The phone in the kitchen rang, and Elizabeth turned the stove down to answer.
"Yes?" Elizabeth frowned. No one except Muggle telemarketers ever called the house. Severus kept their phone line more out of habit than anything else. No one she knew would use a phone.
"It's Fred… am I doing this right?"
Elizabeth laughed. "Doing what? Talking? I think so."
"Dad has this phone, but he wasn't really sure how to use it."
"You're doing great," Elizabeth said, stretching the cord across the kitchen so she could turn the stove back up and stir.
"So… I'm sorry I missed your party."
"It's okay. You're in Egypt. Were in Egypt? Where are you right now?"
"We just got back. We're going to London next week to get our books. Do you think we could meet up?"
"I'll ask Dad. How was Egypt?"
"It was cool. It's nice to see Bill and Charlie."
"I wanted to write… I just wasn't sure if Hedwig could find you."
"I wanted to write too… I just wasn't sure if your dad wouldn't come to Egypt and lock me in a tomb." Fred chuckled. "Is he home?"
"No, he went to get something in town."
"He left you alone?"
"His new policy is that I can stay by myself for less than an hour."
"Well, you are officially a teenager now." Fred teased. "You are super responsible."
"You would definitely know," Elizabeth teased back. "Was there a prefects letter in your envelope this year?"
"No," Fred admitted. "But, oh! I haven't told you the best thing!"
"Percy's Head Boy. He got the letter last week."
"It's brilliant, don't you see? He's going to be even more uptight than usual. It's going to make messing with him that much better!"
Elizabeth laughed, and then all of a sudden she had a feeling in her chest that spilled into words. "I miss you."
She felt her face flush as soon as she said it. I miss you? What was she thinking?
"I miss you too, Betsy," Fred said softly. "I'll see you next week, maybe?"
"I'll do my best," Elizabeth nodded, as if he could see her.
"Good. Bye, Betsy."
Elizabeth hung up the phone just as Severus came through the door. "Everything alright?"
"Everything's fine, Dad." She shook her head. "Don't worry so much."
"I do worry," he said calmly, examining the oven window. "What smells good?"
"Dinner," Elizabeth said simply. "Can we go with the Weasleys for school shopping next week?"
"I suppose." Severus frowned a little. "I need to put these things away. Remus isn't back yet?"
"No. Where did he go? He never goes anywhere."
"Elizabeth," Severus' frown deepened.
"Well, he doesn't. I know it's not his fault, but still."
"Remus' activities are his own business." Severus said firmly. "I'll be right back."
Elizabeth shrugged and went to the refrigerator for lettuce. Her head was still bent over the crisper when she heard footsteps in the living room.
"Severus?" Remus came into the kitchen. "Elizabeth, have you seen your father?"
"He went down to the lab," she said. "Dinner's ready in 10 minutes. Is there something wrong?"
"No," Remus said in a voice that most definitely meant yes.
Remus strode down the stairs to the lab. "Severus?"
"Back here!" Severus called from the storeroom. "What did Albus want?"
"Later," Remus said shook his head. "While I was there, I heard… Sev, there's been an Azkaban break."
Severus came out of the backroom, wiping his hands on a rag. "Who?"
Remus took a deep breath. He'd been hoping that the other man had already heard the news. "Black."
Severus' face went dark. "How the hell—
"I don't know, Sev, but he's out. It'll be in tomorrow's Daily Prophet."
"Dad? Remus?" Elizabeth's voice floated down the stairs.
"We're coming," Remus called back.
"Okay, don't let it get cold." Her footsteps retreated.
"What are we going to do?" Remus asked softly.
Severus pressed his lips together, as if coming to a decision. "Right now, we're going to eat dinner. Then, after Elizabeth goes to bed, we'll figure out our next step." Leaving the rest of his bags on the floor, he led the way up the stairs.
Dinner was quiet.
"Is everything okay?" Elizabeth said finally, after 20 minutes of silence.
"Everything's fine," Severus lied. "It's been a long day."
"Okay," Elizabeth didn't believe him for a minute, but turned her attention to Remus. "So… Dad said we can go to Diagon Alley next week." She held up her Hogwarts letter. "And I figured out why Hagrid sent me a biting book."
