Title: Why Not Me?
Sequel to Never Walk Alone
Author's Email: morganalebeau
Pairing; Severus Snape/Remus Lupin (slash eventually)
Summary: Severus decides to offer Remus sanctuary and to work on improving the Wolfsbane. While doing so, they grow closer to each other and start to understand and respect each other.
Disclaimer: Not mine. No copyright infringement is intended. All mistakes are mine.
Please note – AU
Why not me?
Oh, some may call it a curse
A life like mine
But others, a blessing
It's certainly a lonely life
But a fulfilling one at best
It's my cross to bear
And I bear it gladly
Someone has to take a stand against evil
Why should it not be me?
Severus headed for Albus' office, as the Headmaster had let him know that he wanted to talk to him via Floo. The conversation he'd had with Remus and Black still distracted him, and facing Albus while his thoughts were somewhere else would work to his disadvantage. He had learned that a long time ago, and so he cleared his mind before stepping into the office.
"Ah, Severus, there you are! How good of you to join me!" Albus was still enjoying his breakfast. Today, the House elves had taken his sweet tooth into consideration and had prepared pancakes for him, which was a bit out of the ordinary. But Albus wasn't complaining. Instead, he topped the pancakes with fruit, added honey to the pile, and savoured the sweet explosion on his tongue. Some mornings were just perfect! "Have a seat!"
Severus sat down and crossed his arms in front of his chest. He barely refrained from shaking his head in disapproval, watching the amount of honey which Albus drizzled onto his fruit. He would never understand Albus' penchant for sweet things.
"We need to decide what to do regarding Remus," Albus said after finishing his third and definitely last pancake. It was an advantage that he never gained any weight, regardless of the amount of food he ate!
Severus instantly felt alert. "What do you want to do regarding Lupin?"
"No need to act like that, Severus," Albus said, recognizing the way in which the younger wizard was trying to distance himself from Remus. "I gave the matter extensive thought and I have decided in your favour."
Severus' worries increased. "What do you mean by that?"
"In the past, we discussed the option of Remus spying on the werewolves and bringing them over to our side, true?"
Severus nodded. They had discussed the matter on several occasions.
"But now that we can empower the werewolves by using a spell and offering them the improved Wolfsbane, we might win them over more easily than we originally thought. In that case, Remus' services will be most valuable here – assisting you – instead of in the field." Albus leaned back in his chair and studied Severus extensively.
Severus' eyes narrowed. "Albus, the last time we talked about the werewolves you were adamant that Remus would serve best as a spy. I find it hard to believe that your views have changed."
Albus nodded understandingly. "I considered all options carefully," he started and then fixed Severus with a penetrating gaze. "There might be a time that you will be all alone while fighting Tom. No one will know where your true alliance lies, and therefore, you might die."
"I expect to die," Severus said steadfast. "What I did not expect was to live this long." Severus frowned; why was Albus growing angry with him? "You know that!"
"Severus," Albus said and sighed, as he tried to lock away his anger, knowing he needed his wits about him. "There are certain sacrifices that must be made and I am willing to make them, but if a death can be avoided, I will act accordingly. Your death is one that – can – be avoided. Your death isn't required in order to defeat Voldemort, and I will do, whatever I can, to ensure your survival!"
Severus flinched at the growing intensity to the Headmaster's voice. "You should not worry about my survival. I deserve to die." He wanted to add more, but upon seeing the anger on Albus' face, he grew quiet instead.
"Humbug!" Albus abruptly got to his feet and covered the distance between them. He placed his hands on the armrests of Severus' chair and glared at him. "Many years ago I foolishly drove you into Voldemort's arms and I refuse to do it again. No, be quiet, Severus! I could have done more! I should have intervened after the incident at the Shack! I should have listened to you! I should have taken care of a student's needs! Instead I turned a blind eye! I let James and Sirius get away with what they did to you and I told you to remain quiet about it! It were my actions – or lack of proper action! – that made you turn toward Voldemort!"
Severus wanted to object – wanted to point out the flaws to Albus' reasoning, but didn't. He stayed quiet instead; having learned long ago never to contradict the Headmaster when he was in that kind of mood.
"This time, I will do everything I can to make sure Voldemort doesn't get his hands on you!" Albus briefly closed his eyes and tried to dispel his anger. He was angry with Tom Riddle for manipulating Severus in the past. He was furious with Lucius Malfoy for drawing Severus into that inner circle, but foremost, he was angry with himself for having failed Severus.
"Headmaster," Severus tried, whispering at the older wizard. But Albus shook his head and he stopped talking. Albus still towered over him and he would never underestimate Albus Dumbledore. He wondered though what had set off this protective streak in the other wizard.
"Remus will remain at Hogwarts." Albus opened his eyes and stared into Severus' dark ones, and cringed, recalling they had been all-black when he had retrieved the younger man from Azkaban. He had tried to make amends, but he had been too late - Severus had already been hurt in too many ways –had been too damaged. And it was only due to Remus Lupin that some of that hurt was finally starting to heal. "Remus will continue to live in your quarters and you may confide in him. You can discuss anything with him – even the matters we normally keep private. Do you understand what I am saying, Severus?"
He thought he did, but he wasn't sure. "Is that wise?"
"Severus, Remus needs to know that you are - my - spy. He needs to know that your true loyalty is to me. He will help you. He will support you and therefore you shall both survive the upcoming war." Maybe that would convince Severus to accept what he was offering. As expected, Severus' expression darkened; the younger wizard had caught on then!
"Both?" Had he reached the right conclusion?
"If you deny him, Severus, if you turn him away, the both of you shall die. You shall die all alone, and I suspect in a highly painful way. Remus will die as well. His death might be more merciful – hopefully the Death Eater attacking him will merely cast the Killing curse and refrain from torturing him first."
Severus fought the wave of nausea that tried to drown him and focused on the Headmaster instead. "I can easily accept my death – I consider it atonement, but Remus did nothing to…" Remus was the kindest man he knew and didn't deserve to die! "I shall comply, but merely because I want to prevent Remus' death."
"Good," Albus said and returned to his chair. He sat down and nodded repeatedly. "You may confide in Remus about everything – except for the conversation we just had. I forbid you to tell him why you complied just now. Instead, you will tell him that you joyfully accepted the chance I am giving you. Do you understand?"
It was odd, but in a way, Severus felt relieved. "That will not be a problem."
Albus' heart felt heavy though. "Severus, I once vowed to never reveal the best of you and I will stay true to my word, but you will find that, in time, your secret might come out in the open, and when it does, it is imperative – do you hear me? – imperative – that you do not turn Remus away!"
Severus however vowed to do everything within his power to keep his secrets. "I understand, Headmaster. Now, is there anything else you would like to discuss?"
"Yes, the upcoming raid." Albus picked up Lucius' note and studied it. "You cannot participate in it. When Voldemort returns he will expect you to have strengthened your position here. Therefore you cannot allow any suspicions to be drawn to your person."
Severus inclined his head. "I feel the same way, but…"
"But what?" Albus touched the surface of Severus' mind with a mental fingertip and relaxed at what he read there. "You worry about Harry's safety."
Severus felt the brief probing, but didn't comment on it. Albus often did that, and as long as the older wizard didn't probe too deeply and uncovered personal details, he didn't mind. "You know what the boy is like – prone to accidents because of his urge to get involved."
"He is a lot like his mother in that aspect."
Severus sighed. "He is."
"I assume you want permission to watch over Harry?"
Severus nodded. "If I may? I will make sure my presence isn't discovered – by no one."
Having Severus at the site to keep an eye on Harry would settle Albus' nerves. He also trusted Severus to remain hidden from curious eyes and to return to Hogwarts the moment Harry was out of danger. "Do you wish to go alone or to take Remus with you?" As he was studying Severus, he noticed the surprise in those dark eyes. Severus had always carried out missions on his own, and to be given a choice obviously startled him. Severus' reaction merely confirmed that he had made the right decision by offering his spy more support. "The raid will take place tomorrow. That gives you time to decide on the best course of action. You shall tell me in the morning. I suggest you discuss the matter with Remus in the meantime."
Severus felt torn; he didn't want to endanger Remus' life in such a way, but at the same time, he knew that a partnership like theirs would only work based on equality. "I will talk to him." He wasn't looking forward to that discussion though.
"I like this setting best," Remus muttered, as he looked at his lover. His head rested in Severus' lap and the star-lit sky provided them with a most romantic backdrop. "Coming here in order to meditate was a stroke of genius on your part." Severus cocked his head and a badly concealed grin told Remus that his lover felt pleased with himself. Yet, there was also something that bothered Severus. He could easily tell. "You can confide in me, you know," he said as he caressed his lover's face.
Severus nodded; he knew he could. "I talked to Albus earlier today." Noticing the sudden alert expression in his lover's blue eyes, Severus decided to reassure him. "Albus approves of our relationship, though I don't understand why. He even granted me my wish – namely to keep you close. You do realize he intended you to spy on the werewolves and to bring them over to our side?" Remus nodded and Severus then continued, "Apparently your spying is no longer necessary, now that I am close to perfecting the Wolfsbane and successfully casting the spell. Albus believes it will be easy to convince the werewolves to join our cause – especially when dangling such a reward in front of them. Since most werewolves have mates, we will only need to teach them the spell. Supplying them with Wolfsbane won't cause problems either."
Remus sighed in relief. In the past, being called upon to spy on his fellow werewolves hadn't appealed to him either, but back then, he wouldn't have faced being separated from Severus. As a youngster, he had never believed that love could develop so quickly and deepen like that, but he stood corrected. He would never give up on his love without a fight. "I should thank Albus then for allowing me to stay."
"It is more than that." Severus briefly hesitated and stroked Remus' hair in an attempt to still his nerves. "He allows me to confide in you. You might dislike discovering certain things about me though."
Remus smiled. "I doubt that very much."
Severus wished he was that certain. "Let us find out then." He drew in a deep breath and then said, "I received a note from Lucius Malfoy this morning. Apparently, he is in contact with Pettigrew and it causes him to believe that the Dark Lord will return shortly."
Remus cringed at hearing such bad news. "How certain is he?" He knew that Severus and Lucius shared a rather odd friendship and suspected most of the time the two wizards merely used each other to further their own goals.
"Fairly sure," Severus admitted. "Therefore he called for a meeting. I reckon most Death Eaters will attend. Afterwards, the members of the Dark Lord's inner circle will go on a raid. That is where it becomes problematic. They intend to create chaos at the Quidditch World Cup."
"And why does that complicate matters?"
"Because Harry and his friends are attending it, or did you forget?"
Remus still found it odd that Severus called Harry by his first name in a private setting like this, knowing that when dealing with the boy in public, Severus always hissed a 'mister Potter' in a venomous way. "I understand your worries."
"I discussed the matter with Albus and he has given me permission to talk to you about it. At first, I wanted to join Lucius in this raid for it would give me a chance to watch over the boy. I could keep him out of harms way – mostly."
"But Albus decided differently?" Remus had caught the 'but' in there.
