Part the Seventeenth
James and Maia, 31 December, 1979
Maia was nervous. It was certain. She had performed the ‘heartbeat spell’ and she had heard two heartbeats when she pointed it on herself—her own and her unborn child’s. Now she had to tell James.
They had never talked about children. Of course, they hadn’t used protection. It had been their wedding night. It was considered unlucky to use it, even among the more liberal purebloods and some half-bloods, to employ it during the first year of marriage since wizards often had a difficult time conceiving. Except for the Weasleys. They had a tendency to just keep on procreating. They must have four or five sons by now! How were they all going to inherit?
She breathed in as she sat at the lunch table with the Dark Lord, who insisted that they eat together like a family whenever he was awake.
“Do you find being Head Girl rewarding?” he asked in his high nasally voice. His slits of blue eyes regarded her from across the table.
She picked up her wine glass and pretended to take a sip. There were new Muggle studies, that even she knew about, that stated that alcohol was bad for unborn children. Maia didn’t trust Muggles in the slightest, but she frankly wasn’t going to take any chances.
“You were Head Boy, weren’t you, Dark Lord?”
“Your Uncle Marvolo,” he corrected.
Strange, she didn’t know they had separated into two separate personalities by then. Goes to show. Even though Uncle Marvolo had raised her and she had known about the Dark Lord since she was six years old, it was still confusing at times.
“I apologize,” she murmured. “And, yes. It is a great deal of responsibility—managing the prefects, planning the feasts, organizing the train and the carriages—but I find I can do it well and with little fuss. One of my best friends, Barty Crouch, Jr., is Head Boy.”
“The one who broke all the records,” the Dark Lord mused, taking a bite of his lamb.
The smell was frankly making Maia feel ill.
“Yes,” she agreed, blotting her mouth with her napkin. “Him. His father is the Head of Magical Law Enforcement and he likes to sneak into his office and alter the notes to make the evidence more vague—all on your behalf, of course. He had more influence over the summer, but I don’t doubt he’s been up to his old tricks since we got back this December.”
The Dark Lord looked pleased with this. However, he changed the subject. “You’re spending the rest of your holiday with the Selwyn girl?”
“I leave after lunch,” she told him casually. “We thought we’d ring in the New Year together, the four of us friends.”
“Four of you,” the Dark Lord repeated, clearly uninterested but making an attempt at conversation.
“Yes,” she said, so they wouldn’t fall into silence. “Me, Barty, Regulus Black, and Apricot Selwyn.”
They did, then, unfortunately, fall into silence. Maia forced herself to eat so the Dark Lord wouldn’t notice, knowing she might just vomit it into a plotted plant at her husband’s cottage—their cottage, she reminded herself. Still, she’d be able to tell him why. Once she told him—why.
James. We’re going to have a baby.
No, she’d take his hand and place it on her abdomen.
No, smile. James. You’re going to be a father.
How was she going to hide this at Hogwarts and at the beginning of the summer when she’d undoubtedly see either or both Uncle Marvolo or the Dark Lord? There must be a spell for this. Regulus would give her access to his family library, she knew he would, and she’d find a spell that would be some sort of—she didn’t know—pregnancy glamor? Something. Surely a witch had ridden into battle pregnant at some point. It sounded like something a warrior would have done. There was Bodicea. She was a witch-warrior-queen.
When they were finished with their meal, her wine completely untouched, she went up to her room and fetched her already packed trunk. She let her owl out and gave him instructions on where to go. He’d been sent to James Potter often enough to know his destination. Shrinking the cage, she put it in the trunk, and then placed he trunk in her handbag.
Bundling up, she Apparated from her room, having already said her halting goodbyes to the Dark Lord and leaving a note for Uncle Marvolo.
When she arrived she promptly vomited into a bush. Then she realized that Apparating might not be good for the baby. She better check on that.
James immediately came out into the back garden, where she had appeared, and wrapped an arm around her as she emptied her stomach. Sinking into him, she sighed. “Sorry, James. I think I ate something.” Or nothing at all.
He kissed her forehead. “Not at all.” Leading her into the house, he settled her on the couch and made her a cup of tea. She noticed that there was a bottle of champagne and two glasses waiting and tears welled in her eyes. Stupid hormones.
Sighing, she heard her husband in the kitchen and when he came out, they just looked at each other. His hair was wonderfully mussed—naturally, not like he’d run his fingers through it to make himself look like he’d just gotten off a broom—and, yes, she could tell. She loved him that much. His hazel eyes were free of glasses and wasn’t that wonderful? He was wearing Muggle jeans and a pullover, but a house robe was over them. She wondered if he often wore house robes or if he was wearing them for her, and the thought made her heart beat a little faster.
The tea was steaming in his hand.
“James,” she murmured, trying to smile. “I have news. I think it’s good news.”
He looked at her in confusion, but came over, setting the tea down. She turned to him and took his hands in hers, looking down at them. Unlike Muggles, wizards didn’t always wear wedding rings. It depended on the couple. Well, usually it depended on the witch. James had asked her by letter if she wanted rings—and she had responded that all she wanted was him.
