Title: Touch and Go
Fandom/Pairing: HP, RL/SS, HP/DM
Disclaimer: All characters and concepts are those of JK Rowling, owned by
Scholastic, Bloomsbury and WB.
Summary: Remus gets captured. Severus brews up new potions. Draco defects. It
all comes together somehow.
AN: This was written pre-HBP and left as it was in the editing process except
for one very small change. Also, I have absolutely no animosity toward Tonks.
Actually, I rather like her. Oh, and I've only been to Llanelli once and it was
the rather industrial part, hence my limited knowledge of it.
Before he killed her, Tonks said, "Don't you say a bloody word, Remus
It had crossed his mind, of all things, to wonder how she knew his middle
name. Then her hair turned black and spiky where it had been blue and lush.
"Don't Tonks me. Not a word."
"Not even that word," she said. The spikes became pointier.
Remus kept quiet then until the next morning, when he vomited up the parts of
her that his human system, his human mind, weren't keen on keeping inside of
him. He said it quietly then, I'm sorry, over and over and
over. He said it quietly until the Death Eaters came again, came like they
always did, when he stopped saying anything.
Not a word.
Tonks, of course, was a tactic tried long after his initial capture. It had
most likely taken them that long to find another person suitable to the task of
trying to get Remus Lupin to give up his secrets.
The first, well first after the Veritaserum that he had adequately resisted,
had been silver nitrate. Not enough to kill, no, certainly not. Enough to put
Remus in agony that he wasn't sure the Cruciatus could really
It did. Rival it, that is. Perhaps even surpass it. Remus found that out
After that he stopped paying attention. A million tactics, each more painful
than the last, and Remus couldn't be bothered to keep track. It didn't matter.
He wasn't going to say anything.
Tonks had almost been enough. He'd considered shouting out names, places,
when they threw her in there just as his body was beginning to yearn toward
twisting, his mind toward carnal and carnivorous abandon.
Of course, Tonks was a member of the Order, too. A member sworn to protect
Harry, their way of life, all that pretty much wasn't Voldemort and his
henchmonkeys, with her life.
The Muggle boy they tried the trick with next wasn't. The Muggle boy of about
ten with big green eyes and wild black hair.
The irony of it was that Remus understood the intent--to make him feel as
though he were eating Harry. Instead it only strengthened his resolve. One of
his friends was already dead at his hands. He would not betray Harry and kill
yet more. Not even for the life of an innocent. Not even to be able to live past
this moment in any type of peace.
Remus did tell the boy he was sorry. And when the boy had quaked,
"S-sorry?" Remus had just shaken his head, unwilling to say more. The
boy didn't need to know what would happen ahead of time.
He repeated his vigil of purging and repentance in the morning, and when the
Death Eaters came, he kept right on saying nothing.
It was their last attempt, their move of desperation. Remus, of course,
wouldn't know that until much later, wouldn't understand just why it was that
this dose of Veritaserum--was it? Didn't feel like it. Acted
like it--made him so sick, made him spew things, bile and words. The bile he was
used to at this point.
The words were new. Unwelcome.
He didn't understand then either why they didn't kill him straightaway; was
too sick to be exactly sure what he'd told them and what he hadn't. He was
careful not to think, Harry, oh fuck, Harry for fear that he
would say something he wasn't thinking, something dangerous. Remus couldn't feel
them near him, couldn't smell them or hear them, but the sickness was
disorienting and debilitating, and he didn't much trust himself. At all.
He must have passed out at some point, fallen into his own waste, because he
woke up smelling no difference between it and himself. Which was why it took him
so long to realize that he was no longer alone in the cell. His first thought at
that realization was panic of a distant sort, panic that he hadn't known it was
the full moon, that he was too far gone to recognize the clamoring of his
muscles to reform under, outside of, with his skin. Then he looked at the
prisoners and that former panic became unimportant.
"Severus?" Remus's voice barely made it off his own tongue, but
Severus must have heard because the figure, black and coiled, dirty and
"What did you tell them?" The movement revealed something, a second
prisoner. Red hair and Remus thought, not Ron, Harry will come, not
Ron and then, as the boy moved his face and Remus saw that it was one
of the twins, he moved to hating himself for the knot of tension that worked
itself free inside of him.
He concentrated on the question asked by Severus. "I don't know. They
gave me--I'm not sure. Veritaserum? I resisted it, though. The first time. I'm
not sure why this time was different."
Remus wished he could see Severus's face, as there was no immediate sneer,
retaliatory comment. Instead he said, with a mercy Remus had long forgotten him
capable of, "I think you must've kept silent on the pertinent issues."
Remus said, "You're pretty bloody pertinent."
"I'm not so much, though, so we're still all right," the twin said
in a rather droll tone. George then. George was always much better at sardonic
than Fred. Remus had appreciated it as their teacher.
More than ever, Remus wondered what the hell he could have said to have these
two sharing space with him. Severus wasn't much of a wonder, but the twins
weren't even part of the Order. "What are you doing
George laughed. Amazingly, though slightly thin, it didn't sound bitter.
"Wrong place, wrong time, mate. Y'donít mind the familiarity?"
Remus recognized the sort of crazed bravery for what it was. "Severus-"
"If you're still alive they certainly won't want the two of you dead any
time soon. I might very well be another matter. He's not fond of traitors. You
did- You kept what you needed to keep. See if you can't manage to continue to do
so." He turned his head toward George. "You as well. Remember what
rests on your silence."
George straightened up and Remus's improving night-vision caught what he
hadn't before--the bruises and burns decorating both his fellow captor's faces,
most likely effects of well-aimed hexes. "I am a
Severus sighed, settled back against the wall in a jarringly unfamiliar blend
of casual movement. "As though life needed to get more depressing."
Lucius came for Severus and Remus couldn't help but think that no good could
come of that. Of course, no good could really come of anyone removing Severus
from the cell ever at this given junction, but Remus was the possessor of a
sometimes painfully long memory, one that spanned back to their school days when
Severus had written papers for the older, more pernicious boy. With the two of
them, it was personal.
Then again, Severus was a spy, Remus imagined there might be threads of
personal he would never see, not even were Severus to present him with the quilt
they were sewn into. Which Severus, of course, never would.
Remus would have preferred it being someone other than Lucius. The look on
Severus's face as he followed Lucius out with his sleek gliding elegance gave no
hint of whether he felt the same or not.
George said, "Know any good word games?"
Remus hadn't slept well. Not for nights. Not since the full moon. "Word
"Well, bugger's've taken my wand, I assume yours too?" George
looked over for a confirming nod. It took Remus a moment to pull together enough
comprehension to give him one. George continued, "I'm not much for wandless,
so that takes out any escaping-by-magic capers, and to be honest, I'm only at
half-best without Fred on the scheming side, so I thought word games. Passes the
time, don't it?"
Remus knew that at least a month and eleven days had passed since his
capture. The Death Eaters weren't much on talking to him unless it was to ask
questions he wouldn't answer (wouldn't, didn't, almost-) or mocking him. Remus's
life taught him far more about the power(lessness) of words, though, so he
hadn't paid much attention. Certainly hadn't said much back. The more shut his
mouth was kept, the less likely to make some sort of escape from it. The escape
he, George and Severus were currently denied. "We used to- James was
horrible at Latin. His weak spot, that and the arrogance."
George smiled at that. "Arithmancy for me. It's not the concept, just
the equations. Too much logic, Fred says, but then, Fred can't be trusted with
water, sugar and a wand all in the same room."
Remus didn't imagine many people knew that. "But so many of your gags
George looked self-deprecating. "I hope he remembers-"
"We used to say four Latin words. He'd have to figure out which one
wasn't real. James."
"I'm wonders at Latin," George said softly, as though he was
worried it might be taken as rejection.
Remus had spent the last thirty four days with people who conjured needles of
pure silver to press into the nerve-laden center of his lower back for a good
time. He wasn't easy to offend at this point, even if he ever had been. And he
didnít want to think about things that silence would give him time to think
about, had given, for nearly a week. Didn't want to think about new things,
about the fact that the people who had tortured him for a bit of a tactical
advantage and because he was an animal to them, knew Severus, hated Severus.
"Know any French?"
George tilted his head. "Bit."
"Voules-nous faire un jeu des mots?"
"I may be bad at equations, but I can count. That was certainly more
than four words."
Remus neither confirmed nor denied the charges.
They brought back Severus bearing not one mark on him. George gave the man a
wide berth as he sort of sailed into the cell, propelled by the force of Crabbe
and Goyle's pitching him toward the back. Severus caught himself with the wall
and then used it as a guiding tool for his sinking downward momentum.
Remus asked, "They dose you with the potion that worked on me?"
Severus's voice was just a little huskier than normal. "It's rather
likely that the only reason you survived being. . .dosed with that,"
Severus's tone rose in an approximation of his usual mockery, "was due your
lycanthropy. They donít want me dead. Not for the moment."
Remus would have been pleased by the recognition that whatever he gave over
to wasn't Veritaserum, and by the truth that it had in fact been a last resort
if Severus's explanation as to how he had survived it made any sense. Remus,
though, had spent near to most of his life being a werewolf and he well knew
that the healing powers of one applied only to damage done during the full moon.
Generally only to self-inflicted damage. Still, Severus wasn't looking his best,
having most like probably been tortured all day, and the man had been on
behavior that Remus could almost qualify as "good," so he left things
as they were.
Severus nearly changed Remus's mind with a casual, "They tell me you've
been positively feasting in here, Lupin."
Instead, afraid of the things that might come from his mouth were he to allow
it freedom on that subject, Remus said, "If they're going to let you, you
should get some sleep."
Either Severus saw the wisdom in this, or he was feeling too awful to argue,
either way he lowered his torso all the way to the ground and closed his eyes.
Remus knew enough about the way Order members functioned to know that at least
one eye was metaphorically open. He said, "I'll watch, Severus."
Severus gave a sort of grunt to imply that he in no way trusted the other man
with that task. Remus struggled with against own exhaustion, and the
not-yet-healed wounds that Severus had just seen fit to pour brine upon
liberally. "The more tired you are, the more likely to slip."
"I've not slipped for over twenty years. Credit me with some
"You had a holiday somewhere in those twenty years."
"We all did."
Remus thought about James and Lily's rushed funerals. Peter's. Remus had
decided to think of that day with Dumbledore speaking of the boy he had known as
a funeral of sorts. Closure was sometimes necessary. And though Remus had every
intention of making sure it happened, he would be nowhere near a second funeral
for Peter. He had already mourned that which was worth doing so over. Sirius's
commitment to Azkaban, the sound of his hysteria echoing dangerously close to
how Remus would've sounded had he been willing to say anything more than,
"Harry?" and even that had been risky.
But of course Harry couldn't be given to a no-account werewolf with no
prospects, no mention in the will and, worst yet, no blood relation. Albus had
insisted on that whole part, and Remus hadn't disagreed, not the non-hysterical
part of himself, the part that was still being built around, sheltered against
when Sirius reappeared and Peter bloody fucking well showed up and Voldemort
just had to bugger in on things as well. Harry in the middle of it, of course.
Both James and Lily had always known how to be in the worst place at the
worst time as well. There were markers to prove that point, if one knew where to
look. Remus and maybe ten others did. This man behind him, refusing to sleep,
being one of the odd ten. Remus used to wonder at the insanity of that, but then
it bled into all the rest of the insanity and he'd long stopped. "Severus."
"I killed one of my closest friends. Pulled her apart with claws that
grow on me once a month, three nights out of every month. Only friend I'd truly
made since the others," Remus wasn't sure when he'd stopped saying their
names to Severus if unnecessary, it seemed like a larger concession that he
perhaps should have made, as though he should be calling him Snape if he was
omitting other truths, but this wasn't the time to dwell on details, at least
not those details, "then a Muggle child. Size of my right leg and I'm
hardly a giant."
"You knew your capabilities."
That was the crux of it. Remus wished he could tell Severus that. Somehow, he
hadn't. "One of them is to stay awake. So that you need not."
George, who had wisely stayed silent through most of this, asked, "Would
it help if the both of us kept up?"
Severus opened one eye. Literally. Closed it. "Wake me
before they get to the cell, understood?"
Neither Remus nor George answered. Remus figured on Severus being asleep no
sooner than the question left his mouth.
George settled by the bars at one edge of the cell. "I'll watch in this
Remus was a werewolf, though. A blooded one. He hadn't known it made a
difference, but since that first kill. Tonks. He made himself form the thought
in his head, full with a visual. Since Tonks even his previously heightened
senses had sharpened, only more so with the boy.
He'd know someone was coming long before George could open his mouth to give
"Solitaire, canette, monesse, envie."