"I cannot be seen taking part in such a raid. The Dark Lord will expect me to maintain my cover. He wants to ensure I have Albus' trust. How else could I spy on the Headmaster?"
"You do realize how dangerous the game is you are playing?"
"Trust me, I do. I always did. It will only grow more complicated after the Dark Lord's return. You might start to hate the person I will become when that time arrives."
"But in the privacy of our rooms you can still be yourself, can't you?" At least, Remus hoped so!
Severus nodded. "Yes, but you must realize that I must appear to hate you, Harry, and his friends, with all my heart. Even the tiniest mistake will cost me. The Dark Lord is a harsh master, Remus."
Remus' fingertips caressed his lover's face. "I will support you to the best of my ability, Severus."
"We will see." Severus swallowed hard in an effort to do away with the nervousness building inside him. "I want you to know that, should you decide to reconsider our relationship, I will understand. There will be times when you will hate me."
"I doubt that very much, Severus." Discussing a future as bleak as the one Severus was painting, distressed him. "We shall worry about that when the time comes. For the time being, I refuse to let Voldemort make me miserable, when I can kiss you instead."
Severus wondered about Remus. How could the other man discard the Dark Lord so easily when… Oh, but that was nice. Severus found it hard to end the kiss, as he would have loved to continue it, but eventually, he stopped it. "There is one more thing we need to discuss, Remus."
Remus sighed, ended the seduction attempt, and looked at Severus in order to find out what further troubled his lover.
"It involves the raid." Severus still hadn't made up his mind and found it hard to continue. "I must make sure Harry is safe. In order to do so I will hide from Lucius and the other Death Eaters, but I need to be there. I cannot allow them to hurt Harry in any way."
"That is dangerous," Remus commented. "What if they notice your presence?"
"Then I will improvise; I did so before." He had been in dangerous situations before. "Albus suggested I asked you to…" But asking Remus was harder than expected.
"What?" Remus caressed his lover's hair and rested his hand at the nape of Severus' neck, gently rubbing the skin there. Severus was tense – very tense.
"Normally I act on my own. I know what Lucius is like. I know what to look out for. But Albus suggested that you join me and…"
And suddenly everything made sense. "You worry about my safety should I decide to join you." Severus nodded in order to confirm his words. "I am surprised you're bringing this up then. Wouldn't it be easier for you to ignore Albus' suggestion? To keep me in the dark instead?"
"If I want us to work out – if I want our relationship to work I cannot do such a thing. Once I start hiding information from you…"
Remus understood. "Talk to me. Tell me what is on your mind."
"I worry, Remus. I worry that something will happen that will give you away. You are not used to act in secrecy – not like that – not when dealing with Death Eaters. I am not afraid of losing my cover – I would rather sacrifice myself than see you hurt, but… What if I cannot stop them from casting the Killing curse at you? I do not want to cause your death."
Remus wasn't surprised; he had, in fact, expected that. "You would rather have me stay at Hogwarts, knowing that I am safe?"
"I would never make that decision for you, but yes, knowing you are safe would help."
Remus caressed his lover's neck and brought him in for another kiss. "You give me lots to think about," he whispered against Severus' lips.
"It is your decision to make…" Severus said readily. "I will not make it for you. I know what it is like being unable to make your own decisions. Remus, I will comply – no matter what you decide, but please be aware of the danger you will put yourself in if you decide to join me on this mission. I might not be able to keep you safe while watching over Harry."
Remus smiled and his fingertips brushed against Severus' lips. "I feel honoured that you want to protect me, Severus. It means a lot to me that you care that deeply about me, but you need to realize that I can take care of myself. I taught Defence against the Dark Arts for a reason. I am no incompetent fool. I am not Gilderoy," he said and chuckled. "I know how to deal with Death Eaters."
Severus flinched. "I never intended to make you feel inferior. I know what you are capable of."
"You worry because you love me, I understand that, Severus." Remus placed his hands on either side of his lover's head and smiled at him. "You would defy Voldemort in order to save me, wouldn't you?"
"I would," Severus said and meant it.
"And so would I…" Remus hoped he was getting through to Severus. "I am fully capable of defending us!"
"I know you are… I am sorry… I never doubted that."
"I know that, Severus." His lover merely felt too protective of him, and although Remus felt flattered because of it, he also realized he had to make Severus understand that he could take care of himself. "We shall do this together, understood?"
Severus nodded and watched Remus twine their fingers. "Understood – together."
Remus stood in front of Severus' bedroom – the one he had spelled in order to prevent Severus from entering it. In fact, it was a fairly simply spell – one which Severus could have easily done away with. The question therefore remained why the Potions Master hadn't done so. Turning around, Remus joined Severus in the kitchen, where the other man was boiling water the old-fashioned way, as Severus claimed tea tasted best with as little magic as possible involved. Remus hadn't bothered to comment on it, knowing better than to argue about something that trivial.
Severus was keenly aware of Remus' gaze as he poured the hot water into their cups. After adding the tea bags, he carried them over to the kitchen table and sat down. After inwardly debating the matter for a minute, he decided to seek out his lover's eyes. He could have easily found out what was wrong by using Legilimency, but he wouldn't trespass. "Are you going to tell me what is amiss?" he asked eventually, as Remus' stare was getting to him.
Remus considered his next words carefully. "I wonder why you didn't break the spell I put on your bedroom door."
Ah, was that it? Severus averted his gaze. He had expected Remus to ask him that sooner.
"You are an accomplished wizard," Remus started and then snorted loudly. "By Merlin, whom am I trying to kid? You are extremely powerful and yet you let a minor spell like that stop you?" Suddenly, Remus realized the truth. "Or do you simply not wish to break it?" Remus nodded. "You don't want to enter that room, do you?"
Severus sighed and shrugged. "You know what happened in there."
Remus nodded again. "You slit your wrists in your bedroom. The blood dripped onto the floor and seeped into the wood." He had smelt it the first time he had entered Severus' bedroom.
Severus picked up his tea and pretended being distracted by swirling the hot liquid in the cup. "I never slept well in there. Most of the time, I slept on the sofa instead. It never bothered me that you stopped me from entering that room."
"That makes sense," Remus whispered. "So, I reckon that means the guestroom is our official bedroom?" He liked that thought!
"I guess so," Severus whispered in an even softer voice. At times, he still found it hard to believe that Remus wanted to be with him. As he was lost in thought, he startled the moment Remus wrapped his fingers around his. He looked up in surprise, and his breath caught at seeing the trusting and loving expression in Remus' eyes.
Although Remus wasn't adapt at reading thoughts, he could easily tell what was going on in Severus' head. "What are your plans for tonight?" It was still early, and if possible, he would like to spend the warm summer evening outside instead of cooped up in here.
"I studied the spell extensively," Severus said, growing more confident now that they appeared to return to discussing safer grounds. "There is nothing I can do until I can cast it during the full moon. It is quite powerful and I need to know how it will affect you before making any adjustments to it."
That was not what Remus' question had been about, but he allowed it. "What is the worst that can happen?"
"Nothing, actually. It is a benign spell and it will strengthen your control. I doubt it will stop the transformation, but I am convinced it will enable you to have full control over your actions."
There was something Severus wasn't telling him – Remus just knew it. "And how will it affect you?"
Severus looked at their hands and realized just how tight Remus' hold was. "I am not quite sure… It is difficult to explain."
"Try at any rate," Remus said and squeezed his lover's hand.
Severus sighed. "As we are already… lovers…" he whispered, still a tad insecure about actually saying the word, "Casting the spell should not affect me. It will cause our bond to deepen though, as I said earlier." He hesitated then, but decided to be totally honest. "It might also give me a greater measure of control over you as we previously expected."
Control over him? Remus frowned upon hearing that. "Care to explain yourself?"
Severus shrugged again. "The bond will interpret me as your caregiver. As you need me in order to give you the control you crave it will aid me in establishing a grip on you. Do not worry," he said, but he couldn't help himself; he did worry about Remus' reaction and he quickly withdrew his hand before the other wizard could do so. "I will never make you do anything against your will… except if you are set on injuring yourself," he added in a voice which was barely audible. "I only have your well-being at heart."
Remus knew that and cringed upon realizing Severus expected him to reject the spell, the bond, and to condemn the fact that Severus would be able to dominate his actions if necessary. "Why do you think that is a problem? Why would I object to you stopping me from harming myself?"
Severus still couldn't bear to make eye contact, or to place his hand back in Remus', even though the other wizard was already reaching for it. "I imagine you worry about the things I might make you do."
Remus frowned deeply. "Severus, what is this? Where does this sense of insecurity come from?" Did it have something to do with Sirius' last visit? With the way Pads had tried to reach Severus or was it something completely different?
"It is wrong for someone to have such measure of control over another living being," Severus said eventually and desperately tried to fight down certain memories which tried to rise from the depths of his mind. No, he didn't want to be reminded of that! Did not want to relive his father… No!
It was instinct that made Remus grab Severus' hand in spite of his lover's obvious attempt to distance himself. "Severus, talk to me."
"I can't… I can't tell you…" Severus locked those brutal memories away in the darkest corner of his mind. The fact that they had tried to surface alarmed him.
Remus wavered; what should he do? Pressure Severus for answers or allow him to compose himself, which, unfortunately, meant losing a chance to confront his past? But in the end, Remus found he couldn't possibly force Severus to relive something that obviously caused him pain. Instead of pressuring his lover, Remus moved his chair closer and wrapped Severus in a loose embrace. "I trust you, Severus. I trust you to do what is best for me. I know that you will never abuse such power." How could Severus think himself capable of such a thing though? "You know what it feels like to be at someone's mercy and that knowledge will help you make the right decisions. I trust you, Severus, and I am not afraid to entrust my life to you for that very reason."
Severus raised his head slightly and peeked tentatively at his lover. What had he done in order to deserve such trust? "How can you trust me when I do not trust myself?"
And that was the real problem, Remus realized.
"Albus, can I talk to you?" Remus had felt encouraged when the statue had moved out of its own accord, eagerly allowing him into the Headmaster's office. However, he couldn't help but wonder if it also meant that Albus knew why he had come.
"Ah, Remus! Come closer! Have a seat, will you? Do you care for tea?" Albus watched Remus carefully as the werewolf headed his way. Remus looked well and Albus couldn't remember the last time Remus had looked that healthy. Apparently Severus' company was doing wonders!
"I would like some tea. Thank you." After carefully looking about, in order to make absolutely certain they were alone, Remus sat opposite the Headmaster, who was going through a pile of paperwork plastering his desk. "I am not interrupting, am I? If so, I can come back later."
"Nonsense!" Albus sat back and leaned against the comfort of this chair. "These reports can wait." At a flick of his hand, two cups of tea appeared, alongside biscuits and slices of cake. "Tell me, what brings you here at such a late hour?" It was close to midnight if he wasn't mistaken. "I am surprised Severus is not following you," he added and winked at the younger man.
"Well, Severus is busy." He felt a tad guilty, having used the opportunity Severus presented him with when announcing he was going to take a bath. He had sneaked out and could only hope Severus hadn't noticed his absence yet.
