"Elijah Walters? I heard his son wasn't his." According to rumours, Snape's eldest twins had cast paternis on the Walters heir in front of the whole of Hogwarts. When it turned out his his ancestry included the Albright line instead of the Walters one, a small witch hunt, led by the Snapes, had swept through the Slytherin ranks, looking for bastard children masquerading as legitamate.
"It's thrown the Albright inheritance into confusion. Jacob Walters is Tambric Albright's firstborn since Christopher Albright is only eight. Elijah is petitioning Tambric for Jacob's birthrights, though he's already said the boy'll loose his Walters inheritance the moment Elijah gets an true heir. Tambric is countering that with a demand for custody, and the simple fact that Jacob is illegitimate and therefore only an optional heir. Deborah Walters is in disgrace, and I heard Elijah was considering divorce. If Snape had borne Walters boys, you can bet he'd be fighting Snape for custody, if only to spite Deborah."
Draco, who had turned back to ladling punch into his wife's glass, looked up sharply. That was news. "Snape had Walters' bastards? I thought he was with the Weasley twins." Walters wasn't exactly who he wanted his former Head of House to be with, either, but he was a damn sight better than those Gryffindors.
"He's still living with them," Pritchard said in disgust. "But he just had bastards borne of the three different Slytherin lines. One wonders what he was doing with Albright, Walters, and Goyle. The twins are bad enough, but at least they're almost the same person. Now, he's carrying litters with three different farthers. How quickly do you suppose he'd have had to bed each of them to get knocked up by all of them?"
It wasn't really a question Draco wanted to think about.
"He took eight men within the space of about two hours, 'bout four years back" another voice joined them, and Draco looked to see Quetin Bulstrode, Millicent's uncle and guardian. "One after another, just like that," he snapped his fingers several times in quick succession. "Wanton slut."
Pritchard looked mildly ill, "But who'd want him?"
"Ain't his body you'd be after," Bulstrode said, shuddering, "Even after three pregancies, he's naught but skin, bones, and greasy hair. It's the idea of him."
"The idea of him," Draco repeated, not really believing he was taking part in this conversation. One didn't talk about Professor Snape like this. Even if it seemed like it was true.
"Aye, the idea of him. He was in Voldemort's inner circle. He was the Head of Slytherin. He was Malfoy's lover."
Draco nearly dropped his glass of punch. "What?" he squeaked.
"Not you, your father."
That wasn't any better. "My father's . . . what?"
"Lover. Thought you knew. Your mother did. Anyway, Snape was untouchable." That was the first thing he said that Draco agreed with. "Dumbledore himself took him from Azkaban after our lord's first fall. Not even that place seemed to touch him. Went to a few of your father's, ah, parties. There Snape was, cool as a cucumber, while all around is screaming muggles. And now the dark angel has fallen. To see him writhe and feel him respond under you? To see his need? That is power."
Draco could almost see the appeal, the thought of breaking the man's reserve was certainly attractive, and he could see his father involving himself with Snape for those exact reasons. Only his father wouldn't have, nor had he, apparently, waited for the angel to fall. That was never Lucius's style. Draco sipped at the punch to take away the bitter taste in his mouth.
Pritchard look contemplative. "Putting it that way, he's almost worth giving up being completely straight."
Bulstrode laughed. "That's the beauty of it. Turn him into a hermaphodite before you start and bang! you're just having another affair." Draco felt sick. "'Course, he's more fertile than a Weasley, so you need to do something about that or risk bastards. Albright, Walters, and Goyle learned that the hard way."
"So did the twins," Draco said quietly.
Pritchard snorted, "I don't think they have. They keep turning out bastards."
"You think that's accidental?" Draco asked in disbelief. Even in his denial, he realized that, after the first set, Snape's children came far too regularly for them to be anything but planned. Every fourth November for twelve years. A pattern like that doesn't happen by chance. Five years of arithmancy even showed the pattern in the number of children. Fibbinacci sequence, where the two previous numbers were added to get the next: one, one, two, three, five, eight. Fibbinacci sequence, doubled and applied to offspring: twins, twins, quads, sextuplets. Hopefully, Snape would stop now before having ten children at once.
Of course, ten siblings, starting at Hogwarts together? They'd rule the school by the time they reached seventh year. Especially if there was a set of sixteen siblings four years lower. All Snape had to do was survive the pregancies and he'd outpopulate any opposition to his lifestyle. Even if he did stop now, he had twice as many kids as Molly Weasley. "The bastards," he said suddenly, part curse, part awe, part identification. "They're already at it."
"Who? At what?" Both Pritchard and Bulstrode were obviously still on the topic of having sex with Snape. Which played neatly into Snape's hands, too. It wouldn't do to have too many people enter the wizarding world with the same parents. The population was already sparse after the wars. It wouldn't do to repopulate with the all the same genes. Though the point of using Goyle genes rather escaped Draco at the moment. Strength, maybe? At any rate, Snape was making no secret of his indiscretions and there had to be a reason for it.
"Snape," Draco tried to explain, sounding exasperated in part because they didn't see and in part because he hadn't until now. "The Death Eaters were after world domination, right?"
"Right," they agreed, still lost.
"Snape has only changed tactics! Don't you see what he's doing? He's throwing us off guard by all this Weasley business, making us underestimate him and think he's gone soft and Gryffindor. You notice he only gave one set of twins the Weasley name and they were girls. A sop to the twins and their family, so they think he's with them. Depending on your point of view on the man, he either had Dumbledore falsely convinced he was working for him or had Voldemort fooled that he was a loyal Death Eater. He couldn't have been both, or, if he was, that's even more impressive. He can trick the world into thinking he's a harmless Weasley brood mother now easily enough. That's why we've all been sneering at him lately, isn't it? But he's Snape. The former Head of Slytherin House and the only member of the Inner Circle to avoid Azkaban. Not even my father managed that. Think about it. He's wormed his way into almost a family position with Harry Potter and the Minister of Magic's personal aide, Percy Weasley, without actually vowing anything to anybody. Then he's got fourteen kids poised to infiltrate most walks of life. The first two are already wrecking havoc among the Slytherin families with their paternis hunt. If the pattern keeps up, there'll be ten next time."
