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Chapter 71: New Arrivals
Nesmay splashed her feet lazily in the water, watching as her two foster brothers frolicked in the pond. It was a steamy hot day, the sort of day when smart people stayed inside and read, or lay on the porch and sipped ice cold lemonade or water. Nesmay thought about following the boys' example and going swimming, but the sun felt so good on her back that she decided to stay right where she was.
She half-shut her eyes, wishing these days could last forever. But this was the last week of their second vacation. They had remained three months at the Manor and tomorrow evening Severus would re-adjust the timeclock to bring them right back to the day and time they had departed, which was August 5th around 10:30AM. Thus giving them August to go shopping for school and for Sarai to give birth to the twins. And for Nesmay to try and get in some more spell practice before Severus and the boys left for Hogwarts.
The boys had asked her if she would like to attend school with them, but Nesmay had decided not to . . . for now. She was uneasy and awkward around large groups of people, and her control over her magic still was not what it should be. She didn't want to accidentally blow up the dungeons or set fire to the Astronomy Tower over a disagreement. Besides, Hogwarts was for humans, and Nesmay was half-fae, she feared her appearance would set her apart even further than her lack of magical control did. Also there was her human heritage—she would be shunned and detested if they ever learned who had sired her. They had discussed the issue with their parents and Severus had said it was up to Nesmay if she wished to attend.
"I'm not ready. I'm sorry, but I just don't feel . . . comfortable."
"That's all right," soothed her mentor. "You do not have to attend this year, Nesmay. You can continue with the curriculum I have set for you, and I'm sure that Sarai can teach you more fae spellcraft. You in turn can also help her with the babies."
Nesmay heaved a huge sigh of relief. "Thank you, Amarsi."
"And come visit us on the weekends," added Harry.
"That sounds like fun," the fae girl said.
"It'll be wicked, having to show you all about the castle and Hosgmeade, introducing you to the professors and the rest of our friends," declared Draco.
Nesmay nodded eagerly. She wouldn't mind brief visits, but preferred Prince Manor over any mortal castle, no matter how magical. She suspected Sarai felt the same.
Not long after settling that matter, Harry and Draco had decided to take advantage of the hot day and go swimming. Nesmay had tagged after them, and it was when they were down at the pond that she recalled Draco owed her an answer to a question.
Draco surfaced, shaking water out of his hair like a seal. "What, Nessie?"
"Before you came down with the plague, I asked you why humans are so ashamed and embarrassed about their bodies. You promised to answer me, but you never did because you got sick. So . . . can you answer me now?"
"Ahh . . . err . . . well . . . umm . . ." Draco flushed the color of a ripe strawberry then coughed and said, "It's not that humans are ashamed of their bodies . . . well some people are, if they think they're too fat or ugly or something, it's more about modesty. You see, in our world, if a woman displays . . . err . . . herself without clothes on, she's seen as a . . . loose woman . . . a woman should only let her husband or boyfriend see her naked."
"What's a loose woman?"
"Err . . . it's a woman who trades money for sex."
"Oh, you mean a Black Dove," she clarified. "They pleasure any man who can pay them, and that's the polite term for one of their profession. Gran forbid me to ever say the other word, or else I'd be tasting soap for a week."
"Yeah, that's what I mean."
"Then you've seen Hermione naked?" she inquired innocently.
Draco suddenly inhaled some water and began to choke.
Harry whacked him on the back, laughing.
Draco sputtered, "Shut up, dork!" Then he turned to Nesmay and said, "Of course not! We're not married yet or even betrothed!"
"Oh. How about you, Harry?"
"Not me. Draco's right. Once you're married, you can see your wife naked. Or your husband."
"How odd. How can you tell if you like the other person's body if you don't see it beforehand? What if you marry her and can't stand the sight of her? Then what?"
Now it was Harry's turn to blush. "Uh . . .then you live with it. Marriage isn't just about looks, you know."
"Then you wouldn't mind marrying an orc?" she teased.
"Yuck! I'd have to be crazy to marry something that eats human flesh." Harry wrinkled his nose. Then he decided to escape any more pointed questions by diving down to bottom of the pond.
"But I learned that there were humans who did bathe regularly with each other, they were called Romans and their baths were the wonder of the world." Nesmay pointed out.
