The Other Side of Normal
Rating: NC17 (M on FF.N)
Pairings: RL/SS, LM/SS
Warnings: Slash/Yaoi, Angst, Violence, Werewolf!Snape
Notes: There will be only vague reliance on the normal timeline for this story. Sequel to the Other Side of the Mirror.
Summary: His promise to Lily was solid. Severus Snape would raise Harry Potter as his own for better or worse.
Note: Chapters of this story are posted on Adultfanfiction(dot)net daily. As sex or violence show up, it will be edited out to be posted here. Feel free to follow both versions.
Tell Me A Story
The adoption was finalized on June 4th, 1982. Severus Snape dressed for the occasion in a simple muggle suit of black and gray with a red tie that his lover Remus Lupin insisted upon. Dumbledore accompanied him to pick his newly legally adopted son, much to Severus's discomfort.
Lily Potter's sister Petunia Dursley was as unpleasant as Severus remembered. She scrunched up her nose when she saw him but looked quite determined to get rid of the nearly two year old nuisance she'd been left with almost a year ago. Severus spoke with her very little. Her gargantuan husband stood behind her with a fat, unruly toddler in his arms who screamed bloody murder about losing his pacifier.
As soon as the last bits of paper work had been signed and sent off magically, Petunia brought out the child. Harry Potter, as the child had been called before all the litigating began, was a tiny boy of twenty-three months who could walk quite well and, as Petunia scoffed, only knew a few words. Severus didn't blame him that, really. Harry had a full head of messy black hair that stood up quite on its own and huge green eyes that made Severus' heart ache. He was dressed in clothing that seemed a size too big, but considering the size of the boy's cousin, this didn't surprise Severus.
Harry stayed very quiet as Severus gathered what little Petunia and her fat husband would part with for him, stuffed it into a bag, and then shrunk it to place in his pocket. The toddler watched, openly fascinated by the magic working, but kept shooting looks at his huge uncle -what was the man's name again...? Severus didn't really care enough to remember – as if to see whether it was permissible to be so awed. Petunia's husband's face grew redder with every bit of magic performed and Severus couldn't help adding a flare to the shrinking just to make him even redder.
Finally, Severus was left staring down at the little boy and wondering if he was allowed to carry him. Harry stared back at him, curious and far too cautious at such a young age. As the seconds ticked on with Dumbledore and the Dursleys watching, Severus sighed a bit and knelt down. Harry took a step back, swaying with the balance shift, and gave Severus the most perplexed look.
"Harry, it's time to go," he murmured, trying to keep his voice as quiet and soft as he could. Harry just stared at him and looked towards his uncle, who scowled. "I'm going to pick you up now."
When Severus reached out to lift Harry up, the boy jerked back and lost balance, landing on his backside with a grunt. He blinked a little and then his face reddened as he geared up to cry. Severus heard Petunia mutter something about 'not this rubbish again,' but ignored it. Instead, he picked Harry up and brought him to rest against his chest as he stood. The toddler hiccuped a bit and when Severus looked him in the face again, Harry simply looked confused. Still red faced and a little snotty, but mostly confused. His tiny hands rested against Severus' collar.
"Go?" he murmured curiously. His voice was quiet and high pitched with the faintest drop in his vowel. Severus nodded.
"Yes. We're going now."
Harry stared at him a little and then looked at his uncle before shying back to face his less frightening aunt. As Severus turned to walk back through the door, he saw Harry wave one hand a little before deciding to pick at the embroidery on Severus' shoulder. Dumbledore followed them with an infernally amused look on his face.
However, as soon as they got half way down the drive, Harry seemed to realize what was going on and began to panic. He cried out and pushed at Severus' chest, wiggling almost enough to get himself dropped. Severus tightened his hold as he could but Harry continued to struggle and he was forced to set the child down, lest he actually drop him. Harry immediately ran back towards the door sobbing. He fell twice along the way and likely scraped a knee through his overalls. Petunia's obese husband met him at the door.
"Oh no you don't!" he growled out and Harry retreated a step as tears raced down his cheeks. "I'm finally rid of you. Don't think you're welcome back in here. Go with that man. He's taking care of you now, boy."
Harry, somewhat predictably, started throwing a fit. Glancing helplessly towards Dumbledore, who was trying very hard not to laugh, Severus realized there was no help coming. He sighed and went to retrieve the child before Dursley decided to get physical. And by the purpling look to his skin, he doubted he was far from it. Severus scooped Harry up and managed to get a better hold on the struggling child this time. The two wizards left and the Dursleys were happy to be rid of them so they could go back to their perfectly ordinary existence with their perfectly ordinary fat son.
