Title: Building a Family Author: Anita Dapperens Rating: PG-13 Pairing: Severus Snape/Remus Lupin Disclaimer: Severus Snape, Remus Lupin and everything related belong to J.K Rowling. I'm not making any profit, I just borrowed them to have some fun. Feedback: email@example.com Beta: Thank you Jasper, Nemesis and Ina Sehr for your help in polishing this story. Your input was very valuable :o) Archive: Third Wave from the 'Master and the Wolf' Snape/Lupin Fuh-Q-Fest and my site once this wave is over. Challenge /
252) Remus decides to help out with the war orphan situation by becoming a foster parent. However, werewolves are prohibited from adopting, and Remus is devastated when it becomes clear that a child he had hoped would be with him forever is going to be removed from his home.
Though he was rather pale and skinny, with his bright blue eyes that screamed intelligence and lanky, black hair, Jasper seemed as normal as any other child in the orphanage.
Yet he wasn’t.
The more time Remus spent with him, the more it became clear that something was “off” about the boy, and he didn’t even count the obsession with black clothes. Jasper refused to wear anything with colour in it.
He was skittish around adults, seemed wary of the other children, kept to himself a lot and showed an aversion to being touched. On top of that, his eyes, which could be very expressive at times, mostly held a shuttered expression; something Remus could not bear to see in a child so young.
Everything seemed to point towards a behavioural defect, but he and Molly had even started to suspect that Jasper had been abused at home.
Tearing his eyes away from where Jasper sat playing with Lego, plastic Muggle building bricks donated to the orphanage by Harry, Remus looked up to the expecting gazes of the staff and volunteers of the Bumblebee Orphanage.
“Yes, Molly?” Remus said, trying to sound contrite about losing interest in the meeting.
“We were talking about trying harder to place Jasper with a family.”
Remus shook his head.
“I know you mean well, Molly, but we can’t force anyone to take him in, and that is what it would take. His grandparents refused to even meet him, and the families who have ...”
He trailed off, anger rising at the reminder of their behaviour, certain the others understood what he wasn’t saying.
“We can’t give him the attention and care he needs here, Remus, and you know it. Now, we still haven’t been able to reach any of his family on his father’s side.”
“I need to know we tried everything, Remus.”
“I’ll see if Severus knows anything about the Thorpes.”
Molly only nodded and proceeded to the next point on the agenda, while Remus glanced over to Jasper, making sure he was still alright.
After the meeting had ended, Remus got up and sat down next to Jasper, who had exchanged the Lego for a thick book.
“What are you reading, Jasper?”
Jasper said nothing, but simply showed Remus the cover.
Curses and Counter-curses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying, and Much, Much More) by Professor Vindictus Viridian.
Remus shook his head. For Jasper this book was ‘light reading’. He was glad the boy didn’t have a wand.
It did worry him that Jasper would rather read a book than play with his peers. He knew he shouldn’t push, but none of them had actually broached the subject before. He had to try some time.
“Billy seemed interested in what you built earlier. Maybe you could play with the Lego together.”
That got Jasper's attention; at least enough for a quiet answer.
“Father didn’t like Mudbloods.”
No, Remus thought, probably not, but he couldn’t say it out loud. He simply nodded and waited for Jasper to continue.
“I didn’t understand.”
Was he supposed to explain it?
“My friend’s mother was a Mudblood. She was very nice, but father kept calling her names.”
“She wouldn’t let me play with Chris anymore because father was a Death Eater.”
Remus sighed. Jasper was too intelligent for his own good. Sometimes it seemed he was much older than nine.
“Jasper, Voldemort had these big plans for ridding the world of Muggles. He wanted only Wizards, Pureblood Wizards, to survive. Your father wanted that too.”
Jasper raised an eyebrow as if to say “Well, duh!”
“But ... why didn’t she let me play with Chris anymore? Father never said I couldn’t.”
Well, that was certainly unexpected. It would have been more logical for Thorpe to have forbidden his son to play with a Halfblood.
Was that why he kept away from the other children. Did he think he wasn’t allowed to play with them?
“I don’t know, Jasper. People sometimes act strange when they’re hurt. Not everyone is like that.”
Jasper shook his head, looking slightly annoyed, and Remus wondered what he had missed.
“No one wants to play with a Death Eater’s son.”
It put a strange sort of perspective on things for Remus. With every other child, he would have expected some silly comment about the other children shunning him because he was strange. It seemed life had dealt Jasper a complicated deck of cards.
How he wished he could deny it. How he wished he could hold the boy and tell him everything would turn out alright, but he himself learned at an early age that wishes barely ever came true.
His arms full with the second hand robes Madame Malkin gave him for the children at the orphanage, Remus Apparated just outside Hogsmeade and made his way to the orphanage.
He almost jumped when he heard a familiar voice behind him.
“Going into the second hand business now, Lupin?”
Black, billowing robes, imposing stance and a glare that made children run back to their mothers. Nothing seemed different, yet everything was.
Recognition and acceptance had changed Severus’ world.
Even if it had been Harry, to Severus’ dismay, who had brought everything to light, it was clear to Remus the once dour man revelled in the attention and the sudden respect. So, though still imposing, Severus was less severe these days, less bitter. His sarcasm was as biting as ever, but his sense of humour showed through more clearly now, and every now and then, if you looked hard enough, you could catch a hint of a smile on his lips.
“Ah, Severus, you have impeccable timing,” Remus said, ignoring Severus’ comment. “Would you mind if I came a little early tomorrow? There is something I need to talk to you about, and I don’t want it to interfere with our game of chess.”
“You don’t want it to distract you, you mean. Not that it will help you.”
“I’ve never played to win, Severus. I play for the incredible company.”
“The tale of a man unable to win a simple game of chess.”
Remus simply smiled and waited.
“Alright then, if you insist. I can’t give you more than half an hour though.”
