Title: Essential Qualities in a Sperm Donor
By: Gebbi
Challenge #232: Lupin doesn't know that Snape has had his baby. Then, Snape hires Lupin as a servant or nanny, without telling him the truth about the baby.
Thankyou to my beta, MajinSakuko.
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Prologue

The war had been over for twelve months and Severus Snape was attending to business which had been awaiting his attention since he turned seventeen. He needed an heir, and there was no longer any reasonable way of postponing the duty.

He sighed. The list of witches who might be suitable for his purpose was far too short. If he omitted all the Death Eaters and their kin, all the girl-children he had taught and all those who still considered him an evil traitor, he was left with... well, no-one he would care to dine with, still less marry.

Not to mention the probability that any witch would prefer not to marry a gay wizard.

An ugly, bad-tempered, gay wizard.

An ugly, bad-tempered, gay wizard with a dark past and only a moderate amount of money in the bank. Not even his Order of Merlin would help there, he suspected.

Right. Not marriage then. On to Plan B.

For Plan B he needed a male maternity potion (no problem) and a sperm donor. Oh, and witnesses to the birth when the time came, to prove that the child had been born from the body of the Snape heir. Poppy would do it, he thought, and maybe... Minerva? Or Lupin?

Fine. He had months to sort that out. The immediate problem was the sperm donor. Snape clacked his quill along the rail of his yellowed teeth and wrote:

Essential Qualities in a Sperm Donor
#1 Powerful Wizard
#2 Willing to stay out of my life

He stared at the page. What else?

It would be nice if the baby had a chance at being reasonable looking. And maybe... likeable? Severus Snape knew he was neither.

#3 Good-looking
#4 Likeable

But he would absolutely not compromise on intelligence! Quickly the quill scrawled again.

#5 Intelligent (top 10%)

For a long time Snape stared into the distance, thinking. Finally he added one last criterion. He would not bear a child conceived in rape, even though it made his task so much more difficult that he felt despairing.

#6 Willing to sleep with me

Well. It was the beginnings of a plan. Laying aside the sheet of paper Snape undressed for bed, still considering the list.

He could always use a glamour. That might help with #6.

It would help with #2, too. If the donor couldn’t recognise him, he couldn’t interfere.

Ten minutes later it occurred to him that a wizard powerful enough for his purposes would see through such a glamour, or at least be aware of it enough for it to be a risk.

Hell. And he was so recognisable too! Damn Snape nose. There was probably no point trying to fight it - it seemed to be a dominant gene. Maybe he should scratch off criterion #3 and just look for a someone really REALLY likeable - so likeable that even the Snape nose wouldn’t render him unattractive.

Snape sighed again. That was asking a lot of a sperm donor.

God he was tense.

His hand slipped down to rub himself. A good wank would help him get to sleep. He ran through a few of his standard fantasies.

Draco dancing naked in the moonlight. No. What a pervert he was.

Vikings raiding a mediaeval monastery and catching him in the herb-garden. He pursed his lips - he wasn’t really in the mood.

Lucius and Rosier in the greenhouse. Not tonight.

Lupin wanking in the prefect’s bathroom. That was a good one. Yes.

The scent of bubble bath drifting across the bathroom... the suggestive movements of Lupin’s arm disappearing under the bubbles... slow, slow, languid strokes... half-closed eyes veiled by absurdly long lashes...

Lupin’s breath coming faster through parted, panting lips... his throat arching, head dipping back, allowing tawny sun-streaked hair to spill over the edge of the bath... Merlin, he was beautiful... hips rising out of the foam, showing Lupin’s hand moving faster, faster over that gorgeous, straining prick... The stifled desperate noises coming from those lips... Lupin’s face as he came... come spattering in a fountain into the bath...

Snape’s hand moved with dizzying speed as he... Aaaah!

He came in satisfying spurts. That was good. Always good for a wank, that memory. Lupin. He closed his eyes.

Lupin.

Lupin?

His eyes opened and he reached for the list, hand shaking slightly.

#1 Powerful Wizard
#2 Willing to stay out of my life
#3 Good-looking
#4 Likeable
#5 Intelligent (top 10%)
#6 Willing to sleep with me

Lupin was powerful enough. He tended to get underestimated, but Snape knew he had the power when he chose to use it. He was noticeably attractive and he had taken likeability to an art-form. His marks at school were always very good - definitely top 10%. And his lycanthropy didn’t affect his sperm.

Willing to sleep with me. Well - maybe. He was definitely gay. And desperate for affection. Snape was pretty sure he could make it happen.

