10th anniversary fic: The Tichborne Claimant, I
Title: The Tichborne Claimant, 1/12 Rating: R Warnings for domestic abuse, anti-Semitism Summary: Johnny Lupin-Snape is getting ready for his bar mitzvah, and the rabbi has asked him to look into his family. Little does he know what this means to his fathers. Notes: This is a sequel to Motherless Child, wherein Snape and Lupin marry and adopt an orphaned werewolf. Johnny, their son, is about 12 in this story, and digging up family secrets that Severus would much prefer to have buried. I will post one installment each month between now and October 2011 in honor of the 10th anniversary of the 'ship. For the curious, here is the source of the title.
Invitations. Menus. Lists of names. Matchbooks - matchbooks? Since when did wizards need matchbooks? - with John's name and the date on them. Photographers, musicians, caterers -
Severus curled his lip. His own bar mitzvah had been a subdued affair attended by the rabbi who had tutored him on the sly, the grandfather he barely knew, and a dozen or so elderly men who no longer worked. The whole thing had taken two hours, and Slughorn had been so intent on grooming his latest protégé that he hadn't even noticed that Severus had been gone for most of a Saturday without permission.
Obviously he wanted John to have more. But was an ice sculpture necessary? Souvenir yarmulkes with his name and the date? It was supposed to be a religious ceremony welcoming his son into manhood, not a -
"Dad? Can I talk to you for a minute?"
Severus shoved a hideously expensive sample menu of grain-fed kosher beef, brown rice, and organic mesclun with organic balsamic vinaigrette and elf-ground black pepper under the pile of sample invitations. The less the child knew about how much this might cost, the better. "Go ahead."
John shrugged. "It's about this thing Rabbi Sally told me to do." He made a vague gesture in the direction of Edinburgh. "Something about researching my roots?"
Severus kept his expression neutral. The assistant rabbi was young, enthusiastic, and American. She knew her Torah, yes, and her cantilation when leading services was wonderful, but some of her innovations were grating.
This looked likely to be one of them. "Researching your roots? That should not be difficult. The Vaughns kept excellent - "
"That's not what Rabbi Sally meant," said John. He scowled at the table top. "She wants everyone who's getting bar mitzvahed this winter to interview our families. Something about appreciating our heritage."
Severus narrowed his eyes. "The Lupins are all Christians, except for your grandmother. I'm not sure her latest beliefs are what Rabbi Corbett has in mind."
John rolled his eyes. He loved Maggie - who wouldn't? - but was well aware that her spiritual beliefs were elastic, to say the least. "She meant you, Dad." He reached over to snag an apple from the fruit bowl Remus always kept on the dining table to encourage healthy snacking.
"Me?" Severus sat back, frowning. "You might be better off interviewing Esther or her - "
"Rabbi Sally said something about your father? Why he married a witch when he hated magic." He took a bite, chewed, and swallowed. "She said there was a reason but wouldn't say why."
"My - my father?" His voice seemed to come from another person, far away. "You want to know about my father?"
"Uh huh." The boy took another bite. "I tried to check Hogwarts, a History, but Madam Pince said she needed to send the library copy out for rebinding and I couldn't see it."
It was amazing how easy it was to fall back into the old habits of concealment. "He was a Muggle. Why would he be in that book?"
"But Aunt Hermione says - "
Severus had never been more grateful to hear the kitchen clock announce that it was time to make dinner. "Hermione is not always right, regardless of what she may believe. We'll discuss this later."
"But - "
How had a child who was entirely Welsh acquired a scowl identical to Eileen Snape's when she was upset? "No arguments. We will not discuss this until Remus is home.
"Now. Go clean your room before the Health Inspectors condemn the floorboards."
John glared ferociously from under his fringe, but turned and shuffled toward the stairs. "My room's fine."
"The cloud of fruit flies that emerged this morning would argue otherwise." Severus watched as his son reluctantly complied. "Don't forget your laundry."
"I won't forget," came the muffled reply, followed by the bang of a door shutting slightly too hard.
Severus waited for the first faint sounds of cleaning spells and moving furniture to reach for a scrap of parchment. He scrawled a message, stuffed it into a fireproof bag, and threw it into the Floo with a terse command. Unless Remus had managed to fall off a tourist site in Carcasonne, he would get it this afternoon and be home tonight.
You bloody little brat! You were supposed to be my ticket to easy street!
Leave him be! It's not his fault you lied to the Wizengamot!
I've warned you -
Leave Mummy alone! I hate you!
Severus forced down the memory of yet another fight. No wonder he'd been ripe for the Dark Lord, half-blood as he was. Life with Toby Snape was so bad that he hadn't realized anything could be worse until the first time he'd been sent on a raid.
He'd risen beyond that. Repented of his sins, worked for the Light, married and raised a child no one else wanted. He almost never thought of his miserable childhood, even during the occasional get-together with his Muggle cousins and their children. None of them had had much use for his father either.
And now a well-meaning rabbi wanted his son to dredge it all up.