A Murderer. That was what he was. He had murdered Dumbledore, the one man Voldemort had feared. The school was in chaos, the Order falling apart, the "good" side in this war confused and terrified, the forces of evil more confident than they had ever been, and it was all his fault. He had murdered Dumbledore. And worst of all, Dumbledore had let him, pleaded with him to, ordered him to.
Of course, the Order would never believe this. If he ran into any of them he was as good as dead, if not dead in reality. And why should they believe any differently? They had never understood why Dumbledore had trusted him in the first place.
And Voldemort didn't trust him, either. Voldemort had only ordered Malfoy to kill Dumbledore to get to him. Chances are Voldemort knew he was a spy and had been hoping to get him killed. The fact that he had suceeded in his mission was suspicious.
Severus Snape stared at the firewhiskey in his glass. Then he picked it up, and raised it towards the sky. "Here's to you, 'my Lord' he said with a sneer, and drained the the glass. He set the glass down and ordered another. He wasn't in the habit of getting drunk, but tonight seemed like a pretty good night to do so. Maybe if he were lucky he would somehow end up drunk and get himself killed somehow. He didn't deserve life.
He drained this next glass and set it down. His vision was blurring, but his mind was all-too-painfully aware. He had depended on his mind being alert and ready no matter what for so long that he found it difficult not to notice the hooded and cloaked figure enter the bar, and size him up.
The man was tall, thin, and trying not to be noticed. He was doing a good job of it too. There was something familiar about the way the man stood and walked, but Severus was too drunk to identify it. At least he was slowly becoming less alert.
A second person entered the bar, and she too was hooded ad cloaked. She was also looking for someone. Someone on his own, if her interest in the first newcomer was any evidence. Bellatrix, he remembered her name suddenly, was looking his way.
Severus tried to stand up, but his legs collapsed beneath him. A hand reached out and helped him up.
"Easy there, mate. I think you may have had a drop too much tonight." It was the first newcomer, and although Severus should have known his name, he did not. He did know that whoever it was, it was someone he wanted to avoid.
"Getawayfromme." His mouth wasn't working properly either.
"I will" said the man. "After she leaves. I don't want to run into her, and judging by your attempt at leaving, you don't either." He turned to the barkeep. "Two butterbeers, please."
"Diddintknowyoudrank." All his words were slurring together. How did he know this?
"I don't." The man replied. "Unless it means that Bellatrix will see that and think I'm not me, and therefore will not try to kill me tonight." He handed Severus a mug, and took a sip of his own. "Here, although I don't think you really need any more."
The two sat in silence for a while, the man deep in his own thoughts, and Severus desparately trying to give the man a name. After a few minutes, the man chuckled.
"Whashyourproblem?" Severus slurred, hating himself for being so drunk.
"Nothing." The man replied. "I just don't think I've ever seen you drunk before."
"It's just unusual." The man was silent again. Then he stood up. "Come on, let's go."
"Imnotgoinanywherewithyou." Severus growled.
"You are, because we need to leave and if we leave alone she'll notice us. Now let's go. Unless you want to die."
Severus stayed where he was.
The man sighed, then grabbed Severus by the arm, hauling him across the bar. "I said we're going home." He said loudly. "I don't want to be here all night and you've had far too much to drink already."
Severus tried to jerk out of the man's grip. It didn't work. "Lemmego." Severus snarled.
"Nope. If I left you here you'd probably end up drinking yourself to the grave. Or is that what you were trying to do?" The man was still speaking loudly, and people were beginning to notice. Bellatrix was studying them coldly.
Severus swung at the man, hitting him in the side. The man let go of him with a hiss. Severus fell to the floor. His legs still weren't working properly.
The man grabbed him again, this time by his robes, and physically dragged him out of the bar. He was certainly strong for his slight build, Severus thought. You wouldn't expect that of-
And everything went black.
Severus woke up on an unfamiliar couch. It was bright. Painfully bright. Severus sat up, slowly due to the sudden arrival of a headache.
The couch he had awakened on growled. Severus slowly slid off the couch and began to look around. He was standing in the living room of an unknown house. It was shabby and bare.
Severus groaned at the sound of clatterings from the kitchen.
