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The Long Road

Chapter Text

Severus Snape walked with purpose through the crowd. Wet gravel squelched under his feet, sucking at his boots as he went. The event was beginning to take place, people were gathering in front of the main stage; the curtain had been drawn back and it was a mere half hour before the proceedings would actually commence.

The hum of different languages fluttered around him, only the closest ones being affected by his translation spell. He ignored even the conversations he could understand, he wanted to get in and out as soon as possible. The close proximity of so many people, the way they jostled about him, was almost suffocating. These were the wealthiest witches and wizards from across the continent and it showed. Snape wondered briefly if the amount of gold stashed in their vaults was directly proportional to the angle their noses poked in the air.

He bumped shoulders with a wizard in a perfectly tailored burgundy robe. The man turned to snarl at him but stopped, startled by the intensity of the sneer he was faced with. He turned his back with a harrumph, pretending Severus wasn’t worth his time.

The bell was ringing, signaling the auction was about to begin. This auction happened once every two years and was the most prestigious and awaited of its kind, a fact that meant nothing to Snape, as he was not here to bid, but to receive an inheritance. He scowled at the mere thought of it. Even in death Walden managed to be a dirty git.

He reached the side door that he had been instructed to go to by the Ministry letter he’d received a week ago. He rang the bell on the wall and waited. It wasn’t long before the hinges squawked and he was met by a burly man who looked about as pleased to be there as Severus was himself.

“What do you want? No bids allowed back here, you have to go to the stage like everyone else,” said the man.

The crackle of the translation spell tickled Snape’s mind. He produced a roll of parchment from a small satchel on his side and presented it to the man silently.

The man peered at it dumbly for a moment before spitting on the ground. “Follow me.” He handed the documents back and turned in place.

The smell of rancid, unwashed flesh assaulted his senses as he walked through the doorway. In the dim light he noted that the floor was barely cleaner than the ground outside, his feet making soft squishing sounds as he strode through the muck. They walked down a short hall and Snape was ushered through the door at the end of the hall as the man returned back to his post at the door.

He was now in a large room, empty but for two desks, each with an attendant sitting on the other side of it. One was already busy, helping a grim looking witch fill out some paperwork. He went up to the free attendant and waited for her to acknowledge him. She was looking through some papers, flipping through them almost leisurely, spectacles resting halfway down her nose as she pursued the documents.

Snape cleared his throat loudly. The witch jumped slightly.

“Sorry sir,” she squeaked. “Documents please.”

Snape again produced the documents, noticing with a small frown that there was a greasy smudge where the greeter had manhandled them. He sighed in impatience as she read carefully though the papers.

“I see. This says here that you are entitled to receive… number 2648 as of ten o’clock this morning. Everything seems to be in order here." She pulled open a desk drawer and presented him with another two documents. “If you will sign here, here and here and initial articles two and six-A, on both sets of papers please,” she handed him a quill.

Snape skimmed through the paperwork at lightning speed, snatching the quill from her hand. “That is well and good, Madam. But I was informed by the Ministry letter I just handed you that I was to be receiving a set, as decreed by the last will and testament of Walden Macnair. Where is the second set of documentation?” He had to keep from spitting at the mention of Macnair, may he burn for eternity.

The witch looked immediately frightened. She re-read the document Snape had originally handed her, flipping to the second page. “Oh my. You were also to receive number 2649.” She went back to the other papers on her desk and flipped madly through them, pulling one out seemingly at random.

Were?” Severus practically snarled.

“Oh my,” she said again, brow furrowing.

She stood and shuffled over to the other desk with a “pardon me” to the other witch, who was still working her way through a sea of paperwork. They bent their heads together, whispering frantically. Snape was tapping his toe, leaning partially on the desk. His frustration was mounting.

The attendant finally returned, flipping a sign on her desk to say, “closed for the moment”.

“It seems there has been a mistake sir. 4629 was accidentally filed under ‘for auction’. It seems a paper was lost and-”

“Lost,” he deadpanned.

“Er, yes sir. I’m afraid the original document was misplaced upon arrival and 4629 was misfiled.”

“You will take me to my possessions. Legally, 4629 is my property and I will not leave here empty handed because someone was too much of an idiot to read through an entire paper,” he barked, his hand hitting the desktop sharply. Bureaucrats be damned!

Her eyes bugged out of her pudgy face. “Of course, sir! We must hurry, you will have to follow me through the pens; it’s the fastest way.” She picked up what Snape hoped was all of the relevant paperwork and led him through a door behind the desks.

Any appearance or pretense of civility was gone as he stepped across the threshold. Wooden and metal crates held what could easily have been hundreds of people. Guards and auction staff were milling about the lanes between them. In here the smell was nearly intolerable. There also must have been a silencing spell between where the paper pushers sat and the holding area because in here sounds were overwhelming. People were wailing and yelling. The sound of the whip the guards used to keep the prisoners back as they pulled a group for auction lanced through him.

He began to clear his mind as memories surged up like a huge wave. There could be no faltering now. He willed his feet to continue following the little witch, who navigated the maze of cages with no hesitation. She hurried over to a tall man with a short but unkempt beard; he was no cleaner than the rest of the room. Snape continued to sneer, Occluding as he tried to keep his temper in check.

She talked quickly with him in hushed tones, showing the paperwork and gesturing wildly. The man put a hand to his forehead and Snape could see him sigh.

“We are in a bit of a mess,” she said to him as she returned, the man hurrying off to a set of cages in the very back of the room. “4629 has already been put up for auction. It may take a little time, but we will get everything sorted out. If you would follow me again, I can take you to the holding block that contains the Lycanthropes.”

She rushed away not giving him a chance to start the rant that was building inside him.

He followed her to a large iron door. She knocked twice and a small grate opened on the side of it. A man’s face peered through; he saw her and gave a nod. The sound of a lock being opened was heard and the door ground reluctantly open. They passed two cages crowded with wretched faces when she stopped in front of one near the end.

A guard came to her side and the barred door was opened. Frightened eyes peered out at them from the confines. The guard went into the cage, baton at the ready. These captives gave him plenty of room, huddling in the far corners of the pen. He dragged a limp form up from off the floor. “You sure you want this one? It’s near dead. We have an incinerator; we could dispose of it for you, sir. A werewolf in this shape isn’t worth spit to anyone,” he said, dropping the form in a heap at his feet.

Snape pushed the unconscious man onto his back with the toe of his boot. Wand in hand, he scanned him swiftly. “That will not be necessary. It is in very poor condition. Is this the reputation your company aspires to?” he snapped, kneeling next to the injured man.

The witch’s eyebrows rose past her bangs. “Inheritance items are dealt with in an ‘as is’ fashion. We are not legally required to do any upkeep, just to hold the item for pickup.”

Snape growled. “Go clear up this miserable failure. I’ll be here when you are finished and need my presence to complete the transaction.”

The witch stood there for a moment. “There are benches off to the side if you wish to wait there.”

“Just go, woman!” he shouted.

She squeaked and turned heel. Snape muttered a curse as he levitated his slave over to the benches and lay him down on one to get him out of the filth on the floor.

He ripped the shoulder of the already disintegrating shirt barely clinging to the man’s torso. He was met with a large expanse of magically burned flesh. It had been left for too long, pieces of the garment he was wearing had healed into the skin in places and the wound was clearly in all out infection. The burn was among the worst of the injuries, trumped only by the obliterated masses of what used to be feet. A couple broken or possibly bruised ribs appeared to be the only other truly troubling factor. At least his lungs didn’t seem to be damage, though breathing was labored, but probably from an illness or as part of the infection. Or else from the pressure of the damned iron collar that was clasped tightly around his neck.

Snape ran his fingers along the band, trying to feel for a clasp or a break in the middle; there was none. The blasted thing was held on magically, there was no way to remove it now, not sitting here on a bench in the middle of a slave auction holding pen.

He retrieved three vials from in his robe pocket and forced them one by one down the man’s throat, holding his nose to be sure he would swallow and not choke too badly. Hopefully that would keep him from dying while they waited for this grand mess to be sorted out.

He put a stasis spell on the lifeless man, the strongest that he knew. He hadn’t had to use that charm since the last battle of the war, and it wasn’t always as effective as one would hope. Once he was finished, as he had done all he could in this place, he settled down to wait. There was no way he could leave without both of them; Albus would never have forgiven him if he did.

Maybe forty minutes later, the witch bustled back over to them, puffing slightly. “Alright then Mister Snape, we’re almost done. I can have 4628 ready to go; it will be waiting at the back door for you when we’ve finished clearing this all up. If you will just come with me this one last time we can hopefully be done here.”

Two auction workers came up from behind her and went over to the prone man, hauling him up by the feet and arms like a large sack of potatoes, carrying him from the room.

“My patience is wearing thin, Madam,” Snape cautioned, falling into step with her.

“I can well imagine, sir. I will take you to Arden. He deals with the smaller ones. Believe it or not they have a lot more fight than any of the other items here,” she tittered lightly.

If she thought it a good idea to use humor as a tool to calm him, she was sorely mistaken. Thankfully his mind was clear; he was in control and stayed silent.

These pens were smaller, more cramped and sorely overcrowded. If at all possible, the little faces peering from between the bars were grubbier and more misery filled than in the other rooms. Their hands and feet were clamped in irons and the scant clothing they wore was falling off their thin bodies in rags. He wondered briefly how long they had been here to be in such a state.

“Arden!” she called. A man in his fifties slinked out from the shadows nodding in response. “This is Mister Snape. You will get all of this cleared up like we discussed?”

“Yes ma’am. Not a problem. Pleased to meet you, Mister Snape.” He held out his hand to greet Sevetrus, who gave him a blank stare until he retracted it. The witch left without another word, most likely pleased to be able to pass him off to someone else.

“Number 4629 is it? Feisty little beggar. I’ll retrieve it for you if you’d like to wait.”

“I will accompany you.” It wasn’t an offer.

“Suit yourself, this way then.”

He was led to the last pen in the row, large enough for five people comfortably and it held nearly ten. Arden clanged on the bars with his baton. “4629! 4629 step forward!”

The children all huddled to the back, pushing one stumbling child to the front of the cage like an offering to an angry god.

Arden opened the door and grabbed the boy roughly by the manacles on his wrists and yanked him into the isle, closing and locking the cage behind him.

Snape could see the other children relaxing and filling the cage again. He turned his attention to the shivering boy standing in front of him. He was about five or six years old, but looked much younger. He was bruised and undernourished and tried to make himself smaller by hunching and holding himself with his arms tucked around his chest and stomach.

Again, Severus knelt to get a better look at him. He scanned him as he had the other. No injuries that would require immediate attention. The child tried to back up, but Arden blocked his escape. Snape moved to brush the hair away from his face, motions slow, trying not to spook the boy too badly. The child flinched away from his hand and he retracted it immediately.

Arden knocked him none too gently on the head. “Respect! Have you learned none here?”

The boy cried out and held his arms up to ward off any more blows that may be coming.

Snape stood in one swift movement. “You’ll take care to keep your hands off of my merchandise if you’d like to keep them attached to the rest of your body.” Unlike others who made such threats, he had the will and the ability to carry them out.

“I could say the same to you sir,” said a voice from behind them.

Snape turned to see a man looking down his nose at the whole scene. He was flanked by two other men who were clearly there to be his muscle.

“Ah, Sir Moriek!” Arden groveled instantly, bowing and removing his hat. “How may I be of service?”

“You can prepare my slave so that I may be free of this hole,” came the haughty reply. His voice carried the authority of someone who was rarely refused. He strode forward. “And you can tell me who this man is and why he has his paws all over my goods. I paid top dollar for that little beast.”

Snape looked at the man in disdain. “Then perhaps you should read the fine print on more of your purchases. 2649 legally belongs to me. I have all the papers in place. You will have to ask Arden here for a refund.”

The man paled in fury. “What is the meaning of this?”

“It’s true, sir. 2649 is the inheritance of Mister Snape here. You will be able to select another item from the pen, of any value you wish, as compensation. Or we could give ypu a full refund. Unfortunately, Mister Snape’s papers have been in place for weeks now.”

The child, stuck in the middle of the arguing adults, seemed to shrink smaller and smaller. His shoulders were shaking, he was crying quietly to himself, trying not to be noticed. Moriek grabbed him roughly by the shoulder, “But I paid for this one!” He was clearly outraged, sarcastically he added, “Perhaps we should just cut it in half and both be satisfied?”

The child cringed.

“You are very peculiar indeed if that is what you wish to spend your gold on: half of a dead werewolf whelp. What did you pay for him in his present condition?” Snape drawled, his rage was about to get the better of him. Any minute now…

“I paid fifteen thousand Galleons for this wretch. I will go home with no other.”

They both looked at Arden, who quailed, unsure what to do. Moriek was one of the auctions dearest patrons; his family had been doing business with them for generations. But the auction hated getting the Ministry involved for any reason; their trade was barely legal as it was.

Snape reached into his satchel and extracted his coin purse. Into another bag he counted out that very amount in Galleons; it was worth any sum to be out of this damned place with what he came for.

He said in a mocking voice, “Arden here will either refund you your money, or allow you to pick another slave. Won’t you Arden?” Arden nodded quickly. “I will reimburse you also; here is the amount you paid, in full. Is that enough to make you go away?”

Moriek considered. “Make it eighteen for my trouble and you have a deal.”

“Sixteen and not a Knut more.” Snape dropped the coins into the bag

Moriek nodded. “That is acceptable.” He took the purse from Severus.

“I take it you have an attendant intelligent enough to find this man a slave that is not already owned?” Snape asked Arden in a cold voice.

“Yes sir, sorry sir, thank you sir!” Arden handed a pleased Moriek off to another employee, who began to show him the back pens.

Arden peered down at the child. “What is so special about you, you little monster?” He grabbed his chin so he could look more closely at his face. “You aren’t much to look at, and you’re definitely not as pliant as the others. A werewolf, to boot. You must have a sweet arse, can’t see no other reason.” Arden stroked his cheek, looking over at Severus. “Want to pick him up in an hour, maybe make some of that gold back?” He smiled slyly at Snape. “I could break him in for you.”

Snape pulled the child out of the man’s reach. “You will do no such thing. Give me my papers and get the hell out of my sight before I do something you are going to regret,” Snape said dangerously. “I have no time for these games! Your incompetence has cost me an entire day, not to mention thousands of Galleons for something that was already mine!” By this point he was bellowing.

It seemed mere moments before the papers were in his hands and the child was beside him at the exit, the unconscious man levitating behind them. He handed the papers to the attendant at the rear exit. “You can remove the cuffs when you’re at home, sir,” she told him, nodding to the boy. “Just tap them with your wand; they will recognize you as his master and release. He’s so young; I’ll bet he was one of those infected by that Greyback fellow.”

Snape shot her a withering look.

She cleared her throat. “You were made aware on the finalization process for item 4628?”

Severus nodded. “What about the collar?”

She shuffled through some papers. “It’s not usual for his kind to be collared… ah, here. It was on him at the time of his arrival. A magical suppression collar, that is. He’s apparently had a full formal education. A werewolf, can you imagine? I’d recommend leaving that in place.”

“I’ll take your recommendation under consideration. However I will also take the word of release,” he said in a stern tone.

“Simply, “te solvo” would release the collar. Please do not do so on our grounds; you will be liable for any damages it causes. Have a good day, sir.”

He gave no reply, shaking his head and going straight toward the exit.

They were finally outside, the child hiding his eyes and blinking in bewilderment at the sun.

“Place your hand on his good arm,” Snape instructed the boy.

The child did as he was told without hesitation. Snape put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and activated his Portkey. They were finally going home, or what would soon be passing for it.

Chapter Text

They appeared in Snape’s living room with a ‘crack’. The boy fell to his hands and knees, dry heaving on the carpet in the same motion. A house elf appeared and Snape gestured him over to the levitating man.

“Please get him cleaned up, I will need to tend to that burn. Take care of his more minor wounds and bandage that wrist the best you can. He will need to have his burns scoured; we can’t allow the skin to keep healing over that infection. Let me know when you are done if I’m not up there already. Thank you, Fred.”

“Fred is always glad to be helping!” He steered the floating man up the stairs without further discussion.

Snape looked to the boy, who was still on the floor but no longer being sick. Tears were streaming down his face as he looked in horror at the small bile stain he’d made on the fine area rug.

Again, he knelt beside him, leaving distance as to seem less imposing. Now would be an excellent time to start channeling Albus Dumbledore. Snape had dealt with hundreds of children in his years as an instructor and Head of House, but none of them had ever been this young. First off, he banished the sick-up from the floor with a wave of his hand. “Don’t worry about that. See, it’s gone?” he tried gently. Brilliant, Severus, just bloody brilliant.

The boy pulled his arms more tightly around himself and did not look up. Snape pulled a blanket from its place over the arm of a wing back chair near them, spreading it around the boy’s shaking shoulders. The child cringed from his touch but mostly seemed surprised when Snape withdrew, leaving the blanket in place. He pulled it gratefully around himself and started to cry even harder.

Severus took his wand, going to release the cuffs, as the harpy at the auction house had told him to; but the boy shrieked and pulled back as if burned by fire, trying to get as far away as he could when he saw the item.

“It’s okay,” Snape gentled, “I’m not going to hurt you.” The boy didn’t seem to hear him, becoming more frantic by the moment.

Deciding that the child was overwhelmed, he did both of them a favor and cast a soft, ‘Dormio’ over him. The boy drifted instantly to sleep, slumping harmlessly against the side of the chair. Snape stood and tapped the cuffs with his wand as he had intended to in the first place. They fell to the floor with a clatter and Severus banished them in disgust. He carefully scooped up the sleeping child and carried him up the stairs.

He entered the room he had prepared for the man before leaving that morning. Fred was just finishing with the magical cleansing of the burns. The man was naked and covered to the waist with blankets, mangled feet sticking out the bottom. Severus lay the boy down on a large chair and ottoman he pushed together with his knees, knowing he would be asleep for some time yet, no matter what commotion went on around him.

He left Fred to complete his task and went back downstairs to his lab. He needed to get some supplies from the lab, grateful he had prepared for the worst.

“‘As is’ condition,” he snorted. It was a miracle the man had survived this long, he wasn’t about to let him die in his guest bed. Pulling out an assortment of vials, one large jar and a swath of potion-soaked bandages, he placed them in a cloth bag and hurriedly went back upstairs.

“He is being ready for healing, sir.”

“Thank you, Fred.”

“You is needing more help?”

“That will do for now, but please prepare a light supper. It has been a very tiring day.”

“Enough for three sir, or just one?” The elf asked hesitantly.

“Enough for three please.” Fred wasn’t normally so unsure around him. “But make one serving a bowl of broth. I doubt this one could handle more than that. A large pitcher of water and a pot of tea wouldn’t be amiss either.”

Fred smiled in what was supposed to be an approving manor, “Of course, sir.” He disappeared with a nod.

Fred had cleared the wounds. He was surprised to find them worse than he had originally thought. The magical fire had burned most of his chest, curling up his neck and down one hip and arm. With the shirt completely removed a large percentage of it was open again, which suited Snape’s needs just fine since it was so infected. He forced two of his strongest pain relief and antipyretic potions down the lycanthrope’s throat.

He removed his outer robe and tossed it on the unoccupied chair by the bed, rolling his shirt sleeves up to the elbows. He cast a sterilizing charm on his hands and exposed forearms, spreading the salve from the jar he had brought up from the lab onto the burned skin. At some point in his ministrations, Fred returned with a large platter. He was just in time to assist Snape with the bandaging of the wounds.

The elf supported the man while Snape expertly wrapped his burns in the medicated gauze. They lay him back down and Snape repeated the procedure with his feet, which were if possible, ghastlier than the rest of him. He thought about releasing the collar now, then decided it may be best to leave it for a time, until Lupin had oriented himself. There was no need to risk a wandless attack from an injured man he would be hesitant to retaliate against.

“Between the potions, salve and gauze any infection should be purged from his system shortly. It will, however, take him quite some time to heal completely.”

Fred nodded, “And the little one, sir?”

“I don’t know, exactly. His physical injuries seem superficial; mostly bruises, blisters where those chains chafed, severe malnutrition. We will see when he wakes up. He will be understandably distressed.”

“Fred will be helping where he can, sir.”

“Your services are invaluable.”

The elf preened before disappearing.

Movement from the bed alerted him, the man was waking up. Even with the potions he would be in some measure of pain.

Severus watched as hee groaned, opened his eyes and blinked in unadulterated confusion. Snape lowered the light in the room slightly to accommodate his returning vision. The man moved his neck from side to side, testing his muscles. He seemed to orient himself with a start, eyes locking on to Snape for half a second. Surprise followed quickly by fear flashed across his face. He dropped his gaze, blinking rapidly.

“Master?” he croaked quietly. He tried to pull himself up but dropped back to bed with a pained exclamation.

“I suppose that I am. I would not try to move more than you have already. You are in bad shape.”

“Severus?” he asked blearily, clearly startled into uttering the word. Then the hand of his good arm flew to his mouth. “Forgive me, master!”

Snape raised the light in the room slowly and walked back over to the bed.

Lupin was looking around quickly, perhaps for a way to escape. He noted his nakedness and tried to pull the blanked higher to cover himself with it like a shield. His breathing was erratic. Snape? Merlin help him, he was worse than dead.

“Lupin,” Severus said sharply. “You are going to exacerbate your injuries. Even with your metabolism, there is no way I can give you another pain reliever this soon after the last.”

“...Sorry, master, I-” Lupin choked, looking lost and more than a little frightened.

Snape flinched every time he said ‘master’. Irony always was a cruel bitch: the twice freed slave now the master. He came closer and sat on the edge of the bed, pretending not to notice how Lupin pulled away from him as far as he was able. Severus made no further move toward him. He sat still until the other man relaxed slightly, looking intently at his hands. He sighed; what would Albus do in a situation like this?

“Lupin-” He started, then paused to reconsider. “Remus,” Lupin’s eyes flickered up at the use of his name. “I would prefer if you didn’t refer to me by that title.”

“Forgive me, master. It was a moment of shock; I swear it will never happen again.” Lupin seemed on the verge of tears. What had Macnair done to this man who used to spar with him every morning over coffee and toast in the Great Hall scant years ago?

“Call me Severus, or sir, if you absolutely feel you must. I do not wish – I am not comfortable with the title of master.” What went unsaid was that he was not comfortable with this entire arrangement.

“Yes, of course, sir. I am sorry I did not understand.” Remus’ voice was cracking; he was licking his lips and trying to swallow, unharmed hand lying tightly clenched in his lap.

“Are you thirsty?” Severus continued to use a quiet voice, trying to keep the situation in hand. Showing his intense frustration at this point would only make things more difficult.

Remus let out a sob, seemingly afraid to answer. If no, he would be punished for lying; if yes, he would be ridiculed and denied. He opened and closed his mouth soundlessly.

Snape stood and went to the tray Fred had placed across the room. He returned with a tall glass of cool water and the bowl of broth the elf had prepared. The bowl he placed on the nightstand. The glass he half held in Lupin’s direction. “Lupin,” he tried again. “Would you like a drink of water?”

“Yes, please, sir. Please,” he moaned. He would debase himself for one sip of that water. There was nothing he could think of he would not do for a mouthful of that clear, clean, cold water. He was about to say so, anything to convince his master to allow him a swallow; but before he could, Snape had slid closer, holding the rim of the glass to his parched lips. His good hand came up to steady it, knowing he could not support the cup alone in his current condition.

“Slowly, small sips or you’ll make yourself sick – that’s right,” Snape encouraged the best he could; such things were not in his nature. It took a few moments to get in a couple of blessed mouthfuls. Severus pulled the glass away, careful not to spill. He set it on the night table also. “We’ll let that settle and then you can have some more. I have some thickened broth here; if you aren’t feeling too nauseous it would be good to get something more solid in your system to balance all the potions you have ingested.”

He picked up the broth and paused, thinking for a moment before filling the spoon, catching any drips on the edge of the bowl and offering the food to Remus.

The scent of herbs and chicken made Lupin’s mouth water; there was no way he would argue with food. Snape helped him eat about half the bowl before he was too full to stuff another bite down. Hunger was such a deceptive thing: if you’d asked him before eating the broth, he’d have said he could have eaten a whole cow, but it ended up he couldn’t even eat one entire bowl of soup.

Severus noticed he was slowing down and assisted him with one more bite before setting the bowl aside and casting a preserving charm on it. “It’s no shock you can’t manage more than that. Just let it digest and later you can have the rest.”

Remus sighed and shifted in the bed. Yes, he was in pain, but it was nowhere near the all-consuming red-hot poker it had been the last time he remembered being conscious. Despite that he was more content then he could remember being in a long time.

A feeling of loss suddenly struck through him, guilt so strong he almost retched with the intensity of it. While he was laying here - warm, comfortable, fed and watered, his son was where? Back in the pens with the beatings and groping hands, one little boy lost in a sea of faces, frightened and alone? He sat up with a jerk, “Teddy!” He had never been so ashamed in all his life. He had woken and not thought of his son.

Snape seemed startled by his outburst. He moved his hands to Lupin’s bandaged shoulder, guiding him back to the soft mattress. “Relax, Lupin.” His impatience with the situation was beginning to show. “He is here, sleeping on the chair.” Snape cast a look across the dim room to a bundle laid out on the large arm chair.

No words in the world could have been sweeter to Lupin’s ears. He wept in relief, tears flowing unchecked down his cheeks. “Thank you, sir, for everything.”

“I – just rest, Lupin,” Snape instructed, sounding drained.

Remus sniffled. “Yes, sir,” he replied weakly, settling down and closing his eyes.

Severus took the salve he had applied to Lupin’s burns and carefully spread some across Teddy’s wrists and one or two of the worst visible bruises and scrapes. He then returned the lighting in the room to low and went to make himself a cup of tea from the service Fred had brought. He sat on the cushion of the bay window and looked out at the night, contemplating the strange but severe turn his life had taken over the last while.

Walden Macnair had died. Finally, gods be praised, they lay that son of a bitch in the ground. He had read it in The Prophet over breakfast one morning, promptly spit his coffee across the table and went to pour himself two fingers of Scotch to celebrate. Seven thirty in the morning be damned, it was five o’clock somewhere. What had been a very promising start to the day deteriorated swiftly as the rest of his post arrived.

Two howlers, which actually wasn’t all that bad; since the trials had ended, he was sometimes getting three or four of them a day. Another one was from Potioners Monthly, thanking him in a generic fashion for his scathing letter about their article on the ‘new properties’ of Horntailed Dragon saliva. The wet noodle who wrote that article had clearly never seen the inside of a cauldron before. He banished these without a thought, sending the owls flapping madly away with an angry wave of his arm.

One owl arrived moments after the others had departed. He landed on the table directly in front of Severus and began to groom. He offered his leg after a moment and Snape took the scroll without a thought. He offered this owl a small piece of bacon and it flew on its way. He finished breakfast and sat back to finish his Scotch before finally deciding to read the letter.

He read the contents through once, went back over to the cabinet above the ice box and poured another drink. He brought the bottle back over to the table, plunking it down unceremoniously, took a long drink from the already poured glass and re-read the letter.

He sat there a moment, dumbstruck. Walden had left him an inheritance, if it could even be called that. He had inherited Remus and Teddy Lupin. He refilled his glass to half-mast and read the stupid thing a third time. There could be no mistake.

Eight months before the final battle Remus and Nymphadora’s home had been raided; the young witch found dead in their living room and no sign of the father or son. After months of searching they had real, live, present wounded and dead to deal with; the Death Eaters striking harder and more wildly than ever. The two remaining Lupins were declared casualties of war, a short but heartfelt ceremony was held, tombstones erected. People moved as best they could and continued to fight. Snape had run himself ragged between juggling both sides, plus his duties at Hogwarts. He lived on Pepper-Up and adrenaline; certain every summons was a death warrant.

Albus had wanted information and in the end even more drastic measures from him. He came back to the school limping and dripping blood trying to satisfy Voldemort while achieving those ends, but to no avail. The information that would spare him punishment would be the deaths of countless innocent lives. In the end, after killing his only friend and mentor in order to keep cover, the Dark Lord was defeated by a teenage boy and it was all over. Only the pieces remained, and few were left to clean them up.

Most of the remaining Death Eaters went into hiding and were slowly hunted down, one by one. Some fled the country, finding reprieve from the Ministry’s retribution under assumed names hundreds of miles from their homes. The Macnairs were one of these families. Out of the reach of the Aurors, they lived in peace they didn’t deserve for two years. Walden finally dropped dead of a heart attack, one year after his wife had committed suicide. Irony struck again, the one thing that Walden never did have, a heart, ended up dealing his killing blow. In the form of a massive heart attack, no one around or concerned enough to do anything about his passing.

It would have been beautiful if Snape hadn’t been left with this mess. He had gone to the Ministry appointment where he had been informed that until the will was settled completely, the Lupins would remain in The Mendola Auction House. If he denounced them, they would be sold and he would receive a cash sum (estimated at about forty five thousand Galleons, a small fortune). He been handed a sealed envelope and told that it was to be read before he made his final decision.

He broke the seal and unfolded the paper once he was again in the relative safety and privacy of his own home. He was met by Macnair’s messy scrawling’s:

 

Dearest Severus,

You are a filthy traitor. But I didn’t write this to tell you things you already know. The Order’s pet werewolf and its offspring have been in my keeping these last years. We were going to return them in pieces but it was decided that it was more fun keeping them alive. There has been much discussion about what to do with you, on the other hand. We decided that the worst punishment for you would be to let you live with everything you have done. May it be a hot brand on your new found morality for the rest of your miserable years.

The rest of them believe you to be a liar from the beginning; I know better. Before the start of the first war, I watched you. I saw the lust in your eyes; the hunger. It was only fed when you brutalized, when you beat and when you killed. I saw you scheming, coming up with new serums to make those filthy muggles and half breeds bleed and scream and blister. It was what kept you alive, what made you know you were alive. I know that need for power, over other people and yourself is what allowed you to breathe, to get out of bed every morning.

I knew all of that, because that same thing thrived in me also. I saw it in you then, and I know it is in you still. So, I have devised a test for your unfailing, newfound morals, Snape. Here, on a platter, is your remaining enemy and his progeny. Every inch of them belongs to your tender mercies. After years of my loving care, they will do anything you say, accept any punishment for any or no infraction. They expect to be punished, just for their existence. They are putty in your hand and under your wand.

With the new werewolf legislation, it is even legal. No one to police you, to enforce you to be or do what is ‘right’. It is all up to you my sick, twisted once-ally. We shall see how your resolve to be better than us fares against the chance to make them suffer for what they did to you and what they drove you to do. If not at first, then in time your true colors will show. You and I both know what you are; the only one pretending is you.

Or you could collect the money. Sell them off separately to Merlin knows who. Boys about Teddy’s age fetch a fine price at Mendola’s. You can amp up his worth if you tell them he’s a virgin; none of my delicious perversions involve little boys. But soon he will be older, don’t waste his youth as you did your own.

Remus, on the other hand, well he’s a real treat. The Ministry solicitor will fill you in on just what enslavement spell was used on that tender peach. You will take on the same ownership, or sell him to the highest bidder. Let’s see how kind you can be when you have this kind of power over another person; beast; whatever.

Have fun Snape.

Go to hell where you belong; I’ll be waiting.

Walden Macnair

 

The solicitor had given him all the necessary paperwork and sent him on his way. It took nine days for the rest of the will to be dealt with, and on the tenth he found himself at the auction, no idea what he was doing, going to pick up that blasted werewolf and his son.

His tea was growing cold. He cast a heating spell on it and had a sip; not awful. He had no idea what to do next. The documents told him that he was to have the same kind of ownership as Macnair had had, or none at all. He was surprised to find himself accepting, half unsure what he was getting into.

The next week had been spent in the restricted section of the Hogwarts library; although he no longer worked there, Minerva allowed him full access over the summer holidays. Things weren’t looking very bright, for him or for Lupin. The level of… intimacy this spell would require was appalling. To finalize the ownership over Lupin Sr. they would need to have intercourse, consensual or not.

The more he read though, the more intriguing it seemed. Knowing Macnair as he did, the choice of this particular spell confused him. It was based on how the master wizard decided to distribute the power, there was little restraint in what he could not do. Intent was a very strong force in the magical world. There was no denying that his actions and wishes would dictate most everything in this bond. It was almost demanded by this type of magic, something barely confined by the way they thought of spell casting; it bordered on being a Dark spell but danced away from it; nothing scrawled on the ground in the blood of the supplicant, no sacrifices made, and no selling portions of soul. Yet it was clear that if he chose, he could take this spell and twist it; allow Remus nothing, take everything. Remus would be the only one to suffer. Walden was right, the laws being what they were these days, no one would say mum.

He knew Walden was wrong, yet also right. Who he had been and the person who lived this night were the same flesh, but of different heart. He had renounced those behaviors the night Albus had forgiven him, embraced his tearful once-pupil and said they would work it out; that no mistake should last forever once realized.

Years later he realized his biggest mistake, consenting in to kill Albus ‘for the greater good’. Yes, the elderly wizard had been dying anyway. But one more day, a couple more hours of research and experimentation and maybe he could have figured it out, unraveled the puzzle of what exactly was killing one of the greatest men of their time and how to stop it. If he had stayed awake one more hour, put it off one more day, maybe he would still be there to tell him what to do; to tell them all. But if wishes were horses they would all have to start making mass amounts of glue just to deal with the numbers.

A sound across the room pulled him out of his thoughts. Teddy was waking up. Hopefully he would have more luck than earlier trying to connect with him. Lupin’s recovery would take quite a while, his resources notwithstanding. The two of them would be spending a lot of time together, as Fred had duties and Snape didn’t see the sense in letting a six-year-old rampage around his house unsupervised.

He set his cup back in the saucer on the tray and tip toed closer to Teddy, who was fighting off the sleep charm valiantly. The boy sat up, groggily rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. He looked around suspiciously, eyes locking onto Severus, grazing only briefly over his sleeping father. Interesting.

Teddy wrapped his arms around himself again, like he had been doing at the auction house. Snape assumed it was some kind of self-soothing technique. With Walden as his warden for the last few years, who knew how his mind had developed? He would try to probe, to bring out the boy’s self, whatever that ended up being. He hadn’t even heard the boy speak so far, though he seemed to understand what was being said well enough. The sight of his wand earlier had certainly frightened him.

Snape came closer and fear wrote itself across Teddy’s face, but he did not withdraw as Lupin had. Snape wondered if this was a good or a bad sign. He stopped and crouched just out of arm’s reach of the little Lycanthrope, hoping that he would be less daunting if he weren’t looming over him. He then chose to sit on the floor, crossing his legs almost as if he were meditating. This way he didn’t look like he would spring up or forward. He sat stationary for a moment, looking mildly at Teddy and hoping this had even a meagre chance of success.

The boy seemed to feel a buildup of pressure or tension and finally asked in a rushed murmur, almost trying not to be heard, “Who are you?” Only then did he recoil, as if he knew he would be hit. Snape continued to sit as motionless as he had been for a moment before deliberately bringing his arm up, like he was offering to shake the boy’s hand.

“My name is Severus,” he said just above a whisper. “I’m very pleased to meet you. What is your name?” He held his arm extended, waiting for a response.

Teddy didn’t even pause to think, he straightened his back and said, “4629, sir.”

“I don’t mean your number, child. What did people call you before you were brought to that place?” Snape tried to keep his voice soft and didn’t retract his arm.

Teddy thought for a moment. Then his face screwed up as if in rage. “You filthy animal! Get away from me you little beast!” he shouted, then sat there stunned and began to cry.

He heard a strangled sob from across the room and knew that Lupin was awake and was in pain more agonizing than his wounds would be causing him. He didn’t move to acknowledge him, but continued to keep his hand steady and wait for the child’s acknowledgement of it. “There will be none of that here. Don’t worry, I know your name.” He tried smiling and hoped it didn’t look too grotesque on his face. “Teddy. Your name is Teddy.”

The boy was still sniffling wetly. He looked at Snape with watery eyes and slowly reached his small hand out to meet the man’s larger one. He withdrew briefly just before their hands touched, but when Severus made no move to grab him, he brought it out again with more determination. Snape gently shook the boy’s hand and released it.

Teddy had moved slightly closer to him. Snape made no motion to rise. “Would you like a drink, Teddy, or something to eat?”

The boy looked at him with glassy eyes. Snape’s mouth gaped open as they boy fell to his knees and dropped his forehead to the floor. “Please sir, may I have a drink of water?”

Snape hurriedly grasped his shoulders and pulled him upright. “You may always have a drink of water here, Teddy. I will never deny you that.” He stood slowly and fetched the tray, old joints protesting as he sat back down on the floor where the boy as of now sitting cross legged as he had. He placed it between them, still not giving Lupin any sign that he knew he was awake.

He poured Teddy a short glass of water and one of orange juice. He also placed a small bowl of thickened broth in front of him and a plate with some bread and jam. Not the most traditional supper, but something the child could hopefully manage to keep down if he went slowly enough.

“…This is – all for me?” he asked with hesitation.

“Yes, Teddy.” He would use the child’s name as much as possible; to reassure him he was a person, an individual, someone who warranted a name. He remembered being small, thinking his own name was dimwit or some derivative of bastard. Under his roof, things would not be so, Macnair’s prophetic letter be damned. He was not his father and he had lived as a slave for long enough to know how not to treat one. “Eat and drink slowly. When you feel full, we will put the rest away and you can eat it later.”

Teddy looked at the food in front of him with wide eyes and dug in silently, eating both the bread and jam and the entire bowl of broth. Snape gave him a moment to let it settle and the poured him another glass of juice and put three biscuits in front of him. The boy munched those down too.

“Teddy,” he asked. “Would you like to go see your father?”

The boy looked more frightened than he had yet. His eyes darted around; hugging himself and making himself as small as he could, shaking his head.

“Why not?” He tried to keep his voice from coming out clipped.

Teddy continued shaking his head, “You’ll make him do things.”

“What kind of things?” Snape pushed in his most undemanding voice.

“You’ll make him hurt himself.” He covered his face in his hands. “So you don’t hurt me.”

Remus swore softly in the background.

Snape sat in silence. He finally said, “Your father is in that bed. Yes, he is hurting right now.” He paused. “Do you know that I have known your father for a very long time?”

Teddy almost looked up at this, still crying.

Remus swore again.

Snape continued, “We went to school together when we were young. Because I have known him for so long, I know that if you go see him right now, your father will hurt less, not more. If you promise not to be rough with his bandages, you may sleep in his bed tonight.”

He felt two stunned sets of eyes boring into his scull in disbelief. He did his best to ignore them and stood. Again, he offered his hand to Teddy, who took it after only a moment’s deliberation. He pulled him to his feet and ushered him over to the bed. “I’m going to pick you up and put you on the bed, Teddy.”

The boy nodded and Snape hoisted him carefully by the armpits onto the mattress.

“Daddy!” Teddy whimpered as he latched himself onto Lupin’s good side and began to wail. Remus did the best he could to comfort him.

Snape looked down on the two of them for half a moment and then quietly pulled the curtain around the bed to give them some privacy. He sat down in the armchair, setting alarm wards to wake him if either Lupin was in distress.

Giving up on his tea, he decided to read there for a while. If there were any immediate problems, he would be on hand to deal with them. Just a few pages and he would retreat to his own room for the night.

Chapter Text

Severus was jolted out of sleep by the chiming of one of the wards he had set earlier. It was dark outside; he recognized that he was still in his guest room. By the ache in his neck, he knew that he had been sleeping for some time in the chair. The book lay open on his lap; still on the page he had first started reading when he had sat down.

He set it back on the table and rose, taking the few steps to the bed and drawing back the curtain. He found Lupin trying to sit up; he stopped suddenly upon seeing Snape standing there.

“Where is Teddy?” The question came out more harshly than Snape had intended.

Remus blanched, recoiling only slightly, “I don’t know sir, when I woke he wasn’t here.” He struggled to rise again.

“Stop trying to get out of bed, Lupin!” Severus snapped. He was never at his best just upon waking. He took a deep breath. Remus dropped back to the mattress. “He can’t have gotten far. I will find him.”

He looked around the room carefully. Most everything was where it should have been, save the closet door which was slightly ajar. He crossed the room and gradually pulled the door open. Light streamed into the corners of the cramped space, illuminating the small boy cowering in the back among the dust bunnies and extra linen. He had his hands over his face, knees drawn up in front of him.

“Why are you hiding in there, Teddy? I’m sure the bed was more comfortable?” He would do his best to keep his temper at all costs with this child.

Teddy nodded, sniffling into his knees.

“How about you come out of there and we get you back in bed then?” Surely there was no way to win a small boy over with logic?

The boy scrunched down, shaking his head vehemently.

It certainly wouldn’t do to grab him and haul him out of there? “Why not?”

No answer was forthcoming.

“Sir, I believe he wet the bed,” Lupin croaked plaintively. “He’s just a child, he couldn’t help it…” His voice trailed off. He was probably worried he would make the situation worse.

Severus kept his attention on the huddled form on the closet floor. “Is that all, Teddy? Did you wet the bed?”

“Yes,” he whispered, seeming to resign himself to whatever he thought was coming.

Snape stood, going to cast a drying and freshening charm on the sheets and blankets. He tucked his wand back into his sleeve before turning back to the closet.

“We will get you washed up properly tomorrow. Come on out, child.” He used a bit more force in his language.

Teddy snuck closer to the closet door, afraid to be punished for disobedience and for being an animal.

“That’s right, come out of there.” He got Teddy out and standing.

He debated casting the same spells on the boy that he had on the bed, but those rags really weren’t worth the effort. It wasn’t permanent, but he decided to transfigure a nightshirt for the time being. “I’m going to take out my wand, but there is absolutely no reason to be afraid.”

The boy shrank back again looking very doubtful.

Snape pretended not to notice. He quickly cast the spell on the blanket he’d carried Teddy upstairs in, adjusting for size the best he could. Transfigurations had never been his strong suit. It wouldn’t fit perfectly, but it would be much better than what he was currently wearing.

Wand away, he turned and offered the garment to Teddy. “Put this on; then we can get you back to bed.”

Teddy took the nightshirt, slipping it on over his clothes and then wriggling out of them, exposing as little of himself as possible. “Is that all?”

Snape noted he omitted the ‘sir’. It also seemed like he was asking something else. Was the boy trying to provoke a reaction over the bedwetting by breaking what he perceived to be the rules?

“Should there be something else?” he inquired, almost hoping he wouldn’t be answered.

“You – you aren’t going to put me in the cage? The one where they put stupid beasts who don’t even know not to piss where they sleep?” Those words sounded so bizarre coming from Teddy’s small mouth.

Severus could tell he was repeating something he had heard countless times before.

“I have no such place in my house,” Snape said. But his own father had had one. “And if I did, you would not belong there. You are a little boy, not an animal; a tired child who had an accident while he was sleeping. I used to be a Professor, at a school where the youngest children were nearly twice your age. It was not an uncommon occurrence, even among some of the second years.”

“Really, sir?” Teddy sounded eager to believe him.

“Indeed. In my experience, back in a clean bed has always been the best place for such boys. Let’s get you back there, shall we?”

“Yes please, sir,” Teddy said with obvious relief. Shed tears marked their way down his cheeks as he stood there, seemingly lost.

“Come on then.” Severus ushered him back to where Remus lay, hand on the boy’s shoulder. He hoisted him back into bed, where it took no time for Teddy to snuggle back against his father and close his eyes. Remus, however, continued to look at him discerningly while wrapping an arm around his son.

“Something to say, Lupin?”

Remus’ gaze dropped to the comforter.

“I thought not,” Snape sighed in near regret. “We can speak tomorrow, once you are more rested. I am going to retire for the evening. Is there anything you require before I go?” He fought the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. Damn Walden to the darkest circle of hell.

Remus wavered. “I need to use the loo as well, sir. Or we may have a repeat performance.” Lupin colored.

Severus was surprised that after years of Macnair's humiliations, Lupin still managed to be embarrassed to ask for help to the loo. He stepped closer and pulled back the covers that were lying over Remus’ feet. Darting a look at the boy to make sure he was sleeping he pulled out his wand and ran it over the damaged appendages.

“Rising at this point is not practical; even with my help it would be impossible for you to walk so far as the door without further injury,” he stated in a clinical tone.

Remus looked like that was pretty much the answer he had expected. “What would you have me do, sir?” he sounded incredibly despondent and was meeting Snape’s eyes with great hesitation.

Almost on instinct, Severus brushed minds with him, the most casual of Legilimency; he would see nothing but the foremost thoughts and emotions.

He was hit by a near overwhelming sense of uneasy anticipation. A vivid image of a naked Remus crawling across the carpeted floor to the bathroom, hurrying but also trying not to jar the burns on his torso and feet became immediately clear. He noticed himself in the background, leaning casually against the bedpost, smirking with satisfaction and drawling, “Today please.” The scene had all of the over-bright color and lack of general detail that indicated an imagining, but the emotion attached to it was very real. Lupin was waiting for this, or something like it. He pulled away from the other man’s thoughts allowing none of his own to show.

“Nothing,” he replied, uttering the simple charm that would empty the other man’s bladder and bowel; it was briefly uncomfortable, but far easier than any alternative he could think of. “Except sleep. Here, drink this.” Remus was offered another dose of the pain potion.

“Thank you, sir,” the Lycanthrope whispered.

Severus didn’t dignify that with a response, shaking his head and exiting the room without another word but those needed to reset the wards.

 

 

Snape crossed the hall, leaving the door open a crack behind him as he went.

The clock on the wall told him that it was almost five in the morning, but he didn’t think that sleep would find him any time soon. He lay down on the bedspread still fully clothed and looked up at the ceiling through the dim morning light and pondered his next move.

An hour passed quickly and quietly, becoming tired of his own thoughts he decided to go downstairs and prepare some coffee. Fred made a wonderful breakfast but never had been able to master anything more than a tasteless, watered down version of the real thing.

He also had to think about beginning the base for some more healing potions. It was not as easy as one would believe to have a full stock of potions that were safe for a werewolf. So many elixirs required the use of silver in one way or another and finding an alternative was not always simple. One miscalculation could lead to serious consequences for the lycanthrope ingesting the end result. It was always intriguing to puzzle through another way to achieve the same result while also keeping the finished product from being toxic to the Lycanthrope system.

The Wolfsbane would also need to be prepared; with Teddy’s age and smaller frame to be taken into account. So far there had been no known tests done on children as far as that potion was concerned, but he was confident in his ability to make it safe for the boy to take. It may not be this month, with the full moon only a short while away, but it was theoretically possible that he could have it completed in time.

He donned a clean set of robes and preformed his morning routine the same way he did every day. The one change was that on his way downstairs, he peeked in to see if either Lupin was awake yet.

The curtain was as he had left it, drawn on all three sides, the one facing the door pulled open. Remus was still lost to slumber, mouth hanging open, the sound of his deep even breathing filling the otherwise quiet room. This didn’t surprise Severus, the potions he had consumed last night would jumpstart the healing of his body and he would probably sleep a majority of the next few days.

Teddy, however, was sitting up in bed, one hand resting on his father’s arm like a small tether, the other fisted tightly in the blanket. He was sitting very still and pointedly not looking at Severus, who had made himself noticeable when he had widened the door with a creak of its old hinges. He paused for a moment, waiting for some signal from the boy.

Receiving none and having no intention of standing dumbly in the doorway all morning, he said in a voice he hoped wouldn’t be loud enough to wake Remus, “Good morning, Teddy.”

“G-good morning, master.” He snatched his hand away from his father, clamping it onto the blanket beside the other one.

Severus repressed a sigh; he should have gone to make coffee before attempting this. He motioned his head to the hallway. “Come with me so we don’t wake your father.”

Teddy untangled himself from the blankets and hopped to the floor. With one last concerned look at Remus he slowly crossed the room, stopping about three feet from Snape, shifting nervously.

Snape started down the hall, glancing back to make sure he was being followed.

Teddy walked a safe distance behind him, trying to appear as if he weren’t interested in observing his new surroundings. They reached the kitchen where the sun was just peeking through the window over the sink, Teddy’s bare feet slapped against the flooring. Snape noted how filthy he was in the light of day. His hair was oily and unknown things were matted into it in places. Even the blanket he had transfigured into nightclothes for the boy was starting to look like it needed a wash.

Severus pulled out a chair at the kitchen table. “Here; sit,” he said, watching Teddy climb up and sit on the chair, legs swinging loosely above the ground. He retrieved a glass, filled it with milk from the icebox and placed it on the table in front of the boy. Finally, on to the coffee, which he prepared swiftly, not wanting to wait any longer than necessary to get his hands around a mug of the hot black liquid.

While it was percolating, he placed bread in the toaster and set to slicing an orange and coring an apple. These he placed equally on two plates, alongside the toast when it was finished. His slice he layered with butter and blackcurrant jam; the other slices were covered with honey. He put the plate of fruit and honey toast in front of Teddy, noting that although the boy was staring intently at the milk, he had made no move to drink it. The other plate he placed across the table, before returning to the counter to pour himself a large mug of coffee.

Sitting at the table on the opposite side from the boy, Severus took a sip of his coffee, watching the boy stare at his plate of food. “Teddy,” he said, and the boy looked up guiltily. “Go on.” He gestured to the plate of food, taking an exemplary bite of his own toast.

Teddy reached out and picked up an apple slice, turning it over carefully, examining it.

“It won’t bite back,” Snape said wryly.

Teddy took a bite, the fruit snapping between his teeth audibly. “Crunchy,” he giggled. Then his face went somber, eyes darting in Snape’s direction. When there was no reaction forthcoming from the older man save for raising his steaming mug to his lips, Teddy took another bite. He finished the whole glass of milk and nine tenths of his plate, finding special enjoyment in the honey toast. His delighted expression at that first bite caused Severus to have to hide his own smile behind his toast.

Severus was putting the dishes in the sink for later when a soft ‘pop’ alerted him to Fred’s arrival in the room.

“Good morning, sir.” Fred beamed all too cheerfully at Snape. “Little One.” Fred went marginally closer to Teddy, who was looking at the elf with wide eyes. “Little One is not remembering; I is Fred. We was meeting last night.”

Teddy continued to blink at Fred; had the boy never laid eyes on a house elf before?

Fred turned back to him. “Sir is needing to get this child into the bath and being in clean clothes. Fred is going into town today for groceries and supplies.” Fred paused to think, then ‘popped’ away and was gone for not more than thirty seconds before returning to the kitchen. “There is being clothes in the bathroom and the other one is still being sleeping. Fred is being home this afternoon. You is able to survive until then?”

Fred always had been precocious for a house elf. “I think we’ll make it.”

“I is believing it when I is seeing it.” Fred shook his head and disappeared.

“I know when I’m being told to get moving.” A half smirk was still ghosting across Snape’s mouth. “When was your last bath, Teddy?”

The boy’s face screwed up and it took him a minute to say, “I don’t know, master. They hosed us down the morning you came to get me.”

“Well I don’t think they did a very good job, do you?” Snape raised an eyebrow.

Teddy shook his head in a definite ‘no’, wrinkling his nose. “No, sir, they didn’t.”

“We can fix that; come along, it seems that Fred has what we need waiting upstairs.”

“Sir?” Teddy asked.

“Yes?” This was the first word the boy had spoken to him without prompt.

“Who was that?” Curiosity seemed to outweigh any fear he was feeling.

“In the kitchen? That was Fred, he is my house elf. He helps me by taking care of things around the house and garden; he has been living with my family for many years.”

They came up the stairs and were going along the hall to the washroom. Snape pushed the door open and turned on the lights.

“Is he your – slave?” Teddy said the word more softly than the rest.

“No, I certainly wouldn’t say it like that. Since Fred has come to serve me, I find myself doing more of the things he wants me to do than the other way around.”

Snape turned the taps on the large claw foot tub. Merlin knew where he had found it, but Fred had set a small bottle of bubble bath on the ledge by the tub; he poured a measure under the running water. Also, a fluffy towel and a set of clothes that Severus realized had been his when he was small were laid out and waiting.

The bubbles in the tub were thick and colorful. He stopped the water with the tub only half full, the basin was large and it would be more than deep enough for the undersized youth. Remembering how awkwardly Teddy had changed the other night he said, “See if this water is the right temperature.”

Teddy came closer to the edge of the tub and peered into it with wonder upon seeing the suds.

“Well?” Snape pressed.

Teddy plunged his hand into the tub, grinning in relief. “It’s warm!” he proclaimed.

Snape nodded. “Now I’ll turn around so that you can get undressed and into the tub.”

The boy cocked his head at him slightly, but did as he was told once Severus was facing the other way. He knew that Teddy was in the water by the telltale sound of some splashing over onto the tiled floor. He asked anyway, “You in?”

“Yes, master.”

Snape turned back around, thinking he had perhaps overdone it with the bubbles, which came nearly to the boy’s shoulders. “The water is satisfactory?”

“The bubbles are great! Thank you, sir!” Other than look around in what Snape could only call excitement, the boy seemed at a loss for what to do.

“Good.” He took a washcloth and poured a healthy dab of soap onto it. “Here, use this to try and get some of that grime off of you. I was led to believe there was a child under all that dirt.”

Teddy almost smiled, taking the cloth and scrubbing himself; the water took on a yellowy tint in no time. When he was done, he looked over to Snape for further instruction.

Severus was sitting on the damp floor, leaning back against the sink cabinet. “All done with that?”

“Yes, master.” Teddy’s voice was losing all of its short-lived luster. He continued to look at Severus like he was expecting something jarring and completely incalculable.

Snape went against his better judgment, something he had been doing far too often these days, and bumped minds with the boy’s as he had his father’s. It was not recommended with children this small; their thoughts were a jumbled, unorganized mess. It was easy to get drawn in. Emotions were so strong it was difficult for someone with little experience to get swept away by them. Severus had been exercising some form of Occlumency or Legilimency almost every waking hour for decades; such difficulties were below his pay grade, so to speak.

At first, what he saw was confusing, everything was blurry; he realized he was looking up from the bottom of the tub, the pressure of someone’s large hands on his forehead and chest; his lungs were to the point of bursting. Fear and adrenaline became his whole world. He was only an observer, but the projection of the child’s emotions pulled at him like a strong undercurrent. Suddenly Teddy’s head broke out of the water, yanked up by his hair and drinking greedy mouthfuls of air; or was it him who was breathing now? “Filthy creature, one of these times I’ll hold you under another minute; it would save me the trouble of tending to your useless carcass!” The voice of an angry male made its way through waterlogged ears. Macnair.

He hastily withdrew back to his own mind, unsettled but overall no worse for wear, shaking his head momentarily because his ears still felt like they were full of water. He would need to do some research. It was almost like they boy knew he was looking, had pushed the image at him, hard; but such a thing was unheard of. Underage magic rarely manifested itself in such a fashion. Was Teddy even aware of what had transpired?

“Alright then, we really need to do something about that hair of yours. I’m going to help you wash it; that means I’m going to have to touch you. Are you going to be okay with that?” Merlin help him if the child said ‘no’.

Teddy shrank down into the bubbles, shrugging his shoulders. “I don’t know sir,” he mumbled.

Severus nodded, “Thank you for being honest with me.”

He reached over and brought the shampoo and conditioning agents he had brewed specifically for the Lupins within easier reach. The stuff was able to get basically anything off and out of hair without being toxic uncomfortable to the skin. There would be no worries about any bugs or critters on either of them once these products were used. Too bad he would probably have to burn the sheets they had been using up to this point, if not the entire bed.

He recalled a simple magic his mother had done for him, briefly, when he was afraid as a child. It could come in many forms, though small. It was one of the few things from that time he still looked positively on. Severus formed the spell in his mind, latching on to the first thought that seemed to fit the situation. By this point the bubbles had dwindled slightly and in a small clearing at the other end of the tub something made itself seen in the water.

Teddy pulled his feet away, startled to see something in the bath with him. Upon taking a closer look, he leaned forward to get a better look. There, swimming in the water were two tiny, glimmering dolphins. They were only inches long and shone with a magical light, jumping and flipping out of the water and through the suds. He inhaled softly, chortling when one of the charmed animals tickled his foot with its nose.

“See?” Snape said. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

He lathered the shampoo in his hands and began to wash Teddy’s hair as the child played with the ethereal creatures gliding through the water around him. Even with the heavy-duty soap, it took considerable scrubbing to get the boy’s hair sufficiently clean. Teddy shied away at first, trying not to seem reluctant. When all Snape did was run his fingers over his scalp and work at the knots in his hair gently, the child seemed to relax.

It went without saying that Teddy would not be comfortable dunking his head under the water to rinse the soap out. Severus opened the side of the cupboard he was not leaning on and pulled out an empty basin which he filled with water from the tub. “I’m going to rinse your hair now,” he informed the boy.

Teddy pulled away to the farthest corner of the bath, water sloshing over the edge of the tub and down the front of Snape’s robes. The magical dolphins seemed nonplussed by the waves he caused, but Teddy looked horrified.

“Sorry, master! Please don’t put my head under the water, sir! My hair doesn’t need to be rinsed; I didn’t mean to get you wet!” Dirty suds ran down his temple as he spoke the words in a rush. Severus would have laughed if it hadn’t looked so pathetic.

He stuck his hand in the water and splashed the boy right back, only a little. Teddy giggled, clamping his hand over his mouth almost before the sound could escape.

“It definitely needs to be rinsed; however there is no need to dunk your head.” Snape held up the basin of water as a gesture. “If you will close your eyes and tip your head back only a bit, I will use this to get the soap out. You may remain sitting the entire time, I promise.” Not words he said often or lightly, though he didn’t expect the boy to believe them.

Teddy looked very unsure, but slid back to where he had been sitting. Snape was certain that Teddy had learned early on that disobedience was always worse. He doubted that Walden would have stood having his word questioned or ignored by a werewolf child. What price would such insubordination incur?

“I appreciate your effort to trust me.” Words he would never be caught saying to anyone, alive or dead, he said now freely to this child. Why was it he felt it was so important to gain Teddy’s confidence was something he would have to ponder. Perhaps he was channeling Albus after all; that or years of the old coot’s company had actually rubbed off on him a little.

He placed his hand on Teddy’s forehead like a visor to keep the soap out of his eyes. “Here it comes,” he warned, pouring the water over the boy’s hair slowly in case he started to panic. Once the basin was empty, he filled it and repeated the process a second time.

“How was that?” he asked.

“O- okay, sir,” he responded shakily. Although after that he continued to play with the dolphins while Severus conditioned and rinsed his hair a second time.

Severus helped him out of the tub, enfolding him in a large fluffy towel. Even though he did his best to protect the boy’s privacy, he couldn’t help noting the scars on the child’s back. They were completely healed over, so he kept quiet about them for the moment; the child had had enough stress in the last couple of days and wouldn’t likely open up now. When the boy was dried off, combed out and dressed in the clothes Fred had left, Snape opened the bathroom door, steam drifting out into the cool hallway.

“Go see your father,” he pushed the bedroom door just down the hall open. “I’ll be there shortly.”

Chapter Text

It took him mere minutes to retrieve a fresh bottle of pain potion from his basement lab and be back outside of Lupin’s bedroom door, which was hanging open just as he had left it. He paused, hearing them speak softly to each other. He never had been above eavesdropping.

“You’re sure he hasn’t hurt you? Teddy, you need to be honest with me; you know you can tell me anything,” Remus implored, clearly in distress.

“We had breakfast this morning. I sat at the table, daddy! And I met Fred. He’s an elf and he’s kind of bossy, but I think master likes it. And I had a bath.” Teddy’s voice sounded like a smile.

“I see that. Well you don’t go following this elf’s example. I really did go to school with our master, you know. He has an explosive temper and can hold a grudge longer than he could remember why. Do. Not. Make. Him. Angry. Please, son, just do your best to be a good boy.”

Teddy was quiet for a minute. “But I splashed him, Daddy. It was an accident!” he explained hastily. “He didn’t yell or anything.”

He bathed you?” Remus sounded horrified. “Teddy… did he touch you?” Remus’ voice was flat; Snape felt that “explosive temper” rear its head.

“Yes,” Teddy answered sullenly. “He washed my hair.” His voice suddenly perked up. “But he didn’t put my head under the water, daddy. I think he could tell I was scared of it. Oh! And there were bubbles and magic fish! And he splashed me back! He didn’t smile, but I knew he thought it was funny.” Teddy was giggling again.

“Magical fish, you say?” Remus sounded unrepentantly skeptical.

“Mmhmm, they were so neat! They swam around and tickled my toes!”

“Right. So, he didn’t… look at you, or put his hands somewhere you didn’t feel comfortable with?” Relieved was the only way to describe Lupin’s voice.

“No, daddy. He looked in the corner when I got in the tub.” Teddy seemed puzzled.

“And that was it? He washed your hair,” Remus repeated.

“Well, I needed help with the buttons,” Teddy admitted, touching the front of his shirt.

“Good. That’s okay, buttons can be tricky. I love you Teddy; it’s wonderful to have you so close.”

“I love you too, daddy.”

“Remember what I said about being on your best behavior; we don’t know the rules here.”

Severus chose this moment to enter the room, clearing his throat to alert them of his presence. Remus had his uninjured arm wrapped tightly around his son; he looked at Severus with a guilty, startled expression, unsure what Snape had all heard.

“Sir, I-”

“No need to explain, Lupin; we will discuss it at a later time.” Snape kept his expression blank as he went over to the side of the bed closest to the worst of Remus’ burns.

Lupin swallowed loudly. Severus cast the charm that would clean out Lupin’s bowl and bladder. “On a scale of one to ten, one being no pain and ten being the greatest pain you have ever endured, where are you registering at the moment?”

“A high six, sir,” Remus said meekly.

Snape measured out a dosage of the potion he’d brought upstairs.

“This should bring you down to around a two, precluding any existing tolerance you may have.”

Remus pulled his arm away from his son and accepted Severus’ help in drinking the potion, swallowing quickly and squinting at the taste. “Thank you, sir.”

“I will continue to give you doses of this daily, but if you are feeling pain that is higher than a three or a four on your personal scale, inform me at once, it may indicate that the infection is not completely beaten.”

He placed the inside of his wrist on a surprised Lupin’s forehead. “You still seem warm; how do you feel?” Snape perused the bedside table, selecting a bottle from those sitting on it.

“Frozen, sir,” Remus admitted.

“Three swallows of this; other than the chill?” he asked, holding another bottle up to Remus’ lips; Lupin took it as directed.

“Stronger sir, at least a little.”

If Snape hadn’t heard him earlier, he would have believed Lupin had forgotten how to string together anything longer than a sentence at a time. He opened his mouth to reply but was cut short by Fred appearing in the middle of the room.

“Fred is being home, sir,” he said cheerfully, either not noticing or caring that he was cutting Snape off. “Shopping is done and Fred will be making supper soon. But first Fred will be making something for the older wolf to eat, since he is already having his potions.”

Snape nodded, “Very well, Fred. I believe Lupin and I need to discuss some things. Would you be interested in some help in the kitchen?”

Fred smiled and clapped his hands in glee, catching on instantly. “Oh yes, sir. Fred is thinking that sounds like fun, what is you thinking, little one? Fred is making cookies too and is needing someone to lick the spoon!”

Snape rolled his eyes. Teddy looked between his father and master, who both nodded.

“Okay,” he said quietly, hopping off the bed and following a happily chattering Fred from the room.

Remus looked at Snape, waiting for whatever it was that would come next. Whenever Macnair had wanted to ‘discuss’ something in private, it had never boded well for him. He took a couple of deep breaths and tried to relax, forcing his anxiety down. At least Teddy was out of the room and hopefully out of earshot; Snape had probably heard him earlier and was none too pleased with the way his slave had described him.

“Fred will take good care of him,” was the last thing Remus expected to hear next.

“Thank you, sir.”

Snape sighed in frustration, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Is this the sort of behavior Walden actually preferred?” he snapped. A watered down, shadowed version of this same polite-almost-groveling had driven him nearly mad at Hogwarts when they had taught there together briefly. It would surely drive him over the edge now in all its full-fledged glory.

Lupin paled. “I apologize, master. My son and I do not know how you wish us to conduct ourselves. I accept reprimand in his stead; punish me for the both of us.”

“I will do no such thing,” Snape hissed.

“Please sir, he’s only a child; I take full responsibility for-”

“Shut up already!” Severus said loudly, hearing Lupin’s teeth click together as he closed his mouth. What he would have given for that ability when they were colleagues! “No one is punishing Teddy for anything; or you for that matter, so just stop your bloody kowtowing for five minutes and listen to what I have to say.”

Remus nodded, keeping his eyes on the comforter.

“Legally, you are mine and I may do what I wish with the both of you.” Severus took a breath, realizing he was speaking rather belligerently and although it felt wonderful, it was not how he had intended to go about this. For a moment he paused to clear his mind and thought about why he was doing this in the first place: because Albus would wish him to and was not here to persuade him to do it.

“What I mean to say, is that it does not please me to beat your son or to lock him in a cage. Do you know how I came to be in possession of you?” He tried to keep any snark from his voice but it sounded unfruitful even to his own ears.

“Our master – I mean, Walden,” he almost choked on the man’s name, “-died. They took my son and me to the auction and after a time you retrieved us. That is all I know, sir.” Remus seemed to take pause. “He is dead, isn’t he, sir?”

Snape nodded, “You are correct; he is dead. The key fact that you are missing is that he left both of you to me on his will.”

“You- inherited us?” Remus was incredulous.

“Yes. I had the option to refuse, if I found the notion to my displeasure. However, you would have been put up for separate public auction, your records thereafter sealed. You would be lost again, to Merlin knows where,” he scowled, pulling an armchair closer to the bed and taking a seat. “Your son nearly was, regardless of my decision.”

“Teddy? Where-?” Remus stopped himself.

“It was a ‘misfile’ on the part of the auction house. He was put up for bid before the scheduled pickup time and was purchased by another customer, who I… convinced to return the boy to my possession.” Merlin, this was not where this conversation was supposed to be going.

The expressions crossing Remus’ face were interesting to watch. “Why are you telling me this, sir?”

“Because the fact that money changed hands allows me to choose the type of enslavement spell that binds Teddy to me; you, however, will be bound to me in the same way you were to Walden. It was specified in the will, there was no way to escape it.” He found himself briefly unable to look at the other man.

Remus was either afraid to speak or struck dumb by this revelation. After a time he asked, “What type of spell will you choose for my son?”

Snape hesitated, “It will take some more research to find one that will be mostly agreeable.” He realized how ambiguous that sounded. “I have been looking into a line of apprenticeship spells, there is a short grace period before this sort of thing must be cast and finalized. None of them will revoke his status as a slave, but it will allow him the freedom to be educated, at least partially, as well as hopefully the use of his magic, although that will likely be limited to his work.”

He felt Remus’ eyes boring into the top of his skull, so he raised his own to meet them. “Why would you do that for him?”

Snape thought for a moment. “The war has had too many casualties already.”

“I – I don’t know what to say, sir.”

“Don’t thank me yet, Lupin,” Snape said wryly. “You are well aware of what is required by your own enslavement spell. I have spent days searching for alternatives, but none are forthcoming. We must complete the ritual, in a similar way to how you completed it with Walden. However, it seems that this particular spell will adapt itself somewhat to my wishes.”

“I believe I understand, sir.” Remus tried to sit up in bed more than he was, looking expectantly at Severus.

Somehow, Severus doubted that. He grazed Remus mind much as he had earlier.

He saw something in between an imagining and a memory. Remus was bent over a flat surface, being held down forcefully and taken brutally from behind. First, it seemed to be Macnair, and then himself grunting over Lupin’s shaking form. For a flash he saw himself grinding the other man’s healing flesh into the mattress, his palm pressing on pink skin but fingers digging like hot brands into the place where his burns began. Lupin cried out, he gave one especially cruel thrust in answer. The man was gasping for breath, barely even struggling and he wouldn’t let up…

Severus staggered back to reality. “I’m not sure you do. There is time before the ritual must be completed; I am taking steps to ensure that time is extended, at the least until you are healed.” This sounded rather weak to him, but it seemed to take a bit of the weight off Remus’ shoulders.

“Also, I am not now, nor will I ever be, interested in children, not in the way you seem to believe me capable of. In all my years as a professor, never once did I undermine my responsibility as an adult and an authority figure in that fashion. I’m not about to take the habit up now, so you may as well get the notion out of your head this instant.” It sounded more like a stern scolding than a reassurance, but overall he decided it was the best he could have hoped for. He had to know: “Has Teddy been abused sexually at any time to your knowledge, or was that just a character assessment earlier?” Snape really couldn’t help the molasses drawl that hung from those words, really he couldn’t.

Remus’ mouth flapped open and closed once or twice. “I honestly don’t know, sir. These last two days have been the most contact I have had with my son in a long time. He’s always denied it in the past, when I had five minutes to talk to him. I… really don’t know what - Walden did with Teddy when he was kept from me, though I am starting to get a clearer image now.” For a moment his voice contained a barely restrained anger, his eyes burned with it.

Severus found himself approving. “When you were allowed contact, what would usually transpire?”

Remus groaned, “He was always there. I couldn’t touch my boy, couldn’t hold him; anything I said to him was ridiculed. He would tell me he was going to whip my son if I didn’t do what he wanted; anything he wanted. He made me watch him do it once, before the ceremony, so I would know what I was doing to Teddy if I disobeyed.”

Snape kept quiet, retrieving the salve from the nightstand. That explained the long tendrils of scar tissue across the boy’s back, at least. Again, he pulled the covers from Remus’ feet and carefully removed the bandages. He pushed the chair to the foot of the bed and sat down.

Remus saw his feet and brought his good hand up to cover his mouth in revulsion. “I don’t even really feel them, it’s only like my muscles are sore!” he exclaimed, taking in the raw meat that used to be his feet and almost gagging.

“Even with your extraordinary healing abilities, these will take some time to improve. I will give you the strongest remedies I can make without the use of silver utensils.”

“-Will I be able to walk again?” Remus asked with a thick voice.

Snape seemed reluctant to answer; instead he tried evasion. “How did you come across these burns in the first place?” he asked simply. Well, it sounded simple at least. He rolled up his sleeves, jar balancing on one knee while casting the sterilization charm on his hands and forearms. He coated his hands in the salve, which he then set on the floor near his feet, lid back in place.

Remus blanched. “It was only days before he died. I must have done something to make him angry, because he got in my face; he warned me that Teddy was safe enough as long as I obeyed, at least for another few years or so,” he said darkly. “That I would be getting too old by then, but that Teddy would grow up to be a handsome young man. The way he said it I – well I forgot my place. I would have hit him, but I had been… bound earlier. I spit right in his face; I couldn’t help myself, sir.” He looked at Severus to gauge his reaction.

The whole time Remus had been speaking, Severus had an injured appendage in his hands, carefully rubbing the salve over the healing skin. “Continue,” he instructed, smearing a portion on the sole of the other man’s foot and swabbing over it with his thumb. Thank the gods that Lupin couldn’t feel his feet for shite, or this treatment would have been nearly unbearable.

“He didn’t take it very well, sir.” Probably the understatement of Lupin’s life, and that was really saying something. “He beat me again, although that didn’t seem to satisfy him. He cast a spell, some variation of incindeo. It seemed to have a mind of its own, wrapping around me in a whirlwind. It felt like it had weight, curling over my feet, chest and neck, I couldn’t breathe. I must have passed out, sir.”

He finished applying the treatment to the other foot and bandaged the both of them again, tucking them back under the blankets and out of sight. He was almost certain that Lupin would regain full mobility with the right regimen of potions, but the niggling possibility that he wouldn’t kept him from saying anything about the matter.

“I see, and when you were brought to the auction house all medical treatment stopped, I assume.” He finally let the disdain in his voice run wild.

“Yes, sir. They wouldn’t even tell me where Teddy was, or if we were going to the same master. I thought for a while that I may never see him again. I am very glad that we are out of that place. Thank you for accepting both of us, sir; and I really do mean that.”

Snape picked up the salve to avoid looking at Lupin for a moment. He stood and went to the head of the bed. “I’m going to levitate you so I can get better access to the burns on your torso.”

Remus felt himself lifting off the mattress, hovering in midair.

Snape unraveled the wrappings from around the lycanthrope’s chest. The skin underneath them was in marginally better condition than that of his feet, although this area had been the most severely infected when he had arrived here. He hoped that to be mostly gone, between the ingested potions and the topical cream, but treatment would continue until his wounds began to seal themselves.

He banished all the used dressings and refreshed the sanitation charm on his hands and forearms; he also cast a ward of protection across the other man’s back to keep it from being contaminated by the sheets. He guided Lupin back to the mattress, folding the blankets down to just below his belly button; the burns seemed to start again above his hips, so that is where he began to apply the cream.

Lupin held incredibly still, eyes shut tight with a small furrow on his brow.

Snape kept his touches light and as brisk as possible. He could feel the tautness of Remus’ muscles under his fingers, could see the man’s clenched hands shaking with the exertion of trying to stay motionless. “Don’t forget to breathe, Lupin,” he said sarcastically.

Lupin let out a huff of laughter that didn’t seem to ease his tension.

Snape worked his way up the torso, covering every inch of the burns in a thick layer of the healing salve, trailing it off to cover even the edges of unharmed flesh. Remus would jump slightly, possibly an involuntary reaction, when he touched the smooth skin but no response could be seen when he pressed on the soon to be forming scars. He wondered to what extent the nerves were damaged and how much of the apparent numbness could be attributed to the pain targeting potions the wolf was full of.

Once Lupin’s chest, stomach, arm and neck were saturated, he cast a shielding charm over Lupin’s chest so that the pressure of the sheets wouldn’t wipe the salve off and any bacteria that came into contact with it wouldn’t be able to dampen its efficacy.

“I have to turn you over to access your back.” He guided Lupin’s now floating form to do a one hundred and eighty degree turn before gently lowering him back to the bed, trying to keep the sheets straight as he did so.

He began the same ministrations to Remus’ back.

Apparently, the lack of possible eye contact gave the other man a little more confidence. “Sir?”

“Yes, Lupin?” Snape drawled, not changing the pace of his movements.

“You said earlier that the war had too many casualties, would you find it acceptable to tell me who?”

Snape paused a moment. “I will get you a list of fatalities in a day or so, when your health has improved.” He thought that was fair. Brooding over allies and friends lost would not improve Lupin’s condition.

“Sir, Teddy’s mother… She wasn’t taken with us.” He seemed unable to form the question.

Severus paused. “Nymphadora did not survive the initial attack on your residence. She died quickly, a killing curse. I’m sorry, Lupin.” He would not lie to the man about the loss of his wife, be it in his own best interest or not.

Remus’ breath hitched. “Thank you, sir. M- Walden would never tell me what happened to her. Please, let me be the one to tell my son.” That last request came out as a plea.

“Of course, Lupin; he won’t hear of it from me. When you think the time is right, you may inform him as you see fit, that decision is yours alone.”

Remus nodded into the pillow. “Thank you, sir.”

Snape cast the shielding charm again, cleansing his hands with a wordless spell. He levitated Lupin and returned him to his original position on his back, helping him lean forward long enough to rewrap his linens and remove the shielding charm.

There were no tears in Lupin’s eyes, and the expression on his face was rather neutral considering the information he’d just received. Snape assumed he was hiding his emotions for a moment of privacy; it was what he himself would have done.

“Remus, I-” he began.

“Lunch is being served!” came a shrill voice behind him.

“I helped make it, daddy! We made cookies!” Teddy was more joyful than Snape had seen yet. He wasn’t surprised. Fred was great with children; he had always been a source of comfort and companionship to him when he was young.

Fred carried a tray of thickened broth with vegetables, a pot of tea, two teacups and a plate of oddly shaped chocolate chip cookies. Behind him came Teddy, sporting a barely contained grin, robes covered in flour and a white streak in his hair.

The elf set the tray down close to Snape. “Fred is bringing enough tea for everyone.”

“And cookies too!” Teddy exclaimed.

Fred smiled indulgently at the boy. “Yes, little one, and cookies too.” He turned to Snape. “Fred is having some more chores to do before supper is served. You two is done talking serious for the time being?”

“Yes, Fred. Go do whatever you need.”

“Oh, Fred is almost forgetting! When Fred was being out earlier, he bought some things for the little one! Fred is knowing you is not minding, sir.” Fred vanished and reappeared in seconds. “Some picture books and colored pencils. There is being clothes and other items in his room like you were asking Fred to do.” He set the books and colored pencils on the foot of the bed. “If you is needing me, call!” he squeaked before disappearing from the room.

Snape put a stasis spell on the platter and took the coloring book and colored pencils over to the arm chair and opened the box. “Do you like to color, Teddy?”

“I don’t know, sir; I haven’t tried.” Teddy came closer to him, craning his neck to see what was in the book.

“Well here is your opportunity to find out. Have you ever held a pencil or a quill before?” Snape extracted a blue pencil from the box and opened the book.

“No sir,” he admitted.

Snape handed him a green one, holding the blue one in his own hand in demonstration. “Can you try holding it like that?” he asked. “See how you can use your fingers to control the direction you move the pencil end?”

Teddy fumbled slightly with it for a moment, stealing a look at Snape’s hand again before looking back at his own, the tip of his tongue poked out of his mouth in concentration. “Like this, sir?”

“Very close. Try holding it closer to the end; it makes it much easier to maneuver.”

Teddy changed his grip on the pencil, trying to mirror the way Severus was holding it. When he seemed to have it down, Snape demonstrated how to move it back and forth. Teddy tried to do the same thing but the pencil slipped from his fingers, clattering to the floor and rolling to a stop at Snape’s feet.

“Stupid,” Teddy chastised himself under his breath. He continued in a larger voice, looking at Snape with hopeful eyes. “It won’t happen a second time, sir. Please let me try again, I’ll do better, I promise.”

Snape bent and retrieved the pencil, handing it back over to the child. “Yes,” he said slowly. “I do believe you will; however, I refuse to believe you are stupid because your first attempt was unsuccessful.” Snape held out his hand still gripping the blue pencil with proper form, showing Teddy again.

The boy seemed more nervous, trying to get his grasp exactly the same as he was being shown. When he seemed to have it down, he wiggled it back and forth like he had been attempting to do before he dropped it, looking over to see Snape’s reaction.

Severus opened the picture book to the first page and slid it across the small table. Teddy seemed to take the hint and pressed the tip to the page, shakily pulling the pencil across it, making the first green marks across a white field of grass. Snape watched him silently for a moment, nodding.

After a minute or so Teddy asked uncertainly, “Am I doing it right, sir?”

“You seem to understand the mechanics,” Snape said in what he thought was an agreeable voice. “You may continue until you wish to stop.”

“Thank you, sir.” Teddy smiled as if he had just been given glowing praise.

Snape went back over to Lupin, pulling the chair closer to the head of the bed as he came. He removed the stasis spell he had placed over the food, taking a seat and looking over at the boy who was scribbling away at the book, tongue still poking out if his mouth. He shot a glance back at Lupin, who was watching the boy color with apparent fascination, one corner of his lips upturned.

Remus seemed to start out of a daze; he glanced over at Snape with an unreadable expression on his face. “That was very kind of you,” he sounded quite surprised.

“I don’t think it would be useful to employ an apprentice who does not even know how to hold a quill,” Snape said in a cool voice.

“Most likely not, sir,” Lupin agreed respectfully.

Snape took the steaming dish in hand and leaned forward with a full spoon, catching any drips on the side of the bowl. Lupin accepted the food, lowering his gaze as he took each bite. It was a slow process, but it allowed Lupin to eat more than he wore.

Teddy colored the whole time he ate, barely looking up from his book; he was using different colors now, tucking each pencil back into the box as he was done using it and carefully adjusting his grip each time he selected a new one.

Snape poured two cups of tea, casting a featherlight charm on Lupin’s cup and passing it to him. “Think you can manage that?”

Remus took the cup in one wobbly hand, the one unmarred by burns and bandages. “For tea, I could manage just about anything, sir.” He took his first sip and sighed in contentment, bringing the cup to rest in his lap.

“I suppose we’d best try some of these biscuits,” Snape said in a very nonchalant voice.

Across the room, Teddy’s head snapped up from his paper, shaking off some of the flour still clinging to his clothes.

Severus took the half empty teacup from Remus and replaced it with a lumpy cookie, taking one for himself and offering the plate in Teddy’s general direction. The boy hopped off the chair and scurried closer to them, taking the proffered treat but not biting into it. Instead he looked shyly at the two of them. Snape realized they were supposed to eat theirs first and briefly pondered the likelihood of poisoning before discarding it with a silent scoff; old habits died slow deaths.

Both he and Lupin bit into the sweet, chewing as if in contemplation.

“You helped make these?” Lupin asked brightly.

Teddy nodded, “I stirred the ingredients, licked the spoon and made them into circles.”

“All very important jobs,” Snape said in a serious tone.

“That’s what Fred said. It was fun.” He smiled and then looked to Snape, wondering if he should have disclosed that last part.

“Well the two of you did a very good job,” Lupin said, practically glowing at the chance to offer his son some praise.

“Indeed,” Snape agreed. “Perhaps Fred has found someone to assist him occasionally in the kitchen.”

“I could do it again?” Teddy asked eagerly.

Snape nodded. The boy took a big bite of his biscuit, smiling around the crumbs. “May I continue practicing with the pencils, sir?”

“Yes; those belong to you now. Later I will show you your room and you may decide where to keep them.”

Teddy looked immediately uncertain. “My – room, sir? Is it in the basement?” he whispered the last word, almost like he was trying to avoid saying it at all.

“No Teddy, it is not in the basement; that’s where my lab is. It is right next to this room. Would you like to see it now?” Snape figured that if he could just show the boy, it would assuage some of his worries over where his new master would be keeping him.

Teddy looked over to Remus, who was watching the exchange silently. “If you wish it, sir.”

That finalized it. “I believe I do. You may leave your supplies here, we will be returning shortly.” If Lupin was asleep when they came back they would take the materials down to the lab, he was noticing the other man’s eyelids beginning to droop already. Fred was occupied this afternoon and it did not sit well with him to leave the child unattended in his house before he was familiar with it.

