Some info before you get into the story: this fic kind of has a medieval setting, with segregation between 'nobles' and 'peasants'. Albus Dumbledore is the 'Lord' of the castle Hogwarts as well as its surrounding village of Hogsmeade. Voldemort is 'Lord' of another stronghold and its surrounding village of Hangleton. Most characters are in the places they should be (ex: the Malfoys are in Hangleton with Voldemort, the Potters are in Hogsmeade with Dumbledore), except (notably) Lupin who is outside both villages. I hesitated as to where to put Snape and Sirius Black, but eventually settled for Hogsmeade as it's easier for the storyline. Some people have had their ages changed as to not have to create OCs (ex: Karkaroff, Amelia Bones, ...).

WARNINGS:cursing, mild gore, non-con/dub-con sexual content, slash/yaoi/homosexual relationships, ...

This is going to be a SLASH fic between Severus Snape and Remus Lupin. If you don't like that kind of stuff, turn away now.

EDITED: for timeline inconsistencies.

The sun shone down through the clouds with enough intensity to make the completely black-clad figure sweat despite the frequent cool gusts signaling the onset of autumn. His hair flapped around in the air, getting in his face and eyes, making him huff and jerk his head irritably like a teenager, though it didn't stop him from carefully tending to his garden. He was currently cultivating a cluster of small, strange sprouts, all made up of tiny bulbs, interconnected by hair-thin, delicate-looking stems. However fragile they might appear, the man understood that this particular plant only grew in colder weather, and was reputed for its fortifying properties, especially potent when used in potions.

After a few moments, he lifted his head, wind still whipping his hair about, and surveyed his work. Satisfied with what he saw, he pushed himself to his feet stiffly, knees sore from crouching and kneeling for so long, and went into his small cottage. It was a simple thing: made of stones and held together with Cementing Solution, warded with magic, to keep the cold (and intruders) out. The man came into the kitchen and poured himself a cup of tea. He removed his dragon hide gloves with some difficulty, the coldness having affected his digits much more than the rest of his body, and wrapped his long fingers around the simple mug in an attempt to warm himself. Instead, his fingers started to tingle uncomfortably and he was soon forced to put the cup down.

"Snape!" There was a muted pounding that could be heard. "Snape! You in there?"

Not in a hurry to greet his visitor, Snape took a quick sip of his tea, only to hastily spit out the too hot liquid back into the mug as his tongue and mouth were burned. A scowl now firmly set on his lined face, not so much from age but from hardship, he went out of his kitchen, sliding the door open and going into the living room, the door sliding automatically back into place, disguised as a bookshelf from this side. The pounding against the front door was louder here, as was the obnoxious voice calling his name incessantly and annoyingly. In four long strides he had crossed the room and had wrenched the door open, though not opening the wards to allow the outsider access.

"Snape," his name was said coolly, this time quieter than before, since even Sirius Black did not feel the need to shout in people's faces. An openly malicious grin split the handsome man's face. "I need something—"

"Wait for Thursday like everyone else," Snape growled silkily, and had the door almost shut before Black had a chance to react. But alas, years of Quidditch, a sport only allowed for the nobles (not that Snape would ever go flying on a broomstick, of all things), had honed the other man's reflexes, and he had stuck his polished boot in the doorway, preventing the door from closing.

"Now, now, Snape, don't be that way," Black said, in a tone that anyone else might have mistaken for soothing, but Snape knew that the other man was mocking him from the way his grey eyes hardened. "Where have your manners gone? Even bastards have them, I know it." Hearing the insult did not make Snape color as it might once have. He had long since gotten over the injustice of it. No, he had not asked his mother to fall in love with a noble, no, he had not asked them to sleep together and conceive him, no, he had not asked his grandparents to turn their noses at him and leave him in the dirt with his mother. When he was younger he had seen a portrait of his half-brothers and sisters in a newspaper he had stolen, all dressed finely and grouped around his father and his wife. He had asked his mother who they were, and why is father there with them? His mother had gotten angry, in turn his step-father had gotten angry, and in turn he himself had gotten angry. Why was his father over with them and not with him? His mother had explained their story the next day. He had not understood right away. The children at school helped him though. Bastard, bastard, they sneered, to his face or to his back, it hadn't mattered. Illegitimacy was getting less and less common, even in the lower, poorer circles. Everyone wanted to have a life resembling that of the nobles, even if was bloody impossible, given the difference in wealth. Unless you looked like one of them and got yourself to pass for their long-lost sibling, chances were you'd stay in the gutter where they said you belonged, as they kicked you further in each day.

