August 18th, 2008
|lotrwariorgodss||06:22 pm - FIC: Goodnight, Moon|
Title: Goodnight, Moon
Main character or Pairing: Harry (& Teddy Lupin); Harry/Snape side-plot
Five of Pentacles, meaning "Drained resources; exhaustion; struggling to stay afloat while searching for relief; fighting to keep morale and energy levels up; temporary hardship."
Ten of Swords, meaning "Sudden and unexpected failure or disaster; learning from past mistakes; a power beyond your control that humbles you without warning or mercy."
Eight of Cups, meaning "Turning away; giving up; abandoning a dream; choosing to sacrifice in order to make a clean break and start afresh elsewhere"
Rating: soft R
Disclaimer: Anything recognizable isn't mine, it belongs to Jo and WB and whoever else has a legal claim.
Warnings: Inadvertent psychological/emotional/physical abuse of a child, language, allusions to sexual activities (between consenting adults), umm angst? (put it this way – it's not the happiest in the world, but I doubt it'll make you cry)
Summary: When Harry finds out Teddy's inherited more from Remus than his love for books, he is forced to make some difficult decisions. But what happens when his dedication gets a little out of hand? Will he lose the people he loves most?
Author Notes: This story is DH-compliant (EWE), though obviously someone survived a certain snake-attack. Big thanks to my beta - backstgartist. More detailed author's notes can be found here.
As Harry wakes on this bitter March morning to the sight of clouds in the sky and the sound of a gentle panting in his ear, he feels like it just might be a salvageable day.
He's careful opening his eyes – he doesn't want to move without being ready. Maybe this time he can sneak his hands…
No. Amber-yellow eyes stare straight back into his, and he only gets a short bark and a lick on the nose before the small wolf cub perched on his pillow pounces on his chest.
Harry laughs as the cub bathes his face in kisses and yelps in delight. He tries to grab the scruff of the animal's neck to pull him off, but the cub dodges his hands and snaps at his fingers playfully. Harry groans in mock annoyance. "Alright, Teddy - I'm up!"
The little wolf merely barks and grabs hold of Harry's shirt with his teeth, growling and tugging as his claws dig into Harry's belly. Harry sits up, chuckling, as he tugs back on his shirt. "Come on, Teddy – let go now." The cub's tail is wagging so quickly it's a little grey blur against the dark blue sheets, and he only growls louder at Harry's demand.
A sudden rip and Teddy loses his balance on Harry's stomach. His paws flail clumsily as momentum carries his head along with a hunk of Harry's shirt back towards his tail and he begins to fall.
As the cub tumbles backwards down Harry's legs, his body elongates and grows as fur dissolves into his skin, leaving a skinny boy giggling at the foot of Harry's bed. Harry's eyes narrow as he fingers the gaping hole in yet another shirt, staring at Teddy intently, waiting for the boy to catch on. The child looks far too pleased with himself, and this time Harry wants revenge. The giggling subsides, leaving a mischievous smile behind, a smile that fades more and more as Harry continues to stare.
Suddenly, the boy yelps and leaps to the side, but Harry is on him like lightning, and shrieks of laughter break out all through the room as Teddy is tickled into a frenzy. Only a short time passes before the boy is begging for mercy, and Harry obliges with a short laugh and a silent prayer that all their mornings will begin like this.
"That's another shirt you owe me, you little terror," Harry says. This isn't the first time the boy has morphed into a wolf since Harry began telling him stories of his father. Harry knows the feeling. Quidditch had taken on a new meaning for him after he learned it was something his father had done. He smiles at his godson and ruffles his hair, now settling into orange from the tickle-fight. "I'll just take it out of your trust fund, shall I?"
Teddy rolls off the bed and gives him a shy smile. Anybody else would call it "sweet", but Harry knows it means trouble. He imagines McGonagall might know the look well – after all, she did deal with Remus in his Marauder days.
"I don't think Nana would like to hear about you stealing from my trust fund again, Uncle Harry."
"Oi!" Harry throws the covers back and stands. "That money was for your school tuition!"
Teddy grins and backs towards the door. "I know. But that's not what I told Nana."
