Summary: Zia (my own creation) takes care of Remus and Severus as they each fall ill. This one is a bit long. It sort of took on a mind of its own.

Bunnies: Written for TG's Birthday Challenge 2007. Bunny # 8: "Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry." Bunny # 23: "Sooner or later we all quote our mothers."

Warnings: Mentioning of blood near the end.

Disclaimers: HP isn't mine, it's JKR's. The term 'Soul Healer' is SuperImmuneGirl's. Zia is my own creation.

"Come on, Remus! Aren't you ready yet?" Zia called.

Remus sniffed absentmindedly. "In a moment!" he called, as he spritzed himself with cologne and ran a comb through his hair for the umpteenth time.

"Love, you look great. Now go slay 'em," Sever said putting his hands on Remus' quivering shoulders, and placing a kiss on his head.

Remus sniffed again, and tried to settle himself. Zia worked as a researcher and liaison between the ministry of muggle artifacts and St. Mungo's hospital. Recently, she had been informed that she could hire another person – full time – on a temporary basis. She had immediately thought of Remus and was well bent on getting ghim a decent job.

"Come on Rem!' We're going to be late!" Zia paced the floor anxiously. They really had plenty of time, especially since they were using the floo system. But, she wanted to be as early as possible. Remus may be the best researcher out there, but his affliction kept people scared and him very unemployed. But, she wanted him on her team. She knew he would do the prerequisite 35 hours per week, even with his affliction. But, she knew he'd have to make some concessions – and she wasn't sure if he'd be okay with them.

"Okay, sorry for the wait."

She looked him over. 'Perfect,' she thought. He was wearing a brown suit with a red tie. He looked perfectly professional and while Zia was smiling on the outside, she was sighing on the inside. "Remus, you look great!" she said taking his hands and kissing him on the cheek.

He beamed and sniffed.

She raised an eyebrow. "You feeling okay?"

He sniffed again. "Just a sniffle."

"Rem?" Severus called wearily from the bedroom.

"I'll be right back," he told Zia, and trotted back. He came back moments later with a white silk handkerchief folded into his breast pocket. "Let's go," he said, as they stepped into the floo system.

When they emerged on the other side, Zia dusted him off. The last thing he needed was another preconceived notion working against him. She had pulled a lot of strings to get them to even entertain the notion of hiring a werewolf, and a lot was riding on this interview.

"How's Sev?" she asked as they boarded the elevator and began to ride sideways.

"Tired."

"Is he on the upswing yet?"

"No."

Zia nodded. Severus suffered from depression – something he took great pains to hide, but something she understood.

Remus sniffed again. He was nervous, and felt like he was sweating, though could feel the actual sweet. "Ker-PLEW!" The sneeze exploded out of him before it could be directed into the crook of his arm.

"Bless," Zia said quietly. "Nerves?"

He nodded and tended to his nose.

"Well don't worry. We need you – we're not going to hurt you."

Remus nodded again. But, he'd heard that line before. He wondered how much blood they'd drain this time and how much abuse he'd have to take before Zia didn't feel that he was letting her down. Not that she'd know of course, they'd hide it from her. As would he; there was no sense in her losing her job for his affliction.

Zia noticed the guarded look on his face. "Rem," she said softly, putting g her hand on his arm, "you're not in any danger here. You are under my protection."

He nodded at her and sniffed again. 'But why would she have to protect me?' he thought.

Remus sniffed nervously. He had spoken about his experiences researching and they had treated him like any other candidate. But, after the affliction question, the interview took a dramatic downhill turn.

"Do you have any affliction that would prevent you from working at any point during the month?"

He raised an eyebrow. That was one of the best ways he'd ever had that question asked, but it meant the same thing.

"I cannot work the day after the full moon," he answered honestly.

"At least not here," Zia piped in. "He is capable of working from home. I've seen him do it."

The panel of hiring managers looked at each other knowingly, and the interview deteriorated from there.

"Tom. You. The person always railing against vampire discrimination are now doing the same thing to a werewolf? Why? What's the difference?"

Remus watched as she argued with Tom – the big boss. The person who hired her. The person who could fire her. He watched her rail against him, demanding that Remus be put on her team. Deep down, he was flattered.

