Confrontations and Confessions part 2/2

By Raven Dancer

Dumbledore apparated them back into his rooms. He had left off the single ward charm to go and return. Dangerous, but not terribly so. There were plenty of other guards in place. With a few words and a bit of a wanding, the ward charm was securely back. Sometimes being an old, devious wizard had its benefits.

Bath, Severus? he asked kindly.

Lavatory first, Snape managed, and a drink of water.
Dumbledore started him into the washroom and rang a small, silver bell. Dobby was there before he'd set it down.

Iced juice, water, tea, soup. Nothing spicy. Maybe barley?
Fresh bread, cheese, some pudding. Tapioca? Bring the
juice and water directly into me. You can leave the rest
by the bed. Thank you!
Dobby bowed and zipped out leaving Dumbledore to assist Snape. When the man tried to apologize for being so troublesome he stopped him.

Severus, let me take care of you. I do remember how.
The man sighed and allowed him to touch him as needed.

I am very glad you remember. I just wish you didn't have to.
Once flushed, he was stripped and placed into the empty tub. A scurry at the door announced Dobby's return.

Slowly now, Severus. Some water, he made sure the parched man took a few small sips.
Once I clean you I'll give you some cool juice, he smiled.

soft reply.

You are filthy, Dumbledore remarked wryly.

And your first clue was? Snape retorted in kind.
Dumbledore pulled down the shower head and turned on the water, adjusting the temperature. Snape made an ineffective grab for the sponge, missing it completely.

Just relax, Severus.

He sighed, exhausted, sitting quietly while the older man began spraying the warm water over his skin. Thoroughly wetted, the nozzle was returned to the bracket and the sponge was well lathered.

He began scrubbing his torso, back, then chest and upper arms were subjected to the soap. Setting the sponge aside, Dumbledore rinsed the first gray bubbles away.

My, you are rather dirty, aren't you Professor Snape? a cheerful voice sounded from the doorway.

Lupin, a pleasure as always, Snape gritted.

I see the veratiserum has worn off, Dumbledore joked, rinsing the sponge for round two.

Actually, no it hasn't, Snape was forced to answer.
Contrary to my normal retorts, it is a pleasure. He closed his eyes against a personal insight he never intended to share. Lupin looked at him curiously and moved closer to the tub.

Let's get that hair of yours, Severus. Greasy is one thing, this is entirely different, Lupin gentled shampoo into the matted, filthy mass. The sponge began working on lower arms, pits, and stomach.

I always felt you liked me, Sevvy. Don't ask me why! gods, I
remember you destroying my homework in potions! It burst into
flame and I had detention for a week. But even though you did
that and more, I always felt you wanted to be friends, Lupin chuckled at the memory.

I didn't do that, he said flatly.
Lupin snorted,

Ok, now it's worn off!
But Dumbledore looked at the man's face, reached out and held the mouth.
Severus! Stop that! Blood once more flowed from the torn lips.

I'm not lying. I'm not! Lupin was surprised by the edge of hysteria.
I didn't. Black did. I tried to stop the incantation but I couldn't. All I could do was sit with my mouth open and your hurt eyes on my face.

Lupin was completely taken aback. Sirius had done that? He desperately wanted to ask more questions but a glare from Dumbledore stopped him. He resumed washing, gently massaging the twitching scalp.

I believe you, Severus. I do. Just let me finish this and get some detangler. I'd hate to have to cut this hair.
Using the hand nozzle, Lupin rinsed the soap out and added more, making sure the lather was all white. Dumbledore had finished the accessible parts and waited until Snape could lean back. He nearly sent Lupin away, but as the sponge worked on more delicate areas it was good to have a second pair of hands to hold the weakened man.

Again the lather was rinsed away and clean skin showed through. They carefully arranged him in the tub, reclining with a clean towel behind his neck for padding. The taps were turned on and water swirled into the tub.

Oh, that's lovely, sighed Snape, relaxing into the heat. Lupin quietly sat behind the tub and worked on the tangled mass of hair. Dumbledore brought a cup of juice towards Snape.

This will probably sting, he said apologetically, holding out the straw. A strangled moan of pleasure rose as Snape pulled in some iced juice. His stomach growled as it pounced on the fruit sugar.

Dobby's brought up some lunch for you, too, Dumbledore smiled at the pleasure on Snape's face.
Once you're done with the soak we'll move you into the bedroom.

Severus only nodded slightly and allowed his twitching body to relax into the blessed heat. Lupin finished teasing out several large wads of hair, finally able to bring the comb from scalp to hair's end. Dumbledore proffered some hair ties; it was pulled back loosely then braided.