Albus smiled. Those two were equally matched – thankfully. "How can I help?" he said, deciding to help out Remus.
"I want to ask you something." This wasn't easy for him because it meant confiding in Albus, and he would have preferred not to do that, but Albus was the only one who could maybe answer his questions. "I trust Severus. Don't ask me, why, but I do. Maybe I always did – I don't know. And Severus trusts me. Yes, that sounds odd, but I really think he does."
Albus nodded. "Severus does not trust easy; you are right regarding that, Remus. I am not even certain he trusts me – completely, that is. But yes, I do believe he trusts you."
Remus nodded as well. "But he doesn't trust himself."
"Ah…" Albus finally realized why Remus was seeking him out. "That is very true and I am pleased you realized that."
Remus wasn't surprised; Albus always knew things the Headmaster couldn't know or shouldn't know about. "How do I remedy that?"
"You do not ask easy questions," Albus sighed and sipped from his tea. "Severus made a mistake – one… a long time ago, but he has not forgiven himself for that."
Remus nodded. "But Pettigrew betrayed the Potters and Voldemort killed them. Hadn't it been for Severus delivering the Prophecy someone else would have told Voldemort."
"I concur," Albus conceded. "It was inevitable that Voldemort would learn of the Prophecy and it was very unfortunate that it was Severus who overheard it."
"Albus, how do I convince Severus to trust himself? To trust his decisions?"
Albus cocked his head. "There might be a way but I am not certain it will work."
"Please tell me." Remus put his cup onto the desk and leaned in closer.
"You could take a potion," Albus started, carefully weaving his web. "A potion which would take away your free will and would force Severus to take full responsibility for you."
"And how will that help?" Remus didn't understand.
"Severus needs to understand that he can trust his decisions. By being forced into taking care of you, he will have to question every decision he makes. Maybe, in the end, he will realize that each decision he took, he made with your best interest in mind."
Remus still wasn't convinced. "I do not mind becoming powerless, but what if Severus refuses to act his part?"
"He will not do that," Albus said, leaning in closer and whispering in a conspiring way. "For he does love you, Remus. He would never endanger you."
"It might work," Remus admitted. "Will you… nudge him into the right direction, should Severus seek you out for advice?"
"I will," Albus promised. "But you need not worry. Severus will not leave your side for a single moment."
Remus considered Albus' plan carefully. Yes, it might work. "Where do I find such a potion?"
"Remus, Severus is a Potions Master… Where does he keep his potions?" Albus shook his head slightly and chuckled.
"His private lab?"
"Exactly…" Albus selected a slice of cake and nodded appreciatively. "What are you waiting for, Remus? The Imperio potion lasts twelve hours… You should be free of it when you leave for the Quidditch world cup finals. You had better not let Lucius hex you."
By Merlin, he hadn't thought of that! Remus got to his feet and headed for the doorway. "Thank you, Albus! I appreciate the help."
Albus smiled as he watched the younger wizard leave. "You are welcome, Remus, very welcome indeed."
Severus felt apprehensive upon finding Remus roaming his shelves in his private lab. His lover had been in here before, but only in order to check on him – and never on his own. "Do you require a potion?"
Remus stifled the sigh that threatened to leave his lips. He hadn't heard Severus enter the lab, damn it! "I have a mild headache," he lied smoothly.
Severus had survived spying on Voldemort for a reason; he was good at ready body language and even without performing Legimency on Remus, he tasted the lie in the other wizard's words. "Let me get you a headache reliever then." While he reached for one of the shelves, he kept a hidden eye on Remus and therefore noticed his lover slipping a small vial into a pocket. Imperio potion? Why does he want to get his hands on that? That potion could be dangerous if used for the wrong means. Should he call Remus on it or let him play it out? "Here you are. Add a teaspoon to a glass of water. It should take care of your headache just fine." Remus didn't look like he was in discomfort and the headache reliever could leave his lover nauseous if he was faking it. Therefore, he had told Remus to take less than he normally advised.
"Thanks, Severus." Remus moved quickly toward the other wizard and pressed a – rather chaste – kiss onto the Potion Master's lips. He would have loved to continue that kiss, but he had get the Imperio potion into safety.
Severus let him go, but decided to keep a very close eye on the other wizard.
Remus had added a teaspoon of the Imperio potion to the glass of water instead of the headache reliever and stirred thoughtfully. The thought of losing his will and practically being helpless didn't appeal to him, but it would force Severus to face the truth about himself - namely that he could trust himself.
Remus lifted the glass and was about to down it in one go, when Severus' fingers tightly locked around his wrist, effectively stopping him from drinking the potion.
"Don't," Severus hissed, having long realized that Remus had added the Imperio potion to the water and not the headache reliever. "What the hell do you think you are doing, Lupin?"
Remus cringed at realizing he had been found out. He never considered lying to Severus, knowing the Potions Master would see through the ruse. Instead, he remained quiet. He allowed Severus to take hold of the glass and then lifted his gaze in order to make eye-contact. "I just want to help."
Severus shook his head, torn between anger and concern. "Why would you do such a thing? You do realize what the Imperio potion does, do you not? It leaves you without will."
Remus carefully moistened his lips and then nodded. "What would you have done had I drunk it?"
Severus' eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Getting the antidote and force it down your throat! What do you think I would do?"
"There's an antidote?" Damn, Albus hadn't mentioned that!
"I developed one some time ago." Severus shook his head again and kept his fingers tightly curled around the glass. "What did you think you would gain by drinking it?"
"You would have looked after me, wouldn't you?" Remus regretted that his plan had failed, but maybe he could make Severus understand his reason for wanting to drink it. "What would you have done, Severus?"
Severus' eyes became black slits. "I would have moved you over to the sofa, retrieved the antidote and waited for you to regain your senses."
Remus suddenly smiled; catching something that had previously eluded him. "And then what?"
"Then I would have shouted at you for being so stupid to drink something like that. Trust me, you would never try something that stupid again!" Severus was slowly working himself into a rage – he could tell.
"You care about me…" Remus continued to smile.
Which started to drive Severus mad. "Yes, I care about you." Which was the understatement of the year, considering he was deeply in love with the other wizard!
"Do you know why I wanted to do it?" Remus removed the glass from Severus' deadly grasp with difficultly. Severus was about to protest fiercely, but then seemed to calm down upon seeing him vanish it.
"No, I have no idea." Severus made good use of the fact that Remus was focussed on him, and cunningly removed the vial from his lover's pocket. He quickly slipped it into one of his own and mentally made a note to lock all potentially hazardous potions away so Remus couldn't pull another stunt like that!
"Because I wanted you to realize that you would act to my benefit. You would have taken care of me. You would have protected me. You would have made sure I didn't harm myself, wouldn't you?" He slipped his hands around Severus' waist and pulled the black-haired wizard against him until his breath easily caressed his lover's lips when he spoke again. "I trust you, Severus. I merely wanted you to understand that you can trust yourself as well."
Suddenly Severus understood. His anger faded – to some extent – and he continued to shake his head in exasperation. "Remus…" He was lost for words. The fact that Remus had wanted to go to such lengths touched him. "Don't resort to such tactics ever again, will you?"
Remus' smile brightened. "If you promise to work on trusting yourself. Severus, I believe in you, but you need to believe in yourself as well."
"I know that," Severus sighed. "You are not the first to tell me that."
Remus nodded in understanding. So that was why Albus had been so eager to help. "Albus feels the same way I do."
Severus privately debated his next move; should he pull away and convey his displeasure, or melt into the embrace and rest his head against Remus' shoulder? In the end, Remus made the decision for him and guided his head closer.
"I trust you to watch out for me during and after my transformation. Severus, I want you to stop me from hurting myself. I want you to make sure I don't claw at myself. I trust you to do that for me when the wolf is upon me, do you understand? I know that you won't abuse my trust in you."
Severus understood, but wasn't ready to completely accept Remus' trust in him. However for his lover's sake, he would work on it.
Remus savoured the peace and quiet that surrounded him when he woke the next morning. He drew in a deep breath, closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them again. Severus was still asleep and Remus relished holding the other wizard against him. Severus had forgiven him for stealing the Imperio potion and hadn't mentioned the incident again, which Remus felt grateful for. He couldn't help but wonder though why Albus had set him up. The older wizard must have known about the antidote! Yes, Albus had encouraged him to drink the potion! Why? Remus deeply inhaled his lover's scent and rubbed his face against Severus's shoulder. He loved waking up like this.
The caress – no matter how gentle – woke Severus. At first, he wondered why he wasn't alone in bed. He wasn't used yet to waking up with Remus close. He opened his eyes and took in his lover's expression. Remus looked like he had only just woken himself and was giving him a dreamy smile. "Morning," he whispered, still wondering about the fact that Remus loved him.
"Morning to you too," Remus whispered as he moved closer to Severus. He tightened his hold and possessively pulled his lover close to him. "You smell good," he purred appreciatively.
Severus chuckled in disbelief. "I find that hard to believe. Maybe after I take a shower…" Remus' expression told him his lover disagreed though.
"You smell good," Remus repeated as he buried his nose in the crook of Severus' neck. "I smell you… Your potion ingredients, your scent, your…" Arousal? Well, he shouldn't be surprised – not really, as he sported a morning erection himself. Recalling the last time they had woken in a similar situation, Remus decided to proceed with caution. "Can I touch you?"
Severus nodded. As long as Remus didn't insist they had sex, he welcomed the intimacy. "Always," he whispered and shifted onto his back while pulling Remus on top of him. Actually, he was reconsidering his former observation. He would consent to sex, but only with Remus on top. He still refused to cause his lover pain.
Although Remus didn't possess Severus' gift when it came down to Legilimency, he found he didn't need it. Severus' face was an open book and he was quickly growing adapt at reading his expressions. "I love you," he whispered, instead of addressing the insecurity which shone from Severus' eyes. "I love you and want to pleasure you." He kissed Severus in order to stop any objections his lover might want to voice and deepened the kiss the moment Severus parted his teeth. Remus made sure to keep his weight off his lover, not wanting to startle him.
Severus wanted to speak up, to say something, but Remus' kiss made him forget his objections. Instead, he closed his eyes and savoured feeling Remus' lips against his. He startled briefly because Remus' hand found its way beneath the waistband of his boxers, and he considered protesting again, but then Remus' fingers closed around his erection, and all conscious thought fled.
Remus loved the fact that he could drive Severus insane with need. He spelled their annoying underwear gone; their cocks brushed against each other and the sensation made Remus moan. His body demanded more friction and he wrapped his fingers around their erections, stroking them simultaneously. Staring into Severus' wide eyes, he saw the lust and need in them, and by Merlin, he needed release as well!
Severus threw back his head and the moment he did that, Remus' lips latched onto his exposed throat. He would doubtlessly sport many love bites later! But he didn't care! All he cared about was finding release. His hands sought out his lover's backside and squeezed the firm flesh.
