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The Beauty of Childbirth

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The hospital room smelled of lavender and cleansing potions, and Severus didn't like the way the Mediwitch kept casting him suspicious glances.

"You're... panicking," panted Harry from the bed. He was flushed and fever-bright, hair wild and ridiculous, dark rings under his eyes from the lack of sleep.

"And you're not?"

Harry smiled a weak smile.

"Of course I am," he said. "Come here."

"Not likely," said Snape, folding his arms. "I need my fingers for work."

Harry scowled, then groaned, a familiar groan by now – which didn't make it any nicer to hear. Harry's fists bunched into the sheets. Snape's hands itched.

"Bloody...hell," he said. "This... is... not... fun. We're wizards! Why isn'tT this easy?"

"You can't meddle with the natural beauty of childbirth," said Snape sarcastically. "And to think, you almost wanted to go the completely natural route."

Harry had once told Hermione that he wanted a potion-free water birth. Hermione, tucking Rose under one arm, had wished him good luck and laughed him out of the room.

Severus was inclined to go the rational route and just cut the thing out of Harry, but apparently it was Just Not Done.

"Yes, I think I get Hermione's point. Can I have a potion now?"

"Not yet," interjected the Mediwitch, smoothing Harry's sheets. "It would interfere with the contractions."

"I want it to interfere with the contractions!" muttered Harry. Severus smirked to himself.

The Mediwitch bustled off, and the room was silent for a moment save for Harry's ridiculous breathing exercises. Snape stared at the smooth bulge of Harry's stomach, taut under his hospital gown, and swallowed.

"You don't want it, do you?" said Harry, very quietly.

Snape stared at him.

"I know this was always more about me than you, but you said – I mean –"

"Shut up, Potter," said Snape.

"You could have said if you weren't –"

"Isn't this all a little moot at this point?"

"Serverus –"

"Harry," said Snape softly. "It's –"

"It's what?"

"It's just – difficult to love something that's causing you this much pain."

"Oh," said Harry, and he looked soft and ridiculous and ill, and Severus didn't like it. "Ow. Oh, ow. Severus…"

Snape looked at him.

"Take my fucking hand."

Snape did.

Three hours later...

Severus reflected that it was a little-known fact that men were discouraged from child-bearing not because of the the obvious equipment issues, but because they are liable to actually break the hands of their partners. He rubbed his newly-repaired fingers, and scowled at nothing.

Harry was laughing. Severus wasn't at all fooled that it was at the miracle of childbirth. More like he was off his head on pain potion and ecstatic that it had finally stopped.

Severus had never felt fouler and more ill-tempered in his life.

The baby was mewling.

"If it's got my nose or your intellect, I'm drowning it in the lake," said Snape.

"How are you meant to know about its intellect?"

"We'll know soon enough. Then I drown it."

"Here we go," said the Mediwitch softly, politely ignoring their distinctly them conversation. "A beautiful baby boy!"

Severus blinked.

"Would daddy number two like to hold him?" she said, and before he could object he had a screeching bundle of fabric in his arms.

Snape panicked. He'd break it, he had no idea what to do with a child –

He looked down.

"Ah," he said.

"Ah?" said Harry urgently from the bed. "Ah? What does that mean? What's wrong with him?"

Severus looked up at Harry.

"Here," he said softly, and passed the child – his child – over to Harry.

"Oh," said Harry softly. "He's – my son. I have a son. We have a son."

He looked up at Severus. He nodded, once.

There was a quiet pause.

"I was really thinking in terms of girls names," said Harry. "But now I'm thinking Albus."

"Absolutely not," snapped Snape. "I would like our son to have a normal name, thank you very much."

"Hmm, normal…" said Harry. "Normal… like James?"

"Albus it is."

"Albus Severus," said Harry.

"I may throw up," said Snape. But he moved closer to Harry. He stared at little Albus, with his bright green eyes and shock of black hair, and a nose that did look suspiciously large. Even at this age, tiny and worm-like with flailing hands, his eyes seemed to sparkle.

"Albus Severus it is."