Chapter 39 : Baby Mine
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Six hours later:
Severus had no idea why he'd woken up so early, but for some reason he had, and as was the usual case, he couldn't go back to sleep. He glanced over at Alby, who was sleeping like a log, Harry had once joked that Alby could sleep through the castle falling down on his head. Severus stifled a sneeze and went to use the toilet. Afterwards, he felt oddly compelled to go and have a peek at Harry and Ginny. So he crept over to their bedroom . . . and found that they weren't there!
Before he could think to look for them in the sitting room, there came an odd pop, and a Hogwarts house elf was standing next to him. "Who are you? And do you know where my . . . my parents have gone?"
"Indeed, young master. My name is Tessa and Master Harry and Mistress Ginny has gone to the Hospital Wing, for mistress be having her baby tonight." The elf bowed respectfully to the boy. She had pale hair and was wearing a Hogwarts tea-towel.
"The baby!" Severus exclaimed, wide-eyed. "It's going to be born tonight?"
"Yes, young master. It may already be born, in fact. Shall Tessa go and see? Madame Pomfrey's house elf Hygeia would know."
"Yes, please. See if the baby's born and how Mistress Ginny's doing too," Severus stated.
"Tessa will go straightaway," the elf said, then popped away.
Severus went to the couch and sat down. While he had known that Ginny was due very soon, he had not expected anything to happen just yet, much less in the middle of the night! He looked at the clock on the mantle. It read 7:30 AM. He wondered how long it took a baby to get born. He hoped Harry and Ginny had decided on a name for the infant. He also hoped the baby was a girl. They needed one in the family.
As he sat musing, Tessa popped back in. "Congratulations, Master Severus! You has a new baby . . . sister! She was born at 6:45 this morning, or so Hygeia says." The elf was smiling.
"It's a girl!" Severus was thrilled. "Uh, and how's Ginny?"
"Mistress Ginny is doing fine. Tired, but fine."
Severus felt a grin stretch his mouth. He got up and ran into the bedroom to wake up Alby. "Al! Al, wake up!" He shook the other boy's shoulder vigorously. "We have a baby sister!"
Alby groaned. "M'tired, Sevvy! Go 'way!"
"Come on, Al. Get up and get dressed."
But Alby refused, trying to snuggle back under the covers.
Severus yanked them off.
"I'm cold!" Alby yelped, curling into a ball.
"Then get up."
"Get up or I'll tickle your feet," Severus threatened.
Alby shook his head and tried to tuck his feet under him. "Lemme alone!"
Severus frowned. Of all the times for his brother to turn mule stubborn! He reached out and tickled the side of his brother's foot.
Alby squealed and wailed, "Mum! Dad! Sevvy's being mean!"
"Oh, stop being a crybaby!" Severus said irritably. "They aren't here anyway. Now get up!"
"No. I'm sleepy." Alby replied, his voice muffled by the pillow.
"You're a little pain in the bum is what you are!" Severus groused. He wanted to see the baby and he was stuck in here with a recalcitrant toddler. It was beyond unfair. "You'd better be up by the time I get dressed, Albus, or else."
Severus didn't quite know what he would do if Alby ignored him, but he stalked to his dresser and began to pull on some clothes. After he'd tied his trainers, he looked back at his brother. To his annoyance, Alby had fallen asleep!
"That does it!" Severus muttered. "It's time for some tough love." He grabbed the pillow off his bed and stalked over to his brother. "ALBUS SEVERUS, WAKE UP NOW!" he yelled, then he whacked Alby's upturned bottom with the pillow.
Alby woke up with a loud yelp.
"Ahhh!" Something had smacked his bum!
He turned over and saw Severus, holding the pillow and smirking. "Sevvy! Why'd you smack me? I'm telling!"
"Al, for Merlin's sake! I hit you with a pillow! It doesn't even hurt."
"You scared me," Alby said, pouting. His brother was right, though. The smack had only startled him.
"Next time get up when I tell you."
"Because we've got a baby sister, that's why."
"Where is she?" Alby asked , looking around as if the baby were going to appear out of thin air.
"At the Hospital Wing, of course! With your mum and dad. Hurry up and get dressed so we can go see her." Severus urged.
"Can I eat breakfast first? I'm hungry."
"Fine! I'll get breakfast, you get dressed."
"Got to go potty first." Alby said, jumping off the bed.
"Just don't dawdle, okay?" his brother said exasperatedly. They could have been at the infirmary twenty minutes ago if Alby had gotten up sooner.
Severus headed into the sitting area and called Tessa. Tessa popped in. "What can Tessa do for Master Severus?"
"Can you bring me two bowls of cereal?"
"Hot or cold?"
"Cold. Make it something sweet like Fruit Crunch."
"As Master Severus wishes."
Tessa popped back in moments later with two bowls of Fruit Crunch with milk, two glasses of orange juice, and two pieces of buttered toast. "Here you go, young masters!" She set all the items on the little table, bowed, and popped away again.