"Look at him sniffing," Cheyenne, the lead researcher commented haughtily. "he's probably trying to memorize our scents."

Zia forced a tickle into Remus' nose. "Hep-PLEW!" Luckily he was able to catch that one. He excused himself and quietly tended to his nose.

"Bless," Zia said. "Or, perhaps he's got a cold. You know like the one most of you had not so long ago?"

"Well, we can't have a sick werewolf here," Tom said matter of factly.

"Why? All of you came into work sick. What's the difference? It's not like he can spread his affliction the same way a cold can spread." Zia spat out the word 'affliction' like it was a bitter taste in her mouth. "He can make the prerequisite 35 hours per week – every week – one way or the other. I want him to take the empty position on my team. I take full responsibility."

Tom raised an eyebrow. "That's a lot of responsibility."

"Why?" she asked incredulously. "In case he bites someone? Hardly something I'm concerned about really."

Tom looked at Remus with a mean glint in his eye. "Mr. Lupin, it seems that you have a job. Zia will explain the particulars…including the collar."

"Yes, sir. The – what?"

"Please give me a wrist or ankle?" Zia begged.

"I will not," Tom said, rising out of his chair. "He'll get the collar."

"He's not a threat. There's no cause for it."

"Hey! I didn't want him on the team to begin with. If he's going to be here it will be by my rules."

"Yes, sir," she responded glumly.

After the panel filed out she looked at Remus. "Rem, I'm so sorry."

"HapPLEW! Hah-hePLEW! HasPlew!" Remus sneezed harshly as they stepped out of the fire and into his flat.

Severus was setting the table for dinner.

"Sev, you're up!" Remus exclaimed.

"Rem, you're sick," Severus returned.

"No, just stressed." Remus rubbed his forehead.

Zia had explained all of the particulars to him – including that he would have to wear a tracking collar, and that she would have to escort him to and from work daily. "Rem, if you don't take the job, I'll understand. I knew they'd make you wear a device – I didn't think it would be that one."

"You put your job on the line. I can't say no."

"You can. I'll get by. It's just extra money for the summer."

"What's going on?" Severus interjected.

After explaining the pay and hourly commitment, Remus explained the collar.

Severus then took a turn yelling at Zia for her idiocy and willingness to let it happen. "You knew they'd ask him to do this! You knew!" He started getting into her face and pushing her backwards.

"I did," she admitted. "But, if he doesn't want to, he doesn't have to take the job!" she shouted back, pushing him away from her.

He went to grab her wrists, but she pulled away too quickly. "And if he wants the job without the collar?"

She drew her wand, and her eyes flashed with anger. "There's nothing I can do about that."

"It's not her fault Severus!" Remus yelled, stepping between them. "She fought really hard to get me the position. It's not unheard of – what they're asking. And, it is money coming in."

"Fine," Severus said, suddenly looking very tired. "Whatever you want." He coughed harshly a few times – the coughs resonating from deep within his chest. He looked as if he was going to collapse, so Remus and Zia quickly escorted him to his easy chair, where he promptly fell asleep.

The next day when Zia came to escort Remus to work, Severus was still in the chair, snoring. Remus was ready however.

"Is he going to be okay?" Zia asked, concerned, as they stepped into the fireplace. Depression was one thing, but this looked like it could quickly turn into something worse.

Remus nodded, but said nothing. The whole trip he was silent. He was fitted for his collar, and worked diligently all day, but still said nothing. Even at home, no matter how much she or Severus talked, he said nothing. It continued that way for the better part of a week. Humiliated, cared, angry, and alone, Remus retreated into himself and shut down.

Then one day it happened. "sniff Zia can I talk to you?" he asked during work.

"Certainly," she said, looking up at him, and smiling.

"HesPlew!" he blew wetly into his handkerchief.

"Bless. What's up?"

"Nobody will talk to me, and it's a problem."

"Have you tried talking to people?"

"All wee, but their terrified of me." He hung his head. He'd worked his whole life to be known as kind and gentle, but he was still being treated like a monster.

