A/N; I can't believe I'm posting this, a friend dared me to finally let them at it (however gently) and so to keep her quiet here it is. Beware it is slash though not graphic. (I actually ran out of none squicky words for a mans genitalia and resorted to sending friends texts asking for suggestion, severely worrying them!)
Warning, Snupin! Very dark start, mention of self harm, torture, general angsty nastiness and a good splattering of hurt comfort. Hope you like, let me know as this is a sounding board for the final re-draft of 'the long one' which is nearly ready for posting! Thanks!
The door opened and a cloud of steam disappeared as it met with the cold damp air of the room. As the man emerged, towel gathered roughly around himself the weariness, unmoved by the shower, was clearly visible about him; it almost rolled off in discernable waves, an aura of pure exhaustion and hopelessness. He moved slowly, feet almost dragging as he made his way into the bedroom and sat on the bed. Sighing, he let the towel pool around his thighs and a shiver made droplets of water fall from his shoulder length black hair. He sighed again, right hand unconsciously rubbing the left forearm as his thoughts drifted to earlier actions. No amount of scrubbing would make him feel clean, no matter how hot the water nor how strong the soap he concocted. Even the addition of a mild acid had only left him reddened, not cleansed. He had given up on ridding himself of the pain and guilt he felt on an almost daily basis, settling instead on finding a way to live with it, to distract himself from the memories enough to function to an acceptable standard lest anyone suspect he was, despite all his defences, defenceless. He pushed both hands back through his hair, holding it tight away from his face, the discomfort bordering on pain but not close enough. Letting it drop he studied his arms, the criss-cross of scars telling their own stories, some so old he forgot how they ended, some yet to be completed. One of these held his attention more than the rest, several inches long and scabbed over he roughly rubbed it, the sharp fire from the action causing him to swallow. As the skin became slightly pinked with blood he stopped, let it well a little and then quickly wiped it away with his thumb, annoyed with himself at the relief he felt in seeing he was still, under it all, still human. 'If you prick me…' sprang to his mind. 'Not enough.' would be his only answer.
Pushing his shoulders back and ignoring the cracks from his spine -too many years bent over cauldrons- he let his head drop back until the hair tickled the small of his back, something he had done intentionally as a child, once enjoying the sensation which now was only vaguely unpleasant, reminding him of things he had once known, pleasures he had shared with… pleasures which, due to his actions and his life he doubted he would ever share again. How could he? Something such as him, marked in every way through his own stupidity and weakness, no one should see those marks, least of all one so light as…He cursed himself, unable to even say the name. He rose, the towel staying on the bed in a damp heap, and stepped clumsily toward the wardrobe, feet feeling heavy and alien, the sharp cold from the stone floor the only thing keeping him awake. Only months ago he would have kept the towel around him, not caring for the sight of his own body and always slightly suspicious of someone watching him even when he was alone. Now he didn't care, even the cold air hitting his manhood failing to awaken a response in him. There was a time when things were different, but that had changed. As he scratched at one of the healing slashes across his back he barely noticed the ribs or even remembered the cause. The marks which had been accepted by the other he could not even name as a part of a unhappy youth now multiplied to where there could be no excuse and he was sure no acceptance. He selected his robes, the same as always, wing-tip shirt, waistcoat and frockcoat to keep out the chill of an autumn's day teaching in the dungeon, black silk cravat to hide the smooth faded scar running around his neck, so faded by time that only he really knew it was there. The trousers were wool and buttoned about his boots giving a ballooned effect to hide his pathetically skinny legs. He had grown tired of the Headmasters interference over his body weight many years ago and had learnt to disguise himself. It was amazing what could be hidden beneath a teacher's gown. A second stop in the bathroom to smooth a handful of barrier cream through his hair and over the calloused palms of his hands and he left the room, walking in a dazed auto pilot to the classroom. He was barely ten feet from his door, the wards still sealing them back up when he the air surrounding him went warm and clammy, and he had time to raise a shaky hand to his face before he hit the ground, robes framing his sweat beaded face like a liquid frame.
