AN: Is anyone still out there? If so, I present to you chapter 7. Enjoy.
Teddy walked through the long blades of weeds that surrounded the pond near the Burrow. Remus followed a few steps behind him, making sure not to lose him in the tall grass, but giving him room to roam about on his own.
They were having dinner with the Weasley's tonight and had decided to go for a walk when Molly had shooed Remus from the kitchen for trying to help.
Earlier in the evening, Molly had mentioned that Teddy had been awfully quiet throughout the day. That was highly unusual for the curious and chatty little boy. Molly thought he might be ill, but Remus thought otherwise.
It had been ten days since they'd had Severus and Draco over for dinner, and Teddy hadn't really been himself since then. He thought that Teddy had been pacified with the explanation he gave him about why the night had ended so abruptly; Remus had lied to him, obviously, but it had been the right thing to do.
He'd lamely explained that it had been late and that they had all grown a little cranky because they were tired. Teddy seemed a little unsure at first, but when first Remus, and then Harry had apologized for being so grumpy, he had let it go.
Two days later however, Remus received an owl from Draco. That was when Teddy had started to ask him about that dinner again.
As the days and week wore on, Teddy seemed to want more of an answer, but Remus had nothing else to tell him. What else could he tell him?
He couldn't tell his son that he had actually been the most mature person at the dinner table that night; that the "adults" had all just been a bunch of bloody gits who all needed to grow up and start acting their age.
Now was as good a time as any to explain once more, he supposed.
Remus sighed. I'm his father, he thought to himself. Teddy obviously was having trouble with this. So, it was his job to make it right as best as he could.
"Son," Remus said. Teddy had crouched down by the water's edge, looking for any sort of creature he could observe.
Teddy looked up at his dad, "I'm not sick. Mrs. Weasley thought I wasn't feeling well, but really, I feel fine."
"That's good, I'm glad to hear that, Teddy. There must be some other reason you were so quiet today then, yes? Is there something bothering you?" Remus knew the answer to that, of course.
Teddy looked away, turning his attention back to the few tadpoles that swam around his twiddling fingers in the water.
"Ted, if there's something bothering you, I would very much like to know," he said, crouching beside his son, his knees making an audible "popping" sound.
Teddy sighed and sat himself down in the grass; Remus did the same.
"I know you said we'd see Draco again soon. And I know you've already explained it, but dad, I just don't understand why we can't visit Severus, or why he hasn't visited us again," he said. Teddy paused for a moment, and his hair shifted from the muted red it had been to a sandy brown, his normal hair color.
There was definitely something weighing heavily on his mind.
He took a breath. "When you were in the kitchen washing up, I flicked my toy wand and it flew out of my hand, was he angry about that? I didn't hit him, but I did say sorry, dad. I did. Did I say something else to make him upset?"
Remus' heart broke to hear his son so worried over something that had absolutely nothing to do with him. He reached out and tugged him closer, settling him in his lap. Teddy looked so dejected, his hair hiding his eyes.
"No, love. You did absolutely nothing wrong, I promise you. Nothing at all," he hugged Teddy to him and hoped for the right words to make Teddy believe him. His heart broke a little more when he felt the short, little arms wrap around his own and hold onto him.
He should have seen this coming, he should have put a stop to it right away, but his own ulterior motives for wanting to befriend Severus had caused his boy this hurt.
"Teddy, love, we've talked about this before. Remember Ali, from the shop? It's the same thing now with Severus. He's a grown up with friends, a job, and a life of his own. He has things to do, and perhaps he just doesn't have the time for new friends right now. It was only an accident that we bumped into him after all. Besides that, he did help you meet your cousin, didn't he?" Teddy nodded, but didn't loosen his grip at all.
"I know you wanted to be friends, but you can't be so upset that he isn't around. The truth is that we may not be seeing Severus for a while, cub. But that hasn't anything to do with you, do you understand?"
Teddy chewed on his bottom lip for a moment, but nodded, "yes."
"Good. Now, I don't want you to worry about this any more, please. And if you ever feel upset about anything, I want you to tell me, alright? Anything at all. I promise I will do my best to make things better. You're my cub, you're my whole life, Teddy, and I don't ever want you to be sad."
Teddy hugged his dad properly and sniffled a bit into his shirt. "I just wanted to be friends, is all," he said quietly.
Remus sighed inwardly. "I know, love." So did I.
"Made it into a great, big mess is what I've done," Remus said while pouring another cup of tea for himself.