And he's off through the door before Harry can catch him. Harry races to the door anyway and hears giggling from down the hall.
"You tell that portrait anything and…I'll close the library for a week!"
The giggles stop, and a little head peeks out of Teddy's bedroom door. "Alright, I won't tell."
"Good. Now get cleaned up, and remember to dress decently; we're supposed to be at Healer Boot's in an hour."
A precocious roll of the eyes is all Harry gets in acknowledgement before the door is slammed shut and the old house groans with disapproval. Harry kicks at the doorframe for good measure and curses the constantly complaining house. But it's worth it for now; Harry gets a certain satisfaction knowing that the two Black heirs – a half-blood and the Metamorphagus son of a werewolf and a blood-traitor – are still gracing the hallways of 12 Grimmauld Place. Plus the privacy wards are unbeatable.
They eat breakfast in a rush, and then Teddy takes his position at Harry's side for the Floo ride to the Healer's office. In his new olive green jumper, khaki corduroy trousers, and lightly scuffed brown shoes, it's only his abnormal hair color that reminds Harry that Teddy is not only Remus's son.
Reminds me more of his father every day, Harry thinks nostalgically, thinking back to a time when he must have looked to Remus just as Teddy is looking to him now – a desperate link to his father's past, someone who will care about him, someone to protect him.
It is with this thought in mind that Harry prepares for what will be, at best, a trying day. Even if Teddy's bizarre bouts of illness when the moon hangs heavy and full over the world are what he fears – he will protect the boy. They will be a family, and Harry will love him.
And I will never let him suffer like Remus suffered, Harry promises, to himself, to the souls he knows are watching over them, and most importantly, to Teddy.
Harry hears the words. Blinks. His heart drops almost painfully in his chest.
He asks Terry to repeat himself with the incredulous pleading of someone who already knows the answer to his question.
At least Terry looks appropriately sympathetic. He repeats the phrase that names Harry's godchild as a creature feared by most of the human race and Harry's fallen heart breaks.
"I'm truly sorry, Harry," Terry says again in the tone Harry has always associated with funerals and overly dramatic hospital programs on the telly.
Terry nods and goes on for a bit about ratios and false-positives and other medical nonsense, but Harry hears none of it. His mind drifts back to the night he watched Remus transform. The cracking of his bones, the agonized howls echo loudly across his memory. The next morning, as he had packed his things, heart-heavy, assuring a horrified Harry that he was used to such treatment from others. Harry thinks of his sweet, skinny, sensitive godson going through the same torture and…
No, he can't let that happen to Teddy. He won't.
"What's the cure?" he demands, not asks.
"There isn't one. Not medically speaking, anyway," Terry says.
Harry raises an eyebrow. "And otherwise?"
"Well, I never like to rule things out as an impossibility, so there may be a cure somewhere out there, but that's my personal opinion, you understand, not my professional one."
Harry asks for his professional opinion, but Terry just shakes his head sadly. He says he's never heard good things come of parents trying to cure something like this.
"Teddy's going to have enough trouble with the outside world and its prejudices, and if you – perhaps the only one who he sees as loving him unconditionally – try to 'cure' this, you may make him feel as though you don't accept him for something he'll have to live with the rest of his life."
Harry thanks Terry and makes his way out. It makes sense, he supposes. Still…
Teddy's standard hair color these days has been a sort of reddish purple, the vibrancy and playfulness of his youth. But as Harry collects him from the waiting room, he knows the boy must suspect something is wrong – his hair is the same mousey, washed-out brown that Harry remembers from his sixth year, and his eyes don't meet Harry's as they walk to the fireplace.
It's late afternoon now, and Teddy is working his way through a Double Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream cone with the diligence and stickiness of any six year old. Harry's spent the day trying to distract them both from the morning's diagnosis, and it's worked fairly well for Teddy. A long talk with a few tears and hugs just after they left the Healer had been the end of werewolf discussion that day. Harry stares at his godson, watching a sticky trail of ice cream on the boy's arm disappear under his tongue, and he smiles sadly.
