five months into her gestation when they'd been captured. Two weeks later, ten days after leaving the horror house, Severus and Potter were forced to stop running. The sort of movement fleeing required was, quite literally, killing Potter.
Severus found an isolated house and placed a Fidelius charm on it, making Potter the Secret Keeper.
"What if I die?"
"If you die before the charm is lifted, anyone will be able to find the house. As it stands, only you and I can see it. So we're quite safe here as you're incapable of moving from that bed to tell anyone where we are."
Severus hid it well, but his worry that Potter's death was a foregone conclusion became sharper every day. While his belly grew larger and more robust, Potter became emaciated. The foetus, due to several potions Severus brewed daily, was receiving more than adequate nutrition. Potter, however, expelled nearly everything he ate, his body's attempt to purge an object diametrically opposed to its biological makeup.
When Potter had been 'pregnant' for three weeks, Severus finally found a way to infuse the foetus with Potter's own blood. It was mostly for the oxygen transfer, though Severus did not mention to Potter that even a magical child would have suffered brain death by this point. After all, he had only to glance at Potter's belly to see the movement beneath the thin, stretched skin of his abdomen. Brain death precluded movement. Trust Potter to prove the world wrong in this, as well.
Severus continued to pump potions into the unborn baby, as much for something to do as anything. Until either Potter or the foetus died, they were bound to this place. Severus had long ago given up the idea of removing it while Potter slept… to do so now would only hasten Potter's death. His body simply could not handle that sort of trauma in its present state.
Two months after they left the horror house, Potter lapsed into a deep sleep for more than a day. Severus sat at his bedside, spooning liquids and potions into his mouth, working tirelessly to keep the young man alive. A fever rose a few minutes past midnight and Severus pushed his own weariness aside to apply cloths charmed cool to Potter's forehead, neck, and groin.
Near dawn, the foetus rolled inside Potter's abdomen, causing him to come awake with a gasp. His eyes were glassy, his cheeks high with unnatural colour, but the words he spoke came clearly.
Severus straightened in the chair he'd pulled up to the bed and raised one eyebrow. "Time for what, brat?"
Potter smiled weakly at that lightly spoken insult and closed his eyes again, obviously too exhausted to keep them open. "Time to take the baby. It's… ready."
"Listening to voices again, Potter?" Severus asked, tsking sarcastically.
"Stop." Potter sighed and reached one frail hand out, the skin pulled taut over nothing more than bone, so it seemed. With the exception of his belly, Potter had become nearly skeletal. The sharp cheekbones that had made him so handsome months before now looked days from slicing through the papery skin that covered them. "There is no reason to put it off any longer. The baby is far enough along that it will survive outside the womb. It's time, Snape."
Severus snorted and sat back, disregarding Potter's words as fevered rambling. "I suppose the foetus told you this, hmm? Go back to sleep, Potter."
"No." The strength in that word made Severus look up, startled. Potter was struggling weakly against his pillows, his breathing ragged and shallow. "It has to be now. You have to take the baby now."
"Potter, I would love nothing more than to remove that parasite—"
"Stop calling it that! It isn't a parasite. It's a child. What day is it?"
Severus blinked at the question. Taking a moment to think, he quickly said, "July the twenty ninth."
Potter sighed and relaxed again. "Yes. Yes, it's time. Take the baby, Snape."
Severus scowled and folded his arms across his chest. "I can't."
"You have to. I don't have a birth canal, remember?"
Severus dropped his glance to Potter's belly before gingerly laying his hands on the distended flesh and closing his eyes. A brief fluttering and tightening sensation made him pull away and shake his head slightly. "No. It's too soon."
"Apparently not. The baby wants out."
"You idiot! I don't care about the… foetus. It is far too soon for you to give birth. You are not strong enough."
The certainty in Potter's voice sent chills through Severus before he nodded once. "Yes. You'll die. You aren't healthy enough to survive the birth."
Potter lifted his hand slightly before allowing it to fall back to the bed. "I'll die anyway, Snape. Look at me. I'm dying. It's a… what do you call it? A foregone conclusion. Yeah. I don't even have the strength to sit up anymore. My kidneys are about two minutes from failing—"
"You're in pain?" At Potter's incredulous look, Severus waved his hand and said, "Specific pain. You should have told me."
"Why? So you could shove more potions down my throat for me to throw up?"
Severus sat down again, running a hand over his face. He was too tired for this, too mentally and physically exhausted to find a way out of this situation.
"Snape, I'm dying. I know it. I'm… I'm okay with that. Everyone I love is dead; it'll be a relief to join them. But I have to do this one last thing. I have to make sure Ron and Hermione's baby is okay. I promised her."
Severus massaged his eyes and shook his head, trying to ignore Potter.
"You've done so much, Snape. I have no right to ask anything of you, but I will ask one thing. Find Mrs Weasley. Take the baby to her. It's her grandchild. It will be a comfort to her, give her something to… to live for."