Teddy chewed and swallowed the rest of his cookie. “Bye, daddy,” he said.

“I’ll see you soon Teddy; I love you.” Remus’ voice was full of the emotion, though Snape could see he was definitely flagging after lunch and a hot cup of tea.

“Love you too, daddy.” Teddy pulled himself up like a man fortifying himself for the long walk to the gallows.

Snape led him from the room after placing both his and Lupin’s teacups back on the platter. Teddy trailed behind him like a small shadow. The walk to the other room was short, it really was the room adjacent to the one Lupin was using. His own room was beside the shared bathroom across the hall from these two.

Though this house had belonged to his mother's family for generations, Severus himself had made many changes. A large portion of the house was unused, perhaps he would open some of the rooms back up now that he wasn't the only one living here. He'd received keys to this house as well as Prince Manor when his Grandmother had died. He’d known even then that he would never set foot in Prince Manor again so long as he lived, if he had anything to say about the matter. Though the house he’d grown up in held as few pleasant memories, at least it was something he could make his own, unlike that miserable place.

Severus opened the door to Teddy’s room; he had prepared it in the days before he had gone to retrieve them. He turned on the light and stood aside, allowing the child to hesitantly follow him into the room.

Teddy looked around in surprise; clearly this was not at all what he had been expecting. There was a window with blue curtains drawn across it, underneath which sat a small desk and chair. On one wall rested a moderately sized armoire and a bookshelf with two shelves already lined with books, three remaining empty. On the other side of the room was a small bed made thick with blankets and pillows, ready to be slept in.

“This is – for me?” the boy asked, sounding shocked.

“Yes; your father will stay in the room he is already sleeping in. This room will be yours.”

Teddy walked over to the bed, touching it lightly with his small hand to make sure it was really there.

Snape opened the doors of the dresser, Teddy’s eyes bugged out of his head when he saw it was full of neatly folded clothing.

“You will need more than one change of clothes. I was a boy once; I remember how easy it is to find a mess to get into.” He lightly brushed the last remains of flour from Teddy’s hair, noting that the boy barely flinched this time, so busy he was looking around.

Teddy saw the books, going over and running his fingers reverently across their spines. “But I can’t read, sir!” he proclaimed in dismay.

“Not yet, at any rate. Your father and I are both able to do so. I wouldn’t worry about the books.”

Teddy nodded gravely, “Sir, will I sleep in here from now on?”

“I believe you and your father both would be more rested if you each had your own space. However, you will be allowed to have your door open and you will be able to see him when you both are awake in the morning.”

“Will I really be able to see him every day?” Teddy seemed skeptical.

“Circumstances permitting, you will be spending a great deal of time with your father,” Snape conceded. It wouldn’t matter what Walden had written in that damned will of his, Lupin was still the boy’s father and Snape refused to believe that any power he had over them could overwrite that. “Are you satisfied with your lodgings?”

“Oh yes, master, it’s wonderful. I’ve never had my own bedroom before.” Teddy seemed in awe of the concept.

“Teddy, I would like it if you would attempt to stop calling me ‘master’. I know that it will be difficult and that sometimes you may forget; that is alright, you will not be punished. Do you think you can do that for me, call me ‘sir’ instead?” Snape asked.

“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t know,” Teddy said, lowering his eyes. “That’s what he wanted us to call him, most of the time.”

“I understand that; you are not in trouble. How could I expect you to know if I didn’t tell you?”

“I guess so, sir,” Teddy said aloud. Privately he recalled how that logic had never stopped their other master from doing just that.

“Let’s go see if your father is sleeping; if he is you and I will head down to the lab together. I have some work that needs doing and you still have many pictures to color.”

Teddy seemed satisfied with that and followed him back to Remus’ room.

Lupin was passed out sleeping. Snape collected the coloring supplies and ushered Teddy downstairs. There was a door that opened from the kitchen leading down another flight of stairs. Snape turned on the lights, illuminating their descent.

He reached the bottom first, looking back to find that Teddy had stopped somewhere near the middle of the steps. The boy was shifting nervously from foot to foot. Snape watched him for a moment, and under his gaze the boy came down another couple of stairs, peering around the corner of the railing to see what awaited him. Snape continued into the lab, which encompassed the entire basement. The boy would follow when he felt it was safe to do so.

Chapter Text

The walls were lined almost entirely with jars of ingredients and utensils; there was a long shelf going from floor to ceiling containing nothing but cauldrons of different compositions and sizes. The middle of the room contained three wide work benches, one for paperwork, one for preparation and one where five large cauldrons could be set up to bubble. There were two doors on the other side of the benches, both closed.

Severus went over and lit a fire, adjusting the flame to the proper height. He then placed the coloring equipment on the bench a safe distance away from his stacked books, parchment and quills. He busied himself collecting ingredients and a cauldron that was made of solid copper, runes inscribed around its rim. The cauldron, he set next to the flame; ail of the ingredients he was gathering he set on the prep table. He brought out a roll of knives contained in a dragon-hide case, a grater, two glass stirring rods, a mortar and pestle and three cutting boards. There would be other things he would need for the later steps, but this would do for now.

Teddy had crept down the stairs and was lingering at the far end of the first counter.

Snape pretended not to notice, continuing his work. He set about getting his base brewing; its main structure was formed around the reaction between the nigella seed and the devil’s claw. This would make the mixture an excellent starting point for a nutritional potion.

In the end, this potion would fill some of the holes in Lupin’s nutrition and stimulate his digestion while having the added benefit of pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. It was lycanthrope safe, as many of this class of potion were not; relying on a silver grater to prepare some of the herbs. In its place, he had found that adding ginseng root that had been grated with a rhodium plated tool seemed to negate the need for this step.

He had always found lycanthropy to be an interesting puzzle; so many of the potions a normal wizard would take in the course of their life held steps or ingredients that would be fatal to a werewolf. It worked both ways though; a single swallow of the Wolfsbane potion would mean a grizzly death were an uninfected individual to consume it.

Teddy was standing much closer now; only a couple of feet away from where Snape was working. None of the ingredients or utensils he was using at the moment posed a danger to the boy, as long as he minded his fingers.

Teddy’s curiosity finally got the better of him. “What are you doing, sir?” he asked politely.

“I am making a potion for your father. At this present moment, I am powdering the nigella seed.”

“Niggly seed? What does that do? –Sir?” He almost forgot to add the title. One of these times he would forget, and Snape would not be the one to mention it to him.

“Nig-el-la seed, also known as kaljeera or black caraway. It is one of the two ingredients that make this potion so strong. It will, along with other components, help your father’s digestion as well as his burns by keeping the swelling down, allowing them to heal.”

Teddy was standing right beside him now, trying to peer at what he was crushing. He decided to humor him, tipping the basin so that Teddy could see the powdered nigella in the bowl.

“This will help my dad get better?” he asked, both hopeful and skeptical.

“Once it has all been properly brewed, yes.”

“Do you have to put all of this stuff in to make it work?”

“Mostly, yes. Each ingredient must be prepared a certain way to achieve the desired result.”

Teddy furrowed his brow. “That must take a lot of time. Can I help, sir?”

Snape had not expected this. The boy had so far been very restrained; the fact that he felt confident or interested enough in something to be so forward about it made Severus wonder how much damage he would cause if he were to refuse him. He pondered the ingredients and decided on something completely nontoxic for the child to handle. He also moved a small stool over to where they were working; the boy stepped up onto it so he could properly reach the counter.

He then passed him a bunch of preserved whole dandelions, taking one in his own hand for demonstration. “We only need the root of this plant in this particular potion. That’s this part, here.” He showed him on the plant, taking the knife and making a clean slice in between the root and stem. The knife that was needed was relatively blunt, and he passed it to Teddy, sliding the cutting board over to the boy. “Be careful to keep your fingers far away from the blade, there is no need to risk cutting yourself.”

He watched as Teddy mirrored his hold on the knife handle. He took one of the plants and set it on a cutting board that had been placed in front of him, making one clean, if hesitant cut through the stem as he had been shown. Snape noted his tongue poking out again; it must be something he did unconsciously when he was concentrating.

Teddy was at the proper age for his basic schooling to begin. He seemed to take instruction well so far but was understandably unsure of himself. He also seemed to be lacking some of the elementary abilities that children at his age should already have. Severus assumed this was simply from lack of opportunity; by the sounds of things Macnair could have cared less if the boy grew up to be illiterate and uneducated. Merlin, Walden had nearly been those things himself, despite the best efforts of his parents and at least seven years of classical training.

“Like that, sir?” Teddy moved his hands so Snape had an unimpeded view of his first try.

The root had been sliced, not crushed, and the amount of stem left on the root was basically nonexistent, as it had been on the one he had cut himself.

“Exactly like that, Mr. Lupin.” He found himself going into professor mode. “Can you cut me six more just like that?” Time to see what the boy was capable of.

Teddy grinned and started to separate the correct amount of plants, counting each one in a whisper to himself as he did.

Snape watched him briefly, glad the child seemed to know at least some of his numbers. While he was occupied with the dandelions, Snape set the cauldron over the flame, pouring the liquid portion of the base into the copper basin. He then added the powdered nigella seed, stirring seven times clockwise with one of the glass rods. He set the rod aside and turned back to the work bench.

Teddy was just finishing his dandelions, having placed both the roots and the leafy parts in their own neat piles on his cutting board. He had set the knife down and was waiting for further instruction or critique of his handiwork.

Severus surveyed his efforts with an approving nod. “Good work, Teddy” he said, seeing that every one of the roots were up to standard; he could use all of them in the potion. He noted the neat workstation, pleased that the boy had done that without being told.

Teddy let out a delighted laugh, covering his mouth to hide what Snape assumed was a huge smile as well as the sound. If the boy responded that well to such a basic compliment, it may be easier than he thought to connect with him. Severus knew he was not really a people person, to put it mildly. He had not been able to connect with children even when he had been one; teaching at Hogwarts had been a daily challenge, with that many young adults in one place for so many hours, so many months had almost been his (and their) downfall. And that had been before the war reached its full swing. He did what had needed to be done to keep his double role in place, but between that, the stresses of teaching and being Head of House had worn him nearly clear though.

He slid a marble mortar and pestle over to where Teddy was working. He then put four small pieces of amber in front of him. “Would you like to grind these for me?”

Teddy picked up one of the glinting stones. “Grind them? Are you sure, sir? What are they?”

“Positive,” he said dryly. “They are pieces of amber; amber is fossilized tree resin. That means that it has been preserved but is very old. Put them into the bowl and break them down with the pestle, we need them near powder. Start by bashing them until they break into smaller pieces. Then take the pestle in the hand not supporting the mortar and use a twisting motion to grind them into an even powder.” Snape mimicked the movements needed with his own empty hands so that Teddy would have a better idea of what he needed to do.

Teddy set about doing as he was told instantly. He crushed the stones a few times with the mortar before pausing and looking at Snape out of the corner of his eye, to see if he had really understood correctly.

Severus continued to slice the dandelion root into precisely sized portions, which he added to the bubbling cauldron, stirring another three times clockwise. He was finished that and moving on to grating the ginseng root, and Teddy was again happily crushing the amber to powder.

He sliced some of the devil’s claw roots diagonally into approximate eighths, adding them slowly until the potion turned a pale green.

Using brass tongs he then removed three spheres from a small jar of eel eyes. They were suspended in a clear blue fluid that smelled strongly of antiseptic. He set them down on a small glass plate and closed the jar, putting the tongs aside to be cleaned later. Plate in hand, he turned back to the cauldron, which was now bubbling fiercely. As he added the eyes, whole, the potion turned a startling shade of indigo.

People thought there was no magic to potions; that one merely dumped the proper item in at the right time, stirred and voila, you had a fully functional potion. If one stilled their mind, focused on the task at hand, it could be felt plain as day; like a whisper you weren’t sure you were hearing, you could feel your magic rustling like the slightest breeze around you and through you. It was unconscious, naturally flowing from the brewer into the ingredients, into the brew itself. Most people’s minds were too cluttered, too loud and uncontrolled for them to notice.

Teddy was giving him a strange look, still working away at his task.

“Yes?” He asked, grabbing a large vial of salamander blood and looking over at the boy.

“What were those things, sir?” he asked, nose wrinkled. “They smell kind of funny.”

“Eel eyes.” He raised an amused eyebrow at the disturbed look on Teddy’s face.

“I thought you said my father was going to drink that?”

“He most certainly is. The eyes, when added after the nigella seed and root of the devil’s claw, will act as a catalyst between the two. Do you know what a catalyst it?”

Teddy shook his head.

“A catalyst is something that changes and increases the speed of a reaction; it basically allows the nigella seed and devil’s claw to react with each other very quickly and powerfully. The rest of the ingredients will serve as binding agents, layer upon layer making the potion stronger. The eyes are very important to how this potion works; but you’re right, they do smell funny.”

Teddy appeared to be taking in everything he’d just said. “So it’s like when I was in the tub. The water and bubble bath made the bubbles, but when I splashed, they got bigger faster. Splashing would be the cat-list.” He suddenly looked very unsure. “Right?”

It was Snape’s turn to stare blankly back at him. “Cat-a-lyst; and that is exactly right.” He’d had first years not grasp the concept after half an hour’s lecture, a four-page reading assignment and a two-foot essay on the subject. There was no reason not to say it, “I’m very impressed you grasped that.” The fact that the boy had taken his explanation and applied it to something he had seen and understood without being instructed showed a lot of potential.

Teddy, looking shocked, didn’t say anything.

“Here, it’s time to shred the ginseng root. I’ll grate it and then we will add it and the dandelion one right after another.” He took the grater and roots in hand and firmly ran the nub of ginseng root across its blades fifteen times, a small pile of shavings collecting on a fresh glass plate. He banged the grater on the cutting board; any pieces that were clinging to it fell onto the plate. He dumped the dandelion roots onto a separate plate and set it on the counter.

“Step off the stool,” he told the boy.

Teddy looked rather disappointed, but did as he was told.

Snape slid the stool closer to the cauldron. “Get back on; mind the cauldron, it’s extremely hot.”

Teddy stepped back up, grasping Snape’s sleeve for balance as he climbed up.

Severus found his arm coming out, protecting the child from spilling onto the floor. “You steady up there?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” Teddy answered sheepishly.

“Good. Here, hold onto this for me.” He handed Teddy the plate of chopped dandelion roots. “I’m going to add the grated ginseng then stir, after that I’m going to need you to add these for me; I’ll tell you when.”

He did as he said he was going to, stirring three times counter clockwise. He wiped the glass rod off. The potion began to put off a steam that smelt somehow earthy and green. “Now, Teddy, add the roots.”

Teddy dumped them into the boiling liquid; as the potion bubbled, it began to change back to an emerald color, though one more vibrant than before. Teddy gave an elated inhale.

“Is it supposed to do that, sir?” he asked quickly. “Did I add the roots wrong?”

“It is doing just as it should. We will let it simmer for thirty minutes and then it will be time to add the amber you crushed.”

Snape helped him off the stool. They would have some time after the amber was put in, just over an hour of simmering before the final step. A portion of salamander blood would be added, and then allowed to simmer for twenty minutes. It was said that salamanders were creatures of fire; he didn’t know much about that. But he did know that the blood of one would speed the healing and tissue regeneration of burned flesh, even once the wounds had begun to close.

They went and sat at the table he had set the coloring book on when they had first arrived in the lab. He had thought that Teddy would show the usual interest in potions boys his age usually took; which was to say none at all. He hadn’t expected that the boy would watch and participate in the entire brewing process, minimal though it was for this particular potion.

Teddy was already scribbling away in his book, children never could be still but for a mere moment. As unobtrusively as possible, he snuck a look at the picture that was currently in progress. It was by no means perfect, but definitely acceptable for a little boy who had never held a writing utensil before today. He let him color away in silence for a minute, minding the clock to make sure they wouldn’t exceed their time.

“Thank you for letting me help sir, it was neat,” Teddy said out of the blue, never taking his eyes off of his picture.

“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.” Snape was surprised to find the statement true. He slid a parchment closer and picked up the text he was last working on trying to transpose. High German had never been a strong point of his, but this manuscript would hopefully shine a new light on a project he was working on. “You’re content to work on your pictures for a while?” he asked lightly.

“Oh, yes, sir,” Teddy agreed fervently.

Snape turned back to his work, dipping his quill into the inkpot; he began to pick his own brain, untangling sentence after sentence into mostly cohesive paragraphs, scribbling as madly at his own paper as the child was at his.

When it was time, he rose and emptied the stone basin into the potion, stirring seven times in a complete figure eight before turning down the flame. He headed back to the workbench to find Teddy watching his every move.

“Do you think you’ll ever let me help you make a potion again, sir?”

“Yes, I suppose I will,” Snape said.

Teddy just smiled, looking back at his book, apparently satisfied.

They sat in silence, each minding their own project for the final twenty minutes before Snape lowered the fire, gradually bringing the temperature down until the flame was killed completely.

“It needs to cool for some time until we can decanter it.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means we will bottle it, some we will give to your father immediately and some we will save for him to take later. It remains good for some time if it is kept in an air tight bottle out of the sun.” He watched the boy nodding. “For right now we will go see how he is doing. I will come down later and collect a dose for him.”

Teddy gathered his own supplies, before Snape had a chance to ask him to do so. They went back up to the top floor of the house, finding Remus sitting up in bed looking rather concerned.

As they entered the room, he sighed in relief; seeing his son walk through the door with a smile on his face and his book and pencils in tow washed every ounce of anxiety from his body. He had awoken some time before, realizing he had fallen asleep when they had left to see Teddy’s room. He had no idea how long they were gone or what they were doing.

Teddy immediately placed his supplies on the table he’d been working at before and went to sit on Lupin’s bed. Remus’ arm came to rest around the boy’s shoulders like it was the most natural thing in the world.

“Did you see the room you’d be staying in?” Remus asked, sounding almost afraid to do so.

Teddy nodded with a smile. “There is a bed and a desk. There’s a bookshelf, daddy, with books on it! And a big window! You have to come see it!” Teddy paused. “When you’re better, I mean.” His face brightened again. “We made a potion that will help you get better!”

“You helped make a potion?” It was more of a confused repetition than a question. He looked between Snape and Teddy, finally setting his gaze on Severus to try and gauge his thoughts on the matter.

“I cut the dandelion roots from the rest of the plant and smashed pieces of amber until they were dust! It changed colors when I put the roots in the pot.” Teddy sounded quite pleased with himself.

“Cauldron,” Remus corrected immediately, looking at Severus questioningly.

“Don’t look at me, Lupin; he seemed to show some interest and I am not unfamiliar with instructing children in the art.” Snape said.

“I wasn’t trying to imply anything to the contrary, sir,” Remus hastened to say. “But, you didn’t mind; he wasn’t in the way?”

“No, I didn’t mind. He showed quite an aptitude.” Severus said slowly. If he would have minded, he never would have allowed the boy to participate.

Remus’ eyebrows rose. “And you had a good time?” he asked Teddy.

Teddy grinned. “Yeah dad, it was great.”

Lupin lay back, as if the processing of this information had tired him out again.

“Fred will be preparing supper soon. We will go visit him in the kitchen and I will bring a dose of our potion to your father, who in the meantime will be resting,” Snape said authoritatively. Lupin had clearly worn himself out worrying about the welfare of his son while they were in the lab; he needed genuine rest to recover.

“Okay, do I get to help make supper?” Teddy seemed enthusiastic about being allowed to do just about anything.

“I’m sure Fred would be glad of the company. Come along then.”

“See you later, daddy,” Teddy called as he followed Severus out of the room.

Lupin was already dozing off again.

Chapter Text

Severus and Teddy went downstairs, meeting Fred in the kitchen. He was scurrying about, oven going and a couple of pots steaming on the stovetop.

“Hello, sirs,” he said cheerily, dumping some potatoes into the sink to be rinsed.

“Fred, I see you’ve got supper on the go already. I have someone here who is wondering if you would like some help again,” Snape said lightly.

“Oh yes, sir. The little one would like to help Fred with the potatoes?”

Teddy nodded hesitantly, stepping out from behind Snape and going over to the counter.

“Make enough for everyone, Fred. With all the digestive potions Lupin has been taking I believe he could eat something a little more solid.” Snape said.

Fred hummed cheerily, checking the roast he had pulled from the oven.

Snape saw that they were both ignoring him completely, Fred now chattering away to Teddy in an animated voice, even making the boy smile. He decided there would be no better time to disappear into the lab and get that potion bottled.

He descended the stairs to the basement, going straight for the proper ladle and collecting some glass vials on his way over to the now cool cauldron. He poured the potion into three vials, stoppering them and setting two on the shelf in their appropriate place. The third one he placed aside.

It took a while to get his stations, cauldron and utensils sterilized and put away. When he was done, he took one vial back upstairs with him. Seeing Teddy and Fred happily shaping some buns to go with supper, the boy covered in flour all over again, he quietly bypassed the kitchen and went back up to Lupin’s room, pushing the door the rest of the way open.

Remus clearly heard him enter, jarring awake and looking around with wide eyes. His gaze leveled on Severus, who had slowed his pace towards the bed to give the other man some time to orient himself.

Lupin relaxed slightly. “Hello, sir.”

“Here, Lupin; a dose of the potion your son and I brewed earlier. Two swallows for now.” He neared the bed and assisted Remus with the vial. The other man flinched at the flavor, which was more than likely very coppery with all the salamander blood that had been required. He then helped him drink a portion of the water that was sitting on the nightstand to wash the aftertaste away.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Your health is my concern now,” Severus told him. He realized it may have sounded rather condescending the moment after he had said it. How was it he had managed to keep his cover for all those years, balancing two of the most intuitive and powerful wizards of their time, yet standing before this one werewolf he continued to stick his foot as far down his mouth as he seemed to be able?

“I do mean for the potions, sir; but also for taking the time to teach my son something new. I’m afraid his life experiences have been somewhat - limited up to this point,” Remus said with a grimace.

“If I am to have an apprentice of any kind, Lupin; it will be a competent one. His continued education is to my benefit alone.” Snape wondered why it was so important to him that Remus believed that.

“Of course,” Remus replied cordially, but something in his eyes said he saw right through Severus. He blinked and the discerning look was gone. “So he did okay then?”

“I don’t lie to parents about the progress and aptitude of their children, Lupin,” Snape said regally. “He made connections easily, followed instruction well; kept things neat without me having to tell him. He asked questions and showed interest.” Snape set the half vial of potion on the far side of the nightstand.

“That is high praise coming from you, sir.” Remus couldn’t help but smile.

“I hope it doesn’t go to either of your heads,” Snape said wryly. “We will see how he fares in further attempts.”

“Will you instruct him in areas other than potions, sir?” Remus picked at the pills on his comforter again.

“Yes; to believe one could learn to brew properly while knowing absolutely nothing else is insanity. He will need to have a functional understanding of many other subjects. Herbology; the identification and cultivation of ingredients are essential. Charms; there are some rather specialized spells of this nature he will need to know in order to function in the lab. Defense; there is a wealth of information in that course that is directly transferrable to brewing certain grades of potions. There will also be areas of study you may not expect; for example, I believe a working knowledge of human anatomy and physiology is imperative to the comprehension of exactly how some of these elixirs function.”

“I see; that is most generous, sir.” Remus frowned slightly. “Do you really think Teddy is up for all of that right now? He held a pencil for the first time the other day; do you really think he can handle a lesson in Charms theory?”

Severus almost smiled. “He and I will work on the basics for quite some time, I imagine. There are many things he will need to know in order to move forward. We will start at the beginning and continue from there.”

“What if he doesn’t progress as quickly as you’d like, sir?” Remus asked, shifting nervously.

“He will progress at his own rate. Just from watching him so far I believe there will be little trouble for him in mastering the fundamentals; things like writing his letters, improving hand eye coordination and reasoning skills.”

Remus looked up at him. “You seem to have thought this through, sir.”

“Of course I’ve thought it through, Lupin. It’s no small undertaking; when it is time to begin his more advanced classes, why would I spend my time teaching him Charms and Transfiguration, even the majority of the Defense course, when I have a perfectly good instructor in my employ already?” Snape had been waiting patiently for the entire conversation for the right moment to pull out that line.

Remus was taken aback. “You would allow me to instruct my son?” He rubbed the collar around his neck idly. “Without my magic, I will be a poor professor, but I will do my best. It would be more than I would ever dream of asking for, sir.”

“We will see what the bond allows you, before we make many real plans. I am working on... select modifications to the spell and rituals that surround the actual bonding. The measures I have taken to delay these events have been so far effective. If we were to complete the bonding, with all of its requirements at this time, I believe the results would be unpredictable at best, dire at worst. My actions and intentions are imperative to the restrictions and freedoms the bond will enforce on you. I am convinced that Walden did not complete the spell properly, though in what way I am as yet unsure; I am reluctant to make those same mistakes out of haste.” Sweet Merlin of ramblings.

Remus seemed to take it all in. “This is the second time you have mentioned the steps you have taken to delay the need for the bonding ritual, sir. I know what the ritual entails as well as anyone, having gone through it before. What have you done to get this extra time needed until you deem it is right? I did not know that was possible, sir,” Remus said as respectfully as possible, not wanting to anger Snape. He hadn’t seen the man incensed enough to punish either him or his son and he intended to behave in a manner that continued to precipitate that lack of aggression, if at all possible.

Snape paused. “Since this situation affects you as much as me, I will tell you. I am taking a potion of my own creation that will prevent me, under any circumstances, from having an erection while it remains in my system. One dose lasts for seventy-two hours; at that point, I will take another. My research on this bond says that as the dominant partner, my inability to fulfill my portion of the ritual is the only way to delay it without an adverse reaction to either of us. Our magic will still recognize me as your master; however, this recognition will be muted until the bonding is complete.”

“You’re doing that just to get some extra time? I don’t know what to say, sir.”

“There is nothing to say. I fear that if the proper steps are not taken, the right symbolism not used, that we may well end up in the same situation as you and Macnair. This is not the outcome I wish to achieve; I need time to formulate a method that will allow for a more desirable result while staying within the restrictions of the original bond. So I will take my potion as long as it is safe to do so in order to get this extra time.” Severus didn’t mention that he suspected they would need to complete the bonding shortly after the full moon, ready or not; the Ministry wouldn’t grant them much more time than that, if they even gave them that long.

“I’m not sure I understand everything you are saying, sir, but I trust you to do what is best. What do you mean by safe? Are there dangers associated with the potion you’re taking?” Remus’ brow wrinkled.

“There hasn’t been any so far, though as it is largely untested, that remains to be seen. You won’t be rid of me just yet, Lupin,” Severus added in an amused tone.

“That’s not what I meant, sir!” Remus said desperately.

Snape snorted. “Of course not; you were concerned for my wellbeing, wishing me to remain healthy and strong for years and years to come.”

Remus didn’t know what to say. Snape sounded like he was joking, but he’d made the same mistake with this man in the past; confusing angry sarcasm for amusement. Probably vice versa as well, come to think of it. He really didn’t want to piss Severus off and lay ruin to the hospitality he’d shown them so far. Remus knew that it could be gone in a second, but he was not so positive what would replace it. He stayed silent.

Severus shook his head. “No matter. After supper you will have another dose of potion and most likely sleep some more. I will check your burns again after Teddy is in bed; if they are healing at the pace they should be, I will charm them so you can have a bath. Cleaning charms work in a pinch, but they do nothing to replace a proper scrub.”

Remus colored, knowing that he probably smelled rather badly. “Thank you, sir. I don’t know the last time I had a real wash. It won’t aggravate my injuries?” he added meekly.

“Not with the correct spells in place; I will protect them thoroughly from moisture, heat and friction. Precautions will be taken however, as they will more than likely still be quite tender. I’ll still keep an eye on the bandages to make sure everything holds the way it’s supposed to.”

Remus thought it over. “You, sir?”

“There is no way you will be in the physical condition to bathe yourself and while Fred has my full confidence, I do not know if he will be capable of the level of care needed to keep from injuring you further. Therefore I will have to assist you; if this is something you won’t be able to handle presently, we can continue to spell you clean for the time being.” Snape gave Lupin a way out, though he doubted the man was confident enough to take it.

“Whatever you think is best, sir; I really would appreciate being clean,” Remus said quietly.

“You would say that. Fine, I will; this evening, if you are up to it.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

Snape fought the urge to say, ‘don’t thank me yet’ for what felt like the hundredth time since the Lupins had first entered his home. Instead he said, “I’m going to see if they need help with anything downstairs; supper should be done soon. Rest.” He pivoted and left without another word spoken between them. Surely that man would drive him to insanity.

Severus found Fred and Teddy just taking the cooled buns off of the baking pan. The roast was out of the oven, steamed vegetables from their own garden and a large bowl of mashed potatoes with a side of gravy seemed to compose their meal. Lupin should be able to eat most of it, if his meat were a small portion already cut into bits.

“Having fun?” he asked them, as neither of them seemed aware that he had entered the room.

Teddy looked over with startled eyes, ducking down a little smaller than he was.

“Yes, we is having fun.” Fred answered firmly for them both. “You is serving father wolf what you think it is best for him to be eating. The young one and I will be making up the other plates.”

Teddy looked between the both of them in confusion. If Fred was his master’s elf, why was he always telling him what to do?

Snape did as the elf suggested, taking a small portion of the mashed potatoes, vegetables as well as some of the meat and one roll. The protein he cut very finely, almost to the point of shredding it. Then he covered that and the potatoes with gravy; going so far as to break the roll in half and put a pat of butter on each side.

He looked up. Fred had both his and Teddy’s plate in hand and appeared to be waiting for him to finish before heading up to Lupin’s room. It seemed they would all be dining upstairs. “I can take a hint,” Severus said, taking Remus’ plate and leading the way back up the stairs.

Once they were in the room, Fred set Teddy up to eat in the armchair with a small end table in front of him. He was happily digging away into his meal while Snape cast a preserving charm over his own dish, which Fred had placed on the nightstand. Severus sat back down in the chair closest to the bedside, Remus’ plate in his hands.

“That smells amazing, sir.” Remus said.

“Fred knows his way around a pot roast,” Severus agreed.

Snape helped the other man eat as much of his meal as it seemed he could handle. There was very little spilled overall and Lupin lay back with a tired sigh, signaling that he couldn’t consume another bite. Most of the plate was cleared; he had eaten a healthy portion.

“Here, have another three swallows now that your stomach is full.” Snape set the plate aside and assisted Remus in drinking the right amount of his potion. His eyes were already heavy when Snape looked up from setting the vial back down.

“Thank you, master,” Remus said so drowsily that Severus didn’t correct him.

Snape pulled his chair away from the bed to beside where Teddy was seated. He then tucked into his own meal, eating everything that was on his plate. He found the boy was already done, sitting quietly in the chair, looking pensively at his father.

“Is he going to be okay, sir?” he asked in a small voice.

“Yes Teddy, he is. We will make sure of it. You all done there?”

The boy nodded.

“Let’s take our dishes to the kitchen. Fred will wash up later.”

“Okay, sir.” Teddy rose, collecting his own plate and cutlery, following Severus, who was holding both his and Remus’ plates, back into the kitchen. They set their dishes in the sink, Severus rinsing them off and stacking them neatly.

It was near seven thirty; the child probably wasn’t ready for bed yet. Lupin was resting and Fred was off doing Merlin knew what.

“Have you ever made a paper airplane?” Severus asked Teddy suddenly.

Teddy made a confused face. “No, sir, I don’t believe I have.”

“That’s alright; children from Wizarding backgrounds are often unfamiliar with such things; there is no magic in them.”

“What is an ‘airplane’, sir?” Teddy asked with some interest.

“An airplane is a Muggle machine that allows them to fly.”

“Without magic?” Teddy questioned.

“Without magic. The models we are going to make are very small; we are going to fold them out of parchment. The real machine is large enough to hold many people at once and fly through the air carrying them all. One day when we are outside in the garden, I’m sure you will see a real one pass overhead.”

“We’re going outside, sir?” Teddy sounded quite hopeful.

“Perhaps tomorrow, if the weather allows for it. It is starting to get dark now. Come with me into the den.”

Snape led the boy through the dining room, which he had yet to see, and into a room that seemed to be a hybrid between a living room and an office. There was a small couch and two chairs beside a great fireplace, but also a desk. The room was more than half covered in bookshelves brimming with texts and scrolls. Teddy looked around in wonder, appearing unsure where to stand.

Snape moved one of the chairs from its place by the fireplace to rest closer to the desk. He sat in the other chair, indicating for Teddy to sit in the one he had just moved. From a drawer he pulled a stack of parchment and a couple of pairs of scissors.

“I’ll make one first, so you can see what a finished one should look like. There are many different styles a person can fold; we are going to start with something very basic for today. If you like this, we can try out some different types once we have mastered this one.” Severus said.

Teddy nodded, leaning closer to watch what his master was going to show him.

Snape cut a few pieces of the paper into rectangles. He placed one in front of himself on the desktop, folding it in half once lengthwise and pressing the crease firmly between his thumb and the desk. He opened the fold, pressing the paper flat again. He then took the top corners on each side of the fold and bent them into down so they made a triangle. Then creasing each side again between his thumb and forefinger, he folded them a second time, making the shape thinner on each side. He then bent the paper on his original crease, flattening each side down a little to make wings.

He held out the plane for Teddy to examine, before bringing his arm back and throwing it lightly across the room. The plane glided for some time before crashing into the back of the couch and falling to the floor.

Teddy looked rather surprised. “I thought you said there was no magic, sir!”

“None at all. The paper is so light and the shape just right for it to glide across the air. Go get it and try tossing it, you’ll see.”

Teddy immediately hopped off the chair and retrieved the fallen plane. He mimicked Snape’s earlier motions, trying to recreate the flight. He released too late and the plane crashed into the ground, nose slightly crumpled.

The boy looked instantly distressed. “Sorry, sir!”

“Don’t be; half the fun is making them crash into things. Bring it here.”

Teddy came close with the damaged plane, timidly getting near enough to hand it to Snape, who took it with slow movements.

Severus pinched the plane, straightening it out in between his fingers. “See how easy they are to fix? Try throwing it again, only release it earlier. It helps it to go further if it travels in an ark.” He demonstrated the shape the flight should take with his hand.

Teddy tried a second time, letting it go a little sooner than he had on his first attempt. The plane flew across the room, landing politely on the ground and sliding into a leg of the coffee table.

“I did it!” Teddy exclaimed.

“Yes, you did,” Snape agreed, one corner of his mouth upturned. “Would you like to try and make one for yourself?”

Teddy nodded, coming closer and sitting by the desk again.

It took a few tries and a couple of botched attempts, but within about twenty minutes, Severus had walked him through the correct steps. Teddy had made his first plane on his own and was very thrilled about that fact, all but vibrating with excitement as he threw it for the first time.

For about an hour after that they made, threw and crashed their paper flying machines. Teddy had the idea of racing, to seeing who could go the farthest or else have the most spectacular crash. It was after nine o’clock when Snape suggested they put their planes away for the night and get ready for bed. He tucked one of Teddy’s folded planes into his robe pocket without really thinking about it.

Upstairs, he showed Teddy where his pajamas were kept in the armoire and allowed the boy space to get changed. When he came out of his room, Snape ushered him into the bathroom, where he helped him brush his teeth and wash his face. He left him alone to do his business, waiting back in the child’s bedroom.

The boy tiptoed in, looking around nervously. Snape pulled the covers back and he walked only a couple of steps closer.

“What’s the matter?” Severus asked, trying not to sound irritated.

“May I say goodnight to my father, sir?”

“He is probably sleeping.”

The boy’s face fell.

Snape continued, “But I doubt he would mind being woken for just a moment.”

Snape went back into the hall and pushed the door to Remus’ room open. He felt, more than saw, Teddy rush past him into the room and over to the bedside.

“Hi, daddy,” Teddy said quietly.

Remus blinked rapidly, trying to orient himself instantly upon the sound of his boy’s voice. “Hey there, Teddy. What are you getting up to?” He looked past his son and latched onto Snape, where he was standing just outside the doorway.

“It’s bedtime,” the boy said unenthusiastically. “I wanted to say goodnight.”

“Well, goodnight Teddy. Sweet dreams and I love you.”

“I love you too, daddy.” Teddy gave him an awkward hug, trying to avoid his bandages. “Will I see you tomorrow?”

Remus swallowed loudly. “I honestly don’t know. I hope so.”

“Me too.”

“Now go along, and remember, behave.”

Teddy nodded and walked out into the hall. Snape pulled the door closed again, seeing Remus watching him as he did so.

“You’re ready to go to bed now?” Snape asked.

“Yes, sir.” Teddy went back into his bedroom and slid onto the mattress, sticking his feet under the covers. He wiggled his toes, watching the shapes of them moving back and forth under the blankets.

Snape helped him pull the sheet and quilts up to his chin. He took a step back and dimmed the lights. There was a small sealer jar that he had placed on the nightstand days before he had gone to retrieve the Lupins. He picked it up, and holding it against the palms of both of his hands he whispered a charm. A ball of light appeared in the center of the jar, only a faint light glow but still exuding warm golden light. He placed it back on the table; it dimmed as soon as he set it down.

“If you are afraid in the night or need to go to the loo, pick up this jar and think of a bright light; think of a sunny afternoon. The light will grow stronger until it is where you require it to be. There is no need to lie in the dark and be afraid or to stumble around in an unfamiliar house.” Doing this was not so peculiar; he had done the same for generations of unsure first year Slytherins. Many childhood fears disappeared in the light, but then again, many did not.

Teddy nodded, “Thank you, sir.” His eyes still darted around the room, small hands fisted in the blankets.

Snape considered just walking out; he had already done more than almost anyone had ever done for him when he was young and far more than many people in his circumstances would. Something stopped him, however. Instead of leaving, he pulled the chair out from its place at the desk and moved it closer to the bed. He then went to the bookshelf and selected a worn hardcover from among the shelves. He sat down in the chair and opened the book to its first page.

“Sir?” Teddy didn’t verbalize the question, ‘what are you doing?’ but Snape heard it clearly enough all the same.

“Have you ever been read a bedtime story?” Snape asked. He had never been read one himself, so the notion of it being something unfamiliar wasn’t out of the question.

“I don’t believe so, sir.”

“Well here you have it then,” Severus said lightly.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort,” Snape began. He was surprised to find that Teddy stayed awake for the whole first chapter, though his eyes were undoubtedly heavy in the last few pages. He seemed to be sleeping by the time Snape had marked their place in the book and returned it to its place on the shelf.

He left the door open all of the way. There would be no noise coming from him tonight, and he didn’t want to give the child the impression he was to stay in the room until he was sent for. He quickly turned and placed a charm on the room so he would be alerted if Teddy rose or was distressed.

Down in the kitchen, he decided to have a quick spot of tea before helping Lupin with his bath; something he was sure they were both dreading. He sat at the table and flipped through the morning paper that had been folded, unread, on the kitchen table all day.

He debated having a drink, deciding to save that for the last portion of the night, which he would reserve solely for himself - his attempted translations and what was left of his scotch. He settled on half a dose of a light calming potion, as it would do no good for Lupin’s recovery if he lost his temper every few minutes. The remainder of the potion he corked and dropped into his pocket; the wolf may appreciate some of it as well.

Upstairs again, he ran a bath of hot water. By the time Lupin was into it, the temperature should be at an adequate level. Into the water he put five drops of a potion that would help with muscle strength and mobility, keeping his tissues limber even in their current state of disuse. Also, he poured the rest of the calming potion in as well; this experience should be made as painless as possible.

It would be the first step to everything that was yet to come. He hoped it would show Lupin that his intentions were not to harm or humiliate him; he had done enough of that for ten tyrants’ lifetimes. No one, including a younger, more stupid version of himself would ever believe him capable of this: having so much control over a once hated enemy and not taking the opportunity to exert that power.

He wondered briefly how he would have fared had this been Potter and his spawn but quickly dismissed the thought. That was not the case, Merlin be praised.

Severus knew he would exert his own humanity; a muscle he had left to waste for most of his miserable life. He would do it if even if it killed him. Taking a deep breath for composure Severus strode with purpose through Lupin’s doorway; his bravado was wasted as the man was predictably asleep. Lupin woke slowly as he walked into the room. Severus took some supplies out of the cupboard under the nightstand and set them out on top of it.

“Hello, sir. Is Teddy sleeping?” Lupin asked timidly.

“Yes; in the room next to this one. We can check in on him later if you feel the need.” Snape didn’t look up from what he was doing. He was beginning to unravel a swath of bandages while mumbling under his breath, wand in hand, running the cloth over its glowing length inch by inch.

Remus quieted, watching him work.

When Severus was done, he measured a portion of two potions into a small glass, swirling the mixture three times clockwise and handing it to Remus. “Drink this,” he instructed.

Remus accepted it, making a face as he knocked back the potions without a question.

“How is your pain; can you sit up?” Snape asked clinically.

“A little, but not for long; it’s exhausting.” Remus tried to be honest, feeling damned either way. Which would Severus scorn more, his shameful weakness or being lied to about it?

“Alright then, don’t try right now.”

Remus let out an exhale at this soft reply.

With a flick of his wrist, Snape made him weightless, helping him to sit and pulling the blankets down so they draped were over his hips. He rolled up his sleeves and spelled his hands clean. With precise movements he unwrapped the bandages covering Remus’ burns, exposing the scarring flesh beneath. Once his torso was clear and the used linens were banished, Snape began to replace them with the newly charmed ones; Remus could feel the magic in them enfolding him with every layer that was laid across his skin. Severus covered every piece of damaged tissue with the charmed bandages, including Remus’ feet which he double layered.

“These will protect your blisters from the water as I described earlier. The twin potions you just drank will keep the pain in check as well as help to keep you calm.” He lowered Remus back to the bed.

“Calm, sir?” Remus asked uneasily.

“You have made it clear that you are… uncomfortable with touch. That will be unavoidable if we are to go through with this. Part of the reason for this venture will be to relax your healing muscles, to prevent them from over tightening while you are not well enough to stretch and move them for yourself. Recovery from such things can be unnecessarily agonizing and drawn out; we will be avoiding it at all costs.”

“Of course, sir. Thank you for your forethought.”

Remus still looked uncomfortable; that was inescapable, Snape supposed. It didn’t stop him from rolling his eyes. “We will wait a few moments for your pain potion to take effect before we begin.”

Remus nodded his agreement and sat quietly for a moment before asking, “Teddy was well behaved this evening, sir?”

A unique way to inquire about the welfare of one’s child, without really doing so. “We had an interesting night,” Snape answered.

Remus looked at him, silently still.

“Merlin,” Severus said under his breath. “We folded paper planes,” he explained.

“Paper planes,” Remus deadpanned.

Snape pulled the paper projectile from his pocket, suddenly glad to have put it there. He handed it to Remus, who took it, turning the thing slowly in his good hand to see all sides.

“Teddy made this?” his voice sounded lighter.

Snape nodded wryly. “One of the few to survive; most had rather tragic endings. The boy seems to find crashing as much fun as flying, though it shouldn’t come as a surprise.”

Remus looked at him and a strong emotion crossed his face briefly, almost not even there. He redirected his gaze to the folded paper, now lying on his lap. He then moved to set it on the nightstand, hand shaking and body almost unable to turn the required distance, but just making it. He lay back, breathing harder than he should have been after such a small exertion.

“Keep it there; I’m sure he will tell you all about it tomorrow,” Severus said.

“Of course, sir,” Remus agreed in a neutral tone, maybe the calming potion was beginning to set in.

“I believe enough time has passed; are you ready to do this?” Severus thought it would be prudent to give Lupin yet another chance to refuse this venture.

“Yes, sir.” Remus’ face was blank, his mouth a tight line across it. His eyes weren’t meeting Severus’ though he was addressing him; he was looking instead at a place somewhere around the region of Snape’s shoulder.

Severus was glad for his own dose of the calming potion, feeling his anger mutely at Remus’ behavior. “Alright then.” He cast a levitating charm on the other man and he floated off the bed, sheet coming with him, leaving his body covered. Snape guided him wordlessly from the room and across the hall, closing the bathroom door behind the both of them.

The air in the room was humid; steam had coated the mirror in condensation. Keeping his eyes averted, Snape removed the bed sheet from across Lupin’s form. He supported the man by his shoulders, manipulating the spell so that his legs were lowered into the water first. He kept the descent slow, directing Remus so he was seated completely before fully releasing the charm and withdrawing. He cast another charm that would keep Lupin’s mouth and nose out of the water.

Remus sighed in absolute contentment, lying back in the water. The heat wrapped around his sore body, he felt his muscles loosen almost instantly. He was briefly amazed that his wounds were not in any unusual pain, it was probably the combination of the bandages and potions; but he wasn’t about to question it. He tried to remember the last thing that had happened to him that could compare to the feeling of the hot water enfolding him but came up brutally short.

He realized his face was staying above the water with no effort of his own. Snape must have cast a spell to keep him from accidently drowning himself when he wasn’t being held up. This was a good thing because Remus couldn’t imagine being able to do it himself, he was nearly falling asleep he was so relaxed. His eyes were closed and his breathing was even. He wasn’t sure how long he floated there, soaking, before he felt a hand lightly brushing the hair away from his face and then departing so quickly he may have imagined it.

Lupin groggily opened his eyes to see Snape kneeling beside the bath, outer robes removed and his shirtsleeves rolled neatly up past his elbows. His hair was tied back at the nape of his neck and he wore what seemed to Lupin to be an unreadable expression. Remus recalled just exactly what was going on here and felt his heart speed up in response. The calming potion must really be doing the trick; he felt the fear and anticipation, but distantly, almost as if they belonged to someone else.

He was helped to sit up again carefully, back resting against the tub. Snape’s hands retreated and returned coated in a strong smelling potion. He began to gather the wet mess of Remus’ hair together, his fingers massaging tresses and scalp until a thick lather formed.

Remus wasn’t sure what he was expected to do, so he just lay back and waited for instruction. He couldn’t help but enjoy the feeling Severus’ hands running over and across his scalp. It had been an eternity since someone had done anything for him. He knew this wasn’t required, he could simply have been spelled clean. If his hair was too bad for that it could easily have been shorn off. Despite everything he had said, Remus speculated on Snape’s true motivation for doing this and then decided to ponder it later. He closed his eyes and sighed.

Snape was very thorough, finding the matted sections and working them between his thumb and index finger until the knots came loose. He pulled the suds away from Lupin’s face to prevent them from running into his eyes, even though they were still closed. He wondered if Remus saw the irony in him, Severus Snape, greasiest bastard to ever walk the earth, washing his hair for him.

When he was satisfied Severus said, “I’m going to help you lie back again, try and remain relaxed.” Severus helped Remus to recline until his hair was underwater. He carded his hands carefully through the residual tangles, rinsing the soap out as best he could while supporting Lupin’s head so he could breathe. It was easier to brace him than to keep the wandless spell in place for so long.

He helped Remus sit up and repeated the process; he was cleaner than he had been but the second wash was still needed. Remus kept his breathing even, not seeming as anxious this time around.

Snape had been near silent the entire way through, Lupin was surprised that the man was missing so excellent a chance to gloat. Still, he couldn’t help but revel in the feeling of a touch that seemed to intend no pain, even if it were to only last a moment. Severus cradled the base of his head in one hand while his other ran freely though Remus’ hair in firm even stokes against his scalp.

When the process was completed a second time, Severus dried his hands and forearms on a nearby towel. He pivoted in place, retrieving a different bottle from under the sink. It was a very fortunate thing that he had thought to prepare for a variety of possibilities in the weeks before he was able to retrieve the Lupins. There was no shortage of lycanthrope friendly potions in his stocks and what wasn’t prepared already was a mere cauldron away.

He selected a cloth from the short stack of folded towels that were folded under the sink and poured a generous amount of the potion onto it. Turning back to the tub Severus saw that Lupin’s eyes were still closed, he wasn’t sure if it was because he was relaxed or just couldn’t stand to make eye contact while he was being bathed. Snape found he couldn’t really blame him either way. He knew that he himself would not have been nearly so pliable in similar circumstances. He was also no stranger to drawn out recoveries.

Severus had suffered many injuries over the course of two wars. After the return of Voldemort, he had been granted no mercy for his lack of faith, for not returning immediately when called for. Of anything he had ever endured that had been the worst… the worst? One of the worst? Who could decide these things? He found himself unable to. It had seemed like the worst, at the time.

Riddle had thrown him and a handful of other penitents to the tender care of those he had deemed to be faithful, or who had already endured their own portion of punishment. There were eight men and Bella granted power over four of them. Their wands had been taken, a symbol of how powerless they really were. They had been given by their Lord as a boon to their peers of the inner circle. His hands still shook when he thought too closely about it.

He had been gone from Hogwarts eight days before it was over. Someone had been thoughtful enough to deliver him to his usual apparition spot in the forest, but no closer. Hagrid had found him just after sunrise the morning after they’d dropped him there, bringing Albus and Poppy to him immediately, being afraid to move him without doing further damage.

There had been a potion, one of many that had been poured down his throat while he was being taught his lesson, which kept him conscious. Severus had been awake the entire time he had been away from the school and even once he was back, because of it. Poppy had an impossible time counteracting it so he could be treated properly; his healing process would require her to do things to him that would be unconscionable had he remained aware of them.

Although he had been awake, he didn’t recall much about the whole thing; only the unending pain his body was in. As well as the fact that this was a gentle slap on the wrist compared to what he would be in for if (once) Voldemort found out he had defected to the Headmaster.

His recovery had taken over two weeks; that was by his standards. He forced his way out of the hospital wing in fifteen days, was what Pomfrey would have said, rather than the word ‘recovery’. Severus couldn’t stand to have her, or anyone really, see him in such a state. It was another three weeks before he was allowed to return to teaching his classes. ‘Taking a Sabbatical’ was what Albus had told the students. Certain Slytherins knew better however, but they could be trusted to keep their mouths shut; nearly everything in their lives depended on it.

His back, buttocks and thighs had been turned to ground meat by various curses and whippings. Someone had broken the fingers and most of the long bones in his hands, paying special attention to his left, the appendage attached to the Dark Mark, presumably with a hammer or some sort of blunt instrument.

Even during his recovery, his body seized and shook uncontrollably, probably thanks to Bellatrix and her lack of creativity; how long could one stay entertained, casting only one curse time and time again? Even years after her death Severus still sneered at her lack of technique.

There was also something along the line of numerous rapes, a broken knee and six cracked ribs to sum up the worst of his injuries.

Half of his recuperation Severus had spent juiced on potions alone in his quarters, trying not to so much as blink. Doing anything was an absolute nightmare, just with the tremors and broken hands alone. He learned quickly to do absolutely everything with magic, thanking Merlin the whole way that he was a natural with the wandless variety. He would never have survived otherwise, even for the first while he was allowed to teach again. It was months before he was back to his old self again; not that that was something worth aspiring to.

The last war had nearly killed him, he still spent some nights still wishing that it had. Yes, he had survived; it was more than his wildest hopes at the time, but what met him on the other side was nearly as unpleasant as the alternative. The trials, the interrogations spent so doped up on Veritaserum he couldn’t have thought up a single lie to tell the Ministry Inquisitors if he had wanted to. The papers exposed every sordid detail of his life (and many extras) to the entirety of the general public. He was scorned and shunned; or worse, pitied by people who had no real idea what he’d survived wherever he went, from supporters of either side.

None of it compared to waking up every morning and remembering that the war was over and they’d won, but he had killed Albus. He would have traded an eternity at the hands of Riddle and his lackeys for the continuing knowledge that the Headmaster was alive. He would hand the world to Tom on a silver platter to take back that night, that mere second where he had given in to the old fool.

It had almost been for nothing, the Order wouldn’t trust his information or any source he tried delivering it from. Not that he had much information at all for the few months after Albus’ death. Since he was the most knowledgeable member of this inner circle on the matter of werewolves, Riddle had him ‘helping’ Greyback attempt to raise his army of werewolf cubs.

Six months he spent in some pit of a basement, trying to keep nine werewolf cubs in order and alive long enough to destroy what was left of their humanity. He was to develop a potion to keep them in their transformed states for an extended period. They would see him and Greyback as their pack leaders and kill on command without thought or remorse.

That had been the idea, anyway. They expected him to just pull this potion out of his arse or something; an undertaking like that could take someone a lifetime of work.

Some of the children never survived their initial bite, the only part of the proceedings he didn’t have to participate in. Of the sixteen that were successfully turned, only nine survived their first transformation.

Severus was there for it all, analyzing and categorizing every move they made, every word they said. They spent most of their time being instructed by Greyback; he was an excellent re-programmer. Other than that he made sure they ate all their meals and got some sleep through the night. During the hours where potions were brewing and Greyback was away, he spent his minimal free time with them, trying to keep them in their own minds as much as possible without arising suspicion.

It was much more of an undertaking that he had been led to believe, even without his ulterior motives. This was more than animals in a cage; most of the time he spent with them, they were just children, frightened angry children with no idea what had happened to them or what was going to be done to them.

He healed them when they were ill, mended their scrapes and bruises. He helped them get ready for bed; soothed them when they woke in terror. All the while, taking samples, running trials and documenting everything, including their transformations, which he had needed to be present for, Riddle’s order.

Balancing his personal need to give them only potions he’d calculated wouldn’t kill them and Voldemort’s demand for a successful trial was nearly impossible while trying to fake his results. He’d lived days at a time without sleep, eating on the run; trying to keep it all together. He’d had to run dozens of calculations for every ingredient that was added to the mix, a single mistake on his part would cost one of these children their life. Still, it had remained mostly guesswork. He’d worked around the clock for days hoping to stumble across something that would look like progress. He needed to continue to prove himself if he was to stay in the loop and glean anything of importance to try and pirate to the Order.

He had been able to smuggle four of the children out over the course of that six months; pretending they had died from a bad batch of experimental potion. He had one or two contacts on the outside that could still be trusted. Circe only knew what had happened to them in the end, but he knew they would have more of a chance the further away from that basement he could get them.

He watched the rest of them slowly deteriorate.

In the end, he had not been able to produce the potion that would render them useful to the Dark Lord. He spent the night under Voldemort’s wand as recompense for his failure; Greyback went to the basement and killed the lot of them.

Severus had been sent in the next day to dispose of their bodies and clean the space they had all inhabited for half a year.

He dug the holes first; in the same field as he had buried all the rest of them. It was a short Apperation away from where they had been kept, though the building was not in sight, lying over the top of a hill of long grass.

Here they would be under the sky, the world would continue to move on and thrive around them. A small cluster of trees were growing a short distance away; Severus had stopped to listen to the wind rustle their branches. If he hadn’t known about the twelve bodies rooted under the wildflowers around him, he would have thought this the most peaceful place in the world.

He spent the first night out there with them, not having the motivation to go back and begin his task of bringing that shithole back to standard. He’d lain on the soft clover looked at the stars, trying to discern what he could have done differently. He would spend one more night looking out for them, more useless now then it had been before; still, he couldn’t bring himself to leave. The night was sleepless and when the sun rose it brought with it a hollow, emotionless state.

It took him two more days to make that little hovel look presentable again.

He remembered going out to the field every night and watching the sun set; his feet would take him there almost before he knew it himself.

Snape had spent weeks waking in a cold sweat, looking over to where he thought they would be sleeping, only to find his desk in their place. He had drunk endless bottles of Scotch, remembering that they were gone and he had done nothing to save them. Even now, years after the fact he still felt a wrenching pang of remembrance, thinking of their smiling faces the day he had smuggled in a package of balloons. Or at night, when he would stay with them, coaxing the stories of their lives from them, making them relive times before all of this horror. He had hoped it would keep some of their humanity close despite hours of Greyback’s re-education.

Severus shook his head, finding himself still kneeling on the bathroom floor beside the bathtub, holding a dripping cloth in his hand. Remus was still lying back serenely, seemingly unaware of how far away he had been right there. He would never have to do anything like that again; he had his whole life to make up for whatever small percentage of his soul was still intact. It was something he had to at least pretend to believe in, the possibility of redemption, he tried to remind himself of it daily.

Turning back to the task at hand, he dipped the cloth back into the water and began to carefully work the layers of grime from whatever parts of skin were left exposed by Remus’ bandages. The healing flesh underneath would be sterile, thanks to his precautions. Still, he dabbed lightly around their edges.

He started on the arm closest to him, working his way from the linen around Lupin’s wrist up to the curve of his bandaged shoulder. Remus startled away from his hand, so he let him go, waiting for the other man to calm before trying again. Severus paused for a moment, setting the cloth on the edge of the tub.

“Lupin,” he said, trying to get the man’s attention.

Remus jumped slightly, opening his eyes wide and looking at that place on Severus’ shoulder again.

“I’m going to take off this collar so that I can clean underneath it,” Snape said.

Remus put a dripping hand up to his neck.

“When was the last time it was removed?” Severus asked, reaching for his wand.

“It hasn’t been, since he put it on me,” Remus replied quietly.

Snape touched his wand to the metallic band and said, “te solvo.” The band shimmered and unhinged from an unseen crack in the metal. Snape took it the rest of the way off, unhinging the thing slowly and tossing it onto the bathroom floor without a second look.

Remus gasped as he felt his magic for the first time in years. It was such a relief to know it was still there, even if he couldn’t use it. It vibrated through every part of him; he felt hope flare up in his soul in a way he thought was no longer possible. Tears sprang to his eyes.

Snape frowned. The skin underneath they band was raw and had healed over many times. Yet another scar to add to Lupin’s growing list; in its current state the scarring could only be healed so much. With all the gentleness he possessed, Severus swabbed at the grime around the irritated skin until it was visibly clean.

Setting the cloth aside again he pressed on the edges of the redness in exploration. “It seems to be alright at the present, aside from a couple of blisters. Is it quite painful?” Snape noted the tears tracking their way unchecked down the other man’s face. It would be a miracle if he could feel the injuries on his neck and not the rest of his body.

“No, I don’t even notice it, sir. It’s my magic; I – I feel it. It’s still there.” Remus sounded amazed. “Thank you, sir, just to know…” he trailed off.

Snape supposed he could understand. Living your life with something so vital just out of reach would be horrible. He found himself at a loss for words. Taking a deep breath, he picked up the cloth again and moved to scrub the edges of the bandages on Lupin’s feet, wiping a wide swath around them as he had on the others.

He worked his way methodically up Remus’ calves. Severus paid careful attention to Lupin’s movements, watching for any sort of distress. Remus gave no discernable sign, so he continued, levitating the man just off the bottom of the tub so he could reach his thighs and buttocks.

Remus suddenly made another lurch away from him, startled by the new direction this was taking.

“It’s just me, Remus,” Severus reminded the other man in a quiet voice. Although why he thought Lupin would find that comforting in any way was a mystery even to him.

“Right; sorry, sir.”

“Remember, you’re supposed to be relaxed. We can stop at any time if this becomes too much for you.”

Remus swallowed, looking away. “Thank you, master.” The lycanthrope forced himself to take a deep breath.

Severus continued, running the coarse cloth across Remus’ thighs in smooth circular motions. He forced himself to keep his own breathing even, surprising himself with the arousal burgeoning in his mind. His body, of course, would not respond to any kind of stimulus with that potion in his system; he was suddenly thankful for that.

Even though the other man definitely wasn’t at the top of his game, Severus could still see the person he had known years ago. It wouldn’t take much but the right potions and proper nutrition for him to fill out again; as it was Snape could just about count his ribs, if they weren’t swathed in bandages.

He ran the cloth briefly across Remus’ most sensitive area, finding the other man already hard. Against his stronger desire, Snape continued onward. He noted that Remus’ eyes were still closed, but his face was turned away all the same, face burning in… shame? Maybe not, since his hips momentarily seemed to follow the friction of the cloth as it continued up his body.

Snape brought the cloth gently across Lupin’s abdomen, distinctly hearing a sharp inhale of breath. “There is no need to be embarrassed, Remus,” he said calmly, washcloth still moving across Lupin’s stomach.

“I know sir,” Remus’ eyes were clenched shut, his face twisted away from Snape. “It’s just difficult to relax with you – touching me like that.” There was restraint in the other man’s voice.

“Why is that, Remus?” Severus asked in a low voice.

Remus practically groaned when Snape said his name, that devilish washcloth working its way down his left hip. He struggled to recall when his name had last been said like that and failed. He tried to stop himself but his hips pressed upwards of their own accord. What was he doing? Snape would think he was interested and then-

“Remus?”

“Because, sir.” Lupin fought the urge to moan as Severus pulled the cloth across his inner thigh. “It feels-” he struggled for a word to complete his thought that wouldn’t get him thrashed.

Severus waited a moment before suggesting, “Good?” His hand moved the washcloth so that it was back on Remus’ cock, the wet heat of its friction subbing across its smooth length.

“Yes,” Remus panted, hating himself for the admission.

“Perhaps it would help you to relax if I did this,” Snape said softly. He curled his hand loosely around Remus’ member, moving slowly up it to put gentle pressure on the swollen head.

Remus strained up against his hand. “Yes-” he breathed, then sharply, “No, please sir, you don’t have to…”

“No; I don’t have to,” Severus agreed, moving his hand back down so that the palm of it pressed against Remus balls. He kept his grip firm, sliding back up and then down his wrist twisting slightly with the motion.

Lupin gasped as his hips bucked up slightly. Water sloshed about in the tub as he shifted.

Snape’s breathing was becoming erratic, though his body showed no signs of his arousal. He continued to stroke Remus, sliding the soapy cloth across him at a leisurely pace.

Lupin cut in frantically, “Master, stop, I’m going to-” He ground his teeth together, trying to fight off his release.

Snape kept on silently, watching Remus’ facial expression progress to the surprised wonder of orgasm while his member pulsed into the washcloth in his hand.

Lupin reached out, gripping Severus’ forearm for support, his whole body shaking with the force of it; he lay in the water, breathless.

Snape ran the cloth across his softening member a few times more, Lupin’s hips lurching in response.

Severus then discarded the used cloth, wetting a new one under the tap. He applied more of the potion to the new cloth and returned his attention to Remus’ neck, which had not been properly tended to after that collar had been removed. He rinsed the new cloth under a stream of fresh water from the tap, dabbing the cool water at the chaffed skin.

He placed a bent finger on Remus’ chin, moving his head so he could access the other side of the man’s neck. Remus suddenly opened his eyes, looking right at him.

“I’m so sorry sir!” Remus burst out desperately, as if he had been holding it back for some time.

“Don’t be sorry; just let me see this side of your neck.”

Remus continued as if he hadn’t even heard him speak, “I couldn’t help it, sir. It’s been so long since someone has touched me like that...”

“Remus,” Severus stopped him. “I was conscious of what I was doing; your reaction doesn’t make me angry.” Snape didn’t dare pause to think what it did make him feel.

Remus went on, looking up at him, “I should have held on, sir. You didn’t give me permission, and there was no excuse for me to just…”

“Lupin,” Severus said sharply. “You did nothing wrong.” That was the truth, plain as the nose on his own face.

“Thank you, master.” Remus’ relief was clear. “It’s been so long since I was allowed-” Remus shut his mouth, looking away again.

Severus couldn’t help wondering just what had gone on between Macnair and this man, though he didn’t have to imagine too long to come up with a myriad of uncomfortable realities.

Severus unfolded a loose pair of pajama bottoms and an undershirt with no sleeves and set them out. He hadn’t known what else to put Lupin into, hopefully it would do the trick.

He pulled the plug and the water began to drain with a low gurgle. He levitated Remus out of the tub and cast a drying spell on him, maneuvering the man so he could be slipped into the pair or trousers and again so he could put the shirt on him, which was more difficult because of the limited mobility of his arms. Severus was careful to keep the fabric from pressing against the injured areas, making sure everything was loose enough before calling it good.

Leading a floating Lupin back into his own room, they both noted that Fred had changed the bed linens and pillowcases. Snape turned them down and laid him into the clean bed.

“Sir?” Remus asked meekly.

Snape looked at him, waiting for him to continue; he was getting tired of giving everyone permission to begin a conversation.

Remus cleared his throat. “Are you going to put the collar back on me now?”

Snape answered without thinking. “No; I see no reason for that damnable thing. Your enslavement bond will already prohibit you from doing me any purposeful harm. Your magic will be regulated by the bond, until it is complete I have good reason to believe you will not be able to cast any spells intentionally.”

Remus sighed in relief. “That means more to me than I could say, sir. Just knowing it’s there makes me feel like a person again.”

“That was probably why Macnair took it from you in the first place.” And why he was giving it back.

“I imagine so, sir.”

Snape picked up a vial from the nightstand. “Three more swallows of this,” he instructed, holding the vial out for Remus to drink from.

“I seem to be going through quite a few potions, sir.” Remus sounded apologetic.

Snape wasn’t sure what he was getting at. “Well, it’s a good thing you have one of the foremost experts on werewolf physiology planning your potions regimen then. I won’t allow anything you take to react negatively with your body chemistry or with any other potion you’ve been taking.”

Remus colored. “I didn’t mean to imply that, sir. Only, lycanthrope friendly brewing is expensive and in my present condition I don’t see that I’m fit to repay you in any way.”

Snape wondered briefly just what kind of repayment Remus had in mind. “Lupin, when I said your health was my concern, I wasn’t just stringing random words together to hear how they sounded. If you want to look at things in their simplest terms, then look at it like this: you and your son belong to me; I take care good of my things. You are never to repay me for this or anything.”

“That is an interesting way to view your mastery of us, sir.” Remus said tiredly; it was not at all how he expected the man he thought he knew to behave. Maybe this was all an elaborate hoax to build them up, repair them only to break them down all over again. He was too tired to think more on the matter tonight, his eyes already drifting closed despite his best efforts.

Snape didn’t reply, only unscrewed the lid on the healing salve and applied it to the recently revealed blisters on Remus’ neck. “These should be gone by tomorrow. The tenderness may still be there, so use caution when moving your neck.” He cast the evacuation charm on Remus’ bladder and bowels again. “In the morning I will change your bandages and put more of the salve on your burns; these dressings will be good for the night. You should get some sleep, I will look in on Teddy before turning in myself.”

“Thanks, Sev’rus.” Remus slurred in his exhaustion, eyes closed and breathing already beginning to even out.

“Don’t mention it,” Severus said quietly to unhearing ears. He pulled the covers up over Lupin’s shoulders, dimmed the lights and left the room.

Chapter Text

Severus opened the door to Teddy’s room a little more so he could slip through the crack, casting a small ‘lumos’ and tiptoeing toward the bed. The boy seemed to be sleeping soundly, his breath coming in slow even draws. His face looked more peaceful in sleep than Snape had seen it yet. He straightened the blankets that were twisted around the small form and covered him back up properly.

Satisfied that everything was as good as it was going to get that night, Snape headed off to his own room, leaving both his and Teddy’s doors open a crack so he would be able to hear if anything went wrong.

Severus slid out of his clothes, remembering that he had left his robe hanging on the bathroom door. He put on his nightclothes, depositing what he had been wearing into the laundry bin. Casting a charm to raise the lights, he sat in the armchair closest to the window.

Snape poured himself a solid three fingers of scotch from the tumbler on the side table.

Tonight had not gone at all as planned. He was supposed to show Lupin that he wasn’t of the same cloth as Walden, but as soon as he had the man alone, he’d basically molested him.

Severus shook his head, taking a sip out of his glass. What Remus had made of it all, he’d no idea. Hell, he barely knew what to make of it himself.

Lupin had expected something terrible there in the bathroom, he’d seen it plain as day. At the same time, he’d seemed so eager for Severus’ touch; there could be no denying that he’d enjoyed it at least on a physical level. Not that that was such a great excuse, trying to prove he had the other man’s best interests at heart would be much more difficult after this, of that he was sure.

Snape was quite disappointed in himself, not that it hadn’t been wonderful to watch Remus enjoy his ministrations. He wondered when the last time lycanthrope had taken pleasure of any kind from another person. Macnair certainly hadn’t been the type to worry about such things. Lupin seemed to think he was going to fly into a rage over the whole thing, even though he was the one who had initiated it.

Taking a long pull from his drink, Severus cursed his own lack of control and common sense. Who knew how far he had set them back with his actions? He grabbed a book from the side table and opened it to the page he’d last been on, trying not to think about the look of incredulous amazement that had flashed across Remus’ face as he’d came, how he’d grabbed on to his arm almost as if he needed to be anchored or the sensations would sweep him away... Severus took another slug from his glass.

The book he’d chosen had very recently been added to his collection. It was bloody ancient and he had been quite fortunate to get his hands on it at a decent price. It was a compendium of bonding methods and practices. It would give him an idea how to shape this enslavement spell into something manageable for both he and Lupin. His translation work was still important, but it would better be left to the light of day. Right now he needed to get his mind off of his own stupidity for a while.

Snape had no desire to have to give Lupin permission for every damned thing he needed to do in his life. It seems that that may well have been the case with the lycanthrope and Macnair. He might have even preferred the idea himself, had he been twenty years younger and still the power-hungry fool he was at that age. Now, the idea of that was quite unattractive. Merlin, it would drive him mad to have to give the man leave to take every drink of water, every morsel of food, each trip to the loo.

Uncounted hours and a few glasses of scotch later the words on the page began to blur together, from exhaustion or alcohol he wasn’t sure. It didn’t matter, more than likely it was for the best.

He felt that he had made some progress. He had found the origin of the bond he would share with Lupin. It was a curse that had been popular over a century ago, frequently cast during wartime. Instead of killing useful or alluring conquests it would bind them to the caster on one of two ways, for labor or for pleasure.

From the documents sent to him by the Ministry Division that regulated these things, he gleaned that Walden had totally butchered the intents of the spell, melding traits from both sides into a twisted jumble for Snape to try and untangle. They had done their best to give him some instruction, but had largely left it up to his discretion, having thrown up their hands at the whole mess. From what he remembered of the document, there were aspects of the curse that probably came from other enchantments and it didn’t seem like the actual spell had been completed properly. Leave it to Walden to half-ass something so pivotal.

It would be extremely helpful if he could view the memory of exactly how the ceremony was completed the first time. From his understanding, he would be able to manipulate the curse, so long as he stayed within the parameters of the original spell, which was an interesting thought because it seemed Macnair hadn’t bothered to do that himself.

More research would be necessary; in a day or so when Remus was stronger he would discuss the viewing with him. It was clear that the spell intended absolute control over the enslaved, but such things were easily shifted if one were familiar enough with ritualized bindings. He happened to be more acquainted with bonding than he was comfortable with, having tied his soul to two masters over the course of his life. Everything had a loophole or a back door; one just had to be diligent enough to find it.

He set the book aside for the night, deciding to have one more quiet drink to himself before turning in. Who knew what tomorrow would hold? Teddy would have to be bound soon, there was little chance in delaying it much longer. He would be bound as an apprentice, escaping whatever spell Macnair had originally cast on him. The man Severus had paid at the auction house more than likely thought he had taken advantage of him; to the contrary, he had done them all a huge favor. Teddy would be granted vastly more freedoms in his life if Snape had total control over the curse enslaving him.

Taking a large swallow of his drink, he decided that the boy would be allowed one more day of adjustment. If the Ministry sent him a warning that he must finalize his transaction soon, that was fine with him. Make the bastards wait. Merlin knew that he had received worse from them than a stern reprimand in the past.

He had fairly decided that ‘Sclavus Teneo’ was the way to go. It was from a similar time period as the curse that would bind his father. However, he believed if he went into it with his mind set firmly on teaching the boy his trade, it may be possible to free him when he came of age. It was not something he would discuss with either the boy or his father until he was more certain.

There was a version of this particular spell that had been used specifically for the children of the poorer class. Basically, parents (or less commonly, an owner without funds to finance it himself) would sell the freedom of their children (or young slave) for a time to further their education in one or more subjects. This would be because they could not afford the cost of formally indenturing them to a Master of the subject.

How the Master (both of the art and the child) would choose to exact payment from their now-slave would be completely up to them, the law was exempt from interfering in such contracts. However, because he was inherited, it would be possible he would not be able to free him from his servitude while he himself was still alive. However, intent played such a large part in the outcome of these curses that it was hard to say.

He knew in his heart of hearts that he had no desire to control the life of the young man sleeping in the other room. He deserved to be able to make his own way, to have friends and colleagues, a lover if he so desired. Severus knew he would do everything that was in his power to allow Teddy these freedoms. The same freedoms he had denied himself of as a young adult.

Severus did not wish the tribulations of the servitude he had endured for so much of his life to continue on in Teddy. The fact that that was the honest truth gave him hope of someday being able to grant the boy his own life. In the meantime he would do all he could to educate the child well enough that he could make it on his own, were he only given the chance.

He stood and walked over to the bed, glass in hand. He took one last sip, leaving about a third of the liquor remaining. He sat the glass on the nightstand beside his wand, turning back the covers and climbing between the cool sheets. He drifted off to sleep more easily than he had in weeks, despite his nagging conscience.

Severus slept so soundly, that he didn’t hear the soft chiming of his alarm, alerting him that Teddy was out of bed, or even the hesitant knocking on the door to his chamber. Somehow, he slept right through the quiet patter of feet up to his bedside. He was so soundly asleep in fact, that he continued his slumber right through the first reluctant whisper of his name. It took a small hand resting lightly on his arm to startle him into consciousness. He must be getting old.

He jarred awake, sitting up and grabbing his wand purely on instinct, knocking the glass of spirits onto the floor near the boy’s feet with a sickening smash, the smell of spilled liquor wafting up between them. The lights in the room jumped alive, revealing a cowering Teddy beside his bed, directly in front of the tip of his wand.

The boy’s arms were flung up to cover his face. His eyes were scrunched shut, torso curled inward slightly to protect himself as much as possible. Severus blinked once, twice and lowered his wand so it wasn’t aimed right at the terrified child.

“Don’t move,” Snape heard himself bark. Mentally cursing, he continued in a softer voice, “There’s broken glass everywhere.” He tried to shake off the last traces of sleep. The boy seemed to have no problem following his last command; Severus couldn’t see him so much as breathe. He had opened his eyes though, tears forming in anticipation of what was to come.

Snape raised his wand again, casting a ‘reparo’ on the shards of glass, which immediately pulled together back into the shape of a cup. It wouldn’t hold forever, so badly broken was the glass, but it would get all the sharp pieces off the floor and away from Teddy’s bare feet. The boy yelped when the magic was cast but did as he was told and stayed in place. Severus cast a second spell, banishing the spilled alcohol in an instant.

Snape sat up in bed, swinging his feet over the edge of the mattress and rubbing blearily at his face.

Teddy scooted back a few feet, scuttling to get out of arm’s reach and almost falling over himself in the process. “I’m sorry sir! I didn’t know what else to do!”

In the dim light Severus could see tear tracks marking the child’s face, more still falling. He pulled himself together.

“What’s wrong?” He’d heard the panic in Teddy’s voice immediately.

Teddy bowed his head and slammed his fists up over his face to cover it. “I wet the bed again,” the boy moaned piteously. “Please forgive me, master. Don’t hit me; please don’t hit me, sir. I’m so sorry, I’ll do anything…”

Snape reached up and carefully pulled the boy’s arms down, revealing his agonized face. He held the balled fists loosely in his own hands. He noted that the child had put on a new set of nightclothes.

“I am not going to hit you,” Severus kept his voice as gentle as possible. “How about we go get your bed taken care of? I see you have already changed; that was a good idea. Your soiled clothes are still in your room?” He kept his tone lax, finding it unnecessary to frighten the child more than he already had. Teddy nodded. He stood, placing his hand lightly on the boy’s shoulder and walking with him back to his room.

Severus made the light just bright enough that they could see about the room. He pulled the chair by the desk out for Teddy to sit on. Then he went to the bed and stripped off the top quilt, which was perfectly dry. This, he went and draped over the boy’s shaking shoulders. “Here, hold onto this for me.”

Teddy grasped its edges and pulled it tighter around himself like a shield.

Severus continued to change the sheets, spelling the old ones and the mattress dry along with Teddy’s previous sleeping attire and throwing it all into the hamper to be laundered the next day. From a drawer in the bed frame he removed a new set of bedding and installed them on the bed. He fluffed the pillow and signaled at Teddy to come closer while still kneeling by the bed.

The boy started to head over, but his feet got tangled up in the quilt. Severus was across the room and couldn’t stop him from pitching forward onto the floor with a thud. He stood in one fluid motion and took the few steps over to the boy, kneeling back down at his side, one knee complaining loudly.

He helped the boy to sit up. “Are you alright, Teddy?” he asked in a calm voice, knowing that children often mirror panic or worry in such circumstances.

The boy blinked a few times, putting his hand up to his head, which had hit the floor fairly hard. There were tears in his eyes, but he wasn’t really crying. “I think so, sir,” he whispered with a nod.

“Good. Let’s get you back to bed,” he said to the sniffling child. Then he did something he couldn’t for the life of him ever remember anyone doing for him. He stood and picked Teddy up off the ground, carrying him close to his body.

The boy instantly wrapped his arms around him and buried his face in his neck, crying earnestly now. Severus shifted him around on instinct so that they were both more comfortable, his own arms curling around the child’s back without much thought of his own. It was frightening how natural this seemed, when he had never experienced such affection himself.

He walked both of them back over to the bed, but Teddy made no move to release him. So he sat on the edge of the mattress, still holding the boy close in near bewilderment. What was he supposed to do next?

Teddy was wailing so openly now that Snape began to be concerned. He put his hand up to feel Teddy’s head in an attempt to make sure there was no real damage.

“Are you hurt, child?” he asked quietly.

Teddy shook his head and pressed his forehead tighter into the curve between Severus’ neck and shoulder.

Snape cupped the back of the boy’s head in his hand, not knowing what to do for him. He was prepared to just sit there with him until he calmed down. Against his own better judgment, he chose to brush minds with Teddy for a second time.

Most things in his mind were jumbled, torrents of emotion crashed around him.

A series of images stood out stronger than the rest. It was then he was sure that he was seeing something Teddy himself would not be able to explain. He saw an image of Lupin, arms open wide but standing distinctly out of reach. The child was alone, that desolate aura clung about him in a shroud so thick it was hard to see through it.

All of a sudden he appeared, looking somehow not quite the same as he knew himself to be, scooping the boy off the floor and enfolding him in his arms. He felt warmth coursing through Teddy, a happiness that was somehow melancholy yet still managed to overwhelm Snape.

Without even knowing it, he had sparked that feeling in the boy. With just one simple action he had made him feel worthwhile and it had done more for Teddy than any words he could have said. The emotion was overpowering, it was no wonder the child was having a hard time managing it.

He pulled away from the child’s mind carefully, not wanting to distress him further. There was no way he was fit to be dealing with this situation; he was in way over his head.

“Try taking a couple of deep breaths,” he suggested calmly, making his own breathing slow and measured to show the child how.

Teddy tried, his first couple of inhalations coming out in quick, shuddering gasps. He kept at it until his sobbing settled down and his shaking shoulders stilled. He made no move to draw back, his face still hidden in Snape’s shoulder.

Severus briefly tightened his arms around the boy then loosened them, pulling away just a little to try and get a look at his face. He brought his hand up, using his thumb to wipe the tears away. Shifting them both he pulled a clean handkerchief from one of his pockets and held it out to the child.

Teddy took it and blew his nose loudly. He offered it back, unsure of what to do with it now that it was used.

Severus took a clean portion of it in his fingers and set it on the nightstand.

“Do you feel better now?” he asked.

Teddy nodded. Severus felt it rather than saw it, since the boy’s head was resting on his shoulder again. They sat like that for a while, Teddy reclined against him and his arms looped around the child’s middle.

“It’s getting late, do you think you could go back to sleep?”

Teddy shrugged and then nodded again.

“Alright,” Snape said, standing carefully with the boy still in his arms. Holding Teddy against his hip with one hand, he pulled the new sheets back with the other. As smoothly as he could, finding himself completely unsure of the mechanics of such a maneuver, he laid him down in the bed and pulled the sheets back up over his thin shoulders. He retrieved the quilt from its place on the floor and spread it out over the bed, boy and all.

He felt the need to say it, “I didn’t mean to frighten you earlier. You did the right thing in coming to me for help.”

“I thought you were going to be so angry, but you’d said to do it. So I figured you’d be mad either way, sir,” Teddy admitted.

“I will not tell you to do something and then punish you for doing it. However, you were very brave tonight, thinking what you did and still coming to get me.”

“Thank you, sir. For everything.” Teddy’s breath hitched again.

Snape pulled the chair from the desk back over by the bed and sat down, setting the book he’d been reading to Teddy earlier on his lap. He saw plain as day that the child would have a tough time going back to sleep with so many thoughts flying around his head.

“How about we read one more chapter?” he asked, seeing Teddy smile in the dim light.

It only took three pages for the boy to be out like a light. Snape closed the book with a marker to hold their spot, setting it aside. He decided to leave the chair there for now, standing and dimming the lights again. He left the door open again and retreated back to his rooms.

Snape didn’t even bother to check the time, climbing straight back into bed and closing his eyes.

 

 

Morning came too soon. He rose feeling quite unrested. Absently, he noted the broken glass on his nightstand. The cup had fallen apart when the spell had failed; he banished the whole mess with a wave of his hand.

Snape quickly dressed and ducked into the loo, splashing cold water on his face in an attempt to wake up. It was only moderately successful.

He checked in on Teddy, finding his bed empty. The child had clearly made a rough attempt to make it, sheets and comforter slightly askew. Snape smiled to himself, leaving them as they were.

Severus then opened the door to Lupin’s room, a thrill of uncertainty flashing through him upon finding a snoring Remus to be the room’s only occupant.

He found himself hurrying downstairs, eyes scanning the rooms as he went.

He stumbled into the kitchen, eyebrows raising to see Teddy dressed and sitting at the table eating a bowl of oatmeal. There was a tall glass of juice and a bowl of grapes beside him. He was swinging his feet freely and munching on his warm cereal, seeming quite care free.