"Well, yes, I'm afraid it seems you have. But Professor Snape isn't so stubborn as to not give you a chance to explain, is he?"
Remus quirked his eyebrows.
"Yes, alright, maybe he would be that stubborn."
"If I could just get him to listen to me for one minute, but I really don't think he'd even allow me that. I'd rather not ask Draco to talk to him for me either. I've run out of ideas short of showing up at his doorstep."
"Why not try that?" Hermione asked.
"I don't know that I won't be hexed on the spot. It's always a toss up with him, and I dare say I'd deserve it this time," Remus said. "Seems I'm always worried he'll hex me the moment he sees me, actually."
Hermione tried to hide her smile behind her teacup, but couldn't help but laugh a bit. "I'm sorry, Remus. I'm not sure you realize just how many of his students feared walking into his classroom for that very reason."
Remus laughed out loud. "Is that right? Well, it's nice to know I'm not alone then."
Hermione smiled, "You're certainly not alone, that I know for sure." Remus thanked her by patting her arm and offering her more tea.
"Honestly, I don't know that I want to see the look on his face if I were to just show up. What I said that night was probably worse than having never said anything at all during school."
"It's not any better or worse, Remus, but it certainly won't get any better if you just leave it like this again. He's important to you, I know," she paused, waiting for something. She continued after a moment.
"If you explain yourself, and he still refuses to talk to you, well then you've at least made this effort. You have your reasons as to why he is so important, and that'll just have to do if he decides to remain so stubborn. That's the worst-case, and I know that's not what you want, but if you make him listen, he may surprise you. He has before, hasn't he?"
Remus nodded thoughtfully.
Remus sat behind the counter of the small book shop he owned in Hogsmeade. With school out for the summer, his work days were rather slow, so he took out a small notebook he always kept with him.
Dipping his quill in ink, he opened the journal and found the page he needed. Half way down the page he scribbled what he had eaten that day, how he was feeling, and after a quick spell, he wrote down his blood pressure.
The full moon was near and he'd start taking the Wolfsbane tonight after dinner. One of the house elves from Hogwarts had popped in during lunch to bring it to him.
It wasn't really necessary for him to record this information, but it made him and Hermione feel a little better knowing that if there ever was anything wrong, they'd have an idea of where to start.
A year after the war had ended, when Remus was still having trouble sleeping; one month, a week before the full moon, he'd woken up from a nightmare drenched in sweat, his heart racing and his breathing labored.
Harry had been away that night, and Teddy with his grandmother. With no one else to call, Remus had flooed Hermione.
She came right over and after determining that he was in no immediate danger, she had helped him to calm down and explain what had caused this reaction.
Remus told her about the dream he had been having: "I dreamt that it was the night of the full, and I had taken my potion as usual, but something was wrong. I changed, but it was painful, like it had been before the potion and before Padfoot and Prongs. My bones ache even now," he said, flexing his hands.
"I was the wolf - body and mind, totally - and I didn't recognize Teddy, not even as my cub. And I didn't recognize Harry. I attacked them," Remus had to pause for a moment to catch his breath.
"Merlin, Hermione, I could feel the warmth of their blood as I sunk my teeth into them, I could hear them crying, their bones breaking, but I couldn't stop myself. It wasn't just that I was the wolf, it was more than that. I felt as if I was watching myself do these things, but could feel them all just as well, and could do nothing to stop it. That's never happened before."
"Remus, stop that," Hermione had said, gently pulling his hand away from his chest. She was crying, and then Remus realized he was too.
Hermione had made him take off the sweaty shirt he had been wearing when he awoke, but he hadn't changed into the new one sitting in his lap when he had started his story.
While he had been talking, he had been scratching at the number tattooed across his clavicle. A drop of blood slowly trickled down his chest from one of the scratches and the sight and scent completely overwhelmed Remus. He ran to the bathroom just in time to be sick into the toilet.
Hermione had followed him in; he couldn't thank her enough for having sat with him in the cramped bathroom, rubbing his back and listening to him blubber on about having the taste of blood in his mouth.
"Shh," she'd said to him. "Your family is fine, Remus. You haven't - you couldn't - hurt them, ever. Every one is fine."
When he finally had emptied his stomach and regulated his breathing, Hermione had flooed the school and asked Madame Pomfrey to come straight away.
Madame Pomfrey had given him a calming draught and a dose of dreamless sleep after checking him over and finding no other ailments. It had been a nightmare-induced panic attack, she had said.