Zia smiled sympathetically. "They don't know any better, Rem. It's not you personally. You're fighting the stigma, now."

"I know, but it's making my job very difficult."

"Talk to me. I'll get you the help you need."

"That seems like an awful lot of work."

"But, it's what we'll do," she assured him.

About a week before the full moon, Remus' sniffling started to get wetter. It had already been figured out that the other sniffles were mainly due to the new scents around him. But, these were wet, slurping sniffles that were, more often than not, leading to snorts and chokes, if he didn't blow his nose in time.

Zia winced as he snorted, but pushed him hard none the less, and he lived up to it. His research didn't waiver and although he was wearing down, he wouldn't admit it.

"Kewplew! ITchssh!" He sniffled and snorted until he choked and started coughing heavily.

Zia sighed inwardly. They'd only done about 15 hours thus far, and if he got sick now, he'd never make 35 hours.

"Isshh!"

But, he was sick and she knew it. And although she was typically understanding and sympathetic, the snorting, sniffling, sneezing and coughing were starting get rub her nerves raw. Especially, when every time she tried to concentrate, he'd snort again.

"Ih-heh-Itchssh!" he sniffled liquidly a few times, and kept working, sniffling every few seconds.

She slammed her quill down. "Bless," she said through gritted teeth.

"Thanks," he whispered wearily.

"Blow your nose, Rem," she instructed gently. She smiled to herself, 'Sooner or later we all quote our mothers.' She remembered hers saying the same thing when she was a child. Just as when she was a child, she reminded herself that he wasn't sick on purpose and that he was used to her being much more sympathetic.

"Sorry," he whispered. He was starting to remember why he hated working in an office setting. Even the most caring had short fuses when concentrating. He blew his nose fully, using up several tissues in the process. He winced not only because of his raw red nose, but because he knew it sounded disgusting.

"It's alright," she replied.

Pretty soon he was sniffling on each intake of breath and sneezing intermittently.

Finally, Zia's nerves popped. "Rem, do you need to work from home?

"Am I annoying you that much?" his voice sounded clear and Zia realized that he knew he was getting on her nerves.

"No, I'm just making sure," she lied. "You done with those reports?"

"Just about."

"Good. I have to go take them over to Arthur."

"Tell him I said hi, won't you?"

"Of course," Zia said collecting her work and itching for a short break.

"So, what do you think?" Zia asked.

Arthur reviewed the information again and scratched the back of his neck.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. It's perfect. The research is thorough and the logic sound…" he hesitated. "But, Remus is about steps ahead of where we are. We're still trying to figure out what muggle device caused the injury. He's been proving why the injury was caused by a silver spoon with an unnaturally sharpened edge." He paused again. "Including the way it was probably sharpened."

Zia groaned. "Okay, I'll take it back to him."

"How's he doing?" Arthur asked as he handed her the report back.

"As well as can be expected."

"What do they have him in, a wrist or ankle?"

"Neck."

Arthur's eyes widened in surprise. "Oh."

"Yea."

"And how's he doing with that time of the month approaching?"

"Same. Nose is acting up. And he's weary. He says hi, by the way."

Arthur smiled. "Tell him I said hi back."

"Certainly." She rubbed her forehead and turned to go.

"Z?"

"Yea?"

"Try to be patient with him, alright?"

"I'm trying."

"Remember, he's not used to you in this capacity. You're not as sympathetic here as he's used to you being."

She looked at him with hard eyes. "I can't do what I do here."

"Just be nice. Remus is putting gout great work – even though he's not feeling well. Give him a break, huh?"

Zia gave him a half smile. "I'll try. Thanks."

"Heh-eh-EPSHOO! Esshoo! HEP-TCHOO!" Remus sneezed harshly into his handkerchief, and flew his nose fully.

"Bless you, Rem," a gentle voice soothed from the doorway.

He looked up and saw Zia, her soft eyes speaking volumes of concern, though her lips were set in a straight line.

"Thank you," he replied, wearily. His throat hurt badly and he could feel his sinus' filling again.

Zia walked past her desk and put the reports on it. "How're you feeling Rem?" she asked, quietly.

"Okay."

She looked at him skeptically.