Bulstrode gaped at him idiotically. Pritchard's jaw worked, then he smirked. After a moment he broke out into laughter. "Malfoy, that's so twisted and unbelievable, it's got to be true. Just, one thing. The oldest twins are twelve. Voldemort was still alive back then."
Draco shrugged. "Back-up plan, in case Voldemort fell through. He saw both sides, he had a better idea of who was winning than anybody else. Besides, maybe he really was on Dumbledore's side for the war. Dumbledore clearly believes he was."
Pritchard snorted. "Yeah, and that's why he fired him."
"Instead of sending him to Azkaban for sexual relations with a student. Two students. Think how old the twins must have been that first time. I was a fifth year when he was hit with that spell. They were in seventh. Like Bulstode said, he's untouchable. Anyone else would have been in prison like that." Draco snapped his fingers. Merlin. Snape was right. This was all his fault. His miscasting had given the Slytherin ideas.
"So what do we do now that we've figured out his game?"
Draco looked between them. "What can we do? He named one of the new kids Albus, two others Minerva and Filius, he's obviously climbing back into favour at Hogwarts. He's more untouchable now than ever. His approach is subtle and completely legal. Approach any non-Slytherin about it, and they'll call you paranoid. There's nothing to do except try not to gain his wrath."
Bulstrode made a quiet whimpering sound.
"We could kidnap one of his kids," Pritchard suggested.
Draco gave him a long-suffering look. "To what purpose? 'Give us your good-will or else'? You're an idiot, Pritchard. He'll kill you and nobody would even know it was murder. Don't let fourteen bastards blind you to the fact that he was Voldemort's poisoner."
"He poisoned Voldemort?"
Draco threw up the hand not holding the glass of punch. "Pritchard, you're dumber than Crabbe. No, he poisoned people for Voldemort. Didn't your father tell you anything? Merlin, everyone knows Voldemort was killed by Potter."
"I knew that. That's why I was confused when you said Snape did it."
Draco gave him a look. "I said - nevermind. I'm going to give Pansy her punch before she decides I'm plotting against her or something. Hormones, you know." As he wandered back towards his pregnant wife, he wondered just how the Weasley twins had managed to survive this long. Pansy's mood swings were bad enough with one child, and she didn't know twelve hundred ways to poison a man and make it look natural.
Hermione turned at her name, and gave a small frown. "This is a birthday party. I hardly think it warrants my professional name. Please, call me Hermione."
Snape gave her a small, tight smile that lasted less than a second. "I will call you Hermione when you call me Severus." Which, she supposed, was a polite way of saying 'I think not.' It certainly wasn't an invitation to use his first name. She was really quite stumped on what she was supposed to address him as, since 'Professor' was no longer accurate, and 'Mr. Snape' seemed somehow inappropriate to use on someone who used to be a professor. Snape, unadorned, seemed rude, though this was what most of the Weasleys, with the exceptions of Arthur, Molly, Fred, and George, called him. Molly called him Severus, while Arthur alternated between 'son' and 'Severus'. Fred and George had inexplicably begun calling him 'Professor' almost all of the time.
"Thank you," she said despite the negative nature of his response. Since she avoided calling him anything, perhaps he would extend the same courtesy.
"However, Doctor, the issue I wished to discuss was medically related."
She raised her brows in question but couldn't help a glance, however brief, towards his midsection, which was remarkably flat for twelve days after birthing sextuplets.
His lips twitched, "No, I am not pregnant again."
She blushed faintly. "I hadn't thought you were. Your used hermophrodite form hasn't reabsorbed and so you are currently barren."
He tilted his head in interest. "Oh? I had thought that was likely the case, but I hadn't found any literature to support it."
"Oh? Was that a theory based upon what research you did find? What were your foundations?"
Hermione was a bit astonished to see a touch of colour on his too-pale skin. "No, it was empirical evidence."
She flushed. "Oh."
"My question was on a related note. I realize it is still three and a half years before I need worry about it, but have you determined how to control the number of eggs created with my hermaphrodite form?"
Hermione smiled, "So these six won't be the end of the line?"
Snape gave a put-upon sigh. "Dora managed to drag a promise for more Weasley siblings from me. She and Jill feel rather outnumbered. With twelve to two odds, I really can't blame them. Molly has been complaining where I can overhear as well." From what Hermione understood, Molly wasn't confining her complaints to the relative number of Snapes to Weasleys. Molly and Artur had welcomed the sextuplets into the family as easily as Fred and George had, but Snape was receiving the third degree for his 'unbecoming behaviour' and otherwise facing the same treatment Hermione would expect from her parents if she ever found herself in a similiar boat. He took it stoically enough, but she caught him shooting Molly baffled looks when he thought no one was looking. No doubt he wasn't used to being on the receiving end of parental lectures anymore. "I imagine another litter with Fred and George will ease some hard feelings."
That wasn't want she had expected to hear. "But do you want them?"
He looked toward where the two dark haired quad girls were arguing over a doll and said almost too quietly to make out, "I have not yet wanted any of my children at the time that I decided or had it decided for me that I was going to have them. I do not object to another set, which is more than could be said for the sextuplets." He voice rose suddenly, "Sabrina, you'll pull Betty's arm off again if you keep that up. Why don't you play with Nancy instead?" How the man could tell apart the dolls as well as the children from across the room completely stumped Hermione.
"Because Nancy's upstairs," the one in pigtails complained.
"You have feet." The girl pouted, but marched sulkily towards the stairs, arms crossed unhappily. Her twin stuck out her tongue at the retreated back.
"Sylvia, two points from Ellis for not sharing, and another one for behaviour unbefitting a young lady."
The girl's tongue quickly retracted back into her mouth and she hung her head. "Sorry, Daddy."
Snape checked the ornate grandfather's clock standing proudly against one of the walls, and said by way of forgiveness, "It's about time for Lily's bottle. Why don't you help Mimi give it to her?"
The little girl's dark eyes lit, and she dashed towards the stairs as well, quickly bypassing her twin, and leaving the doll Betty alone and forgotten on the floor.
"Accio Doll," Snape cast, and the toy drifted into his waiting hand. He walked it over to a bin of other such discarded playthings and dropped it in, with detatchment that bespoke unconscious habit.
