"I need you to help me end it," Harry said.
Hermione blinked hard once before shaking her head. She glanced around the Gryffindor common room to make sure no one was listening. "Not only is what you're saying completely immoral—"
"Like that's ever stopped you," he muttered.
"But it's quite dangerous!" she continued as if he hadn't spoken. Hermione crossed her arms and eyed her friend's waistline. His Quidditch uniform would have to be altered, at the very least. Or he'd have to quit playing. But then that would give Slytherin the lead for the House Cup. The Gryffindor student wasn't the biggest Quidditch fan in the world, but even she would be willing to break a few moral boundaries to stop that from happening.
"Besides," Hermione said, tapping a finger against her chin. "The spellwork and potions required to pull it off are pretty difficult to use, even for someone with experience with those kinds of things, and I think the only Professor in the school with anything resembling that kind of knowledge is—"
"Never mind," Harry said, throwing up his hands. "Bugger me. I'm stuck with this thing."
"What thing?" Ron asked as he walked up.
Carpacia Destiny walked into the fifth year girls' dorm in Gryffindor Tower and fell on the bed with a loud, dramatic sigh. Her thick, waist-length wavy locks fell around her in an enchanting waterfall of perfumed golden sunshine. Ginny stood across the room, torn between wanting to touch her roommate's fabulous hair—there was a persistent rumor the girl was a distant relative of Rapunzel—and asking her what was wrong. Curiosity (and an urge to spread the gossip) won out.
"Carpacia?" Ginny walked over to the bed. "Is something wrong?"
The American transfer student turned to her roommate and blinked tear-filled azure eyes up at her. She sniffed delicately before pushing herself into a sitting position.
"Harry says he's pregnant."
"I heard you," Ginny interrupted. "I just don't believe it."
"Neither do I," Carpacia said. "He says it's mine, but...we only kissed. Once."
And what a kiss it had been. Five minutes after she'd walked into the Great Hall for the first time. He'd introduced himself and then launched his mouth at hers, later claiming that was how people in Europe did that kind of thing. Carpacia had heard whispers of a bet that Harry would do as much to the next girl to walk in (and more whispers that he was quite thankful Ginny had been behind and not in front of her), but he assured her it was just idle gossip. Yes, well, it was all fun and games until someone had to attend parenting courses after Transfiguration.
The Weasley girl appeared to digest this information for several moments before a look of understanding dawned on her face. "Wait," Ginny began. "Did you stroke his hair, stick your tongue in his mouth, hold his hand for a few seconds?"
She nodded. All standard procedure.
"Oh, well that explains it then," Ginny said. "All it takes is the once. You should've used protection—worn gloves and taken one of those contraceptive mints. They're a bitch to put in—they always seem to have nothing left but the suppository type in the Hospital Wing—but well worth it, considering you'd have been spared the lecture on safe Quidditch play from Snape. Of course, Harry hardly gave you a choice. Men rarely do. That's why I carry gloves and my mum sends mints with my Christmas pressies and Easter baskets every year. I kiss so often, I have to be prepared."
Carpacia blinked hard. "You Brits are so strange," she said after a while. "Male pregnancies and other imaginary crap never happens in American Wizarding schools. What the hell is in the water here?"
"I don't know," Ginny said. "I think the Ministry has that classified."
It had taken quite a lot of convincing (mostly involving the bottle of oak matured mead she'd promised to sneak out of Dumbledore's office later) before Hermione was finally able to drag Harry down to Professor Snape's office. Ron—after getting sick all over his last set of clean robes—declined to join them on the...elimination request, citing his mother's love of creating children. "She'd kill me if I witnessed it," Ron said. They believed him. (Molly once threatened to kill Ron because he had "inappropriate thoughts" about Lucius Malfoy's hair—that's what he got for not hiding his diary well.) So it was with a heavy sigh and a threat to end their friendship if this went wrong that Harry followed Hermione down to the dank dungeon room.
Hermione knocked on the office door. The sound was somehow timid against the large, dark slab. It barely made an echo in the space.
"Come in," Snape shouted. "Now," he said when the students hesitated.
Hermione pushed the office door open and dragged Harry in behind her. Snape was sitting behind his desk, writing 'T' and 'D' at the top of every essay on his desk. He was moving so quickly, Hermione was sure he hadn't bothered reading any of them. She certainly hoped that wasn't her homework. If he wasn't even going to be bothered reading it, then—
"Get on with it," Snape said. He didn't look up.