Lupin popped his head in through the door. "Sorry." He said, his voice barely above a whisper. "I forgot." With that, he went back into the kitchen. The noise lessened considerably.
He was at Lupin's house, then. But why, and how had he gotten here? Severus could remember getting drunk the night before, and running into Lupin. And Bellatrix. Then Lupin had tried to get Severus to leave with him. He had pretended Severus had been plastered so Bellatrix wouldn't realize who exactly who they were. But Severus hadn't realized that last night, and had fought with Lupin. Severus vaguely remembered hitting Lupin. Hard. Then he had blacked out.
This ramshackle shack must be Lupin's home then, although why he would choose to live in such a place was beyond fathoming.
"Breakfast?" Lupin asked, coming into the room with a plate and a steaming cup.
"What is it?" Severus asked warily.
"Bacon, eggs, and tea."
Severus hated tea. "I'll take the bacon and eggs, but not the tea."
"It'll help with the headache." Lupin said, handing Severus both anyway. He went back into the kitchen.
Why had Lupin brought him here? Why hadn't he called for backup? For all Lupin knew, Severus was a murderer and a loyal deatheater. Why was Severus still alive and apparently free?
Lupin reentered the living room with a plate and cup of his own. He sat down on the couch, and set upon his breakfast as if he hadn't eaten in days.
Severus picked at his own breakfast in silence. A hundred questions were going through his mind. What would he do now that he had made himself an enemy of both Voldemort and the Order? He could leave the country, but to what purpose? He had been a spy for so long that he didn't know how to be anything else.
For a split second Severus wished he could rejoin the Order. True he had not been like or respected there, but they had at least treated him like an actual human instead of a mindless slave as Voldemort had for so long. But that was impossible.
Severus realized that Lupin was watching him.
"What's your problem?" He asked.
"Nothing." Lupin said. "What's yours?"
"Like I would tell you even if I did have a problem." Severus sneered.
"Something's bothering you." Lupin said noncomittaly.
"Why did you bring me here?" Severus snapped.
Lupin looked surprised. "I couldn't have just left you unconcious in the street, now could I?" That was probably what Severus would have done had their places been reversed. "I couldn't take you to headquarters." That was definitely what Severus would have done if he were Lupin.
"Why not? I'm a dangerous murderer." Severus sneered.
"So am I." Lupin replied, shocking Sverus into silence. "I had a reason for what I did, and I suspect there was good reason for what you did. I don't believe you could have killed Dumbledore if he hadn't let you, and even if you could have, I can't believe he was mistaken in trusting you. I have never known Dumbledore to trust someone he shouldn't have, and I don't see why he would have this time. Too much depends on it. Furthermore, you're on Voldemort's wanted list."
"How do you know that?" Severus asked sharply.
Lupin shrugged. "I have my sources."
"If you don't think I'm 'evil', then why couldn't you take me to headquarters?"
"Not everybody feels the same way I do."
"You trust me then." Severus said, though it was more of an unasked question.
"I trusted you with my life when I taught at Hogwarts. Nothing has changed since then save my resignation."
Severus shook his head, wondering if Lupin was more of an idiot than he had first suspected.
"Bellatrix was looking for you at the bar." Lupin said. "She doesn't go looking for people that are on Voldermort's side."
This brought back to mind a few questions. "What were you doing there, anyway?" Severus asked.
Lupin shrugged. "I was supposed to meet someone there." He said easily.
"A friend?" Lupin tensed.
"An aquaintance. Another werewolf. That is one of the few places that don't run werewolves off. It is also a place where I am not likely to be recognized." Severus wondered why Lupin was being so honest with him. "What were you doing there?"
Trying to get myself killed, Severus thought. Not that I'd tell you that. "I hardly see how that is any of your business." Severus sneered.
"You looked like you were trying to drown yourself in booze. It doesn't do any good."
What was Lupin doing? Did he intend to preach at Severus? How dare he? He had no idea what Severus' life was like, what Severus had to live with. "How dare you tell me what I should do, Lupin." Severus snarled. "You, with your perfect life, your loyal friends. Do you even know half of the things I have been through in my life? Do you know the evils I've done, just to stay alive? Do you know what it's like to feel the wrath of the Dark Lord when you fail him? When you know what my life is, Lupin, then feel free to preach all you like."