He awoke. Bright sunshine hurt his eyes so he screwed them shut, attempting to curl into a ball but finding himself restrained, causing his eyes to open widely and a panicked attempt to sit up. Unable to do so, he thrashed against the bindings, logic and reason be damned as all idea of place and person left him. He wanted to be back in his rooms and wanted to be safe so he called for the only person he trusted to take him there, and blacked out as pain crashed over him, never seeing the Headmasters worried face as he briefly conferred with Madam Pomfrey and then hurry from the rooms.
Again as he swam toward consciousness he was aware of the sun, and this time he remembered the bonds and did not fight them. Instead he opened one eye and sneakily peaked out. 'Maybe' he thought, 'if they think I am asleep still…' There was no such luck, and a face drifted into view, a face which slowly came into focus and made a deep ache spread through his chest and unwelcome tears fill his eyes.
"No" he whispered, "Not like this…"
The face frowned and another, older, replaced it, followed by a third as he focused on the person removing the bonds. He flexed his wrists and attempted to sit up, succeeding only with help, the room was drifting in and out of focus and he had the disconcerting feeling that he was floating…
"Why was I bound?" he slurred, suspecting he already knew the answer.
"You were agitated. You have had a calming draught. We could not remove your robes to examine you…" panic flooded him, had they seen? Did they know how weak he was? A quick look down revealed the full back armour in place, and he relaxed.
"You passed out. One of your students found you when you didn't turn up to class."
He nodded; feeling like nothing could surprise him anymore. Or so he thought when a warm hand brushed the hair out of his face. Looking sideways he felt the tears threaten to fall as he silently studied the worried eyes meeting his. When he spoke it was a whisper;
"Why have you come?" the hand continued to stroke, and a small smile played about the lips.
"You asked for me…"
"I did? I did. I am sorry. You should not have to see this."
"See this? I have seen this, many times. I would never have stopped seeing this;" he cupped the pale face in his hands, "had you not of sent me away. I won't leave again."
The Headmaster cleared his throat;
"Madam Pomfrey's spells detect blood on you. We need to see, to make sure you are alright."
"I am fine. Simply tired. Woozy from the draught."
"I disagree" said the medi-witch. "You are showing signs of malnutrition, depression, countless other conditions and I detect blood, and you will not leave this place until I am happy you are not in any danger. From yourself or external forces."
"I refuse. I will not undress."
"Then you are in for a long stay. Albus, if you talk sense into him I shall be in my office." She stalked off, leaving a clearly distressed patient and two very concerned men.
"I can't…" he mumbled "I don't want…" he looked at Lupin, who stood beside him, never having stopped his hair stroking. "I can't, Remus you understand…You have seen…Don't let them…"
He was shushed as the Headmaster looked between the men, confused and worried.
"Remus?" he asked, "Severus? What has he seen? Why won't you let us help you?"
The upset man shook his head and dark hair escaped Lupins fingers to stick to the tears which slowly fell down his cheeks. He shook his head again and mumbled "No" at Lupin, causing him to gather the man into his arms and hold him against his chest as he fought to control tears of his own.
"Albus, how long?"
"I can't say, he appeared fine last week…"
"May I have a word alone with him please." As nicely as the Werewolf said it, it was not a question. As the Head nodded and left for the office, Lupin pulled the quivering man away from him and looked into scared black eyes.
"Severus…" he said, quietly, "Sev… I…" he faltered, unsure how to proceed. "They need to see" Blunt normally worked.
"No, I, please. They think me weak enough, I don't want, they don't need…"
"Ok ok, sshh." He stroked the hair again, he didn't like how upset and confused Snape appeared to be, it was unnerving. "Could I see? If I make a deal with them? I have seen already."
"There are… more. Different."
"Ok. That's fine. I will simply tell them whether they are of concern or just the usual." The casual tone made Snape half smile and say bitterly;
"Just the usual scars of torture and self abuse…"
"Hey," said Lupin, lightly, "we all have them…" an old private joke.
Snape nodded, that was the reason Lupin had seen them before. He could not judge. Or would not. Snape thought for a moment.
Lupin smiled at him and pulled him back into the warm hug as he called the other two over.
"We have an idea. I shall check him over, and if there is anything to be concerned about I shall tell you."
"You are no medi-wizard Remus."