"Dad," one of the older girls, Jill or Dora, came up along side them before Hermione could resume their discussion. "Have you seen Sildore?"
"Check the garden. He was there with Severin, James, and Uncle Harry a few minutes ago."
She flashed dimples at them. "Thanks, Daddy! Hi, bye, Aunt Hermione!"
Hermione laughed and waved back. "Hi, bye."
"Dora," Snape murmured under his breath.
"Dora," Hermione tagged on seamlessly. When the girl disappeared from sight, she mumured back, "Thanks." She looked around, but it appeared no further distractions would be interrupting them at the moment. Ron and Ginny were sitting on a couch talking quietly, while one of Fred or George was playing exploding snap with Jill. Molly was discussing something with Bill and Charlie in one corner, and didn't look to need Snape's or her own interference there, though Charlie looked like he might wish for it. Everyone else had found somewhere else to be. "I've done some more research on the Hermaphrodite spell," she re-opened their conversation.
Snape archd a brow in interest, and wordlessly invited her to sit on the room's other sofa. Ron shot a frown at Snape as the former professor sat beside her, but returned to his chat with Ginny when she glared back at her husband. "As we've already seen, the spell is cumulative to a degree. Should you use it again as you have been, there will be five eggs released."
Snape closed his eyes as if in pain. "Dear God. Ten children at once. Promise or no promise, if we don't find a way to limit that, I'm not having any more."
"So far, I've found a way to keep it at three eggs, though I can't turn it back to one yet. I'll keep looking."
"Thank you, Doctor."
She nodded, and shifted the conversation to another topic that she'd been researching almost as rigorously as the hermaphrodite spell. "Your family's blood curses."
He gave her a wary look. "What of them?"
"There's only the two, right? Twice Over in your mother's line and Straight Descent in your father's?"
He sighed. "I have long suspected one that affects appearance, hair and eye colour specifically, though that may just simply be genetics." At their mention, she looked at both features as if for the first time. Both black as night, and were so for all of the children as well. "But as with the Twice Over and Straight Descent, I was never told I carry it. Just looking at the portraits in the gallery tends to suggest it though."
Hermione nodded thoughtfully, "Minor appearance curses tend to go along with the straight descent, though they're not actually linked. Both appear in the Potter line as well. James is going to be an only child, despite Ginny being a Weasley."
"James - the one in my year, I mean - had brown eyes, not green, though. And young James' hair is red."
Hermione grinned. "In the Potters' case, that curse was a curse. It affected their vision and the wildness of their hair rather than colour. Glasses and messy hair are their trademark."
"James - the one in my garden - doesn't wear glasses."
"Yet. He's got a temporary corrective spell in place now, since he's small enough that he's more likely to loose or break glasses than wear them."
"Hmm," Snape made a sound to indicate he understood but didn't have anything further to say in that line of the discussion. "Was there a point to asking after the curses in my blood? Have you reason to suspect yet another?"
He sounded resigned rather than surprised. Hermione wondered if that was because of the unsuspected ones they had already discovered or because he knew the Slytherin bloodlines were ripe with them. Most of them had been cast centuries ago, dating back to the time of Hogwart's Founding or before, and most were forgotten, their effects either unnoticed or written off as 'that's the way it's always been in this family'.
"No," she began, but then her gaze fell on his too-slim waistline for a man so recently pregnant. "Though I wonder about your thinness."
"That might go along with the Snape appearance curse. It's hard to tell from portraits that include only shoulders and heads. None of them had double chins or thick jowls or anything that would suggest obesity. Certainly, the children are under no risk of fat jokes, despite the amount of food and sweets they go through." True, the amount of baby fat even on the infants was minimal. Hermione looked across the room to where Jill was playing Exploding Snap. The girl wasn't skeletal, but she was definitely thin.
"Yes, it does seem likely."
There was a brief silence between them, then Snape asked, "Will they have inherited the Straight Descent, do you suppose? Clearly, it isn't affecting me."
"It has no effect on women," Hermione answered in her of-course-not tone before she realized what she was implying. She blushed brightly. "Honestly, I don't know if the kids carry it. If any of your boys have two children or a girl, the answer's no. Straight Descent is supposed to prevent daughters. This is uncharted territory."
Snape snorted. "Nothing new for me, lately."
"I think I found it," Doctor Granger-Weasley announced, sounding very pleased with herself. "And its a good thing I did now rather than a year from now, because the resetting spell has to be cast while you're still a hermaphrodite." Severus nodded, seeing how that could make sense. "Should I do that now?"
Severus made a gesture of permission, "I see no reason to wait."
She drew her wand and cast a spell he had never heard before. The pink light jumped from her wand to his midsection and he felt a slight tingling. Hermione smiled, "You're all set. Come see Poppy before you impregnate yourself next time, to make sure we got it right. Otherwise, you should be set for twins." She appeared quite smug about her acheivement, but Severus wasn't about to knock it. He'd had no luck in that branch of study himself.
Severus made an undignified scramble over Fred and rushed to the bathroom where he was violently ill. Fred and George joined him few moments later. George crouched down beside him, and put a hand on his shoulder. "That's twelve mornings in a row," he said in concern.
"The flu. I have the flu, that's all. The girls had it, too." Denial and rationalization, he knew them for what they were. The sweat on his brow and on his back was cold, and had little to do with fever or the exertion of heaving up last night's dinner.
"I think you should go see Madam Pomphrey."
The resetting spell has to be cast while you're still a hermaphrodite. Resetting spell. Resetting.
"The girls were sick all day, Professor. You're not," George added.
There will be five eggs released. Severus's stomach threatened to dry heave.
"Just the flu." Please, let it just be the flu.
"The sooner you pause the pregnancy the less you'll notice it," George said, speaking the name of the hovering and growing fear aloud for the first time in twelve days. Severus stilled and turned as white as the toilet bowl that supported him.
Dear God. Ten children at once.
"Not pregnant. I'm sick. That's all." And Ron liked him. Draco and Harry were best friends. Voldemort was a nice guy, just misunderstood. "And I'm not halting the pregnancy during the morning sickness phase." Shit, he hadn't meant to say that. "If I was pregnant. Which I'm not."