No, the problem was going to be #2: Willing to stay out of my life. The werewolf would never agree to that. Never. Snape had known him for 30 years, give or take a few, and he was absolutely incapable of staying out of Snape’s life, much less his own child’s.

Just don’t tell him? Lupin could count as well as the next man. He would find out eventually. Unless... unless Snape Obliviated him?

It wouldn’t be such a big deal would it? Obliviating one pathetic sexual encounter? It wasn’t as if Lupin was ever going to have children otherwise. Snape had once heard him tell Tonks that he had long ago made that decision. “It would be unfair to the child to grow up under such a stigma,” Lupin had said in a voice of unwavering resolution. At the time Snape had merely approved, in a distant clinical way, of the decision.

Yes, Lupin would probably prefer not to know that he was a parent. Obliviating him was obviously the right thing to do. Snape easily forced down the voices at the back of his head which were telling him otherwise and went to sleep. He had found his sperm donor.

- - - Chapter one

Snape bottled plenty of the male fertility potion, since it had to be taken 2-6 hours before intercourse and he couldn’t be sure of seducing Lupin first go. His first real opportunity would be at the Weasley-Bell wedding. He had been surprised to be invited until he realised that it was one of the twins getting married. He often acted as a consultant these days on the trickier potions for their shop. Quite interesting problems, often. Prompt payment. They had been two of the most annoying students he had ever had, but really they were almost tolerable now. Provided one didn’t eat anything they offered, of course.

Lupin was bound to be at the wedding, almost certainly at the same table as Snape. Order members would probably be seated together, with Lupin quietly delegated to keep the peace. Yes, the wedding would be the ideal starting point.

- - -

Snape was gratified to find that he was right about the seating arrangements. (Gryffindors were so predictable.) The place markers on table 5 said ‘A. Moody, A. Figg, Tonks (guest), N. Tonks, S. Snape, R. Lupin, L. Shacklebolt, K. Shacklebolt.’ Order members and guests, just as he had foreseen.

Snape remembered vaguely that Kingsley had married, but didn’t recognise her when he met her. Tonks’ guest was a Ravenclaw from her own year, wary among all the war heroes, but polite. Snape engaged him in harmless conversation for ten minutes when they first arrived and found it enjoyable to watch the incredulous reaction of Moody and Shacklebolt as the boy relaxed under the attention. Tonks and Lupin merely looked amused at the unusual sight, while Arabella was too busy gossiping with Shacklebolt’s wife to notice.

When Tonks took the boy off for a stroll in the moonlight, Remus turned to Snape with a friendly smile. “Nice to see you in such a good mood, Severus.”

Snape smiled back, hoping it looked natural and didn’t display his teeth too badly. “Just practicing.”

Remus looked intrigued. “Practicing for what?”

“I’d like a social life one of these days, you know, Lupin. The war is over and I’m entitled to the benefits of peace.”

Remus looked startled. Severus held his breath. If he had judged his prey correctly...

“Well you could start with me, Severus.”

Yes! He’d taken the bait! How Snape loved the predictability of Gryffindors!

“Thank you, Lupin. I would like that.”

“Do call me Remus.”

“Thank you, Remus. Tell me what are you doing with yourself these days? Still working in that Muggle bookshop?”

It was as easy as that. Some maudlin moments over the happy bride and groom, a little too much wine in Remus’ glass, and then they were ‘kicking on’ to Remus’ home, which was a flat somewhere on the outskirts of Manchester. Severus helped him apparate after Remus told him the co-ordinates, since Remus was obviously not fit to apparate alone. They held each other in a loose embrace, which somehow changed to a kiss as they arrived, and then there was nothing but sensation as they stumbled their way inside, touching and kissing along the way.

They didn’t bother to turn on the lights, and that night in Snape’s memory was forever a series of black-and-white snapshots in the moonlight, melded with the feel of Lupin’s scarred, sensuous body pressed against his own. He didn’t recall having experienced anything even remotely like it before; certainly not in Lucius’s precise, controlled repertoire of techniques, calculated to squeeze every last drop of surrender from his partners. Nor was it in any way comparable to the degrading animalistic rutting of Nott and MacNair, or the brief anonymous sex he had bought or traded in nightclubs and alleyways.

This was... pure sensation; warmth and delight. The awareness of his plan receded from Severus’ thoughts as he explored the delicious planes of Lupin’s body, eliciting sweet moans and murmurs. It was only when Lupin gasped urgently, “Top or bottom, Severus?” that he came to himself, snapping “Bottom!” with a deadly swiftness and tone that startled them both. After a split second he let his body relax back into the stiffness of Lupin’s embrace, murmuring, “I’m sorry. Just... a bad memory, for a second.”

