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29 July 2007 @ 02:37 am
FIC: Response and Responsibility [G] (July 2011)  
Title: Response and Responsibility (July 2011)
Author: Bronze Ribbons
Rating/Characters: G. Gen. Vane Parker and Remus Lupin. Background Lupin/Snape.
Wordcount: ~ 2600
Warning: Neither DH-compliant nor spoilery, but I won't vouch for comments. Concrit and drive-by waving equally welcome.
A/N: This is part of the Bill/Luna arc, which includes Flowers with Bridalls Well Agree, Not a Shadow, Any Other Name, and Lesson. Full timeline here.

"Molly, you're not the only person at this table who cares about Harry," said Lupin sharply. "Sirius, sit down."

    - Order of the Phoenix, chapter 5

"And as for who's going to look after Ron and Ginny if you and Arthur died," said Lupin, smiling slightly, "what do you think we'd do, let them starve?"

    - OotP, chapter 9

As he dandled Bill and Luna's son on his knee, Vane fielded question after question from Lupin, marvelling anew at the breadth of his former professor's knowledge of Dark Arts. They hadn't quite solved the case between them by Versus's bedtime, but Vane now knew which avenues of inquiry he next needed to pursue.

Vane had sung through more than half of The Ballad of Otterburn by the time the boy finally fell asleep. When he returned to the living room, Vane saw Lupin standing by the fireplace mantel, studying its display of portraits. There was a large formal photograph of Bill, Luna, and Versus, as well as a scattering of casual snapshots. There were group pictures of the larger Weasley clan, the Quibbler staff, and Bill's fellow cursebreakers. There was an image of Fleur from a long-ago picnic, blowing kisses toward the camera.

Lupin murmured, "That took a while."

"I'll have to find a new song soon."

"Does he actually follow the story?"

"Not yet," Vane said. "Though he loves the part where the page boy wakes the laird."

Lupin snorted. "He would. Just don't let Molly Weasley hear you at it. Your notions of proper lullabies are slightly at odds with hers."

Vane donned his most innocent expression. "You don't think she'd appreciate the line For Percy's hard at hand?"

"Vane." For an instant, Lupin tried to look stern. Then he broke down and sniggered.

"That's more like it," Vane said. He walked over to the liquor shelf, poured two drams of whisky, and handed one to Lupin. "Don't tell me you didn't tell your share of wand jokes back in the day."

"What makes you think I ever stopped, young man? Just because I don't share them with you --"

Vane raised his eyebrows. "If you tell me Professor Snape tolerates salacious puns, even from you, I'm hauling you to the MLE for interrogation."

Lupin held up his free hand. "I'm me, I swear. I've drunk nothing but water and whisky today." He grinned. "Severus does like opera, you know. 'Salacious' doesn't even begin to describe some of those plots."

"Plots? What plots?" Given a choice, Vane preferred solo piano sonatas. Lupin smirked, and Vane grinned back at him. "All right, if you say so. Do you think grandmother Weasley would approve his choice of lullabies?"

Lupin's smile tightened a fraction. "Grandmother Weasley would prefer that Severus have nothing to do with her grandchild." Vane cursed himself for his lack of tact, but Lupin mildly continued, "Fortunately for her, Severus himself prefers the less hands-on aspect of godparenting."

Vane meekly said, "I don't think Luna or Bill expected anything more than that from him."

"Between them, they don't miss anything," Lupin agreed. "Including the dangers known only Luna. Picking you as the other godparent was brilliant."

Vane said, a bit flustered, "I don't know about brilliant. Though they're the first who thought I'd be good at this. Most people don't associate 'auror' with 'babysitter'."

"Most people don't think 'Snape' and 'godfather,' either," Lupin observed, "but there's no question Luna and Bill considered everything there was to consider when they chose you two."

"Including the fact you're Professor Snape's partner," Vane said, thinking aloud. "So... were something to happen to them and me, Versus would still have at least one well-adjusted guardian, as well as one terrifying one." He raised his glass toward Luna's image. "Merlin, that's clever."

Lupin looked startled. "Well-adjusted?"

Vane flushed. "I overheard." Lupin waited. "During the War. Fleur... Grandmother Weasley was giving her a hard time, one night, about not doing her part to protect 'the children,' and Fleur was fed up with that, and I don't think Harry understood half of the French she was using but the words vache and vieille bique, Fleur used those a lot." Lupin grimaced. "But Harry finally mentioned how he'd overheard you reminding Mrs. Weasley, several times, that--" Vane squinched up his face, trying to remember Harry's words. "That she wasn't the only person who cared about 'the children,' and that you didn't have to be a parent to do right by them, and did she really think so little of everyone else to think her children would be totally alone if something happened to her."

Lupin blinked. "Good lord. I'd no idea Harry had heard all that." He dropped back into an armchair. "Then again, I always knew 'the children' were hearing and seeing far more than Molly gave them credit for." A hint of rueful nostalgia crept into his voice. "It's not as if I wouldn't have tried the same at their age. There's nothing like telling someone they're not old enough..."

