Here we have the start of a new collab between me and the amazing Acherona. This is an EPIC length fic. Though most chapters will not be as long as this first one. And just so you know, WE FUCK CANON OVER MASSIVELY. No really, canon has very, very little application here. Mostly we just used our favorite bits as guidelines.
WARNING: Angst, lots of it, Male Pregnancy, torture, unlawful imprisonment and experimentation, infant in peril, Evil Dumbledore. Does Snape having a heart require a warning?
Disclaimer: Neither Acherona nor trulywicked have any claim on Harry Potter or any characters or locations thereof.
Now hold onto your hats people, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
"Excuse me?" Remus stared at Madam Pomfrey, vaguely aware that his jaw was somewhere along floor level and his entire body shaking. It couldn't be true, it just couldn't be. Unconsciously a scarred, long fingered hand went to his flat stomach and pressed over it.
"I said Mr. Lupin, that you are around eight weeks pregnant." Poppy repeated in her no nonsense tone as she continued to look the young man over. He'd come to her when his stomach flu wouldn't go away since St. Mungo's would find out about his...situation if he went there and then they'd refuse to treat him. No dark creatures were allowed treatment at St. Mungo’s hospital. Poppy didn't mind, she'd cared for and patched up Remus Lupin since he was a scrawny shrimp of an eleven year old boy and she wouldn't stop now if he needed her.
Remus looked at her with wide eyes. Yeah, the news didn't sound better the second time around, he still found it almost impossible to believe it. He was a twenty-one year old werewolf living in the midst of war. He'd seen James and Lily do it. Harry was a wonderful baby and Remus loved him like he was his own but he still saw how hard it was for them, living hidden and raising a child.
Eight weeks, well that was probably the last time he and Sirius'd had sex. These days they were just living in the same apartment, no one could really call what they had a relationship, not anymore. It was late October now and the amount of missions Dumbledore sent him on only increased. He hated that he wasn't allowed to tell Sirius about his orders to infiltrate the werewolf packs around Britain; he hated the look of disappointment and suspicion he saw in those lovely gray eyes every time he came home still reeking of dark magic and death.
Still it wasn't like Sirius told him what he was up to either. Always out on that motorcycle of his, only coming home after Remus was already in bed pretending to be asleep.
"How is it possible?" Remus flushed as Poppy raised an eyebrow. "I mean I know how it's possible but how can I carry a child? How will it survive the change each moon? How will I know I won't just rip into myself and tear it out when I'm the wolf?"
"Oh my sweet boy." Poppy moved to sit with him on the edge of the hospital bed. "You and I presume young Mr. Black are both very, very gifted wizards. You each have magical supplies most wizards only dream about. This babe has already survived one change and as long as you are careful the rest of the month, eat right and stay out of harm’s way there is no reason it shouldn't survive the rest either. And don't worry about the wolf on this account, no wolf would hurt their cub, it won't happen."
Remus nodded and got dressed in a daze as Poppy went on about diet and pre natal potions he should drink to stay healthy. His mind was in chaos, the world around him was in turmoil, Voldemort's shadow growing longer with each day and Remus had no idea how to tell Sirius.
When he got back to their small apartment in London's outskirts it was empty as usual. Remus walked around the small rooms, taking in their crates and plank coffee table, the worn couch they'd gotten from Lily's parents and the narrow bed. For a short time Remus had been so happy here. He and Sirius had loved, laughed, argued and lived in these rooms, sharing everything but these days it was just empty rooms, silence and suspicion here.
Remus tried to floo Lily and James, needing someone to talk to but of course their floo was blocked, Remus didn't know what he'd been thinking. The Potters were in hiding, there was no way they would have an open floo. He couldn't get a hold of Peter either and just as always Remus had no idea where Sirius was or when he would come home.
Feeling worry and fear coil in his stomach Remus curled up on the old couch and closed his eyes. Wishing he could turn the time back to when he'd been happy. It wasn't that he was unhappy about the baby though he still found it difficult to believe. It was just that with a war being played out in silence and a relationship on the rocks Remus felt like he was drifting in space. There was nothing to anchor him to the ground anymore and it scared him to death.
Not long after he'd fallen asleep the door opened and Sirius stepped in, he leaned back against the door and studied Remus, taking in the worn, tired look even though he was sleeping and the fetal position he was in. Remus hadn't looked that bad in years, not since the Marauders had all gone for their first full moon run together. He longed to go forward and scoop him up into his arms but he couldn't. Not when Remus would disappear for days on end and come back smelling like a Death Eater. There was a spy slipping information to Voldemort's merry minions and Sirius had the awful feeling it was Remus. What else could explain the disappearances and lingering air of dark magic around him.
He slid down the door, sitting with his back against it. How had they come to this point? When had it all gone pear-shaped? Maybe if he could put his finger on the right point that things started changing for the worse he'd be able to stop the slippery slide because just the thought of really, eternally losing Remus hurt like someone reaching into his chest and digging claws into his heart. He wanted the fun and happy times back, when Remus would be baking in the kitchen and he'd try to sneak in and ended up with a bag of flour in the face and they start wrestling until it turned from wrestling into an impromptu lovemaking session. He wanted that back but every day he felt like he was losing his Moony to the wilds or worse to the Death Eaters.
His own tasks didn't make it any easier. Every day he was in on a raid against petty little Death Eaters who weren't worth the time it took to process them. Rarely did any of the big fish like Malfoy or his loony cousin Bellatrix surface to be caught. He kept hoping they would be, just one high ranked Death Eater to reveal the location of Voldemort's hidey hole was all they needed but they stayed out of the net. He wanted to share his frustration with Remus, to groan and whine about it and have competent fingers stroke soothingly through his hair as Remus just let him unload but again he couldn't risk it. Dumbledore warned him that if Remus was the spy then they'd lose even the little tiny fish they netted, they'd be forewarned and run or worse, set up an effective counter to a raid and they'd lose Aurors in the fight. He wished there was something, some way to know the truth so he didn't have to ride himself to exhaustion to avoid coming home to questions he couldn't answer and things could go back to how they were.
When Remus woke up it was dark, the tacky neon sign across the street cast blue and green tinted shadows across the floor, reminding Remus sickly about the color of the killing curse. He felt his stomach roll and this time it wasn't because of the life growing inside him. At the reminder of that Remus hand went to his stomach even as his eyes slid to the horrid coo coo clock on the wall. The one Sirius had bought at a garage sale just because it was so ugly. Remus took in the time and then his own scarred hands. It was funny, for someone so beautiful Sirius surely liked to surround himself with the ugly and the broken. It shouldn't be that way, Sirius should be with people and things as beautiful, as shining as he was.