Lupin’s body melted into pliancy again, cocooning Severus against the pain he had claimed to feel. “Don’t worry, Severus. You’re safe with me.”

“I know,” he murmured back, feeling an unexpected pang of conscience. Remus’s hand stroked his hair gently, before reaching out to open a drawer and extract a vial of oil.

“I’m going to make this so good for you, Severus. You wait and see.” Remus’ fingers were stroking him, opening him and spreading him with tender firmness. His mouth had found other worlds to explore, and Severus’ hip and thighs bucked as it roamed, always seeking to please.

And then, at last, Lupin was easing into him. Oh Merlin, but that was good! It had been years since he felt that searing fullness, followed by the exquisite pleasure of being fucked by someone who knew what he was doing. He cried out wordlessly as the pleasure built, and one firm hand on his cock pushed him over the brink. And then he felt the straining cock inside him find its own release, filling him with its precious seed. He cried out again, knowing that his child was being conceived.

- - -

He Obliviated Remus in the cold dawn, as the Gryffindor lay sated and fast asleep, using some very special spells to remove all traces of his semen and especially his scent - even smoothing the bedclothes to remove all traces of their passionate embraces. Remus would remember deciding to apparate home with Severus, but nothing else.

Snape convinced himself that the hollow coldness in his chest was nothing but the chill of the night air.

- - -

Three days after the wedding Snape tested pregnant. He stared at the golden glow across his abdomen with disbelief. Of course he had known it was going to work, but he hadn’t really known it. Until now. He was going to be a father.

He performed the spell again at random intervals for a week, just to prove he wasn’t hallucinating.

A fortnight later he called upon Lupin - to allay suspicion, he told himself.

“I hoped you wouldn’t mind me dropping by,” he said, all stiffness and uncertainty.

“Of course not. It’s nice to see you again, Severus. I’m afraid I was a little the worse for wear at the wedding, but I enjoyed spending time with you.”

Severus allowed himself to relax a little.

“Yes, it was very pleasant,” he agreed. “I am beginning to make a few social excursions and it is surprisingly easy to find compatible acquaintances.” He must foster the impression of other friendships against the day when his pregnancy would become public knowledge.

“Oh,” said Lupin, a little blankly, “That’s good.” Seeming to realise that this fell into a vacuum he added, “Anyone I might know?”

“Not really. Some of them are living as Muggles.”

He watched Lupin mull that over, then added artistically, “Not Death Eaters! However there are others who have been tainted by association.”

That should explain why he was never seen with these ‘other friends’, Snape thought.

He watched Lupin’s hands serve tea and point out various features of his garden, remembering, all the while, the things those hands had done to him. The sight of Lupin’s full mouth biting into a macaroon brought him to aching fullness, and the phrase ‘Don’t worry, Severus’ made him drop his teaspoon, which was completely humiliating, considering that they were merely discussing politics at the time.

After thanking Lupin for a lovely afternoon, Severus apparated straight back to his bathroom, for a shower and a wank, which took approximately sixty seconds. Dammit, it must be the hormones. Lupin wasn’t that good in bed. Well, maybe he was, but still... Must be the hormones.

- - - Chapter two

Gradually, afternoon teas with Remus became the highlight of Severus’ routine. He kept them to a fortnightly timetable - every second Tuesday - making excuses every time Remus suggested something more. As the memory of their night receded, Snape found it a little easier to keep his hands off the werewolf. Poppy - who was undertaking the duties of his midwife - and Remus were the only people he saw, apart from business associates.

Now that he had retired from Hogwarts he was earning an income by supplying a range of potions for certain apothecaries of good repute, as well as consulting for the Weasley twins. His income was rather more than it had been while he was a teacher, and his time was at his own disposal. He had never been happier. Once the slight queasiness and ridiculous exhaustion of the first trimester was past, he felt stronger and healthier than he had for years.

The baby was to be a girl. More than ever, he hoped that Remus’ genes would give her something good to work with. Bad enough being an ugly man, but he thought it might be even worse for ugly girls. They could fix bad teeth - enough people had told him that over the years, out of sympathy or condescension or spite - but the nose was irremediable.

He cleaned out his house, bringing out some of the old furniture from the attics to decorate a nursery. He had been trying without success to locate a house-elf who might work as a nursery-maid, but in the meantime it was pleasant to arrange the child’s bedroom.