Remus groaned at Severus' touch. By Merlin, he wanted those fingers to move in-between his buttocks and to… Merely fantasizing about Severus' fingers moving inside him pushed him over the edge and made him come. Those fingers… How he loved those elegant hands!
Severus still marvelled about the fact that Remus could let go so easily. All his lover needed was to draw in his scent, touch or kiss him. Remus' blue eyes gazed lovingly into his the moment his lover climaxed. Severus suddenly couldn't stop himself – he couldn't hold back, he had to say it, "I love you, Remus. By Merlin, I never loved anyone the way I love you."
Remus closed his eyes in utter bliss upon hearing the admission. It wasn't just the words – it wasn't even the gentle quality to Severus' voice when he had said that. No, it was the expression in those normally so guarded eyes that undid him. "You are mine – forever," he declared earnestly. "Wolves mate for life, don't they? This is it then."
Severus' breath hitched momentarily because Remus suddenly shifted down his body. Remus' tongue unexpectedly lapped at his cock and Severus arched his back in pleasure – the caress being so unexpected, but also so very welcome.
Remus carefully guided Severus closer to orgasm. He wasn't thinking – he wasn't thinking about what to do next – his desires ruled him, and all he wanted to do – desperately – was for Severus to call out his name during the moment of his release. He briefly deserted Severus' cock and lapped at his fingers instead. Severus raised his head, as if to find out why the caress had stopped, but before his lover could question him, Remus wrapped his lips around him again, sucking lightly. Severus moaned, which made Remus even cockier. He slid a hand beneath Severus' buttocks and parted them. He carefully inserted one finger and watched his lover's reaction to that invasion.
Severus' breath caught at the unexpected breach. He cocked his head and sought out his lover's eyes. Although he didn't cast Legilimens, Severus found himself inside his lover's mind nonetheless. He tried to retreat as he didn't want to trespass, but found his way blocked. It almost felt like Remus wanted him inside his mind!
"I want you to come, Severus," Remus whispered in-between ragged breaths. "I want you to come and call out my name. I want to drive you insane with lust…" He pressed kisses down Severus' chest and he could tell the moment his finger brushed against Severus' prostate because his lover tensed beneath him. "Yes," he growled and possessively bit into his lover's shoulder. "Mine, all mine," he whispered while licking the wound he had inflicted on his lover a moment ago.
Severus trembled fiercely and Remus reacted by wrapping an arm tightly around him. Sparks erupted from the pit of his stomach and waves of ecstasy travelled through his body, eventually entering his mind and intensifying his orgasm. Remus!
Remus blinked; what the hell… Severus? How could his lover be inside his head?
I am sorry. I did not do this on purpose! Severus desperately tried to pull away from Remus' mind, but failed.
"It is alright," Remus whispered into Severus' ear and concentrated on holding his lover close. He removed his finger from Severus' body and rocked him slightly as he wondered about that strange mental connection. He still felt Severus in his mind, and therefore also experienced his lover's pleasure – but at the same time, he also noticed the growing apprehension. "We are fine, Severus… I do not want you to worry… Whatever caused this connection, we will find out." Being honest with himself, he had to admit he rather liked being connected to Severus for it told him a lot about his lover's fears and insecurities because he now had access to Severus' thoughts.
Severus wondered about the forgiving and accepting quality to Remus' thoughts. "I do not understand…"
Remus knew Severus wasn't referring to their connection, but to his reaction to finding out about it. "I do not understand this either, but I rather like it."
"You like it?" Severus wondered about his lover. "How can you like having me inside your head?"
"I rather like you," Remus pointed out and lapped at Severus' throat, regretting biting so deeply. Tiny droplets of blood had appeared and he quickly soothed the wound with his tongue.
Severus hadn't registered the bite as he had more pressing matters in mind. "Remus… I did not do it on purpose. By Merlin, I did not even cast a spell! It merely happened!"
"As I said before, I do not mind having you in my head, Severus." He grinned naughtily. "This connection allowed me to experience your orgasm… I feel rather smug about making you lose control."
Severus bit onto his bottom lip, recalling what Remus had done in order to push him over the edge. He grew flustered and averted his gaze. Unfortunately, he was still unable to break their mental connection, something that vexed him!
Remus however was grateful that the connection offered him some insight into the complex mind of Severus Snape. "You feel uncomfortable because…?" He cocked his head and tried to make sense of Severus' rather chaotic thoughts.
"No one ever…" Severus drew in a deep breath, but continued to avoid looking at his lover. How can you not feel disgusted… He failed to finish that thought, unsure how to voice his fears.
Remus was under the impression their connection was fading, but it had given him the information he needed. "I want you to do that to me as well, Severus. I want you inside of me – preferably your cock." He had voiced it that bluntly on purpose, knowing it would draw a reaction from Severus. His lover finally made eye-contact and looked at him in a dazed way. "Why is that so hard to believe, Severus? I want you to make love to me. I want you to move inside me and to hit that particular spot each time you thrust into me." By Merlin, he was growing hard again, and that realization made him cringe. This was not the right time to grow horny again!
Severus realized the same thing, namely that Remus was once more sporting an erection. For some reason, that knowledge soothed his troubled mind. In a roundabout way, it helped. Severus wrapped his arms around Remus and pulled him against him. He sighed appreciatively when Remus' weight pushed him into the mattress. "I still find it hard to believe you want me."
Remus forced himself to remain quiet. Although the connection was weakening, he sensed the wonder in Severus' mind. "Tell me," he said, encouraging him when Severus stopped talking. Suddenly, the black eyes bore into his and he rested his brow against Severus', making sure they were as close as they possibly could be. "You can tell me everything…"
Severus drew in a shaky breath. Gazing into Remus' blue eyes, and feeling his lover's assurance in his mind as well, caused him to do something he had thought he would never do – unburden his soul. He had never thought he would do it in such an intimate setting, but maybe it was the very intimacy that was making him do it. "I told you that my father was an abusive drunk who used to beat up my mother."
Remus nodded, and as his brow still rested against Severus' forehead, the gesture became a comforting caress. "Yes, you did." His heart missed a beat, as he realized Severus finally trusted him – completely and unconditionally. Otherwise the other wizard would never have told him.
"It went further than that." Severus grew increasingly nervous and wasn't sure he could continue. But then Remus' fingers caressed his face and an incredibly gentle smile urged him on. "He beat me too."
Remus briefly closed his eyes now that his suspicions were being confirmed. "I am sorry," he said and wanted to continue to comfort his lover, but when Severus shook his head, he grew quiet.
"There is more. Don't stop me now… I am not sure I will ever again find the courage to tell you," Severus said pleadingly. Remus nodded, and this time it was Severus who briefly closed his eyes. "He also raped her – right in front of me. Not once, but repeatedly. He hurt her… She tried to be strong… Tried to hide her pain, but afterwards, she would break down and cry."
Remus established a tight hold on his lover and rolled them onto their sides. He wrapped his legs around Severus and rubbed his lover's lower back while showering his brow with light kisses. "I am so sorry."
"My mother was a strong witch," Severus said, reliving parts of a past which he had thought buried. "She would not give him the satisfaction of making her cry in his presence. She would wait until he left the room and only then would she break down and cry. I tried to comfort her, but… I didn't know what to do. I was only a child." Severus buried his face against his lover's shoulder.
Remus knew he had to be careful when phrasing his next question. "Severus, did he also hurt you in that way?" By Merlin, he hoped not! He prayed not!
"No," Severus admitted slowly. "He merely beat me up."
Remus thanked whatever gods, wizards, or witches that had watched over his lover back then. "I am sorry about your mother, Severus, but I am grateful you didn't suffer her fate." Remus pressed a kiss onto the black hair. "Is that the reason why you don't want us to make love?"
Severus flinched. He should have known Remus would catch on. "He always hurt her so badly, Remus. I could never do that to you."
Remus drew in a deep breath, trying to calm himself. "Severus, will you look at me?" He waited for his lover to raise his gaze, and when Severus did, Remus pressed a kiss onto his brow. "There will be no pain when we make love, Severus. When we make love, there will be only pleasure, I promise you. Things are different with us, Severus."
Rationally, Severus knew that, but emotionally, he still felt scarred. "Give me time," he said pleadingly.
"Oh, my love, you have all the time you need!" Remus tucked Severus' head beneath his chin and savoured holding his lover – feeling grateful because Severus had confided in him. Now that he knew about the ghosts that haunted Severus, he might be able to do away with them!
"Severus?" Remus walked up to the other wizard and wrapped his arms around him from behind.
Severus sighed at feeling Remus wrap him up in a warm embrace. He had been lost in thought since they had left the bed that morning. He had hoped he would feel more in control by now, but he still felt ill at ease now that Remus knew the truth.
"You can trust me to take care of you," Remus whispered into his lover's ear and pulled Severus' back tightly against his chest. Severus' earlier admission still worried him, though he had to admit he felt immensely relieved at hearing Severus hadn't been sexually abused. However, he didn't think lightly of Severus' admission that his father had raped his mother. Witnessing such a terrible event had scarred his lover and Remus knew he had to proceed with great caution. "I love you," he whispered again, hoping to comfort his lover. "I love you so much…"
Severus' nerves finally calmed and he managed to relax in Remus' arms. "I know you do, though the reason why escapes me. You could do much better, Remus." Instantly, his lover's hold on him tightened. He had no desire to move away or admonish Remus, for it made him feel cherished.
"I want you, Severus – only you." Remus reminded himself that Severus felt that way for a reason. In time, he would succeed in convincing Severus that he was the best lover he could hope for. Time – that was all they needed.
Severus sighed again. Why did the Death Eaters have to raid the camp today when he felt so out of sync with his feelings? He needed to concentrate; to clear his mind and control his emotions! But no matter what he tried, they continued to run rampant in his thoughts. Maybe he should abandon his plan? But then again, who would make sure Harry wasn't injured during the raid? No, he had to be there – had to watch over the boy, like he had promised Lily he would.
Remus wasn't sure what to do, but in the end, he opted for distraction. "I am sorry for that love bite," he whispered, feeling sorry, but not *that* sorry for marking his lover in that way. "I broke your skin."
"It will heal," Severus said, dismissing it without a second thought. It was just a love bite. He didn't even consider it worth mentioning. He turned around in the embrace and rested his hands on Remus' hips. "About the raid…" they had to address the matter. "Take this," he said and offered Remus a ring. "It's a portkey. Albus modified it and it will take you back to Hogwarts if you need to make a run for it."
Remus took hold of the ring and grinned. "Proposing already?"
Severus' mood lifted and he smiled. "You'd wish!"
Remus slipped the ring onto his finger and turned serious again. "Do you have a plan?"
"You can move about openly, Remus. No one will think it odd that you attend the finals. I will be some steps behind you. Now, listen closely…" He had to make some things clear. "Should you get into trouble during the raid, I want you to use that portkey and get yourself into safety. Should you need to get Harry out, use that portkey too. It will take the two of you home."
Remus nodded, realizing Hogwarts was home in every sense of the word. "I will use the portkey."