In the days following, before the actual full moon, Remus had Harry install chains at the Shack. It had been years since Remus had needed to stay there, but he wouldn't listen to anyone on the matter now. It hurt to be away from Teddy during the moon, but he thought it would be best if he stayed away this time.
Remus asked Hermione to watch over Teddy that night, and she did. She stayed with him all night and did her best to keep him from crying the entire night long. Harry offered to stay at the Shack with him, but even the thought caused Remus to break into a sweat. Ron offered as well, but Remus said they could keep watch from the village, in case something should happen.
The Wolfsbane worked just as it should have that change. He maintained his human mind, though his arms were sore from the chains. That was it. Teddy and Harry were fine, everything was fine.
He had a couple days of reprieve from the constant worry, but what little peace he had had been interrupted.
One night, he'd woken up from another dream, not as violent or realistic as the one before, but he was the wolf again. He could see himself running in some wooded area, he knew it was him he was watching because he could feel the cool ground and sticks breaking under his paws. He could feel the wind rushing past him, and smell the earthy scents around him; he almost enjoyed it, but soon he felt an urge growing rapidly inside of him, the need to tear into soft, giving flesh, to taste the tang of blood in his mouth. After the taste in that first nightmare, the wolf wanted more.
He'd been sick that night too when he finally woke himself up, and Hermione had been there for him again. Harry had called her, and he watched over Teddy while Hermione watched over him.
He had another two dreamless nights after that. On the third morning he'd woken up suddenly, but not for any particular reason he could remember. That afternoon, walking into a room at the WRR offices where he was to give a lecture in front of a family and friends support group, he could hardly catch his breath.
One of the other staff members had to make apologies for him as he walked outside as quickly as he could. When finally he had made it out, it took him three tries to finally take a deep breath.
When something similar had happened at the Burrow two weeks later, Hermione escorted him home and laid out for him all the books and pamphlets he would need to read up on for these panic attacks.
She had done all her research like the school girl he always remembered her to be, and helped him map out some causes for the attacks, ways to prevent them from happening and what to do if he couldn't.
It took three months for Remus to go through the change with another person in the room, and another two after that to do it under the same roof as Teddy. It was six months in total from his initial panic until he could be with Teddy during the change.
Sometimes, even now, when he felt himself losing his grip, moments few and far in between now thankfully, Remus subconsciously started scratching at the number tattooed across his collarbone.
Remus checked the bandage on his chest after he'd written down his information for the afternoon.
Nearly six months from his last panic, he'd woken up that morning with dried blood stuck under his fingernails. The scratches hadn't really been too bad, but he sent an owl to Harry earlier in the day and asked him to come over for dinner. He felt fine despite his morning really, but it would be nice to see Harry tonight anyway.
His family - seeing them healthy and happy, and safe - that was something that always helped to ease Remus' mind.
When the panic felt like a slow build, something he could feel filling him up inside, Teddy and Harry were always the best, most steadfast totems he needed. They helped clear his mind and helped him focus.
When Remus felt sudden panic approaching, the sort that was sure to shallow him whole in a matter of moments, he needed to feel something hard and tangible under his palms. Usually, the arm of a chair, a table, a counter, a wall - any object he could remain grounded to, something to hold on to while he caught his breath.
Once, he'd used his wand, but all he managed to do was break a few dishes with the accidental magic he released.
Like monitoring his health before the full moon, Remus found writing to be a helpful distraction. He did that quite a bit, even just for his own enjoyment.
Journal entries, the bits of dreams he remembered in the mornings, the occasional, though admittedly horrible drawings, memories from his childhood, and people he had known.
That was how Severus Snape became such an important figure in Remus Lupin's life.
To his credit, thanks to stubborn pride and too many years spent feeling bitter, Severus managed to keep his anger at just below boiling point for two weeks. By the fifteenth day after that night, he simply couldn't be bothered to keep it up. He was angry still, and embarrassed that he'd shared intimate details about himself with Lupin, only to have him throw them aside for dead memories of lost schoolmates, but he was done wasting any more of his precious time dwelling.
Lupin had made his choice and Severus was too proud to acknowledge it any more than he already had.
He had plenty of work to do, work that he couldn't afford to not focus his attention on. And so that is what he did. He spent three days down in his lab filling orders, breaking only to sleep, and sometimes to eat.
On the first day, he filled orders for some of the local vendors he supplied for. On the second day he filled an order for Wolfsbane for a private client and sent it off as soon as it had cooled, along with the instructions he always provided with this particular potion. On the third day, he filled the orders Poppy had sent to him for the upcoming school year.
