Julia, who was crying her little heart out, calmed down when Severus cradled her in his arms. Harry couldn't take his eyes off the two of them as Severus walked away, taking the baby out of the sitting room.
"Who'd imagine Snape would be such a devoted father?" said Ron, distracting Harry from his confused thoughts.
Harry turned to Ron, and searched for the right words. Ron was studying to be an Auror, while Harry was completing his seventh year at Hogwarts. They had met again after one year and a half, and the last thing Harry wanted was to fight with Ron. "I think we were wrong about him."
"What? He may be a good father for Julia and a good husband for Ginny, but he was a crap teacher."
Harry laughed. "He was a pain in the neck, but even you can't deny that he knew both Defence against the Dark Arts and Potions very well. He was a much better Potions master than Slughorn. We hated him, but we learned a lot with him."
"Yeah... I suppose we did."
Ginny and Hermione, who had been talking for hours on the sofa next to Ron, left for the kitchen, probably to help Molly with dinner. At the other end of the room, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, Tonks, Remus and Charlie were lively talking about the latest kerfuffles in the Ministry. So Ron and Harry could talk in relative privacy, and Harry took advantage of that to ask in a low voice, "What's he like with Ginny?"
"Snape?" Ron shrugged. "She doesn't seem to have any complaints. He's not the brother-in-law of my dreams, but..." Ron glared at Harry. "You flew away."
"Don't start it again, Ron. We've already talked about that. I had to leave, or I'd've gone insane."
"I know, mate. But it must've been a shock when you came back and found out that Ginny had married Snape."
Harry sighed. "Who'd not be shocked?"
"There was nothing I could've done. When they told me last Christmas, their marriage was already scheduled and everything was ready. They'd marry in two weeks. Blimey, I was sure he had Imperiused my parents! Mum wouldn't let us say anything against him. Can you imagine that?"
Harry smiled. "I don't need to imagine: I can see the respectful way your parents treat Severus."
"Severus!" Ron mimicked Harry. "Even you are on first name terms with him. It's unbelievable."
Harry felt his face grow hot. "He invited me to be Julia's godfather, and he's treating me very well since I came back."
"Well, you're not the only one. He bewitched Bill and Fleur, too. Only Charlie and I weren't affected."
"It's normal. You and Charlie were away and didn't follow the process."
Ron shook his head. "Yeah. I wasn't there to see the greasy bat seducing my whole family!"
"Ron! What it matters is that Ginny's happy, isn't it?"
"I suppose so. I dunno what she sees in him, but I don't care, as long as she and Julia are all right."
Harry became pensive. Severus was happy, Ginny was happy, Julia had wonderful parents, Ron and Hermione were together. Only Harry was still on his own.
Bill and Fleur left for France after Christmas to visit Fleur's parents, and Remus and Tonks returned to their home in Hogsmeade, but all the others stayed until New Year's Day.
Ginny and Severus's bedroom had become the heart of the Burrow, the room where people gathered to talk and admire Julia in her cradle. People kept coming and going, but Harry stayed all the time he could beside his goddaughter. Now he was shaking a rattle above her head, and she was reaching for it. He marvelled at how vigorously she waved her small pink hands.
"Could you please hold Julia while I change her bed sheets?" asked Severus, picking Julia out of her cradle and holding her.
Noticing he was alone in the bedroom with the Snape family, and realising
Severus was talking to him, Harry nodded and stretched his arms to Julia.
Severus carefully handed her to Harry. The tiny, seemingly fragile baby
rested her palms on Harry's chest, gazing at him in cheerful expectancy.
Julia fluttered her arms, then found Harry's chin and held it firmly. She had black eyes and hair just like Severus, but her nose and her pale complexion were unmistakably Weasleyish.
"Oh, Julia, will you remember me?" Harry asked, with a pang in his heart. "After the holiday is over, it'll be a long time till I see you again!"
"Have you got a photo to share? We could put it in Julia's bedroom," said Ginny.
"Really? I never cared about photos, but I'm going to take one."
"We've got an old camera in the attic. Darling, could you please go and fetch it for us, when you finish what you're doing?"
Severus glared at her. "There is a ghoul up there."
"Aren't you my hero?" asked Ginny, jokingly.
"Well, I can always ask Harry... "
"I will go," Severus hastened to say, sticking up his chin.
Harry didn't know if he should laugh or be embarrassed, so he turned to Julia again and gave her an Eskimo kiss.
That night, in the bedroom that had belonged to the twins, Harry couldn't stop thinking of Ginny and Severus. Ginny had never really left his thoughts, but thinking of Ginny now was a very different thing. The girl he had fallen in love with four years ago still had the same spark in her eyes and the same witty humour, but now she was a mature woman, a wife and a mother, and attracted him more than ever.