Vane slowly sipped the whisky, measuring his next words before he said them aloud. "You've always done right by your students. I've sometimes wondered if... did you ever think about adopting your own?"

Lupin quietly said, "The orphanage mess has got to you, hm?"

Vane felt his cheeks turning red again. "It's -- well, yeah. Did you hear that Phoebe's taken one of the girls? They didn't care that she's not married, and Tante Anne's having ten kinds of kittens over that."

"I can imagine," Lupin said dryly. "Anne may be French, but she's not relaxed about some things. Considering what hellions Phoebe and the twins all were, I can see where she's coming from."

Vane said, "Phoebe, Fred, and Fifi were more than two parents could handle. I don't know what Oncle Steve and Tante Anne would done if Hogwarts hadn't been a boarding school."

Lupin nodded. "I believe I'll wait to break the news to Minerva. She was overjoyed when she thought she was done with Wimseys acting out their whimsies."

Vane grinned. "The girl's only four. Hogwarts' harpsichords will be safe for another seven years."

"And you'll get to be glamorous Auror Uncle Vane for a while. At least, until she's old enough to reject you as part of The Establishment," Lupin teased.

Vane winced. "I suppose I am. Part of the Establishment, that is."

"As am I." Lupin said, amused. "Just a harmless middle-aged teacher --"

"Harmless?" Vane said. "You live with Professor Snape."

"You don't have to make it sound like sleeping with an anaconda."

Vane said, embarrassed, "I didn't mean it quite that way. I like him, you know."

"I do," Lupin replied. "And I know the feeling's mutual. Even though he won't ever tell you so. Not in so many words."

Vane looked away, suddenly feeling as if Lupin had seen too much. He had known he was a favourite student of Snape's, and as fellow godfathers to Versus, their association had continued amiably enough. He had known it was silly, how he'd hoarded and cherished every sliver of praise Snape had ever bestowed upon him, and he'd done his best to ignore how he still craved more from the man. Not sex -- it wasn't that kind of crush -- but six years after his NEWTS, he still couldn't help wanting to matter to Snape.

Trust Lupin to see that. When he thought he'd retrieved control of his voice, Vane looked at Lupin and simply said, "Thank you."

Lupin gently said, "It's not a crime to want what you want -- whatever that might be. The trick is not becoming bitter when people can't or don't give it to you." His smile twisted. "Or when they want you to want things that aren't right for you. Like children."

"You're good with them," Vane pointed out.

"I'm good with students," Lupin said. "I'm good at getting them to like me and to listen to me. Being a true authority figure? Not my cuppa. Never was. I wasn't a good prefect and I wouldn't be a good parent."

"Not even with Professor Snape meting out discipline?" Vane suggested.

"Especially not with Severus in charge," Lupin firmly replied. "He's no more suited to parenting than I." He drained his glass and glanced at Vane. "It's hardly a tragedy, you know. I won't claim I've never considered it: There were scares with a couple of women -- charms aren't infallible. And sometimes I want to, just to raise the hackles of the anti-werewolf brigade. Prove I'm as normal as they are."

"They aren't normal," Vane snapped. "They shouldn't matter."

Lupin rewarded Vane with a genuine smile. "They don't, really. But it's not my job to prove them wrong." He turned to the mantel, his eyes sweeping across its gallery of photographs. "I hope it works out, Phoebe and her orphan. She's got a good heart, your cousin."

"I'm of two minds about it," Vane admitted. "I know she means well. But I also know she's daft, and it could go so very south so quick."

"And when things go wrong," Lupin softly said, "it's usually you who ends up fielding the fallout, is it not? And the stakes haven't been this high before now."

Vane looked helplessly at his mentor. "It feels wrong to be this afraid."

"I'd be apprehensive too," Lupin said. "Your cousin has not been a model of reliability thus far." He leant forward in his chair. "But, perhaps, it needs to be something that matters this much for her to want to behave."

Vane said slowly, "I'm not sure I like the sound of that either. It..." He flapped a hand, frustrated. "I don't want Phoebe to stop being Phoebe, you know? And I know it isn't all up to me, but Tante Anne and Oncle Steve aren't as young as they were --"

"Your aunt and uncle are my age, and in far better shape than I am," Lupin reminded him.

"I suppose," Vane said. "On the other hand, I can't tell whether they even like each other anymore. They certainly don't... kiss the way Professor Snape kissed you in the Great Hall."

"I should hope not," Lupin muttered. "We're never going to live that down, are we. Some days I can't decide whether I should thank or curse Paola for provoking him." He stared intently at Vane. "Is that's what's troubling you? That the people caring for the child are all immature or unhappy?"

"You've a nasty clearheaded way of putting things when you put your mind to it."

"I'll have to treat Severus to this memory. He likes to say I'm never straightforward, even though he's the one in Slytherin."

Vane stared back at Lupin. "I wouldn't have thought he wanted 'straightforward.' In Potions, he was always sniping at me when I only went by the book. Even while eviscerating everyone else for not following instructions."