"Hmm?" Severus took another bite.
"It's our care of magical creatures book. Of course, it tries to eat me whenever I unbind it." She grinned at Remus. "I used one of your belts, sorry. I couldn't find anything else."
"Donated to a worthy cause," Remus assured her.
"It looks like the new Defense teacher is at least going to use a Defense book," she went on. "I wonder who it is?"
Severus shrugged. "Your grandfather tells me nothing."
"I'd just like to know who is going to try to kill me this year. Or memory wipe me, or whatever."
"Maybe I should pull you out of Defense class," Severus mused. "You have a bad track record with that class."
"Oh, I don't think you'll need to worry about the new professor," Remus said, grabbing another roll.
"Did Albus mention it when you were at Hogwarts?" Severus looked at his daughter. "Elizabeth, finish your corn."
"Is that where you were?" Elizabeth scowled at her corn. "I made it for you."
"Well, as a matter of fact, he did reveal the new teacher's identity," Remus said.
"Who?" Severus pointed impatiently at Elizabeth's corn.
"Me." Remus said, taking a bite.
"Really?" Severus smiled. "That's brilliant, Remus."
"It is," Remus agreed. "One more pair of eyes for the little monster, here." He grinned at Elizabeth. "What do you think, lion?"
Elizabeth had been quiet during the exchange, but Remus' last comment pushed her to vocalize her opinion.
"Another pair of eyes?" She glared at Lupin. "I don't need a babysitter."
"Elizabeth," Severus said warningly. "Remus meant—
"I know what he meant," Elizabeth frowned, shoving back her chair. "He meant that I'm not going to get to do anything this year without one of you breathing down my neck."
"Elizabeth!" Severus snapped. "What has gotten into you?"
"Whatever," Elizabeth shook her head and left the room, running up the stairs.
"It's okay, Sev," Remus said quietly, pushing back his own chair.
"It is not," Severus said severely.
"I'll go talk to her," Remus said, standing and following his goddaughter out of the room.
Upstairs, he found Elizabeth's bedroom door open, the girl lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling.
"You want to know why this teenage thing is fun for me?" Remus asked conversationally, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"Because at any moment, I could be speaking to mature, 35-year-old Elizabeth, or I could be talking to a bratty toddler."
"I'd lecture about how disrespectful you were downstairs, but you already know that." Remus said quietly. "I have to admit, I'm a bit hurt. I thought you'd be happy that I had managed to obtain gainful employment. You know how difficult it's been for me, job wise."
"I know," Elizabeth's voice was calmer, but she still wasn't looking at him, her eyes fixed at a point on the ceiling.
"And I thought that you and I had the kind of relationship where we enjoy spending time together. Was I wrong?"
"I also thought that you'd be assured by the fact that I wasn't going to try to kill you this year. And as far as eyes watching you, I'm not sure what gave you the impression that I wanted to ruin any plans you had this year. There have been very few times I've kept you from doing anything you wanted to do—"
"It isn't just that," Elizabeth interrupted, still refusing to meet his eyes.
"Well, then how about you start connecting those dots for me?" Remus said firmly.
Remus sighed. "Sit up and look at me, Elizabeth." He ordered. "Now."
Elizabeth pulled herself up. Remus hardly ever used his authoritative voice, but when he did, ignoring it had dire consequences.
"Talk to me."
Elizabeth traced the pattern on the bedspread with her finger. "It's just… I'm already not a normal kid, you know? Even in our world. I don't remember living though the killing curse, but everyone else seems to know about it." She swallowed. "And then I go to school, and my Dad teaches there, and my grandmother is my Head of House and my grandfather is the Headmaster, and now my godfather is going to be a teacher too…" She looked at Remus with what he could only describe as puppy dog eyes. "There are always eyes on me, Remus. I just… I want to be able to eat a chocolate frog without multiple lectures. I want to be able to forget my homework without it being a front page story."
"Sevling," Remus opened his arms. "Come here."
She burrowed into his chest. "I'm sorry, Moony."
Remus sighed. "Let's not talk about that yet," he said gently. "Let's talk about me at school."