George rubbed his back, no doubt trying to be soothing. "We'll wait a few weeks before stopping it, then." He apparently hadn't heard Severus's last two sentences.
Otherwise, you should be set for twins. Should be set for twins. Should.
"Twins, it's got to be just twins. Doctor Granger-Weasley must have got that part right."
There was only silence from the Weasleys. George's hand continued to rub circles on his back. Why hadn't he stopped that sentimental nonsense yet? It wasn't as if it were helping matters any. But instead of shrugging him away or making a snapping remark, he found himself leaning towards the twin, and enclosed into an embrace. Fingers ran through his hair, not the least bit repulsed by its greasiness. Severus realized he was shaking and tried to stop that.
"We're going to see Madam Pomphrey," Fred rephrased his earlier statement.
The shaking, only barely gotten under precarious control, restarted. "Now?"
He forced the shaking into submission, and let George help him to his feet. The twins exchanged somewhat wild-eyed looks, then the three of them trooped over to the mantle and its resident jar of floo powder. Just the sight of the powder turned his stomach. "Wait, I need an anti-nausea potion first." They waited patiently while he found a vial of it and drank it down.
The protections on Hogwarts were such that Poppy could floo out from the Hospital wing, but nobody could floo in. So they warned the House Elves that they'd be gone for an hour or so, then flooed to the Three Broomsticks and hiked up to the school from there. When they reached the Hospital Wing, Poppy was just beginning her morning routine. She looked up in surprise as the three men entered. "Oh, dear, what's wrong?" No doubt their faces gave away that this was far from a social call.
Severus took his usual bed and examination position, and looked at her with a trace of trepidation and fear in his expression.
"We think he's pregnant," George said unneccessarily.
Poppy's gaze shifted between her three visitors, landing finally on Severus. "Do mind if they are present for the examination?"
"I haven't anything they haven't seen," he granted permission. Despite having seen, both twins turned their backs soon after she began. Eventually, she finished, and he closed his robes. "It's safe, you can look again," Severus told the twins in wry exasperation. They blushed a bit and came to stand next to him while Poppy washed her hands.
She soon faced them again and looked solemn. Severus's gut twisted in fear. "How many?"
"I'm sorry, Severus."
He managed not to begin hyperventilating, but it was a near thing. He sat perfectly still on the examination bed, feeling cold. "Will I live?" he eventually was able to say. Dimly, he realized he had interrupted a conversation that the mediwitch and the twins had been having, but he found he had no idea what had been said around him or for how long they had been talking.
Poppy smiled at him, but it was sorrowful and worried. "We'll do everything we can to see that you do."
"Ten?" He had to hear it.
"Ten," Poppy confirmed. Terror and panic gripped him. No. He had been wrong. Hearing the number was definitely not what he needed. Fear spiraled through him, growing and building on itself until he had to black out or go mad. His last thought, before everything went dark, was Dora and Jill won't feel outnumbered anymore.
He woke to the sharp scent of smelling salts. Fred and George were looking at him worriedly, and Poppy was all business, running readings on him. The brief bout with unconciousness had done him good. He felt much calmer now. "I'm fine," he told them irritably.
Poppy continued with her puttering about, but she soon stood back and nodded. "He just had a panic attack," she informed the twins. He glared at her, though it held very little menace in it. "He's fine." These words, when she said them, had far more effect on the twins than when he had.
He switched the glare to their direction, "I already told you that."
George just smiled at him, a little sadly. "You'd say that if someone was hacking your arm off with a pocketknife."
Severus thought about that scenario, because it was far preferable to the one he was currently in. "No," he disagreed, "I'd say 'adava kadavera' if someone tried to hack off my arm with a pocketknife. Then, once that someone was dead, I'd say I was fine as I bled to death, assuming the someone was lucky enough to hit a vein on their first and only slash."
"My mistake," George conceded the point.
Poppy raised an eyebrow at the casual and taken-for-granted mention of using an Unforgivable, but did not say anything.
"Poppy, could you tell me the gender distribution this time around? I am not going to come up with twenty names."
She gave him an odd look, possibly in response his almost unnatural composure so soon after blacking out from fear. She performed several more spells, and eventually announced, "Three sets of boys and two sets of girls."
Severus nodded. "Thank you, Poppy. If we stalled the pregnancy now, would I have morning sickness for the next three years?"
Poppy thought about it. "This is the time of the fastest growth, that's why your system is affected enough to cause nausea. I wouldn't want to stop it at this point."
"Very well," Severus agreed, "But I do want it paused as early as possible."
"Of course, Severus."
Shortly thereafter, they returned to Snape Manor. As Fred and George staggered out of the fireplace in the bedroom behind him, Severus looked them over and came to an abrupt decision. "Make love to me," he ordered, hoping his snapish tone took focus away from his chosen words. He and twins had sex or they had fun. Never did any of them refer to what they did as 'making love'.
Their eyes widened, and as Fred stepped nearer and he looked into the twin's blue-green eyes, he knew his ruse had failed. Severus lifted his chin marginally, determined not to let the Weasleys see his fear. He returned Fred's questioning look with a one of minor impatience, with a hint of defiance. He knew what he said and he had meant it.
Fred bent in and kissed him, softy, on the mouth. Severus closed his eyes, not resisting. Fred pulled away again, and Severus opened his eyes to find the twin searching his face. Severus didn't know what he was looking for or even if he found it, but he leaned forward again, reclaiming Severus's lips. Severus's eyes closed again as Fred deepened the kiss, drawing their bodies closer together. Severus's lips parted in some half-forgotten memory of what was supposed to happen now.
Fred's tongue darted in, hesitant and uncertain. Severus didn't particularly blame him, his mouth probably tasted of anti-nausea potion and stale vomit. But he didn't pull away, and for that, Severus respected him. His own tongue, he sent to meet Fred's. When that contact was made, Fred lost all hesitation, and Severus found himself pressed backward and onto the bed under the enthusiasm of the kiss. When there was nowhere left to retreat to, he was left with no other option but to return in kind.