“Half an hour is fine, Severus, thank you.” Remus replied, sighing as he watched Severus walk away, his eyes following him until he was out of sight.
“That is just plain disturbing!”
Remus nearly jumped. He hadn’t heard Harry approach him.
“What is?” he asked.
“You were flirting with him!”
Harry shook his head.
“Ginny snogging Draco, that I get. But you and Snape ... that’s just plain wrong.”
“Harry, I needed to discuss something with him.”
“Yeah, right ... Oh, don’t give me that look, Remus. I know he’s not as bad as he seems. In fact you’ve told me that about a million times ... it’s just ... Snape and romance ... that’s like thinking about grandparents shagging ... eww!”
Severus is ... was ... I ...”
“I know. Occlumency, remember?”
“Right ... I forgot that you saw some of his memories too.”
“When can we expect him?”
“We do not. I didn’t invite him.”
Remus sighed. He had wanted to, had tried to several times, but either his timing was off, or Severus was just not interested ... in him.
“Do you have time for a drink, before going back to the orphanage?”
Thankful that Harry didn’t push, Remus nodded, took out his wand to shrink the robes and followed Harry to ‘the three Broomsticks’.
“Why didn’t you shrink them before?”
“I felt no need to,” Remus replied as they sat down, “How long are you staying again? You didn’t mention that in your owl.”
“Until Monday. I’ll be sleeping mostly though. I flew into a Bludger yesterday and I’m supposed to be resting.”
Taking in Harry’s appearance, Remus saw no visible signs of an injury.
“Back or stomach?”
“Stomach. I wouldn’t be walking right now if it had hit my back. It’s sore, but the healer did a good job.”
“He’d better,” Remus replied, still a little worried, “You’ll have plenty of rest at the cottage, since you’ll be alone most of the time. It’s full moon Friday night, and I’ll spend it at Severus’ manor, as usual.”
Harry opened his mouth, then closed it again. Remus braced himself, expecting more jibes about his and Severus’ relationship. But none were uttered. Instead Harry asked him how things were going at the orphanage.
“I’d love to come and visit before I leave. I haven’t seen Molly in ages.”
“Things are finally settling a bit. We’ve been able to place most of the children with relatives, so at the moment we’ve only about fifteen children left. Unfortunately still more children are found.”
Found under the most horrible circumstances, fearful and hungry, like Jasper had been.
An old witch had found him scurrying on the street, looking like he had been out there for weeks. It had taken her hours to convince him to take her offer of a bed. He was mistrusting and paranoid, and apparently hadn’t even used the bed, but slept on the floor underneath, covered by one single sheet.
“A Knut for your thoughts.”
Remus shook himself out of his thoughts and looked at Harry.
“Sorry. I’ve been preoccupied with one of the children.”
“You’ve mentioned one in your owls a couple of times. What was his name again? Jessie, err ...”
“Yes, that’s it, Jasper. Is something wrong with him?”
It was all the encouragement Remus needed to disclose his worries about the boy.
“He needs nurturing, needs someone he can trust. He ...” Remus paused, not sure how to say it, though it was something that had bothered him for quite some time, “He reminds me of Severus, you know, and I’m scared that if we leave things the way they are now ...”
Seeing Harry nod, Remus let the sentence trail off. He didn’t really want to think about it now. He’d done that enough lately.
With a sigh, he finished his coffee.
“You could adopt him.” Harry suddenly blurted out.
“That boy, Jasper. You should adopt him.”
“Oh, come on, Remus. It’s clear you care about him. It’s also clear he needs a more stable environment than an orphanage. Most people don’t even consider him because he’s a Death Eater’s child. You would be the perfect solution for the boy.”
Him ... adopt Jasper? He made to shake his head, but images of a smiling Jasper running around his cottage stopped him and he was shocked to realise that he actually wanted to.
“Good afternoon Mr. Lupin. What can I do for you?”
Remus smiled at the serious young man before him.
“Good afternoon Theodore. I have a list of potions for the orphanage, and I have an early appointment with Severus.”
“Professor Snape is still working on the Wolfsbane Potion, but I think the last phase of the brewing is almost complete. Why don’t you go up to his chambers?”
It struck him as funny that, even though they had been working for Severus for a couple of months now, both Theodore and Blaise still called him professor. Yet, he had to admit that mr. Snape just didn’t cut it with Severus, and, in a way, the boys were still his students.
As Remus entered Severus living room, the chess set was already waiting for him, as it always was.
He looked around as he sat down in his usual chair; the room looked as immaculate as it had last time, but Remus suspected Severus spent little time here. Even though he had only once seen the manor’s extensive library, he had sensed it to be where Severus spent most of his time, whenever he wasn’t in his laboratories of course.
Waiting for Severus, Remus browsed Jasper’s file.
Skittish as he was, flinching at every touch, they had immediately assumed Jasper had been abused, especially when they found out his father, Derek Thorpe, had been a Death Eater.
Yet the way the boy spoke of his parents, his father as well as his mother, was open, loving and proud. There seemed to be nothing false about his adoration either. The boy clearly missed them, and it became more and more evident that his parents had loved him, not abused him. Remus couldn’t deny he was relieved, even if it brought him no closer to the cause of Jasper’s peculiar behaviour.
He cared for the boy, quirks and all, and ever since his conversation with Harry, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about adopting Jasper himself.
Jasper didn’t seem to mind his attention. In fact he greedily accepted it. Last week he had even been able to ruffle his hair without a single flinch.
Yes, the more he thought of it, the better he liked the idea.
Who else was going to make sure Jasper would be protected and loved?
Deep in thought, Remus almost jumped at the sound of a door closing. He looked up to see Severus approaching him, without the customary steaming goblet.
“The potion has to simmer for another half hour,” Severus told him, as if reading his mind, “You can accompany me to the laboratory when it’s time.”