"Okay," Remus echoed. "How about I make you a promise?"
"Like… I won't tell your father anything that I wouldn't normally contact a parent about."
"Really. That goes for anything I wouldn't report to any other student's Head of House or the Headmaster."
"I'm not a prison warden, Elizabeth. I don't want to be one. I don't have any desire to stop you from making harmless mistakes. You already have a father at school; you don't need another one. However, I think there are advantages to my being around."
"Like my DADA teacher isn't a secret Voldemort follower?"
"That, and the fact that we share a love of butter pecan ice cream." He squeezed her shoulder. They were quiet for a minute.
"So, can I talk to the mature Elizabeth for a moment?"
Elizabeth smiled. "I guess so."
"Hey, Elizabeth, Dumbledore offered me the DADA position for next year, and I've decided that take it."
"That's great, Moony." Elizabeth kissed his cheek. "Congratulations."
"Thank you," he smirked.
"I really am sorry, Remus."
"I know, and I accept your apology. However, you need to go apologize to your father. You don't storm out when he's speaking to you."
"I know. But I don't know why he thinks yelling at me helps to calm me down."
"Because he's him," Remus kissed her head. "Ready?"
"Luckily for me, and the various objects my daughter would throw at my head if I tried to remove her, Hogwarts is likely the safest place for her right now." Severus sat forward in his armchair, elbows on his knees, hands clasped in front of him. "The anti-apparition wards should keep him out of the castle, along with more security on the floos."
"What about Quidditch?"
"You mean the death trap of a sport?" Severus frowned. "I hate that she plays it under the best of circumstances. But she loves it, and I won't take it from her for something that's not her fault. We'll deal with the pitch. We can put up wards… Do you think he's gotten his hands on a wand?"
Remus grimaced. "Sirius Black could charm the scales off a dragon, so I'd say if he doesn't have one by now, he's not applying himself." He gritted his teeth. "Albus said there are going to be Dementors around the grounds."
"I'm not sure how I feel about that," Severus frowned. "But I suppose whatever layers of protection we can use… Remus, you knew Black better than I did. I don't know what else to worry about."
"I thought I knew Black," Remus said quietly. "I thought he loved James and Lily, so obviously I knew nothing." He sighed. "I wish I understood what happened, Sev. I wish I hadn't been so easily taken. But I knew him for 10 years… and I never saw it coming. I never…"
"I didn't either," Severus said, staring at the blank wall as if it held answers. "I mean, he was an obnoxious child, but he was a tolerable adult. Lily… she was always a good judge of character. I really believed he loved Elizabeth. I was an idiot."
"Sev, she remembers me from that time… you don't think she remembers him, do you? That if she saw him, she might trust him? I mean, you saw what she did when she saw me two years ago. She didn't exactly check to see if I was a serial killer before she hugged me."
Severus shrugged. "Maybe. I suppose that's a vote for telling her." He smirked a little. "Although she probably mostly remembers a flea bitten mangy mutt."
"Merlin, Sev. It didn't even cross my mind… he could be anywhere as a dog."
"Well, luckily a dog will look out of place at Hogwarts, or anywhere else we plan on being."
"Since when is your daughter ever where you planned?"
"Do you think telling her that he's dangerous is enough? That he works for the Dark Lord?" Severus drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. "You know how she reacts when she thinks her family is threatened… I don't want her to seek him out. The man who essentially killed her mother… I don't know what to tell her."
"I don't envy you that job, Sev."
"Me? You're going to sit right beside me when we talk about this."
"Oh really? I think this is a father-daughter moment I wouldn't want to—
Lupin chuckled. "I'm kidding, Sev. But I'm following your lead on this one."
"I don't want the lead…" Severus muttered, examining the arm of his chair.
Sirius Black, possibly the most infamous prisoner ever to be held in Azkaban fortress, disappeared from captivity yesterday in what is said to be the only successful break in the prison's history.
"Black is mad," said Minister Fudge. "He's a danger to anyone who crosses him, magic or Muggle."
While Muggles have been told that Black is carrying a gun (a kind of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other), it is unclear whether or not Black has obtained a wand. The magical community, of course, is currently under fear of a massacre like that of twelve years ago, when Black murdered thirteen people with a single curse.
