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Metamorphosis

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When Remus had shown up at the Leaky Cauldron for a job interview, with desperation and hope clinging to his heart in equal measures, he had been vastly unprepared for how life-changing that one meeting would be. 

Despite his young age and handsome features, Lord Peverell cut an intimidating figure where he sat, startling green eyes drilling into him. 

He wasn't a particularly tall nor muscular man, but there was an air of danger about him that made the hairs on the back of Remus' neck stand up. He was forced to swallow down his nerves and instincts to flee, before he plastered a shaky smile onto his face. 

Throughout the long and gruelling interview, Lord Peverell remained calm and professional. Remus answered his questions as best as he could, but as soon as the young aristocrat asked about his stance on Dark creatures, he knew the job was as good as lost. 

Sure, he could lie, say he was neutral and keep his own creature status a secret, but that would only serve him in the short run. As soon as his employer caught wind of him being a werewolf, which was likely to be during the first full moon, he'd be fired, of that Remus had no doubt. And so, he told him. 

What he'd expected to be another failed interview ended up being the complete opposite. Remus had left the Leaky Cauldron on shaky feet, the signed work contract clutched tightly in one hand. 

It was almost too good to be true. Never in his entire life had Remus been this lucky. 

He made it back to his tiny flat that was positioned above a Chinese restaurant in muggle London, completely dazed. If anyone asked, he wouldn't be able to tell them how he got home, for he was that out of it. 

The flat that he called home was in a poor area, and not in particularly good condition. But it was the best he could afford with the odd jobs he'd been getting here and there. 

The kitchen faucet was leaky, water dripping constantly into the metal sink, the walls were drafty, the heater was temperamental, and he swore there was a mysteriously damp patch on the bathroom ceiling that had to be mould. 

He sat in his tiny kitchen on a transfigured chair, a cup of strong black tea clasped tightly in his hands. His brown eyes were staring at the contract laying innocently on the wooden table in front of him, once again reading over the many benefits he would get. 

Remus still couldn't quite comprehend it all. The pay in itself was staggering. According to the contract he would be paid 250 Galleons each month for a managing position, it was more than the average pay of an Auror! 

And as if that wasn't enough, he was guaranteed four weeks of paid vacation-time each year, paid sick-days, free Wolfsbane and a staff discount on anything sold in the shop. 

That evening, Remus cried with relief, tears of happiness trickling down his cheeks. No longer did he have to struggle to pay rent and worry about whether he could afford to eat. 

He could get a proper flat with a heater that worked and a bathroom free of mould, maybe even purchase a house eventually if he remained frugal. 

And even that was overshadowed by the pure elation of being provided Wolfsbane. For as long as he had this job, he didn't need to fear killing someone each full moon, nor would he bite and claw himself raw for lack of other prey. He could spend the night at home, sleeping as a wolf while keeping his human mind. It was a blessing. 

~

Two weeks later Remus showed up outside the newly renovated shop, curiously eying the men and women he assumed he would be working with in the foreseeable future. 

They were a motley mix of various ages and genders. It was always hard to tell with magical beings, but there was a man who looked to be somewhere in his sixties, black hair specked with streaks of grey. 

Remus knew he would be working with at least another werewolf, but he couldn't tell who just by appearance alone, it wasn't something one could really tell just by looking unless it was the full moon.

Lord Peverell greeted them all with a friendly smile and unlocked the wards that were active when the shop was left unattended. 

"Good morning everyone. Today we'll get you fitted for your work attire. It isn't anything fancy seeing as I prefer simplicity and practicality over anything flashy, but while you are on the clock you will be required to wear clothing that is within the dress code." The young man explained once they'd all entered the staff break room on the first floor. 

Lord Peverell snapped his fingers and several house-elves, all dressed in nice clothes of different colours and fashions, appeared. 

"The clothes will be provided by Hallow's Apothecary." Their new employer said as he pulled out a stack of parchment from his dark leather satchel. With a flick of his wrist, no wand required, the stack spread out and each staff member was given a pamphlet of sorts. 

Remus studied what appeared to be a list of different clothes. There were simple robes, t-shirts, jumpers, trousers, skirts and so forth. 

"Please make a tick next to the clothing items you prefer. You may select as many or as few as you want as long as you have enough for a full outfit."