Severus thanked every deity in the cosmos that Remus was not at Spinner's End when he got there. The house had been left to him when his father Tobias died and, since he had no reason to move, Severus had decided to live there for at least this summer. The house was certainly large enough for two men and one child. There were bedrooms enough for all of them and he and Remus had spent a good two weeks childproofing it as best they could. Remus had even brought in Molly Weasley. Her solution, of course, was to send her six hellion boys roaming through the house until they'd found every sharp edge and danger they could possibly hurt themselves with. Severus was only half sure he'd gotten rid of the Weasley aura.
Depositing the still screaming, wiggling child in the middle of the living room, Severus dragged off his jacket and fell into his armchair by the currently unlit – and spell shielded – fireplace. Harry stood where he'd been put, stamping his foot and yelling unintelligible gibberish that Severus didn't have the slightest idea how to interpret in the least.
Dear Merlin, how did he ever think he was ready for this?
Nearly twenty minutes later, Harry finally managed to scream himself hoarse and tire himself out. He sat down on his bottom, pouting mightily at the fact that his demands had not been properly accorded to. Severus just stared at him and Harry stared right back with belligerence. Surely James Potter's arrogant regard for himself wasn't hereditary? Severus sighed and rubbed his temples. Not even an hour into fatherhood and he was already regretting it.
"Are you hungry?" he asked. The child blinked at him with wide eyes. Severus frowned. Petunia had said Harry knew a few words but surely children this age could understand simple concepts such as hunger. He tried it again and felt very silly when he tried to express with his hands as well. "Do you want to eat?"
Harry's pouted lip drew out further as his brows furrowed. Merlin's beard, was he that far behind? Or perhaps his assumptions were wrong? He'd read the relevant literature Molly had suggested about children and fatherhood. He'd memorized the chapters on two year old development. The child should be able to understand by now. Unless he was mentally- No. He doubted Lily could ever produce a... challenged child. And Harry seemed to be keeping up with things just fine.
He was just being combative, Severus decided. He didn't blame him, much, but it was bloody annoying.
Giving up trying to get through to the toddler just now, He shifted to get more comfortable in his chair and picked up the novel he'd left beside it the other night. He opened it and began to read but barely noticed what the words really were. Instead, his attention was almost completely centered on listening to Harry fidget on the floor.
The toddler rocked slowly, hands resting in his lap as he stared at Severus or looked around the living room at this or that. He dragged himself unsteadily to his feet and toddled around. Severus watched him over the edge of his book. He doubted there was anything Harry could hurt himself on, but Molly's children had been rather ingenious in the regard and the stories she told him had made him wonder if he should have taken advanced mediwitch training before even considering taking charge of a child.
Harry reached up on one of the bookshelves and began dragging books from it only to drop them onto the floor. Perplexed, Severus set down his book and watched openly. The boy emptied a full shelf of books before he flopped back onto his butt and began to stack them up carefully, one by one. He paused with each one and steadied it, shifting the book this way or that to get it just how he wanted before going on to the next. The look on his face was of such pure determination and seriousness that Severus felt his lip quirk.
Harry demolished his stack and started over a few times before he grew bored with that. Then he toddled right up to Severus' chair and looked at him. Severus stared back, wondering faintly if this meant the child had decided not to be angry and petulant towards him for now.
"Me?" Harry asked as he tugged at Severus' pant leg just above the knee. Severus just watched him and wondered what the bloody hell he meant.
Harry pouted and tugged him again. "Me?"
When he started to climb up, Severus started to figure out what he wanted and helped the child up into his lap. Harry ended up half kneeing on one leg, holding his sleeve tightly for balance. He leaned in close and touched his face here and there, seemingly getting familiar with it. He paid special attention to Severus' large nose and arched brows. Eventually, he settled back again, leaning into the chair arm.
"Sir," Harry said quite clearly. Severus lifted a brow and Harry felt compelled to trace his fingers along it after.
"I'm Severus," he replied. The close contact and unfamiliar weight against his knee were both uncomfortable. He'd not thought Harry would be this... touchy. Not right away.
"Sir," Harry repeated and his face screwed up a bit with unhappiness. Severus sighed. Well, he supposed 'Sir' would work for now.
"All right." He wasn't sure if Harry knew he'd decided to agree with him but the child seemed more content anyway. He'd stopped touching his face and was now tracing the slightly darker red designs of his tie.
Eventually, Severus got up, carrying Harry against his chest. The boy was startled at first and gave him a wide eyed look, but when nothing astronomical happened, he settled again and even held on. Severus had been intending to put him down once he'd straightened, but Harry's weight in his arms wasn't too strange. He'd adapt.
Severus carried him into the kitchen, where he intended to make tea. For the most part, Harry was quiet, simply looking at this or that and whipping his head around with such speed that Severus was surprised it hadn't popped off by now.
