Word Count: 4,260
Warnings: Warnings if you want them: * incest; mpreg; violence *
Disclaimer: Characters and places are property of J.K. Rowling
Summary: Severus is cold, and nothing is helping.
Author’s Notes: This is the requested second part of my fic Bête Noire. I suggest that you read that one first as this one does not really stand alone. Harry Potter is 18 years old in this fic. DO NOT ARCHIVE.
Prequel: Bête Noire.
Entre Nous: \ AHN' truh NOO' \, adv. & phr. French: ‘between ourselves’; confidentially.
What he really doesn’t understand, what makes him shiver and tremble even though the fire’s lit, is how anything that happened in this room could possibly be considered sacrosanct.
Potter is gone when he wakes up, and it never fails to startle Severus when he finds that he has slept through Potter’s fumbling steps and attempts to dress himself. He has always been a light sleeper. Subterfuge will do that to a man.
Potter’s steps are even lighter when he leaves Severus’ rooms—otherwise, Severus would have woken. He sighs because Potter is never quiet unless he’s leaving, and sometimes he wishes that he were awake to glare or sneer or say something unfortunate to Potter before he does so. But he never is because he always falls asleep so desperately and quickly when Potter is there that it’s impossible to notice anything except his own flowing dreams and the warmth curled into his side that was there when he fell asleep.
Severus sleeps fitfully when it’s gone—his dreams turn sour and dark—but he never wakes up until morning.
And then Severus remembers the night before, and realizes that something else has been added to his list of sins against nature and man. He finds that he does not care, and tells himself that it’s because he was unaware of the circumstances. At the time. And now that he isn’t, he still can’t force himself to care.
Severus gets up from his bed; it’s cold in his room and he shivers.
In potions class, Potter sits at the back and keeps his head down. Severus does not take points when Granger answers a question correctly, or Longbottom explodes his cauldron or Potter refuses to even do the assignment because Severus has just learned the definition of ‘awkward’. Right here—right now—in this very class. He has never before felt uncertain around potions.
It’s two hours spent staring at Potter while trying to not stare at him or trying to think of a suitable reason to stare at him, and then staring at him even though he knows that he shouldn’t. Potter doesn’t speak very often anymore, and Severus wonders if it’s his fault after all. All he knows is that he doesn’t like it, and he likes it even less when he notices Malfoy surreptitiously watching Potter from behind his cauldron.
He sneers, and for the first time in all his eighteen years of teaching, Snape deducts ten points from Slytherin. He tells Malfoy that it’s because he’s not taking potion making seriously, but he knows that he never would have done it if Malfoy could have just kept his eyes off Potter.
Potter looks at him—looks at him for the first time since that night —and Snape can’t read his expression, but he reckons that it must be better than Potter not looking at all.
Illegitimis non carborundum.
Severus dismisses the class with more flourish than he usually allows, and does not make a snide remark when Weasley, so overcome with his ignorance, spills his potion all over his own robes. In Potter’s book, that has to count for something. It has to.
When his class is gone, Snape lights a fire in the grate in his office. For some reason, he can’t stay warm anymore.
Potter does not attend meals.
Severus notices that immediately, but tries not to think about it until two weeks have passed and he can’t help not thinking about it. The Gryffindor table is deceptively quiet and calm lately, and Severus clenches his fists, remarking ironically in his own head that if his mind were anything like the Gryffindor table, maybe he could get some sleep.
Next to him, Minerva places a hand on his forearm, and when he looks up at her, blank-faced, she gives him a sympathetic smile. “It must be hard,” she says delicately. He does not acknowledge her, and she takes that for an invitation to continue. “I’m sure that it would be hard on anyone—finding out something like this—especially after seven years of…rivalry,” she finishes lamely.
Severus stares into her eyes and realizes then that she does not know . No one knows. In that moment, the Great Hall becomes very cold, and Severus realizes for the first time in his life what the meaning of ‘hollow’ is. He nods graciously, and turns back to his plate.
Potter still does not attend meals.
A month later, Severus is shivering in his laboratory when he is called to the Headmaster’s office for a ‘catch up’. He has not brewed any potions, save for those required for his class, since that night , and his free time has become so overwhelming that he accepts the invitation without a sneer. He suspects that he might pull his hair out if he stares at his own walls any longer.