It was close to four in the morning and since he was still on the couch Remus had no idea if Sirius had come home at all. Since he was already awake, he might as well get his patched and worn bag out of the closet and get himself ready. Dumbledore had owled him the new pack he was to visit a few days ago. He couldn't not go just because of the news he'd gotten. Remus didn't want to go, he didn't want to see the blood and the hurt and the darkness, didn't want their children near it even when protected inside him but he knew he had to. Dumbledore assured him that he was playing a key part in the war even if he had to do it in secret and silence. Remus watched how this wore tore at Sirius and James, creating shadows in their eyes and when given a chance to help, even in a small way Remus had jumped on it. Because of his wolf he couldn't be an Auror, or much of anything really but he could do this and so he would see it through even though he cringed at the thought.
With a groan he hoisted himself up from the couch to pack his bag. First of all though, he needed tea so he padded toward their little kitchen nook and their beloved kettle.
Sirius looked up from where he was already sitting with the paper and tea of his own and studied Remus. Even after getting sleep he looked like death warmed over. He flicked a thumb at the kettle, "It's already brewed and strong."
"Thank you." Remus tried to get over his shock at seeing Sirius at home and awake at this hour. It was difficult to remember when they'd actually spoken to each other. He went over and poured tea into a large clay cup knowing even before he took a sip that it would be brewed exactly as he liked it. "I didn't know you were home." Cautiously he moved to sit opposite Sirius at their small, square table.
"I got in around midnight." It was a short comment but more information than he'd given Remus in some time. "Having trouble sleeping?"
"Yeah." Remus wanted to say that the bed was too big and empty without Sirius next to him, that the couch was easier because at least there Remus didn't expect or wait for Sirius to roll over and wrap his arms around him like he used to. "You too?"
He nodded. He always had trouble sleeping these days. It was too cold in the bed and he had nightmares about the things he saw Death Eaters do when Remus wasn't there to help chase them away. "It's been a while since we've been out and had an actual meal, feel like hitting the Chinese place tonight?" Maybe he could start mending the rift that had bloomed even if he couldn't really put complete trust in Remus.
"I'd love to." And he really would. Remus wanted to go eat with Sirius and have the chance to talk to him...Tell him about the baby more than anything. "But I can't. I have to leave this morning; don't know when I'll be back. Maybe we can do it then?" He tried to keep both his despair and hope out of his voice.
Sirius' hands tightened on his cup but he didn't snap or snarl, it was a rain check, he told himself, not a complete rejection. "Alright, when you come back from, wherever then."
"I want to have that meal with you Sirius and when I come back we do need to talk. I have something I need to tell you." Please don't give up on us... Remus didn't say it but he hoped Sirius got it anyway. He finished his tea and spent a few extra moments just looking at his...Lover? Burning his features into his mind before he stood, went over to the sink and rinsed his cup out and then went to the closet to get his bag.
Sirius' fingers trembled on his cup and he hoped that whatever Remus had to tell him was good news, not what he was dreading. He got up and met him by the door, "Be careful?"
"Always." Remus replied and then before thinking any further he grabbed Sirius and pressed his lips against the other man's. "You too, you're rash and hotheaded but please, please be careful." Remus hoisted the bag up his shoulder, released Sirius and slipped out the door.
Sirius braced a hand on the wall and hung his head, his lips tingling from the kiss. "Please Moony, please don't let me be right about what I'm thinking, please let me just be an idiot for even considering it." It was a whisper that fell onto no-one's ears as Remus was already long out of earshot. He should probably go and take a shower then try and get a little rest. Who knew what the next day would bring.
Remus was bone tired, tired and disgusted by the things he'd seen. He didn't know exactly how but it was clear that Britain's werewolves were on Voldemort's side. He had promised them rights, freedom and a life without shame or hiding. If Remus didn't have Sirius and his friends, if he hadn't seen the horrors of Voldemort's ideal up close he might even have fallen for it himself.
Remus hoped Sirius was home that he would have the chance to tell him about the baby, during the week he'd been gone he had come to terms with his pregnancy and now the life inside him was the most precious thing in the world. If Sirius and he sat down and really talked things out then they could patch things up couldn't they? Remus hoped so. He would tell Dumbledore he couldn't go on anymore missions. His baby was more important to him than wolves that didn't want to be saved. It was the day before Halloween and the weather certainly fit the mood, misty rain and dreary darkness. Remus sighed as he turned the key and stepped into the apartment.
Sirius sat bolt upright on the couch where he'd been dozing after a truly hellish raid. They'd lost two Aurors and it tore at his heart and made his reflexes jittery, his wand was out and pointing at the figure in the doorway before he even registered being awake. He blinked twice, "Moony?"
"It's me." Remus replied and tried not to let it get to him that Sirius didn't lower his wand instantly even when he'd identified himself. "I'm sorry if I woke you." He tossed the bag on the floor and tore at his blood stained and reeking clothes, not wanting them to touch his skin for a minute longer.
"What did James put on as a dare in third year at Hogwarts that had us calling him Nelly for three months?"
"Alice's school uniform complete with lacy knee high socks, miniskirt and kneazle printed knickers. Peter didn't realize it was James at first and asked him out on a date to Puddifoots." Remus continued to peel his clothes off with distaste as he answered Sirius question. It hurt but he supposed it was a necessary action in this times.
Sirius dropped his wand and got up to just close his arms tightly around Remus, burying his face in the other's shoulder, "Welcome home Moony."
"It's so good to be home Pads." Remus leaned into the embrace even though he was still dirty, unclean, hugging Sirius back and running his hands up and down Sirius' leanly muscled back.
"Gods," he clung hard to Remus, ignoring the stench of blood and dark magic and taking comfort from the solid presence of his Moony. He'd remember to be suspicious tomorrow; right now he needed what had felt real and sane all through his youth and start of adulthood.
"Shh, it's okay Pads, things will be okay." Remus really didn't know if things would be okay because at the moment nothing seemed okay but he said what Sirius needed to hear. Sirius was so warm and solid and real against him and it made Remus' throat close up and his eyes prickle. Right here, in his arms was the reason he fought, that he went on these shitty missions and tried to cling to a sliver of hope that this darkness would lift soon. Remus loved his friends, of course he did but Sirius was his everything.
Sirius turned his head and caught Remus' mouth with his. He needed this. One of his comrades had exploded before his eyes and now he needed to connect with his lover. Not sexually, he was too tired for that but he needed a connection. Desperately. "Moony, my Moony, my Remus, you'd better be able to deliver on those words."
"My beautiful, brilliant, wild Padfoot. I'll do anything to make them come true for you." Remus kissed him back, holding back his desperation for Sirius and what they'd had and tried to offer as much comfort and reassurance as he could. Something must have happened, something bad and Remus just wanted to try and make it easier on Sirius, if only for a short moment.
