“I haven’t said a word.”
“You are absolutely radiating smugness and it’s putting me off my lunch.”
Severus snorted and reached over to stab a slice of apple off her plate with his fork. Hermione rolled her eyes and pushed her plate closer. She was nearly finished no matter what she said. After scraping the last of her fruit salad to his plate he offered her the last croissant from the bread basket which she accepted. “I don’t recall lacking an answer ever putting you off your lunch before.”
“But it’s the only thing that I’ve been unable to find in a book!” Hermione whined. Their bet from last month had flared up in light of their visit to the mediwizard earlier that day. “You’ve got to tell me.”
“Don’t whinge, it’s unbecoming,” Severus smugly chastised to her amusement. He stood and dropped the payment for their lunch on the table. Hermione took his proffered hand and stood with a small groan, her hand flying to her lower back. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, yes I’m fine. Walking will help; I don’t think I could stomach Apparating anyway.” She laced her fingers with his, leading him from their lunch table to the street.
They walked in companionable silence for a while before Hermione turned to her husband with a grin. “So, tell me,” she said, tugging at his hand to gain his attention. “How did you know the gender before the mediwizard was able to tell?”
He lifted her hand to his lips for a quick kiss. “It is… a bit of an abstract concept,” he began with a sigh. “Just something I’ve noticed after years of teaching.” He took a moment to gather his thoughts. “It’s in the magic.”
“The magic? You can feel the baby’s magic already?” Hermione pressed her free hand to her protruding belly. “I think I can sometimes, but the pregnancy is making my own magic act up so I can’t tell.”
“It’s more of an elemental flavor to it. A… inflection if you will. As people have specific nuances in their speech patterns, wizards and witches have it in their magic. And magical abilities seem to develop a shade that reveals the sex of the child, as a voice will reveal the gender of the speaker.”
“Why don’t the mediwizards use that then? I’ve seen nothing in all the baby books about inflections in the magic, other than a child’s magic develops early and it’s only detectible two out of ten times.”
“I’ve no doubt you’ve noticed our daughter is going to be a powerful witch,” Severus drawled with a smirk.
Hermione snorted and he laughed. Both of them recalling the multiple instances of Hermione’s small spells going awry as the baby’s magic formed. A simple light spell had turned into a fireworks display in the den. And summoning her quill somehow turned it into a small ink-spewing worm, which now resided in a jar in Severus’ office awaiting McGonagall’s attention come fall.
“How do you tell the gender though? What makes male magic different from female magic?”
“It is more of an instinct, such as how you can feel the element of a spell when you cast it. As children pick up vocal nuances from their parents, daughters seem to take after their mothers without exception, same for sons and their fathers. You recall a Miss Morgenstern, Slytherin? Three years above you, but I believe you’ve witnessed her dueling technique multiple times.”
Hermione pressed her lips together for a moment. “Yes. I believe so.”
“Her father was above me when I was a student. She takes after him in many ways, but her magical intonation is nearly identical to her mother’s.”
“That doesn’t prove anything though. I take after both my parents in different things. Her mother probably taught her magic.”
“Ah, but her mother is nearly a Squib, just enough magic to light the stove. But as you’ve seen Miss Morgenstern is very gifted in dueling spells. It is a certain type of… femininity in the magic, that makes it closer to her mother’s than her father’s magic. The baby’s magic takes after yours not mine; does that clarify my reasoning of the gender?”
“Well, yes. But it’s not a concrete way of telling the gender, is it?” Hermione released his hand as they approached their front porch, letting him pull the key out of his pocket. “Not if it’s simply a modulation in the magic.”
“No, it isn’t,” he conceded with a nod. “I did mention it was based on similarities I noticed from teaching the children of my classmates.” He gestured for her to go in first and she led the way to the sofa, settling down with a sigh. Severus reached over to arrange the throw blanket around her, the motion upsetting the orange feline sprawled across the armrest.
“So you probably couldn’t tell the gender of Ginny’s baby? Since you just took a lucky guess on our baby,” Hermione said smugly, digging in the cushions for the book she stuffed there that morning. She opened it as she toed off her shoes, but kept her attention on her husband.
Severus made an un-amused face. “No. Not that I’ve tried, but I doubt anyone is able to tell the gender of any unborn child, regardless of if I’m acquainted with their parents or not.” He bent over the back of the sofa to speak directly in her ear with a purr. “I suspect I was able to assume the gender of our daughter so early is because of how… intimately familiar I am with your magic, my dear.” He chuckled when she shivered. He left a quick kiss beneath her ear before he straightened. “Is there anything I should fetch for you before I begin on the paperwork Minerva has damned me with?”
“Nope, I’m fine.” She settled back to read her book, but not before giving him a haughty smile. “Good luck, Deputy Headmaster Snape, I wish you good fortune in avoiding paper cuts.” Hermione snickered at his groan. The first celebrated promotion was now loathed with the amount of paperwork that followed him home over the summer.
“Oh, Hermione,” he drawled with a weary sigh. “Shut up.”