“Put her back in.”
An exhausted Severus, standing over the bassinette where their new daughter lay squalling while the male pregnancy obstetrician dealt with the still slightly-drugged new birth father, yanked his head around to stare at Harry.
“We’re not ready, Severus. We’re not ready to be parents. We don’t even have a car seat yet.”
“Nor do we have a car,” said Severus. “You should never have read that Muggle book Ms. Granger gifted us.”
“She cannot go back in,” said the healer calmly. She was sealing the incision she had made in Harry’s abdomen. “Especially a baby of that size.”
“Your daughter is perfectly healthy,” said Poppy, smiling at Severus as she pulled a warm cap over the baby’s messy black hair. She had finished cleaning the baby and weighing her. “Just over nine pounds, too,” she had announced. “Quite the little bruiser.”
“Our daughter is not a bruiser,” said Severus waspishly.
“I don’t know how to change a nappy,” said Harry. He had turned his head toward the bassinette and was watching the proceedings with interest. He was determinedly not looking at what the obstetrician was doing.
“You do know how to change a nappy,” said Severus, a bit crossly. He had been awoken at a ridiculously early hour after all, and even though the specialist had arrived only an hour later and delivered the baby promptly, he still felt a bit out of sorts. “You practiced with Molly several times. On a variety of dolls. Even anatomically correct dolls.”
“But never on a real baby,” said Harry, head still turned. “This one moves. Look at her, Severus.”
“She does, doesn’t she?” answered Severus after studying the waving arms and legs a minute more. “I told you it would be a girl.”
“You did, didn’t you?”said Harry with a tired grin. “Does she look like a Victoria to you? Or an Elizabeth?”
“Neither,” said Severus. He watched as Poppy wrapped the baby up in a pale blue and yellow blanket and handed her to him, then arranged the bundle in his arms so that the head end was higher than the feet end.
Severus stared down at their daughter. Well, this was unexpected. The right and proper names he had chosen, regal names worn by British Queens, simply did not fit this small bundle of Snape and Potter genetics.
“Neither? Let me see her, Severus. Bring her here.”
The healer had finished her work and left the little family in peace for a few minutes of quiet bonding. Severus carefully placed the baby in Harry’s arms and sat on the bed beside him. They both stared down at the little earnest face, then looked at each other, arriving at the same decision.
“No, definitely not a Victoria or an Elizabeth,” said Harry. He smiled and ran a finger down the baby-soft cheek. The child turned her head, chasing the finger. Poppy appeared with a tiny bottle and helped Harry get the baby situated for her first feeding.
Harry and Severus watched her eat. Her hands closed into fists at the edge of the blanket and her dark eyes squeezed shut as her mouth worked the nipple. Severus looked from the baby’s face to Harry’s. Harry was studying the baby, but he turned and smiled up at Severus.
“I really didn’t think it would be a girl,” he said. “No matter what you said. I didn’t think the two of us had it in us to make a girl.”
“Magic,” said Severus, as if the word explained everything. Perhaps it did. He prodded his daughter’s hand gently with a finger, and the tiny fingers opened then closed around his.
“She has your chin,” said Harry after a moment.
“And your nose,” said Severus.
“And Neville’s ears,” continued Harry, tugging gently on the tiny lobe of her right ear.
Severus scowled. “I do not remember Neville Longbottom being present on Boxing Day,” he said.
Harry shrugged. “They look like Neville’s ears anyway.”
“Her eyes are grey.” Severus titled his head to study the barely open eyes.
“They’ll change,” said Harry. “I remember that from the book.”
“Perhaps they’ll be green,” said Severus hopefully.
“Or black,” suggested Harry, with just as much conviction.
“How are you feeling?” asked Severus a few moments later, looking with apparent interest at Harry’s nearly flat belly. The magical male uterus had disappeared as soon as the child was born.
“Tired,” said Harry. “A little sore—not too bad, though.” He wiggled his feet. “I can see my toes again. That’s good.”
“Good,” said Severus. “I expect Poppy will want to keep you here overnight.”
“What do we do now?” whispered Harry a few minutes later. The baby had finished her bottle, Poppy had shown them how to burp her, and she was sleeping in Harry’s arms.