"Yes, but that was over two thousand years ago," explained Draco. "Things were different back then. Less civilized. Can we please change the subject now?"
Nesmay smirked. Then she jumped into the pond, dousing him with a huge wave.
"Brat! Just wait until I get my hands on you!"
"You'd have to catch me first, and I learned how to swim with water nymphs," Nesmay challenged, and swam away, Draco in hot pursuit.
The week they returned to real time at the manor, they were greeted by a parliament of owls bearing gifts and letters for the whole family. The first letter and gift were from Sirius, Petunia, and Dudley. Sirius sent the parcel with his new owl, Mischief, a gray barred Northern Gray owl. Mischief took the small shrew that Severus gave him and tossed it into the air, catching it neatly in his beak before swallowing it whole and hooting. His hoot sounded oddly like a child laughing.
"Figures. Black would have a show-off owl," Severus rolled his eyes at the bird's antics. "Here, Sarai. You can open the package, it's a baby gift." He began to read the letter aloud to her.
"Dear Severus, Sarai, and family,
Sirius and I were delighted to hear your good news. Finally, I shall be an aunt again, and have new babies to spoil. Twins, even! I'm hoping for one of each, as I would dearly love a little niece to shop with, and Sirius can teach his new nephew how to play Quidditch and practical jokes. I'm sure you cannot wait for them to be born.
I've picked out two outfits for them, hopefully they are neutral enough to fit either a boy or a girl. The plushies were Dudley and Sirius' contribution. Please let me know when they are born, I would love to see them. God bless and keep you,
Petunia, Sirius, and Dudley
"Sev, look!" Sarai exclaimed, holding up two fuzzy sleepers, one was yellow with small suns and moons embroidered on the left side, and one was white with baby animals embroidered on the right side. "Aren't they beautiful?"
"They look very nice," Severus agreed. "I'm sure they'll be nice and warm in them, which is good, because the dungeons are chilly." He gently stroked the fleecy garments. "I'll put a few charms on them so they're water and flame resistant. Stain resistant too."
"I shall write and thank Petunia immediately." Sarai said. "These were also included." She pulled out two plushies, one a green snake, the other a unicorn.
Hot on the heels of that letter was another from Phil and Julie. They also expressed their delight with the impending birth and sent two beautiful baby quilts, made by Julie, and teething rings and small booties.
Severus, you're going to get no sleep for quite some time with twins, take it from one who knows. Sometimes one twin sleeps and the other is awake, you'll need to get them on a schedule as soon as possible. Eventually, they'll start doing things together, but it takes a month or two to get them synchronized.
Write me if you have questions, I'll be glad to help you. Finally, more little Snapes!
Julie and I are honored, brother, to stand as godparents.
Give the boys a hug from me and tell them I hope they've been keeping up with their sword practice.
Phil and Julie
Hermione wrote back to Draco, and sent some knitted baby caps she had made herself.
Professor McGonagall sent a note of congratulations and small coats of blue and green plaid, as well as some self-warming bottles.
Flitwick sent animated jumping jacks, and Albus a griffin rocker—a rocking horse shaped like a griffin that made realistic sounds and all.
From Pomona came a magical talking growth chart and two entwined cherry trees. Poppy sent a case of potions geared for a baby's delicate system and her fond wishes too.
Other professors, like Sinistra and Trelawney, sent gifts of money for the twins.
Harry received letters from Ron and Katie, asking how his summer was going. Harry wrote back, telling them about his second holiday and the twins. Ron knew about them, but he'd forgotten to tell Katie, he wrote her an extra long letter filling her in on his adventures in the fae kingdom and the expectant babies.
Even Nesmay received a short message from Titania, inquiring about her well-being, and sending her some pocket money.
After placing all the gifts into the nursery, Sarai declared she was going to rest, at this stage she was almost always achy and tired. Her feet were swollen and she immediately hobbled to the recliner to put her feet up and take a nap. By then she waddled and her belly was so big that she joked she probably needed two chairs.
As the due date dew closer and closer, Severus became more and more nervous. Sarai had begun having small contractions, false labor, but it indicated that soon she would deliver. After one such incident, Severus went down to the study and paced for half an hour, trying to calm himself down. He prayed he wouldn't have to deliver the babies himself, and resolved to message Auriane tomorrow.
