by Liz Barr
summary: Snape visits his son. Liz plays with an idea.
spoilers: up to GoF.
characters: not mine. Not on your life. Not making any money off them, either.
feedback: what, are you kidding? Of course!
Been thinking about fatherhood lately, and Snape. Too many Snape-as-Harry's-Dad fics, too many family issues. Too many thoughts about Mrs Lestrange, who, for a woman with one scene, one piece of dialogue and no first name, is awfully sexy. Too sexy for Mr Lestrange, anyway.
Relationship to canon: dubious. Although ... well, it's not impossible*...
The boy was asleep when he arrived. Snape was careful to move silently as he entered the bedroom. The window and curtains were open, allowing a cool breeze to waft through the moonlit room.
Zachary was sleeping, sprawled carelessly over the bed. A lock of shoulder-length black hair was falling into his eyes. Oddly, it reminded Snape of Marguerite, and how he'd always thought it odd that such a depraved, dangerous woman could seem so innocent when she slept.
He brushed the hair out of the boy's face. He'd meant to be gentle, but Zachary opened his eyes.
"Father?" he asked softly.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
"Your hands are cold." Zachary sat up in bed, still looking much younger than his fifteen years. Or perhaps Snape only believed that because he'd barely seen the boy as a child. "Grandmother said you wouldn't come." He smiled a little. "Of course, she always says that."
"There were ... problems in England. I can't stay for long."
Zachary's face fell. Snape gingerly sat on the bed. In the moonlight, and now that he was more alert, the boy was all shadows and angles, sharp cheekbones and muscles. Despite the coolness of the summer air, he was sleeping shirtless; there was a trace of hair on his chest. Snape supposed the boy resembled him, but there was enough of his mother in his eyes and face that he was almost beautiful in spite of it; a lean, sinewy beauty.
"Is this about You-Know -- about Voldemort?"
"You heard about that?"
Zachary nodded. "When she got back from England, Madame Maxime made a speech. Co-operation, sacrifice ... is it true that a boy died at the Tournament?"
"Yes. A student of mine." Not an outstanding student, but Diggory had never tried to claim more attention or credit than he deserved. A nice student. A competent student.
He'd watched Amos Diggory collapse beside his son's body, and remembered why he'd chosen to make these sacrifices, instead of taking Zachary and leaving England and Voldemort behind all together.
"Oh. I thought -- I was hoping that was just a rumour."
Sometimes, he wondered why he spent so much of his life protecting other people's sons. Potter, Malfoy ... He expended so much time and energy protecting Potter and manipulating Malfoy that in the end, there was nothing left for his own son.
But then, perhaps it was better that way.
He'd stayed away for years. His mother had raised the child after Marguerite went to Azkaban; had even raised him well, proud old witch that she was. She hated him, but she took his son. For six years after the Fall of Voldemort, Dumbledore had kept him at Hogwarts, concerned about reprisals if he left the protection of the school. It had been a shock to finally leave, and discover that the baby he remembered had become a six year old boy.
Even more shocking to discover how much he resembled his mother. With age, Zachary looked more like Snape, but as a child, it had been Marguerite in his heavy-lidded eyes and occasional smile.
Marguerite ... Snape's lips tightened as he watched her son in the moonlight. Sooner or later, Voldemort would release her from Azkaban. Snape wondered how he would keep her from going after her son. A Fidelius Charm, perhaps.
Or perhaps he should take the boy out of Beauxbatons and send him to Hogwarts.
Where he would study with Potter. And Malfoy.
Impossible. Few people remembered that Marguerite Lestrange had borne a child, and the people who knew of the boy's true paternity could be counted on one hand. Here in Europe, it was safe to acknowledge him as Zachary Michael Snape, son of Severus Snape and a rarely-mentioned dead wife.
In England, he'd attract attention, and someone would inevitably remember a beautiful girl with heavy-lidded eyes, a girl whose association with Severus Snape had lingered after her marriage to someone else.
It would be bad enough to give Voldemort a new target, another brilliant, lonely child to corrupt, and a new hold over Snape's loyalties. He didn't want to confront Zachary with the truth about his mother as well.
Oh by the way, boy, did I ever mention that your mother isn't dead, just in Azkaban? Oh yes, life imprisonment. Death Eater, you know. Quite, quite mad. She and her husband were sent in together. Husband? What, did I never mention that she was married to someone else? Well, we Death Eaters never really cared for that fidelity business, and my family was so much more prestigious than her husband's...
He'd worked too hard for these quiet, moonlit moments to sacrifice them now.
"I'm sorry you can't stay for long," Zachary said. "I had so much to tell you. I came first in my year again, and it looks like I'll be a Chaser next year."
"I know. Madame Maxime mentioned it to me. She's very impressed by you. Everyone is."
The boy smiled slightly, ducking his head. "Grandmother isn't."
"Your grandmother is ... a special case."
"Sometimes I think she hates me."
There was a hunger in his voice, a need that Snape remembered all too well from his own childhood.
"The problem is with me, Zachary. She feels..." She feels that she needs to be strict with you, because I went Dark, and she doesn't remember that I turned to Lucius for the approval I never had from her. She hates you because she hates me, and she hates me because I remind her of my father. I could never decide whether she hated him because he was a Dark wizard, or because he embarrassed her by getting caught... "She and I never got along."
Zachary nodded, and lay down again, pulling the blankets around him. "I think I'll go back to sleep now, if that's all right." He paused. "You'll still be here in the morning, won't you?"
He remembered how, as a child, Zachary had cried whenever Snape had to return to Hogwarts. The child would beg, plead, promise anything, anything at all, if only his father wouldn't leave again.
And yet, he'd always gone.
"I wouldn't leave without saying goodbye, Zachary."
Snape watched the boy fall asleep, oddly grateful for this moment. He'd raised the boy in ignorance of his background, and sooner or later there'd be a reckoning.
And yet, his son could sleep, not fearing that Voldemort would come after him, not remembering the death of beloved schoolmates, not afraid that his father would raise him as a Death Eater.
Other children ... other sons didn't have that luxury.
This peace would end soon, but for now, it was enough.