“She still needs a name,” said Severus.
“Would you like to name her for someone in your family?” asked Harry. He now had his finger in the baby’s tiny fist.
“We have already eliminated my grandmother’s name. My mother was Eileen. I had an Aunt Esther.”
Harry shook his head. “She doesn’t look like an Esther or an Eileen, does she?”
“No, she does not,” said Severus. “Why not name her after your mother, then?”
Harry scowled at Severus.
“No? Why ever not? Your mother was a lovely woman. Lily is a lovely name.”
“You were in love with my mother. I don’t want there to be any confusion. From this moment on, our daughter is the most important woman in your life. Got that?”
Severus felt like saluting. Poppy had pulled him aside just before the baby was born and warned him that Harry would have several days of intense hormonal fluctuations and he was to be tolerant of mood swings and other unusual behavior. Not Lily then. His backup plan shot to hell as well.
“Calla,” said Severus, a trace of a smile on his face. “For the Calla lily.”
“Calla,” repeated Harry, testing the name. “What does the Calla lily look like?”
“It is a trumpet-shaped flower and is frequently used in weddings. It is more exotic in shape than other lilies. It is usually white with a yellow center.”
“Calla.” Harry tried out the name on his tongue. “Calla Potter.”
“Calla Potter?” repeated Severus. “I am sure we decided on Snape-Potter.”
Harry grinned. “I was just seeing if you were paying attention.” He shifted in bed, trying to get comfortable. Severus reached down and picked up the baby, learning the feel of her little body, adjusting her against his chest.
“I’d like a nap now,” said Harry with a yawn, not taking his eyes off of Severus and the baby. “You’ll be here when I wake up?”
“Of course,” said Severus.
“You’re not done with me then?” asked Harry sleepily. “Now that she’s here, I mean?”
“What?” Severus scowled as the baby startled in his arms. “Did you think I thought of you as a mere baby delivery device?” He walked over next to Harry’s bed and chanced freeing one arm and reached down to grasp Harry’s hand. “I will be here, Harry. Now go to sleep.”
“I know how to hold a baby, Severus.” Molly Weasley scowled at Severus. She sat in a rocking chair in the sitting room of the Burrow, baby Calla lying on her lap with her head at Molly’s knees.
“She prefers to be upright,” continued Severus, not at all happy about the position his daughter was in.
“Severus,” said Molly calmly. “I had seven children, not counting Harry, and a half dozen grandchildren.”
Severus sighed and watched Molly loosen the baby’s blanket.
“What are you doing?” he asked suspiciously.
“I was hoping to see her hands, Severus,” Molly answered. “She does have them, doesn’t she? Fingers? Ten of them?”
“She was cold,” said Severus primly.
Molly glanced over at the fire in the fireplace and then looked significantly at Severus. He looked away.
Molly freed the baby’s hands and exclaimed over the tiny fingers.
“I thought you said you had seven children and six grandchildren,” he said suspiciously. “Why are you exclaiming over her fingers? Are they unusually large? Configured oddly?
“Severus,” said Molly, more calmly than Severus deserved at this point, “her fingers are perfectly normal. All babies have perfectly lovely fingers, hers included.” She looked up at him. “Of all the people in the world, do you honestly not trust me with your baby?”
“He’s like that with everyone,” said Harry, poking his head in the room. He walked over next to Severus and squeezed his hand then bent down and kissed Calla on her head. “You’re one of the lucky ones. You actually get to hold her.”
“I let people hold her,” said Severus. “Poppy had held her several times, and Minerva twice.”
“I even get to hold her sometimes,” said Harry.
“She is only three weeks old,” said Severus. “She is quite delicate still.”
The delicate baby chose that moment to make a very indelicate sound.
“I told you she takes after Severus,” said Harry.
“Ohhhh….” Molly scrunched her nose up. “That will be full nappy.” She shifted the baby to her shoulder and stood. Severus nearly dove in, hands held out and low, as if to catch the baby should she fall.
“I’d be happy to change her, Severus,” said Molly.
“But…but she’s…” he sputtered.