Sirius returned the kiss intensely before pulling back a bit and searching Remus' eyes, placing one hand over his heart, "Mine right? You'd never leave me for anything?"
"Never Sirius, you've got me, all of me forever and always." It was true, Remus couldn't imagine life without Sirius, not even now when things were so messed up between them.
He nodded and held tighter, "Shower, I think we both need one." He pulled Remus with him to the bathroom, not letting go for one instant, and turned the water on magically before tugging him into the stall with him. He soaped a wash rag and began running it over Remus' skin. "Tomorrow night we'll talk and hammer out...whatever needs hammering but for now, we just take care of each other."
"Yes." Remus returned the favor, gathering soap in his hands and running them all over Sirius' body, feeling soft skin and strong muscles as much as he was washing him. "We'll talk tomorrow night, I do have something I need to tell you, something I hope will make you happy." He relaxed under the warm water and Sirius touch, the filth and darkness seeming to run off him and down the drain where ever Sirius touched him.
"If it doesn't, do I have permission to kick you in the bum," he nuzzled Remus' neck affectionately.
Remus felt something thaw and warm inside him at the return of his affectionate Padfoot. "Kick it, lick it...I'll give you free range to do whatever you want to my bum then." They finished their shower and cuddled up naked beneath the sheets of their bed, still entangled as tightly as they could be. "I've missed you Siri, missed you so much."
"I've missed you too. I've been twisting my brain trying to figure out what's gone wrong or when so I can fix it." He squeezed Remus gently, "I still don't know but maybe we don't need to know to fix it."
"Somewhere we lost sight of what's really important and the fact as as long as we have each other we can weather anything." They still needed to talk, to sort out their trust issues and what had torn them apart in the first place but right now they were together and for the first time in months Remus felt complete and like he would be able to sleep without nightmares.
"Well, shame on us." He pressed a kiss to the hollow of Remus' throat. "Wake me up if you have to get out of bed? I don't want the bad dreams tonight." He didn't want to see his friend explode over and over again in his mind's eye.
"Okay, right now though it feels like if I could stay here forever, shut the rest of the world out and for it to be just you and me here in our home, our bed." Remus fingers were tangled in Sirius' long hair and he had legs entwined with the others, lying as close as he could get. "Love you Siri." His voice was thick with sleepiness and he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer.
"By Merlin I love you too Remus." Sirius held tightly to his lover. He did love Remus more than his own life and possibly his morals, so much it was painful.
Humming softly against Sirius' hair Remus let himself be lulled into sleep, comforted and calmed by his lover's body close to his.
The next day Remus had been to Hogwarts to deliver his report to Dumbledore, smiling a bit at the students’ obvious glee with the date and Hagrid's monster pumpkins, carved and burning with magical light. Remus had never really liked Halloween but he had to admit that Hogwarts really put on a show to celebrate the day.
Remus hadn't told Dumbledore about wanting to stop with the missions or about the baby, he wanted Sirius to be the first to know. He both looked forward to and was incredibly nervous about the dinner they would have that evening to talk things out.
When he disapparated back to London late afternoon there were four Aurors already waiting for him. Remus could see that they weren't from James or Sirius' squad, these Auror had old, stern faces and very rough hands as they declared that he was to be brought in for questioning. Sitting at the small room in the Ministry Remus couldn't make sense of anything. James, Lily and Peter dead, Sirius a traitor, Sirius killing Peter and laughing about it. That couldn't be true! Sirius wouldn't do anything like that no matter how angry he got. Sirius loved James, James was his brother and he would never do anything to hurt him. Oh god and Harry...What would happen to Harry now?
Remus' tongue stumbled when he was to answer all the questions fired at him. No he couldn't say where he'd been for the last week, no he didn't know what cases Sirius had been working on or where he disappeared to at nights when he heard the motorcycle roar to life.
All his requests to see Sirius, to talk to him were denied.
When Remus finally asked for an Arguer after hours upon hours of questions and silver shackles he was only laughed at.
"You're a Dark Creature Remus Lupin." One of the Aurors leaned across the table, grinning at him. "You don't have the rights to an Arguer and we can keep you for as long as we want. You may look like a man and talk like a man but you and I both know what kind of monster you really are. You and Black were in this together, secret Death Eater scum and I will prove it." The Auror's eyes narrowed. "If I have my way then you and that sick lover of yours will be kissed together."
Sirius raged and struggled against the hands restraining him, taking him directly to Azkaban without even a trial, his fury incandescent. How could he? How could he?! How could Peter do that? How could the little rat just toss Lily and James to Voldemort? He kicked himself as well for letting the weedy little bastard get the better of him as well. He struggled and shouted and demanded a trial and an Arguer but he was only laughed at and kicked into a transport. Fucking Crouch, forgoing trials in exchange for political gain. He'd get out, get his trial and see to it that Crouch got a kick in the pants. Gods he just hoped the bastard didn't do anything like this to Remus.
His breath shuddered and he was suffused with guilt. His Moony, if they'd only talked sooner they might have been able to avoid all this and now he could only guess what they were doing to his werewolf lover. His hands clenched. He should have known better, should have known that Remus would never betray them, they were pack after all. How could he have ever thought his Moony would work for the scummy big evil bastard? He was a twat that was how. But maybe there was a sick silver lining, if Remus wasn't charged then there would be at least one Marauder to take care of Harry. He slumped in exhaustion against the transport wall and sent a thought to Dumbledore. With luck he'd get Remus out of whatever mess the prejudiced Ministry had put him in. His eyes closed as he wondered just what Remus had been going to tell him tonight that was supposedly good news.
The days were beginning to blend into one and other. Remus got used to not seeing sunlight, got used to the small room and narrow cot, he even started to get used to the silver shackle around his left ankle, keeping him chained to the wall even though every day it burned through his skin. The silence was not as easy to get used to, he missed the sound of Sirius' voice, of Harry's giggling laughter and James' deeper one as Lily scolded them for diving into the biscuits before supper. He missed the high pitched tones of Peter as he trailed behind James, admiring his latest endeavor and he couldn't understand how any of this could have happened.
Sirius was sent to Azkaban for life without trial, it was wrong. Everything inside Remus screamed that Sirius hadn't done this, couldn't have done this. Remus didn't care what sort of evidence they said they had. Remus himself was in limbo. They still tried to work a confession out of him and he still stayed silent. No one had been to see him except for the Aurors questioning him and Remus couldn't help but wonder if there even was anyone left out there who cared what happened to him or wondered where he was.
Remus curled up on the cot and tried to rest his leg in a way so that the silver cuff wouldn't touch skin. He startled when the door opened and two people stepped inside, the Auror who always did the talking and a woman he'd never seen before.