George, whom Remus was using as a sort of mental insert, a reminder of how
very young Harry was, every time they brought Severus back spotless and
incapacitated, didn't answer. He licked his lips without mentioning that he was
rather thirsty, which Remus thought was somewhat capital of him, as no liquids
had made their way to the cell in at least two days now. Remus thought it closer
to three. Finally, he asked, "You don't suppose they use his own creations
Remus was still thinking about things like Harry and water, so it took him a
moment to catch on to what George was asking. He took a good look at the boy
sitting with his legs curled up to his chest, leaning back against the wall.
Fred and George weren't in the Order for a myriad of reasons, Remus knew, the
two largest being that Albus didn't trust them to follow directions quite the
way he laid them out and they didn't much care to be told what to do.
Remus knew enough to know, though, that the Order was really just a very
small part of the sum total resistance to Voldemort's re-rising. The twins were
volatile, but they were also loyal and highly intelligent and Remus didn't doubt
for a moment that somewhere along the way Albus had manipulated them (most
likely through the unsuspecting hands of Arthur and mouth of Molly) into helping
out. He also didn't doubt that the twins had probably untangled most of the
original intent of the directives that were handed down to them and followed the
rope that Albus had unconsciously thrown them straight back to the center. Which
meant that George probably knew far more than he was supposed to.
Still, it wasn't any secret that Severus created potions in his spare time.
Thanks to Remus, it was no longer a secret that some of those most likely went
to the service of Voldemort. "I imagine that's precisely what they're
"It's awfully clean, his stuff. Not a trace of anything. I mean, where
we can see it."
Remus could hear the professional envy in George's tone. It almost made him
laugh, given the circumstances. Instead he said, "Invisibility's always
been a rather imperative part of Severus's existence, so far as I can
tell." Remus wanted to feel bad about that, about the way Sirius and James
had never allowed Severus the decency of just fading into the background,
something in which Remus himself had so often found comfort. Sirius was dead,
though, James even more so, and at the moment, Remus had his own sins to fail at
"If he. . .that is, he must have considered this possibility."
Remus rubbed a fist at eyes that were as dry as every other part of him.
"I can't for a second think that Severus didn't take into account the
prospect of capture, but I'm not entirely sure he would have planned for it by
way of his potions. I wouldn't even know what he was being asked to create, or
what Albus in turn wanted of him when he was asked. But you're entirely right,
there could be a failsafe somewhere in those potions they're dosing him with
that they don't see coming."
Something about the statement seemed to satisfy George. A grim type smile
appeared on the lower half his face and he said, "Either way, he won't give
them what they want."
Remus tilted his head back, let the wall do the work of holding it in place.
"I donít believe Severus Snape has ever given anyone
anything they wanted, not even himself."
George laughed a little. Remus took care not to take the sound for himself
and leave his cellmate with nothing.
George, resourceful fellow that he was being, had taken to sleeping most of
the time so as to conserve energy. Remus didn't begrudge him the sleep and it
made finding a way to have a conversation with Severus without him overhearing a
much easier task. Remus had long considered exactly how he was going to ask the
question, but when it was finally time, when Severus had been brought back--and
there were starting to be marks that Remus recognized all too well--but hadn't
quite had time to pass into unconsciousness, it came out the only way it would,
serious and quiet, "Tell me you're still useful to them?"
It took Severus a second to catch on, a product, Remus was sure, of the
continued torture. His, "Imminently," was a little less smug than
Remus could have hoped.
"Will you snap my neck, then?"
Severus looked as though his answer pained him more than anything that
Voldemort and all his arse-lickers could ever think to inflict upon him.
"I'm not sure I've the strength, you're going to have to ask the boy."
Remus took a moment to wonder if George perhaps had steel in him that neither
Molly nor Arthur would have been likely to produce. Bill did. Charlie didn't.
Percy. . .the verdict was still out on that one. Ron didn't, but Remus thought
Ginny showed the most promise of all of them in that area. If promise was the
word for it. "Might be better off to kill him."
Severus considered Remus, and Remus looked back, a shared communion between
killers of the unintentional sort. Remus wondered if there had been a time of
intentionality for Severus. It wouldn't have surprised him. All that rage had to
go somewhere, and Severus's bitterness, wide berth though it struck, didn't have
the depth to hold all of it. Severus said, "Perhaps, but then, once you're
not around to watch him run from in the depths of the night for the sake of
drinking and gaiety, his days are probably numbered regardless."
Cruelly, Remus told him, "Your cruelty becomes blunted after a
"Or maybe the pain of the silver was just inuring."
Remus narrowed his eyes at the mercy Severus was showing. Silver was child's
play and they both knew it. He tabled the detail for later. "What do you
"That I have two weeks to come up with a better plan than 'have the one
innocent in this entire bloody farce snap my neck so that instead of laughing
over transformic cannibalism they can practice new torture spells on him with a
few classics thrown in for a good time and the comfort of traditions every once
in a while.'"
"Did you actually have something in mind, or are you just playing for
"They spelled vermin to burn to death under the skin of the backs of my
knees today, Lupin, do you really believe I'm playing at anything?"
"I could snap your neck," Remus forced himself to make the offer
without thinking about it. There were things he had promised he would die for.
There were things he had killed for. No reason to stop now, not when it would
actually be mercy rather than cause. Mercy alongside cause.
"Don't be melodramatic, they haven't even gotten to permanently
disfiguring me. Besides, I doubt you could. They've given me more sustenance
than either of you since we arrived, and I'm not pointing that out for bragging
Remus kept his eyes open. Said, "Thank you."
"Bugger off," Severus said, with as much feeling as he'd displayed
for just about anything since being thrown inside the cell with his. . .allies.
He closed his eyes and took what time would give him.
Draco was nursing a headache that he would have liked to blame on a stray
curse. Draco, however, had been hit with enough stray--and for that matter,
aimed--curses in his life to know better.
Professor Snape was a silent sufferer. This didn't surprise Draco. The man
had been a silent traitor for Draco's entire life, so why shouldn't he suffer
the same way?
It had been Father, of course, whom the Dark Lord had entrusted with
extracting any information from the mouth of Prof- Draco probably shouldn't be
granting him that title anymore.
Thinking Severus led to other problematic quandaries though. Thinking Severus
was practically equivalent to thinking about how Draco had first learned to cast
a Petrificus, or how the man hadn't flinched when he'd said,
"Your father has his moments of incorrectness just as any other human
being, Draco," in regards to Father's rather indecorous reaction to finding
Draco sucking Theodore Nott quite expertly. At the time of the discovery Draco
had only had one concern--the fact that his father had managed to break through
Draco's well cast wards. Later, however, when it was clear that Father had
two concerns himself, the concern of Draco's position (the
carpet in the Manor really was quite easy on the knees, nothing so barbarous as
the stone floors of Slytherin House) and the biological sex of Draco's partner.
Thinking Severus reminded Draco that he was still experiencing a healthy sexual
life with relatively few mental barriers given that small slip of what wasn't
exactly kindness, but wasn't much of anything else, either.
"Moments of incorrectness." Draco probably should have seen. Draco
might have seen, but in the same way that he couldn't bring himself to go find a
pain-relieving potion at the moment, given what kind of emotions that might stir
up, Draco was pretty sure it wouldn't have mattered had he seen. He, like
Severus, probably would have been silent.
Draco was safe to think for the moment. The prisoners were in the cell and so
his presence at Severus's slow destruction wasn't required and the Dark Lord was
holding council with those of his closest. Draco wasn't among them. Draco, who
had always resented this, was starting to think the Guy In Charge might just be
smarter than his tendency toward grandiose statements with a little bit of hiss
for charge would imply.
Father followed Him of course, and whatever else Draco considered his father
to be, stupid wasn't among those things. Incorrect, at times.
Draco willed the thought away. Father was ambitious and canny. Slytherin. His
mum had often smiled at Draco when he was doing his utmost to act like Father, a
cunning smile with edges sharp as the ridges of wrought iron that protected the
Manor from wild animals. It had always felt respectful, and respect was
something Draco craved perhaps over anything else.
Professor Snape had often written small comments, nothing effluvious, the
man's silences covered not only his suffering but his pride and most likely his
joy as well. Comments such as, "Decent grasp of concepts at a level
somewhat above your expected one," at the end of his potions papers. Like
his mum's smiles they had always made Draco sense a sort of nod to his
abilities, a belief in the person Draco was apart from his family. Not that
Draco wasn't honored to be among his family. He was a Malfoy. There was no other
way to understand his position, certainly.
Professor Snape, though. Severus. Either way, the man had made some sort of
connection to Draco that was now hurting his head at least half so bad as the
last hit of Abscindere probably had Severus.
Who was a traitor, and deserved it. He had betrayed the Dark Lord for that
Muggle loving pansy Dumbledore and what was infinitely worse, Potter. Potter,
with his absolute lack of social breeding, Muggle ways and, well. . .commonness.
Surely Severus had known better.
It stood to reason that if Father had his moments of incorrectness, than
certainly Severus did as well. Only. . .
Only Draco'd never thought to hurt his father, not physically, over the
betrayal that was demanding Draco be something other than he was. Draco hadn't
meant to look over at Oliver Wood one morning for a split second during a match
and think, "Right then," but he had and no amount of looking at
Lavender Brown's more than ample breasts would fix the problem. The only thing
that had, at any level, was Severus's simple understanding of a human being
Perhaps Severus had found failings in. . .
But Muggles were the weak ones, that wasn't to be denied. Muggles with their
paltry ways of covering for their own ineptitudes, every once in a great while
spreading their legs to spawn out something just a bit better than themselves
and presuming that something to belong amongst its betters. Failings were the
arena of Muggles.
Draco rested his head on his knees. He really wished his headache would clear
up. It was evidently hard to think straight with it.
Remus split his water ration between George and Severus. George put up a bit
of a fuss, but Remus said, "I still have the right to make my own
decisions, whether they think so or not."
George frowned. "Same goes for myself."
"But Lupin here is just choosing his path of death. You're making the
perhaps more notable choice of life or possible death." Severus nodded at
the cup. "Drink up, Weasley."
"If that's so," George didn't drink, "then why do you get half
"Because," Severus bit out the word, truncating each syllable,
"for some reason, I'm still making that same decision."
George held out the cup. "Then you drink it."
Severus sharpened his eyes. "They've already given me more than either
of you and I'm not in the mood for anyone to be noble. Drink the bloody water,
Remus heard something in Severus' words, something that George wouldn't have
heard, something that Remus couldn't ask about aloud. Severus knew something,
though. There had been a sort of ellipsed "else" following that
"anyone." Not for the first time, Remus wondered if Severus weren't
the Order's only spy. Remus knew for sure that there were levels of information
he wasn't privy to. It would be awfully nice if this were one of them.
"I've been reveling in the past," Severus said. Remus nearly smiled
at his use of the word "revel" as though it was something he wouldn't
touch with ten feet of willow bark and strong warding spells between him and it.
But Severus was still talking, so Remus just listened as he said, "Telling
them about our project together. Sixth year Dark Arts."
Severus and Remus, though, had never done a project together. Something that
none of the Death Eaters would know, not Lucius, who'd long graduated by then,
and not Peter, who hadn't managed a high enough OWL for sixth year Defense.
Severus was feeding them misinformation then. Remus wasn't sure how he felt
about that. Granted, misinformation was something of an old time hobby that
Severus had proven himself versed in many times over.
The stakes were higher. And Remus needed someone around to keep George from
having to kill or be killed.
Still, Severus was the one with a rune carved into the arch of his foot, a
rune Remus vaguely recognized as a cast of malevolence upon. . .well, generally
property, although as Severus's body was in fact in the Death Eater's
possession, he supposed he could see how that could work. Remus did a little bit
of firm not thinking about it. "Right, the-"
"Reversal of tempus hexes. Still working it out when we finished the
"Hasn't been solved in three millennia of recorded magic use. Can hardly
fault two sixth years for that," George said.
Severus blinked at him. Remus did laugh then. "Look Severus, more than
one Gryffindor knows how to read."
Severus blanked his features with what looked like no effort ay all.
"And just a minute ago you were being so nice to me."
"You were enjoying that?" Remus raised an eyebrow.
Severus laid down, the foot with the rune curling just slightly under him.
George finished up the water, and set the cup down next to him. Remus took a
breath. It was just the three of them for the moment. He took another breath. No
sense in wasting what was left.
"Draco's missing," Severus whispered. His vocal chords were so torn
that whispering at that point was more a moving of lips and waiting to see if
Remus would catch on. Remus was actually pretty good at stealth. He'd gained a
handle on it while hiding the truth of himself for roughly a decade.
"How do you know?" Remus thought it far more likely the little
bugger had just gotten tired of the proceedings and asked to visit one of his
"Because MacNair was always shite at Occlumency."
"You have enough- um. Doesn't Legilimancy take a considerable amount of
"Not if you aren't being stealthy about it."
"Ah." Then, "What's the likelihood it's a good thing he's
George turned in his sleep and Remus stilled, but Severus shook his head.