Horace should be embarrassed to call himself the potions professor of Hogwarts, he thought to himself as he bottled the last of the Pepper-Up potion. Can't even bother to brew for his own students.
On the fourth day, he gave his cottage a thorough cleaning. He'd been neglecting it in recent weeks.
When his home was spotless, everything dusted, polished, and in its rightful place, he realized just how much he hated the house he lived in.
Sometimes, the mere thought of another morning waking up in this cottage was enough to keep him down in his dark lab throughout the entire night. It wasn't worth his energy to drag himself up to the empty space full of reminders of things he'd rather not remember.
This was not his home. This was an option left to him to use should he ever have need to escape and hide. This was a cottage on a hill overlooking the sea. This was his afterward, when things should have been better, when he no longer had to hide. But this is what he got after so many years fighting. He wanted more, but one can only stand to fight the inevitable for so long, and this was his inevitable.
To make matters all the worse for him now, he'd gone and thought it possible to have a normal, not so difficult friendship with someone he might have got on well with had their histories not been so soiled. The idea of friendship hadn't seemed so threatening before, but realizing his mistake now, his choice in pursuing such a thing was one of his stupidest - and with his past, that was saying something.
His cottage seemed even more depressing than it ever had to Severus. He had his lab though. If he was lucky, he'd forget all about the time he had left and could work straight through it all. Though, he was never that lucky.
Severus managed to work twelve hours straight that next morning. His pride told him he could have worked longer, but he'd simply run out of work to do. That bothered him, that he hadn't even work to distract himself with.
The morning had started awfully at four in the morning when he'd woken up suddenly. He didn't remember why, but what lingered for a few moments when he awoke worsened his mood.
Skipping breakfast altogether, Severus opted for a cup of coffee only and headed straight for his lab. He sat there for nearly an hour, nursing a now cold cup and willing his body to get rid of the pain in his temples and in his throat.
When finally the pain seemed to ebb, he began his work. He worked steadily throughout the day and was just finishing cleaning his workstation when he sensed someone had entered the cottage. By the particular sensation of magic, he knew it was Draco.
Swishing his hand towards the door to the laboratory, he unlocked it and waited for the tell-tale squeak to let him know his godson was on his way down.
Squeak. As annoying as it might be, a squeaky door was a useful tool for someone who lived the sort of life Severus did.
Severus heard the footsteps as Draco descended, and ignored the sigh that followed when he stopped.
"You haven't accepted mother's invitation. By the looks of it, you haven't been up at all since you started," Draco said, matter-of-factly. "She's sent me to tell you to be at the manor by seven for dinner."
Severus switched off the remaining lit burners at his worktable and moved to the next station to begin clearing it. He waited until he was done with his thorough routine cleaning before addressing the younger man.
"Please pass on my regrets to your mother, but I am unavailable to join you for dinner tonight. I'm not feeling well," he said.
"Yes, you do look tired," Draco added. Severus glared.
He said, "I've not been sleeping well, if you must know." Draco followed him up the stairs and into the kitchen.
"You could stay for a day or two. You've been working too hard," Draco said seriously, accepting the cup of tea Severus offered him. "Mother's kept your room just as you left it, of course. She'd be happy to have some company."
Severus scoffed, as if it was his duty to keep his mother company.
"I haven't the time to keep your mother company when she's in one of her states, and besides that, I have plenty of work that needs to be done here."
"It isn't a state," Draco said, his demeanor changing to meet the irritation in his godfather's voice. "She's tired, too. She's also one of the few people that actually enjoys your company. And you're one of the few who doesn't turn down her offers for tea because you're too embarrassed to socialize with a Malfoy."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Narcissa is embarrassed to go out and risk being shunned by the public opinion. If she isn't at some charity ball she can donate to in order to help your family name, she keeps to herself in the Manor. It's her own fault she is so lonely and requires my shoulder on which to cry when it becomes too much to bear on her own."
Draco's usually fair skin was alighted with anger. He hated when Severus did this, no matter how much he knew his godfather didn't really mean what he said. It was meant to get a rise out of him because he needed to release some of his own frustration.
"You better than anyone then, should appreciate why it is she always hopes you'll visit. She's lost so much, and fights so hard to keep the family name out of the gutter not for herself, but for me and my father. It's too hard to fight all the time. Is it really too much for you to visit more often?"
"Yes," Severus said, nearly shouting. "It is too much sometimes. I've said no, so do please send my regards to your mother. I do not wish for company."