Potter does not play Quidditch anymore. He has, within the last month, though Severus cannot be sure of exactly when, resigned from his captaincy—to the coincidental delight and disgruntlement of Draco Malfoy. Severus has deducted a total of thirty-five points from Slytherin in the last month and a half, and thirty-three of those points have been from Malfoy.
If Lucius were not still in Azkaban, Severus assumes that his life might have been forfeit by now. As he rattles off various sweets for the gargoyle, he realizes that he does not care. As it is, he’s had to suffer the brat in four detentions already.
Potter’s potions have become unobjectionable since then.
“Severus, my boy, do come in.” The Headmaster’s voice, bright and ever-merry grates on Severus’ nerves more than usual. No one has spoken to him save for Minerva lately, and it is only now that he recognizes how much he appreciates that.
He sits in the usual chair—the one that is angled in such a way that whomever is sitting in it is forced to feel inferior—and accepts the Headmaster’s offer of tea. He has never done this before, and Dumbledore notices it—stilling for only a half-second before his smile brightens, perhaps almost fakely, and serves.
Severus cannot even be amused in this moment. He has always sought to bewilder Dumbledore, and now that he has, he does not enjoy it as much as he might have expected. But he is cold, and the tea is hot.
“How are your classes?” Dumbledore asks only seconds later. Severus’ acceptance of the tea has startled him so much that he has forgotten to offer the lemon drops as well. Severus smiles bitterly and sips his tea.
“Fine,” he answers, and does not offer more. There is nothing more to offer.
The Headmaster hesitates momentarily and then clears his throat. “Have you not attempted to establish a relationship with Mr. Potter, yet?” he asks. “I should think that now, more than any other time, he would need a parental figure in his life.”
For only a moment, Severus ignores the nagging reminder that he once did have a relationship of some sort with Potter, and instead considers the fact that this is the first time Dumbledore has come straight—or nearly straight—to the point instead of playing his usual games. For years, he has wanted this very thing, and now that he has it—now that he feels like he might be considered an equal instead of a child—he does not care. Right now, he wishes that he could be a child, if only for a moment, because he is not handling this well as an adult, and he knows it.
But Dumbledore does not, and so he does not sneer when he answers.
“Why?” he asks simply.
Dumbledore’s eyebrows hitch upwards in surprise, and he falters for a second time. “Well, Severus, I would imagine that both he and Mr. Malfoy are rather frightened. It’s a lot for a young man to take in—especially one who was not raised in the wizarding world. I’m sure he has no idea what’s going on.”
“Mr. Malfoy ?” Severus questions in a deadly voice. “What about him?”
Dumbledore looks at him bemusedly. “I assumed,” he said.
“Assumed what , Albus?” Severus sneers. “I don’t even know what’s going on !”
The Headmaster does not have an answer for that—or at least one he is willing to give—and changes the subject to the Montrose Magpies which have always been his favorite team don’t you know , and aren’t they flying wonderfully this season?
Severus sips his tea, nods when appropriate, and wishes that Potter had not quit Quidditch. At least he would be able to look at him then. When he goes back to his dungeons, he crawls into his bed, conjures several extra blankets, and wonders why it is so unseasonably cold lately.
A month later and two days before the Leaving Feast, Severus is trying to make himself smile, or at least smirk appreciatively, at the fact that Slytherin has just won the Quidditch Cup for the first time in seven years. Minerva frowns at him when he walks by, as if waiting for him to begin goading her, but he is not up for it. His belongings are packed and ready to go when the term is over, and he has set his classes to mindless busy-work so that he will not have to mark anything for the rest of the year.
Potter has stopped coming to his class. Severus has not seen him in over three weeks, and even then it was only a glimpse as the boy hurried through the corridors with his head down. Minerva has assured him that Potter has been present in all of her classes, and when she asks why he is asking, he shrugs and changes the subject.
Severus thinks that maybe he should have tried to have Potter expelled, but even Granger and Weasley have been acting strange lately, and he doesn’t really see the need to do it now. Potter will be out of his hair in two days, and he tells himself over and over and over that he will be happy when he is.