He managed twenty minutes before his stomach began to protest loudly. Water was zapped away, body levitated to make it easier to dry. Lupin dried the long planes of his back, rubbing bunched muscles.

Still floating, Dumbledore pulled out a large tube and squeezed out a handful, then passed it to Lupin. Snape glowered.

What are you up to, Dumbledore? he growled ineffectively.

Just a little something for the skin and muscles, Dumbledore smiled mischievously. He knelt to work on thighs, calves and feet while Lupin continued to minister the back and arms. A separate salve was gently put on raw, bruised knees.
Each large muscle group quivered under the application of the potion, then went quietly limp and relaxed. Leggings were pulled on, sleep shirt pulled over and then the entire package was bundled into the bedroom. He was not tired, not sleepy, but his entire body was profoundly lax and not listening to his impulses to move much at all.

They put him sitting up on the bed, pillowed and draped a towel about his chest and lap for spills. Lupin returned to clean up the washroom while Dumbledore gathered the lunch together and fed Snape.

I think I could drink half the lake, Snape said as he took another long sip of water.

No doubt, Dumbledore replied, now proffering thickly buttered bread with sliced cheese. He gently bit and chewed, eyes flicking around the room reassuring himself he was really safe. Settled on his Headmaster who was cutting up melon into smaller pieces.

You're enjoying yourself, he said without emotion. An observation.

the older man easily agreed. He began to bring a forkful of cantaloupe up to the other's mouth.

But it's all a nuisance, taking care of me. I'm nothing. You
could have just left me for Pomfrey, hurt eyes shut.

What has Alastor been telling you, Professor Snape? the smile was very apparent in his voice, but flinch on his companion's face spoke volumes.

Open, a little wider, ahhhhhh, Snape angrily opened wide as a cavern, teeth clattered against the fork as the melon went in to be thoroughly chewed into juice.

He just told me about my place, that's all. My stinking place.
My, my... and he had to stop or suffer the further indignity of tears. It hurt too much to repeat the filth that had been drummed into him over 70 hours of charms and serums and dark and light. Even lies started to sound true and cast suspicion over his life. Veratiserum seemed to have that effect in the long run; you had to believe the lies and repeat them as truth or you'd tear yourself up.

Dumbledore looked at the wreck of a man; not just lips and knees had been shredded. He carefully set dish and silverware down.

Just a minute, Severus, he said softly, running a comforting hand over his forehead. He went to the door and sought out Lupin. A few words and the Defense against the Dark Arts professor left for the afternoon. A charm on the door and he turned back to the bedroom.

Veratiserum alone was powerful, controlling, leaving no room for lies or inconsistencies. When used at a higher dose, it added an element of paranoia and of hysteria. Coupled with Snape's tightrope of an existence, between light and dark, heaven and hell, it could be crippling. Snape had always taken such solace in Dumbledore's complete trust. His anchor to reality. Now Moody had done his damnedest to tear it down. The inability to sleep just about capped it.

Slowly he approached the silent man, by all appearances asleep. Except for the thin line of a tear tracing his face. For a moment Albus cursed himself for telling Lupin to send the owl to the ministry to release the auror. It wasn't right to leave Moody vulnerable like that, but it felt good.

Dropping his robes to the floor he circled around to the other side of the bed and crawled in, shirt and leggings would be fine. He levitated his companion and snugged in tight so he became the pillows to hold him up.

Soft strokes across his face and shoulders, a lightly brushed kiss on the hair.

You need to eat a little more, Severus. And drink a lot
more, he said gently. He waved the mug of juice over and pressed the straw to his lips which trembled, but opened and slowly drew in the cool liquid. Some cheese slipped in, a little more bread. Fruit. Juice. Water. Dumbledore filled him with all he could hold.

Then he settled them both into bed, the younger man's head under his chin, on his chest, so he could hear the lungs expand, contract, the heart beat faithfully, feel the hand rubbing gentle circles up and down his back.

Snape never was quite sure of their relationship. Not truly lovers since they'd never gone one step further into the sexual domain. But they were certainly intimate; Dumbledore knew every inch of him emotionally and physically and he'd gotten a good sense of the older man too, over the long years together. He knew they worried about each other, especially Dumbledore when Snape was on a mission. With good reason. Half the time he came back hurt and required tending. Dumbledore always took care of him.

At the moment he really didn't care what they were to one another. He was safe, with the only person who trusted him, loved him. That was all that mattered.