"No, really." He turned from her quickly. "Het-shoo!" 'Snnnddt!' he snorted and turned back to her. "Some lady cabe by looig for you. She 'ad an abundance of liliad purfum ond." He blew he nose again.

"Trigger your allergy did it?"

Remus nodded miserably.

"Do you need to go home?"

He shook his head. He would put her job on the line because of his allergies.

"Good, because Arthur and I have some questions about your research."

Remus' face fell. "What's wrong wid id?"

"Nothing. I wish everything I came up with was this good."

He beamed.

"I have one question about it though."

"Okay."

"How did you surmise the weapon of choice? All I told you was we had a dead werewolf and showed you the pictures."

"It's all explained in my research."

"But, I need you to bring me through your initial thought process that drew you to that research."

For the better part of the next 2 hours they debated the weapon. But, in the end, everything looked right.

"All right. I'll bring it in. But, where would they look for such a weapon?"

Remus shrugged. "Not our problem."

Zia smiled. "Good point. Hey Rem, what do you say to joining me and Arthur in reconstructing the weapon?"

"Sure. Kes-PLew!"

"Bless." She sighed, and forced herself to say it. "Do you need a nap?"

He looked at her, frustrated and surprised. "Yea," he finally admitted.

"Here, I need you to get these for me," she said handing him her personal chore list. "It should take you about two hours."

He yawned and shivered. "Thangs."

In exactly 1 hour and 45 minutes, Remus returned looking more rested but rather pale.

"Thanks having the supplies dropped off in my office. That was super," Zia said the second she went to get to get him.

"No problem."

"How's Sev?" she asked, when they got back to their office.

He frowned. "Not good. Lower than I've seen him years."

"Crying?" she asked nonchalantly.

"And worse."

She shuddered at the thought. She knew what that meant. She had scars on her wrists and neck from several of her 'worse' moments. "He's going to be alright until you get home tonight?"

Remus nodded. "And I held him to it." With that he held up a Promissory Ball. "If he does anything drastic this will start singing Runaway Train."

"Okay. Those things are the best thing Remembral ever came out with."

He nodded.

"Alright, let's discuss the meeting. They liked it. They really really liked it."

"Where's Sev?" Zia asked as they stepped though the fireplace.

"Bedroom I reckon."

"Do you want me to stay tonight?" Zia built up the courage to ask.

A look of relief crossed Remus' face. "Would you mind?"

"Not at all." Zia sighed in relief. She knew all too well what brought Severus down. And she knew he couldn't care for Remus the way Rem would need it. "How about I make you two dinner? Any preferences?"

Remus looked exhausted. "Soup. He won't want to eat. And, honestly, I don't feel well. But, do feel free to make something more for yourself."

"Soup it is," she said and started towards the kitchen, as Remus went into the bedroom.

When the soup was ready and on the table, she placed a quick warming spell on it and knocked on the bedroom door. Hoping they were both asleep, she opened the door slowly. Remus was asleep on the bed, snuggled against Severus. Severus was awake, however. Wide-eyed with tears sliding down his face, Severus lay staring into space.

Zia understood. She had been there. She remembered.

"Hey," she said, quietly entering the room.

Severus blinked, but didn't respond otherwise. It was okay. The blink was enough.

"You know it's over right?" she asked tenderly, as she sat next to him on the bed.

He blinked gain and another tear dropped down his face.

"Oh, Severus," she soothed. She looked deep into his eyes, and he watched as her eyes turned into black pools and opened his mind to her – willingly.

She watched as he berated his soul for the things he did as a Death Eater, as a Slytheran, as a boy. He berated himself for permitting himself to lured, mislead, bossed around and picked on. He thought himself weak, unworthy of love, unworthy of life.

Zia felt deep within her training. She knew what she had to do. Reaching beyond the forgiveness point, she undid the barrel of emotions. She felt it unhinge and felt Severus begin to sob.

'Damn,' she thought as she released his mind and held him tightly. Her original training as a soul healer taught her how to unleash the emotions so that the body could heal itself – generally in dreams. Her advanced training taught the body how to forgive and forget. She had a hard time returning to her original training – and this seemed to be somewhere in between.