As he progressed into his third trimester, things became more difficult again. He was ungainly, and people began to notice. One day some children in the street taunted him with being fat, not that he cared or deigned to notice them. He began to tire more easily and sleeping became more difficult. He even found that he was having difficulty concentrating on his potions. After making several ridiculous mistakes he took some of the most intricate potions off his supply list ‘until further notice’.

It was Molly Weasley, though, who finally figured it out. He was at the original Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley, suggesting modifications to a rather complicated potion used in a fireworks set when she took one look at him and screeched across the shop.

“Severus Snape! Why on earth didn’t you tell us? When is the baby due?”

The twins, who had been discreetly ignoring their former professor’s increasing porkiness, took a good look at him and joined in the congratulations. After that he had to confess to Remus, who received the news quietly. Severus thought he might have already had his suspicions, but Remus never said. The only question he asked was, “Does the... er, other father know?”

Severus shook his head. “This baby is mine,” he said in a perfectly level tone, his hand going unconsciously to his waist in a protective gesture. He took the opportunity, however, to ask Remus if he would be a witness for the birth.

“I need two witnesses if this baby is to be my heir,” he explained. “Poppy will be the other witness.” He was surprised when Remus looked doubtful.

“I would love to, Severus, but the legal status of werewolves changes from time to time. It might be safer not to include me, in case I become an invalid witness at some crucial point in the future.”

Snape was surprised to find himself growing hot, with what emotion he couldn’t quite tell. From the time he had first envisaged giving birth to his heir, he had come to take it for granted that Remus Lupin would be there.

“Very well,” he said in a stiff voice.

Remus leaned forward. Severus could smell the soap he used - the cheapest soap available, of course.

“Severus, would you like me to be there anyway? I would love to be a witness, even if I don’t sign the legal document.”

Severus couldn’t speak, but he nodded.

Remus picked up the tea tray. “Barring a full moon, I’ll be there,” he said firmly, and then clattered around in the kitchen for a while until Severus had recovered.

- - -

Poppy asked if she could bring an apprentice to the birth, which solved the problem of the second witness. Male pregnancy was rare enough that this would be invaluable experience for her assistant, and at least it wouldn’t be someone he couldn’t yell at - like Minerva - or someone who would drive him to murder - like Molly, whom he had considered as a witness for about five seconds before regaining his sanity.

Isabelle Joan Snape was born at home at 3.08pm on the 31st of July. Remus had time to witness the birth and hold his godchild before leaving the sleeping father and daughter to apparate to Harry’s birthday party, where he insisted on showing everyone her photograph. As a result, a shower of cards and gifts arrived for the baby, and even a trickle of somewhat nervous visitors. Most of the Weasleys turned up at some point, and Harry sent a stuffed dragon to his ‘twin’ but was safely in South America on tour by the time visitors were admitted. Remus was a frequent visitor, and Tonks and her Ravenclaw brought a shimmering mobile featuring the planets, which Snape actually hung up in the baby’s room.

Isabelle’s nose seemed unremarkable. Snape hoped for the best. She had porcelain skin and blue eyes (‘they’ll change’ everyone told him). She had a shock of dark hair and a beautiful rosebud mouth. Snape thought she was the most beautiful baby he had ever seen. Worth all the pain. Worth any trouble.

He was bloody exhausted though. Poppy was around and about for the first week, but after that he was on his own, and it was harder than he had ever dreamed. Some days he never even got dressed - not because he didn’t care, but because he simply didn’t get a chance. Why hadn’t anybody told him that babies simply sucked up time until you had no idea where it had gone or what you had done with it, but nothing had been accomplished?

Actually he had a vague memory of Poppy and Molly giving some inane advice to that effect which he had very properly ignored. Still, they should have made him realise.

It was a Tuesday when everything fell apart. He suddenly realised that it was 3pm, Isabelle had just soiled another nappy, he was still in his nightshirt and he was never going to make it to tea at Remus’. He happened to be holding a cup in his hand at the time, and before he knew it, he had thrown it at the wall. Hard. As it shattered he began to curse, his voice rising to a piercing shriek. Half-naked on the floor, the baby began to scream as well, but he was too angry to feel it safe to touch her. She was safer wailing alone on the floor.

When Remus’ head appeared in the fireplace, both Snapes stopped screaming and just stared at him in silence.

Remus looked at the scene before him and withdrew his head for a moment before stepping through the fireplace. “Severus, get out of here. Go take a walk in the garden or take a nap or something. Isabelle and I are going to spend some time together,” he said calmly.

Severus felt that he should argue, but by the time he opened his mouth to do so, Remus was kneeling beside Isabelle, confidently dealing with her nappy. Her big blue eyes were staring at him in wonder as her wailing died back to some hiccupping sobs and then ceased altogether. As Snape watched, Remus fitted a fresh nappy, finishing off with a scent-remover spell, and then snuggled Isabelle into the crook of his arm, smiling down at her.