Severus sat on the couch and began to eat. He could have skipped breakfast, but decided he might as well eat it now that it was here. He disliked wasting food.
Alby came out of the bedroom. "Sevvy, I'm dressed."
Severus looked up and almost choked to death on his mouthful of cereal.
His little brother's shirt was buttoned crooked and hanging out of his trousers, his shoes were untied, and his hair looked like a haystack a horse had been chewing on.
Severus managed to swallow his cereal before saying, "Merlin's socks! Who taught you how to dress yourself? You look like a refugee!"
"I taught myself."
"Figures. Come here." Severus beckoned to the little boy.
Alby came. Severus sighed and unbuttoned Alby's trousers, tucking in his shirt. He then re-buttoned the shirt . "Put your foot up," he ordered, tying Alby's shoes after he'd done so. "Go get the brush in the bathroom."
"But Se-evvy!" Alby whined. "I'm hungry!"
"You can eat after I fix your hair. It's a wreck. Now get!"
"You're not the boss of me!"
"I am too, until your dad gets home. Now stop giving me a hard time and just do what I told you."
His brother scowled and stomped into the bathroom to get the brush and back out again. "Here," he tossed the brush at Severus.
Severus caught it, and glared at his brother. "Stop being a brat, Al." He ran the brush through Alby's hair, trying to get it to lie flat. Alby wriggled and squirmed until Severus longed to smack him with the hairbrush. He didn't know how Harry put up with this every day. Finally, he set the brush down and let Alby eat his breakfast.
Severus was finished with his food long before Alby was. He waited five minutes before asking, "You done yet?"
"No." Alby muttered around a mouthful of cereal. He continued eating, taking his sweet time.
Severus gritted his teeth. "A snail eats faster than you. Come on, Alby!"
"If I eat too fast my tummy hurts," his brother said.
Three minutes later, Alby set down his spoon and said, "Okay, Sevvy, I'm all done!"
"Finally!" Severus grabbed his brother's hand and pulled him towards the door. "Let's go."
Once out in the corridor, Severus found his sense of direction and familiarity with the castle was still with him. He led Alby right up the corridor, recalling the way to the Hospital Wing with ease.
Harry cradled his new daughter in his arms, looking down at the tiny miracle and smiling. He couldn't believe she was finally here. Ginny had stayed awake long enough to nurse her, and now she was sleeping. Poppy had suggested he let the baby sleep beside her, since getting born was exhausting for the little infant, but Harry couldn't bear to be parted from her just yet. His big hands cupped her tiny body and he held her firmly yet gently against him. His baby girl was only six pounds and ten ounces.
Harry couldn't stop staring at her. She was so little, but she was a fighter. She gripped his thumb in her fist and sucked it, her eyes as yet unfocused. He was mesmerized by her. "You're so tiny!" he marveled. "Your brother was bigger, sweet one. But you're much prettier. Yes, you are! You're daddy's pretty little princess," he crooned. He gave her a kiss on the forehead. From the moment Poppy had placed her in his arms, red-faced and bawling, he had lost his heart utterly and completely to a pair of blue-violet eyes that gazed up at him fearlessly. He felt an instant connection, a fierce powerful love, and he whispered, "Hello, baby mine. I'm your daddy."
She had stopped crying then. I know, her eyes seemed to say, that were both innocent and knowing. Harry had wondered about that, but an instant later she blinked and her gaze was that of any other newborn. He had given her to her mum then, but now that he had her back, he wanted to hold her forever.
As he rocked her gently, Alby and Severus entered the Hospital Wing.
Alby would have run yelling across the ward, but Poppy grabbed him by the shoulders and said firmly, "Mr. Potter, you don't yell in my infirmary. Your mum is asleep, and she doesn't need to be woken up by little boys screaming. And you'll scare the baby too. Understand?"
Alby nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
"Very good. Now, you may walk quietly over to your father and see your new sister." Poppy said, smiling. She released Alby and stepped out of the way.
"What's her name?" asked Severus.
"I'll let your dad introduce you," Poppy replied.
Together, the two brothers approached Harry and the new baby.
Harry looked up, his green eyes shining with tears of joy. "Hey, boys. Come and meet your new sister."
Severus peered down at the baby. She was the smallest human being he'd ever seen, with the biggest most unusual eyes, and a fuzzy cap of reddish brown hair. "She's so tiny!" He marveled, reaching a finger out to stroke her cheek. Her skin was soft like rose petals. "What's her name?"
"We called her Indigo Camille. Camille was my grandmother Potter's name and Indigo is for her eyes and because your mum and I wanted a name as unique as she is. I have a feeling—here—" he tapped his chest. "—that she's going to be a very special child." The baby was born under the sign Aquarius, and those children were known for their creativity, intuition, and magic.