"I know Poppy, but I am the one Severus is willing to trust. So unless you want a permanent resident, I suggest you let me."
The nurse and Headmaster exchanged looks, and Dumbledore shrugged at her;
"I think we have no choice my dear."
She tutted and frowned, hand on hips.
"Very well, I shall bring you some healing salve and want to be told of anything that could be a problem. I don't like this."
Lupin gave her one of the smiles he reserved for winning over teachers when he had been at school and said;
"Thank you Poppy. I shall be thorough."
As they walked away, screens were summoned around the bed and Lupin cast a silencing charm to be safe. Snape followed this with a ward of his own devising to detect spying eyes and seemed to relax a little when it remained silent. He shifted uncomfortably on the bed. Lupin approached and began to unbutton his wool coat, gently peeling it off the other man and giving apologetic smiles at the unintentional grimaces his movements were causing from Snape. As he got to the shirt his hands were caught, and dark eyes met amber.
"I told you, once, that I would stop…."
"It's fine. I know you have to."
"Did you try?"
"Then that's enough. Now," he ran a hand up the back of the shirt, gently letting his fingers follow the lines "is there anything they should know about? Anything that needs to be looked at?"
"Where is the blood?"
"It will be here," he lifted the front of he shirt and showed a long gash which had re-opened in his fighting the bonds. "Lucius playing with his toys again."
"Don't! Not like that. You will go and it will carry on, I don't want to become…attached…again."
"What if I were to stay?"
"I can. I will. If you want me, I will stay."
Snape grabbed his hands;
"You have no idea how painful this is. I am not good, Remus, I am a terrible person who has done awful things."
"Old arguments, Severus. They don't work."
"You should listen."
"I always do. To all of it. And then we still don't agree. You'll never convince me." he scooped a finger full of salve and smeared it over the cut, causing Snape to hiss with pain. Lupin lightly kissed the top of his head and whispered sorry, and was surprised to find a hand around the back of his head and lips pressed against his. He chuckled gently into the kiss;
"I don't know what Poppy's put in the calming draught but I like it!"
Red faced Snape broke off and looked down, hiding in his hair. Lupin crouched to make eye contact;
"I said I liked it! We can continue this later?"
Snape nodded, and sighed;
"Just declare me fit and take me out of here? Plaese?"
"Ok. Here," he re-buttoned the shirt and tucked it in, hands lingering a little longer than necessary in the waist band causing Snape to shift about on the bed and growl;
Lupin chuckled and withdrew, removing the silencing charm and opening the curtains. He waved Pomfrey over and handed back the salve.
"Nothing unknown to report, permission to take him away and make him lunch?"
"I am not sure I believe you, but it seems I have no choice. You can take him. But the first sign of anything abnormal I want him back. Deal?"
"And make sure that he eats what you make him. Too thin by half."
"Severus," Dumbledore reached out a hand but stopped it short of the other wizards shoulder, "I am sorry…"
Snape met his eyes and nodded; "It is of no matter." He then turned to Lupin and, accepting the arm placed about his shoulders slid from the bed, leaning into the other man as they left, two pairs of eyes watching them all the way.
"No thank you."
Lupin stuck his head around the doorframe from Snape's small kitchen area and glared at the man on the settee.
"I promised Poppy you would eat what I made, and you will. She will ask I'm sure
and I don't like lying to my friends."
Snape closed weary eyes; "Fine. Soup. Toast. Anything."
Lupin frowned and went back to clattering; charming knives to chop vegetables and water to boil. After a very hasty preparation he left a pan simmering on the fire to thicken and moved back to Snape, sitting next to him and again stroking the hair from his face. It soothed him and he noticed the tight line between Snape's eyes lessoned a little so he guessed it must the other too.
"It would be a lot easier if you had an elf."
"They leave. I scare them. I am dark, they know it."
"Not dark. Just scary! There's a difference."
"Definitely." he paused, studying the closed eyes. "I missed you."
The eyes opened briefly, and then closed again.
"You will let me stay?"
"It is safe now, what with the war ending…"
"You think I am safe to be around? You think all the marks on me are from my own hand?"
"I sort of hope they aren't."
"Only you could be glad someone is carving at my skin with my own spell."