Severus sat down opposite Remus and raised an eyebrow.
“This matter you needed to discuss with me ...”
Remus handed Severus Jasper’s files.
“What is this?”
“Molly and I wondered if you could tell us more about Derek Thorpe.”
After frowning at him for a couple of minutes, Severus opened the file and browsed through its contents.
Remus waited patiently, using the opportunity to watch Severus, only barely holding in a wistful sigh as Severus’ long fingers stroked the spine.
“The Conrad family is of very old and noble blood. It does not surprise me they disowned their daughter, though they are fools not to want a boy as clever and well behaved as your file makes him out to be. I’d advise you not to place the boy with his father’s relatives, though if my memory serves me well, the few survivors of that family are rightfully locked up in Azkaban. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting any of them, but their alliance with Riddle was common knowledge. An aggressive lot ...”
Severus barely told him anything new about the Conrads, but his knowledge, however minimal, of the Thorpes was helpful.
He suddenly wondered what Severus would think of him adopting Jasper.
“Harry said I should adopt him.”
Dark eyes held his and Remus wished he could close his, could mark his feelings the way Severus was able to, but all he could do was hope. At times he thought Severus knew exactly how he felt and was, in his own stoic way, trying to let him down gently. Though he, for the life of him, couldn’t fathom why. It was only confusing him more.
“The boy could do worse.”
Coming from Severus, that could almost be perceived a compliment.
He frowned as he heard a tiny bell chiming.
Severus merely stood and motioned him to do the same.
“The Wolfsbane Potion will be ready in ten minutes. We will return here for our game afterwards.”
And that was the end of that discussion.
Pale and trembling he sat in the corner behind the rocking chair. His favourite chair, Remus noted.
“Again?” he asked Molly, who stood behind him in the doorway.
“We should have let Poppy check him out last time. If he’s having seizures ...”
“They’re not seizures, Remus. The boy ... Poppy will be here soon.”
“What were you going to say?”
“Not now, Remus. Try and get him calmed down and we’ll talk later.”
Knowing Jasper’s aversion to touch, Remus kneeled next to him, as close as he could without startling him.
Jasper didn’t look up, but Remus was certain he was listening.
“Jasper, what happened?”
Though his movements were jerky, it was clear Jasper was pointing at him specifically, not just randomly.
“What did I do, Jasper?”
“You weren’t here. You were supposed to teach me, but you weren’t here ... you left me ... you left me ...”
Remus didn’t know whether to sigh or smile. It was the third time this had happened in as many months, but it was the first time Jasper told him what was wrong.
“Molly told you I wasn’t coming in yesterday, didn’t she?”
“You were supposed to teach me ... you weren’t here ... you left me ...”
He knew Jasper liked being around him and Remus enjoyed teaching him, but this sounded obsessive.
“Well, I’m here today, and if you want to I could teach you now, after Madame Pomfrey has checked you over. Would you like that?”
“No, no, I can’t. I haven’t finished my Lego project,” Jasper stammered, “Oh, I missed so much. I need ... I need ... I missed breakfast.”
This time Remus did sigh. Molly was right, this had nothing to do with seizures.
He slowly extended his hand, making sure Jasper saw the movement.
“If you’re hungry I can make you a sandwich and you can eat it while you work on your Lego project ... but first you need to see Madame Pomfrey to make sure you’re not hurt.”
Jasper seemed drawn to the Lego and Remus remembered he had seen him playing with it every ...
Why hadn’t they ... hadn’t he seen it before?
Jasper had done exactly the same things in the same order, every single day.
Suddenly Molly’s comment made more sense, as did Jasper’s babbling. He tried to remember what it was he had read about this sort of behaviour, but a hand sliding into his stopped him dead.
Suppressing the urge to ruffle Jasper’s hair, he stood up and led him out of the library.
“I’ll eat the sandwich first, I don’t want to get the Lego dirty.”
“Right. But first we’re going to see Madame Pomfrey.”
Something was eating Jasper.
Unseeing eyes were fixed on pages that were turned too fast for anyone to read, only interrupted by a heavy sigh now and then.
“Your lip’ll be bloody if you don’t stop chewing,” Remus noted lightheartedly, not wanting to just let it go.
Another sigh was uttered, but the chewing stopped. He was still browsing aimlessly though.
“Is something bothering you, Jasper?”
The browsing stopped.
“Katie said ... He’s not ... Is that really Harry Potter?”
Remus followed Jasper’s gaze to Molly’s office, where she and Harry were drinking coffee, and gossiping, no doubt. That was it?
“Yes, it is,” Remus answered.
Eyes widened momentarily, but the expression quickly became shuttered and fixed on the book again.
Apparently he had missed something.
He hadn’t expected Jasper to be as thrilled as the other children to meet ‘the boy who lived’, yet, this closing off ...
It didn’t make any sense.
As Remus pondered Jasper’s behaviour, he noticed Harry coming out of Molly’s office, approaching him.
“Can I go to my room?”
“Don’t you want to meet ...”
“Jasper,” he began, but it was no use, Jasper had already got up and all but ran to his room.
“What bit him?” Harry asked as he sat down next to Remus.
“Would you believe me if I told you it was you?”
Remus shook his head and sighed.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.”
As soon as he felt the movement next to him, he knew where Harry was going, he also knew that he should be calling him back, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him.
“Let him try,” was all Molly said before joining the children in the corner.
Sitting idly at the table, pretending to read a book, could be continued only so long, and Remus soon ended up pacing around the table, occasionally looking in the direction of Jasper’s room, his fingers making a mess of the bottom of his shirt. Molly had taken the rest of the children outside to play after her attempts to calm him down had fallen on deaf ears. He couldn’t calm down.
How could he when he had no idea what was going on in that room?
What if Jasper had an episode again? What if Harry frightened him. What if ...?
He abruptly stopped pacing as he heard a door open, eyes widening at the sight before him.