"Now, should I be exposed, or attacked, I want you to use that portkey too. Do not act the hero and try to defend me or get me out. Your safety – and Harry's – always comes first, do you understand?"
Remus instantly wanted to object, but reckoned that if he did, Severus might change his mind and leave him behind at Hogwarts. That was a risk he couldn't take, and so, Remus nodded. But I will never desert you… Never! He would never leave Severus behind, but he wasn't going to voice that – not now.
Severus wasn't convinced Remus understood, but since the other wizard wasn't protesting, he assumed his lover would act as instructed. "There will be about six or seven Death Eaters, so be careful. Make sure they don't see you. Work from the shadows and do not challenge them! We must remain hidden, do you understand? Except when Harry's life hangs in the balance; feel free to act in whatever way you feel fit then. But otherwise, hide from them. Lucius can be vicious and you don't want to get caught up in his Crucio. Trust me, he is a master at casting that one."
"I will be careful," Remus promised. "If you do the same thing."
"Of course I will be cautious!" Severus shook his head. He was a successful spy for a reason! Still, he couldn't shake the strange sense of foreboding that swept through him.
Walking about in plain view felt odd, but Remus had quickly realized the wisdom in using the crowd to their advantage. As long as they blended in, they didn't stand out and no one noticed them. Looking at his lover, who walked next to him, Remus chuckled. It was odd to see Severus out of his black coat and high-necked shirt. Instead, Severus wore brown corduroy trousers, a blue shirt and a gray jacket. A brown hat hid away the long black hair and obscured Severus' features. Remus knew he was the only one able to tell it was Severus because he had seen his lover getting dressed. Otherwise, he would have never have guessed the wizard's identity. Remus moved closer and wrapped an arm around Severus. "You should wear clothes like that more often. They suit you."
Severus felt torn between being vexed and flattered. He curtly removed Remus' arm from his waist and glared at him. "Keep your distance. We don't want to draw attention." But privately, he felt flattered that Remus thought the outfit looked good on him.
"Isn't that Ron over there?" Remus cocked his head, trying to tell Severus what direction to look in. "Over there?"
Severus quickly scanned their surroundings. "Yes, it is, which means Harry is close as well."
Remus nodded. "What do you suggest we do?" It was growing dark; Quidditch had been abandoned for the day and most visitors were heading for their tents.
"We follow them and remain close. We only intervene if the Death Eaters target him, understood?"
Remus nodded again.
Severus hissed while chaos broke out – suddenly and unexpectedly. "Over there," he said and pointed Remus in the right direction. "It's Lucius up front, of course."
Remus shivered at seeing the group of Death Eaters moving through the camp. Hidden behind their masks, they seemed invulnerable, but Remus knew the illusion for what it was. "What do we do?"
Unfortunately, the Death Eaters were heading towards the Weasleys and therefore, targeting Harry as well. That left Severus with no choice. "We will move closer… Remember, if necessary, use that portkey to get yourself into safety, and whatever you do, make sure Harry's safe."
Severus marched toward the Death Eaters, and when the ebony wand appeared in his lover's hand, Remus slid his wand into his hand as well, holding on tightly. Suddenly, everything happened at once. Harry came running towards them and three Death Eaters left the group to chase him. Startled, Remus watched Severus move toward Harry. His lover tackled the boy, causing both of them to hit the cold ground. A green light appeared above them and Remus realized Severus must have seen them throwing a curse at Harry. "Stupefy," he called out, aiming the curse at Lucius.
But Lucius was more adept at duelling than Remus had thought and easily deflected the spell. Instead, Lucius aimed his wand at him and called out "Crucio!" Remus knew he had to move – else the curse would hit, but for some reason, he felt frozen.
"No!" Suddenly Severus appeared in front of him, absorbing the impact of the curse. The Potions Master collapsed and convulsions raged through his body. Remus privately kicked himself for being so damn careless. Another 'Crucio,' sounded across the field and Remus' eyes widened, realizing Harry was its target. Moving as quickly as he could, he rolled Harry out of harms way and wrapped his arms around him, willing to take the punishment if necessary. But the curse never hit them and Remus realized he had been lucky.
"Remus?" Harry stared at his professor and friend in shock. When the Death Eaters had appeared, he had tried to defend himself – and his friends – but had quickly realized they were no match for the experienced Death Eaters.
"Harry, I am going to take you to Hogwarts. You are not safe here. Do not fight me, please…" he added, knowing time was of the utmost importance.
"That's fine with me," Harry said quickly, eager to leave the camp now that more Death Eaters were coming their way.
Remus quickly cast a look at Severus and found his lover alert, but still twitching due to the Crucio he was suffering. "I will be right back!" he said while activating the portkey.
Severus wanted to tell Remus to stay at Hogwarts and *not* to return to the camp, but he was too late. Remus was already gone.
But this time, Severus was prepared. Even though his hands trembled and he still felt dizzy due to the Unforgivable, Severus quickly looked away, not wanting to risk Lucius recognizing him. Activating his own portkey, pressing the cufflink on the sleeve of his shirt, he followed Remus home to Hogwarts.
Albus whipped around. In front of his desk, on the floor, two wizards appeared. "Remus! Harry!" Something must have gone wrong during the raid! He quickly hurried over and bent down in order to check on them. Relief flooded him upon seeing Harry smile at him. Thank Merlin, the boy was unharmed! "What happened?" he inquired as he first pulled Harry, and then Remus to his feet.
"Death Eaters attacked the camp and targeted Harry," Remus quickly explained. "Please, I can't stay. I need to get Severus into safety!"
"My dear boy," Albus said as he patted Remus' shoulder in a soothing way. "You can't go back."
"But I must! Lucius hit Severus with the Cruciatus and…" Remus blinked upon seeing another form take shape in the office. "Severus?" Had Severus possessed a portkey of his own? But of course! Relieved, he moved closer once the Potions Master had fully manifested. "Severus!" Alarmed, he noticed the way Severus' limbs continued to twitch. He wrapped an arm around him and half pulled, half dragged his lover over to a chair. He lowered Severus onto it and sat on his heels, trying to read the expression on his lover's face. Severus' features revealed the pain he was. "Is there a potion I can get you?"
"Here, give him this." Albus quickly retrieved a vial from his desk and handed it to Remus. "Make sure he drinks it slowly. We do not want the convulsions to worsen." Albus moved back to Harry, who had a rather stunned expression on his face and he quickly rested a hand on the boy's shoulder in an attempt to reassure him.
Harry stared at Snape in shock. He hadn't recognized his teacher when the older man had dragged him onto the ground. The fact that Snape wasn't wearing his black coat confused him. "Professor Snape?" He swallowed hard, realizing the Potions Master had saved him yet again. He didn't understand why though – Severus Snape hated him, didn't he? So why did the wizard continue to save him?
Severus paced himself while drinking the anti-Cruciatus potion – a potion he had improved and brewed himself. It took about two minutes for him to fully down the potion. He rested his head against the comfort of the chair and forced a reassuring smile onto his lips when Remus frowned at him in concern. "I will be fine," he managed. "Give me a minute." He closed his eyes, tuned the others out, and focused within. He needed a moment to gather his strength and focus his emotions.
"Professor?" Harry gave Dumbledore a pleading look. "What happened?"
Albus patted Harry's shoulder and guided the boy to the chair next to Severus'. "Sit down, Harry. You had quite an eventful evening."
Harry's gaze shifted from Dumbledore to Snape, wondering why the man had saved him once more. It just didn't make any sense. Snape hated him – the Potions Master reminded him of that fact on an almost daily base, and yet, Snape had pushed him out of the way and had absorbed that Crucio in his stead. Why would Snape do that, considering how much his teacher hated him?
"Remus?" Harry knew better than to expect answers from Dumbledore, but maybe Remus would be honest with him. However, when Remus looked at him, Harry cringed at seeing the worry in those blue eyes. Remus worried about Snape? Well, he recalled that the Potions Master had agreed to work with Remus on the Wolfsbane, but Harry had never realized his friend cared about Snape!
Remus managed a reassuring smile and nodded at Harry. "You are safe here, Harry." At the same time, he rested a hand on Severus' knee in order to monitor the tremors running through his lover's body. He still felt horrified, recalling the way Severus had convulsed when that Crucio had hit him.
"I know I am safe," Harry whispered. Hogwarts was his safe haven – it always would be. "I am worried about professor Snape though." For some reason, this time the man's title easily left his lips. He no longer felt the need to refuse him his respect; after all Snape had suffered an Unforgivable just to keep him safe!
"Professor Snape merely requires a moment to recuperate," Albus said, once more trying to reassure Harry. Privately, he felt thrilled to see Harry worry about Severus.
Severus realized the same thing, but unlike Albus, he didn't feel thrilled. He worried instead. Albus should have never allowed Harry to see him like that. He had to do everything within his power to make sure the boy continued to hate and fear him! Seeing him this vulnerable and weakened, would achieve the opposite!
"He saved me," Harry whispered, still trying to understand – and accept – what had happened earlier. "He pushed me out of the way and the curse hit him instead." He bit onto his bottom lip, recalling the way Snape had collapsed earlier. "Are you in pain, sir?"
Severus was at a loss. Why was Albus allowing this? In the end, he opened his eyes, cocked his head, and looked at Harry. What should he say? What should he do?
Harry blinked at seeing the open and vulnerable expression on his teacher's face. Snape never looked at him like that. "I am sorry that curse hit you."
Severus closed his eyes again. The potion was finally enfolding its effect and the tremors died down. Remus' hand however still squeezed his knee, and even without looking at him, Severus knew Remus was worried – deeply – about him. How odd… Maybe that was what people did when they cared about you – they worried.
"Professor Snape needs to rest, Harry." Remus wondered what to do. And why wasn't Albus taking control of the situation? Instead, the Headmaster had seated himself behind his desk and was content to watch them.
"Can I help?" Harry was eager to help and to make up for Snape being hit by that curse.
"I don't think so," Remus said, "Maybe later." Now that Albus wasn't taking charge, he didn't know what to do. In the end, he addressed his lover. "Severus? How are you doing? Better? I hope so… The tremors are almost gone."
Severus realized by now that Albus had a secret agenda. Why else would the older wizard remain quiet and leave things up to him? The question was, what was Albus trying to achieve? Why did Albus want Harry to see him in that state? Because it all came down to that. Opening his eyes, he looked at Harry instead of Albus, knowing the older wizard wasn't going to help. "You will have to stay here, mister Potter, as you are no longer safe with the Weasleys." He tried to sound bitter and to sneer like he normally did, but the Crucio had taken a lot out of him.
Remus frowned as he caught onto Severus' game plan. It wasn't going to work though – not with Severus still recovering from that curse. There was no way his lover could pull of his normal attitude.
"I agree with professor Snape," Albus said, moving his plans ahead. "You will spend the rest of your holidays at Hogwarts."
Harry wasn't sure what to think of that. The summer holidays lasted six more weeks. He would have welcomed the thought of staying at Hogwarts while living with his uncle and aunt, but he had liked staying with the Weasleys. In the end, he reckoned staying at Hogwarts was a price he could pay, knowing he was safe at school. He didn't want to endanger the Weasleys again. "That's okay."