He latched to her tightly, sobbing uncontrollably. Remus stirred and looked at them blankly.

"What did you do?" he asked Zia.

"It didn't work."

"You tried to heal him?" Remus asked, sleepily, still trying to figure out what was going on.

"I tried to pave the way."

Remus raised his eyebrow. "Really? But, you haven't done that since -."

"Before the first rise of Voldemort."

"And this is?"

"Unhinged – sorta a midway point."

Remus looked exhausted. Dark circles had appeared under his eyes.

"How're you feeling?" she asked him as she stroked Severus' hair. "It's okay, Sev. Let it out. It's okay. You're safe here. Shhhh, you're safe," she soothed quietly.

"I have a headache that's trying to split open my skull."

"Need help?" she asked him, still rocking Severus.

He looked from her to Severus and back to her. "Nothing personal, but you've already done a bang up job on Severus, and I don't need that kind of help."

"Fair enough," she answered, as she felt her heart twist. That one hurt. She hadn't meant to do this, and she had taken care of Remus' headaches with herbs, massage and food loads of times.

Severus cried himself back to sleep, and Zia laid him down.

"Do you want your soup?" she asked Remus. "It's still warm."

"Sure, he whispered. His headache was getting worse and he wanted eat something while he still could.

Gently, she helped him off the bed. He was wobbly at best, proving that he was getting sicker.

They ate mainly in silence. The steam from the soup tickled Remus' nose. "heheeh" but the sneeze wouldn't come. A few spoonfuls later it happened again. "eh-he-eehh…" But, it too backed away. He held his napkin to his nose to catch the runs, afraid that if he sneezed his head would explode. Finally, his soup was done and Zia was clearing the dishes and giving them to the kitchen for cleaning.

Then they struck. "KesPLEW! Itchoo! Hitch! Isshh!"

He felt his head try to explode. He couldn't see. He couldn't hear. He felt some hold a napkin up to his nose and a hand at the base of his skull. "ITesshh!" he sneezed again. The grip tightened and the pressure started to release.

"Blow," he heard a voice instruct him gently. He did.

Slowly, his vision came back and then his hearing. The pressure was no longer in his head or at the base of his skull. In fact, he was no longer sitting at the table, but lying on the couch. "What happened?" he wondered outloud.

"Shhh. You passed out. It's okay. You're safe now." It was Zia's voice, but unlike he'd ever heard her. She sounded distant, quiet, hurt.

He almost remembered saying something hurtful to her, but he couldn't remember what. "Did I…say something? I…told you…asked you?... not to … touch me?" It was a question based on a half of a memory. He looked at Zia nervously.

But Zia's eyes flashed gold at him. Something they only did when she was really angry. "You needed it Rem. I'm sorry." He voice was steely.

"No, don't be." He wracked his brain to figure out what he said – grateful that the pain was gone. "Thank you."

"It's nothing."

But it was something, and he knew it. But it was so tired.

"Go to sleep Remus."

He nodded and felt himself drift off.

The next morning, Remus was already awake when Zia opened her eyes. She didn't recall falling asleep, but apparently she had.

"Here," Remus said, offering her a mug of triple chocolate hot chocolate. He was already dressed for work.

"Thanks," she took it. "You don't have to go to work, if you're not feeling well. I'll cover for you."

"Nah, no need. I feel fine." It was a lie, but he didn't want to admit to anything else.

Het-CHOO! ahhh…" Remus sniffed wetly.

"Bless you," Zia said as nonchalantly as she could. She knew that he was feeling worse and should be home resting. But he still refused to admit it.

"Do you have those reports," she asked timidly. The next case they had been given had to do with the abuse of a werewolf child. She knew it had to be killing him, reading about the silver burs and other types of torture this child had t endure. But, she also knew her boss was right who better to lead the project that someone who'd been there. To her own relief, he insisted that he was part of her team – not the other way around.

"Not-naa-n-hartchoo!" he blew his nose with a loud honk and groaned. His head was throbbing and he was so sore he could barely move.