Jasper was actually smiling, hands clasped together as if he was holding something.
Remus looked from Jasper to Harry, who shrugged his shoulders, and back to Jasper.
“Look what I got, Remus!” Jasper cried out, holding his hands barely an inch in front of Remus’ eyes, “A Snitch, a real Snitch!”
But before Remus could say anything, Jasper was already out the door.
“You gave him a Snitch?”
“It is for all of them, I made sure Jasper understood that. Don’t worry, it’s safe, it is charmed to stay within preset boundaries. ”
“It took a Snitch to calm him down?”
“No,” Harry admitted, shaking his head, “Not by far.”
Remus sighed. He hadn’t really expected it.
“To be honest, he probably would have calmed down much sooner if it had been you following him. He was terrified of me. Not that he told me so, but his incessant mumbling about being a Death Eater’s son clued me in soon enough.”
Remus winced. It would take a long time for Jasper to realise he was not responsible for his father’s actions.
“He’s hard to convince, that one.”
“But you managed.”
“When he finally believed I am your friend. He is very protective of you.”
That made him snort. Jasper, protective of him? Now, that truly sounded ridiculous, but it warmed his heart nevertheless.
Molly called him into her office just before he left that night.
“Harry told me you were thinking of adopting Jasper.”
Remus shook his head. Damn Harry for interfering.
“I’ve been thinking about it, yes,” he admitted, “I didn’t want to say anything until I’d studied the Werewolf Regulations. I ...”
“Well, “ Molly said, pushing a bundle of rolled up parchments into his arms, “Now is as good a time as any.”
As he started unfolding the first one, Remus wasn’t sure whether he wanted to hit or kiss Molly.
After reading the Werewolf Regulations scrolls back and forth all night, Remus and Molly finally rolled them up again, and banished them to the archive they came from.
One sentence was all he and Molly had been able to find, one lousy sentence.
‘The afflicted is not allowed to bear, conceive or father any children.’
There was nothing about adopting or raising children. He merely wasn’t allowed to father them.
“Well,” Molly said as she closed the book, “We can file the request whenever we want to. There is nothing to hinder you now.”
Nothing ... apart from Jasper saying no.
“Remus. Jasper adores you. You know how he misses you around the full moon, even with the calming draught Severus supplied. Just ask him.”
Just ask him.
It sounded so easy when Molly said it. Yet he felt nervous, unsure even.
Yes, Jasper liked him, seemed at ease around him, but would he actually want him for a father?
That was not the worst of his fears though.
His worst fear was telling the boy about his lycanthropy.
Would Jasper still like him after that?
He was afraid to find out.
Looking up from his book, Remus found Jasper staring at him, a peculiar expression in his eyes.
“Does it hurt?”
“Does what hurt, Jasper?”
“The transformation,” Jasper said matter-of-factly, “I’ve been reading about it, but it doesn’t say.”
Dear Merlin! Where was the world coming to if even nine year old could tell he was a werewolf? An extremely intelligent one, but still.
He felt pride more than embarrassment though. This was the boy he wanted to adopt. Trepidation quickly replaced the pride as he realised knowledge did not mean tolerance.
“Yes,” he said as calmly as he could manage, “it hurts a lot.”
“Doesn’t professor Snape’s potion help?”
Where had Jasper got his information?
“It stops the wolf from taking over my mind, but it does not relieve the pain.”
“Can’t he make something for the pain?”
All these years of being thankful for the Wolfsbane Potion, and that ...
“I never asked,” he admitted.
A pensive look and a slight nod was Jasper’s only reaction.
As Remus pondered the question, he noticed Jasper bowing his head and leafing through his book again.
He quenched the urge to ruffle Jasper’s hair and got up.
He couldn’t ask Jasper about the adoption just yet, but at least his fears of being rejected for his lycanthrope had been quashed.
Surprisingly enough, it was Jasper who brought the subject up barely an hour later.
“If I learn how to make the potion, would you let me live with you?”
Caught of guard, Remus couldn’t do more but stammer some nonsense he wasn’t even sure were words.
Jasper took it as a negative reaction and bolted.
That was enough to shock Remus out of his stupor. He ran after Jasper, catching him just before he managed to close his door.
Jasper’s voice was rough and shaky.
Remus cursed himself as he crouched down next to the bed, trying to refrain himself from pulling Jasper into a hug.
“Please ... don’t.”
“Jasper, look at me.”
He hoped his voice wasn’t too stern.
One eye turned his way, hesitant and half closed, but it was enough for Remus.
“I would love for you to live with me.”
An eyebrow was raised. It was expected; Remus didn’t fault Jasper for not believing him.
“As a matter of fact, I’ve already drawn up the paperwork. All that is missing is your signature of consent.”
Scepticism turned into doubt, turned into something Remus came to recognise as joy in Jasper’s eyes.
Remus nodded solemnly, though he could barely refrain from smiling at the childishness in Jasper’s voice. He heard it so rarely.
“And you don’t have to brew the Wolfsbane Potion,” he added as a n afterthought, hoping it was enough to convince Jasper that the offer was unconditional.
“Will I have to do chores?”
“I’ll not complain as long as you clean your room and take good care of the books.”
Books, Jasper’s magic word. Gone was the hurt soul, the insecure boy, and this time Remus did smile. The boy suddenly sitting up, almost bouncing on the bed, looked eager and interested. Like a child in a candy shop.
“I’d get to read your books?”
“Of course. They’d be your books too.”
The bouncing stopped and a slight frown appeared.
“Can I write my name instead of a signature? I don’t know how to do that ... yet.”
“Your name would be fine,” Remus reassured Jasper, his heart thumping as he realised he was really going to adopt the boy.
He had already heard his bedroom door creak, but pretended to be asleep till Jasper’s cold feet nestled against his bare legs.