Fred was at the sink, running water for dishes. There was a steaming cup of coffee sitting on the table opposite the boy. He crossed the room, picked up the cup and took a long sip before taking a seat.

“Good morning,” he said to the room in general. Teddy gave him a shy smile from behind a spoonful of oatmeal.

“Good morning,” Fred said cheerily. “Breakfast is being ready, although you is probably wanting to be drinking your coffee first.” He placed a bowl of porridge in front of Snape, who predictably didn’t touch it.

“How was the rest of your sleep, Teddy?” Severus asked between sips.

“It was okay, sir,” he said, careful to swallow first.

“I see Fred helped you get ready. Have you been up for long?”

Teddy shook his head. “Just for a few minutes, sir.”

Snape drank the rest of his cup in silence, standing and refilling it before sitting back down and tucking into his own breakfast. When he was done, he brought his and Teddy’s dishes over to the sink where Fred was nearly done washing up.

“There are some things that need tending in the garden this morning,” he said to Fred. “But I will need to see to Lupin before I get to that. If you’ve the time I was thinking you could keep Teddy entertained until I am ready to head out.”

“Of course Fred could be doing that, sir!” The elf exclaimed. “Fred brought the box of things down from the attic for the little one yesterday. There is being a few toys in there for us to be playing with,” he said with a glint in his eye, looking over at Teddy, who had perked up visibly at the mention of toys.

Severus wondered if there would be anything the boy would find to his interest in there. His parents had never been wealthy and what money they had had was spent on other things more important than his recreation. He supposed it would keep them busy for a while at least.

“That sounds good, Fred. If you could ladle out another serving of porridge, I’ll take it up to Lupin so I can get some more potions into him.”

He finished his coffee while Fred made up a small tray for Remus. Porridge, some fruit and a glass of orange juice was laid out for Snape to take upstairs.

He picked it up and walked to the door. “See you in a while,” he said to the two of them, who were already chatting away. Fred had always been good with children.

Upstairs, he cleared a space and set the tray on the night table in Remus’ room.

“Morning, Lupin,” he said gruffly.

Remus jerked awake, looking around wildly. Interestingly enough, he relaxed when he saw Snape.

“Hello sir,” he greeted groggily. “Where is Teddy?”

“He’s fine. Fred and him are going through a box of old toys he found in the attic. It should give us more than enough time to get some food in you and change your dressings. I thought it best he not see your current level of healing.” The child had enough to worry about.

“Thank you, sir.” Remus struggled to sit up a little more.

Snape sat down by his bed and helped him through breakfast as he had every other meal the lycanthrope had eaten so far. He was rather pleased that Lupin’s appetite had picked up, seeing the whole plate cleared away. It meant he was healing at a faster pace; his body was working harder than it was when he had first arrived.

He set the tray aside and brought the potions closer, helping Remus to drink his allotment. “How is your pain this morning?”

“Oh, better than it was yesterday when I first woke up.” He tried rolling his shoulders carefully. “There’s definitely a greater range of movement.”

“Good. I’m going to change your wrappings and put more of the healing salve on. Let me know if the application feels any different than last time.”

He helped Remus sit forward again, carefully assisting him out of the button up top he was wearing and unwinding the bandages from around his arm and chest.

The wounds were still red and angry but the edges were clearly receding, leaving scar tissue in their wake. He uncapped the salve and rolled up his sleeves, sterilizing his hands and forearms with a charm. Dipping his fingers into the large pot of cream he began to apply it in long even swipes.

Remus’ skin was jumping and twitching under his fingers, more of a reaction than yesterday that was for sure. He continued his ministrations across Lupin’s chest and stomach, keeping the weight as light as possible across the tender flesh.

“How does that compare to yesterday?” he asked.

“The salve is cold; I can feel that now. Also the pressure of your hands, I barely sensed that yesterday.” What went unsaid was that the feeling of Snape’s hands spreading the healing cream across his skin was wonderful. He wasn’t sure if it was the cream itself or the mere fact that he was starved for physical contact that didn’t end in something awful. He didn’t care, trying to silence sounds of appreciation, attempting to keep his mind off Severus applying that same careful pressure to his cock the night before. His face flushed.

Snape repeated the process from the previous day almost exactly, spelling a charm to protect his stomach and then levitating him so he could work on the other side of his body.

“Your back seems to be improving at a more accelerated pace than your chest and arm,” Snape said observantly. He pressed his fingers more firmly against some of the healed skin on Remus’ lower back, testing to see if the nerves responded.

Remus couldn’t help it; he let out a long exhale of contentment. The pressure in his back lightened immediately. Even with all the potions and the bath, there was no denying that his muscles were sore.

Snape didn’t say anything, but he didn’t stop applying the salve in the same fashion as before. Only this time he continued, covering Lupin’s entire back with it, including the unburned flesh. He pressed his thumbs with greater pressure into the unmarred tissue, finding a knot on the shoulder with no burns, working it under his fingers until he heard Remus groan. The sound would have gone right to his prick, had he not had the damned thing deliberately deflated. Maybe he should move on to the other man’s feet.

He bandaged Remus’ torso, arranging him so he was lying back in bed properly. Snape moved to the foot of the bed. The same process was repeated, only more slowly. Extra care was needed to tend these wounds; improper treatment could easily do more harm than help.

“Do you have any more feeling in them than yesterday?” Snape asked, Remus’ foot held carefully in his hands.

“It’s hard to say, I think so.” Remus wasn’t sure if he was making that up out of wishful thought or if it were true. “If there is, it’s minimal.”

“That’s to be expected. They were by far the worst of the damage; it will take them longer to heal.” Snape bandaged them again. He took a pillow from beside the bed and tucked it under Remus’ feet so they were slightly elevated and then covered them back up. He looked up at Lupin and found worry written across his face. “We’ll just have to wait and see; I’ll do all I can.”

Remus gave a snort of bitter laughter. “I hope so, sir. There isn’t much use in a lame slave.”

“Perhaps,” Snape drawled with one eyebrow raised. “We will worry about that when – and if – the situation arises. Just give it time.”

“You’re probably right, sir.”

“One or two more days of rest like you’ve been getting and you’ll more than likely start being awake for longer stretches. It may not sound like much, but you’re really improving at an enhanced pace.”

“Lycanthropy does have the occasional benefit.” Lupin agreed wryly, eyes slowly closing.

“If you wake and need anything, call Fred; if he is unable to assist you he will notify me. Teddy and I will be spending part of the day outside; some fresh air would do him good.”

Remus’ eyes opened. “Outside? Where are you going?”

“Relax, Lupin. We’re going down to the garden. I have some work to do out there. Teddy will… I don’t know, run around on the grass or whatever it is young boys do for fun.”

“You say that like you were never one yourself, sir,” Remus said with a smile.

Severus merely shrugged, anything he would say in response to that would be too revealing.

The smile dimmed from Remus’ face. “Don’t worry, sir. He’ll find something to amuse himself.”

“Of that I have no doubt. I’ll be up around lunchtime to see how you’re faring.”

“Thank you, sir.” Remus let his eyes drift shut again.

Chapter Text

Snape descended the stairs, finding Fred and Teddy sitting on the living room floor together. There was an empty cardboard box and an array of shabby toys between them. He remembered most of the items from his childhood and was surprised that his father hadn’t thrown them away in the years he’d lived here alone after his mother had passed.

He came closer and sat on one of the chairs nearest to them. “Anything salvageable in there?”

“Oh, there is being a few things, sir. A checker board that is still having most of its pieces, some wooden blocks, a kaleidoscope… most things we are going to be getting rid of if sir is not minding.”

“That is fine with me.” Up until five minutes ago he thought all of this was gone years ago. He hadn’t missed it before and wasn’t about to start now.

“May I please keep the dragon, sir?” Teddy burst out.

“What dragon?” Snape asked.

Teddy reluctantly held it out for examination.

Severus took it carefully in his hands, turning it over to see every side. This of all things he was not expecting to see. It had been his closest and only companion for many years, going everywhere with him. It had been a gift from his mother when he was so young he had no memory of receiving it. His father had tolerated it until the first signs of his magic began to appear. He had taken it away one night while he was punishing Severus - no toys were allowed in the cubby under the bay window in the sitting room. The next evening when he was allowed out, his father told him that he had burnt it in the fireplace.

Snape remembered being inconsolable, the quiet outrage his mother had exuded. He shook his head as if that would clear his thoughts. So the old bastard hadn’t incinerated it after all. He took in the patched wings, the faded button that had replaced a missing eye, and was glad that it still existed, even if the knowledge came forty years too late.

“I would like that very much.” He handed the dragon back to Teddy. “He’ll take good care of you.”

“Oh thank you, sir!” Teddy clutched the stuffed toy to himself.

Fred was smiling sappily beside them. “Fred will be cleaning all this up if you is wanting to head out to the garden while it is still being early.”

“That would be appreciated; I think we’ll do just that. Keep an ear open for Lupin, don’t hesitate to come get me if the need arises.”

Fred gave a nod. “Of course, sir.”

“Thank you, Fred. Come on Teddy, let’s go outside; you can bring your dragon.”

Teddy jumped up and followed him through the kitchen and to the back door. Snape got a pair of shoes on both of them and they were out in the sunshine.

Teddy stayed close to him as they walked down the path to the garden, clutching the dragon tightly at his side. “It’s very big out here, sir,” he said in a small voice.

“I suppose it is,” Severus agreed. “However, no one is around us for some miles in any direction; there is no reason to be afraid.”

Teddy didn’t look so sure about that.

They rounded a corner and were met by the massive garden. Out behind it was a large greenhouse that seemed to be brimming with vegetation.

“Wow,” Teddy said. “Did you plant all this stuff, sir?”

“A large portion of it. Fred has been very helpful out here as well as inside the house. Most of the work comes from maintaining it all, planting, pruning and harvesting the plants at the right times and in the proper ways. I actually quite enjoy it.” That was an admission he could never have made in the past. Letting anyone know something like that about himself would have been giving up power. He imagined Albus tugging at the end of his beard, eyes twinkling merrily at his admission to the boy.

“Can I help?” Teddy asked, looking up at him.

“You don’t want to go explore the yard, or play over there in the grass?” Severus asked.

Teddy looked over to where Snape was indicating. He shook his head quickly. The area of grass was large, the sky above it open and clear. He couldn’t imagine being in the middle of all that space, alone. His breath sped up a little.

“Alright,” Snape said quickly, sensing his panic. “There’s no reason you have to, if you don’t want to.” He picked up a metal watering can and filled it at the spigot at the edge of the garden. This he handed to Teddy. “If you want to help you can water the last two rows lightly. Just enough to darken the soil, you don’t want the water to pool, that means there is too much of it.”

Teddy tucked the dragon under one arm and took the watering can with the other. He looked over to the rows Snape was talking about. They weren’t all that far away. He walked over to the start of one row, feeling the soft dirt beneath his feet. He watered them, careful to heed Severus’ caution about the amounts he was doling out. When he was done, he brought the empty watering can back over to where Severus was kneeling in one of the rows, cutting the heads off some flowers that had gone to seed and placing them into a paper bag he had produced from his pocket.

“All finished?” he asked, folding the top of the bag and setting it aside.

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll be done collecting these right away. You and your dragon go get the spade from over there and we’ll dig up some potatoes for supper.”

He pulled out another bag and moved to the next fennel plant. It took up more room in the garden that way but space wasn’t an issue out here. They grew best when you gave them some space and potions that were brewed with all the seeds from the same plant had a much higher potency.

Teddy bustled off to grab the spade as he was told, returning more quickly than Snape had anticipated. The boy stood patiently, waiting for him to complete his task before saying, “Those sure are pretty, sir; they make me think of fire, or the sun. But what can you do with flower seeds?”

“This is fennel; all parts of the plant are edible. I use the seeds, roots and flowers in different potions. The seeds are also used to make a tea.” It occurred to him that Lupin had ordered fennel tea near every morning in the great hall for the short time they had worked together. It was hard not to notice, having sat next to him for nearly a year. There was more than enough for the potions he’d planned to brew; maybe he’d make some of the seeds into tea for the both of them.

“Neat. Is everything in here used for potions?” Teddy asked.

“No, not everything. That section of the garden over there is mostly for us to eat. We’re going to dig up some potatoes like I’d said earlier. Come with me, I’ll show you how.”

They went over to the rows of potato plants, which were looking very healthy this year. He’d been sprinkling the tops of the leaves with wheat bran and had planted rows of garlic and horseradish on either side of the rows. It had seemed to help keep the insects at bay.

Severus went up to a plant and set the tip of the spade in the dirt a safe distance from it. He placed his foot on the shovel and used his weight to sink it deep into the soil, holding the handle and pulling it back sharply, revealing loose soil and the eyes of new potatoes peeking out of the dirt.

“Neat! They grow underground.”

“Yes, they do,” Snape pulled the shovel back, repeating the same process on the other side of the plant, loosening the dirt more and more. “Go ahead and gather all you can see. Put them in a pile, I’ll go get a pail to carry them.”

He left Teddy happily rooting through the earth and headed over to the garden shed. It lay on the edge of the plot of land closest to the greenhouse. It held numerous gardening tools, scissors, twine, baskets, buckets and any number of odds and ends that were needed to harvest and maintain an array of herbal materials. He selected a medium sized bucket for the potatoes and a smaller one that would be easy for Teddy to carry.

He wasted no time in getting back to the boy. Teddy had piled as many potatoes as he could find on the grass near the plowed earth of the garden.

“Do you think this is all of them, sir?” Teddy asked, wrist deep in the loosely clumping ground.

“I trust you’ve checked thoroughly enough.” Severus stooped to transfer the vegetables from the grass into the bucket. Teddy came closer to help him, wiping his dirty hands on his trousers.

“I’ve got a job for you, if I’m not mistaken you’ll enjoy it very much.” Snape held out the small pail to the boy; Teddy accepted without hesitation. “Follow me.”

They walked to the side of the garden closest to the house; there stood two tall rows of raspberry bushes.

Snape walked up to one. “These are raspberries; they are used in jams, pies as well as many other forms of food. Here, try one.” He plucked a ripe berry from the bush and held it out to the boy.

Teddy took it from his open palm and popped it into his mouth without question, smiling around the flavor.

“If they are white, they are not quite ready to be picked yet; the dark purple ones may be a little over ripe. Use your own discretion in which ones you choose, just put them in your bucket. Fred will know what to do with them.”

Teddy looked perplexed. “My dis-creation?”

“Use your best judgment, if they are not ripe enough, leave them until later, if they are too ripe, leave them for the birds. Just be cautious of the thorns.”

“The birds, sir?”

“Oh yes, we are not the only ones who enjoy raspberries,” Snape said with a thin smile.

Teddy proceeded to work his way slowly up and down the rows until his bucket was full. It didn’t feel so open between the tight lines of tall plants; he could breathe easy for the first time since they came outside. The sun was warm on his skin, he had to squint into its wonderful brightness.

While he was doing this, Snape turned the valve that controlled the gravity flow sprinklers in the greenhouse; it was all accomplished with rain water. This was best done in the morning, when the moisture would turn to humidity soon after in the heat of the day. When it had ran for a sufficient length of time, he closed the valve and headed back to where Teddy was carefully deciding which berries to put in his pail.

“How’s it coming?”

“I’ve got almost a whole bucket!” Teddy proclaimed.

“I’m sure that’s more than enough. Let’s go back inside to see what is for lunch and visit your father.” Snape picked up the bucket of potatoes and his brown bags of seeds.

“Okay sir,” Teddy beamed, following him back up the path to the house a little more freely than before, dragon still tucked under his arm.

Back in the kitchen, Snape set the potatoes down near the sink. “Head upstairs and wash up; I think you’re wearing half the garden.”

Teddy nodded and went up the stairs. Snape transferred the potatoes into the sink and moved the bucket to the back entrance. He or Fred would scrub them before supper. The elf was nowhere to be seen, but couldn’t be too far as he was keeping an eye on Lupin.

Snape opened the cold box and found a large plate of sandwiches waiting for lunch. These he put on a tray with a couple of tall glasses of water and headed upstairs.

The bathroom door was open but the light was off and when he looked inside, Teddy was not to be found. He went across the hall to see him sitting on Lupin’s bed. They both looked up guiltily when he strode into the room. He didn’t say anything about it, just went and set the tray beside Lupin’s bed. “Let’s see your hands, Teddy.”

The boy held them out for inspection, cringing as if he already knew they were not good enough.

Snape nodded. “Nice and clean; dig in.” He indicated the tower of sandwiches.

Teddy took one and went to sit in one of the chairs across the room. Snape set the water on the table beside him, not really trusting the child to make it across the room with the full glass and not spill. “Make sure you drink it all, you were in the sun most of the morning.”

“How did it go?” Remus asked.

“It was fun,” Teddy hastily swallowed his mouthful of sandwich before answering. “We dug potatoes! And I picked raspberries.” He giggled. “They taste so good even birds like them, daddy.”

“That does sound like fun,” Remus agreed with a smile of his own. He shot a sideways glance at Snape, still directing his conversation to Teddy. “So you didn’t play in the yard at all?”

Teddy shifted in his chair. “No; I decided to help instead.” He looked down and fiddled with a wing on his stuffed toy, which Remus took note of for the first time.

“How come? Surely your friend there would have played with you?” he tried to ask lightly.

“I don’t know.” It took Teddy a moment to think about what to say. “There was so much room out there. It was too big out there, daddy.” He sounded rather upset.

“That’s okay, Teddy.” Remus said, his brow wrinkling. “I know you haven’t been outside very often, and this is the most space you’ve had to move around in. I’m still glad you got to go out; I bet the sun felt nice.”

“It did daddy, it was so warm! Master’s garden has so many plants too.” Teddy seemed to have moved on and was chewing happily again.

Snape indicated the plate of sandwiches. “Would you like to try eating on your own? These are less treacherous than soup at least.”

Remus nodded. “I think I could manage that, sir.”

Snape came closer and assisted him into a sitting position, leaning against the headboard. He handed him a sandwich.

Remus’ hand shook, but the food made it to his mouth without incident. When Severus was sure he would be able to do it, he took a seat and bit into his own lunch.

“I didn’t know you took interest in Herbology, sir,” Remus said conversationally.

“I find it is easier to control the consistency and quality of my ingredients if I grow and harvest them myself. Improper harvesting and storage can have disastrous results. Say if someone had taken cuttings with a silver blade. One could brew an entire potion properly and still have contamination. This was just one of a myriad of things that could go wrong and the brewer would be completely unaware.” He realized he sounded a little like a text book.

“I suppose so, sir. That’s why I was pants at potions, too many variables for me to remember.” Remus had managed to eat everything Snape had given him, albeit slowly.

Severus helped him with a long drink of water, knowing the man’s hands were too unsteady. He gave him another sandwich. “Come get another one if you’re still hungry, Teddy.”

The boy did just that, walking over and picking another one off the plate, dragon still smashed against his side.

“Where did you get him?” Remus inquired, indicating the stuffed toy.

“Master gave him to me, isn’t he great?” Teddy beamed, holding the toy out for Remus to see.

Lupin’s eyebrows rose. “He’s wonderful. Did you say thank you?”

“Yes dad.” Teddy rolled his eyes and marched back to his chair, taking a seat and continuing his lunch.

“Alright,” Lupin chuckled. He turned towards Severus, giving him a long, puzzled look. “Even if he did say it; thank you, sir. It’s more than appreciated.”

Snape shrugged. “It’s nothing.” He hated this feeling of scrutiny.

“Not to Teddy, it isn’t,” Remus said quietly. He looked over at his son, who was pretending the dragon’s tail was thrashing about wildly.

Snape presumed that Lupin may be correct. That didn’t mean that he felt like discussing it.

“How is your pain at present?” he asked.

“It’s definitely manageable, sir,” Remus responded.

“Good; your energy level?” Severus inquired neutrally.

“I feel fairly alert,” Remus answered suspiciously. “It’s that potion that makes me tired, I think.”

“It is a major factor, yes; but it is not completely responsible. If you do not feel in immediate need of another dose for the pain, perhaps you would accompany Teddy and me back down to the garden for a short time.”

“You want me to go outside?” Remus face was skeptical, but Snape heard hope in his voice. “How would I get down the stairs, never mind out to the garden, however far that is, sir?”

“I think we can figure it out; I wasn’t all that terrible at charms,” Snape said wryly.

He stood and pulled the quilt from Lupin’s bed, leaving him covered in the sheet. He proceeded to fold the plush blanket neatly and hand it over to Teddy. “Think you could carry this for me?”

“Of course, sir,” Teddy smiled.

“Good.” He moved the chair he had been sitting in closer to the bed. It was the smaller of the two, so it would be easier to maneuver down the narrow hallway.

“You ready, Lupin?”

“I guess so, sir.” Remus still seemed hesitant.

Snape pulled back the sheet and took his wand from his robes, levitating Lupin into the chair.

Remus couldn’t deny that it felt good to be doing something other than lying on his back.

“Teddy, you follow behind us.”

 The boy nodded.

Snape levitated both the chair and Remus with it easily, directing them out the door ahead of himself. When they came to the stairwell, Snape paused and went to stand in front of the floating chair; the results would be more than disastrous if Remus were to take a tumble. His hand on the side of the chair and the spell still working its magic, he guided them down the stairs warily. They continued on through the living room and the kitchen. Severus finally set the chair gently down so he could get his shoes on. He passed Teddy his shoes as well.

Teddy sat on the floor near the door, his left foot across his right leg. He looked at the trainers for a moment before slowly reaching to select one. He looked at Snape out of the corner of his eye; Severus shook his head slightly. Teddy went for the other shoe, putting it on his foot and finding that it fit perfectly. He put the other one on as well, looking over at Snape again.

Wordlessly, Severus went and knelt beside him, pulling the laces tight and tying each set into a bow.

“Thank you, sir,” Teddy smiled shyly.

Snape made a noncommittal sound and stood. He cast the spell again, noting that Remus was giving him that odd look. He levitated the chair again and they went through the door and down the few stairs leading down from the house. Teddy closed the door behind them.

Snape began the short trek down the garden path, sneaking a look back at Remus as they went. The other man had his head tilted back to meet the sun, eyes closed and a look of peace on his face. It seemed he trusted Snape’s charm casting more than Severus thought that perhaps he should.

Severus led them onto the field of grass, setting the chair down so Remus could see the whole garden. They were in a lightly shaded area, tall trees cutting the heat of the sun with their branches. He tried not to think what his grandmother would have thought about one of her prized Parisian chairs propping up a healing werewolf in the garden, or he might start laughing and never stop.

Remus looked around in amazement. He saw that the house was rather large, but as far as he could tell, Severus only used a portion of it in his daily life. He wondered what the story was behind it all; he remembered Severus had been just as poor as him in their school days. But how would that have been if this place was in his family? It was a much larger property than he had grown up on, an estate that belonged to an old family name, and it seemed well enough maintained as far as Remus could tell.

The garden really was something to marvel at, though. Remus wondered if Severus would allow him to do some of his work out here in the summer, once he was in a more improved condition. The garden alone must be time consuming; Remus also noted the massive greenhouse standing off to the side. He could only imagine what was all growing in there.

“This really is impressive, sir. It means more than I could even begin to say that you went through the trouble of bringing me out here. I don’t remember the last time I was allowed outside.” Honesty seemed to be the best policy with Severus; not that it surprised Remus when he stopped to think about it.

“Macnair didn’t allow you to leave the house?” Snape inquired, seemingly barely interested.

“No, sir. For the most part, he kept Teddy in the basement.”

“And you?” Snape asked quietly.

“I stayed where I was told to stay. Let’s just say that he didn’t feel inclined to let me lie about in the sunshine,” Remus said with a twisted smile.

“Well I don’t expect you to do anything but that for a while. I have about an hour’s work to do out here still,” he told both of them. “For some of it I will need to be in the greenhouse, it’s not safe for you in there, Teddy. Do you think it will seem less big out here if your father remains with you?”

“Yes, sir, I believe so,” Teddy answered sheepishly.

“Alright then” Severus took the blanket from the boy’s hands and spread it over Lupin’s legs. He turned to leave. “If you need anything I will be nearby.”

“Sir?” Remus asked suddenly.

“Yes?” Snape paused.

“Please, would you preform the charm again?” Remus didn’t meet his eyes, but the need was apparent in his voice.

Snape immediately turned his wand to Lupin and preformed the spell to clear his bladder and bowls again.

“Oh, thank you, sir,” Remus said in a relieved voice.

“Anytime you need that done, you should tell me at once. There is no need to wait, I am not about to refuse you.” He wondered how long it had taken Lupin to gather enough courage to ask that of him, probably afraid he would be denied.

“Yes, sir.”

“I will be back shortly.” He left father and son on the grass and went to the greenhouse to gather what he needed.

He would begin the Wolfsbane potion the night after next, at the latest. There was still the trouble of what to do with Teddy. Even a half dose of the regular potion would be too dangerous for the small boy. He would need to brew a second batch before the first. The second one would have less monkshood by far. Only half of the nightshade. He would add extra chamomile to help keep him calm. It had been a pet project of his for the last couple of years; he knew it was basically perfect at this point. It would be the same potion as the one he would brew for Remus, with a few minor changes to procedure and ingredients.

He would also add a tincture of Lycoperdon Echinatum, a type of puffball mushroom. That was not in the original recipe at all, but he knew it would compensate for the lowered amount of monkshood. He had done reaction calculations for weeks, working it against each and every ingredient and the materials they were prepared with. There would be no contamination. Whether or not it would be enough to keep Teddy in his right mind completely was a whole other question. It was better than giving him a lethal dose of the original recipe or doing nothing altogether. The potion was structurally sound, but its full effect on a transformed lycanthrope had not been fully tested.

There was no doubt that the potion would still ease the transformation. Pain would be decreased during and after. It would still aid his recovery. But if he would be able to control his wolfish urges, Severus couldn’t say for sure. He had decided somewhere along the way that he would be present for Teddy’s transformation. Even though he was positive that there would be no adverse effect from the changes he would make to the potion, it was not out of the realm of possibility that something would go wrong. He would rather be present; if anything went haywire, the child would need his immediate attention.

He had done it numerous times with the werewolf children that had been in his charge. Teddy was much smaller than most of them had been; he would have little trouble keeping the boy under control even if the potion had no effect at all.

Also, to his findings there were no records of a born wolf taking the potion. Births among the lycanthrope population were very rare; little to no research had ever been done on the differences between them and werewolves infected later in life. So all in all there was nothing for him to go on that would indicate how Teddy would take to the potion.

He still had the dragonhide gloves, apron and headgear stored somewhere in the lab; it had still come in handy when brewing some of the more caustic potions people ordered. Those would be necessary in order for him to be in the same room as the boy when he was transformed.

For right now, he would be harvesting all of the herbal ingredients fresh and then preparing them as needed over the next day or so. Then the really tedious part would begin. The potion would need a large portion of his attention for days, maybe longer if he hoped to get the potion for Teddy perfect, which of course he did.

It was just over an hour and a half before he returned to where Remus and Teddy were on the grass. He had kept an eye on them from the greenhouse, they seemed content to sit and talk. Teddy did end up running around a little, holding his dragon high, making him soar through the air.

Having finished with the collection of materials, Severus left the greenhouse and crossed the yard to where the Lupins were. Remus seemed to be holding himself more stiffly than before. Teddy was sitting on the grass near his feet, resting his head against his father’s thigh.

He set the basket of herbs down a safe distance away. He had a containment spell on them already but no chances should be taken. Some of these herbs even in their raw state could be harmful to either Lupin, especially the boy.

“You are in pain.” It wasn’t a question this time.

“It’s nothing, sir,” Remus ground out.

Snape snorted. “I’m sure.” He reached into one of the pockets of his robes and pulled out a vial. “Four swallows,” he said, tipping it back for Remus to drink.

“You took it along?” Remus said, swallowing against the taste of the potion.

“I wouldn’t have brought you all the way down here without it. How bad is it?”

“I don’t know, easily a seven. I’ll manage, sir.” Remus continued to try and downplay the situation. He was actually in a remarkable amount of discomfort, though he wouldn’t have said anything if Snape hadn’t brought it up. A thing he had learned was that one didn’t complain.

“I should have taken closer account of the time.” Snape’s brow creased. “I apologize; your next dose should never have been left this long. I was not being mindful.”

Remus couldn’t believe his ears. He had never known Severus Snape to be the type of person to admit he was wrong under any circumstances. He didn’t know how to respond, but Severus didn’t seem to be waiting for a reply. He levitated the chair, and with basket in hand began walking back to the house, careful to keep Remus’ chair level and free of jostles or bumps.

Inside, they met Fred, who was at the sink washing the potatoes they’d dug up earlier.

Snape wordlessly disappeared, leaving Lupin and Teddy in the kitchen.

There was the sound of a door banging shut, a few moments of silence, the sound of the door again and he was back.

“Fred, would you mind keeping Teddy company for a while? Lupin needs to go back upstairs. His trip outside may have been a bit premature.”

Remus didn’t much like the sound of that.

“Of course, sir!” Fred trilled. “Fred always enjoys spending time with the little one!”

“Excellent,” Snape deadpanned. He levitated the chair and led Remus up the stairs.

Back in Remus’ room, Snape wasted no time in assisting Lupin back into bed. He covered him with the sheet and then the quilt.

“Has that potion begun to take effect yet?” he asked.

“I believe so, sir.”

Severus wasn’t at all convinced. “I want you to take one very small sip of this; stop as soon as you taste it on your tongue.” He tipped it briefly to Remus’ lips, pulling it away almost immediately.

Remus certainly tasted it. Whatever that potion was, it was extremely concentrated. He coughed a couple of times, smacking his lips together.

“That’s bloody awful, sir,” Remus said. Then his face took on a look of surprise. “My pain’s entirely gone. What was that?”

“My own creation. It is a dangerous substance in the wrong hands, but I’ve yet to encounter a pain that it won’t at least lessen. However it is extremely addictive. I only administered it to you so we could get ahead of your pain, catching up with it can be difficult. This will go back to my lab as soon as I return downstairs. It’s a temptation none of us need lying about.”

“I understand, sir.” Remus wasn’t sure that he did, but it felt like the right thing to say.

Snape gave a curt nod.

“Even if I did experience some discomfort, it was worth it just to be able to go outside.” Remus felt that it was crucial Snape understand that. The freedom to be allowed out of the house for any length of time was worth almost anything to him.

“Teddy isn’t the only one who could benefit from some fresh air. Though we may wait a while until we try taking you out again, at least that far away. At a minimum, we know that it is easy enough to move you around the house if we use a chair for support.”

“It was nice to sit up for a while,” Remus agreed.

Snape was silent for a moment. “I have something to discuss with you; I need you to know that I would put this off longer if I were able, Lupin,” he said. “As it stands, I believe it is in our best interest if I complete Teddy’s binding tomorrow evening.”

Remus gave him a dumbfounded look. He’d known it was coming, of course. Still, the thought of his son being a slave to anyone was something he would never, in all his years, grow accustomed to. “Whatever you say, sir.” Nothing he could say would make one whit of difference.

“That statement is both correct and incorrect at the same time. As it stands, the enslavement spell I have chosen cannot be cast upon your son and me without your blessing, or at the very least your consent.”

“I don’t know what that is supposed to mean, sir.” Remus was starting to get very uneasy. This didn’t sound good.

“I have chosen ‘Sclavus Teneo’ as the bond. Are you in any way familiar with it? It’s not very prevalent in this day and age.”

Remus cursed the fact that it was nearly impossible to read Snape. “No, sir, I can’t say that I am.”

“Well I know that you were fairly well versed in binding and enslavement spells even long before you had one invoked upon you.” Remus was almost positive that was a compliment, not a dig. “This is, as we discussed earlier, an apprenticeship spell. It was cast many years ago upon the children of parents who did not have the means to pay for a formal education or an apprenticeship. I will not lie to you about this. According to the laws of such things, nothing I could do to him would be out of the range of my power. The only thing that I am required to do is to meet his basic needs: food, shelter, water, and to teach him what he needs to know to be considered educated on the subject of study.”

“So basically, you can do what you like to him and with him and all you have to do is to teach him the basics of your craft so that he can find low level employment and earn you extra money. Sir.” Remus hung his head. He couldn’t have contained that sarcastic response if he had used every ounce of strength in his body.

“I think you’re misunderstanding me,” Snape said with all his patience. “What I am attempting to do is select a bond that will permit me to instruct him in the use of his magic when the time comes. There are limited spells that will allow such things. He would need a full basic education to even be able to assist me in the lab as an actual apprentice, let alone work on his own or for some nitwit who couldn’t string together a satisfactory Polyjuice potion.” Snape sneered; there really were some unqualified brewers out there, he didn’t care what papers they had or where they had gone to school.

“He will need to be able to read, write and do arithmetic, eventually on an advanced level, just to be able to understand the basics of how to properly brew and measure the ingredients.” He really wasn’t going to say this next part without proof, but he felt it was important for Remus to know everything. “I also hope to be able to find a way to give him at least the majority of his freedom back when he comes of age. All of my research leads me to believe this is possible, although to my findings it has never been done for an inherited slave.”

“Then what makes you believe you can do it with Teddy, sir?” Remus didn’t even want to allow himself to consider that Snape might not be lying to get him to agree to this whole thing.

“Although I was supposed to inherit him, it did not work out like that, as I told you. I paid sixteen thousand galleons to ensure he did not go home as someone else’s slave. My papers may not have held weight against the official who believed he had purchased him.”

“You paid Sixteen thousand galleons for my son?” Remus was blown away. The enormity of that sum of money made his head spin. He knew the salary of a Hogwarts instructor, it would be impossible for Snape to have that kind of cash. Even if he had saved much of his earnings over his employ it would be unlikely that he would have so much free income for a single purchase.

“I did. There was no way he was leaving that auction house with anyone but me. We could have disputed it in court, as both of us had papers saying he belonged to us but that could have taken weeks, and I may not have come out victorious. All the while Teddy would have stayed in the auction pens. It seemed to me that it was the only logical course of action at the time. The possibilities only became evident to me after the fact.”

Remus shook his head in disbelief. “Why would you care so much if you had him or not, sir?”

“I have my reasons.” Albus would never have forgiven him. “Either way, I hope that if you, as his father, give me permission to indenture him with the use of that particular binding spell, I can free him when he comes of age. Keep in mind that there is no assurance it will work.”

“But it might,” Remus said.

“Yes.”

“Sir, may I have permission to speak freely?”

Snape made a face. “You already do, Lupin.”

“What guarantee do I have that you aren’t trying to get me to agree to this for some ulterior motive?” Remus was sure he was treading on thin ice with that question, permission to speak or not.

“Unfortunately, there isn’t one,” he said simply. “Part of the power of this bond is that you trust me with the care of your son.”

“But you said that you could do anything to him without consequence.”

“That is true. As I said, I would not lie to you about something like that.”

“And am I not mistaken that he is already primarily your slave and only secondarily is he my son? If you could still call him my son at all. I am your slave; I can own nothing.”

“All very valid points, but they are somewhat misguided. No spell that I know of has the power to remove you as his father, or he as your son. That is blood, and it is a very powerful force in the magical world, as you well know. Whatever the spell enslaving either of you to me, the magic will still recognize that bond between the two of you.”

Remus found that oddly assuring. That no matter what, on some basic level, Teddy would always belong to him first, in a special way no one could remove from them.

“You need me to agree to this, for it to work,” Remus restated.

“Very much so.” Snape stood suddenly and exited the room. He returned shortly, a handful of parchments brought back with him.

“These are all of my notes and research on the subject. You will have time to look them over later tonight; I will be able to answer any of your questions then. I will not allow you to go into this uninformed, and intention means everything in this sort of spell. If I am not completely honest with you, the spell may interpret that in a negative way.”

He set the notes on the nightstand. “You should sleep now, I’m sure you’re exhausted. Teddy and I will be up for supper. It won’t be long, but that last potion should help you get a better rest than you would without it. We can discuss this later, once you’ve digested the information I’ve given you.”

“Alright, sir.” Remus said. He was really very tired; he would read those notes immediately upon waking. He was feeling a little lightheaded anyway, maybe he should just close his eyes.

Snape waited until he was sure Remus was asleep. He set his wrist against the other man’s forehead, finding his temperature to be normal.

Absently he tightened the lid on the hyper concentrated potion he had just dosed Remus with.

Maybe it was a bad idea to bring this potion back into the light of day, even for such a short time. He had not even bothered to name it, as it would be a recipe he would share with no one. It was among one of the papers that were spelled to self-destruct upon the moment of his death.

He had thought it a miracle when he had first brewed it. It had possibly saved his life during the war, allowing him to get up every morning to do the bidding of whichever of his masters decided to jerk harder on his chain that day. He could teach an entire day of classes after a night of beatings and Cruciatus. It had kept him alert when he needed to answer Riddle precisely and with zero room for error or interpretation when he would otherwise have been a dribbling mess of vomit that was unable to sort out the truth from the information he was supposed to give.

But it had been a grueling road back once he realized what it was doing to him. The mere thought of repeating the detoxification process from this particular potion prevented him from even considering taking another dose for any reason. Until now he had kept a small bottle as a reminder, although he wasn’t exactly positive what it was supposed to remind him of.

Snape stood and went straight back into the lab, tucking the bottle away on the back of the highest shelf, away from prying eyes and out of his thoughts. He ran back upstairs and grabbed the basket of herbs, deciding to take it down to the lab as well. He set it on the prep table and headed back up to the kitchen. He would start getting the ingredients ready after Teddy was in bed.

Lupin would hopefully feel up to reading those papers sometime before tomorrow evening. The sooner he could bind Teddy and get the final paperwork out to the Ministry, the less chance they would try to interfere, claiming that such a bond was not appropriate for someone with Teddy’s condition or something equally worthless.

His notes were very detailed; they would allow Remus to know as much as he did on the subject of Teddy’s bond. Severus felt that this was crucial to achieving the desired results. He was not trying to hide anything from Lupin, as his trust was imperative to this working out successfully. He could recognize the other man’s hesitance, understanding that anyone would be reluctant to hand over complete control of their offspring to him for any reason, knowing only the person he had been. Or even knowing the person he currently was.

Chapter Text

Severus rounded the corner to the kitchen only to find Teddy and Fred standing over a glass overflowing with fizzing bubbles. “What are you two getting up to?” he asked.

“Fred is showing me what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar,” Teddy said, practically dancing around in excitement. “It’s exploding, do you see, sir?”

“I definitely do,” Snape said, coming closer. “It’s a chemical reaction; similar to the process of mixing ingredients into a potion to get a result. The effect of this reaction is just more easily seen than most.”

“It’s very neat!”

“Fred will be cleaning all this up; most of the action is being over now youngling,” Fred said, moving the glass to the sink and rinsing it out.

“What are we doing now, sir?” Teddy asked.

Snape’s eyebrows rose. He was not entirely sure what they were supposed to do. Teddy really shouldn’t be present while he was preparing those herbs, it wouldn’t do to take any unnecessary risks with the boy’s health. He trusted himself to be able to keep the child out of any problems, but accidents did happen as he well knew from his own personal experiences while instructing hundreds of children over the span of many years.

He supposed that they could go down to the lab and try something the boy might consider fun. If he’d enjoyed helping to brew that potion for his father half as much as he said he had, then he would really have a ball if they brewed a Hair-Raising Potion or an Erupting Bubble Solution.

“I was thinking we could head down to the lab and brew something interesting.”

“You mean I could help?” Teddy asked hopefully.

“Of course. Come with me, by the time we are done it will more than likely be supper time and we can go see your father.” Snape always found it helped his communication with children if he told them far in advance what was on the agenda.

“Really, again? Thank you, sir, that’s awesome.”

“Unless it is impossible for some reason, you and your father will be seeing each other every day. As he continues to recover, you and he will be seeing a great deal more of one another.”

“That’s great, sir!” Teddy’s face fell slightly. “But why?”

“What do you mean, ‘why’?” Snape asked bluntly. By this point they were standing down in the lab. “Don’t you want to see your father?”

“Well, yes sir. Of course I do. Buy why do you think it’s a good idea? My other master hated when I spent time with dad.”

“Because I believe it is good for both of you if you spend time together. It will help you both to reach your full potentials.” Snape answered honestly. “Your father loves you; that much is obvious. It would be wrong for me to stand in the way of that.”

“Oh, okay.” Teddy agreed, but he still didn’t look like he understood.

Snape decided to leave it at that. If the child didn’t fully comprehend his reasoning, that was alright. He would still see his father daily, he would benefit from the continuing support they both offered each other. It would make them stronger, that he knew. Albus would have wanted it like that, for Remus and Teddy to know one another and to flourish in that relationship. Who was he to prevent such a thing when it was in his power to allow it to happen?

“We are going to brew an Erupting Bubble Solution,” Severus told the boy.

“What is that, sir?” Teddy asked, bringing his hands up near his mouth.

“Exactly what it sounds like; when we are finished brewing it, the solution will, well… erupt in bubbles.” That was the most basic way to describe it.

“So it’s like the baking soda and the vinegar?” Teddy asked.

“In a way. You will see the difference immediately. This reaction takes longer to happen but is a good deal more eventful when it occurs.”

“What is the potion used for, sir?”

“Mostly entertaining young children with an interest in the art. It has no practical application that I am aware of.”

“So, we are going to spend our afternoon doing something extremely neat but we’re doing it for no reason at all?” Teddy wrinkled his nose.

“Precisely,” Snape said. He boy needed to have some fun. Too bad he was the worst person to look at for such a thing, he had had no idea what children had found interesting when he was that young himself and hadn’t learned much in the years that had passed.

“Okay,” Teddy agreed. “What should I do?”

Snape pushed the stool back over to the preparation table and moved the spelled basket of Wolfsbane ingredients far to one side.

He brought a glass vial full of what looked like amber gelatin to their station. He set it on the counter and brought over a small metal scale and a box of neatly organized weights.

“We will need exactly one ounce of this.” He set a one-ounce weight on one of the plates of the balance scale. “See how the scale tips to one side?” he asked.

Teddy nodded.

“We need the exact same weight of this on the opposite scale to balance it out, that is when we know the proper amount is being added.” He took a small spoon with a slanted edge and scraped out some of the sap, which came out in flakes like hard wax.

He set the scraping he had made on the metal plate opposite of the weight.

“I need you to keep putting this onto that plate until you come near to having both plates at the same height. When you feel you are getting close, let me know. I will be gathering the rest of the ingredients and heating the cauldron. Is that clear?” He felt the need to make sure that he was communicating on a level that the child could understand.

“Yes, sir. I’ll let you know when it’s close.” Teddy took the spoon and sap from him.

“Good.”

“What is this stuff?” Teddy asked, sticking the spoon into the jar and scraping off a chunk as he had seen Severus do.

“It is the sap of a tree from South East Asia; a mystic shrub that does not show its flowers to those without the gift of magic. The new shoots provide this sap, it is known to have many uses for the everyday brewer, as well as in more advanced recipes. A number of cleaning solutions are produced with it, as well as a glue used primarily to bind crystal fragments together. “

“But we are using it to make bubbles.” Teddy asked, still scraping at the contents of the jar.

“Yes we are. From your skepticism I imagine you will be surprised by the end result.” Every once in a while, when he had had a class of first years that was well enough behaved, he put this potion on the board and walked the class through it. When the potion was done, there was more laughter in his classroom than with any other concoction, almost without exception.

He busied himself lighting a fire and gathering other jars and vials, setting them next to where Teddy was working. There was no need to look at the paper, the reactions were pretty straightforward, the process simple. When he had everything they would need on the workbench he selected a small cauldron from the shelf and set it on the station where he had the fire already heating.

Teddy already had the scales teetering back and forth; he was getting nearer to having them balanced. Severus decided to wait until his assistance was called for.

This exercise would be entertaining, but it would also give Teddy an opportunity to try some things for himself and build confidence in his own abilities. So far, the child had no idea what he was capable of. That had always been the part of being a Professor that had made the job bearable; pushing his pupils to see their own potential, though he was sure most of them had looked at it as torture rather than that.

He set out the five preserved specimens of Chrysolina Cerealis, or Snowdon beetle, approximately two and a half liters of distilled water and two small caps of Gyromitra Esculenta, which was a delicacy in some parts of the world but happened to be poison if eaten raw. He would assist Teddy in the proper hand washing techniques after the handling of that item. Also, he brought over a small jar of powdered bicorn horn and three stalks of dried whisperweed, roots still attached.

“Sir?” Teddy asked him quietly, “I believe I’m almost there?”

Snape set down what was in his hand and went over to where Teddy was working.

The boy had done a pretty decent job of getting the two scales to be even; the side with the weight still hung lower than the other, but not by much. He had seen worse attempts from more experienced students.

“You are very close,” Snape agreed. “Having trouble getting that last bit to weigh the right amount?”

Teddy nodded, trying one more time and finding the portion to be slightly over the weight he needed.

He sighed in frustration. “Why am I so bad at this?” he asked in exasperation.

“That is entirely the wrong question for you to be asking yourself, or me for that matter,” Snape stated calmly.

“The wrong question, sir?”

“Instead, ask what could be done differently to achieve the desired results. It is important to understand that even a perfect technique may not work, if it is not the correct method for what one is trying to accomplish.” Snape gently took the spoon and jar from Teddy.

He tried to get some of the sap from out of the jar the same way Teddy had; his results were identical, too much weight. He put his collection back into the jar without even attempting it on the scale. He tried again, jar tilted so the boy could see. This time he tried to take some from the edge of the jar, pressing against it to cut out a much smaller, more precise spoonful.

“Do you see what I did differently?” Snape asked.

Teddy nodded.

Snape put it back in the jar again, offering everything back to the boy. “Would you like to try again?”

“Oh yes, sir, thank you.” Teddy took the jar.

It took him a couple of attempts, but on his third try the scales balanced out perfectly.

“See how the pointer is resting exactly in the middle of the zero? That is just what we’re looking to for.”

The boy was glowing as he screwed the lid back on the jar of sap.

“Now, the cauldron should be hot enough for us to get started.” Severus got another stool from under the workbench and set it by the cauldron. “Come on over here.”

He came over and climbed up on the stool.

Snape handed him the water. “Go on and pour that in.”

Teddy took it from him, tipping the container over and filling the basin. The first splash hissed and steamed against the hot metal.

Snape took the container and gave him four leaves from the whisperweed plant.

“These need to be slightly bruised before we put them in the water. That means you need to press them firmly in your hand to break up some of the fibers before you put them in the cauldron. They need to be added one every ten seconds just after the water begins to boil.”

“Okay.” Teddy closed a small fist around one of the leaves, squeezing until he heard it make a sighing sound under the pressure.

Bubbles were starting to rise to the surface. Snape waited until it was at a full boil. “Now.”

Teddy dropped the leaf into the water and squished another one in his hand.

Severus counted aloud with him to ten, upon which time the boy dropped the second leaf into the water. They repeated this process until all of the leaves were boiling in the cauldron.

“Good. That will simmer for a few minutes while we prepare the mushroom. Let’s go back to the workstation.”

He set out two cutting boards, two paring knives and a set of gloves he had charmed to be closer to Teddy’s size. It would make it a little more difficult for the boy to properly use the knife but would ensure he didn’t cut himself or have too much contact with the mushroom. On each of the boards he placed a whole mushroom.

Teddy climbed back up on the other stool and waited patiently for Severus to finish opening the exhaust vent above the steaming cauldron.

“What we have here is Gyromitra Esculenta, also called a False Morel. Some places in the world believe it to be a luxury food item while others claim it to be poisonous and not fit for human consumption.”

“How can that be good to eat and poison at the same time? Either you would eat it and be okay or you would get sick, right, sir?” Teddy seemed puzzled by this.

“That is a fairly logical assumption. However, it seems that preparation and frequency of ingestion can play a large part in how it would affect a person. Either way, it is of no consequence to this particular potion as no one is going to be consuming it.”

Snape stepped closer so he was at the cutting board by where Teddy was standing. “Here, put these gloves on; I’ve spelled them so they will adjust to your hands.”

The boy did as he was told; the gloves shrunk slightly to fit.

Snape took up his own knife. “Watch closely.”

He took the mushroom in his left hand, pressing the tip of the knife into the soft flesh on the underside of the cap and made a slow, circular cut around the stem, blade tilted slightly. He completed his cut and the stem fell off cleanly, all traces of it being removed from the cap. He set the stem aside.

“I put one out so you could try. This is not a test and this ingredient is easy enough to come by, so there is no need to feel uneasy. You will not be able to cut yourself in those gloves either, so feel safe to practice, though eventually you will be taking them off, so get used to handling the knife carefully. Do you have any questions so far?”

“I don’t think so, sir.” Teddy swallowed and picked up the mushroom and knife as Snape had done. He fought the urge to look up for reassurance, sticking the tip of the knife into the underside of the cap close to the stem as he had seen Severus do. Shakily he turned the cap in his fingers until he had gone all the way around the stem, which came easily off. The ring he had made was nowhere near as circular as the one Snape had demonstrated, but when he looked inside the void he had made in the cap, there was very little stem remaining.

“How did I do, sir?” he asked, handing his cap to Snape and setting the stem off to the side as he had been shown.

Severus examined what Teddy had handed him. Some of the cap had been accidentally cut away and a tiny bit of the stem was still partially attached in the very middle of the cap. It was a very good first attempt and made an excellent learning experience.

“You made a clean cut, fairly circular; but do you see that lighter colored flap on the very inside? That is a leftover piece of stem.” He brought the cap closer to the boy so he could see what he was talking about. “For some potions that would be perfectly acceptable, but this specific brew requires no stem at all.”

“Oh, sorry, sir,” Teddy said softly.

“It is easily fixed,” Snape said, handing the cap back to the boy. “Take your knife and remove it. Use the sharp side of the blade in a sort of scraping motion.”

Teddy took back his ingredient and did as Snape had suggested. He was straightforwardly able to wipe away the piece of stem with a gloved finger.

“There; that is a perfectly viable ingredient so far. Our next step is to cut the mushroom into evenly sized cubes. This will be more difficult with this species of mushroom because its cap is a very irregular shape. We will use our best judgment when deciding on where and how to slice it. Watch me again.”

He set the cap down onto the cutting board and took the knife in hand again. He cut the mushroom twice through vertically, turning it and with another series of slices cut it horizontally into cubes. When he released it from his hand the pieces fell apart onto the board. He broke them up completely with his fingers.

Teddy, who was still holding his knife, took his mushroom and went to cut it.

“Try taking a deep breath and make your slice while you exhale,” Snape suggested.

Teddy went at it again, taking his deep breath and trying to keep his hands steady as he cut the fungi through in clean slices. He did the same for the horizontal ones, though it took him much longer than Severus to turn it and get it back together for the last set of cuts.

He let go and his mushroom fell apart also. Snape noted that the shapes were somewhat irregular, but again, still within the standards of this potion. This was what made it such an excellent learning tool, the guidelines were very lax; it was a productive way to practice, especially for children who had zero experience in the skills needed for more advanced potions.

He nodded in approval and ushered Teddy back over to the cauldron. He placed a long glass stirring rod in the child’s hands. “Stir the potion clockwise in three complete circles around the outside of the cauldron.” He made a motion with his right hand to indicate just what he had meant by that.

Teddy did just that with little hesitation.

Snape exchanged the rod the boy was holding with the cutting board of his cubed mushrooms. He handed him the knife also, “Scrape them in with the dull side of the blade, careful not to touch them with your fingers. You won’t always be wearing gloves; safe practice is always worth the extra time.”

It was something he tried to make sure his students understood fully. One moment of carelessness with the wrong ingredient could change or even end their lives if they had not been properly trained. There had been more than one occasion where his fast action had saved the life of a thoughtless student, or even the lives of their whole class. Dreams of teaching an entire room full of Neville Longbottoms had woken him in a cold sweat more than once in his life.

He handed Teddy back the stirring rod and set the empty cutting board back on the workbench. “Now stir three times again, only this time in the opposite direction.”

One thing Severus could say was that Teddy followed instruction very well. This should come as no surprise, as he was raised to believe any order that was disobeyed, even if the command was impossible, would be punished.

“Excellent,” said Severus, taking the glass rod and setting it aside with the dirty cutting boards and knives. The mushroom he had prepared would not be used in this potion; the parts would be allowed to dry and he would use them on another occasion.

“Now, we will allow that to return to a boil and it will simmer while we prepare the Snowdon beetles. They have been preserved, it is not quite as potent as when they are fresh, however it is much easier to store and acquire them this way.”

“What do we need to do with them, sir?” Trust a young boy to be more interested than repulsed when dealing with insects of any kind. There had been exceptions, of course; young men who couldn’t stomach or condone the use or prep of such items, or young women who found such things of the utmost fascination. He himself had been absorbed with the use of living materials (whether they were currently living or not) for brewing purposes when he was young.

“The heads and wings must be crushed with the mortar and pestle much the same way as the amber from yesterday. We will also be making a fine incision in the abdomen of the beetle and use the back end of a spoon to remove their insides. Will that be a problem for you?” He was careful to keep his tone light.

Severus had no reason to wish to force such things upon the boy if he found them distasteful; but he did want to find out if he would make an acceptable apprentice, one who wouldn’t hesitate to do something that needed to be done. Not that his findings would convince him to not cast the binding spell he had chosen on the boy, but more to discover if it were possible for him to enjoy and excel at the work he would be bound to do.

“Cool,” Teddy said under his breath, then more loudly, “They sure are colorful, sir.”

“The hues from their wings, as well as certain magical properties they possess will definitely reflect in the end result.” Severus almost smiled, wondering if Teddy had ever seen anything as magnificent as this potion in its final stage.

He set a large chunk of whisperweed root on the tabletop in front of each of them. He set down a new cutting board with smaller paring knife and a stainless steel spoon down as well.

Snape placed four of the bugs at Teddy’s workstation and kept just one at his own. The potion needed only four of the insects, but he was determined only to show the boy what to do while putting only the ingredients the child had prepared himself into the potion. Then, when they were finished, it would be Teddy’s accomplishment and not his.

While he didn’t know Teddy as an individual very well as of yet, he did know that children needed to achieve things on their own. They also needed someone to recognize those undertakings; now admittedly, that person wasn’t usually him. He was more of the iron fist than he ever had been the velvet glove.

He was someone who could admit to their (countless) mistakes, but he would hold fast that many children needed someone to be tough on them. He knew at once that Teddy would not be one of those children, and he would benefit from someone standing quietly behind him rather than imposingly in front of him. He would do his best to be that person until Remus was well and confident enough to do it himself.

“What you want to do is peel each wing off with your thumb and index finger; the head will be removed with the knife prior to the incision you will make in its gut to remove its insides.”

He plucked each wing carefully off. Then he took his knife and made a clean cut under the beady head of the bug. He took the blade and made another small slice in the belly if the beetle, setting the knife aside. Severus took the spoon, placing its edge on the opposite end of the bug from where he had made the cut and rolling it forward towards himself, squeezing out the guts. He took the blade again and made another cut to sever the insides from the bug, setting the carcass off to the side.

“Wings, head, stomach, spoon,” Teddy stated, double checking he had everything correct.

“Exactly,” Severus nodded. “All four of them needed to be prepared the same way.” He set a mortar and pestle in front of Teddy. “Wings and heads go in the mortar; set the bodies off to the side and leave the innards on your cutting board.”

While Teddy was happily plucking and cutting, he brought a grater closer and broke the whisperweed stalk off just above the root, setting the spindly thing next to Teddy’s cutting board. He moved the rest of the stalk into the discard pile. Severus had found it was not as potent if the roots were detached. He grew the plant on his own grounds and was not worried about the supply.

Snape looked in at the brewing potion, seeing that it was doing as it should. A light green froth was forming on the top that meant the potion was at exactly the correct temperature. He looked back at the boy, hearing him giggle as he crushed the guts out of one of the preserved beetles. He seemed to be doing an adequate job and was almost finished. Severus returned to his side, waiting patiently while he finished the process on the last beetle.

“Your timing couldn’t be better, although you should crush those wings in a hurry.” He couldn’t help it; he was smiling now, watching the boy hustle to start breaking down the shells and heads with a fast beating of the pestle.

“I think those are pulverized enough, bring them over here, they need to be added just before the innards.”

Teddy took the stone bowl in his hands and stepper up on the stool.

“Add them, now,” Snape said.

Teddy dumped them into the bubbling mixture. Snape handed him the plate of sap that had been resting on the scale. Teddy dumped that in as well. Before he knew it he was holding a clean stirring rod.

“Stir three times clockwise, then three times counter-clockwise.” He made the motions with his hands again so Teddy would know exactly what those terms meant.

The boy did as he was told; pausing only briefly before changing directions, something Snape hadn’t told him to do because they were running out of time. The additional second before the switch in stirring directions prevented splash up and kept the potion a consistent temperature. Although he was sure Teddy had no idea of these factors, Snape was still impressed that he had intuitively added that step.

He handed Teddy the cutting board full of the beetle guts and the knife, taking back the rod.

Teddy scraped those in at Snape’s nod. The potion began to shimmer, its surface changing color in rippling rainbow waves.

“Can you count to thirty?” Severus asked quickly.

“I don’t think so, sir.”

“You can count to ten three times?”

“Yes, sir, I can.”

“Start now.” Snape turned back to the prep table, taking the jar of powdered bicorn horn and presenting it to Teddy.

“When you reach your third set of ten, take a pinch of this and sprinkle it over the top of the potion.”

Mere seconds later, Teddy took the pinch and spread it over the top of the bubbling mixture.

The potion began to boil rapidly. Severus killed the flame under it, as well as the exhaust fan so the bubbles didn’t all get sucked outside; they would perfectly harmless. The bubbles began to break away from the surface of the potion, rising through the air in shimmering spheres of vibrant shifting shades, filling the entire lab until all the solution had exited the basin of the cauldron.

The room was thick with the rainbow bubbles. Teddy was standing on the floor, laughing and spinning around in the midst of them with his hands held high in the air. As the bubbles ran into walls and tables they popped, evaporating into nothing. Yet another reason why it was beloved by his students, no cauldron to scrub if you brewed it successfully.

When all of the floating spheres had popped, Severus found himself standing next to the boy, his smile probably as big and stupid as the child’s. He hadn’t heard Teddy laugh like that yet, that sort of uninhibited expression of joy that a person could hardly hold back. A child Teddy’s age should feel that over every new experience; he couldn’t deny the fact that it warmed his heart to be able to bring it out of him without anyone watching to judge him unworthy of taking part in such a thing.

“Well, what did you think of that?” Severus asked, although he was sure of the answer.

“That was so awesome!” Teddy said loudly. “I had no idea it was going to be anything like that!”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it. There is very little one cannot do with potions, I’m sure we can find more with results just as entertaining as this.”

“I’d like to get to do this again. But how do you remember all of this stuff, sir? It seems like a lot, and this is just one potion out of all the ones a person could make.”

“It takes many years of practice to know most of these things off the top of your head. There are instructions and notes you can read that will tell you almost everything if you know how to interpret them, but it is a good idea to know what you are going on about, just in case the person who wrote the instructions didn’t. If you are interested in learning it, I will instruct you. If I have your permission, as well as your father’s, I would like for you to be my apprentice.”

“What is that?”

“It means that I will teach you everything that I can about the art of brewing potions, as well as a few other subjects that will be relevant.” He didn’t mention that in his mind, every subject was relevant to the use of one’s magic if one hoped to use it at all properly.

“You mean it would be like school?” Teddy asked.

“In a way, although most of your education would happen here, instead of away at a private school such as your father and I attended.”

“So there wouldn’t be any other children?”

Snape was taken aback by the question. He hadn’t thought much about that part, having mostly wished for people his own age to leave him alone when was young, and still when he was older.

“If it is something you feel you need, I will do all in my power to arrange it.” He couldn’t imagine many parents lining their offspring up for a play date with a werewolf slave belonging to an ex-Death Eater spy, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t at least try.

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

“Wow, thanks sir. I always wanted to get to go to school. Dad always talked like learning more about his magic was the best thing that ever happened to him when he was young.” The boy looked up at him. “You really think I’m worth all that work, all those hours trying to teach me this stuff?”

Snape felt something in his ribcage tighten, but blatantly ignored it. “Yes,” he said solemnly, “I do.”

“Oh,” Teddy said softly, clearly not believing him.

“I want you to talk about it with your father. I believe it to be the most beneficial spell to bind the two of us.”

“You mean the spell isn’t just on me? My old master used to talk about the spell like I was the only one under it.”

“No; the spell will work both ways, to a degree. There will be some things each of are required to do to hold up our end of it.”

“Like what, sir, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Well, I must instruct you in the art of Potions. That would mean you would need to know how to read and do basic calculations. I would also be required to meet your basic needs: shelter, food and water. However, most everything will be up to me, decided by me – there would be very little that would be out of the realm of things I could do. You understand that already though, I think.” Snape wasn’t sure how much of what he was saying would really, truly make sense to the boy.

“You would teach me to read? I would get to learn how to brew potions on my own?” Teddy sounded excited, yet at the same time, he was wringing his small hands in nervousness.

“Think about everything I just said, not just the parts you like, before making any decisions,” Snape advised.

“So you could do anything you wanted to me,” Teddy said, almost defiantly. “My old Master did what he wanted anyway, and he didn’t feed me or let me have things to drink when I needed them. He definitely didn’t think I was able to learn anything, and if I was, he sure wouldn’t teach it to me. He didn’t let me see my father; he didn’t care if I was hurt or if I cried. Really sir, I don’t think it would be that bad.”

Snape had never heard the child say so much at once. He was surprised Teddy had been able to reason all that out on his own in such a short time. For someone who had supposedly been kept in a basement for a large percentage of his formative years, the boy was strangely articulate.

“Nonetheless, I still believe you should talk about this with your father.”

“Okay,” Teddy agreed, reluctantly.

“What?” Snape asked, seeing there was more the boy wanted to discuss.

“Well… What would I have to do sir?” he inquired frankly.

Snape thought a moment. “You will need to be a diligent student, as you will be instructed in many areas and will be required both to practice and study to the best of your ability. I expect you to keep your room clean and to take proper care of your bodily hygiene. There isn’t much else you will be required to do, aside from your fair share of the chores. You will show respect to your elders, especially your father and me.”

Teddy thought a moment. “That sounds okay, sir.”

“I suppose it does, however I believe it will be slightly more work than you expect.”

“But at least I will get do something. Sir,” Teddy burst out.

“That’s true, you will. But I still want you to talk to your father about it.” He would continue to stress that until the child agreed.

“Of course, sir.”

“Come on, let’s go back upstairs and see what’s for supper.”

They found a steaming pot of mashed potatoes, fresh peas and corn as well as a baked chicken sitting on the counter. Three plates and three sets of forks and knives were also sitting out. Fred was just turning the corner back into the kitchen.

“Fred was just bringing something to drink up for father wolf. Supper is being done; dig in! Fred will make up an extra plate.”

“Thank you, Fred.” Snape went over to the counter and helped Teddy make up his serving before dishing up his own plate.

He set Teddy’s plate at the table.

“Fred, would you take your dinner in here tonight with Teddy? I am going to help Lupin with his supper and his bandages, he and I also have some things to discuss.”

“Of course, sir. Fred would be enjoying that very much!”

Teddy made an unhappy sound, though he sat at the table as if he knew he was about to be asked to do it anyway.

“You will still see your father later this evening. I am not angry with him, but he and I do need to talk about a couple of things, okay?”

Teddy nodded uneasily, but began to slowly eat his supper all the same.

Chapter Text

Upstairs, Severus was not completely unsurprised to find Lupin halfway propped up on his pillows, the parchments he had given him earlier strewn across the bedspread. Though he had clearly been making some progress, he must have drifted off again at some point, his head leaning at an odd angle, a piece of paper still held loosely in one hand.

“Lupin,” he said softly as he approached the bed, setting the tray of their suppers on the nightstand.

Remus woke with a start, jumping slightly and sending a few of the papers careening over the side of the bed. “Hello, sir.” He reached for some of the fallen papers.

“I see you’ve been doing some reading.” Severus stooped to retrieve them for him, as many had fallen out of the other man's reach.

“Sorry sir, I know you said there would be time to look them over tonight, but I woke earlier and couldn’t stop myself,” Remus admitted, straightening out again with a grimace.

“That’s fine, I assumed you would do as much. What have you found?”

“It is a curious spell, it seems to be very arcane. I certainly hadn’t heard of it until you brought it up to me. Where did you find it?”

“In a first edition of a compendium of binding spells, the edition I already owned was much more current and the spell wasn’t included. It seems to have gone out of style some time ago.”

“Well it makes it sound like apprenticeship was the only real way to get any education.”

“Because at the time it was created, that would have been true for magical folk.”

“You’re trying to tell me that this spell predates Hogwarts?” Remus asked in disbelief.

“As I said, it is a very old spell. Other than its origins, do you think that it may be of some use to us in this situation?”

“I suppose so, sir. I keep getting hung up on the fact that there wouldn’t be anything you couldn’t do to him.” Remus hung his head.

“That isn’t entirely true, I could not end his life, starve him, deprive him of water or leave him to endure the elements without protection. You seem to forget the nature of the situation we are all in; there would not be a spell I could cast on Teddy that would inhibit my actions or behavior. That is unfortunately the nature of slavery, Lupin.”

“I know that, sir,” Remus ground out, “but he’s my son.” As if that explained everything; and for Remus it probably did.

“That is one thing I will never argue you on. I have already broached the subject with him earlier today in the lab.”

Remus’ eyes bugged out a little. “About being my son or your slave, sir?”

“Both,” Severus said simply.

“And?” Remus was almost afraid to ask.

“He is a very intelligent young man. Although perhaps a little too quick to trust.”

“I’m not sure exactly what that means, sir.”

“He will tell you himself, I’m sure. I told him I want the two of you to discuss the whole situation tonight. I will be elsewhere while you do so. You will want to finish looking those papers over before that, though. Are you almost through them?”

“About halfway there, sir.”

“Would you like to eat, or finish reading first?” Snape asked, finding it nothing if not interesting to give Lupin choices, even small ones.

Remus gave him that strange look again. “If you don’t mind, I am rather hungry.” Remus almost laughed at himself, what he felt right now was nowhere near hunger, not the real hunger he had felt at many points in his life and especially in his time as a slave.

Snape didn’t say anything, just collected the handwritten sheets from on top of the bed and combined them with those that had fell to the floor, shuffling them back into order at a startling speed. He set them off to the side, sliding Lupin’s plate closer. Fred had already cut everything into bite sized pieces while they were down in the kitchen.

Snape helped him to sit up straight again and began to aid him in eating his supper.

He set the now empty plate aside and assisted Lupin with a few sips of water. He held out Remus’ potion. “One large swallow; as long as your pain isn’t too terrible, we will break your dose up so that you can stay awake longer.”

Remus did as he was instructed, taking the stack of notes back from Severus.

Snape tucked into his own supper, giving the other man time to get back into his reading.

“The ritual actually doesn’t sound all that horrible,” Remus said suddenly.

“What did you expect? Blood and dismemberment?” Would it really be so remiss, knowing his history?

Remus gave him a long look. “I’m not sure I knew what to expect, sir.”

“That is fair,” Severus allowed.

“It really does sound like it may be possible to release him when he’s completed enough of his training. Do you think the Ministry would go for that?”

“All of the restrictions and regulations in place so far speak strictly of werewolves that have been bitten. I have looked a great deal into this, as you could well imagine. I’ve followed the ‘progress’ the Ministry has made with lycanthropes and other non-humans over the past few years and it is mentioned specifically in many of the most crippling of their new laws.”

“Teddy was never bitten,” Remus said in a hollow voice; guilt didn’t even begin to describe what he felt when he thought about what he had passed on to his son.

“I know that Lupin,” Snape said in frustration, was the man being willfully ignorant? “Therefore, I believe it may be argued, in a Ministry court if need be, that these laws do not apply to Teddy. He is a born werewolf, he will be well spoken and well educated; if the magic of the spell permits it, I believe I can handle the Ministry,” Snape smirked as he said that last part. He never wasted a single chance to piss on their lawn.

“That sounds like a lot of work and gold to free one slave,” Remus said with skepticism.

“The real question is, given McNair’s will, will the magic allow us to release him. That is more difficult to get around than the Ministry at their worst. And you let me worry about the financial end of things.” There was most of the Dumbledore fortune at their disposal. Albus had left it to him, minus what he had given to other Order members for the losses they had suffered. No one had been more shocked than Severus to find that Albus had left him almost everything; he had been furious, as if he had wanted a single bronze knut from the old man.

“How do I know that this isn’t all an elaborate lie, just to get me to agree to something you want, something that I never would have consented to otherwise?” Remus asked desperately.

“I have said before that there is no real guarantee I can give you, other than to say that is not the case. Despite what you may have heard from the students while you were teaching at Hogwarts, being sentenced to study under me isn’t worse than the final circle of hell.”

Remus smiled quickly. “I’m not worried about your capabilities as an instructor. But… how will you punish him if he misbehaves or says something he shouldn’t? How can I know that you won’t hurt him just to hurt me?” Remus knew he was way out of line, but these were things he needed to ask, no matter what the end result would be. All he could think of was how Severus had treated Harry, and he had only had a small amount of power over him at the time, only being his professor. How would he behave towards his son, who would be under his complete control?

“I cannot promise that I will never become angry, if that is what you are looking for. But I can tell you that that anger will not result in the whipping of your son. I will not beat him, curse him or hold back the necessities of life from him. I have found through experience that such things rarely resolve or improve issues for either party.” Let Lupin draw his own conclusions from that.

Remus stayed silent.

“Would you like to see your son now, or would you prefer some more time to go over my notes?”

“No, I’ll see him,” Remus said hastily. He would never turn down an opportunity to spend time with his son, even if the circumstances were not favorable.

“I’ll bring him up. There are some things I need to work on in my lab, you will have plenty of uninterrupted time with him,” Snape paused. “Would you like me to perform the evacuation charm?”

“Yes please, sir.”

Snape preformed the spell and stood. He dosed Remus with another swallow of the potion to hold him over for a couple of hours. He collected the plate and cutlery from their spot on the nightstand.

“Thank you, sir,” Remus said.

Snape nodded and went to send Teddy up.

The boy ran upstairs, Snape heard him taking them two at a time as he himself descended into his lab.

He brought the basket over to the main prep station and ran a sink of hot water to clean the utensils from earlier in the day. As he washed and scrubbed the used tools, he pondered the best route to take in the brewing of Teddy’s Wolfsbane.

Because of the variations he needed to make, the potion was even more volatile than the original recipe. It took longer to brew and required more attention. This brew also seemed to be just as potent when cold as when hot, unlike the unaltered potion which would be as good as useless if allowed to cool too much before consumption. This, at least was optimistic for them. It would allow him to prepare the thing in advance.

He drained and rinsed the sink, dried his hands and cast a sterilizing charm on them, drying the utensils and cutting boards with a similarly sterilized cloth. He brought them right back over to where he had put the basket.

The potions would take three days each to brew. He would have to rely heavily on Fred during this time, which he found didn’t worry him in the slightest. Aside from bathing, the changing of Lupin’s dressings and the distribution of potions, he believed the elf totally capable of meeting both of the Lupin’s needs while he worked. It would be an exhausting week, all considered, and he needed to start tomorrow at the latest, though tonight would be best. He went over to the work table and began.

His hands worked independently of his mind, as they often did during basic prep such as this. Separate the aconite into individual plants, break them down from there. Aconitum is derived from a Greek word, meaning ‘without struggle’, probably a reference to how a wolf that was poisoned by it died. He chose to believe it also referred to how, when brewed properly, it also affected the werewolf’s transformation.

It allowed the person undergoing the change into the wolf to keep their mind and consciousness ‘without struggle’. Before even undergoing the first drafts of this potion, he had studied monkshood very extensively. He had been very familiar with its uses as a poison, but upon further exploration he found it had a potential that extended far beyond that. It affected breathing, circulation, hell, even the nervous system. It would slow the rampaging werewolf heart, cause his blood pressure to decrease. The correct amount would hinder the activity of the lycanthrope’s nerve-terminals, having an impact on his sensory intake. Within the proper doses it would therefore have the effect of lessening the pain of the transformation. However, the cerebrum did not succumb to the influence of these levels of aconite, allowing some consciousness and intelligence to remain for the most part normal, though it was found that memory was often affected to a large degree.

He used only half the root of one plant for the first potion he would attempt for Teddy. Also, three of the stamens from inside the flower and three of the dark purple petals. He ground the latter two with the mortar and pestle, setting it aside and grating the root of the plant. This ingredient he weighed carefully, setting the rest of it aside. It went into the bowl, mashed up with the rest.

While he worked, he pondered how the discussion was going upstairs. He hoped the two of them were working something out. Of course he had a backup plan, if they didn’t go for the whole apprenticeship thing for some reason or other. It just wasn’t quite so optimistic, binding Teddy to him as a basic slave, nature undeclared. This would still allow him to teach the boy a few things, but his actions and freedoms would be severely limited in comparison to the spell he was trying to push them to allow him to cast. He decided to get the first stage started after all before heading back upstairs to see how things were going.

It took him maybe another hour and a half to get the potion simmering properly, with all the ingredients needed so far added in as carefully as possible, everything precisely measured, nothing contaminated by anything it shouldn’t have been touching. These things were the basics of the craft, this was the easy part. Now the brew would be left alone for six hours, after which he would need to be adding small amounts of ingredients for twenty-four hours straight.

At first, the ingredients would be added every hour and then increased by small percentages over the next day. By the end of the first brew cycle, he would be adding something every four minutes. But by that time tomorrow he should have everything wrapped up enough one way or another to be able to dedicate the evening to ensuring he had perfect timing.

He took his time storing the unused portions of plants he had prepared, aconite, nightshade and a considerable amount of chamomile. The white mountain cap mushrooms were set in a liquid mixture of vinegar and camphor, which would help to keep Teddy from feeling the pain from inflammation and swelling of his muscles and joints. It would also aid the healing of any wounds he would incur with the transformation, internal or external. This mixture would be added just before the second phase of the potion began, the proportions and timing to this step were absolutely crucial to the functionality of the potion.

He washed and sterilized his tools and station all over again, putting everything back in its correct place before dimming the lights and ascending the stairs. He continued through the house until he reached Remus’ room. The door was pulled only part of the way shut; he pushed it open with his hand to signal his presence before entering.

He didn’t know whether to be reassured or concerned upon seeing the two of them under the covers, curled around each other like two people about to undergo the death penalty. Lupin was running his fingers lovingly through his son’s hair, he appeared to be trying to soak Teddy completely up and the child didn’t seem to mind in the least, almost glowing with a quiet sort of joy.

Suddenly, he was overcome with the feeling that he was interrupting something he was incredibly unworthy of; he shouldn’t even lay eyes on such pure emotion. Almost involuntarily he took a step back into the doorway, but Remus’ eyes turned to him.

“Hello, sir,” he said simply. Teddy looked over at him, smiling shyly in his direction.

Snape continued to keep his face neutral. “Did the two of you have a productive discussion?” he asked formally, not knowing what else to say.

Teddy giggled, and Remus tightened his grip around his middle to quiet him, concerned what response that would bring from Snape. Severus had always had an extreme reaction when he thought someone was laughing at him.

“Yes, sir, we did. We have agreed to accept your offer, if indeed it was ever up to our choosing in the first place,” Remus said, his face becoming harder, more closed off than it had been mere moments ago.

Severus nodded, looking to Teddy, “This is true for you as well?”

Teddy produced that little half smile again. “Yes, sir.”

“Alright, then it is settled. We will begin in half an hour; I will need to gather a couple of things together. It is best that we complete the ritual on the patio just outside the back doorway to prevent any mess.”

Remus looked alarmed. “You said there wasn’t going to be any blood,” he said in a whisper, covering Teddy’s ears as he did so.

“There won’t be,” Snape said quickly and with a roll of his eyes. “Not his, anyway. I also believe it may be in our best interest to perform the ritual in sight of the moon.”

“The moon,” Remus repeated dumbly.

“Yes. The moon may have much sway and meaning for Teddy. He was born under its sign. If my research on this subject is correct, I believe the enslavement spell will allow me to make handling the child at the full moon at least a little simpler. I hope to be able to influence his behavior during his transformative period if need be.”

“What does that mean, ‘if need be’?” Remus asked with some hesitation.

“If the Wolfsbane formula I am preparing does not contain enough aconite to allow him to retain full or even any control. I recommend you and I discuss this another time, when perhaps we have the chance to speak more freely.” He was of course meaning when Teddy was out of ear shot.

“Yes sir, I believe that to be wise. What do Teddy and I need to do to prepare?”

“Nothing. I will get everything in place; the two of you will remain here together until I have done so. Although another swallow of this would be prudent.” He held the bottle of pain potion up to Lupin’s lips again.

“Thank you, sir,” Remus said after drinking his dose.

Snape gathered the text he would need, a length of silk cord, a long dagger in a leather sheath and ten thick pillar candles. He also brought a goblet, a bladder of wine, a glass bowl and collected a piece of bread from the kitchen, wrapping it in a clean tea towel. He placed these things in a satchel and hung it on a hook by the door, folding a light blanket and threading it through the straps.

Looking out the window he saw the night was clear and calm, near perfect conditions for what he was trying to achieve. He was going for tradition, the way things had been done when this spell was still in common practice. He hoped that the Magic would sense his diligence in the matter and help fulfill the bond as it was intended, with the end result being a free and fully educated young man.

He went upstairs, heading briefly to the loo, removing his heavy outer robe, rolling up his sleeves and splashing cold water on his face. He tied his hair loosely at the nape of his neck and went to collect the Lupins.

“Ready?” he asked sarcastically upon entering the room.

“Of course, sir.” Remus was still being as polite and accommodating as possible, afraid to stir up Snape’s anger, now of all times.

“Alright, stand by me, Teddy. I’m going to situate your father back in the chair so that he can come with us,” Severus said.

Teddy hopped off the bed and came to stand a safe distance from the wand he knew was about to appear.

Snape moved the chair closer and repeated the process of getting Remus from the bed to a sitting position in the small wing backed chair. He then draped an extra blanked over the man’s thin shoulders, tucking the ends of it over his lap as well.

Remus stayed silent, still not sure how to react to these small acts of kindness that Snape continued to bestow on him.

Severus levitated him down the stairs and outside, onto the brick patio just behind the house, Teddy following wordlessly behind them. He grabbed the satchel from the hook as they went.

He placed Remus’ chair down on the patio, then set the candles in a relatively tight circle around them, still leaving enough room for them to move around inside of it comfortably. He emptied the bag piece by piece, setting each item on the ground in front of them, producing the knife last.

He clearly heard Remus’ betrayed inhale.

“It’s not for him, Lupin,” Snape reinforced again.

He stood and lit each candle individually with his wand in a clockwise progression, muttering the words of conviction, invoking the wild Magic and the power of the moon in old Latin, asking to be noticed by these mighty forces though they were miniscule by their very nature. Inwardly he asked for strength and wisdom, as he had countless times before in his life.

When all of the candles were lit, he opened the ancient text at the top of the circle, flipping to the proper page and setting it on the earth there. He returned to the middle of the circle with the other two, who were both watching him closely.

He guided Teddy so he was standing closer to Remus’ side, their arms aligned together. He rolled up the boy’s sleeve so that his skin was touching Remus’, then bent down and retrieved the silk cord. He tied this loosely around the wrists of the father and son.

“When I indicate, I need you to pull the knot free, Lupin. I will alert you a second time, then you will take the cord and tie it in the same fashion, only around mine and Teddy’s wrists. This will symbolize your direct consent; it is a transference of sorts.”

“Yes, sir,” Remus replied quietly.

“Teddy, I need you to hold your arm still and not pull it away, okay? Even if you’re afraid, try to stay in place. Try to trust me.”

“Okay, sir,” Teddy said, appearing much more cheerfully than his father.

Snape continued to speak in words only he seemed to understand, touching his wand first to Lupin’s wrist, then to Teddy’s. The small flames surrounding them leapt higher, seeming to sway in time with one another. Snape signaled to Lupin with his free hand.

Remus took his good arm and pulled the knot free of his and Teddy’s wrists with minimal effort, keeping the cord clutched in his fingers tightly.

Snape came nearer to them, kneeling on the bricks to be closer to the boy’s height, completely aware of the symbolism of this action. He was putting himself in a position of respect in relation to the other two: himself and the boy on the equivalent level while at the same time kneeling on the ground beside a seated Remus.

All the while Severus chanted the words he knew almost intrinsically by this point, the ones that were contained also in the pages of the open book at the head of the circle of candles. He brought his bared forearm up and Teddy put his arm directly next to it, allowing Snape’s arm to make contact with it. He signaled a second time to Lupin.

Remus put the rope around their arms as he had seen Snape do to him and his son, tying it in a knot awkwardly, trying to avoid the use of his injured arm.

Words continued to flow seamlessly from Severus’ lips; he placed the glass bowl under their arms and picked up the knife, removing it from its casing with only one hand. He took the hilt in his free hand and brought the blade up to their tied arms. Quickly and without hesitation he made a deep slice across his own arm, directing the blood that fell into the bowl under their tied wrists. He could feel Teddy trembling in an effort to not pull away.

He took the blade, now red with his shed blood, and brought it up to the side of Teddy’s face. He saw, rather than heard the sob that Remus couldn’t hold back out of the corner of his eye; but he didn’t waver.

He took a tuft of the boy’s hair in his fingers and cut it loose with one swift motion, placing the strands in the bowl as well. He then set the contents of the bowl aflame with a spell, waiting patiently for it to burn out before removing the cord holding the child’s wrist to his. The knife was set aside on the ground beside him. With the hand that had been bound, he placed his middle finger in the damp ash now remaining in the bowl, touching the substance to Teddy’s forehead. He held the bowl out to the boy. “Now it’s your turn; just like you saw me do.”

The child dipped a finger into the mixture. “You want me to put this on your forehead?” Teddy whispered, just to be sure. Severus nodded and the boy reached up so he could gingerly press the mark onto the older man’s brow.

