"Give me a reason and I swear I'll do it," he spat mockingly into the other's ear. His hands were around the other man's neck, but he shook with a hesitancy he tried fervently to crush.
The man on the ground lay rigidly still.
Remus Lupin was pacing uneasily. Alone in Number 12, Grimmauld Place, it seemed that he had been momentarily forgotten. Momentarily forgotten on perhaps the one night out of many that mattered. He clawed at his hair anxiously, absentmindedly thumping the same spot on the floor each time he passed it. He had come to realize that as of lately, he became animalistic even when there was no full moon. A defense mechanism, he thought. No wolf would care about the memories that haunted these walls and floors for him.
No wolf would care that a friend and mentor had just died, and certainly no wolf would care about who had killed him.
Tonks was busy with Auror business from the Ministry. The Weasleys were all constantly looking after Bill. Kingsley worked unthinkable hours. No one knew what Harry was doing, but he'd suggested Lupin stay here.
At first he thought he could handle the mental ghosts he knew would come. Like seeing Sirius's old bedroom, the living room they'd sat in on countless occasions when the rest of the Blacks were finally out, even the now-vacant spot of Mrs. Black's old portrait. He would have given anything even to hear her screaming about him being unclean, or 'disgusting', as she was so fond of. But this silence caved in on him, and reminded him of the people who weren't there.
No wolf could survive alone, without his pack.
In a few minutes he would tear this house apart. Lupin knew this already. There was no wolfsbane available to him now. He had originally tried to chain himself but found the task impossible. It seemed that in this mental state, no chains were strong enough. Something in him wanted to get out. It wanted to run away. Yes, the wolf wanted chaos tonight.
And as the moon finally showed its full glory, Lupin's thoughts were no longer his to control. They were simply faces, or perhaps shadows of old that lurked only in these darker places in his mind.
His claws extended. He saw Sirius transforming into a dog.
He doubled over onto all fours. He saw James begin an easy gallop.
Fur sprung from his rigid back. He saw Lily's gorgeously long hair.
A tail extended itself from his lower back. He saw Peter finding his only comfort in serving others.
His mind deteriorated into instinct only. He saw Dumbledore, offering endless words of wisdom.
His eyes blackened and a sneer fixed itself on his face. He saw nothing.
"Run, Draco," Severus Snape whispered in the boy's ear. "Go far away. Go to your mother. Just run."
"The Unbreakable Vow is over, you don't have to - "
"I know. Go!"
"Sir…" Draco's eyes suddenly widened, fixing on something behind Snape.
The older man turned slowly, already weary of whatever he would see. "Greyback", he nearly growled.
The lupine man lunged at Draco, already snarling barbarically, although the full moon had not yet risen. "It's due any minute now. The change", hissed Greyback through fang-like teeth.
"What are you doing here, Fenrir?" asked Snape, in a cool, conservative voice. "Your master would be angry. You would attack one of his loyal servants?"
"And you know plenty about loyalty, do you, Snape?" Greyback growled in response. "We all know where your true loyalties lie. Do you think any of us believed that ridiculous stunt a few nights ago? It's all that's talked of in the underground. The wolves know. We can sense it."
Snape's eyes narrowed. He had the ability to make his eyes as feline as possible, tiny slits that would combat Greyback's impossibly large canine pupils. He was restraining the werewolf as best he could, but unfortunately in this position he could not reach his wand.
"Leave now, Fenrir, or I will tell your master you are attacking one of his favorites."
But the werewolf would have none of it. He managed to knock Snape to the ground in a sudden swing from one large, hairy arm that was quickly becoming a leg, and immediately jumped for Draco. He had the boy pinned to the ground in mere seconds, but was thrown off again by Snape, this time ready with a Petrificus Totalus. But before the ex-professor could do anything, he felt something sharp sink into his neck.
It was rather like the Cruciatus, he managed to think through the fog. Shaking, being shaken by an uncontrollable force, pain too strong to have a real affect, someone else screaming in the background, and that feeling he'd had his whole life of quiet acceptance.
Draco had run. Snape closed his eyes.
Morning seemed a dream, a break in the dangerous night. Creatures in the forest were stirring and the sun still hung low in the sky. But something was off. Something was waiting to happen.