The first morning Jasper had stood in the doorway, unsure whether to enter or not. Remus had heard his door open and after a few awkward moments had taken pity on the boy. After that, Jasper crawled into his bed as soon as he woke up. It was something he didn’t mind getting used to, more so because he never though Jasper would feel comfortable doing this.
“Good morning, Jasper, have you slept well?”
The cold feet rubbed his legs, it was the only answer he would get, but it was a positive one.
Yet, no matter how wonderful it was to have Jasper in his home, he wished he hadn’t said yes when Molly suggested it. He had protested, keeping in mind how much it would hurt the boy if the adoption fell through, but Molly had simply waved his objections aside.
“It will all be alright,” she had said, and that was the end of that.
In the mean time, everyone kept telling him all would be fine, but Remus was starting to have doubts.
Not about adopting Jasper, of course not, his belief that he was doing the right thing grew every day. He just wasn’t sure the Ministry would let him.
Every placement he’d been involved in, be it family of the child or strangers, had been arranged during a relatively short meeting with a Ministry official at the orphanage and the signing of a binding contract, after which the families would stay under observation for six months.
His request had been met with an invitation to an official hearing at the Ministry, and it had taken them a month to reply.
“It’s not a good sign, Molly,” he had told her when he received the owl.
Molly had merely scoffed at their tardiness.
“Remus, anyone can see that you’re good for Jasper.”
Remus had shaken his head at that, doubting the Ministry would care about that.
“And you’ve taken precautions for the full moon, that will surely speak for you.”
Remus snorted. He’d had to, hadn’t he? One of the conditions of his employment was that he could not spend nights at the orphanage. He could understand that for the night of the full moon, but the rest was just silly. He had agreed anyway.
Though Molly’s support meant a lot to him, it was not what he needed.
He needed the hearing to be over. He needed to be certain Jasper would still be crawling into his bed at the crack of dawn for years to come. He needed an answer, and he needed it now.
Eyes fixed on the sky blue painted ceiling, Remus slid to the floor and leaned back against the wall.
“... and in accordance with Addendum number 47 of the werewolf regulations we hereby deny your request to attain guardianship of Jasper Thorpe.”
Somehow he had known it was too good to be true, still he hadn’t been prepared for those words.
In the commotion that had followed, Remus had barely heard a word Molly was screaming, nor could he grasp anything that was said to him directly. There was only numbness and the echoing sounds of Jasper’s cries as he clung to him; a hysterical Jasper who’d had to be dosed with a strong Calming Potion to be even remotely manageable.
The moment they had managed to separate Jasper from him, Remus had Disapparated, unable to bear spending another minute, though his heart ached to be with Jasper.
He wasn’t sure he could go back to living without Jasper again and he cursed Molly for insisting.
Wrapping his arms around his knees, Remus sighed and closed his eyes, letting all his memories and frustrations wash over him.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs startled him awake and he instinctively crawled deeper into the shadows. He must have slept for hours, judging by how dark it was around.
Who was in the house? And how did they get in? Hadn’t he closed his floo?
The voice, laced with irritation, cause Remus to jump up, but he did not call out just yet. He wracked his mind over what could have brought Severus to his house. Severus never came to him.
Merlin! There couldn't be anything wrong with Jasper!
Remus sighed. Standing here, wondering, would not get him the answers he needed.
He opened the door and walked out into the hall, just in time to see Severus coming out of his own bedroom.
“What do you want, Severus?” he asked, his voice sounding clipped as he tried to keep hold of his emotions and keeping himself from asking about Jasper.
“I will not discuss anything while standing in the dark. Join me downstairs and we’ll talk.”
If it wasn’t for his curiosity, Remus would have told Severus to go to hell, instead of following him down the stairs into his living room, where candles were already burning.
He settled himself on a stool, eyeing Severus sitting in his favourite chair.
“I’ve had a rotten day so far, Severus, so, please, just tell me what you came here for and leave me the hell alone.”
“Yes, I know. I was there.”
That was unexpected.
“You were at the hearing? Why?”
“The Ministry thought it necessary to interview me, since I provide you with the Wolfsbane Potion. Quite a charming boy, young mr. Thorpe. Quite a mind as well.”
Remus closed his eyes and swallowed.
“Why are you here, Severus?”
“I had a rather lengthy discussion with your ... interrogators after you left. Very interesting how haste can cause errors. Of course, no one ever reads the complete werewolf regulations, so normally it wouldn’t have been picked up.”
Remus almost growled when Severus stopped. What was the man getting at? Had there been foul play? Well, other than making up a new Addendum to the werewolf regulations. There was nothing he could do about that.
Or was there?
“I make it my business to know, however, from every angle. That is how I knew that Addendum 47 has nothing to do with adopting children.”
As soon as he opened his mouth, Severus held up his hand, so Remus closed it again and let Severus continue.
“Unfortunately, the Ministry has learnt from past mistakes, which means that contracts are self-correcting and the document now lists Addendum 48. That means the ruling can not be reversed. Nevertheless, my knowledge of their erratum gave me some bargaining power.”
Was Severus trying to tell him he could adopt Jasper after all? No ... no that couldn’t be it, Severus wouldn’t have put it this way if he had, would he?
“I adopted the boy.”
Remus felt like he’d been slapped in his face, but Severus either did not notice or ignored it, because he wasn’t done yet.
“Of course they weren’t too pleased when I told them I knew no one more suited to mind him while I worked but you. Fortunately, when I pointed out that their unwillingness to agree with me might be seen as lack of trust in my potions skills, they quickly conceded. I am, after all, the only manufacturer of their Veritaserum, since their last Potions ‘master’ proved incapable of brewing it correctly,” Severus ended his speech, looking quite smug.
Even when it finally dawned on him what exactly Severus had said, it still didn’t sit right with Remus, and all he wanted to do was to wipe that smugness of Severus’ face.
“Why?” was all he managed to say though.