It left a slight imprint on both of their pale faces. Snape brought the goblet so it sat on the ground between them, pouring a small measure of wine into its basin. He offered it to Teddy who took a small sip and handed it back, making a face at the taste. Severus took it in both of his hands, tipping it back so he could then drink.

He set these things aside, now bringing the tea towel to where he had first set the goblet, unfolding the bread from inside of it and breaking it in two pieces, offering one to the boy before taking a bite of his.

He then spread the blanket over his own shoulders, taking it off after a moment and wrapping the child in it, standing slowly, both of his knees creaking loudly. He walked to the head of the circle, bringing the open spell book back over to them and taking the bowl in his other hand.

“Dip your finger into the bowl and make a print on the line at the bottom,” he held the two items out, first to Lupin, then to Teddy before making the same mark himself. He then went around the circle in a counterclockwise direction, dipping his thumb and forefinger into the mixture and pinching out the flames of the candles one by one until they were standing with only the thin light of the moon to see by.

“We’ve finished,” he stated.

“That’s it, it’s done?” Remus asked.

“Yes, now we best get inside and get you back to bed.” Snape didn’t want Remus to overexert himself again.

“I don’t feel any different,” Teddy declared.

“You wouldn’t,” Snape agreed, casting the levitation charm on Remus’ chair and leading them all the short distance back to the house. “Although this spell will likely have a great impact on your life, it doesn’t change you as a person. You remain the same, only your circumstances have changed.”

“What’s a ‘circumstances’?” Teddy asked, trying to look down at himself to see what was different from before the ceremony.

“A circumstance is something that happens which affects the outcome of things; they are often out of our control,” he said that last part almost sorrowfully. It was as close to an apology as he could get, not quite wanting to look directly into the face of his actions at the moment.

“Oh, that sounds okay,” Teddy said optimistically, holding the back door open so Remus could be floated through.

Remus was looking at him with that scrutinizing stare again. He quickly got behind the chair in order to avoid it, floating it effortlessly up the stairs and back into Lupin’s room. He hesitated before transferring Remus back to the bed, instead levitating the chair a second time. He went back out into the hallway and directed the chair into Teddy’s room, setting it down close to the side of the bed. He adjusted the lights and set the worn copy of ‘The Hobbit’ on Remus’ lap.

“Your father will be reading you the third chapter tonight. I trust you can manage your pajamas on your own?” It was a half statement, half question, leaving Teddy open to say either reply.

“Yes sir, I can do that. Should I put my clothes in the basket, there?” he asked timidly.

“That sounds like a good plan,” Snape agreed. “You should use the loo quick before you tuck in. Remember to wash your face and brush your teeth like we did last night before you get into bed.”

“Okay sir. Thank you.” Teddy smiled up at Snape, who didn’t return the gesture, but gave an acknowledging incline od his head instead.

“I’ll be back in a bit to return you to your own room, Lupin.”

Remus nodded, not sure what to say in the face of the last five minutes.

Snape turned to leave, and just before he made it through the door Teddy called out, “Goodnight, sir.”

Severus paused, and without turning around replied, “Goodnight, Teddy.”

Snape had time to have a stiff drink in the wing backed chair by the dead fire in his rooms. He wasted little time, not wanting to think about the events of the night in too great of detail. He had taken that boy’s freedom, any way he wanted to slice it. He could now determine the outcome of his entire life if he so desired, how he desired. The reality was even more off putting than the idea of it had been.

After a time he set the empty glass aside, taking a moment to bind the slice he’d made on his arm. He decided it was probably time to collect Lupin and maneuver him back into his own bed.

When he went to the boy’s room, he found Remus watching his son sleep in the dim light. He looked up to see Severus standing in the doorway and set the book that was still held in his hands aside. Wordlessly, other than the spell to levitate the chair, Snape took Lupin from the room, closing the door partially behind them and leading Remus back to his own room, leaving the hall light on behind them.

Once he was lying on the bed and Snape was removing his old dressings with sterilized hands, Remus said suddenly, “That was not what I was expecting.”

“What do you mean?” Snape asked outright.

“Well, I do know the symbolism of some of that at least, even if I didn’t recognize much of what you were saying,” Remus said softly. “I’m just trying to puzzle through how it all works into your plan.”

“You think you have me all figured out, don’t you.” The words were terse, but his hands remained gentle, carefully pulling back layer after layer of bandage from Lupin’s body.

“Of course not sir,” Remus spluttered. “I just don’t understand your reasoning, that’s all. My apologies.”

“If you understand the symbolism so well you should be able to draw your own conclusions, Lupin,” Snape drawled, pulling away the last piece of gauze from his wounded torso. “These are healing at a remarkable pace,” he added as a side note.

Remus continued, “You put yourself on the same level as him. It was your blood that was drawn, only his hair; I can’t even imagine how that changes things. He ate and drank first. You removed the clothing from your own shoulders to wrap him in. You chose bonds that wouldn’t burn or scar him, but would be soft on his skin; they were tied so loosely.” Remus realized he was rambling and stopped promptly.

“Yes, all of those things were part of the ceremony, it wasn’t directly stated whose blood would be drawn or in what order we would eat and drink. I was attempting to make my intentions clear to the Magic that was working through the spell; that I have no intent to harm him, or to mar his soul with the shedding of blood for the purposes of invocation. That I will meet his needs, before my own if the necessity arises. I acknowledged my desire for him to exist on the same plane as me when the time comes, free; at the same time I recognized your power as his father, that your permission was key in the casting.” If Lupin needed it to be spelled out for him, then that’s what he would do.

“But I don’t see how that could be true, sir!” Remus proclaimed against his better judgment. The stress and adrenaline of the evening was loosening his tongue to the point of putting himself in danger, and he knew it.

“And why is that, Lupin?” Snape was taking care to spread the healing cream across the burns with as light of a pressure as he could manage. He refused to cause further harm out of anger.

“Because -” Remus said in a broken voice. “I saw how you were with Harry.”

“What in the seven hells does Potter have to do with all of this?” Severus spit out, still rubbing gentle circles across Lupin’s shoulders with the pads of his fingers. All roads led to the great Harry Potter, or had he forgotten that already?

“You took it out on him, all of your hate for James; I don’t see what makes Teddy so different. Sir.”

“Perhaps it is because in that instance, I did not have James present, while here I have you for any ‘revenge’ I feel that needs to be dealt out,” Snape snapped without thinking.

“I see, sir,” Remus said stiffly.

“Merlin’s balls, Lupin! You don’t see anything, you're blind as a vampire at high noon in the middle of the desert. I had my reasons for being so hard on Potter. My hatred of his father aside, he needed a villain that he could stand up to. He needed to hate me. He needed someone to be that, hard and unforgiving, unrelentingly pushing him to do and to be better, even though he was already the miracle child and could do no wrong.” It was Snape’s turn to ramble; Potter often had that effect on him.

Remus sat there, stunned. “You’re being serious.”

Severus didn’t reply.

“That’s insane, sir.” Remus felt the shielding charm, felt himself being turned over slowly so Severus could access the burns on his back.

Snape chuckled quietly. “That very well may be. Those are among some of the reasons that I behaved how I did towards the brat; trust me the list goes on. Little sot drove me crazy.”

“And Teddy doesn’t?” Remus found himself asking.

“No, I suppose he doesn’t.” Snape answered truthfully.

“He seems to think you like him, just a little.”

“Where on earth would he get such an idea?” Snape asked, sounding bored.

Remus couldn’t tell if Snape was joking or not, unable as he was to see the other man’s face. “He told me about the other night,” he said, foregoing the attempt to figure out if the man even had a sense of humor.

“Oh, and what did he say?” Snape asked smoothly, imagining stories of liquor, smashed glasses and wands being drawn on crying little boys.

“He said that you were very kind.” Skepticism was clear in his voice. “That you didn’t curse him even though he wet the bed and had to wake you up. He thought you were going to, you know, even before you pointed your wand at him.”

Snape winced, though Remus couldn’t see it. “I never intended to… He surprised me.” It was like admitting to a deadly sin. Severus Snape, double or triple agent or whatever the hell you would call it, being snuck up on by a six-year-old child in his own home. The thought of it made him want to laugh.

To Lupin’s credit, he didn’t as much as snicker. “That’s what he seemed to think. He smelt liquor, so he thought he was really going to be in for it. He was so much worse after he had been drinking, to both of us.”

“I had a couple of drinks before turning in. I didn’t finish my last glass and it was knocked over when I woke up. I was not intoxicated,” Severus said indignantly.

“I believe you, sir.” Remus sounded sincere. “It sounded like you… took care of him.”

“He’s a small child, Lupin. He is incapable of doing everything for himself,” Severus said in such a way that implied Remus was quite daft.

“It’s just hard to believe; he talked about you, you know.” Remus sat still for a minute. “He told me the things you’d love to do if you ever got your hands on us. I suppose he must have already been planning his will or something. He said that you were worse than him, that he learned what he knew from people like you. He seemed to think that we’d be begging for him, because the things he did to us didn’t mean anything to him; but with you, it would be personal. That over time...” Lupin trailed off.

Remus was almost laughing or crying, Severus could feel him shaking with it, his hands still running gently across the other man’s back in what could have been construed as a soothing motion.

“But here we are; you’re carrying Teddy to bed. Merlin, you’re holding him when he cries, reading him a story at bed time. This feels so unreal, Severus. Sir. Shit. I shouldn’t be saying any of these things to you, sir. I’m so sorry; I don’t know what’s gotten into me.” Remus was sobbing now. Perhaps it was those hands caressing his aching shoulders, somehow gently wringing every confession out of him. He felt himself floating in the air, the embrace of linens being wrapped around his body again.

When Lupin was lying on his back in bed Snape said, “It’s going to be alright, Remus.”

“Who are you?” Remus’ sobs turned to laughter as he wiped at his eyes with his good hand.

“I’ll leave that for you to decide. I’m not so sure myself, most days.”

“If that’s supposed to be comforting, sir, you’re missing the mark.” Remus was chuckling now; he had no control over his emotions or his tongue, it seemed.

Snape knew the adrenaline rush that Remus must have felt from the bonding was by this time worn off, leaving him at best a mess of jitters. He would tend to his feet and then leave the man to sleep it off; he’d be back to his usual placating self in no time. He felt like this was the closest thing to a real conversation that he and Lupin had engaged in since the other man first woke up.

He straightened the blankets so that Remus’ arms were free but his torso was still mostly covered with them. Then he moved to the end of the bed, pulling those covers up cautiously to reveal Remus’ mummified feet and began unraveling them, revealing the mess underneath the bandages.

One of them looked almost like a foot, Remus thought idly. That had to be good news, right?

“If it bothers you, try not to look at them,” Snape advised without looking up from his task.

“But they’re my feet. What am I going to do?” Remus said frantically.

“You’re not going to do anything. I am going to apply this to your feet and we are going to wait for it to fully absorb. Then I am going to wrap them back up, keep them safe from contamination. And after that, I am going to give you yet another potion that isn’t available, well… anywhere else, really.” Snape believed his infection had been gone for long enough; Remus’ healing was already starting on its own well enough for him to begin administering it.

“Why not?” Remus seemed concerned.

“Because, potions brewed specifically for lycanthropes have become startlingly unpopular of late, not that they were ever in very high demand to begin with. After my achievement of the Wolfsbane potion, I didn’t stop experimenting.” How many experiments, their subjects, successes and failures he didn’t care to go into.

“I have a substantial array of lycanthrope safe potions that have yet to be produced for the public, if indeed they ever will be,” Severus didn’t mention that he was thinking of binding them into a small tome for a less prejudiced future generation. Or more likely for someone to use as kindling on a cold night not too long after he himself was dead.

“Why would you keep working with them, sir? If they were not going to advance your career or standings?” Remus asked.

Snape shrugged. “Because no one else was working on them and they were a challenge to brew.” He was bored. He had always been fascinated (terrified) by lycanthropy.

“What will this potion do?”

“It will help your burns to heal at an accelerated pace. If everything goes smoothly, it will be significant.” Of that there was no doubt, the risks were moderate, but the benefits were staggering. He had great faith that it would work wonders on Lupin’s feet. Merlin knew they could use all the help they could get.

“What if everything doesn’t go smoothly?” Remus asked.

“I can’t say for sure. I can say that I will be able to handle it; I see no merit in giving you medicine that will further ail you.”

“So it hasn’t been tested,” Remus said in clarification.

“Yes, it has. This particular potion has a 100% success rate as far as I’ve seen.”

“How many times have you seen it work?”

Snape made a face. “Once.”

“Then the werewolf lived, or was healed, or… whatever?” Remus sounded desperate to hear anything distinctly positive about this potion he was going to take.

Snape bent his head down, pretending to be engrossed in picking a fuzz off of the side of his robe. “From what I saw, the potion worked wonderfully. She died the day after I administered it.”

“She died.” Remus deadpanned, clearly uncomfortable.

“Not from the potion. Her death was completely unrelated to that,” Severus said quickly. Unrelated to the potion, but not to the injury. She’d caused incredible damage to her own body after her first transformation. He had believed she would make a full recovery but Greyback had no patience for a weak link; he’d ended her while Snape had been occupied elsewhere. The strength of the pack needed to be maintained or some other such shite. He’d almost murdered that son of a bitch when he’d seen what he’d done to that child, his cover be damned. “She was killed,” he told Remus, hoping he wouldn’t ask for more.

“You really believe it’s safe for me to take?” Remus asked.

“I do, though there may be mild side effects.” He was going to be up the whole night regardless, working on that potion for Teddy. He could spend the waiting periods up here with Lupin, just to make sure everything went as planned. “I would not give you something I suspected would harm you.”

“Alright.” Remus agreed softly; not that he had much of a choice. If Severus wanted him to take it, there was no point in trying to refuse.

Snape was just finishing the last bandage. “Rest for a moment. I will be back shortly.”

“Yes, sir.” Remus closed his eyes and waited.

Chapter Text

Down in the lab, Severus added the first batch of ingredients into the Wolfsbane potion. For the first and second phases that was all well and good, but in the third phase all of the ingredients would need to be prepared fresh, directly before they were added into the cauldron. He set the timer on his wand, it would alert him with more than enough time to come back down and add the next round.

He also took a bottle from the top shelf, its glass almost black to keep out the light, which would negatively affect its potency. He had devised the formula years ago, and had brewed a fresh batch shortly before he went to go collect the Lupins from the auction house, having no idea what condition he would find them in. He set it on the prep station closest to the stairs.

There was one more thing he had intended to do while he was down here. Severus took a bottle from out behind the rest at what would seem like random to someone who wasn’t familiar with his organization of things. He measured a very precise amount into a wide spoon and popped it into his mouth. The flavor was totally repellent, even to him. It was, however, essential he take a dose no later than that night. It was the potion that would make it impossible to fulfill the bonding ceremony with Lupin in the immediate future. The other man was nowhere near ready for that, on more than just a physical level.

He put the bottle back in place, retrieved the one he had set on the prep table earlier and then headed back upstairs.

Remus seemed to have fallen asleep. Snape walked softly to the bed and covered his feet with the blankets, as he had forgotten to do before he left. He glanced up to see Remus awake and looking at him with that blasted expression on his face again. “What?”

“I don’t know, sir. Just trying to figure you out.”

“Here,” Snape measured out a dose for Remus to take, offering it to him.

Remus took the potion without hesitation. “It doesn’t taste like anything.”

“Never thought I’d hear you say that like it was a bad thing.”

Remus blushed. “I’m sorry, if only you could taste the Wolfsbane, sir, and then you’d understand why I always grumbled about it. …Oh my.”

“What is it?” Snape tried to conceal any worry in his tone.

“My toes are tingling, sir.”

“I believe that’s a good sign.” Snape sat in the chair by the bed.

“Glad to hear it.” Remus didn’t mention that the world was spinning slightly. Or that the tingling was being felt across his chest and arm a well. Or that something was compelling him to speak; his brain almost seemed to stop functioning altogether. He bit his bottom lip viciously to keep things he would rather not say from bursting out of his mouth.

Severus sat there looking at him serenely, waiting for any sign that anything wasn’t as it should be. Other than appearing like he might bite through his lip, nothing seemed to be visibly out of place with Lupin, though he was sure that more was going on than met the eye.

“How are you doing, Lupin?”

“Fine, sir,” Remus ground out. He was afraid if he said much more than that he would begin to speak and never stop.

“In that case, I will be right back,” Snape said, standing again.

Remus heard him walking out of the room with something like relief. The urge to spill his guts was lessening with every minute that passed. He heard the door to his son’s room creak open and the sound of two muffled voices in conversation. He wondered exactly what was going on in the next room. It was perhaps fifteen minutes until Severus returned, sitting back down in the chair as if nothing had transpired.

“What happened, sir? Is Teddy still in bed?” Remus couldn’t stop himself from at least inquiring.

“Where else would he be?”

“I don’t know, sir. I just thought I heard you speaking to him in the next room. I thought he was asleep.”

“He was; I woke him briefly so he could use the loo,” Severus said.

“You woke him up so he wouldn’t wet the bed in the night?” Remus’ eyebrows rose.

“I fail to see another reason why I would do that.” Snape hoped it was Remus’ potion addled brain talking and that Macnair hadn’t rattled something loose up there while exacting his fun on the other man. “Speaking of Teddy, I will be involved for most of the day in the brewing of a potion for him. I doubt you will see much of me.”

“Thank you sir,” Remus said.

“You don’t have to thank me for every last thing I do, you know.” Snape was really beginning to get fed up with this whole arse kissing thing that was going on all the time.

“What would you have me do instead, sir?”

“I don’t bloody well know!” Severus said in exasperation.

“You could always stop me from speaking at all, sir. Honestly, it might be for the best, I don’t feel like I can hold my tongue at all with this new potion in me.” He had never been this honest with Walden, not even once.

“That is perfectly normal, from what I understand. Strong enough healing and pain-relieving potions often have that effect.”

Remus continued on as if Snape had never spoken. “He would have done it, no question. He didn’t want to hear me say anything that didn’t directly relate to how he owned every last bit of me, whereas you don’t seem to want me to acknowledge that any more than strictly necessary.” Remus paused to lick his lips. “Never mind silencing me, he blinded me once, you know.”

“What?” Snape asked sharply. It seemed Lupin really couldn’t stuff a sock in it.

“For the ceremony - he said it was more efficient than any blindfold. I thought that most spells of that nature were permanent, but it was only a long couple of days before he returned it.”

“The ceremony took two days?” What had Walden done?

“No, sir; that was how long it took for him to decide to remove it. I wasn’t well behaved enough to deserve a reward, he’d said. The worst part was that I continuously didn’t know where he was or what he was about to do to me.”

Snape was silent.

“I’m sorry, sir. I shouldn’t have said any of that,” Remus moaned.

“Its fine, Lupin.” Now was as good a time as any. “You realize that for the purposes of understanding the spell that was cast on you, I will need to witness the ceremony.”

His ceremony?” Lupin asked, aghast. “But sir, you can’t!”

“I understand that you wish I wouldn’t, but it is imperative that I do. It is the only way I can choose my own words and actions properly, to manipulate the spell and achieve my desired results. This is one thing I cannot allow you to refuse.”

“You wish to do it now, then,” Remus said listlessly.

“The sooner it is done, the more time I will have to prepare. But no, we will not do it right now. Tomorrow, once you have had a chance to rest.” Besides, he had no wish to enter the other man’s mind when it was in this disorganized and over-emotive state; not to mention he would have to go add the next round of ingredients fairly quickly. He had no sooner had the thought as his wand began to get warm in his pocket.

“Whatever you say, sir.”

“I’ll be right back,” he said after a moment, standing and sweeping from the room without as much as a backwards glance.

He added the next set of ingredients first thing upon entering the lab. He stirred fifteen times clockwise, eight times the opposite direction. He adjusted the fire so the flame would burn a few degrees hotter; the next few additions required him to up the heat.

Severus used the next few minutes to steady himself. He wondered what exactly he would end up viewing in the other man’s memory the next day. It would leave Lupin shaken at the very least, without question. He hoped he was equipped to handle it.

Snape knew that it was best not to linger, he would be back down here soon enough. He reset his timer and slowly ambled back to the top floor of the house. He made a brief stop in his own room, collecting two books, a quill and inkpot as well as a long scroll that was already half covered in his own near indecipherable scribbles. Then he headed back to Lupin’s room, he would do his work in there so that he would be directly present if any problems arose.

He set himself up in the armchair, spreading the parchment over the table at his side and setting the inkpot down near it. He got nearly ten minutes of reading done before the slumbering werewolf began to stir fitfully.

Most of his delirious whimpering came across as a litany of apologies; he was begging to be forgiven, but for what he never said. Through the mutterings something was said louder than the rest, “Master, please!” He sounded so agonized that Severus stood up and strode to the bedside.

Remus was thrashing about, or what passed for it in his state of limited mobility. Beneath his closed lids, Severus could see his eyes racing back and forth. “Please,” he implored again.

“Lupin,” Snape said loudly, trying to wake the man.

Remus threw his good arm up in front of his face, cowering away from the sound of Severus’ voice. Snape sat on the bedside.

“Lupin!” he tried again a little more loudly.

Remus still wasn’t waking, trying pathetically to roll away from where Snape was sitting.

“Remus, wake up!” he said with authority in the loudest voice yet, tapping the other man lightly on his unburned shoulder.

Remus opened his eyes and looked directly at him.

Snape could see that his eyes were glassy, he wondered how much of the other man was really present. The next few doses of this potion should affect him like this less and less as he built up immunity to some of the stronger ingredients that were needed to brew it.

Lupin peered at him as if he were having a hard time seeing him even though he was a mere arm’s length away. “Master?” he asked in a very uncertain voice.

Snape decided to go with it. “Yes,” he said. “I am your master.”

Remus managed to look terrified and relieved at exactly the same moment. “Thank you, Master.” A horrified look overtook his features. “Master! I am so very sorry, please, you need to forgive me; please forgive me. Punish me, do anything, just don’t hurt him-”

“Remus,” Snape interrupted, sliding closer, trying to keep the delusional man lying down so he wouldn’t disrupt his own healing process. “Just lay back, everything is going to be fine.”

“Whatever you say, master.” Remus relaxed against the mattress, putty under his hands.

“What are you apologizing for?” Snape asked him, his curiosity taking the wheel.

Remus screwed up his face, thinking for too long. “I don’t know sir,” he answered forlornly, trying to sit up again.

Severus placed his open hand on Remus’ uninjured shoulder and pushed him back again. He needed to keep the other man lying down. “I forgive you Remus,” he said clearly, shrugging his shoulders. If it worked, it was worth it, if not, the other man likely wouldn’t remember a moment of this the next day.

Remus’ eyes welled with unshed tears. “Thank you master; thank you.” He was beginning to shiver, Snape could feel the mattress shaking with it.

Severus pulled the blankets up and over the lycanthrope in an attempt to warm him. His body was most likely using all of its energy to heal, leaving him freezing and more than a little delirious. Then he cast a warming spell on the blankets for good measure, taking his wand out and tucking it away in a split second.

Remus couldn’t help it, he groaned in appreciation, curling further under the covers.

“Other than cold, how do you feel?” Snape asked. Not like he was going to get anything coherent out of Lupin tonight, but he had to ask all the same.

“Itchy,” Remus said, sounding rather frustrated about it.

“Believe it or not, itchy is the best we can hope for. It means you are healing. Don’t scratch though, that would go very badly.”

Remus nodded and paused before admitting in a smaller voice, “Afraid.”

Snape didn’t know what to say in return to that.

“Master, is Teddy alright?” Remus asked meekly, deep ridges appearing in his forehead. His pupils were blown wide.

“Teddy is sleeping in the room right next to this one, he is fine,” Severus assured.

Remus nodded wearily, relaxing to a near boneless lump under the heated blankets.

Snape stood and went back over to his chair.

“Would you permit me to sleep, master?” Remus mumbled, desperately trying to keep his eyes open.

Part of him was tempted to say ‘no’, just to see what Lupin would do. “I would,” he replied softly instead, taking his seat and setting the book he had been reading on his lap.

The other man visibly relaxed, shoulders sinking back into the soft pillows. “That’s very kind of you, sir,” he huffed, lowering his eyelids slowly.

Severus sat back in the armchair, taking up where he had left off in his reading. Tomorrow would be easier, or at least that was what he was telling himself. In the morning he would see how, Lupin’s injuries were progressing. There was nothing else he could do for the other man except keep him comfortable and hope that potion was doing its job.

Severus had turned no more than three pages before the alarm on his wand went off again.

He took another tour down to the lab, added the next set of ingredients and resetting the alarm on his wand. Remus had been sleeping like a dead man when he left his room. He didn’t worry about any more effects the potion may have, they would have made an appearance long before now. All the same, he went back up and sat in the chair again, partly to make sure nothing went wrong, partly because he still had all night to kill and it didn’t matter to him which room he did his reading in. If Lupin did happen to wake up, Snape didn’t want him to further his injuries out of confusion.

The night progressed like that until light began to creep through the window. In a mere couple of hours, Teddy would be waking up. He still had quite some time before the intervals of ingredient additions became of so close together that he wouldn’t be able to leave the lab.

Lupin would likely sleep for most of the morning, which actually suited his needs perfectly. There would be time after supper, once he had started the second phase, for him to come up and take care of anything that needed doing. He hoped to be able to have time to shower; he’d been so preoccupied the last couple of days he hadn’t made time to do so.

He went down to the lab another four times, returning each time to his reading. The brew could now be left alone for a short time before anything else needed to be done with it.

Severus had just taken up where he had left off trying to make sense of the enslavement spell the Ministry had told him was the closest in likeness to the one Walden had cast of Lupin, when he heard small feet pattering across the hall. The bathroom door clicked shut almost undiscerningly.

He used his magic to push Lupin’s door all the way open, so Teddy would be able to see him on his trip back to his room. He marked his page and waited.

The sound of water running was faintly heard and then the door opened again, light from the bathroom window streamed into the hallway. Then Snape saw the boy tiptoeing slowly past the door.

“Good morning,” Severus said.

Teddy froze, looking in his direction with surprise, eyes wide. Snape would have thought he had been caught doing something underhanded by his reaction, not just taking his morning trip to the loo.

The boy clutched his stuffed dragon to his chest. “I had to go, sir,” Teddy said, as if his actions needed some kind of an explanation.

“It is not uncommon, upon waking,” Snape said, a little amused. “You have unlimited access to the loo, remember.” Severus thought it would be prudent to remind him, since he seemed to think he would be in trouble for using it without permission.

“It’s hard to remember sometimes,” Teddy admitted, looking at the ground.

“I am not always at my most aware upon waking, either,” Snape allowed. It was another admittance that he hadn’t intended to react the way he had when the boy had woken him up the other night.

Teddy looked up at him, smiling crookedly. “I understand, sir.”

Snape gave a nod; perhaps he did. “How about you go get dressed; I’ll meet you in the kitchen and we will have a bite to eat.”

“Okay,” Teddy replied brightly, disappearing from his sightline and returning to his room.

Snape set his book aside and stood. He went to Lupin’s bedside and preformed the spell that would clear his bowls and bladder. He also ran his wand over the other wizard’s sleeping form. Everything seemed to be alright, nothing completely unexpected reared its head through the scan. He went down to make something to eat.

By the time Teddy appeared in the kitchen, he had already cut up some melon and poured a glass of juice and a bowl of cereal for the boy. Teddy sat in the same place he always sat at the kitchen table. Snape brought the melon over on a plate and poured some milk onto the boy’s cereal.

“Go ahead,” he said, indicating Teddy should start eating.

He turned back to the counter, prepared his usual cup of coffee and sat across from the child. Snape noticed that Teddy didn’t put a single thing to his mouth until after he had sat at the table himself.

He ate a piece of melon, stirring his coffee to cool it slightly. He was about to take a sip when a rapping sound came from the window over the sink. He turned his head to see an owl shuffling impatiently on his sill.

With a sigh Severus set his mug on the table and went to open it so the bloody thing could deliver its message and be on its way. The owl flew straight to the table, where Severus untied the message and shooed it away. The owl gave a perturbed hoot but flew off all the same.

He picked up his coffee, taking a long drink before even opening the letter. He recognized the generic envelope in a heartbeat; he always did love correspondence from the Ministry first thing in the morning. He unrolled the scroll, perusing its contents.

Blah, blah, blah your bonding to #4629 was successfully completed. Gibberish, gibberish if unsure what to do next contact a Ministry Representative near you. About four lines of complete bullshit, thank you for supporting the WIBNA (Wizards Injured by Non-human Attacks) Program. It was stamped by some altogether un-noteworthy Ministry troll.

Voldemort had enlisted a great many non-humans during the last years of the war. The Ministry was clamping down on them, restricting their movement, freedoms and employment to list only a few things. Riddle had offered them equality, positions of power within his organization. He promised change upon their victory over the Ministry. The man always was able to sell a point when he’d wanted to, never mind that he actually believed such creatures were a blight on his perfect world. Either way, they had eaten it up; fighting to the last to further what they believed was their cause.

In the aftermath of the war, the Ministry saw the actions of those that had joined Riddle as a wonderful excuse to implement some of the more radical policies they had been formulating to control and subdue these groups. They fanatically publicized stories of witches and wizards who had been killed, attacked or threatened by such groups, calling the Wizarding World to the aid of their fellows.

Donations began to pile in, but it wasn’t enough, they claimed. Too many lives had been devastated by these monsters; they would all have to do more to get through this crisis. The Ministry then provided an outlet for that need, in the form of WIBNA.

They enforced registration for all non-humans; the penalty for not doing so voluntarily was imprisonment, at an undisclosed location for an undetermined length of time. (Snape personally figured they had a giant incinerator somewhere, taking care of the un-registered offenders in their own much more permanent ways, but that was just speculation.) They also set in place mandatory fees for this registration, all proceeds going to WIBNA.

When, after a time, the funds were still not great enough: houses and estates needed rebuilding, an entire portion of Diagon Ally had been devastated by a large pack of transformed werewolves – the costs were staggering! Or at least that was what The Prophet had been reporting daily at the time.

The Ministry finally implemented the most extreme (and predetermined) course of action yet. All registered non-humans were deemed a threat if left living on their own. They were called to come to the Ministry; those that would not come willingly were rounded up by Aurors or even in some cases, the general public.

The Wizarding World was called on by the Ministry to assist them in making sure these monsters were never allowed to harm the public again. This meant the forced division of packs and in most cases family. If they could not conspire together, their strength would be greatly diminished. A price was assigned to each of them based on species specific criteria.

Then the auction houses that had been closed for generations were re-opened, the non-humans were distributed among them and the bidding began, a vast majority of the proceeds going to WIBNA. These horrible creatures would then be controlled and policed by the populace they had sought to destroy, while at the same time aiding their victims and their families. How just, how ultimately righteous they were all being.

Unfortunately, there were very few guidelines in place, even fewer procedures for actually following through on them. Snape knew that somewhere, the Ministry was sponging up some of the extra gold, fortifying themselves in the wake of their near destruction. The public was still reeling from the war, people so caught up in the rebuilding of their own lives that they either didn’t notice or didn’t care what was happening around them, as long as they were safe.

Over time, almost all pretenses were done away with. The Ministry was in the business of slavery, parading it around as being for the good of the whole, and no one really cared. Or if they did, they either kept to themselves or were kept quiet. And so it continued.

The paper incinerated in his hand, alarming Teddy quite thoroughly. What a load of shite.

He looked over at the boy, who had his spoon of cereal held halfway between the bowl and his mouth, which was hanging open.

“Junk mail,” he said, a twisted smile making its way onto his face.

Teddy kept quiet, finally eating his bite of cereal.

His appetite sufficiently ruined, Snape refilled his coffee and sat back down.

Three more owls swooped through the window in sudden succession. He barely bit back a curse. The first one was The Prophet, which he set aside for possible amusement later in the day. The second was a Howler from an anonymous source, the owl dropping it off and leaving through the open window in one fluid motion. He banished it before it had so much as a chance to shriek; they were all the same anyway. He wished some of these people would use a little more inventiveness in composing the tripe they deemed necessary to screech at him.

The third was delivered by a haughty looking barn owl, he held his leg out to Snape with distain, lingering on the table with a cocked head, waiting for something.

It was clearly another letter from the Ministry. Snape wondered if they expected him to feel special. He untied the letter, reading this one instantly.

This time he swore aloud. Instead of a generic letter, this one was handwritten and addressed to him personally.

It seemed the Ministry thought he was taking too long in the completion of the bond between himself and #4628, one Remus Lupin. He had sent them a letter the day before retrieving the Lupins from the auction house alerting them of his ‘trouble’ in completing the bond, or at least in the one specific area that counted. What did he care if some stuffy fraud of a paper pusher thought he couldn’t get it up? He’d hoped that it would buy them more time than it had.

This new piece of correspondence specifically referenced the previous letter he had sent. ‘There is no need, Mr. Snape, for me to inform you that there are potions for such difficulties, knowing as I do your standing in the world of brewers. Our records need to be completed as soon as possible for #4628 to be considered a non-threat.’ What utter shite. Since the trials, he had no standing as a brewer. The upstanding portion of the brewing community barely acknowledged his existence, which suited him fine as most of them were utter morons. Some of his fellows had stood with him however, in their own subtle ways.

What the letter should have read was, ‘Since we understand that you are not a complete idiot, take a bloody potion and get it over with already; we are tired of waiting and want to close this specific case. Your continued delay is an annoyance at best.’

He sighed and looked up from the letter. Teddy had leaned closer to the owl in interest. The bird spread its wings threateningly and squawked at him in response. Teddy jumped back in his chair, looking frightened.

Snape whacked it ungently with the rolled up paper, sweeping it off the table with his arm. The bloody thing had the same ‘holier than thou’ attitude as the Ministry.

“Sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to scare it.”

“Bloody bird has no manners,” was all Snape said on the matter.

Teddy finished the last couple bites of his breakfast, draining his orange juice and sitting quietly.

Snape tucked the last letter into his robe pocket; he’d want to read it over once more before he flung it into the fireplace.

Fred chose this moment to appear near the sink, a bunch of carrots dangling from his hand. “Morning, sirs!” he said cheerfully. “Fred was taking care of the greenhouse; the day is being very warm.”

“Excellent, thank you,” Severus said. The alarm on his wand went off. “Would you keep Teddy company for a while? I have a potion that needs tending.” Remus’ bandages would be fine until tonight. He’d change them this evening, before he administered another dose of the amped up healing potion.

“Of course, sir. Fred would be enjoying that very much.”

“I could come help you,” Teddy offered, shrinking back at the same time.

“I would like that,” Snape said, garnering a large smile from the child. “But unfortunately, it is not safe for you to be near this potion or its ingredients until all the steps have been completed.”

“Oh,” Teddy tried not to sound too disappointed. “Okay, sir.”

“Don’t worry, in a few months you will be so sick of that lab you’ll be wishing for more days like this.”

“Maybe, sir,” Teddy said slowly. He couldn’t imagine becoming tired of something so very interesting, but anything was supposedly possible.

Snape huffed with suppressed laughter, “We shall see.” He collected the dirty dishes from the table and placed them in the sink. “I’ll be back up later tonight; I’ll most likely need to wake Lupin to change his dressings. If I am too late in either tending to the potion or to Remus I may need you to help Teddy to bed.”

“Fred is knowing how to put children to bed just fine,” the elf put his hands on his hips and looked up at Snape.

“In that case, see the two of you in a bit.” He descended the stairs to his lab quickly, time was wasting.

Severus remained in the lab for the rest of the day and on into the evening, completing the first phase of the potion. The second and third phases were longer and although he had more time between steps, he would need to monitor it very regularly to ensure correct temperature and viscosity. Also, he would not be able to prepare the ingredients ahead of time as he had with the first phase, they would need to be prepared directly before addition.

Either way, he had a bit of a break upon the completion of this portion of the potion. Under normal circumstances, he would use this time to sleep, resting for the next steps of the serum. This time, however, he would need to go tend to Remus, make sure that Teddy had made it to bed alright, and if he was lucky, he would be able to shower. He felt grimy, even by his own standards.

He put away anything that would not be needed for the last step, washing and sanitizing everything. Then he set out the majority of what he would need the next time he came down here and cast a quick refreshing charm on himself.

He made his way back up to the kitchen, filling a glass and having a long drink of water; during long spells of brewing the air in the lab tended to get rather dry. Sitting on the counter were two plates, preserving charms on both of them. Upon further inspection, he saw that Fred had made lasagna.

He took a serving and sat at the kitchen table, deciding to eat something before he went upstairs. It occurred to him that Remus may not have had anything to eat today as he hadn’t asked Fred to assist him with something for lunch. He inhaled is own supper and took Remus’ plate and a tall glass of water upstairs.

He walked past Lupin’s room and peered around Teddy’s door. The boy was sleeping soundly, his dragon tucked under a small arm. Fred must have put him to bed earlier. The elf was good with children, with people in general - Teddy could do much worse than to spend his time with him.

He pushed Lupin’s door open with one knee, going immediately over and setting his supper on the nightstand. Lupin was looking at him warily. He supposed he must look almost as disheveled as he felt, despite the freshening charm.

“I suppose you’re hungry? Did Fred come bring you something to eat while I was down in the lab?” Severus asked.

“I’m not sure, sir. He may have at some point, but I believe I slept most of the day. You were in the lab all this time?” Remus sounded oddly relieved.

“Where else did you think I would be? I warned you yesterday that I would be occupied most of the day down there. I’m attempting to brew Teddy’s Wolfsbane,” Snape explained.

“Oh, I guess I don’t remember you telling me that. Sorry, sir, I do try to listen to the things you say to me.” Remus seemed genuinely distressed.

“I may have disclosed that information to you at a rather… inopportune time,” Severus admitted. “What do you remember from last night?”

Remus thought for quite some time. “You gave me that potion, I remember itching like I never have before in my life. I think I slept.” His face changed into one of immediate concern. “The things I said, you have to know that wasn’t me sir…”

“I understand perfectly. Those side effects will diminish with subsequent doses of the potion.” Snape cast a heating charm on Lupin’s plate.

“You want me to take it again?” Remus seemed very unsure.

“Several times, in fact, if the last dose did anything worthwhile.” Severus said with conviction, taking up the bottle of pain potion and holding the bottle to Remus’ lips. “Two swallows.”

Remus did as he was told, asking after, “And how will you know that?”

“I’m going to unwrap you and take a look.” Snape re-corked the bottle.

Remus looked incredibly uneasy. “What do you mean by, ‘take a look’ sir? Am I to be your… test subject so to speak?”

The expression on Remus’ face was unreadable, but he could see from where he was standing that the other man’s respiration had sped up. Snape brushed minds with the lycanthrope; partly out of habit, partly because he wanted the truth, not the mere version of it he would get if he simply asked.

He saw it in an instant. Remus lay out on a table in what looked like an imagined version of the basement lab, Snape peeking into and around his healing burns with a scalpel, as if Lupin were a toad from which the liver needed collecting. All of his blood was being caught in troughs on the side of the table, draining into a large basin underneath it - it was valuable enough that not a drop was being wasted.

It was another imagining; the other man really did expect the worst out of him. On some level it would give him deep satisfaction not to meet those expectations, while on the other hand, the small voice in the back of his mind drove him to make use of what was provided to him, to the fullest extent of its possibility. What Slytherin didn’t take full advantage of any given situation?

He pulled back, all of this taking mere seconds; he kept his face neutral.

“Not in the way you’re most likely thinking,” Snape had no desire to let on that he was gleaning information in such a fashion. “I will never give you a potion that I have not researched extensively. The potion I gave you last night was five years in the making, although opportunities to test it have been slim, I have refined it to the point that it has my complete faith. It will not harm you.”

Remus took a deep breath. “If you say so, sir.”

“I do. How about some supper before we get into anything too serious?” Snape suggested.

Remus’ stomach gave an answering growl.

Snape helped him to eat the entire plate of pasta and drink the glass of water. He didn’t say much, the only things on his mind would unsettle the other man at best. One step at a time.

He set the plate aside, taking off his robe and rolling up his sleeves again. He cast the sterilization charm on his hands and forearms, setting about carefully removing the other man’s bandages. Once Remus’ torso was completely bared, Severus stood back, shock written on his face, even though he’d had some idea of what to expect.

Overnight, Remus’ burns had retreated an astonishing amount. On a regular human being, such progress would mark weeks of healing, filled to the brim with every potion imaginable. There was no doubt that this potion would be a rousing success in the healing of lycanthropes everywhere, would the Ministry just come to its bloody senses.

“Lupin, look at yourself,” he instructed the other man, who had his eyes tightly closed against the sight of his injuries.

Tentatively, Remus peeked down at his chest. Then he opened both eyes and gaped at it. “Sir, this is remarkable,” he said in wonder.

“That potion exceeds even my greatest expectations of its capabilities.” It was true; for the cost of the ingredients and materials, this potion would be more easily made and distributed than Wolfsbane ever would be. Of course, it was un-publishable in the present day; but he would hold onto it, distribute it to anyone who might care or be able to make proper use of it. Even if were after his death, it would benefit someone somewhere.

Severus still spread the cream over all areas of Remus’ burns, newly forming scar tissue included. Without aided healing, it would be extremely tender to the touch. He would heal it to the best of his abilities, because to do otherwise would discredit his art.

Remus closed his eyes. The sensation of Severus’ touch was even greater with the new level of health his burns were in. He tried to bite back the content sighs that attempted to whisper from his mouth almost without his notice or permission.

The last thing Remus wanted was for Snape to feel that he was eager for his touch in any way, and if he didn’t inhibit himself, there would be no other interpretation left for the man. He had never expected this reprieve, this delay before the bonding ceremony took place and he had no desire to speed it along; once was enough for a single lifetime, in his opinion.

He couldn’t stop the tensing of his stomach muscles as Severus applied the cream below his ribcage and down to his abdomen. The rough pads of the potion master’s fingers seemed afraid to apply too much pressure even to the places that were in their most advanced stages of healing. Remus found himself wondering if anyone had ever touched him so carefully in his entire life. It was almost too much; he was entirely grateful when he felt the levitation spell lift him up and turn him so his back could be reached. By that time, he was already feeling his throat and chest tightening, he closed his eyes against the tears he felt there.

Severus continued on much as he had, giving Lupin’s back, sides and arm the exact same intent treatment he had given to his chest. If one was not going to be thorough, the entire process would be for nothing, at least in his opinion. Once Lupin’s back was coated in the cream, he set about rubbing it gently into the skin it needed to heal. It was the most efficient ways to apply such a cream; if left just on the surface of the skin, more would be wiped away than be absorbed.

On some level, Snape found this type of contact acceptable, unlike what was to come. In a way it would be like practice for that. It served a purpose, it was controlled and limited, only so much of Lupin’s body required this level of physical contact to heal. Only so much of the other man’s skin needed to be exposed. He hoped it would help Remus to relax, to settle down - he was a bundle of nerves, no wonder his muscles were in such poor condition. It would also help him to get used to such lengthened periods of physical contact without having to invoke the ceremony itself. He wondered how they would both get through it. Ministry be damned, he wasn’t rushing into this without planning each step before it was trod.

His plan, as it had been in Teddy’s ceremony, would be to rely heavily on symbolism. He would take all the same steps as Walden had, of that there was no choice. But nowhere did it say that he would not be able to transpose the spell into something that would better meet his needs. Though the events needed to be the same, how he went about them was up to him.

In fact, since the entire process was set up to meet his needs alone, whatever they may be, he doubted there was little he would not be able to do, as long as he stayed in the basic parameters of the original ceremony. Lupin was lucky to have fallen into the hands of someone with the level of understanding about these types if spells as he himself currently had. The average wizard would have little idea how to even begin changing the spell while keeping it stable and true to its own form.

He recognized that perhaps he had been applying the cream for longer than necessary, not that Lupin seemed to notice; the man appeared to be nearly asleep again.

Severus cast the levitating charm and bandaged the other man’s torso and arm at an astonishing pace, setting Remus back on the mattress as he had found him when he came into the room. He moved down to Remus’ feet, almost afraid to see what lay beneath the bandages. All the same, he untucked them from under the blankets and one by one exposed them to sight.

It seemed that his left foot was healing rather better than could be hoped. All his toes were there, the flesh here seemed to be repairing itself more slowly than his chest. However, his right foot was still in extremely poor condition. It looked much unchanged from the day before, the only part of him to not be dramatically improved.

Severus tended the healing foot first, laying on a heavy layer of the healing salve.

“Well, a peg-legged slave is better than a completely footless slave, I’ll bet,” Remus said with humor, a grim look on his face.

“It may heal yet; your body may have the energy to only heal so much in such a quick span of hours. Give it time.”

Remus could give it as much time as anyone needed, if Severus would only continue to rub his foot like that. He bit his tongue and closed his eyes, trying to keep a blank expression on his face. Such a simple thing, but over the past couple of days he had not been able to feel it like this, his nerves had been too damaged.

Severus took his stiff posture and stony face as signs that he was causing the other man pain. He eased his pressure, finding that foot finished at any rate. He wrapped it back up in fresh medicated gauze, not wanting to leave it to the open air for longer than needed.

He turned his attention to the other foot, the one that looked much the same as it had yesterday. To this appendage, he applied the salve more heavily than he had the other. He truly hoped that after a day or two of the new treatment this foot would heal as well. If not, there were other options, but they were rather grim, holding little more hope than the severing and attempted re-growth of Lupin’s right foot. There was no way of going about such things pleasantly, he himself would know.

He flexed his right hand pensively. If it was needed, they would address the issue then, and not a moment before. It would be difficult, every step of the way, but it was better than Remus not being mobile. Either way, it would be best for him to be able to move about for himself.

He ghosted his hands over this foot, taking every precaution not to press too firmly out of carelessness or sloppy movements. The toes were the main concern, perhaps only they would need serious consideration. It was about as optimistic as he could be at the moment. He lingered not on this foot, completing his task as efficiently as possible, bandaging it as he had the other.

“Before I dose you again with the potion you took last night, I would like to view your memory of the ceremony. I will make it as brief as possible and do everything in my power not to view anything else. I will not go rummaging around in your head.” The things he would be capable of while casting a full-fledged Legilimens on Lupin would be nothing compared the brief probing he had done before. If he pushed, Lupin could hold nothing from him, based solely on the fact that he was such a poor Occlumens, never mind that their magic would recognize as him as the one with all the power.

“If you say so, sir,” Remus said in a subdued voice.

“I’m afraid I must insist. I need to be sure what I’m doing; without knowing everything I can about this spell there is little hope to change it in the manner I am hoping to.”

Remus wasn’t sure what he meant by that but didn’t bother asking. It wasn’t as if it would make a difference anyhow. He knew his status. Snape would give him what he thought he deserved, nothing less, nothing more; though Merlin only knew what that would be, because Remus had no idea himself. At least it couldn’t be worse than life under his last master, or maybe that was just what he needed to tell himself in order to keep going.

Snape sat in the chair by the bed, closing the door with a wave of his hand.

Remus hadn’t noticed it until just that moment, but his door had never been fully shut one time while he was here. Not like he was able to go anywhere, but he perceived the change immediately, feeling himself get warm; suddenly he felt very trapped.

Snape was the last person on the planet he would want to witness this, his worst moment. He would see the very second that he had lost his power as a man, a father and as a human being. It would leave him vulnerable to the man in ways he didn’t even want to try and fathom.

Snape cast the bowl and bladder evacuation spell again, Lupin would be uncomfortable enough while he was in there, no need to make trouble.

“You need to try to not resist,” Snape cautioned, “Legilimens.”

Chapter Text

Remus could feel Snape whispering through his mind, a light breeze that could turn to hurricane force winds at a moment’s notice. He remembered Harry’s description of undergoing Snape’s brutal casting of this spell in his lessons with the man; they sounded nothing like what he was experiencing right now.

It had been years since he had undergone this specific spell, not since Lily and James’ murders. He had been grilled by a Ministry Auror who had refused to believe that a werewolf could be so close to such a thing and not be involved. After days of grueling ‘interviews’ and things he didn’t even know their government condoned, they turned him loose with a warning that they would figure it out, although they had never contacted him again on the matter.

Remus felt gentle pressure, probing here and there, the feeling of Severus going forward and withdrawing, trying to find what he was looking for in some other way than just grabbing and tearing it out into the open. Remus closed his eyes, not sure they were working properly anyway. He attempted to make his mind blank, anything not to purposefully inhibit his master’s search. He did his best to relax, to will the memory forward and out of the small box he had locked it in in the far corner of his mind. He didn’t know how long Snape’s patience would hold out and he knew how completely the man could devastate him if it ran short.

Severus’ voice appeared in his head much the same way his own thoughts would, “Try to keep your breathing deep and even. I believe I am almost there.”

Snape had been doing this long enough that he navigated the other man’s thoughts with little difficulty. Remus’ mind was an unrolled scroll, he focused only on the memory he needed to see, tempting as all the others may be. Remus’ motivations had always been somewhat of a mystery to him, though this was neither the time nor the method to satisfy his curiosity. He knew it the moment he saw it; he could feel Lupin trying to push it forward and to keep it hidden in equal measures.

Using all his finesse his magic possessed, Severus ushered the memory to the front of the other man’s mind. It was still closed slightly, so he pried gently at its edges, loosening them slowly. He had little success, Lupin would either need to let him in or he would need to use more force.

“Remus, you need to allow me access.”

The words floated through Remus’ consciousness. “I don’t know if I can, master.”

This entire affair was distressing Lupin, and he was not even inside the memory yet. “If you could, would you permit me to see it?”

“Yes, sir. If I knew how to open it, I would.” Remus sounded plaintive, knowing that Snape would have to force his way in there because he didn’t have the skills to bring the memory forth.

Severus tried the edges of the memory again, effortlessly gaining access.

Remus knew he had succeeded instantly, though he was not quite sure how. His skin was crawling, they were in the memory of Walden’s bedroom. He smelled that same closed in smell, almost felt the carpet burning his knees as he saw himself genuflecting on the floor. His hands were bound cruelly behind his back, he was naked, a rope tied him to one of the thick bed pillars. It was obvious that he’d been severely beaten several times already, the different colours of his bruises standing out like a morbid ty-dye over his body.

Lupin struggled to keep his own breathing even, his own mind clear, though he was flooded with emotions, sensations, or the memory of them. It was like he was a third party, but he felt the same fears and pains fluttering around him like angry ghosts. He wondered what would happen if his body vomited while he was in here. Would he suffocate before he or Severus could do anything about it? It was only a concern because as he watched Macnair walk closer to his body, he felt he might retch.

Severus was there; Remus could feel his staunch presence in his mind like he was backed up against cold steel. Knowing the man was watching closely, hell, taking mental how-to notes, was more than his brain could process at this exact point in time.

Severus reminded himself that he needed to remain as detached as possible. This event, however it unfolded, had already taken place. There was nothing he could do that would change that fact. He could use his skill with Legilimency to help Lupin relax, to quiet the pain this memory would likely cause him to feel. It was the beginning of his enslavement, his last moments a s a free man – no matter the contents of this memory, it would not be an easy one to relive for Remus.

They watched Walden circle Remus’ kneeling form, saw him take his hand and run it down the werewolf’s face in the pretense of affection. “You’re going to be good now, aren’t you? You don’t want me to do that to him again, do you?” Walden’s voice was heard, speaking mockingly.

“No, master, please,” Remus’ voice broke. He said hurriedly, “I’ll do whatever you want, just tell me what to do.” The damp tracks of tears shone on his face and desperation was in his voice.

Unbidden, a flash of memory washed over Severus; Lupin must not have been able to suppress it. The sound of a whip crack slashed across the air, Snape knew Remus was remembering the horrific spectacle of his son receiving the whipping he’d described in a previous conversation. Snape focused and projected a calm that he manufactured within himself. Hopefully it would help both their nerves.

“I knew you’d see it my way,” Macnair sneered. He pulled out a scrap of parchment and paused to read it for a moment.

Snape just about choked when he realized it was a jot note list of the enslavement spell. The bloody thing had taken eighteen pages of cramped text, referencing no less than three other source materials to fully explain the spell, and he was going off of the cliff notes. Snape tried to keep his cool, Walden had always been the type to cut corners.

Macnair went behind Remus and unbound his hands. “Don’t move, or that last show will just be the opening act.”

He opened a chest at the foot of the bed and brought out a fine strand of rope that glinted in the light. “It may be lightweight cord, but it’s run through with silver wire. I wouldn’t pull too hard on this stuff, you’ll regret it with your dirty blood.” He drew Remus hands back to where they had been tied tightly at the small of his back.

“I’ll try,” Remus said dryly.

Walden tugged sharply on the ropes, digging the silver into Remus’ wrists as he tied them together. Lupin cried out in surprise, angry welts already starting to appear where his skin had contacted the metal.

“I’ll try, master,” Walden snarled, pulling the knot even tighter.

Remus gasped in agony but didn’t say anything verbally in return.

“You’re not to see for some of this. It recommends a blindfold, but since you’ve been such an uncooperative bastard so far, I’ve decided to use a more efficient method instead. Vis Vires Caecus.”

Remus watched himself go still in terror. He remembered the feeling of his eyes being open and blinking, nothing but darkness was his landscape.

“Behave, and I’ll consider returning your sight.” Walden walked away.

Remus remembered straining to hear those footfalls, listening for any sign that indicated the other man was returning. He had wanted nothing more than the freedom to put his hands up over his sightless eyes, to rub at them with his knuckles, though he knew it wouldn’t do a single thing. Walden had already taken his magic away at this point, the collar already in place and preventing him from doing absolutely anything to fight back.

Severus watched the Lupin in the memory struggle to breathe, to stay still as he had been told. He was clearly panicking, both in the remembrance and the current time. He continued to observe, while looking for the part of Remus that was watching and reliving this event; if he could find him, there was a possibility he could help him through this, if the other man was willing to accept anything from him at this moment. All the while, the memory continued.

Macnair returned to run his hands across Lupin’s bare shoulders, watching his muscles jump, not knowing where he was going to be touched next.

Snape watched as Walden stepped back, removing his trousers, standing naked, though he lost none of his power as the man at his mercy couldn’t see him, or anything at all for that matter.

Finally, Severus reached out and found the trembling part of Lupin’s mind that was observing with him. He extended a part of his consciousness, enfolding the man in it, doing everything in his power to exude peace. They were not here to watch the brutality, but to try to decipher Walden’s use of symbolism and try to determine the best way to conduct their own bonding.

At the same time, he watched as Macnair came around to stand in front of Lupin, using his own hand to pump his member to hardness, looking down at his slave with a lecherous grin. He pressed the tip of his hardening cock against Remus’ closed lips.

Lupin pulled back, figuring out in a hurry what was going on even without his sight.

“Open your mouth,” Walden commanded coldly. “I won’t tell you twice that I’d better not feel teeth.”

Remus’ jaw dropped out of sheer surprise, but that didn’t stop Walden from taking advantage of the motion. He pressed into Remus’ mouth, one hand around the base of his cock, the other one sliding through Lupin’s hair, grabbing a fistful of it on the back of his skull roughly. Pulling with his hand and thrusting with his hips simultaneously, he pushed himself down Remus’ throat in swift angry motions.

Severus pulled his consciousness and Remus’ away from the memory as far as he could without exiting it completely. Even as a Death Eater, watching scenes like this had turned his stomach, though as always, he did what was deemed necessary to gather information for ‘the greater good’, even when that meant saying and doing nothing.

Snape felt Remus’ mind contract at the same moment he knew Macnair was coming, both hands holding Remus’ mouth onto him as he did so, despite the sounds the man had made while almost choking. He thrust him to the floor a mere moment after he had finished. Severus knew the level of revulsion he was feeling currently; there was no way to hide it from Lupin.

Macnair sat on his bed for a moment, gathering his breath and his strength. Lupin lay limply on the floor, gasping for breath and trying valiantly not to puke, hands tied behind his back all the while, face pressed into the ground. He appeared to have neither the strength nor the will to haul himself upright. He’d hit his head when he’d toppled to the floor and a trail of sticky blood was streaming down his face.

After an undefined period of time, Walden pulled himself off the bed, moving Remus up over it with no care, casting a spell that would immobilize the other man in that position, holding him there magically.

From the trunk at the foot of the bed he pulled out a whip, longer than the one he had used on Teddy, but with small glinting shards entwined in the end of each lash. Without introduction or hesitation, he brought it down with all of his strength over Remus’ lower back, the barbed lashes curling around his left buttock.

Lupin made a mangled sound of pain and shock; he hadn’t known the bite of the whip was coming until it rang across his skin. It tore his skin, exposing the tender flesh inside to the silver wires, causing them to blister almost immediately.

Walden continued to beat the whip across Lupin’s exposed flesh, sparing none that was within easy reach. Severus noted with distaste that the more Remus cried out and struggled against his physical and magical bonds, the more aroused Macnair appeared. He wondered if this was supposed to symbolize part of the spell, perhaps the spilling of blood, or if Walden was just doing it for fun. The meal beforehand had also been neglected, unless what had been forcefully spilled into Lupin’s mouth was supposed to count.

Remus’ back was a mess of torn flesh and sores when Walden finally threw down the whip and lunged forward. He used his large hands to spread Remus open, merely spitting into him for lubricant, before plunging viciously into the smaller man.

The Remus in the memory shrieked as his whole body shuddered and jerked with agony. Macnair didn’t slow down, ramming into him with little restraint. He brought his hands up, raking his fingernails cross the forming welts on Lupin’s back. He groaned the spell, choppy Latin tumbling from his lips beside the sounds of his own pleasure. It seemed to take him forever to come as he watched himself sliding in and out of Remus’ helpless arse, pulling on the ropes binding the lycanthrope’s arms behind his back in opposition to the powerful thrusting motion his hips were waging. Lupin grunted in time to Macnair’s pounding, unable to keep himself silent as the other man continued on in merciless unrestraint.

Lupin had turned so his face was pressed into the mattress. Walden grabbed a handful of his hair, pressing him into the thick cloth so that he couldn’t breathe, his chest still rising and falling with uneven sobs. With one brutal thrust, Macnair was coming, profanity falling from his lips. He left Remus over the bed as he pulled out and away, leaving blood and cum to trickle unchecked down the prone man’s thighs.

Remus recalled the sound of him padding away, the splashing of water running in the adjacent bathroom - he had left him magically bound in that position while he took time to shower himself. Remus had sobbed brokenly into the comforter, tears all dried up even before Walden returned.

“Apparently, I’m to clean you as well.” He placed his wand near Remus buttocks and muttered, Scourgify. “I was supposed to feed you something, but this isn’t a first date.”

The pain of that specific spell grated over Remus’ whiplashes, across and inside his bleeding anus. Walden released him from his position on the bed, allowing him to slide from the mattress to the floor.

“I’m also supposed to give you somewhere to sleep. Hope you’re comfortable.” The smug man climbed over Remus’ crumpled body and into the bed, covering himself with the sheets and quilt. As Remus’ erratic breathing became too much to bear, Walden spelled him silent and rolled over, his back facing the side of the bed that Remus was laying by.

“We’re going to have to do that again.” Walden murmured, closing his eyes.

Snape didn’t stick around in the memory to see how long his once ally had left Remus lay bound on the floor like that. He pulled carefully out of Lupin’s mind, wrapping the recollection up as closely as he could to the way he had found it, pushing it back to where Lupin had brought it out from using only his own strength. He found himself breathing hard, some powerful but elusive emotion weighed down on his chest as he looked over at Remus, who had his eyes clenched shut and was swallowing against dry heaves.

“There; it’s over. I’m sorry I had to do that.” He found the statement to be true.

Remus couldn’t look at him. Snape sat patiently, waiting for the other man to re-orient himself in the present.

“You got what you wanted?” Lupin croaked his breathing irregular and shallow, his face pale.

“I did,” he said quietly.

Remus’ body was shaking, his teeth chattered together. He was trying vainly to pull the covers closer around his shoulders, trying to shield his body further from view.

Severus sat in the chair, motionless for a moment. That was definitely the Walden Macnair he remembered. He fought against the uprising of his own memories, thankful that the full moon was still as far away as it was. The bonding would not be completed before then, he needed all the time he could to prepare.

Walden had completed only about three fifths of the spell, as its original form dictated. Snape believed that by following all of the steps the spell laid out, as well as by choosing symbolism that opposed the signs Walden had used, that he may be able to come out with a totally different end result. It also helped if one completed the Latin invocation properly; why Macnair had chosen to cast it at that moment baffled him. He would do some more digging. Ignoring the meal was unforgivable.

He spelled the glass full of water again, leaning closer to Lupin to help him take a couple of sips. “Here,” he said softly. It probably wouldn’t take much to startle Remus in his present state of mind. Merlin, he had to give him the healing potion yet. He tilted the glass slowly, allowing Remus to drink as fast as he was able without spluttering on excess liquid.

“Oh, thank you, master.” Remus moaned in appreciation.

“Remus, it’s me. Walden is dead,” Snape explained slowly, trying to bring Lupin in to the present time and out of his memory.

Tears pooled in Remus’ eyes. “Of course, sir.” He shook his head. “I suppose you want me to take that potion now.” There wasn’t much hope in his voice. Severus could see from where he was standing that the other man’s respiration had sped up and he was struggling to get himself under control.

“Later, yes. Just focus on your breathing; try to calm yourself.”

“I can’t sir,” Remus said desperately.

“I know that you are able to.” Snape thought for a way to help ground the other man in the present. It occurred to him after a moment.

He pulled open the nightstand drawer, picking up something square that was wrapped in gold foil. He carefully unpeeled the wrapper, exposing a bar of Honeyduke’s chocolate he had stashed in the room a day or so before the Lupins arrived. The bloody werewolf had always looked at the sweet as some sort of holistic cure-all. If he’d believed it had helped with Dementor attacks, it couldn’t hurt for a short bout of Legilimency.

Snape himself believed it had no helpful properties at all, other than curing a sweet tooth, but who was he to argue with a tool he could use to his advantage?

He broke off a square and popped it into Lupin’s mouth.

Remus started back, about to spit out whatever had just been forced on him, when the sweet started to melt on his tongue. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head. He leaned back against the pillow, allowing the square to dissolve slowly, enjoying every last second, resisting the urge to bite into it, to devour it. He couldn’t remember the last time he had tasted chocolate.

Snape sat patiently, waiting for the sweet to be gone, or from some reaction out of Remus.

Lupin’s face twisted. “Thank you for not… prying that memory out of me, sir.”

“Your actual permission for me to see the memory allowed me to access it with no force,” Snape explained, pleased the other man was in a good enough place to have a conversation, no matter how odd of a place to start. He handed him the rest of the bar.

“I didn’t know that’s all it would take.”

“Yes, well the sharing of memories is the easy part; it’s trying to keep them hid that takes all the practice.”

“You’d know better than me, sir.” Remus still seemed distant. He was participating as much as he felt was needed, that was it. Honestly, it was better than Snape had hoped it was going to be.

“That’s probably true. Aside from shaken, how do you feel: any headaches or dizziness?” These were the routine questions.

“No, sir,” Remus said hollowly.

“Good,” Severus said with a nod. He rubbed at his eyes, his sleeplessness was only beginning. A couple of more hours and he’d have to slip back down to the lab to begin the next step of Teddy’s Wolfsbane.

“What now, sir?” Remus asked, feeling that the anticipation of waiting for Snape’s next move was almost more than he could handle.

“You are going to rest for a moment, give your mind and body a break before taking more of that healing elixir. I imagine you would like a few minutes to yourself. I’m going to wake up Teddy and make a pot of tea.”

“What do you need Teddy for?” Remus asked swiftly. He still seemed to be thinking through a thick fog.

“I don’t need him for anything, I’m going to rouse him so he can use the loo. I did the same thing last night, do you remember?”

Remus brought his good hand up to his forehead, “I think I recall that, sir. It’s hard to recall much after taking that potion.”

“That’s to be expected,” Severus said, standing. He was secretly relieved; he’d never been that far into the mind of a man his magic understood him to have so much power over. He had been as careful as possible, but it was still good to make sure no unseen damage had been done while he was looking around in there. “I will be back soon, try to clear your mind.” It was the best advice he could give, it had been the only thing that had ever worked for him.

He went to Teddy’s room, taking a minute to look down at the sleeping child before waking him. The boy roused slowly, allowing himself to be led into the hall and to the loo. Snape waited in the hall for him to come back out, making the short walk back to his room with him.

The boy climbed back into bed, Severus drew his covers back over him, straightening them as he did so.

Teddy blinked sleepily up at him, fighting to stay awake but having little luck now that he was back under the warm blankets. “Thank you, sir,” he said slowly.

“It is no trouble,” Severus replied quietly, hanging around for a couple of minutes until the child’s breathing evened out. Snape backed into the hallway, closing the door slightly and heading down the stairs without turning off the hallway light.

In the kitchen he made a strong pot of tea without the use of magic. He needed something to do with his hands. Snape checked the time and finding that there was still plenty of it left, placed the pot and two cups onto a tray, taking them back upstairs.

Lupin appeared to have remained completely still the entire time he was gone.

He set the tray down on the nightstand, stacking the used plate and cup from supper off to one side. Carefully he poured two steaming cups of tea, setting the pot down and giving them a moment to cool.

Snape cast the featherweight spell on Remus’ tea cup, maneuvering it into the other man’s healthy hand. He watched as he brought it up to his mouth and took a sip. He was shaky, but seemed to manage fairly well. He then picked up his own cup, warming his cold hands on it gratefully.

“So, when do you want to complete it then?” Remus said suddenly.

Snape was mildly surprised. “The ceremony? I have not changed my mind, Lupin. I will wait until you are in better condition.”

Lupin’s face blanched. “Of course, sir.”

Severus realized that what he’d just said may have sounded cold, if taken the wrong way. “I have read all the material I can get my hands on, anything that even references the spell Macnair used. It is a unique spell, much of it is left up to the choices of the dominant wizard. It will be difficult for you to go through, no matter what I decide, but I will not allow you to undergo that while your body is in its present state.” That hopefully clarified something for the werewolf. He decided to leave out the part about the letter the Ministry had sent him, not seeing the good in disclosing that information at the current time.

“Yes, sir,” Remus said with little enthusiasm.

Severus ran his hands across his face in one stressed movement. He fought the urge to tell Lupin that he was doing the best he damn well could, given the situation. Instead, he decided to change the subject to another topic. It may not be any less loaded, but at least he had a better handle on it.

“In just over an hour I will need to go see to Teddy’s Wolfsbane. It would be best if you took the healing potion before that time.”

“Sir, how can you expect him to take the Wolfsbane, he’s only a boy!” Remus seemed unable to control himself.

Snape fought the urge to smirk; he knew that one would wake Lupin up.

“It isn’t the same Wolfsbane you will be taking. It is a modified version that I have been formulating on and off for the past eight years. The ingredients that would harm your son by destroying his heart and liver have been brought to sixteen percent under the levels claimed safe for his body to handle, being a lycanthrope.”

“But how do you expect it to work? I suppose it’s the monkshood and the nightshade that is cut back on mostly? Isn’t that what makes it actually do something?” Remus knew he was being difficult, rude even, but he found he didn’t care. Lord, what would he say with that healing potion in his veins?

“The brewing process is altered slightly, and you are right, it is the aconite and nightshade that are slightly more than halved. I have counteracted this change by adding Lycoperdon Echinatum, a variety of puffball mushroom, imbibed with pure vinegar and camphor. The reactions are long and complicated; I ran every scenario I could think of - the results will not harm the boy.”

“But will it work?”

“I believe so,” Severus said slowly. “If not, I will have taken the proper precautions. It will help to calm him if it does nothing else. All my calculations lead me to believe that he will retain at least some of his mind during the transformation; I can modify it so that next month’s batch is better.”

“Precautions? I thought you weren’t going to lock him in a cage, at least that’s what you keep saying. Sir.”

“He will be in an enclosed space, not a cage. I will be locked inside with him; on the off chance that something goes wrong, someone needs to be there with the knowledge and ability to assist him.”

“What?” Remus asked flat out.

“It is unlikely that he will have any detrimental reactions to the potion; when I say I have done all of the conceivably possible reaction calculations I could think of, I honestly mean it. I spent months pouring over the possible surprises that could occur, the only variable that I couldn’t factor in is that Teddy is a born lycanthrope. There is little resource material pertaining to that type of werewolf, never mind information on born lycanthropes and the Wolfsbane potion.”

“You’re going to be in the same room as him, and you’re not even sure this new version of the potion will keep him in his right mind?” Remus sounded almost angry. “Exactly what are you trying to achieve, sir?”

“This isn’t some part of a sinister grand plan, Lupin, although considering both our histories I could see how you’d jump to that assumption.” Severus sipped his tea. “I will be in the room with him while he transforms into the wolf, as I will still be there when he reverts to his original form. Nothing you will say can change my mind on the matter; we both know I understand the risks involved.”

“But, sir, what if-”

“Yes; what if, indeed. What if he has an allergic reaction during his change? I should just let him choke on his own tongue? What it he transforms without his mind intact? He will tear through his own flesh because there is nothing else for him to do.”

“You would rather he tore through yours instead? Because if he doesn’t retain his consciousness, that’s exactly what he’s going to try and do! He may be small, but I guarantee you he will be stronger when he is transformed than he is now by far, sir.”

It almost sounded like Remus was concerned for him. Good thing he knew better. “This is not something I am inexperienced with,” he said, cursing himself as he did, that statement alone gave away more than he was comfortable with. “I have a complete set of dradonhide gloves, bracers, shin guards, boots, a helmet and apron. I have the knowledge of wards and non-fatal defensive spells that would be needed to protect myself in the worst of circumstances.”’

“Seriously? You’re trying to tell me that you are ‘experienced’ with spending entire transformations with young lycanthropes who are not rendered safe by the Wolfsbane? I don’t care what your job description was during the war or after it, I find that difficult to believe.”

Severus could have laughed; leave it to Remus Lupin to strike the nail on the head with his eyes closed. What in the world was he supposed to say that didn’t involve having to tell the entire story? He knew Greyback had been the one to turn Remus when he was only a child, he knew some of the things Lupin had to endure to infiltrate the Werewolf packs to try and unite them against him and his propaganda, against Voldemort. The last thing he wanted was to alienate Lupin on the basis that he had worked with Greyback once, with the stories of the things they had done, though he would have to do it eventually.

“You’re just going to have to take my word for it,” he said. “I would not put myself in a position where I thought I would become infected, the ramifications would be too great, specifically for your son. The Ministry would put him down; there would be no contesting it. You need to believe I have the greatest faith in my ability to survive the night unscathed.”

Remus’ brow furrowed. “I wish I could, sir.”

Snape wanted to shake him. Instead, he said, “I would not put him in that position. Or look at it like this, if you have to: why would I pay that kind of gold for your son, only to bring him back here and set it up for him to be put down by the Ministry not even a month later? And more importantly, do you think I would put myself at risk of infection if I didn’t feel confident in my ability to avoid it?”

Remus was still. Then he brought his good hand up to his temple. “I want to believe you, sir. But if you’re wrong…”

Severus let out a huff. “Then stay in the room with us. Your potion has been tested. I am familiar with making it so it is modified to your metabolism; your potion will not be in question. You should be able to keep him in line just by being larger than he is, he isn’t yet at the age where he would even consider vying with you for dominance.”

“You have to be kidding.”

“I rarely jest.”

“Sir, to be in the same room as two fully transformed werewolves is insanity for one who is not infected.” Remus sounded like he was trying to explain a very difficult concept to an incredibly stupid child. “I think that statement is true, no matter the circumstances.”

Again, Snape held back a smile; he definitely liked Lupin better when he was angry. “Thank you for your very astute conclusion, Professor Lupin,” he said with a half-smile.

“This is my son’s life, sir.”

“As I well know. There is no other way, Lupin. The alternative is too grim, if no one is there with him, even the slightest complication may cause extreme results. I need to observe; I will be fully protected and able to intervene if anything unexpected happens. If It makes you feel better, there is reasonable doubt that the bond between him and I will permit him to harm me, even in his transformative state.”

Remus looked at him quietly, seeming to judge him where he sat.

Severus continued, “There is enough time for us to work this out, his Wolfsbane isn’t even fully prepared yet. As for right now, I believe you should take the healing potion. If we wait too much longer, I may have to leave before you have fallen asleep. You will be understandably disoriented, considering the events of the evening.” Evade, evade, evade.

“Of course, sir.”

Snape took the potion out of the bottom of the nightstand, he uncorked it and offered it to Remus, who drank the same amount he had the night before. Lupin’s head fell back against the pillow, for a moment his breath seemed to become short before evening out. Snape could see a fine layer of perspiration form across Remus’ forehead. He waited; it took only a short time for this potion to start doing its work.

“How are you feeling, Remus?” Severus asked when he was sure it had started to take hold.

“Confused, sir,” the other man answered honestly, his eyes glassy and a little unfocused. “Ashamed. Maybe… outraged, about something.”

“Physically though,” Severus pressed. “Any unusual discomfort or pain?”

“Nothing out of the ordinary sir. Except that my feet are starting to itch.”

“You seemed to be experiencing that last night as well, I believe it is normal. Remember not to scratch.” Severus wondered how many times they would have this conversation before Lupin was healed. The man seemed to forget himself the moment that potion hit his stomach.

“Alright, sir.”

Remus wasn’t making eye contact; the look on his face was unsettling. Snape waited to see if the other man would let anything slip.

“Why do I feel like this, master? Have I done something awful?” Remus asked, his hands twisting in the covers.

Snape could almost hear him thinking, trying to recover anything to explain what was going on inside of him. He had known there would be disorientation and temporary loss of memory, but to see it affect the other man so drastically gave him cause for concern. He needed to talk to the lycanthrope for a bit, determine if his confusion was worse tonight than last; if so, they would need to reconsider the use of this potion on a long-term basis.

“No, you haven’t done anything wrong.” Snape decided to get it out of the way before Lupin thought to panic about it. “Teddy is sleeping in the next room, he is fine.”

“Oh, thank you, master,” Remus said, his voice thick with emotion. “He tries so hard to be good.”

Severus raised an eyebrow. “He is a very well-behaved young man, as far as I’ve seen.”

Lupin smiled, the corners of his lips curving upward gently. “He wants you to like him.”

Snape frowned slightly. “I will not harm him because we have a difference in personality.” He’d only chucked one jar of cockroaches at Potter in the entire time he’d known him, and he’d aimed to miss. If that wasn’t a testament to his discipline and self-restraint, Snape didn’t know what was.

“I don’t think it’s like that, sir, not entirely.” Something seemed to occur to Remus mid-thought, his face brightened with the realization. “I’ve seen you help him! You’re the only adult that’s ever been able to encourage him like that. He wouldn’t have said a kind word if Teddy had solved a seventh year Arithmancy problem. I was never permitted to…” Remus trailed off, sorrowful.

Snape leaned forward a little. “You are now; without your praise, mine will be at best insufficient. I will do all I can to encourage him, but you will always be his father, no matter what influence I have over him, you must understand that he will value your words above all else.” He was having a serious case of déjà vu. How many years had it been since he had almost this exact same talk with Lucius, though of course under completely different circumstances? “We will discuss this in greater detail tomorrow, when you will be more yourself.”

“Of course, master.” Remus let the subject drop without another word.

“I’ll have to be going downstairs soon, it’s best if you try and get some sleep.”

Remus closed his eyes with a deep sigh. There was a blessed minute of silence before Lupin gave a start. “You saw my memory. Of the ceremony.” He sounded horrified.

Snape almost swore, he’d been hoping the conversation was over. “Yes, I did.”

Remus drained of all colour, he looked as if he might be ill at any second.

“It needed to be done, I won’t have to do it a second time.”

“Thank you, master.”

“Don’t thank me,” Snape hissed, unable to stop himself. “Not for that, at any rate. It was necessary, or I would never have done it to begin with.”

Remus screwed up his face. “I could feel it, you know.”

“What?” Snape was really starting to get pissed off, whether with the situation or what he had just had to do, he was unsure.

“Your disgust.” Remus wasn’t making eye contact again. “You were sickened by me, it was almost overwhelming. Thank you for not acting on it was what I meant, master.”

Severus sat there looking blankly at Remus. “Lupin, I wasn’t disgusted with you. There was little you could have done in that situation but to go along with what Macnair wanted.”

“You really think so, sir?”

“Yes, Lupin. I really think so. Your only other option was to refuse him. Then, he would have done anything to make you give in, including things that would make the whipping of your boy seem like a light scolding. You would have relented eventually, but it would have cost you much more.” He knew as well as anyone just what Walden was capable of.

Remus seemed somewhat relieved. “Hearing you say that makes me feel a little better, sir.” The fact that Snape wasn’t using every chance to throw the events of the ceremony in his face wasn’t hurting either.

“Good, hopefully that will help you rest.”

“Master-” Remus began.

“Sleep, Lupin,” Severus interrupted with authority, knowing that his time was running low.

“Yes, sir.” Remus closed his eyes again.

“I will be up to check on you in a few hours.” Severus set the wards that would alert him to any problems, standing and walking to the door.

Remus smiled crookedly without opening his eyes. “Thank you, master.”

Snape left without another word, another couple minutes of that and he was liable to kill the other man. He was finding his patience was diminishing every hour he stayed awake; he wasn’t as young as he once was. Trying to clear his mind as he had recently suggested to Lupin, Severus left the room, the other man’s eyes had already drooped shut.

 

Chapter Text

Down in the lab, Snape found himself with mere minutes to spare. He wasted no time setting about the next step, raising the heat under the cauldron, preparing ingredients at near lightning speed so they would be ready before it was too late. The steam rolling off of the mixture began to take on a sour smell, so he added the prepared puffball mushrooms immediately, along with the camphor and vinegar that hadn’t been soaked up by the fungi.

Severus cast a bubble head charm on himself and fully opened the vent above the cauldron, this was where the fumes from the potion would become toxic. If he remained down here without those safeguards in place, it would take moments for him to be rendered unconscious, and later as the potion reduced and the fumes become more concentrated, he would die. Fortunately, he was not a complete idiot.

He let the potion bubble without stirring it. At the work bench he set up a medium sized burner, lighting the flame and adjusting the height with the turn of a small knob on the burner itself. He placed a metal stand over the burner, correcting the height of the flame one more time to make sure it would not be too hot. Severus then filled a narrow-mouthed beaker with some of the potion that was currently brewing, careful to disturb the boiling liquid as little as possible. He set the beaker over the flame to maintain its temperature, turning to a row of bottles off to the side, selecting one with heavily tinted glass.

This bottle contained equal parts pure Acromantula venom and Nundu saliva. It was ludicrously expensive, for reasons that didn’t need all that much explanation, as the collection of those two items would be extremely difficult for the person (or people, more realistically) attempting to attain either of its components naturally in any quantity. The process of combining the ingredients took days of precise work, almost doubling its cost. He had been purchasing the two items separately for decades, taking the time to meld them properly himself, it made the potions he prepared significantly more affordable to make. One small bottle could sustain him for over a year, as it was not a commonly used ingredient, perhaps due to the cost of experimenting with it.

Severus pulled the stopper from the bottle’s short neck, taking a wide glass dropper and inserting it into the heavy liquid, extracting a small amount. He replaced the cork and set the bottle aside. He moved the dropper so it was over the mouth of the beaker, adding a single drop into the bubbling mixture every forty-two seconds for three and a half minutes, exactly five drops in total.

He turned back to the potion, stirring it in a careful figure eight pattern, all the while counting seconds in his mind. Using a thick set of tongs, he removed the beaker from the flame, taking a clean dropper and moving back to the potion. Three drops into the mix, thirty seconds to let it rest, six drops into the mix, one minute to allow it to be absorbed, so on and so forth. He continued the process, until he had been standing there for over an hour and a half; the beaker was empty.

He set everything aside and turned down the heat, stirring eighteen times clockwise with a new glass rod. This last step was not required in the original formula, the adding of the venom and saliva directly into the potion would be acceptable. The differences between the brewing processes were minimal, excluding ingredients used, but still interesting to note.

He leaned against the work bench as the potion boiled, perspiration beading across his forehead from standing over the hot cauldron and its fire.

Severus got moving again, collecting all of the used tools and putting them in the sink a safe distance away. He re-shelved any ingredients he wouldn’t need later and sanitized the work station all over again. He set the alarm on his wand and went to sit at the table on the other side of the room where Teddy and he had sat the other day.

Twenty-five minutes; it was enough time to go check on Lupin and return. He decided to rest a moment instead, slumping against the table briefly. If he had taken one extra minute to get down here and get started, he would have had to scrap the entire batch. He vowed to be more careful with the third phase of the Wolfsbane. Everything seemed to be going perfectly and he had no wish to bung it all up due to timing, of all things.

He roused himself, sliding the manuscript he’d been working on closer, as well as a quill and some more parchment. If he kept his head on the table like that, he would fall asleep, more than likely missing the last portion of the brewing process altogether.

He was unraveling a very tricky paragraph, the language it used was complicated and obscure even in the time of its creation, when the alarm on his wand went off.

Severus set down what he was doing and went directly over to the cauldron. He was relieved to see the potion appeared to be bubbling thickly and was bright red, just as it was supposed to be. Taking a brown paper bag out of the cupboard in the work station he brought out a large piece of magically preserved Antipodean Opaleye skin, jeweled scales still intact.

Carefully breaking up a small piece, he returned the rest to its place in the cupboard. The piece that had been removed, he brought over to the cauldron and crumbled in his fingers, feeling the magic inside him stir, he felt alive with it as he broke the brittle scales into the mixture. The vibrant red of the potion dulled until it was the color of clay; perfection.

He proceeded to wash, sterilize, dry and put away every instrument he had used. When the lab looked the same as it had when he had entered it, he set out everything he would need for the third phase, in case he wasn’t here in time to do it later.

Heading up the stairs and removing his bubble head charm as he reached the kitchen, he took the time to put on a pot of coffee before heading to the top level of the house. When he did, Remus seemed to be sleeping, as did Teddy. He decided there would be no better time to have a quick shower, turning away from Teddy’s door and crossing the hall.