(Move up the social ladder, always) Snape mused to himself. (Even animals do it)

Wolves for example, and the uninvited thought made him grip the door handle with more force than necessary. He did not like to be reminded of wolves.

"Snape!" Black snapped, and he was reminded that the pompous buffoon was still talking, if not to give him information, to hear his own voice. "Are you listening?"

"No. I'm afraid I wasn't," Snape replied silkily.

"Will you open the door?" Black huffed. "I prefer to see faces when I'm talking to people."

"You could have fooled me, with what sticking your nose in the air all the time," he replied in a half-mutter, not that he bothered hiding his opinions. It hadn't made him many friends, but he hadn't had many friends even when he had been polite.

"You're one to talk about noses, Snivillus…" Snape rolled his eyes. Another insult he didn't bother reddening at anymore. He knew it, the world knew it: he had an enormous nose. If he thought about it, it was rather probable that he had been mocked all his life more for his nose than for his illegitimacy. It made sense, he supposed. His nose was distinct (if it shrunk down a bit, people told him, the rest of his face might just be visible), and his parents' civil status rather less. 'Snivillus' was also another insult, and it stemmed from his nose. When he was younger and if he was crying, or ill, his nose would often become a bright red…thing and the children would laugh whenever he blew or wiped it. What's so funny? he screamed at them, not at all comprehending. What's so funny?

His mother hadn't understood why he had stopped going to school. You won't get anywhere if you don't stay in school and learn, Severus. He had laughed in her face. It won't get me anywhere if I stay in school, he had shouted back. Look at you! It wasn't the first time he had been beaten by his stepfather, but it was the first time he had ran away. Curling up in crate next to a heap of trash, the sickly sweet, nauseating smell of garbage all throughout the night, wandering around during the day…the memories remained sharp, despite them being more than ten years old.

"Snape!" his name was spat once more. "I will not repeat myself again."

"Wonderful. Perhaps you'd be on your way, then." Snape pictured Black stomping his foot like a child throwing a tantrum. The image came easily.

"Snape!" Black stressed the word. "I command you to get me a bottle of pain relieving potion!"

Snape raised an eyebrow and, ever so slowly, opened the door. "You command me?" he repeated incredulously. Black remained stony. "Well, well," he murmured lowly. "If you command me, my liege, I must obey." Something else appeared in Black's eyes, and he cocked his head to the side ever slightly, like a dog. He took his foot out from the doorway and opened his mouth to speak, but received the door to the face instead. After a noise of indignation, Black predictably resumed his shouting and pounding at the door. Allowing himself a brief half-chuckle, Snape put his stoic mask back on and wrenched the door open once more, nearly receiving a fist to the face for his trouble.

"Snape! It's for Madam Potter," Black shouted, as if that would have made Snape change his mind. True, he, like everyone else, had been shocked when the son of the current Lord Potter, James, had plucked a peasant girl out of the gutter and declare that they were going to be married. She was stunning but shy, and for whatever reason the Potters had agreed to the wedding. They had suffered the ridicule of the rest of the Court, but Lily had learnt quickly, and Snape didn't think that James Potter's face could glow any brighter, or his head get any bigger. Most nobles seemed to be born with colossal heads, and therefore there seemed to be no limit as to how big they could get. When he was idle and his thoughts wandered to the aristocracy, he often wondered how the noble women managed to give birth.

"Surely your parents got you a Potions tutor, Black?" Snape said instead.

"Yes, but what has that got to do with—"

"Women with child cannot take pain relieving potions," he said firmly. "Well," he corrected himself, "of course they can, but the potion prevents the synapses from sending messages to each other, which is fine for them, but as they are taking for two, the child runs the risk of being desensitized. And no mother wants that, now does she?"