"So Dolores," The Auror turned to the woman. "It seems our little bitch here is with pup, what do you think we should do about that?"
Remus' hands went to shield his stomach as he saw the glint in the short, corpulent woman's eyes.
The toad like woman smiled and tapped her chin, "Why I do believe this is an excellent opportunity to study such a creature's gestation and of course we'll have to see exactly what the spawn is capable off after he whelps."
"No! You can't do that, you're not allowed to do that! Keep your hands and eyes to yourself. You can't experiment on a child." Remus' eyes flashed and a crawled further up on the bed.
"You still don't get it do you? We're allowed to do anything we want, you are less than an animal, you have no rights and neither does the spawn inside you." The Auror grinned and turned to Dolores Umbridge again. "Where do you want to start? There's a full moon next week, that should be interesting."
"Excellent suggestion dear. We'll study how a pregnant werewolf shifts but first I think a full physical examination is called for to create a baseline."
"You're the expert Dolores dear; I will follow your lead." The Auror looked at Remus with contempt. "I will call for a mediwitch, I rather not get my hands dirty touching it."
Remus closed his eyes tightly and leaned his head against the wall, his hands still on his stomach. He kept his eyes closed and called up Sirius' image before his eyes, trying to escape into memories of his loved one.
Dolores Umbridge hummed cheerfully as she gathered the reports on her new little pet project. Remus J. Lupin, what a cheerful little plum to fall into her lap. She'd always wanted to experiment on a werewolf and its life cycle and now she had the opportunity. Nasty beasts no matter the advent of that new potion Wolfsbane, they were monsters and should all be put down and if they could learn how a werewolf gestated, and birthed and what vulnerabilities the young had they could create something to destroy them once and for all. Her little project was only a few weeks away from pupping and then she'd have the final piece of the puzzle. She couldn't wait.
Remus was still in the same room, sitting crouched on the floor, cradling his large, round stomach. His whole world revolved around the baby inside him now, there was nothing left. He was not even sure the man Remus Lupin existed anymore; he was certainly not treated as a man here.
He had to get out, had to find a way to get out before his child was born. He'd overheard that they would take the baby away from him the second it was born and Remus had no doubt that once he'd outlived his usefulness he'd be put down as a feral dark creature, no one would question it. The silver manacle was finally gone; it had been removed when it became clear that the silver wasn't good for the baby. Being taken to and from the different rooms they conducted the experiments in Remus had memorized the outlay of the floor he was on, he'd always had an analytical mind and it was time to put it to use.
When the hated Auror who he'd never learned the name of came in to take him to this day's torture session, Remus was ready. He really didn't feel any remorse as he snapped the man's neck and let the body drop to the floor. Remus had never used his werewolf strength against another on purpose before but he was surprised at how easy it was. He really wanted to kill the bitch of a witch in charge of the experiments on him as well but he couldn't risk going in search of her, the baby was everything.
When it was done Remus really couldn't remember how he got out, he could only smell the fresh air and fell droplets of rain on his face as he ran, ran as fast and as far he could get, knowing without a doubt that he would be chased.
Albus Dumbledore sat outside Hogwarts greenhouses, facing the forbidden forest, and sipped at his tea as he thought of all the little threads that were coming together exactly as planned. Harry tucked safely away from the wizarding world at his aunt's, who conveniently hated magic, the two Marauders who would try to rescue Harry from the Dursleys effectively detained, though he wasn't sure why Remus was still being detained as it went against all the new laws passed for werewolves since the advent of Wolfsbane potion, Tom Riddle's spirit floating about the world searching for a body, and the entire wizarding community building up unrealistic celebrity around an infant so that by the time Harry did enter the wizarding world he'd be bombarded on all sides and desperate for a trustworthy adult around. Things were going very well indeed.
Remus had given birth in the woods on his own and he'd been sure he was going to die. There had been so much blood and at first the baby hadn't made a sound. After all that had happen Remus hadn't known he could still feel fear like that, nor the relief that followed when a thin angry wail finally rose from the tiny little body. Now he was making his way to the only place he could be safe in. He had to have faith that Dumbledore would help him. Remus had wrapped his son, little Jonathan Orion, named after his and Sirius' fathers, in his shirt and he carried him carefully as he walked through the forbidden forest. Every step hurt but the goal was in sight now and Remus wouldn't give up.
As luck would have it he caught sight of the Headmaster himself when he made it out of the trees and Remus hobbled over, so very grateful that salvation was within his reach, finally.
Albus nearly bobbled his teacup at the sight of a ragged and bloody Remus carrying a bundle came out of the trees towards him. He'd not have been as surprised even if his sister had appeared hale and whole to turn him inside out. He recovered admirably however and set his teacup down to stand, reaching Remus and putting a hand on his shoulder, almost gaping at the babe in the other man's arms. "Remus, my boy what in the world? Where have you been? What happened?"
"I've been kept at the Ministry’s holding house all this time, thought you knew." Remus sunk down to his knees in front of the older wizard, unable to take another step. "Experimented on me, on Orion...My son. Please Albus, please you have to help us. Don't let them take him...Please." Remus pressed a sleeping Orion closer to his chest. "I-I escaped, hunted...Please."
"There now my boy," Albus' mind was whirring at light speed, rearranging plans and plots and creating new, "come, let's get you in to Poppy. I thought you'd have been released not long after Sirius was sent to Azkaban. New laws were passed for werewolf rights," he began leading Remus into the castle, "experimenting on or holding someone afflicted with Lycanthropy without just cause is now illegal. Don't worry; I'll take care of everything. You need rest however."
"Promise me that we'll be safe here, that you won't take Orion away." Remus got back on his feet only by pure strength of will, not letting go of his son. He couldn't believe it, werewolf rights...How could they have kept him if it was illegal? Why hadn't anyone done anything? He wobbled after Dumbledore into the castle, and up the stairs to the infirmary. Poppy he trusted, she would never hurt Orion.
Albus pat him on the shoulder gently, "Of course my boy. You have my word; I'll not take your son from you." There would be no point in that. If he was to have a 'leash' to hold Remus by, the babe would need to remain in the werewolf's care. "Tell me, do you know the name of the one behind your imprisonment?"
"Only a first name." Remus was so exhausted that he was beyond seeing double, his vision was in the triple and quadruples now but he felt like he could finally relax. He was at Hogwarts, Dumbledore would keep his child safe, he trusted the older wizard. "Her first name was Dolores, short, squat woman, demon in a woman's disguise." It came out as a growl, filled with hatred.
"Ah, that would be Dolores Umbridge. Don't worry my boy, I'll take care of it," He guided Remus into the infirmary and called out, "Poppy, we've someone here you need to see to."