"Nearly unconscious. Will be given a few more days of this."
Which added another question to Remus' swiftly growing list. "Why is it
not hitting me as badly? Why did I survive the truth serum?"
"I suspect both has to do with a mix of prolonged Wolfsbane use and the
keying of other's blood inside yours. There are ingredients in Wolfsbane which
act as powerful protectants when mixed directly with blood."
"They were in my bloodstream before, though, why not then?"
"Wolfsbane is highly specialized to the person who's taking it. Why do
you think it takes so much to brew it? It's nearly impossible for someone who
doesn't know the recipient to brew a batch for him, one of the serious pitfalls
of the potion. It recognized your blood, but the others, that it saw as an
"But if the potion has such a long half-life, why doesn't it work
without having to be taken monthly?"
"Just because dregs build up doesn't mean you have a full dose inside
Remus forced himself to loosen muscles that had slowly bunched up over the
course of the conversation. "Draco," he said, his tone level,
"good or bad?"
"I'm not entirely sure."
"I haven't said a word. And even if I had, Lucius has well trained Draco
to follow the Dark Lord rather than his own ambitions. The Dark Lord is
something of a loophole in the Slytherin Ambitious Arsehole Creed."
"Do you really call it that amongst yourselves?"
"When we're being self-aware."
"Slytherins are self-aware?"
"No more or less so than Gryffindors."
"We have our moments."
"Well," Severus said.
"We're pinning our hopes on Malfoy Junior," Remus said, because it
seemed the only way to accept the situation was to state it aloud.
"That and Potter's uncanny luck," Severus sounded even less
thrilled about the situation than Remus.
Remus asked, "You want to sleep?"
"Not particularly, no."
Remus didn't blame him. He wasn't surprised when Severus fell asleep, though,
It was convenient, Draco thought, that he'd never given Father any reason to
consider that he might do something like slip off to Hogwarts in broad daylight,
on a broom, of all things. Because as places of refuge went, Hogwarts was pretty
safe and far enough from where Father and the Dark Lord and a whole number of
people that Draco knew as either family or dear friends were busy pouring
something he didn't recognize down Severus's throat for breakfast. Something
Draco was pretty sure he was glad he didn't recognize.
Pumpkin juice just hadn't been on the menu lately.
It was odd, when it all came down to it, that Severus was worth this morning
ride, although, Draco could admit, the sky air was quite pleasant at this time,
but sometime in between not sleeping the whole night through and muttering a
heartfelt, "bugger," before getting up, Draco had realized that he was
worth it, and what's more, there was nothing more Slytherin than the act of the
subversive. It was slightly thrilling to be somehow more Slytherin than Father,
although, Draco supposed, in its time serving the Dark Lord had been quite the
rage so far as anti-establishment acts went.
Draco had seen pendulums, though. All things swung back in their own time.
Draco landed in the front lawns and made his way to the door and waited for
someone to find him there, as it was summer, and the doors didn't just open to
any old person. Particularly not any old person with decorative, if mildly
morbid, markings on his arm.
Sprout found him, on her way to the greenhouses. She smiled, patted his cheek
and asked, "Didn't you graduate?" so cheerily that he knew it had been
something of a highlight of her year.
Draco sneered. "I need to speak to Dumbledore."
"Professor Dumbledore, dear. Just as you've graduated gives you no call
to go around dropping people's hard earned titles."
Draco considered his options. There was the dramatic bearing of his forearm,
but that seemed a bit dangerous all things being equal. Or there was just
admitting that he knew where Severus was, but if Sprout wasn't in the loop then
spreading that information might not endear him to Dumbledore. Draco needed all
the points he could get. It fell to one thing, he was going to have to play
innocent. Draco blanked his face as best he could and worked a bit on his
eyes--chewed up and struggling crup ought to do it. Before Severus, those were
the only eyes he'd even been unable to resist. Of course he'd had to kill the
crup after Father had set the manticore on it--couldn't not have entertainment
for the guests, and all that. But that's what the crup had been asking of him
with his eyes. It was the first time Draco'd bothered overcoming his own desires
to do something for another being. "Please, Professor."
Sure enough, she looked longingly at her greenhouses and then turned back
around. "All right. Professor McGonagall'll have to do, though. Professor
Draco's stomach took that moment to remind him very firmly why he was
Slytherin and therefore Not Gallant. He was inside Hogwarts, now, though, and
that was something.
When they reached McGonagall's office, he asked, "Please, I need to see
you alone." McGonagall, she would know. McGonagall, though he hated to
think of it this way, probably had more power in Dumbledore's circle than Father
in the Dark Lord's. Draco flipped up the sleeve of his robe and McGonagall
nodded Sprout away, closing the door behind her with a quick flick of her wand.
Draco, who wasn't going to do this twice, had one word before any others
could be said: "Veritaserum."
Veritaserum burned and not a bit in the pleasant way that Father's French
sherry, good for cleansing the palate, always had. Draco squinted a bit at
McGonagall but didn't question whether she'd given him the right amount because,
Gryffindor or no, she was the fastidious type. She asked, "What's your full
For a moment, Draco doubted his choice of refuges, because that was just
cruel to ask a man compelled to answer. Then it occurred to him that he'd never
mentioned his full name, but the school roster would have it, wouldn't it, and
she was probably just checking to make sure everything was in working order. All
of this worked its way through his head in the second and a half that that burn
allowed for before forcing out a, "Draconis Carolignus Glorien Malfoy."
McGonagall said, with a completely straight face, no less, "I'd have
deserted long before you got 'round to it, Mr. Malfoy."
Draco, rather close to slipping off the edge of terror despite the
crenellated towers surrounding him in every direction, laughed. Then, because
time was something that the Dark Lord often found to be His friend in odd ways
with which Draco had never sympathized, "They have Severus."
"The Death Eaters. Father."
"Do they have others?"
Draco hadn't thought about that, the way Dumbledore's side seemed to place a
certain importance on all the members of its ranks. If Crabbe or Avery
disappeared tomorrow, Draco was pretty sure the Dark Lord wouldn't spend a hell
of a lot of time trying to find them, not unless He thought they were playing
out a betrayal. Draco shuddered. "Remus Lupin, George Weasley."
"Is that it?" McGonagall sounded like she wanted more.
Draco said, "Yes," and then, coming to an understanding, "My
cousin is dead." The words took more energy than he would have expected
them too. The Tonks's were blood-traitors, for bloody sakes, Ned Tonks was a
Muggle. They'd- Except that all Nymphadora Tonks had done was to get herself
into this world. A metamorphmagus, at that. The waste of it, was. . . Draco
shook his head.
"Have any idea of the geography of Austria?"
"A map?" Draco was excellent with geography. Space was much
friendlier to him than time.
"You can show me where they are?"
"Or take you. They're- They've got Severus."
McGonagall nodded. "Stay where you are."
When she came back, it was with Dumbledore, and Draco's chest burned just the
slightest bit less.
In a moment of weakness, which Remus felt was probably deserved, considering
that Severus had spent most of the previous hour coughing up blood and something
bluish that was probably one of his better inventions, Severus said, "The
plan was unfinished."
Remus thought for a moment before realizing that in the midst of his hacking,
Severus had neglected to pronounce "the plan" as "The Plan,"
or the first two words in "The Plan to Bring Down the Most Extreme Asshole
of the Moment, aka, Voldemort." Or, if one was feeling really cheeky--and
Remus had been, on and off, since they'd made Severus swallow a Purging Potion
on a week-empty stomach the day before--Tom Riddle. "Albus is good at
"If he was that good, we wouldn't be here." There was actually very
little spite in Severus's voice as he told Remus this, just recognition.
Acceptance. Maybe a little bit of love, but Remus wasn't sure he knew how that
sounded on Severus, so he wasn't jumping to any conclusions.
"Between Harry and him." It felt awful, knowing that in some way
he'd put Harry up to this now. Because Harry would come after him, of course.
Harry was too Gryffindor, too young, too. . .Harry, to do anything else. Remus
hadn't planned it this way, no. He would have kept Harry out if it completely if
he'd once had the chance, but from the second he'd shown up Harry was in it and
then there had been nothing to do but watch from a safe distance and jump into
the fray for him whenever possible. This had left Remus with much the same sense
of ineffectuality that most of the other sitting-back-and-doing-what-he-could
actions in his life had, but sometimes, Remus knew, there were things that
couldn't be changed. Not even by Albus. Or Harry. Or himself.
Remus hoped that him and George and Severus being cooped up in this cage
wasn't one of those things. At least for George, who really hadn't much to do
with anything. Although Severus getting an out would be nice, certainly. Remus
could do with this being the last stop. He needed a chance to say things to. . .
Tonks's hair had been that blue-black color that he particularly liked.
Severus said, "Potter-" but then stopped.
Remus raised an eyebrow. "Mm?"
"He doesn't listen." A mild insult, considering some of the tirades
Severus had seen fit to embark upon during Order consultings. Then again, maybe
he just wasn't feeling up to saying more.
"He's getting better." Listening wasn't even Lily's strong spot,
though. Harry was flying in the face of a lot of genetics by trying.
"We don't need getting better," Severus snarled.
Since Severus obviously knew more about The Plan than Remus did, Remus
shrugged. "You work with what you have."
"I suppose you'd know all about that."
The cheekiness rose up unwelcomed in Remus. "Until two seconds ago,
I'd've called you as knowing quite a bit on it too."
Severus didn't move and yet seemed to draw back in his stillness. Remus
instantly regretted the intimation. "Sever-"
Remus, knowing the difference between a request and an order, the difference
between an order that can be skirted and one that must be obeyed, hushed.
Severus said, "I. . .need some quiet."
Amazingly, as few enough needs were running around this place, plenty of that
was to be found.
Remus, who admittedly had the advantage of being awake at the time, heard the
commotion a good ten minutes before a drowsy George shook himself into alertness
and inquired, "Think it's good or bad?"
Remus had pretty much been wondering the same exact thing. "Well, if
it's bad that at least takes care of the whole starving-to-death drama we were
George nodded his head. "Excellent point, mate. Can you hear anything
that I can't?"
"Probably, but none of it useful at this moment." Well, Severus
wasn't making any noise that he could identify, but as Remus wasn't entirely
sure why that was, when so many other people were shouting, he wasn't going to
"Would be nice to join in. I could use a bit of a pick up."
Interspersed with the last words of George's nearly breathtaking
understatement were new voices, several of them, voices that Remus recognized.
He concentrated on filtering them out. Harry was definitely here. Malfoy Junior,
too. For what may have easily been the first time in his whole life, Remus
really hoped that Severus was right about something.
It was frustrating, being close enough to hear and yet far enough removed
from the action that Remus might as well have been four countries over.
Especially when Harry screamed and screamed and wouldn't stop screaming. When he
did Remus almost wished he wouldn't have as there was no way of knowing what had
happened, why he'd stopped screaming and as traumatizing as
the agony that the screaming suggested was, the intimation of its cessation was
that much worse.
Finally, (later Remus would learn that it hadn't been that terribly long at
all, an hour, maybe, at most from the time that the commotion started until)
Minerva found them, worked a bit of complex but straightforward unlocking magic
and walked in the cell, the cut along her jaw and the stiffness radiating out
from her center not hindering her authoritative grace a bit. Remus tried
standing, even enlisted the wall for a bit of help but it was no use. Instead
spared her a, "Is-"
"Voldemort's dead," was her answer, although Remus wasn't entirely
sure that had been his question.
Still, George hit it pretty much dead on with his, "Glorious. Have any
water on you?"
"Still yourselves," she said, and flicked and swished her way to
mobilicorpusing the both of them. "Pomfrey will have
some, I'm certain."
Remus, who just couldn't wait any longer, asked, "Harry?"
"Alive," was her curt answer.
Remus could hear all the things that didn't follow. "For long?"
She looked about to snap but in the end she just shook her head, a small toss
of tightly-pinned hair. "He and Severus were taken to Mungo's. Hopefully. .
Remus nodded. "How far do the wards extend?"
Minerva grimaced. It was response enough.
Draco would never be entirely sure how he ended up with his arms full of
mudblood but when it was all over, after Potter had thrown--who in the bloody
hell had taught Potter how to throw a knife?--the knife with whatever it had
been soaking in all over it into the Dark Lord's face which had subsequently
torn itself apart and then disintegrated into liquid form, the effect working
its way down his entire body until all that was left was a puddle which
evaporated soon enough after, after all of that, despite having his own
problems, Draco found himself supporting Granger, who didn't actually seem to be
breathing. Draco's wand was still in his hand as there were still Death Eaters
about. A few of them even alive. He hit Granger with a respiratus
which caught her full about the torso and kicked her into coughing frantically.
He thought about dumping her from his hold, but that felt a little. .