Lupin was silent at that, staring at the floor. He took a deep breath, then raised his eyes to meet Severus'. His eyes were calm and emotionless, revealing nothing. "If you want to feel sorry for yourself, Severus, go ahead, but it's a waste of time."
"Shut up, werewolf." Severus snarled, his fists clenched tightly. "You think you're so high and mighty. Never doing anything wrong. Everything's just perfect."
"Don't ever make the mistake of thinking my life is perfect, Snape." Lupin said angrily.
"Why, because one of your sorry little friends was a traitor? Or because three of them are dead?" Severus wasn't sure why he had said that. Maybe he just wanted to hurt Lupin. Maybe it was payback for all those years ago.
"Leave them out of it, Snape. Peter may have been a snake, but those four made my life livable."
"I'm sure the rest of your life was just miserable." Severus sneered.
"Do you want to hear what my life was like?" Lupin asked coldly.
"Sure. I'm certain it was just terrible." Severus replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"When I was two, my brother and I were attacked by a werewolf. He was killed, and I was bitten. Our father blamed me for his death. He hated me because I had lived while my brother had died and because of what I was. When I was five, my mother died. I spent the next six years being constantly beaten because I was a 'monster'. I was often told that I was evil, and I eventually came to believe it. When I turned nine I took the Dark Mark because like an idiot I thought it would make my father accept me. The next day he decided to test my loyalty. I failed. For that he tried to kill me and nearly succeeded.
"When I was eleven I was accepted into Hogwarts where I made friends with three other students. I was terrified that they would find out what I was. They did, and were my friends anyway. When I was fifteen my father was arrested and thrown into Azkaban, and nobody could figure out why that didn't bother me.
"When I was twenty I found out that one of my friends had murdered the other three. I spent the next twelve years moving from place to place trying to get a job long enough to stay alive. Then Dumbledore asked me to teach for him. It was one of the best years of my life. I discovered that one of my friends wasn't really a traitor and that another was alive but working for Voldemort. Unfortunately, somehow the students discovered my 'condition.' So I left the only place I had ever considered home.
"Two years later one of my closest friends and probably the only person alive who actually knew me died. That was when I started going underground to try to rally support for our side from other werewolves. The next year, Dumbledore, who knew full well who and what I was and gave me a chance anyway, was murdered. Since then, I've been doing everything I can to keep from losing my mind.
"I don't want your sympathy, Snape, or your pity. Just accept that you are not the only one who has had a hard time." Lupin went back to staring at the floor, and Severus wondered if he had ever told this much about himself to anyone.
Severus was silent for a moment. "You actually carry the Dark Mark?" Severus asked, disbelief evident in his voice. Lupin, of all people, accepting the Mark? The thought was ridiculous.
In response, Lupin rolled up his sleeve. There, plain to be seen was the Dark Mark. There were also numerous scars running up and down his arm as far as Severus could see.
With a start, Severus realized he was staring. He looked up at Lupin, who was staring at the scars himself. Lupin slowly lifted his eyes and met Severus's gaze. His eyes were still unreadable, even for a man who had depended upon his ability to read others for years.
Severus looked away. Now what? Lupin had saved his life, but Severus wasn't sure he wanted to be alive. What would he do with his life now? His cover as a Death Eater was blown, and he certainly wasn't welcome among the Order. Severus had never felt more lost or confused in his life.
"Is my life even worth living anymore?" He asked himself. "Has it ever been?"
"Always." Lupin broke into Severus's thoughts.
"What?" Severus asked.
"Always. Life is always worth living. There's always a chance things will get better." Lupin stared thoughtfully at his tea, then took a drink.
"So now what?" Snape asked with an almost non-existant sneer.
"I don't know." Lupin replied. "But you are welcome to stay here until you figure that out." With that, he gathered the now empty dishes and disappeared into the kitchen.
Severus sat there in shock. Lupin, the man he had hated for years, was offering his home, such as it was, as a safe haven. Surely he knew the risks involved in hiding a man wanted by both sides in the war. Why?
Not that Severus had anywhere else to go, he realized with a sigh. He would have to stay here, with the werewolf. And if they were stuck here together, they might as well try to behave civilly towards each other.
In the mean time, Severus had some thinking to do.