Nervous? queried Sev Prince from behind him.
Snape turned, hiding the fact that the ghost's entrance had nearly made him jump. "That would be an understatement. I've gone beyond nervous to insane."
The ghost chuckled. I remember those days. When my wife Victoria went into labor the first time, I was an absolute wreck. Thought I was going to have to pick myself up off the floor.
No, but I almost did. That was back in the day when men weren't permitted in the delivery room. I drove myself crazy imagining all kinds of awful things, I was so damn scared I had to take a Calming Draught. Every time I heard Vicki scream I wanted to either break down the door or hex myself. My father gave me a bottle of summerdew and I drank the entire thing. Then I passed out. My mother nearly beat him senseless when she came in to announce the birth of my daughter, Lydia, and found me dead to the world! But she used a spell to wake me and once I saw the baby and Vicki were fine, the summerdew haze was banished.
"Were your children born here at the manor, or in the palace?"
My eldest was born here, with a fae midwife in attendance. But after Lydia, Vicki opted to take advantage of the palace hot springs, and our other three were born there.
"Sarai wishes to have ours in the palace. I have no objection, and feel that whatever makes it easier on her is best."
That's a good attitude, Severus. Don't worry. Captain Valinek is strong, she'll be fine.
"I keep telling myself that, but still . . . I worry."
That's only natural. But you have to think positive. Think about how wonderful it will be to hold your babies in your arms. It's the most glorious feeling in the world. Trust me on that. Sev Prince said fervently. It's been over a thousand years since my Lydia was born and she has long since gone to her reward, yet I have never forgotten that moment when I took her from the midwife and held her close. I felt as if I had been given a miracle and I wept.
"Was it the same when you had your other children?"
Oddly enough, it was. Each birth is different, and so is the child. My son, Severn, was a quiet baby, hardly ever cried unless he was hungry. My smallest child, Aurielle, had a set of lungs on her to rival a banshee, you could hear her all over the house. I guess she was afraid we'd forget about her. My last born, Julian, was inbetween those two. The ghost smiled reminiscently.
"Who turned out to be the heir of your children?"
Severn was chosen then, the Guardian answered. But the next generation, the manor chose Julian's daughter, my granddaughter Meliara. She married and had a single son who was killed in battle with the Scots, and then the manor chose his cousin, my great-grandson Tiberius Prince.
"And now it falls to Harry," Severus said quietly.
He's a strong boy, Severus. He'll do well. Sev Prince told him. The ghost reached out and patted his namesake on the shoulder, becoming momentarily solid to do so. Try not to worry so much. It'll all work out for the best. Have you chosen names yet for your twins?
"Not yet. We have some picked out, but Sarai thinks that when the babies are born we'll know better which name fits them." Severus said. "Thank you for taking the time to speak with me."
I have nothing but time, Severus. And part of my duty is to make sure my descendants are content and happy, laughed the Guardian. It's little enough to help you out.
With that, the ghost bowed and then vanished.
Two weeks later:
Severus was awoken out of a sound sleep by Sarai shaking his shoulder.
"Sev, wake up! It's time!"
He sat up, scrubbing a hand over his face blearily. "Time for what?"
"Your children to get born," she replied, grimacing as another contraction hit.
"You're in labor?" he cried. He immediately Summoned his trousers and shirt and magicked them on. He tugged on his boots and stood up. "How far apart are the contractions?"
"I'm not too sure . . . seven maybe five minutes . . ." she panted.
"We have to get you to Healer Auriane." Severus said. "Smidgen!"
The shimmerling appeared, landing on his shoulder. :Severus, what do you need?:
"For you to wake Harry, Draco, and Nesmay. Tell them we're going to the Seelie Court, their mother's in labor."
:On my way, Sev!: the shimmerling blinked out.
Some seven minutes later the three children appeared, wearing casual clothing, yawning and blinking sleepily.
Severus chivied them before him to the Gate terminus and he followed holding his wife's arm.
He activated the Gate with a single word in the fae tongue, and it shimmered to life, granting them passage between the mortal realm and the Summer Country. They stepped through and the portal shut behind them.