Remus felt a little hesitant about ticking off more than just the basics of a button up shirt and trousers, but this wasn't charity. They weren't really his clothes, it was part of a uniform that he needed to present a professional front. That being settled he made a few more ticks. 

Lord Peverell introduced his elves with more warmth than he'd ever seen another pureblood aim towards the little critters.

Yes, perhaps Lord Peverell was powerful and dangerous, but the question remained, to whom? Clearly he cared for house-elves, not to mention werewolves and squibs. The man was the complete opposite of what Remus had become used to thinking of as a noble pureblood.

Peverell was Dark, that much he could tell, his magic had a certain taste to it, cold and crisp like a winter night. Not that he minded, Remus had no leg to stand on considering he was Dark as well due to his lycanthropy. 

The elves had quickly taken their measurements, and the next day they were presented with their uniforms. The clothing was all black, only the silvery shop logo being embroidered on the left side of their chests. 

It was simple but beautiful, Remus thought. A silver cauldron surrounded by a triangle made of blooming asphodel.

There was a changing room on the first floor where each staff member had their own locker. They left their used clothes there after each shift, and when they returned the next day the elves had dutifully cleaned and folded them. 

It was efficient and reminded him a bit of Hogwarts. Laundry had not been a concern there either.  

~

Remus loved his job, and it wasn't just for the benefits it gave. He got to meet people again and be part of a community of sorts. For the first time in years he had actually gained some new friends. The grief he felt over the loss of his old friends, his family, was still there, he doubted it would ever fully leave, but he was slowly healing. 

The job itself was also interesting. Although he had been an alright brewer while at Hogwarts, he did manage to get a NEWT in the subject after all, it was with the more theoretical aspects that he shone. He knew potion ingredients well, often just by smell or sight. 

And because of that he could tell that what they sold was of the highest quality. During their initial training, Lord Peverell had told them that most of the ingredients came from his own estate, it made Remus wonder just how big it actually was.

Managing an entire shop, restocking, staff and so forth, was challenging. It wasn't anything like the jobs he'd done in the past, but he thrived.

Lord Peverell was exceedingly invested in his new venue, so much so that for the first two months of the apothecary being open, he worked more than anyone else, helping everyone get settled in. 

Remus was baffled by the fact that a man such as himself took the time away from whatever it was he did, to work in a common shop among werewolves, squibs and muggleborns. 

In those two months his respect for the young Lord had skyrocketed to almost unimaginable heights. Not only was he inclusive and kind, but he was not one to shy away from hard work. 

As the years passed, the shop had to be expanded due to the increased popularity. They hired more people and were now one of the few shops in Diagon itself that were open both day and night. 

Remus had been shocked at first when Peverell had hired a hag of all things for one of the night shift positions, but Rosaria had proven to be a good employee that knew a startling amount of potions and their ingredients. 

He was ashamed to admit that he had been prejudiced at the start, fully having bought the rumours of hags eating children and so forth. Rosaria was nothing but kind and he had apologised for his wariness. 

Rosaria wasn't the only new employer to work nights, there was also Alec Burke, a part-vampire who was quiet but friendly. 

Remus was on good terms with most of his co-workers, but some he would even dare to call friends. 

Each year when Christmas rolled around, Lord Peverell gave his employees a Christmas bonus in the form of money but also small token gifts. The man was brilliant, almost too good to be true if you asked Remus. 

But as the years passed, he learned that Peverell was just like that. He was kind and generous, and not purely because it would boost his image, at least that wasn't the impression Remus got. He could easily have picked a different way of doing that instead of helping those the rest of society didn't want or preferred to ignore the existence of. 

He provided jobs, housing, daycare for those with children… It was extraordinary. He was a true philanthropist in their rotten world. Okay so perhaps Remus was a little in awe, who could blame him really?

~

The bell above the door chimed softly. Remus hardly bothered to look up, wide eyes too focused on the newspaper in his hands. 

Peverell had Harry… he felt shocked, guilty and perhaps… a bit relieved? The guilt after finding out what had happened to his best friend's son growing up, still clung to him like a second skin. It gnawed at his insides and made him feel sick about his own weaknesses. 

He shouldn't have trusted everything Dumbledore said, he shouldn't have believed all the lies… but what could he have done? He was a werewolf.  With the Ministry being so biased against anyone with creature status he would never have been able to get custody of him, even if he'd tried. 