"I can't do this, Potter. I took a vow to protect you; I can't do something that I know will kill you."
"It will kill me anyway, Snape, and you know it. Besides… there is one thing working in my favour."
Severus rolled his eyes and stood up from the chair, collecting the cool cloths and casting spells on them to make them perfectly clean. He'd need them for the birth.
"Supposedly, only Voldemort can kill me."
"Don't you think the fact that he did this to you would satisfy that little aspect of Trelawney's prophecy?"
"But he didn't, did he? Lucius Malfoy did this to me. Not Voldemort."
Severus paused, considering this. Looking at Potter, he debated speaking his mind before finally saying, his voice low in the quiet room, "I don't believe in prophecies."
Potter smiled sadly. "Neither do I. But this one ruined my life. Maybe it'll spoil my death, too?"
Severus opened his mouth before realising he had nothing to say to that. With the cloths folded in a pile next to Potter and his sharpest potions knife in hand, Severus had no reason to delay any longer.
"You're certain, Potter?"
"Forgive me," he whispered before placing a numbing spell on the area he intended to cut. With a steady hand, he pressed the tip of the knife into Potter's flesh, drawing a straight, shallow, horizontal line across his abdomen. There was no turning back.
It was arduous work. The numbing spell had to be redirected four times before Severus had cut deep enough to reveal the womb and then the amniotic sac. Glancing up to see if Potter was still conscious, Severus was surprised to see the young man trying to lift his head to watch the proceedings.
Realising he had Severus' attention, Potter said, "I want to see it."
Nodding, Severus used a wordless spell to summon a hand mirror and levitated it until Potter could view the 'birth.'
Taking a deep breath, Severus made the final cut, quickly snatching up clean cloths—those that weren't in use staunching Potter's blood—to sop up the amniotic fluid as it escaped Potter's body. Reaching in with sterilised hands, Severus grasped the tiny baby and pulled it free, taking a moment to clear the nose and mouth of mucous plugs.
After a clinical examination to ensure the baby was healthy enough to live—its initial scream had been rather weak, but the quick pink colour and strength of the flailing limbs was undeniable—he took stock of more inconsequential things.
The child was female, with a shock of red hair that would please the Weasley family. Severus wondered idly if it would be as bushy as its mother's hair had been. He looked up again at Potter and was startled to see tears standing in his eyes.
Severus arched a brow and looked back down at the rather wet and wrinkled bundle in his arms. "Ah, well. If you think so."
That startled a laugh out of Potter before he nodded and said weakly, "She is. She's beautiful."
"Would you like to choose a name?"
Potter looked wistful for a moment before shaking his head sadly. "No. No, that should be Mrs Weasley's honour. Ron and Hermione had discussed names, but I'm not sure what they decided on… if they even did." Potter shook his head and closed his eyes, too weary to keep them open. "They would have loved her," he whispered.
"Yes. They most likely would."
A rattling breath escaped Potter, causing Severus to quickly wrap the infant in a blanket before turning to his other patient. "Dammit, Potter! Stop that. I'm cleaning you up and putting you back together now. Stay awake."
Within moments—thank Merlin for healing spells—Severus had removed the implanted womb before cleaning and closing the gaping wounds in Potter's abdomen. Picking up the baby again, Severus shook Potter with his other hand and said, "It's done. Potter! It's done. Wake up now."
To his relief, Potter's eyelids flickered before they slowly rose.
"I'm glad it was you."
"What? What was me?"
"I'm glad you were here with me. I'm glad she has you. You'll protect her. Won't you?"
When Potter looked as if he might rouse himself to panic again, Severus hastened to assure him, "I will, Potter. I will guard her with my life." Hearing himself speak those words, a sense of calm filled him. He'd never been truly free… perhaps he didn't know how to allow himself to be, but he accepted this new shackle willingly.
"So odd," Potter said.
"Who would have thought you'd outlive us all?" A slight smile touched Potter's lips even as he took his final breath.
Severus stood over the bed, watching the light drain from Potter's eyes and held the squirming baby awkwardly in his hands. He didn't know where to start. He only knew that he had promised to guard this child with his very life. The child so many had given their lives for. He felt something very like hatred swirl up inside him as he looked from Potter's cooling body to the baby, pink with life.
Take her to Mrs Weasley, he'd said. Severus drew a harsh breath through his nose. Yes. Yes, he'd take her to Molly Weasley. Somehow.
Pushing the misdirected anger back to the pit of his stomach where it roiled with all the other violent emotions inside him, he rewrapped the blanket tightly around the child, swaddling it, and set her in the crook of his arm. Bound and warm, the infant woke, squalling for nourishment.
As he looked down with the intention to sneer at her to be quiet, he felt his heart nearly stop.
"That's not possible," he whispered to himself.
But the proof was literally staring him in the face. Though Potter had never touched the child's mother, evidenced by her tufts of Weasley red hair, she was staring up at him with Potter's—Lily's—green eyes.