“You giving your father hell, Isabelle? Don’t give me those innocent eyes, missy!” He looked up at Snape and made ‘get out of here’ motions with his one free hand. Snape went.

He showered, taking his time. He had never realised before that a shower was a luxury. He dressed, managing to find a cleanish set of clothing, and then made up a bundle of washing and apparated to the laundry to leave it with his usual laundress who, it appeared, offered a pick-up and delivery service for which he signed up immediately. He had never realised how limiting it was for parents to be unable to apparate with a baby.

Then he sat and had a coffee - a real coffee - in a quiet cafe.

Lupin had been alone with the baby for nearly two hours, he suddenly realised, and he had never given him any instructions on feeding her. But when he hastily apparated to his front garden, the two of them were dozing quietly in a chair under a tree, Isabelle snoring a little on Lupin’s chest. Lupin had a clean nappy thrown over his shoulder and Isabelle was wearing a milky smile. Evidently they had managed.

Severus went inside and found his bank records. He needed Lupin. He wondered how much he could afford to pay him. How much did Muggle bookshops pay anyway?

- - - Chapter 3

Fortunately it appeared that Muggle bookshops paid minimum wage and Remus’ flat was on a monthly tenancy. He moved in the next day, and that evening Snape had his first full night’s sleep since July the 30th. It was indescribably good. “Better than sex,” he muttered as he snuggled into warm bedclothes in the morning sunlight.

Better than most sex anyway.

Better than sex with anyone else but Lupin. Who was now living in his house. Taking care of the daughter he didn’t know was his. For a stipend slightly above minimum wage, plus board and lodging.

Snape groaned. What had he done? The whole POINT of Obliviating Remus was to keep him from interfering in his life and Remus was now his live-in nanny!

Still, he did get to sleep in now. He closed his eyes and took advantage of that fact.

When he woke up again it was midmorning and an annoyed owl had arrived from his best client, asking where the potions were which had been due two days ago. He grabbed a slice of toast, kissed the contented baby (managing by the slimmest of margins to resist kissing the nanny) and went to work.

- - -

If the damn werewolf weren’t so sexy it would have been the perfect situation. But he was, and Severus Snape had no illusions as to what would happen if he jumped his nanny one day. They would have fantastic sex (repeatedly, his unconscious murmured wistfully) and the next thing he knew the damn Gryffindor would be his de facto spouse, and people would be inviting them to places as a couple.

The Weasleys would start making him jumpers for Christmas - actually he was skating rather close to the line on that already, he thought - and then Harry and Arthur would start hinting that he should make an honest wizard of Lupin and...

And then they would fight. And Remus would have to leave. And while Severus wouldn’t give a damn about that as such, his daughter would be devastated and he would have to find a new nanny.

He couldn’t risk it.

So he wanked a lot - and tried to keep his eyes off the damn sexy werewolf living in his house.

When the full moon came around he made Wolfsbane as a matter of course. Remus drank it and stayed in his room as Severus took over the full care of Isabelle for the 36 hours that his nanny was incapacitated. They didn’t discuss it at all. Severus couldn’t imagine why they would need to. He had met Remus’s needs often enough while he taught DADA to know the pattern.

But after the first full moon Remus started watching him out of the corner of his eye at odd moments. He couldn’t imagine what he had done.

They had developed a routine that suited everyone. Snape worked most weekdays until 3, then stopped for afternoon tea with Remus and Isabelle. In the evenings one of them would cook while the other pottered around taking care of the baby and doing little chores. Sometimes they ended the evening playing chess or backgammon, but mostly they would read: Snape his journals and Lupin a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books.

On Mondays Snape would sometimes go out by himself, usually to Diagon Alley, although he suspected Remus thought he visited his ‘other friends’. Remus took Sundays off as well as the time at the full moon, and he would usually go and visit the Weasleys or some other friends. Occasionally they would both be invited to some occasion and they would floo there together. They had become comfortable with that.

And then Remus had to go and ruin it completely.

It started with a seemingly harmless question at the breakfast table. “Severus, how did you get that bullet mark on your thigh?”

Severus knew the mark. “It was early in my Death Eater career,” he said calmly. “One of the Muggles had a gun, and my master was unhappy enough with our conduct that he refused to allow magical healing.”

It was another minute before he looked up again from his journal to find Remus staring at him with an indescribable expression on his face. His voice was leached of all emotion as he asked, “And when did I see that mark, Severus?”