"This?" Harry squeaked, pointing out one tiny hand. Severus followed the boy's direction to the potted herbs at his window sill.
"Plants," he responded. Harry gave them a closer look and looked rather delighted that he'd been answered at all. After the first one, Harry went on a roll, pointing at virtually every object in the kitchen and demanding to know what everything was. Severus answered as best he could but was often side tracked as Harry lost interest and pointed at something else.
He eventually fed the child apple slices and then returned to the living room where Harry fell asleep against him. Severus stared down at the sleeping child, following a line a drool that was soaking a cool spot in his button up.
Was he ready for this? He doubted it, but Harry was there now and he really didn't have time to worry.
And Sing Me A Song
In the paperwork, the child Severus now cared for was Johnathan Harold Snape, son of Olivia Spatts and Severus Snape with full custody given to the father when the mother died. Olivia Spatts had never existed, but her death certificate and Johnathan Harold Snape's birth certificate were real enough to stand to magical scrutiny. Dumbledore had even arranged for a death announcement in a Surrey newspaper. Harold James Potter had been legally adopted to the muggle Harrison family of London, who also did not exist but somehow managed to pay their taxes every year. Severus didn't bother to ask Dumbledore why he'd had the cover ready in the first place.
Johnathan Harold Snape had no idea of the name change. He was simply Harry and Severus saw no reason to change that. Many people went by their middle name. He didn't think it would hurt anything and Harry was going through enough change already.
The toddler was very prone to tantrums. Severus no longer felt glad Remus was off on some task for Dumbledore. It was hard enough getting Harry to eat and sleep and not bash his head into the kitchen table legs – four times in one hour! - to also have to calm the boy alone without beating the screams out of him.
Severus was terrified of becoming his father and that terror grew stronger with every instance he found himself wanting to shut Harry up with his fist. Did normal fathers feel this? He doubted it and the fact that he did was even more frightening. He never did, never even raised his fists, but he felt it. What if he messed up someday? What if he really did strike the child as he'd suffered himself? The fear alone was enough to control his temper for the most part, but someday it might not be enough. Someday, he might slip and he'd never forgive himself.
It had only been three days. Severus thought he might break down at any moment. He wasn't cut out for this at all.
Harry wasn't a bad child. He was simple two and after Severus fire-called Molly in near hysterics – not that she knew it – he found out that two was an extremely difficult age anyway. Lovely. He just couldn't let the Dursleys deal Harry until he could talk, now could he?
When Harry wasn't crying, screaming, in need of a change, flailing, eating, trying to hurt himself, or conscious, he was rather pleasant. Molly had let him borrow some books and toys and Harry was content to play on his own to give Severus a faint respite. He was exhausted when he finally got Harry to bed at night in the bedroom next to his own. Would it always be this exhausting? Molly assured him that he'd get used to it. And at least he only had one. Severus decided he'd have shot himself in Molly's position. Repeatedly.
Day four, he fought with Harry to get him dressed because the boy wanted to put on a shirt and then pull it right off and get another and another and another. Severus finally smacked his bottom lightly when Harry refused to mind him and felt both guilt and annoyance as Harry howled. But at least he got the child dressed and the screech wasn't I'm-hurt as much as I'm-really-pissed-at-you. And Merlin, did the boy have strong lungs on him...! Harry perked up at breakfast well enough and by the time they got out the door, he wasn't even red anymore. Severus gave a soft sigh of relief.
They went to Diagon Alley. Harry sat on Severus' hip and pointed at just about everything, demanding to know, "This?" Severus didn't mind too much. Frankly, he was happy enough Harry wasn't screaming to deal with his high pitched, mostly unintelligible chatter. Besides, Harry needed to build his vocabulary anyway and this was the best way for now. He doubted the Dursleys spoke much to the boy beyond yelling. He should have been speaking short sentences by now, not the barely twenty words he'd managed to pick up.
They got more than a few glances from ladies who didn't know who he was and thought the giggling boy was absolutely adorable – if only they knew the truth! - and fathers who were sympathetic and trailing their own spawn around.
Ulric's Baby Emporium scared the ever living shit out of him. It was filled to the brim with expecting mothers, small children, screaming, yelling, and overall chaos enough to shut even Harry up. His little hands clenched in Severus's robes.
"In and out," Severus told him and Harry gave him a look like he didn't quite believe that.
The toddler ended up right. It took nearly two hours of dealing with overly helpful employees and cooing mothers to get everything the needed and shrink it down to take home. By then. Harry was tired and cranky, burying his face against Severus' neck anytime anyone came near them, which was constantly. He'd thrown a tantrum and tired himself out and it was time to go home, eat lunch, and lay him down for a nap.
When they finally escaped, Severus vowed to send Remus if a return trip was ever required.
