Disclaimer: It's all JKR's.
Author's Note: This is a response to Healer Pomfrey's March challenge on livejournal. Bold words were required; "wand," "full moon," and "Wolfsbane" were forbidden.
Edit 7 Dec: Why did it take me nine months to catch a really obvious typo? *shakes head* Never mind…it's still the same, otherwise.
A clap of thunder startled Minerva from her reading; she looked up from her page and glanced around the staffroom, slightly embarrassed. Fortunately, no one was watching her—the room was deserted save herself, Albus, and Severus, and, judging by the overturned ink bottle and muffled swearing, the latter had jumped as well.
Albus raised his eyes from his book, amused. "Enjoying yourself, Severus?"
"No," Severus snapped peevishly, trying to charm the splattered ink off the pile of parchments he was marking.
"Sorry to hear it," said Albus pleasantly. "I do so love a good thunderstorm, myself."
Minerva couldn't help chuckling; her smile grew wider as Severus sent a glare her way before rounding on Albus.
"Oh, very funny, Headmaster," he muttered. "You don't have to deal with marking this rubbish ever again...I don't know why I bother," he added, giving up trying to remove the spilled ink. "Look at this—ends up looking just the same anyway; Longbottom is an absolute imbecile—"
He held up an essay so amended with red ink it appeared to be bleeding; Minerva frowned at him.
"Leave Mister Longbottom alone, Severus. You're just still upset about that Boggart."
"Of course I'm still upset—you would be, as well, if you'd turned up as a cross-dressing version of your students' worst fears."
It was Albus's turn to chuckle this time. Severus gave him a venomous look. "Not a word, Headmaster."
"Oh no," said Albus, still laughing, "I've no idea what you mean...No, I was simply amused by this character. He reminds me a bit of you."
"What are you reading, Albus?" Minerva asked quickly; she had the funny feeling he was enjoying baiting Severus today. Albus held up a worn volume bearing the words The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Minerva was confused. "A—a children's book?"
Albus simply nodded; Minerva raised an eyebrow and glanced at Severus again. His face flickered somewhere between confusion, annoyance, and despair, finally settling on suppressed anger.
"How flattering," he managed stiffly, and he went to the window to stare at the storm outside.
Minerva sighed. "Oh, Severus, learn to let your hair down a bit. He's only joking."
"You're not one to be talking about letting hair down, Minerva."
Minerva only grinned at him and Vanished the pins and elastic band holding her bun in place.
Severus glowered at her. "In any case, I couldn't care less what Albus bloody jokes about; this is a waste of time," he snarled. "Lupin was supposed to meet me here almost an hour ago. Of course, him being a werewolf, I suppose it's hardly fair for me to expect that he can tell time..."
"Severus..." said Albus warningly, no longer laughing. Minerva glared at Severus as well, but could hardly blame him for being annoyed; she couldn't abide people who weren't punctual, either.
"It may not be his fault," she said soothingly. "He likely wouldn't traipse through the school in wolf form."
"Never stopped him before," Severus said, "and it's not his—ah—time of month anyway."
Minerva snorted. "Good Merlin, you're making him sound like a woman."
"You're ridiculous," Minerva snapped suddenly, charming her hair back into its bun. "The solution is not that difficult...I am going down to Remus's office," she said firmly. "I am going to find him and ask about his meeting with you. I am going to return here and tell you what I learned, and you are going to make of that information what you will. And then I am going to sit in this chair with my book and a bowl full of strawberry ice cream, and you will not disturb me for the rest of the night, or I will curse you so hard the Founders feel it. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
Perhaps the convenient thunderclap following her words made her sound more ominous, because Severus nodded without further comment. Still, she couldn't help but hope that the laughter she heard as the door shut behind her was only Albus's.
Minerva was very surprised upon finding Remus's office dark and empty; undeterred, she approached the map of Africa that hid the entrance to his quarters and tapped the tiny painted lion. The map slid away at once, and, feeling slightly guilty for trespassing uninvited, she entered the sitting room.
It too was dark. There was no light, no noise, and Minerva was beginning to wonder where in Merlin's name he could possibly be when it occurred to her that he could be napping. It was unlikely, of course, but...
"Remus?" she called softly. There was no answer, but she thought she heard movement from the bedroom. She crept towards the door cautiously, trying to remind herself that he wouldn't be a wolf for another two weeks. "Remus, are you here?"
"No, go away, I don't want to," came the reply.
Minerva started. "Remus, it's me," she said, but understood when she poked her head into his room; he was tangled in his bedsheets and flailing at invisible assailants. She went immediately to his side and tried to disentangle him.
"Remus, wake up!"
She felt bad for shouting, but it had the desired effect. Remus opened bleary eyes a moment later, staring at her uncomprehendingly.
"Minerva?" he said hoarsely. "Thank Merlin. Don't make me do it."
"Cliff diving. The rubber chickens stole my sunglasses, and won't give them back until I go cliff diving."