Far off in the frozen wastes of the Unseelie Realm, Maeve, Queen of Winter, listened to the report of her spy in the Seelie Court. She gave a cold smile upon hearing that Lady Sarai, former Captain of the Queen's Blades, and now wife to Severus Snape, Lord Prince, was having twins and had just come to the palace to give birth.
So . . . the half-breed's marriage with the mortal wizard has borne fruit. But we shall see if the seeds flourish or not. A hand clenched upon her silver and jet carved throne. It was because of them that my son was exiled, made a slave to my sister Gloriana. Jarillion failed me badly, he may as well be dead to me now. Even so, he was still my son, and no one harms a member of my house and gets away with it.
Maeve's smile became twisted with cruel anticipation. They say revenge is a dish best served cold. And there is nothing so cold as the finality of death, or the ice about my heart. The dark queen bowed her head, calling upon all of her powers of destruction.
Sarai walked about the stone pool, gritting her teeth through another contraction. Walking on each side of her were Healer Auriane and Severus. The children were sent to wait in the family wing of the palace, and were dozing in Nesmay's suite. Smidgen would fetch them after the twins were born.
She paused, breathing in short deep breaths. Severus mopped her brow with a cool cloth. Auriane monitored her contractions with a spell.
"Not bad, my lady. Eight centimeters, you're almost there."
"Ten. I have to be ten," Sarai panted, trying to ride out the crest of pain.
"You're right. Let us walk some more." Auriane urged.
They walked about the room for another half-hour, while the contractions grew stronger and stronger. Finally, Sarai was dilated enough and then Auriane cast a spell on her to minimize the pain.
"It's nearly time to push. Let's get into the water," Auriane said, helping her, along with Severus, to remove her clothes and step into the pool of warm water. The water was up to Sarai's middle and soothing candles were lit along the water's edge. In the background a subtle melody was playing.
Sarai still felt the contractions, and she squeezed Severus' hand hard, but the pain was not as acute as before. Now she felt a great urge to bear down.
Auriane stepped into the water wearing a very short tunic that came to mid-thigh. She crouched down in the pool, ready to catch the baby when it started to crown.
"Are you ready, my lady? Center yourself and focus, and breathe with the pain. Now, on the count of three—push!"
Sarai obeyed, pushing down hard.
"Good! Again!" urged the Healer.
Sarai floated in the water, it cradled and supported her while she struggled to bring her children into the world. Some thirty minutes later, her daughter slid out of the womb and into the pool of water.
Auriane caught her, tied off the cord and cut it, and lifted her from the water. No sooner had she done so then the girl let out a loud cry. "Congratulations! You have a beautiful daughter!"
She gently toweled off the howling baby, then diapered her and put on a small smock and wrapped her in a soft blanket. She moved back and handed the baby to Severus. "Here, my lord, meet your new little girl."
Severus took the tiny crying bundle and stared into her eyes. They were a gray-blue, like the sea after a storm, and she had a tuft of dark hair. Her ears were slightly pointed, and her skin was like cream with a hint of honey. "Hello, little one. You're finally here." He managed to say, his voice full of wonder.
"And already giving your daddy fits," Sarai said. "Bring her to me, Sev."
Severus approached the pool, where Sarai floated, and knelt to show her the baby. "Say hello to your mama."
Sarai reached out a hand and stroked her daughter's cheek. "I bless thee, and call thee my daughter, Victoria Alyssandra Snape. Victoria for your many times great-grandmother and Alyssandra for mine." She turned to look at her husband, tears of joy shimmering in her eyes. "Do you like that choice, Sev?"
"It's a beautiful name, Sarai. Just like our daughter, who I think is starving." He gently kissed the baby on the forehead. Then he rocked her back and forth.
The Healer looked up at them. "You can let her nurse a bit, my lady. 'Twill bring on your next set of contractions, so your other baby can be born." She helped Sarai sit up and cradle the baby to her breast.
Little Victoria quickly began to suckle. Sarai beamed down at the baby and murmured, "She has your hair, Sev."
"But not my nose," he laughed. Then he just stared at his new daughter, and his heart overflowed with love for the precious child created from their love. She was indeed, a miracle. And like Sev Prince before him, he wept tears of joy.