Harry fell asleep as soon as he'd been fed and changed. Severus laid him in his room and pulled up the short railing on the side of his bed, placing a ripped up teddy bear inside. It was the only toy the Dursleys had admitted to being his, if only because they had no wish to keep it. Harry was particularly attached to it and drug the dirty thing all over the house with him. Severus had cast a mild cleansing charm on it during the one time he'd managed to get it out of Harry's hands, but still wished Harry had decided to attach himself to something else.
Severus stared down at the sleeping child. When he was calm and quiet, he didn't mind the trouble so much. He traced over the boy's chubby face with light fingertips and warmth flew through his chest when Harry turned his head into it and settled more deeply into sleep. He was exhausted and troubled and generally in a less than stellar mood... but that made it worth it.
And then Harry woke an hour or so later and the ruckus started up again. Severus chased the toddler about, figuring out through trial and error what he was allowed to participate in and when Harry wanted to do things himself. Harry could use a spoon with minimal mistakes and didn't need to be fed. He needed help with his clothes. He could wash his hands after meals by himself. He needed help with brushing his teeth. Sometime Severus messed up and that tended to earn him either a dirty look, pout, or tantrum. Most likely the last.
Remus returned on the evening of day six, just after Severus had gotten Harry to sleep. He came in quietly and when Severus heard the movement, he grabbed his wand and nearly killed him. Remus didn't mind too much. It had happened quite a bit after Severus gave Remus a key to the house and hadn't realized his senses were so used to the quiet that anything brought him into full battle readiness.
Ever since the botched attack on Harry's life, Severus had had trouble with certain things. He'd taken weeks to not jump when anyone touched him unexpectedly and not to draw his wand at any sudden sound or movement. It still troubled him, but it had only been a few months since the attack. Since Avery... since he killed Avery.
As soon as he'd managed to calm his anxiety and Remus had peeked in on Harry, they filed into his own bedroom. It had been his parents' at one point, but he'd scoured the whole place when he got there, ridding himself of everything about them except for their picture on his mantel along side one of Lily and newborn Harry. There wasn't even that much for Grandfather Snape, but Tobias hadn't let much sign of him anyway. The cross old man was better forgotten anyway. Severus though about offering Remus the last bedroom, actually voicing his want for Remus to live with him instead of just staying over most nights, but he hadn't quite gotten up the courage to.
"Has it been difficult?" Remus asked, drawing him out of his revelry. Severus shrugged out of robes, dropping them into his laundry basket.
"No more difficult than most infants, I assume."
Remus snorted and then stepped up behind him, pressing his chest against Severus' back as he slid his arms around him to help unbutton his shirt.
"He looks so peaceful in there."
"You should have seen him an hour ago. That would shatter the image quite well."
Severus knew Remus was smiling. As he continued down his shirt, Remus slid a hand inside to brush along his chest and Severus closed his eyes and leaned back into him.
"Are you tired?"
"Then I'll have to put you to bed, won't I?"
Severus couldn't help but snort at that. They finished undressing and slid into bed. Remus pulled him up against his body and Severus sighed as he rested against him, pressing his face against Remus' throat.
"You're really tense," Remus observed and began to gently knead his back. Severus groaned faintly as the accumulated knots from toddler chasing began to unwind.
"That boy... I think it's Potter's revenge."
Remus snorted. "James would likely be amused..."
"...His eyes..." Severus sighed softly. "They're hers all the way."
There was quiet as Remus continued to knead and Severus stayed pressed against him.
"Can you... Is that all right?" Remus asked softly. Severus snorted and lifted his head to give his lover a self assured look.
"Of course it is. I... I like looking at them. Seeing her in him."
Remus smiled a bit. "Mm. I suppose I'm not allowed to be jealous that your son is stealing your attention from me."
That made him blink and Severus felt his face burn, just a bit as he smacked Remus' shoulder. The other man snickered and Severus tucked his head back against his shoulder. His son... Severus hadn't thought of Harry that way. Harry was her son. Lily's. Thinking of him as his own... It was a strange thought. He didn't know if that would be right, taking claim of him.
"It's nothing. I was thinking."
Remus' hands stilled for a second or two. "Should I stop?"
"No. It feels good." Severus sighed a little. Since the attack, Remus had been a bit awkward in random moments. Unsure of himself and what he was allowed. Severus didn't know why and he did his best to soothe the episodes. "I...Is he? My son. Is he really..."
"The adoption is finalized, right?" Remus murmured as he started the massage again. "Of course he is. Though, I am curious. Johnathan?"
Severus closed his eyes and did his best not to flush. "...Your father. He was kind, that one time."
Remus didn't respond to that but Severus felt his hands fumble against his back. He wondered how Remus felt about that but he didn't dare ask. He was awkward as well.