Even now, years after Lord Peverell began improving things for all of them, Remus still wouldn't have been able to make a convincing case. There hadn't been a point in trying since he already knew he would fail. 

Remus truly was a spineless coward. He sighed and looked out the window facing towards Diagon. 

He wanted to ask his employer about Harry, about whether he could see him once the children went home for the holidays, or maybe just give him a letter, but he couldn't handle the accusating looks and contempt that would surely be aimed at him should his inactions come to light. So he stayed silent, greeting Peverell as if nothing was out of the ordinary when the man entered his shop to help the staff. 

"Excuse me, do you have scarab wings?" A woman asked, cutting through his miserable thoughts. 

"O-oh, yes, of course. Right this way." Remus responded, pulling himself together and offering a welcoming smile to the customer. 

He had a job to do and couldn't allow himself to sink down into his guilt and grief, not yet at least.

~  

Why hadn't he been told? They were supposed to be friends, what possible reason could Peverell have to want guardianship over Potter? 

And worst of all, Severus had to find out through the Daily Prophet of all things! As if he hadn't just seen the man a few days prior. He could at least have had the decency to bloody mention the fact that he was going to try getting custody over one of his students. 

He could understand Lucius wanting control over the Potter boy, but Peverell? It didn't make sense. What was he planning? What was his angle? 

Severus silently fumed for the rest of the day and unintentionally took his anger out on his students, lashing out at the tiniest infraction. 

The children could tell he was in a foul mood that day and avoided him to the best of their ability. Staying off his radar was in everyone's best interest. 

As soon as his teaching duties were done for the day, Severus briskly walked to the main gates, Apparating to Peverell's home in Maidstone with a sharp turn on the spot, a loud crack the only sign of his departure. 

"HARRISON!" The potions master shouted as soon as he tore open the front door of the house he had become rather familiar with in the past few weeks. 

There was no answer however, the house was deathly silent. Severus stalked from room to room, anger simmering deep underneath his skin. He felt… betrayed… worried… so many different feelings constricting in his gut that it made him grit his teeth and tighten the grip on his wand. 

When he reached Peverell's study, a house-elf popped in front of him, staring at him with those big, round eyes. 

"Master Snape, what can Pip do for you?" The creature asked, his speech having improved leagues since Severus first met him. 

"Where is Peverell?" Severus sneered. 

The elf however didn't cower, secure in its own safety around the dour man. Pip knew that master Snape never did anything to the elves, or their master for that matter. The man was normally polite but he did have a temper.

"Master Peverell is working in the apothecary today sir." Pip obediently replied. "Would you like me to take a message?" 

"No. I will go there myself." Severus growled and stormed out, black robes flaring dramatically behind him.  

The bell chimed quietly above Severus' head as he entered the large apothecary. Black eyes immediately searched for his aristocrat friend but only landed upon someone who soured his mood even further. 

Within seconds, Severus had reached one of his most hated childhood bullies and roughly grabbed onto the front of his uniform, wand pointed dangerously at the man. 

"Where is he, Lupin?!" Severus snarled, glaring at the werewolf with utter disdain. 

Lupin's eyes widened at the sudden altercation but he didn't retaliate, merely cleared his throat before he spoke. 

"I'm afraid I don't know who you're looking for, Severus." The beast, politely replied. 

"Lord Peverell." Severus spat, teeth bared. "Where is he?" 

"I'm afraid I don--" Remus began.

"I'm right here, Severus, now please unhand my employee." Peverell said with utmost calm, as if his earlier actions hadn't just shattered some of the fragile trust they had built over the years. 

Severus let the bunched up fabric in his fist go, more than happy to cut short his duration of having to touch the mangy werewolf. 

"Mr Lupin, we will be borrowing your office for a moment if that is alright with you?" Peverell politely asked. 

"Y-yes, of course, go ahead." Lupin submissively replied like the spineless coward he was. 

Severus followed after the man he thought was his friend, mind a whirling, angry mess.

"So, what is it that has made you upset enough to manhandle my employees while looking for me?" The man asked with a raised eyebrow, looking unimpressed. 

"I was not aware you had an interest in children." Severus couldn't help but sneer viciously. 

"Excuse me? What exactly are you insinuating?" Peverell replied with a deepening frown. 

Severus hadn't entirely meant it to come out the way it did, he didn't think Peverell was a paedophile, but it was all so highly suspicious. 