He wasn't entirely sure what George was doing through all of this, but he realized abruptly, when Fred slid into him, that they were both naked. Fred's - or were they George's? - hands roved over all over his body. Perhaps both twins were doing that, because one hand was sliding lubrication into him while two or three more, he wasn't exactly sure, teased his breasts, and ran down his side and back. Then George was in him, too, and he felt another set of lips on his collar bone.
They began to move inside him, and he moaned in pleasure, then gasped into Fred's kiss as a hand surrounded his own prick. It was a slow encounter, lovemaking, but all too soon, he was leaning back into George and spurting come all over himself and Fred and the hand holding him. This sparked off George, and Fred quickly followed.
He collapsed into his pillow, and felt the twins drop close on either side. Fred's arm draped of both of his bedmates.
"You can call me Severus, you know," Severus said drowsily, talking directly into Fred's neck, finally speaking the long-overdue permission, possibly too late.
"Mmm," George murmured, his breath tingling against Severus's spine. "Sleep."
That struck him as a very good idea, so he did.
Fred looked over the sleeping body to his brother. George returned his look of worry with one of his own. "He's scared, George. I've never seen him scared." That wasn't entirely true. When he'd walked Salazar and Sabastian into Zonko's almost nine years ago, he'd been nervous. When their hair had turned red, he'd been scared. But that hadn't been even close to what he'd displayed today. He had fainted. And when he awoke it was like nothing had happened. That was perhaps the most terrifying part of the whole business.
"Not like that," George agreed, both to his spoken words and to some of his thoughts as well. His hand drifted to caress the sleeping man's arm, and Snape moaned quietly and rolled into the touch. The unconcious response tore at Fred, and he sorrowfully brushed sweaty black locks of hair from the man's face. This, too, elicited a seeking reaction, and Fred dropped his hand to cup the still flushed face. Snape made a contented sound and fell deeper into slumber.
"He can't die," Fred denied, "Not now. Not ever." Not before us. Not in childbirth. Please, not in childbirth. "He can't."
"In four years, we'll know."
Four years, yes. He was going to pause the pregnancy. "He can just be pregnant forever. Then he'd be safe."
George gave him a weird look that suddenly changed to alarm and surprise. "Fred."
Fred narrowed his eyes at his brother, wary of whatever it was that had occurred to him. "What?"
"You love him."
He opened his mouth to offer the instinctual denial, but stopped before the words could cross his lips. He considered and rejected several responses. Eventually he just shrugged. "Merlin, I hope not."
George shifted on the bed and frowned at his brother. "Why?"
Fred looked down at Snape's sleeping face and realized he was gently stroking it. "Because then I'd have to ask him to marry me, and he'd say no."
"I think he cares for us more than he lets on. Why do you think he'd say no?"
It took a moment before he realized that he was looking down into Snape's open eyes. Fred paled as he wondered just how much Snape had heard, and just how furious it could make him. The black eyes stared back at him without revealing anything of the older man's thoughts. Feeling dangerously reckless, Fred lightly held his palm against Snape's face.
The former professor's eyes narrowed very briefly, then returned to their impassive stare. He did not pull away. Fred took some courage and comfort from that. He still felt like a deer in the headlights though. He couldn't look away from those eyes; he couldn't run, he couldn't move, he couldn't talk.
George was the one who eventually broke the impasse, "Would you say no if we asked you to marry us?"
Snape's head turned fractionally as he shifted his killer, emotionless gaze to George, and Fred's touch fell to his naked shoulder. Snape didn't seem to notice. Fred began to sweat when the man still did not answer. He must be furious. He was going to throw them out of the house and ward it against their return. Oh, why had they had to talk about this while he was in the room? He had only just granted them the right to use his name, for Merlin's sake.
"Well, would you?" George asked again.
"I would not say yes."
George looked mildly disappointed, which surprised Fred, though that was quickly drowned by his own depression and resignation. He fought against those feelings, he had known Snape would say no, he had no right to be upset when that got confirmed.
"Neither would I say no."
Fred blinked. He couldn't have heard that right.
"I would merely point out that we already are, and that I have no wish to make it official. Besides which, though it has no bearing on my decision, it is illegal for one man to marry two others, as your brother Ron has ever so helpfully informed us on many occassions."
Well, that wasn't so bad. He was still shying away from anything that might jeopardize his custody rights or trap him in legal commitment, but he was Snape after all. That was to be expected. He had said they were already married in all but ceremony. That must count for something. Fred grinned as he realized the implications and the truth of George's discovery. "I love you, too."
Snape gave him a sharp look of surprise, which only made him grin wider. Snape rolled his eyes and addressed the ceiling. "Gryffindors. They wouldn't recognize a marriage of convenience if they walked into Malfoy Manor."
Fred just kissed him on the forehead. "Well, George and me need to get to Zonko's sometime before noon. Rest, Severus."
Severus stared at the closed bedroom door long after the twins had disappeared. He wasn't thinking about anything. He didn't dare to. So he focused only on breathing. A simple, tedious process. In. Out. In. Out. Nothing complicated or frightening about it at all. However, there is only so long a person can do nothing but breathe. He rose from the bed, and made deliberate choices on his day's clothing instead of taking the first thing to hand. Of course, his clothes came only in two varieties, formal and informal, so there wasn't a lot of brain power involved there either.
Breakfast was easier. The quads were eating at the same time, so he could lose himself in their chatter. The story of Betty and Nancy being attacked by stuffed dragons, though likely a bad experience for the two dolls, was a welcome and reassuring topic for him.
A few of his questions sparked an idea for a sequel in the children, and they ran off to find their toys, leaving their plates partially full in their haste to pick up the game again. Severus finished his own meal, and went to his lab to brew some more anti-nausea potion. He was careful not to think on why he needed it.
Lunch came and went, and he nursed Albus before taking the quads into the Manor's dungeons to look for glow worms living the decaying old furniture stored in one of the rooms down there. That was another mindless activity, interrupted by the occassion squeal as Sylvia found a bug or worm or other kind of dark-dwelling creature. Sildore didn't squeal, but he made faces and carried the glow worms to the collection jar as if the harmless worm was particularly grusome. Sabrina found two glow worms together that she claimed were twins, and insisted on keeping them as pets. Severin found a rather large cockroach and asked if it had any value for potion making. When Severus told him no, he quite happily put it back on the ground and jumped on it. Severus smirked a bit as the roach just shook itself off and scurried under a half-rotted sofa.