Months ago while dying in the snow, Severus had admitted aloud that he loved him. Not quite to Remus' face, but close. They hadn't spoken about it since. Severus wasn't even sure Remus had heard it. He might have hallucinated the end of that conversation, vivid as it was in his mind. Much as he desperately wanted to know Remus' feelings in full, he couldn't risk losing what he already had.
They didn't speak much more before falling into sleep in each others' arms.
Make Me Believe
Harry woke between two and three A.M. that morning, as he had since the first night Severus brought him to Spinner's End. His cries were shrill and frightened and punctuated by the rattling of his railing on the bed. No baby monitor spell needed. Sound traveled easily through the house. Severus rolled out from under the sheets and grabbed up his dressing gown, rubbing sleep from his eyes as he padded out to Harry's room.
The crying faded into a quieter, snotty sobbing when Severus opened the door. He picked Harry up, surprised once more when the child immediately latched onto him. With a soft sigh, Severus sat down in the rocker he'd managed to find in a second hand furniture store and held Harry as the boy sniffled and hiccuped. It never took too long to settle him. Harry responded well to the soft rocking and the gentle patting of Severus' hand against his back. Severus wondered often in these moments if Lily had done this. He doubted Petunia dealt with the child so much.
The nice thing about being awakened in the middle of the night was that his nightmares rarely had time to get a full hold of him. Harry inadvertently saved him from the worst of it, so Severus didn't mind at all getting up, though he wondered at why Harry still wasn't sleeping through a night at nearly two years old.
Once he got Harry back to sleep, Severus laid him back down and pulled the light blanket over him. He paused, running his fingers through Harry's baby-fine hair a moment, then returned to his bedroom. Remus opened one eye, then yawned as he drew back the sheets. Severus slipped in but didn't lay down at first. The faint lingerings of his dream were still with him from before the toddler had awakened him, still itching under his skin and making his fingers ice cold. Remus looked up in confusion as Severus rubbed his hands to try and warm them.
"Severus..? Something wrong?" he asked sleepily.
"No. Go back to sleep, Remus," Severus murmured softly. "I'll be fine."
Remus yawned and turned onto his back as he propped himself up on his elbows. "...I'm not an expert or anything... but generally, it helps to talk when things unsettle you."
He'd been wanting him to talk for months. Severus didn't want to. If he talked, he'd have to remember that night and he didn't want to do that. Dumbledore and McGonagall were the same, treating him like glass in the last months of the school year. He hated it. Every second of it. He didn't care if their intentions were kind or sincere.
"Not yet," he said in a quiet, strained tone. Remus looked at him, golden brown eyes worried and faintly hurt. After a bit, he nodded and turned onto his side away from him. Severus clenched his jaw. He wasn't trying to hurt Remus. He never had. But he wasn't talking about this. If he had his way, he never would. It wasn't as if he hadn't lived through worse than bloody Avery.
Pomfrey had done an extensive examination of him after Remus found him in the snow next to Avery's body, lead by Septima Vector and Filius Flitwick's ingenious idea to track him by the transmitting spell in his communication pin. She'd had to, considering the great damage his body had suffered. Hypothermia was one of the lesser dangers he faced and, in all honesty, the only reason he'd survived was the werewolf healing factor. Some of the scars were still there even now, like the one across his back. It would fade, but he was only now starting to feel completely healthy again.
He'd been in a light coma for two weeks as Pomfrey healed him. Remus hadn't left his side. Severus supposed he should take that as devotion, but he couldn't. Remus wasn't letting him. All his worried looks, his veiled words wondering if he was up to things, if he was well enough for this or that, if he was coping. Remus didn't trust him to know his own limits and that made him angry. But he didn't say anything. How could he? Remus was worried. Severus should be grateful. But he wasn't.
Eventually, Severus laid back down but it was barely an hour or so later before his morning alarm went off. He switched off the spell as Remus groaned something about the damn morning and curled back under the sheets. Shaking his head, Severus got up and showered, dressing quickly. Yesterday, Harry had been up by dawn and they'd watched the sunrise together. He checked the child's room but Harry was sleeping peacefully for now. Severus had time to get a morning cup of coffee.
He leaned against his counter as he sipped the bitter concoction, wondering what in hell's name he was suppose to do with Remus now. He couldn't very well let the man protect him from everything and he was getting tired of the way Remus watched him, as if he might break at any moment. Severus certainly was not going to break.
Shaking his head a little, Severus watched the sky through his kitchen window slowly grow lighter. Almost on cue, Harry began to cry. Severus fetched him before he could wake Remus and carried the child into the kitchen to enjoy the morning with him. Harry was fully awake and watched the sun slowly rise with awe from Severus' arms.
