Chapter 2 : Bittersweet Consequences
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This story is dedicated to my grandmother, Dorothy Marie who died while I was writing this. I love and miss ya.
Severus had settled into his new Death Eater duties as well as his apprenticeship studies. The Dark Lord's influences were wide, and he was well on his way to being one of the few non-Pureblood Potions Master in Britain. He had finally gained the respect he had lacked in Hogwarts.
Severus had refurbished Spinner's End, and it looked close to presentable now without the dust and the cobwebs. He had furnished himself a Potions room there in the basement, and when his other duties didn't keep him busy, he was in there studying potions.
He hadn't lost his passion for the Dark Arts, but had slowly become disillusioned with what the Dark Lord preached. Each time his Mark called, he answered with a dread in his heart. A few months of the murders, the rapes and the machinations of the Dark Lord had been more then he could stomach. But there was no turning back, unless he wanted a painful death. The last follower wishing to leave had left an even deeper mark in his heart. He could still remember the screams before the Dark Lord had tired of them.
Yes, the lesson had been learned by all of them.
Tonight he sat by the fire, an untouched fire whiskey on the table beside him. He watched the fire crackle and the flames wiggle in the slight breeze that came down the floo. It's orange color seemed to mesmerize him, and he lost track of the time.
He hadn't seen Narcissa in months, but Lucius had kept them all informed on how well his new situation was going. His announcement a few days ago had had Severus's heart turn cold; they were expecting the Malfoy heir. She was truly lost to him, and he had finally let go of the dream of her leaving Lucius for him.
A flash of green in the floo startled him from his thoughts, and he gasped as Narcissa's face appeared.
“Severus?” Her voice came through, hesitant and unsure.
“Why are you flooing me, Cissa?” Severus stood up, sipping his fire whiskey finally to cover up his emotions.
“I need to talk to you.” Narcissa said, and he heard the desperation in her voice.
“Does Lucius know? Won't he be upset?” Severus asked snidely, his distaste for Malfoy evident.
“He's not here right now, and it's important Snarky, please.” Her voice pleaded through the flames to him.
“So he doesn't have a clue about us?”
“He knows we once had something-- gah, please Snarky let me see you.”
“Very well.” Severus agreed.
Narcissa's form came through the floo, and his heart constricted at the sight her enlarged belly made. Severus fisted his hands at his sides to keep from touching her. Her beauty had only been enhanced by her pregnancy.
“What did you want, Cissa?” Severus asked her. He still loved her, and knowing she was Lucius's now ripped what little that was left of his heart out.
“This baby-” Narcissa said hesitantly. She looked at the wizard before her and the obvious changes in him hurt her. She hated herself for causing this bitterness in him, and now here she was, about to cause even more pain for him.
“Lucius' heir.” Severus snorted and poured himself more fire-whiskey. Lucius had everything he had wanted, the girl and now the child.
“No- your heir. I was pregnant by the time the vows were said.” Narcissa bit her lip as she admitted this, and watched Severus's eyes darken to an even blacker hue. How she hated the dark side of him, and it broke her heart to know it was her that had hurt him the most.
“You married him knowing that- why are you here now, Cissa? Why are you telling me?” Severus asked bitterly, wanting to hate her but he couldn't. The knowledge that he himself created the child in her brought a myriad of emotions to him. A child I can't even claim as my own, Severus thought.
“I didn't know Snarky. But I did the gestation spell, and she was conceived before we left Hogwarts. Lucius will kill her if he finds out.” Narcissa started crying and sat down in the chair Severus had been in just a few minutes before. He watched as she rubbed her belly, murmuring soothing words as he saw it move and bounce beneath her dress.
“What do you expect of me, Cissa?” Severus asked, wanting to run his hands across the bump of her stomach, knowing his child lay cradled there was a bittersweet joy.
“To take her when she is born, hide her, raise her!” Narcissa's voice raised.
“How do you plan on accomplishing this? Lucius is hardly going to hand over this child to me.”
“Take her before he knows she is born, pretend she died in childbirth.” Cissa suggested.
“You want me to lie to your husband? If the Dark Lord hears any of this we'll all be dead.” Severus turned to away from her, afraid his eyes still showed the feelings he held for her.
“Yes Severus, I do. For the life of our child I beg of you to do this.” Severus heard the plea in her voice and he could refuse her nothing.
“If I do this you will never see our child again, can you accept this?” Severus asked turning to look into her teary gaze, and felt his heart melt.
“Never? You can't expect me to not see her again?” Cissa looked up at him, and shifted in the chair.
“Cissa love- the only way to keep her from Malfoy is to hide her, and it will take me some time to even figure that out. Why couldn't you have come to me sooner?” Severus knelt beside her chair, his hand covering hers. For the first time he felt his child kick and it amazed him. He had helped create the life inside her, and now he feared the repercussions. Severus leaned so that his forehead touched hers and sighed.
“I was afraid. I didn't know who else to go to, but she needs you.” Cissa watched his hand follow the baby's kicking and took in the small smile of happiness he had over his own child.
“This is a dangerous game we play, but I will do it.” Severus agreed. “By my calculations we have a month, if labor starts early we are lost.”
“Thank you Snarky. I will have Twinky get you when it's time.” Severus felt the light kiss on his cheek and flinched.
“Go Cissa, I have plans to make.” Severus watched as she grasped the armrests to stand up, and held back from helping her. She had made their choices, but they both had to live with them. He watched her step back into the floo and with another flash of green light she was gone.