"Remus, dear, it was a dream," said Minerva worriedly, noticing his flushed, sweaty face. "There are no rubber chickens here." Well, unless you count the ones the Weasley twins made during my class yesterday, she added silently, but in light of Remus's current condition, she thought it best not to mention it.
"Minerva?" he croaked again. He seemed slightly more aware of himself, but only just. "Why are you here?"
She sighed as she felt his forehead; he was burning. "Severus wanted an explanation for why you never met him, but never mind that now...Remus, why didn't you go to Poppy?"
He shook his head and huddled further into his sheets. "I can't," he said miserably. "She'd keep me in the hospital wing for ages, and I promised Harry I'd give him lessons tomorrow...it's very important to him..."
"Well, you can't very well give him lessons if you're stuck here as ill as you are," said Minerva, wondering if it was worth the fuss to call Poppy anyway. Remus looked horrible, even if the rings around his eyes were ever-present; still, she had had some basic first aid training...she was a Head of House, after all...
...And she had no idea how to obtain the potions she suspected Remus needed without arousing suspicion. Damn.
"I'll tell you what," she said finally, thinking fast, "you sit tight with this—" she conjured a thermometer and stuck it under his tongue— "and I'll see if I can get you something that will help you."
She sighed again and very nearly cursed aloud before throwing a handful of Floo powder into Remus's fireplace. "Severus? Could you come down here for a minute, please?" Oh, he was just going to love this.
He appeared in the hearth a moment later, an eyebrow raised. "You called, my lady?" he said snidely, giving her an exaggerated bow.
"Shut it, Severus," she said briskly. "I need your assistance. Or, rather, Remus does."
Severus's face darkened. "What?"
Minerva moved back towards the bed, grabbing the thermometer from Remus's mouth. "104, Remus, I'm sorry," she said in response to his questioning look. "It's probably that flu that's been going around; I really think we ought to call Poppy—"
"I'm afraid that decision rests with Severus's willingness to fetch you a potion." She turned and glared at the Potions Master. "Well?"
Severus sneered. "I see chocolate has finally failed as a cure-all...I don't know, Minerva; he really would be better off with Poppy..."
"Don't try me, Severus," Minerva snapped. Glancing at Remus again, she realised that a night with her book and ice cream was looking farther and farther away; she didn't want to leave him alone while he was miserable. "You know perfectly well he'd help you if your positions were reversed. I'm sick of your petty grudges getting in the way of your good judgment—don't look at me like that, I know you have good judgment in there somewhere! Now, if you're quite finished being a selfish, sadistic git, would you mind getting Remus a healing potion?"
Severus was taken aback for only a moment, but then fixed Minerva with a look that clearly said, 'I'm taking this up with you later, woman,' and turned on his heel. Minerva sighed and turned back to the bed; she had won for the moment.
"Sorry about that, Remus."
"Don't bother, Minerva," he said softly, his eyes glazed. "I'm fine."
Minerva stared down at him sharply, though she doubted he could make out her expression. "No, you're not," she said. "Severus will be back with something for you, even if he is being a...oh, never mind," she huffed. "I'm sorry, Remus; is there anything else I can do?"
"No, thanks," Remus sighed, leaning back into his pillows. He was unused to this fussing from his colleagues (excluding Poppy, of course), but he was touched by Minerva's concern. Even the fact that Severus had allowed her to browbeat him into helping told Remus that the Potions Master didn't loathe him as much as he appeared to. Well, maybe...Remus mused, and then was startled by a cold, damp weight over his forehead.
"Sorry; I should have warned you," whispered Minerva, upon seeing him jump slightly as she settled a compress on his skin. She waited until he had relaxed again before taking a seat herself, studying his prematurely lined face. Merlin, since when had her former students started looking as old as she did?
She had no recollection of dozing off during her ruminations, but she opened her eyes to see Remus sleeping peacefully and Severus sitting on the other side of the bed, watching her.
"Good heavens, how long have I been asleep?" she said, yawning.
Severus shrugged and looked down at Remus. "I've no idea," he replied softly. "Don't worry, Minerva; I gave him a few basic potions for flu and such, so he should be fine by morning," he added quickly, upon seeing her open her mouth to ask the question. "He told me to thank you for him."
Minerva eyed him curiously as she stretched. "It wasn't a problem...what took you so long?"
"I was telling Dumbledore why you wouldn't be back," said Severus. "And...well, I brought you these, as well, though I doubt you'll need them now." He held up her abandoned book and a bowl of what was presumably strawberry ice cream.
Minerva favoured him with a small smile. "Thank you, Severus. For Remus, as well. He really does look a lot better."
"It was no trouble," admitted Severus gruffly, "but don't tell him that."
"He already knows," said a groggy voice between them. Remus didn't open his eyes, but he smiled anyway. "Thank you."
"You shut up and sleep," snapped Severus, "and that goes for you, too," he added, as Minerva shook her head and chuckled. She thought she heard him mutter something to the effect of "bloody getting soft" as she transformed into a cat and curled up at Remus's side.
"You know you are, Severus," he murmured.
"Shut up, Lupin."
For once, he did. He knew he was in good hands.