Anyone who sights Black is encouraged to contact authorities immediately.
"What are you doing awake so early, hatchling?" Severus asked softly, filling the coffee pot.
"Couldn't sleep," Elizabeth shrugged. She held up the Daily Prophet. "Did you see this?"
Severus glanced at the front page, where a large picture of Black was screaming soundlessly. "I have now."
"Twelve years ago," Elizabeth said thoughtfully. "Twelve years ago, you were a Death Eater."
"Your point?" Severus poured coffee.
"Did you know this guy?"
Severus frowned. Leave it to Elizabeth to box him into a corner.
"The Dark Lord's following was not a social club, Elizabeth. And it is unlikely that Black was a dedicated follower, since he was found unmarked."
Severus sighed. "Unmarked, Elizabeth," he gestured impatiently to his left forearm.
"There is no doubt that Black is an evil madman. The Black family was solidly allied with the Dark. He was, however, as far as I know, not an actual Death Eater."
"Doesn't really matter, I suppose," Elizabeth said thoughtfully. "He still killed people."
"He did." Severus took his coffee cup in one hand and gestured to the living room with the other. "Leave that there and come in the other room with me."
"Can I have coffee?"
"You can have milk."
Elizabeth made a face. "Never mind." She followed him into the living room and sat on the sofa with him.
Severus took a deep breath and set his coffee down on the table. "Elizabeth, there is reason for us to believe that Black will have a target now that he has escaped. It's possible that—
"Oh," Elizabeth groaned. "It's me, isn't it?"
If it hadn't been so serious, Severus would have laughed. "Yes."
Elizabeth sighed. "I wish we didn't have to do this every year."
"I agree," Severus nodded. "However, the world appears to be coming down around our ears." He regarded the teenager for a moment. "You'll understand that I insist on keeping a closer eye on you when we go to Diagon Alley next week."
"I'm not going to throw a fit, Dad." She propped her feet up on the coffee table. "At least I don't think."
Ah, the unpredictable teenage emotions, Severus thought. Perhaps there's a potion…
"Do you want pancakes?" Elizabeth questioned, moving back toward the kitchen. "Mrs. Bellville brought blue berries yesterday."
"That's fine," Severus nodded, frowning a little when she turned away. He felt like he'd lied to her. Which wouldn't usually bother him, but she didn't seem…as frightened as he would like. Not that he wanted her to be frightened. What is wrong with you, Snape?
"I thought you were going to wait for me." Remus said, examining Severus' Potions syllabus after breakfast at the kitchen table. Elizabeth was flying in the backyard, and Severus was keeping a not-so-casual eye on her from the kitchen window.
"She sprung it on me," Severus shrugged. "Like the werewolf discussion. It's like she knows what conversation you plan to have with her, and then she jumps in halfway through."
"She's trouble," Remus grinned. "Merlin, Sev, do you think you could pack more homework in to this?"
"School is not a place for children to be coddled, Remus. If parents want their children snuggled and tucked in, they should keep them home."
"You're delightful," Remus shook his head. "This from the man who checked on a certain teenage girl 3 times last night."
"How would you know?"
"You checked on her once while we were talking about Black and twice I heard you in the hallway after I'd gone to bed."
Severus looked out the window. "Black knows where we live, Remus," he said quietly. "He knows exactly where this house is."
"And you've put wards up that will keep him out," Remus assured him. "And she'll be back at Hogwarts soon, where the protections are even stronger."
Severus sighed. "I'll sleep better when he's been caught."
"Me too," Remus caught Severus' questioning gaze. "Hey, do you think I would have heard your prowling last night if I had been asleep myself?" He looked sheepish. "I may have done the same two or three times."
"It's a miracle that she can sleep with her bedroom becoming Kings' Cross," Severus shook his head. They were quiet for a while.
"Do you know what she hasn't asked me about yet?"
"Hmm?" Remus unrolled a piece of blank parchment.
"Hogsmeade." Severus said. "Oh, that reminds me, you should be sure to give extra homework on those weekends."
