Chapter 3: Reinforcement
See Part 1 for details and disclaimers.
AN: I was definitely not expecting the numerous reviews showing interest in this story. Thank you, one and all! This chapter addresses several questions raised by readers, but I can't give all answers at once. Read and enjoy *hugs all*~ III. Reinforcement ~
Mediwitch Poppy Pomphrey fell in love with the newly-formed Potter family at first sight. Neither female exhibited signs of the abuse they had suffered for years, and baby Harry was as well-adjusted as could be expected. She praised Naunine on her parenting skills -- and cooking talents, over afternoon tea -- to the point where the recent divorcee blushed and stammered her thanks.
"Poppy, perhaps we should get on with the check-ups, hmm?" Severus interrupted, saving Naunine from reverting back to her shy ways.
"Quite right, I'm sorry to have gotten off track." She dabbed the corners of her mouth with a crisp white napkin before whipping out her wand to querry: "So! Which one shall be first?"
Still a bit unsure of this rosy-cheeked witch, Tara didn't want her Harry to be scared. "I will. To show Harry there's nothing to be afraid of."
"What a brave young lady!" Poppy praised. "Just sit still a moment while I go over you with a few basic diagnostic spells, dear. We'll show little Harry there's no reason to fear me and my wand."
A shower of pale pink sparkles covered the girl on the first spell, showing her to be in excellent health. The second spell had glittery bits of gold landing on her and making Tara giggle.
Tucking her wand up her left sleeve, Poppy announced, "Perfectly healthy. She's been exposed to Muggle chicken pox, at school I should think, but most magical types won't come down with them unless they're already unwell. I'll leave a few booster potions with you to make certain that, if either child comes down with the pox, they'll have a shortened period of confinement."
Seeing the smile and relief from his 'big sister', Harry opened his arms to the mediwitch. Poppy smiled at the boy and lifted him onto the edge of the table. "It's your turn, young man. Are you ready?" A baby gurgle of agreement met the question. "Then here we go."
Her first spell showed results fairly similar to Tara's, but with darker edges. With a tiny frown, Poppy cast the second spell and watched it go through cleanly. Satisfied that nothing nasty was going on with the boy, she patted his head and produced lollies for both children.
"Severus, would you escort these lovely tykes to the bedroom to play for a few minutes? I'd like to examine Naunine in private, if I may."
With a silent nod, the Potions Master took the kids by their tiny hands and left.
Seeing Naunine's worried expression, Poppy rushed to reassure her, "There's nothing really wrong with Harry, luv. He's had a bit of strain to his magical core, is all. Nothing a few more months of happy homelife won't fix. I'll leave some nutrient potions behind, just in case he has tired spells. Now," she fixed the younger woman with a stern look, "it's time to examine you, dear."
Naunine tried to demur, saying she felt fine, but Poppy was firm. Only after assuring that the children were out of earshot with a quick Silencing spell did she give in.
Casting the same spells as she had on the children, Poppy nodded absently to herself then used a third. With a gently smile, she patted the younger woman's hand. "All done. And not as bad as I'd feared. You have a bit of healing left to go, but nothing that can't be done overnight. Broken bones healed badly, a rib that will need to be put into its proper place. The only thing you'll need to worry about is what to do with the little one."
Naunine was quiet for a few minutes before letting out a few silent tears.~ * ~Author's tease:
Now would be an excellent time to leave this as a cliffhanger, wouldn't it? Mwhahaha!~ * ~
Poppy and Severus switched places, as the wizard held a closer connection to Naunine. While the mediwitch kept the children occupied, Severus fixed a fresh pot of tea and joined the younger witch on her front porch.
"Knut for your thoughts?"
"Hmm? Oh, hello Sev'rus," Naunine's voice was slightly slurred. If he didn't know better, it'd sound like she was tispy. "Sorry, Poppy just gave me some interesting news. I'm not sure what's happened, or how, but I seem to be three months pregnant."
Severus was no expert at Arithmancy, but he could count. As far as he knew, this gentle young woman had had no suitors since moving to the western coast of the states, and she and the children had been here for more than five months.
Naunine laughed lightly at the perplexed expression on her friend's face. "My thoughts exactly! I have not been exposed
to anyone during the proposed timeframe that would put me in this position. You are the only man who's even been to my home! And so, unless the Goddess is playing a truly sad joke on me, we must assume that this child was in mortal danger being brought into the world to his or her natural parents."
Having been brought up without any faith to speak of, Severus barely understood her meaning. The only thoughts he could formulate were that Naunine was going to bring another child into the world, and that he would be present to ensure her safety the entire time. There was no alternative in his mind.
"I shall send Albus my resignation tomorrow morning."
Naunine's honey-blonde hair whipped around as she faced the usually serious wizard. His expression was one of wonder, apprehension, and... something akin to peace.
"Sev'rus, I can hardly expect you to give up your career, your position and research, just to take care of me and these children," she tried to make him see sense, but his face turned to a stubborn look she was becoming quite familiar with. He would not back down, and part of her was pleased by the support.
"Dear lady, you have been a better friend to me than all but one person in my life." Severus' eyes were darker than usual, not from arousal as much as determination. "As you say, you feel the need to nurture this new life, as if it serves a greater purpose. Please believe that I feel a similar need -- to keep you and your young ones from harm. Allow me the chance to fulfill my purpose."
Naunine's mother and grandmother had strongly urged her to follow her instincts. That when something felt right and just, it was meant to be. How could she deny her friend the chance to follow his own path?
With a small smile, she nodded to him. "Very well. But you know, there'll have to be some changes here."
A dark eyebrow rose as Severus waited for her demands.
"We'll need to expand the house."~ * ~On the other side of the country, in a shabby old house deep in the Everglades...
"Pa, it's no use. Ma's dropped off the face of the earth."
"Yeah, we cain't find her nowhere."
Growling as he threw bottles and plates across the room, Randall McClay surveyed his nearly-destroyed home and felt a demon's fury burn through him. Nothing either his boys or the rest of his family could do would find his ex-wife or daughter. A thick folder of legal documents had arrived days ago, telling him that he no longer had any rights to Naunine or Tara, and that a restraining order was in place against any member of his family attempting contact. The lazy slut's probly done her magic up around them so's we can't find'em. Well, I won this round -- got m'boys still, and now I'm free to bring Amy Jo to the house. She'll warm my bed without as much sass. And no one said nothin' 'bout child support or alimony, so I came out on top. Well fuck ya very much, Nana, you're on your own!