Poppy bustled out of her tiny office room and almost dropped the journals she was carrying when she saw Remus and the babe. "Oh dear Merlin, well come on then Albus. Help me get these dear hearts into bed so I can examine them." She made a shooing motion that put a smile on Remus' face despite everything. "I wondered where you went Remus, tried looking for you but there was no trace, your apartment cleaned out and rented out to someone else." She herded the exhausted werewolf into bed and took the baby, casting diagnostic spells on the wee one to make sure everything was alright.
"You are both malnourished but we'll fix that in a jiffy. Sleep now Remus and I'll have some Potions ready for you when you wake...I'll make sure to keep the wee one safe." She petted his hand, resting on the bed until his eyelids closed and his breathing evened out.
"How could this have happened Albus? Poor boy looks like he's been to hell and back."
Albus knew he'd have to bide his time to get hold of the babe and set his strings to biding Remus in place. It was better not to use the spell he had in mind until they baby was completely healthy in any case. He pat Poppy's shoulder, "Dolores Umbridge arranged for him to be experimented on after he was detained for questioning after Sirius' arrest. I was told he'd been released but I should have investigated more thoroughly."
Poppy gasped. "That's horrible; she should be arrested or at least dismissed from her position." She rocked the baby. "It's not your fault though Albus, we should all have done more to find out where Remus went, it's not like him to just disappear no matter what had gone down." She looked down at the little sleeping face. "Oh this poor wee one, can you imagine what they would have done to him?"
"I'd honestly rather not." Albus knew what Umbridge would have done and he saw no need to dwell upon it. "I will look into having Dolores charged for her actions Poppy. You do what you do so well and take care of our boys here hm?"
"Of course I will Albus, the absolute best care they can get now is rest and nutrition though." Poppy ran a finger over inky black baby down. "Would you please send up professor Snape? I have a few potions I need him to brew for me, he is young but brilliant, and after he started brewing for me sick days have gone down considerably.”
"I'll have him sent for right away Poppy and I will return later to visit them." He stepped away and went to get Severus up to the infirmary, certain that the animosity between the two men was sure to be at an all-time high, which would only further his plans along really.
It didn't take long for Snape to enter the infirmary, his severe black robes and extremely pallid face making him a study in contrast. "The Headmaster said you needed to see me Poppy?"
"Yes Severus, I need two different nutrient potions brewed. One specialized for an adult werewolf and one for an infant." She motioned to the baby in her arms and to the sleeping Remus. "Did you hear from Albus? He's been kept by the Ministry all this time, experimented on, this little one too."
Severus stiffened at the sight of one of his old tormentors, at first seeing nothing but the berk who stood by letting others bully him, a situation that had led to his joining the Death Eaters and the loss of his only friend, but then the words Poppy spoke registered and he saw clear to the skinny, worn body lying unconscious on the hospital cot. Lupin looked worse than he ever had before and he felt a slight twinge of sympathy. Very slight. His gaze went to the infant in Poppy's arms, "Lupin's child I presume?"
"Yes." Poppy nodded. "His, and most likely, Sirius Black's. Here hold him for a moment while I go get a basin of hot water and clean blankets, the poor dear hasn't been cleaned since he came into this world, I doubt Remus has either." She handed Severus the baby before he could protest and disappeared in a swish of long skirts.
His eyes widened in utter shock and he looked down at the little bundle down in his arms, the little face napping and a tiny tuft of what was probably black hair stuck down by dried birthing fluids. The infant was scrunch-faced and thin for a newborn and so tiny he could probably hold it in one hand if he chose. It was, in some odd way, almost cute.
Poppy returned after a while, carrying a large pewter basin filled with lukewarm water, clean towels and a clean white blanket. "Okay Severus, hold on to him and wash him carefully with this." She handed him a soft, herbal scented washcloth. "I'll clean daddy up." She moved the screen so that Remus' bed was covered and pulled the blanket off as well as Remus' blood soaked clothes, wincing at the damage. "On second thought clean the babe up and then I need you to come assist me as I stitch Remus up, poor little one is torn open."
"What?!" It was a horrified squeak. "I can barely stand him and you want me to-" he heard a warning sound from Poppy behind the screen. "I hate you quite a bit right now Poppy." He moved to the basin and started to wash the baby carefully and very awkwardly, jumping a bit with the babe squeaked and opened newborn blue eyes irritably at him. If the little brat started crying he was going to hand him off to Poppy and run back down to the dungeons, the medi-witch's wrath be damned.
Remus groaned in pain and blinked amber eyes opened, glazed over as Poppy manhandled him.
"Shh Remus, it's alright. I'm just going to clean you up and fix things down here, no need to be worried. No one will hurt you here." Poppy's voice was soothing as she reached into her apron for the sleeping potion she'd brought.
"Is that the babe's name? Orion is safe too, being cleaned and bundled up like a snug little bug. When you wake up properly you will have him with you. Now drink this like a good boy." She lifted his head and tipped the potion into his mouth, making sure he swallowed it. "That's it." Poppy watched as he drifted off to sleep again. "This will hurt so it's good you won't be awake for it." She smoothed matted and greasy brown hair back from a scarred face and went back to carefully clean the affected area. "Are you done with the babe Severus?"
"How in the bloody hell do you diaper a baby?" His voice was an irritated whip, "or swaddle one when it comes to that. Pediatrics and Obstetrics are not my specialty Poppy."
"Oh really now..." Poppy wiped her hands on her apron and walked around the screen to take the baby from Severus, frowning when it let out a wail at being taken from the young man. "Watch closely now because it sounds as if little Orion here has taken a shine to you." She expertly put a cloth diaper on the now clean baby and swaddled him tightly, handing the wrapped bundle back to Severus. "I'll get a bottle; I think you need to feed him before we continue on with his daddy."
"Me? Why me? Why in the name of all that's holy would that...infant take a shine to me?" It was half panicked and all 'do NOT want' in tone even as he studied the way she diapered, swaddled and prepared the baby bottle. If he was going to be forced into caring for someone's sprog he might as well know how to do so. He grudgingly allowed Poppy to show him how to hold the babe for feeding and gave him the bottle, quirking a brow when the infant latched on nigh desperately and guzzled the milk down as if it would disappear before he had his fill.
"That's it; looks like you're a natural Severus. Bless is little soul he's hungry, that's good, if he hadn't eaten on his own then we would've had a problem." Poppy watched Orion feed greedily then yawn and promptly fall asleep. "You can put him down in the basket over there and then come and help me." She pointed to a small wicker basket next to Remus' bed.
Severus set the baby down gratefully though he didn't particularly want to see Remus' kibbles and bits. "What precisely do you need me to do that you're not capable of doing yourself then?"