Black looked disbelieving. "You mean I came all this way for nothing?"

Snape looked at him sharply. "I know the Potters have a page. And I find it difficult to believe that an entire family of nobles does not know that pregnant women cannot take pain relieving potions. What are you doing here, Black?"

The man faked an innocent look. Snape knew it was faked because Black had never been innocent. "Well, I was just riding around, you see, and…"

"Save it," Snape snapped, suddenly feeling ten times more irritated. "I have no wish to hear your stories." He moved to shut the door but Black stopped it with his hand.

"Snape, wait." Black's eager face was unexpectedly in the doorway. Snape suddenly had the urge to slam the door on his head, just to see if it'd deflate like a balloon. "I… I actually came for a potion…for me."

The urge to sigh was nearly overwhelming. "What now?"

"Felix felicis," Black said.

Snape gave him a dry look. "It takes a month to brew, Black. And the ingredients are hard to come by."


"So I haven't got any in stock." That, and he probably wouldn't sell it to Black. Well, not unless he was offered about a million Galleons. Black probably had that kind of money too.

He looked thoughtful, an expression Snape didn't know nobles could use. "A month, you say?" Snape nodded. "I'll be back on the front by then." Black glanced at Snape, but the latter's expression gave away nothing. He had, thankfully he told himself, not been summoned to defend the city two years ago, due to his profession. He, and the rest of the apothecaries of Hogsmeade, brewed Skele-Grow, Pepper-Up Potions, other various remedies, and to an extent, Veritserum and Polyjuice Potion, for their 'brave soldiers protecting them from evil and the Dark Lord Voldemort', at least, that was what Chief Mugwup Albus had called them. Snape personally thought that the man was going senile with age, but was happy to leave people in their delusions as long as the affair left him in peace. He had, however, been surprised that Black had joined the army, being a noble first of all (most of the aristocracy paid for replacements, so their precious little boys would not be harmed, maimed, killed), and being a foreigner second of all (his family actually came from the neighboring city, the one they were in conflict with). Snape snorted in his mind. His own mother and stepfather were foreigners, being from that same city.

No, if he was honest with himself, he was surprised the Chief Albus had allowed Black to join the army, just as, in private, he was surprised they used his potions. Black could lead them into an ambush, Snape could poison the brews… he had heard such things in the beginning of the war. But he had learned to ignore them, just as he had learned to ignore the taunts of his classmates when he was a child. It didn't matter anyway. They were all dying or being mutilated, and before that they had had dull but difficult jobs: transporting material, cleaning the streets…and some of them were without jobs at all, slowly dying in the gutter, hand out for change and mouth open in a twisted, dying croak. And he…he had his own apothecary service, and it was slowly but surely getting more recognition each day…look! Black, a man that would only have sneered at him a year or two ago for being a peasant, was on his doorstep asking for potions. Potions he didn't have, but that was not the point.

"Could you send me a bottle?" Black's eyes were hopeful.

"Afraid of dying, Black?" Snape said lowly. He paused. "Or are you afraid of getting your pretty face maimed?" Black didn't have enough time to finish his sentence ("You think my face is—"), as Snape was already continuing. "You know the army's policies about the transport of materials. If such a shipment was intercepted…well, I'd be held responsible. And I've no desire whatsoever to be accused of lending aid to the enemy."

Black regarded him for a moment. "What about Wolfsbane?" he asked lowly.

Snape raised an eyebrow. "Wolfsbane?" he murmured, cogs whizzing in his head immediately.

Black ducked his head. "I meant the plant. Not the potion."

"I haven't got any."

"Ah," Black said, sounding so disappointed that Severus had blurted out that he knew where it grew in the forest before his mind could register the words and approve their going out. Black's head shot up and his eyes were wide. "Really? You could get some?"

"It'll cost you, of course." Why do something for free when you can get paid for it?

"Of course, of course." He rested his head against the door and looked almost wistful. "To protect against werewolves. I tried to grow it myself but I…" He gave a strange, self-depreciating laugh. "…it died."