.plebian. When she caught enough breath to speak, she asked, "Harry?"
Draco looked around. A few of Dumbledore's army that Draco didn't recognize
and hadn't thought to ask for the names of were holding their ground, keeping
the Death Eaters who had survived quiet and quiescent. Dumbledore lay where he
had fallen moments before Potter's--really kind of impressive--knife-throwing
antics. Weasley was across the room, but no less dead, near where Severus was
laying moments ago. . . "With Severus?"
Obviously, both of them had missed something vital. Not that, in the complete
pandemonium that had accompanied the Dark Lord's less-than-noble end, this was
any surprise. Draco unloaded Granger onto the floor and she must have connected
the dots, since she didn't complain, didn't do much more than moan a bit over
wounds that Draco couldn't see.
Draco made his way to the nearest member of the Order--another Weasley,
carefully not looking in the direction of his brother--and asked, "Did you
see. . .Potter and Severus?"
"Shacklebolt took them to Mungo's."
Alive then. Draco moved away, not thinking it safest to stay near
grief-maddened members of a family that he had until very recently helped to
destroy. He went back to Granger and relayed the Mungo's message. She nodded her
head. "Saw him get hit with some kind of a. . .his bones?" She shook
her head, as though to start something that had stopped. "He
Draco had heard but he hadn't seen it, didn't really want to list the
possibilities. They were manifold. Something occurred to him that dragged him
back to the unpredictable Weasley. "Your brother, one of the twins.
"McGonagall went to find the other prisoners."
She could've asked. Draco would have told her where they were. The more good
will he built up the less likely one of his newfound allies was to kill him out
of lingering bad feelings. He threw a glance back at Granger and wondered if
getting her out would endear him to anyone. Probably. This crew all seemed
pretty fond of her. He wasn't sure who was going to be the person he most needed
to please in the wake of Dumbledore's death, but he could figure it out soon
enough. Draco wasn't oblivious, he just didn't always pay attention.
Draco murmured a spell to relieve Granger of her weight and picked her up.
Despite her weightlessness it pulled at the results of a well-aimed diffindo
and a vivisere he'd caught bouncing off of something less
pliable than himself. Possibly the wall.
She asked, "What are you-" but stopped. "All right."
Draco blinked. Stupid trusting mudblood. He tamped down ruthlessly on the
part of himself--it was tiny to begin with--that wanted to smile at her taking
him on a level, just letting him take her where he would. He tamped down on it,
but he took her out, past the wards, side-along Apparated them both to Hogsmeade
and then walked her inside of Hogwarts, inside of where safety lay.
Remus had vague recollections of arriving at Hogwarts, of seeing Fred throw
himself against wards that somebody--Albus?--had erected to keep him in, away
from the action. Later Ginny would tell George who would tell him how it had
been Kingsley with enough steel in his spine to trap the non-Order Weasley
children behind, where they couldn't interfere. All except Ron, of course, but
that would go unsaid, because nobody much was talking about Ron just yet.
He remembered, just barely, arriving in the hospital wing and having Poppy be
too overwhelmed to even cluck at him, but then she'd given him something to
drink and everything stopped there, traded in for a lengthy acquaintanceship
with unconsciousness. When he finally awoke it was to the pleasant experience of
voiding nearly everything that had been forced inside of him, the residue of
several potions finding their way out of his system through malevolent paths,
unwilling to just slide out through the normal channels. George was there after
a moment, holding a basin underneath his mouth, saying things like,
"Skiving snackboxes are for classes, mate, not for trying to sneak out of
the infirmary," which made no sense but were oddly comforting.
When he stopped George handed him water, asked, "Nice to have that back,
eh?" and Remus rinsed his mouth before taking several cautious sips.
His voice was weak and slightly foreign when he managed to ask, "You're.
"I'm. . .healed," was the predicate adjective eventually settled
on. And then Fred, Ginny and Hermione were there, telling him things and not
telling him things so that Remus could reconstruct what had happened in his own
"Harry?" he asked.
"Still recovering," Hermione answered, her lips well-bitten and her
fingers restless. "Along with Professor Snape. They'll be all right, so the
"And Draco Malfoy-"
"Defected," was Hermione's confident if imbalanced answer, her eyes
flicking across the hospital room to the door, as though she expected him to
stride through at any moment. Remus wondered at the response, but didn't
question her further.
"The headmaster?" Because unlike Ron, Remus hadn't caught on to any
such undercurrent there and it seemed odd that Albus hadn't come by to see him
and George. Perhaps, though, he was at Mungo's-
The four children at his bedside refused to meet his eyes and Remus said,
It was only then that George began to cry, silent tears with his lower lip
tucked tightly under a damaging set of teeth. Fred put his hands on his twin's
shoulders and looked away. Hermione met George's eyes though, nodded and let a
sound out of her mouth that sounded a bit like a chant, a eulogy, a hymn, a
dirge. All in the space of a second. Ginny said, "I've got-" and
gestured uselessly before walking off, out of the hospital wing.
The other three stayed though, stayed until that first (maybe second, Remus
had just woken up after all) gust of mourning passed, when Fred suggested,
Hermione nodded her head. "I'm craving whipped potatoes. Remus, you. .
But Remus waved them off. "I believe I'll sleep some more." It was
the only thing he could imagine doing, because when he woke up the next time
there would needs be other things accomplished. Things he hoped he could forget
about just long enough for one more satisfactory lapse into sleep.
When Minerva had told him everything she could remember of there being to
tell, all about the not-completely-tested potion that Severus had created using
the principles of poltergeist matter, as that was the closest thing that anybody
could compare Voldemort in his final form to, the way Harry had learned
knife-throwing, who was dead and who wasn't, progress reports on those still at
Mungo's, when Remus was done listening with a certain agitated patience he said,
"I'll need to speak with Ted and Andromeda Tonks."
Minerva drew in a lengthy breath. "Have you something that will comfort
them? She was their only child, Remus," she said with the gravity of
someone who can only imagine the horror of losing such an irreplaceable part of
"Would my offering them their right to press charges be selfish?"
Remus, as much as anyone, wanted his castigation, his right to the fire, but not
at the (obviously counterproductive) expense of others.
Minerva's brow caved for just a moment before it flattened in what Remus
recognized as her version of other people's horrified "oh!" sounds.
"Her parents, Minerva. I- I've no idea as to how to proceed." Remus
thought that sounded nice. Clinical, like they weren't talking about a girl who
had once asked him out and then laughed, "Bugger, I'm always off on that
score," when he'd flustered something about women not being quite to his
taste. A girl who'd had awful taste in dress robes, and a fondness for dried
apples, and played the worst game of quidditch Remus had ever seen without a
hint of rancor when she lost.
"You're to let me speak with them."
"I don't know that-"
"How do you think Albus would have handled this?"
Remus looked at her. "It would have depended on what was important to
the final outcome," and, "You're not Albus." The latter wasn't
meant to wound and he had to amend, "Leadership is unique, I didn't mean
the statement qualitatively in the least," when her eyes fluttered quickly
once or twice.
"Leadership is much easier when somebody else is doing it," she
said softly. "Nonetheless, I've told you that I'll be the one to approach
them and I expect that you will respect my inheriting of said leadership."
Remus bowed his head slightly. "I just want what will be best for
them." That actually was far from everything Remus wanted, but it seemed
unfair to burden Minerva anymore than she currently was.
Minerva's hand, lined but stable, brushed over one of his. "Very human
It didn't take long for Remus to realize that the Tonks might not be his only
hope of absolution, that ordinary every day wizards might be up to the task all
by themselves. Poppy released him a good twenty-four hours after he was walking
around the ward, prowling by the windows in a vain attempt to know what was
going on beyond them. Remus could still hear the crackling sound of his wand
being broken, bit by bit, in front of him, hear it more distinctly as he walked
into Hogsmeade and tried to get someone to let him use their floo. Which was
where his first inkling began.
Shop owners who had always been kind to Remus, even in the wake of Severus's
(long forgiven, not that Remus had ever mentioned it to Severus) rather
convenient slip of the tongue, refused him use of their floo. They were not
harsh about it, although Remus could see the desire for it in the way their
palms pressed against countertops, the cold set of their jaws, all the same,
shop after shop after shop found him turned away, a few with some choice
Rosmerta was the one to finally allow him access, but even she gave it to him
without her usual embrace, and not a trace of her customary smile found its way
to her face. Remus was well beyond being picky; he threw the floo powder in the
fireplace, and transported himself to Mungo's.
It was better there, more hectic and less people having any idea as to his
identity. He was able to make it into Harry's room with relatively little fuss.
Hermione was there, curled into a chair next to his bed and reading. She smiled
at Remus upon entry and though he wasn't sure he deserved it, the familiarity of
her acceptance was soothing. She tipped her head at Harry. "Sleeping."
Remus crossed to the foot of the bed and stood there not touching anything.
Harry was more bandage and ointment than boy. Remus said, "Nobody's been
"It looks worse than it is," she told him softly.
"How much worse?"
"Most of it will heal entirely."
Remus waited. She shut her book. "Something hit him as soon as he'd
thrown the knife. We're not sure what. It looks like some sort of. . .directed
energy. Not a curse or a hex, something stronger and more flexible in form. It
shattered the right half the clavicle and several of the bones down through the
arm. The Healers tried their best to place everything back together in the right
order, but the bones tore at both muscle and tendon. They're not entirely sure
how much use he's going to get of the arm in the future."
The explanation was calm, and Remus could hear its rhythms, the places where
she'd had to construct all of this before for other visitors. He asked, "Do
you want me to sit with him for a bit? You could go for a snack. A walk."
"There are others I'd like to check on."
But she brushed past him, one hand sweeping against his robes. "I can't
stop. Not just yet."
As Remus hadn't stopped, not for years after That Night, the one when he
hadn't been there, when Peter had, worse--when Voldemort had, he didn't try to
force her into doing so now. He did ask, "Would you give me some idea of
how Severus is doing? Before I step into the den of the beast?"
Remus was rewarded with a tired but sincere smile, a, "Certainly, he was
on my list in any event."
Remus sat in the chair she'd vacated. In the chill of the ward, it was still
Draco awoke from his third catnap of the day to see Granger standing by
Severus. He considered pretending to still be asleep, but she was actually in
the same room as he was, looking over a man for whom he knew she had little very
fondness, so the least he could do was open his eyes and ask,
She started. "Did I wake you?"
He shook his head. Nodded it. "Potter?"
"Oh, same as, well. Same."
Draco hadn't been planning on telling her, "He woke up earlier. Severus,"
but once he'd said it there wasn't really any way to recant.
"Asked if the bundimun secretion in his super secret Dark Lord killing
potion worked correctly."
"Called it that?"
"Did you tell him it did?"
Draco blushed. "He was probably thinking me to be somebody else."
Dumbledore, perhaps, although Draco wasnít sure he would have known the answer
Granger frowned. "What has that to do with anything?"
"I'm generally crap at Potions. Something he well knows."
Granger opened her mouth to say something. Shut it. Tried again with no more
success than the first time. On the third try a small strangled noise made it
way past her lips and Draco was almost ready to call for a Healer when he
recognized the sound for what it was. "Granger," he warned.
But it was too late, despite the two hands crushed to her face, despite her
turning away from the bed in full awareness of where she was and who else was
there with her, Hermione Granger was laughing so hard that she had lost the
ability to stand up. Draco considered all the truly nasty things he could say to
her, ammunition stocked up like never before in the wake of one of her friends
being dead and the other likely crippled for life, but the truth was that all of
Draco's family and friends were either dead or incarcerated, and Granger was too
bloody smart for him to be stupid enough to start up a duel of wits between
Besides which, Draco really wanted to laugh, and this seemed to present the
perfect opportunity. He did, then. At first the sound was as foreign coming from
his own body as it had been from hers, but slowly he remembered it, remembered
and embraced it. Finally, when both of them were gasping for air, Granger barely
visible, seated on the floor on the opposite side of Severus's bed, Draco asked,
"So it worked, then?"
"Brilliantly," she said.
"I'll mention it."
"Yes, well." She stood up, soothed a hand over the perfectly smooth
blankets covering Severus, and left the room, her upper lip wobbling just a bit
Upon Severus' eyes fluttering open, Draco said, "The bundimun secretion
Severus was obviously far more aware of his surroundings on this occasion, as
he pressed his lips together. "And you would be privy to this information
"Granger told me. I don't think she was lying."
Severus seemed to take this under consideration. "Unlikely. Well, good
then, the Dark Lord should be rather dead by my calculations."
"Did you teach Potter to throw knives?"
Severus turned his face slightly toward Draco. "Jealous?"
"It was rather. . ." Draco made a throwing motion with his right
arm, as though this cleared up the fact that Potter's decisive toss had been
quite the turn-on. Which was somewhat sick when he got to thinking about it, and
probably didn't bear saying in front of his Potions professor, who was currently
recovering from a bad case of near death. Draco filed the experience away as a
good example of what tact very probably felt like. It could prove useful in
dealing with his new allies.