"Don't worry Severus; I won't scar your sensitive mind." Poppy answered dryly. "I just need you to hold his leg up and hand me things when I ask for them." She raised Remus' leg, frowning again when she saw the state of his ankle, that would have to be dealt with next. "Just hold here and hand me disinfectant swabs when I need them." She threaded a needle and dove down behind the screen, leaving Severus to hold Remus' leg up and away from his body.
He kept his gaze well away from what Poppy was doing and it caught on Remus' ankle. His thumb traced over the acid burn appearance and he murmured, "Silver poisoning, what were those fools thinking?"
"Hmm, what was that dearie?" Poppy poked her head up and followed Snape's gaze. "Ah yes, complete folly." She eyed the ankle critically. "Prolonged exposure too, that will be another scar he won't get rid of, keeping him in silver and while pregnant. It's inhuman, no creature, animal or man should have to suffer through something like that. Look at him Severus; his legs are like sticks, almost no muscle tone left. It's a miracle he made it here." Her hands were still working as she spoke and she looked back at her handiwork. "Swab please."
He passed her the swab and inspected the silver burn critically, wrapping his mind around the condition and the possible consequences, "I'll have to brew a potion to clean the lingering traces out of his system and perhaps the babe as well, unless the prolonged exposure while gestating gave Lupin's son an immunity to it."
"There's no way of knowing how much of the Lycanthropy virus that has been passed on to the wee one, he can be perfectly free of it and it can be so bad that he too changes with the moon. Also we have no idea of knowing just what's been done to him, to alter him." Poppy threw the bloody swab in a small metal basin and continued her neat, precise stitching. "Look at at the needle marks on Remus' arms; something has definitely been injected in him." She shook her head sadly. "Any potion you can brew that will help will be greatly appreciated, I don't think we should start any tests on the baby just now, it could be the thing to push Remus off the edge. Okay one more swab please and we'll be done here."
He handed it to her, "I had no intentions of doing so. I'm not suicidal. We will have to find out before administering a potion to clean out silver poisoning though, as I'm certain you know. Ask Lupin about it when he wakes." He tapped a foot, mind already going to his lab and potions to treat Lupin and son, "It is times such as now that I'm reminded of why I loathe the Ministry so deeply."
Poppy nodded, tied the knot on the thin thread she'd been stitching with, swabbed the area and straightened her back. "I don't know when things went so askew at the Ministry, it happened long before You-Know-Who gained any power, probably a reason why he could get so many to follow him, the promise of change you know." She shook her head again, with a sad faraway expression on her face. "You can let go of his leg now dear, thank you for your help and I won't keep you from your lab any longer." She smiled at the severe young man, Poppy had liked Severus even as a student, and despite his stand offish nature she knew he was a good man. "Good luck with the potions and don't be surprised if I call for more help with the wee one."
"You hate me don't you?" He buried the sting the reminder of the Dark Lord and that folly brought up under a mountain of potion work waiting for him, "I for one am just relieved it's still June, an entire two months and one week until the school is swarmed by miniature barbarian hordes."
"Believe me Severus Snape, if I hated you, you would know it." Poppy managed to sound very dark and ominous as she sad that before she gave him a rather motherly smile. "Go work your brilliance in your dungeons now and I'll finish cleaning up Remus here. I do agree with you that it's nice that it's still summer, hexes and potions gone awry can be quite tiring you know."
"I am aware. Let us hope Lupin is on his feet by the time we're invaded." He inclined his head in farewell and headed for his lab to brew the potions on his list and the ones needed for Lupin and his child.
Poppy kept her word, when Remus woke up several hours later, Orion was lying in a basket next to him, making tiny noises of discomfort that Remus had learnt would soon result in a full out wail. He winced as he shifted his upper body to lift the baby out of the basket and into his arms, looking in marvel at the tiny pink face and tufty wisps of black hair. Even now he could still see so much of Sirius in their child, especially something about that perfectly bow shaped mouth screamed of his lover and it made Remus want to cry. He ran a finger over a soft cheek in wonder. He would never fail to protect this one as he had failed his friends and lover. To keep Orion safe he would do anything, even sell his very soul if that was what it took.
"Oh joy, you're awake." Severus paused in the doorway, a small case of potions in hand. "Where is Poppy?"
Remus' head whipped up and he sniffed the air just like a wolf, his eyes widening when he saw Snape of all people standing in the doorway. "I-I don't know, I just woke up and we were alone." He brought his knees up higher, closer to his body and curled around the baby in his arms as best he could to keep him protected if Snape was going to do something.
A sardonic black brow rose, "If you tear your stitches Poppy will have your head and then I will be roped into assisting patch you up again. Relax, contrary to popular and Marauder belief I am not evil incarnate."
Now that Snape mentioned it he felt the pinching in his skin that suggested stitches and he forcibly relaxed his muscles some. "I don't believe you're evil incarnate, I've spent the last six months looking evil in the eye and believe me Severus, you're not it. That still doesn't mean I trust you though."
"Good, you show better judgment than your bratlet then," he set the small case down on a cot a couple meters away, "I presume that the child's sire is Black?"
"Yes." Remus' voice was very small and he didn't take his eyes off of Snape and what he was doing, his eyes flashed a lighter shade of amber at the sight of the potions bottles. "I didn't even get a chance to tell him, he doesn't know. He doesn't know he has a son and I don't know if I'll ever get to tell him."
"You believe he's innocent then?" He sat down next to his case on the cot, catching Lupin's reaction to the sight of the potions.
"I do, no matter what went down I know that Sirius would never betray James, he would die himself before he ever did that. Things changed, got dark but that is something I'm absolutely sure of. Sirius lived for his friends, for Harry." Remus tensed. "Where is Harry? Do you know? Is he safe, does he have anyone to take care of him?"
"I know he is alive, anything beyond that you should ask the Headmaster." He studied the werewolf, "You're suffering from silver poisoning."
"Funny word that...suffer...But yeah, I thought as much." He shifted Orion in his arms and pressed a kiss to his downy head as the baby started to fuss. "I think Orion might have it too, the only reason they removed the chain was because the silver was starting to affect his health." His eyes bore in to Snape's. "Can you help him?"
"What, precisely, do you think these are," he nodded at the potions at his side, "Two nutrition potions, two to clean the sliver from you and possibly your son's systems, and a pain potion for you. I also have testing strips as I would imagine you'd rather confirm the contents of the bottles yourself."
"If you don't mind yes...And even if you did mind then still yes." Remus was done with being the trusting idiot; Orion couldn't defend himself so Remus would do it for him. It was a bit awkward but he managed to shift Orion to one arm and take the testing strips Snape handed him with the other, free hand. "Can you drip please?" He held out the first strip, silently cursing the fact that potions had always been his weakest subject.