"Bless." Zia sounded tired. 'Well, of course,' he mentally reprimanded himself. 'She stayed up all night, tending to the two of you.' Remus had been up on and off with a migraine that threatened to split his head open. Whenever he woke up, Severus was talking to Zia in hushed tones. At least once he was certain that Severus was crying again. But, the second he tried to figure out what was going on, he unleashed a sneeze that almost made him black out again.

He sniffed wetly, again.

"Rem, do you want to go home?"

"Yes," he admitted. "But, later. First we need to work on this." He got up and went to her desk. It hurt to move.

"Here," she said handing him a gold wrapped cone. "Don't worry, it's chocolate."

He smiled brightly. "Thank you," he said as he let the sweetness melt in his mouth.

"You alright Rem? I know it's close to that time of the month, and I know this case can't be easy for you." Concern shone in her eyes, and she placed her hand on his.

"I will be, but thank you."

"You just tell me if this gets to be too much. We'll work from home, if we have to."

He shook his head. "I'm okay, but stay close today. Please."

Zia smiled, and nodded. Remus was a pack animal, and the alpha male at that. In a weakened state he felt safest with his pack around him. She felt honored to be considered one of his pack. And she promised herself that she'd take care of him.

"He has to work from home."

"But, why? He's doing such a great job."

"He's sick and we don't like presenteeism. Remember?"

"Good point. Just report in as you can."

When she got back to the room, Remus wasn't there. She quickly became reabsorbed in her work. Kthundk! She looked up, startled.

"Sorry," Remus mumbled, rubbing his shoulder.

"Take the corner too tight?"

"Y-ehhh-heh-Eatchoo!" Heatchoo!" The sneezes were wet and huge and exploded out of him at break neck speed – literally. His head snapped forward with each one, and he missed the first one completely.

Zia closed up her workstation and then his. "Come on. Let's go."

A dejected look crossed his face. "Am I being sacked?"

"No, but it's time to work from home." She grabbed their research and threw it into a box. "Come on." They walked slowly, each step seeming to be full of trepidation and pain for Remus. The longer they walked the more he leaned on her. The more he leaned on her, the more comforting energy she flooded through his body. The more comfortable he felt, the more he let the sickness overtake him. The more ill he felt, the more he leaned into her.

By the time they got him home, he was too ill to walk to bed. So, she placed a weightless spell on him, gathered him into her arms and took him there. As she placed him next to a sleeping Severus, he coughed lightly. Severus stirred awake.

"Is he alright?" Severus asked quietly.

"Mmmm Hmmmm," she answered, replying only in soothing tones. "He's just over pushed himself. He should stay in bed until his transformation, and then some."

"And the 35 hours?"

"I've got it," Zia said, as she tucked them both in and went into the other room to get started.

Twelve hours later, she was still sorting through Remus' research. She couldn't do her reports before she had his. While her goal was to discover how the muggles had the knowledge to not only identify but harm the werewolf, his job had been to notate the ways the child had been harmed. He had come up with a few very thorough hypothesis, but she could tell his stream of consciousness had been broke, and she didn't know how – or where- to pick it back up.

She awoke both of them for soup for dinner, and gave Remus his potions. But, both drifted back to sleep almost immediately.

'Good,' she thought as she dimmed the lights and went back to work.

Suddenly a hand on her shoulder made her jerk awake. She glanced at the clock. She had been asleep for almost four hours. She didn't remember falling asleep. She looked behind her. Severus stood there trebling slightly. His hair was wet and he was wearing a fresh set of sweats. "Severus, are you alright?"

He nodded silently and sent her a picture of her in bed asleep.

She shook her head. "I can't. There's just no time."

He nodded and sent her another picture. This time it was of him working beside her.

"I'd love some help," she said with a smile.

He sat down and she explained the case and that she couldn't figure out Remus' thought process. He looked over the information and began writing furiously – right where Remus left off.

A wave of relief washed over her. She had already put in 20 hours towards her 35, and now Remus was well on his way to reaching 32. The rest of the hours could be made up during the week, no sweat. She looked up and noticed that Severus was shivering. His wet hair, which was pulled back into a ponytail, was dripping onto his shirt. "Sev, here," she said, putting a blanket over his shoulders.

"Thank you," he whispered so quietly she thought he could have sent it telepathically.