Lupin awoke suddenly with a grunt. The worst part of the morning after his transformations was the fact that ever since he was a child, he had startled himself awake, jerking limbs he had most likely already injured during the night.
This morning was different. Instead of the rough forest floor he felt something soft beneath him. The ache in his neck almost prevented him from moving. He felt that one of his ankles was probably broken, and a twisted wrist was quite likely. There were scratches all up and down his arms, and he was sure if he could see his back he would find it a mess. This had been no ordinary night of self destruction.
Lupin propelled himself up with his uninjured wrist, surveying the bloody confusion beneath him. His torso was sprawled across a pair of thin, scraped legs. As he crawled slowly up this other body, letting the haze in his mind fade, he saw scars that he realized must have been from much longer ago than last night, from ancient pains that ran deep.
It was the head that alerted him.
One look at the stringy, greasy, black hair, and Lupin was painfully up on his wobbly feet, stumbling backwards as far as he could go without falling again. He had flung himself off the crumpled man, and awoken the other in the process. Looking into those feline eyes, Lupin's initial fear turned into a quick, heated anger.
"Snape", he hissed, not moving for a moment.
Snape acknowledged him only through brief eye contact.
Suddenly Lupin remembered. He remembered everything, everyone that had gone away from him, and he wanted to blame. He scrambled through fallen leaves and sharp branches, landing again on Snape's back with a stranglehold on his neck. "Give me a reason and I swear I'll do it," he whispered in a dangerous tone.
Snape did nothing, as he had done his whole life.
"How can you not fight back, you coward!" Lupin screamed into his ear, shaking him through sudden hysteria. "How can you…"
At this, the supine man stirred. "Get off me, Lupin. Get. Off." And when Lupin did not move, Snape threw him back with an unexpected force. His arms swung like those of a madman, not heeding all the injuries covering his body like a patchwork.
The werewolf aimed a hit at Snape's face, which the other easily blocked. "Hand-to-hand is not your strength, is it, Lupin? Bit ironic, for an animal. How good are you with wandless magic? I can teach you a rather elegant curse. Try Sectumsem – "
"NO!" and with another lunge, Lupin had Snape pinned to the forest floor, wrists held in one hand and throat in another.
"Why did you do it? WHY?" he pinched harder into Snape's throat, growling the words out through a husky voice coated with tears.
"You are a fool, Lupin. You have never changed. Do you honestly think I can tell you? Do you think he wanted the information out?"
"Who, your master?"
"Yes. Dumbledore. There are things you do not know, you idiot. Things no one can know but I. In the end you will learn, once I have given myself completely to all of you. Always so selfish." Snape could barely speak for the increasing pressure on his throat.
"I am selfish? He's dead! You murdered him, you distgusting…I trusted you," Lupin wailed, more softly this time.
"Wasn't a murder," Snape managed to grind out with very little air. "Sacrifice. Can't you comprehend what two Unbreakable Vows will do? I had to obey. Dumbledore would not let me die."
At this Lupin let up a little, confused. "Two? Harry spoke of one, what else - "
"For what reason should I tell you? For what reason should I do anything you lot ask of me? It was…Dumbledore forced me into the other," he wheezed. "Rather nonconsensual. But he was still so sickly kind about the whole business. That's the problem with all of you. You're all so nice, but not this ideal good you claim to be. I'm not good. I'm not bad. I'm just right, and currently I know a great deal more than you about all of this, so I suggest you let me up."
But Lupin didn't let go yet. He simply stared downwards, as if in a trance. "You're like me now," he said in a strangely dull voice.
"What are you still blathering about. Let me go - "
"Who bit you? Greyback?"
"The Death Eaters will cast him out."
"Will they cast you out?"
"I don't know."
"Will they blame you?"
"Do you blame me?"
Lupin seemed to come to some sort of decision. He hoisted Snape up onto shaky feet, and pushed his arms back. "Keep your hands behind your back. Don't try anything. We're going to my place. First transformations are hard, I know, and I can help you. But I can also turn you in."
"If you turn me in, your side loses everything."
"If I turn you in, you lose everything. Move, Severus."