Embaressed smile, I don't really do serious. But I had an odd moment, so let me know what you think. I apologise now if it is all wrong, or you don't like it, but it made me smile. Please R&R, just a teensy weensy little one... Oh, and not sure when it's set, but as it's in my own little Snupin AU, it's not really important!

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The table in the kitchen of number twelve, Grimnauld place was crowded with an array of people, some nursing small wounds, some resting their heads in their palms and mainly sharing a blank expression, all eyes following the only man moving as he paced back and forth, back and forth, metal leg clonking with every step. Occasionally he would stop and glare at the old wizard sat at the head of the table, looking as if he was about to impart some terribly great knowledge on the group, only to be quieted with a subtle shake of the head causing the clonking and pacing to resume. The old wizard's eyes were trained on the door, leaving it every so often to catch the eye of some witch or wizard seeking a little comfort in the usually twinkling blue eyes. Dumbledore felt sorry that tonight he had none to give. They had all returned, relatively unscathed, from one of the worst Death Eater confrontations yet, casualties had been high on both sides and it was sheer luck that none of the immediate inhabitants of the head quarters had been injured. Too badly. Now he sat waiting for the return of the one person missing from that select group of people whom he worried about the most. In one way or another every one in the room was waiting for the same thing, though some for different reasons. He knew that Moody was waiting purely to explode, Black along with him, probably both hoping to see evidence of torture, much to the Headmasters disgust. Tonks and Molly, both being of a more reasonable nature and without the past…history….would just be relieved to see him back and Lupin, Lupin… Dumbldore was unsure as to the nature of their relationship, but what he had managed to glean was that either man suffered greatly when the other did and, equally, were a source of much comfort to each other. For that he was pleased, in these hard times every one needed as much comfort as they could get. With that thought, he stood, quietly slipped around to Lupins side and rested a hand on his shoulder, earning a surprised glance from the younger man which quickly turned into a cautious, sad smile.

The uneasy heavy silence was shattered when Moody, unable to contain his frustration by merely stalking the room, exploded, causing the others to jump or flinch and a glare from the Headmaster.

"He's either dead or turned traitor! We should be planning what to do when the lying bd leads a group of Death Eaters here!"

"Alastor…"

"He has a point Albus…" muttered Black, only to be glared at by Lupin.

"We've waited 3 hours now," continued Moody, "we managed to get Veritaserum into two of the captured Eaters, and both said the same thing."

"And what was that?" said Lupin, a dangerous tone to his voice.

"That was that not only was there ample time for the majority of them to dis-apperate before we captured them, and that instructions were given that only those willing to do so had to return to You-Know-Who's side after. The fact that we have not captured him, he was not amongst the dead left on the field and he is not here means one of two things." The others were all paying full attention now, Moody, warming to his subject began to enjoy his rant. He hated that filthy excuse for a Death Eater, sorry, 'ex'-Death Eater, and if he did indeed die today that would not be a bad thing. "One, he returned to His side, turning on us and is spilling his useless guts as we speak, or two, he returned to His side and is as we speak being grossly tortured or is dead already. Of the two I'd prefer the second…."

"Here here" added Black, earning glares this time from the majority of the table and making Dumbledore have to tighten his grip on Lupins shoulder to stop the man thumping his former best friend.

"How dare you…" glowered Lupin. "For all we know…" He never got to finish his comment as the door which was now ignored was slowly pushed open and the sorriest sight they had seen in a long time stepped gingerly into the room. Nobody moved. The Headmaster made to take a step toward the bloodied shaking figure, but a hand slightly raised stopped him. Dark eyes met his briefly as a strained voice said, barely audibly, "I shall be upstairs." The eyes waited for the acknowledgment of the Head, and rested briefly on those of Lupin, who looked fit to burst with some barely controlled emotion,

'Disgust' thought moody, noticing. He failed to notice the thing Dumbledore did though, that when those pained black eyes met Lupins, they lost the steely look and instead pleaded some hidden message. As they were lowered and the figure retreated, Dumbledore released the shoulder of the fidgeting man next to him and when he looked up, silently asking permission which he recieved, quickly left the room, closing the door behind him. The remaining men were silent, Moody and Black having the good grace to look slightly abashed and Dumbledore merely relieved.

"Severus…"

"No."

"Severus?"

"No. Don't talk. Please…"

The last word was almost pleading. Lupin merely nodded his acquiescence and watched awkwardly as Snape made his way slowly and painfully around the room. He stopped next to the bed and raised his hands up to examine them. Having apparently found what he was looking for he muttered "Good" and suddenly collapsed backwards on to the bed. Lupin, entirely unsure as to how to proceed when his earlier attempts to help Snape climb the stairs had been growled away, felt this was his cue to move. He had visited Snape several times after he had returned from meetings and, to an extent, was aware of the shape the other wizard was in when he did, but there had always been a period of time between his return and the wards on the doors to the dungeons being lifted. At Snape's insistence. And now Lupin thought he knew why.