"Professor Snape and Remus will keep an eye on you. Hagrid's also still around and I have the feeling Sirius will visit shortly," Albus hinted and ignored the way Severus rolled back his eyes at hearing that. "You do not mind looking after Harry, do you, Severus?"
He had been royally set up, Severus realized that now. For some reason, Albus had decided to thrust Harry upon him. Why? What would Albus gain by doing that? It was imperative the pureblood families thought he still hated Harry Potter! Once this got out…
"We will look after Harry," Remus said when Severus remained quiet. It was obvious the two of them urgently needed to discuss recent events – without Harry and Albus present.
Remus offered to walk Harry to the dormitory and the boy eagerly accepted. Walking side by side, Remus looked at Harry and wondered about what had happened. "I reckon you have questions?" he offered, wanting Harry to know that he was willing to answer some.
Harry quickly nodded; he had hoped Remus would offer, but hadn't been sure. "I don't understand what happened." Harry cringed, unhappy with the way he had phrased that. "I understand what happened at the camp," he clarified. "But I don't understand why professor Snape risked his life that way. He pushed me out of the way and suffered the Cruciatus instead. Why?" He stopped walking and turned toward Remus. He gave the older a pleading look. "He hates me!"
Remus felt torn, knowing Severus wouldn't want him to confide in Harry. But something – instinct maybe – was telling him to do so. "Professor Snape cares about you, Harry," he said and rested a hand on the boy's shoulder. "He might not show it around you, but trust me when I say that he worries about you. He is determined to protect you."
Harry frowned and bit onto his bottom lip. "Then why does he always bully me?"
Remus sighed; should he continue to confide in Harry? He had the feeling Albus wanted him to do so. "Many Slytherin students come from families that supported Voldemort in the past." He hesitated. "Professor Dumbledore believes Voldemort will return shortly." Contrary to what Remus had expected, Harry didn't look shocked.
"I know that he is growing stronger. I feel him…" Involuntarily, he touched his scar. "Here," he added.
Remus gently caught Harry's hand in his and rubbed the fingers. "Severus spied on Voldemort in the past, Harry. He supplied Dumbledore with valuable information. When Voldemort returns, Severus must return to his side and resume his spying. Severus can't afford to slip up. No one can know he wants to protect you, Harry. Everyone must believe he hates you and wants you dead."
"It's an act?" Harry's frown deepened. That possibility had never occurred to him before. "He merely acts that way?"
Remus nodded. He still wasn't sure if it was a good thing Harry knew the truth now. "I should probably not be telling you this, but in private he refers to you as Harry. The venomous 'mister Potter' you are used to is merely a ruse. Do you understand what I am trying to say?"
Harry nodded. "I guess so." Now that he was thinking about it, it made sense. It explained why Snape always looked out for him, but never admitted to it. "So he cares about me? He doesn't hate me?" he asked, just to make sure.
"He doesn't hate you, Harry." Remus briefly ruffled Harry's hair. "But don't be surprised if he sneers at you the next time the two of you meet. Please keep in mind that it is just an act. Severus is prepared to sacrifice his life in order to save you."
Harry nodded again; Snape had saved him just an hour ago – uncaring if he was hurt in the process. "Do you think he would consent to being himself when we're alone? When there are no students or staff members around?"
"Harry?" Remus cocked his head questioningly.
"I believe you when you say that he cares. He risked his life a moment ago, but I would like to see him – the real him, Remus. The one who cares about me. It would mean much to me if he said my name just once – Harry – without any hatred in that voice of his."
"I can't promise you that," Remus said. "Severus…" He stopped talking, because Harry suddenly grinned at him. "What?" he questioned.
"Why do you call him Severus? I never knew you were friends."
"Some things happened during these last two weeks, Harry. And those things changed our mutual perception. He allowed me in… I know what he is
really like nowadays."
"Sounds like you have become friends." Harry wondered about the sudden blush that spread across Remus' face.
"Yes, friends – definitely," Remus said, growing nervous. He didn't want Harry to know about them yet. "Try to get some sleep, Harry. I will see you at breakfast in the Great Hall."
"I will be there." Harry watched Remus walk down the corridor while studying his friend. Remus definitely looked much improved, even though they had just fought Death Eaters. Remus looked rested, and it also appeared he had gained weight. He wasn't sure why Remus and Snape were friends all of a sudden, but he could tell Remus enjoyed Snape's company.
Harry turned toward the Fat Lady, uttered the password and stepped inside the common room. The fact that Remus was fond of Snape, made Harry eager to find out more about the Potions Master. Maybe, Snape wasn't the person he had thought him to be!
"Albus, I do not know what you are hoping to achieve, but allowing Harry to see me in this state will cause problems." Severus felt a bit more rested now that the anti-Cruciatus potion had found its way into his system. He sat up straighter and managed to catch the older wizard's gaze. "Why did you do it? You could have taken Harry straight to the dormitory instead of allowing him to stay."
Albus sipped from the tea a house-elf had delivered to his office a moment ago. He studied Severus before formulating a question of his own. Much depended on Severus' answer, but he wasn't going to tell the younger man that. "Did Lucius recognize you?" Severus had updated him and Albus agreed with Severus' actions. Protecting Harry from that curse had been the right thing to do.
Severus sighed. He hadn't given the matter much thought yet, but now he forced himself to evaluate what had happened. "He might have realized it was me," he admitted in the end. "I am not certain he saw my face and my attire might have let him astray. I am afraid we will have to wait for him to contact me – or not."
Albus nodded; it was as he had expected then. Severus might not dare say it outright, but there was a chance Lucius knew who had rescued Harry. "You can always tell Malfoy that you acted on my orders and that allowing Harry to be cursed would have compromised your position at Hogwarts."
Severus nodded. "I also thought of something similar, and I will resort to it, should it be necessary. I do hope Lucius thinks I would never dress in Muggle clothes." But his features could have betrayed him nonetheless. So the question remained, had Lucius recognized him? He knew better than to contact Lucius; he had to allow the other man to contact him.
"In the meantime, try to enjoy the fact that you are still on holidays!" Albus levitated a cup of tea toward Severus and placed it on the small table next to his chair. "Lemon flavoured tea; I do recommend it."
Severus wasn't in the mood for tea. "Are we done, Albus? I need to rest." Although he hated admitting it, he needed to lie down. Voldemort had always been fond of the Cruciatus, and in the past, while the Dark Lord had still been alive, Severus had been at its receiving end once too often. As a result, his nerves needed longer to recuperate and he knew the trembling would remain present for the next few days.
"You should wait for Remus to return," Albus pointed out. "I can perform side along apparition and take you to your rooms, or use the floo, but I seem to recall that the use of magic enhances the tremors."
Unfortunately, Albus was correct. "I need to start working on another potion, then." He had to further improve the anti-Cruciatus potion. Once Voldemort returned, he would suffer the curse again – rather frequently, he feared.
"Ah, you are still here…" Remus entered the office and headed for his lover. He had suspected Albus might keep Severus for questioning. He sat on his heels in front of his lover and offered him a reassuring smile. "Thank Merlin, you look improved." Severus had regained some colour. He rested his hand back on Severus' knee and noticed that the tremors were still present. "Is this normal?" Shouldn't the tremors have gone by now?
"For me it is, unfortunately." Severus drew in a deep, steadying breath and attempted to get to his feet. He stood - although wobbly – and was grateful that Remus tightly locked an arm around his waist in order to support him.
"Why is that?" Seeing Severus was tired, Remus looked to Albus for an explanation instead.
"Severus suffered the curse too many times in the past, Remus. Tom was particularly fond of casting it… And so was Bellatrix, if I am not mistaken?"
Severus nodded once. "Which means my nerves system reacts strongly whenever I am subjected to that curse. Recovery will take me a few days. But do not worry," he added at seeing Remus' stricken expression. "I will be up to my old tricks shortly."
Deep lines of worry appeared on Remus' brow. He had never considered the fact that Severus might have suffered the Unforgivable before. And Severus had still gone back in order to spy on Voldemort? Out of stupidity or extraordinary bravery? "Let's get you back to our rooms," he said once he was certain he had a firm grip on his lover. "We will floo –" But Albus interrupted him before he could finish.
"I suggest you walk him to your quarters. Using magic will deteriorate his state. You should not floo to your rooms. Had that been an option, I would have already do so, or I would have taken him for side along apparition." Albus' expression darkened in concern. "We found out about that in the early days. It is best to take your time and walk him home."
Remus' worries increased upon hearing that. "I wish Poppy were here. Then she could check on you!"
"There is no need for that." Severus carefully set one foot in front of the other as they made their way toward the doorway. "I have been in this situation before and know what to do."
Remus gave Albus a quick look before they exited the office and he was rather surprised to see a huge grin on the older wizard's face. That grin struck him as odd, considering the fact Severus was still suffering from the after effects of the Cruciatus. "Just how many times have you been through this, Severus?" he whispered rather absentmindedly.
"Too many to count," Severus remarked and leaned heavier upon Remus when they started on their way to the dungeons. "How's Harry?" he asked, trying to distract his lover. However, he knew Remus well enough by now to realize that his lover would make him discuss it again before long.
"All right, I reckon," Remus said and focused on leading Severus to their rooms. "It might be a tad lonely in the dormitory though."
"He's not staying with us, Remus! Do not invite him into our rooms. I can not get too friendly with him. You surely understand that?"
Remus cringed, recalling Harry's request. "Actually," he said and felt Severus' probing gaze upon him. "Harry wants to befriend you."
"How the hell did that happen?" Severus shook his head. "I worked so hard to make him hate me!"
"And then you save him from the Cruciatus, Severus… Harry is not stupid. He knows something isn't right."
"You told him," Severus stated upon examining Remus' guilt-ridden eyes. "Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse…"
Remus quickly muttered the password that would gain them entrance to their quarters and steered Severus inside. "Bedroom," he stated firmly. "And don't fight me on that."
Severus did consider protesting, but also knew that Remus wouldn't budge. So in the end, he decided not to waste his energy on fighting a fight he couldn't win. Remus lowered him onto the bed and Severus closed his eyes in bliss. It was a new experience for him to have someone close who wanted to take care of him. Yes, Albus would take him to his rooms, make sure he was resting, but then he would leave. Remus however was here to stay. The changed material against his skin made him aware of the fact that Remus had transfigured his Muggle clothes into a comfortable pyjama. "Thanks," he whispered, his eyes slipping shut. The anti-Cruciatus potion always made him tired and would cause him to fall asleep.
"I will stay," Remus whispered and then kissed his lover's brow. "I will watch over you. Rest, Severus." Hopefully his lover would feel better after a good night's sleep.
Severus turned onto his side, pulled his knees towards his chest, and wrapped his arms around them, curling up in a position that for some reason always made him feel safe. "Re…" But fatigue got to him and dragged him into sleep.