"Madame Hooch taught him."
"She was a professional chaser for ten years before her retirement.
Rather in her prime, too. Something about knowing when to quit. I pay less than
full attention to the sport unless it pertains to house allegiance. She has
spotless aim, though. Minerva evidently fed her some story about Potter wanting
flexibility in his positional playing and that it must be kept under wraps due
his wanting surprise as an element in tryouts come the spring."
"And she taught him with knives?" The flying coach had never seemed
particularly dense to Draco, but he could be convinced to reconsider.
"He adapted her lessons." Severus swallowed the words as quickly as
they escaped from him.
Draco wondered if they were literally bitter. "He flew apart then melted
and. . .boiled away. Condensed? Yes. The Dark Lord."
"I didn't think you were speaking of Potter."
"What was in that potion?"
Severus' lips did quirk, though, and Draco could see the humor. Severus
closed his eyes. "Hatred. Hope."
"Did the knife matter?"
"It looked. . .old."
"Muggle-made," Severus said, his voice softer than a moment before,
as if he was holding onto consciousness with his tongue. "Lily's. Heirloom.
In Potter's vault. Personal significance."
"The Muggle equivalent of-"
"Don't say it."
"I was going to say magic."
"You were going to be flippant."
"You're flippant about Muggles as well."
"Under the flippancy, there's hard-learned respect. Until you find
yourself some of that, I don't want to hear a word about Muggles, particularly
not in that tone."
"You've never once-"
Severus opened his eyes, sharp and precisely focused. "I've never killed
a Dark Lord by proxy before. Consider it a week of firsts."
All things being what they were, Draco took the suggestion to heart.
About two days after Hermione had rounded the door to Harry's room with the
announcement, "Professor Snape is up. Awake, rather," and right as
Remus was once again thinking that maybe he ought to go and see how Severus was
doing, except that Severus most likely wouldn't appreciate that in the least,
now would he, in the middle of all that, Harry woke up and said, "Being
dead can't possibly feel any worse than this."
Remus said, "Good morning," even though it was afternoon, late
afternoon at that, and Hermione said, "I'll see if I can get you
something," and pressed her lips to his forehead lightly before sweeping
back out the door to find a Healer, or at the very least an assistant.
Harry waited until she was gone to ask, "The funerals?"
For a moment Remus was befuddled. Then he realized that Harry evidently
remembered more than the medical staff had thought he would. "Professor
McGonagall delayed both the Headmaster's and Mr. Weasley's in order that you and
Professor Snape would be able to attend."
"I graduated nearly a year ago, Remus, you can call them by their names.
I certainly do."
"No, but that's personal."
Harry shifted slightly. "He certainly thinks so. At the moment what I
can feel of my arm doesnít seem to be a good omen and my best friend is very
dead, so my concern over the emotions of one Severus Snape is less than crucial
to my existence just now."
"It was his potion on the knife," Remus said.
"He didn't brew it for my sake," Harry came back in that rather
annoying way that he had of being just right enough for Remus to be incapable of
arguing and not quite right enough to be, well, right.
"Is this what it felt like? After Sirius? I was busy being nearly
sixteen, I'm not sure I remember you being there at all, to be honest, but I've
been thinking, on and off, mostly off with the unconscious state of things, that
he was your best friend. So it must- You must not have known quite what to do.
Or what the world meant without him."
Remus didn't say, "But it was the second time I'd lost him, and I was
thirty-five, not eighteen, and at least I knew he'd died loving you and your
parents," because Harry was only eighteen, and there were some things he
wouldn't know until he was considerably further along in the life cycle than
this moment. "It was a bit like reopening a wound and knowing it would
never quite heal up again."
"Do you plan to give up and die, after all this, because your arm won't
do what you're used to it doing?"
"I have a second arm."
Remus shook his head. "There are no replacements, Harry. Just."
Remus looked at the doorway to see Hermione heading their way with one of the
adjutant medi-witches in her path. "I still had you. You see?"
Harry's gaze followed Remus's. "I-" But then Hermione was all the
way in the door and the medi-witch was poking at Harry, and he was doing his
best to play stolid-faced hero for Hermione. Remus figured that was all the
answer he needed.
The upsurge in anti-werewolf sentiment had begun shortly after Harry's sixth
year, when werewolf infection had gone up an unheard of thirty percent, neither
wizarding nor Muggle population being exempt. Albus had assigned Remus the
responsibility of figuring out what was happening and what could be done to stop
it. Remus had gotten as far as the first part when he had stumbled across a Dark
Energy Enhancer that could be used to agitate creatures under the influence of
natural sources. The moon being one of those sources. Remus had still been
trying to figure out what exactly Voldemort had done to mutate the Enhancer so
that it focused solely on werewolves when he'd been captured. That, and why go
through the trouble of doing so, especially as werewolves were already a
downtrodden sect of the population and the results of crazing them were random
at best. Not that it mattered anymore, but Remus still would have liked to have
Ironically, Remus, who had been exempt from the Enhancement due the
nullifying effects of the Wolfsbane, became the target for much of that societal
antipathy in the days before the funerals, after the Tonks released a statement
to the Prophet that their daughter, former Auror, posthumous
Order of Merlin, first class--something Remus smiled to see despite the rest of
the article--had been killed by one Remus Lupin. Remus wondered if he shouldn't
talk to Minerva about the possibility of a public apology, but was interrupted
from thinking about this when a Healer with whom he'd previously had three civil
conversations threw him out of the hospital.
Not knowing where else to go, Remus tried to get himself back to Hogwarts,
but the article had included pictures, Remus didn't have a wand, and he ended
up, for the sake of personal safety, exiting the back way out of Diagon Alley,
the way that his father had taught him as a kid, one that only the oldest and
purest of families knew about and most of them wouldn't deign to cross into
Muggle London, so the likelihood of someone following Remus that way was small.
Once he was momentarily safe, Remus found the nearest cafť and took a
napkin. He walked some more until he found a bank where they left pens out for
the customers and dashed off, "Minerva, I'm in Muggle London." That
part was easy. Years of self-reliance under the worst of conditions kept Remus
from saying what needed to be said, a simple, "Need a wand. Haven't
money." In the end he wrote, "When are the funerals? Remus."
In the two years after Sirius's supposed betrayal, when Remus had consoled
himself largely by returning to the world he'd known as a child, his mother's
world of small non-magic towns, electricity and old-fashioned plumbing, he'd
learned quite a bit about the way magic functions in communities that aren't
created to support its existence. For one thing, carrier pigeons, while not the
smartest nor most reliable creatures, could be given messages that needed to go
to obvious places if the need was great enough. Certain birds, pigeons being on
the lowest strata, but still in the ranks, had an inner detector of the magic
residue left on every communication written by a wizard. Now, a squib who could
use an owl due an owl's directional sense and intelligence wouldn't be able to
utilize a pigeon, neither's magic charge was strong enough. But a pigeon would
work for a fully trained wizard, wand or no, and that was the best Remus had.
Remus walked quickly to the nearest park where, sure enough, he found large
congregants of pigeons. Acting like he planned on feeding the birds, he slipped
the napkin to the one who looked the sturdiest and watched as the bird flew into
the sky, vaguely in the direction of Hogwarts. Remus found a bench and settled
in to wait for the response.
Although Draco had long been trained not to show anything but arrogance when
approaching a mortal (or part-time, or really, any type of adjectival) enemy,
the Weasley twins on a spree were something to be behold in terror. In fact, the
only non-family person willing to approach them after the funeral, where Remus
Lupin's absence had been strikingly obvious to anyone who knew
something more than the headlines of the wizarding world's
blindingly fact-impaired newspaper could tell them, was Granger. Draco had once
envied the seemingly reckless courage of Gryffindors, but really, there was a
When she whispered things into one's ear, though, things that were quickly
transferred into the other's, and both boys calmed in both stance and pitch,
Draco began to wonder how much she knew. Severus, who would never ask, had been
agitated by the lack of the werewolf's presence. Draco didn't understand it, but
there were some things he owed Severus at this point, particularly as the man
had stood slightly in front of him for both funerals and snarled at anyone who
so much looked at either of them from the sides of their eyes. Draco, of course,
had acted removed and aloof, but it was an unsettling feeling all the same,
knowing that only one man among your allies could be counted as friend and that
said man had problems of his own.
When Granger lured the twins outside, away from people who could and would
say something to set them off again sooner or later, Draco crept out as well. He
followed them past the lawns, waiting for them to go into the groundskeeper's
cottage, vacant since Hagrid's death at the hands of the giants nearly two years
earlier. Giants had their own codes about blood, evidently, and Hagrid hadn't
fit into those codes. It wouldn't have been an issue, Draco figured, had the
Dark Lord not played with their prejudices, fine-tuned them to his own, but he
had. Potter was terrifying for nearly six months after that, before he had
hardened, become someone that Draco only vaguely recognized and couldn't seem to
provoke no matter how hard he tried.
Draco curled up at the base of the steps, not really hiding, but not
precisely announcing his presence. The twins were saying. "-Uggle world?
"He doesn't have a wand," Granger said. "It was probably the
safest place he could think to be after the story broke."
"Harry says they threw Remus out of the hospital." Whichever twin
was speaking sounded close to breaking something.
Granger sighed. "Harry thinks they did. He was asleep at the time. He
woke up by himself. Personally, I agree, I don't think Remus would have left
without telling anyone only to send a napkin written on with ballpoint ink by
way of pigeon."
"Is Professor McGonagall going to help?" This twin was calmer,
although not by much.
"She'll need to send someone with a wand. I was going to volunteer, but
"You don't." Then, apologetically, "I appreciate the
sentiment, but he gave me water despite having been there longer and having been
tortured prior to our arrival. And he was going to make sure that he was dead
rather than killing either of us for the next full moon. I overheard- Something
I wasn't supposed to overhear."
"Knowing you, you probably heard quite a bit of that," Granger said
dryly, not unlovingly.
One of the twins laughed. It was short, sharp, not any sound that Draco
really connected with either of them. They said, as one, "We'll go."
"I'll speak to the headmistress," Granger said. Draco made for
Hogwarts before they could find him out there on the stoop.
Remus intercepted the letter, carried back by owl, that had informed him,
"Received message. Will send you a wand. Stay where you are. MM," and
had stayed put. Having no Muggle funds nor Muggle identification easily
available--his mum had insisted on a driver's license at eighteen and Remus had
renewed it at twenty four, but that was fifteen years ago and even had it not
been one of the few things he had stashed at Hogwarts, it still would have
needed renewing--Remus sought out soup kitchens and homeless shelters that were
close enough for whomever Minerva sent not to have a hard time finding him.
When George and Fred arrived on the scene three days later, Remus thought
yes, because two identical redheads both over six foot isn't
conspicuous or anything, but immediately regretted the thought at the
intense look in George's eyes. Remus had never before been able to tell them
apart, but at that moment, he had no question of which was which. He drew them
into an alley and asked, "The funerals?"
"Quite the to-do, sorry you had to miss," Fred said shortly, with
only a trace of his normal ease.
"I'm. . .my deepest condolences on Ron."
Fred looked at him, then, actually looked. George handed over the wand.
"The headmistress thought it might be best for you to stay on this
Remus took it from him gently. It was maple wood, as best he could determine.
Ten inches, maybe. Smooth from point to grip, with a small knot for his fingers
to settle into. "Did you ask about the core?"
"Hair from a Centaur's tail, Ollivander said." Fred wasn't
bothering to hide the note of surprise in his voice. Remus didn't blame him. To
be useful in a wand, Centaur parts, like those of the Phoenix, had to be given
willingly. Most Centaurs weren't in the least interested in helping humans build
items of magical control.
"Centaur wands are known for bolstering intuition," Remus said.
"Yes, Professor," the twins responded as one, Fred rolling his
eyes, George struggling with the smile that wanted its way with his lips.
Remus pocketed the wand. "Thank you for it."
"You're not going to stay here, are you?" George asked. "This
side, I mean."
Remus quirked his lips. "Can't."
"We could help-"
Remus cut George off. "A joke. A new one. Several new ones. That would
be helpful. Not you seeing to everyone's least favorite werewolf."
"And what are we to tell the headmistress?" Fred asked.
"Nothing. That I took her advice. That I disobeyed her. The decision is
George flinched so slightly that Remus nearly missed it. "Our shop is in
Diagon. Even with everything else, it's hard to miss. You're always welcome. If
Remus inclined his head. "It matters."