"Is this about me gaining guardianship over Henry Potter?" The other questioned. 

"Of course it is!" Severus snarled back, anger coming to an unfortunate boiling point.

~

Harry sighed, he should have expected Snape to react with suspicion, it honestly just hadn't crossed his mind to tell him. In his past life the man had hated his guts, things were different now though. Snape had witnessed the outcome of his abuse at the Dursleys, and, although it hadn't left him soft and cuddly, the man was still much… gentler than he had been in the past. 

"This isn't the right place to talk about this." Harry said and gestured to the door. 

"I know you probably want answers, but let's put this conversation on hold until we get to my home. Feel free to either use the Floo or Apparate, I will join you as soon as I have informed Mr Lupin of my intentions to leave." Harry said in a firm tone that wouldn't take no for an answer. 

He gestured towards the large fireplace that had an urn filled with Floo powder hanging from the wall next to it. Snape gave him a hard glare before whirling around to grab a handful of powder, throwing it in the fireplace with snappish movements. The entire exit was rather dramatic and it made Harry roll his eyes fondly. 

"Ugh." Harry groaned and rubbed his face once the man had left. 

"This is your own fault, you know. You should have told him sooner." Regulus shot at him. 

"Oh shut up." Harry threw him a light glare, well aware of the truth of his friend's statement. 

"I'm sorry about all of that, Mr Lupin." Harry said with an apologetic smile as he left the office and found Remus by the frog eyes. 

"Oh, no need to apologise, Lord Peverell. I think Severus' approach was rather restrained considering our pasts." Remus replied, smiling wryly. 

Harry cocked an eyebrow, knowing full well of said past, but didn't comment on it. 

"Well, either way, it is not acceptable behaviour in my shop. Rest assured that I will have a word with him about it." Harry promised.

Returning to Maidstone to speak with Snape was not something he was looking forward to, but he had promised, and also, he owed his friend that much. Sometimes he wished he could come clean about everything, tell Snape about his past and all his secrets, but Harry was afraid. 

Afraid of rejection, of being hurt… of being seen differently than the friend he had now become. So, like the coward he was, he prolonged it, ignoring the fact that it was likely to come back and bite him in the arse one day. 

Severus was once again back in Peverell's home. Only this time, instead of rampaging through the house looking for him, he was pacing angrily in the drawing room. 

Pip, the elf from earlier, had offered him tea the moment he set foot inside. Severus had curtly declined, he was in no mood for pleasantries. However, the stubborn thing had fetched a fancy tea set with accompanying biscuits despite this when Severus mentioned that he was only there to speak to the elf's master. 

He huffed as the unruly elf poured out two cups, just in time for Peverell to enter. 

"Oh, tea, marvellous! Thank you Pip." The man himself said, making the elf smile happily. 

The aristocrat shrugged off his outer robes, always preferring just to wear his suit in private, made out of expensive materials as always. He sat down in one of the armchairs, resting one leg over the other. He looked the part of effortless royalty, Severus would give him that. 

"So, you have questions I take it?" Peverell finally said, infuriatingly calm, he couldn't even remember the last time he had seen the man lose his temper. 

"Yes. Why did you not tell me about your desire to take in Potter? Surely you didn't do it on a whim?" Severus gritted out and folded his arms across his chest. 

Peverell reached for his cup and sighed. 

"I am sorry for not informing you about my decision, but honestly? I did not think you would care. You aren't exactly fond of children, nor have you expressed an interest in Mr Potter before." Peverell rationally said as he stirred some honey into his tea. 

Severus scowled at the man. The assessment wasn't… untrue. 

"As for the reason why… Well… he is family, of sorts. The Potters and Peverells go far back. In fact, the Potters have been just as eligible to inherit the Peverell Lordship as my side of the family has." He continued in between sips of tea. 

"The reason why Henry's father, or grandfather for that matter, didn't take up the Peverell Lordship is because it has one final requirement that neither of them met." Intense green eyes flashed up to meet with Severus' inky pools. 

"Before I continue, I will need you to promise me not to let this information spread. I don't require a vow, but I am putting a great deal of trust in you, Severus. If the public caught wind of this... it could be the end of me and Potter both." Peverell was gravely serious, and it sent a chill of foreboding down Severus' spine. What could it possibly be? 

The potions master frowned and finally sat down opposite Peverell. He was now worried and curious in equal measures. 