"You're terrible," Remus shook his head. "She hasn't asked you?"
"No. I told her to put her book list and school forms on my desk. When I went into the study later, her book list and medical form were there, but no Hogsmeade permission form."
"Did you ask her about it?"
"Not yet. Maybe she doesn't want to go."
"Or she thinks you'll say no."
"That doesn't usually keep her from asking. Actually, she always a little too optimistic on those things."
"You want me to casually mention it at lunch?"
"No. The last time you casually mentioned something, she ran off in a huff."
"I believe it was more of a stomp than a run, but I understand," Remus grinned.
"I always thought, as a teacher, I knew moody teenagers, but I had no idea the havoc one thirteen-year-old's emotions can create when you actually care how she feels."
"Just thinking of all the things I should be writing down for blackmail."
"Elizabeth, I'd like to see you in my study after you clean up," Severus said an hour later to his sweaty child as she came in from the yard.
"I was just going to grab an apple and go back out," she said.
"It's going to start raining," Severus gestured to the dark clouds that were moving in. "No flying in the rain."
"I should practice in all kinds of weather," Elizabeth wheedled.
"Nice try," Severus turned her toward the stairs. "Shower, clean clothes."
After a long-suffering teenage sigh, Elizabeth trotted off up the stairs. Severus heard the water running.
"Do you want me to make lunch while you two talk?" Remus looked up from his writing. "I've had just about as much syllabus writing as I can take."
"Thank you," Severus nodded. "I'm going to need sustenance after delving into the convoluted maze that is Elizabeth's mind."
"Do you do that?" Remus asked, looking in the refrigerator. "Literally, I mean?"
Severus shook his head. "I try not to, unless she asks me to or tells me I can."
"That's good, I suppose. Oh look, left over turkey."
"Good to see that your culinary skills are still in top form, Lupin."
"I'm sorry, aren't you the man whose 13-year-old cooks dinner every night because your cooking makes her fear for her life?"
"I'm going to my study, if Elizabeth comes down, remind her that I'm waiting for her."
Severus went into his study and sat at his desk, filling in the health form Elizabeth had left for him.
Name: Elizabeth Rose Evans
Father: Severus Snape
Mother: Lily Evans (Dec)
Date of Birth: 31 July, 1980
The form seemed to go on and on. He had just finished the immunization section when Elizabeth came to the door. "Can I come in?"
"Of course," Severus pointed to the chair in front of the desk. "Do you remember when you had Dragon Pox?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Dragon Pox. You were probably in grammar school."
"Chicken Pox? Red, itchy bumps?"
"Itchy bumps, and sparks out of your nose when you sneeze."
"I never had it," Elizabeth shook her head. "I had chicken pox."
"How is that possible?"
"There weren't any wizards at school?"
Severus frowned. "I suppose. Of course, I didn't get it until I was 14, so you might not be out of the woods yet."
"How come you didn't have to fill out that form last year?"
"The Ministry is being nosy this year," Severus said, signing the bottom of the form. He folded it into an envelope. "You'll need to give this to your Head of House at the beginning of the year. Was that the only thing you needed signed?"
Elizabeth nodded and reached for the envelope. Severus held it back. "Are you sure?"
The child looked sheepish and shrugged.
"Elizabeth, where is your Hogsmeade permission slip?"
"In my room."
"Why is it not on my desk as I requested?"
"I don't need it signed."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Hatchling, I assure you that regardless of my presence at school, you still need a signed form."
"I'm not going to Hogsmeade."
"Why is that?" Severus felt like he was walking out on a frozen lake, not at all sure where the thin ice was.
"Because you'll either say I can't go because it's dangerous and you won't be there, or you'll let me go, and you'll worry while I'm gone and make a big deal about it, and freak out about what could happen." Elizabeth stared at the floor.
"It seems you have no need for Divination, Miss Evans," Severus smirked. "Go upstairs and get your form, please."
"Right now, Elizabeth. We'll discuss this after you've followed the directions I gave you days ago."
Back in a flash, Elizabeth sat on her chair, clutching the permission slip.
"On my desk, Elizabeth," Severus tapped the desktop.