With his pure-blood nose raised in the air, daring Severus to tell him to leave, Draco asked, "If you don't want company, shall I just leave you to your precious potions?"
Severus couldn't tell Draco to leave; he didn't want to him to either. He immediately regretted having said what he did, not because it wasn't true, but because Draco's response had been true of him. He did understand what it meant to feel the way Narcissa often felt. They were the same in that way.
He suspected that towards the end of the war, she knew on which side he truly fought and even more so respected him and trusted him enough to not say anything to anyone, and know that he'd do all within his powers to protect their family as best as he could. She knew that he'd fight for Draco no matter the cost.
While he regretted having his own matters thrown back at him, he regretted putting Draco into such a situation. It bothered Draco, he knew, when he lashed out, especially at him. He also knew however, that his godson had a perspective on these moments and would forgive him afterward. So he hoped was the case after each, at least.
Instead of asking Draco to leave so that he could get back to work, he gave him a half-hearted glare and sipped his tea. Not saying anything was as good as asking him to stay.
Draco didn't bother to push any more, knowing that if he did, they'd likely wind up shouting at each other eventually. That's how all of their heated arguments progressed.
The pair sat in silence for a while, each taking the time to settle down. Draco watched Severus sip at his tea and noted that he really didlookill and upset. He was obviously angry and had dark circles under his eyes. He hadn't had eaten today, it looked like. The last couple of visits, he hadn't seen him eat anything either. And he was working all day, no doubt. The cottage hardly looked lived in.
Draco sighed inwardly. He knew that Severus would have a hard time about what had happened with Lupin, but he had hoped that it would blow over by now. What was wrong, was nothing Draco could help at the moment though. Whatever was bothering him would have to work itself out, as it usually did.
"Did you read the Prophet this morning?" Draco asked, picking at his biscuit and changing the subject.
"My time is far too precious to waste on such rot," Severus lied.
He'd read the paper while he nursed his coffee in the lab this morning. The headline of the top story of that morning's edition of The Daily Prophet was about the riot that had incited over the weekend at Azkaban prison. Lucius' name was the only one mentioned. The article noted that the prisoners responsible for the commotion had been sent to D-Block for an indefinite time.
D-Block was the area of the prison still controlled by dementors.
"Tell your mother not to expect me any sooner than half-past seven."
"How are you, Draco?" Remus asked as the two sat for lunch.
"I'm fine, thank you. And yourself, and Teddy, it's only two days since the full moon."
"We're well, thank you," he said. "Your patient last month, the one who had the bad change, I hope he hasn't been back to see you this month."
"No. Actually, Severus provided the Wolfsbane potion for him."
Remus was a bit surprised, but tried not to insult the young man in front of him by showing it on his face.
"That's awfully kind of him," he said simply.
"Yes, it is. In fact, Severus has offered to provide him with the potion for the next couple of months, by which time he should find suitable arrangements and work."
Remus frowned a bit, "It isn't always so easy for people like me to find work, but he's working with the Reform, right? He's young, and doesn't show any outward signs of his condition, so Hermione tells me. I hope they can find him something soon."
"And Hermione tells me that only the inflicted who can find proper work have access to the potion, is that true?"
Remus nodded. "Unfortunately. We simply can't fund mass quantities of the potion at the moment. Those who can find steady work pay only half of what it would cost them at an apothecary."
"And how does the Reform get its funds?" Draco asked, pulling out a quill and notebook from the pocket of his robes.
"Well, the organization is a subsidiary of the Ministry, which means they provide us with a small amount of funding. Very small," he answered. "And the rest is largely made up of donations really; from institutions like Hogwarts to private donors. The work is nearly all volunteer, so the majority of the money goes straight to the potion."
"What is it that you're doing over there?" he asked when he was done explaining.
"What Malfoys do best, of course - thinking of money." Draco said putting his quill down, a cocky smirk on his face.
Remus thought it a bit sad that Draco still put on such a façade. He had no doubt that Draco still felt some pride in his family name, but Remus wasn't convinced it was for the reasons he fronted.
"Maybe before that's what Malfoys were best at, but I don't think that's so true anymore. And you certainly don't have to pretend that it is, Draco," he said.
Draco paused for a moment, studying what Remus might mean by that, but let it go after a moment while he put away his notebook.
"I hope this young man understands just how generous an offer Severus has made him."
Draco nodded and drank from the glass of pumpkin juice the waitress had just set down.