Taking a deep breath, she looked into his eyes again and bit her lip, trying to figure out how to tell him.
“Right,” she stated, her voice shaking. “I’m just going to say it. James, it took.”
His brows furrowed. “What took?”
She shook her head and looked down again before recapturing his gaze. “I didn’t say it right. It’s going to be three of us.”
Clearly still confused, he asked, “Pardon?”
Maia knew she was making a right mess of it. So she just took his scarred hand that had the ‘x’ on it and placed it on her still flat stomach. “Three, James. There’s going to be three of us at the end of July, beginning of August. Unless the baby comes early. By the gods, I don’t want to give birth at Hogwarts.”
A blank face met her gaze when she next looked at him. His eyes showed absolutely no emotion and Maia thought this was definitely a bad sign. James should be reacting in some way.
“Darling?” she asked desperately. “Say something.”
“You’re—” He licked his lips. “You’re pregnant? Are you sure?”
“I’ve heard the little wizard’s heartbeat,” she told him with a hesitant smile. “Please tell me you’re not angry. I know we’re young, and I’m still at Hogwarts—but we can make this work, surely—”
He suddenly leaned forward and caught her lips in a firm but chaste kiss. He smiled into it, she could feel it, and she sighed into the kiss in relief. Pulling away, James asked, “We’re going to have a baby?’
“We’re going to have a baby,” she confirmed again.
“This calls for a toast!” James decided, turning to perhaps get champagne.
She hesitated and when he reached for the bottle, Maia placed a hand on his arm. When he turned to her, Maia explained, “Muggles think alcohol is bad for unborn children. I’m afraid to risk it.”
“Oh, there’s a spell for that,” he told her. “Sirius looked it up when he was first engaged to—” A stricken look crossed his face.
“Sirius was engaged? Was he jilted?” Maia asked in shock.
“Er—not quite,” James hedged. “Let me just floo him now and get that spell—he’ll know, but he’s my best mate, and he’ll only tell Lux if he tells anyone.”
Her eyes widened. “He can’t tell his godsister. I haven’t told my best mates in all the world! No, the baby is strictly between us for now. And Sirius so you can get that spell. How is there even a spell for this if I only knew about this alcohol thing from a Mudbl—Muggleborn?”
James looked at her sternly but didn’t say anything. “Black family magic, I think. Let me just get that spell.” He was over to the floo in two seconds flat, threw in some powder, and stuck his head into green flames. Unfortunately, he was talking to Sirius, who must have been on the other side, for at least five minutes before coming back through. “Sorry, Padfoot wouldn’t stop congratulating me. He promised to tell no one—” He came over and kissed Maia on the forehead again. Taking out his wand, he pointed it at Maia’s stomach and with a circular motion intoned, “Allereo!” There was a pale yellow light and James blinked. “Er—do you want to know the gender of the baby? Sirius said that the spell would tell us.”
Maia’s eyes widened. “Boy or girl?”
“Girl,” he answered with a smile.
She relaxed. For once she was glad he wasn’t interested in blood politics. Most blood purists were interested in having male offspring, but James was clearly happy about having a daughter, if the joy on his face was any indication as he was pouring the champagne.
“I suppose the Gaunts have traditions?” he asked as he passed her a glass of champagne. “And first thing in the morning I’ll go to Flourish and Blotts and get us the necessary books.”
“Well,” she stated as she took her first sip of champagne, delighting in the bubbles. “All Gaunts have names beginning with ‘M.’ Then I was named after one of the Pleiades as was my aunt Merope. So there’s that.”
“It looks like we have some research to do,” James decided. He held up his glass for a toast. “To my wonderful wife and our beautiful little girl.”
“Ma belle,” she translated and they clinked glasses. As she took another sip, she realized something. “Ma belle. My beauty. Mabelle. Of course, it’s pronounced differently—but it begins with an ‘M’ and it sounds wizarding enough.”
“Anything you want, darling,” James promised her as he leaned in to give her another chaste kiss. “I’m taking you to bed,” he decided when he pulled away—”after you brush your teeth.”
At this, Maia laughed. She could use some mouthwash if nothing else. Taking another sip of her champagne, she put down her glass. He picked her up and carried her past the kitchen down the hall to the bathroom where her trunk had magically unpacked her toiletries. It was a bit of a tight fit, but she didn’t mind. This was her home. It wasn’t purchased for her initially, but her husband was providing for her, and there was a clawed tub, which was absolutely decadent. As soon as she had rinsed her mouth, James had picked her up and carried her up the stairs to the master bedroom.
“We need a crib,” James seemed to realize as he set her on the bed and then kissed her languidly.
“Surely we can plan that tomorrow,” she suggested as she ran her hands through his thick hair. “James Stephen Potter.”
“I love it when you say my name,” he admitted, and then he was kissing her again. If they didn’t have dinner until eleven that night, neither of them really complained.