"Right," Snape replied, uninterested. "I have other things to do—"

"When can you get the aconite?" Black suddenly blurted, his head shooting back up, inches from Snape's face.

"It's most potent on the full moon—"

"And when's that?"

"If you'd let me finish, Black, you might know!" came the snarled response. "It's in two days. Or nights. Whichever."

The other man nodded. "And could you deliver it to Potter Manor?"

Snape's dark eyes narrowed. "I do not do deliveries." No, he'd had quite enough of that. And he would not go out of his way to serve nobles.

"Well…" Black paused for a moment, eyes fixed on Snape's face in a way that almost made him uncomfortable. "It's alright. I'll be here on…oh, Thursday."

Snape frowned. "In that case, you could go to the market. Like everyone else," he repeated.

This, strangely enough, seemed to dampen Black's mood. "Erm…alright. Yeah. I'll be there. To get it." He murmured some more, mostly repetitions of what he had just said. Snape waited for a while, before losing his patience and slamming the door without a goodbye. He returned to the kitchen and chugged down his warm tea. Only when he had finished the mug could he hear hooves against the ground, signaling Black's departure. As he poured himself another cup, he mentally went over the list of potions he was to prepare for the war effort. A new order of Veritserum had come in. Personally, Snape didn't see the point of the army having it; who knew? If the enemy got their hands on it, along with a Hogsmeadian soldier… officially, the potion was used to force the truth from soldiers suspected of treason. And the orders always came in tiny quantities: three drops precisely. Only allowing for one interrogation. And the army could only possess one shot at a time.

Snape sighed and took a sip of his tea, only to spit it out as it burned his mouth a second time.

For the twenty-second time that evening, Snape asked himself what he had been thinking when he had accepted to collect aconite for Black. The city guards looked him over once and opened the series of warded gates for him once he had told them the reason of his outing and the contents of his bag.

(Pointless. I wouldn't tell them if I was going to discuss plans with the Dark Lord's soldiers)

His eyes were automatically drawn to the full moon, glowing brightly and throwing the ground into grayish light. He shivered slightly at the sight and pulled his cloak more tightly around himself, bottles clinking against each other in his action. He started walking towards the path that separated the thick trees in two bunches. He was soon deep inside the forest, and his eyes found the strange, gnarled tree that served as a marker after what seemed an eternity. He stepped off the path and stepped around the tree gingerly, as if it might suddenly rear up and attack. He continued into the forest.

Nothing was audible except for the howling of the wind and, when that let up, the sound of his rough breathing. He had just noticed a small patch of aconite and was bending over to pick it when a wolf's howl suddenly made him jump and nearly fall over in fright. The forest had gone deathly silent, even in the moments that followed the howl. Snape hurriedly scooped the plant up and stuffed it into a bag in his robes, not wanting to chance an encounter with wolves. He could still remember watching his stepfather, immobile, being torn apart by a hungry pack. He had been Stunned, he couldn't feel anything, the guards had told him later, as if that had excused their incompetence. It figured that the only people allowed to use magic and wands were either nobility or security forces. Though, he supposed, if he had had a wand on him, he probably would have cursed those fools six ways from Sunday for doing what they had, even if Igor had been tolerable at best when he had been alive.

It had started out simple. His stepfather worked as a transporter. But the farmer had taken ill and the stuff had not all been picked. So his stepfather had had to go do it. He had taken his stepson along. It wouldn't hurt to have an extra pair of hands, he'd said. So they had done it, gotten everything packed up in crates the way it should be done and they were on the road a little before nightfall.

Snape walked through the forest quickly, the combination of cold and fear making his movements jerky and clumsy. The weather now was just as the weather had been then. But back then, the fear was less present. He had had his stepfather there next to him. Igor Karkaroff, tall and muscular, a little dark, built for his job; there was no need to be afraid.

(Do we ever need to be afraid?)

That had changed soon enough. The wolves could smell the chickens they had on the cart. Even if they couldn't, the damn things had been making enough noise to draw unwanted attention. The wolves could smell the humans on the cart. What could two do against ten? Hogsmeade's gates had been visible, but that hadn't helped them. The horse had panicked, and it was the thing the wolves had gone after first. With their momentum, when the horse had finally screamed and toppled over right into awaiting jaws and paws, the two humans had been thrown from their seats and sent tumbling in the dirt. A part of the pack had broken off of the horse to go after them.