Harry isn't willing to accept Terry's "accept and deal with it" attitude. He's lived through a lot, but he doesn't think he can live through watching his godson's body rip itself apart every month, while his heart is ripped apart by the cruelty of the fearful populace. So, there's really only one thing for it.
"Guess what, Teds." The boy looks up from his place at Harry's side. "I think Uncle Neville is having Victoire over for dinner tonight. Do you want to go play at his house for a little while?"
Harry already knows what the answer will be. Teddy loves Neville's greenhouses – it's the perfect distraction for him. And Harry knows exactly what distraction he needs for himself.
Conveniently, Harry's preferred form of distraction is also his most trusted source of advice. So, an impatient plea, a corridor wall, and several moans and curses later, a majority of his frustration worn away, he settles down in the smaller of the armchairs in Severus's front parlor and waits for the man to hand him a drink. Severus, looking remarkably composed considering what they've just done, hands over his drink and takes a seat across from Harry. He's never been one for small talk.
"So, when do they estimate his first transformation will be?"
"Never, if I have anything to do with it," Harry answers immediately, more determined than ever.
"How touching. The first sign of imperfection amongst your offspring and you toss it off a cliff like a Spartan."
"That's not what I –"
"I know perfectly well what you meant, Harry. And the only thing I find harder to believe than your not understanding my humour after all this time is the fact that you intend to find the cure to lycanthropy."
Harry shakes his head, trying to convince himself that he believes what he is about to say. "Remus would never forgive me if he knew I let his only son become a werewolf without fighting for him at all."
"Don't be so dramatic."
Harry glares. Severus rolls his eyes and almost visibly sets himself in professor mode.
"Lupin knew there was a risk of transmission, Harry, he would have prepared himself to raise the child as a werewolf. Besides, werewolves living now don't have nearly as bad a time with it as they used to; with the Wolfsbane potion and the general nonsense about blood purity subsiding, most of them lead normal lives."
This doesn't make Harry feel any better. "Yeah? How would you tell a six-year-old that oh, his body ripping itself inside out once a month and downing a potion that most grown men would gag on and always being made to feel like an inferior member of society is just part of a normal life?"
Severus says nothing. Harry hopes that means he's going to agree with him, but he doubts it. Instead, the man tries logic. He should know very well that doesn't work especially well on Harry.
"Don't you think if there was a cure for lycanthropy the Ministry would be lining werewolves up around the block to enforce it on them?"
"An easy cure, yes. But what if the cure isn't easy or cheap?" Harry sets his glass aside, clasps his hands together and hunches over in thought. "There has to be something, some kind of potion or charm or ritual…something hidden…"
Harry's voice trails off, but his mind keeps racing. There is a way to cure Teddy; he knows there is. He'll have to talk to Hermione, of course; she'll know the best books. And Bill seems like he knows a few things about Dark Creatures. He should look through Remus's old things too, though the books and journals alone will take months.
Harry looks up, startled.
"I don't know why you insisted on my using your given name when you don't even answer to it."
Harry smiles sheepishly. Severus looks amused, along with his near-constant air of irritation, yet there's something else in his gaze, something Harry hasn't seen on him very often. It looks like worry. He stands, sets his glass aside, and approaches Harry's chair.
"You're brooding. Stop it."
"I'm not brooding, I'm thinking," Harry mutters, but he knows Severus never says anything that isn't at least partly true.
"Your brain isn't used to thinking so hard; I'm sure it could do with a rest."
Harry looks up, an irritated retort at the ready, but as he looks up at Severus – arms crossed, brows drawn together, adamant – he realizes just how exhausted he is. He sighs deeply and rubs a hand across his face. "You're right; maybe I just need to forget for a while." Their eyes meet. "Help me?"
Severus cocks his head to the side a bit – a semblance of a nod – and unfolds one arm, reaching it out to Harry. Harry takes his hand, leads where he follows, and just for a little while, he forgets.
Harry collects a drowsy Teddy from Neville's house at around ten o'clock and puts the boy to bed straightaway. After that, he heads down the hallway to the library to tell Andromeda the news. She takes it with the solemn acceptance that he has come to expect from her, and she only seems a little wary when he tells her that he plans to find a cure. She's always been too cautious when it comes to Teddy, but Harry knows it comes from losing the rest of her family in so short a time, so it doesn't bother him. He's sure he would have been the same, had he known his family at all.