Suddenly, she felt an odd feeling come off of him. "What's the matter, Sev?"

He sniffed and rubbed his nose lightly.

"How're you feeling, Sev?" Re rubbed his arms gently and combed through his hair with her fingers. She very cautiously sent warm healing energy though his body. His breathing started to get deeper, and Zia wasn't sure whether he was going to sneeze, cry, or both.

"I need you to do it again."

"Do what?"

"What you did the other night."

"No, I can't." She remembered him sobbing in her arms. "I can't, you know I can't."

"You can! Remus doesn't understand. I need to cry. I need to release. I need your forgiveness – the kind only you can give."

"Well, one out of three ain't bad," she responded.

"I want to feel, Zia. Only you can do that. Please."

Zia took a deep breath. She remembered the before times, when a much kinder, gentler, more loving her healed the tortured. Literally. She had such a depth of compassion that she frequently worked with those who had been abused or tortured. Sometimes she even got to work with people who chose to disappear within themselves. But, those were rare occurrences. After all, it wasn't her specialty – at that point. She knew she had to unleash a part of herself, long since hidden, to give Severus what he was asking.

She looked into his big brown eyes, so scared and hurt, and she opened the floodgates.

When she pulled out only a few minutes later, she felt different – worried, concerned, but confident – a trio that she hadn't felt in quite some time.

Severus looked dazed, tired, weary, but no longer hurt. Awkwardly, he poked her side.

"Eep!" she exclaimed, not expecting the tickle.

He grinned – a little. But, then the corners of his mouth twitched. "HarASH!" he sneezed into a cupped hand. His head snapped forward and his shouldered hunched over. He wiped his hand off on his pants. "'scuse – harESH! me."

"It's okay," Zia responded, with a gentleness that hadn't touched her voice in almost 20 years.

"Sev?" a tired, yet strong voice asked.

Severus sniffed then smiled. "Hey." Then they hit. The emotions behind the floodgates. The twisted hatred, hot anger, cold burn of the past. Before he could stop it, Severus was consumed by irrational, illogical sobs and shrieks – the likes of which he'd never succumbed to before.

But, Zia had seen this reaction before. Not from Severus, but from others – when the damage ran so deep that there were repressed emotions. With the release of the pain came the release of the emotions. Quickly, deftly, gently, she restrained him murmuring soft words.

"What did you do you evil witch!?" Remus yelled from across the room, as he drew his wand on her.

"Remus, calm down. It's totally normal," she stated as evenly as she could.

"Don't leave," Severus began to sob. "Don't leave…Remus!" he screamed.

Within seconds Remus was by his side, but his wand was still pointed at Zia. "I'm here. I'm right here," he soothed. The congestion had not left his voice, but the flush in his cheeks had started to dissipate.

"I'm sorry. Don't leave. Please, don't leave. I'm sorry."

Cupping Severus' cheek, Remus said, "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. It's alright." With cold steely eyes he turned to Zia. "What did you do?"

"I did what he asked," she replied, still holding him tightly.

"You're not a soul healer Zia!" Remus yelled at her. "You used to be once, but you're not anymore. You've been trained to hurt. You're bad and dark. You are a dark witch. Get out of our house!!" He started growl at her and the wolf within flickered in his eyes.

"Remus, just relax. This is normal. He'll be fine."

"He'd be fine if you did it correctly. But, you can't and you know it! I hate you Zia! I hate what you are and who you killed when you became it. You sacrificed the good for the bad and now you're spreading your evil to those who don't deserve it!" And, with that, he pounced on her, with the grace of the wolf within, and shoved her to the floor and away from Severus. "Get away from him! Get away!"

He tried to hold her down, but he was just weak enough, with fever, that Zia was able to scramble backwards. He bared his teeth at her and snarled.

Zia knew he smelled her fear. She had seen the wolf turn him over once before, when it wasn't the full moon. And, she was certain that with this amount of rage in him, he would kill her. But, for his sake and Severus' she forced herself to remain calm. "Remus, you're sick. Please remain calm. Go back to bed. It'll all be a bad dream in the morning."

He swished and started to flick with a, "Stupif-aH-Chew!"