"Stop it," Severus snapped, fear and anger suddenly overwhelming him. He hadn't thought about that night in years. How could he start reminiscing here and now, of all places? Another howl cut through the air, closer, louder, more powerful. He quickened his steps and continued on the path back to Hogsmeade.

A few moments later, a noise in the underbrush had him pausing suddenly, heart rate shooting up and hand going apprehensively to his pocket where he had stashed some mixes in case of trouble. He grasped one firmly and wondered if he should continue walking or just stand there acting like a frightened fool. He was briefly pleased that he had chosen the latter as a very large wolf suddenly leaped out of the brush. The beast would have landed on him had he not jumped out of the way and flung a glass vial full of paralysis-inducing powder at it in panic. He then took off at a sprint. A loud snarl had him understanding that he had missed his mark.

He knew instinctively more than saw or heard the wolf chasing him. Adrenaline and panic shot through him, screaming at him to go and run faster. The beast appeared suddenly at his right, snapping its powerful jaws, and Severus bolted away in the opposite direction. He regretted it immediately. Not only was he straying away from the direction that led back to the village, but he also had to go through all the dying foliage and rocks and exposed tree roots that slowed him down and allowed the wolf to get closer to its dinner.

He was tiring quickly. He wasn't used to so much exercise, he wasn't a soldier! He reached into his pockets and threw mixes behind him blindly, hoping, begging, praying that one of them would at least slow the beast down and allow him to get away with his life.

He was burning out, he knew it. And the wolf seemed to be slowing as well, keeping pace. Anger and desperation gave him a small burst of energy to continue, despite the burn in his thighs and lungs. Did wolves play with their meals? Maybe if he exhausted himself, he wouldn't feel his limbs being torn off.

Out of nowhere, he was falling suddenly. His foot had been caught someplace, and his panic increased tenfold as a large jagged rock came closer.

(I won't feel a thing then)

The rock smashed against his forehead and the world went black.

"Run!" It had been the urgency in his Igor's voice that had sent his legs into an automatic sprint towards the gates. It hadn't helped. A quick snap of a set of jaws around his right leg forced a scream from his lips even as he fell and his mouth and nose were filled with earth. The wolf shook its head about, as if his leg had been a chew toy, forcing its teeth in deeper and eliciting more cries. A sudden, deafening bang sounded, birds took off from their trees, and every eye in the area was suddenly on Igor. Severus himself couldn't believe his eyes. In his stepfather's trembling hands, was a strangely twisted, shiny metal tube, smoking from its tip. It hadn't been until afterwards that he had been told that Igor had been in illegal possession of a Muggle firearm, a terrible weapon of destruction so powerful that a single pull of its trigger could kill you as easily as Avada Kedavra, or could leave you in unbearable pain like the Cruciatus. To use, or even to have one in your possession was considered barbaric, and it descended you to dirt, where the Muggles were.

Perhaps that was why the guards hadn't come out from the fortress to help them, Severus had decided later. According to them, they had not known what the commotion had been, it could have just been animals fighting, and observing was to be done on the fortress wall, not at the scene. Severus had been so angry that he had tried to hit the guard, rather unsuccessfully since his bloody hand had impacted against the enchanted fabric, feeling something like metal against his knuckles, and as soon as he had recoiled, hands were grabbing him, picking him up and hoisting him over a broad shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He had screamed and kicked with his good leg, shouting injustice and punctuating his short sentences with all the curse words he knew. He was soon dumped unceremoniously into a cartful of hay and left there, presented with the view of the guard's back as he returned to the fortress wall. He had jumped down from the cart and promptly crumpled to the ground, hollering in agony as his weight came down on his injured leg. It seemed to be the final crack in the floodgate; one tear squeezed its way out and down his face, and he was bawling his eyes out, the pain in his hand and leg seemingly having disappeared, and the pain in his chest and heart taking over his thoughts. He simply laid there, not moving. What did it matter anyway? His stepfather was dead, and even if he didn't die of infection he and his mother would have no way to feed themselves or keep their tiny house.