"Not glad. Just sort of that you aren't doing it."
"But I am."
"I know. Its fine, I told you."
Snape frowned, still not looking at Lupin, but leaning a little more into the touch on his face;
"What if you stay and I, I can't stop?"
"I don't know. But we can try."
"Yes. I told you. I will stay."
Snape took one of his hands briefly and squeezed it before letting it fall back on the seat beside him.
"I'll get the soup. It'll be ready. You will eat some?"
Snape nodded, and Lupin's voice was in his mind suddenly 'I don't like lying to my friends.' and it made him feel sick.
"Bed. Now. You're falling asleep out here; you may as well do it somewhere comfortable."
Snape's tired eyes swept over the two bowls on the table, one empty, one untouched.
"You aren't angry?"
Lupin followed his eyes and he frowned, sighing;
Snape nodded and rose unsteadily from his seat. A hand reached his and pulled him up as he swayed, then wrapped gently around his shoulders.
"What about you?"
"I am staying."
That seemed to satisfy Snape they made their way slowly to the bedroom, Lupin calling Nox to the lamps and a Lumos ahead of them.
"Its ok, Shh, love, shh…"
Lupin gently shook at the writhing figure next to him, narrowly avoiding an arm as it punched blindly at the air, fighting off something only Snape could see.
"Severus, wake up! Its ok, a dream, wake up…" he shook a little harder to no effect and when the tears began to mingle with the cold sweat on the sleeping mans face he decided to end it and called 'Enervate!' feeling only a little guilty at using magic on the other. The scrunched up eyes shot open, unfocused and staring, his breathing coming fast and shallow. As Lupin wrapped his arms around him he felt the trembling and tense muscles and started to sway gently.
"Its ok Sev, it's me, you're ok."
"No, not ok…" was the barely audible reply.
""You will be. I promise. Lie down; I'll guard your sleep…"
"No." a little louder, senses returning; "I need a shower."
"Ok. Want a hand?"
Snape paused, feeling ridiculous at not only being caught having a nightmare like some child but also not really wanting to be alone…he bit his lip and Lupin saw, swinging his legs out of bed and pulling Snape with him.
"A shower sounds good. I'd better come to, you are still weak, wouldn't want you to fall…"
"Right. Thank you. Very helpful…" came Snapes grateful reply.
As the steam from the shower filled the room, Lupin perched himself on the edge of the bath and smiled at Snape who was unbuttoning the long night robe Lupin had dressed him in earlier.
The calming draught had now worn off, 'hence the blasted nightmare' he grumbled to himself, and he was feeling a little apprehensive about stripping in front of Lupin, though the man had once been his lover and partner he had considerably more scars and marks now, not to mention nearly ten years of under eating, and he was torn between just getting into the shower and be damned with it and asking him to leave the room. The inner argument must have shown on his face as Lupin made the decision for him and began to unbutton from the hem.
"Severus, I assure you I have seen everything you have to show before, and there will be no hot water left if you stand around procrastinating all night. I do want to get back to bed you know."
Lupin's voice took on a gentler tone;
"No need, I can look away…" he turned his shoulders to face the door, and heard material hit the floor and the steady pattern of the water change as a body broke its fall. The sound of a shampoo bottle was next and the spicy aroma filled his nostrils. Vague memories… He couldn't help it…
When Snape rinsed his hair and opened his eye it was to see amber ones watching him. Freezing for a moment, he considered bolting but decided against it as he was feeling a little wobbly again, and the indignity of slipping over soaking wet and naked would probably finish him off. 'Besides' he reminded himself again, 'this is Remus.' Instead he just half lowered his hands and shrugged a little. Aware that he was frowning and feeling a fool.
Lupin saw the indecision and thought Snape actually looked terrified. He gave a small smile and shook his head;
"Please Sev, its fine."
Snape closed his eyes and nodded, leaning back again into the water and letting it fall over his face. He was shocked when a hand touched his shoulder, and even more so when the fingers began to trace every scar and cut on him. The fresher ones tingled and almost made him groan while the old ones were numb and senseless. When soft lips were moved onto the ring around his neck he took in a deep breath and held it, body going tense and hands balling into fists, Lupin knew the story behind that one and knew how intimate an act it was to acknowledge it, 'Damn him,' thought Snape, 'I don't need to love him again…"
As the lips moved up to his chin and onto his lips he released the air and took several short ones to compensate, as he found himself returning the kiss, parting his lips a little and giving Remus the permission he was seeking to deepen it.