He turned the lock on the door, knowing no one was going to come in but doing it regardless. Out of habit he cast wards of defense and protection over the window and door, it was something he had done since before the first fall of Riddle. Only then did he start the water and disrobe. He hung his robe on the peg on the door, folding everything else he was wearing neatly and setting it on the counter beside the sink.

Stepping into the shower, hot water cascaded over him. Snape wasted no time, washing his hair and body with practiced efficiency. His wand rested in an alcove in the side of the wall he had installed for just such a purpose; only a few years ago either side could have come here to try and end him. Even today, he never knew what fanatic waited for him to lay his guard to rest. Either side had reason enough to want his blood, and then likely his life, once they had had enough of that.

He turned the water off, stepped out of the tub with his wand in hand and proceeded to towel off. He realized he hadn’t brought a fresh set of clothes, so he threw on his robe, grabbed his soiled things off the counter and opened the door, dissolving his wards. He took the quick trip to his room, throwing his used clothing into the hamper and donning a new set, clean outer robe included.

He returned to the loo, where the open door had allowed the mirror to un-fog enough that he could comb his hair with some measure of accuracy. The wand in the pocket of his new robe went off suddenly, it wasn’t the alarm indicating there was anything wrong with the potion either.

He rushed across the hall, finding Lupin still in his bed, sleeping soundly. He sprinted the few short steps to Teddy’s room, finding his bed empty and unmade yet surprisingly dry. If the child hadn’t wet the bed, what was wrong with him and where was he?

“Teddy?” Severus asked the seemingly empty room, not surprised he didn’t get an immediate response. The boy couldn’t be far, the wards would alert him if anyone but Fred came in or out of the house.

He opened the armoire, finding nothing but the folded clothes Fred had put in there the other day. He knelt to check under the bed, finding only dust and the wall it was resting against. He pulled the chair out of the desk, peering into the space underneath.

Teddy was huddling silently in the far corner, head tucked into his knees which were pulled up as far as they would go, his arms curled above him in defense.

“Hello, Teddy,” Severus said quietly.

The boy shrank back, every muscle in his body retracting, making himself as small as he could.

With a deep sigh, Snape sat on the floor a short way from the opening of the desk, that way Teddy could come out if he wanted and Snape wouldn’t be lurking right outside his only exit.

“Teddy,” he tried again. “Are you okay? Are you in any pain?” There would be no examining the child in his current position under the desk. Surely nothing good could come out of dragging him into the open?

He heard a small hiccough; the child seemed to be crying.

“Your father is sleeping in the next room,” he tried. “Remember, he is getting better, you and I made a potion to help him. Do you remember that, Teddy, do you know who I am?” There was no telling what state of awareness the boy was in, perhaps he was sleepwalking in the middle of a dream?

“You’re my master,” Teddy sobbed, seemingly unable to stop himself.

“Good; yes, I am your new master. We made potions together - you recall that, don’t you?”

Teddy was quiet. Snape wished he could see the expression on his face.

“Teddy, I’d like you to try coming out of there. Can you do that for me?” Snape was speaking slowly and clearly, he didn’t want to frighten the boy more than he already was.

“I don’t know, master, I don’t think so.” Teddy’s words were choked by tears.

“Can you tell me why not?” Severus pressed, careful to keep himself still, his tone of voice and posture relaxed.

“No.”

Severus wasn’t entirely sure what he should do. If he had done something like this when he was Teddy’s age, his father would have hauled him out of there by his hair, beat him stupid and thrown him into the space under the seat in the bay window for a day or three. Snape had reupholstered the seat and then magically fastened it to the hollow bench after the man’s death. Still, he spent little to no time in the sitting room to this day, hating even being within eyesight of that cramped little hellhole.

“You know that I’m not angry with you, right?” He had nothing but time, may as well try and figure out what exactly was going on.

“Yeah right. Sir.” Teddy audibly began to cry harder after saying that in a voice full of insolence.

Snape cleared his mind of anything that wasn’t tranquil, peaceful. He focused on the feelings he had felt the other day when he and Teddy had brewed their first potion together, when he watched the boy make his first reluctant marks on the page of his coloring book, a sort of hesitant pride being at the forefront.

He used a trick he had learned years ago and used his strength as a Legilimens to ‘push’ those emotions in Teddy’s direction. He still didn’t move any closer; if this didn’t work he was going to have to do something really crazy, like banishing the desk and everything on it, in order to get the boy into the open without forcibly pulling him out.

Teddy made no move except to raise his head so he could see Snape, who was still sitting on the floor a few feet away from him. His eyes were brimming with tears, he sniffled wetly and his dripping eyes narrowed a little. “You’re lying,” the boy accused coldly, he sounded quite angry about it.

Snape had not expected that. “How could I lie about that?” Of course there were ways, but none that small children would know about.

Teddy looked at him hike he was dimwitted. “Magic, of course.”

Snape really had not expected that and he huffed with laughter. “How’d you get so smart? Yes, I could do that with very specific magic, but I have not done so to those emotions.”

“How do I know you’re telling the truth, master?” Teddy implored, dropping his head back to his knees. “You’re just going to be mad when I come out. You’re going to hit me with those ropes, I just know it!”

The boy certainly sounded like he believed what he was saying. “How do you know that? I certainly haven’t harmed you so far.”

“I woke up knowing,” the boy said, sniffling again.

“So, you dreamed that I would whip you?” Snape’s eyebrows furrowed, trying to understand.

“I don’t know; maybe.” Teddy seemed open to the possibility. “It seemed so real, sir.”

“Dreams can have a way of doing that, especially when they are frightening.” He had enough experience on that subject to write a small set of encyclopedias. “You have been asleep since I last saw you; you haven’t had time to do anything to make me angry. Even when you do make me cross, I promise, I will never whip you. I don’t think I could ever hurt you like that.” Something lightened inside when he looked deep into himself and found that statement to be true. “You can stay under there, if you like,” Severus offered, “I’ll wait for you to come out.” He stood and began to straighten the sheets and blankets on Teddy’s bed, ending up making it all over again and turning back the covers invitingly.

“I’m going to move the chair further away from the desk, give you a little room. I can’t sit on the floor like you can, I’m getting too old.” He did just that, moving the chair a distance away and taking a seat. He brought the light in the room up just a little, maybe the child would feel a little braver if he could see better. Though he probably saw better in the dark than Severus himself did, one of the more positive traits of his condition.

Maybe five minutes passed. “You’re just going to wait there, sir?” Teddy sounded uncertain.

“Yes, someone has to help get you back to bed.” There was the sound of a smile in his voice.

“You’re… still going to tuck me in, master? After I’ve been so rude to you?” Teddy began sniffling again.

“Little boys are sometimes rude when they are tired,” Severus reasoned. “Are you feeling ready to come out yet?”

Teddy nodded, his breath hitching. He shuffled out of the opening, standing rather shakily after all that time crouched down. He seemed unsure what to do next, his arms wrapped around his middle, tears running down his thin cheeks.

“Come here,” Snape said softly, holding out one hand in a welcoming gesture.

Teddy hurried over to him, stopping just outside his reach. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said again despondently and more than a little desperately.

“It’s alright, Teddy,” Severus replied, not retracting his arm. Teddy took a few steps closer to him. Severus wiped the tearstains from his cheeks with one hand, which he then rested softly on the boy’s shoulder. He looked at the child intently, trying to figure out what to do next.

A man of lesser reflexes may have been startled by the boy’s next move, but Snape took in stride the best he could. Teddy bolted the short distance closer to him, wrapping his small arms tightly around Severus’ middle.

Snape held his arms out in surprise, looking down at the crying boy holding onto him for what appeared to be dear life, before he closed them carefully around the child’s shoulders.

“I knocked over your potion, sir,” Teddy wailed. “You were furious – I tried running away, but you were faster than me! When you caught me, you dragged me up here; you hit me with the ropes, just like he did! It hurt so bad, master, it felt just like that time he did it. I woke up because I heard you coming, I had to hide!”

Severus squeezed a little tighter, sure that anything he could say in this moment would be insufficient.

The boy continued, snuffling into Snape’s robes, “But you came and you weren’t even mad.”

“It was a dream, Teddy,” Severus affirmed. “None of that ever happened, though I understand that when you woke up you thought that maybe it had.” A thought occurred to him. “Your back doesn’t hurt you, does it?”

“Sometimes, master; if I bump it or scratch it.” Teddy released him and moved back a little, obviously unsure of his previous actions.

“Would you mind if I looked at it?” He tried to keep his voice level, magically repaired wounds shouldn’t be tender this long after healing.

“I - I guess so, sir,” Teddy gulped.

“Turn around then,” Snape said considerately, raising the lights in the room so he could see properly.

The boy did as he was asked.

Severus lifted the hem of his night shirt, raising it so he could see the scarred expanse of Teddy’s back. It appeared to be completely healed, though the damage was extensive for someone so young to be carrying around. Unseen to Teddy, he winced - Macnair clearly hadn’t cared to go easy on the boy or even to tend correctly the scarring after, what else had he neglected?

He pressed lightly at the edges of one of the scars. Teddy flinched away.

“Does that hurt?” Snape asked in surprise.

“Yes, sir,” Teddy answered quietly.

“Teddy, do you remember drinking a potion after you received these?”

“He gave me one, sir, it tasted awful!”

“Did anyone ever put anything onto your back, before or after it was healed?”

“No sir, I just had to drink that potion a couple of times.”

Severus could have cursed; of course no one had taken care of the deeper tissue and nerve damage. The outer layers of skin could be healed perfectly, but underneath the healing only extended so far, without a topical cream or the proper regimen of potions, a person could live in discomfort for the rest of their lives.

Snape pulled Teddy’s shirt back into place. “Do they hurt right now?” he asked.

Teddy shrugged, sitting on the edge of the bed. “Am I going to have them forever, sir?”

Severus grimaced, deciding to allow the deflection. “They will fade, with time. But unfortunately, the potion capable of repairing that kind of damage needs to be applied as soon as the skin heals, or it will be ineffective.”

“So, they’ll always be there.” Teddy restated.

“I’m sorry to say, yes, they will, though they will diminish with time.”

“What happens when someone sees them? They’ll know what happened to me. Besides, they hurt and itch and they look awful, sir.” Teddy sounded quite concerned.

“There is a cream should help with the itching and soreness. Since they are on your back, they will be easy enough to hide, save from the people you trust.”

“How do you know?” Teddy was back to sounding argumentative.

“I have some of my own,” Severus admitted.

“You? Yeah right!” Teddy couldn’t believe the words that came out of his mouth, he’d already been forgiven for speaking like a little bastard once, he doubted he’d get the same grace a second time. It was just so hard to believe - who could ever have that kind of power over his master? The man seemed so strong.

“Indeed.” Severus stood.

Teddy crawled back against the wall, knowing what came next. He was startled when Snape turned around instead of lunging to grab him, taking his loose outer robe off to reveal his regular clothing underneath. He pulled his shirt loose and hoisted it up as far as he could on his shoulder blades.

Teddy gasped. The man’s back was covered in scars. “You do have them!”

Snape lowered his shirt, replacing his outer robe and sitting back in the chair. “Yes, I do. All they are is a reminder; we went through something terrible and survived. Anyone who does not see them like that has clearly never experienced anything of the sort and therefore has no idea what they are talking about. Don’t ever feel shame for having them, feel pride in knowing you are even stronger than something that can mark you so permanently.”

“Is that what you do, sir?”

“That is what I try to do,” Snape amended.

“How did you get them?”

“That is a story for when you are much older.” So old that he himself was preferably dead. He had never trusted anyone enough to help him apply the potion that would prevent the scars from lasting, so he had just accepted them. That did not mean the topic was up for discussion, especially with a child too young to hear of it.

Teddy frowned.

“Don’t go anywhere,” Snape said, standing and exiting the room, returning shortly after with the potion of healing salve he had been applying to Remus’ injuries. It helped fresh ones heal, but should also alleviate some of the discomfort Teddy was feeling in his older scars.

“Lay down on your stomach. I’ve got something here that will assist you in healing completely. Your back will stop being so sore after a few treatments.”

Teddy lay down, helping Snape to pull up his shirt so he could access the scars.

Severus removed his outer robe for a second time, rolling up his sleeves and casting a sterilization charm on his hands as was his customary practice before doing anything like this, healed injuries or not. He scooped some of the cream out, applying it as gently to Teddy’s fairly smooth skin as he did to Lupin’s rough, healing flesh.

Teddy sighed in relief. “It feels so nice and cool, sir.”

“It will start to work almost immediately, I’ll be glad if it helps you to feel better.” Was this child unique in some way, did he contain some magical force that compelled Snape to say things he couldn’t remember ever wanting to say to anyone else? Because he could see no other explanation for his words of comfort.

“Sir?” Teddy asked.

“Yes?” Severus continued to apply the cream, not missing a single scar. He couldn’t believe Macnair hadn’t bothered with this, it was a basic step in tending an injury. Of course, the lycanthrope friendly version of this potion cost a pretty penny, but a little went a long way.

“Earlier I seemed to… feel a bunch of things that weren’t from inside my own head. That was you, right?” Teddy almost got lost in his own question.

“Yes, that was me. I thought that maybe you wouldn’t be so frightened by me if you were made aware of how I actually see you, not how you think I see you. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Snape cast a wandless protection spell over Teddy’s back, protecting the cream from being wiped away before it could do its full work. He pulled Teddy’s shirt back into place. “I’m finished, go ahead and get comfortable.” He screwed the lid back on the jar.

“Did you mean all that, sir, or did you make it up so I would come out from under the desk?” Teddy asked in a small voice, avoiding Severus’ eye while he climbed under the covers.

“What you experienced were my actual thoughts about you,” Severus said carefully; in hindsight doing that had perhaps not been so bright on his part. What had he thought the child would make out of all that? He looked down to see the boy smiling up at him, head resting on his pillow. “I’m sorry if they frightened you.”

“I just didn’t understand where they were coming from. Thank you, sir, for showing them to me; they were nice.”

Snape pulled the blankets up to his chin, not sure what to say. Both Lupins seemed to have the special skill of striking him dumb in the middle of a conversation. “You think you could go back to sleep? You’ll be quite tired tomorrow if you don’t.”

“Yes, sir; I think so.”

“Alright, I’ll be back up to look in on you later. Sleep well.”

“Thank you sir, goodnight,” Teddy all but yawned.

Severus peeked in at Lupin again, finding the man still dead to the world. Having a few minutes until he needed to be back in the lab, he crept down to the kitchen and poured himself a mug of coffee, sitting at the table and sipping it black. This would hopefully help him to keep his wits about him enough that he would be able to complete the third phase properly.

Sometime tomorrow he would get the chance to sleep, or it was something to work towards at least. He drained his cup and headed back down to the lab.

Chapter Text

It was nine in the morning when Severus reentered the kitchen, blinking rapidly against the daylight streaming through the window above the sink. He rinsed yesterday’s coffee mug and poured himself another cup, this one dark as night and a quite bitter from being left on all evening; just what he needed.

He listened, hearing nothing but silence cut through by the occasional bird from the tree by the window. Although it was quite enjoyable for him to be alone in his own house, sitting at his own table and doing nothing more than drinking his coffee in peace, he couldn’t help but wonder where Teddy was. It was past the time the boy was usually up.

Snape stood with a sigh and a crack of his knee and walked his cup over to the sink. Glancing out the window before going upstairs, he was struck still, observing the scene unfolding in the back yard.

Fred was up in one of the apple trees, dropping fruit down one piece at a time for Teddy to catch in his hands and put in a large basket near the trunk of the tree. The boy seemed to find this delightful, racing to grab them before they could hit the ground. He was doing a pretty good job of it too, from what Snape could see. Severus stood at the sink watching the two of them for a moment before turning to head upstairs.

Severus snuck a look in at Lupin, who was either asleep or pretending to be, which worked perfectly for him. The third phase of his brewing required him to wear a Bubble-Head Charm the entire way through, it was probably best if he changed and showered again before coming too closely into contact with Lupin or Teddy, in case something remained on his clothing or skin.

Snape stopped in his own room, grabbed a change of clothes and headed off to shower.

He completed his routine again - folding his used clothing, setting the same wards and getting into the steaming shower.

Severus washed and rinsed his hair and body thoroughly, hoping to finally be rid of the smell some of the ingredients had imbued him with. He wasted no time, killing the water and stepping out onto the cool bathroom floor. He toweled off, ran a comb haphazardly through his hair and dressed. As the steam cleared, he caught a glimpse of himself in the lightly fogged mirror, grimacing at the haggard reflection that looked back at him. His eyes were sunken, cheeks hollower than they had been two weeks ago; he really needed to get some sleep.

Snape put his soiled clothes away, closing the door to his room and going downstairs to make something to eat. Fred and Teddy were not in the kitchen and he could no longer see them through the window, though he did note the basket of apples sitting in the front doorway. Severus shook his head, hoping they weren’t getting into too much trouble.

He prepared four pieces of toast, cutting up some fruit and arranging all of it evenly on two plates. He found some hardboiled eggs in the fridge while he was hunting for the jam, he took two out, peeling them and slicing them in half. When it was all said and done, there were two plates of food just waiting to be eaten, at least it would be manageable for Lupin to eat this type of meal without him helping.

He put all of this and a glass of water onto a tray and went upstairs, seeing by the dishes in the sink that Teddy had already eaten some kind of breakfast with Fred’s help.

“Hello, sir,” Remus said as Snape pushed the door all the way open and entered the room.

“Lupin,” Snape said in acknowledgment. He set the tray down beside the bed, casting the bowel evacuation charm on the horizontal man without a second thought. “I’m going to help you sit up a little.”

Severus got him upright with relative ease, placing a pillow behind his back so he wouldn’t have to strain to stay in that position. He then placed the plate of toast, egg and fruit on Remus’ lap, taking his own and sitting on the chair at the bedside.

“Go on,” Severus said, noticing that Remus wasn’t touching his plate.

“Thank you, sir.” Remus began munching on a piece of toast and jam, trying to spill as little as possible.

Snape tucked into his own breakfast, trying to remember the last time he ate anything substantial.

“What is Teddy getting up to sir?” Remus asked, biting into a slice of apple.

“At this present moment? I have no idea. Last I saw, him and Fred were out in the yard picking apples. The elf will keep him safely entertained.”

“Fred seems to be quite the character. Has he been with your family for a long time?”

“Since his birth, I believe. I am the last of the line on my mother’s side, he came to me at the same time this place and the manor did, a year after Hogwarts graduation.”

“This isn’t your family manor, sir?” Remus asked.

“No, it is another property, far enough from here for me to make this my home. I’ve been looking to sell that old place for years, but it seems I can’t even give the bloody thing away.”

“What are you planning to do with it then?”

“Nothing; it can rot for all it matters to me. I haven’t set foot in that place since I inherited it.”

“Well this seems wonderful, sir. I could see how you’d prefer this over a sprawling estate home.” Remus had been in enough of those in his time, though his family had never owned one. All of that extra space had always made him nervous - you never knew what to expect from a house like that.

“Indeed. My mother’s side didn’t use this place all that often before I was born, preferring to leave it unnoticed. It is not Unplottable, though it may as well be for all the people who know of its existence, but the post still manages to make it through most of the time. It was in terrible condition when I first moved in, but with a lot of work Fred and I made it livable.”

“Has he always been… so ‘bossy’, as Teddy would say, sir?”

Snape just about choked on his toast, coughing twice. “Not always, I suppose he still sees me as being five years old. I spent a great deal of time with him while I was growing up. He would never have spoken to either of my grandparents the way he does to me.” They would never have stood for it.

“That would explain why he’s so good with Teddy.”

“Fred has many talents that most house elves I’ve encountered do not possess. I was fortunate that he angered my grandmother only days before her death, so in her displeasure she left him to me instead of having him preserved in the family crypt with her as she did the others.”

Remus looked confused and more than a little displeased. “I thought that practice died out decades ago, sir.”

“It did, but my mother’s side always was very devoted to tradition. If you asked him now, I think he’d say it was a good thing he spilled that tea on the old lady’s bedspread, though at the time he was devastated.”

Remus wasn’t sure what to say. This was the most personal information Severus had divulged to him in a single sitting, or possibly ever.

“I’m certainly glad he did it,” Snape said. He stopped. Why Circe’s name was he telling all of this to Lupin in the first place? He cleared his throat.

Remus smiled, waiting for Severus to continue.

“Anyway, I doubt we will be hearing from them until around lunchtime. I am going to change your wrappings again, since we’ve both finished eating.”

“Of course, sir.”

Severus decided to begin with the feet as he was eager to see what progress they had made over night. He moved to the foot of the bed and pulled back the covers. Snape removed layer after layer of linen until the foot that had looked to be improving yesterday was in plain sight; it was even more healed today.

Snape went to grab the salve, realizing too late that he had left it in Teddy’s room last night after applying some to the child’s back. He set Remus’ limb back on the mattress with care, standing.

“I’ll be right back, Lupin,” he said, heading into Teddy’s room and picking the jar off the nightstand.

As Severus entered Remus’ room a second time, he noted that the man was leveling him with quite the stare. He looked somewhere between crying and royally pissed off but was holding it together well.

“What bee flew in your bonnet while I was gone?” Snape asked tiredly.

“You went into Teddy’s room to get that,” Remus stated frostily.

“Very observant of you,” Severus retorted. He was not up to this kind of half-arsed scrutiny. Lupin just needed to come out and say whatever was on his mind, he was in no mood to guess.

“What did you do to him? Where is he, really? I should have known something was off, asking a question and actually getting an answer.” Lupin was almost spluttering with rage.

“You must be joking,” Severus declared, crossing the room swiftly. His anger was definitely getting the best of him. “I have been doing nothing but brewing and taking care of the two of you for the last three days. I have not slept, I do not have the bloody energy required to hurt that boy. He had a nightmare last night, his scars are still causing him pain - I applied some of this.” He shook the jar for emphasis.

Remus dropped his gaze.

Snape pulled the chair to the foot of the bed with a loud squeak of its feet against the floor. He sat down and unscrewed the cap from the jar, trying valiantly to clear his mind. He rolled up his sleeves, sterilizing his hands and arms like always, reaching out for Lupin’s foot. The man jerked away just before Severus could touch him, more than likely afraid Snape would be ungentle in his anger.

Snape glanced up, seeing anxiety written all over Lupin’s face. He lowered his hands a little, looking at Remus, who after some consideration extended his foot again with great hesitance.

Severus took the appendage delicately in his hands, smearing a bit of the cream across it and rubbing it in. One of these days Lupin would realize how his life here would actually be, Severus suspected that that day wouldn’t arrive until sometime after the ceremony.

Tomorrow he would have to start brewing Remus’ Wolfsbane. That would probably mean another three sleepless nights. Thankfully, he would have a week to recover before the full moon, in which the Lupins would actually be taking their potions. He would need to be at his best for that.

Remus lay his head back against the pillow, apparently having accepted that Snape wasn’t about to mangle his foot further because they were arguing. “I actually feel that, sir.”

Unseen to Remus, Snape looked rather concerned. “How much does it hurt?”

“It doesn’t, it feels good,” Remus mumbled, blushing as he did so.

Severus didn’t respond to that, keeping his ministrations slow and even. The magical analgesic was intercepting the pain, but not all of the sensation. They did look quite a bit better, nearly all of the scabs were being replaced by shiny scar tissue on the one foot, though the other looked only marginally improved. He gave both feet the same care before bandaging them and tucking them away.

Snape followed the same routine for Remus’ chest. When he bandaged him back up, he didn’t cover the burns on the other man’s arm as they had been the least of all the injuries and were completely healed over. Instead, he applied an oil-based potion across the scars there, having to move to the other side of the bed to do so properly.

“What is that, sir?”

“It is a potion that will help clear up as much of the scarring as is possible. I will apply it to all of them as they heal.”

Remus chuckled nervously. “I guess they’re not the nicest thing to look at.” He recalled briefly the disgust Severus had felt seeing Walden do all of those things to him. He didn’t want to feel the full weight of that revulsion while the other man was using the bond to its fullest, be it because of what he was, what he had done, or how his body happened to look.

“Would you rather I left them?” Severus asked softly, pulling his hand away from Remus’ shoulder.

At first Lupin thought he was being cruel, but as he peeked over, he saw Snape looking at him levelly with his hand hovering in mid-air. It seemed that his question was legitimate, and he was waiting for an answer to it. Why would he even consider leaving them? He was already so old and worn and used, why would his master leave such horrific scarring untended when he’d have to look at it, to touch it even, in order to get the pleasure that he was due from his slave’s withered body? “You would do that? You’d leave them there just like they are?” Remus couldn’t stop himself from asking.

One of Severus’ eyebrows rose elegantly. “It’s your body, Lupin.”

“No, it isn’t,” Remus exclaimed with a pained expression. “It belongs to you, sir.”

“Well, then it pleases me to allow you the choice: should I work towards getting rid them, or should I leave them just as they are?” Severus asked.

“…Please, remove them, sir,” Remus asked, feeling rather stupid for putting up all that fuss only to ask Snape to do what he had been trying to in the first place.

“Alright,” Severus agreed, putting his hands back where they had been, rubbing the ointment into Remus’ skin with even strokes.

Remus found himself looking at the place on his arm that Snape was applying the potion. The other man’s hand was pressing into his flesh, his thumb working small circles intently across his skin. He couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to be bound to Severus, a man who seemed to take everything he did to a new level of intensity.

Snape withdrew his hand, capping the potion. Remus shook his head in an attempt to clear it of such thoughts.

“You will be mostly healed within a couple of days. This potion works faster than I anticipated; though you are more tired and shaken than I had expected. You didn’t feel any residual confusion when you woke up this morning, did you?” Severus asked.

“No, sir. I don’t know what time I woke, but it was shortly before you came up with breakfast. I didn’t feel foggy, at least.”

“Good, as long as that is the case, we will continue to use that healing potion. Would it make you uncomfortable if I used my observations of its effects on you to make my notes more complete than they are?” Snape recalled Remus’ reaction when he thought Snape was going to use experimental potions on him.

“I suppose not, sir.” Remus eyebrows rose slightly.

“It will be nothing more than we are doing already; it will be mostly based off of my observations and what you tell me, things will go no further than that.” Severus wanted to make that very clear - he wouldn’t be preforming living dissections on the man or any such rubbish.

“Of course, sir. Thank you for asking me.”

Snape gave a curt nod. “Alright, I’ll do it then. It may take me some time, but when I’ve finished, I will show you the end result.”

Remus had a look of mild surprise. “Alright sir, that sounds good.”

Severus placed his hands on his knees. “On a more serious note, it is important that we begin to prepare for the ceremony. The sooner we get started, the more slowly we can go about the whole process.” Severus tried to say it casually, though in reality his words were rather stilted.

Remus looked down. “Of course, sir.”

“I believe that we will need to complete the spell shortly after the full moon,” Severus said. He was relieved they now had the time to discuss this without being interrupted. “The Ministry has already been sending me letters urging my haste in the matter; I don’t know how much longer I can hold them off. We will put all our efforts into making sure you are healed by the time of your transformation. I believe it is possible after seeing that potion’s level of effectiveness. I will start your batch of the Wolfsbane tomorrow, by the time it is ready you will need to begin taking it.”

“Teddy will also be taking a dose, sir, or have you changed your mind?” Remus asked.

“No, I will not be moved on this. Teddy will take his own batch, you will take yours and we will all spend the night in a room I’ve prepared in the basement.”

“You’re letting us transform in your lab?” Remus sounded dumbfounded.

Severus snorted. “Not bloody likely. There is a tunnel leading to what may once have been an old storage room. It is underground and by the time I am done warding it, not so much as a speck of dust will be coming in or out until after the moon has set, for any reason.” Severus was adamant.

“You’re not even going to give yourself a way out? Sir, if I can’t control Teddy-”

“I firmly believe you will not be required to intervene.”

“How can you say that, sir?” Remus was clearly desperate.

Snape sighed, pinching just above the bridge of his nose tightly between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand.

“I can say that because I spent six months’ worth of transformations with a group of no less than nine werewolf cubs. They were not under the influence of the Wolfsbane potion and I had nothing but my wand as well as a complete set of dragonhide gear for protection. I was clearly capable of protecting myself then, I imagine it will not be as hard as all that now.”

Remus looked at him with an expression of confused horror. “What are you talking about, sir?”

“I was set to create a potion that would turn Greyback’s army into a force to be reckoned with. This potion I’d been ordered to produce would keep them in their transformed states for days; they would have been absolutely relentless. I failed, or at least appeared to fail - to be honest I never really tried all that hard to come up with something that would actually work. The arduous part was to get the attempts look like I was making some kind of progress so that the Dark Lord didn’t accidentally kill me while he was reminding me how important that potion was to him.”

Severus recognized the fact that there was no way he should have said that, not a single word of it. It was still a highly classified topic, something that the Ministry hadn’t seen fit to tell the public about in its entirety, for the obvious reasons of panic and disorder at the idea of a tireless army of transformed werewolves being possible outside of the full moon. There had been some mention of the children who ‘escaped’ at his trial, but it had all been kept very quiet.

Remus looked at him steadily for a time, many different expressions crossing his face before he said, “If you say so. I still don’t think it’s a good idea, sir.” Lupin had no idea what to make of what Severus had just said; it sounded so absurd he wasn’t sure the man was even being truthful. He tried to take it in stride, but it was difficult when he was being told such an obvious lie.

Severus really couldn’t stop it, he chuckled lowly for a moment. “I’ll make a note of it, Lupin, but I will not change my mind.”

Remus let his head fall back against the pillows, exasperated. “You know best, sir,” Remus said in a voice that clearly said he thought Severus was soft in the head.

Snape lips curled up a little. This was almost the most fight he’d seen from the man on almost any subject. It was interesting, the short glimpses at the person he used to know that surfaced every once in a while, when he pushed in just the right places. Antagonism did have its uses.

“I believe we should begin tonight,” Severus said.

“Tonight, sir?”

“Yes; as I said, the longer we wait to begin, the more quickly things will need to be done. We will begin this evening.”

Remus had a look on his face comparative to one he would wear if Severus had issued him a death sentence. “As you wish, sir.”

“I will give you some choice in the matter,” Severus said. “We can do this in here, or in my room across the hall.”

“Would it make a difference, sir?” Remus seemed puzzled.

“This is your room, if we make our preparations in here, you will have nowhere to retreat to should you need time away from it all. However, if these events take place in my room, I worry you may feel I have extra power over you and the situation, since that is the place I am most comfortable in.”

“Well, I suppose when you put it that way…” Remus smiled weakly. “Perhaps we could do all of this in your room? I can’t imagine you having any more control in there than you would in here. That remains the same wherever we are.”

“We will do that then.” Severus looked at him intently. “Try not to give yourself an ulcer over it, Lupin. It’s more than likely not going to be what you’re expecting.”

“What is it going to be, sir?” Remus asked, that statement could mean absolutely anything.

Snape was silent a moment. “You are going to have to trust me. I know you may not be able to do so at this present moment, but I hope that by the time the actual bonding is taking place that you will be able to have even the slightest faith in me, I have reason to believe that will impact the effect the bond.”

“I will do my best, sir.”

“I need to ask you – Remus, before you were forced to bond with Macnair, had you ever willingly been intimate with another man?” This was something Severus wanted to know for himself, though unfortunately it would not be able to play a part in his decision making.

Remus’ eyes expanded slightly, he’d clearly not been expecting that. “Yes sir, I had.”

Severus looked rather relieved, nodding again.

Lupin looked down again. “You really think I’m healed enough?”

“For what I am intending, you are definitely recovered enough,” Severus said calmly.

Remus nodded slowly. “I’m trying to trust you, sir.”

“That’s all I can ask.”

In all honesty, Remus didn’t know what to think. He was caught between the memories of the things Macnair did to him and the things Severus had done for him. He couldn’t help but feel that the blade must be somewhere near his neck, any moment now he’d be done for. The fact that Snape seemed so serene about it all wasn’t helping matters either.

“Here, Lupin, three swallows of this.” Severus held out the potion. Remus took it as directed.

“Sir, am I going to be under the influence of the healing potion I’ve been taking for the last couple of nights?” The thought had just occurred to him as he was handing the vial back to Severus.

“I’m afraid we have little choice in the matter. Not using it, even for a night may be something that is regretted when we go to complete the bonding.”

Remus paled. “Sir, I have very little control over the things I say when I take that potion. I may say or do things that make you irritated without being able to stop myself.”

“I understand that, and I will act accordingly. Once Teddy is in bed, I will come move you my room across the hall. You will take the potion once you are there, I believe it may help you orient yourself later if we do things in that order.” Severus wasn’t enjoying the look on Remus’ face, but this was for the best. It would give him another chance to prove that he could be trusted not to behave like Macnair.

“Yes sir.”

Severus was feeling his exhaustion quite acutely, his eyes rested closed longer than they should have every time he blinked. He really must be getting soft if one stint of Wolfsbane took it out of him like this. He sat back in the armchair, resting his head on its plush material.

“It’s settled then.” Snape sighed, letting his eyes remain closed. He would rest here for a minute, then he would go find Fred and Teddy to make sure all was well with them.

 

 

 

The next thing he knew, he was standing in Remus’ bedroom, breathing heavily and pointing his drawn wand at the doorway. He had been startled out of sleep by the sound of the door hitting the wall. Standing in the entrance was a cowering Teddy and Fred, who continued coming closer to the bed, seemingly unconcerned.

“If you is going to be pointing that at Fred, a bunch of flowers is best be popping out,” the elf said casually, his hands on his hips. He was standing directly in front of Severus wand, looking up at him with his large eyes that held no fear.

Severus shook his head, seeming to realize what was going on for the first time. He hastily dropped his arm, bringing the tip of the wand to point at the floor. He sat down abruptly, rubbing his forehead absently with his free hand.

Severus yawned. “Sorry Fred. Come on in, Teddy, you’ve done nothing wrong.”

The boy peeked out from between his fingers, seeing Snape’s nonthreatening posture. He came closer, stopping at the foot of the bed.

“You look very tired, sir,” Teddy actually sounded concerned.

Snape tucked his wand away. “You’re right, I am.”

Remus’ eyes darted between the two of them, watching the exchange with interest and concern.

“Maybe you should have a nap, sir,” the boy suggested helpfully.

Snape let out a huff of laughter. “I think that’s what I was doing when you and Fred came in.”

“If you is smart, you will be listening to the little one,” Fred said. “Go, Fred is looking after these two.”

Snape swung his glance between the boy and the elf, thinking it was rather ridiculous that he was being shooed off to bed by a child and a house elf. He rolled his eyes, standing again.

“Alright, I know when I’m outnumbered. Try and wake me around supper, then,” Snape managed to sound resigned and amused at the same time.

“Fred is doing that, no problem,” Fred motioned with his hands for Snape to hurry up.

“Well, good night, everyone,” Severus said sarcastically, shaking his head and exiting.

Once in his own room, he didn’t bother undressing, laying down on the made bed fully clothed and falling asleep almost instantly.

Chapter Text

After Snape had left the room, Fred bustled about for a bit, fluffing Remus’ pillows and clearing away anything that needed it before heading to the door. “Fred will be doing the dishes, if you is needing something, just call.”

“Of course; thank you for everything, Fred,” Remus said.

“You is not to be worrying about it, it is being Fred’s pleasure!” The elf proclaimed as he left the room.

“You spoke very freely with our master just there,” Remus felt the need to caution his son as soon as the elf was out of earshot.

“It was true, he was tired!” Teddy protested.

“Yes, that may be so, but not everyone enjoys being told what to do, especially by their young apprentice,” Remus had never been comfortable with the use of the word ‘slave’, specifically when in reference to his son. At least now he had something else to say, even if the situation hadn’t really changed.

“You worry too much, dad.”

“I don’t think you worry enough, kid-o.”

“He hasn’t even been mad at me once!” Teddy exclaimed.

“That doesn’t mean he never will be, Teddy,” Remus reasoned.

“He promised he wouldn’t whip me.”

Remus didn’t say that there were other, more terrible things in the world than a whipping, but he restrained himself, wanting to hear what his son would say. “Did he?”

“Yes, he came upstairs to check on me. He used to do it every night, but now I think he only does it if he’s downstairs when I go to bed.”

“Oh really?” Remus was interested now.

Teddy nodded. “The other night when he came up, I had just had a bad dream. I dreamt that I’d accidentally knocked over his potion, and he chased me, and when he caught me, he hauled me upstairs and he hit me with those ropes over and over just like our old master did.”

Remus’ heart clenched painfully in his chest. The mere thought of that event caused all of the blood in his veins to run cold. He would die rather than allow that to happen again – to be bound, powerless to do anything but sit there and watch helplessly, to listen to his child’s cries of agony… yet here he sat, still unable to do anything about it.

“But when I woke up, I didn’t know it was a dream. I thought it was real. I hid under the desk when I heard him coming. He called for me, I think he was scared when he saw I wasn’t in bed.”

“Did he find you hiding under the desk?” Remus asked, not sure what he would hear next.

“Right away, daddy,” Teddy said.

“And?”

“And he tried to figure out what was wrong, but I didn’t know. I was very rude to him because I was so upset, but he kept asking me questions until he found out I’d had a bad dream. Once he did, he told me he couldn’t hurt me like that, and waited for me to come out.”

“And did you?” Remus was sure this was the incident that Severus had mentioned to him the other night, although he hadn’t gone into any detail about it, obviously.

“Yes, he wanted to tuck me in again, even though I know I wasn’t being very nice and didn’t deserve it. He seemed to understand about the dream, daddy. I was so glad he wasn’t going to be angry with me and that he could help me know what happened that I just hugged him!”

“You hugged him?” Remus couldn’t imagine Severus would have been very comfortable with that. He was the type of man whose entire persona screamed ‘stay away’ and always had.

“I did, daddy; I think I surprised him. I couldn’t stop crying, even though I wasn’t scared any more. He hugged me back!”

“Really, you don’t say.”

Teddy gave him a strange look. “Yes I do, I just did.”

Remus chuckled. “Never mind, what happened then?”

“He asked if my back hurt. I didn’t want to lie to him after he’d been so nice to me. He looked at my old sores and got the cream to make them feel better. He told me not to feel bad about them.”

“Oh, why is that?” Remus asked flatly, it seemed a rather calloused way to speak to a child about their sorrows.

“Because he has some too - he showed me since I didn’t believe him.”

Remus was astounded. “He showed them to you?” Severus was always such a prideful, secretive person. It was difficult to imagine him voluntarily opening up like that to anyone.

Teddy nodded, then screwed up his face trying to remember something. “He said I shouldn’t feel bad about them, but to be proud instead because I was strong enough to get through something that hard. Well he used bigger words, but that’s what he meant.”

“And what did you think about that?” Remus asked, partially because he wasn’t sure what he himself made out of it.

“It made me feel good. I always thought if I had been tougher or bigger maybe I could have stopped it all from happening. But our master seems so strong already sir, if it happened to him and he couldn’t stop it either… then maybe it wasn’t my fault.”

“Of course it wasn’t your fault, Teddy,” Remus felt tears threatening to pool in his eyes; he hated getting so damn emotional so quickly, but he’d always been like this where his son was concerned. “None of what happened there was your fault. You are such a good person that it breaks my heart, you didn’t deserve one second of what he did to you, and I’m so, so very sorry that I couldn’t stop it either.”

“I thought you just said that stuff because you were my dad,” Teddy said. “But…”

“But what? I wouldn’t lie to you, son.”

“He showed me something – it’s kind of hard to explain. He… gave me some thoughts from inside his head, when I was really upset.”

What?” Remus wasn’t exactly thrilled to hear this. Exactly what was Snape doing messing around in his son’s mind?

“I know it sounds crazy,” Teddy said, “but, it was like… I saw him watching me while I was cutting those beetles for the bubble potion. At the same time, I felt… he felt… so happy that I could do that. He was proud of me; I could feel it. It was like my first bite of honey toast, so surprised, but pleased about it. It was the same when we were colouring for the first time, he wanted me to be able to do it so bad, and when I did, his heart was glad.” Teddy flushed. “If any of that makes sense, dad.”

“I think it does,” Remus said slowly. “That was really what he showed you?”

“Yes, I asked if he was making it up. He said even though he could have, that he didn’t. I believe him, dad. He doesn’t seem much like a liar to me.”

Remus wondered then if his son was perhaps more intuitive than previously believed. Teddy seemed to see something in Severus that wasn’t yet apparent to him. Of course, he’d been asleep almost half of the time that they’d been here, so he hadn’t had the chance to spend as much time with the man.

“I hope you’re right on that one,” Remus finally said.

Teddy just smiled confidently.

Remus shook his head; or maybe Snape had been right, his son was too trusting.

“How about you go get your colouring book and pencils and come back here with them? You can work on that for a bit if you like.” Remus suggested.

“Okay,” Teddy agreed brightly, scarpering from the room. He returned with his art supplies and a small softcover book tucked under one arm. He sat next to Remus on the bed and got everything set up.

He set immediately to work, which suited Remus just fine. As the boy was doodling, Remus pondered everything he’d just heard, trying to make sense out of it all and coming up short.

 

 

It was getting near dusk when Severus heard Fred say his name. He opened his eyes blearily, seeing him standing a safe distance away.

“Supper is being ready in the other room. The other two is already eating,” the elf said, heading from the room.

“I’m coming,” Snape said to his back, his voice raspy from sleep. He forced himself to sit up and swing his legs over the side of the bed. Once he woke up a little, Severus knew he’d be a lot more alert than he’d been earlier today. He wanted to smack himself for saying so much to Lupin, he’d really opened his big mouth, on more than one topic.

He stood, stretching his back and shoulders. Sleeping upright in that armchair earlier hadn’t done him any favors. He went across the hall to Remus room where Teddy and Lupin were both eating on the bed. It seemed that Fred had made chips and meat pasties for supper, something Lupin could easily eat without help. Teddy sure seemed to be enjoying it.

Severus sat in the armchair, took up his own plate and dug in.

“Did you have a good sleep, sir?” Teddy asked, holding his hand pie carefully.

“Yes, thank you,” Severus said, mostly just to see Remus’ eyebrows jump.

The boy nodded happily, munching on his supper again.

Remus and Teddy finished first, as they had had a head start while Snape was getting up. Teddy stacked their plates and set them on the nightstand, picking up his colouring supplies from somewhere on the far side of the bed. He sat next to Remus on the side closest to Snape and started scribbling away.

Snape was relieved that Teddy seemed to be settling in somewhat easier than his father, though to be fair he had spent more time with the boy than he had with Remus, who had been healing.

Lupin currently looked like he was waiting for the other shoe to drop, which Snape found understandable after their talk earlier today. Severus suspected that Lupin would be on what he considered his best behavior for the remainder of the night out of his fear for what Snape would do to him later if he was pissed off.

Snape finished his meal, stacking his plate on top of the others on the nightstand, he would take them downstairs later.

“So, what did you get up to all day?” Severus asked Teddy.

“This morning I went outside with Fred; he said you wouldn’t mind,” Teddy paused and looked up at Snape to gauge his reaction.

Severus kept his face still, nodding to show he was listening. “Go on,” he said.

Teddy flashed a smile and continued, “We picked apples and he took me to see the pond out past the greenhouse. Did you know there were frogs out there?”

Snape stifled a smile. “Yes, I knew. You weren’t nervous with all the open space around you?”

“Not after a while, sir. I had my dragon and Fred held my hand, he said if I was scared, he would take us back to the house just as fast as he could just snap his fingers. That made it a little better, but then it was so exciting, I think I forgot to be afraid,” he admitted sheepishly.

“Good; what did you do then?” Snape inquired.

“We came back in and up here. While you were sleeping, we had lunch, I coloured and dad read me some stories from a book Fred brought us. I did some colouring outside of my book too.” Teddy looked like he had something more to say but he didn’t continue.

“That sounds like it was fun,” Severus nodded.

“Are you going to show him what you made, Teddy?” Remus prompted.

Teddy looked uncomfortable for a second, then opened his colouring book to the last page and brought something out, closing the book again.

“It’s nothing special, sir. I just wanted to say sorry for keeping you awake last night - and I thought you might like it.” Teddy held on to the item for a couple of seconds longer, seemingly reluctant to actually hand it over. Finally, he held it out in his hand and Severus took it carefully.

He brought it closer so he could see the item. It was another paper airplane, it must have been one he had folded today as Remus still had one resting on the edge of his nightstand. The wings were decorated in shaky pictures Severus could only assume the boy had drawn himself. On one wing was a picture of him and Teddy standing on either side of what he believed to be a cauldron; on the other wing was one of Teddy lying in bed, Snape sitting beside him holding a book. There were colourful circles? Bubbles. There were colourful bubbles drawn across the entire plane.

Severus was speechless. He had had many parents send him things, thinking that it would increase their child’s standing in his class, as if he would ever allow anything like that influence his decisions. He couldn’t remember ever receiving a gift from a student, especially not one like this. The boy had clearly worked very hard on the thing, he found himself being rather impressed, this was probably some of the first original artwork the child had ever done. He felt something tighten in his throat, clearing it to try and rid himself of the feeling.

“This is wonderful, Teddy; thank you. You seem to have mastered the use of those pencils in no time,” Severus allowed some of his emotion into his voice so the child would know he was being honest about it.

Teddy moved closer to him, smiling behind one hand. He pointed to the pictures. “See, that’s you and me making the bubble potion, and here you’re reading me a story.”

“I saw that immediately, you did a remarkable job on this. Are you certain you want me to have it?” Severus found himself skeptical.

Teddy nodded. “I really am sorry for making you tired today.”

“I would not have been sleeping last night no matter what had happened, I was brewing a potion that takes a very long time, so don’t fret about it. Thank you for thinking of me, though.” Severus had to say it, he was actually rather touched that the child had felt concern for him. He also saw the hopeful vulnerability behind the action, it would only take one carless comment and he could crush Teddy. He understood now the child’s initial reluctance to let him see it, even though he had worked hard on the item.

Teddy smiled openly now. “I’m glad you like it, sir.”

“I do, very much.” Severus folded the wings carefully and set the plane on top of the book he had been reading. “I’ll find somewhere safe to keep this,” he assured Teddy, who all but bounced at hearing it. Remus was looking at him oddly again. He hoped the man would be able to just spit it out one of these days, he was tired of prying to get everything out of him.

Teddy was already colouring in his book again. Severus thought maybe he would do some reading, since the boy seemed to be occupied and he still didn’t have energy for much else.

“Lupin, would you like me to bring you something to read?”

“You mean to read for myself?” Remus asked uncertainly.

“Yes, any specific topic of interest?”

“I don’t know, sir.” Remus was genuinely bothered by it. It had been so long since he’d read a book for fun that he didn’t even know what he might like.

“I’ll bring a couple things for you to pick from,” Snape said. He was sure he could find something in his library that Remus would be interested in, it was time to attempt to wake up his mind, get him out of his own head, so to speak.

Severus returned shortly with three hardcover books tucked under an arm. He sat by the bed and handed them to Lupin so he could read the titles.

Remus looked at each of the covers, spreading them across the mattress. There was a Herbology text that seemed to be quite expansive, another was a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of Defence spells and stratagems over the last hundred years and the last was a thick novel by a man named Victor Hugo, Les Miserables. He wasn’t sure which one to choose, he toggled between them in indecision for a while.

Severus had his own book sitting open on his lap, but he was looking at Remus instead of reading it. “Any of those appear to be of interest to you?”

Remus snuck a look at Severus. “I don’t know which one to choose, sir.”

“It doesn’t matter, Lupin; keep all of them in here for all I care.”

“I didn’t know you were interested in muggle fiction,” Remus said, cracking the novel and flipping through its pages.

“I’m sure I have many interests that you are not presently aware of,” Severus said in an amused voice.

Remus blushed. “I didn’t mean it like that, sir.”

“Indeed.” Severus placed the two books Remus wasn’t currently reading on the table where he had been keeping his book. He looked down at the tome on his lap and began to read.

Remus waited for another sign or an instruction from Snape. He didn’t receive one, so he opened the novel to its first page and dove in.

Just over an hour had passed when Severus closed his book. “Teddy, what would you think about having another bath? I don’t know that I’ll be able to help you with it for a few days if we don’t do it tonight.”

The boy looked up from his colouring book. “Okay, sir.”

“Soon would be best, that way you can be in bed at a proper time.” Snape set his book aside and stood. “I’m going to go run the water now, I’ll come get you when it’s ready.” He strode from the room.

When he returned, Teddy had already set aside his colouring supplies. He was sitting close to his father, Remus’ arm wrapped around his shoulders. They both looked so content that he felt rather like a knob for saying, “Come along now, it’s all ready.” Severus was already making a note to give these two some more time alone together.

Teddy patted his father on the hand in a comforting fashion and hopped off the bed, walking to Snape’s side and waiting for further instruction.

“We’ll be back shortly, Lupin,” Snape said.

“Yes, sir,” Remus said, eyes locked on to his son. Teddy smiled reassuringly at him.

Severus led him from the room, stopping just short of the bathroom door. “You go ahead and get in; I’ll leave the door open a crack and you can let me know when you’re in the tub.”

“Will the water be very cold this time, sir?” Teddy asked.

“It will be the same temperature as last time. You seemed to find it acceptable, or am I mistaken?” Severus wanted to be sure.

“No! It was great, sir,” Teddy said quickly.

“Alright then, go on.”

“Yes, sir.” Teddy went ahead into the steamy bathroom.

Snape was only kept waiting for a few seconds before he heard a small voice say, “Ready, sir.”

Severus pushed the door all the way open and entered. Teddy was hidden in a large mountain of bubbles, only his grinning face sticking out. Snape closed the door partway so he could hang his outer robe on the hook. He rolled his sleeves up past his elbows and sat on the floor next to the tub, leaning back against the cupboard under the sink as he had last time.

He poured some soap onto a cloth and handed it to Teddy. “Here you go.”

Teddy accepted it with a hand covered in suds already. “Thanks, sir,” he said. The boy set about scrubbing his feet immediately.

Severus could distinctly hear the boy humming to himself. He had to bite the inside of his lip to keep a smile from appearing. He sat there and listened for a few minutes, finding no discernable melody to the song; Teddy must have been making it up.

Suddenly, the sound stopped. “Sir?”

“Yes, Teddy?” Snape asked.

“You and my dad really did know each other when you were in school, right?”

“We did, we went through seven years of school together. Same year, different houses,” Snape wondered where this was going.

“What do you mean, different houses?” Teddy asked, molding the bubbles in his hand into a sphere and then destroying it.

“There are four houses at the school we went to: Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor. I was in Slytherin House, we resided in the dungeon. Your father was a Gryffindor, they bunked in a tower.”

“Oh, okay,” Teddy seemed satisfied with that. “Were you friends, sir?”

Severus cleared his throat. “No. We were not friends.”

“Why not?”

“There were many factors. His circle of friends and I were often at odds.” Severus was finding it difficult to discuss this while keeping things in terms the child would understand. He would not badmouth Lupin to his son, not at this point and not ever, if he could help it. He was trying to keep things politic.

“You fought?” Teddy seemed concerned. “Why?”

“Too many reasons to go into, we saw the world in very different ways, we will not discuss it in great lengths right now.” There, hopefully that would settle things.

“Are you still mad at him, sir?” Teddy asked, turning his head and looking him straight in the eyes.

Good question. “It was a long time ago, Teddy. I’m sure we both did some things we regret now.”

“But are you?” Teddy persisted.

“Yes and no; mostly no. I will not allow the small bit of resentment that remains to influence how I treat him. Do you believe me when I say that?” Severus asked, curious.

Teddy continued to look him dead in the eye, it was almost eerie. “I think so, sir,” he said after some deliberation. “I don’t think he knows that, though.”

“What makes you say that?” Snape was intrigued.

“He hasn’t said anything, sir,” the boy assured him hastily. “But I can tell.”

Severus nodded. “That’s fair. How about we wash your hair now?” The boy wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t know already, but it was fascinating that he had picked up on it.

Snape helped him lather and rinse his hair with the bucket. The boy seemed much less frightened this time around. All in all, it took less time than his first bath, in a short while Snape had him toweled off and in a fresh set of night clothes. Running the comb through the boy’s damp hair for the last time he said, “Should we go see your father now?”

“Yes please, sir.”

“You go ahead, I’m just going to clean up in here,” Severus said.

“Okay sir, thank you.” Teddy exited the bathroom, leaving the door open behind him.

Snape wiped the floor down with the towel and rinsed out the tub. He unrolled and buttoned the sleeves of his shirt, putting back on his outer robe. He ducked into his own room, finding a place for the plane Teddy had made him immediately. It sat on the mantle above the small fireplace that was on the far wall.

Severus also checked that Fred had changed his bedding, which of course he had. That elf was bloody efficient when he wanted to be, he rolled his eyes at the thought. The room was as tidy as it ever got. Though most of his research took place in the lab, some of his more interesting projects made their way up here, books and papers stacked neatly on a small table by his chair. Bookcases covered most of the walls, as he had left all his family portraits up in the actual manor, the thought of those caustic pricks watching over him even from inside a frame made him shudder, may their canvases collect much dust.

Overall it was a lived-in but tidy space. He didn’t bother to change it, if Lupin had a problem with it he would be too reserved to say anyway. Snape almost laughed at himself, he was fretting like a teenage girl, and for what? He shook his head and left the room as it was.

Back in Remus’ room, Lupin and Teddy were sitting on the bed together, talking quietly.

“Hi, sir,” Teddy said, seeing him standing in the doorway.

“Perhaps your father would like to read you the next chapter in your book?” Severus suggested.

“Okay,” Teddy jumped off the bed.

“You go climb in, I’ll bring him to your room.”

Teddy grinned at his father, walking from the room to do as he was told.

“You ready, Lupin?” Snape asked, pushing the chair closer to the bed.

“I have to be, sir.”

Severus had a feeling he was talking about more than being moved into the chair. He took the healing salve and Lupin’s pain potions off the nightstand, ignoring any double meaning in the other man’s words. He levitated Remus into the chair. He cast the same spell on the chair, directing a seated Lupin into the hall and on into Teddy’s bedroom. He set the chair down by the bed and adjusted the light so Remus could see.

“Teddy, I’d like to put more of that cream on your back. Would you be okay with that?” Severus asked, taking the jar from his pocket and approaching the bed.

“Oh yes, thank you, sir. My back barely hurt today!” The boy sounded quite happy about that fact.

“Glad to hear it. Would you lie on your stomach? I’m going to move the covers and pull your shirt up so I can get at the scars, sound good?” Severus asked him before setting a hand on so much as the blankets.

“Sounds good, sir.” Teddy rolled over so his back could be accessed.

Severus pulled the covers back only as far as he needed, moving the fabric of Teddy’s shirt out of his way. He pulled his sleeves up and sterilized his hands and arms, dipping his fingers into the cool salve and spreading it thickly across the child’s marked skin.

“Did you brew this stuff yourself, sir?” Teddy asked curiously.

“Yes, I did. It isn’t complicated to make, it took a long time to perfect the recipe, though.” As always, his hands continued their careful work as he spoke.

“You invented it?” Teddy sounded very impressed.

“I have discovered and altered many potions over the years,” Severus informed him with a smile, almost forgetting Remus was in the room.

“Cool,” Teddy said. “Will you teach me to make it one day?”

“One day, yes. Tonight, sleep.”

Teddy giggled. “Yes, sir.”

“All done,” Severus cast the protection spell across the boy’s back, pulling his shirt and the covers back into place.

“Thank you, sir,” Teddy said.

“I’ll be back in a bit to get you, Lupin. Goodnight, Teddy, and you’re very welcome.”

Teddy yawned. “Goodnight, sir. See you tomorrow.”

“Certainly.” Severus exited the room quickly. He went down to the kitchen, sitting at the table. He glanced idly through the latest edition of the Prophet to see what drivel they were passing off as truth today. He gave Remus and Teddy about half an hour, taking that time to collect his own thoughts.

When he went back up to Teddy’s room, the boy was sleeping. Remus was leaning over against the arm of the chair, with his son’s hand held in his own larger one, thumb stroking across his small knuckles affectionately.

“Would you like some more time with him?” Severus asked in a hushed tone.

Remus looked over at him, startled. “No, sir. Let him sleep.”

“Alright then,” Snape said, casting the levitating charm on the chair again, leading Lupin out into the hallway. This time he directed the chair past Remus’ door and into his own room.

Chapter Text

Severus set Lupin by the armchair and side table near the fireplace. He then spelled a small fire burning in the grate, its warmth and glow spreading through the room. Remus sat quietly, eyes locked onto his knees, arms wrapped around his middle loosely. He felt very lost and out of control, fearful anticipation gnawing on his soul like a starved animal.

“Will you be comfortable in that chair for a moment?” Severus asked. Lupin was radiating unease and desolation, but there was nothing for him to do but to push onward, though slowly.

“Yes, sir,” Remus said, not looking up.

“In that case, I will return in a moment.”

Snape headed down to the kitchen, finding the teapot and two teacups. He filled up the pot with water, setting it and the cups on a tray and charming the water so steam was coming out the spout. He went into one of the cupboards, finding the glass jar labeled ‘fennel’ and some empty teabags. He filled the bags with the fennel that Fred must have prepared, also adding a little dried ginger to the mix. He closed up the teabags and dropped them in the pot, setting the lid in place.

He took the tray in hand and returned to his room. Remus looked up as he entered, anxiety written across his face. His expression changed when he saw the tray, but Snape still didn’t know exactly what to make of it.

Severus balanced the tray on one hand, moving the texts and parchment on the small table between the chairs to an out of the way place on the floor nearby. He then placed the tray on the table, sitting in the chair on the opposite side of it. He poured two cups of the hot liquid, passing one carefully into Remus’ good hand.

Though it was more than likely too hot, Remus brought the cup to his lips, taking a cautious sip. His face brightened. “I love fennel tea,” he said without even thinking.

Severus picked up his own cup. “I remember,” he said.

Remus gave him a confused look. “Did we discuss it at some point, sir?”

“I don’t believe so; I sat near you for a year at the head table.”

“You paid attention to my tea?” Remus asked.

Severus shrugged. “Small details were everything to me back then, it’s something that is very difficult to turn on and off.”

“Well, regardless – thank you, sir.”

“I thought a cup of tea might settle both our nerves,” Severus admitted, lifting his own cup to his lips.

Remus smiled weakly at him, the look withering on his face almost before it appeared.

It seemed Lupin wasn’t going to make thing easy for him, and why should he? Severus set his cup back on the table, standing and moving a few paces away. He removed his outer robe, taking the potions from his pocket and hanging it neatly in his closet. He moved to take his seat again, placing the bottles on the table between them and unbuttoning his cuffs. He took his cup back in hand and looked blandly at Remus.

“Thank you for applying that salve for Teddy,” Remus said suddenly. “As well as for being so kind about it.”

Severus shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t see any reason for him to be in discomfort.”

Remus tilted his head slightly as if trying to see Severus from a different angle. “I am coming to understand that, sir.” Remus paused so he could choose his words carefully. “You speak to him like he’s a real person. You answer his questions.” Lupin sounded puzzled.

Severus sipped his tea. “He is a real person, Lupin.”

“I know that! I just didn’t think you would, sir.” Remus looked uneasy as soon as he said it.

“Fair enough,” Severus allowed placidly. “I have occasionally been vocally unsupportive of the werewolf community as a whole.” He knew he shouldn’t be trying to rile Lupin up, but Merlin, it was just too easy.

“Just vocally unsupportive, sir?” Remus asked in disbelief.

“Well, despite anything I may have said, I did devote a large percentage of my research to lycanthrope safe potions, the Wolfsbane aside.” Severus wasn’t trying to be cocky, these were just facts.

“I’m sure you’d just love to find a cure, and then you’d be rid of the whole lot of us.” Remus sounded rather cross.

Severus gave an exhale of laughter. “Who do you think it would benefit more if I would find a cure, me or the entire lycanthrope population? Honestly, Lupin.”

“Sorry, sir. I’m just nervous. I guess I’m trying to pick a fight,” Remus admitted guiltily.

“Why would you do that?” Severus inquired, though he already knew the answer. Sometimes the pressure of anticipation grew intolerable and it was easier just to provoke a reaction. He had behaved similarly with his father, though he hadn’t understood the reason at the time.

“I just hate the expectation of what you’re going to do to me, sir,” Remus said softly. “If I make you angry, we can just get this all over with.”

Snape looked vacantly at Remus for a moment. “What do you think is going to happen tonight?”

“I don’t know, sir. You said we were going to prepare for the ceremony. I can only imagine what it is you think we need to practice.” Remus’ voice was expressionless, his eyes locked onto his knees. When Snape didn’t respond immediately, he drank the rest of his tea in one gulp and waited.

Severus picked up the teapot, extending the spout in Lupin’s direction. Remus held out his cup with an uncertain glance. Snape merely refilled it, pouring another cup for himself in the process.

Severus decided to change the topic. “Your son is progressing at an impressive speed, he seems to be quite the adaptable little fellow.”

“I couldn’t believe it when he showed me he could fold those paper flying machines all by himself. He was so insistent on making that one for you, he seemed to know you would like it, sir.”

Severus looked over to the mantle where it sat and Remus followed his gaze. “He is a very thoughtful child,” Snape admitted.

Remus took a sip of his tea. “I’d like to think so, sir.”

They sat in silence for a while, drinking tea and taking in the crackling fire.

“I’d like to apply that topical salve to your burns for a second time; at the rate they’re healing it couldn’t hurt. After that I’ll give you your potions.” Snape took Remus’ cup from his hands and set it back on the tray.

“Yes, sir,” Remus said bleakly.

Severus stood and retrieved a fresh swath of bandages from a drawer across the room, returning to stand by Remus’ side. He set the roll of gauze on the table beside the tray after sterilizing the spot it would rest on, taking the jar of healing salve in hand.

Snape knelt on the floor in front of a seated Remus, pulling the legs of his cotton pajama bottoms up to rest at his knees. He rolled up his own shirt sleeves, cleansing his hands before starting the process of unwrapping Remus’ feet.

“Sir, please; you don’t have to-” Remus exclaimed.

“Your feet need to be seen to, Lupin,” Severus explained.

“I know that, sir and thank you for doing it,” Remus’ words came out in a rush. “But stand up, sir - you shouldn’t kneel for me, not for any reason. Please, I’ll lie down, sir.”

Severus continued unraveling the bandage from around the bridge of Remus’ right foot. “Let me do this, Lupin.”

Remus bit his lip and looked away.

Snape ran his salve covered hands across one and then the other of Remus’ feet. He took care to get every inch of damaged tissue using the same careful pressure across every part. His joints protested slightly at the position he was enforcing on them, but he paid it no mind. He had knelt before lesser men for worse reasons.

Snape took the bandages from the table, wrapping the exposed skin safely away, pulling Remus’ trouser legs down one by one, straightening their ends. Again, there had been little progress for the one foot; he decided not to say anything about it. He pushed himself up, using the chair’s arm for assistance.

“I’m going to lay you down on the bed for the rest of this, it will be easier that way.”

“Of course, sir.”

Severus levitated the chair so that it was near the side of the bed he didn’t usually sleep on, setting it down and pulling back the crisply folded sheets and blankets so they were at the very foot of the bed. Then he cast the levitation charm again, moving Remus so he was hovering just above the mattress, facing upwards. He brought the salve, the potions and the bandages over to the nightstand. It took longer to clear Remus’ torso of wrappings, but the skin underneath looked even more improved than it had earlier in the day.

He spread the cream heavily across Remus’ chest, rubbing the potion into his skin with gentle circles. Remus’ eyes were closed, as always, but there was a small quirk to his lips that interested Severus.

He brought his fingers closer together, tightening his palm to Lupin’s abdomen, slowing his motions slightly, paying close attention to the muscles tightening and loosening under his fingers. Some part of Remus loved to be touched like this, Severus could tell. One look at his face now, however, would tell a different story as there was a crease in his brow.

He uttered the words to the charm that would slowly turn Remus over so he could reach his back. With more potions on his hands he began smoothing the cream over Remus’ shoulders and back, fingers trailing along his spine carefully, he was in no hurry.

Severus noted that Remus was breathing just a little heavier as his fingers graced unscarred skin. After spreading the salve thoroughly across the parts that needed healing, he took his potion covered fingers and placed his thumb and index finger on either side of Remus’ neck, kneading the tissue under his fingers persistently. Again, he took his time, not moving on until he felt the knot ease under his fingertips.

Remus couldn’t stop himself, he made a small sound in the back of his throat when Snape’s fingers worked their way into the knots on his neck. He had to remember to stay silent, or one of these times he was really going to earn himself something to make noise about, and it wouldn’t be any damn massage.

Severus took the bandages, expertly wrapping all of the places that needed protection. He turned Remus over again and slowly lowered him to the bed. He magically cleansed his hands, using his now clean fingers to undo the top two buttons of his shirt collar.

Before walking around to his side of the bed, he pulled the covers over Remus, loosening the ones at the foot of the bed so Lupin’s bandaged feet would have unrestricted room to move. He cast the evacuation charm so the man wouldn’t feel the need to use the loo in the middle of the night.

“Thank you, sir,” Remus said. He took a few deep breaths and tried to calm his endlessly fraying nerves.

“You’re welcome,” Severus replied, uncorking the rapid healing potion and handing to Remus.

Lupin took his dose without question, handing the bottle back to Snape, who set it aside.

Severus walked around the bed, turning his back on Remus and pulling his shirt free of his trousers, unbuttoning it and sliding it off his shoulders. He knew Remus would be feeling vulnerable, laying there in his bed, in no condition to defend himself even if he felt he was able. To Snape it seemed only fair that they would both be out of their comfort zones; he had planned on going to the en suite to get changed. He took his time, folding the shirt neatly in half before depositing it in the hamper.

Remus lay in bed where Severus had carefully placed him. He watched the other man undress in what began to be abject horror. Severus had already taken his shirt off and put it in the laundry when Lupin caught sight of his back. Remus actually had to bite down hard on his bottom lip to keep from making a surprised sound of sympathy.

The skin on Snape’s back looked like it had been completely flayed off at one point, scars trailing around his sides and down past the band of his trousers. They were obviously old, totally healed. Remus was taken aback by the sheer number of them, wondering how one person had managed to accumulate so many permanent marks in a single life that was, by wizarding standards at least, so far rather short.

Severus continued, unbuttoning and removing his trousers, letting them slide to the floor before picking them up, folding them as well and placing them in the laundry on top of his shirt. He stood there for a moment in pants that were not at all greying and took his sleeping attire from where it was neatly folded on his pillow, shaking the bottoms out and stepping into them one leg at a time, pulling them up and synching the waist.

In that brief moment, Remus saw that the scarring was not limited to Snape’s back. It tapered off down his thighs, trailing further down to where Lupin’s view was obscured by the bed.

Severus turned around, meeting Lupin’s eyes immediately.

Remus looked down, ashamed for being caught assessing the other man’s scars.

Snape didn’t say a word about it. He pulled back the covers on his own side of the bed, sliding slowly in between the sheets and pulling the blankets up over himself as well. He rolled on his side so that he was facing Remus, but then moved no closer than that.

“Dare I inquire how you’re feeling?” Severus asked.

“Honestly? Terrified, master,” Remus answered. He hated how quickly this potion kicked in; he felt its effects almost before Severus had sat on the side of the bed. There was no way he could process the words before he found himself saying them.

“Remember, there is no need for you to use that title.”

Remus blanched. “Forgive me, sir.”

“I’m not angry,” Snape said simply. “I am only reminding you, as I know that potion makes it difficult for you to think.”

“Yes, it does. Thank you for understanding, sir.” His relief was a palpable thing, he felt his body reacting to it.

Snape could feel Lupin shivering beside him. Every muscle in the other man’s body was taut, like he was ready to flee at any moment, healing feet or no.

“Remus,” he said softly. “You understand that I am still taking that potion, correct?”

Lupin’s head spun to the side so he could look at him directly. “Pardon me, sir?”

“When I said we would be preparing for the ceremony, I did not mean that we would be practicing the physical acts of the ceremony itself.” Snape cursed himself for being so bloody vague all of the time; it was an old habit. He reminded himself that Remus needed to trust him. “I did not mean that we would be having intercourse.” He said so there would be no chance of confusion.

A perplexed look flashed across Remus’ face. “What did you mean then, sir?” he asked carefully.

“I had intended for us to become more comfortable with the close proximity the spell will require.”

“I don’t see how we’re going to do that if you’re still taking that potion, sir.”

Snape sighed. “Slowly, Remus,” he said. “We are going to do it slowly.”

“If you say so, sir.” Maybe it was the potion, but he still wasn’t sure what his master was talking about. Severus would show him, though, of that he was confident somehow.

“I do. Are you comfortable?”

“Yes, sir.” Remus had been surprised to find Snape’s sheets and mattress to be of the same make and quality of his own. Despite the close proximity of the other man he was quite contented in the bed.

“Good,” Snape said, adjusting his pillow.

“Master?”

“Yes?”

“That means we’re not going to – you’re not going to –” Remus was tripping over his tongue. He had to know, but he couldn’t say it, though it didn’t stop his mouth from trying.

“No Remus, we’re not, not tonight.”

Relief was evident on Lupin’s face, though it was only a mere second before the look twisted. “Is it because you’re disgusted with me, sir?”

“No,” Severus placed his hand lightly on Lupin’s un-bandaged arm, the skin jumped under his hand. “I am in no way disgusted with you.” He could see the thankfulness Lupin felt at hearing they weren’t going to have sex that night, but at the same time, the idea of Severus finding him undesirable seemed to upset him as well. “Why does it matter so much to you?” Severus had to ask.

“People are much harder on things they don’t like, on things they see no value in, wouldn’t you agree, sir?”

“I would agree that some people are,” Severus was waiting for him to get to the point.

“Well, I already know that you don’t like me,” Remus cleared his throat. “That you hate me, sir. Years of interactions between us have told me that. But-” he choked a little. “If you could find me agreeable in just one way, even if it was only for the use of my body-” Lupin’s breathing was speeding up again, this time it definitely wasn’t because he was enjoying himself.

Severus thought Lupin may be hyperventilating. “Remus,” he tried to calm the other man.

“There are only so many parts to the ceremony, sir.” Lupin’s eyes were clenched shut. “If you’re not looking to use my body for pleasure tonight, you must be looking to use it for pain. Please tell me sir, I can’t handle the anticipation-”

“Remus,” Severus said more sharply.

Lupin looked over at him again, a wild expression on his face.

“Do you want me to show you what I had planned for the evening?”

“Please, sir,” Remus begged. “It almost doesn’t matter what it is so long as I know.”

Severus moved closer to him, their legs were now touching.

Remus was tightening up more than Snape thought possible for a person, if the wolf didn’t watch it he was going to pull something.

“You realize there was more to the bonding than the simple steps Macnair took, don’t you?”

“No, sir; other that the hints you’ve given me, I had no idea.”

The prospect of there being more than expected in the ritual understandably unnerved Remus. Snape extended one arm under the pillow Remus’ head was laying on, his other arm snuck over Lupin’s torso. In the end he was as close to the other man as he could get.

Remus was struggling to control his breath. Snape’s body was pressing against his, the other man’s arms were enfolding him lightly. When Severus stopped moving, he let out a cautious sigh.

“I think it would be good for us- for the bond- if we became more accustomed to one another,” Severus explained, his voice a soft exhale against Remus’ shoulder. “I mean without the necessity for anything else, or anything more. I saw only one fraction of what you experienced with Macnair; even with just that, I understand that you need time. I only regret that there is not more of it for me to give you.”

Severus voice was velvet; if he wasn’t being sincere, he was doing a damn good job of faking it. Remus felt his throat getting tight. Why would Severus Snape, of all people, care if he needed time or not? He felt warmth emanating from the other man’s body, from the arms wrapped around him. He tried to think about the last time someone had had this level of patience with him, finding only endless memories of Walden’s cruelties. He began to shiver again.

“Why do you care, sir?”

Snape set his palm lightly on Remus’ chest. “I care because you belong to me, remember? Even if you didn’t, most of the people I have known well in my life are either dead or lying as empty husks in a Ministry basement somewhere,” Snape chuckled humorlessly. “You may well be all I have left.”

Remus gave a huff of laughter, but otherwise stayed silent, the potion was swirling and disorganizing anything he would have said in response to that. He found himself biting his bottom lip to keep from speaking, so afraid was he of the things that may spill from his lips.

“Either way, you have nothing to fear from me tonight, except, of course, that I snore.” Severus waited a moment, but not so much as a snicker was forthcoming. “Come on now, that was an easy shot.”

“An easy shot, sir?” Remus sounded baffled.

“My nose is three quarters of my face, you’re not even going to roll your eyes at that?”

Remus looked horrified. “I would never joke about your face, sir.”

Snape raised an eyebrow. “Never, he says.”

“I knew this would happen. You have to understand that I had no real power over them, sir. I always thought you were- I never made fun of the way you looked, not even when the four of us were in our dorm room alone.”

In hindsight, Severus saw that this was the only path that conversation could have gone down. He’d almost expected it to lighten the mood. Now that it had come up, he had to know.

“Why didn’t you stop them, even after you were made prefect?” He surprised himself with the lack of spite in his own voice.

“They were my friends, sir. All three of them knew what I was, even though I’d done my best to hide it from them. If I’d sided with you, I mean really sided with you, they would have hated me just as much; I was afraid they would tell everyone that I was a monster and then they’d kick me out of school. I’m sorry I was such a coward, sir. I’ve always been sorry. You never deserved any of that.”

Severus supposed it wasn’t really fair to be asking Remus questions with that potion coursing through his system. He took a deep breath.

“I shouldn’t have brought it up, Remus,” Severus said. Since that time, he had faced worse tortures and humiliations than anything the Marauders had put him through. Though if Sirius Black was here right now he would still curse the bastard into oblivion. Snape figured that was completely unnecessary, as Black had basically done that all by himself in the end, falling behind that curtain like a great buffoon.

“Why are you calling me, ‘Remus’?” Lupin asked, unable to hold the question back.

“That way I find it easier to differentiate the you that is present right now from that silly fifteen year old boy that used to be my enemy. When we are being… intimate, that distinction is imperative.” He knew what he was capable of.

“Used to be, sir?” Remus asked, feeling like he was pushing the envelope with all of this talk of the past.

“Yes, I feel no such animosity towards you now, or I would never have trusted myself to take the two of you in.” His thumb was traveling back and forth across the length of Remus’ collarbone absently. He was trying to be honest, but it went against years of practice and ritual.

“I believe you, sir,” Remus’ eyes closed, the slow back and forth of Severus’ touch was almost hypnotic. Maybe it was the potion, but he was feeling hypersensitive and so amazingly out of his element.

“Good,” Severus said softly. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“Mind what?” Remus asked dumbly, his focus was on the nearness of the other man, his tender touches and the gusty exhales of his speech.

“That I call you Remus; it was a liberty never taken before. If it were a liberty that was ever even offered.”

“Oh yes, sir.” Remus was feeling almost delirious with the repeated use of his name. “Please, call me Remus.” The sensation of Severus’ hand moving calmly back and forth across his skin certainly wasn’t helping anything.

“Alright then, I will. Don’t forget I’ve extended the invitation to you as well.” Severus thought it was worth mentioning.

“I don’t know if I can do that yet, sir,” Lupin sounded rather sorry about it.

“That’s fine,” Severus said. “There is time.”

Remus shifted restlessly. Snape lifted his arm, giving him free range of movement. Lupin slowly turned onto his side, so that his back was facing Severus. He was panting with the exertion by the time he was finished, sagging against the mattress, against Severus.

Snape allowed his arm to settle, this time around the other man’s middle.

“Feels nice to be able to move around a bit, doesn’t it?” Severus asked.

“Yes sir, it does.” It took away some of the ache in his lower back. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this a couple of days ago.” Remus wasn’t sure if that last statement was about him being able to lie on his side or him being able to be this close to another human being who wasn’t his son.

“In a few of days we will be able to completely remove the bandages on your upper body,” Severus said.

“But not the ones on my feet.”

“Not yet, no. Those will take more time, though I’m still hoping they will be healed before the full moon. We will work something out, Remus,” Severus said.

Lupin shifted again, his calf curling back, brushing against Snape’s leg and staying there. “I don’t remember you being this optimistic when I knew you before, sir,” he said with a smile.

“Perhaps not; it should give you some confidence then.”

“I suppose it should.”

Remus seemed to be more relaxed than before, maybe their conversation was setting him at ease? For two people who weren’t all that comfortable with touch, they seemed to be doing just fine. Severus found himself actually enjoying the other man’s closeness, although a part of him sneered at that. In all honesty, this was nothing more than a prelude to rape.

Gooseflesh broke out on his shoulders and arms at the thought. It was true, no matter how he sliced it or went about it. Just another terrible act in a long line of terrible acts, all in order to try and reach one kind of manageable end or another. If he hadn’t accepted this sham of an inheritance, who knew whose bed Remus might be in right now, what dubious pleasures they would be exacting from his mending body?

Sure, Severus, keep on justifying everything to yourself. His forehead dropped until it rested on Lupin’s shoulder, tightening his arm around the lycanthrope’s waist, as if by holding the man more closely he could protect him from the things he would have to do. He felt Remus slide closer to him, their bodies formed one long line against each other.

“This is seriously what you’d intended for the evening?” Remus asked. “Not that I’m complaining, master,” he assured hastily.

“This is it,” Severus said sarcastically, “not what you were expecting?”

“Not at all, sir. Not that I should continue to expect anything from you, you keep on surprising me.”

Severus’ hand ran up Lupin’s chest again, his fingers curling through the silver hair he found above the bandages, he almost couldn’t stop himself. “Good,” he said.

“Yes sir,” Remus said breathlessly.

“Hmm?” Severus wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

“Yes sir; it feels good.”

That wasn’t quite what he had meant. Severus continued his tenuous exploration of Remus’ body. The other man was leaning back, laying some of his weight on Severus, who found that to be rather pleasant. He was thankful for the potion in his system, there could be no question that without it, he would be hard as a rock and unable to hide it from Lupin. As it was, there was nothing to conceal and all he had to deal with was a persistent ache in his balls.

Severus buried any guilt he may be feeling, allowing his hands to roam across Remus’ torso, careful to keep his touches above the belt. Tonight was not about anything supremely physical, it was merely to be a foundation for them to build on. He wanted Remus to trust him, almost as much as he wanted to be worthy of that trust.

“Master?” Remus said, breath quickening.

Severus stopped his feather light explorations, leaving his hands to sit still against Remus’ body.

“Yes, Remus?” he asked, almost positive he heard the other man moan when he said his name. He ignored the use of the title master, knowing that Remus reverted to using it when he was under the influence of the potion. He’d already mentioned it once.

“What is the point of all this if you’re not going to have me, sir?” Remus voice was timid.

“I do have you,” Severus said close to Remus’ ear. “Here, in my bed, in my arms. That is the point. The bond will require a level of casual closeness, and more. We will work through it together, all of it.”

“I thought that after the other night in the bath,” Remus gulped, “you would want to use me for your enjoyment, master.”

Severus didn’t answer immediately, just placed his palm flat on Remus’ chest, holding his body near. “The bond requires more than our physical joining. Macnair royally botched the ceremony, if you ask me. He glazed over parts that would severely have affected the formation of the bond. We will speak of those in more detail when you haven't just taken that potion. Why do you think I did that for you, the other night in the bath?”

“I don’t know, master,” Remus sounded quite frustrated about it. It had puzzled him ever since - Severus had allowed him to reach completion and had demanded nothing in return. He was startled to hear again that the bond may actually be more of a process than he had already endured, reluctant to think too closely on it.

“Perhaps because I saw what you expected of me, and I wanted to give you cause to feel something else in its place?” Severus asked.

“You actually wanted me to enjoy it, sir?” Remus was incredulous.

“Yes, Remus, but it was too early, I should not have done it then. It was not my intention to mislead you about my intentions. I only wanted you to remember that your body can feel things other than pain.”

Remus waited a moment, pondering what Severus had just said and coming up with nothing that made sense. “You mean that if I behave correctly, you will be kind to me, sir?”

Severus fought the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. Lupin sounded so damned hopeful. “No, that is not at all what I am saying. Remus, I will take no delight from hurting you. When the bond demands us to become physical together, I would like for you to take all the pleasure you can from our encounters.”

“I will do my best, master,” Remus said in a concerned voice.

One side of Severus mouth lifted in a half-smile. “As will I.” The idea of coaxing more of those little sounds out of Lupin did hold quite an appeal. “For now, we should sleep, don’t you think? Tomorrow I’m going to begin your Wolfsbane.”

“Thank you, sir, for taking the time to make it,” Remus said. He felt Severus shrug.

“It is better than any alternative I can think of.” Severus’ eyes drifted shut. “Do you think I should wake Teddy up to use the loo?” he asked suddenly.

Remus was unused to having his opinion asked. “He’s settling in alright, maybe see if he makes it through the night. If you don’t mind the possibility of him having an accident, that is.”

Severus relaxed again. “He knows to come get me if he has any troubles. It won’t make you uncomfortable for him to see us like this if he needs anything?”

“No, sir. After everything he’s seen in his life, I don’t think the sight of us sleeping in the same space will bother him.”

A very disturbing thought occurred to Severus. “Macnair didn’t make him watch the two of you…”

“No, not that, thank Merlin. He did make Teddy watch when he disciplined me, sometimes. I think it was supposed to remind him to behave, but that man’s motivations were often unclear to me, sir.” Remus gave a watery sigh.

“Your son is safe now, warm and asleep across the hall. You are healing at an incredible rate and are being freely given time to rest. Macnair is dead, cold and in the ground. You and your son have won.”

“Sorry to say sir, but it feels like a hollow victory,” Remus said sorrowfully.

“It will, for a while. The main thing you have now is time, to heal and become well. I’ve known you for years, Remus. You are stronger than this.” Severus was staggered by his own words of encouragement, he really wasn’t a positive person and reassurances had never come easy to him.