"The potion is expensive and time-consuming, as you know. Even for Severus, it's taxing. But he's always enjoyed the challenge, and he appreciates that his work is appreciated. In fact, I think that's why he agreed to do it. No one has needed him or his skills in a long while. Except me, of course." Draco smiled at that last part. A soft sort of smile that one could easily interpret as a smirk, but it was very clearly genuine to Remus.
Remus took a long look at Draco and noticed how much different he seemed one-on-one, like he wasn't worried about what someone thought of him, of the things he said, or the way he was perceived by others.
"How is Severus?" he asked after a few moments.
"You've not spoken since dinner, I suppose," Draco said matter-of-factly.
"No, we haven't," Remus said, feeling slightly embarrassed. "Actually, I had hoped to ask you today whether you thought that maybe he would be willing to see me sometime. To talk."
"Probably not," Draco answered flatly. "He's been a bit ill recently, and when he's ill, he prefers not to be bothered."
"Ill?" Remus said a bit incredulously. "Is it serious?"
"No, nothing that he hasn't dealt with before. It comes in bouts, you see."
Remus sighed out of relief.
"You know, I can't remember Severus ever being ill. He never missed a class that year I taught at Hogwarts, and probably not even throughout those last few years, I bet."
Draco sneered for the briefest of moments. "Obviously," he said, sounding quite bitter. "He's a Potions Master who didn't have the luxury. Of course you never saw him ill."
For a few moments Remus sat quietly, a bit taken back by the sudden change in temperament. By the sudden blank look on Draco's face, he didn't think Draco had meant to say what he had.
For someone to say something along those lines about a Potions Master was to imply something serious.
Draco had been quite bothered about seeing Severus the day before. He really wasn't expecting to see him in such a way. He'd been angry and lashed out at him, but was very clearly shaken about everything, he was tired, and hardly even ate that night when they'd had dinner with his mother at the Manor.
He had been worrying about Severus since then and said more than he meant to when Remus sounded so unbelieving and inconsiderate of all that Severus had been through on his own during the war, and all that he was fighting even now.
"He isn't like that anymore, I don't want you to think that," Draco said quietly, feeling embarrassed. "Not for a very long time-"
"Draco," Remus cut him off. "You don't have to tell me anymore. I trust your word that Severus is fine, and that's all that matters now anyway."
"I don't want it spread around; it isn't anyone's business." Remus caught the guilty tone of Draco's and sighed again.
"I would never, Draco," he promised, hoping he understood that Remus wasn't interested in revenge for what had been done to him. "Only if you want," he said and placed his hand gently on the younger man's forearm, hoping he understood that if he did have something on his mind, he could confide in him.
Draco understood and simply nodded his head and went back to his drink.
"As his personal healer, I think a visit would do him some good. Though you're not to blame me if he hexes you."
"No, I never drop my guard around the man, I've given him too many reasons to do so," he said. "Teddy spends Saturday mornings with me at the shop. The three of us could have lunch then, if that works for your schedule, and on Sunday, I'll pay Severus a visit."
Saturday came rather quickly for Remus, though not quite so for Teddy, who had been so excited in the days leading up to lunch with his cousin.
The Friday before their lunch date, Remus apparated to the Burrow to pick up Teddy.
Like they had almost two weeks earlier, Remus and Teddy went for a stroll to the small pond and sat for a while, playing with the tadpoles.
"Look dad," Teddy said, leaning in for a better look. "Lots of them have legs now!"
Remus smiled. It had been an exciting, but trying month; Teddy was a fighter and seemed to be moving as well as can be expected of a nearly-five year old.
"Looks like," he said, ruffling the boy's hair. "Soon enough you'll be able to sprout gills and go for a swim with them."
Teddy's eyes lit up. "Do you think so, dad? Real gills, ones that will let me breathe under water? Can wizards like me really do that?"
If not for the purely fantastic curiosity in Teddy's voice, Remus might have been sorry for implanting the idea in his head at such a young age.
"Not for a while, but someday when you're older, I'm sure you'll be able to do it," he said. "You know, your mother could pull some extraordinary tricks. Not all tricks of course, they served her well as an Auror."
Teddy listened to his dad tell him a story about his mother making animal faces at the dinner table.
"It was a regular thing, actually. Everyone loved it, your mother could always make us laugh," he said. "We could be discussing some incredibly, super secret Order plans one minute and the next she'd have me in stitches."
Teddy smiled. He didn't remember his mother, but he loved hearing stories about her. When Teddy looked up, he noticed Remus' eyebrows knitted together and the slightest frown on his face. He looked sad.