When he had the parchment in front of him, he looked at the teenager. "Elizabeth, I'm going to ask you a question. I would like you to remember my distaste for lies, no matter the reason for them." He leveled a stern gaze at her. "Do you want to go to Hogsmeade with your friends during Hogwarts weekends?"
Elizabeth paused. "Not if—
"Elizabeth Rose." Severus interrupted. "Answer the question that was asked, please."
"Alright then," Severus picked up a quill and signed his same on the slip before tucking it into the envelope. "Now, can I trust you to take this, and both forms in it, to your grandmother when school starts, or should I do it myself?"
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "I can do it."
"Good." Severus put the envelope on the desk again. "We'll leave it here until you pack your trunk. Now," he pushed his chair back. "Come here a moment."
When Elizabeth was in front of him, he put his hands on her shoulders. "What's the story, hatchling?"
"None of that," Severus ordered. "Out with it."
Elizabeth studied the trouser fabric on his knees. "Lucy Feldman's dad died when we were in 3rd grade."
"This is a Gryffindor?"
"No," Elizabeth shook her head. "Muggle school."
Severus nodded. "Alright."
"He had a heart attack. Just dropped dead one day at work. Her mum came to school and we didn't see Lucy for a month."
"What does this have to do with Hogsmeade, hatchling?" Severus pulled the hair out of her face.
"Lucy's mum went a little crazy, I guess," Elizabeth continued. "Lucy didn't come back to school for a month because she had to go live with her grandma. The doctors told her mum that her dad had the heart attack because of stress. Her mum said that it was because they had kids, and they shouldn't have done it."
"That's ridiculous," Severus said firmly.
"No it isn't." Elizabeth shook her head. "I stress you out all the time. You're always saying that I take years off your life." She looked at him. "I don't want to go to Hogsmeade if it is going to stress you out."
"Merlin." Severus scooped her up, long legs and awkward angles, and cradled her against him. "You are the only child I know who is capable of making such leaps." He held her in silence for a moment.
"Elizabeth, you do nothing but give me pride and joy," he said quietly. "Part of being a father is worrying about you. All parents do it." Most, anyway, he amended. "But you don't see every parent having honest heart failure, do you?"
"No. And neither will I." He absently smoothed her hair. "Your mother and I knew we wanted a child. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, especially with the climate you were born into. But we knew we wanted you. We wanted to send you to Hogwarts. I wanted to walk you down the aisle," he paused. "After about 30 years of not even looking at a boy," he smirked.
"Dad…" Elizabeth rolled her eyes.
"Anyway, we wanted that. Never for a moment did we consider that you might give me a heart attack."
"You look pretty healthy," Elizabeth allowed.
"Indeed." Severus pressed his lips to her forehead. "When I say you take years off my life, I don't mean it literally."
"I just… I like having you around. Usually."
Severus chuckled. "I love you too."
"Can we go?" Elizabeth was bouncing from her heels to her toes, back and forth, tapping her fingers on the kitchen counter. Severus was working on his second cup of coffee, and a list he'd been adding to all morning.
"Elizabeth, we are meeting the Weasleys at eleven o'clock. As it is currently," he checked his pocket watch, "eight thirty, I would say it is a tad early to leave."
"We will leave no earlier than a quarter of eleven," Severus said firmly. "Now, go put on one of your robes so I can see if we need to stop at Madam Malkin's."
"They're fine," Elizabeth rolled her eyes.
"I will be the judge of that," Severus said, pointing toward the stairs. "Use some of that energy running up the stairs."
A teenage huff and about 2 minutes later, Elizabeth stood in the middle of the kitchen while Severus examined her robes. "I think I stretched these the their full extent over the past year," Severus determined. "We'll have to go for new ones." He straightened from where he was scrutinizing the hem.
"Alright, uniform next," he pointed to the stairs.
"My uniforms are fine," Elizabeth protested.
"You said that about your robes, and you were incorrect." Severus crossed his arms. "And you appear to be being defiant for no apparent reason. Perhaps an hour of chopping tube worms before we leave would change your attitude."
"I'm going!" Elizabeth zipped up the stairs, leaving Severus shaking his head.