Rather than respond verbally, Severus unstoppered one potion bottle and placed a few drops on the first strip. It was the adult nutrition potion and should turn a bright red on the strip.
Remus eyed the strip closely as it changed color and then nodded in satisfaction, holding out the next strip for Snape to drip a potion on and repeated it with all the potions. They all seemed to be what Snape said they were and Remus couldn't smell anything off with them. "Okay...Okay, let's help Orion first." Remus breathed deeply and held his son out so Snape could reach him, it was such a hard thing to do that his arms trembled with the effort to not just yank him close again.
Snape took the baby carefully, "I need to cast a specialized diagnostic test first to be certain if he does or does not have silver poisoning. If he doesn't then the antidote for it would kill him."
Narrowing his eyes, Remus' gaze dropped to Snape's wand. His fingers flexed as if his claws wanted to pop out regardless of the lunar cycle. He couldn't take the chance to hurt Orion though. "Fine, do it but say the spell out loud."
The other man waved his wand carefully over the infant, "Venenum intus revelat," and hummed when the baby glowed a bright, cheerful blue for a few moments before it faded. "He doesn't need the antidote to silver, not a trace of any sort of poisoning in his system at all."
"Really?" Remus' eyes softened and he nuzzled his cheek against Orion's head gently. "My brave, strong boy. I was so worried." He murmured quietly. "Good, that's brilliant." A shadow of a smile flashed across his features before it was gone again.
Severus added the infant nutrition potion to a baby bottle full of milk then handed it to Remus, "For him the only problem is the malnutrition, so get to work on that."
"I'll do my best sir." Remus' voice dripped with sarcasm but he was still so happy that his son wasn't poisoned. "....Thank you Snape, for being willing to help him, despite who his parents are." Strangely enough the thank you didn't get stuck in his throat as he thought it might.
"I only hated Black completely. You I merely despised due to the fact that you could have done something yet you never did. Half tolerable genetics are reason enough to assist your bratlet."
"Still I thank you." Remus didn't come with explanations or excuses, he couldn't turn back the time and to be perfectly honest with himself he didn't know if he would act differently than he had done. "So there was another potion other than the antidote for Orion right? Better get it all done at once before I pass out again."
"No Lupin, the rest of the potions are for you. Pain," he pointed at the red bottle, "antidote," the green, "and nutrition. Best to take them in that order."
Remus eyed the potions, even though he knew what they were it still felt like a battle to lift them to his lips and drink them down but he did it. He had to get better to be able to protect his son, had to grow strong again. "There, done." He grimaced slightly at the bitter taste. "Any reason why they have to taste so incredibly foul other than that you'd get jollies out of it?"
"The antidote, yes. The others," he smirked, "no."
"Figured." There was a sardonic smile on Remus' lips.
"Oh good you're up and awake." Poppy came into the room with a bottle that she handed Remus so he could feed Orion. "And Severus dear, thank you so much for brewing these potions so quickly."
Remus tuned them out as he watched his son suckle the bottle greedily, his tiny little hands flailing and holding the bottle next to Remus' larger hand. It was amazing that something so incredible, so beautiful had come out of him.
Snape studied the besotted expression on the werewolf's face and shook his head. He had a bad feeling that the peace Lupin was currently enjoying would be shattered soon enough.
Albus had everything all ready. It was a simple ritual and was almost complete, the only thing left to complete it was for a drop of the right being's blood to be put into the potion in the goblet on his desk. That should be done as soon as Remus arrived with his spawn. He knew that the werewolf had been getting impatient to go and get Harry from Lily's relatives since he'd been exonerated of any crime. Officially Remus had been an innocent wrongfully detained who acted in self-defense. Albus had had his hands full convincing Remus not to go charging off just yet but he'd managed it and as soon as he and Orion arrived he'd not have to extend the extra effort into being convincing.
Remus soothed his son as he made his way to Dumbledore's office. Albus had asked to see him; Remus hoped that he would decide a time for them to go get Harry. He didn't understand why Albus continued to draw it out. James and Lily wouldn't have wanted Petunia and her husband raising Harry, that much Remus knew. He wanted to get Sirius investigation re-opened too, that whole thing had happened way too fast and Remus couldn't believe Sirius had done it, killed Peter and all those muggles without a very good reason.
Orion kept crying as he walked up the spiral staircase and Remus kissed his downy head and rocked him gently, not knowing what was upsetting the baby. He knocked on Dumbledore's door and waited until he got permission to enter before he did so. "You wanted to see us Albus."
"Yes do come in my boy." He waved Remus further into the office. "Poppy told me that Orion had recovered from the malnutrition but I wanted to see for myself." Blue eyes twinkled, hiding the ill intent behind them, and he held out his arms, "May I?"
"Yes of course." Remus handed his son over, feeling a knot in his stomach over the fact that Orion was still crying. "He's a little out of sorts today I think, he won't stop crying." He ran his finger over Orion's cheek, feeling the love he felt for his son well up again. Orion was the reason he still moved forward, woke up each morning to face a new day.
"Perhaps colic?" Albus cautiously took the screaming babe, making sure he was securely in his arms before sitting in his chair, the goblet within reach. "Some babies suffer from it quite early from what I understand." He ran a finger over a tiny fist and wondered if perhaps Orion had inherited the Lupin talent for sight and knew what he had planned. That would certainly make him even more useful a tool.
"Perhaps." Remus agreed, he didn't know very much about babies and their ailments but he was learning more with every passing day. Poppy was an angel when it came to teaching him. "It started this morning." His arms ached to take Orion back from Albus and comfort him as best he could but that would be rude, Albus only wanted to check on him and Remus should be happy he cared enough to want to make sure Orion was alright. "He's been sleeping and eating really well, Poppy is impressed with how sweet tempered he is for a baby." Pride shone through in Remus' voice at that.
Albus chuckled, "Didn't inherit his father's temperament then. Though he certainly will look just like him it seems." He shouldn't dawdle any further. He could already see Remus' fingers twitching to take back his son so with a swift move that seemed out of place for his age, he pierced the baby's skin with the needle he'd concealed and had the blood dropping into the goblet in an instant. A bright flash of magic and green tendrils of light wound around himself and the babe. he held his wand ready and pointed at Remus to forestall any lunge.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing?" Remus was on his feet, looking for a way to get to his now absolutely screaming son, eyes changing into the wolf's and nails elongating. He couldn't understand what Albus was up to, why he was doing these things. "What have you done? Why?" Remus' voice was deeper, on the edge of a growl as panic prickled against his skin. He couldn't attack Dumbledore, not while the older wizard was holding his son. This was supposed to be a safe place, he trusted Albus, had placed his son right in his arms. "Tell me!"