That night, Teddy made no fuss about staying up late. He wanted the morning to hurry so that the afternoon would come even quicker.
Something had been bothering him all evening though and he knew himself well enough to know that he might stay up for a while thinking about it if he didn't say something.
So, as little boys often do, he simply said bluntly what was on his mind.
"Do you miss her still?" he asked while his dad tucked him in.
Remus thought for a moment, trying to figure out what Teddy was talking about. "Your mum," he questioned. "Sure. All the time."
"Then, is that why you're always sad?" Teddy said.
"Why do you think I'm sad?"
Teddy shrugged and snuggled into his pillow a bit. "I dunno. You just look sad sometimes, when you think no one is looking."
Remus sighed and dropped down in front of the bed, face-to-face with Teddy, who was very obviously trying to hide in his pillow and blanket.
"Look at me, Ted," he said gently, prying the blanket away from his boy's face. "I do miss your mother, but she's gone and even though that makes me sad, I have so many other lovely reasons to be happy. Like you."
"And Harry?" Teddy asked.
"And Harry. And Hermione, and Mrs. Weasley, and Mr. Weasley, and - "
"Alright, dad. I get it," Teddy laughed.
"Good because I have whole long list that would take until morning to get through, but we've got a busy day and little metamorphagi cubs need their rest." Remus leaned in and kissed Teddy on the top of his sandy brown hair and stood up. "Goodnight."
Just as Remus reached the door, he heard a tired voice say, "Dad, I promise I won't ask again, but I wondered if maybe Severus might be having lunch with us tomorrow?"
His eyes fell closed as he sighed. Being a father was so hard sometimes.
"No, son, we won't be seeing him tomorrow. But we'll have a nice time with Draco all the same," he said.
"I know we will. I won't ask about him anymore, I promise," Teddy said, doing a fairly good job at keeping the disappointment out of his voice. "Goodnight, dad. I love you."
"Goodnight, Teddy. I love you more."
Being a father was too hard sometimes, Remus thought as he turned out the light.
"Draco, you realize you don't have to buy Teddy's affection with sweets, don't you?" Remus asked. Teddy was currently busy stuffing a large spoonful of ice cream, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles into his mouth.
Draco wasn't quite sure how to answer that, he thought that perhaps Remus was only kidding, but honestly, that was exactly what he had been trying to do.
Draco had taken the two to a restaurant he liked to eat at, only after asking more than once whether the choice was okay for them. Conversation, though a bit forced and awkward at first, had eased and relaxed. Remus thought it was charming how flustered Draco could get with Teddy.
He really didn't need to try so hard, Teddy thought Draco was utterly brilliant.
Teddy told his cousin about the tadpoles at the Burrow, and how he had plans to grow gills so that he could swim with them one day. Half way through the meal, Remus had to remind Teddy to keep his changes in check. The roots of his hair had started to grow blonde, to match Draco's, as he listened to him talk about a boy who had come into the hospital with gnome bites.
Teddy asked whether he had had any patients who were metamorphagi stuck as something other than themselves. He'd sounded half curiously excited and half frightened of the answer.
Draco laughed, but said no. Teddy was quite relieved at that.
"Though, during only my second week at St. Mungos, we had a cat come in. Of course, we thought it was just a stray who'd wandered in by accident, but on closer inspection, we realized the cat actually had two thumbs and a bit of a toe. She was an unregistered animagi who had just learned how to transform, but hadn't yet learned how to change back."
Teddy giggled until he nearly fell out of his chair.
As lovely as their lunch had been, Draco still seemed a bit nervous.
When no response came quick enough, Remus clarified for him, "I'm only teasing, Draco."
Draco forced a smile and a short laugh, "of course."
"Honestly though, you don't have to spoil him. He likes you plenty," Remus pointed out.
It was so surprising how one-on-one or with Severus by his side, Draco was so much more confidant in himself, in his actions, and his words. Though, if he thought about it more, maybe it shouldn't have been so surprising after all.
This was all incredibly new for Draco and it made Remus sorry that something so simple could be so difficult for him. No matter how much his parents cared about him, the difficult reactions meant that he hadn't had much experience with genuine affection coming without a gift of some sort attached.
"You really don't, you are my cousin after all. But it is nice," Teddy said with a grin after swallowing another mouthful. "Thank you, Draco."
"You're welcome," Draco said.
Seeing the sincere looks on both the younger boys' faces he realized, while he had been dwelling on the recent falling out they'd had, he was actually quite thankful for having run into Severus that day nearly two months ago.