The girls, Jill and Dora, returned from Hogsmeade PreWizarding School with Fred and George that afternoon. The elder Weasley twins were grinning, delight and pride in their faces. Jill and Dora watched him with trepidation, though he could see they were as pleased with themselves as Fred and George were. "What?"
"We kinda, um, got in trouble, Daddy," Jill admitted. "Headmaster Nangle wants to talk to you tomorrow."
Severus frowned as the twins did their best to stiffle laughter. "What did you do?"
Dora giggled, then forced her expression to one of solemnity. "We blew up the girls bathroom."
"We're sorry, Daddy," Jill added, though anyone could tell they weren't.
Severus closed his eyes, counted to fourteen, then looked at Fred and George. "This is your fault."
They nodded, grinning. Severus sighed. "Ten points from both Ellis and Noel." That was the problem with only having two Houses. Cross house mischeif tended to cancel out. "And all four of you will be cleaning cauldrons this weekend using toothbrushes." Between now and then he'd have to brew a few really nasty potions. "And as for you two," he looked at Fred and George. A small smirk quirked on his own face. Ok, they wanted to play married now? He was the one that carried the babies, so he could . . "You're on the couch tonight."
The looks on their faces was almost worth the loss of their warm bodies.
He woke to the bed shifting under him, and a hand touching his face. "I though I banished you to the couch, Fred," he said without opening his eyes.
"You did," the voice was probably George's since it came from his side of the bed. "But you didn't specify when last night ended, and since it's now three AM, we though our exile was over."
Fred's hand drifted down his neck and under the blankets. "I see you didn't put on any pyjamas." The grin in his voice was quite obvious.
If he thought it would do any good, he would have glared, but Fred's hand had already found the proof that his body was quickly on its way to forgiving their return even if his mind was not.
"If we do a fantastic job of making love to you, can we stay?" Fred whispered in his ear, just before kissing it.
"Better be damn fantastic."
Then next morning, after his appointment with the toilet and the anti-nausea potion, and after he nursed Lily, he donned his teaching robes for the first time in years. The formal robes he had worn to Draco's wedding would be out of place at the wizarding primary school, but his normal wear was far too casual for a meeting of this sort. Granted, Severus's idea of casual wear was far more formal than most wizards', but he felt uncomfortable meeting with his children's headmaster in what he considered home attire.
Instead of flooing into school as they normally did, Dora and Jill waited in the foyer for Severus to Apparate them to Hogsmeade. They arrived in the lobby to the PreWizarding school, and the two girls led him to the Headmaster's office. Before entering, Jill tugged on his sleeve, and whispered with complete sincerity, "The Headmaster's a witch, but if you call her a Headmistress, she'll turn you into a frog." The girls hurried on to their classroom, leaving him to enter the office alone.
The office looked nothing like Albus's. Not that he had expected it to, but the difference was still startling. The room was rectangular. It was lined with muggle filing cabinets, and a few shelves of books. Only two portaits graced the wall. One, he recognized as Rowena Ravenclaw. The other he did not know. The desk was made of wood, but it was nothing special. Severus believed the desks the girls had for doing their homework were more expensive. "Headmaster Nangle? I am Severus Snape, Dora and Jill Weasley's father." He extended a hand toward the old witch behind the desk.
She half stood to take it, then invited him into the chair opposite her. As he sat down, she straightened the pile of papers in front of her, and looked breifly at the top one. "I have heard of you." Severus pressed his lips together, but politely refrained from answering back. The woman's sharp blue eyes regarded him, reminding him uncomfortably of Minerva McGonagall. "You taught at Hogwarts."
He blinked, and cursed himself for assuming she had meant something more sinister. She was the Headmaster (Headmistress?) of Hogsmeade PreWizarding School, of course she was likely familiar with the staff of Hogwarts. "I left several years ago, just before Dora and Jill were born." If she took that to mean he left because of imminent fatherhood, that was her mistake.
"Hmm," the sound was somewhat distrustful, but she did not remark further. "Your daughters caused an explosion in the girl's toilet yesterday, Mr. Snape."
"So I was informed. They and their fathers will be scrubbing cauldrons for me this weekend as punishment."
Severus couldn't be sure, but he though she quirked a corner of her mouth upward. "I have heard also of the Weasley Twins," she said dryly.
He did not doubt the twins were famous in their own right, but he wondered how much she knew of the story between them and himself. "Then you may have heard that they have an unhealthy fascination with bathrooms. Unfortunately, they are intent on passing it on to the girls as well."
"Merlin save us from another set."
Severus's hand drifted involuntarily to his stomach where five more sets of Weasleys resided. Assuming they all survived the pregancy. Assuming -
The words startled him from his escalating fear that thankfully hadn't made it to is face yet. He looked at her and found an expression of dismay on her face as she stared at his indiscreete hand that continued to skim over his abdomen in a habitual pattern.
"Is Mr. Malfoy correct? There are ten this time?"
Had he been holding something, he may have actually dropped it. "Mr. Malfoy?" he repeated, "What has Mr. Malfoy to do with it?"
"You are perhaps familiar with Graham Pritchard?"
Severus could not see what Mr. Pritchard had to do with the situation either. "Yes, he was a student of mine."
"He is my grandson." Severus barely managed not to show his surprise. He hadn't realized any Slytherin families had Nangle blood. Though they were a Ravenclaw line, so it wasn't impossible. "He attended a celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy's impending parenthood, and came back with the most intriguing theory. I wonder if I could impose upon you to question its accuracy."
"This is Draco's theory?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. She nodded. "Well, it will certainly be entertaining. What does he say?"
"You intend to take over the Wizarding World."
Snapre raised his other eyebrow. "It is all I can do to keep up with my nursing schedule, where does he suppose I'll find the time for a domination plot?"
Her eyes . . . twinkled. Only for a moment, but Severus knew what he had seen. "Oh, that is your domination plot. You are outpopulating any resistance. Next, you will have ten children."