Remus sighed deeply and stroked Severus' hair. He would join his lover in bed shortly, but first he was going to floo Sirius and tell his friend what had happened. He had the feeling Harry might need a friend.
Sirius blinked, unable to completely mask his distress. And this was Remus, he reminded himself; a friend. He could let his emotions show. "Malfoy actually tried to curse Harry and Snape shielded him from it?" He found himself unable to revert to using Snivellus. After hearing what Snape had done for his godson he felt grateful. It proved – once more – that he had completely misjudged the Slytherin in the past.
"Yes, and the curse hit him harder than it should have. Apparently, overexposure to it in the past made extra susceptible to it." Remus needed to talk to someone about it. In the past, he wouldn't have confided in Sirius, but since Pads and Severus seemed to get along better, he felt he could trust his friend to understand his worry. "I put him to bed. He is asleep, but the tremors continue – mildly, yes, but they are still there."
Sirius remained quiet for a moment, trying to think everything over. "What do you want me to do?" he asked in the end.
"Maybe you can contact Albus and tell him you want to visit Harry? Not first thing in the morning, but during the day? Give Harry a few hours to sort out everything."
Sirius nodded. "I will do that…" He hesitated. "And Severus?" The smile Remus gave him almost blinded him. "What?"
"You called him Severus." Remus was happy. Apparently Sirius was indeed warming up to Severus!
"Well, he saved Harry's life… I can't continue to call him Snivellus." Snape hadn't just saved Harry's life – he had also saved Remus and his own during the last two weeks. By Merlin, he owed the man some respect!
"What about Severus?" Remus said, playing along.
"Do you think he would mind me checking on him?" Sirius wasn't sure why he wanted to see how the Potions Master was doing, but it seemed the proper thing to do since Snape had saved his godson's life.
"I will ask him and let you know. But for now, try to sleep, Pads." Remus yawned. "And I will do the same thing. See you tomorrow," he said and after smiling one more time at his friend, he ended the floo call. Remus stretched, yawned, and made his way back to their bedroom, where he found Severus still sound asleep, curled up on his side. Remus quickly changed into his pyjamas and slipped between the covers as well. He moved Severus into his arms and tucked his lover's head protectively beneath his chin. "You are safe with me," he whispered, unsure what prompted him to say that. "I will look after you, Severus." He kissed the top of his lover's head and snuggled up to him.
Severus felt warm – warm and safe when he woke up the next morning. It took him a moment to realize that he was back in his rooms. The last thing he remembered was Lucius cursing him. Shifting his head slightly, he looked at Remus, who was still sound asleep. A soft hiss coming from above their heads told him Damocles had found its way into their bedroom. And yes, the tiny, black dragon sat on the headboard and gave him a curious look. Severus managed a weak smile. Apparently, he had not one, but two guardians!
"Hey, you are awake," Remus mumbled, waking up himself. Moving closer to his lover, he re-established his hold on him. "How do you fare this morn?" Severus' gaze appeared focused, but he wanted to make sure.
"Better," Severus muttered and tried to move about. Remus, however, seemed to have no intention of letting him go and so Severus settled down again. "Thank you for staying with me."
Remus nodded and pressed a kiss onto his lover's brow. "I worry about you." The fact that the Cruciatus had such an effect on Severus worried him indeed. He focused on his lover; tiny tremors still travelled through Severus' body.
Severus noticed it. "Don't worry… I will be back to normal in one or two days." He needed to drink that anti-Cruciatus potion again though some time today. He briefly closed his eyes and allowed for this peculiar warm sensation to envelop him.
"I floo called Sirius last night," Remus said, judging it best Severus knew about it. "I told him to contact Albus during the day and to arrange for a visit. It might be best if Harry had some company up in Gryffindor tower."
Severus agreed. "The dog will make good company." He pressed closer against Remus and savoured waking up like that.
"What shall we do today?" Remus peeked at his lover's face. "Do you have any matters you need to attend to?"
"Not really," Severus admitted and felt grateful for it. He doubted he could handle any potions today considering the way his hands trembled. "It will be interesting to see if Lucius will contact me." If only he knew if his former friend had recognized him!
"What shall happen if Lucius realizes it was you who saved Harry?" Remus took to gently stroking his lover's lower back.
"In that case I will be marked a traitor. All remaining Death Eaters will try to kill me." His problems would increase even further once the Dark Lord returned. "Let us hope Lucius doesn't know it was me. Albus needs me to spy on the Dark Lord once he returns."
Remus' hand stilled. "I do not like the idea of you returning to do his bidding. Voldemort is insane, Severus. You might end up dead anyway."
"That is a price I am willing to pay, Remus." Severus drew in a deep breath and decided to be honest with his lover – Remus deserved nothing less. "I overheard Trelawney's prophecy that night and supplied the Dark Lord with that information. It is because of me that the Potters died." He held perfectly still, as he hadn't shared that information with Remus before and he had no idea of knowing how the other wizard was going to react. He wouldn't blame Remus for condemning him though.
Remus blinked in surprise, but didn't react verbally, knowing how important his reaction would be and wanting to think it over first. So it had been Severus who had told Voldemort about the prophecy? "Severus, you didn't kill James and Lily. You didn't." Severus looked up, ready to object, but Remus quickly shook his head. "No, hear me out. The prophecy was meant to find its way to Voldemort. You were an instrument of fate… Severus. I am convinced that someone else would have informed him if you had not done so – it had to be done."
"You do not understand!" Severus objected. "The prophecy could only apply to Harry or Neville…"
"Exactly!" Remus nodded firmly. "And Voldemort chose to target the Potters and not the Longbottoms! You didn't have a say in that. It was Voldemort who killed Lily and James… You were just the messenger."
Severus stared at Remus in disbelief. Why did Remus refuse to understand what he was telling him? "Remus, because of me he knew what family to target!"
"And I repeat once more – that prophecy would have found its way to Voldemort one way or the other. You are not to blame, Severus." Remus pressed a chaste kiss onto his lover's lips. "Voldemort cast the Killing curse at them – you didn't."
One part of Severus desperately wanted to believe Remus, but another part told him he wasn't worthy of forgiveness. In the end, he decided that discussing the matter with Remus was of no use. Suddenly, their peace and quiet was disrupted when a silver Phoenix patronus appeared in the doorway. Discreetly, it stayed back. Severus sighed and wondered what Albus was up to this time.
"Severus, I hope you are feeling better this morning. Since we are only four at breakfast, I have taken the liberty to invite Harry and myself into the dungeons for breakfast. I ordered Winky to prepare breakfast in your living room. Harry and I will meet up with you in fifteen minutes." The Patronus faded.
Severus sighed again. "Damn you," he whispered, feeling distressed.
"Severus?" Remus cocked his head and allowed his lover to sit up. He kept an arm in place around Severus' shoulder though, just in case the other wizard hadn't completely recovered yet. Apparently Albus' message upset the Potions Master, but why?
"Albus is scheming again." Severus rubbed his eyes, still feeling tired due to the anti-Cruciatus potion. "He is meddling – changing the way Harry perceives me. It is a mistake."
"Why is that a mistake? Because the children of the Death Eaters attending Hogwarts might tell their fathers you are on friendly terms with Harry?"
"Partly," Severus admitted, relieved that Remus seemed to grasp his dilemma. "But there is more. The Dark Lord is an accomplished Legilimens. Once he returns, he will try to dissect Harry's mind and realizing I wasn't loyal to him will prevent me from carrying out my duties as a spy."
"Correct me if I am wrong," Remus started, "but can it be that Albus' plans for you have changed?"
"Are you implying that he no longer wants me to spy on his behalf?" The idea had occurred to him as well. "But why would he throw away an advantage like that?"
"Maybe he thinks Lucius recognized you? Maybe Albus no longer wants you to return to Voldemort in order to spy on him?" And then another thought occurred to him. "What if Albus thinks you are more valuable actively supporting Harry?"
Severus shook his head. "And sever his sole connection to the Dark Lord once he returns?"
"Maybe we are reading too much into Albus' breakfast request," Remus said eventually. "Anyway, we should get ready. Do you want to use the bathroom first? Can you manage on your own?"
"I am not an invalid, Lupin!" Severus swung his feet onto the floor and slowly rose from the bed. He was still a bit wobbly, but managed to walk independently. "We need to find a way to convince Albus to stop encouraging Harry from getting to know me. You do realize that is his plan?"
Remus nodded; he gathered as much. Contrary to his lover though, he saw no reason to change Albus' mind. The idea of Severus and Harry befriending each other seemed just fine to him.
"Ah, Harry! A fine morning it is!" Albus walked into the common room, where he found Harry waiting for him. "Are you hungry?"
Harry walked up to the Headmaster and smiled as he nodded at him. "Quite hungry, actually." It was good to see Dumbledore again.
"Well, I hope you don't mind, but I accepted Remus' invitation to have breakfast in the dungeons. It would be good for you to spend some time with Remus and Severus."
Harry frowned at hearing the Headmaster say that. Normally Dumbledore always referred to the Potions Master as professor Snape and most certainly not as Severus! He wondered about that. "Sir, how is professor Snape doing? He looked rather shaken last night." He had worried about his teacher during the night; he couldn't recall ever feeling concerned about his Potions Master before! But the fact that Snape had suffered an Unforgivable just to keep him safe had affected him deeply. It had brought home – rather sharply – that Snape was willing to risk his life in order to save him. He hadn't fully realized that before.
Albus rested a hand on Harry's shoulder and guided the boy toward the doorway and then out of the room. As they stepped into the hallway, he said, "Severus will be shaky for one or two more days, but he will recover."
"Why did he do that, professor? He didn't have to do it."
Albus sighed and studied his student closely. "Don't you know the answer to that question yourself? All you have to do is to look into your heart and to listen to what it tells you."
"He cares about me, doesn't he? The bullying is just an act. At least, that's what Remus says."
Albus nodded as he had no reason to deny it. "Yes, it is an act. Certain students must believe he hates you, Harry." But that was about to change. It wasn't a decision he had made lightly, but after weighting all pros and contras he had made his call, which was final. "You will enjoy spending time with them, Harry. Allow Severus some time to get used to having you around."
"Hell, I need time too – considering the fact he is not be the person I thought he was!" But he was willing to give Snape a chance. He desperately wanted to know the truth about the older wizard!
Remus walked over to Albus and Harry and welcomed them to their rooms. He was rather surprised to find Albus moving back to the doorway. "Aren't you staying?"
"Regretfully no," Albus said, "I received some news which I need to attend to right away. But I entrust Harry to you for the day! I am sure the three of you will have fun!"
Harry felt rather dumbfounded. Dumbledore had been chatting amicably on their way down to the dungeons, assuring him time and time again that Remus and Snape expected him to spend the day with him. Looking at the Headmaster now, he realized – at the same moment Remus did – that he had been set up. "That wasn't subtle at all," Harry remarked the moment Dumbledore had left the room. "He is way too obvious."
Remus couldn't help himself and chuckled. At least Harry realized what was going on. "He seemed rather happy to 'dump' you here," he said, and added a wink to take away any sting the word might cause. "Not to worry, Harry. Severus and I will keep you company."