Harry liked being held. Severus had learned that quickly enough. He liked being carried around and liked to set his head against Severus' heart when they sat together. Severus supposed it made him feel safe and secure and was somewhat flattered Harry had decided to trust him that much. Of course, he was two and weren't children very adaptable?
When the sun was fully up, Harry lost interest in it and made it very clear that he was now very hungry. Severus just rolled his eyes and got him a snack as he started breakfast. He'd just finished the eggs when Remus stumbled out of the bedroom, scratching his belly. Harry stopped playing with his fruit slices and stared at the man with wide eyes.
"Morning," Remus said with a yawn as he plopped down at the kitchen table. Severus glanced back and noticed the way Harry stared at him without moving a muscle. As if waiting for something. Shaking his head, Severus shoveled the eggs onto a serving plate and carried them and the rest to the table so he and Remus could serve themselves.
"Harry," Severus murmured. "This is Remus. Can you say hello to him?"
Harry glanced at him, but soon turned back his gaze to Remus, who tried to look friendly even though he was still sleepy.
"Hello, Harry," he said cheerily. Harry blinked again but stayed quiet. Severus served him breakfast and the boy quickly forgot about Remus in the face of food, as Severus noticed he tended to do with everything when there was food to get his attention, and what a messy eater he was at that. Severus made a note to start teaching Harry proper table manners as soon as the kid had enough vocabulary to understand him.
The meal was peaceful, anyway. Harry started babbling as soon as he was finished stuffing his face and Severus answered when he had any idea what the toddler was talking about. Most of the time he didn't but Harry didn't seem to mind. Remus watched them with a little smile on his face.
The day went rather quickly. Remus learned first hand about Harry's little tantrum problem. Severus looked on with exasperated amusement as Remus tried to calm the child, all the while looking to him for guidance. Severus just lifted a brow and Remus eventually got the point. Paying so much attention only made the tantrums last longer. As soon as Remus got that, they handled them much easier, though Severus did notice a pronounced number of them happened that day. He also noticed Harry did not warm to Remus. Harry tended to stick as near to Severus as he could, in his lap or arms whenever possible, and watched Remus like a hawk if he got too close.
When he laid Harry down for an afternoon nap, that was still bothering him. Severus closed the door and went out to the living room to rest while the brat was sleeping along with Remus.
"...I don't know how you managed six days alone," Remus murmured. He was already exhausted and it had only been half a day. Severus snorted.
"I have a way with children," he deadpanned, then rested his head back in his chair.
"....Do you think he'll like me tomorrow?"
Severus blinked and looked at the other man. He hadn't thought Remus had noticed anything but now saw the anxiety on his face as Remus picked at the edge of his shirt.
"He's just shy," Severus assured him. "We had to take a trip to that baby emporium on Diagon Alley and he was very shy then. He just needs time to adjust to a second new person."
Remus glanced at him and offered a little smile. "Thanks. I hope so. I'd hate to make the poor kid uncomfortable by hanging around all the time. I mean, it's not like I can help you raise him if he's scared of me."
Help him raise... Severus felt something fluttery in his stomach. Since springing the news of the impending adoption, Remus hadn't mentioned much of how he felt about the arrangement except for a wistfulness at being somewhat connected to Lily and James Potter. But he wanted to help him raise Harry...? That implied permanence. Severus hoped it didn't show on his face how happy that made him feel.
"I'm sure he'll warm up to you," Severus found himself saying and Remus' smile became a bit more real. "He may even like you more. You're certainly nicer than I am."
Remus laughed. "Sev, you have no idea what you're like with that kid, do you?"
"What the blazes are you talking about..?"
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were his natural father," Remus replied. Severus blinked with honest shock. "You're very careful and attentive, you haven't lost your temper with him, and the way you intuit how to deal with his demands makes me a little jealous. You make it look almost easy."
Well. Severus stared at him, not sure quite how to take that. It certainly hadn't been easy, not a bit. And he had lost his temper, barely able to keep from yelling at the child on more occasions than made him comfortable. He was sure Harry was rather unlucky with him as a caregiver.
He looked up and Remus stood, stepping over to his chair. He reached over and brushed his fingers along Severus' cheek before leaning over to kiss him softly.
"You're doing fine, Severus," he murmured and Severus hated that he actually had fear to comfort with those words. "It's stressful now, but you'll both settle into this and I'll be here to help too. You're not alone and you won't fail."
Severus swallowed and leaned into his hand, closing his eyes. "Remus...I... Thank you."
"That's what I'm here for," Remus said with a smile, but it faded off. "...Will Molly be watching him next weekend?"
"The moon, Severus."
He'd forgotten all about that. Severus sighed a bit. "I suppose I'll have to ask her to. She has a boy Harry's age. It might be nice for him to make a friend, even if it is a Weasley."