Severus blinked. "Does Mr. Malfoy presume to think I have intended this rapid escalation of birth number? It's dangerous for a woman to carry ten children, nevermind a formerly male hermaphrodite, no matter how accustomed to multiple births he is."
She stared at him. Or more accurately, at his stomach. "There really are ten?"
"Have I suffered enough for my daughters' transgression?" His arms folded over his stomach, half in irritation, half in protection. "I have cauldons to dirty."
Draco sipped at his punch, listening to the guests of his son's Naming talk among themselves. The boy was sleeping in the bassenette while Pansy hovered over him, cooing at the sleeping child and showing him off to anyone who came within ten feet of her. Most of the ladies at the party were more than happy to oblige. The men were less eager, so Draco joined them when he reached the point of screaming if he heard one more person mispronounce their 'l's and 'r's. He could only hope his son stayed asleep so he didn't learn to think that was how people actually spoke.
"Draco!" he turned toward his name, and found Graham Pritchard and Blaise Zabini approaching him. "Draco," Zabini repeated, sounding just a little breathless as if he had run across the room, "Graham's grandmother actually spoke to Snape about your theory!"
Draco's eyes widened. "She didn't."
"She's the Headmaster of Hogsmeade PreWizarding," Graham said miserably. "His daughters blew up a bathroom or some such thing, and he had to go see her. She's a Ravenclaw. She just out and asked for confirmation."
Draco felt ill. So this was what it was like to know your days were limited. "Of course he wouldn't come out and admit it. What did he say, though?"
"He denied it, of course. Suggested that he wasn't intentionally having so many kids, but he did confirm he was already pregnant with the next ten."
"Already?" Draco repeated, astonished, "But he just had the six a few months ago!" Even in just the few days he'd been a father, he'd come to realize just how much work a single infant was, even with the help of house elves. His opinion of Snape's fortitude, which was already high, quadrupled, but his opinion of the man's sanity dropped a few notches.
"He's stalled a preganacy before," Zabini pointed out. "Those six were conceived at your wedding."
Draco blinked. "At my wedding?" he repeated, a dangerous warning in his tone.
Zabini paled as he realized his mistake. "It was completely concentual, Draco. Nobody would dare rape your guest."
Draco's wand was out and pointed at Zabini's heart. What had Quentin Bulstode said a few months ago? He took eight men within the space of about two hours? "Who were the eight men?" he demanded. Bulstrode was almost certainly one of them, but who were the others? Zabini seemed very knowledgable on the subject - was he another?
Blaise's eyes were wide as he shook his head, "I swear I don't know. Just Albright, Walters, and Goyle, but everyone knows they did it. They've the kids to prove it."
Right, those three. Draco's hit list was up to four then. Who were the other half? He'd just have to corner Goyle or Bulstrode somewhere and make them talk. His gaze scanned the room, and fell on Gregory Goyle. "Which Goyle? Gregory or Zachary?"
Blaise snorted, "you think Snape would let Greg anywhere near him naked?"
"Zach's not that much better."
"He's a brute, but not a troll. Besides Zach can at least read. And he did his own homework in school. That's got to could for something in a teacher's book."
Draco gave him an odd look. "Zabini, most people do their own homework. I don't think it's a turn-on for teachers or Granger would have married McGonagall instead of Weasley."
Both Zabini and Pritchard made disgusted faces. "Must you suggest such things about the Gryffindors, Malfoy?" Zabini complained.
"Especially their Head of House?" seconded Pritchard and shuddered.
"Why? You seem awfully eager to speak of our Head of House like that."
Pritchard, still looking on the verge of being sick, complained, "At least he isn't old. Merlin, Malfoy, that's disgusting. McGonagall and Granger? You'll give me nightmares tonight."
"Glad I could carry on a proud family tradition," Draco deadpanned. His gaze continued to search the crowd until he located Quentin Bulstrode. "Excuse me." He walked between Zabini and Pritchard and stalked his prey down. "Bulstrode."
Milicent's uncle turned toward him and looking at him inquiringly. "Something I can help you with, Malfoy?"
"Who were the eight people? You, Albright, Walters, Zach Goyle, and who else?" Bulstrode frowned in confusion. Draco clarified in barely surpressed impatience. "That took Snape. Who were the other four?"
His expression cleared. "Oh." It turned guarded, "Why do you ask?"
"Because I'm going to kill you." Bulstrode blinked at the matter-of-fact statement. "My family dungeons are still quite functional still, despite the Ministries raids and confiscations. If I don't get the other four names, the four I do know will be very slow deaths."
Bulstrode swallowed hard, unable to tell if Draco was bluffing or serious. The young man's grey eyes gave away no sign of weakness, only steely determination and tightly reigned anger. "Aramis Zabini. Marius Flint. Alexander Cummings. Victor Thames."
Aramis Zabini. That would be why Blaise knew so much about it. "I intend to talk to Snape tonight. If he tells me that it was not one hundred percent his idea that he lay with all of you at my wedding where he was my guest, I will personally see each of you punished to my satisfaction and his." Draco's eyes flashed dangerously, and Bulstrode flinched back and even cowered a bit. If he wasn't so angry, he might have been amused.
He was still quietly stewing when the guests left. Pansy came up behind him and slid her hands over his shoulders in a much needed massage. "What are you thinking, Draco?"
"I'm contemplating murder, that's all."
The hands stilled for a moment, then resumed. "Oh, is that all. Anyone I know?"
"Tambric Albright. Elijah Walters. Zachary Goyle. Quentin Bulstrode. Aramis Zabini. Marius Flint. Alexander Cummings. And Victor Thames."
"All of them? My husband, the serial killer. Any reason, or is your family's psychopathology kicking in already?"
Draco snorted. "Lucius was a psychopath when he was younger than I am now. I figure it missed my generation because I have a very valid reason."
Her fingers worked at a tense knot of muscle on his neck. "So why is my perfectly balanced and non-violent husband considering his father's tricks?"
His snort was a little closer to a laugh this time. "Sarcasm becomes you surprisingly well, Pansy."
Her laugh was also somewhat nasal. "You just say that because it reminds you of your first crush." He was about to asked what and who in Merlin's name she was talking about when she added, "Professor Snape."