She forced a sneeze on him and dodged out of the way of the spell.

Severus reached for Remus. "Rem, st-stop. HAR-esh! She's a friendly."

Neither Zia or Remus moved. Remus started to swish his wand again. Not taking any chances, she spiked his fever so high and fast that he dropped to his knees. "Attchew!" he sneezed wetly, and felt his head begin to throb again.

She carefully helped him up and, despite his protests, tucked him back into bed. Then she waited until Severus calmed down and tucked him into bed as well.

"Zia stop!" Remus yelled in his sleep.

Zia moved to his side of the bed and cooled him off, gently, with a cool compress. His fever had spiked on its own – even after she released him. He had been sleep talking all night. She had been worried that he'd keep Severus awake, but Sev was too exhausted. He'd slept through every one of Remus' outbursts so far.

"Hush no," she soothed. "It's alright. You're both going to be all right."

His eyes shot open and he looked at her. It was obvious he didn't recognize her. "Death Eater!" he screamed and punched her in the nose.

She screamed and fell back, wiping the blood from her upper lip. She quickly went to the bathroom and set some potions and nonverbal spells in motion. She felt the tingle of her bone starting to heal and watched it wiggle like a bunny's.

She heard Severus call for her. Then him ask, "Rem, what did you do? You what?! Zia?"

As she cleaned herself up, she called back that she'd been just a minute.

"What do you need?" she asked, coming back in – trying not to look at Remus.

"You to go away!" Remus shouted at her. "You're evil!"

She tried not to let them see the hurt. Remus never meant what he said, and half the time he didn't even remember. She just had to keep reminding herself of that.

"Rem!" Severus snapped. "I know you don't feel like yourself, but Zia didn't hurt me. She did exactly what I asked. I want to enjoy life. I want to enjoy you. And I can't afford a real soul healer. She's the best we have, and the only one I trust. Don't chase her away, please. For us?"

Remus looked down, suddenly bashful. "You mean I… For no reason? Oh, Z – I'm so sorry."

"It's nothing," she assured him, as the swelling in her nose started to go down.

"It is," he said, suddenly sounding remorseful – like he remembered who she was, and what he had said, all at the same time.

"Hey, at least you didn't bite me." It was meant as a joke, but it came out bitter. She was almost certain that was exactly what Remus wanted to do, and it scared her.

Remus looked at her, hurt, demur, a far cry from the predator he had been earlier. "I would never!" He paused and tried to remember. "Did I try?"

"No," she assured him. She forced a smile. "You were just trying to protect your own. There's nothing to be ashamed of."

"I did something. I know I did. I'm sorry. Whatever it was."

"Why do you know you did something?"

"Because you said I was trying to protect my own. You are part of 'my own'. And if you didn't include yourself in that statement that means I was being protective against you – not of you. Hetshhoo!" Severus handed him a tissue and he quickly tended to his nose.

She felt tingly, like she wanted to scream and cry both in forgiveness and in anger. But, she repressed it with a smile. "It really it okay," she said to him gently. "How're you feeling, Sev?" she asked, turning her attention away from him.

"Never better." He sniffed. "Though I think I'm starting to come down with a c-cold – HarESH!"

"Bless. In that case, I'll take my leave," she said matter of factly. She'd had enough, and needed to unwind badly.

"Before the moon?" Remus asked, startled by her abruptness. He remembered being angry, and he knew he broke her nose, but he didn't remember any more than that. But, by her reaction, he could tell that he'd done something regrettable.

"You'll be fine, Remus. Besides, I've learned from experience to never forget what a man says to you when he is angry." she assured him, and she left.

"Do you think I hurt her that much?" he asked Severus.

"I know you did." Severus had never seen Remus react like that. He remembered every instant of the situation, and he knew he had to tell Remus the story – the whole story for him to understand.

The day after the moon, Remus thought he heard a woman's voice.

'But it couldn't be,' he thought. "Z?" It hurt to move, breathe, think. He couldn't feel anything but the pain.

"Shhh. You're all right. Severus is here. I am here. Just rest. "

Remus smiled softly. "Thanks Z," he said, as he drifted off to sleep.