Remus suppressed a sob. “Thank you, master; you can’t imagine how wonderful it is to hear you say that.”

Severus said nothing, soothing his thumb across Remus’ skin, he could understand how tonight would be emotionally charged for the other man. Snape was surprised to find that he didn’t need to work very hard to dredge up the patience needed to deal with Remus when he was in this state. No one had allowed him to heal when he was a similar bubbling mess of emotions, they’d only pulled his strings harder. In a way, it was like he was taking care of himself as well as Remus, giving himself those assurances to stand on. In a way.

His exhaustion was starting to get the better of him. Severus allowed his eyes to close. He had anticipated some level of tension tonight, so he had placed his wand on the far side of his nightstand, just out of easy reach. That way if he woke with a start, he would have a moment to think before doing something he might regret.

“Goodnight, Remus,” Severus said.

“Goodnight, sir,” Remus replied.

Snape waited a while to be sure that Remus was actually going to fall asleep. It took a while for him to drift off, his body becoming lax in slumber. He placed one small kiss on Lupin’s shoulder for solidarity’s sake and finally allowed himself to rest as well.

 

Chapter Text

Snape was jarred awake, feeling like someone had just punched him in the gut. The room was dark and Remus was thrashing about wildly, presumably still asleep. The blasted werewolf must have thrown him an elbow to the stomach while they were sleeping.

“Lupin!” he said sharply, partly out of surprise.

Remus drew back, bringing his arms up over his face and his knees up to protect his stomach, he gave no other reply.

“Remus,” Severus tried. “Are you awake right now?”

Again, no response was forthcoming other than ragged breathing. In the dim light Severus saw him huddled there, his body shaking. Who knew what he had been dreaming, what he was dreaming still? Snape laid his head back on the pillow. One night of uninterrupted sleep, just one, was all he was asking for.

He leant over and laid one hand lightly on Lupin’s arm, the man’s muscles tightened and his breathing slowed but he didn’t try to cringe away from the contact. Severus moved his hand slowly, stroking Remus’ bicep.

“No,” Lupin groaned. “Please no, master, not tonight.” There was an edge of desperation in his voice even thickened by sleep.

“No Remus, not tonight,” Snape agreed softly into his ear. “You’re safe; no one is going to hurt you here.”

Remus made a small sound of sadness. Severus wondered if he was even getting through to the other man. He continued to sooth Lupin, paying heed to how he gradually unfurled himself from the tight position he’d been holding. His legs leisurely extended, his arms relaxed away from their protective stance around his head and his breathing slowed.

“You’re safe, Remus,” he assured again, hating himself as he did so. If he had only been able to do the job Albus had trusted him to do, maybe none of this would ever have happened. His failures to glean and transfer enough information had cost other people so much. So many things could have been different…

Remus didn’t seem to have those same hang ups. He shifted nearer to Snape, seeming to seek out more of the comfort he had been offering. Severus was relieved that the situation was in hand without Remus waking up. Both of them needed any and all of the sleep they were going to get tonight. He carefully collected Lupin in his arms, sliding one under his neck and one over his side, pulling them closer together so that the other man could feel his deep and even breathing, hoping it would help to calm him.

Somehow, after several minutes, this seemed to make Remus settle in even more. He made a sound somewhere between a yawn and a sigh, his hand coming to rest partially on top of Severus’. Snape took little time in joining Lupin in sleep - tomorrow would be a long day.

 

 

 

Severus woke leisurely this time, muted light passed through the curtain across the window. He was warm, entwined snugly in the blankets of his bed, but also with something more solid. He opened his eyes blearily, blinking against the brightness. He was met with a pair of nervous honey brown ones a short distance from his face.

He came to his senses quickly. Remus and he were facing each other, their limbs tangled together. It was a rather intimate position, they must have shifted together while they’d slept.

“Good morning, Remus,” Snape said groggily.

“Good morning, sir. I’d have given you some space, but I didn’t want to wake you.”

Lupin sounded uneasy, like he had expected his welcome to be long worn out by this time. He also looked good, more awake and alert than Severus himself was feeling; that alone was a testament to his improvement, when he’d first arrived here he’d looked like death warmed over, no offence to death.

“Don’t worry about it,” Severus said, rolling onto his back and stretching, pulling himself carefully apart from Remus. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, sir. I didn’t wake up once. I actually feel quite a bit better today.” Remus sounded rather surprised about it.

Snape pushed himself up onto his elbows. “Good.” He felt like he could sleep for another week, but there were things to do. He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He stayed there for a minute, half stunned, before standing and lifting his arms high above his head, stretching his back. He turned to say something to Lupin and found the man staring at him slack jawed. Severus thought belatedly that perhaps he should have worn a loose shirt to bed. He knew his appearance could be disconcerting in the daylight, to say the least. He’d been told as much, and more over the course of his life.

Severus almost wanted to shrug, there was nothing he could do about it. He’d been amassing these marks since he was a young boy and for decades after. He’d never cared to try getting rid of them; yes, they were ugly, but then again so was he. Snape almost felt that they suited him, in a way. An outward reflection of his soul, a warning to anyone who would see them that it was shredded, maybe decimated entirely. To him they were a reminder: he had survived it all. He’d beaten every one of them, as most anyone who had ever given him one of these marks was dead, and he was not. Remus had been right, it was a hollow victory.

“See? You have nothing to worry about,” Snape said sarcastically. “Your scars won’t be half this bad.”

Remus mouth clicked shut. He’d really just been admiring the long lines of Severus body, a little surprised to find him in such good physical condition. Under his usual voluminous robes, it was almost impossible to guess at his physique. He was lean but appeared quite strong. Wiry? Was that the word he was looking for? It didn’t matter because he’d been caught peeking.

“You wear them well, sir,” Remus said timidly.

Severus gave a ‘harrumph” and began gathering his clothing, dressing swiftly. The sooner he could be down in the lab, the better. He took his wand off of the nightstand, quickly casting the bowel cleansing spell on Lupin, ignoring the way he flinched when the wand was pointed at him.

“Thank you, sir,” Remus said.

Snape seemed not to hear him. “I’m going to apply the salve before breakfast today. We’ll do that now and then get you into a fresh change of clothes.” He went around to the other side of the bed, giving Remus a dose of analgesic. Levitating Lupin, he cleansed his own hands before he removed the bandages and covered the burns on Remus’ torso in salve.

When Remus was rewrapped and lying back on the bed, Snape said, “I am confident that by tomorrow we will be able to take the bandages off of your torso for the last time. This potion and your own incredibly fast metabolism have exceeded all of my expectations.”

“That’s good to hear, sir,” Remus said.

Snape moved to the end of the bed, giving the same careful ministrations to Remus’ feet. Even they were healing a little. He would know more in a couple of days, he only hoped it would be enough.

He levitated Remus into the chair, leading him across the hall and into his room. Going over to the small wardrobe in the corner, Severus extracted a clean button up shirt, another pair of loose trousers and a fresh set of pants. Getting Remus into them was less of a challenge than it had been previously. He was able to help maneuver himself into the clothes this time, which moved things along considerably. Snape allowed him as much modesty as possible while assisting him into both sets of bottoms; it wouldn’t be long and Lupin would be able to do all of this for himself.

Settling Remus back into the chair, he floated him out into the hall, placing him down in the middle of it momentarily, pausing to peek into Teddy’s room. As he had figured, the boy was up already, hopefully he and Fred would still be down in the kitchen.

“Where are we going, sir?” Remus asked uneasily.

“Down for breakfast,” Snape answered.

He didn’t see it, but in front of him Remus smiled. He was glad to be out of bed, even for a short time. When Macnair had owned him, he had spent what felt like months at a time waiting either in his master’s room or the small closet he had graciously been given in it. The novelty of being allowed outside the other day had woken something in him again, the knowledge that the world was vast and miraculous, even if that wasn’t true of the piece of it allowed to him - but it was out there, that was all that mattered.

Snape walked them into the kitchen, finding Fred flipping pancakes and Teddy sitting at the table, swinging his legs and drinking a large glass of water. The boy made a face of happy surprise when he saw his father being levitated through the door.

“’Morning!” Teddy said excitedly.

“Good morning, Teddy,” Remus said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to come downstairs and greet his son at the kitchen table. Severus sat Lupin’s chair down at said table, pulling out one of the regular chairs and setting it aside to accommodate the armchair he was travelling in.

“Coffee?” Fred asked, extending the pot in their general direction.

Remus looked down at his hands. Surely Severus wasn’t going to go so far as to eat at the same table as them? Macnair would have had a heart attack years ago if someone had proposed that, to him it would have been like eating food out of his dog’s dish at the same time as the dog.

“Yes, thank you Fred,” Snape said, taking the seat across from Teddy. “I believe Lupin takes cream and sugar in his.”

“Of course! Finally, Fred is getting to bring out some of Madam Prince’s fine china.” He glared petulantly at Severus. “Sir here is usually preferring a mug, black.”

“I am polite when there’s company,” Severus defended himself halfheartedly.

“I could take a mug, I don’t need sugar - it’s no trouble,” Remus said softly, feeling uneasy at the conversation between the two of them.

“Nonsense,” Fred said lightly. “Since sir is being so polite when we is having company, he can be helping you with your coffee.” He set out a cup for Remus, filling it with the dark beverage. He went back to the cupboard, bringing out a gleaming porcelain sugar basin with lid as well as a small matching pitcher for cream which he filled from the ice box. He set these in front of Remus, walking back over to the oven and flipping the pancakes in the frying pan.

Without further instruction Severus served Remus two scoops of sugar and a measure of cream, stirring the mixture, tapping the spoon three times on the rim and placing the spoon beside the cup.

“Thank you, sir. That’s exactly how I take my coffee.” Remus was impressed. “Tea and coffee; I only sat next to you for part of a year.”

“Like I said, small details were imperative to my existence during my time at Hogwarts. I’m sure I could prepare coffee for the entire head table, if I were put up to it.”

“He is meaning that you is being welcome,” Fred said without looking back.

“I don’t know that I need an interpreter, but thank you for your efforts.” Severus sounded only a little irritated.

“’Not needing an interpreter,’ he says,” the elf shook his head, chuckling like the notion was hilarious, his back still facing all of them. He was stacking pancakes tall on a plate, the table was already set with jams and syrups. Fred brought over the pancakes, returning to the oven and bringing out two glass dishes of steaming food, one of eggs and one of bacon that were being kept warm there. All of these things were set on the table between them all.

“Dig in!” Fred proclaimed.

Teddy dished himself for the most part, his dragon perched on his lap; Severus helped him only with the eggs and the dressing of his pancakes. He then dished Lupin’s plate and his own.

“How do I eat this?” Teddy asked, stabbing his pancake with his fork and trying to pick it off his plate in one piece.

Severus took his fork in hand. “These are soft enough that you don’t need a knife.” He turned his fork sideways and demonstrated on his own plate, cutting the pancake up into manageable pieces. “Just press down with a small rocking motion until you have a piece that is small enough to handle.”

Teddy took his time, attempting what he had been shown. He was doing a pretty good job of it too, cutting off his first pieces and putting it into his mouth, grinning around the taste of maple and butter.

Remus watched him take his first couple of bites before starting slowly into his own plate. He couldn’t believe this; all three of them sitting at a kitchen table, eating a delicious breakfast. The same table, the same food. He took a sip of his coffee, which had cooled enough for him to drink it, nearly moaning in appreciation. Amazing.

Severus ate in silence, draining his coffee and standing to fill it again before he was even halfway done his food. He set a glass of orange juice in front of Teddy as he took his seat again.

“This is a fantastic breakfast, thank you very much,” Remus said. Whether it was to Snape or to Fred, he wasn’t sure.

“Yeah,” Teddy agreed. “I like pancakes!”

Fred, who was running a sink for dishes, smiled. “Fred is being glad to hear it!”

Snape gathered the dishes and set them next to the running sink. He returned to his seat, taking his coffee in both hands.

“What are we going to do today, sir?” Teddy asked happily. Remus almost choked on his coffee.

“You will be spending most of the day with your father and Fred. I have to go back into the lab to brew a potion for your father.”

“It’s another one you have to make by yourself?” Teddy asked, leaning forward over the table in interest.

“Sit up straight, Teddy,” Remus said. “Elbows off the table.” He had to say something, Teddy hadn’t even used Severus’ proper title in his last question. Speaking like that was going to end him in a world of trouble when he inevitably said the wrong thing.

“Sorry, dad.” Teddy did as he was told.

Snape was intrigued that Lupin was teaching Teddy some proper table etiquette. Perhaps he thought the boy would be scolded for it? Or maybe it was just something he thought a father should impart to his son. He realized Teddy was still looking at him expectantly.

“Yes, I will need to be by myself in the lab. It isn’t safe for either of you to be down there with me this time. Perhaps if Fred has some work to do outside, he will take both of you with him. Provided no one over does it.” Severus looked at Remus out of the corner of his eye to gauge his reaction to that.

“Sounds great,” Teddy said. “Maybe you can see the pond, daddy.”

Remus smiled. “Yes, maybe.” He looked at Severus. “Will you be in the lab long, sir?”

“Most of the day; I have some other things to take care of down there as well, so I more than likely won’t be upstairs for quite a few hours. I will be brewing for a portion of the night as well, once everything gets going.”

“What potion are you making that is so dangerous?” Teddy asked.

“It is called the Wolfsbane potion,” Severus said.

“What does it do, sir?”

“Well, it’s rather complicated really. It is a potion to help with a werewolf’s transformation. I am currently brewing one for your father.” Snape wasn’t sure how Teddy would take this information, glancing over at Remus to see that he wore the same look of unease.

Teddy looked uncertain. “Does that mean you brewed one for me too?”

“Yes, I did brew one for you.”

“Oh; will it hurt very much, sir?” the boy inquired carefully.

“No Teddy, the potion itself will not cause you any harm. However, the transformation will still not be completely painless, I am sorry to say, even though this potion should help a bit.”

“It will make it easier?” Teddy sounded hopeful.

“In a way, yes. We will wait and see how it affects you personally. You will have an easier time, one way or another; I will make sure of it.”

Remus caught the steely glint in Severus’ eye as he said that. Not for the first time since he’d met him, he wished that Snape came with an instruction manual, at the very least a dictionary of facial expressions.

“Okay,” Teddy said uneasily. “On the full moon, where will my father be?”

“He will be with you, you will both be very safe,” Severus cleared his throat. Discussing Teddy’s transformation with him made him feel uncomfortably close to a time in his life he’d rather not think about. “I will be there with you as well.”

“You?” Teddy asked, his mouth dropping open a little. “But why, sir?”

“The potion I am going to give you may have side effects, I need to be sure that everything goes as it is supposed to. Measures have been taken for my protection. Everything will be fine.”

“So, I won’t have to change alone?” Teddy asked, looking down at the dragon in his hands.

“No, absolutely not,” Severus said intently. “While your father and I are still here and while our current situation stays the same, someone will always be with you, if you want them to be.”

“Okay,” Teddy smiled and looked up at Snape.

Remus took a sip of his coffee. He couldn’t believe how easily his son trusted Severus, it seemed like all the man had to do was to look at Teddy and say something and the boy accepted it. He wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or not, though it would keep the boy out of any accidental disagreements with Snape, at least theoretically.

“I bet Fred can find some substitute pieces for that old checker board, maybe you can take that along outside and you and your father can have a couple of games,” Severus offered before draining his second mug of coffee.

“That would be wonderful, sir,” Remus said, hoping none of his actual thoughts were apparent on his face.

Fred, who had been washing dishes, said. “Fred would be happy to be doing that sir. We will all be having fun today, won’t we, little one?”

“I hope so,” Teddy said, looking over at Remus with a tenuous smile.

“I’d best go get started. I’ll see you all later this evening. If Lupin needs something to help manage his pain, it will be the shorter of the two vials up on my nightstand. One swallow should suffice at this point,” Severus said to Fred. He stood and opened the door to the lab.

“Fred will be managing, sir,” the elf said with a roll of his eyes.

“Bye, sir; have fun!” Teddy said.

Snape gave a huff of laughter. “I’m sure I will, thank you.” Then he descended the stairs.

Down in the lab Severus began the prep work for the Wolfsbane potion all over again. The work was long and tedious, finally leading up to a bubbling cauldron. He added the first batch of ingredients, setting the flame properly.

The original recipe had a shorter initial brew than the potion he had made for Teddy. The alteration of the ingredients from the original recipe changed the reaction time; it needed a higher heat for a longer duration. This mixture would only need four hours before the other ingredients could start to be added, unlike the altered version, which needed six. He could also add the ingredients in shorter intervals. All in all, he figured he would be done the first phase around the time that Teddy went to bed.

Severus now had a few hours to himself, which was just what he needed. He paused to take another dose of the potion that would prevent his body from having an erection. He would hold the bonding off as long as he could to give Lupin some time.

The spell that would be needed for Remus’ bonding was more encompassing than the one that he had selected for Teddy. Within this single spell, there were many possible outcomes that could be reached, each with its own set of symbols, actions and words. These would all have to be chosen carefully, their meanings and aftermaths would need to be researched.

Teddy and Remus could spend the day together while he was doing this. Fred would keep them entertained and fed. If anything serious happened, the elf knew to come get him immediately. That gave him nearly all day to do nothing but brew and research the bond; if he was fortunate, tomorrow would be much of the same. Though he had already made progress on unraveling some of what he was going to do, much more planning was still needed.

He set a couple of large tomes out on the table on the other side of the room from the brewing stations and opened them to the appropriate pages. Getting out his parchment and quill, he sat on the bench and got immediately to work, there was much to be done and no time to waste.

It felt like mere minutes had past when the alarm on his wand was going off. Severus looked at the clock in disbelief; it definitely hadn’t seemed like four hours. He sat up straight, his lower back twinging sharply. He ignored it, going over to the brewing station instantly. He carefully added the next batch of ingredients, adjusting the flame and stirring the appropriate number of times. He’d brewed the original recipe so many times over the years that it was almost second nature, as long as he paid attention to the timing.

Severus prepared the next group of ingredients, cleaning his workstation as he went. If one wasn’t neat, that was when things got complicated, especially with a potion of this caliber.

Finally, he sat back in front of his books. Flipping quickly through his notes, Severus found he had amassed another three pages of pertinent data. When he was through these books, he would have exhausted all of the available data on the spell. He would then begin to review and select the course the bonding between him and Remus would take.

Severus had already decided several things. Some of the symbolism would have to be the same, as it was required in the base of the spell; Remus would still need to be blindfolded, his hands tied. This would symbolize his submission, among other things. He would not be able to know what the bonding would entail, Severus was hoping that by the time they would perform the ceremony, Lupin would trust him, at least a little. That alone could work wonders within the magic.

There would be no escaping the act of penetration. It was called for in every possible path they could take. That would be the ultimate symbol of his control over Lupin. Severus also had reason to believe that he personally would need to come to completion twice during the ceremony. It said nothing to encourage or disallow Remus from experiencing the same physical pleasure during the invocation, so Snape inferred that that would be left up to the dominant wizard’s discretion.

There would be a meal beforehand, a basic ritual bath afterwards. These were some of the things Macnair had neglected. Remus would need to remain bound until the end of the ceremony, once the final words were said. Remus would spend that night in his bed, as he would not send him to sleep somewhere he would not be sleeping himself, both because of the intimacies they would be sharing as well as for the sake of the symbolism.

He was trying not to draw too many conclusions before he was through all of the material; this last book actually contained passages written by people who had lived most of their lives under similar bonds. These could be extremely useful, as they would outline the type of bond that was formed and what actions were taken to achieve that end result. Their testimonies and experiences may be among some of the more important information available, he was saving them for last.

Severus pulled out a fresh piece of parchment, dipped his quill in the inkpot and continued onward. All he could do was to find, assimilate and understand as much information as he possibly could in the time he’d been given. He would do his best; not for the first or the last time he wished Albus was here to point him in the right direction. He took up reading where he had left off, these answers wouldn’t be finding themselves.

By the time Severus was completely done for the evening and walking up the stairs to the kitchen it was well after midnight. After completing the first stage of the potion and cleaning his workstation and equipment, he had set out everything he would need for the next phase. He’d finished the last couple of pages he’d been reading and called it a night.

In the kitchen, he found a sandwich set out on the counter for him, definitely Fred’s handiwork. The elf hated when he stayed in the lab all day, specifically if he didn’t come up to eat. He sat at the table and ate the meal that had been left out for him, knowing he’d catch it later if he didn’t. As he was putting his plate in the sink and stopping to have a glass of water, Fred rounded the corner.

“Ah good, you is being done,” Fred said.

“Yes I am, for now. What’s the matter?” Snape asked, taking in the elf’s posture and the way he had his hands resting on his small hips.

“Teddy is being in bed hours ago.”

Severus failed to see the problem. “Good, Fred; thank you for that. And Lupin?”

“He is not wanting to go to bed. He is being asleep in the chair.” The elf sounded quite perturbed.

Yes, that would be the sort of thing that would upset Fred. “Why not?”

“He is not wanting you to be angry if he is sleeping in the wrong place. Fred was telling him that you is not giving a Hippogriff’s bottom where he is laying down, as long as he is being resting. He would not be listening to Fred though, no.” The elf was tapping his toe, looking up at Snape like this was somehow all his fault and he had better damn well fix it right now. It was a look he remembered well from when he was a young man.

“I’ll go deal with Lupin. You should get some rest yourself, I’ll likely need your help again tomorrow.”

“Fred is always being happy to help, sir is already knowing that.”

Snape grimaced. “Yes, I know it all too well. You have a good night, Fred. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You is having a good night too, sir. You is having fun dealing with Mr. Lupin up there. Fred is thinking he is being almost as stubborn as you, Merlin be helping us all!” Fred walked away shaking his head.

Severus went directly upstairs, peeking in on Teddy and finding him sleeping soundly, his dragon tucked under the blankets with him. Being thankful for small mercies, he looked into Remus’ room, finding the man asleep in the wing backed chair Snape had put him in to move him down for breakfast. Lupin was leaned over against one side of the chair, head lolling to one shoulder and his mouth hanging open a little.

Snape pushed past a wave of guilt for not being clearer earlier on in the day. He went over to the side of the chair that Lupin wasn’t leaning against, crouching down so as not to startle the other man too greatly.

He lightly set his hand on Lupin’s arm. “Remus,” he said in a voice only a little louder than normal.

Lupin jumped. Instantly awake, he was attempting to sit up, looking around wildly trying to locate Severus. Finally locking eyes on him where he was bent down, Lupin relaxed a little.

“I forgot where I was for a moment, sir,” he admitted, bringing his hand up to his neck and frowning.

“You should be in bed,” Severus said, looking up at him.

Remus’ face crumpled a little. “I didn’t know where I was supposed to lay down. If I slept in my bed without permission, you’d think I was trying to make myself unavailable to you; if I slept in your bed without permission, you’d think I didn’t know my place and was being presumptuous. Fred said it wouldn’t matter, but I didn’t see how that could be so, sir. So I stayed here, where you’d put me.”

Snape sighed. “I understand your logic, but it is somewhat flawed. You are still reasoning as if you were living with Macnair. I recognize that while you were under his authority, decisions such as this could have been a perilous thing to get wrong. You will eventually come to realize that things operate differently here; it is something we will continue to work on.”

Snape stood in one fluid motion, pulling his wand from its place in his robes and levitating Lupin’s chair.

Remus looked frightened, having just woken up he wasn’t at the top of his game. “Where are we going, sir?”

“We are going to bed.”

That didn’t make Remus feel any more at ease. He’d done the wrong thing, why did he always do the wrong thing? Severus hadn’t appeared to be all that angry though, did he trust it? He took a deep calming breath, deciding to wait and see how all of this played out before getting too riled up. Almost holding his breath as he did it, he thought that maybe he would attempt to trust his master a little and see where that got him. There was really very little else he could do.

Chapter Text

Severus levitated the chair into the hall and on into his own room, setting it by the bed on the same side that Remus had slept on the previous night. He pulled the covers back, floating Remus so that he was hovering parallel to the top of the bed.

Snape removed his outer robe, hanging it over the back of a chair. He rolled up his sleeves and sterilized his hands and arms.

“I know it’s late,” Severus said. “But we should see to your injuries one more time tonight, then I will apply the salve that will help with the scarring. When I am done with your torso, I’m going to give you another dose of the accelerated healing potion.”

“Yes, sir,” Remus said. Privately he was surprised that Snape would still tend to his wounds. He had ignored Fred’s insistence that he get into bed. He’d needed to make sure that he did what Severus wanted him to, but since he hadn’t had a clue what that was, he thought that the best thing he could possibly do was to stay in the chair. Clearly, that had been the wrong thing to do.

Snape removed the wrappings from around Lupin’s torso. It didn’t take long for him to cover the area that needed it in the salve, front and back; the space of skin that needed tending was miniscule compared to what it had been when Remus had arrived here.

He cleansed his hands and covered them again, only this time with the ointment for scarring. Severus caressed his hands across the smooth tissue of Remus’ healed skin, spreading the potion across it and carefully rubbing it in. When he had all of the necessary areas covered, he spent an extra span of time on the muscles in Lupin’s neck and shoulders, they were tight and must have been causing the other man some discomfort. He tried to ignore the small keening sound Remus made when he found a knot and circled it firmly with his thumb, carefully working it out.

Severus wrapped the still healing section in gauze. At this point, only a portion crossing his stomach needed to be bandaged. He lowered Lupin to the mattress, uncorking the bottle of healing potion and giving him a dose.

“I’m just going to do your feet quickly; hopefully by the time I’m done the potion will have kicked in.” Severus was already unraveling the bandages on Remus’ feet.

“Thank you, sir.” Remus still didn’t know what to expect from Severus, but he couldn’t help fearing the worst. He would just continue to do his best to keep the man from getting too angry, it would be worth almost anything for Snape to continue to treat Teddy the way he was currently. Up to this point Remus had had no clue that Snape could be half so good with kids - he’d certainly never displayed this level of ability when the two of them had worked at Hogwarts together.

Snape was finished with Remus’ feet in no time, though they were healing more slowly than the rest of his body, there was still marked improvement. He took more time with these appendages, carefully coating every inch of them in the healing salve and rubbing it in almost leisurely. These parts of his body were not ready for the scar solution, so when he was done, he layered the bandages back on and covered Remus with the blankets he’d drawn back earlier.

Severus changed quickly into a loose pair of pajama bottoms, he’d be able to catch a couple of hours’ worth of sleep, at least. It would definitely be better than nothing. He double checked that the alarm on his wand was set correctly and sat on the edge of the bed, climbing beneath the blankets himself. He lay there for a moment, not touching Remus, waiting for some kind of sign from the other man.

“You’re not going to punish me, are you?” Remus stated more than asked.

“No. From my point of view, you have done nothing to warrant that.” Again, curiosity got the best of him. “What, exactly did you do wrong? What kind of ‘punishment’ do you believe such a thing should incur?”

Remus turned towards him a little. “I didn’t anticipate what you wanted, sir. I was too much of a coward to act. What do I think would be a just punishment? That I don’t know, sir. My old master would have thought all kinds of things fitting. He may have broken one of my fingers, or something more mundane like beating me until my eyes almost oozed out of my head. Maybe he would have used my body, or else the ember hands spell, or why not do both at once? But really, he could do all of those things whenever he wanted, he didn’t need a reason.” Lupin’s voice came out very softly, he was looking in Snape’s direction but not directly at his face.

Severus took a deep breath and held it for a moment before releasing it in a lengthy exhale. He touched his fingers to Lupin’s arm lightly, the werewolf started at the contact, but let him do it, finally meeting his eyes.

“Did he use the Inuro Manus spell often?” Severus asked, not sure he wanted to hear the kind of answer Lupin would give him while under the influence of that healing potion.

“More than I wanted him to, mostly when he was drunk. It was the only time he would really touch me, you know? He would run his hands over my body and they would be trails of fire. It doesn’t leave any marks, do you know that?”

“Yes, I know well enough. It only agonizes the nerves, the actual damage is minimal, though the pain is intense.” Severus knew, he had experienced it more than once. In his mind it should almost have been another Unforgivable, it damaged the nerves in a similar fashion to the Cruciatus, though to a far lesser degree. It would take much longer to drive a person mad with this spell, but it required that the person casting it to want to torment using their hands as the instruments.

Remus wasn’t meeting his eyes again. “It was the only time he would prepare me before making use of my body. I don’t know which was worse, when he did it or when he didn’t.” He looked up at Severus and, seeing concern on his face, thought carefully about what he’d been saying - things were just coming out of his mouth, he almost didn’t hear them himself. “Oh, Merlin. I really shouldn’t have told you any of that, sir. What will you think of me?”

“You can tell me anything you like, Remus, I’ll not judge you for what another person did to you. How could I, when I’ve both endured and enacted many of the things you’ve been describing, and worse?”

Strangely, Remus chose that moment to meet his eyes again.

“I know that you were a Death Eater, master. I mean before you began to spy for Albus. Surely you must have enjoyed some of the things they did, or you never would have accepted the Mark.” Remus figured that of all the things he shouldn’t have said, that was certainly at the top of the list.

“Yes, I did,” Severus said simply. “It was glamorous at first, and I’d never had anyone believe in me the way that Tom Riddle did. He thought I was gifted; he actually seemed to enjoy my company. Over time, it came to the point where I would have done almost anything for that approval, and then I did. Do anything, that is.”

Remus was still looking levelly at him, Severus hadn’t the slightest idea what he must be thinking.

“Some part of me loved having that kind of power over people, the kind people had seemed to have over me my entire life. It took a long time, but slowly I sort of woke up, saw what I was doing, actually saw it, the way we reveled in the anguish of anyone who wasn’t one of us. There was no way out at that point. Eventually, I decided to kill myself. I went to the Headmaster first, to tell him everything I knew. I never expected him to forgive me, to help me to work towards redemption, as impossible as that probably is. But he gave me hope for it.”

“Thank you for telling me all of that, master. I’ve known you for years and yet I don’t seem to actually know a thing about you.”

“The thing I am trying to get across is that I am no longer the same man who took the Mark. I have had enough chaos in my life, what I’m trying to find now is some peace.”

“Peace, sir?”

“Yes, I believe so. I would like for you to have some as well.” Perhaps Severus could help give it to him, to both of them?

“This is the most peace I’ve had in years, master.” The look on Remus face confirmed it.

Severus settled in against him, slowly. There were only a few hours of possible sleep, he didn’t really care if he got them or not, to be honest. Remus shifted as well, trying to get comfortable, he ended up with his back against Snape’s chest again.

Snape almost couldn’t help it, he leaned in and placed two light kisses on the crux of Lupin’s good shoulder and his neck. He felt the other man shiver in response. Severus draped his arm over Remus’ ribs and drew him nearer.

“Did you enjoy your day with Teddy?” he asked, wanting to move on to something lighter.

“Yes, master. It’s been such a short time since you picked us up from the auction, he’s already so much more confident. I haven’t seen him laugh so much since he was a baby.”

“It makes me glad to hear that, children should be able to laugh freely and often. I believe it is one of the reasons we fought two wars.” Severus did believe that; he would never try to keep Teddy from feeling the joy only people his age were capable of. Absently, his fingers trailed across the line between Lupin’s pectorals, thinking how the other man was beginning to fill out rather well. Fred’s cooking tended to have that effect on people.

Remus allowed this, trying to keep his breathing from becoming erratic, whether from nervousness or a wary arousal he wasn’t exactly sure. He wasn’t as frightened as he had been the previous night at Snape’s proximity; knowing that Severus was unable to force himself on him at the moment definitely helped, as well as his curious kindness.

Severus touched the skin just above where Lupin’s bandages started, feeling the near texture free surface of the scar tissue on his stomach. “Does it bother you when I touch you like this?”

“No, master, of course not,” came the automatic reply. There was no hint of malice or mockery in Severus’ voice, but one couldn’t be too sure.

“I’m not looking to hear what you think you should say, Remus. How do you actually feel about it?” Severus hoped that with the potion flowing through his system, Remus might be more likely to give him a truthful answer.

“Apprehensive, sir; I can’t help but wait for that instance where you... decide that I have done something wrong. Or remember that you hate me and decide to give me what I deserve,” Remus shuddered at the mention of it. “But at the same time it’s wonderful, master, you’re in contact with my body, but you’re not taking anything from it, do you understand what I mean by that?” Remus didn’t care if he understood or not, just to be able to say something like that out loud to someone else felt very good. The idea that Severus might really want him to speak his mind occasionally and that he might actually listen to what was said was something he hadn’t considered before. Snape listening was really just a bonus, it was the fact that he didn’t lash out at him when he did it was the part that Remus found unexpected.

“Yes, I believe I do.” For the first twenty-four hours after his medical treatment upon being found as a human pile of waste in the forbidden forest by Hagrid after Riddle’s return, he’d been unable to speak, unable to move. Albus had stayed with him the entire time, demanding nothing, holding his broken and bandaged hand loosely in his much older one. Though he had sneered at such things in the past, the Headmaster’s hand had been the only thing tethering him to reality that day.

“Is that …okay?” Remus asked, glad in some ways that he wasn’t facing Severus.

“It is very okay,” Severus said. He continued, ghosting his free hand across Remus’ side. His other arm was under Lupin’s neck, he bent his elbow and brought that hand over so it was resting on the other man’s chest. “However, I want you to tell me if it ever becomes more than you are comfortable with.”

“What do you mean by that, sir?” Remus asked warily. Things that sounded like that usually didn’t bode well for him.

“I mean,” Severus said, laying another more lingering kiss on Lupin’s neck, “that if you want me to stop anything, ever, at any point, for any reason - all you need to do is ask.” He couldn’t help himself, Snape punctuated that statement with another kiss, this time on the other man’s shoulder. “I will stop immediately. You have my word.”

“Why would you do that?” Remus blurted.

“Would you really accept any answer that wasn’t ‘because it pleases me to do so’?” Severus asked sarcastically.

“I don’t know, sir; probably not,” Remus gave one short exhale of laughter. He didn’t understand, but then, he didn’t have to.

Snape thought that laughter was good - it would mean that Remus was at ease, at least enough to allow a small amount of emotion through.

“Well then, there you have it,” he said in a falsely haughty voice. “Honestly Remus, I mean it.” He needed to give this disclaimer, his hands seeming to wander their own willful paths across Lupin’s body, trailing lower until the pads of his fingers stroked along the edge of his waistband.

“Yes sir, I’ll try to remember.” Remus really wasn’t sure if Snape was serious about that or not, how could he be? What would be the point of having a bed slave and then allowing them to decide what you could and couldn’t do to them? But apparently, all Severus wanted to do right now was to have him close and touh his body carefully, to kiss his neck.

Remus was unsure what was expected of him in this situation; Macnair certainly had never done anything like this in the time he’d spent with the man. He couldn’t help but feel the unfamiliar resurgence of his arousal, he tried to keep it suppressed, not wanting to give Severus any encouragement to speed up their bonding. At the same time, he just wanted to lay back and allow these gentle hands to take him in completely. The idea that anyone would want this and nothing more from him was something his mind was having difficulty processing.

Snape brought his hand up to rest on Remus’ hip, never completely removing his fingers from the other man’s form. He wanted to move slowly, give them both a period of adjustment, but time did not permit it. They had just over a week to become accustomed to each other and complete the ceremony. Severus knew he had to keep pushing them forward or they would never be ready in time.

“Would you be able to turn towards me?” Severus asked near Remus’ ear, his hand spread across Lupin’s bandaged stomach.

“Of course,” Remus agreed easily, slowly twisting his body around so he was facing Snape. “Like this, master?”

Severus’ one arm was still under Lupin’s neck, and that hand wrapped around him and rested on his shoulder blade. The other hand rested low on the other man’s hip. He saw that Remus was looking at him guardedly. Snape imagined he had very little idea what he should be doing at the moment.

“Like that exactly,” Severus said. “Remus, I’d very much like to kiss you.”

Lupin couldn’t have looked more surprised. “If it would please you, master.”

“It would,” Severus said in a low voice. He leant in and placed a chaste kiss on Remus’ lips. He moved away in order to see the look on the other man’s face. Lupin had his eyes closed, his lips parted slightly.

Before he knew what he was doing, Snape had leaned in again, taking Remus’ bottom lip between his own. He drew his tongue slowly across it, creating a slight sucking pressure at the same time. He pulled their mouths apart only a little before bringing them together again, worrying Lupin’s bottom lip between his teeth carefully and leaving two smaller kisses to soothe the pleasant sting.

Severus laid back against his own pillow, taking in Remus’ breathlessness, the fact that he still had not opened his eyes or closed his mouth fully. If he hadn’t known better, Snape would have said that this was the other man’s first kiss. Perhaps in a way it was, his first since Walden. Not that Macnair would have ever been one for such niceties.

After a moment Remus closed his mouth and looked up at Snape with anxiety. Severus looked tranquilly back at him, not moving more than his thumb distractingly across his hip and curling one side of his mouth into what Remus could only call a sad smile. He felt like he was almost imploding with the effort of trying to figure out his master’s motivations, although when he thought closely enough, that actually seemed right. He’d been trying to figure Severus out their entire lives; he’d always wondered what drove the man and now here he was, almost afraid he would actually find out. Still, he felt compelled to ask, “Did that please you, sir?” Remus knew his uncertainty was as plain on his face as a splash of red paint.

“You please me, Remus,” Severus said seriously.

“Me, sir?” Remus almost yelped. He found that impossible to believe.

“Yes,” Severus said simply. It wasn’t a lie; Remus was physically attractive and if he himself was willing to let go of some of the past, he could admit that he enjoyed the other man’s personality when he wasn’t too frightened to show it.

Remus looked steadily at him, not sure what he should say or do. He felt like a rabbit in a trap, his senses telling him something was wrong but having no idea what precisely the threat was. He supposed it was just the implication of what the other man was saying.

Severus brought his hand up from its place on Lupin’s hip, brushing some flyaway hairs from his forehead, allowing the backs of his fingers to trail softly along the other man’s cheek.

“Did it please you, Remus?” he asked, meeting Lupin’s eye.

Remus smiled shyly. “Yes-” A look of horror came over his face. “No- I… I’m sorry master. Oh, I didn’t mean it, it’s this potion, sir.”

“Remus,” Severus said in the voice he’d always used to startle students out of their many teenage hysterics. He continued more quietly, needing to hear the answer for himself, “Why are you so upset?”

“Because, sir, I know I don’t deserve to feel that way. I am a vessel for your desires, I am to have none of my own.”

Severus looked at him blankly. Remus sounded like he was repeating something he had heard a million times, something he had been taught to say, to believe. The statement fell listlessly from his lips and though he sounded as if he despaired of the words, there was no sense of derision at all in his voice.

“Macnair would discipline you if he knew you took anything positive from your encounters.” It was a statement, a summary. As if to wipe it all away, Severus brought his hand down Remus’ neck, resting his palm on his chest, over the other man’s racing heart.

“Yes master,” Remus admitted. He both sounded and looked totally ashamed. “He believed me to be a tool at best, an animal at worst. I do not know how you wish me to behave, sir. Had I admitted that to him, he would have cursed me, beat me, left me in the closet for days. I did not mean to offend you, master.”

Severus hoped that to some degree, this was the potion speaking. Regardless if it was influenced by that or not, Remus was experiencing this as his reality, he was almost obligated to say something in response.

“In no way does your happiness offend me,” he said firmly. Severus wanted that to be clear above all else. “Whatever Macnair believed, you are unquestionably human, Remus - you were born that way and you remain that way for all but a small fraction of your life. You have the same emotional capabilities as me, the same nerves run through your body as run through mine.”

Remus looked at him for a moment, blinking rapidly. “Well then yes, master; it pleased me.” Lupin felt like he was taking a huge risk here. There was only the one way to find out, as far as he could see.

Severus gave him that halfway smile again. All he said was, “Good.” He leant in again, placing his lips over Remus’, encouraging him leisurely to open himself up to the kiss. He moved his mouth to the other man’s jaw, kissing his way down his neck and ending at his shoulder. By this time, Severus was propped up on one elbow, looking down at him but in no way restraining him.

Remus gave a breathy sigh, this was more than unexpected. As Severus moved up to brush their lips together again, he boldly asked, “Do I have permission to touch you, master?”

Severus tilted his head slightly. “You always have permission for that, Remus.”

Lupin blushed under the intensity of the gaze he was leveled with. He brought his hand up to lightly caress Snape’s shoulder, though he withdrew twice before actually making contact. When Remus finally set his hand on his shoulder, his expression was so wary that Severus leaned in and kissed him again in hopes of erasing the look from his face.

“You’re doing wonderfully, Remus,” Snape said.

Lupin gave him a weak smile. “I haven’t really done anything, sir.”

“That’s a matter of opinion, I think.” Severus grazed their lips together once more, feeling Lupin’s fingers curl a little more tightly around his arm. “Perhaps we have moved far enough for tonight?”

Remus looked immediately upset, withdrawing his hand from Severus’ arm as if it had been burnt. “Have I done something wrong, sir?”

“No, not at all. I still have to go tend to your Wolfsbane, my alarm should be going off any time. I will be up around breakfast to help you get ready. Would you agree to sleep in my bed tonight?” This time, he wanted there to be no confusion.

“Of course I’ll stay here, but you’re not going to sleep, sir?”

“Not tonight, tomorrow evening after the second phase of the potion is brewing, perhaps.”

“That was why you were so tired the other day.”

“Amongst other reasons, yes. The potion is very time consuming, as most brews of its class are.” Severus laid back against his pillow and brought his free arm back over Remus’ waist, running his fingers along the path of his spine.

“Thank you for taking the time to do that for us,” Remus said.

“It will be worth it in the end, no question. You are in no shape to undergo an unassisted transformation and Teddy – Teddy is a child, he shouldn’t have to face this without aid.”

“He’s done it before, sir. Our last master kept us apart for the full moon. It was bad enough for me in the cramped little hole he had me locked in, but for Teddy it was agonizing. He still didn’t quite comprehend what was going on yet I think, he didn’t understand why he was in so much pain or what happened to him afterwards.”

“Do you think he understands now?” Severus asked. He definitely hoped that the boy did; it was a frightening enough thing when a person knew what it was all about, but to have no idea what you were undergoing must be terrifying.

Remus frowned. “I believe so, he’s so young, sir. He told him all kinds of things, you heard how Teddy thinks about himself. He thinks he’s a monster, an animal to be kicked, I never wanted that for my son, sir.” This potion was really going to be the death of him. As soon as he had a thought, he was spouting it out immediately, almost without discretion.

“Perhaps before I administer the first batch of his Wolfsbane I will have a discussion with him on the matter, see if we can’t clear a couple of things up.” Remus appeared to think this idea was dubious at best, if the expression on his face was any indication. “You should be there as well. I believe he would respond best to that.”

“You’re probably right, sir.” Lupin didn’t sound exactly thrilled about it.

“We’ll talk about it more another time, when you’re not under the influence.”

“You make it sound like I’m drunk,” Remus smiled.

Snape raised an eyebrow, sitting up and swinging his feet over the side of the bed with a sigh. He stood and straightened the blankets, walking over to the chair and dressing before putting his robe back on.

“You will be alright in here?” Severus asked, feeling the alarm on his wand buzzing, he always liked being a couple of minutes ahead of schedule.

“Yes, sir,” Remus said, privately thinking how nice it was to be in a room stacked almost floor to ceiling with books and finding that he didn’t mind one bit that the bed smelled of Severus.

“If you need anything, Fred will be able to assist you.” Severus performed the bowel evacuation charm. “Try to get some sleep.”

“I will, sir,” Remus agreed, settling in a little further under the blankets. It seemed absurd to him that Severus was going to spend a sleepless night working while he rested in the man’s bed. Snape didn’t seem to be perturbed about it, though.

“I’ll see you later this morning, if I’m not up here in time, Fred will bring you something to eat.” Severus turned and exited the room, peeking in on a sleeping Teddy on his way down the hall.

Chapter Text

Down in the lab, Severus got started immediately, his hands working almost independently of his brain. His thoughts were still on the time he’d spent with Lupin earlier.

There seemed to be a great dichotomy within Remus, though this was to be expected and Severus couldn’t say that he was surprised by it - but how to deal with it properly? On one hand he expected Severus to hate him and to take everything he wanted viciously, while on the other he appeared starved for physical contact, desperate for a kind word. With the right kind of encouragement and careful treatment, Remus would be able to flourish, eventually. That was the real thing in question: was he capable of consistently giving that kind of encouragement and care? Snape had no idea, although he hoped he had it in him. That marked some progress at least; years ago even that faint hope would have been a question. His miserable heart wouldn’t have opened to the idea.

When he had first joined Voldemort, his thirst for power and Tom’s approval knew no end. He would dabble in any magic, make any sacrifice in order to accumulate more of it. There was almost no end to the evils he had committed and witnessed. His potions alone had sent uncountable people to agonizing deaths when he was a Death Eater, and his hands had done the same. All of that hatred and rage and those people groveling at his feet had certainly felt empowering at the time. Seeing the error of his ways had taken years, but he did see it eventually, that there was no power, no grandeur or strength in what they were doing.

The first inkling came a few years before the first fall of Voldemort. He didn’t think about it often, but now he found his mind going over and over the memory while his hands worked on the potion. He cast a bubble head charm around himself almost without realizing it.

There had been three of them summoned to interrogate an older man who’d been found to be harboring a family of deserters. Thomas Penrose, his wife Maria and their ten-year-old son had fled shortly after the adults had taken the Mark; their reasons were unknown, but it was believed that he was selling information to the Ministry and knew that someone was onto him. At the time, Severus had pronounced the man a fool to think he could stand in front of their Lord and lie to his face without repercussion.

The man they were to question was a Muggle from a small town just outside London. Severus had always wondered how the Penrose family had come into contact with him, but the story was never forthcoming.

Another group had been summoned the night before to apprehend the Penrose family; they had gotten news of them from some source of Pettigrew’s. The group had raided this man’s house and found nothing but traces of the Penrose family: a couple of gold Galleons as well as the signature of their apparition trail, which led to nothing but a series of dead ends. Rather than returning empty handed to their Lord, the Death Eaters took the Muggle back with them.

Severus had been one of the three called in to gather any information possible about the whereabouts of the Penrose family. By the time he was called on site, the other two, Rosier and Lucius had already gotten started.

He had stood unnoticed in the doorway, watching. They had the man in magical restraints, his hands and feet bound together cruelly. Rosier was just hauling him upright after a round of Cruciatus from Malfoy.

“Ah, Severus,” Lucius drawled. “So good of you to join us, Evan here was worried you were going to miss all the fun.”

“I came as soon as I was able,” he told them, irritated. Of course, they would chide him for being ‘late’, when he was called long after they were.

“Of course you did,” Malfoy placated in that saccharine voice he hated so.

“We’re almost ready for you to have a go at him,” Rosier said, walking around the man and striking him once in the face with a closed fist, knocking his head back with a sickening crack. Severus would recognize that sound anywhere, having heard it so many times from inside his own head - Rosier had broken his nose. Blood poured down his face, the man spluttered and coughed, trying not to choke on it.

“You ready to tell us where Thomas is? Our associate Snape here will just reach in and yank it out of your head anyway, but you can save yourself a lot of distress by just telling us now.” Rosier always had always valued the stick over the carrot.

The man spat a mouthful of blood and what appeared to be a tooth off to the side, a respectful distance from Rosier’s foot. “I’ll tell you nothing about that man and his family, they’re good people.”

“’Good people’, he says,” Rosier mocked, looking over at Severus and Malfoy. “Thomas Penrose wouldn’t know ‘good people’ if they walked up and bashed his head in. Which they just might if they could only find the son of a bitch.” Evan leered at him, “Until then I guess we’ll just have to take all our anger out on you!”

“He always did like making a show,” Lucius said under his breath, rolling his eyes dramatically so Severus would be sure to see his disdain.

However, Snape was paying little attention to Lucius even by his usual standards. His eyes were on the prisoner. Although this man was bound and bleeding, his back was straight and he met Evan’s eye with no hesitation. Muscles in his face and arms were jumping at random, a definite sign of a few long bouts of Crucio. If that wasn’t enough of an indication there was a pile of vomit on the floor a short distance away.

The man shook his head slowly. “I pity you, son. Is there an ounce of love in you for anything other than yourself?”

Evan’s face twisted in rage. He lashed out at the older man’s face again with a snarl that could only be described as animalistic, hitting him over and over as fast and as hard as he was able.

“If you beat him to death, I won’t be able to get anything out of his mind, you realize,” Severus said lazily.

“Still pity me now, you sack of shit?” Rosier asked in a lethal voice.

The man’s head bobbed back and forth like his neck might not be strong enough to support it. He leveled his stare at his aggressor. “Even more,” he slurred.

Rosier wound up to hit him again, but Severus strode forward and grabbed his arm. “Enough, you fool,” he’d said viciously, hauling the younger man away from their prisoner. “He’s a bloody Muggle, if I can’t get into his head by this point, you may as well take me out back and kill me.”

“Don’t tempt me, Snape,” Rosier blustered.

“Get him out of here, Lucius,” Severus said in a longsuffering voice.

“Why, you want a little alone time with him, you dirty poof?” Rosier mocked, making a crude jerking motion with his hips.

“No, I just don’t think I can concentrate with your goddamn stench filling up the place. Go home and take a cold shower.”

“Like you’d know anything about the inside of a shower, you greasy bastard.”

“Lucius, either you get him out of here and I do what I came to do, or I kill him and then I do what I came to do; it really doesn’t matter to me.”

“Sod it all,” Malfoy muttered. “Come on Evan, let’s get out of here before Snape makes all of the water in your body boil; I’ve seen him do it before like it was the most natural thing in the world. Just keep pissing him off and maybe he’ll let you see it up close.”

Rosier gave Severus a dirty look and followed Lucius to the door.

“I’ll be back later to see what you’ve found,” Malfoy said, dragging Rosier from the room by his elbow.

Snape made a noncommittal sound and went nearer to the bound prisoner who was now sitting close to upright on a rickety chair. He crouched in front of him, taking in his injuries. Here was a man who was to their knowledge, not a part of the magical world at all, more than likely scared out of his wits and he was meeting Snape’s eye. Wicked bruises were starting to form across his face and neck, if he managed to live long enough, he’d have two black eyes that would swell quite spectacularly.

Severus knew what he was brought here to do, he had been highly skilled with Legilimency even then. Riddle had often called him to pry into the minds of people he wanted information from but deemed unworthy to come into contact with his own consciousness in such a fashion. It could be brutal; torture to wear them down, then he would try to find something useful, if he couldn’t then another round of suffering was in order, and he would try again.

This man would be no challenge. As a non-magical person, he would have no defenses against such intrusions. Afterwards he would be killed, whether something had been found or not. If the man was lucky, he’d get the Killing Curse. Lucius had that bored look about him and Rosier was spitting mad, so by his calculations this man wouldn’t be so fortunate.

He set his satchel on the floor near him. “How long have you been here?” he asked abruptly.

The man stared back at him with glassy eyes. “Two days?” It was more of a question than an answer and came out in an inarticulate slur.

Severus reached into his pack and pulled out a skin of water, unscrewing the cap and holding the opening to the man’s cracked lips. “Drink slowly.” He tipped the bottle three or four times in short durations.

“Thank you, son,” the man rasped, looking at Severus with an uncomfortably discerning eye. “You’re not the same as the other two.”

“Trying to befriend me will get you nowhere. I’m about to enter your mind using magic, you do believe in magic at this point, don’t you Mister-?”

“Yarwerth, Marius Yarwerth. I think I can admit that it’s distinctly possible at this point.” Blood was dripping from his nose, he was trying to speak clearly though he’d just received what was likely the beating of his life.

“Well, Mister Yarwerth, I’m about to enter your mind using magic, whether you believe in it or not. You’ve been here for two days by your own estimation and I’m sure my associates in the other room weren’t serving you beverages all day long. Thirst is a need, it can be all encompassing in a person’s thoughts. By giving you something to drink I am making things easier only for myself. I won’t have to fight past those thoughts to get to the ones I need.”

“Call it what you must,” the man barked in laughter, exposing a set of chipped and broken teeth, stained red with his own blood.

Severus ignored him. “Here I go, Mister Yarwerth,” he cautioned. “Legilimens.”

He must have been in that man’s head for hours, looking at anything and everything that might indicate he knew or even had a wild guess as to where Thomas Penrose or his family had fled to. He found nothing. What he did see what that this man had taken in a family of complete strangers, fed them and clothed them, gave them somewhere to sleep. He asked for nothing. They had left after a couple of days’ worth of rest, leaving in the middle of the night without so much as a word, three Galleons left lying on the kitchen table.

Severus pulled back tiredly, it was difficult to stay in a person’s mind for so long without resting. Back then his skill level was nowhere near what it was currently.

He found Malfoy leaning against the wall by the door, “You’re finally done in there?”

“Yes,” Severus almost nodded but was overcome with a wave of dizziness. “He knows nothing.”

“Nothing,” Lucius repeated.

“Are you deaf or stupid? The man knows nothing of the location of Penrose or his family.”

“Well it’s a good thing you’re going to tell that to our Lord, that way he can take it out of your arse. I’m all for keeping him under the Cruciatus long enough that he’ll make something up.”

“It’s decided, you’re stupid,” Severus sneered. “What a wonderful plan, Lucius. Then, when that information turns out to be false and our master decides to peer into our skulls to see what really happened, we’re both executed for lying to his face instead of just reprimanded for being incompetent. Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll tell him; if you’re such a coward, just go home.”

“Bah! Just kill him and be done with it then, if I have to take the punishment with you then you have to do the dirty work,” Lucius said.

Severus looked into the man’s eyes momentarily, fingering the handle of his wand. He would die, either way, at least he would have the chance to make it swift if he made the kill himself.

“Well, any last words?” He had drawled, bringing his wand up.

Marius continued looking into his eyes. “I forgive you.”

Snape’s mouth dropped open. Malfoy cackled across the room. “Oh good, now you can sleep at night, Snape.”

Severus wished he could do anything, but he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t move.

“Sometime before I get old would be nice,” Lucius said, impatient now that he was over his fit of hysterics.

Severus swallowed, still looking at Marius, who showed no outward signs of hatred.

“Oh for the love of-” Lucius pushed himself off the wall and took three strides quickly forward. “Avada Kedavra,” he said, pointing his wand straight at the old man. Marius Yarwerth fell over dead, sprawling gracelessly on the ground by Malfoy’s finely tailored boots.

“I have to do everything around here, can you tell me why that is?” Lucius snapped peevishly.

Severus didn’t remember much after that until Riddle was exacting his vengeance on them. It hadn’t mattered what had been done to him that night, he felt like he deserved it all and more.

How could that man sit there, facing death at the hand of his torturers and say that he forgave them? No one had forgiven him just about anything in his life, yet that man forgave him his murder and the invasion of his mind. Marius Yarwerth had held all of the power in that moment; he himself had had none, only the illusion of it. He thought back through his time in the session, the man had that same power over Rosier also. How was that possible?

It had taken him ages to puzzle through it, he still wasn’t sure he had it one hundred per cent at this present moment in time. Before that day, Severus would have said that forgiving someone was a weak thing to do. He would have said that power came from rubbing a person’s face in something, lording it over them and manipulating them as much as possible. He would have said that power meant to be in absolute control, but he had witnessed with his own eyes that the opposite was in fact true. They had all of the control and somehow Mr. Yarwerth was the one with all the power.

He had made decisions then, began looking for the truth in secret, scouring literature for other possible answers. He had also done something that he hadn’t done since he was a child, he looked inside of himself for something other than rage and resentment, it was startling how long it took for him to find something, anything that wasn’t tainted with those emotions.

When he did, it came in the most obvious yet unexpected of forms. Lily Potter, nee Evans. Of course their friendship had come to an end years ago, what with the complications of their teenage years and his own acidic tongue. But when he thought back far enough, which he usually avoided doing at all costs, he called to mind a red headed young girl he would meet in the park, the only person he’d met at that point who talked to him like he was a real person. They had discovered their magic together. She had been his friend and he had been hers, and he couldn’t really have said that about anyone else in his life at that point. Excluding Albus, he couldn’t say it now.

James Potter had ruined it, of course, and that mental midget, Sirius Black. They all thought he was in love with her, or worse. Maybe love was an appropriate word for it, he wasn’t sure. If it was, it wasn’t the sort of thing everyone had in mind. She was beautiful and exuded light, she was wickedly funny and so bloody headstrong it made his mind reel; she was all of these things and yet she chose to spend her time with him. No one was more confused about it than he had been himself.

He had decided to try something, he would think about her every day, possibly even work up the courage to write her a letter and apologize one last time for that scene by the lake. Of course he hadn’t meant what he’d said, but when one has had their arse exposed to all of one’s peers while hanging upside down without a single shred of dignity… well things tended to get a little out of control.

Later, when he’d delivered the Prophesy to Voldemort, he had thought nothing of it, putting little faith into that kind of magic. Upon finding out that Riddle was going after the Potters based on its contents, he was devastated. He’d begged Tom for their lives, for hers above all; he couldn’t live with himself if he was responsible for her death. His Lord had made no such allowance unless Lily would step aside and allow him to kill her child.

Knowing her well enough to have no doubt that she would never in a million years allow such a thing, he had also gone to Albus Dumbledore, confessing everything. He had expected to be sent Azkaban, or, if he was terribly unlucky, have them feed what was left of his soul to a Dementor once they had made use of the contents of his head – if those things somehow failed to happen, he had decided to end his own life. Much to his surprise, Albus had somehow forgiven him. He had set his forehead to the carpet at the old man’s feet and poured out all the evils of his life. Albus had just looked down at him sadly and extended his gnarled hand to help him up from the floor where he knelt. In that moment (and every moment after that) he had all of the control; Severus witnessed again the absolute power of forgiveness.

They had talked all through the night, Severus had told him everything he could think of that might help them fight the Dark Lord. Truth be told, he was tired of the brutality, death would almost have been a reprieve from his confusion and above all his guilt. Albus had pushed him onwards, had asked him to use his life to the fullest. As a spy into the inner workings of the Death Eaters, he may save more lives than either of them dared to hope. He may very well gain the possibility of redemption for his soul.

Brokenly, he had agreed. He would have agreed to anything Albus had wanted that night. He’d gone back at his next summons and done exactly what was expected of him, but this time he was reporting anything of worth to Albus.

Fear followed him constantly. He knew in excruciating detail what would be coming to him if Riddle ever even suspected he wasn’t faithful. He took precaution after precaution, taking paranoia to the next level and then further. He put up his mental shield and didn’t take it down, fortifying it daily to protect against intrusion and to keep control of himself no matter what he was forced to see or do to keep his cover, to get just one more shred of information.

He’d been there, that night at Frank and Alice’s. They were hated almost above all other Aurors; they were dedicated and diligent, almost always finding their person. They had been responsible for the jailing of many loyal Death Eaters and the painful and humiliating interrogation of innumerable others. They were brutal, taking every possible advantage to wring information and confessions out of their prisoners.

The four of them had been sent to relay the most unmistakable of messages: Frank and Alice would be executed in their own home for what they had done, but not before some fun was had.

Bella and Rudolphus had been there, as well as Nott and himself. Taken by surprise, the couple had fallen rather more easily than their reputations would have indicated. Things had gotten out of control in a hurry, Bella was casting curses in rapid succession even though the Aurors were already bound. Severus had reminded her of what they were actually there for when she set the child under Crucio in order to get to Alice. The curse had lasted under a minute before he could interfere, but seeing Neville years later as his student, Severus couldn’t help but wonder if permanent damage had been done to his magical core. The sound that babe had made still made his blood run cold when he thought about it.

He’d picked the child from off the floor where Bella had placed him, taking the screaming baby in his arms, moving quietly away from the other three. He had cast a calming charm and silencing spell over the child so he wouldn’t anger the others. It had taken a long time to settle him, but Severus wouldn’t forget his small hand curling around the front of his robe as he finally drifted off, his ears magically deafened to the tortured screams of his parents.

Frank and Alice had been tormented for hours and hours before anyone spoke of actually doing the deed and striking them dead. Just as they were deciding whether or not their fun was over, Aurors burst in, Apparating through the provisional wards they had set up.

It had been pure chaos, spells flying everywhere; nothing was safe, the living room was destroyed in the commotion. Severus had found a sheltered place near the fighting, laid baby Neville onto the floor still wrapped in the thick blanket he’d been found sleeping in. He covered the boy with a ward so strong the entire house could have fallen on him and he wouldn’t have had so much as a scratch, then removed the silencing spell so he could easily be found. Only after that had he Apparated out after the others.

The time in between that and Pettigrew’s betrayal of the Potters was mostly a blur for Severus. He’d delivered any information to Albus that he thought was relevant and wouldn’t get him killed. Upon hearing of the Dark Mark was emblazoned above Godric’s Hollow, something in him had died. He’d known instantly, radiant pain flared through his own Mark as Riddle was disembodied by an infant and the strength of Lily’s love.

If Albus hadn’t vouched for him at the first set of trials, there was no doubt in Snape’s mind that he would still be rotting in Azkaban at this very moment. Dumbledore had laid everything on the line for him, pulled in favors and given testimony after testimony declaring that Severus had been his man long before the end of Voldemort and that without his information, many more innocent people would be dead.

On some level, Snape had realized it to be true even at the time. But all he could think about was the people he hadn’t been able to save, the people he had killed. Seeing the taught and sullen faces of their loved ones peering hatefully at him from the crowd at his trial had been almost more than he could take.

In the end it was just enough to get him off without charge. Albus had employed him at the school straight away; still, it was a gilded cage compared to the alternative. He worked for reduced pay and was more than overqualified for the position. He couldn’t have denied the post even if he’d wanted to. He’d lived almost peacefully there for years before Riddle reared his ugly head again and they were all drawn into another war.

Lily; she’d set all of this in motion for him and she probably had never even had a clue. Now, her forgiveness wasn’t possible, and instead of any of that he had been responsible for her death, the death of her husband and the miserable childhood of her son. If she stood before him today, nothing he would be able to say would rightfully garner her forgiveness.

Severus had done what he could to keep her boy alive, but so much of that had been out of his hands. He’d been hard on him yes, but he had done everything in his power to make sure that child had survived his years at Hogwarts intact. The hardest part had been having Potter continuously within arm’s reach and having to come up with so many years’ worth of reasons, excuses and bald-faced lies as to why he was unable to deliver him to Voldemort dead or alive. Every time he failed to come up with something plausible, he had suffered the consequences; this was more often than not. It had been necessary, and he had done it.

Now, here he was brewing potions for Remus and Teddy Lupin, who, despite any intentions he may have, were ultimately his property. For what was left of his soul, for Lily and for Albus he would do anything necessary to do what was right by them, or as close as he could get, situation and his shite personality permitting.

Looking around, he realized he was still beside the Wolfsbane potion, dripping stirring rod in his hands. The second phase was complete, how long he had been standing here was anyone’s guess. It was a dangerous way to brew, lost in your own thoughts. At least the mixture was the right colour and consistency, everything was as it should be. He wouldn’t need to begin the next phase until sometime just before lunch. He set the usual alarm and vented the lab one last time before heading upstairs, annulling his bubble head charm as he reached the kitchen.

It was earlier than he thought it would be, the very first rays of sunrise were seen in the distance, but it would be dark for some time yet. Severus headed straight off to have a shower, he might manage to sleep a few hours before breakfast, if he was fortunate. It took him minutes to rinse off and wash his hair, anything to get any traces of the potion and its components off his person. The last thing he needed to do was accidentally poison one of his houseguests.

He returned to his chambers, slipped into his sleeping bottoms and climbed cautiously into bed, not wanting to startle Lupin into waking. Remus was sleeping on his side, facing Severus, he looked totally peaceful. Snape almost would have believed it if he hadn’t known better.

Severus knew that soon he would have to disclose the painful facts of the last months of the war to the other man. It would need to be before the ceremony, with enough time for Remus to process the information. He had already ordered the appropriate editions of the Prophet and corresponding dictations from the trials. He would allow Remus to decide for himself what he thought of it all before attempting to explain or justify any of his actions.

He felt that to hold anything back would be allowing Lupin to have a false idea of him. He wanted the man to understand that he was not about to treat him in the same fashion as Macnair had, but also that he was miles short of being an actually decent person. What you saw was what you got with him, each thing uglier than the last. Also, a falsehood or omission of that size would not go unnoticed by the bonding magic.

Just when he was thinking that there would be little chance of sleeping because his mind was so busy, he felt the mattress shift. He paused and waited to see what Lupin would do.

The other man came out of a deep sleep but didn’t completely wake, Severus could tell by his breathing, the way he sighed as he rolled closer. Remus curled his body slowly around his, moving so near that his relaxed exhales ruffled the hairs on Snape’s neck.

Severus wondered how they were going to carry this whole thing forward, what could all be done to make this situation tolerable for Remus. If Lupin wanted him to, after reading the papers and knowing all of the facts, he would need to find someone to take his place as their master. Once Remus had all of the information on the things he had done, to whom and in what manner, Snape wouldn’t blame him one bit if the other man couldn’t stand the thought of spending the remainder of his life bound to him. Severus wasn’t sure he could bear the thought himself some days, but for him to escape himself would require more permanent ends than outsmarting a will and some Ministry officials.

He believed that he could sell them, after Remus’ bonding, if he had to. The question would be, where would they go? It would have to be decided beforehand, Severus would transfer enough of Albus’ gold into their vault so that there would be no possibility of someone outbidding them. The rest he would give to them later, for the purposes of meeting the Lupin’s needs after they took ownership. Of course, the bonding would have to be completes first; he would need full control over both of them before they could even think about doing something like that and succeeding.

He would begin searching for a way to change the nature of Remus’ bond upon sale or the transference of ownership. Walden wasn’t all that bright and he was a cheap son of a bitch at the best of times, Severus was sure he either worked out the legalities of his will himself or had underpaid some hack to do it for him. Either way, Severus hoped a loophole could be found regarding their sale where he could not find one for his ownership.

Snape discovered an odd emotion clutching at his chest when he thought of never seeing Teddy again. It hadn’t been long, but that boy had managed to endear himself to Severus in record time. The only child he’d ever had this kind of emotion for had been Draco, and he’d been there with Lucius when he’d been born, watched him grow from a questionable young man into a surprisingly responsible adult.

He would make sure that if any of that were to happen, they would find someone who would teach Teddy to be confident and kind. Hell, anyone would probably do a better job of that than he himself would; what did he know about either of those things?

As if to ward off these kinds of thoughts, Remus threw an arm over him and let out a loud snore, fidgeting in sleep as he tried to make himself more comfortable. The lycanthrope’s fingers coiled softly around his wrist, his thighs curling behind Severus’.

Snape fought the urge to laugh at the insanity of it all. He couldn’t say that he’d ever been spooned before in his life, preferring not to linger with any of the lovers he’s chosen to take over the years. Deciding that no matter what he came up with tonight, his plans would most likely be foiled with the morning, he’d never had any control over his life and he wasn’t likely to come across some now. He closed his eyes, determined to rest even if he couldn’t actually sleep.

Chapter Text

How long Severus had drifted off for was anyone’s guess. He roused suddenly, gazing around the room and seeing no reason he should have woken so quickly. Peering at the clock, he saw that there was still some time until the third phase of the Wolfsbane would need to be started, that meant he’d maybe managed two hours of sleep - better than he had been hoping for at any rate.

Remus was still slumbering, his chest resting against Snape’s side. Severus could feel heat coming off of the other man’s body, Lupin’s hip pressing on his thigh accompanied by the firm pressure of an erection unmistakable against his leg. Snape stilled, uncertain as to exactly what he should do. He shook off the couple hours of rest he’d managed to get, wondering if it wouldn’t have been better not to sleep at all, he’d probably be more aware right now. Lupin might react badly upon waking like this, but he didn’t really see a means of escape that wouldn’t disturb the other man. He settled on a course of action and went for it, cupping his palm over Lupin’s arm, rubbing it gently.

“Remus,” he said softly, not wanting to startle him.

Lupin’s lashes fluttered, his eyes opening blearily. He looked momentarily confused at finding Severus beside him, reality flooding back slowly.

“Good morning, Remus,” Severus said, leaving his hand where it was.

“’Morning, sir,” Lupin yawned and stretched. His entire body froze briefly before he pushed himself away from Snape and to the far corner of his side of the bed with lightning speed, his face the absolute likeness of terror.

Snape had been expecting something, although perhaps not a reaction this severe.

“Remus, it’s going to be alright,” Snape gentled; gods and first thing in the morning too. “Take a deep breath, and for the love of Merlin, don’t fall off the bed.” He tried to inject some humor into the situation, not sure if Remus would be open to it at this point. Lupin struggled to move himself out of danger and onto the mattress a little more, he didn’t seem to want to get any nearer to Snape, however.

“Forgive me, sir,” Remus asked piteously, raking a hand roughly over his face in distress. How in the world had any of this happened? Before Snape’s ministrations in the bath, he hadn’t even known that he still could achieve an erection, he had thought his body was forever ruined that way. Now, here he was sprouting hard-ons as if he were a hormonal teenager all over again. Of course, it had to be right in front of Snape too - the man was probably furious, disgusted with this open display of shameful want. A voice in the back of his mind whispered that Severus didn’t seem angry, he didn’t sound sickened or repelled – he’d said before that Remus’ happiness didn’t offend him. Could this be a part of what he had meant, if he had even meant it at all? 

Severus had neither time nor patience to allow the other man to destruct for too long, he could practically smell smoke coming out Lupin’s ears as his brain worked overtime. Despite his hurry, he consciously used a voice unlaced with anger or command, “Remus, come here.”

Lupin edged closer, then closer still, clearly not wanting to disobey. Severus draped an arm around him, his fingers stroking the other man’s lower back lightly. Other than that, he made no movement. It took a few minutes, but Snape lay there quietly, feeling the muscles in Lupin’s arms and back un-tense slowly.

“I’m sorry sir, I don’t know what got into me,” Remus said.

Snape almost had to bite his tongue to keep from making some variation of totally inappropriate joke. Instead, he said, “You’re old enough that I don’t need to explain to you that it is a natural function of your body, Remus.”

“It is one thing to make allowances for me sir, it is another to have those allowances humping your leg like an untrainable dog,” Remus bit out venomously.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Severus said, not knowing if such a statement had ever actually aided anyone. It had certainly never helped him when someone had said it. “You were asleep, warm and comfortable, with another body next to you. It doesn’t make me angry, Remus.” He was faltering over his words, because really, how could one fight a conditioned response with logic? “One day perhaps, you will feel comfortable enough with me that you won’t even worry about it.” Wishful thinking on his part, he wasn’t sure why he even said it.

“Perhaps, sir,” Remus agreed. He was completely deflated now, in more ways than one.

Snape leaned forward and brushed their lips together chastely. “When I can, I will respect your body, and if I can, I will help you to experience the joy your body is more than capable of.” He hoped he’d said that right. He hadn’t given his word, hadn’t promised anything other than that he would do what he was able to. Severus hoped that was good enough.

Remus took a shuddering sigh and bowed his head, which felt like it was spinning and there wasn’t even that healing potion to blame for it. As always, Severus Snape had him wondering, but he’d never thought he’d have to navigate waters like this with the man. He found himself desperately hopeful that Severus was telling him the truth.

“Sir, I can understand you taking care of Teddy, but me?” Remus wondered if that question voiced what he’d actually wanted to say.

Severus shifted closer to him, helping Remus to move so that his head was resting on his shoulder. “We are all in this together, in one way or another. Any reason I have to be spiteful towards you is decades old; I’ve done my best to forgive you. I see no reason for us not to try and make the best of this situation, in any way possible.”

Remus couldn’t help but take comfort in the simple physical contact the other man offered. In some ways, it made what Severus was saying more believable, even though the idea of being forgiven by Snape for anything was near mind boggling. The man really did know how to hold a grudge when he wanted. Seeing that he was willing to touch him casually, intimately even, and show no revulsion was relieving. Even when Macnair was in the middle of fucking him he had made it sound like a chore, like taking out the garbage or cleaning one’s kitty litter. Here, it wasn’t that way at all, Severus seemed to find value in him, though what it was he could possibly see of worth, he wasn’t sure.

“I have some information for you to digest later today, if you’re feeling up to it,” Severus said, carding the elegant fingers of one hand through Remus’ sandy hair.

“Of course, sir. What is it?”

“Papers and transcripts from the war and the trials. All of the information you’d requested when you first arrived here is at your disposal, and more. I will give you time to go over it while I am brewing today. If you’d rather spend the night in your own room after reading it, I will understand.” He almost regretted doing it. If Remus chose to leave when he gave him the option, how could he force him to stay? It would go against everything he had intended to accomplish when he took all of this on.

“That is very considerate of you sir; I’d thought you’d forgotten.” Remus wondered if it was wrong to enjoy lying here, enfolded in his master’s arms, his undemanding touches smoothing over his skin. He’d have to say he felt more like a blushing virgin than a used-up concubine since coming here, which was in interesting and unexpected turn of events to say the least.

“We really should get up and moving. I’ll get you a loose shirt to wear and set you up in the chair so you can join Teddy for breakfast. Though this time, please, when you are tired later today just ask Fred to put you in bed, either bed, any bed - just so long as you are resting. I’ll do your treatments tonight after I’ve finished with the Wolfsbane.”

“Yes, sir.” Remus said. He felt quite silly about the whole sleeping arrangement thing from the other night, but really, he was just getting used to the feel of this place. Severus seemed to be a very accommodating master so far, but he wouldn’t dare to test his boundaries too quickly unless he needed to.

Snape slowly pulled away from him, helping him to lie back on the pillows. He stood and dressed swiftly before moving Remus to the chair and helping him into a shirt on with what seemed like practiced efficiency. He performed the bowel evacuation charm and levitated the chair out of the room.

He had them all down at the breakfast table in no time. Severus found that he had no appetite, so settled for a large mug of black coffee instead. Fred had opened the window and was serving what appeared to be crepes and fresh fruit to the Lupins, seeming to know that Severus was not in the mood to eat even without being told. Severus managed to get through three quarters of the cup before the alarm on his wand was going off.

“Fred, would you please see to it that Remus is made comfortable and given time to go over that box of papers in the front closet. Make sure he has everything he needs,” Severus sounded very somber about it.

“Yes sir, Fred thinks he is understanding.”

Clever shit probably did. “Thank you, Fred.” He stood and walked to the lab door, ruffling Teddy’s hair affectionately as he went. He would have to be careful, he was getting complacent and letting too much show in almost every interaction he had with the lycanthropes, be they separate or together.

He put a bubble head charm in place and got immediately to work, looking forward to something complex to get his mind off of everything going on around and within him. There were few potions better for that than the final brewing process of the Wolfsbane.

He worked long into the afternoon, even when the time permitted it, he remained in the lab, working on his translations and on defining the parameters of the bond he would share, however brief it may be, with Remus. The potion would need to simmer all night, the first dose of both of them being administered tomorrow and then once a day, every day up to the full moon.

Severus bustled about continuously, cleaning and sterilizing as he went, putting everything meticulously away in its place. He tended the potion as needed, adding and preparing and stirring when the time was right. Before he knew it the potion was in its very last stage, it needed to be left completely undisturbed for a time and then turned down low enough so as not to get below the temperature that would render it useless.

He ascended the stairs, finding a plate of food waiting for him on the counter. Other than that there was no sign of anyone on the main level, or at least the areas they usually occupied. He sat down and ate his supper cold, a blend of fish, vegetables and rice, though he tasted not a bite.

Upstairs, he found all three of them in Teddy’s room. He could hear Remus’ voice reading the words to The Hobbit, sounding sure and confident in cadence and in tone. He paused, listening in the hall; he’d not heard Lupin sound like that in years, perhaps since he had eavesdropped in on one of his lessons during the year he had taught at Hogwarts.

Shaking his head to clear of it of whatever was prickling at the edges of his mind, he turned and went to have that shower. Severus went over his routine, washing his body as efficiently as if it was a beaker in his lab, drying off and dressing again. He would wait until Teddy was in bed and Lupin was moved into one of their rooms before going to talk to him about the information he’d gone over. Severus hoped he’d had time to look at all of it, having only half of the information could be very leading and very dangerous.

Severus sat in the armchair in his room by a dead fire. He thought about what he would say to Remus’ accusations and outrages, if he was brave enough to express any of them. The truth would probably be for the best, but in the end, it would be up to the other man if he would believe him or not. Even if he did believe him, the chances were good that he wouldn’t be able to forgive him for his actions nor be able to move past them. It had held true for most of the Order, and how could he blame any of them? He certainly hadn’t forgiven himself and there was very little ‘moving past it’ he found himself capable of doing.

He didn’t know which Remus would take in a worse light, what had happened with those werewolf cubs or the fact that he had looked Albus in the eye and still somehow summoned the intention to kill him. He would accept what Lupin would have to say stoically, for how could he refute it? How could he become angered with something he already knew to be true about himself, no matter who said it?

After stewing for some time, he stood and went to see what Lupin was doing, if he had decided to sleep in his own bed or not. Across the hall, he found Remus sitting up on top of the blankets of his bed, back against the headboard, legs uncovered; Fred must have moved him here. He was still dressed, and he met Severus’ eye immediately when he came into the lit room.

Severus would normally have greeted Remus, but he found himself suddenly unsure of how to address the other man. “May I sit down?” he asked instead.

Remus nodded, “Of course, sir.”

“You have had a chance to look everything over?” Severus sat in the chair by the bed.

“Yes, sir,” Lupin said blankly.

“Have you… had enough time?”

“Yes, sir. Why did you show me all of this?” Remus asked.

“For me to do anything less would have been to lie to you about who you’re living with, who was responsible for your son. It wouldn’t have been right for me to omit things of this magnitude.”

Remus cocked his head, giving Severus a mournful look. “But… honestly, Albus, sir?”

Severus hung his head, expecting nothing less. “I-” his voice broke. It had been years since he’d been required to speak of this aloud - he found it hadn’t grown easier with time. “If you read it all, then you know that he asked me to do it; when I denied him, he ordered me to do it anyway.” It felt like a weak excuse, something that a child would make up to get out of trouble. He hated himself more with every syllable.

There were tears in Remus’ eyes. “I can’t believe he would ask that of you.”

Severus sighed. “Yes, well neither could the Wizengamot at first. It took the combined Pensieve verifications of Albus and Poppy Pomfrey, as well as the entire contents of my mind and the testimonies of key Order members and Death Eaters alike to convince them that I hadn’t murdered him in cold blood.” He knew that bitterness was pouring from him like water from an overturned pitcher. “Albus hadn’t thought quite that far ahead, I suppose; I really wasn’t expected to survive the war.” What lay implied in that statement was that he was supposed to die, it would have been the neatest way to tie up all the loose ends and had been planned for in almost all of their contingencies.

“I didn’t mean it like that, sir,” Remus said, the hair on his neck raising as he caught onto the implication of Severus’ words. “I meant that you were closer to him than any of us. To ask that of you-” Lupin was shaking his head.

“It had to be done. He was dying anyway, slowly and in pain despite all of my best efforts; we were going to lose him. At the same time, Draco was appointed by the Dark Lord to kill the Headmaster and Albus asked me to do it instead to spare the boy’s soul the destruction of the act. His death would be key in the war, that way. It would propel me into the Dark Lord’s highest ranking, the information I would be privy to would be staggering.”

“And what of your soul?” Remus asked softly.

Severus shook his head. “It was ruined, even then. Though I love my godson with all my heart, I begged him not to ask it of me, like I had never begged for anything in my life. He allowed me to kneel there and then commanded that I do it anyway. He put his hand on my head and told me it would be for the greater good, but I couldn’t see it. After, it was the plan that I would go deep underground, get in as far as I could with the inner circle, get out any information I could to the Order.”

“But that wasn’t what happened, not really,” Remus filled in for him.

“No, it was not. I was assigned to something that did not garner much information at all. I was punished greatly for going outside my Lord’s wishes and doing Draco’s job for him. At the same time, it propelled me to being one of Riddle’s most trusted lieutenants. Such was the dichotomy that existed in his ranks. However… there is nothing I can say that will explain or excuse what happened to those children. I didn’t kill them; Greyback murdered them all while I was with Riddle. I never beat or starved them. I did what I could to make their lives bearable, though it sanctions nothing, excuses nothing.”

“And you performed tests on them,” Remus voice was unreadable, as was his face.

“Yes,” Severus felt like he hadn’t met the other man’s eye the entire conversation. “I did. If it makes you feel any better, none of them died from the potions I gave them; I was careful they would not be in pain when I could prevent it.” It had never consoled him one bit.

“The transcripts said you managed to help some of them escape?” Remus looked at him, head cocked to the side as if he couldn’t figure out why Severus would do such a thing.

“Four of them. Three girls and a boy. I fabricated their deaths, one at a time, claiming it was a side effect of one of the trial batches. I smuggled them out, unconscious in makeshift coffins; I had someone on the outside take them away. Their testimonies were taken privately by the Ministry and played into the verdict of my trial, or the at least the testimonies from the two of them they could find. It was all for nothing anyway, getting them out, what with the implementation of those Non-Human laws. I just helped them escape from one hell into another.”

“At least they were alive,” Remus said.

There was nothing Severus could say to that. His name had been kept out of the papers where the cubs were concerned. It had been one of the segments of his trial that hadn’t been widely publicized. He was somehow found not guilty on all charges, based on the fact that he had continuously supplied information to the Order, among other things.

Remus puzzled over what Snape had told him and the accounts he’d read. Hearing the words from the man’s own mouth was much different than reading them on the pages he’d been given. He saw the haunted look that flashed across Snape’s face at the first mention of those cubs.

“I thought you were lying when you brought them up the other day,” Remus was almost ashamed to admit.

“I can understand if you believe me to be even less suited for the task of mentoring your son than before.” Snape wouldn’t be surprised if Lupin didn’t want him within ten feet of his son, knowing what he knew now.

Remus thought it over. “I haven’t seen you be anything but good to my son.”