In the end, Severus added uniform skirts, shoes, and socks to the list. Parchment, ink, and quills went on as well, in addition to the books that Severus had already listed.
"Yes?" Severus unlocked the medicine cabinet he kept in the kitchen and took out a headache draught.
"Well… I mean, I'm really not trying to go early just to go," Elizabeth hesitated as she saw the potion her father was drinking. "But… well, it's just… the Weasleys don't shop at Madam Malkin's."
"Neither should I," Severus sighed, looking at the list. "How they feed and clothe all those children, I'll never know."
"I just… I don't want to rub it in Ron's face that he has to go to the second-hand shop."
"Ronald? Or Fred?" Severus smirked.
Elizabeth shrugged. "Either one."
Severus sighed again. "We are far from wealthy, hatchling. In that capacity, you would have been better off if James Potter had been your father," he folded the list and tucked it into his robes. "I would hazard a guess that Arthur Weasley and I have comparable salaries. I, however, do not have 9 mouths to feed. Or, I suppose, 7, now that the oldest boys are gone." He poured himself another cup of coffee.
"Mr. and Mrs. Weasley are not ashamed of their financial status, nor should they be. I know that children are children, but the sooner the Weasley brood learn to value hard work and not a large paycheck, the better off they will be."
Severus observed her slumped shoulders and sighed before coming around the counter to put an arm around her shoulders. "You have a sensitive heart, hatchling." He inhaled in mock exasperation, and pushed his hand against her forehead, bending her neck back to look at him. "Go upstairs and ask your godfather if he needs anything from Diagon Alley, then put your shoes on."
"Do I make a habit of saying things that are untrue?"
Elizabeth grinned and took off up the stairs. Severus heard her footsteps pounding along the hall, slowing just outside Remus' bedroom door.
"Remus?" Elizabeth knocked.
"Come in," Remus' voice was weak. When the door swung open, Elizabeth was greeted with the sight of Remus, propped up slightly on pillows, his pallor paler than usual. She hesitated.
"It's alright, lion," Remus said gently. "Come in. I'm not dangerous anymore," he smiled a little.
Elizabeth edged in, coming in as far as the dresser. "I… are you okay?"
Remus smiled. "I'm fine, Elizabeth. I've been doing this for a long time."
"Dad says… it hurts."
"Not as much as it used to," Remus said calmly.
"And the place Dad made you in the basement is okay?"
"Everything's fine, Sevling." Remus sat up further, and crooked his finger at her. "Come sit with me."
Cautiously, she perched on the edge of the bed. "I'm glad you moved in with us, Moony." She picked at the blanket. "You shouldn't be alone."
Remus sighed. "I'm not an invalid," he said firmly, reaching out to put his hand on her shoulder. "But I'm glad I'm here as well."
"How are you going to do this at Hogwarts?"
"The same way I did it fifteen years ago," Remus shrugged. "The Shrieking Shack will be haunted once again, though your father thinks I might be more comfortable coming home during those periods." He raised an eyebrow. "But you didn't come up here to ask me about my monthly trials. You've been careful to avoid me post-change for as long as you've known about it."
"Dad wants to know if you need anything from Diagon Alley." Elizabeth said quietly, staring at the blanket. "And I… I don't know. I was scared that you were too sick to want to talk to me."
"Never," Remus said decidedly. "Other than the times when I am actually hairy and snapping, I am always here for you."
"Who's going to teach during the full moon?"
Remus put his finger to his lips. "Can you keep a secret?"
Elizabeth shook her head.
"I'll tell you anyway," Remus grinned. "Dumbledore thinks that your dad would be an excellent DADA substitute teacher."
Elizabeth giggled. "He'll love that."
"He will indeed," Remus nodded. "He hasn't said anything about being upset that I got this job, has he? I know he's always wanted it."
"No," Elizabeth shook her head again. "Besides, if he changed to DADA, he'd have to change his 'no foolish wand waving in this class' beginning of the year speech."
"He should stick with his strengths, then," Remus joked, ruffling her hair. "Tell your dad that I need a Quidditch magazine," he winked.
"Brilliant," Elizabeth grinned and hopped off the bed. "See you tonight," she waved.