The Twisted Thread of Fate by bonfoi Title: The Twisted Thread of Fate Author/Arist:bonfoi Pairing: Severus Snape/Narcissa Malfoy; Severus Snape/Nymphadora Tonks; Severus Snape/Regulus Black; Severus Snape/Remus Lupin Rating: R Word Count: 4.148 Warnings: Violence Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The characters and their worlds belong to their original writers and no copyright infringement or offense is intended. No money was made from this story. Summary: Severus has plans, and he hasn't survived Voldemort—twice!—just to miss out on his inheritance. Too bad he has to go through so much... A/N: Many thanks to my beta, badgerlady who goes above and beyond to polish my words. This was written for prompt number </b>7.</b> Severus hates pets, small children, and nosy relatives. Too bad he'd got to navigate all of them before he can claim his magical inheritance after the war. There's also that pesky proposal he has to make on St. Valentine's Day that's ruining his life right now.
The Twisted Thread of Fate
Standing in front of the cracked mirror he'd salvaged from his parents' bedroom Severus found plenty of faults with his clothing, his looks, and his posture, but as he'd intended that they be visible to the naked—and ignorant—eyes of the Wizarding world's hoi polloi, he was satisfied.
He glanced at the boxes and trunks he'd unearthed at his mother's ancestral home while in hiding, sneering at the memories of giant rats and carnivorous, blind worms guarding them in the subterranean vaults of the principal Prince property. He shuddered a bit and then stiffened his spine. If the documents he'd found held up in a court of law, all he had to do was... He gulped suddenly.
"Now all I have to do is get fucking engaged." His voice was raw still from Nagini's bite, her venom having scarred his vocal cords, but his will was stronger than anything the enchanted beast could do, and Severus would be damned if he didn't get his piece of the pie finally.
"Madam Grubbly, I have been patiently waiting for seven days while you and your cohorts have tested the parchment, the wording, and the signatures of my documents. I think that is enough time to deem them valid and binding." Severus' voice—rough and raspy—seemed to shock the woman on the other side of the Ministry desk.
"Ah, yes, Mr. Snape, but you see—"
"No, you see here, Madam Grubbly!" Severus said forcefully, through gritted teeth. "I am a free wizard by right of due process and Wizengamot decree. I have a legal right to the lands and assets of my mother as stated by both her will and those other deeds and letters." Severus leaned down and stared menacingly into the now cowering witch's face. "Give me my Gringotts key or so help me, I'll get the barristers involved."
She opened her desk drawer with a jerk and reached in, rummaging about for a few seconds until she grabbed something, barely glanced at it, and then flung it on the blotter. "Here! Take it," she whispered. "Please, don't come back again."
Severus picked up the large, ornate, medieval-looking key with a tight smile. "I don't plan on it, Madam Grubbly. I'll be at home with my affianced." He spun on his heel, robes billowing out as dramatically as they had when he'd been a professor of Hogwarts.
When the door was closed behind him, and the office once more felt lighter and brighter, Madam Grubbly smirked and then laughed out loud. "Affianced, my arse, you greasy git. You'll be neck deep in dragon shite if I have my way." The woman's form wavered and bubbled as the Polyjuice began to lose effect.
Outside the Ministry of Magic, Severus heaved a relieved sigh and felt the reassuring weight of the Prince Gringotts vault key in his hidden pocket. He raised his face to the sky and thanked Merlin that at least one part of his plan had gone correctly. Now all he had to do was find someone with no eyes, no ears, and no sense to agree to marry him before St. Valentine's Day.
Soon everyone was talking about Severus Snape's good fortune. Rita Skeeter had done some digging and confirmed his link to the Noble House of Prince and his elevated connections to other great Wizarding families. Narcissa Malfoy had been seen on his arm, giving her tacit stamp of approval by ushering him into those snooty establishments that still only catered to the Pure-blooded Wizardry, if at all possible, and the truly wealth, as always. Even the goblins at Gringotts had been observed kowtowing to Severus Snape as he claimed his family's vault.
Unfortunately, all the publicity and the notoriety weren't helping Severus' hunt for a fiancée...