Draco wanted to curl up where he could never be found after the first day of
trials. Nine hours of listening to those he now worked with laying out facts
about the people who had always constructed the edges and center of his world,
and then having to testify himself, to say, "Yes, I saw my best friend, my
caretaker, my godfather, my father, kill this or that Muggle, this or that
half-breed, this or that blood-traitor," with members of each such group
looking at him and suddenly realizing that maybe he should feel regret about
something other than his own traitorous actions, perhaps what had come before
those, but for the moment he was full up on emotional overload.
Potter looked no less exhausted on his part, and Draco wondered if being
perpetually on the winning side allowed him the right to curl up after each
trial and lick whatever wounds were created by always wearing a coat of golden
sheen. Draco, for his part, knew better than to curl up or even go near what
looked to be a comfortable alcove. That he must always be seen as standing tall,
as willing to be on display, as willing to take what came at him was obvious.
Unspoken, but obvious.
Granger, with her exasperating inability to ever read anything wrong, sat by
him in one amongst a series of the second week of trials and offered,
Out of morbid curiosity, Draco asked, "You really feel like it, after
listening to all this?"
"Feeling like it and needing it are a bit different, yes?"
And of course Draco had joined her, because need it he most certainly did.
She took him to a local Muggle pub wherein Draco had the feeling that he stuck
out like blood on a white marble floor, but he must not've because the
inhabitants barely looked up. Granger led them to a table which was already
occupied by- "She didn't mention," Draco started to turn, "I'll
Potter asked, "Too good to sit at a Muggle establishment?" but
there was very little anger in the question, as though he was too tired for
games. "Or are you leaving for my benefit?"
Draco desperately wished that Potter had given him such an opening even three
months earlier, but he hadn't, and Draco really would like a drink. He sat down.
Potter nodded, a bit grimly, but without further comment. Granger said,
"What do you usually drink?"
"Spiced rum," Draco told her.
"Erm, all right. I can get you a rum toddy. Not quite the same, but
it'll do the trick, I'd imagine." She started to rise.
Draco put a hand on her arm. "I'll do it." From the way she looked
at him, he had to wonder if Muggle culture placed an entirely different value on
etiquette of any sort. Potter had obviously known better than to offer.
She softened her gaze, though. "I know the barkeep. And the
"Oh." Draco resettled himself.
When Granger was at the bar, Potter said, "She lives around here."
"She lives-" Draco bit his tongue and did his best not to grimace,
either at the idea or what had very nearly come out of his mouth.
"Among Muggles? Yes. She's doing post-grad in Cardiff but she said that
seven years was enough time away from the city and that Apparition gives her the
option of not forsaking it any longer. Her parents were both born and bred
Londoners and I think that was the hardest part of Hogwarts, even allowing for
your more arsehole-riffic moments, just being away."
Draco wasn't even sure if he was being insulted or complimented. He chose to
ignore the entire issue. "Cardiff? Specializing in developing magics
through synthetical composition?" That was what Cardiff was famous for, and
Draco, no matter how annoyed he had ever been by her paradigm-shifting mere
state-of-existing didnít imagine that Miss Hermione Granger would take for
herself anything less than the best at what she was working toward.
Proving Draco's point, Potter nodded. "Arithmancy and Potions. She wants
to improve upon formulas that currently extract information but also cause moral
"Among the more innocent ones."
Draco wondered how he'd missed the fact that Gryffindors had their dark sides
too, they just hid them with different colors. Must've not been paying attention
again. Granger returned before he was able to ask anything else, setting
something warm and to all evidences strongly alcoholic in front of him.
Draco tipped it back. When he began to choke, Potter used his good arm to pat
him on the back. Harshly.
After nearly four days of scrounging for scraps, Remus's first order of
business when he returned to the wizarding side--after relocating to a spot
behind Knockturn where most of the inhabitants were only slightly less reviled
than him at this moment--was food. Which required money, so Remus did what he
always did when there were no other options immediately forthcoming and walked
the streets until someone with a likely gleam in his eye approached Remus and
said, "You're that werewolf."
The man was twice as ugly as sin, but he didnít smell, so Remus said,
"Eight galleons up front, I keep my wand on me, you don't do anything that
will prohibit my walking out alive and well."
"Relatively well," the man amended.
Remus bloody well needed some food. As it happened, the man, for all his
bluster, had little imagination to match with it, and Remus, after all, had just
been the guest of some people with widely ranging imaginations, so it was a
small price to pay for the eight galleons, which in this part of town meant food
Or, well, it should have except that it seemed even people in these parts
weren't feeling very hospitable to Auror killing werewolves. Which was
disheartening, as nobody within five miles in any direction had any fondness for
Remus Apparated out of city limits and spent the night in the Forbidden
Forest. It was a bad idea on every level, Remus could name at least forty
variations of flora and fauna off the top of his head that could eat him, maul
him, erode his skin, send him into psychotic episodes in which he would tear
himself apart. It was close to Hogwarts, though, and seemed somehow safer than
the streets. Or possibly it was that Remus just preferred the feel of the forest
to the filth of the alleys. He was willing to accept either self-justification.
He woke up late, sun high in the sky, the forest deceptively peaceful in that
way it had. Remus lay on his back, looked up and thought about his options.
Staying here, letting the transformations eventually take him in the way that
they would, the human body not meant to withstand them indefinitely (less so
when it wasn't well-treated) wasn't an option. Harry didn't need anybody else up
and disappearing on him. As the only Marauder left, Remus. . .thought it was
time to be around when he could.
Which meant either setting himself up in the Muggle world, or going back to
the alleys now and then when he absolutely needed sustenance. The brilliance of
having not-entirely human physique meant that probably wouldn't be more than two
or three times a week. Maybe more before and after the full moon.
He could spend those nights here, far enough in to not pose a danger to
anyone smart enough not to venture into the depths of the forest. And most who
weren't knew how to protect themselves well enough. Or he could pick up extra
work in the alley. The more violent the better the pay, generally. Not that it
was a pattern Remus truly relished, but he'd done it before in particularly slow
times. It was just another way of keeping himself alive for other things.
Harry. Other- Harry.
Remus took a breath. He didn't need to move just then, and there wasn't a
sign of rain anywhere.
Draco had been entirely set to take over Father's political connections, the
Manor, the fortune and be done with things. Some day, at least. Until then there
had always been years at post-graduate education. Draco was pursuing Family
Studies, the Wizarding form of tracing back family lines at the best program
available, L'Ecole Guinevere near the Riviera. Admittedly, Draco hadn't been
terribly turned off by location, either.
Family Studies, however, wasn't just about history. It was about
strengthening magic in magical offspring to come. At L'Ecole, given its
conservative nature, this meant pureblood eugenics. Draco went back only to tell
his advisor, "I'm taking some time off."
His advisor said, "I'm sorry to hear about your father. Take all the
time you need."
Draco didn't mention that he probably wouldn't be coming back. Instead he
found the nerve to seek Severus out. Severus hadn't been teaching classes since
his release from Mungo's, but Draco knew he was still in his laboratories. The
times when Draco had stopped by for dinner Severus had seemed distracted in that
way he could only be when he had a goal in mind and it wasn't being so polite as
to come quietly.
Draco undid the wards on the outside door to the lab, with the incantations
Severus had given him two weeks earlier. Severus looked up as he came in, but
didn't say anything. Draco sat down somewhere that he couldn't possibly cause
problems. "I left L'Ecole."
"Poncy program anyhow. Lucius only allowed you to go as it couldn't in
any way make you smart enough to try and go against him, even were you leaning
in that direction. Probably hoped it would inculcate you more deeply."
Draco was annoyed, but then, he imagined that was what Severus had intended.
"There are cutting edge Family Studies Programs."
"Yes, ones that involve actual history and ideas about integration
rather than segregation and all sorts of interesting things that I pick up an
article about every once in a while. L'Ecole is a bastion of thoughts that
weren't new four millennia ago, so my state of impression with its program is
about what one might expect."
"Assuming nothing goes balls-up I will inherit the Manor and the money,
it's not like I'm required to do much of anything at this point."
"No, but Potter's not much into poncy gits who sit around on their arse
all day, particularly not when he's having to imagine a new life entirely for
himself, the Auror program not being cripple-friendly."
It had been in the news everywhere, Potter's "leaving" the program
in light of his injury. Draco couldn't imagine why Potter was giving them such
an easy time. Were he thrown out of the training for the occupation he'd wanted
nearly his entire life after his killing the most renowned dark wizard of his
time, Draco would have raised a fuss to define all fusses thenceforth. Of
course, Potter never had known how to manipulate the press to his advantage.
Even that one time, with the Lovegood girl, Granger's prints had been all over
that. Realizing that he'd probably waited longer than he should have, Draco
asked, "What should I care what Potter thinks?"
Definitely too long, as Severus only raised his head for a moment, Draco's
denial evidently being worth neither words nor a lengthy stare. Then,
It took Draco several beats to realize they'd returned to their previous
topic of conversation. "Teaching, right. I'd be brilliant at that."
"Slytherin needs a Head of House."
"Slytherin has one. There wasn't a head injury that nobody mentioned,
"I've been offered a job. Special division development potions for
"What kind of brewing?"
"Anything I want."
Cauldron Works was a think tank that imported Potion's Masters from all over
to create potions that would make the company money. "Are you thinking of
something in particular?"
Unusually for Severus, the man hesitated. Then, "Muggles have something
called psychotropic drugs. They help heal severe mental distress caused from
both inner and outer sources."
"Severus," Draco said slowly.
"The state of the mind is something that wizards prefer not to mess
with, at least not wizards of the so-called Light, I know. But we've just
finished a war. A long, messy one. One that went away and came back."
"You can't just-"
"Dose somebody with a potion and expect it to be all better?"
Severus raised a sardonic eyebrow. "Nobody is more well aware, Draco. You
can, however, like potions used to heal the body, start the
healing process. The brain is just another part of the body, its injuries also
healable, even should a more fine-tuned touch be necessary."
Draco trusted Severus to know enough to be right about this. He brought the
subject back to where it had begun. "I can hardly teach Potions, we both
"History. Minerva convinced Binns to quit and I know it's something of a
Only because during long summers when Draco had been the only child at the
Manor there was only so much flying that could be done and Father's library,
that which wasn't Dark Arts, had been mostly history. Draco had secretly
devoured everything he could find in Hogwarts library as well once he'd arrived,
having read Father's books time and time over and unsatisfied with Binn's
droning recitations. "I haven't a bit of training in it. Not to mention
"Yes, well, I had loads when I arrived at Hogwarts," Severus
Draco started to say something but Severus cut him off. "You'll betray
everything you know to be true because something interrupts that truth but you
won't consider standing up to eleven year olds?"
"And seventeen year olds. Who will only be two years younger than
"You've helped win a war. They haven't. Besides, if you can get Potter
into bed think of how that will boost your reputation."
"Nearly a year at L'Ecole and that's the best insult to my lineage that
you can dredge up? Perhaps I shan't leave the Slytherins in your care."
They both knew he would.
Word got 'round to all the right places. Or perhaps all the wrong places.
People came to Remus, risk-takers curious what the bite of a werewolves human
teeth felt like, kids wanting a screw with someone infamous, people willing to
pay considerably to do things that Remus couldn't wash off himself, things that
woke him in the early hours, shivering in the Forest's arms, things that felt
like penance but never healed him. When he'd made enough that he could stop for
a time Remus would exchange the money at a branch of Gringotts--goblins, bless
them, weren't picky at all about who their customers were so long as they were
making good off of them, and at the exchange rate Remus was getting, they were
certainly doing so in his case. Once he had pounds he'd venture into Muggle
London, eat food somewhere where nobody recognized him, sometimes just walk in
the crowds merely for the experience of not being spit at or having objects
(sometimes hexes) thrown at him.
When he was ready he would go back, see if he could get a copy of the
Prophet, maybe send off some letters to Harry, the Twins, Hermione and Minerva,
and settle back into the forest. When Harry's letter, the one that said,
"Drop by? I have some of that Darjeeling you like," came, Remus took a
couple of clients, waited a day or two for the worst results of the last client
to heal, ventured into Muggle London for a gorgeous little corduroy and cashmere
combination and then over to Harry's flat, the new one that he'd begun renting
after realizing that there would be no returning to the one he and Ron had
Remus knocked on the door. Harry answered, "Oh. I didn't- You didn't
"Sorry, wasn't sure when I'd be able-"
"No, itís fine. I'm glad you're here."
"Darjeeling?" Remus asked, instead of the "Malfoy?" that
wanted to come out of his mouth, because while the scent of Malfoy was nowhere
in the apartment, it emanated softly from Harry. Nothing serious. They certainly
hadn't been snogging or any such thing, but the two had definitely been spending
Harry let him in the apartment. It was nicely organized. Remus said so. Harry
said, "I've had a lot of time."
Remus watched without seeming to the way Harry compensated for the loss of
mobility in the right arm. "Time off might not be the worst thing for you.