One month passes. Then two.
Harry and Hermione have diligently pored over every book in the Black library and some others besides. Though most references to werewolves are graphic depictions of their slaughter or tales of horrific attacks, they are able to find a few relatively simple cures. Teddy endures them all with stoicism - the taking of blood, the striking of a knife on his forehead, the solitary exile to his room for two days. It's much more difficult for him to endure the visits to Severus's house for the blood tests. They've all stayed positive.
Finally, a day Harry had known was inevitable comes. Hermione gives him a heartfelt apology, but she can't devote her time to this anymore. Harry understands. She has a family, a job, other friends. A life. He snaps at her though when she hints that his obsessive nature might be bleeding over into this new "project" as she calls it.
Of course he cares about this more than anything else. Harry's family is Teddy; he's all that matters.
Before she leaves, she reminds him that it's been awhile since he's joined them for dinner or a night out. He makes a promise to get together soon, knowing it's one he'll break. His own mind reminds him that it's been nearly a week since he's seen Severus too.
Harry tries something new after Hermione leaves, mentioned as an old Roman cure in one of his folklore books. He waits until a day before the full, knowing Teddy will be more run down, and he spends the day literally running the boy into exhaustion. Miles and miles he makes him run, outside the city, through tears and sweat and a nearly twisted ankle, until Teddy finally collapses in his arms as the sun starts to set.
When Teddy's emptied his stomach of everything it contains, and Harry still can't get him to wake up to drink some water, Harry calls Severus. The man is over in seconds, brushing Harry to the side, pouring potions down the boy's throat and mumbling 'idiot' under his breath more times than Harry can count. He attempts to give him a lecture on something medical, but settles for naming Harry's numerous inadequacies, most of which include his utter lack of knowledge concerning the human body and its limits. Harry does his best to look abashed, but secretly he can only be happy that Teddy's okay, and hope that the next night he'll be arguing with the boy to go to bed instead of nursing him through yet another full moon nightmare.
Hope, it seems, is not on their side.
Harry's in his bed now, watching the full moon glow steadily outside his window, cradling the shaking, feverish body of his godson, praying that he'll sleep at least a little tonight. Bruise-like circles under Teddy's eyes contrast too sharply with his pale skin. The boy whimpers in his fitful sleep and Harry holds him a little tighter. He can feel the growl of a hungry stomach underneath his hands, a stomach that had promptly rejected anything it was given that day, including the Wolfsbane that Severus has convinced him to start taking, just in case. Poor kid must be starving.
Well, Harry thinks, pressing a kiss to the sweat-soaked head, it could be worse.
Harry quits his job the next morning.
There are more important things.
Harry forces himself to stay with Teddy through the ritual. The boy screams, howls in agony as the aconite is painted in delicate runes on his skin. Harry could have tuned it out of course, but he won't. Each cry, each tear that makes its way down Teddy's cheeks, still chubby with baby fat, is added to the price of normalcy that Harry told himself he'd pay.
But these are so different from galleons.
They cut Harry deeply in a place he hadn't been prepared to hurt. The whimpers that come now are worse because they carry hints of his name, pleas to make it stop.
He wants to. He wants to take the priestess by the throat and crush her into death. He wants to take his boy and wrap him in his arms and never let him go. He wants to promise Teddy that it will all be okay as long as they love each other.
It's a hard promise to make when he knows it's not the truth.
The priestess finishes the ritual and delivers an armful of shaking, crying, bloodied child that she guarantees is now free from the curse of lycanthropy. Harry is tempted to hex her, but he hands over the rest of the coins instead and gathers Teddy up in his arms.
Harry doesn't even attempt going back to Grimmauld Place first. As soon as Harry's Apparition drops them in front of Severus's house, Teddy's eyes flutter closed and he goes limp in Harry's arms. Harry runs up the walkway and kicks the door with his foot in lieu of knocking. The master of the house is there in moments and takes in the sight of Harry and an unconscious Teddy, and he doesn't look happy.