"Professor, I have a problem I desperately need your help with," Hermione said. She sounded out of breath. "I know you're the only one in the castle with the tools to fix what's wrong."
Blushing slightly, Snape looked up from the essays. "Why Miss Granger, I had no idea you felt that way about m—oh, you've got Potter with you," he said, glancing down at their joined hands. He frowned. "What do you want?"
"I have a problem I need your help with," Harry said slowly. He let go of Hermione's hand and reached up to brush a lock of hair out of his eyes. "Please, sir, if you could find it in your heart to consider...what?"
In the middle of Harry's begging, Severus Snape had done something no person had seen him do in nearly twenty years. He began laughing. To the point of bending over behind his desk and wiping tears. "My goodness, you...oh!" And then he laughed harder. After a minute of this, he calmed himself enough to speak again. "There's no way in hell I'm going to help you. I'd sooner clean Voldemort's—" He chuckled and the next word was lost. "—With my tongue than help you. Out of my office."
As the students turned to go, Snape waved for them to stop. "Wait, wait. Not yet." He pulled a camera out of a drawer near the top of the desk and snapped a quick picture. "That'll be good for a few coins from Witch Weekly." He waved them away again, still chuckling softly under his breath.
"Well, that was just plain strange," Hermione said as they emerged from the dungeons into the Entrance Hall.
"Right, because the rest of this adventure has been totally normal," Harry responded.
Hermione shrugged. "Given your history, yeah. This is relatively tame. You do recall waking up over the summer with Sirius next to you in bed, stark naked?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "We've been over this, Hermione. He was in his dog form when he fell asleep."
"Right," she responded. "And it's a coincidence that he was playing soft music and stroking your hair when you woke up. Not to mention that bottle of oily stuff. What's it called?"
"Harry, thank goodness I've found you."
He wasn't quite sure he agreed with Luna on that point, but at least Hermione had stopped talking. The last thing he needed was a reminder of his godfather's idea of bonding.
"It's all over the school what's happened to you, Harry," Luna said in her sing-song voice. "I just wish I had found you sooner."
"How did everyone find out?" Harry asked. "I haven't told anyone but my closest friends and the mother."
Hermione shrugged. Luna pointed to his forehead. "Your scar," she said quietly. "When females are pregnant, sometimes there's a glow over their whole body, even more so with witches. With men...well, you should see for yourself." Luna conjured a mirror and handed it to Harry. It was difficult to see unless you looked for it, but Harry saw the sign as soon as he glanced at his reflection from the right angle. He swore loudly. The lightning bolt scar (which he'd come to discover many women, even those quite a few years older than himself, found sexy) was glowing, all right. It was also flashing and had a mildly glittery sheen. No wonder Snape had laughed the minute Harry had moved his hair.
"So, why couldn't you see it?" Harry asked Hermione.
"Because she's in love with you," Luna responded before Hermione could answer. The other girl blushed and looked away. "Only people who have no feelings for you can see a ridiculous sign like that. Hermione's feelings force her to see past it; you appear normal to her." Luna sighed and took his hand. "Come on, let me help you."
As the Ravenclaw led him down the hall, Harry had one thought: Was Luna's help the kind he would want to accept?
He had his answer twenty minutes later. He'd been blindfolded and deafened before being led into the Ravenclaw common room. From there, Harry had been stripped, tied to a reading table and surrounded by over a dozen female fifth, sixth and seventh year students.
"No," Harry said. "You can't do this. I don't even think...it's not possible to live through all that," he said as he thought over the spells they'd recited to him.
"It's a house tradition—"
"—That has been passed down for years," Luna explained with the help of one of her housemates. "There has never been one child born by accident to a boy at Hogwarts." Well, there was the one, but technically Remus Lupin was out of school. Cedric had been born during a lunar cycle, in Hogsmeade. Lily had never forgiven him for giving up their son. Luckily, Dumbledore had connections in the Ministry's Hall of Records or the adoption might have been discovered.
"Let us help you," she said. She motioned to the other girls to raise their wands. The table Harry was on began to vibrate. "It'll only hurt for the first few minutes."
Harry begged to differ about that timetable. Later, of course, he was ashamed of what he had done. To end a life (even an unnatural one) was a horrible thing. Of course, he knew how it might have to come out, so he counted himself lucky that he didn't have to explain the permanent funny walk for the rest of his life. Besides, there would be other opportunities to have a family, or so he'd been assured. He knew he could rely on the information. After all, Ravenclaw was the best place to go for reliable help.