As they broke from each other Lupin whispered; "Still beautiful…" and put a finger on Snapes lips to quell the response. "Yes, you are." he said a little more forcefully. He took the mouth back with his and dropped his hands to catch hold of too thin hips and a narrow waist. He pulled gently, wet skin meeting wet skin, making Snape wander just when the other had shed his clothes, and slipped his arms further back to keep them pressed together. The kissing became small pecks all over his face and neck, and then smiling eyes met his and a tongue swiped over his lips. Lupin asked, very gently;
"Yes…" breathed Snape, not really sure if 'ok' was the right word.
A wandering hand moved lower down Snape back to where it met his buttocks and tickled small circles, causing him to wriggle a little, and then freeze when he realised just how 'ok' this was making him feel and hoping Lupin hadn't felt it as well. He groaned as Lupin pulled him back into him and that which had lain dormant for years was squashed between stomachs and met with Lupins own hardness. He shut his eyes, gripped onto the other wizards' arms with his trembling hands and pulled him close, all efforts at being dignified or any shame now forgotten. He had dreamt of this, when he was alone in his bed and the room was cold and lifeless, had imagined the feel of Lupin against him and him against Lupin, never believing he would feel it again in the flesh…
"Remus…" he pleaded, laying his head on the other mans shoulder,
"Yes?" came the throaty reply
"I missed you…"
Their bodies separated a little and Snape was about to complain when fingers, nearly as calloused as his wrapped around him and gently soaped his length. He couldn't hold back a moan as his hips pushed into the contact, loosing all control over his body and ignoring everything but the touch and the closeness of another human being.
Lupin sped up his stroking, watching the cooling water run down his lovers back and occasionally nibbling on his neck or earlobe. He had been with others after Snape had sent him away, but he remembered Snape saying that there would be no other for him even as he had sent him from his rooms, and Lupin had believed him, Severus did not give his trust easily and it made Lupin love him even more. He squeezed a little harder, causing the head on his shoulder to be lifted and fall back, mouth slightly open and, shocking Lupin a little, revealing tears falling from the screwed shut eyes. He lifted his free hand and smoothed the wet hair from where it as stuck across the face, causing Snape to lean into the touch and whisper;
"Divine" into Lupins ear. Lupin grinned, only Severus would say that. He supported Snape's back again, realising also that he was now taking most of the mans weight and suddenly wandering whether this was a good idea in his current condition. He got his answer when Snape reached a hand down of his own and mirrored Lupin actions, stroke for stroke, placing his own kisses on the lips that nibbled at him, until both men could take it no longer and collapsed against each other, bodies twitching and spent. When Lupin, grinning from ear to ear, went to straighten up Snape slid further down, legs buckling and head resting on the wall. Lupin bent next to him, avoiding the angular legs and cupped his hands around his face;
Snape merely nodded and the tears ran freely down his cheeks. He smiled weakly and his eyes met Lupins.
Lupin smiled and shook his head.
"I could say the same." he took up the sponge which he had spied on the baths edge and removed all traces of their tryst with soapy bubbles. He frowned, saying;
"When did the water get cold" as he spelled it off.
"I don't have the foggiest. Perhaps bed is a good idea."
"Would you…I seem to be rather incapacitated after all…"
"Oh Gods, yes, sorry! I forgot! Poppy will kill me!"
"Poppy will not know!" said Snape sharply.
"Hmm, probably a better idea. Here, up you get." he heaved and held Snape as he towelled him dry, summoning a fresh night gown and wrapping him firmly in it, leading him back to bed. As they lay down and curled about each other, Snape pulled his head back and looked long and hard into the Werewolf's warm gaze with dark eyes which were fighting hard to close. He pursed his lips and frowned a little, deep in thought, and then smiled, quietly saying;
"Thank you. I feel human again." before resting his head on the others shoulder and slipping into a guarded sleep, safe and warm.