“But you see now what I’ve done, only a couple of the things that I’m actually capable of. I will have absolute control over the two of you. Doesn’t that concern you at all?”

“Of course it concerns me; it would concern me if anyone was in that position, sir.”

“If you wish, I could put the two of you up for auction after the bonding,” Severus blurted out all at once.

“What?” Remus asked. He had a hard time following Snape’s train of thought sometimes.

“After our bonding, Macnair’s will would lose its power because we have fulfilled its demands. Money will not be an issue. It could be decided by you and me ahead of the auction who would be taking you both in. I would give them the key to a vault currently in my possession; there is no doubt that they would be the highest bidder. I am confident that this way, we would be able to place you under the care of another person, one of your choosing.”

“Sir, if you want to be rid of us there are other, less elaborate ways,” Remus sounded close to upset about it.

“…Remus, I murdered someone who was very close to you. I don’t want you to be bound to someone you can’t stand the sight of, a person that you would not trust to be alone with your son.”

“Then why did you accept the inheritance?” Remus winced. He hadn’t meant it to sound quite like that - Albus had been very close to Severus as well, he tried not to forget that.

“Because I know the types of people that would be at that auction house. Because Albus would have wanted it done. The four of you were like sons to him, he would never want that for you or your boy. If he were alive, he would have convinced me to do it regardless.”

“You did this – for Albus?” Remus tried to wrap him mind around the concept.

“It isn’t quite that simple. I murdered him, Remus, the least I can do is to live my life in a way he would approve of if I hadn’t.” Severus wasn’t sure he’d ever said those words aloud before, let alone in front of another person. Well if he was to have power over Remus, it should go two ways, at least a little.

Remus gave him a long look. “He asked you to do it, sir. I don’t think you have to spend the rest of your life making up for it.”

Severus brought his hand up over his eyes, taking a second to compose himself. No one had ever said that to him, or anything even close. He had not even allowed himself to think it. After the last set of trials he went on his way, leaving behind most everyone he’d known from times before, not being able to handle their looks of pity or hatred. None of them had understood or had tried to understand what he had had to do. Yet Remus was ready to wipe it all away in an instant, with those two meager sentences.

“I will allow you to think about it and we will discuss it again after the bonding. You will be given free choice in this matter, I will not attempt to persuade you either way. If you wish to stay, you are very welcome; if you wish to go, I will aid you however I can.” It was all he could do, there was no wiping the bond away, no undoing it completely, only transference and change, as much as was allowed at any rate.

“You would really let us go to another master if we wanted,” Remus repeated.

“That’s what I’m saying, yes, if it is possible and you wish it, then you have my word.”

Remus got the impression that that was as good as an Unbreakable Vow, coming from the man before him.

“It’s getting rather late, I haven’t really slept in the last couple of days,” Severus acknowledged reluctantly. “I can help get you into bed properly, then I’m going to head that way myself.”

Remus’ face took on a look of distress. “You wish to sleep alone, sir?”

This was unexpected. “Not if you would prefer that I took you with me.” That couldn’t be what Lupin was meaning.

“If you wouldn’t mind, sir,” Remus blushed. “I seem to sleep the night through, when I’m in your room.”

“Alright then, brace yourself; I’m going to levitate you into the chair.” Severus couldn’t imagine why Lupin would volunteer to spend any extra time with him after learning some of the dirtier facts of his life during Remus’ lost years. He cast the charm, setting Remus down on the chair in an upright position.

He then levitated the chair and walked across the hall, Lupin in tow. He set the floating furniture down on the floor near the bed, as had become the routine. He gathered the supplies so they were within arm’s reach and knelt as he had the evening before, having found it easier than with Lupin lying down. Also, this way he got to move Remus’ legs around, hopefully stretching the muscles there. Tomorrow Lupin would be due for another medicated bath to prevent the stiffening and withering of his muscles and tendons.

He gave Remus his first a dose of analgesic potion and then a dose of the healing potion. He went through the process of tending to Lupin’s feet. The one of them was mostly healed, only a section on the sole of the foot seemed to need attention. All the same he slathered the entire foot with the salve and worked it in.

Looking up, he saw that Remus wasn’t looking at him, his eyes closed and his face turned away. He supposed it was because the other man was still uncomfortable with the sight of him in such a deferential position. He carried on, wrapping the foot and tending to the other one, which still seemed to be doing rather poorly. He hoped that when everything else was healed, Lupin’s body would have energy to heal this appendage, that at the moment it was just working on what it could manage. He quickly finished the task at hand, rising slowly.

“I’m going to move you over to the bed,” Severus said. “If you have changed your mind, this is the last opportunity for me to move you back to your room.” He knew that once he was horizontal, not much would make him move from that position.

“I haven’t, sir,” Lupin said, sure of it even as the potion began to swirl around his brain.

“Alright,” Snape agreed, casting the levitation charm and moving Remus so that he was floating over the bed. He unraveled the bandages from around the other man’s middle, finding nothing but smooth, hairless scar tissue. He spread the potion that would reduce the scarring carefully and efficiently, casting a protection charm over it to prevent it from being wiped away while Lupin was sleeping.

He helped the other man under the covers and quickly changed into his pajama bottoms. Severus climbed into bed, easing himself down on the mattress so his head was on the pillow, pulling the covers up around his shoulders as he had for Lupin. He had decided not to push the issue of physical contact for the evening. One, he was too exhausted and two, Lupin probably needed more time to think.

“Sir?” Lupin asked, unable to stay silent.

“Yes, Remus?” Severus asked, his eyelids already feeling heavy.

“When you said that I always had permission to touch you, did you really mean always?”

That was the last question Severus had thought the other man would ask. “Yes, that is exactly what I meant,” he clarified.

Remus didn’t respond immediately, but he rolled onto his side towards Severus, so close that Snape could feel the other man’s body heat but not the actual contact of his skin.

“You don’t talk about the rest of the Order, sir,” Remus stated.

“I haven’t seen most of them in years, though Minerva still sends me a card at Christmas.” Severus failed to see where this part of the conversation was going.

“They didn’t understand what you had to do, sir?”

“No they didn’t, and I daresay they never forgave me for it either, not that I blame them for that. They provided the information needed to keep me out of Azkaban and away from the Dementor’s Kiss, but that didn’t mean anything other than they were respecting Albus’ wishes.”

Remus was quiet again before saying quietly, “I forgive you; the harder part for me will be forgiving Albus for asking that of you.” Lupin’s fingers ghosted over his arm almost imperceptibly.

“You must be jesting; I killed him, Remus.” No one had ever said that to him, he had not even allowed the words to form in his own brain - Lupin couldn’t mean it.

“I guess it doesn’t mean much coming from your slave, but I know the man I used to be would still feel the same, sir. I spied for him too; though not as long or as in depth as you, so I know how his mind works better than most of the others. He never so much as sent a birthday card without some ulterior motive. He saw everyone as expendable for the cause, if the gain was to be great enough. Apparently, he saw himself that way also.” Remus’ hand was now resting completely on his arm, its hesitancy momentarily gone.

Severus was speechless. “I- thank you.” What else could he say with his throat closing up like that? He would never have guessed it would feel so good to have someone say that out loud, to forgive him for something he couldn’t ever absolve himself for.

“I’m still deciding what I think about the situation with those cubs, however. I hope that’s alright.”

“Of course it’s alright,” Severus said tiredly. He closed his eyes. “He turned them, all of them, before I was even assigned to the project. I would not ever have made that potion, Remus, even if the Dark Lord himself came down there and executed all of us if I failed. They would have given it to all of the packs, their strength would have been immeasurable and there would have been no hope of us winning.”

“So you never even tried to brew the actual potion?” Remus asked.

“No, I never tried to brew it. I stumbled across something that quite possibly would have worked, with a little refining and a couple of proper trials. I left that information out of my notes, destroyed the source material and buried the information so far in the back in my mind that I’m not sure I could find it myself right now if I wanted to.”

“You found something that would really work?” The prospect was horrifying.

“Nothing is certain until it comes to be, especially with brewing hypotheses; I never pursued it. I didn’t want to know if it worked or not, having seen a fully transformed werewolf without the Wolfsbane in their system on many occasions, there was no desire in me to trap someone in that shape for longer than necessary for any reason and there still isn’t.”

Remus was quiet again, thinking over what Severus had said. “They were just children, sir.”

“Yes, they were. I did what I could for them, but I couldn’t let myself be replaced. If I could happen across the information needed to start real experiments, someone else could as well. Under no circumstances was anyone to create that potion or it would have meant the lives of hundreds of people’s children, maybe the survival of the world as we know it. Albus would have wanted me to do it, no matter the cost.”

“Yes, I suppose he would have,” Remus said in contemplation.

“I did the best I could, Remus,” Severus admitted, knowing that it was not enough, would never be enough.

“You always have, sir, as long as I’ve known you,” Remus said, startled by how much affection he heard in that one statement; damn potion was making him batty.

“Goodnight, Remus,” Snape said, not sure how much more of this line of conversation he could handle tonight.

“Goodnight, sir,” Remus replied, his hand applying light pressure to where it rested on Severus’ arm.

Snape drifted off to sleep at an amazing speed; normally after even thinking too hard about these things, let alone speaking aloud of them made his head ache. Perhaps it was exhaustion and perhaps it was the fact he’d finally been forgiven for something, anything, but he slipped away into a peaceful slumber.

Remus, on the other hand stayed awake for a while, looking through the darkness at his master, trying to figure him out, if only a little. Albus was dead and he still seemed to be influencing almost everything Severus did in his life, for better or for worse. Yes, he’d done terrible things, but he’d tried to make up for them at least. Hell, it had been war; they’d all had to do atrocious things to survive and to get through. He thought it over, trying to sum up what his son had told him and what he’d read earlier today and equal it out to the man lying beside him finding that he couldn’t. It seemed Severus Snape and his motivations defied calculation, or at least his calculations.

He closed his eyes and settled in against Severus, deciding to sleep and to play everything by ear. It seemed like the safest plan to him.

Chapter Text

Severus woke leisurely, knowing he had finished the Wolfsbane potion last night and there was nothing demanding to do today. He stretched and found that there was something pressing into his leg. Lupin was sleeping still, turned towards him, his fully hard member unmistakable against Severus’ thigh.

He decided to try a different tactic today. Severus shifted closer to Remus’ sleeping form, brushing the hair away from his face. He placed his open palm on top of the other man’s hip, his fingers making contact one at a time.

Remus let out a sigh that indicated to Severus that he was waking slowly. Snape allowed his fingers to apply a small amount of pressure to the point where his hand rested on Lupin’s body; Remus’ hips pressed forward into his leg in response, grinding against him gently in a bid for more friction.

Lupin’s eyes fluttered open, and Severus tried to greet him with an expression that wasn’t threatening.

“’Morning, sir,” Remus said breathlessly. His face took on a look of impending doom as he noticed the situation that he was in for a second morning in a row.

“Good morning indeed,” Severus said, giving a half smile. He left his hand where it was in case Remus tried to nosedive off the bed again.

Lupin swallowed loudly, Severus was so close he could see the small lump of his Adam’s apple bobbing. He closed the short distance between them, meeting the other man’s lips softly once, twice, to get him used to the idea before going in for one that was deeper. While he swabbed Lupin’s bottom lip with his tongue, he also pulled their hips together, pressing the other man’s erection against himself almost to make sure it was still there.

Remus allowed himself to be drawn nearer. He was surprised to find his own mouth moving along with the kiss, somehow his hand had come up to squeeze Severus’s shoulder and the man either didn’t notice or was allowing it. When Severus pulled back, Lupin found himself breathing heavily, his cock throbbing against his master’s leg.

“If you’d let me, I’d like very much to take care of that for you,” Severus said in what Remus thought was a rather husky voice.

“I can’t stop you, sir,” Remus wasn’t sure how his own voice sounded, but to his ears it was hollow and weak.

“If you wish I wouldn’t, then I won’t,” Severus said. “I do have some experience in such matters, I understand that time will also solve the problem,” he added wryly.

“I won’t stop you?” Remus tried.

“I like the sound of that a little better,” Severus told him. “If you find yourself too anxious or overwhelmed at any point, Remus, please tell me. I don’t wish to distress you - quite the opposite, in fact.”

This all sounded very confusing to Remus, at least with Macnair he had had an idea of what was expected of him, as unpleasant as it was. He took a deep breath and tried to plaster a neutral expression on his face. “Of course, sir,” he agreed. It was always best to agree.

Severus knew when he was being placated. He decided to continue forward, but slowly.

He leaned in to kiss Remus again, running his hand down the other man’s chest, allowing his thumb to pass lightly over a nipple; Lupin’s body jolted in response. Severus was going to take it as a sign he rather enjoyed that. He made the same motion again, this time allowing his thumb to linger, trailing loops around the areola, peeking down to see it had formed a firm, pink nub. He wondered what Remus would do if he circled his tongue around it.

Instead he brought their lips together again, trailing his touch lower and lower until his hand was stroking Remus’ cock through his thin pajama pants. Severus squeezed the tip of it lightly, breaking the kiss for a moment to look at his face. Lupin gasped softly in response, biting his bottom lip immediately to try and stifle the noise.

Severus kissed his way down the lycanthrope’s chest, pausing to finally lave first at one, then the other nipple, worrying it delicately between his teeth before swiping over it again with his tongue to mellow the sensation. He ran his hands over Lupin’s hips and down the sides of his thighs, bringing one up to caress his member again as he lay a trail of sloppy kisses along the uneven scar tissue on Remus’ stomach.

Remus’ hips bucked and muscles in his legs and stomach jumped without so much as his permission. Severus was taking time with his body, tricking it into being fully aroused despite the fact that his own brain warned against that very thing. From what he remembered, this is how someone would treat a lover, not a sex slave. He couldn’t help but wonder just what Severus was playing at even as the man paid attention to the hypersensitive scar tissue on his stomach and side, hand on his pulsing prick the entire time. He was sure he was going to come; it had been so long…

Snape tucked his fingers into the waistband of Lupin’s pants, undoing the line of small buttons holding the fly closed. Carefully he pulled Remus’ cock out of his clothing, cupping his balls with a firm but gentle undulating motion. It may have been forever since he’d been with another person this way, but he certainly hadn’t forgotten how things were done.

He rolled away and pulled a small jar of lubricant from the back of his bedside drawer, returning to his place at Remus’ side in only a moment. He quickly unscrewed the lid and dipped his fingers into the cool substance. Hand coated, he moved it back onto Remus body, wasting little time. Remus was responding delightfully, or he would have been if he wasn’t so determined to silence every sound he might have made. His eyes were closed, and he had a look of astonished bliss on his face.

Severus leisurely pumped his hand up and down over Remus’ shaft, knowing that it wouldn’t take long for the lycanthrope to reach completion. It was a different experience to be giving someone this kind of pleasure without undergoing the interference of his own need. Certainly, he was aroused - there was little question about that, Remus was an attractive man lying half naked in his bed. But without the meddling of his own erection, Severus was able to take note of things he may otherwise not have.

Remus’ face was flushed, breath was quick, his chest rising and falling. It hitched ever so slightly when Snape spent a little extra attention to the head of his cock, squeezing it between his thumb and forefinger every couple of times he swiped his hand from tip to balls. Pre-come was collecting there, Severus brushed it away with the pad of his thumb, increasing the pressure his fingers were putting on the shaft; Remus’ hips lurched in response. The other man swallowed the moan that Snape was sure would have been heard otherwise, he looked up at his face to see what expressions were dancing there.

Remus wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold out. He looked down, seeing Severus’ pale, angular hand wrapped tightly against his red, swollen cock; the sight made him almost orgasm on the spot.

“Sir,” he panted. “I’m sorry, I’m going to-” he had to break off his sentence or he would have let out some variation of a growl and didn’t want Severus to stop because he’d done something wrong. At the same time he had to warn him, give him time to do whatever it was he was going to do before he came all over both of them.

“I certainly hope so,” Severus said hoarsely, not pausing in his ministrations.

Remus had always thought that Severus’ voice was one of his most enthralling qualities. Snape was the only person he’d ever known who could make the lesson plan for removing snake livers sound sensual, not that he’d ever admitted that to anyone out loud. His voice was more than Remus could take at the present time, with a ragged gasp he was coming hard into Severus’ hand, his whole body shaking with it.

Severus continued to stroke Remus as he slowly softened, allowing him to fully ride out his release. Lupin was gripping his arm tightly, his breathy exhales sounding almost like small moans. Hot ejaculate covered both them and the sheets. The man had seemed to come forever, pulsing in his hand, he found himself breathing at an increased rate just watching him. When Remus’ body was still, though his ribcage was still rising and falling rapidly, Severus released him.

Lupin looked over at him, seeing the mess that had been made over both of them and the bed. His face took on a troubled and uncertain expression.

Severus muttered a wandless spell and everything was clean again.

“Sir, I- that was… thank you.” Remus felt his cheeks heat, hoping Snape didn’t notice.

Snape relaxed back into his side of the bed, laying one last kiss on Lupin’s lips before resting his head on the pillow. “I told you that I would attempt to give you enjoyment if I was able.”

“But you-” Remus began to protest.

“The giving of such pleasure does not always involve the taking of it,” Severus said softly. “Can your healed hand manage all those small buttons, or should I do them up for you?”

Remus was puzzled, before realizing that his fly was still undone; that orgasm might have ruptured something in his brain. “I have it, sir, thank you.” He was gratified to find that he was right, although clumsily, he did get all of the buttons through their holes. There was no way around it, although he had just woken up from a full night’s sleep, he was exhausted all over again.

“I believe it is overdue for you to have another bath; I’m sure your muscles are past beginning to stiffen up quite spectacularly. Next month I will brew both of the Wolfsbane potions at once - it will not be as time consuming that way and less will be neglected.”

“Less time consuming for who; and while you’re taking care of us, who is looking after you?” Remus asked hesitantly. Severus was thinner and paler than when they had first arrived. Remus was certain he wasn’t eating properly and positive he wasn’t sleeping as well as he should have been.

“I am neither a child nor am I healing; I am perfectly capable of looking after myself,” Severus said flat out. He added under his breath while shaking his head on the pillow, “Now if only I could convince my house elf of that.”

“If you say so, sir,” Remus agreed with a smile, though he seriously doubted the validity of that statement.

Severus came closer and draped his arm over Remus’ stomach, seemingly content to lay there for a while. This was fine with Lupin, who was glad that he wouldn’t be required to stand when they did get up. He was weak and over sensitive after experiencing that level of completion. The warmth of Severus’ body beside him and the pleasant weight of his arm around him felt like pure indulgence to Remus, he wasn’t about to be the first one to move away.

“This morning or tonight?” Severus asked out of what seemed like nowhere.

“Pardon me, sir?”

“The bath, would you prefer it this morning or tonight?” Severus repeated with no ire.

“Tonight, if that is alright, sir. I just woke up and already I could nap, one of those medicated baths is likely to knock me out,” Remus said sheepishly.

“Tonight it is, then.” Severus said. He was still for a few moments longer before reluctantly rolling away and stretching. He threw his legs over the bed and dragged the rest of himself after them, standing in a motion that was less fluid than perhaps he would have liked.

He quickly dressed, selecting a clean set of clothes and outer robes. They were a little bulkier and more old-fashioned than most, but it was what he was most comfortable in and he wasn’t about to be bothered to update it. That would mean a trip to one of the towns and he avoided that at all costs. There were some things he was starting to think about needing, but he just kept adding them to the list until it was substantial enough to warrant a trip.

Walking around to the other side of the bed, Severus gave Remus his dose of analgesic and slid the chair closer. There was something buzzing around in his head. If he wasn’t mistaken, someone was messing about with the wards on the exterior of his property and they weren’t trying to be sneaky about it. He followed the vibration, feeling only one magical signature. Interesting, that someone would be brave enough to come by themselves. They had to know that on some level, he would be prepared; he had been for years.

“Ready?” he asked Remus, not letting onto his thoughts.

“Yes, sir.”

He levitated Remus over to the chair, helping him get positioned so that he was stable and comfortable. He performed the charm on the other man’s bowels and collected his supplies, kneeling to unbandage Lupin’s feet.

“I think you do that just because you know it makes me uncomfortable, sir,” Remus said without planning to.

“Think so, do you?” Severus asked vaguely, neither agreeing to nor denying Lupin’s claim.

Remus smiled. “Definitely.”

Having one foot already exposed, Severus said, “This one looks well, they are just taking their time. There was a lot of tissue to repair here compared to the rest of your body, but I think it is getting close.” He uncapped the cream and set about applying it immediately.

“That’s good to hear,” Remus said, struggling to look down to see what his master was talking about. Maybe this was another reason he had started to tend to his feet in this position: so that Remus wouldn’t be able to see them as easily. He was both frustrated and grateful for this; on one hand he felt he should know what was going on with his own body, on the other he honestly didn’t think he wanted to look at the damned things until they were healed. It was too depressing.

Severus was seeing to the other foot by this point, its progress was still not as apparent. It had clearly made some degree of improvement since Lupin’s arrival, but compared to the other appendage it was not very dramatic. Severus wondered if it was time to think about taking more drastic measures.

If the healing of the foot was not possible, it would have to be removed and regrown. The limb would never be quite as strong, which worked fine for say, a left hand, but didn’t do so wonderfully when it was a foot. It would be possible that the foot would be able to support the full weight of the body, but it would not be an assured thing. They wouldn’t know until it was done. The process was pure agony, as he himself knew from experience, and should only be looked upon as a very last resort. So he put it out of his mind again, deciding it would be their final and most desperate resort. He would give this potion a little more of a chance to do its thing.

Standing, Severus said, “Let’s go get you into some fresh clothes, then we’ll head down for breakfast.”

“Thank you, sir,” Remus said. He still didn’t know what to think about Snape going out of his way to take care of these little things: clean clothes, covered feet, regular meals.

Lupin was healed enough that he could maneuver himself into a clean shirt, even managing to do some of the buttons up. Severus helped him into a fresh set of light trousers. He then cast a freshening charm on the man; even though the clothes were clean, it wasn’t hard to still feel grimy if one hadn’t bathed in a couple days.

He levitated Remus and the chair down the stairs carefully, though it was easier by far than the first time around. In the kitchen they found Teddy and his dragon sitting at the table colouring in his book, which appeared to be about halfway full of completed pictures.

The boy looked up, smiling brightly at them, “Hi!”

“Good morning,” Remus smiled back.

Severus thought that was cheerful enough for the both of them, and stayed silent. He set Remus’ chair down at the table and went to make a pot of coffee.

“Has Fred been around at all today?” he asked.

“Not really,” said Teddy, looking up from his picture. “For a while this morning. He went to the greenhouse.”

“Yes, its best that you stay out of there; I cultivate some plants and herbs that aren’t safe to be around if you aren’t sure what to watch out for. Did he feed you something for breakfast?”

“A toast, an orange and some milk, he’s only been gone a while.”

Snape nodded, thinking to himself how much and how often Teddy was speaking compared to when he first arrived. “Alright then. Are you still hungry?”

“No sir, thank you,” Teddy replied, still scribbling away in his book.

Snape stood at the kitchen counter, back turned to the table. He poured two cups of coffee, preparing one and leaving the other black, handing Lupin a mug. He went into the fridge once or twice, gathered two plates from the cupboard and spent a few minutes in front of the stove. From where he was sitting, Remus couldn’t quite see what all was going on, but he was content to sit back and drink his coffee.

After a time, Severus sat two plates down on the table, going back over to the counter and placing the dishes in the sink, wiping the counters down so that everything was pristine again.

“Unfortunately, I am often not as motivated as Fred when it comes to the culinary arts,” Severus drawled, finally taking his seat.

Remus snorted, “Thank you, sir. This is more than enough.” An egg, toast, with a healthy side of cottage cheese and assorted fruits from the orchard: more than enough was an understatement.

“Are you sure you’re not hungry, Teddy?” Severus asked, pulling out a chair for himself but not sitting down.

“Yes sir, I’m sure,” the boy answered again. His pencil paused and he looked up at Snape. “There will be something to eat later, right?”

“Most definitely there will be,” Severus set his plate at the table.

“Okay, then I’m sure,” the boy smiled up at him.

Severus sat in front of his plate, taking a long sip from his mug.

Remus was trying to recall some of the polite things one was supposed to do and not do at the table and came up blank other than the fact he shouldn’t put his elbows on the table. Severus was neatly cutting his food into bite sized chunks, seemingly unaware of the difficulty he was having. Remus hoped he didn’t think he was some kind of heathen for the way he was handling his utensils; it had been years since he’d sat down to eat like this and he was rather uncomfortable about it.

“Are you finished your potion today sir?” Teddy asked.

“Yes, the last brewing cycle was completed last night.”

“Does that mean I can come back into the lab?”

“I suppose it does; I’ll just have to vent the room one more time before you come downstairs. We should begin some of your lessons today, I think.”

Remus looked over at that. He couldn’t help but wonder what kinds of things Severus would think pertinent for his son to know and understand, as well as how he would go about teaching them to him. Severus seemed to have more patience than previously believed, but he would still like to see how he would treat his son while he was instructing him.

“Okay,” Teddy agreed in a small voice. “What do I have to do?”

“We’ll get started sometime after breakfast, there is no reason for us to hurry. I will have some books and papers for us to go through as well as some different pens and quills for you to experiment with.”

“That doesn’t sound very hard, sir,” Teddy said giving him a look of pure disbelief.

Severus smiled, taking another drink of his coffee.

“It may be more difficult than you think, Teddy,” Remus cautioned. “Make sure to try and do your best.”

“Yes dad, I will.”

Remus nodded, hoping that was true. If there was one thing Severus had been notorious for hating when he taught, it was when students didn’t put in an effort. He was sure his son would try, but was also afraid of what would happen if he wasn’t as apt a pupil as Snape expected him to be.

Severus slowly finished his breakfast. Lupin still seemed concerned that his son would say or do something to incite his anger. Truth be told he was pleasantly surprised that hadn’t happened yet himself, though he knew that frustration would be the most it would amount to. He’d never hit a child in his life and wasn’t about to pick up the habit now.

He stood, taking his plate to the sink and filling it with hot soapy water. Remus seemed to be taking his time with the meal, which was fine. Fred would be out and about for some of the morning yet, so Severus thought he would do the dishes.

He was waiting for whoever was currently breaking into his property to get on with it already, still feeling the tickle of his wards complaining in the back of his mind. Sure, he could go down there and see what the hell was going on, or he could wait it out, let the situation unfold. They would be more likely to make a mistake if they thought he was unaware. He rolled up his sleeves and began to wash, his back to Remus and Teddy, who were still seated at the table.

“Teddy, would you please take this up to the counter for me?” Remus asked his son, holding out his empty plate.

“Sure,” Teddy said cheerily. He hopped off his chair, taking the plate over to Snape’s side. “Here, sir.”

“Thank you, Teddy,” Severus said, seemingly not looking over at the child, who was smiling at the gratitude.

“Did you want some help, sir?” the boy asked.

“Always so eager to help, this one,” Snape said, as if to himself.

Teddy giggled, covering his smile.

“Go grab the towel hanging over there,” Severus gestured with his head. “If you would like to help then you can dry the dishes. Just set them on the counter once you’re done with them; I’ll put them away.”

“Okay!” Teddy said, going to grab the towel and returning to the sink.

Severus looked down at him, realizing that he was much too short to even be able to reach into the sink properly. He would need to invest in a small stool for the kitchen, he already had one in the lab and for the sink in the bathroom.

“Can you pull that chair closer to the sink? You are going to need to stand on something, I think.”

“No problem,” Teddy put both of his hands on the seat of one of the kitchen chairs and pushed it so it was against the counter, tossing his towel over his shoulder and climbing up so he could see into the sink. “Like that?” he asked.

“Exactly,” Severus agreed. “All the dishes in that sink are clean, just wipe them with the towel and set them aside when they’re dry.”

Remus watched, quietly drinking his coffee. Teddy took his time, carefully wiping each plate, cup and utensil, setting them aside in neat piles on the counter next to where he was standing. He was splashing water everywhere, trying to clean it up as he went, peeking over at Snape to see if he noticed the mess he was making. If he saw, Severus gave no sign, methodically scrubbing each piece until it was clean and then setting it in the rinse water for Teddy to dry.

Snape reached into the soapy water and pulled the plug, allowed the water to drain and then cleaned out the sink. He wiped down the table, counter and the floor where water had been splashed, rinsing his cloth under the tap.

“All finished?” he asked Teddy.

“Yes,” the boy smiled.

“Alright then, dry your hands and put the chair back.” Snape drained Teddy’s sink and put all of the dishes in their respective drawers and cupboards. “Thank you,” he said, turning to the child.

“You’re welcome,” Teddy beamed.

Severus sat back at the kitchen table. “Well, what now?”

“I could start my lessons,” Teddy suggested.

“I suppose you could, but wouldn’t you rather do something fun?” Severus asked.

“Like making a potion?”

“I meant more like going outside or playing a game,” Snape pinched the bridge of his nose, not sure if he wanted to laugh or sigh.

“I guess so, sir. But if I want to make potions, I have to know some of my lessons. You did say that, right?” Teddy asked.

“Yes, I did; however I did not mean that you would be doing nothing else with your time. Keep in mind that lessons can only take up so much of the day.”

“Okay sir, I will.”

Remus gave Snape a sideways look. He didn’t remember Severus doing almost anything but studying when they were at school. Much like himself, Snape always had his face stuck in one book or another, be it out by the lake, in the library or tucked in a hallway somewhere. He was intrigued that Snape seemed to be pushing Teddy to do something else right off the bat.

“I’ll be back with some supplies; keep your father company, we’ll get started when I return.”

Snape needed to go both upstairs and downstairs to get everything together. He hadn’t anticipated the child actually being eager to begin his studies. Though perhaps because he had never had any kind of lesson before he didn’t know what to expect.

He had ordered some children’s books when he had decided to accept the Lupins. These he pulled from the shelf in Teddy’s room as well as collecting some parchment, quills and a pot of black ink from his own chambers before heading back down to the kitchen. He heard Remus and Teddy chatting away as he rounded the corner.

“I imagine he doesn’t need to eat because he’s so strong,” Lupin was saying.

“Maybe…” Teddy agreed uncertainly.

Remus swiveled his head to see Severus standing in the doorway, supplies tucked under his arm. Snape strode forward, carefully setting everything down on the clean kitchen table.

“Why doesn’t my dragon need to eat, sir?”

Severus assumed that the most logical answer, ‘because it is a toy’, wouldn’t go over so well. “I believe it is because he is a miniature German Spinescale; they only eat once every hundred years, or so the legend goes.”

“The legend?” Teddy asked, obviously intrigued.

“They were rumored to exist maybe five hundred years ago, there have been no reported sightings since then, so most people believed that if they did exist, they died out many years ago.”

“But?”

“Hm? I personally think they have all gone into hiding. No one has proof either way, you can believe what you like, really.”

“Neat,” Teddy said. “How do I know when he’s hungry?”

“Oh, you won’t need to worry about that until you are a grown man - I fed him once when I was about your age.”

Teddy was leaning forward over the table, dragon smushed against his side. “What does he eat?”

“The regularly sized ones were rumored to eat cattle or mountain goats, the occasional maiden, if they could find one tasty enough. That little guy? I seem to recall him having a ferocious fondness for honey toast.”

Remus was trying not to laugh. Severus had such a serious look on his face but was clearly making everything up as he went along. Teddy was hanging off his every word, looking down at his dragon and laughing.

“Honey toast?” he asked.

Severus nodded morosely.

“But I like honey toast,” Teddy exclaimed.

“Well, then there will be plenty on hand if you ever hear his tummy rumble,” Severus said.

Teddy seemed to think this over. “Okay,” he said, not sure if he should believe Snape any more than he should believe Remus.

“I didn’t know he used to be yours, sir,” Remus said.

Snape nodded. “I was as surprised as everyone else when Teddy pulled him out of that box. I’m glad he has a friend to go on adventures with again; he must have been awfully bored in the attic all these years.”

If asked, Remus would never, ever in one thousand years have said that Severus Snape had the potential to be this good with children.

Teddy giggled.

“What’s so funny?” Remus asked, smiling himself.

“No wonder we’re such good friends! He was locked in the attic and I was locked in the basement.”

The smile peeled itself from Remus’ face. “Teddy-”

It was at this moment that the house shook, and the sound of an explosion was heard. The door to the back entrance was literally blown off its hinges. It flew into the opposite wall with a crash, the glass smashing out of it like shrapnel, the flashing light of a spell following right behind it.

Teddy shrieked and dove behind his chair, climbing under the table to try and hide, his dragon falling soundlessly to the floor; Lupin threw up his arm to fend off any flying pieces of glass or splinters of wood. Severus was on his feet and facing the doorway, wand drawn, before the door even hit the wall; he positioned himself between the Lupins and what was now a gaping hole in the wall of his house.

Rage was an emotion he could say he was feeling very strongly at the moment. Whoever it was coming through the thick dust had better be prepared to meet him on the other side.

Chapter Text

"SNAPE!” a voice shouted. “You had better be in there, you son of a bitch!”

Severus didn’t say a word, just waited for the intruder to make himself visible - getting into a verbal sparring match during a duel did nothing except give one’s position away. It had taken the trespasser less time than expected to break through his wards. They were woven quite intricately, some he had added himself and some were as old as the house. He could have stopped the person hours ago, but curiosity had won him over.

As the smoke settled, the silhouette of a single person was seen standing there, breathing heavily with their wand drawn. Between Severus and the man who had just blown clear through the side of his house, a furious magical force was gathering, the air was thickening and crackling with it.

The man stepped closer. Severus didn’t move from his protective stance in front of Teddy and Remus. Two, three more steps and the identity of the assailant was seen through the falling dust.

“Potter,” Severus spat the name out like a bad taste.

“Harry?” Remus breathed at exactly the same moment, his face a mixture of wonder and horror.

“It took me a bloody long time to track you down,” Harry’s voice was raised in anger, his chest was heaving with it, emerald eyes shining with rage. Sparks flew from the tip of his wand. “Where the hell are they?”

“Get your prescription checked, you blind fool,” Severus snapped, not lowering his wand.

Harry looked around the room, seeing Remus sitting in a plush armchair at the kitchen table looking quite distressed.

“Where’s Teddy?” Harry asked dangerously. “If you have harmed one hair on that child’s head, so help me GOD, I will end you right here!”

Severus stood very still, waiting for Potter to catch up with reality. Circe, it was just like that boy to run in wand blazing and ask questions later. Through the anger and turmoil, Severus found one split second to be thankful that he was no longer responsible for making sure that brat was alive and out of trouble. Though clearly whoever had taken over that job was not qualified to do it as there was a cavernous hole in his wall.

In the eerie silence, a noise was heard, quiet but definitely there. It was the muffled sound of a child sobbing in the background.

“I hear him, where is he?” Harry asked wildly, the sparks pouring out of the end of his wand multiplied, snapping and sizzling as they fell to the floor. “WHERE IS HE?”

Potter obviously wasn’t in a state to be reasoned with, though in all of the years Snape had had the misfortune of knowing him, he never had been.

“You’ll want to stop shouting,” Severus said much more calmly than he felt. Teddy was probably terrified; he needed to get the situation in hand.

“You want me to stop shouting. You’re lucky all I’m doing is shouting, why am I even talking to you, you dirty traitor?” Harry leveled his wand in Severus’ direction, who made no obvious move to defend himself.

“Yes, go right ahead, try and curse me in my own kitchen. I’ve definitely not prepared for that,” Snape said sarcastically.

Harry’s wand pointed off to the side slightly as he shouted, “You didn’t seem very fucking prepared for the hole I just blasted in your house! You always have to be so goddamn’ arrogant!” Harry snarled. He was so enraged, an uncontrolled wave of magic poured from the end of his wand.

Things seemed to happen in slow motion for Severus, in a split second he saw that Potter either hadn’t meant to emit that burst of magic, or his aim was just bloody awful. Blue light shot from the end of his wand, bounced destructively off the reflective surface of the oven door and went barreling towards the table that Teddy was currently huddled under.

It wasn’t a direct attack, there was no way of knowing how the wards would interpret such a thing – would they respond? Severus didn’t think; he dove sideways, placing himself between the blast of light and the kitchen table. The light caught him in the shoulder, sending a pulsing flare of pain through his body. His robes and shirt were still smoldering when he connected with the ground. It hadn’t been a solid hit, but he had caused the magic to dissipate all the same. Wand still in hand, Severus stood again shakily, parts of his disintegrated clothing falling to the floor in a shower of embers. The foul smell of burnt flesh permeated the room.

The weeping was heard even louder, Remus desperately wished there was something he could do for his son, but he was unable to get out of the chair to go to him. Also, it was almost more than he could do to sit there in slack jawed amazement - what did Harry think he was doing?

Severus swayed on his feet momentarily, it was clearly seen that the skin of his shoulder and arm was badly damaged by the blast, but he didn’t seem to notice. He was torn between throttling Potter where he stood and making sure the residual blast hadn’t harmed Teddy, who wasn’t even trying to stifle his heart wrenching tears any longer. His breath was coming out in large swallows and Severus thought he might be hyperventilating.

In the end, common sense prevailed. “I’m going to turn my back on you Potter, clearly you need a larger target,” Severus seethed. He did just that, pivoting and crouching so he could peer under the table, his shoulder screaming in protest at the range of movement required to get down that far.

Harry was standing there in the same position he had been when the magical wave had poured from his wand. He seemed as shocked as everyone else at what had happened but there were no words of apology forthcoming. He just watched Severus bend down and half crawl under the table, seemingly unconcerned that he had his back turned to someone who in all appearances had just fired an offensive spell at him.

Severus tucked his wand into his sleeve, muttering a charm that would effectively ward him against another attack. It was wandless and therefore not very strong, but it would deflect one attack, which would be all he needed. If Potter fired at him again, he wouldn’t be held responsible for his actions save for in a Ministry court.

“Did that hit you?” Severus asked the dark space under the table. “Teddy, are you hurt?”

Harry paled. “He’s under the table? God, did I hit him?” He moved forward, stopping in his tracks at the look Snape shot him over his shoulder.

Remus was sitting there, his hand over his mouth. How had any of this happened?

“Teddy, are you hurt?” Snape asked again, dragging himself further under the table, continuing to ignore the searing pain in his shoulder.

“N-No s-s-sir,” the boy stuttered around his desperate gasping for air.

“Not at all? It didn’t hit you anywhere? You have to tell me, Teddy, or I can’t help you.”

“No, s-sir.”

In the dim light in the shadows under the table, Snape saw that Teddy was curled up in a small ball, his back against the wall. It was much the same position he had found him in the night he’d had that nightmare. The boy was shaking, huge tears poured down his cheeks.

Severus backed away from the table. “Teddy, would you come out of there so I could see?”

“No, sir. P-p-please don’t make me.”

“You know I won’t make you. He won’t hurt you, I promise.”

Teddy looked at him, stricken.

“Put your wand away, Potter,” Severus said without turning around to face him.

“You’d like that wouldn’t you, that way you can-”

Snape swiveled to look at Harry from his place on the floor. “Shut up and put it away. There’s no way he’s coming out of there when you have it out in the open. Put it the hell away,” he said.

“Please, Harry, do what he says,” Remus pleaded.

Harry hesitated, groaning to himself as he holstered his wand. The electricity in the air seemed to dissipate.

“See? He put his wand away. Mine is away too. Please come out of there, Teddy.”

Teddy inched toward the edge of the table, crawling out and over to Severus’ side in a single movement. He kept Snape’s body between Harry and himself, clinging to Severus like a drowning man to a buoy.

Severus saw a tuft of hair had been burned away by the blast. He ran his fingers carefully over the boy’s scalp to make sure that was all the damage that had been done. A small scrape ran along his cheek, but it wasn’t bleeding and seemed to be mostly superficial. He put his uninjured arm around Teddy’s shoulders, pressing the fallen dragon into the boy’s shaking hands. He noted absently that the child had wet himself.

“He’s fine,” Severus said, turning his head towards Remus a little.

“Thank Merlin,” Remus said, letting out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding.

Severus cast a drying spell on the boy’s clothes without taking out his wand.

“T-thank you sir,” Teddy said in a small voice. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.” The child hung his head and let out another sob.

“Don’t be sorry,” Severus said, tightening his arm around the boy. “People do all kinds of embarrassing things if they are frightened enough, even full-grown adults. There is nothing for you to be ashamed of.” He shot a dirty look at Potter.

Remus was sure that if looks could kill, Harry’s exploding body would be redecorating Severus’s kitchen that very second.

Snape stood, bracing himself on the edge of the table. Despite his mangled shoulder, he scooped Teddy up and walked him the few short steps to where Remus sat, lowering the boy carefully into his father’s lap.

Remus latched onto his son, enfolding him instantly in his arms. Teddy pushed his face into Lupin’s chest, dragon still clutched at his side, and began to cry again in earnest.

Severus then turned back to Harry, who was standing like he had been stuck dumb in the middle of the kitchen floor. Severus personally didn’t think it was that far of a jump for the young man. “Well, what do you have to say for yourself?” he asked, sounding every bit the Professor he had been for so many years.

“I-” Harry floundered for a minute, looking momentarily younger than he was.

“I’m being serious, Auror Potter, have my pardons been revoked? New evidence been brought to light? Whatever could your reasons for blasting through the back of my house be?” Severus’ voice was saccharine sweet.

“Cut the shite, Snape. You accepted Teddy and Remus like they were your right, like heirloom furniture to be sat on by another generation! Then you didn’t deem it necessary to share that information with us, people who searched and mourned for them for years. People you were supposedly working with for years. What the hell else was I supposed to do?”

“Well you could either do your own reconnaissance, or come and speak to me like an adult, novel as the concept may be.”

“Yes, I was going to invite myself over for bloody tea, asking you politely about the welfare of the closest thing to family I have, while you…”

“While I what, Potter? Strung them up by their thumbs over a slow burning fire? Pulled out their teeth and toenails for my collection? Gods, man, you haven’t changed a whit since you were thirteen,” Severus sounded disgusted.

“What was I supposed to think? People who have nothing to hide aren’t usually so secretive!” Harry yelled.

“Lower your voice,” Severus snapped, though quietly. His eyes darted over to Teddy, who was sniffling quietly on Remus’ lap. “Did it ever occur to you that these people have been through more than an ordeal and that they need time to settle before jumping straight into all of their old patterns?”

Harry looked at him vacantly. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

“That was my exact thought when you walked through the recently demolished wall in my kitchen,” Severus said, really trying not to shout.

“Oh, get off it, Snape. Explain what is going on here.”

“I should be asking you that very thing!” Severus seethed. Teddy was already shaken by the occurrences of the morning, he really needed to try and rein in his temper. “What right do you have to barge in here like that? Do you have any idea what would have happened if Teddy had been on the other side of that door when you sent it splintering across the room?”

“How was I supposed to know that Teddy would be in the kitchen?”

“I believe that kitchens are a very popular place in the morning, Potter.”

“Yeah, but-” Harry seemed to stop himself.

“But what? You thought that I would neglect to feed him?” Severus wondered if it hadn’t been more along the lines of concern that he had locked Teddy in a cramped cupboard under the stairs. If that was Potter’s angle, he became marginally easier to understand and therefore, hopefully, to predict.

“How was I supposed to know?”

“You keep on saying that, Potter. How about coming to speak to me like an adult, if we are going to be repeating things that have already been said. How exactly did you expect me to react to this? You do realize that I would be well within my rights to make either one of them pay for the damages you’ve caused here, in any way that I feel is appropriate?” Severus’ voice was dangerously soft. Remus held more tightly onto his son, feeling chills go up and down his spine.

A tormented look flashed across Harry’s face. “Listen, Snape…”

“Why should I listen to you? You certainly don’t think before you act, let alone before you speak,” Severus seemed posed to go off on a rant about Harry’s staggering mental deficit, when Fred suddenly appeared near the sink with two bags of groceries.

The elf turned around to take in all of the damage in the kitchen, his already large eyes bulging unbelievably out of his head. The bags in his hands dropped to the floor. “Fred is not being able to leave you alone for five minutes,” he said in horror, looking straight at Severus. “Someone is needing to be telling Fred what is going on here, now.”

“Harry Potter decided to come for a visit, apparently he is unused to such fineries as ringing the bell,” Snape said in a mocking tone.

You is being Harry Potter?” Fred asked Harry in a voice that conveyed unimpressed disbelief. He looked Harry up and down from his feet to the crown of his head and sneered, “Fred was somehow thinking you was going to be taller.” He turned back to Snape. “You always was having strange friends, sir. Well, someone is to be fixing this and if you think Fred is doing it, you is all being crazy.” Fred picked up his fallen groceries and took them over to the fridge, tutting in dismay at the destroyed oven as he went.

Severus said suddenly, “Get out of my house, Potter.” He wondered why he hadn’t said it sooner, really.

“No!” Harry replied quickly. “I can’t leave, not when I’ve just found them!”

Snape made a sound between vexation and annoyance, hardly believing that he was considering allowing the brat to stay for a while. He glanced over at Teddy and Remus, seeing Lupin looking between him and Potter, and Teddy who still had his face buried in his father’s shirt. The boy was more than likely still scared out of his wits. Fred was seemingly ignoring all of them, loading things into the cold box.

“No, this is unacceptable. You have disrupted me and my house enough for one day.”

“Please, Snape-” Harry protested.

Severus let out a dark chuckle. “You seriously need to reconsider your tactics. Normally, a person starts with that and works their way forward to destroying property when they aren’t getting what they want.”

Harry at least had enough sense to look a little embarrassed by that, now that some of the adrenaline was gone. “I came as soon as I found out where you had them, I can’t say I stopped to really plan much of anything.”

Just as Severus knew it was. He seemingly ignored Harry’s statement. “I’m going upstairs to get Teddy into some clean clothes. By the time I’m back down here, I don’t want to see you in my kitchen. Understood?”

Harry looked deflated, his posture failing rather spectacularly.

Severus didn’t wait for a reply before turning his back on his former student. “Fred, if you’d be so kind to make sure our esteemed guest here doesn’t try collapse another section of my house on his way out.”

“Of course sir, Fred will be taking care of it.” Fred looked at Harry with narrowed eyes.

Severus strode back to where Remus was seated, holding his arms out to Teddy. “A drying charm is no substitute for a change of clothes,” he said to the boy softly.

Teddy held onto his father. “…But, sir,” he said plaintively.

“He’s scared you’re going to hurt him, you bastard,” Harry raised his voice, wand in hand instantly.

Severus withdrew his hands, thinking that perhaps he shouldn’t have said what he had to Potter about making the Lupins suffer for what he had done. Though if Potter was concerned that he was already mistreating them, how did he think he would react to this kind of debacle? The young man had destroyed a small section of his house to get to his slaves; if he had wanted to make someone pay, there was nothing he couldn’t do to the Lupins. Potter never had been the type to think of his consequences before he was facing them.

“Is that it, Teddy?” he asked, actually unsure what the boy would say. “Are you afraid that I’m going to harm you?”

Teddy was silent for a second, his bottom lip trembling as he looked between Harry and Severus. “Please, sir,” he implored. “Please don’t leave my daddy alone with him.”

Snape raised an eyebrow. Harry looked like someone had just punched him in the gut.

“He will not be alone; Fred will be here, he will keep him safe. I don’t believe Potter would hurt your father, in any case,” Severus explained to the child.

“I wouldn’t!” Harry cried. Teddy recoiled at the raised voice and the wand.

Severus didn’t even look over at him, much less dignify his outburst with a verbal response. He held his arms out to Teddy. “How about we go get you changed? I promise you, your father will be perfectly alright while we are gone.”

“You promise?” Teddy asked, voice quavering only a little.

“I do,” Snape said solemnly, then he smirked. “Fred will take care of him, if anything happens.” Fred was a wonderful elf and a great companion, but Severus certainly wouldn’t want to be on his bad side.

Teddy gave him a watery smile, finally holding out his arms. As Severus took him, hoisting him so he sat on one hip, Lupin’s arms held onto him longer than necessary.

“He will be fine, Lupin,” Severus said.

“’Yes, sir,” Remus agreed, eyes on his boy.

Severus walked from the room, Teddy in his arms, without even looking back at Harry. He went up the stairs, the child held close to him, stopping only once he was in the boy’s room, closing the door behind them.

Teddy had gripped him tightly the entire way, his damp face buried in the shoulder of Snape’s good arm. The other side of his body he ignored completely, able to move past the pain almost effortlessly; this was nothing compared to the trials he had endured. He set the boy down on the edge of the bed and went to the wardrobe, pulling a clean set of pants and trousers from inside of it.

“Who was that, sir?” Teddy asked as Snape turned around to face him. The boy still looked shaken, his small face pinched in worry.

How to answer that question? “That was Harry Potter,” he said, as it was the most obvious reply.

“How does he know my daddy?”

Unbelievably, an even more loaded question. He sat on the bed beside the boy. “His father and your father were…” utter assholes, “very close for most of their lives. Your father also taught Potter briefly at Hogwarts.” Severus almost left this part out, “He was chosen by your parents to be your godfather.”

“What’s that, sir?” Teddy asked in a concerned voice.

“A godfather? A godfather is someone who is chosen to be… special in the life of a child. They are to watch out for and protect that child, and in some instances even raise them, if the parents are unable to do so.”

Teddy made a face. “He isn’t a very good one then.”

Under normal circumstances, Severus would perhaps allow the boy these thoughts, just for the sake of stirring the pot and getting under Potter’s skin. However, circumstances were anything but normal these days and Teddy needed everyone he could get on his side.

“He has had little opportunity to be. Don’t judge him based solely on what you have seen today. He believed me to be treating you and your father badly and I think he had it in his head that he was going to come and rescue you from me.”

Teddy’s eyes bugged almost out of his head. “You’re not sending me away with him, are you?”

“Not even a chance.”

“Why did he use his magic to try and hurt us?”

“I’m not certain, but I don’t think he did that on purpose. Sometimes it is difficult for someone with a strong magical core to control that energy. Especially if they are very angry and are holding their wands out like they mean to use them.” Potter was a fool; this wasn’t news to him, he’d been watching the boy do things just as reckless and more since he was eleven.

“But it was going to hit me. And you jumped in the way!” This was clearly a point of distress for the boy, whose hands reached out and grasped his forearm.

“I would not allow him to harm you. My job in our bonding is more than just to teach you and provide for you. I am also responsible for your safety and wellbeing. If it is in my power, I will always protect you because you are in my care.”

“You think the bond wants you to protect me?” Teddy tilted his head, trying to understand.

“Under any circumstances. Your father essentially agreed to make me your legal guardian. I take that to mean that as well as being responsible for your education, I am responsible for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.”

“That means you won’t let someone else hurt me?” Teddy asked.

“That means that I won’t let anyone hurt you,” Severus corrected him.

“Oh,” Teddy said. “But it hurt you, look, sir, you’re bleeding,” the boy pointed out.

“I will see to it later. What that burst of magic would have done to you full force is nothing compared to the fraction of it that hit my shoulder. I would do it again in a second.”

Teddy gulped. “Thank you, sir.”

“I’ll wait outside while you get changed. Open the door when you are done and we can go see what your father makes of all this,” Severus said, handing the folded clothes over to Teddy.

“Okay, sir,” Teddy agreed, taking the garments.

Severus walked from the room, closed the door most of the way and stood a few steps down the hall. Only a few minutes later, the door swung open and Teddy came out, peeking into the hallway before seeing him and slowly coming over to his side.

“I’m ready, sir.”

“Let’s head downstairs and see your father then.”

“Okay.”

Severus led the way down the stairs and to the kitchen, backpedaling as he rounded the corner, holding his arm out so Teddy would stop as well. The pointer finger of one hand he held up over his lips so the boy knew to be quiet.

“I’m so sorry, Remus; I never meant for any of this to happen, we were supposed to find you!” Harry’s trembling voice was heard.

“No one thinks any of this is your fault,” Remus soothed.

“But look at you - look at your feet!” Potter emphasized.

“M-Macnair did that; our new master has worked to heal them, Harry. He’s been very good to Teddy,” Remus sounded a little defensive.

“Please don’t call him that,” Harry implored.

“It’s what he is, my not showing him the proper respect isn’t going to change that.”

“He doesn’t deserve your respect, Remus, not like that. Do you have any idea of the things he’s done?”

Remus paused. “He’s told me some of it, though I don’t imagine he’s told me everything, that’s for certain.”

“I can’t let him hurt you! He’s probably been waiting his whole life for something like this to come along. I read some of the specifics of your bond, and Merlin, the ways he is going to humiliate you… I can’t take it, Remus,” Potter sounded on the verge of hysterics.

“Harry, I think you need to relax. Neither Teddy nor I have been mistreated since we’ve been here. I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you, though. No matter how it is you chose to arrive.” Remus was incredulous that Harry was right in front of him.

“I thought you were dead,” Harry very nearly sobbed.

“I can’t imagine what that would have been like, Harry. But here we are, alive and well. Please don’t judge our master just yet; you don’t know him at all and I’m beginning to think that I don’t either.”

“I know all I need to know about him. He may have helped us win the war, but that doesn’t mean I have to trust him.”

“At least I don’t have to be afraid that he is going to sleep with my son. He’s been so good to my boy that he can almost do what he wants with me and I won’t complain,” Remus said emphatically.

“I will complain, Remus, loudly. You aren’t anyone’s whipping boy, and you deserve more out of life than living as Snape’s dirty sock.”

Remus was silent.

Severus, taken aback by Potter’s harsh choice of words, took the opportunity to step into the kitchen, Teddy following closely behind him, oblivious, or so he hoped. He looked at Harry with disdain, seeing Fred standing near the mangled stove giving Potter an almost identical expression.

“I think you have overstayed your welcome, Potter.” He wondered briefly if Remus was feeling the same thing, as he was sitting there with an unreadable expression on his face.

Harry looked up at Snape from where he was crouched at Remus’ side, tears still shining in his furious green eyes. “Please, Harry, go,” Remus asked.

Harry stood and backed away slowly, stumbling over a piece of rubble from the destroyed wall. He looked incredibly lost for someone who had come in with such intensity, turning around and slowly walking out the hole in the back wall, shoulders slumped.

“Oh, and Potter?” Severus called after him.

Harry paused but didn’t bother to turn around, as disheartened as he was.

“Come back tomorrow; bring some tact and common sense with you this time. I have a front door you can knock on rather than knock down, if you’d like to give that a try,” he laid the sarcasm on heavy. At least this way it looked like he was the one in control of Potter coming over to his house, although really, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to get rid of the little sot no matter what he did, not with Remus and Teddy here.

“Yes, sir,” Harry responded, giving Snape the respect he had never shown him when he was his student before walking away. The distant sound of his apparition was heard.

Chapter Text

Severus stood still in the middle of his decimated kitchen and rubbed his hands over his face. “Well that was unexpected,” he said at length. Though in reality, it was not unexpected at all, he only hadn’t anticipated it happening so soon. He’d known Potter would show up eventually, but the fashion and time of his arrival had definitely not been foreseen.

“Thank you for telling him he could come back,” Remus said. “Though I’m not entirely sure why you would do that, sir.” Just laying eyes on Harry had felt wonderful, but the thought of Severus willingly enduring his presence made him quite confused.

“He would have returned anyway, now at least he’ll think it was my idea.”

Remus laughed uneasily. “I’m very sorry about your kitchen,” he said. “I’m rather surprised you didn’t blast Harry into next Tuesday, sir.” The Snape he’d known while they’d both taught at Hogwarts wouldn’t have hesitated to roast Harry for his entrance, literally.

“I very nearly did,” Severus agreed, sneaking a look at Teddy, who was sitting back at his place at the table watching them. “It would have achieved nothing. He thought that he was coming here to save you and was rather deflated when he found you were in little need of it presently.”

“Yes,” Remus blushed. “He seemed to think a great many things.”

“Indeed,” Severus said, not exactly sure what he had missed while he was upstairs. Potter’s views had been made clear enough, however, for him to easily extrapolate that this was not a conversation to be had in front of Teddy.

Remus looked at Teddy. “Harry asked me if I would tell you that he was very sorry for frightening you like that. He really didn’t mean to do it.”

“Sir said he was my godfather,” Teddy said, basically asking for an explanation.

Remus clearly wasn’t expecting that. “Did he? What else did he tell you?”

“That a godfather is supposed to be special and to look after a child. I didn’t think he was a very good one, if that was what they were supposed to do, but sir thinks I should give him a chance.”

Severus could have cursed, but he kept his composure. He would rather no one had known that he’d done his part in keeping Teddy’s heart open to someone he himself detested so strongly. It would completely ruin his reputation.

Remus looked at him briefly. “He did, did he? Well I think he’s right on this one. Harry has a good heart and he loved you so much when you were a baby, we were barely able to get him to put you down.”

“Really?” Teddy asked.

“Really. A lot of people love you, kid,” Remus smiled fondly at his son. “You just might not know them all.”

Teddy smiled into his hand. Severus stood back silently and allowed them to have their moment together. He surveyed the damage to the exterior wall, finding it not quite as terrible as he had originally thought. While it looked rather serious, the destruction would be easily fixed, or at least most of it would. The door would need to be replaced, but other than that it was reparable.

“Will he really come back tomorrow?” Teddy seemed torn between nervousness and anticipation.

“Yes, I think he will,” Remus said. “Hopefully things aren’t as eventful next time.” He turned to Severus, “What are you going to do about your kitchen, sir?”

Broken glass was everywhere in the porch and into the kitchen, the back door and frame - both solid hardwood - had been blown clear out of the exterior wall and into the interior wall opposite it. There was little hope in salvaging either the frame or the door.

“I’m going to start by getting rid of some of these glass shards; nobody panic, but I am about to use my wand,” he said, keeping an eye on Teddy as he did so. Giving the boy a moment to absorb what he’d said, he slowly brought his wand out of the folds of his robe, waiting a minute before actually doing anything with it.

He banished the splinters of wood and pieces of glass that were scattered about the kitchen and entryway, not really wanting to look at them any longer. He did his best to clean up the wall where his new exterior door would go, manually hauling the broken one into the back yard just to vent some of his frustration. Seven years of school and even after graduation Potter was still managing to blow things up and leaving him to clean the mess.

Severus took stock of his interior wall, glad that nothing of value was stored in his back entryway. The wall was caved in, plaster crumbled to dust in some places. This was an easy enough fix for him, as he had done quite a lot of the updating to his home himself and was familiar with many spells of construction and repair. A few quickly muttered charms and it was good as new, the plaster popping back out and all of the cracks sealing themselves.

“For now, I am going to erect a barrier ward, it will keep the temperature in the house constant as well as keep out any moisture or unwanted pests, unless Potter wants to drop by again, of course,” Severus added dryly, beginning the incantation.

Teddy watched him mutely from across the room, death grip on his dragon.

Severus slowly spun the ward, feeling its steely strength manifesting as he coaxed it into all of the cracks and crevices in the space where his door used to be. Wards had always been a favorite of his; the magic was so resolute, so controlled, as long as one knew what they were doing. A tangle of glowing threads slowly unraveled themselves in the doorway to form a lightly gleaming grid before disappearing to the eye completely.

He sheathed his wand and turned back to the Lupins, seeing Teddy looking at him raptly.

“What was that, sir?” the boy asked in amazement.

“That was the creation of a basic barrier ward, a prolonged protection charm that will restrict the passage of almost whatever the caster requires. Basically, if you have enough skill and practice, you can stop just about anything from passing through your ward.”

“Cool,” Teddy smiled. “I’ve never seen magic do something like that before.”

“Magic can do some beautiful and amazing things,” Severus agreed. “Wards certainly are something to see when they’re being created. If I remember correctly, your father has quite a knack for them.”

Remus looked startled at the compliment. “Thank you, sir, I always was fascinated by the design and application of wards. A creative enough person can do just about anything with them.”

“That is incredibly true,” Severus said. “I will send word to a carpenter in town, he will be able to replace the door in a few days. I will wait for the morning and send Fred with the message.”

“You can send Fred into town, sir? Do we live near a magical community?” Remus asked.

“Yes and no. For the most part it consists of squibs and muggles who have family in the magical community and choose to live as close to it as they are able. There are few ‘classically’ trained witches and wizards there, such as you and I are. The unique thing is my family has owned land near this community so long that we are almost a part of it, despite our resistance.” Severus gave a ghost of a smile at that comment. “I can trust that the carpenter there will craft me something suitable in a decent length of time.”

“I never knew there was any such community, sir,” Remus said respectfully.

“That is not uncommon. It is a collection of undesirables, for one reason or another. Most of regular society, ‘dirty’ and ‘pure’ blood alike would rather pretend it doesn’t exist, so they do. Really, it’s fitting that this is where I make my home, on the outskirts of even this sort of society,” Severus smirked, though he appeared to take no pleasure in the action.

“Well it sounds wonderful to me, sir. I wish I had known of such a place before… well, everything,” Remus ended lamely.

“Everything sounds good in theory,” Severus said. “They’re as bigoted here as most other places, in their own way.”

Remus wasn’t sure what exactly to make of that last statement, so he kept quiet about it. No need to go instigating arguments he’d rather not be taking part in in the first place.

“Would you like to continue with what I was attempting to show you before your godfather came bursting through my wall?” Severus noted idly that he hadn’t even looked after the stove. That would need to be done well before supper or Fred would have his hide.

“Okay,” Teddy giggled. The look his father gave him said that that was a completely inappropriate response to a question asked directly to him by his master. His master, on the other hand didn’t seem to take any notice.

“Alright,” Severus said. “How about you look at that book that I brought you, see what you make of it.”

“Yes, sir,” Teddy answered. He reached for the thick-paged hard covered book that Severus had brought down with him before Harry Potter had arrived. There were a couple of other books as well, but somehow, he knew this was the one his master was talking about. He picked it up in his small hands. As he opened the blank cover his face showed immediate delight at what he found inside.

“Place your finger on the large shape in the corner,” Severus said, looking with more interest on the boy than on the door, since his ward was successfully cast. “That is the letter, the rest of the pictures on the page are common words that begin with that letter. When you touch the letter with your pointer finger the magic in the book will say the words on the page for you, lighting up in blue the sounds that are being made by each slowly pronounced word.”

Teddy nodded, seeming to understand what Severus was saying. He took his index finger and placed its pad across the boldly embellished ‘A’ that was written and framed in the corner of the first page. A melodic voice intoned, “Apple”, “And”, “All”, “After”… Teddy watched the blue light as if sounded out every word on the page for him.

“On the last page is the entire alphabet, if you touch the first letter the book will sing it to you.”

“You mean my ABC’s, sir?” Teddy asked.

“Yes, I do; do you know them already?” Severus inquired.

“Most of them,” Teddy said uncertainly.

“This will refresh your memory then. It is also one of the first steps we will take to help you learn to read.” Severus wasn’t surprised the boy didn’t know, he couldn’t image Walden singing the alphabet for anyone.

Teddy’s face brightened. “That would be great, sir!”

“I’m glad you think so; if you like, you can continue to look through the book. When you’re familiar enough with it, I will show you how to make it go over the next step. You and I will practice also, but I think you would have more fun looking through it at your own pace for a while.”

“Okay,” Teddy said cheerfully.

“How about you go sit on the couch in the living room and flip through it? Your father and I will be right in here.”

“Sounds good, sir,” Teddy smiled, hopping off his chair and folding the book so it was tucked under his arm. He beamed at his father on the way past. Through the doorway Severus could see him climb on the couch and reopen his book.

Severus sat down at the table with a ‘thunk’; he rubbed at his eyes as if he couldn’t believe what he’d seen this morning.

“Sir?”

“Yes, Lupin?”

“How did Harry manage to get onto your property, sir?” Remus asked.

“I imagine with a lot of work. I felt someone scratching away at my wards earlier this morning. There was only one magical signature, so there wasn’t much reason to worry. If he had fired a spell at one of us, the wards would have made him regret it.”

“You knew he was coming?”

“I knew someone was coming, though I had little idea it would be Potter. Not yet, at any rate; my property is notoriously difficult to find, I didn’t expect him for quite a while. Once it came to his attention that you and Teddy were alive and in my clutches, I’m sure he made it his personal mission to track you down.”

“Yes, he seemed to have a startlingly accurate idea of what my bonding entailed,” Remus looked rather ill as he said it.

“Well, not that this will make you feel any better, but I suspect that it is on record somewhere at the Ministry. And, knowing Potter and the rest of his troupe, there was much research done on the bonding and how to free you from it.”

“But I can’t be freed from it, surely Harry knows that,” Remus added.

“No, more than likely you can’t, and I’m certain he does. Being an Auror, he will be up to date on the current laws.”

“So what does Harry hope to accomplish, then?” Remus asked, puzzled.

“Potter’s logic has always been mystifying to me,” Snape said. “I would assume, in this instance, that he hopes to visit you and your son, at the very least.”

“He knows he can’t do that any time he wants sir. We belong to you, we can’t just sit down to tea whenever Harry decides to drop by!”

Severus failed to see why not. “You think I would not permit you to see him? I as good as invited him over for that tea you just mentioned. Or what did you think my true purpose in instructing him to return was?”

“I don’t know, sir,” Remus replied quietly. “Perhaps to show him, in some way, how far your control extends over us.”

Snape fought the urge to roll his eyes, giving a snort of laughter. “Yes, that’s it exactly, Lupin. I’m going to play nursemaid and babysitter while we’re all here by ourselves, but the moment we have an audience I’m going to don my torturer’s face and put on a right good show!”

“I didn’t mean it like that, sir,” Lupin sighed. “It’s just that he couldn’t come back without your permission, not repeatedly. This is your land, your house, he would be coming to see your possessions - a person can’t just do that without permission.”

“He seemed to do it well enough this morning,” Severus argued halfheartedly. “However, I believe that I understand where you are coming from - it isn’t the fact that I allowed him to return, but the fact that my permission was needed.”

Remus looked down at his hands.

“I really do understand,” Severus repeated quietly. “I am by no means belittling what you have gone through, or what you have yet to go through. But on some level at least, I know what that repression is like.” It was more than unfortunate that he would have to become the oppressor, something he had worked for many years to escape.

“Sir, we’re talking about one of my dearest friends coming for a visit; I don’t think I am in any position to be bemoaning my current circumstances by any means,” Remus was desperate for Severus to understand that he wasn’t trying to say he wanted more, this was far past what he could have hoped already.

“I didn’t mean to imply that you were doing anything of the kind.” The opposite, in fact. Lupin had been almost too gracious for the little he’d done for the man so far. “And if you were, that would be more than understandable as well. Just know that I will not disallow your closeness to people who are in a position to help you. Your son, especially will need all of the assistance he can get.”

“Teddy?”

“You have other offspring? Of course, Teddy; if he is ever to gain his status as a free individual, having people like the almighty Harry Potter in his corner will be nothing but beneficial to him and to that end result.”

“Seriously, sir? That is why you’re going to allow him to come back?”

“Among other reasons. You don’t think I’d make you stay here forever with only me for company? Now that would be cruel,” Severus said. He was jesting, trying to lighten the conversation, a technique he’d never fully mastered.

“I could think of worse fates, sir,” Remus smiled.

“I’m sure you could, but who has that kind of time?”

“You’re too hard on yourself, sir,” Remus said, hoping he wasn’t overstepping some kind of line.

“Oh, I very much doubt that,” Severus argued.

Remus shook his head. “Whatever you say, sir. Are you going to see to your shoulder? That looked like quite a hit you took.” Remus grimaced, “Thank you for protecting my son.”

“I’ll look at it right away, I’m sure it’s fine.” He could tell it was nowhere near fine, a cursory glance at it earlier had told him that some of the fabric of his robe had been burned into his skin and he would need to scour it to get it clean.

Remus made a face. “It doesn’t look that great, sir, if you don’t mind my saying.”

“I don’t mind, though forgive me if I completely ignore you for the moment.” Severus stood and went to crouch beside the stove. “I assume that Fred went back out to the garden so he didn’t have to look at the ruin of his kitchen?”

“I didn’t see where he went, sir,” Remus admitted.

“It’s what he usually does when he’s frustrated or upset,” Severus informed him. He peered at the stove, bringing his wand out and repairing its glass window carefully. “Hopefully my fixing the kitchen a little will soothe his nerves.”

Snape continued to repair all of the damage on the exterior of the oven before pulling it open and closing it, checking the hinges and the interior. Apparently finding it decent, he stood and collected the remaining bag that Fred hadn’t put away yesterday. It contained a stack of thick, colourful paper, some scissors and glue. These he set aside on the table for later.

“Thinking of doing some crafting, sir?” Remus asked, amused.

“Teddy will need to work on his hand eye coordination and his fine motor skills. Crafts are a fun, creative way of doing just that.”

“For someone who only taught eleven and up, you seem to know a surprising amount about early childhood education,” Remus said.

“I had the opportunity to instruct my godson from a young age. Draco and I have done everything from cutting circles out of paper to brewing the Dreamless Sleep,” Severus informed him, although he was altogether unsure why he was doing so. Probably because he was proud of the little sot.

Remus could clearly see Snape’s affection for the young man, it was written all over his face, plain as day. “How is Draco?” Remus hoped it wasn’t too loaded of a question.

“Draco is still young, though he has grown up remarkably since the war. He was visiting family in Paris, last I heard. Lucius has an aunt who lives there; Draco and she always got along well. I believe he’s been summering there, doing little else but tasting wine and sleeping around, I’ll bet. Merlin knows why I taught him anything, it’s not like he’s inclined to use any of it.”

“Well, what with the first two decades of his life, I should hope that’s all he’s doing, sir. I suppose he never got to be young and carefree any more than Harry did, what with his family being so embroiled in the war.”

“I suppose not. Still, I hope to see him make something of himself yet. His father’s fortune won’t always be there for him to depend on. They used up a vast percentage of it to escape the trials whole and without being sentenced to prison.” Severus was aghast. It was almost as if he and Remus were having an actual conversation. Remus wasn’t stumbling over everything he said out of fear he was going to offend him, he wondered how long it would last before the man noticed he was doing it.

“Only time will tell, sir.” Remus was thinking that Severus seemed to reminisce about his godson the way a father would his own child. “Are he and his father still very close?”

“As much as they ever were. Lucius is so busy trying to rebuild his empire that I think he has time for little else.” In other words, nothing had really changed for the father and son.

“At least he has you, sir,” Remus said optimistically.

How Lupin managed to make that sound like such a good thing was beyond him. “Yes, I suppose he does. I imagine I’ll see him again in the fall, but I do exchange regular post with the boy. Someone needs to make sure he’s staying out of trouble.”

Remus chuckled. “Good luck with that one, sir.”

“Indeed,” Severus allowed his lips to quirk. “It’s usually a losing game when one plays with the Malfoys, in my experience anyway.”

“In most people’s experiences, I would think, sir.”

Snape harrumphed. Yes, that was probably more accurate. “No matter, they do what they will when they’re that age.”

“I hope so, sir,” Remus said wistfully.

The expression on Snape’s face changed imperceptibly. “I will not impede your son from living his life to the fullest even if we can’t get around the bonding, Remus. I would find no joy at all in doing that.”

Remus nodded slowly, not sure what to say in return for that that wouldn’t get him into trouble.

 “I suppose I should look at this confounded thing,” Severus scowled, gesturing with his good arm at his wounded shoulder.

“Bring me with you, sir?” Remus asked.

Severus looked at him with one eyebrow raised. “Want to see me bleed do you?” he asked with a sneer.

“Not at all, sir!” Remus protested. “I could be there for a second set of hands if you needed them?”

“Indeed."

“What? As long as you don’t need a second set of feet, I should be able to assist,” Remus grinned.

Snape shook his head in disbelief. “Alright, you win just based on the sheer absurdity of your last comment.” He stood and levitated Remus’ chair, making it move before him through the living room.

“We’re heading upstairs for a moment Teddy,” Severus said.

The boy barely looked up from his book.

“Teddy?” Severus tried again, only louder.

The boy’s head snapped up. “Yes, sir?”

“Your father and I are heading upstairs for a moment. You’ll be okay where you are?”

“Oh yes, sir!” Teddy said with enthusiasm.

“If you need anything, come right up and get us. I’ll leave my door open, okay?” Severus asked.

“Mmhmm,” Teddy agreed, already reabsorbed in his book.

Severus smirked and continued upstairs, at least the boy seemed to take an interest in learning. That would be a novel experience after decades of Hogwarts students sleeping through his classes.

He took them into his room, already having most, if not all of the supplies he would need in there. He set Remus’ chair down by the small table and drew the blind open.

Severus set out three small bottles on the desk that was against the wall nearest Remus. He retrieved a swath of medicated bandages and a couple scouring pads from his medical kit. Carefully, he removed his tattered robe and shirt, barely wincing when he tore some of the material that had been burned into his flesh away. He threw his discarded clothing onto the floor, as it had been magically burnt and wouldn’t likely be salvageable. He went over to sit at the chair in front of the desk, taking his bottle of whiskey and a nearly clean glass along with him.

There was a small mirror on a stand that was angled down to face the desk, this he righted so it was aimed at his wounded shoulder. He poured two fingers of liquor into the glass and knocked it back quickly, pouring about the same amount back into the glass again and re-corking the bottle. He cleansed his hands and forearms the same way he did before touching any of Remus’ wounds, taking the scouring pad in one hand and casting the same charm over it.

Remus watched in appalled fascination as Severus firmly gripped the edge of the desk with the hand of his burned arm and brought the scouring pad up to the injury with his good one. Lupin had seen the material that had seemed almost seared into his skin; surely, he couldn’t mean to just scrub it out with that coarse pad? He hadn’t even taken an analgesic potion.

Severus set his teeth and applied firm, even strokes with the scouring pad across his injury. He knew this was the only way, it couldn’t be allowed to heal with those fibers in there, not without welcoming a severe infection at any rate. He continued, running back and forth across a small portion of the affected area. Magic had a funny way of doing things; it had burnt through his clothing and skin and then managed to cauterize a large portion of that exact same wound that he would now have to reopen and disinfect.

Remus sat there, rigid as a board. Severus had never treated any of his injuries in such a fashion. Snape continued on, staring into that little mirror and scrubbing at his shoulder until blood began to trickle down his chest. “Sir?” Remus finally asked.

“Yes?” Snape said, not a waver in his voice.

“Isn’t that incredibly painful?”

Severus made a noncommittal sound and set the pad down, he then knocked back his drink and poured himself another. He saw the way Remus was looking at him and gave pause. “Most analgesic potions have little effect on me since my… debacle with that pain reliever of my own creation, if you’re wonder why I’m drinking.”

“It isn’t my place to question you, sir,” Remus said.

“It is when I’m supposed to be responsible for the well-being of your son.” Severus sterilized his hands and arms again, as well as the new scrubby pad. He didn’t hesitate, just started reefing away at his tender looking skin, trying to get out all of the fibers.

Remus watched with horrified interest. Severus’ face barely even twitched as he scrubbed away layer after layer of charred flesh without mercy. He continued on up his shoulder and to the point where the burn ended just where his back began.

“Did you have to do something similar to my burns when I arrived here? I’m sure all kinds of things healed into those,” Lupin found himself asking, though he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer.

“Fred cleared your wounds, and though I’m positive he did a majority of them magically, I’m almost certain that he needed to do at least the edges of them by hand. You were unconscious for the procedure, which would be why you don’t remember it.”

“By the looks of things, I’m glad that I don’t, sir,” Remus said weakly.

“Your injuries covered far more of your body and had had a long time to heal over whatever contaminants they were exposed to. Even if somehow you would have gained consciousness, Fred or I would have put you under again until the procedure was completed.” Severus set the scourer aside and reached for one of the potion bottles, uncorking it and dousing the exposed area with it.

The potion bubbled and fizzed over the area, which reddened even more if possible. The foam that appeared was tainted ruby from the free-flowing blood. Remus wasn’t sure if he was imagining it, but he thought he might be hearing the bubbles pop from where he was sitting. Severus was watching the potion do its job impassively in the mirror, barely even frowning.

Remus tried not to think about what would have happened if that magical overload had hit his son; the awful sounds of distress he would be making if he sat there with those burns across his torso instead of Severus’.

Snape looked over at him. “What?” The werewolf looked positively grey.

“It’s nothing, sir. I just can’t thank you enough for not letting that burst hit Teddy. He definitely wouldn’t be taking this as well as you are.”

“He is a child, Lupin. It’s not common practice to treat their injuries in the way I’m treating mine - their threshold for pain is much lower than most adults,” Severus felt like Lupin must know that.

Remus wondered what Severus’ threshold for pain was. Severus was dabbing at the bubbles with a clean square of linen, watching his movements in the mirror. This he set aside, taking a new square and dabbing some of the contents of the other bottle of potion onto it. He applied this sparingly and reached for the swath of bandages.

“Let me help you with that, sir, it’s why you brought me up here isn’t it?” Remus asked.

Severus thought it best not to say that he had brought Remus upstairs because he had asked and for no other reason. He was more than experienced in tending his own maladies. He turned to look at the other man, seeing nothing but hopefulness on his face.

Was he really about to let Lupin assist him? It would not be something he had done often or willingly for most of his life. Poppy had been the only one, and he hadn’t gone to her with half of the things that needed tending to, either as a teenager and as an adult. The longer he waited before replying, the more than hopeful expression waivered on Lupin’s face. Here was a man who was so dependent on him that he couldn’t even move around the house without his aid, and he himself was afraid to give up control in the form of something as small as someone bandaging a wound for him. He drank his third measure of whisky.

“Roll up your sleeves a little; I’ll sterilize your hands for you,” Severus said at length.

Remus let out a breath he’d been holding in. He thought for a moment there that he had been too forceful in the way he’d spoken to his master. He did his best to pull the loose sleeves of his shirt up in such a way that they would stay above his elbows. When he was done, he held out his hands.

Severus cast the disinfecting charm. He poured another portion of the potion onto a clean section of linen and handed it and the roll of bandages to Lupin. He would need to make his blistered shoulder more accessible to the other man. Deciding it would be the easiest way and would prevent eye contact, he tossed a pillow on the floor for height and sat down in front of Remus with his back to him.

Remus supposed that this was better than Severus kneeling before him, but not by much. He put any misgivings about their roles aside, wanting to do the best he was able. This would be the first time since his arrival that his master would be allowing him to do anything for him, he was finally able to help Severus and not the other way around. The good news was he couldn’t possibly care for the magical wound any more harshly than Severus had already been treating it.

He took the potion dampened cloth, reaching over Snape’s shoulder to set it carefully on the damaged part of his body, dabbing the ointment tenderly over the area. He took his free hand and pulled lightly on Severus’ other shoulder, directing him back a little so he would have easier access.

Snape allowed Remus to lead him, following his direction without resistance. He thought to himself how this was among the first times that Remus had touched him purposefully. The touch was outside what he had originally intended to do, which was to see to the wound; it had not been strictly necessary, Remus could have verbally asked him to lean back just as easily. He wondered if Lupin realized he hadn’t even asked for permission. In either case, Remus was making him feel like he was an intricate design made from spindly spun glass, the other man was being so painfully careful that Severus would have chuckled in any other circumstances. As things were, he kept quiet, waiting to see what the werewolf would do if he was given space and wasn’t spooked.

Lupin continued to lean over Severus, looking intently on the injury to make sure that he hadn’t missed a spot. Going over one of the worst places a second time just to be thorough, he set the cloth aside, finding himself satisfied. He unraveled a small section of the bandage.

“I know it probably smarts, but would you please lift your arm, sir?” Remus asked meekly.

Severus instantly did as he had been asked, wondering halfheartedly if anyone had ever asked him to do anything so nicely before in his life. The ironic part was that Lupin had always been this sickeningly polite, even before the calamity of his bonding to Walden, it was one of his best and most infuriating qualities.

Remus carefully began to wrap his arm with the medicated gauze, mindful that it wasn’t pulling while he wound it or that no wrapped section was too tightly bound. When he was finished, he tucked the end cautiously into the rest of the bandages, trying not to jab Severus as best he could. He didn’t register that he had ran his hand over the bandaged area softly when it was complete, before withdrawing all contact.

“There you go sir,” Remus said.

Severus moved his arm around, trying out the motion of the bandaging. Everything seemed to be as it should, outside of the pain nothing was too constrictive. The liquor was working its way through his system, distracting from, but not relieving the feeling; it was better than nothing.

It almost galled him to say it even though the words were sincere, “Thank you, Remus.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“For what?” Severus couldn’t possibly see what Lupin would want to thank him about.

“For letting me help you, even though you could have managed perfectly fine without me, sir,” Remus said, a smile in his voice.

“Yes, well…” Severus wasn’t sure what he should say back to that. He stood up instead, ignoring his twinging knee. He walked to the wardrobe and selected a new shirt, shaking it out and donning it slowly. He repeated a similar process at the closet, replacing his shredded outer robe for a new one that was completely whole.

Remus watched Severus do up his clean shirt, every button in its eye covering a pale expanse of skin. He put a robe on when he was done with the shirt, looking comfortable only when he was ensnared in its voluminous folds.

Severus gave him a wry look. “Since your newly healed hand works so well, perhaps you would be interested in some… how did you put it earlier? ‘Crafting’?” Severus asked.

Remus laughed. “I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do this afternoon,” he said.

“It’s settled then,” Severus said, levitating the chair Remus was in and walking both of them from the room and down the stairs.

Chapter Text

Lunch came and went uneventfully - cold sandwiches and a plate of sliced vegetables. Even though the oven was back to the same state of repair as it had been before Harry hit it with his magical burst, Fred wouldn’t look at it even once. He pondered out loud to himself what he would make for supper, not being able to properly cook. Teddy and Remus stifled their laughter at Severus’ rolling eyes and longsuffering sighs as he endured the passive-aggressive onslaught.

Crafting thoroughly exhausted for the day, they settled down in the living room for a while. Severus pretended to be engrossed in his own book while Remus read stories out loud to Teddy, who sat as close to on top of his father’s lap as he could manage without cutting off circulation to his still healing feet.