"Speaking of professor Snape," Harry said and looked about, once more marvelling about the fact that he preferred to use the man's title when talking about him these days. "How is he doing?" The mere memory of Snape convulsing while under the Cruciatus made him cringe in turn.
"Better, Harry. I won't lie to you though. He still suffers minor tremors and the anti-Cruciatus potion left him fatigued, so don't be surprised when he isn't his… energetic self today," he said and added another wink.
"Energetic," Harry repeated and chuckled along. "That's an interesting way to phrase it."
"And what would you call it, mister Potter?" Severus stepped into the living room and wished he could hex the boy into leaving. He was doing his best to look menacing and glared at Harry, but he wasn't certain he was successfully pulling it off.
Harry – keeping in mind that it was just an act – kept his gaze open and inviting when he looked at his professor. It was just an act – an act! Nothing more – nothing less. Snape didn't hate him! The man had saved him in the past and Remus had assured him that Snape would always risk his life just to keep him safe. He believed Remus – his friend had no reason to lie to him! "Good morning, sir. I am relieved to see you are back on your feet today." Though, studying Snape closely, he agreed with Remus – tiny tremors coursed through the Potions Master's body. He wasn't surprised to see Snape head for a chair and to sit down quickly. The older wizard struck him as tired – much like Remus had said.
Severus prepared another sneering remark, ready to cut the boy down to size, when Remus suddenly came to a halt behind him and placed his hands on his shoulders.
"Severus, don't. I don't think Albus wants you to do that. He brought Harry here for a reason." By now, Remus was convinced that Albus wanted Harry to realize the truth about his Potions Master.
Severus cocked his head, looked at Remus, and whispered, "It is madness."
Harry remained at a distance, judging it best not to get involved. Apparently Remus was ready to fight Severus on this and he would leave it to his friend and mentor to prepare the way.
"Maybe," Remus admitted. "But then again, we don't know the extent of Albus' plans for us, do we?"
Severus found it hard to agree, even though he realized that Remus had made a valid point. "Mister Potter, why don't you sit down and have breakfast with us?"
It was a first step – one, Harry felt grateful for. "Thank you, sir. And you can call me Harry." He sat down and nodded thankfully when Remus poured him a cup of coffee. He did prefer coffee over tea – it had more caffeine and that was exactly what he needed! He sipped and suddenly spat the coffee back into the mug.
"Potter!" Severus glared at the boy, reverting to old habits.
"What's that?" Harry's eyes widened at seeing the tiny, black dragon that flew toward their table. It landed – rather clumsily – near his plate and snatched the bacon from it. It tried to take off again, but the bacon proved too heavy and so the dragon remained on the table and started to munch on it there.
"That is Damocles, my familiar," Severus said, trying to tone down the harsh attitude he normally displayed around the boy.
"He is cute!" Harry grinned at the little fellow and moved a slice of sausage toward the dragon, who immediately started to eye it greedily. "I didn't know dragons this small existed!"
"The Headmaster gifted him to me," Severus admitted reluctantly. He didn't know if there were more miniature dragons like Damocles or if the little dragon was unique. "He also loves to bite noses, so do be careful around him."
"I will pay attention." Harry watched – rather amazed – how the tiny dragon devoured the slice of sausage as well. "You are hungry!"
Damocles now eyed the black pudding and wondered if his master would let him get away with snatching it from the boy's plate. So far, Severus had been more indulging than he normally was. He decided to make good use of the situation and bit into one end of the black pudding.
"Damocles, behave yourself! That's enough!" Severus, however – being completely honest with himself – felt quite amused by his familiar's antics.
"It's fine, sir," Harry said quickly and offered the tiny dragon a slice of the black pudding. "I wouldn't mind having a familiar like that."
"Were it up to me, you could have him – gladly," Severus said. "But I highly doubt the Headmaster would approve."
Remus watched them interact and realized that Severus' guard was down. His lover no longer tried to intimidate Harry. He should make use of his lover's mellowness. "What do you want to do today, Harry?"
"I should probably make good use of the time and start on my homework. Maybe this time, I will be able to finish it before my first school day." It would be the smart thing to do, but he would have preferred to spend time outdoors with his friends, the Weasleys. Now he was stuck at Hogwarts.
"You still have enough time left for that. Maybe we can head for the lake and spend some time there? You could take your broom with you, Harry, and practice flying – pretend you want to catch the snitch." Remus looked over at his lover in order to see if Severus approved. The Potions Master's face mirrored his confusion. Remus felt saddened upon realizing Severus found it hard to interact with Harry in a non-threatening way, and he wouldn't have encouraged them, hadn't he been convinced this was what Albus wanted.
"I like that idea!" Harry had hoped, but hadn't dared to suggest something like that. "Maybe Damocles can come along and fly alongside me?"
Severus considered the request and eventually nodded. "As long as you behave," he said, addressing the dragon, who was finally full and had stopped trying to steal food.
"Do you own a broom, Severus? Maybe we could improvise and play our own version of Quidditch?" As they were short on players, they wouldn't be able to play a proper game.
Harry eyed Snape closely and felt intrigued. He tried to imagine his professor riding a broom, but failed. Somehow, that seemed too undignified. Surely Snape would reject Remus' suggestion!
Severus considered his options carefully. "I possess a broom. Several actually." Although he greatly disliked using them, he was sometimes forced to use them for transportation.
"Great, can I burrow one from you?" Remus leaned back against his chair and grinned. Yes, today would be a good day!
Harry ran alongside Damocles, who happily entertained the boy while doing somersaults in the air. The dragon kept a close eye on the adults as well, and on his master especially, since he didn't like seeing the wizard weakened.
Harry ran toward the lake, feeling carefree for a change. He didn't have to worry about Death Eaters or other threats while staying at Hogwarts. The fact that Remus and Snape were also close reassured him further that he was quite safe.
Remus peeked at his lover and grinned at seeing the aloof expression on Severus' face. "It's not working."
Severus growled and glared at Remus. "This is madness, Remus. The moment the Dark Lord returns and realizes I betrayed him, he will sever all ties with me. I will no longer be able to spy on him."
"Did Lucius contact you already?"
"No, and knowing him the way I do, it will probably take a few more days until he contacts me – if he contacts me at all. Lucius likes to take his time when deciding on a next move. Also, he might not reveal his suspicions to me."
"I understand your problem," Remus said in an attempt to placate his lover. "But there is not much you can do for now, so why not enjoy the day? The sun is shining, the sky is blue and to cut a long story short, it's basically a gorgeous summer's day!"
Severus shook his head. "I will never understand how you can dismiss such troubles so easily."
"Because there is nothing I can do about it right now." Remus reached for his lover's hand and gave him a puzzled look when Severus tried to remove his hand again. "What's wrong?"
Severus sighed. "You don't want him to find out about us, do you?"
"Why not?" Remus blinked in surprise. "I honestly don't believe he would oppose our relationship."
"How can you say that?" Severus' eyes narrowed suspiciously.
Remus shrugged. "Do you think he would risk alienating two of his friends? He has so few."
"I doubt he considers me a friend!" Severus sneered.
"Not yet, but you are getting there!" Remus resolutely took hold of Severus' hand and twined their fingers, effectively ignoring the glare the other wizard gave him. "Behave," he told Severus. "I will reward you later."
"Reward me?" Severus' eyes widened comically. "What are you talking about?"
Remus wiggled an eyebrow. "If you want to find out, behave!" He doubted it would work, but he could try, couldn't he?
Harry had reached the lake and turned around to check on the others. What was that? His eyes must be deceiving him! Why were Remus and Snape holding hands? He blinked and then studied Remus' expression. What he saw in those blue eyes stunned him. Love, concern and compassion lay in those eyes whenever the werewolf stared at Snape. "What?" he stammered.
Severus shot Remus a look which said 'told you so', but refrained from commenting. He rather left it to Remus to deal with the boy's confusion. Confusion? Now, that did surprise him. He had expected nothing less than disgust!
Remus didn't let go of Severus' hand. He held onto it, even when his lover tried to pull away. "Harry, this will come as a surprise, but Severus and I have grown close during the last two weeks."
"Close?" Harry gulped. It was hard to imagine Snape, the greasy git, the bat from the dungeons, being close to anyone! But looking at the Potions Master know, he realized the hair wasn't greasy at all and he didn't look that pale either. Come to think it, he looked a bit tanned and the expression in his eyes was different too – warmer. He saved my life – not just once but several times. It is obvious he cares about me – so why wouldn't he be able to care about Remus too?
"I know this is unexpected, but I would appreciate it if you gave us a chance," Remus continued. "I also know that you need time to get used to seeing us like this, and I would be grateful if you didn't push us away."
Severus felt odd; Remus continued to refer to *them* - not just himself. Harry stared at him in disbelief and Severus wondered if he should say something as well. In the end, he whispered, "I care deeply about Remus. I am not lying, Harry."
Hearing the Potions Master call him Harry made him smile. Well, he reckoned there were worse things in life than finding Remus and Snape holding hands. "I will work on it," he said and even managed a wink. "How did this happen?" He was genuinely curious about them.
Remus squeezed Severus' hand reassuringly. "It happened gradually. It began when Severus cared for me while I was still recovering from my transformation. We never realized it before, but we actually have a lot in common."
Harry nodded again. He could live with them being together – he hadn't thought that possible, but lots had changed after finding out that Snape had just acted being a bully. "You surprised me," he admitted, "but I am fine with it. I hope the two of you work out." Seeing the shock on Snape's face, Harry chuckled. "It helps that you are not the bully I always thought you were."
Severus carefully phrased his reply. "I still disagree with you about finding out the truth about me. I don't understand why the Headmaster encourages you to befriend me." He refused to play games with the boy at that point. Harry's acceptance of his love for Remus was important to him.
Harry shrugged. "I don't understand it either, but I am not complaining." He smiled. "I am happy to have gained a friend… May I call you that?" Ever since realizing there was a gentle and caring side to the Potions Master, he had felt eager to encourage Severus to continue to treat him that way.
Severus glanced at Remus, and when his lover nodded, he made eye contact with the boy again. "Harry, I am not sure it will last. I might be forced to bully you in public again." If there was even the smallest chance of Lucius being unaware of his true alliance, then he had continue the game he was playing, even if it was dangerous.
"I can deal with that," Harry assured the older wizard. "Especially since I know it is just an act. I will play along, don't worry about it."
Severus wasn't sure that allowing Harry to befriend him was wise, but he reckoned, only time would tell. He nodded, and was taken aback when Harry gave him a blinding smile before running off chasing after Damocles. Climbing onto his broom, Harry followed the tiny dragon into the air.
"Everything will work out just fine," Remus said reassuringly. "You will see!"
"I hope so," Severus said and sighed; he really did.
The end (for now)
Since I find it easier to write in sequels, I decided to do just that. I can't tell you when to expect some new, but I reckon I will continue writing this story, but in chunks like this. Feedback is welcome…