"I cannot afford to have you destroy my carefully laid plans or the world at large due to your bond to James and the obligation you feel towards his son nor your feelings for Sirius." He would feed Remus a mix of truth and lies, concealing his true reasons behind those that the world would come to believe. "Voldemort is not gone. He is weak and incorporeal now due to the rebounded Killing curse but he will grow stronger. A prophecy of Harry and Voldemort was made before Harry was born and he is the only one who holds the power to vanquish Voldemort forever. His mother's sacrifice, tragic though it was, is what protects him so long as he lives with his mother's blood, his aunt. You would not leave him there, nor would Sirius, and you would push for Sirius' release without something holding you back." He gestured to the strings of green light threading through himself and Orion, "And so this shall hold you back. Your son's health and life are held within the palm of my hand. I have tied his life to my whim and only my death could sever the tie and I would kill him long before you could kill me should you try."
Remus could feel an invisible noose tighten around his neck as betrayal slammed into him with such force that it almost brought him to his knees. Only his son, lying in Dumbledore's arms kept him standing. He felt crushed under the knowledge that there wasn't anyone he could trust, nowhere that was safe. He didn't want to leave Harry with the Dursleys and he certainly didn't want to leave Sirius in Azkaban but what choice did he have? Orion looked so tiny in Albus' arms and his cries had weakened to sobbing hiccupping noises that broke Remus' heart. "If I behave...If I am your good little lapdog...Will he be safe? Healthy? If you keep Orion from me Albus, then I will kill you, consequences be damned, I won't have anything to live for anyway then." Amber eyes were lit with disbelief and disgust that the man he trusted with everything had turned out like this.
"I have no need to keep him with me." The strings slowly faded from sight though he knew Remus would always be aware that they were there. "You will never forget that his life is held in my hand. So long as you do as I ask, and leave Harry and Sirius where they are, he is safe." He set the babe down on his desk and moved away, lowering his wand to allow Remus to go to his son.
He practically yanked Orion from Albus and held him close, whispering soft apologies and words of love in a tiny little ear. "You have shackled me completely and I will do as you say, you know I will. I will never believe a word you say from here on out though and one day I will find a way to take you down and keep my son safe." Remus' eyes glowed. "You aspire to great heights but remember it will be a long way to fall."
Albus didn't raise a hair. He was not worried in the least as he'd planned far too carefully to 'fall' as Remus had put it. "We shall see Remus."
"I suppose we will. Are you done with us now? I will leave the castle as soon as I can. Go to mother's cottage. I'm not stupid enough to believe you won't monitor me but I won't stay under the same roof as you." Remus breathed deeply and fought to remain calm. He needed to be strong for Orion's sake. He couldn't afford to fall apart.
"Oh for the time being yes." Albus settled back into his chair, "Do close the door behind you please?"
It took every ounce of willpower but Remus managed to not slam the door as he left, he refused to give Albus that satisfaction. He took the stairs several steps at a time as he hurried down to the dungeons. He needed to persuade Severus to make some potions he could take with him for Orion and he had a huge favor to ask of the other man.
Snape looked up as the door to his lab flew open and clanged against the stone wall and lifted a brow, "Lupin is there a reason you felt it necessary to abuse my wall?"
"I'm leaving, I've stayed here long enough and I need to go before the students arrive. I can't stay." Remus was still holding Orion close, his heard pounding. "I came to ask if you could please brew some more nutrient potions I can take with me until Orion doesn't need them anymore." He took a deep breath. "Severus, we're not close and I know you probably hate me. You have reason to do so but I need to ask. Can you take Orion during the moons? Keep him out of Dumbledore's beard? I don't...I don't have anyone to ask." All his close ones were gone; Remus didn't have anyone at all to lean on.
Never let it be said that Snape wasn't sharp as a razor. His eyes narrowed on Lupin, "What happened?"
"I've over-stayed my welcome, that's all." Remus couldn't trust anyone, no matter how much he wanted to. "I need to leave, build some resemblance of a life for myself and Orion. I can't do that here. Too many memories, too many distractions."
"You're an abysmal liar Lupin but very well, keep your secrets. Why though, in the name of all that is holy, ask me to watch your infant?"
"I told you, I don't have anyone else to ask and despite the bad blood between us I know that you are a good man, no matter how much to try to deny it." Remus replied, grateful that Severus didn't push. He didn't want to drag anyone else into the mess Albus had created.
"We'll leave your illusions to the side for a moment. Poppy is much better quali-" he trailed off at the violently opposed look on Lupin's face and sighed, "Very well but if I wind up with an irritable werewolf on my doorstep during a fullmoon because he's looking for his cub I will come back to haunt you."
"Thank you, thank you so much." Remus meant it too, at least Severus had always been honest and upfront about his loathing and strangely enough that was a comfort to him now. "I will take precautions during the moons, be locked up. I won't be a bother other than Orion and I'll come back for him as soon as it's safe."
"Hm," Snape stirred some fennel seeds into the potion he was making, "How do you intend to support yourself and your child may I ask?"
"I have a contact at Oxford, he'll send some translations my way. Ancient Greek mostly. Hopefully it will be enough to get by on. As long as they don't have to look at me or be in the same room having a werewolf on the payroll is acceptable, especially when he's willing to work for minimum wage." Orion's shudders finally stopped and he fell asleep, Remus stroked him across his back lovingly as he rocked him.
Severus twitched just a hair. 'Enough to get by on.' That was a line he'd heard many times, from his own parents, and he still loathed it. Affecting an air of unconcern he said, "If it is not, contact me. I can always use someone willing to test variants for the Wolfsbane potion and other lycanthropy related potions. You won't be turned into a mutant I can assure you."
A corner of Remus' mouth kicked up in a sardonic smile. "I'll keep that in mind. Thank you for everything Severus, I really mean that. I should go pack the few things I have here. I'm going to the cottage Mum left me, it's a muggle house but I think we'll be safe there."
"I would advise you wait until dinner while Poppy is occupied, unless you favor the idea of an interrogation?" He lifted a brow and poured in some dittany.
"Eugh no, I think I'll do just fine without an interrogation. I'll do my best to apply my sneakiness until she is busy. Thank you again." Remus nodded and moved to leave Severus to his brewing.
"Lupin, whatever happened I would suggest you make plans to be assured, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that should you mysteriously disappear your son will find his way to someone you trust completely," He met the honey amber eyes, "and not into a certain flamboyant old man's choice of caretaker."
"Believe me I'm already on it. I am going to keep my son safe." Remus straightened his back and walked toward the door, calling over his shoulder. "If I should disappear...You'd better invest in some baby things Severus." Remus walked out before Severus could come up with a reply.
Snape muttered irritably, "By Merlin if I'm subjected to that I'll kill the old bastard myself."