“What? Dirty? Poopy? Severus, do you have any idea how many nappies I’ve changed over the years?”
“Well, I imagine the twins were in nappies until they started at Hogwarts…”
“Severus….” warned Harry.
But Molly only laughed.
“She’s in good hands, Severus,” assured Harry as Molly carried the baby into the adjoining room to change her. “And if you learn to trust her with Calla, we can have an uninterrupted evening, just you and me and our giant four-poster.”
Severus looked toward the door where Molly and the baby had disappeared. He looked back at Harry, then at the door. The baby squawked.
Harry grabbed him before he could dash to her rescue.
“You’re impossible,” he said, distracting his lover with a kiss and rubbing suggestively against him.
“Well, I suppose Molly can be trusted with certain activities….” Severus said, momentarily focusing on Harry’s body.
“It’s got to get beyond nappy changes, Severus, or we’ll never have time alone again,” said Harry. He ran his hand over Severus’ arse and Severus pressed in even closer, groaning appreciatively. Severus managed to maneuver them, however, so that he was facing the door to the next room.
“Perhaps…perhaps…she could be trusted to come to our quarters and mind Calla some evening while we dine.”
“Now that’s a start, Severus. We can duck over to the Three Broomsticks so we won’t be too far away….”
“The Three Broomsticks?” Severus was looking at Harry as if Harry were an extra-terrestrial.
Harry was staring right back at Severus. Realization hit him. He sighed. “You meant we could ask Molly to come over and watch Calla while we’re actually there too, didn’t you?”
“And you believe that we can finish our dinner without interruption, and maybe even get through dessert, before you make up a flimsy ‘need to use the loo’ excuse and go check on her?”
“You exaggerate,” said Severus stiffly.
“Do I?” asked Harry, crossing his arms.
Severus glanced again at the door where Molly had disappeared with the baby.
“You know,” said Harry, following Severus’ glance. “In seven days, she’ll be four weeks old. That’s when the ‘no penetrative sex’ ban ends.”
Severus’ head swiveled back around toward Harry. He glanced again at the door. Then at Harry.
“Seven days?” his voice was higher pitched than normal.
“Seven days,” confirmed Harry. He smiled at Severus and gave a suggestive little roll of his hips as he turned toward the front door.
“I suppose…I suppose Molly does have adequate experience….”
“Here we go!” Molly appeared in the doorway with the baby on her shoulder. She was patting her back and bouncing gently.
“I’ll take her,” said Harry. Molly transferred the baby to him with a smile and Harry arranged her in the crook of his arm. “Severus has some baby-sitting arrangements to make with you.”
He wandered out of the room, leaving Severus and Molly looking at each other. Severus reached into his robe pocket and extracted a small notebook.
“Let’s get the charting done before we discuss the other arrangements.”
“Charting?” Molly narrowed her eyes, already suspicious. “What charting?”
“Diaper charting. Time changed, wet, dirty or both, color and consistency….”
“Color and consistency of the diaper?” asked Molly, apparently flabbergasted.
“Not of the diaper. Of what was in the diaper.” He looked at the notebook again. “Any redness? Powder or ointment applied?”
Molly’s mouth was hanging open. “Color and consistency?” she repeated.
“Here, I have a color wheel,” said Severus, pulling said item from the opposite robe pocket. “Harry has trouble differentiating between ‘chestnut brown’ and ‘raw umber.’”
Molly started edging by Severus. “Harry?” she called out. “Oh, Harry!”
“Are you available next Saturday evening?” asked Severus, following her out of the room. “Perhaps for 20 minutes?”
“It better take longer than twenty minutes!” Harry called out from the kitchen. “And I want dinner too!”
Severus heaved a sigh. Molly smirked and patted him on the arm.
“I’d be delighted to watch the baby while you and Harry get reacquainted.” She winked at him. “But trust me, after all this time, you won’t need any longer than twenty minutes.”
She plucked the color wheel out of his hand, looked at it a moment then handed it back.
“Brown,” she said.
“Brown?” Severus followed her into the kitchen. “Brown? What kind of brown?”
The door closed behind them but it did not drown out Harry’s brilliant laughter.