“The boy needs you and I could do with an heir,” Severus said with a shrug as he got up, “I advise you to rest, Lupin. I’ll send Theodore and Blaise in the morning to help you move your belongings. We will pick the boy up ...”
“Jasper ... his name is Jasper.”
“We will pick Jasper up tomorrow afternoon.”
Remus was staring at the door long after Severus had left, his mind still trying to grasp the implications of what Severus had done.
Had done for him.
Remus barely closed the door before he was enveloped in Molly’s arms.
“I was so worried when you Disapparated so suddenly yesterday. We all were. How are you holding up?”
“We are here to pick the ... Jasper up,” Severus interrupted.
And in an instant Molly’s arms were gone.
“But ...” she sputtered, looking from him to Severus and back again, “How?”
As Severus pushed a piece of parchment into Molly’s hand, Remus’ attention was drawn by an almost catatonic looking Jasper, surrounded by lego. A sudden pain in his chest made him gasp, the sound causing Jasper to look up. Within seconds he was holding a trembling, sobbing boy in his arms.
He let himself fall backwards into the nearest chair, wrapping his arms tightly around Jasper, whispering the words he was so afraid he’d never get to utter again.
“I’ve come to take you home.”
It was nearly dinner time before all the details were explained to both Jasper and Remus’ colleagues. Jasper, still in Remus’ lap had been eyeing Severus all this time.
The timid voice was barely audible in the midst of all the chattering and Remus brought his head closer to Jasper’s.
“Will I have to call him father?”
Remus honestly didn’t know, they hadn’t had time to discuss things like that.
“Well, I’m not sure, but for now I think you should keep to calling him sir. We can talk about it later.”
“When we get home?” Jasper asked, eagerness strengthening his voice.
“Yes,” Remus confirmed, “When we get home.”
A small sigh escaped Jasper, and Remus nuzzled the boy’s hair.
“I miss my room.”
Remus was glad he had put his foot down and insisted on taking most of the furniture and knick-knacks from Jasper’s room. Granted, some of it was old, but at least it was familiar to him.
“It will be alright.”
From the corner of his eyes, he saw Severus approach them and he felt Jasper stiffen.
“Are you ready to go?”
“Yes, we are,” Remus answered as he stood up, gently putting Jasper down.
“Good. Why don’t you take Jasper by Floo, while I Apparate and make certain everything is in order.”
Spoken like a true Lord of the manor, Remus thought with amusement, shaking his head and turning to Jasper.
“Come on, let’s go see your new room.”
Remus was well aware that this change in Jasper’s routine, again, would have consequences. Consequences he made sure to warn Severus of as soon as Jasper had, finally, fallen asleep in his new bed.
“He will probably be very unsettled for a few days. He’ll be restless, nervous and will behave irrational and defiantly. Ignoring is the best policy. He will settle down, but it will take longer if you go up against him. He does not do it to defy you ...”
“I understand, Lupin. I have studied the files closely. Both you and Poppy were very detailed in your description of ... Jasper.”
Two days later Remus had to give Severus credit for his patience. Pale, tightlipped and shaking with fury at seeing one of his laboratories almost destroyed, Severus managed to keep his rage in check and only told Jasper, in a surprisingly calm voice, to go and play outside, before he soundlessly closed the door.
A wild burst of magical energy emanating from the room a few minutes later confirmed how hard Severus had tried to keep his rage in check.
Outside he found Jasper huddled against the wall next to the back door.
“He was really angry, wasn’t he?” he asked in a very small voice.
“Will he send me away now?”
Remus coaxed Jasper away from the wall into his arms.
“No, Jasper. He may stay angry at you for a while longer, but he will not send you away. This is your home now.”
“How long will he be angry?”
Remus barely held back a snort. It had taken Severus over twenty years to forgive him for something he had no conscious part in. He had no idea how long it would take him to forgive the act of a troubled child.
Breakfast the next morning was tense, and Remus could sense Jasper retreating into himself, while Severus wouldn’t look at either of them.
Another two days later, Jasper came up with a solution himself, and Remus found himself accompanying him to one of the more prestigious potions shops.
Late that afternoon, a very timid Jasper formally apologised to Severus, who was ensconced in his library chair, handing him a package with a few of the more precious ingredients that not survived his outburst, bought with the rather generous allowance Severus gave him.
The nod of approval signalled the end of the matter, but not before Severus had expressly forbidden Jasper to venture near the laboratories without permission or supervision.
Permission was easily gained though, when Jasper started to show an interest in Severus’ work and soon an hour each morning was planned into both their schedules.
Remus couldn’t help but shake his head in amusement when he saw them bowed over a potions book together.
But, as Jasper settled in the manor, something changed, and it changed soon after his next transformation.
Sipping his tea, Remus watched Severus and Jasper whispering to each other. He couldn’t begrudge Jasper’s increasing interest in potions, the boy’s mind needed to be challenged after all and Merlin knew how good Severus was at that, but this recent father and son bonding was starting to annoy him.
It was as if he wasn’t even sitting at the table. And this was not all. For the last five days neither had even appeared for breakfast, and through lunch and dinner they would whisper between themselves.
When he tried asking them, he never got a clear answer. All they would tell him was that they were working on a project.
Their secrecy stung, no matter how hard he tried to ignore it.
He tried to distract himself by taking care of the herb garden, flying around the pitch to keep in shape and spending his time in the library reading. Yet it only got worse.
Remus began feeling like an unwanted extra, a third wheel.
The one comfort left to Remus was that Jasper still spent the afternoons with him. He would explain any subject Jasper wanted him to. It almost made him forget the neglect he felt ...
And then Jasper started skipping afternoons too.
He understood that Severus adopted Jasper to help him, he really did, and he was thankful for it. Jasper was blooming.
Yet seeing them interact this closely every day, developing the bond he had wanted ...
It became harder and harder to witness.