It is two days before the seventh-years leave for the final time, and two days before Severus will never have to see Potter again. He smiles bitterly as he steps out of his classroom and locks the door behind him. It is almost time for dinner, and though he is not hungry, he goes because maybe this time will be the time that Potter shows up.
He has made it nearly all the way to the Entrance Hall when he hears shouting and the unmistakable smell of a dark arts curse drifts to his nose. He cringes and hurries his steps, trying not to think of the last time he had to smell the foul magic in the air.
When he reaches the top of the stairs, Potter is lying on the floor, curled on his side in the fetal position and panting heavily. Pansy Parkinson is holding a struggling Malfoy by his elbow with a horrified expression on her face. Crabbe is standing guard over Potter while Goyle worriedly mutters healing charm after healing charm, as though he knows the spells, but not which one to use.
When Crabbe spots him, his face lights up in relief and he motions for Goyle to step aside. Severus tightens his cloak around himself, an unconscious gesture that he has picked up in the last few months to ward off the cold, and crouches next to Potter.
“What happened?” he asks, furiously quiet. Potter’s eyes are closed tightly in pain and his arms are wrapped around himself protectively. His breathing is harsh, ragged, but he does not acknowledge Severus’ presence. Severus pushes the dismay resulting from that away, and tries to take control of the situation. He is very aware that the hall is empty save for the five students and himself, and wonders why no one else has yet to walk by.
Behind him, Malfoy growls and yells, “He put my father in Azkaban! I warned him!” Snape spares him no more than a glance before focusing on Parkinson.
Her eyes are wide and horrified still, and her hands shake as she struggles to retain Malfoy. “ Crucio ,” she whispers, and she does not need to say anymore.
Severus inhales sharply, looks down at Potter, notices the way his breathing has still not returned to normal, and realizes that he is so angry and frightened and disgusted that he cannot even form words. He has never felt that way before.
And then Minerva is rushing forward and asking Parkinson what happened in a voice so rushed that Severus cannot even understand the words—only the quintessence of the inquiries—or perhaps, he thinks, that is due to the rushing sound in his ears.
It is all over very quickly, or perhaps very slowly because Severus can’t really grasp the concept of time right now, but all he knows is that he is staring at Potter’s face—still twitching and twisted in agony that should have been over the moment the curse lifted—when the drone of voices behind him reaches roaring levels. He glances behind him only for a second, and sees Malfoy being dragged away, and then, he looks back, and Potter is gone.
He is frantic for the initial flow of seconds before he realizes that Potter has not just disappeared, but Minerva has levitated him and is swiftly carrying him down to the Infirmary. Severus stands, looks at Crabbe and Goyle, and understands what it’s like to feel useless. He has panicked, and that does not sit well with him.
“Go,” he says to his Slytherins. Parkinson lingers for a moment, fighting over whether or not she has something to say, and Severus glares at her; she hurries off. And then, he changes his mind. “Parkinson,” he barks. She pauses and looks at him warily. “One-hundred points from Slytherin, for attacking a fellow student. If Mr. Malfoy is still here this evening, make sure he is aware of that.”
She does not argue. She does not look concerned. “I will,” she says.
Sneering, Severus turns and walks deliberately towards the hospital wing, knowing with all certainty that Slytherin will come in last place for the House Cup this year—even having already won the Quidditch Cup—and does not care .
Poppy gives him a quelling glare when he enters the Infirmary, and he has no idea why. Potter is lying on the far bed and she is hovering over him, wand swishing frantically as she casts healing spell, calming spell, nerve spell, pain spell. She rushes off and returns with post- Cruciatus potion, pain potions, nausea potions. And Severus falters when he recognizes the last one.
“Why are you giving him an anti-nausea potion?” he asks feebly because he can’t really think of anything important to add or ask otherwise. His fingers have gone numb, and he wonders if he is the only person who has been cold every minute of every day for the past few months in this damned castle.
Poppy snarls at him. “Why do you think ?” she asks angrily. Severus resents her tone, and makes to say something of it, but she has already returned to healing Potter. Severus doesn’t understand. He’s been under Crucio more times than he cares to remember, and he has never been this bad.