He blinked and all her work went to waste as his muscles tensed again and he spun around to face her. "I did not have a crush on Professor Snape!" Gods, did everyone try to match everyone else up with the man? "A little hero-worship, maybe, but not a crush!"
She made a calm-down patting motion with her hands. "Alright, Draco, I was only joking. Seriously, what has you so upset?"
He began pacing angrily, a nervous habit he had picked up from both his father and his former Head of House. "Our guest-honor may have been broken at the wedding." His eyes flashed, and didn't notice that Pansy bit her lip and took a step away from him. "Snape came here, trusting that he would be reasonably safe." He stopped pace and speared his wife with an angry glare that had nothing to do with her. "He left our Manor pregnant that day."
"What?" he snapped, and immediately regretted it when she flinched.
"You have an infant son. Don't do anything that will land you with your father."
He took a step nearer her, but she took a step away, maintaining the distance. He stopped and looked into her scared eyes. "I am not my father, Pansy. But our honor has been besmirched, and redress must be made. People cannot assault my guests with impunity. I need to talk to Snape." He turned on his heel and stalked from the room, leaving Pansy to seek out a wall for support.
"No, you are not Lucius, Draco. But you can do a very good impression of him when you're angry."
Severus startled as the fire he was reading next to flashed green and a head appeared in it. "Mr. Malfoy?" The blond head wore an expression of surpressed fury, and he could recognize the tells of impending violence that would mark Lucius's face when he was angered to his core. It was not an expression he had yet seen on Draco and finding it now, in his fireplace, was not comforting.
"Did you seek out the liasons that occurred the last time you were on my property or were your guest-rights infringed upon?"
Severus managed to convert his gaping shock into a single blink. Of all the things he had thought Draco might wish to confront him about, that wasn't in the top twenty. "I did not seek them out, Mr. Malfoy." Whether or not it was rape was still a sticky issue Fred, George, and himself could not agree on, but he could definitely say that he had not sought it out. "I was brought at wand point to your garden shed, divested of my clothing, and involuntarily turned into a hermaphrodite. I was held down for the first three men by Goyle and the one I don't know, and I remained wandless until they were done with me."
Malfoy's expression darkened, and the little signs that warned of death and destruction became even more prominent. Severus was glad he was not in the same room. Facing his image in the fireplace was a bad enough reminder of one of Lucius's rages.
"I did, however, grant permission for every penetration," he admitted, in part due to truthfulness, but mostly in hopes it would keep his former student from flying into a homocidal fury that would leave eight men and a fetus dead and Draco a roommate with his father.
"Thank Merlin for that small mercy," Draco growled, "I might not have to restore my father's torture chambers then."
"Mr. Malfoy, my revenges are underway upon the three that impregnated me. I would appreciate it if you would let them live to suffer it."
In one of the disturbing mood changes that Lucius could often display, Draco suddenly grinned at him with malicious glee. "Yes, the talk about the Walters and Albright feud is eclipsing even you in the rumour mill. But what have you done to Goyle?"
Snape smirked. "He's pregnant."
Draco goggled at him. "What?"
"His wife is either barren or simply doesn't want to carry children. They tried to take Albus and Godric from me. I suggested they both turn into hermaphrodites and she could impregnate him. She was quite taken with the idea. I am under the impression she can outhex him, so I imagine they're doing things her way. They haven't mentioned wanting Albus and Godric since then."
"I can't believe you named your kid Godric."
Severus shrugged. "I was bitter." Then his black eyes glinted. "Though, really, who better than a Goyle is there to name after Gryffindor?"
Draco stared at him for a moment, then he began to laugh.
"So you will leave my victims alive, Draco?"
The young man's grey eyes turned abruptly cold. "Have you no plans for the other five then?"
Reluctantly, he shook his head, "None at the moment, and one I don't even know who he was."
"Quentin Bulstrode. Aramis Zabini. Marius Flint. Alexander Cummings. Victor Thames."
Severus narrowed his eyes a fraction at each name, committing the first names he hadn't known to memory. He pursed his lips at the last. "Thames. He's the one I did not know at all. I find," he paused, to make sure he had Malfoy's attention, "that the most satisfying revenges are nonfatal, Mr. Malfoy. Do not take your father's path."
The boy frowned. "I am not my father," he said impatiently.
"Make your plans, Draco. But sleep on them a week to be sure they are what you want to do. And if there is anything I or my children can do to help, you need only ask, we are only too eager." He smirked a bit, "I expect it would not be difficult to persuade Fred and George to participate as well."
Draco smirked back, and he was, thankfully, more thoughtful than angry now. "How much influence do you have in Hogwarts and the Ministry now?"
Severus almost laughed. "Are you testing your world domination theory or do you have something in mind already?"
The young man blinked, then grinned almost sheepishly. "That really wasn't supposed to get back to you."
"I'm really quite flattered by it. Maybe when I don't have any children under ten, I might consider taking advantage of their numbers. To answer your question, though, Madam Pomfrey and I have remainded friends even through my exile. She wouldn't do anything to hurt anybody though. Minerva and I have been best rivals since I became Head of Slytherin. She may or may not help if I ask for it. Albus has not trusted me since he found out about Sabastian and Salazar's parentage, though I believe he has finally forgiven me. Albus is one of those souls who cannot turn down a request for help. Among the students, my eldest twins are first years and already well on their way toward having a reputation for troublemaking. They could probably scare or connive most of the younger Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, and possibly even Slytherins into doing what they say. And of course, Fred and George have sway over the older students, since they have discretionary power to give away free Wheezes.
"I have ins at the ministry through Arthur, Percy, and Potter. Granger is a mediwitch at St. Mungo's. I have a small chance of being able to convince them into a scheme, if they find the cause Gryffindorishly noble enough. I have increased my ability to put that kind of spin on things the last few years."
Draco smirked. "Thank you, Professor, I'll keep all that in mind while plotting my retribution. Is there anything else you can offer?"
"I remain a master of potions. Jill and Dora are in Hogsmeade PreWizarding and are available for spreading rumours or blowing up bathrooms."
Malfoy gave him an odd look, then shook his head dismissively. "I don't want to know."
"Likely not. Good night, Mr. Malfoy."
"Good night, Professor."