"Very well, you have my word." He promised, for whatever that was worth. If the confession was as bad as Peverell hinted at, then not demanding a vow sounded like a security risk. 

"What I'm about to tell you, must not leave this room. Now, where to begin." Peverell sighed and leaned back in his chair. 

"As I mentioned earlier, the Peverell Lordship demands more than just a bloodline to be claimed. You need to be related to the original bloodline, yes, but there is also the magical aspect. We like to call it a family gift, a rather rare one at that. It didn't use to be, but for some reason, the talent slowly became rarer and rarer within the bloodline. I was the first one born with this gift in over four hundred years, it is why most people thought the Peverell family a dead one." He sipped his tea absentmindedly. 

"This gift doesn't manifest until the person reaches their magical maturity, usually at the age of seventeen or so. This happened to me and was picked up by the goblins when I did an inheritance test. Anyway, you probably wish to know how Potter ties into all of this?" 

Severus nodded, wondering where this was heading. 

"Well, you see, one day in August I was suddenly informed by my account manager that an heir had appeared in the ledgers. The shock was massive I will admit, I didn't understand how it could be possible, I had no children after all. And before you say I might have had one accidentally, it would be impossible seeing as I haven't actually slept with anyone." The young Lord snorted and rolled his eyes.

"But I'm digressing. This gift is the key to everything you see. My accountant was able to tell me about this new heir because the boy had done an inheritance test on his first visit. The goblins can tell a lot from just one drop of blood and a small donation of magic, you know.”

"And this supposed heir was Henry Potter?" Severus drawled, raising an unimpressed eyebrow. It all sounded too far fetched. 

"Exactly. The magical gift he shares with me hasn't activated yet, and it likely won't until he is seventeen, but it is there. Unless he does something absolutely insane, like say, split his soul, then he is guaranteed to get his gift the day he reaches magical maturity." 

"And what exactly is this gift that the two of you share?" Severus drawled.

Peverell was quiet, seeming to hesitate for a moment before he lifted his head, eyes cold and penetrating. 

"Remember your promise, Severus." He said in a foreboding voice that promised untold pain and horror should he break his word. 

"I will." Severus spat out. He bristled at the insinuation, but something told him not to press the matter further. 

"Good." Peverell murmured and placed his teacup and saucer back on the table. 

"It is necromancy, the true kind." The man said with an air of finality. 

Severus stilled. His eyes widened and his pasty face grew even paler. The blood had run cold in his veins, and he had to swallow hard to keep his lizard brain from taking control and making him bolt. He was not a coward, damnit! 

He took a deep, rattling breath. He couldn't even remember the last time he heard mention of a true necromancer existing. If they really were out there, they did a wonderful job of hiding. 

"And you are sure of this?" Was all that would come out. 

"What, me being a necromancer or Potter?" Peverell asked with a snort. 

"I can give you a demonstration if you'd like?" Peverell innocently offered, knowing full well how this was affecting him. 

"No…" Severus felt sick. He had seen the Inferi the Dark Lord had created and he wanted nothing to do with that kind of magic again. 

If Peverell was to be believed, this at least explained why he was taking in Potter. It wasn't for nefarious reasons, but to help and protect him, a Lord and his heir… Severus could work with that.

"Severus… you don't have to be afraid of me or my gift. It's not… it's not like what I think you imagine when thinking of it. I was weary in the beginning as well, but this gift is so incredibly varied. It isn't all murder and gore. It can be used to communicate with those who have passed, to predict the future and so forth. It carries a terrible stigma due to how many of the rituals have been twisted into perverse mockeries of the original by those without the gift."

"Does Dumbledore know about Potter being a… a necromancer?" Severus asked, feeling so very rattled. 

Slowly, Peverell nodded his head. 

"I believe he has pieced the clues together by now, yes. He used to have an obsession with the Peverell family as a young man, and I'm fairly certain he knew which gift was required to pick up the Lordship. The fact that I claimed Henry Potter as my heir during the custody hearing, and cited that he carried the Peverell family magic, well… Elphias Doge was there, and we both know he is firmly attached to Dumbledore's hip." The other man, the necromancer, replied. 

That was not what Severus wanted to hear. He closed his eyes briefly, drawing in a deep breath. He would need to figure out a way to protect Potter from the headmaster, now more than ever. If there had been a choice previously, there no longer was. Severus was firmly planted on Potter's side.