Already too much of that time had been spent upset and sorry for the mess that had been created, but not for long. He'd do his best to make things right with Severus, even if it meant they wouldn't have the friendship he had hoped for.
Before Remus knew it, it was Sunday afternoon and he was leaving Teddy with his two favorite babysitters - Harry and Ron.
"What's this business you have on a Sunday anyhow, Remus?" Ron asked, plopping Teddy down from his piggyback ride.
Remus covered, "Oh, just some Reform business. Some of the families like to keep as much private as possible." Which was true. Remus was no stranger to WRR business on the weekends, when their offices were usually closed.
He certainly couldn't tell Ron where he was actually going.
Picking up his good ol' briefcase with his initials stamped onto the flap, he stuffed some papers and a very intimidating thick folder inside to play up his lie.
When he was ready to leave, Harry promised to take good care of his godson and Ron promised to blame Harry for any messes he may come home to find. Remus kissed his son on the forehead and was out the door with a wave.
Once outside, as he walked to the Apparation spot just inside the fenced in yard. A simple activation of the muggle-repelling charm and he could safely Apparate from that point.
Remus apparated into the alley between the fruit market and the post office of the village where Severus now lived. This town really is quite charming, Remus thought as he passed by an older couple sitting outside a coffee shop.
As he made his way up the street, toward the homes near the edge of the square, he rehearsed what he had planned to say when he arrived at Severus' home.
Suddenly, all those incredibly well thought-out lines seemed too rehearsed. How could he expect Severus to believe his words if they were beginning to sound insincere to himself?
He decided that he couldn't just walk up to the man's door with his thoughts all scattered. He slowed his pace and started looking around the village square; he needed a few minutes to just sit and gather himself properly. There was a bookstore just across the street.
That will do, he thought. He could browse a bit and let his mind settle down. So he did.
Running his long, pointed fingers across the spines of books in the herbology section, Remus figured out what he needed to say to Severus.
Flipping through the pages of an old, muggle novel, he decided what he wanted to say to Severus.
Remus then found himself in the "new release" section of the tiny shop, which was actually a bit out of date judging from some of the books he saw on the little table.
Digging through his coat pocket, he pulled out his reading glasses and picked up a book about the changes in politics since the end of the war. He flipped to a chapter called "Wasted Galleons: Ministry Funding," the shopkeeper looked up and glared when Remus snorted out loud. Near the end of the chapter, under the heading "Werewolves," the author noted that the Ministry was giving up more galleons to reform efforts than the "beasts" would ever be worth.
He said a quiet apology to the old man hunched over a stack of books. He put the book back down and decided what, exactly, he thought was the most important thing for him to tell Severus.
Finally, with a better understanding of his thoughts and a bit more confidence, Remus found his way to the far end of the houses, walked passed them and straight to Severus' cottage.
Crossing the threshold of the front gate, Remus felt a tingle pass through his body - a protection charm. He felt fine, wasn't missing any bits. That was a good sign, he supposed.
Walking up to the door, he knocked thrice and waited.
Perhaps he's down in his lab working. But certainly he'd have a trigger charm to tell him someone was on his property and was knocking on the door.
Remus knocked again, louder this time. Turning away from the door, he looked out towards the other houses. This particular cottage was purposefully out of the way of the others. He wondered if any curious persons peeking from their windows could see him waiting around like a fool for the petulant potions master, or whether Severus had any sort of muggle repelling charms.
Of course, there were still the scattered witches and wizards who lived around here -
"What do you want, Lupin?" Remus heard Severus say suddenly. He turned around quickly, hoping to block any chance that Severus would shut the door on him.
"I wanted to talk to you, Severus" he said.
Severus stared at him harshly, his onyx eyes seemingly seeing straight through Remus, trying to find out the true reasons for him showing up and now standing at his doorstep. Remus held his ground for several long moments.
He knew Severus wouldn't use legilimency; it was a difficult bit of magic, even for someone as strong as Severus, and he wouldn't use it on someone unnecessarily. Even still, Remus could feel Severus' mind brushing at his ever so faintly, daring Remus to take the bet and let him in. Whether Remus had any practice in this particular art was of no matter, Severus was confidant in his skills and knew he could take as he pleased once he was in.
Remus hesitated before finally dropping his eyes. "I want to talk," he repeated.
"Fine," Severus said as he turned and walked back into the house, leaving the door open for Remus.
Leave some feedback, k? Your amazing comments (and critiques) are always welcome. - ML