The baby had only started to drink for about five minutes when another contraction rippled through Sarai. She stiffened. "Auriane, I just felt another one."
"Give the baby to your husband, lady. We have some more work to do." The Healer instructed, monitoring the baby's heartbeat.
Sarai gently removed Victoria from her breast and Severus took her. Then she gasped as a large contraction clenched her. "Ahhh! Auriane, I think I need to push."
"Do so," the Healer said.
Severus watched, holding the whimpering infant, as his wife fought to bring the second twin into the world. He wished he could have taken away the pain his wife suffered, for even with the spell, there was still pain. Victoria fussed and he whispered, "Hush, little one, soon you'll have your twin brother or sister here."
Auriane's attendant approached him and said, "My lord Snape, might I take your baby for a moment, so you can hold your next one?"
Severus reluctantly handed her Victoria, then went back to Sarai and whispered, "You're doing fine, love. This is almost over."
"Once more, my lady!" Auriane called.
Sarai pushed, and all at once the second twin slid into the pool.
"It's a boy! You have a son as well," Auriane announced, tying off the cord. Then she lifted the baby boy from the water.
The boy was smaller than his twin and did not begin breathing immediately. His skin remained a light bluish tone. Alarmed, Auriane whispered, "Breathe, little one." She gently tapped the baby on the back, but the boy remained unresponsive.
"He's not crying," Sarai said suddenly, a terrible premonition sweeping over her. "Why isn't he crying?"
Auriane murmured a spell, but still the baby would not breathe. She could feel the infant grow cold beneath her hands and she began to massage him frantically.
"What's wrong?" Severus cried, sensing there was something amiss.
"He's not breathing, my lord!" the Healer cried.
Severus paled, then took the baby and tried to give him CPR. Come on, son! Breathe for me. Please! Just once. Just breathe! Over and over he puffed air into the tiny lungs.
"Sev, what's going on? What's wrong with my son?" Sarai cried, struggling up from the pool. She was aching and sore but she had to know what was going on with her son. She had heard that he wasn't breathing.
"Lady, don't move," Auriane cautioned. "You still need to deliver the afterbirth."
"Auriane, what's wrong with my baby?" she whispered, dread stealing through her. "Go and save my child!"
"Oh, Lady Sarai, I cannot . . . for he's—"
"No!" Sarai shouted. "Don't say it!" She turned and looked about for her husband, only then seeing him cradling the tiny blue-skinned infant in his arms, bending his head and blowing into the baby's mouth and rhythmically pressing down on the little chest, and all the while tears streamed down his cheeks. "Bright Lady, please. Spare our son!" she pleaded, her voice breaking.
But it was no use.
Severus continued working on the baby, now using magic to try and stimulate the tiny scrap to no avail. Despair overwhelmed him and he sobbed aloud, "Please breathe, Alexander, please!"
Victoria began to wail as her father held her twin's limp form to his chest.
Auriane came over and gently examined the baby. "I'm so sorry, my Lord Severus. But he's gone." She made as if to take the still form, but Severus jerked away.
"No! Let me hold him. Just a minute longer. Maybe the magic just takes time to work." He hissed, rocking the baby, though he knew what he had said was ludicrous. The Reviving Charm worked instantly . . . upon a live recipient.
"Sev, let me see him!" Sarai cried.
His steps leaden, Severus brought the tiny boy over to his mother, who clutched him to her chest and whispered, "I bless thee and name thee Alexander Severus. My poor son!" Then she kissed the top of his head and began to sob.
In her throne room, Maeve, Queen of Air and Darkness, threw back her head and laughed, withdrawing from her Globe of Seeing. Her revenge was complete. Her spell had smothered the tiny spark of life in the baby before his mother had had time to bless him and give him her protection. The Unseelie monarch grinned maliciously and called for some frost wine, intent upon celebrating her victory. Let her enemies weep, as she had, over the loss of their child. A son for a son. A life for a life.
A/N-I would like to thank everyone who gave me names, they were very helpful. For those interested-Victoria means conqueror, victory. She's a survivor. Her middle name, Alyssandra means- noble defender or man's defender.
I know this chapter ended tragically, but maybe it was expected, considering Maeve's vindictive nature and hatred for Sarai and Severus.
Next: See how the Snape family handles this devastating loss.