Silently he made his way to the head of the battered man lying on the duvet, and reaching out carefully he began to unbutton the mammoth line of satin covered fastenings down his chest. At the first touch, Snape had started, eyes jerking open and a sharp intake of breath which had caused Lupin to jump as well, but when the worryingly panic filled eyes locked onto and registered Lupins he had relaxed.

"Forgive me…" croaked the Potions Master.

"Shh. It's ok." Lupin wasn't sure what he was supposed to be forgiving, but thought he had better not question it yet.

"No. Forgive me. You should not see this…"

Lupin undid the last of the buttons, and gently helping the other man to sit up slid the coat off his shoulders, alarmed to see singed areas and the alarm growing to barely quelled panic seeing the once white shirt underneath turned predominantly deep red from blood. Seeing the look on his face, Snape attempted to reassure him slightly;

"Its not all mine" he whispered, before realising that that probably wasn't the best thing to say. Snape attempted to take his own body weight off Lupin, not having noticed that he was being entirely supported by the man, and again tensed as Lupin hung on, refusing to release him.

"No. Let me help."

"Don't need your help."

"Really."

"Really." Normally that would have been a biting come back, at least, that's how Snape had meant it to sound. In reality it had come out as a quiet whisper.

"I fail to agree with you. Sorry Severus, you're stuck with me this time." With that, Snape gave in and allowed himself to be undressed, within reason, he was not quite so helpless thank you, and even began to drift off while Lupin healed the smaller wounds and applied cleansing charms and salves to the worst. Lupin, noticing the sleepy eyes and relaxed breathing and couldn't help but smile. He ran a hand over Snape's forehead and muttered a safe sleep charm before deciding that the most urgently needed repairs were done and pulling the duvet up over the drowsing form. Settling himself into a chair by the head of the bed he wandered just what had gone on to cause this mess.

He was just drifting off to sleep, when the door was softly tapped upon. Not sure as to where he was, his eyes darted around the room before focusing on the sleeping form before him. The confusion faded and he groaned at the memories of the night as he bade the knocker to enter. Rubbing a hand over the stubble beginning to appear on his chin he looked up to see the concerned face of the Headmaster before him.

"How is he?"

"Asleep."

"Oh!"

"-?-"

"You must have quite a gift." At Lupins puzzled expression the Head continued "It normally takes all my powers of persuasion to get him to lay down for more than two minutes when he returns from a more….arduous….meeting. Though he did not look as bad as some times, I am impressed. Maybe you will impart on me your secret."

"Headmaster? I'm afraid I don't follow."

The Head chuckled.

"No, I don't suppose you do."

The man on the bed stirred, and both men stepped forward to him. Finding themselves jostling to be at his head, the elder wizard backed down.

"I seem to have been replaced." There was an almost unperceivable sadness in his voice which caused Lupin to look shocked and feel most awkward. Before he had chance to answer, a shaky voice from the bed muttered

"Fool. I wouldn't say that." and drifted back into sleep. Dumbledore smiled and simply moved to the other side of the bed.

Lupin turned his still confused face to the Head.

"What do you mean, arduous meeting. I have never seen him like this before, I assume he has been… un-covered…?"

"Oh I very much doubt it my child. This seems to be run of the mill for the last few months. I feel our friend" he indicated the stirring form on the bed "has been trying to protect you from the worst of it. I, on the other hand, have been trying to protect him, and therefore invite my self entirely against his wishes into his quarters by floo every time he returns, to at the least assure my self that he will live through the night. Actions which I think he can not truly mind as I am still here and have not sprouted two heads or purple ears or the such."

Lupin was by now completely confused and more than a little annoyed. How could the Head make jokes when Snape was in obviously a terrible way!

"But, the blood!"

"As yes, unpleasant. But not normally all his own…"

"The cuts, he was practically slashed…"

"Lashed more like. Remus, dear Remus. Please, do not think me flippant with this, I can assure you that to see him lying here in this way has, many times over the decades, hurt me no less than if it were my own son. But, there is reason for my cheerfulness."

Lupin was slow in keeping up, and his heart skipped a beat when the Head said the word decades, and he whispered it at the other man.

"Yes, Severus has served the Light for many years, so you see why I can, regrettably, become slightly immune to what lies before us. Regrettably. I have been here too many times to count and can only assure you that this is relatively minor. He will recover. And they have not touched his hands, which I believe, along with his sight, has always been his biggest worry. You would know, I fear, if he had been un-covevered as I am sure at least those two faculties would be harmed."

"I thought they'd kill him. I have dreamt it…" said Lupin, quietly.

"No. Voldermort is far too merciless for that. But I have not explained! The reason for my cheerfulness in this dire situation!" he sparkled at Lupin, and placed a weathered hand on his cheek before continuing.

"For the first time ever, I have found him, not alone. You are here, and he is sleeping, and I now, I think, understand what it is between you two. For one, I am very glad of it, and for two, I think that secretly, so is he."