"Just so." Lupin pushed himself out of his chair and walked over to the window, gazing out at the silhouettes of the larkspur Luna and Bill had planted. A memory from another evening fluttered into Vane's mind. The flowers make for a lovely ink, Luna had said. And also tinctures against eye-rot. Here, Severus, take these.

Bouquet in hand, Snape had looked bemused for a moment -- and then he'd burst out laughing. I never did ask what he found so funny.

Vane hadn't realised he'd spoken aloud until Lupin murmured, "Some things we're doomed to never know." There was a glint in Lupin's eye as he added, "Leaves us free to speculate, though. It's a--"


"A useful skill, speculation," Lupin continued, already loping toward the nursery, Vane at his heels. Versus had already reached the door when Lupin easily scooped him up. "Couldn't bear to miss the fun, laddie?" Lupin held the boy by the ankles as he spun around in a circle, eliciting gurgles of both protest and delight.

After the third spin-around, he righted the boy and dropped heavily onto the bed, Versus bouncing against his chest as they landed. "Oof. Too old to be doing too much of that." He patted Versus on the head. "You're so much like your dad. I can't wait to see how he'll cope when you decide to be difficult on purpose."

Vane eased down onto the edge of the bed. "With Luna, and me, and Severus and you all at hand? Kid's going to have to be really inventive --"

"They tend to be," Lupin said. "Not half as clever as they think they are, but still. And Bill's got a fair amount of Molly to him -- he was a Head Boy...."

"So was Harry's dad," Vane pointed out.

"James had a right fierce righteous streak," Lupin said. His smile was sad. "Once he had something real to wield it on... Albus should have made him the prefect in the first place."

Vane bit his lip. He never knew what to say when Lupin veered into self-deprecation, any more than he knew how to cope when his mother or cousins asked him to offer an opinion on clothing that did make them look fat. For an instant, he felt a surge of resentment against Lupin. It's not my job to fix what can't be fixed. It's not your right to ask that of me.

Lupin didn't look at Vane, but as the silence stretched on, his expression shifted from melancholy to apologetic. He busied himself with tickling one of Versus's earlobes. "What say you," he murmured, a forced playfulness in his voice. "Think he'll demand his own piercing soon?"

Vane pretended to consider the question seriously. "What makes you think he'll settle for just one? Or that he'll confine it only to his ears?"

Lupin tweaked Versus on the nose. "Are you destined to become a jewelry fiend, young man?" The boy giggled in reply. "I think that was a yes," he said to Vane. Turning back to Versus, he enquired, "Do you really want to give your grandmother a stroke?" The boy giggled again. Lupin sighed melodramatically. "I see. You're counting on your cousins to pave the way."

"Cousins are trouble," Vane said darkly. He lifted Versus off of Lupin's chest and settled the boy between them. "Best not to count on them."

Lupin recited, "'And will you, Vane Parker, by your prayers and witness help this child to grow into his full stature...'"

Vane said, "Professor Snape spoke the same vows."

Lupin's expression didn't change, but Vane sensed a sudden tension in him. There's a story here. One he hasn't told me yet. Versus squirmed against his hip. Before Vane could adjust his position, Lupin budged over, giving the child more room.

Versus drowsily wriggled back against Lupin's chest.

Lupin's sigh this time was genuine, even as he automatically crooked his arm around the boy. His eyes meeting Vane's, he quietly said, "Indeed. I can assure you that Severus keeps his vows."

Vane tamped down the urge to demand the story now. Between his childhood pianoforte lessons (a gift from a Bach-loving great-uncle) and seven years in Snape's classroom, he had learned to respect the power and grace of proper timing.

Instead, he flicked his wand and murmured a charm to extend the foot of the bed. Then he stretched out next to Lupin, watching Versus succumb to sleep. His own eyelids were starting to feel heavy, but there was something he needed to stay awake for...

"It's all right, Vane," he heard Lupin say. "I promise to keep watch."
osmalic: minoruosmalic on July 30th, 2007 09:58 am (UTC)
Oh, Lupin. *sigh* I love the conversations, the things that I feel I should understand but don't, and I understand how Vane feels. And the end was perfect, because it makes me think that Vane and Lupin are similar, when it comes to children, when it comes to Snape, and other things. Thank you, thank you for sharing this. It's beautiful.
Pegbronze_ribbons on July 30th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
You've made my day! - and I'm especially relieved that the ending worked for you, given what fits it gave me trying to get there. :-)
rosemary_greenrosemary_green on July 31st, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
More in the drive-by waving category -- just wanted to compliment this series of stories (the Sayers characters combine so well!).

"You don't have to make it sound like sleeping with an anaconda." hee!

The Ballad of Otterburn as a lullaby is great..my mother used to sing me to sleep with Black Jack Davy.

And the unexplained details are intriguing..look forward to hearing more about them someday.

Pegbronze_ribbons on August 2nd, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
Hee! (to the Black Jack Davy) Thank you both for sharing that detail and letting me know you enjoyed this - I'm delighted you're reading it. :-)
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