Remus snorted a bit and kissed him again. They enjoyed a nice, quiet two hours before Harry was up again and running them ragged all over again. It was a bit easier after. Severus didn't feel quite so overwhelmed and when he and Remus laid down for the night, he fell asleep rather quickly.
The relatively good day didn't keep the nightmares at bay. Severus found himself in the cold, being hunted, being captured, being- Harry woke him before it got much farther. As Severus rocked Harry in his arms, soothing the boy back to sleep, he wondered when he'd be strong enough to leave the nightmares behind. He was trying to start a new life, after all. There was no Dark Lord to dog his steps. Severus returned to bed with quiet worry.
That You'll Do No Wrong
Taking Harry to the Wealsey's den ended up being more trouble than it was worth. They'd managed through the next week and a half rather well, though Harry still wasn't sure what to make of Remus and Remus continually doubted Harry ever would like him, which aggravated Severus further. Thankfully, Harry tolerated Remus long enough to get the Wolfsbane potion created. Severus found himself being even more careful than usual of the deadly ingredients. If he got sick or worse, it wasn't just his life he had to worry about.
Before the full moon, Severus had Molly over to meet Harry a time or two, who was even more unsure of her than he was of Remus. Molly was friendly and cheerful and didn't seem to mind too much. She confided to Remus that it was perfectly normal for children to be shy of strangers, especially with all that had changed for Harry in the last month.
Three hours before moon rise, Severus packed up the dipper bag. He'd decided to work on potty training the kid next month. Harry was plenty old enough for it and Severus wasn't surprised the Dursleys hadn't bothered. Molly had already promised to help him, having just finished with her youngest son. How she managed with an infant daughter to care for was beyond him.
The Weasley home was a loud, rambunctious place. With Harry on his hip, Severus stared into the chaos of six little boys and their poor mother, and wondered if this had been a good idea after all. Harry had equal misgivings, already used to the relative quiet of their home. Molly bustled up to them with a crying infant in her arm – Severus didn't remember any of the Weasley children's names – and smiled wearily at them.
"Oh, I'm happy to see you Severus. Hello there, Harry. Ready for a fun weekend?"
Harry stared at her as if she were utterly nuts, looking between her and the still crying baby. Severus didn't blame him at all. Over the next hour, Molly got her daughter calm and each of her boys ended up coming to greet – and terrify – Harry. All except the youngest boy who stayed clamped on his mother's leg giving Severus the nastiest look. Severus did what he could to try and make Harry comfortable in the chaos, but the toddler was not having it at all. He grew upset if Severus tried to sit him down, he wanted nothing to do with the other two year old or his older brothers, and he cried if Molly tried to pick him up.
Nightfall made the decision for him. Severus had never felt so horrible as when he pulled Harry away from his chest and let Molly take him as the toddler screamed and cried with upset. He left as quickly as he could and when he apparated back to Spinner's End, Remus gave him one look and then dragged him into his arms.
"What happened?" he asked quietly.
"Harry. He didn't want me to go."
Remus nodded, sighing a little. "It's necessary, but next time I'll go with you."
They didn't say anything more about it. Going into the backyard, they reset the wards on the garden shed, strengthening them and setting a few new ones. Then they filed inside and undressed, stashing their clothing high on a shelf.
The moon itched under Severus' skin as he sat down against the cool metal wall. He didn't want to fall when the change came over him. Remus sat with him and reached out, taking Severus' face in his hands to press a soft kiss to his lips.
"Don't worry. Harry will be fine. We'll pick him up and he'll be absolutely pissed, but he'll get over it."
Severus nodded faintly. "I know.."
Remus drew him into another kiss that wasn't quite chaste but still soft and gentle. He found himself responding easily as Remus tried to put him at ease, drawing a gentle sort of passion up from within him.
And then the change hit. They yelled and writhed as their bodies mutated into the wolf form, then sat panting after as tiny whimpers left them. The damage healed itself soon enough and they got up, sniffing one another and then wandering the tiny shed. It was too small to really sate them. They wanted more territory, scratching the walls. Even their human minds under the instincts were uncomfortable with the tiny space.
Not-quite-Remus grew bored soon enough and nipped along not-quite-Severus' haunch. The reaction was startling as the black wolf jerked around and bared his teeth, ears laying back and heckles raised. He nearly leapt at the other, who gave a confused yip and cocked his head to one side. The black wolf retreated a step back, scent upset and tail lowered, but the sudden aggression drained from him. With a quiet whimper, Remus slowly approached him and nuzzled his throat lightly, ears back. It took a while, but Severus returned it.