As if being in love with Ginny again wasn't trouble enough, there was also Severus. Since they had met him again, six months ago, Severus's piercing look had challenged and needled him... Harry couldn't understand how a simple stare could be so intriguing. He had started wondering whether Severus attracted him sexually. The fact that Severus was a man didn't scare him. During his trip around the world, Harry had met an angel-faced boy in Hungary and had lived a few days with him - a relaxing interlude between the more extreme adventures of a trip whose purpose was to to make Harry forget the horrors of the war he had lived through. A few weeks later, in Brazil, after drinking several glasses of caipirinha*, he had participated in an orgy. Although he wasn't exactly experienced, he wasn't a complete beginner either.
More and more, Harry discovered new and interesting facets of his former nemesis. He remembered with longing the day they had put Julia's clock together: their arms brushing; the heat of Severus's body rising towards him; Severus's hand guiding his when Severus wanted to show him how to tighten a nut on a bolt...
Harry wasn't a submissive person. But there was something in Severus's domineering personality that fascinated him. He wanted Severus; he couldn't deny it any more. And the idea of sharing a bed with Severus and Ginny was extremely seductive.
In the Snapes' bedroom, Ginevra and Severus were lying on bed.
Ginevra held Severus's hand with hers and squeezed it. "Why don't you go and talk to Harry?"
"What do you want me to tell him?"
"I don't know. I think you should seduce him."
A shiver ran down Severus's spine. "I will scare him, Ginevra. It's... too soon. Too dangerous."
Ginevra snuggled against him. "I'm not telling you to shag him here, in my parent's house. Neither am I telling you to bring him to our bed now. But he needs to know we'll be waiting for him."
"Do you really think this is going to work? That is, supposing he is willing to join us."
"It won't be easy," admitted Ginevra. "You'll have to be the one in control of our... triad."
"Because you're more jealous and possessive than Harry and I."
Severus wouldn't bother to deny it: Ginevra knew him very well. However, what exactly meant to be in control of a triad was something Severus couldn't even imagine.
Harry heard a soft knock on his bedroom door. It could be Ron or Hermione, but Harry doubted it: lately both preferred to stay together either in Ron's bedroom, or in the former Percy's room, where Hermione had been sleeping.
Harry stood up, donned a dressing gown and opened the door only to find Severus Snape there, in all his dark glory. Harry's heart raced as he stepped aside to let Severus enter.
"What happened?" asked Harry.
"Shh. Not so loud. Everybody seems to be asleep, but Molly is still in the kitchen."
"What is it?"
Severus entered, and Harry closed the door. When Harry turned to Severus again, Severus was just a few inches from him. Before Harry could react, Severus wrapped his arms around his waist, pulled him closer and pressed his lips to Harry's.
Harry froze instinctively. Severus must have felt rejected, for he tore his lips from Harry's and pushed him away.
"I'm sorry. I thought you... It was a misunderstanding."
Harry wanted to scream that Severus had got it all wrong, that he had
just been taken by surprise. His throat closed, but his hands grabbed
Severus's robes and pulled him closer. Their lips met again, in a shaky,
clumsy kiss. Severus opened his mouth and their tongues met. Harry let
out a moan and held Severus tight. The kiss was feverish, ravenous, and
Harry soon was out of breath.
Harry shook his head, bewildered. "This is craziness. I don't want to ruin what you have with Ginny."
"Ginevra wants you as well."
"But... will you share her with me?"
A shadow of pain crossed Severus's face. "It is the price I will have to pay for this to work. And we three want this to work. Or am I presuming too much?"
Harry shook his head again. "It won't work."
Severus pressed him against the wall, wedging a leg between his. Harry couldn't hold in a moan.
"We will never know, if we don't try. Come spend Easter with us. By then, Julia will be older and will not demand so much of our attention as now. Your teachers will tell you to stay at Hogwarts and study for your NEWTs. Don't pay attention. Bring your books, and you will have everything you need to study in our cottage. You can sleep in the attic and you will have all the privacy you want. If you do want it." Severus rubbed his hips against Harry's in a very suggestive way.
Harry was dizzy with lack of air and lust and confusion. "All right."
Severus smiled - almost a real smile, with just a hint of sarcasm - and brushed his thumbs across Harry's face. "Do not fail us," he said, in that low, intense voice that reverberated through Harry's body.
Harry was aching hard, but Severus pivoted on his heel, walked to the door and left.
Ptyx, September 2006