Snape barely dared to sneak a peek at the two of them together from where he sat across the room, periodically flipping pages in a tome he wasn’t even reading. They were so animated together, laughing over pictures in the book or at voices Remus used to represent the characters. He couldn’t ever remember being that free with anyone ever in his whole life, yet it seemed to come to these two very naturally, despite the recently difficult years. He wasn’t foolish enough to believe in appearances though; both father and son were changed by their experiences, exactly how much and how permanently was yet to be seen.

When Teddy started getting restless, Severus suggested they step outside for a while. The afternoon sky was overcast with brilliant patches of blue splashed across it, the late afternoon sun peeked cheerily from between those spaces every once in a while before hiding away again. They didn’t go far from the house this time, even though Remus was in much better condition than when they had all gone down to the garden. Off the side of the house was a small patio, its lattices covered in creeping vines. The furniture looked to be from another era but that didn’t seem to concern Severus, who promptly set Remus beside the old table and took a seat as well.

Teddy and his dragon were standing right beside them, and Remus wished his boy didn’t look so nervous. He understood that Teddy was uncertain in large spaces and couldn’t help but notice the way he had a handful of Severus’ robes clutched in his small hand the entire way from the house. Snape had pretended not to notice, but Remus had seen plain as day how short the long-legged man’s strides became as they walked out to the patio; he wasn’t all that sure what to make of it.

Now that they had arrived where they were going, Teddy must have relaxed a little, moving away from them slightly to look around. “This place is neat!” he declared, eying the trellis above their heads.

“I thought you might like it,” Severus said. “We’re outside, but still within a defined space.” The child really did need to get some fresh air and sun.

The boy nodded, looking at his father, “Do you like it out here too, daddy?”

“I do, actually,” Remus agreed. He turned to Severus, “Do you come out here often, sir?”

Severus shrugged. “I spend most of my time in the lab or the garden, I just thought the two of you could use a change of scenery. Occasionally I have a cup of tea out here,” he admitted.

“Tea?” asked a voice from behind them. “Someone is wanting tea?” Fred approached them, tray in hand, which he set down on the table between the two adults. “There is being juice and biscuits to be tiding over the little one until supper.”

“Thank you, Fred,” Severus said, pleasantly surprised.

“It is never being a bad time for tea, sir,” the elf smiled.

“I suppose not. Lupin?” he asked, offering a cup to him.

“Oh yes please, sir.” To tell the truth, Remus was still a little rattled about the events of the morning; a nice hot cup of tea just might be what he needed to calm his nerves.

Fred disappeared back the way he had come as Severus poured the tea and dished Teddy some biscuits.

Remus seemed content to sit and enjoy the sunshine, so Snape sat quietly as well, appreciating a moment of stillness after the trying day. In the short time since the arrival of the Lupins, Severus had had more dialogue than in all of the years since the trials combined. It was almost refreshing to sit in peace. Teddy had eaten his biscuits and drank his beverage, and now was playing with his dragon around the patio, making him fly about and climb the lattice.

The sun was just beginning to set, so Severus collected the tray and led Remus and Teddy back into the house. Fred was getting close to having supper done, so he took Teddy to wash up before sitting down at the table.

Compared to the morning, the evening was blessedly uneventful. Severus engineered it so that Remus and Teddy had a few hours to themselves in Teddy’s room. After the shocking introduction Potter had made, he supposed they had some things to hash out that Remus would be more comfortable discussing without him in earshot.

This allowed him precious time to further his research on the bonding that would be taking place; they had about a week for him to make all of the preparations. He put Teddy’s Wolfsbane back on the burner to heat it to the appropriate temperature, checking Lupin’s potion as he did so. He then settled down in front of his still open books and began to read.

Around the time Teddy usually went to bed, Severus ascended from the lab, a steaming goblet in each of his hands. He toed the door to Teddy’s room open, clearing his throat to alert them of his presence.

Remus turned his head to look at Snape, feeling a distinct mixture of fear and relief at the sight of the two prepared doses of Wolfsbane. Relief that they wouldn’t have to face another transformation without it, but terrified that something would go wrong with his son’s portion. He barely contained a sigh.

“Hello, sir,” Teddy said cheerfully. “What do you have there?”

“I have a dose Wolfsbane potion for both you and your father,” he gave a goblet to Remus, who took it in both hands and drank it as quickly as possible. The disgusted face he made as he handed the empty cup back to Severus was much the same as it had always been. Severus resisted the urge to smile thinly.

“You want me to drink one too?” Teddy asked.

“Yes, I do.”

“And it’s for my transformation,” the boy confirmed.

“Yes, it most certainly is,” Severus replied. Thinking back to his and Remus’ conversation the other day he asked lightly, “Teddy, what do you know about your condition?”

“My condition, sir? You mean being a – werewolf?” the boy whispered the word.

“Yes, what can you tell me about that?”

The boy looked quite perplexed for a few seconds. “I know I have to change into an animal every month, and nobody likes it, not even me. It hurts so badly and I’m so scared because I can feel it coming, for hours even before it really starts because I feel so sick. I don’t remember anything the next day, but I hurt myself sir, because I wake up and sometimes, I’m cut up and I’m always sore everywhere.” Teddy was looking at the floor, fidgeting his feet around nervously.

“You change into – something very close to a wolf; however, it is only temporary. I understand that it is frightening and that it hurts very much. If I could take that away completely, I would. The potion I’m going to give you will help with the pain, both during and after, though I regret to say it will not take the pain away entirely. It will also allow you to remember some of what happens and it will prevent you from hurting yourself without your knowledge,” Severus explained slowly. “Am I correct so far, Lupin?”

“Yes sir, you are,” Remus added faintly.

“What do you know about why this happens to you?” Severus asked. He wasn’t trying to be cruel, but he did need to know what Teddy knew about his lycanthropy. If he asked him too many questions, he may end up leading the boy and not getting the truth.

Teddy paused even longer before answering this time. “I really don’t know, sir. I sometimes think it’s because I’m bad and am being punished. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a slave, all of the slaves I’ve met have been monsters like me.” The boy sounded despondent, looking at the floor when he said it.

Severus didn’t need to glance at Remus to know that he would be writhing in his seat hearing his son speak those words, but he didn’t think the other man would say anything unless he gave him the go ahead. He would give them time to discuss it once he had said his peace.

“Do you know that I have spent a large part of my life on the study and research of lycanthropy?” Severus asked the boy.

“Lyc-” Teddy started to attempt the pronunciation but stopped before he was halfway through. “What is that, sir?”

“Lycanthropy is another term for the condition you and your father both have. Since I have studied it for so long, I know a good deal about it and how it works. I can tell you that in all the uncountable years since people first began to contract it, not one single time was it because that person was not good enough, nor was it because they were bad or because they misbehaved or deserved it. Not once, ever. A person normally contracts lycanthropy because they were bitten by a transformed werewolf. The condition is transferred in their saliva, which gets into the bloodstream through the wound and turns the person being bitten.” He left out the part about that only happening if the individual didn’t die.

“I was bitten, sir? Was I a baby?” Teddy asked, wrinkling his brow and peering closely at him from where he sat on the bed.

You are special,” Severus said immediately. Remus jerked his head up when he did. “You were never bitten, you were born with lycanthropy. You are one of only a few of people to ever be born that way. You are not a monster, but a perfectly normal child with a very unfortunate condition.”

“It doesn’t feel very special,” Teddy said petulantly.

“I imagine not,” Severus agreed, “but it is special all the same. Your parents were very remarkable people who each gave you many things that help make up who you are, don’t ever forget that. You will grow and you will change; you will not be defined by your lycanthropy, because you have so much more to offer.” He couldn’t believe he just said that out loud to the boy, especially in front of Remus, who he was poignantly not looking at.

“You really think so, sir?” Teddy asked.

“I would not have said so if I believed otherwise.”

“Well, everyone I’ve met so far hates me for it, so I don’t know if I believe you.”

Remus drew in a sharp breath at his son’s cheeky words. He shuddered to think what Walden would have done if Teddy had ever spoken like that to him, never mind in that tone of voice. His eyes flickered to Severus, gauging his emotions, or trying to.

Snape gave a huff of laughter at the boy’s lip. “Everyone? Do you believe that I hate you?”

“…No, sir. But you don’t know me very well yet.”

“And you don’t know me very well yet either. That is because we’ve only just met. I can tell you that I very much like the part of you I’ve come to know so far.”

Teddy smiled behind his hand. “I like you too, sir.”

Severus’ eyebrow rose of its own accord. He continued all the same, “Your father was a very popular young man when we were in school together, as well as after, when people knew about his condition. Some individuals may have negative feelings towards you or him because you are lycanthropes - but that is a reflection of them, not of you. If they are so bitter and closed minded as to judge you just because you are different from them, so be it; those will not be the people with which you will choose to surround yourself. Pity them - I know for a fact that the world is a very small, very frightening place for such people.” He would know, as he had been one for a large portion of his life.

Teddy soaked in what he had just said. “I think I understand, sir,” he said.

“It is not something you need to comprehend all at once, it is a way of looking at the world that you create within yourself over time. But you will not need to do it by yourself: your father is here for you if you need anything. So am I,” he added softly.

“Okay sir; thank you,” Teddy said, giving him a watery smile.

“Do you think you’re ready to drink this potion? It will help you, but I have it on good authority that it tastes like Hippogriff pee,” he said derisively. Teddy giggled.

He handed Teddy the cup, sneaking a peek at Remus as he did so. The man had the oddest expression on his face and seemed to have something stuck in his eye, what with the way he was blinking and rubbing at the thing.

Teddy took the cup and peered inside.

“I recommend holding your nose while you drink it,” Remus said, his voice sounding a little off. “It really is awful, but you have to drink it all.”

Teddy hesitated, but put the cup to his lips and drank it back in a few big gulps, his one hand pinching his nose in an attempt to stave off the taste of it. When he was done, he stuck out his tongue and shuddered, handing the goblet back to Snape.

“That was terrible,” the boy said. “But thank you, sir.”

“You’re welcome. You won’t be thanking me by the end of the week though, you and your father will need to drink the same amount of this every night until the full moon.”

“Really?” Teddy seemed fairly horrified at the thought.

“There is no other way,” Remus agreed.

“Okay,” Teddy said resignedly.

“Do you have anything you’d like to ask me about what we just discussed?” Severus asked.

“Not right now, sir,” Teddy said.

“Alright, then I’m going to leave you and your father alone for a while longer. It’s almost bedtime, so you might as well brush your teeth and all that. Remus will read you another chapter in your book and tuck you in. Sound good?”

“Sounds great, sir.”

“Okay, well you have a good sleep. I’ll be in to get you in a while, Lupin.”

“Yes sir,” Remus agreed.

Severus walked from the room, two empty goblets in hand. He took them straight back to the lab, washing them out immediately. The Wolfsbane was notoriously difficult to scrub off anything once it was cold and he never felt certain he got all of the contaminants out otherwise.

He went back up to his own room, opening the long-closed door that led to the ensuite wash room. The tub in there was just as large as the one in the Prefects bath at Hogwarts. It felt gluttonous to him, so he mostly used the shower in the house’s communal wash room. He’d had Fred clean it out of the dust and cobwebs it had been accumulating when he’d discovered the ritual bath recommended in Lupin’s ceremony. They would both fit in there with ease, perhaps even comfortably, without needing to maneuver too terribly in their old age.

Severus thought that perhaps Lupin would take his medicated bath in here; now that he was healed to such a degree, he should be better able to manage the deeper water. Severus decided he would still be there or at least cast the charm to keep the other man’s head above water if he desired privacy, which given the option he most likely would.

He exited the bath, leaving the door open as he went. He sat down at his little table, pouring himself a Scotch and putting his feet up on the ottoman. He would relax until he was sure Teddy was sleeping.

He hoped he hadn’t overstepped his bounds earlier. Remus, who was normally a relatively strong, charismatic person, had been weakened, made completely unsure of himself while he was in Walden’s possession.

Teddy needed someone who could say these things with certainty, not get caught up in their own opinion of the disease or their guilt for causing the young man to have it. He needed to hear straight away that he wasn’t a werewolf because of anything he had done. From what he had seen of the boy, he valued honesty and could easily see through a lie. He would appreciate nothing less than the truth spoken logically, well, for a child at least. He hoped Remus wouldn’t be upset that he had taken such liberty with the conversation. The other man could speak all he wanted to his boy about the subject, he had at least made sure of that.

Finding himself stewing over nothing he could change, Severus refilled his empty glass and checked his clock. He would go retrieve Remus in about twenty minutes, not wanting to intrude on their conversation or on Teddy falling asleep. He drank it slowly, trying not to dwell on the occurrences of the day.

He was actually quite proud of himself for not incinerating Potter where he stood upon his first realization of who the intruder was. The boy had no common sense at all; if he was half the monster he was suspected to be, he would flay the skins off both father and son for the disturbance to his home and his time. Surely Potter had to realize that, if not the boy was more short-sighted than he had ever feared him to be.

Regardless, he had held his anger, done all his sparring verbally. When it all boiled down, he knew that he hadn’t wanted to frighten Teddy more than the poor boy already had been. His heart softened just a little when he thought of that child and there was absolutely no point in denying it to himself. He found that he had no desire to, at any rate.

Finding his glass empty, he stood and took the short walk to Teddy’s room, collecting Remus from where he sat, holding his son’s hand much as he had the other night, almost a position of penitence.

“Lupin,” he said quietly. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, sir,” Remus said brokenly, setting his son’s small hand on the mattress with care.

Severus levitated his chair straight down the hall and into his own room. He set Remus down at his usual spot by the small table. Fred had somehow known to bring tea up in the short period of time since he had gone to retrieve Lupin. There were two steaming cups and a small pot of what smelled like peppermint tea sitting on the table. Snape wasted no time getting one of the cups into his companion’s hands. He took one himself and sat across from the man.

“How are you holding up?” Severus felt obliged to ask.

“I’ll survive, I think,” Remus replied shakily.

Severus took a sip of his tea and set it aside on the table. He stood and went into the now open door to the ensuite bathroom and set the taps to filling the large basin, which he knew from experience would take some time. He set the level and charmed the tub to turn off when it reached that point. Heading back out into his room, he saw Remus looking at him with trepidation, untouched tea in his hands.

“Go ahead and drink it, Lupin. It’s only tea.”

“Yes sir, of course,” Lupin lifted his cup to his lips, taking an obligatory sip.

Severus shook his head, immediately continuing in his original task. He gathered the materials needed to tend to Remus’ feet, as well as new bandages that he sat down and began to enchant with the special waterproofing charm that would protect the other man’s appendages. Remus watched him do all of this almost without moving.

Finally, he asked, “What is in the other room, sir?”

“Pardon me?” Severus replied, looking up from the tea that had returned to his hands.

“The other room; please sir, I need to know,” Lupin said. He sounded more panicked than an open door leading into an unfamiliar space should warrant.

“That is a bathroom adjacent to the master suite, Remus. There isn’t anything more to it than that. I didn’t think it would be good for your first bath to be in there because the tub is so deep. Now that you are healed to the degree you are, it will be more than appropriate for your next medicated soak.” Severus wasn’t sure what the anxious look on the other man’s face meant and he didn’t pry.

“I see, sir,” Remus said at length. “What about you?”

“Me? If I charm the basin so you can’t accidentally drown yourself, I see no reason why you couldn’t be allowed to soak alone and in peace for a while. I would of course assist you in and out of the tub along with the more strenuous activities, such as drying and clothing yourself.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I think you’re misunderstanding me. Your shoulder is in poor condition - perhaps a medicated bath will do you good also,” Remus’ voice came out more feebly than he had intended. What he was proposing just about made the hair on his neck stand up, but he had said it anyway, against his own better judgment.

“What are you suggesting?” Severus asked, having gone quite still.

“I imagine the ensuite bathroom in a place like this is rather large,” Remus suggested.

“It is, that’s why I don’t use it on a regular basis,” Severus seemed more confused than he should have been.

“Never mind, sir,” Remus blushed, feeling like a fool.

“Are you trying to suggest that we… share the bath?”

Remus could almost see Severus processing the information even as he said the words. “Something like that; I’m sorry if I overstepped my bounds, sir, I meant no offence.”

“If you ever actually manage to actually offend me, Remus, there will be no doubt in your mind,” Severus assured him. “Forgive me if I find it difficult to believe you would willingly propose such a thing at this present time, for any reason.”

Remus didn’t know what to say to that. “Nevertheless, sir…”

“Drink your tea. I will prepare the tub and we will see how you feel about all of this when it is ready,” Severus said.

“Yes, sir,” Remus agreed. He couldn’t see how a few minutes and a prepared tub would change his mind. Why he was doing suggesting this in the first place, he hadn’t the slightest.

Severus stood and went into the other room, adding the appropriate number of potions to the water. He would give Remus a minute to think about just exactly what it was he was suggesting, allowing the other man to bow out gracefully.

He returned and knelt before Lupin, unwinding the bandages from his feet and applying the healing cream. Finally, his bad foot was starting to heal, though the other one was still days ahead of it. He hoped that once it began to show progress it would heal more quickly than the other injuries had, but only time would tell. He then replaced the bandages with the ones that would protect the injuries from any contact with the water of the tub, casting a protection charm over them when he was done. He stood, noting that Lupin hadn’t looked at him the entire time he was down there.

He levitated the chair and guided Remus into the bathroom, setting the chair down on the pristine white tile beside the tub. Wordlessly, he helped Lupin out of his clothing, floating him so that he landed carefully in the tub, resting his head on the lip of the basin and casting the spell that would keep him above the water like a buoy so he wouldn’t submerge himself too far, accidentally or otherwise.

The sigh that floated out of Lupin’s lips was one of pure bliss. His eyes were closed and he looked for like a man completely contented.

Leaving him to soak in the hot water for a moment, Severus retreated back into his room. He was trying to grapple with Remus’ reasons for suggesting they share the bath. Certainly, there was more than enough room for the two of them. However, all of Lupin’s actions up to this point cried very loudly that he wasn’t comfortable with touch. Severus had been pushing him, carefully urging them onward at a rate that he himself wasn’t exactly comfortable with.

He decided to go along with it, no matter his personal bewilderment on the matter. There was no question that he would give Remus time to reconsider. Severus perched on the edge of his chair, pouring himself another rather large glass of Scotch. He wasn’t beyond going for a shot of liquid courage now that he was able. He hadn’t dared to drink very often during either war, but now that things were settled, he didn’t mind dipping into the bottle every once in a while.

Severus took a long drink, collecting his thoughts as well as giving Lupin a moment of privacy. He was second guessing himself again, wondering if he was competent enough to take care of Remus’ needs the way he deserved instead of putting his own selfish desires first and trying to justify them second. He knew that he could be gentle with the other man physically; patience in that area wasn’t a problem for him. Being fit emotionally was an entirely different matter. He downed the rest of his drink, a person could only do their best and that was exactly what he was going to attempt to do.

He stood, setting his glass aside and taking off his outer robe and laying it across the back of the chair he had been sitting in. He would need it gone even if Lupin decided he would rather bathe alone. The other man’s hand would still be weak; he would need some assistance with getting out of the water at the very least, he may help him wash his hair as well. He took a deep breath and walked back into the steamy bathroom.

Chapter Text

Remus experienced a confusing blend of relief and anxiety upon seeing Severus appear in the doorway. He’d concluded that his master would leave him to bathe alone regardless of his previous invitation. To share a bed or to use him for sex was one thing, but to marinate in the same water that cleansed his diseased body was something entirely different. He still couldn’t believe he’d suggested it; it was a good thing that Severus wasn’t quick to anger over such oversights or he may have had a problem on his hands. He’d been so concerned over Snape’s reaction that he hadn’t really even been enjoying his bath.

After a moment of hesitation Severus strode into the steam filled room, allowing the door to swing partially shut behind himself, moving closer to the tub. “What?” he snapped at the strange look on Remus’ face, stopping just short of the bathmat.

“It’s nothing, sir. I just thought that you weren’t coming back,” Remus admitted.

Severus wasn’t sure what he meant. “I certainly wouldn’t leave you in there all night,” he said, affronted.

Remus smiled. Severus had managed to completely miss what he was saying, and, on some level, he found it surprisingly endearing. “Of course not, sir,” he agreed.

“You know that there is no reason that we need to do this together, correct?” Severus clarified, undoing the row of tiny buttons on both of his cuffs and rolling them snugly up his forearms.

“I know that, sir, but we’re going to have to do it eventually if a bath really is part of the bonding.” Remus would have stuck his head under the water if he was able, but the charm Snape had placed on him wouldn’t allow it. He had no reason to be inviting this, every reason to take the gift that was offered and have a moment’s reprieve. Yet here he was, basically pushing the issue like some daft bugger.

“Well yes, we are.” Severus looked at Remus perceptively. “Alright, you win. Just let me wash your hair first, that will be easier if we’re not both sloshing around in there.” He had a feeling that this was somehow Remus trying to take control of the situation - you couldn’t be forced into something you invited openly. He decided to go along with it, but he would try to tread carefully.

Remus felt a sudden nervousness that must have appeared on his face, because Severus said, “I’m still taking that potion, remember, so you will have nothing to fear from me again tonight in that regard.”

Remus was beginning to wonder if he had anything to fear from this man at all, no matter the circumstances. That line of thinking could be very dangerous for him if he was misreading things in any way, so he attempted to quell it immediately. His mind was playing enough tricks on him anyway; if he just held on a little longer then perhaps Snape would show his true colours and they could be done with this façade. If life had taught him anything, it was that anything that seemed too good to be true usually was.

Snape removed his shirt and socks, going around to the back of the tub. He rolled the legs of his trousers up to a place just past his knees, moving to sit on the wide ledge that surrounded the tub, making sure that Remus saw what he was doing as he took his seat. Lowering his calves into the water on either side of the other man’s body, he took up the small jug on the ledge beside him, filling it up in the hot water of the tub.

“Ready?” Snape drawled.

“Yes, sir,” Remus said. He didn’t know how he felt about this progression, if it would even happen. In a way, he felt like if he urged things on he would somehow have a bit of choice about what was going on, but he had to admit that was just a lie he was telling himself. Severus would be in control, always, no matter what.

Snape guided Remus’ head back so he was looking at the juncture between the wall and ceiling opposite them and began to pour the water over his hair. When he was sure it was all dampened he set the jug aside and took up the bottle of shampoo, pouring a measure on his hands and soaping them up before bringing the appendages to Lupin’s hair. He took his time, creating a thick layer of suds, dragging his fingers in slow but steady circles around the other man’s skull.

Remus wasn’t sure what to think when Severus’ legs settled into the water, one on each side of him, but he took a deep breath and waited to see how everything would play out. It had only been a few short days, but he had already forgotten how wonderful it felt to have his master’s fingers coursing over his scalp like that. Despite all of his previous concerns he found himself melting back into the medicated water, now thankful he was charmed not to sink. When he was well things would change, because it certainly couldn’t be like this to be the slave of the sadistic and cantankerous Severus Snape, could it? Remus almost felt nervous laughter bubbling out of him at the thought. That couldn’t be it.

Those thoughts vacated his mind as Snape poured another round of warm water over him, cautious to keep the suds out of his eyes and away from his face. He clenched his newly healed hand a few times, deciding that although he could have done this himself, his muscles would have been so sore by the end of it that he was glad it was being done for him. He was still suspicious that Severus seemed to think his old carcass was worth this much time and attention, but he couldn’t deny that it felt fantastic.

Snape rinsed the hair a second and a third time before giving it much the same treatment with a round of conditioner. He rinsed it again and withdrew his dripping legs from the water, turning to place them on the mat by the tub.

“You’re positive about this?” Severus asked when he was standing and facing the tub again.

“Yes sir,” Remus said, wanting to add more, but the words failed him. He left unsaid that he thought Severus would be highly unlikely to give his own injury any further treatment than what he had already done for it. While he was no potions expert or healer, he had noticed a remarkable difference in own his body the day after his last medicated bath. Surely Snape could benefit from that as well. Remus felt like he should be able to step past his own uneasiness in order to allow that for the man who had by all accounts taken a magical blast to the chest in order to save his son.

“Alright,” Snape replied, sounding like he was grudgingly conceding to something that spelled certain and unavoidable doom for all involved. He cast a quick protection spell over his own bandages and unbuttoned the closures on his trousers, allowing them to drop to the floor before retrieving and folding them, setting the clothing aside with his shirt and socks. He set his wand so that he could access it easily from in the bath; this morning had put him on his guard.

Though it had been years since someone had seen him completely devoid of clothing, Severus didn’t hesitate before disrobing himself completely. He took the time to fold his pants and set them aside with the rest of his clothes, turning around to walk the short distance back to the tub. His body was pale, gangly and pitted with scars; he knew exactly what he had to offer and there was no point being ashamed of it at this point in his life. Not when you had endured the humiliation and utter lack of control that he had in his years.

He went closer to the tub. “Move over a little then,” he said without venom.

Remus did what he was told, hoping his jaw wasn’t hanging open. Having not stayed for the ‘grand finale’ that day at the lake when they were teenagers and his friends had made a mockery of the young Slytherin’s body, he had no idea what to expect upon seeing Severus Snape in the nude. He should have seen it coming really, from a tall man with such prominent features, but somehow he hadn’t.

There was no tiptoeing around it: Snape was incredibly well endowed. Here the man was, standing in front of him completely flaccid and he was still larger than most men Remus had seen in his life. He was definitely bigger than Walden, who had done more than enough damage with the size he’d had. Severus wouldn’t have to try to hurt him; in fact Lupin knew that he would have to take quite a bit of care in order not to injure him with a member that size.

He didn’t say anything as Snape stepped into the tub and eased himself into the hot water. The man sat so that he was facing Remus, their backs resting on opposite sides of the bath. When he was in, he let out a content sigh, allowing his own head to rest against the lip of the tub, much in the same way he had placed Remus in there a while ago.

Lifting his head off of the porcelain Severus asked, “Happy?” in a halfheartedly sarcastic voice.

Remus didn’t reply, just gave Snape one of his trademarked agreeable smiles and hoped it would suffice. Now that this was happening, he wondered if he had gone temporarily insane for having suggested it in the first place. He could feel Severus’ nearness and was painfully aware of their nakedness, though both their bodies were mostly obscured by the water.

Snape didn’t wait for a response. He dipped his head under the water briefly before surfacing and wiping the moisture away from his face. Taking a bottle off the ledge he poured a bit into his palm and went through the process of washing his own hair; it hadn’t been that long since his last shower, but he may as well make the most of it since he was in here. He rinsed well and wrung the excess water from his inky hair, rubbing his fingers tiredly against his closed eyes.

“Would you prefer to take your healing potion now or before sleep as usual?” Severus asked.

Remus jumped a little at the question. “I don’t know sir, which would be best?”

“No matter, it will have the same effect if you take it now or in a few hours, so long as you drink another dose tonight.”

Remus’ eyes traveled along the ledge, trying to pick out his healing potion from the long line of bottles and vials that rested there. “I imagine I should take it as soon as possible then, sir; no point in putting it off.” He liked the idea of getting it out of the way and getting a clearer sleep. Also, if he messed up in here somehow, maybe Severus would blame the potion and not him.

Severus selected a bottle near the end of the tub, offering it to Remus. Lupin uncorked it and took his dose, closing the bottle and passing it back.

“Thank you, sir.”

Severus nodded, setting the bottle back in its place. Remus’ leg was resting against his despite the extra space in the bath; he found himself diverting his gaze so he wouldn’t bore holes in the lycanthrope’s head by accident. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

“Sir?”

“Yes, Remus?” he was careful to use Lupin’s first name. He was attempting to use it where he could, especially in situations of greater intimacy, and this definitely fell into that category.

“About what you were saying to Teddy earlier…” Remus trailed off, trying to choose his words carefully. Maybe it was the heat of the bath, but he felt like that potion was doing double duty on loosening his tongue. He wanted to thank his master for his words earlier but didn’t want to bungle it because things didn’t come out correctly.

Severus sighed. “I had a feeling we would be discussing this. I know I more than likely got carried away with what I was saying.”

Remus’ expression closed off immediately. “…How so, sir?” He was suddenly afraid that Snape hadn’t meant a word he’d said earlier and was about to say so.

“I wanted to offer him some information and assurances that sometimes can only be given by someone who is outside of the situation. However, I believe I may have gone too far. You are his father and it didn’t fully occur to me at the time that that was a conversation you would most likely have wanted to play a larger part in. It was not my intention to undermine you as his parent,” Severus said.

“I- that isn’t it at all, sir!” Lupin said hurriedly, barely believing what he was hearing. “I wanted to thank you for what you said. When he told you that he thought he was a werewolf because it was somehow something he deserved– I just locked up. If you hadn’t been levelheaded enough to explain things to him, I don’t know what I would have said. I find it difficult to talk to him about his lycanthropy.” Lupin looked down at his hands, sinking as low into the water as the charm would permit him.

“You have no reason to feel guilty, Remus.”

“No? Because of me my little boy has a painful, physically and socially crippling condition. Not for any other reason, master; because of me. Because of what I am.” He was very grateful Snape hadn’t stressed that when he was talking to Teddy, though he’d had more than the perfect opportunity to.

“There is so much more to it than that,” Severus scoffed. “I imagine that Nymphadora being a Metamorphmagus played almost as large of a part in it as you carrying the condition. The fact that the two of you were able to conceive was remarkable in itself, that she carried the child to term defies almost all probability.” Great idea, Severus, bring up his dead wife while talking about a serious medical condition his son is afflicted with; excellent conversation skills.

“We didn’t stop to think about it, I guess, what with being in the middle of a war. All I ever worried about was that she and Teddy were safe.” Remus hadn’t thought much about that. They had conceived so bloody fast that the idea it was improbable hadn’t really occurred to him.

“In that case, take my word as someone who has spent most of their adult life researching your condition: that Teddy was born and she survived the pregnancy was nothing short of a miracle. He underwent transformations in utero and they both had to endure them without major injury. The fact that she was a Metamorphmagus is most likely the only reason they both survived; I imagine her body was less likely to reject the change and more likely to adapt than the body of a regular Witch would have been able to. The odds were greatly against you. It isn’t a matter of guilt or innocence, it is merely a matter of biology.”

Remus pulled his legs closer to himself, using his arms to navigate himself so that he was able to move his torso around to where his feet had been previously resting. He was effectively sitting in the exact opposite position Snape had set him in the tub in. He found that he was grinning to himself, it was amazing to be able to move, even if it was only in the water. He turned to look at Severus, who was right beside him now.

“You may very well be right, sir, but it doesn’t take that feeling away.”

“It is true whether you choose to believe it or not,” Severus said.

Remus hid a smile, Severus had always been so serious, so black and white, ever since he had first known him at the age of eleven. He set his hand on Snape’s arm, the gesture made more impactful based off of their current state of undress.

“Regardless of all of that, thank you, master. You made my son feel better tonight, and me too, I think.” Remus turned his body towards Severus, reveling again in the fact that he was able to move it around so easily without help. Using his grip on Snape’s arm for purchase he pulled himself closer, leaning against the wall of the tub.

“He needed to hear it; there is no reason he should continue on through life thinking if only he were somehow better that things would be different. There’s no reason you should think that either.”

Remus blinked, moving his arm from Snape’s arm to his pectoral, his whole body pressed up against the stoic man’s side. He felt that what he was doing was wildly inappropriate and something that put him greatly at risk whether or not his master could fuck him at the moment. He knew from the discussions after hours at Order headquarters that the man was capable of heartless atrocities, but at the same time was known to carry out acts of courage and surprising compassion. He moved his hand across Severus’ chest so that his palm was resting on his far shoulder. Severus was still sitting regularly in the tub, whereas he was on his side, almost partway on top of the other man.

Remus didn’t stop to think about it, he moved forward and brushed his lips against his master’s, his other hand finding its way to rest tentatively on his master’s neck. He couldn’t help second guessing himself, pulling back to try and catch a glimpse of Severus’ expression.

Snape looked down at him with his eyebrows raised only a little, no scowl was seen on his face. He impulsively wrapped his arm around Remus’ slim waist and rolled the smaller man on top of himself a little more. Almost at the same time he brought their mouths back together, his fingers sliding low on Lupin’s tailbone.

Remus brought his hands up so one was around his master’s neck and the other was resting at the base of his jaw, his body sliding easily across Snape’s almost without even meaning to, the potion made the water more slick than was normal. He was relieved Severus had reacted in this fashion instead of getting angry at his presumption. When Snape trailed a chain of sloppy kisses from his lips to the underside of his chin, slowly down his neck and ended with a light nibble on his collarbone it nearly undid him. Remus moaned without meaning to, pressing his hardening length lightly into his master’s leg on instinct. He laid a kiss on Severus’ chest, looking up at him with foggy eyes.

Snape met his eyes and his expression changed slightly, set a hand firmly on Remus’ shoulder. “You do not have to use your body as a tool for expressing your gratitude,” the brewer stated, wondering if Remus wasn’t just a little high to be doing these things with completely informed consent.

Remus thought about how his advance must look to the other man and wondered if he wasn’t right. “That isn’t my intent, sir. I just want to please you somehow, in return for how you’ve treated me and my son.” Wait, that was what Severus just told him not to do.

“I am not able to have an erection until the bonding, or it will not be able to be delayed until you are completely healed. My pleasure at this moment is in your closeness and your company, there is no need for anything further.”

Remus fuzzily recalled hearing that before, a few times when he thought about it. Hell, Snape had just told him that again tonight! Was that healing potion getting to his brain, or was it the mind numbing relaxation of the medicated water? “I may have forgotten that, sir,” Remus said sorrowfully, shaking his head as if to try and clear it. He immediately went to move away, but Snape’s arm didn’t relinquish its gentle hold around his stomach.

“I suppose that is no reason for us both to be frustrated, is it?” Severus asked him in a velvety voice before kissing Remus again. “Here,” he said, guiding Remus so he was basically sitting on his lap, the other man was reclined against his chest, his head on his shoulder. This was another opportunity to move their physical experiences further, and he had to take it. The ritual was nearing, no matter how he tried to tell himself there was time.

Severus brought his mouth down to the curve of Remus’ neck, teasing the tender skin with his teeth and tongue while pinching his nipple under the water, rolling it between his thumb and index finger until it was a firm nub. His other hand traveled lower, fingers working their way past Lupin’s hips and on to discover the hard length of his cock. His own thigh twitched and his balls pulsed, but he knew he wouldn’t actually become erect even though his breathing was already heavy. Remus’ moan went straight to his groin; frustration would not be the least of his problems.

Lupin was quickly lost in the moment, he pushed himself against Severus’ body, loving the feeling of so much skin against his own. He was still covered in scars, the potion not having worked its magic yet, but Severus didn’t seem to notice, his mouth moving attentively over the worst of them on his shoulder. Remus brought his arm backward so his fingers could curl around the back of Severus’ neck, being mindful of his bandages. He gasped as Snape wound his fingers around his member, sliding up and down it in firm strokes through the slippery water, fighting the urge to buck up into the pressure of his hand.

Lupin’s hips twitched forward, his grip on Severus’ neck and arm tightened. Severus took this as a good sign. Moving his lips up to encircle Remus’ earlobe, he twisted his wrist on his upward caresses of Remus’ cock so his palm would rub against the sensitive head, his other hand sliding down to fondle his balls. He heard Lupin panting lightly, stifling the occasional groan the best he could.

Remus couldn’t believe how Severus’ tongue on his earlobe was driving him wild, he bit back whatever noises would come from his lips, self-conscious about his sounds of pleasure. Snape seemed to be reading his mind as he pulled his lips away, exposing the damp flesh to the cooler air of the bathroom. He spoke into Remus’ ear, his voice soft but rough, “Let it out, Remus, let me hear you.” The weight of the other man’s body on his own was wonderful, he could feel the curve of his arse pressed up against his groin. In the position they were in there was little of Remus’ body that he couldn’t touch or see. Watching Remus twitch and jerk and writhe as he tried to wring every drop of pleasure from him was sinfully enticing.

Remus moaned aloud at the sound of Snape’s voice and the warmth of his words against his ear. He almost regretted that Severus’ hardness wasn’t pressing against his bottom; the other man seemed to be aroused, but of course that potion wouldn’t allow him to experience it fully. He, however, was in full blown ecstasy, Snape’s hand sliding over his body and his cock in that hot water was past exhilarating.

Snape made an answering sound in his throat, his hands never stopping their pumping and squeezing motions under the water. The way Lupin was reacting, he couldn’t be far from completion. He firmed his grip, splaying his hand over Remus chest and holding him close as Remus’ breathy sounds of enjoyment were heard near his ear. He latched his mouth onto the juncture between the other man’s shoulder and neck as he came pulsing into the water with an uninhibited exclamation.

He pressed his nose into the hollow behind Remus’ ear, stroking him as he rode out wave after wave of his orgasm. When he was spent, Lupin’s body lay lax on top of his own, head reclined on his shoulder as he tried to get his breathing under control. With a flick of his hand, Snape banished Remus’ ejaculate from the water, not finding it conducive to their washing up.

He held onto Remus for a few moments longer, in no hurry to move him, his arms wrapped loosely around the man’s middle. He moved one of them to grab a washcloth, setting it to soak in the water beside him while he maneuvered to open a bottle of soap, pouring some onto the cloth and running it down Remus’ arm.

Lupin jumped; he’d nearly been falling asleep, his body still pressed up against Severus’. He wasn’t sure he could move, he felt completely boneless. The coarse texture of the washcloth against his now sensitive skin was intense, but in a way he rather liked. He didn’t know what to expect from Severus now, but that the man would still spend the time to tend to his body after another unreciprocated orgasm wasn’t the first thing that came to his mind.

“Sir?” he asked, his voice a bit raspy from their recent encounter.

“Yes?” Severus responded, continuing his ministrations with the washcloth, seeming intent to scrub every part of Remus’ body at least once with its soapy material.

“Sir, do you find me physically attractive?” Remus asked.

“Yes, I always have,” Severus replied. Perhaps he should just have stopped at ‘yes’.

Always? “When you’re… touching me, do you feel arousal even with the potion in your system?” Remus asked. He hoped not, or Severus would likely be quite sexually vexed by the time they bonded. He wondered what the release of all that pent-up desire would be like for the recipient of it and tried not to dwell on Snape’s endowment or the damage he could easily cause with it.

“Very much so,” Severus said, moving the cloth across Lupin’s abdomen. “The potion doesn’t inhibit anything except for my body’s physical response to arousal. I still feel attraction and desire under its influence.”

“I see…” Remus said, his concern apparent.

Severus was silent for a moment. “You are afraid of what this bottled up desire will mean for you at our bonding?”

“I- I’m trying to trust you sir,” Remus said plaintively, wanting to make that clear.

“That’s all I can ask of you. I haven’t been …intimate with anyone in many years, Remus. A few more days aren’t going to change anything. I can be an incredibly patient man when I wish to be.”

“I couldn’t help but notice sir…” Remus trailed off, wishing that damned potion let him inhibit what he said.

“What?” Severus urged gently.

“Your size sir; you’re-” Remus stumbled over the awkwardness of what he was trying to say, wishing he wasn’t trying to say it at all. Did he have the conviction necessary to bite off his own tongue? He didn’t know, but it was the only option left other than to continue to have this conversation.

“Larger than average?” Severus supplied in a voice he hoped wasn’t too acerbic.

“You could say that sir.” Remus blushed. Damnit, that was it: tongue, meet teeth, he was seriously doing this.

“I am accustomed to topping with the lovers I choose,” Severus said, trying to keep any harshness from his voice and never stopping the motions of the soapy cloth across Lupin’s body. “I have never intentionally hurt any of them that way.”

“I’m not exactly your lover,” Remus said, noting that Snape didn’t say he hadn’t unintentionally hurt any of his past partners. “There are no rules to what you can and can’t do to me.” His face twisted. “You must have heard Harry – I’m just your dirty sock. As long as you don’t throw me in the rubbish bin when you’re done with me, you’re being generous.” He wasn’t sure what to make of these words coming from his own mouth. His heart was beating rapidly, his mouth dry.

“Potter was out of line, as usual,” Snape said tersely, feeling anger over Potter’s actions and words all over again. “He was also sorely mistaken; in no way do I see you as something so vulgar or worthless. That he would say those words to you lowers my opinion of him greatly, no small feat for him, I assure you.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I shouldn’t have mentioned it at all.” Remus felt awful, he didn’t want Severus to think poorly of him because of his worries and suspicions.

“No, it needs discussing; however, I understand that the things I say to you are just words with actions remaining to be seen. …Have I caused you to feel that way so far?” Severus suddenly thought to ask.

“No sir, far from it. You make me feel like you think I’m somehow worthwhile,” Remus said, wishing he’d been able to think that over before he spoke the words.

“Perhaps it is because that is what I actually think,” Severus said. He set down the cloth, took up his wand and levitated Lupin from the tub, casting a drying spell on him and seating him in his chair. He then raised himself from the water, stepping out of and draining the tub before casting the same drying spell over himself.

The bathroom air was humid but becoming chill. Severus helped Remus into a clean set of pants and sleeping attire, wrapping a robe around his bare shoulders and tucking it around his sides. He then dressed himself in a similar set of clothing and levitated the chair back into his main chambers.

It had been quite a day, from start to finish. Remus looked like he was almost asleep sitting up. Severus pulled back the covers and assisted him out of the housecoat, levitating him into the bed and covering him up. Soon he would be healed enough to do all of this for himself. He imagined Lupin would be even happier than he would about it.

He wondered what the next day would bring as he climbed in beside the other man, who was already breathing evenly.

Chapter Text

Severus woke around the same time he usually did, lying still for a while and looking up at the ceiling. Today would be interesting, if nothing else - Potter’s visit would make sure of that. He rose and dressed, careful not to wake Lupin, who had an arm thrown across his face and still seemed to be sleeping soundly.

He went into the ensuite, washing his face and trying to wake himself up completely before going to peek in to see it Teddy was moving around yet. He found the boy curled up in the far corner of his bed, the sealer jar that was functioning as his nightlight tucked securely in his arms. It was unusual that the boy was still slumbering, so far he had been a consistently early riser, though with all that had happened yesterday, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock.

He let the boy be, heading downstairs and putting on a pot of coffee. He read the Prophet and drank a cup in peace before going back upstairs to rouse Lupin. The werewolf was now awake, lying entwined in the covers and blinking his eyes blearily. Severus got him up and dressed, floating him down the stairs in his armchair as usual, setting him down at his place at the kitchen table.

“Where is Teddy?” Remus asked as Severus pushed a cup of coffee at him across the table.

“Still asleep, he’ll get up when he’s ready,” Severus said, sliding a section of the paper over to Lupin.

Remus nodded, flipping idly through the pages. They shared a companionable silence while drinking their coffee and reading the gossip in the news. Snape was filling his second mug before the little boy rounded the corner, rubbing his eyes.

“’Morning,” he yawned.

“Good morning,” Remus said cheerfully. “Did you sleep well?”

Teddy seemed reluctant to answer, sitting at the table and plunking his dragon down on it. “Not really…” he said.

“Why not?” Remus asked, closing his chunk of the paper and looking attentively at his son.

“I woke up and… I don’t know. It was scary, maybe it was another dream?”

“Do you remember what it was about?” Remus asked, concerned.

Teddy snuck a look over at Snape and shook his head.

Severus put down his coffee. “You’re not going to upset me,” he said. “We have no control over our dreams.”

“I dreamed you died!” Teddy blurted out, looking at Snape with wide eyes. “When he hit you with the magic, it burned you all up, not just your shoulder!” The boy sounded very forlorn about the whole thing.

“Why didn’t you come looking for me or your father?” Severus asked calmly, having a hard time believing his imaginary death would have such an impact on the child.

“I was afraid it might be true and I didn’t want to know if it was!”

“You found the nightlight and it worked well?”

“Yes, sir. I’m very glad you’re okay!” The boy did sound quite relieved about it.

“It would take more than Harry Potter to kill me,” Severus smiled. Although he was certain that was what Voldemort had thought too, right up until the end. He would be saying something completely different if all of a sudden he had to teach the brat all over again. “Everything is going to be fine, Teddy.”

“But he’s coming back today,” Teddy said as if that would explain everything.

“He’ll be much better behaved today,” Remus said, hoping it was true.

Snape ‘harrumphed’, taking a sip of his coffee. Personally, he thought it quite endearing that the boy had been concerned for him, even if it was over a dream; especially since in his last nightmare the child had dreamt he’d whipped him. It just went to show the meandering paths people’s subconscious minds wandered down. He stood and went to the stove, putting on a large pot of oatmeal and preparing it quickly, serving up three steaming bowls.

They managed to get through breakfast and the dishes without interruption. Teddy was looking over the book Snape had given him the other morning, already saying the letters with it as it magically ready them aloud. Remus was watching him from across the table with pride shining from his face. Snape had to admit to himself that the boy brought out the best in both of them and he probably wasn’t even aware that he was doing it.

He put the dishes back in the cupboard after drying them by hand. He exited the kitchen, returning with a couple of books, a scroll of parchment and quill. These he placed on the kitchen table, sliding one of the hardcovers over to Remus.

“Just in case you’re feeling like joining the club,” Severus said, looking over at Teddy, who had his face buried in his book.

Lupin recognized it as the novel he’d been reading for a while now. “Thanks, sir.”

Snape just opened his book and began to read, scribbling notes in his spidery writing every once in a while as he flipped through the pages of his book. They sat in tranquility for a while, only the sounds of pages turning, Snape’s quill scratching at the parchment and Teddy’s soft voice were heard. Severus thought he could quite get used to this, a little company never hurt anyone.

Just then there was a knock at the front door. Damn and blast, must he always be wrong?

Teddy’s head snapped up at the sound and he grabbed his dragon off of the table, holding it close to his stomach. Remus closed his book and looked at Severus to see what he would do.

Snape merely set down his quill, marked and closed his book and stood. “I wonder who that could be,” he said sarcastically to himself. He turned to head to the door.

“Please, take me with you, sir,” Remus requested. Teddy climbed off of his chair to stand by his father, indicating that he would like to come as well, though he looked much more uncertain about it.

“Alright then,” Severus sighed, levitating the chair. “Let’s go answer it before the stupid boy tries to open it himself and ends up turning my house into a wind tunnel.” He walked them through the living room, setting Lupin’s chair down in there; he went on into the dining room that attached to the veranda. Severus then went into the porch and opened the front door.

Standing on his front step was, of course, none other than Harry Potter. The more irritating fact was that he was flanked on either side by a fully grown Weasley and Granger. This was surely the stuff of nightmares. Was it too late to add a shot of whisky to his coffee? Perhaps if he just politely slammed the door in their faces, they would all go away.

“’Morning, Snape,” Harry said, his tone edgy.

“Yes, it is; my compliments for noticing. When we parted yesterday, I said bring tact and common sense - I didn’t say anything about Weasley,” Severus said with a raised eyebrow, he had to get a dig wherever possible.

“Yes, well… after what happened yesterday, Ron and Hermione didn’t think it was such a good idea that I come over here by myself again,” Harry admitted, running his hand through his messy hair in the same aggravating manner his father had. Severus had to take a deep breath, why did this boy always have the ability to get under his skin without even trying?

“Because they were afraid you would try something equally as senseless today, or for fear that you might not show back up after our little visit?” Severus asked acidly.

“A little of both, sir,” Hermione said with a quirk of her lips.

He turned his attention to her briefly, finding the young lady smiling. She always did have more intellect than her male counterparts; she, at least, could tell he wasn’t being all that serious, despite his tone.

“Are you going to invite us in or are we going to stand on your front step all day?” Harry asked impatiently.

Snape smirked, closing the door a little. “Well, if I get a choice…”

“Get off it, Snape. Be reasonable,” Harry said.

“Oh yes, I see – there are witnesses, we have to be reasonable today!” Harry turned red in the face and Severus wondered if it was from anger or embarrassment. This really was too much fun! “Stop spluttering and come in then,” he snapped, stepping aside.

The three of them shuffled into the house. Snape closed the door behind them, ushering them through the dining room and into the living room.

Snape took them in for a second. They were all older than the last time he had seen them, their appearances had changed considerably; he supposed, so had his own. He wondered what Remus would look like to them, shrunken and thin as a rail, his feet balled up in swaths of bandages. Teddy was a boy now, his infancy left behind years ago, he would be completely unrecognizable to them.

Severus led them into the living room. He wondered if those were tears he saw in Granger’s eyes as she looked upon them for the first time from where they were waiting.

“Hello Hermione; Ron; Harry,” Remus smiled. “It’s good to see you all again.”

“Remus!” Hermione said, rushing forward with her arms held wide.

Teddy’s eyes got big and he hurried out of the way, moving to stand by Snape, startled by all of these unfamiliar people. Severus rested his hand on the child’s shoulder lightly, wondering if Teddy had come over here because he was frightened and wanted distance or because the boy trusted him to defend him.

Remus returned her embrace, a startled look on his face and flinching despite himself. What was Harry doing bringing all of these people over here without permission? Severus surely wouldn’t enjoy having his home invaded by anyone uninvited, let alone the entire Gryffindor trio. His skin crawled while her arms were around him and guilt rose up in him - it was only Hermione.

Hermione pulled back and he was confronted now by Ron, who had a sloppy grin on his face. Ron stuck out his hand, like he wanted to shake with Remus. Lupin accepted his hand, not expecting the young man to come in for a one-armed hug also. Ron let go and went to stand by Granger, apparently unsure of what to do now.

“Everybody sit down,” Severus said, sounding more irritated than he actually was. He levitated Lupin’s chair so that it was closer to the sofa. “I’d call Fred to make some tea, but I’m afraid of what he will put in Mr. Potter’s, so I’ll do it myself. It’s only polite.” As he started to walk toward the kitchen, he noticed that Teddy had his fist gripping onto his robe. “Come on, then,” he consented quietly to the boy.

Teddy followed close to his side even after they were through the door and in the kitchen. Severus pulled out a large tray, setting out his mismatching teacups instead of the good china, otherwise Fred would kill him. He set the kettle on to boil, getting down on one knee to be the same height as Teddy, who hadn’t left his side through the entire procedure.

“Is everything alright?” he asked the boy.

Teddy shrugged then clutched his dragon a little more tightly.

“You don’t have to worry, those people aren’t here to hurt you or your father,” Severus assured.

“Who are they, sir?” Teddy asked.

“Well, you remember Harry Potter from yesterday,” he and Teddy both looked at the ward covered hole in the wall. “The lady is Hermione Granger and the other man is Ronald Weasley. The three of them are friends of your father’s.”

“Why did they come here, sir?”

“I imagine they came to see you and your father, to make sure you were both okay.”

“They didn’t come to see you?” Teddy asked.

Snape actually chuckled at the idea. “No, they most certainly did not.”

Teddy looked more nervous than ever. “Are they going to want to talk to me?”

“Yes,” Severus said, pondering how he would explain this all to Teddy, “They want to be friends with you and your father. I know it’s frightening to meet new people. Your father or I will be with you at all times. I’ve known these three since they were children themselves, they won’t try to harm you.”

“But yesterday-” Teddy protested.

“Yesterday was unique, how about you try giving them another chance? I know it’s difficult, but I would like you to try.”

“But what if they don’t like me?”

“I don’t think you have much to worry about where that is concerned. You are a very friendly, considerate boy; they would be completely daft not to like you.”

“…Okay,” Teddy said, clearly not convinced, but smiling shyly all the same.

The water began to boil.

Severus stood and took the kettle off the burner, filling a large teapot and tossing in a couple of bags of tea he’d prepared from the garden. He turned around to see Granger standing just in the doorway. He wondered how long the girl had been there. She was looking at him rather strangely; maybe she had heard his conversation with Teddy.

“I was just coming to see if you needed a hand, Professor,” Hermione explained. “Sweet Merlin!” she muttered upon seeing the damage to the outside wall.

“What, you don’t like the remodel?” he joked darkly. “I’ve not been anyone’s Professor, let alone yours, in years. I’ve got everything in hand, go on ahead,” he said to Granger. “Ready?” he asked Teddy.

The boy nodded. Snape took up the tray and followed Hermione back into the living room. The conversation the other three were having hushed immediately. Snape pretended not to notice, setting the tray down on the coffee table. He pulled a wing back chair away from the wall and sat down. No one said a word.

“Well isn’t this pleasant?” Severus said out loud to the room.

“It certainly could be,” Harry replied sullenly.

“Harry,” Hermione warned.

“Yes, I know, best behavior,” Potter mimicked.

“I see some things never change,” Severus said. He looked at Teddy, who was still standing at his side even though he was seated. “Would you like to sit down, Teddy?”

The boy shrugged, looking at the open space next to one of the strange people with trepidation.

Snape stood and pulled another chair closer in between him and Remus. “How about now?”

Teddy nodded, climbing onto the chair. “Thank you, sir.”

“Not a problem,” Severus answered quietly. He glanced over to see the entire room looking back at him. Severus leant forward and poured himself a cup of tea, mostly for something to do with his hands. There had not been so many people in his house at once (or at all) since he’d started living here after the war.

“Thank you for having us over, sir,” Ron said, seeming to remember his manners.

Snape fought the urge to say that he hadn’t invited them over in the first place. He gave a jerky nod instead.

“Yes; it’s a very nice place,” Hermione agreed.

Severus thought this discussion had better come with a barf bag if it went on like this for much longer.

“You certainly have gotten big, Teddy,” Hermione continued, smiling sweetly at the little boy from across the table.

Teddy shrunk down, putting his stuffed dragon in front of his body protectively.

“That is a very nice dragon,” she said, leaning forward. “Where did you get him?”

“Sir gave him to me,” Teddy answered in a small voice. “He’s a German Spinescale.”

Harry shifted where he sat on the couch. Ron seemed to be taking his cues from Potter and stayed quiet.

“That’s wonderful,” Hermione said, pouring herself a cup of tea. She seemed determined to make the best of the situation. “I’m not your mum, make your own tea,” she said to the boys in a stage whisper. Ron went for the pot, passing it over to Harry when he was done. Harry set it back on the tray.

Severus set his cup on the edge of the table, pouring another one and passing it carefully to Remus.

“Thank you, sir,” Remus said immediately. He turned to the other three. “My hand is healed, but still quite weak,” he explained, flexing his fingers in the air for them to see.

Harry shot a withering look at Snape, who just about snorted into his teacup. Hermione looked at Lupin steadily, silently asking for an explanation. Ron seemed to be trying not to look at anything at all, shifting his gaze nervously around the room.

“I was in terrible condition when Teddy and I were retrieved from the auction house,” Remus said, losing some of his colour. “The worst of my injuries are still mending,” he gestured to his feet.

“How do you get around?” Ron asked.

“Sir levitates me around in this chair,” Remus smiled. “Of course, I didn’t go anywhere until recently; I slept most of the time when I first arrived here.”

“What kind of injuries did you have?” Harry asked, a concerned look on his face.

“Well- I was burned quite seriously over a lot of my body; my ribs and hand were damaged as well. Apparently, they don’t do upkeep on inherited slaves at the auction, probably because we don’t make them any money,” Remus said, smiling ruefully. “So, I didn’t receive any treatment before I came here.” His smile faltered a little, and he looked down, wondering if he’d said more than he should have.

The trio all appeared to be trying to hide their awkwardness with Lupin’s last statement. The other man likely didn’t notice as he was looking at his knees, but Snape saw it clear as day.

Hermione was the first to recover. “You’re looking rather well for all of that, Remus,” she said.

“Yes, well I’ve been getting lots of rest and sir has me on a regimen of potions,” he said.

Hermione sipped her tea, “I’m glad to hear it.”

“Sir?” Teddy asked quietly, not wanting to attract the attention of the entire room.

“Yes?” Severus replied, leaning closer so he could hear the boy.

“May I please have something to drink?”

“Certainly,” Severus nodded, wondering why he hadn’t thought of that when he was making up the tray. He stood and went to the kitchen, pouring a tall glass of apple juice and carrying it back to Teddy.

“Thanks,” the boy smiled up at him, taking a long drink of his juice.

“You’re welcome.” Snape picked his cup back off the table, wishing he had an easy way out of this awkward hell of a conversation.

“So, what?” Harry asked, seeming to be letting go of something he had been reigning in for some time. “You all just sit around the house and Snape brings you beverages and everything is just wonderful?”

“Harry!” Hermione pleaded.

“Maybe this is a conversation Teddy shouldn’t be privy to,” Remus suggested, looking imploringly at Severus. Harry was known to have a bit of a temper; Teddy was very sensitive to such strong emotions and Remus didn’t like the idea of frightening him.

Snape could take a hint. “What do you say, Teddy, would you like to go into the kitchen and look at your books some more? I’m sure Fred would sit with you.”

Teddy nodded, looking quite relieved.

“Fred? Who the hell is Fred?” Ron asked with raised eyebrows, likely thinking of his brother.

Fred appeared suddenly in the middle of the living room. “You has better be watching your language, young man. I is being Fred, you is having a problem with that?”

“Erm… No?” Ron replied. “I’ve just never met a House Elf named Fred before.”

“Well you is meeting one now,” Fred said, putting his hands on his hips.

“Fred, would you go and sit in the kitchen with Teddy for a while? There might be just a little too much commotion for him right now,” Snape asked.

“Oh come, little one. We is not being interested in their conversation anyway, right?”

Teddy grinned, accepting Fred’s hand when it was held out to him. He took his dragon and his apple juice and went into the kitchen with the house elf.

“Nice fellow,” Ron said uneasily.

“He’s still rather angry about the state of his kitchen,” Severus said in way of explanation. He waved his hand and a simple auditory ward wove its way over the door between the kitchen and the living room. That way Teddy would be sure not to hear anything that would upset him.

“We told Harry not to come here yesterday; we’d only just found out where Remus was. We’d known he and Teddy were alive for some time before the Professor was able to get him from the auction house, we just couldn’t find him until his paperwork was filed with the Ministry,” Hermione said. “Harry was livid, we tried to get him to stay at our place but he Apparated away.”

“You can stop talking about me like I’m not here, Hermione,” Harry said.

Hermione rolled her eyes and took another drink of her tea.

“Yes, I was bloody angry when I came over here, okay? Good thing I had a couple of hours to cool down while I picked through Snape’s wards,” Harry continued.

“Yes, how fortunate for everyone,” Snape said with a sneer.

“Well if you hadn’t been such a bastard and kept the fact that you knew where Remus and Teddy were completely to yourself, I might have had the chance to react differently.”

“Oh, I see now. It was completely my fault you broke onto my property and demolished my kitchen. Thank you for clearing that up,” Snape snarled. He really had to get it together; he began to clear his mind, taking a very deep, very even couple of breaths.

“You could have sent out an owl, at the very least,” Harry said.

“Yes, I could have; however, I didn’t. Yet here you are in my living room anyway. Funny how things work out, isn’t it?” Severus really didn’t have a reason as to why he hadn’t informed the Order. Other than the fact that he had no idea what the Lupin’s condition would be, either physically or mentally, when he went to retrieve them. He knew what Macnair was capable of and had seen him reduce people to nothing more or less than he wanted them to be on more than one occasion. For all he’d known, he was going to pick up a man whose spirit had been totally broken. He’d wanted to assess the situation before getting a bunch of meddling Gryffindors involved, but he doubted Harry Potter would think that a decent excuse.

“What did you think, that none of us would find out? You just wanted to bring him here so you could do whatever you wanted to him and the rest of us wouldn’t be around to object? Why would Macnair leave them to you anyway, you two were still buddies, or what? You have that much in common with the man that you’re just going to take up where he left off?”

“You talk too much, Potter,” Severus said, sounding bored. “And you’re too easily distracted. So distracted in fact – and by me of all people, I’m flattered, honestly – that you’re not doing what I hope you came here to do. I think I’ll disappear into the lab for a bit so you can get on with it.”

“Merlin, you’re an insufferable git. What do you think I’m really here for, with all your goddamn intelligence and insight?” Harry was a little red in the face he was so angry.

“I think you’re here to reconnect with Lupin, but I’m not entirely sure since you seem to prefer arguing with me.” Severus stood, looking at Remus. “If you need anything, Fred will come get me immediately.”

“Yes, sir.” Remus answered, at a loss for words. 

Harry was silent as Severus walked from the room.

The auditory ward Snape had put in place across the doorway into the kitchen dissolved as he crossed it. The room was so quiet, they could all hear Teddy speaking from the kitchen.

“Hi, sir; what are you doing?”

“I’m heading down to the lab for a while. “What are you working on there?” Severus voice was heard.

“I’m colouring a dragon! I’m going to make him the same colours as my dragon!” Teddy sounded quite thrilled about it.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea, you’ll have to show me when you’re done. I’m just going down to the lab for a while.”

“Okay! Can I come down there with you?”

“What about colouring your dragon?”

“…I’ll bring it with me! I can sit at the table and finish it. I won’t be in the way, sir, I promise.”

“I did not say that you would be; alright, come along then,” Severus finally conceded.

“Fred is staying up here; things is needing to be done in the kitchen,” the house elf said.

“Sounds good, Fred.” He secretly thought that the elf was reluctant to leave their guests unsupervised. He took his books and parchment from off the kitchen table and opened the door to his lab, allowing Teddy to go down the stairs first and closing the door behind them.

Chapter Text

Severus got Teddy set up and colouring at the workbench before opening his own book, taking his parchment out and settling down to take his mind off of everything. The boy seemed to understand that he needed some quiet, carefully beginning to work on his dragon picture without a word.

They worked for over an hour. Every once in a while, Teddy would comment on something he was thinking and Snape tried his best to be engaging. They had been down there for just under an hour when Severus heard the door at the top of the stairs click open, and apparently so did Teddy. The child’s hand stopped its movement across the page mid pen stroke and his whole body froze along with it. Severus continued to write like he’d noticed nothing, finishing his thought as the third stair squeaked under someone’s foot.

“Yes?” he asked without turning his head. If it was Fred, he would just come down here straight away or yell from the top of the stairs that he needed to get his arse up there.

“Sorry to interrupt, sir,” a voice came from about halfway down the stairs.

“Only apologize when you mean it, Miss Granger.”

Footsteps came further down the stairs. “Oh my – sir, this is quite impressive!” Hermione said, glancing around the lab.

“You expected anything less?” Severus asked, finally turning around to look at her. She was standing at the edge of his prep table, taking in the entire room with wide eyes.

“I suppose not,” she said with a smile.

“Come to check up on us?” Severus asked.

“No… Well, Harry thought it would be a good idea and I really wanted to see the lab, so I agreed.”

“I heard you did a stint at the Academy,” Severus acknowledged.

“Yes; a few advanced classes, nothing close to the full Mastery course you took.”

“Why not?” Severus knew she was more than capable of it.

“It’s interesting, but I don’t know if it’s for me yet. Although everyone there was quite thrilled when they found out I’d studied so many years under you; you have quite the reputation there, sir. They seemed to think I could brew the fountain of youth or something and were quite disappointed when I didn’t decide to stay and try.”

“Then you must have done exceedingly well on your own merit, they don’t like anyone that much there; if you’d done poorly, they would have thrown you out on your ear. How are things going upstairs?” he asked, not sure if he wanted to know or could trust her answer but wanting to change the topic. He’d not been in contact with most of his associates there since the war and was momentarily taken aback that anyone other than the Headmistress would still speak his name without promptly spitting afterwards.

“Not as bad as they could be.” Hermione was standing directly beside them now. “May I sit down, Professor?”

Severus thought he’d taken care of her use of that title earlier. “Go ahead.”

Teddy shifted uncomfortably, pulling his colouring book closer to himself and hunching his shoulders.

“I don’t think we were properly introduced,” Hermione said. “My name is Hermione.”

“I’m Teddy,” the boy said after a very long hesitation, looking at Snape for approval. Severus nodded to let Teddy know he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

“It is amazing to get to see you again, Teddy,” the witch didn’t seem to be able to stop smiling as she looked at him.

Teddy looked at the tabletop in front of him. “I don’t remember you,” he admitted warily, twirling one of his pencils in his fingers and not meeting her eyes.

“You were too little to remember me. Hopefully, we will get the chance to make some new memories together. I have a little girl who who’d like to meet you very much.”

“Really?” Teddy asked, perking up.

“Really. Her name is Elizabeth. She’s a few years older than you but I know you two will have a few things in common.” Hermione looked up like she just thought of something very important. “If Severus thought it was a good idea, maybe one day soon you two could meet.”

Teddy looked to Snape, who was glad he didn’t have any objections, because if he had they would have been outnumbered. “I don’t see how it could be a bad idea,” he said.

Teddy smiled brightly.

“Am I still correct in calling you Miss Granger?” Severus asked; he never had been one to keep up on the popular gossip that enthralled most people.

“No more than I am by still calling you ‘Professor’. It’s Mrs. Weasley now.”

“Hmm, it seems that I owe Minerva five Galleons.”

“Why?” Hermione asked, insulted.

“Wait – Ronald?”

“No, Charlie,” Hermione answered with a strange look on her face. “Ron is like a brother to me.”

“Minerva owes me five Galleons then. Does he still work in Romania, or wherever he was always off to?”

“Yes, we have an international floo in our house, although he’s still away for work quite often. We manage just fine without him, but it’s always good when he’s home.”

“I imagine you would, you were always fairly self-reliant. How is it that your daughter is older than Teddy and I don’t know of her?”

“We adopted Elizabeth not long after we were married, she’s a wonderful little girl.”

“I see,” Severus said. The war had had too many orphans, of that he was certain.

“Sir?” Teddy asked politely in a lull in conversation. “May I go see Fred in the kitchen?”

“Of course. Don’t forget your supplies.”

“Thank you,” he said to Snape, collecting his things. “Bye,” he said timidly to Hermione, hurrying up the stairs.

“He seems like he’s doing pretty well,” Hermione said.

“He is doing better,” Severus allowed. “Now, what did you really come down here for?”

“What is really going on here? How did all of this all come about?”

“I don’t owe you any explanations.” Severus’ mind went immediately to that god forsaken letter Walden had left for him along with Remus and Teddy. How was he supposed to say that this was all Walden’s idea of some sick joke?

“No, probably not.” Hermione agreed.

“You can see that I’ve not harmed them, what more do you want to know?”

“I didn’t think you would. Harry, on the other hand… He’s very caught up with the nature of the bond that you and Remus are going to share. He’s been unusually hard to deal with lately; I don’t think he’s been sleeping.”

“How can you tell?” Severus muttered. “There is nothing I can do to change it, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

“I know, I looked over a copy of the will as well as the bond, or what the idiots at the Ministry could make of it.”

“Macnair was a fool,” Severus said.

“Seems like it. What have you come up with so far, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I do mind. Here it is all the same.” Severus slid his notes closer, so she could see them but not read them. “I’ve been working on ways to manipulate the bond while staying true to its form, as decreed by Walden’s will.”

“Well, if you need a second set of eyes…”

“I’ll let you know,” Severus said, though he thought privately that it would be a cold day in hell before he resorted to that. “Why aren’t you as hostile as the bespectacled wonder up there?”

Hermione shrugged. “We don’t always have the same opinions, thank goodness. I know how you and Harry feel about each other - thank you for allowing us to come over here to see Remus and Teddy. I understand the current laws well enough to know there was nothing saying you had to.”

“Remus is – not one hundred per cent himself at the moment. He and Teddy will need all of the allies they can get.”

“You seem to be very good with him,” Hermione pointed out, to her credit only sounding mildly surprised.

It was Snape’s turn to shrug. “Teddy? He makes it easy.”

“Just… I want to say it in case no one else does: thank you for being decent to them.”

Severus didn’t have anything to say back to that. Thankfully Fred interrupted anything he would have had to come up with.

“You is having mail, sir!” the elf said with a raised voice from the top of the stairs.

Mail? At this time of the day? Severus met the elf halfway up the steps, taking the sealed parchment from him. Perfect, it bore a Ministry stamp; he was going to enjoy this about as much as a high velocity Bludger to his bollocks, he could already tell.

Severus returned to his seat at the workbench, cracking the wax and unrolling the parchment. As he read it, he could feel a headache coming on. He read it a second time to make sure he hadn’t misunderstood, letting his hand fall to the table, parchment still clenched in his fist. “Fucking hell,” he sighed, running his other hand through his hair.

“What is it?” Hermione asked.

“Bad news, Weasley.”

Bad news was an extreme understatement.

It was a letter from the Ministry dated three days previous, saying he had four days to complete his bonding with Lupin or they would revoke his mastery over the werewolf. Apparently, such things were usually done before the first transformation, though it was the first he’d heard of it. Were they trying to screw with him or just that inefficient in general?

It would have been nice to actually have received this letter three days ago as intended. The ritual would now have to take place tomorrow night at the absolute latest… this was not something he’d planned for. His research, though mostly complete, wasn’t as perfect as he would like it. Thankfully he had arranged for everything else in advance, although Fred would hopefully be able to improvise something for the meal, as what he had wanted on the menu wouldn’t be in until after the full moon.

“I’m required to bond with Lupin before the end of tomorrow night,” he blurted.

“Oh my, and that’s a bad thing?” Hermione clarified.

“We are nowhere near ready for it. I bought us as much time as I was able, but I’m afraid it wasn’t nearly long enough.”

“He’s been through a lot, hasn’t he?” she asked softly.

“Yes, and there’s more to come I’m afraid. I think we may have to continue our visit another day; I need to speak to Remus in private.”

“I’ll collect the boys. I’m holding you to that playdate with Elizabeth and Teddy, I’ll send you an owl, though I’m sure you’ll be hearing from Harry sooner than that.” Hermione stood and went up the stairs, Snape close behind. “Harry, Ron, something’s come up, we’ve got to go,” she said upon entering the living room.

Harry looked suspiciously at Snape. “What happened?”

“It really isn’t any of your business, Potter,” Severus snapped.

“Of course it’s my business - these two are family to me,” Harry said with a set jaw, he seemed ready to do battle again.

Snape sighed, resigning himself to the fact that if he wanted these three out of his house (and he did) then the best way to do that was answer all of their questions as quickly as possible and send them on their way. It sounded so simple when he said it like that.

“I have just received correspondence from the Ministry that restricts the time Remus and I have to complete our bonding by tomorrow at midnight,” Severus purposefully didn’t look at Lupin, not wanting to see the troubled look that surely rested on his face. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

“Can they even do that?” Ron asked, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees.

“They certainly can, they’re the Ministry, Ronald, you should know they will do anything the people they ‘govern’ will allow them to and some things they don’t. They can cite the regulation that Lupin must be bonded before the full moon, so that I can get accustomed to my mastery of him before his first transformation. Or so the letter kindly informed me.”

“But there’s the Wolfsbane potion,” Harry said. “Didn’t you brew it for him?”

“I brewed it for him and for Teddy both. They don’t take that into account, however, as a parameter for bonding. Not everyone can afford it and many aren’t bothered. Neither of those things are a problem here.”

“But sir, how can you be sure that the Wolfsbane will be safe or effective for Teddy? Not much study has been done as far as children are concerned,” Hermione asked, her forehead creased.

“I have done much research in that area personally. I have no doubts that the potion will be harmless and effectual, despite Teddy’s age,” Severus stated with confidence.

“Just what qualifies as ‘harmless and effectual’ for you, Snape?” Harry asked, giving him a look that clearly said, ‘we both know what you are capable of’.

Insolent brat. “It will have the same sedative and analgesic effects as the original recipe,” Severus said. “I have no reason to want the boy to experience his transformation in its unaltered state.”

“What happens if you messed it up?” Harry pressed.

“I have taken precautions,” Severus told him.

“That isn’t going to cut it, Snape,” Harry narrowed his eyes.

Severus fought the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. “There will be no chance of either of them getting loose and they will face their change together. There is little room for error.”

“So you’re going to lock them up, Professor?” Hermione said, sounding worried.

“Not in the way you’re all imagining, I’ll wager,” Snape sneered. “There is a room in the basement, adjacent to the lab. It was secure to begin with and has been more than sufficiently warded.”

“If something goes wrong with Teddy’s potion are you going to include his autopsy in your experimental notes?” Harry asked sarcastically. “No one will be there to help him if a reaction doesn’t go as planned. I may not know anything about testing potions, but that sounds like a death warrant to me.”

“You are completely uninformed and incorrect as usual, Potter. Someone will be there to assist if anything unexpected occurs - I will be spending the night in the room with them.” Severus didn’t know what worried him more, spending the night in a room next to his lab with two fully transformed werewolves or the fact that he had just announced to Potter that his house would be as good as unoccupied for the night of the full moon.

“No offence, but that sounds fairly daft, Professor,” Ron voiced uncertainly.

Snape threw his hands in the air. “That coming from the young man who attempted to plagiarize three quarters of the chapter on Bezoars from Most Potente Potions for one of his fourth-year essays and thought I would somehow not notice. There is just no winning with you people. It’s unconscionable to leave them unattended, but moronic if I do not. How does the entirety of Gryffindor House get out of bed and get both socks on their feet in the morning if that is what passes for logical reasoning?”

“I think we should let him do it,” Harry suggested brightly, giving Snape a very devious smile.

“That isn’t helping, Harry,” Hermione said.

“What? Do you have a better idea?” Harry asked.

“Potter makes a point, loath though I am to admit it,” Severus said. “There are limited options I can see in this situation. I am open to hearing suggestions.” Yes, he would listen to them all day long, but he would still do what he thought was best and not waste a second on anything else.

“We’ll think of something, Professor,” Hermione said encouragingly.

“Yes, well careful not to strain anything,” he retorted. “Weren’t we in the middle of something before all of this? Oh, that’s right, you were just leaving.”

“Maybe so, but we will be returning,” Harry said.

“Be still my excitement,” Snape declared. He turned to look at Ron and then Hermione, nodding to each of them in turn. “Good day Weasley, Weasley. Potter. I’ll leave you to say your farewells to Lupin. I trust you can find your own way out?”

“I think we’ll manage,” Ron said.

“We’ll be seeing you soon, sir,” Hermione chimed in.

“I’m going, I’m going, stop with the threats,” Snape said, standing and walking towards the kitchen. He snuck a look at Remus, the first since he informed them of the hastening of the bond.

The sandy haired man had slumped shoulders and hands that were clenched tightly on his lap. His lips were set in a thin line, but Severus could see the effort he was exerting in maintaining even as neutral expression he was wearing. Severus found himself almost wishing that he could leave with the younger three, so much was he dreading having to coax Remus into completing the ritual.

Snape stepped into the kitchen without another word or backward glance. He sat at the kitchen table and quietly watched Teddy colour until he heard the front door open and close. Even then he didn’t rise immediately, wanting to give Remus some time to collect himself.

“You don’t look very happy, sir,” Teddy pointed out, seemingly without glancing up from his book.

“It’s complicated,” Severus informed him.

“Does that mean I’m not supposed to know about it?” Teddy asked.

“I suppose in this instance it does. What your father tells you will be up to him, but don’t pester him about it. If he says you’re not to know anything, take it at that.”

“I think I understand, sir.”

“I’m going to go into the living room and speak to him for a bit. You’ll be okay in here?”

“Yes, sir. I’m almost done my dragon!”

“Keep working at it then, I’m sure your father would enjoy seeing it.”

“Is he unhappy too?”

“I would assume that he is,” Severus said.

“Maybe it would cheer him up?” Teddy suggested.

“I’m sure it would. Finish it first, you know where to find us.” That would buy them some time to discuss things. Severus entered the living room slowly, finding Lupin in much the same position he had left him. Taking a seat next to him, he waited for some sign from the man.

“We’ll manage, Remus,” Severus said after a while, feeling the need to say something positive when met with that blank expression.

“I know, sir.” They would have to manage, one way or another; there wasn’t any other choice, really.

“Did you have a more amicable visit when I disappeared to the lab?”

“Yes, we did. Harry calmed down shortly after you left. Neither of you seem to bring out the best in each other sir, if you don’t mind my saying.”

“That is an understatement,” Severus said. “Remus, I know in my mind that completing the ritual tonight isn’t that different from completing it after the full moon; all the same I’m sorry that time is no longer mine to give you.”

“I understand, sir. You have already bonded with my son, if the Ministry came to take me away, I would be going alone. There isn’t any need to discuss it further, sir.”

“There, you are mistaken,” Severus said slowly. “There is still some time before everything must take place. Fred will prepare the meal; you and I will dine in my quarters. He will spend the evening with Teddy, they’ll have quite a bit of fun when left to their own devices, of that I’m sure.”

“Of course, sir,” Lupin said levelly.

“Tonight, I… Remus, I have no desire to force you,” Severus said. The idea of it had been weighing heavily on his mind since the very beginning of all this.

Lupin looked at him then, for once initiating eye contact and holding it. “You won’t have to force me, sir,” he said softly.

“Perhaps not in the way you’re imagining. All the same it is a concern of mine - you deserve better than that.”

“Thank you, sir,” Remus said, breaking eye contact. “But I think you’re blowing things out of proportion.”

Severus shook his head, leaning closer to the other man, resting his elbow on the firm armrest of the chair he was in. “I don’t believe that I am. See it how you will, but take this for what is: an apology.”

“I don’t know what to say, sir.”

“I don’t expect you to say anything, the point of that was for me to say something, something I think was quite overdue.”

Remus opened his mouth and then closed it again.

“I’m going to move you into the kitchen so you can sit with your son for a while. I believe he has been working quite diligently on a picture and wishes you to see it. I’m going to speak with Fred about making the arrangements for supper.”

“Yes, sir.” If there had been anything else he could possibly have thought to say, Remus would have said it in an instant. His mind, however, was startlingly empty.

Severus levitated Remus’ chair, directing him into the kitchen and seating him beside Teddy. The boy was by the looks of things just putting the finishing touches on his dragon picture and barricading it from view with his small arm. He looked at Remus and they shared a brief but hollow smile, watching the boy’s antics together. Severus walked into the living room so that he and Fred would have some privacy for their discussion before calling the house elf.

“Yes sir, what can Fred be doing for you?” the elf asked, appearing at his side.

“That supper you and I discussed for after the full moon?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Well, it’s been moved up a little.”

“How much is being a little?” Fred asked guardedly.

“Tonight.”

“You is being joking.”

“I would do no such thing.”

“I is supposing not. What is you wanting to be preparing?” Fred asked.

“I’ll trust your good judgment; you know what we were discussing before this sudden change of events, try and keep it on point with that, though I know the timing may be difficult. If you can do that with what we have here.”

“Of course, Fred can be doing that, sir,” the elf scoffed.

“I expected nothing less of you.”

“I is hearing that one before, sir.”

“Yes, well I’m sure you’ll be hearing it again at some point in the future. You do an excellent job assisting me around here. Did you get that order for the new door into town?”

“Yes sir; Fred is already taking care of it. The door is being on order.”

“Thank you.”

“If sir is wanting Fred to cook in the kitchen, it would best be empty.”

“Hint taken, I’ll move the other two somewhere else and we’ll try and stay out of your way.”

“That is sounding like a plan, sir.”

“You’ll have to get Teddy to drink his potion before bed. I’ll leave the ladle and goblet out beside the left cauldron on the burner, fill the goblet and give it to him before he goes to sleep.”

“It is not being a problem, sir.”

“Thank you, Fred, for everything.”

Severus went back into the kitchen and moved Remus and Teddy into the living room, making sure everything was as good as it could be and that they didn’t need anything. He then went up to his own room, there were some things that he needed to get ready if they were to complete the bonding tonight. It would be best not to leave it for the last minute, if something went wrong or for some reason and they were unable to complete the casting, then the extra night before the deadline would be needed. They would bond tonight.

He closed the door behind himself, knowing that Fred was in the kitchen and would help Teddy and Remus with anything they needed. In the meantime, he stripped the sheets and quilts off the bed himself, knowing the elf would be too busy to do it in time. He made the bed with a fresh set of sheets and a new comforter he took from the oak trunk at the foot of the bed. He replaced the pillows and called it good enough.

He knew enough about magical bonding to know that every detail would count. Severus went to his armoire and opened the bottom drawer. From it he took a long silk tie, it was wide and smooth, he ran its length through his fingers, hoping it would be satisfactory, as it would be used to restrict Remus’ sight. He also removed a much longer strip made of the same material this he would use to bind Remus’ hands as was dictated by the ritual. Both of these items he folded and placed on his bedside table.

Snape removed a small vial from the drawer of the nightstand, uncapping it and drinking the entire contents of the antidote for the impotence potion he’d been taking since Remus arrived. It would need to be counteracted for them to complete the ritual. He stashed the empty vial back in the drawer and closed it.

Since they would also be dining in here, Severus cleared off the table he usually did his research at, moving it so that they would have space to sit at either side of it. He then covered it with a black sheet that would work just wonderfully for a tablecloth. He pushed a chair up on the far side for himself, that way he would levitate Lupin’s chair to the place nearest the door. He set a pillar candle on the middle of the table.

Severus surveyed the table and could just about have smacked himself in the face. What did he think this was? Some kind of first date? All the same, he wanted Remus to feel like some effort had been put into it, whatever it ended up being. Macnair couldn’t have possibly done less and still had a certifiable bond at the end of things. He, on the other hand, wanted things to go as smoothly as they could, he was willing to exert the time and patience to make it happen. Everything he went out of his way to do or not do would be noted by the magic weaving the bond; he hoped it would count in their favor.

He went into the ensuite bathroom, checking the row of potions lining the rim of the tub nearest to the wall. He moved two bottles to the side, a mild calming elixir and a lycanthrope safe healing potion. He would add these to the bath, as well as the potion for Lupin’s muscles. Macnair had skipped over the bath entirely when preforming his ritual with Lupin, considering a crude cleaning charm to be sufficient. He wanted the magic to see his effort to care for this man, to see the freedoms he would bestow upon him if it would allow him to do so.

He would do his best not to create a link that would require him to dominate and brutalize Remus, but Merlin help them both when the magic reached into his soul and extracted the bond. It would hopefully factor in his actions, but there was no telling what would happen. It was something he was not looking forward to, for he had no control over it. The magic would form the parameters of the bond as it would, and they would have to live within them.

He lay out the housecoats and towels for after the bath, shaking his head. They would need a bottle of wine with supper, both of them could use it.