The next thing he knew, he was coming around, his eyelids heavy and his leg throbbing dully, lying on something soft and almost clean smelling. He panicked. He wondered if he had died. Died sobbing his eyes out next to a hay cart. His classmates, or ex-classmates, would be having a field day. A scowl split his face as he stiffly pushed himself up in a sitting position. He didn't need to care what his stupid classmates thought of him if he was dead. But as he looked around the room, the feeling that he probably wasn't grew.

The room was simply but elegantly furnished, and just as big as his own house. This sent a stab of pain through his heart. He gritted his teeth and hung his head, trying to clear his mind, determined not to break down again. Opening his eyes again, he realized that his leg had been bandaged. He raised his hand and flexed it, realizing that it wasn't paining him either. The scowl disappeared in favor of a frown. Where was he? And who else was here?

He swung his legs over the side of the bed (a bed! An actual bed as opposed to a mattress or straw on the floor!) and tested his right leg before getting up slowly. Though it supported his weight much better than before, it was stiff and not strong enough to take the weight it normally did, forcing Severus hobble across the room to the door. He opened it slowly, putting an eye to the crack before pulling it open enough for him to slip out. A murmur of voices to his left had him freezing, and as the door opened, he suddenly found himself unable to move. A woman, obviously noble by her clothes, around 25, he'd guess, stood in the doorway, looking equally surprised to see him.

"You're awake," she said, stating the obvious, and Severus felt contempt at her already as she tilted her head to the side slightly. "But you shouldn't be moving around on that leg," she added, a touch of sternness in her voice this time. "Back in you go," she commanded, moving towards him. He immediately backed up into the wall. She paused, her face twisted ever so slightly into an almost scowl. "I'm not going to bite you, child." Severus took careful steps backwards, eyes not leaving her figure, hands feeling against the walls, and finally grasping the doorknob and zipping in backwards, shutting the door quickly afterwards.

He was in a noble's house?! What noble in their right mind would bring him to their house? The doorknob twisted in front of him and he leapt away, staggering slightly as he put too much weight on his bad leg. The door opened and the woman came partially in. Severus held very still.

"Get in bed," she said. Severus didn't move. Her eyebrow raised slightly. "Must I repeat myself?"

Severus scowled. Typical noble, thinking their word was the law, thinking they had the right to reign over others and make their lives more miserable than usual. He inched towards the bed carefully, before letting his weight collapse down on it. He stayed stiff and scowling. The woman looked rather impatient, and looked as if she'd say something else, but she suddenly stepped aside to let a servant (obvious by her clothes) carrying a tray and something pleasant-smelling in. Severus couldn't stop himself from perking in and leaning forward to catch stronger whiffs of the stuff, saliva collecting in his mouth. The servant set the tray down on his lap and he got a look at what was on it: a bowl of soup, as large as his head, some slices of bread, and water. Impatiently, and now oblivious to his audience, he grabbed the spoon, and with a trembling hand, dipped it into the soup, and tasted it. He swallowed and eagerly went back for more.

It soon was all finished, and the servant took the tray and went back out. The noble woman, who had, at some point, pulled a chair up next to his bed and sat down, looked at him calmly for a moment as he sat there licking his thin lips.

"Tomorrow we'll be letting you go. Your leg should be completely healed by then."

Something in her words made Severus pause in his licking and observe her. Of course. He recognized her now. Even if he had never seen her personally, he knew who she was by the descriptions many gave of her; Amelia Bones, famous in the lower circles and notorious in the higher circles for the help she'd often give poor children. Famous in the lower circles because everyone there secretly (or openly) hoped that they'd receive her aid, and notorious in the higher ones because everyone there believed she was possibly deranged, and plus she was not yet married. Possibly worst of all, she, a noble of good bearing, worked! But even they couldn't say anything too bad about her since she, as well as several of her family members, worked in the Ministry branch of Magical Law Enforcement. For this same reason, if you were poor and unlucky enough to have been caught doing something you shouldn't have, singing praises to her name was customary, if not to try and better your fate, then to amuse the guards.