… … … … …
Lily Snape was thrilled and planned a romantic dinner for herself and Severus. If he looked a little worn down from his work as a potions assistant, well, she couldn’t have everything in life. However, she had what she really wanted.
She had always known she was meant to be a mother.
No, scratch that. She had always known she was meant to be adored. Who better to adore her than a child? She would be its entire world.
Having splurged on a bottle of sparkling wine, she poured it out into their wine glasses (unfortunately, they didn’t have wine flutes, and wouldn’t Petunia be horrified?) and waited for Severus to come home. Of course, she waited and waited. The sparkling wine went flat and dinner got cold. Eventually, tired because of pregnancy hormones, she fell asleep on the couch.
She awoke to the feeling of being lifted and then was placed in a bed. “I have something to tell you,” she murmured into her pillow.
“What is it, Lily?” the tired voice of Severus asked as he moved about the room.
Pushing herself up on one arm, she took him in and saw that his knobbly knees were now on display. Somehow that made her insides squirm, and she wondered at herself for the millionth time. Really, James had been the better catch all around, but she couldn’t stop herself from wanting Severus—ugly, potions loving, poor, half-blood Severus Snape.
“I’m pregnant,” she stated, more of a whine than anything.
Severus stilled, only in his underwear, and stared at her through the darkness.
Then a light went on and he was crouching over her.
“Lily?” His voice was begging her for something, but she didn’t know what he wanted. Did he want her to tell him that she was lying? That she’d made a mistake? Or that she was telling the truth?
“Don’t you want a baby?” she asked.
He sighed and rolled over, lying on his back. “We can’t afford one. I was using a potion so we wouldn’t—until later.”
An anger filled Lily’s throat and she took the pillow from under her head and hit Severus over the chest with it. “How dare you not tell me?” she hissed, not thinking that she was a bit of a hypocrite given that she had used a potion on the scars on her hand. “I want this baby!”
“We’ve been married for less than a year,” he tried to explain. “I’m an assistant and you work in a shop.”
“A bookshop,” she qualified. “It’s a steppingstone.” Grumbling, she added, “I should have never turned down that job at the Ministry.” And she had turned down a job at the Ministry. She was just waiting for another to open up to the graduating class at Hogwarts. Of course, she had tried that last year, but with no luck. They had told her she wasn’t eligible for the position. As Madam Potter, she wouldn’t have to work. James was going to be able to provide for both of them with his pay as an Auror, and he wanted to provide for her. She could take her time to decide what she wanted to do. Research? Writing? Spellwork? Now she was having difficulty finding a respectable wizarding position because she was a humiliated woman—and a Muggleborn. It wasn’t a good combination.
Severus took her injured hand and kissed the palm. “A baby,” he checked.
“I suppose we should talk about names.”
“Harry,” she stated firmly, “for my father: Harold.”
He nodded carefully, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. “And if it’s a girl?”
“Harriet?” Then she thought about it. “No. A flower. We’re all flowers. I’ll just choose one over the next few months. Keep your eye on potions ingredients, maybe.”
“We’re going to have to start making sacrifices,” Severus stated carefully. “Babies aren’t cheap.”
She sighed, hating all this talk of money. “We’ll make it work,” she decided. “Magic always makes the simplest things stretch.”
“Not always,” Severus muttered to himself.
The couple lay there and eventually Severus turned off the light. Neither bothered to get changed into their pajamas. They didn’t embrace each other. It wasn’t a joyful moment. Far from it. Still, Lily was happy. She had what she wanted. Almost. She wasn’t a great lady. She wasn’t admired by wizarding society. She wasn’t even married and never could be. But she would have a child. That would have to be enough.
How low she had fallen.
When before she might have fallen asleep with a smile on her face, now she closed her eyes with tears falling down her cheeks.
… … … … …
Magic was a strange thing. James Potter was an expecting father—only he was expecting two children, a daughter and a son.
The daughter was going to be treasured and had been conceived in love with his bride.
The son was—well, he would be met with suspicion, because how could this happen? The potion Lily Snape had used was experimental and had been abandoned in the sixteen hundreds because it confused family trees. It was even banned through most of Europe and in America. It was, frankly, beyond James’s comprehension. He hadn’t touched Lily since their farce of a wedding night over a year before the son was conceived.
If the Dark Lord hadn’t murdered James the night he learned of Harry Potter’s existence, James would have accepted his son. He would have even fought for custody of the baby, and the Wizengamot would have awarded it to him because what Lily Snape had done was considered line theft.
However, he had died that night and Lily Snape had raised the child with an enraged Severus Snape, who could never quite view Harry as his own.
The daughter—Mabelle Halcyone—named because she was ‘beautiful’ and for the Pleides—was left in limbo.
The twins—for they were twins with the same father but two separate mothers—shared the same scar, gifted to them by the Dark Lord. One was to be loved and one was to be hated.
Prophecy said as much…
…but no one could tell which was which…