Instead, he walks closer to the bed and stares down at Potter’s face. Poppy has knocked him out, but his face still flickers in pain every now and then. “Why?” Severus asks again.
Poppy looks up. “You don’t know?” she asks curiously. He shakes his head, still looking at Potter, and waits for an answer. “He’s pregnant, Severus. Surely he’s told you? After all, you are his father,” she adds, in a slightly accusing tone.
Severus’ head jerks up so quickly that his neck twinges. He opens his mouth to say something—anything—but nothing comes out, and Poppy fills the silence. “I cannot believe Malfoy did something like this…and to the boy carrying his child!” she added furiously.
Severus’ eyes darken. “Potter’s pregnant?” he asks slowly.
Poppy nods distractedly, already back to pouring potions down Potter’s throat. “You shouldn’t be surprised. It runs in your mother’s line—male pregancy. Didn’t you have an uncle who carried a child to term?” She looks up at him briefly, and then says, “And I wish you wouldn’t call him Potter. He’ll need you now more than ever.”
And suddenly, everything clicks into place. All of the enigmatic words and gestures of concern—Potter quitting Quidditch and not coming to class. “It’s Malfoy’s?” he asks, not bothering to keep the anger from his voice.
He has loved Potter, and he has made love to Potter, and given everything he had to Potter. And Potter has given something important and something to be cherished to Malfoy, and Malfoy has done something unforgivable—and not just by Ministry standards. Severus exhales slowly, and decides that he will kill Malfoy before he leaves this school, but he isn’t yet sure if he will bother covering his tracks.
“He should be stable now,” Poppy mutters, standing up straight again. She nods decisively and bustles off for Merlin knows what. Severus waits by Potter’s bed, head in his hands, and does not realize that Poppy forgot to confirm his last question until it becomes dark outside. By then, he supposes it doesn’t matter. He’s known it all along, really. Malfoy was never very subtle.
Several hours later, Severus stands and retrieves three woolen blankets from the cupboard and spreads them over Potter before returning to his chair to wait.
He doesn’t want Potter to be cold.
When Potter wakes again, the term has ended, and Severus has not gotten the chance to eradicate Malfoy, but he supposes it isn’t necessary to do it right away. Weasley and Granger have stayed at the school, and they have told him that the Aurors carted Malfoy off the same night.
According to Granger, Malfoy will be tried in two weeks’ time. The suggested sentencing for using an Unforgivable on a pregnant wizard is said to be the Kiss. Severus does not know if that is true or not, but he has awarded Granger thirty points for brightening his day regardless. It successfully pulled Gryffindor into the top position. When they won the House Cup, Severus did not mind.
Potter shifts on the bed, and it is the first time that Severus notices that his stomach is not as flat as it once was. A surge of bitterness flows through his veins, but he stamps it down, and reminds himself that his entire life has been full of bitterness. What is one more thing to add on to all of that?
Poppy has told him that the child will be fine and Potter will be fine, but Severus doesn’t care. He almost wishes that the child had died because he doesn’t think that he can stand to see another Malfoy brat enter the world, and then he regrets thinking it because it will be Potter’s, too.
When Potter opens his eyes, Severus is staring at his hands, and he doesn’t realize that he has awoken until Potter shifts under the layers upon layers of woolen blankets.
“’M hot,” Potter mumbles sleepily. Severus stands, removes the blankets, and decides there must be something wrong with him. He is still cold.
“You will regret to know that your paramour has been arrested and will likely receive the Dementor’s Kiss,” Severus goads mercilessly. Right now, he wants nothing more than for Potter to suffer as much as he is suffering.
Potter blinks at him stupidly, and Severus sneers. “What?” Potter asks.
“Mr. Malfoy has been apprehended,” Severus clarifies in a voice that suggests it should be entirely obviously. Because it should.
Potter stares at him incredulously and Severus feels something sharp and painful flash through him. He does not think he can stand to look at Potter so distraught over Malfoy, but making him cry would make Severus feel better, he thinks. He hopes, anyway, because it has been so long since he has felt anything but disdain or emptiness or coldness that spite would be welcome.
“My paramour?” Potter questions stupidly. “What are you talking about?”
Severus rolls his eyes, trying to hide the way his chest has begun feeling unnaturally tight all of the sudden. “Your lover?” he clarifies with another sneer.