Oh hell.

Severus managed to keep his tone level and disinterested. “I’m sure I have no idea, Lupin. Have you been spying on me in the shower? Or perhaps I was dishevelled at some point - we are sharing a house after all.”

Remus’ amber eyes were fixed unblinkingly on him.

“It’s in an exceedingly private place, Severus. And there is a moment, suspended in time, associated with my knowledge of the mark. It came to me at the full moon. In this image you are flat on your back under me, moaning. If I were to make love to you, Severus, would I recognise the noises you make?”

Snape rose to his feet, violently pushing himself back from the table. “You’re babbling nonsense, Lupin. I trust you will have recovered by the time I finish work!”

He strode to the door, only to be stopped by the one thing he had hoped never to hear come out of Lupin’s mouth.

“Isabelle’s mine, Severus. Isn’t she?”

He didn’t acknowledge it, except by the intake of breath before he turned, but that seemed to be enough, because the expression on Lupin’s face was heartbreaking: betrayed, enraged, anguished.

“I did the math. She was conceived the night of Fred and Katie’s wedding, wasn’t she? In my bloody bed - I wondered why I woke up naked, but I put it down to being plastered. And you OBLIVIATED ME! You bastard. You utter bastard.”

Isabelle began to wail. Both men looked at her blankly, then Remus picked her up and began to comfort her, back turned firmly to Severus.

“Remus...” Snape didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t ever thought he would have to face this day. He was relieved when Remus turned around to face him again.

“I want my memories back, Snape. And I want access to my daughter.”

“You’ve got access to her.”

“I’m her fucking nanny, you asshole. You PAID me to take care of my daughter. What were you going to do when she went to school? ‘Thanks Remus, I’ll write you a good reference’?”

“No. Of course not. I just...” He couldn’t remember why he had done it. “I wrote a list.”

Lupin stared at him, uncomprehending.

“I’ll give you your memories back.” Severus raised his wand, only to find himself staring back at Lupin’s raised wand.

“You don’t think I’m going to trust you with a wand pointed at my head, do you?”

Snape shook his head. Of course not.

Remus shoved the baby into his arms. “You take Isabelle. I’ll be back with a witness.” He apparated out. The room was echoingly empty without him. Isabelle’s wails died to murmurs as Snape found the one true position in which she would be quiet. It hurt his shoulders, but he mechanically bounced and jiggled, waiting.

After half an hour, Isabelle fell asleep, so Snape carefully placed her in her cot and began to tidy away the breakfast things. When everything was tidy he sat down and waited.

Remus came back with Tonks. Oh Merlin, did it have to be Tonks? Of course, she was an auror so Remus would trust her to protect him.

“Get on with it then,” said Remus, and with no further comment or explanation, sat down in the chair opposite Snape. Tonks took up a position behind Snape’s left shoulder.

Raising his wand, Severus concentrated. Obliviation reversal was best if done by the original obliviator, but never an easy procedure. He took a moment to focus and performed the spell, “Oblivium Reversus”.

Remus looked up at Tonks and nodded.

“Are you sure you’ve got it all?” she asked; the first words she had spoken.

Remus looked at Snape.

“It was just the once,” he confirmed hollowly. “I only obliviated about 5 hours, and Remus was asleep for several of those.”

Remus nodded again, then stood up and left the room. After a moment, Severus realised that he had gone to pack his things. He was leaving. Remus was leaving.

He stared at the kitchen sink until he realised that Tonks was watching him. She didn’t look angry so much as puzzled.

“Why did you do it, Snape?”

“Is he going to prosecute me?”

“No. He doesn’t want it to come out officially that Isabelle is his daughter. He thinks she would be better off if there were no records.”

That made sense. Typical bloody Gryffindor martyr complex.

“So why did you do it?” she persisted.

“I had a list,” he muttered defensively, knowing that it didn’t make any sense. Perhaps if he looked at it again? He went to fetch the list, passing Remus’ open doorway on the way to his study. The room was half-stripped already; Remus didn’t own much.

He sat down again at the kitchen table and passed the list to Tonks. He wasn’t sure why he was explaining himself to her, except that she had asked.

Remus hadn’t.

“When I realised that no-one would marry me, I decided on this instead. I needed an heir.” It didn’t sound any better put into words.

Tonks picked up the list. Essential Qualities in a Sperm Donor. It was creased and dirty. For some reason, Snape had kept it close to him.

Tonks read it. “It doesn’t say anything here about obliviation.”

“Number two.”

“I see. Not Number six?”