"What have you done this time?"
"An old ritual. Something I read about…" he trails off when he knows Severus isn't listening anymore. Severus's attention is all on Teddy, lifting his arms and prodding gently at the disfiguring marks on his torso. He frowns.
"Harry, this is getting out of hand. This…these are burn marks! At least second-degree!" Before Harry can stop him, Severus grabs Teddy and rushes down the hallway, shouting all the way. Harry can't make out the tail end of the rant, but he's sure the man will repeat it and then some before the night is through.
By the time he's made it to the door they disappeared through, it has been locked and warded. Harry only tries one unlocking spell for good measure before he gives up and sinks to the floor.
He can't feel anything. Anything except anger. Teddy's cries still echo in his mind, and he realizes he's coming close to hating himself. It's an odd feeling. He finds it strangely easy to force himself to think about nothing as he sits there on the floor; he just lets the anger flow through him as he used to, enjoying the rawness of it. He stays that way for a long time.
About an hour later, the door opens and Severus emerges wiping his forehead on his sleeve. Harry stands and follows him back down the hallway to where they entered.
"Well?" he finally asks, but Severus doesn't take the bait. "How is he?"
Severus still doesn't answer. He removes a bottle from a cabinet and downs several swallows in one go, wincing as he does. The bottle is replaced, and Severus turns to face him as he finally speaks.
"You used aconite on his skin, didn't you?"
"Well, not me exactly. We had a priestess do the ritual. How did you recognize it?"
"I recognize it," he spits, "from my days as a stupid teenager, watching the Dark Lord torture Muggles. What in the hell possessed you to use aconite, a substance that any idiot would know is poisonous, to try to cure him?!"
"The book said –"
"Damn the books, Potter!" Severus begins pacing the floor in front of him, his arms waving sharply. "On its own, aconite is poison in any human bloodstream, but it is usually harmless to the touch because of the skin barrier. It causes burns on werewolf skin, however, so the barrier was broken and allowed the poison entry into his system."
Harry doesn't move, doesn't allow himself to think. He can't be responsible for something like that. It just isn’t possible.
"Do you understand?" he hears Severus ask. "He is lucky to be alive!"
Harry nods. Lucky. Right. "Did you do the blood test?"
In all the fights they've had, Severus has never struck him, not even in the early days. But as his hand jerks up, Harry cringes away in fear. When the blow doesn't come, he opens his eyes again and sees Severus rubbing his temples with a force that will probably bruise.
"How can you be concerned about that after what I've just told you?"
"I need to know if it was worth it."
Severus stares back at him as if he can't believe the words coming out of Harry's mouth. "You severely burned and poisoned him, Harry. Would anything, even that, really be worth it?"
Harry blinks at him in disbelief. "Of course it would be worth it!"
Severus's mouth forms into a sneer; obviously, he doesn't agree. "Clearly your lack of parental role-models has made you grossly unfit to take care of a child, especially one with needs like Teddy's."
Harry's anger – at himself, at fate, at the world at large – finally erupts. "Who are you to tell me I'm not fit to be a parent?! As I recall, your childhood role-models weren't the most spectacular either."
Severus glares at him and barks out something about raising hundreds of children at Hogwarts, but Harry is lost in a world of fury, and he can't help but let it out.
"It's a wonder Dumbledore let you slink around the castle all those years seeing as how you've been sticking your cock up the arse of one of the children you supposedly raised!"
As soon as the words are out of his mouth, Harry feels the connection of anything that had been building between them snap and fall apart like a frayed rope.
Suddenly, the emotion that had so filled the other man only seconds ago vanishes. He straightens up like a wooden soldier and his face is as blank as Harry remembers on the Death Eater masks. It's a wonder, Harry thinks, that he has never considered the absence of passion to be so terrifying before now. Severus strides to the door, pausing only a moment to speak.
"Take the child and get out. Merlin knows what I'll do to him if he stays here overnight."