"But I would like to know what happened to your leg. For my own knowledge." Meaning that she probably wouldn't go to the guards if he had been doing something illegal. Probably.

"Bit by a wolf," he said lowly, and those four words were enough to make his heart clench and make the tears threaten to fall. His throat seized up and he bit his lip hard. He wiped his nose with his hand and suddenly in front of him, there was a hand holding out a square piece of cloth, embroidered on the edges and with ornamental letters in the corner that he struggled to make sense of. He hesitantly took it, and sniffed several times before wiping his eyes with the handkerchief.

"What happened?" came the soft inquiry. He bit down on his lip harder. The taste of blood came to his tongue, and it brought too fresh memories to the forefront of his mind suddenly, too suddenly, much too suddenly. He leaned over and vomited. Stomach acid burned his damaged lips. A warm hand on his arm, and suddenly he was talking, the words going so fast his brain could barely register them flying out of his mouth, talking about transporting and wolves and firearms and idiotic guards that had probably gotten him a place in the workhouse. He was dimly aware of a warm hand on his knee and Miss Bones soothingly telling him to calm down. He took long shuddering breaths, hands trembling uncontrollably, and his eyes blinded by tears.

After the first shot, Igor had moved forward and pried the dead wolf's jaws from Severus, who was too shocked to do it himself. Throwing an arm around his waist and pulling him up, close to his own body, Igor ran awkwardly, supporting Severus with some effort, and his wild eyes roaming over the different wolves, the firearm following his eyes' movements. A few steps was enough time for the beasts to realize the rest of their meal was getting away and they restarted the chase.

"Help! HELP!" Igor had screamed, the gates and the wolves getting closer with every dash. Severus could see the guards running about on top of the fortress wall. Some had their wands at the ready and were aiming. The gate opened to let a handful of them out.

"And…fire!" Fifteen Stunners were sent their way. The wolves were agile; most evaded the spells and continued the chase, snapping at Igor's heels. Igor was bulky and panicking, only just managing to evade the red lights.

Another wave, sent their way. That time, Igor hadn't been so lucky. Two Stunners impacted against his chest, he froze and tumbled, bringing his stepson down with him. Severus screamed. Several sets of jaws came down onto him. He was suddenly in pain, and the wolves around him were snarling and whimpering and backing off to get the easier meal instead. He couldn't stop the pitiful sounds from coming out of his mouth, he was floating in the air, he realized, but was in too much pain to try and panic.

"Igor! Igor!" he shouted, but the other man remained immobile. "Igor!" It was only then that he noticed that the scene was tinted strangely, and every time a wolf dove in for a bite, when it pulled back, its muzzle was covered with…

"IGOR!" The magic holding him up vanished and he fell into the waiting arms of a guard. "DO SOMETHING! DO SOMETHING!"

They didn't. The leader raised his wand calmly, and Severus felt a flash of hope in his chest, which promptly went out with the uttered "Accio firearm".

"DO SOMETHING!" he continued to scream. Was the handgun all they cared about? A man was being eaten alive by wolves and all the guards cared about was the firearm?!

It was then, as he was sobbing his eyes out on Miss Bones's knees, that he realized that he hated Hogsmeade and their hypocrisy. He hadn't quite been at that point before, of course going to school and being bullied over the size of his nose and his parentage was a chore, watching people of higher bearing sneer down and flick Knuts to the ground just to see others scrabble and fight to get it was even more so…but he hated not understanding the reason for the guards' utter disregard to Igor's life.

"A firearm…" Miss Bones murmured, her voice only coming out as curious rather than scandalized. Severus tried to stop the flow of his tears to little success. She regarded him for a while before saying, "You should rest some more. The potions will do what they can but it's mostly up to your body. You can lie down while Ellen gets you more stew. Try to keep it down this time." Her tone wasn't quite as patronizing as it could have been, and so Severus complied.

He was suddenly exhausted and feeling somewhat numb, even if his leg would give the occasional throb that seemed to go through his entire thin frame. He wondered dimly if his mother had heard the news yet.