I mean, I realize it has its pertinent problems," not the least being time
and time and time to think, "but nonetheless, you haven't truly had a
chance to just be up until now."
"I've been thinking about investing."
"What sort of investing?"
"Well, I've already a share of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, which,
between you and me, could probably keep me comfortable for a long time to come.
And Neville's been asking around for capital to start up a shop specializing in
supplying magical plants to businesses with large demand. Right now places like
Mungo's and the research labs have to go to several different places since
nobody can handle the type of orders necessary, but Neville has a rather smart
plan for how to change that and I think it's probably worth supporting. And then
there's Hermione, who's hoping to independently contract out to agencies like
the Ministry with her inventions once she gets out of school, but she needs
start up to do that." Harry shrugged. "I could make a career out of
making my friends happy, they've spent their lives making sure I survived."
Remus could hear the faint twist of wistfulness in Harry's tone right before
it was drowned out by the whistle of the teapot. Harry snatched it from the fire
and dumped the tea strainer inside. Remus nodded. "Lily would have gotten a
kick out of that. You being the hotspot for young ingenuity."
Harry peered at him. "You're not just saying? Because I'm a bit easy to
jerk around with mentions of my mum. It's been pointed out to me."
"Lily was my friend," Remus said softly.
"Right." Harry scuffed his toe against the floor. "Sorry. That
"Itís all right."
"Is there something you-"
Remus shook his head. "Haven't got any brilliant ideas, Harry."
"No. But keep me updated on how the others go, yeah?"
Harry poured the lightly steeped tea into two cups and handed one to Remus.
"'Course. What have you been up to, then?"
Remus took a sip. "Nice brew. Been spending some time outdoors.
Draco managed, through no small amount of nagging, to get Severus to share
dinner with him a few weeks into the fall semester. Severus had begun working
for his development firm no more than a week after the students had vacated
Hogwarts in the summer and so was already well on and when Draco--at first too
concerned with issues of syllabus and fitting into a staff that was less than
enamoured of his presence--realized that Severus hadn't contacted anyone, not
even Minerva, in over a month, he'd set to drawing the man out. To be honest, he
wasn't entirely sure which effort in his campaign had actually provoked a
response, but Severus had finally scribbled off a, "My place, seven
o'clock, Thursday. Be late at your own peril."
Draco, who was generally only mildly fond of peril and only then when he knew
he would survive it, showed up a minute early. Room to maneuver was always a
Severus released the wards without meeting Draco at the door, even though
Draco knew Severus was bred well enough to know better. Even if it had been
Draco's father doing the breeding in the wake of a lack of any prior breeding.
Though what Draco knew of the situation he knew only from his superior skills at
eavesdropping, he gathered that Severus's parents, Old Family or no, had been
rather gauche. Of course, there was always the rumor that Severus' people were
foreign, but Draco had never been sure of how much truth to grant to that.
Draco deposited the cinnamon swirl cookies (the ones where the cinnamon
actually swirled, as a child Draco had gotten his knuckles rapped more then once
for becoming mesmerized by the treat) he'd picked up from Cora's Cookies in
Diagon in the kitchen. Father had strictly forbidden Cora's to him as a child
seeing as how she was half-blood, but Potter had insisted on swerving by there
one afternoon when he was nearly slobbering for a chocolate chip chompers (a
treat that personally turned Draco's stomach but he was hardly surprised to find
it was Potter's favorite, nor more than somewhat dismayed to find himself
slightly charmed by this fact. Very slightly.) Draco had been back four or five
times since. Possibly six. Or ten. He'd lost count, actually.
Severus looked at the bag as though it might bite him. "Won't go at all
well with what the elves have made."
"We'll have a snifter of cognac after dinner. Clean the palette right
off." Then, before Severus could start in on something else, "Thank
you for having me."
"You would've left me alone if I hadn't?"
"No." Pleasantly, Draco asked, "What have
the elves made?"
Severus frowned. Draco knew the house elves were a new addition, most likely
one to which Severus was still adapting. Potter had told Draco about his attempt
to have a house elf when he'd first left school, him and Weasley sharing.
Evidently they were a bit much if one hadn't grown up with them everywhere and
nowhere all at once. Severus's family, from what Draco could gather, hadn't had
the sort of money necessary for elves when Severus was growing up, and he'd had
no need of them while living at Hogwarts most of the year. Finally Severus said,
"I love pheasant. You do too."
"They will have made too much."
"That's what house elves do," Draco agreed.
"Even more so due my having company."
"We'll sit down. You can insult my pitiful attempts at teaching and I
can pester you until you tell me one or two paltry details about your current
existence. It will be fun."
"The Dark Lord burned His Mark further in you than anybody
The barb hit its intended spot but Draco would be damned if he let Severus
know it. "Voldemort. And I suspect it was Father more than anyone, truth be
Severus eyed Draco with distaste. "You've been spending time with
Draco twisted his lips. "Yet more for you to rail at me about. My
behavior has been thoroughly unbecoming of a Slytherin and a Malfoy, I assure
"Perhaps you are right about one thing."
"And that is?" Draco asked with a hint of amusement.
"We'd best sit down."
Draco wasn't expecting anyone when the wards warning of company approaching
sounded in his rooms the next evening. Draco charmed the door translucent from
his side to see who it was. Most students wouldn't bother him here unless it was
dire, and even then, they'd probably go to a prefect in order to do the
bothering for them. With the exception of Minerva, nobody on the staff much
spoke to him. Draco puzzled over the fact that Hermione Granger seemed to be
Draco pulled the door open just as she came to a stop in front of it.
"The Dark Lord's risen from the dead, hasn't he?"
"Yes. May I have a cup of tea before we rush into battle?"
Draco watched, mildly perplexed, as she walked into his quarters. "I
suppose the Dark Lord hasn't risen, then?"
"Oh for fuck's sake, do you really think I or anyone else could be arsed
to visit you at home if that were the case? Honestly, somebody would floo and
tell you where in the bloody hell to get to."
Draco blinked. "You aren't very ladylike."
"I've been spending entirely too much time with the twins. I really was
serious about that tea."
"I'll make you tea. You'll tell me why you're here."
"I enjoy your company."
"No, you don't."
"Actually," Granger sat herself on his sitting chair by the
fireplace, crossing her legs with a certain unplanned deliberation, "I'm
beginning to appreciate your unique personality, but you're right, that's not
why I came."
Draco accioed the tea Severus had sent him home with the
evening before, ingredients received from a contact in Singapore, combined by
Severus. This package--labeled in Severus's entirely Victorian scrawl--said,
Granger sniffed at the air delicately. "Smells incredible, wherever do
you get your tea?"
"A friend," Draco said.
"Likely the one I came to ask about."
Draco poured water into two mugs, zapped them both with a heating charm and
lowered strainers into each. "Why would you have come about Severus?"
"Because George wasn't sure the two of you could be in a room together
without killing each other and though that sounded entertaining, he wanted news
of Severus more than a good time."
"You're Weasley's squire now?"
Granger looked at him impassively until he amended, "Go-between."
"Something of the sort." Her words were soft. "He wants to
formally declare a life-debt. Remus is near impossible to find unless Harry
whistles at the right pitch and everybody knows where Severus is and nobody will
"Aren't Gryffindors supposed to be brave unto idiocy?"
"There's a reason why most people graduate from Hogwarts."
"Malfoy. How's Professor Snape?"
"Getting paid rather indecent amounts to brew potions that will bring
him enormous acclaim should wizarding society choose to accept that we
experience. . .mental difficulties which cannot be fixed by merely looking ahead
and watching where we're going."
"The likelihood of that?"
"Well. I've started to think of you as muggle-born."
"There's hope after all." Her lips twitched. "Do you think
George should approach him?"
"Severus doesn't want a life-debt."
"Not really the way a life-debt works as I understand it."
Draco almost sneered. It would have been wasted though. Her understanding
from books was probably just as good as his from a lifetime of watching people
pledge them to each other when necessary. A rite was a rite was a rite.
"Tell Weasley to find Severus a tester."
"He needs them, and this population is hardly jumping at the chance. I
would find them for him but I am relatively friendless these days, and nobody's
lining up to do me any favors."
"Harry's quite fond of you," she protested.
"Potter's fond of anyone who doesn't pretend like he's not a bit off
balance these days."
"Because it takes a true friend to not pretend."
"Either that or a true enemy."
Granger laughed. "You're going to argue about who
Harry's enemies are with me?"
Draco acceded the ridiculousness of the idea. "Do you want sugar?
"One sugar cube, no milk."
Draco brought her mug to her and she accepted it with a grateful nod.
"Thank you for the advice."
"Don't thank me just yet. I can't guarantee he'll be pleasant even with
that little present opening the door."
"No, but you did just guarantee that the door would open."
Draco took a sip, hoping it really would clear his mind. Granger uncrossed
and then recrossed her legs on the other side. "How're classes?"
Draco eyed her. "Are you being social with me?"
"Oh." Draco took a seat on his sofa. "They're rather
"Ye-" Draco stopped. Took another sip. "Well, sometimes."
Granger smiled. "Do you wish to talk about it?"
Draco thought about how just a few years ago Vincent and Greg had been around
whenever he needed someone to joke with, how after that there had been Ted, when
they'd rented the place above Le Rue des Fueilles. He thought about how silent
his quarters would be when she left, not even a familiar around, so much so that
he would welcome the morning chaos of the Great Hall when it finally came time
for the students to converge upon it, that he would be nearly ecstatic when
Potter's next invite came, even if it was for Indian food, which Potter loved
and Draco abhorred. He relaxed against the back of the sofa. "Third years
are positively the worst. You wouldn't expect it either, but then you're going
along, expertly teaching the material you have planned. . ."
Remus knew how to read people. There were so many ways to know where danger
lay, the movement of eyes, fingers, twitching of the skin. The smell. That most
of all, although sometimes it was the extreme speed of a heartbeat, painful
inside Remus' ears. He'd never been wrong before.
He'd forgotten that there was always a first.
He Apparated back to the forest after his miscalculation, not entirely sure
he'd make it, entirely sure he couldn't walk, couldn't stay in the room where
the John had left him, bleeding, the residue from the silver pins still coursing
through him, not quite causing him to splinch. Causing him to fall on the ground
and retch upon reaching the forest.
Remus breathed through his nose, trying to filter out the familiar smells of
trees and creatures and sky from the rank poison of the silver. When his body
finally gave up trying to void what wouldnít be voided Remus crawled
underneath a tree and curled up on himself, shaking and sweating and nearly too
weak to even be sick.
Remus took another deep breath, whimpering at the shock of pain that came
with the air. He wondered if he'd gotten greedy--the John had offered a lot,
enough to stay away from the alleys for a couple of weeks, maybe more--or if
he'd just not been paying attention, but his mind couldn't focus on the
thoughts. They didn't really matter.
What did matter was the moon. It wouldn't be full tonight, nor the next, but
in three nights the transformation could very well tear him apart if he was
still in this state, or worse. Given time the silver poisoning would either
bleed out or kill him, depending on how deep it had penetrated and the response
of Remus's system. There was no way of telling, really, and if it weren't for
the moon, Remus would have been more than fine with waiting things out. Nor was
it that Remus really minded the idea of dying in the thrall of change.
It was what the wolf might do if the change was managed and a creature
maddened with poison and crazed with pain were loosed upon the world. On a
regular basis the wolf was actually rather predictable. So long as Remus went
into the deep of the forest the likelihood that the wolf would do anything more
than chase the pleasant scents of heated female wolves and bloodied weaker
creatures was slim to none. An unpredictable wolf might decide that it wasn't
pleased with prey that didn't run. Might decide that blood was no good if it
There were plenty of things Remus could handle. Killing another human wasn't
one of them. He wasn't sure infecting another human fell under that rubric.
Apparating again wasn't an option. Remus took another deep breath and another
until he had the ability to raise himself upright. He immediately began vomiting
again, but there was nothing to vomit and he slowly got the spasms under
control. Remus worked to remember the trick. Albus had taught it to him, early
in the years of the Order. Fire, first. Remus pointed his wand at a pile of
loosely affiliated sticks and fallen branches and managed a weak incendiary
spell. Trying desperately to string one thought in conjunction with another, to
remember what was a substitute for the powder he mumbled combinations of words
until the right ones came to him and he was able to cobble together the verbal
formulation for floo powder. He called, "Severus Snape" and hoped that
the spell, that his sense of Severus was strong enough.
When, miracle of miracles, Severus answered with an irritated, "I'm
busy," Remus said, "I need chains. I'm in the western region of the
forest, three miles south the grindylow marsh. Please," and then spelled
the fire gone before he could pass out, leaving it to set an entire wildlife
Remus woke to the scent of smoke and a lingering wisp of hellebore. Remus
opened his eyes as to more clearly give Severus a befuddled look. "Why are
you taking hellebore?"