And not just because of Jasper. He was still hoping that the friendship he and Severus now shared would turn into something more.
Instead he sensed their friendship fading.
His breaking point came after his second transformation at the manor.
There had been no chess game the night before, and a steaming goblet of Wolfsbane Potion was waiting for him when he finally retired to his room, sick of waiting for Severus. Come to think of it, he had seen neither Jasper nor Severus since lunch.
Then there was the transformation itself. There was something off about it that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He had felt instantly drowsy after drinking the Wolfsbane Potion and had not woken until after the transformation to wolf. He could barely even remember the transformation. Transforming back to human, that he could remember, and he was glad he had put silencing spells on his rooms. Worn out, he had dragged himself into bed again and slept ... until well into the afternoon.
Whereas last month both Jasper and Severus had visited him in his rooms, there had been no sign of either of them. Not even a message when a house elf brought him a light late lunch, nor when the same elf served him dinner.
It was clear to him at once.
He was not wanted anymore.
So, to save himself further pain, he packed his belonging and walked out early the next morning when he knew Severus and Jasper would be down in the laboratories.
“Remus, how lovely to see you,” Molly greeted him jovially as he walked into the orphanage, “How is young Jasper?”
After spending most of the day holed up in a room at the Leaky Cauldron, Remus had come here to distract himself from his thoughts. He should have known better.
“Remus, what is wrong?”
He couldn’t talk about it ... not yet.
“There is nothing wrong with Jasper, is there?”
“No, no. Jasper is fine. It’s ... I ... I moved out ... but I don’t really want to talk about it.”
There. He had said it, happy now, he thought as he turned away from Molly. Some of the children immediately approached him, and Remus followed them into the play room, glad that Molly didn’t follow him. She even left him alone all afternoon.
His reprieve was short-lived however, as she cornered him after dinner.
“In my office,” she told him, her voice clipped, “Now!”
With a sigh he followed her, though he didn’t sit down when she told him to.
“I find it very hard to believe that you would leave Jasper after fighting so hard to get him.”
“But that’s it, isn’t it? I don’t have him. I never will. He is Jasper Snape now, not Lupin.”
“Remus!” Molly cried out, her voice stern with a hint of disbelief, “You cannot leave the boy just because you are jealous!”
He stared at her, full of disbelief. Did she really think he was that shallow?
It was too much for him, and without another word, he stalked out and Apparated back to the Leaky Cauldron, where he sank down on his bed and did nothing to stop the tears from spilling.
The minute Remus opened his eyes, he regretted it. His eyes were dry and the light only irritated them more. A look in the mirror showed red eyes and tear streaks visible on his cheeks. Last, but not least, was the headache he felt coming up.
He wouldn’t be visiting the orphanage again any time soon, if at all. A voice inside him tried arguing that Molly was just reacting to what he said, but he ignored it. He had expected more sense from her, a mother of seven. How could he stay at the manor, when neither Severus nor Jasper seemed to need him there?
A loud growling rose up from his stomach, yet he felt in no mood to venture downstairs. So he simply stayed in his room. All day and all night ... and the next day ... and the next, the same thought running through his head over and over again.
Jasper was happy.
That was all he’d wanted ... wasn’t it?
“Molly told me you were jealous.”
Remus refused to answer or turn to face Severus. It would be his undoing.
It wasn’t quite the way Molly had said it, but put like this, he could not deny it. He was jealous. He ...
No! He was not going there again.
Taking a deep breath, Remus hoped to gain control of his feelings.
“What brings you here, Severus?”
Well, at least his voice sounded steady enough.
“Your letter of resignation was not satisfactory.”
His letter of ...
“It wasn’t even a proper job!”
Bollocks! All of his control out the window.
“Turn around, Remus.” Oh, Merlin. After all those months longing for Severus to say his name.
He cursed the tears threatening to spill. He was definitely not going to turn around now.
Closing his eyes, hands balled into fists, Remus slowly regained his composure.
“If my letter was not satisfactory ... sir ... then you will just have to sack me.”
The slight gasp at the formality boosted Remus’ confidence.
“Since, as you mentioned, it was not a proper job, I can do nothing but deny you access to my property.”
That hurt, more than Remus could bear. There was no way back now.
“But I will not.”
At the resignation in Severus’ voice, Remus finally turned around. Severus didn’t merely sound resigned, he looked it. Resigned and tired, like he had been feeling, ever since he left.
“I will not, because my nearly hysterical son cannot do without his father.”
Father? Jasper really saw him as his father? Then why?
No! This was just a ruse ... it had to be.
He shook his head.
“I don’t believe you.”
A flicker of something shone in Severus’ eyes. Severus was surprised, like he hadn’t expected ...
“Where did we go wrong, Remus? When did we stop being enough for you?”
We? We? Severus had to be kidding.
“I’ve been trying for months to deepen our friendship, yet you rejected every attempt. You can’t honestly believe I’ll fall for that.”
That look of tired resignation again.
Remus wondered if Severus had practised it.
“At least explain it to Jasper. You’re breaking his heart.”
That hit him right in his gut.
He steeled himself.
“Maybe you two should have thought about that before you so effectively shut me out.”
“We ... Jasper ... we didn’t shut you out, Remus.”
Right. It was all his imagination then. Right.
“I never had breakfast alone then? You actually noticed me during lunch, when you were busy whispering to each other?”
Remus' voice rose and cracked, but he was beyond caring. All he wanted now, was to let it all out.
“Jasper never stopped coming to me for his Defence against Dark Arts lessons then? Or his flying lessons? Or his bedtime story?”
That had hurt the most, so much even that is still hade his hart clench.
“A bloody house elf brought the Wolfsbane Potion to my rooms. Were you two too busy to be bothered? And what about the day after? Where were you when I was too tired to get up and craved ...”
His voice nearly gave out, but he wasn’t done yet.