The rest of the night was relatively uneventful as they paced about and rough housed. Morning brought them human bodies. They dressed, went in, and tended their wounds. Then they slumped off to Severus' room and laid out on their own sides of the wide bed. The moon still itched through them, making lasting contact uncomfortable and uneasy.
"Severus," Remus murmured before they could drop into sleep. He opened tired black eyes to regard the other. "...Later, after we've rested... We're talking."
Severus' hands tightened in the sheets. "No."
"No." He watched Remus' jaw clenched. They were both too tired for this discussion. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Like hell there isn't," Remus growled back. Pain and exhaustion had loosened the gentleness from his tongue. "Severus, what happened back there? What happened with Avery? You almost mauled me last night. Me. Your pack leader."
"That doesn't mean anything-"
"It means everything." Remus' face tightened. "Wolves don't feel the need to turn on their leaders unless there's a lack of territory. We don't fight for supremacy or anything as idiotic as ranks in such a small pack."
"It doesn't mean anything-"
"Listen to me!" Remus grabbed hold of his shoulder too tightly and Severus winched. "Something is wrong, Severus! You shouldn't even be inclined to turn on me in that state. I'm the parent to that form."
"You are not my father," Severus hissed with cold anger. He sat up, lip curling. "Get out."
"No. Not this time, Severus. You don't get to chase me away like I'm the one that's wronged you," Remus growled right back, pushing himself up.
They glared at one another, tired and angry and hurt. Severus didn't want to have this conversation. Ever. He got up from the bed, dragging on his robe.
"Where are you going?" Remus demanded.
Severus glared at him. "Since you aren't leaving, I am. We're not talking about this. I'm not talking about this."
"Severus!" Remus started getting up as well. "Damn it, I'm not trying to hurt you-"
"Funny," Severus shot back, "You're very good at it."
Remus looked like he'd been shot. Or stabbed in the back, rather.
"That's not fair."
"I don't care." Severus curled his lip. "I refuse to allow you to manipulate and decide things for me just because I let you bugger me."
"I'm not trying to-" Remus tried but Severus cut him off with a humorless, harsh laugh.
"Save it. My head is pounding and my body feels ready to drop. I'm finished fighting with you. I'm going to sleep."
He left the bedroom, slamming the door behind him before going to the guest bedroom no one had used in years. It had been his before he left home but had been purged of his childhood as well as he could manage. He'd even bothered to repaint it and the room still smelled faintly of paint. It made his head pound harder, but he wondered it he deserved it. He sat down on his bed, head in his hands.
Goddamn it. He felt horrible, chest clenched, breathing painful, eyes burning. He pressed his palms against his closed eyes, jaws tight. Damn, damn, damn. This wasn't his fault. He'd been doing his best, getting back to normal, controlling his anxiety, getting through the nightmares. He wasn't weak. He didn't need help. He didn't want help. He was doing fine on his own. And damned Remus had done his level best the last months to break apart the fragile control and balance he'd managed to construct in himself once more.
So what if he'd snapped at Remus? He felt bad about it, but that was no reason for Remus to demand he share something so personal! He was doing just fine on his own. And he'd keep it that way. He didn't want Remus in his head, picking apart his experiences to find faults and weakness. He didn't need the other to swoop in and save him. Severus would save his goddamn self.
Somehow, Severus got to sleep. He didn't sleep well or deeply, dipping in and out of half nightmares that didn't make much sense and were less terrifying as confusing. He finally woke after dark but he didn't leave the bedroom. He listened to the stillness in the house and wondered if Remus was sleeping. He hoped so. He wasn't sure if he could deal with him right now.
Severus got up and left the guest bedroom. He stood in the hall, listening. Nothing. Not even sounds of the house settling. He swallowed thickly and walked as silently as possible up to his bedroom door, pressing an ear to it. Still nothing. Severus felt a horrible cold inside. He opened the door quickly, stepping in.
Remus was gone. Severus sucked in a hard, shivering breath. Remus was gone.
He searched the house. There were signs here and there of Remus' presence, but they were old. His scent was at least three or four hours old. Severus dropped into a chair in the kitchen.
Remus was gone.
In a way, he wasn't surprised but it hurt. Severus closed a hand over his heart, the other dug into his hair. He felt nauseated, sick to his core. Merlin, he'd done it. He'd finally managed to drive Remus away. He'd royally fucked any chance of ever being happy.
One argument. That's all it had taken.
Merlin. The relationship had been that weak. That much of a farce. He knew it was his fault. If he'd just... No! No, it wasn't his fault. If Remus had just not pried. If he'd just backed off. Trusted him. If...
Severus realized he was crying and he hated himself even more.
When he managed to get a hold of himself again, Severus went to fetch Harry. Molly took one look at him and demanded he stay for dinner. He picked at it but ate very little, then took Harry and went home. Harry was mad at him. Severus probably deserved that too.