He looked back at her, summoning the energy to sound indignant. “He was willing! It was... amazing, actually...” he tailed off.

“He wasn’t willing to father a child.”

Severus knew that. He did know that. He just... well, he hadn’t seen that as relevant. It was his child. Remus was just going to be the sperm donor.

“He was never supposed to know.”

It hadn’t sounded so stark, so unethical, when he planned it. He hadn’t planned for Remus to move in, or become the nanny. He hadn’t planned for any of this. He was just supposed to... conceive an heir. Thousands of people did it every day. Muggles did it, even. Fucking Lucius did it. (Draco. Oh Draco.) It shouldn’t have turned out like this.

Remus came in, his hands empty. Snape supposed he must have shrunk his luggage.

“Let’s go.”

He didn’t look at Snape at all.

Later, Snape realised that Tonks had taken the list.

- - - Chapter four It was all very civilised. Lupin came and took the baby for overnight visits every week. He was working at another bookstore but he came by to collect her on Saturday mornings and dropped Isabelle back each Sunday night. Consequently, Snape spent most of his weekends brewing the delicate and complex potions he couldn’t manage when Isabelle was around.

At full moon he asked Tonks to deliver Lupin’s Wolfsbane, breathing a sigh of relief when it was accepted. When he asked her for the list, she told him to ask Lupin for it.

He didn’t.

Snape wasn’t invited to the next Weasley event. The twins still consulted him and paid him promptly, but they had stopped smiling at him. He was dismayed to realise that he missed it. No danger of a Weasley jumper this Christmas, he supposed.

- - -

He was lonely.

It came to him in the middle of the night that he had fucked it up. His Slytherin instincts had failed him, and he had lost everything. Everything except Isabelle.

But in the morning he couldn’t remember just what was so essential about the damn werewolf in the first place. Sperm donor. Gryffindor. Minimum wage lackey. Wanton (warm, giving) slut.

Sometimes in the night he woke gasping for air, flailing about in search of something vital which was missing. He would fall back to sleep before he found what it was.

- - -

Christmas was only a matter of weeks away and Snape ignored it as usual. Remus asked if he could take Isabelle over to the Weasleys’ for Christmas dinner, and Snape couldn’t think of any valid reason to refuse him.

“Aren’t you going to do anything at all for Christmas, Severus?”

“I don’t see any reason to make a fuss.”

“But... it’s Isabelle’s first Christmas! Aren’t you even going to have a tree?”

“I’m not a Christian, Lupin, and I don’t see any need to kill a tree for the amusement of a 4-month-old child.”

“I love Christmas.”

Snape curled his lip.

“You do have presents for her, though, don’t you?”

“Lupin... she doesn’t know it’s Christmas!”

“That’s not the point!”

It was their first quarrel as parents, and Severus supposed that Lupin won, since he got to take Isabelle away for the day and - if one believed the subsequent photos - watch her eyes widen with delight and her hands wave joyfully when she spotted the overdecorated monstrosity that the Weasleys called a Christmas tree. Lupin got to hold her and ‘help her’ rip open the inexpensive gifts he had bought her, and the assortment of odd items that other people had considered to be suitable presents for a baby.

He brought her home asleep in her bunny-rug and clutching a ridiculous multicoloured spider that crackled softly, and rang with tiny unseen bells. Apparently it was a gift from the twins - some kind of joke on Ron, Severus gathered. It became her favourite toy.

They fell into a new routine, varied only by the demands of the full moon. Tonks usually collected Remus’ Wolfsbane for him, although once, when she couldn’t come, a Weasley arrived in her stead. It was a pleasant life - very like the one Snape had originally planned for himself. There was no reason at all for him to feel so tired, so grim.

May came, and Isabelle was crawling. Snape got into the habit of locking every cupboard. He became accustomed to placing small objects safely above waist level.

And then he fell sick just before the full moon. He owled Maitre Beauclerc in Dijon with an emergency request for Wolfsbane, since he was unfit to prepare it, and waited for Tonks to arrive. Instead it was Remus who showed up.

“Thank Merlin!” croaked Snape. “Would one of your friends be able to take Isabelle for a couple of days? Molly, maybe?” He was dehydrated and feverish, but he had managed to take care of Isabelle until Remus arrived, although she was distinctly displeased with the wards that had been raised to keep her imprisoned in Severus’ bedroom while he slipped in and out of a restless sleep.

Remus flooed Molly, who was delighted to have Isabelle, and then he looked at Snape, sweating in his foetid bed. He couldn’t leave him like that. He changed the bedclothes, holding Severus suspended in the air with a Mobilicorpus as he fitted the bottom sheet. Then he found a fresh nightshirt and awkwardly eased off the old one. Snape leaned into him trustingly as he quickly replaced it with the new one.