Severus continues through the door and Harry is virtually frozen in place until he hears a door slam from somewhere down the hall followed immediately by the sound of breaking glass. He runs into the room that Severus had taken Teddy earlier and finds the boy clean, healed, all the burn marks gone, save a few scars, and sleeping soundly on top of a cushioned table stained with years worth of potion splashes. Harry gathers him up again and takes him back to Grimmauld Place. He wraps the boy up in a soft blanket and lies down on the bed next to him. Despite the closeness, neither of them sleeps very well.
Sorry, Potter. You may have killed the darkest wizard of our time, but I will always be more afraid of Severus than I am of you.
Harry crumples Malfoy's scribbled response to his plea in his hand and sighs. Severus must have gotten to him first; either that or Malfoy had been too clever for his own good and had asked the man why Harry would come looking to him for help when he should be asking Severus himself.
Harry has one more lead, one last chance to make things right for Teddy, one potion that could spare him. It calls for aconite. He has learned that because of its poisonous properties, the plant is considered a controlled substance, and only few – namely Potions Masters – are legally allowed to procure it in its safest and most potent form. He's sure he could get it regardless, considering the pull he still has in the Ministry, but even he would have to answer the question of why he needs it, and he's not sure whether he's more afraid of the government knowing his godson's status as a Dark Creature or of someone in the Minor Protection Agency finding out that he's giving poison to a seven-year-old.
Unfortunately for Harry, he only knows two Potions Masters that wouldn't raise an eyebrow at him just for speaking to them or run to the press with copies of every letter, and one just rejected him. The other one…Harry will be lucky if he even allows Harry to speak to him. He deserves it, of course; Harry knows how much Severus's integrity as a professor matters to him, and he knows that Severus's main concern upon entering their sort of relationship in the first place had been that he was Harry's former professor and something of a father figure.
He crossed a line he shouldn't have, and he knows Severus will make him pay for it, but he won't let it be a cost at Teddy's expense. Harry knows Severus will be at their house today; Teddy had all but begged Harry to let Severus bring the Wolfsbane over in person, and he's sure the boy had used the same innocently suffering eyes on Severus to convince him to bring it.
Sure enough, the Floo comes to life at a quarter 'til eight and Harry watches from the hall as Severus comes striding out of the parlor and straight up the stairs to Teddy's bedroom. He had almost hoped that Severus would seek him out, but it doesn't look like he's here for anyone other than Teddy, so now all Harry can do is linger in the doorway and block his escape.
Severus comes back down the stairs fifteen minutes later looking weary, but he straightens up and composes himself to look as menacing as ever when he sees Harry in the parlor doorway. He stops only a few steps away and glares. "Move."
Harry knows it'll be best just to spit it out. "I need aconite."
"Good for you, Potter; now get out of my way."
"No." Harry stands his ground firmly in the doorway. "I need you to get it for me. It's a new cure I've found, a potion –"
A blast of magic, the strength of which Harry hasn't felt since the war, throws him from the doorway, across the room, to land in a heap near the fireplace. He recovers in time to watch Severus stride towards him, wand out, eyes practically scorching him with their intensity.
"Are you out of your mind?" Severus hisses, more rage in him than Harry has ever seen. "The child nearly died last time!"
Harry stares straight up at him. "I need aconite."
Severus looks at him, bewildered, until a firm shake of his head upsets his intense stare and it turns murderous. "I will not be party to this insanity any longer, Potter," he spits, grabbing his cloak from the back of the chair so quickly it nearly whips Harry in the face. "If you kill that boy it will be entirely on your own head, and I will personally see to it that you remember that every single day of your life." The Floo powder is thrown into the fireplace with such violence that the fire audibly roars and casts a terrifying glow on Severus's face as he turns to speak again.
In his eyes is the hatred Harry used to know them by, and a shudder runs down his spine.
"I hope your father and Black are watching you from somewhere, Potter. I hope they are severely ashamed of what you're doing to their best friend's child." He disappears in a blaze of flame that burns Harry's body with a rush of heat, and Harry feels his last chance for companionship with the man burn to ash in that same heat.
A part of him does wonder what his parents, Sirius…Remus…would think about what he is doing, but he doesn't dwell on it.
He can't think about it right now.
There are more important things to do.
Continue to Part II