He'd approached the Weasley clan for Ginevra's hand—after all, everyone had heard how devastated she was after Harry Potter had swept past her and bent Draco Malfoy in half with a kiss that still had half of England swooning—but Molly Weasley had thrown pots and pans at him and Ginny had attempted to curse him with her famous Bat-Bogey Hex before he'd made it past the garden gate. He'd ducked, dodged, and woven his way back across the anti-Apparition line feeling as if the war had been only yesterday.
Courting Narcissa had been the matter of a few minutes before she patted him on the back of the hand and told him she was sleeping with Kingsley Shacklebolt and William Weasley, at the same time. Severus had cringed and gulped down his tea, imagining that threesome. Thankfully, Narcissa—in her narcissistic way—had ignored his distress and offered to guide him through the pitfalls of the newly wealthy and eligible. He took her offer and ran, but not before congratulating her on being able to take it like a trouper.
Showing up at Andromeda Black's hadn't been his brightest idea, but Severus had thought that now that two years had passed that her bereavement would be over. Well, her mourning period was complete, but there seemed to an orgy going on in her home if the names—Filius, Cedric, and Clive—were anything to go on.
Meeting Nymphadora Tonks—blessedly revealed to have been in a sham marriage with Remus Lupin because of some convoluted plan of the miraculously still alive Albus Dumbledore—on the stoop led to a trip down to the local pub, a few pints of bitter chased by a few slugs of potent cherry wine, and a garbled proposal that earned Severus a remarkable blow job right there under the lip of the bar as the few patrons there cheered on Nymphadora lustily. He walked away from that encounter with a dazed smile on his face and several propositions of his own, but no affianced.
Wandering London in drunken shock, Severus found himself on the front steps of No. Twelve Grimmauld Place and decided to see if the house would let him yet enter. When it did, he stumbled inside and towards the downstairs kitchen, hoping there was a crust of bread or something still edible that might soak up some of that thought-obscuring cherry wine. He hadn't counted on finding Remus Lupin, a small child on his hip, stirring a pot of what smelled like the best kind of savoury beef stew.
"Lupin?" Severus asked stupidly.
"Hallo, Severus." Lupin didn't turn his head, but the little boy burbled over his shoulder and waved at Severus, who bemusedly waved back. "Care for some beef stew? Angus beef, aged to perfection and marinated in Guinness. Just like my Mum used to make."
Severus pulled out a chair and sat down heavily. "Ah..." He'd never felt so tongue-tied in his life, but the public sex and the alcohol seemed to have thrown him off his stride a bit. "Ah..." he began again.
"I'll take that as a 'yes' and dish you up a bowl once I've set my fine fellow down in his highchair." Lupin turned then and Severus' eyes widened.
The boy was the spitting image of Regulus Black, Severus' first lover. The dark curling locks were shiny with health and the eyes—that enchanting silvery-grey that Regulus had shared with his damnable brother—were bright with childish mirth. Severus licked his lips as Lupin settled the boy into his seat, an attached table charmed into position so the tyke couldn't slip away once Lupin's back was turned. Severus blinked as memories of Regulus' infrequent smiles—hard-won and all the more precious for it—were stirred by the toddler's quirked lips.
"I see you know who his father is," Lupin said over his shoulder. He ladled stew into three bowls, one a third the size of the others, and sent all three to the table, a lazy flourish of his wand giving the boy a wooden spoon to bang with.
"He's dead." Severus' voice was far more broken than it had been while Nymphadora had deep-throated to the delight of strangers.
Lupin turned and stared at Severus before saying, "No, he's not." He sat down without a further word and began mashing the potato chucks flat and taking a bit on the tip of spoon to entice the lad.
Severus gaped like a landed fish and suddenly he was absolutely sober. "He never came back to—"
"He never came back because he fell into an enchanted sleep due to the house-elves' magic."
The little boy lipped the smashed potatoes from the spoon, his bright eyes twinkling over the mess he was making. Severus stared at the boy—eighteen months, two years old?—and couldn't think.
"He awoke when Voldemort died and, well, he celebrated with the first person nearby, a woman by the name of Anne Grubbly. Severus, he explained that he'd left you without a word, really. But, after all this time, he thought you'd moved on and found someone." Severus started at the familiar name and a sense of dread seemed to overcome him as he stared at Lupin's moving mouth. "Miss Grubbly's sister-in-law is someone you know very well, Severus, Aurora Sinistra..."
"Sinistra? She hates me," Severus interjected.