“Was it so wrong for me to want some company? Was I wrong to expect it?” he pleaded, his voice barely more than a whisper. “I couldn’t stay. I never wanted to leave, but I couldn’t stay where I wasn’t wanted.”
Eyes on the floor, he waited.
Would Severus scorn him, or deny it? Or would he simply leave?
There were no footsteps, only the sound of his own breathing ... for a long time.
He wondered if he just hadn’t heard Severus leave, until ...
“Jasper is a very intelligent boy. He notices more than I could have credited him for. His research was impeccable. Unfortunately it was based on a rather old version of Wolfsbane Potion.”
Wolfsbane Potion? Remus wanted to know what Severus was talking about, but he kept his mouth shut and his eyes on the floor.
“We had to completely redo his research. It took up a lot of time. Time neither of us was conscious of. It was enjoyable. At times Jasper would become edgy, and I would send him out to find you, but when the research reached a more advanced stage, Jasper wouldn’t be dismissed anymore. Very stubborn, that one.”
Remus nearly smiled at that, but caught himself just in time. He couldn’t afford to lose his hold again.
“By the time we finished the new version of Wolfsbane Potion, Jasper was exhausted and almost uncontrollable, I had to double the dose of the calming draught. I barely managed to keep myself awake long enough to call a house elf to deliver the Wolfsbane Potion to you.”
And? And? Remus’ mind cried out.
“When we both woke up again, you had already left. Jasper nearly tore your room apart. I’ve had to call St. Mungo’s for help. I ...”
Remus suddenly remembered the almost painless transformation to wolf form. Severus and Jasper had done that.
Knowing that Jasper had done the initial research filled his heart with pride, but hearing how distraught the boy had been during all of it overshadowed his joy.
“I’m sorry for causing you such pain. We were too caught up in helping you, that we forgot ... well, we forgot you. I never realised it was hurting you. There is no excuse.”
Remus barely heard Severus’ words, his thoughts were still with Jasper. When he finally looked up, forcing himself to face the man he loved ... still loved, he only found an empty space.
Severus had gone.
He wasted no time and Apparated to the manor instantly, but the manor was deserted. Not even Theodore and Blaise were there.
Where could they be?
Remus could hit himself when he suddenly realised what should have been clear to him, had he not been so caught up in his own emotions.
St. Mungo’s. Severus must have gone directly to St. Mungo’s.
Barely fifteen minutes later, Remus stood outside the door to Jasper’s room as doubts voiced themselves in his mind.
Would Jasper even want to see him?
Severus may have implied it, but ...
That didn’t exactly sounded very welcoming, but Remus was determined to set things straight.
“Severus, I ...”
Before he even had a chance to turn around, Severus propelled him into the next, empty room, locking the door behind him.
Lips crushed against his as he was pushed back against the wall, and for a moment he was too stunned to even think about resisting.
Not that he wanted to, he ...
No ... not like this.
Where he found the strength, Remus had no idea, but suddenly Severus was sprawled on the floor and he was looking down on him, panting too hard to get a sound out.
The moment their eyes met, Severus looked away, but made no move to get up.
Finally, Remus got his breathing under control again, and exhausted he leaned back against the wall.
“What in Merlin’s name do you think you’re doing?”
There was no answer though.
Just silence. Deafening silence that lasted longer than Remus could stand.
He knelt next to Severus, who carefully inched away from him.
“Why, Severus. Just tell me why? I at least deserve that much.”
Hooded black eyes were suddenly boring into his.
“Because I … I need you. Is that what you want to hear?”
Severus’ voice was barely more than a whisper, yet Remus had no trouble understanding them.
“No, why now?” he clarified.
Severus looked away again.
“I never … you were … I never perceived your flirtations as genuine interest. I … I never thought anyone ...”
Remus closed his eyes in guilt. He knew their behaviour towards Severus at Hogwarts wasn’t the sole reason, but he couldn’t help but wonder. Nothing was ever easy, was it?
He sidled closer, wrapping one hand around Severus’ neck as he pushed the lanky hair back with the other.
“I was never more serious,” he admitted, “Are you?”
Remus was surprised to see a faint blush appearing on Severus’ cheeks.
“The clause about spending the night in a secure room at the manor had nothing to do with research on the Wolfsbane Potion.”
The bastard, Remus thought, though more in amusement than anger.
“Only a Slytherin would be so devious.”
“Only a Gryffindor would fall ...”
Severus was silent the moment Remus claimed his lips. Silent, but not unresponsive. On the contrary, Remus rather enjoyed the sneaky way Severus turned the tables. It had been too long since he’d been kissed like this, really kissed.
Suddenly Severus’ mouth was gone.
Remus unconsciously licked his lips as his eyes searched Severus’ for any sign of doubt. He found none.
“We can continue this later. Our son needs us.”
Jasper ... he almost forgot about Jasper.
He quickly scrambled up off the floor, helped Severus up, and all but ran out of the room.
His earlier doubts rushed back as soon as he touched the doorhandle, and he stopped.
“Does he ... what if ...”
“He’s asked for you every time he woke.”
Standing next to Jasper’s bed, Remus’ heart cried out. The boy looked so pale, his eyes open, but unseeing under the influence of heavy doses of medicine.
He took one of Jasper’s hands, wincing as he realised the boy was magically bound to the bed.
“Merlin, Jasper. What have I done to you?”
Jasper’s voice was hoarse. From screaming, Remus knew.
“I’m so sorry, Jasper. I’m so sorry.”
“You left me. I was so scared.”
That was more than Remus could bear and he touched his cheek to Jasper’s, whispering apologies and soothing words they both needed to hear. He barely felt the tears sliding down his nose, nor heard the release spell Severus uttered. All he felt was Jasper wrapping his arms around his neck and Severus’ hand on his back.
Against all odds they were a family, and if they could survive this, they would survive everything else life had in store for them.
As long as they were together.