Severus hit the wall in anger, getting a grim satisfaction from the pain and and the hole it created. How could he have been so stupid? The one time they forget to invoke a contraceptive spell they get caught. He hated how the Fates played with his life. He cursed them as he watched the blood drip from his bruised and broken knuckles.
Now he was forced by the same fickle Fates to deal with the consequences, and the punishment would be to never watch his own child grow up.
Love was a cruel master.
Narcissa's cries could be heard throughout the mansion. Lucius had agreed to let her give birth at home, and Twinky was a capable medi-elf. So one part of Severus's plans were going forth. Twinky had summoned him as soon as her first contraction hit, and he had arrived when her water broke.
Cissa had fabricated the due date, so Lucius was off with some friends at an exclusive London Wizardry bar. For once the Fates were playing on their side.
Severus pulled the swaddled bundle from his pocket and enlarged it. A Muggle's doll wrapped in a pink blanket. It was a girl-child, and Severus hoped because of this Lucius would not look too closely. Severus was counting on the fact that Lucius wouldn't give a damn about a girl because he wouldn't consider her an heir. The plan would blow up in all their faces if he was wrong, but as soon as the baby arrived Twinky had been instructed to take her to a safe place. No matter what transpired, their child would be safe.
Severus watched as her teeth clinched and silently urged to give one last push. He stood in the shadows and waited, his fake bundle ready to place in her arms.
“Severus!” Narcissa’s tears flowed freely as the sound of the baby's first small cry shattered the wall around his heart. He watched as Twinky wrapped his daughter in a blanket and with a small pop disappeared with her.
“It's time to owl Lucius, love.” He whispered, pushing back the sweaty blond hair that stuck to her face.
“I thought I'd get to see her just once,” Narcissa cried, and he handed her the bundle. He uttered a spell, making the plastic seem more skin-like, and touched the tear that ran down her cheek and kissed her softly.
“I'm sorry it has to be this way, but it's safer you only have the vision of this in your mind.” Severus pointed to the bundle while opening the window and letting the eagle owl fly towards Lucius.
Lucius received the note and crowed happily to his friends, leaving the girl he was dancing with and disapparated back to the mansion. He ran up the stairs to the birthing room, and stopped in shock as he looked in to see Narcissa crying over a swaddled bundle and Severus standing sadly at the window.
“What happened?” Lucius said, a deathly calm filling him.
“I'm sorry Lucius, I didn't arrive in time, the baby had a few unforeseen complications and died in the birthing canal. If it helps ease your sorrow any, it was a girl.” Severus said, looking at his friend.
“A girl? And she’s dead? Narcissa... Severus will she be able to bear more children?” Lucius fixed Snape with an unreadable stare. Snape gave a curt nod in reply. “Very well then, Narcissa, fear not we will try again soon. Let Severus dispose of this child. We shall have another – a boy.” Lucius showed no remorse and spoke his last words as a command, not in hope. How dare she brought forth a girl? He barely looked at the bundle in his wife’s arms before turning abruptly to leave the room.
The loud pop of his apparition outside the door made them both jump.
Severus arrived at Spinner's End after leaving the Malfoy's Manor. He hated Lucius more then ever, but he had counted on his older friend's reactions being the way they were and he hated himself for being right. Narcissa's parents had married her off to an unfeeling bastard, but for their plans it had worked out right.
“Master Snarky,” Twinky said from the sitting room, holding a small pink bundle and a bottle. “Twinky be needing to get back to Mistress now.”
Severus bent down and took careful hold of the bundle. He pushed back the blanket and looked down into the face of his daughter. Her unfocused grey eyes gazed up at him, her little fists waving in the air.
“Tell Mistress that the baby will be with the secret keeper soon.” Severus said, savoring the brief moment with her.
“Lil Miss is beautiful,” The elf said before his small pop signaling his departure was heard. The baby cried at the small sound and Snape rocked back and forth to quieten her.
Severus unwrapped her fully and counted her fingers and her toes. He smiled with satisfaction, his daughter was a perfect melding of Narcissa and him. He praised Merlin she had Cissa's nose and not his. He rubbed the black down of her head with his hand before kissing it softly.
It was time to say goodbye.
He bundled her back up and held her close, breathing her baby smell before apparating to the meeting place with her secret keeper. Once he handed her over, he would never see her again. For a moment he thought of running, but knew the Dark Lord's reach was far and deadly. It was better for all of them this way.
Severus paced as he waited, wanting to get this over with but at the same hoping the older wizard would not show. Finally he heard the soft footsteps and cuddled the baby closer before turning.
“Professor,” Severus greeted the newcomer.
“Greetings Severus. This is the child you wish me to hide?” Albus Dumbledore asked, watching his former student.
“Yes,” Severus placed one last kiss on the baby's forehead before handing her over. His eyes sadly watched the older wizard gently cuddle and coo over the child. He knew he had made the right decision.
“Have you thought more on the other matter we discussed?” Albus asked, looking into the baby's eyes and realized with shock her parentage. Severus had only asked him to hide a child from the Dark Lord, not telling him it was his own. He held himself back from asking who her mother was, Severus would one day tell him.
“I will become your spy.” Severus answered, holding himself back from grabbing the child back to hold her one more time.
“A choice you will not regret, in time she will be rejoined with her parents.” Albus replied, hoping he was correct; he wasn't a Seer. “Her name is?”
“Her name is Mariah.” Severus said, a bittersweet feeling washing over him as Albus disapparated.
“Goodbye my child.” Severus whispered.
Mariah means bitter- fitting for this story. It is also my great-great grandmother's name. (I added the 'H' for pronounciation reasons. It is really spelt Maria.)