"Of course she is. With parents like you, how could she not be?" Severus remarked. "Hi, Indigo. I'm your big brother, Sevvy." He grinned like a fool when the baby looked at him.
"Can I see her, Daddy? I wanna see!" Alby said, trying to stand on tiptoe.
"Here, Al." Harry carefully lowered the baby so his younger son could see her face.
"Wow! She's real little! But she has pretty eyes." Alby remarked. "But her face is kinda . . . squished."
Severus glared at Alby. "It is not! She's beautiful."
"I'm just saying, Sevvy."
"Enough, you two. No arguing around the baby," Harry said firmly. "Alby, she looks like that because getting born isn't easy. But you looked like that too when you were born."
"I did? No way!"
"Yes, you did. But that'll go away in a few days, you'll see."
"Can I hold her?" Severus asked then.
"Yes. Take a seat on the bottom of the bed." Harry told him.
"Now, make a cradle with your arms," Harry said, gently lowering the baby into Severus' arms. "Put one hand here, and support her little head, and the other under her bottom." He guided Severus' hands to the right spots. "And just hug her to you. There you go!"
For one instant Severus felt nervous. Indigo was so tiny, what if he dropped her by mistake? But then he shifted her in his arms and suddenly it felt almost natural holding her. She made a soft whimpering sound and he whispered, "Don't worry, baby girl. I've got you. I'll never let anyone hurt you. Not ever. Anybody messes with you and they're going to be missing a few teeth at least."
"Who're you gonna beat up, Sevvy?" asked Alby curiously. At first he wasn't sure how he felt about the baby, but seeing Severus holding her, he felt the way he did when he came across a wild animal that was shy, like he wanted to hug and protect her.
"Anybody who tries to hurt her. That's a big brother's job, to protect his baby sister."
"I wanna help. I'm her big brother too!"
"You can both protect her," Harry said, thinking he almost pitied the idiot who tried anything with Indigo. With both Severus and Alby there, the little girl couldn't have better bodyguards than if she was the Queen herself.
"When can I play with her, Dad?" asked Alby.
"Not for a long time yet, son. She needs to grow up a bit first. But before you know it, she'll be crawling and walking and talking. Right, Indi?" He tickled the baby under the chin, and she squealed.
Severus felt a sudden surge of love and protectiveness flow through him. He knew then that he would do anything to keep his small sister safe and happy. He had never felt this way about anyone before, except maybe Lily. He gazed deep into the violet-blue eyes and whispered, "Welcome to the family, sister mine. I'll love you always."
"Me too," added Alby, his hand gently holding the baby's fist. "When you're bigger, I'm gonna teach you how to fly."
"And I'm going to teach you how to brew potions."
"I'm gonna teach you to play Marble Shooter."
"And I'll teach you how to draw and read."
"I'll teach you how to color inside the lines."
"And what can I teach her?" Harry asked, laughing.
"You get to teach her everything else," answered Severus.
"You and Mummy," Alby stated. He looked at the baby, who had fallen asleep, her fist in her mouth. He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Sweet dreams, baby."
Harry couldn't help grinning at how his boys had taken to the baby. And here he'd been worried about one of them being jealous. Apparently he had worried over nothing. "Here, Sev. Let's put her by her mum." He gently took the baby from his eldest and placed her in the crook of Ginny's arm.
"Okay, now how about some breakfast? I'm starving!" the new father said.
"We already ate breakfast," Severus said.
"But now I want pancakes, Dad. Sevvy only let me have cereal."
"It was the quickest thing to eat," Severus said defensively.
"An' he woke me up by screaming in my ear and he smacked me with a pillow."
"You wouldn't wake up any other way! Tattletale."
"All right, stop bickering," Harry ordered. He asked Hygeia, Poppy's house elf, if she could bring them breakfast, and asked for pancakes for Alby and an omelet, toast, fried potatoes, and bacon for himself. "You want anything, Sev?"
"No. I'm fine," Severus replied, scowling at his brother with his arms crossed. Since when was Alby snitching on him? He reminded Severus of Jamie Lupin, who was always telling on Teddy. Severus decided he would have a talk with his little brother later, and explain the rules of siblings to him. One of which was not being a tattletale over stupid things. But right now he was going to take a nap. He could settle with Alby later.
Breakfast arrived, and Harry started eating hungrily. So did Alby, pancakes were his favorite. Harry turned to ask Severus if he wanted some bacon, for that was one of the boy's favorites, only to find him curled up at the foot of the bed, sound asleep. Harry tucked a gray blanket around him and continued eating. Better sleep while you can, Sev. With a new baby in the house, none of us will be getting much of that for months.
A/N: A note about the baby's name. Indigo is a beautiful plant that makes a gorgeous blue dye that was highly prized in the ancient world, and worth its weight in gold, literally. And an indigo child is a term used to describe a kid who has certain psychic gifts and powers and is special. Her middle name, Camille, means perfect. Her name was carefully chosen to show how much they love her, it wasn't at random.
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