"Well, she's not that fond of most people, but, yes, it seems there's something about you that inspires her to feats of meanness." Lupin reached out to wipe up some stew that had gotten on the boy's nose somehow.
"So what does Sinistra have to do with all this?" Severus asked with a vague wave of his hand.
"Toby here set her off. It seems Sinistra had had a bit of a crush on Regulus and Sirius, but she'd actually tried to seduce Regulus while he was still in school and had been turned down flat." Lupin looked at the boy—Toby—with a tight smile, but kind eyes. "She tried to kill Toby, but luckily Regulus' instincts are still good and his wandwork even better and he defended his little family, but he had to take Anne into hiding while she recuperates and they needed a babysitter and luckily, I was here, so..." his voice trailed off as Toby grabbed at the spoon and flipped pulverized potatoes and peas back at him.
"Lupin, you mean to tell me my first lover is not dead, he actually isn't gay, and to prove it, he's got a wife and a son, and a murderous stalker?" Severus' voice rose in pitch until Toby was banging his wooden spoon and shouting along. "Bloody hell, I should never have wanted for more than what I had," he muttered under his breath.
Lupin's gaze sharpened as he looked at Severus. "Eat your stew and then I'll find you a room. Harry and Hermione and I have been cleaning out the boggarts and the cursed objects, so there should be one that's relatively clean and comfortable." He whisked away the small bowl he'd been feeding Toby from, set-to eating his own food and within minutes was on his feet and tidying up. Severus had yet to finish half his bowl of stew, he was that gobsmacked by everything that had happened that day.
Severus woke up to the sight of floppy ears and bulging eyes. It shouldn't come as any wonder that he squeaked a bit when he reared up and out of bed. He'd gotten out of the habit of seeing house-elves from a supine perspective.
"Furry one says wake Snape. Snape awake, work done."
"Kreacher? I thought Harry Potter binned you," Severus muttered tiredly. He had his wand trained on the house-elf.
"Master Regulus says Harry Potter head of House of Black and furry one is family. Snape must eat with furry one." The house-elf sniffed and popped away muttering under its breath.
Severus plopped back down on the bed, shaking his head. "Regulus lives," he murmured over and over for a few minutes. Then he closed his eyes and willed away the pain of being ignored for so many years, of finding out that the boy who had replaced Lily in his heart hadn't thought enough of him to seek him out...
"Severus? Are you decent?" Lupin called from the hallway.
"Of course not, Lupin. I just woke up."
"Well, you'll want to get dressed. There's someone who wants to see you downstairs." Lupin's voice faded as he walked away from the bedroom door. "Oh, and watch out for the kneazles."
Severus swallowed and thought almost fondly of his sessions with the Dark Lord. "I swear peace will be the death of me," he murmured as he reached for his trousers.
Severus noticed his clothing felt better fitted and realized Kreacher must have practiced his house-elfin magic to clean and mend the garments. He took a deep breath, and continued down the stairs, his wand loosely held in his sleeve just in case. There wasn't a kneazle in sight, but there were claw marks on the wainscoting so they seemed to be real.
He pushed open the door to the kitchen and caught sight of a pale woman with long brown hair and dark eyes. She was dandling Toby on her knee and cooing at him as only a mother could. Severus just knew if he turned his head to the right he'd also see—
"Severus! Oh, you look ragged, old man." A man who resembled Sirius Black jumped up from the kitchen table where he'd been speaking in low tones with Remus Lupin and rushed at Severus. Severus stood stock-still as Regulus wrapped him in a tight hug. "Oh, it's good to see you again."
Severus caught Lupin's eye and they shared a speaking look while Regulus carried on. That is, until Severus shrugged his way out of the embrace after flicking his eyes to the calendar behind Lupin's back and realized he only had one more day to meet the most important condition of his inheritance.
"Yes, yes, lovely to be remembered finally. You've produced an entertaining boy there. Lovely to meet you, madam. We'll have to have a word later, Regulus. Lupin, thank you for dinner." The words tumbled out in a rush and Severus backed out of the kitchen with flags flying in his cheeks. Lupin's laughing eyes followed him until the door swung shut.
Without another word, Severus turned and marched up the stairs and out of No. Twelve. He took a deep breath and felt something slide off his shoulders, a weight he hadn't known he was carrying. Too bad he didn't see the hex that came at him from across the street.