Potter’s face scrunches up in confusion. “Malfoy wasn’t my lover…not for lack of trying, though,” he adds thoughtfully. “I think he was trying to lure me into a trap of some sort, actually, but it would be a cold day in hell before I believed him about anything. He got frustrated when I wouldn’t play along, and that’s when he cursed me.” Potter shrugs, looking unconcerned.
“I don’t care if he goes to Azkaban or gets hit by a muggle bus,” he adds. There is no bitterness or anger in the tone. Severus wonders what it would be like to be able to feel nothing for someone like Malfoy—no hate, no anger, no compassion, no pity, no nothing .
“And the child?” Severus asks, eyebrow raised. Perhaps Potter has forgotten that he is carrying Malfoy’s brat.
Potter suddenly looks terrified. His hands automatically come up to cover his stomach and he looks pleadingly at Severus. “Is…is it okay?”
Severus sneers. “Yes.”
Potter exhales in a great rush. His eyes close in relief and his head falls back against the pillows. “Thank Christ,” he mutters.
“I’m delighted to see that you are so happy to still be carrying the Malfoy scion,” Severus says flatly. He is afraid that if he injects any sort of inflection at all into his voice, that it will be misery or anguish or some other sort of forbidden emotion. He snaps his mouth closed before he can humiliate himself further. Potter does not want him, and Severus cannot stand the thought of Potter having anyone’s child but his own.
Severus begins trembling slightly; he has never been this cold before.
“What are you talking about?” Potter asks again. “It’s not Malfoy’s.” He looks at Severus incredulously and shakes his head. “I’ve never had sex with Malfoy—or anyone else. It’s yours , you bastard.” He looks decidedly angry now, but all Severus can understand are the last four words.
“What?” he asks stupidly.
Potter scowls, and turns away. The rushing sound is back in Severus’ head and all he can think of is that the child is his, and Potter is his, and this is so utterly fucked up, and he is so utterly fucked up because he wants Potter anyway, and what the fuck is he going to do? And then Severus realizes that Potter has been carrying this child for at least four months, and it is way past the time when he would have been able to abort it—and, here, Severus shivers because he doesn’t know what he would do if Potter had —but he doesn’t think Potter is the type to do that, either. He restrains a cautious smile.
“This is so fucked up,” Potter mumbles, still facing the wall.
Severus nods, even though Potter cannot see him, and finally allows himself to smile very hesitantly. “You did not get rid of the child,” he hedges.
Potter jerks around so quickly that Severus feels the ache in his own neck. “What?” Potter demands angrily. “You would expect me to do that?” He scoffs, and then adds, “Before any of the other mess, I would have wanted to have it.”
“And you don’t now?”
Potter looks hesitant. “I still want it.” And then he looks down at his hands, and adds very quietly, “I still want you .” And that is so fucked up. Severus hears the unspoken addendum, and nods in agreement, but that is all he can do because Potter has just told him that he still wants him, even after everything that has happened, and the feeling starts to return to his fingers in tingling little aches.
“Does anyone else know? That the child is mine?” Severus asks after several minutes.
Potter shakes his head. “No—Madam Pomfrey and Dumbledore and Ron and Hermione assumed it was Malfoy’s after he started following me around everywhere, and I didn’t bother to correct them. No one else knows.”
Severus exhales slowly. “What are you going to do now?”
Potter shrugs and looks at him hopefully.
“You can stay with me,” Severus offers. His hands are no longer numb anymore and he thinks that he might be warm enough to remove his outer cloak. When Potter smiles at him, he does.
“I would like that,” Potter says.
Severus smiles back, and it feels entirely foreign on his face. What he really doesn’t understand, though, is how anyone else could see this situation as sacrosanct. He has not slept in days, and it is catching up with him. He hands Potter a sleeping potion, and leans his head down on the edge of the bed, eyes drifting shut immediately.
Potter is there when he wakes up, and it will never fail to startle Severus when he finds that he has slept through the night, and Potter has not left. He has always been a light sleeper, but Potter’s steps have always been lighter.
1. "Illegitimis non carborundum." (Don’t let the bastards grind you down.) –Gen. Joseph Stilwell