“The Wolfsbane may taste different,” Snape whispered, “but Maitre Beauclerc is one of the best in Europe. It will be of good quality.”

“Would you like some water?”

Snape nodded, but after half a glass he handed the glass back and sank into his fresh sheets. He was asleep in seconds.

Remus meant to go home, he really did, but... Severus wasn’t a complete bastard. He did make sure Remus got the Wolfsbane, and he was never difficult over access to Isabelle. He was a good father, contrary to all expectation. Remus had even considered him a good friend... before. As a man he was incredibly difficult, but also unbelievably courageous and painstakingly honourable in an age that laughed at honour. Or so Remus had thought, before he knew himself used, Obliviated and discarded with the rest of the rubbish.

Remus cleaned up the house a little. He called in sick. He fed Snape soup, when he surfaced into consciousness for a little while, and he took the second dose of Wolfsbane when the owl delivered it.

Just before moonrise he locked himself in his former bedroom for the night. Disquietingly, the wolf accepted it as ‘home’ and the transformation was as easy as it had ever been.

In the morning he staggered into Severus’ room to check up on him. The fever had broken, and Severus was sleeping quietly. It was too much trouble to go back to his room, so he fell asleep in the armchair.

When he woke, Severus’ eyes were devouring him hungrily, but the expression disappeared in an instant, to be replaced with calm indifference. Remus felt the anger that Snape could so easily provoke rise up in him again. For once he didn’t push it back down again.

That damn list! He had studied it to rags since Tonks had first shown it to him. ‘Sperm donor’ - could it get any more dismissive than that? But then again, ‘Good-looking. Powerful. Likeable.’ (Did Snape actually like him, or did he just recognise that most people did?) ‘Intelligent’...

Willing to sleep with me?” he finally quoted in scathing tones. “Were you really reduced so far?”

Snape let it roll off him, merely closing his eyes.

Suddenly all the rage and questions that had been roiling in Remus for months burst to the surface.

“Why me? Why did you pick me? Did you think I was so desperate that I would sleep with anyone?”

“No,” Snape said, although he had.

“Did you enjoy yourself in my bed, knowing I wouldn’t remember a thing? Tricking me?”

Snape looked at his lap, not answering.

“DID YOU ENJOY IT?”

Severus shook his head, not meaning ‘No’ but not able to deal with the question.

“You fucker.” Remus got to his feet to leave, but Snape put out a hand and clutched his wrist in a bony grip, fixing desperate dark eyes on his face.

“I didn’t mean it that way, Lupin... I wanted you, and I never felt anything like the way I felt in your bed. Never! I wish ... I wish I had done things differently... Lupin?”

Remus cast one disbelieving look at him, before shaking his hand free. But he didn’t move away, just stood there rubbing his wrist. And suddenly Snape had a revelation. What an idiot he was!

“Remus. Every day I spend without you is a wasted day. Every night I spend without you in my bed is an agony. Please forgive me.” His hand went up to his mouth as if the words might have burned his lips. In his eyes was as much horror as entreaty, and Remus could tell that he was both absolutely sincere and completely appalled by his own words.

He waited in fascination to see what Snape might say next.

Snape seemed to be hyperventilating, but he plunged on. “Please come back. Be a family. Sleep in my bed and...” he searched for words, “never leave us again?”

Dammit. Dammit. Remus still hadn’t moved.

“Remus, I need you. Please.”

Remus suspected that was as close to “I love you” as Severus Snape had ever been. He sighed. It would have to do. Because despite all that lay behind them, he loved the constipated Slytherin bastard, he missed his snarky ways, and he wanted to be here with him and Isabelle.

He looked down at Severus, who after a several days in bed with a fever was not a pretty sight. The lank hair was knotted and clumped into strange shapes, and there were dark shadows on the pale face.

Harry and Molly were going to be so angry with him.

His mouth twisted wryly. “Shove over, Severus. I accept.”

The look on Snape’s face put every doubt to rest, as he wrapped shaking arms around his lover, kissing Remus with disbelieving joy.

- - -

Tonks came by in the afternoon, looking for Remus, and found them in bed asleep, Snape’s arm curled possessively over Lupin’s torso. Snape opened his eyes and flinched to find himself under her steady gaze.

“Are you going to treat him right this time?” she asked softly.

He met her eyes. “Yes.” His arm tightened around Remus, who smiled and rolled over, snuggling into the bony chest next to him.

Tonks grinned and disapparated.

finis