Severus woke up for the second time that day in a dirty, damp room somewhere. He felt as he'd been trampled by Seventh Years after they'd finished their N.E.W.T.s and then tap-danced on his skull as they avoided Blast-ended Skrewts on their way out of Hogwarts. His mouth felt particularly awful and as he became more aware, he realized he'd been dosed with a banned potion that someone had had the temerity to steal from his own stores at Hogwarts!
"Bloody Merlin," he croaked out.
"Indeed, you fawning toad." The voice was female, youngish, and hard. Severus would recognize his fellow professor's dulcet tones anywhere.
"Aurora Sinistra. How..." Severus had to clear his throat of the phlegm left over from the potion. "How delightful to see you again." He tried to shrug his shoulders to loosen the spare wand he carried along the back of his robes, but she'd bound him too tightly. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"You stole Regulus from me," Sinistra hissed. She also happened to stab her wand into Severus' cheek with bruising force as she did so.
"What? You're nattering on about old history, woman. Regulus and I were lovers when I was a student, then he went and got put to sleep!" Severus growled.
"But you kept him from me." Sinistra pressed her wand into Severus' cheek harder, definitely bruising the muscle and perhaps the bone. "When he was young and fresh and..." Her face changed, and Severus saw something he'd never noticed before, the telltale warts of a hag flickered into view until Sinistra turned her face away.
"You've hag's blood in you," he whispered. His muscles were quivering. He remembered the hags the Dark Lord had kept in a dungeon room, the three of them passing a tooth and an eye back and forth and sometimes spouting forth vague prophesies and portents. "How have you hidden it for so long?"
Sinistra sneered and her Glamour steadied and once again she was as she always had been: smooth of cheek and good looking enough. "A family Glamour passed from mother to daughter. But that's not what you really want to hear, is it?" Sinistra ground the tip of her wand into Severus' cheek once more and then turned away, dragging it across the abused skin hard enough to make Severus bleed.
With her back toward Severus, she spoke once more. "My family has always been drawn to dark power, and no family exemplified that more than the Noble House of Black." Her voice dropped as she spun out her memories. "Sirius, so fiery, so handsome, yet so warped as to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin..." Severus remembered she too was a Slytherin and winced at the thought that his school House produced mad beings far too easily. "Then another chance came, and I was ripe and ready for it. Regulus, oh, how he shone with the dark light of the Blacks," she breathed out. Severus rolled his eyes, secure in the knowledge she couldn't see him.
"You may doubt it, but hags and haglings such as I do love and care and all the soppy things true humans do, but we need the darkness in which to do it and what better alliance than to breed with Regulus?" Sinistra spun in place and scowled at Severus. "But you'd stolen him from me, and I had his mother's blessing, you cur!" she shouted.
"He didn't know, nor did I," Severus shot back. "For Merlin's sake, woman, get a hold of yourself. That happened two wars and a score of years ago! Let bygones be bloody bygones." He was grinding his teeth even as he surreptitiously tried to loosen the bonds.
Sinistra stalked closer and let her Glamour drop completely. The warts marched across her face in a crazy-quilt pattern making shadows and valleys that obscured her familiar face. "Take a good look, Snape," she commanded. "I could have become what my Glamour showed with Regulus' darkness and his magic, but, no! You kept him from me, and we hags only have one chance at a normal life." Her hands, also covered in blossoms of warts, curled into fists. "I would have been beautiful and had babies and a real life without your interference."
"He was promised to the Dark Lord long before you set your sights on him, no matter what his mother told you," Severus said in a monotone. "I saw him get the Dark Mark at sixteen, with his mother's blessing and under Bellatrix's pleased eye. He would never have been yours, even if I hadn't fucked him."
Those mangled hands moved quickly and Severus was blinking away the sharp sting of multiple slaps to the face. "You really are a cold-blooded bastard, aren't you?" Sinistra muttered harshly.
Severus laughed and then coughed, surprised to feel something thick on his lips. "Takes one to know one, Aurora." He coughed again and saw red dots when he looked down at his shirt. "Ah, the power of a hag. You're trying to draw my heart's-blood from me, aren't you? You know it takes days to do that to a grown man, don't you?" he asked in snide tone.
"I only need one day, Severus Snape, to ruin your plans." Sinistra held up a vial that Severus didn't need to sniff to know held Polyjuice; it was from his Hogwarts stockroom. "Madam Grubbly sends her best wishes, Severus, and as I'm she, you can wager that that fictitious fiancée will never come forward and your inheritance will evaporate like so much smoke."
A door slammed open suddenly and a red Stunner hit Sinistra hard enough to fling her into the wall behind. Severus heard how hard she hit the wall and was certain she wouldn't be moving soon, but he still said, quite clearly, "Incarcerous would be advisable. She's a hag and will have reserves we don't know of."
Severus knew that voice and smiled in surprise, mouthing "Lupin".
"A bit overkill, wouldn't you say?" Severus asked conversationally. He sank back in his seat, his shoulders untensing as Lupin's footsteps grew closer.
"No. It's better to give her frostbite than have her attacking us, wouldn't you say?" Lupin's soft Finite Incatatem dissolved Severus' bindings and then his hands were there, easing Severus' arms back toward the front, fingers biting deep even through the material of Severus' robes and his shirt to work overstretched muscles.
"How did you—?"
"How did I know where you were?" Lupin came around and continued his ministrations from the front. "You'd be surprised at how paranoid Regulus is. He set a tracking spell on you, just in case you were somehow involved in what happened to his wife. When the spell went off feet away from Grimmauld Place, we set Kreacher to babysitting duty and I made Regulus go find Harry at the Weasleys’ while I used my own Severus-detection skills." He pantomimed sniffing the air and Severus chuckled weakly.
"Thank goodness for your nose." Severus felt his body succumbing to stress and the potion with which Sinistra had dosed him. "Now, can you get me to St. Mungo's? She's poisoned me."
Lupin's teasing look vanished in a heartbeat and Severus found himself wrapped up in strong arms and held against a broad chest. The disorientation of Apparition was soon followed by strange voices and dispassionate hands. Then there was silence.
Severus woke up slowly. He heard muffled voices and opened his eyes to the sight of a room in St. Mungo's. He groaned.
"Ah, sleeping beauty has woken finally." Severus turned his head slowly, carefully, and found Remus Lupin sitting in a comfortable—and not standard issue—lounge chair. "I'll let Regulus and Anne know once the mediwizard's taken a look at you."
"Lu—" Severus' mouth was so dry, he couldn't yet speak, but Lupin was right there with a cool glass of heavenly water. Once he'd swallowed a few sips, Severus tried again. "Lupin, tell me, what day is it?" he asked in a low voice.
"February fifteenth." Lupin's eyes were sharp as he watched Severus' face shutter.
"I've...Lupin, could you leave me alone?" Severus finally asked as he looked away.
He didn't fight when a large hand reached around and turned his face from the wall. "Severus, the papers arrived today. Your inheritance is safe." Severus' jaw dropped a bit.
"How?" he breathed out.
"Well, who better to greet the reporters than Severus Snape's fiancé?" Lupin smirked, a twist of his lips that Severus found very interesting. "And, well, the Ministry was besieged by Harry's friends asking how such a thing could have happened to both a hero of the Second War and someone Harry Potter held in such high esteem." He suddenly laughed. "You should have seen Rita Skeeter's bug-eyed look when she realized just how wealthy you were now."
Severus chuckled, and then he was struck by the thought that Lupin's quick thinking was too advantageous, too pat. He was soon dissuaded from such ideas when a Gringotts bankbook landed on his stomach.
"Just so you know, I'm independently wealthy, myself." Lupin's smile was a bit brittle around the edges.
"You are?" Severus felt stunned, and still under the influence of Sinistra's dosing.
"Sirius and James left me money, and while the Wizengamot wouldn't let me own anything, the goblins wouldn't let them take it. It's been sitting in Gringotts growing like a mushroom underground. Harry forced them to grant a lot of us on the fringes our basic rights." Lupin turned away and then back toward Severus. "Don't worry about anything, though. Once you're released and Sinistra's had her trial, we can part ways and you'll still be a rich man." At Severus' surprised look, he continued. "Regulus had his solicitor look over your papers and there's a clause that if the engagement lasts six months, it's yours, no other strings attached."
Severus put out his hand and waited while it wavered in the air. When Lupin's hand closed around his, he sighed and laid back. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, Lu—" Severus stopped and corrected himself. "Remus. Yes, I think that sounds better."
Remus looked down at their joined hands and then grinned. "Yes, I think it sounds delightful myself."