Severus snapped, "I'm working with it, not taking it, you
Remus thought the reaction a bit on the melodramatic side but this was
Severus, and they were in the Forbidden Forest with Severus having been dragged
unceremoniously from his lab by way of one of his less favorite people. Remus
remembered something Harry had said, then, "Oh, psychotropic potions."
"If you insist on being Muggle about it."
"You've come up with a better word?"
"Essence balancing potions."
Remus tried sitting up but then realized it was going to be a production with
the leftovers from his earlier John. "Has a nice ring."
"So will all the galleons it brings me."
"Severus Snape, inveterate money-grubber." Remus rolled his eyes,
too tired to play urbane. Severus wouldn't leave him without giving him the
chains, not when Severus had the chance to leave him chained without coming
As if Severus had read Remus's mind--and Remus doubted Legilimancy to be
entirely out of the question--he said, "At least I can afford my own
"My job prospects aren't what they used to be."
"And whoring just isn't as lucrative as it once was."
Remus stepped up to the challenge. "Perhaps you'd like something for
Severus, no less cunningly insidious than he'd always been, asked, "How
much would Wolfsbane be worth to you?"
Remus fought not to take the bait, to suggest that he preferred the wildness
of the wolf now. He forced himself to remember the vile taste of Severus's brew,
the constant, un-ending shock of that first moment of humanity inside the wolf.
He knew, though, that none of this, not even his pride, mattered. "I
believe the question is what it's worth to you?"
"Quite a bit of my time and no small amount in ingredients."
Remus was smart enough not to play Severus's game, however. "Either come
up with your price, or formulate one for the chains."
"You. Once a month, say a week before the full moon. No limits on what I
desire. No refusals on your part."
Remus looked up at the sky, just barely peeking through the forest's roof.
"How long have you been planning this?"
"Your suggestion that I've known your condition posits that I care about
you in some way. No, your firecall was the first I'd heard of you since you left
Mungo's," Severus sneered at the word "left." "I merely
observed all the ingredients before me and named the correct potion. Tell me,
did you truly expect me not to take advantage of a situation that is entirely
The truth was, "I'm not sure I could trust you if you hadn't."
Potter knocked on the door to Draco's class at about five minutes to the end,
and Draco well knew that there would be no recalling a single one of the second
year's attentions to the Ministry's 1811 debates over the magical being/creature
divide. Not even the Ravenclaws. He waved his hand, "you're
dismissed," and watched as twenty-five figures swaddled in black cloth
converged and tried to make it out the doorway in one large lump without,
incidentally, bumping into the Somewhat Scary Hero standing just inside said
When they were gone entirely, Draco said, "Was that merely a test to see
if you could annihilate my authority completely simply by your presence, or did
you actually come for something?"
Potter had the good grace to wince. "Minerva said you were probably
Potter looked so contrite that despite Draco's better instincts, he said,
"I was." After a moment wherein Potter felt no need to continue the
conversation, Draco asked, "Did you need something?"
Potter didn't answer directly. "We never learned that when I was here. I
don't think, anyway. Maybe I slept through that class."
"No, too modern. Our History ended in 1704 with the Goblin settlement at
Llanelli, of all places."
"I've never been."
"You're not missing much."
"I've heard Wales is lovely."
"Parts of it, certainly."
"Want to take me somewhere that is?"
"For dinner. I'm hungry. I figure you probably know some rather nice
"I know all the nice places."
"Why me? There are plenty of people around to go to dinner with, many of
whom would be rather excited that you were doing the asking."
"And you're not?"
"Could you not avoid the question? Please."
"I figure maybe you know nicer places."
"Undoubtedly. You don't strike me as the haughty type, Potter. Though I
can't for the life me imagine why."
"I'm not-" Potter walked slightly further into the classroom.
"I'm not haughty. It's merely that things are changing rather quickly in my
life. There are some changes I'd prefer to be in control of."
"Such as who takes you to dinner?"
"Hermione mentioned you might be open to the invitation."
Granger. Draco should have figured that one out. He really had to start using
his instincts again. "Potter-"
"You don't look at me with this sickening. . ." Potter clenched his
lips, then relaxed them and spat, "pity when I talk about things. I need
someone to talk with about my ideas. I've gotten used- I like having people
around me. And Hermione needs her own life, at least some of the time."
Draco was pretty sure that this was as bad an idea as had ever been had.
Potter shrugged. "Not too far. Some place I'd like to go."
"I think I know somewhere."
Potter smiled. Draco cursed himself.
Halfway through the bottle of wine, Draco asked, "Did you really seek me
out so as to be entertained by my near flawless ability to prattle at
inconsequential subjects for days on end?"
Draco nodded solemnly.
Potter shook his head. "Although your uncanny knowledge of odd
historical trivia might come in useful at some unforeseen moment in the
"Not as flashy as knife-throwing or the ability to survive death curses,
I'll grant, but we all have our gifts."
Potter looked past him. "Ever play Quidditch these days?"
Draco knew better than to answer.
Potter sighed. "Right."
"Your problem is that you weren't raised to be magical and slightly
"That's my problem?"
"At this particular moment in time," Draco clarified.
"How is that, exactly?"
"Your magical intuition is flawless, and you've managed to redirect
magic through to the hand you've never used as your foremost hand within a
period of months, which shows immense power even had we never been given any
reason to suspect such before now."
"Your magic is still good for plenty so long as you're willing for it
not to be flashy."
Potter scratched behind his ear with his new lead hand. "You remember in
fifth year how we had to get career counseling?"
Draco took a rather large sip of wine. "Let me guess. You told yours
that it was the Auror program or nothing."
"In not so many words."
"And you don't know who to ask for career advice as everybody who would
be discreet about it seems to have more important things on their mind."
"I have trust issues."
Draco really could have guessed that from the sublime silencing charms that
Potter had woven around their table the second they sat down, the ones that
would only extend to right where they were sitting and would suggest to those
around them that they could hear the murmuring from their table, when really all
it would be was a sound loop from those diner's own conversations. Also from the
warding devices that Potter regularly wore on himself, such as the watch on his
wrist with a base of topaz, which reacted well to charms used to detect hostile
intent. The thought brought Draco to a place he didn't usually find himself, one
where he was unable to decide which of his next questions was most important.
"Why me, then? And did you come up with the mechanics of that watch
"Because you need friends and I'm a good one to have. Well, I didn't
make it tell time, if that's what you're asking."
"Did you enjoy it? I mean, coming up with the idea and figuring out how
to implement it?"
"It was sort of necessary, but I suppose I did. Problem solving's
something I find comfort in."
"There are companies that pay people simply to come up with products
like that. How else do you think they end up on shelves? Particularly high level
companies which sell only to corporations and bodies like the Auror corps are
more prestigious, but it's a pretty lucrative line of business any way you go.
And I can't imagine that any of these companies wouldn't pant to have you
designing for them. It wouldn't even matter if the products worked."
Potter's eyes flashed. "Fuck you, Malfoy."
Draco supposed that was fair. "I didn't mean that I suspected they
wouldn't. Don't you ever tire of running from the fact of the way things
are?" Draco, unlike others, had recognized Potter's aversion to his name
fame for quite some time.
"Oh, because it so obviously suffices you to be at ease in the name
Malfoy and the inheritance it implies."
Draco poured himself another glass of wine. "But I accept it."
"And you would expect a Gryffindor to do otherwise than rail against the
"No," Draco admitted. "But somehow I always expect you
Remus went into Muggle London and washed up as best he could before going to
Severus for the Wolfsbane in the first month of their trade. Remus knew that
Severus most likely couldn't smell others on Remus, but Remus could smell them
on himself, and Severus's vague glint of practiced superiority always made him
feel that Severus had somehow boosted his olfactory senses as well. Remus thrift
shopped then, finding a workable pair of corduroys, a button down and matching
jumper that would do well enough to replace the ones done in by blood and the
Forest's sometimes vindictive shrubbery.
None of this, of course, impressed Severus. Not that Remus had expected
anything of the sort. Certainly it would have been nice for Severus to seem
appreciative of the body he was getting in return for his time, skill and
potion's stores, but Remus could do without.
Instead Severus took to looking mildly thwarted and asked, "Have rates
gone down in the profession or has dining out simply gotten exorbitant?"
Remus didn't really feel like talking about the fact that he could afford
food, simply couldn't deal with the stares and shouts and abuse that him
stepping into wizarding public spaces occasioned. "I get enough to
"The Wolfsbane works better if the subject isn't at subsistence level.
Or do you take pleasure in perverting my efforts?"
Remus already had a headache. The academic in him, however, couldn't help but
"Why does my level of nutritional intake matter?"
The bland inquiry stopped whatever rant Severus had been preparing next in
its tracks. "Because the more your body is in practice at breaking down the
more mundane items of everyday use such as proteins and fibers, the quicker and
more efficiently it will be able to digest and disperse the Wolfsbane, which is
much harsher, as you might imagine."
Remus didn't have to imagine. "I'll see what I can do about more regular
"Would you like to take tea, then?"
Remus wondered what tack to take. He decided being polite would probably get
him further than being blunt, despite his momentary partner's tendency to
function in direct opposition to such an approach. "Certainly."
Severus' house elves laid out a simple but elegant and filling service in one
of the Manor's sitting rooms. Remus took in his surroundings in the careful
manner he'd learned early in his Order years, but Severus noticed of course.
Remus took a sip and considered how to phrase what he was thinking, but in the
end just said, "I wasn't aware your family had a manor."
"It didn't. Nor a house, for that matter. We rented from another family.
No, my mother's family disowned her when she married my father, but due some bad
luck and some worse choices in which side to take, I'm the only living heir from
that side, so the property reverted to me anyhow."
"It's quite livable," Remus said. Not that he'd been in many Manors
with which he could compare it, but enough to know that this one had an unusual
sense of humanity in it.
"I redid the dťcor."
Despite Severus lack of tone, the man's sense of pride tickled at Remus's
throat and he nodded. "Severus," Remus placed his teacup gently on the
table before him, "have you ever hired anyone for sexual purposes?"
Severus arched an eyebrow. "Most people assume that's the only manner in
which I could hope to experience sexual relations at all."
Remus kept his opinion of most people politely to himself.
Finally Severus answered the question with a slight shake of his chin.
Remus would have been shocked had the answer been any different. Preconceived
notions aside, Severus liked his privacy. Remus wouldn't be shocked to find that
Severus had obliviated past partners post-coitally just as a precaution.
"What did you have in mind, then?"
"Trying to avoid doing your share of the work?"
Remus frowned. "Pardon?"
"I'm compensating you to do what you do best. Surprise me." Each of
his words was clipped except the "surprise" which he drew out.
Remus tilted his head. "You haven't any preferences?"
"If I think of something, you shall be the first to have that
"All right," Remus said, and went back to his tea. It had cooled to
his preferred temperature for sipping.
Remus had always enjoyed touching others, them touching back. As a job sex
had its drawbacks, not the least of which was the fact that customers were
rarely looking for sex from prostitutes. Customers came looking for elusive
power or non-existent control or fantasies that had nothing to do with the other
person involved, but rarely for touch or communicative pleasure. Despite not
being much into either giving or receiving pain, Remus much preferred the
customers who wanted either from him as part of the sex act, part of the intent
toward pleasure than those who did so for other reasons entirely, revenge or
fear or helplessness.
The possibility of working his encounters with Severus any way he so chose
was enticing and not just a bit problematic.
Severus, so far as Remus had ever been able to tell, didn't like to be
touched. Remus waited until evening was touching at the bottom of the Manor's
rather breathtaking large-pane windows because he sensed that Severus wouldn't
be comfortable in the naked light of late afternoon, not even were Remus to draw
the shades. Thinking of the shades, Remus asked, "Is this where you'd like.
. .to enjoy me?"
Remus had absolutely no problem being filthy. With Sirius it had often made
things that much hotter, the right word here or there. Severus didn't seem the
type to appreciate much of anything less than delicate, let alone dirty.
Falling in line with this reading, Severus glared a bit. "Hardly.
There's an extra bedroom where you'll be staying."
Remus clamped down a smile at the fact that Severus needed not only a bedroom
in which to do this, but a bedroom where he didn't sleep. It was almost
romantic. Clearly the more important issue, however, was, "Staying?"
"During the moon, of course. Did you expect that I would merely give
over my potion and set you free?"
As Severus had done so for years Remus didn't see why not. Still, an offer to
lie somewhere that didn't involve broken twigs and brambles and sneaky creatures
who would take off with his life's essence after the shock of recoming into his
human form wasn't something Remus was going to refuse. "Erm. Hardly?"
Severus either didn't hear the question, or chose to ignore it. "Also, I
hardly think it will be necessary to remove the entirety of my apparel."
Remus bit back a sigh. "No, not unless you wish it."
"I do not. Nor do I have any desire to be penetrated."
Remus tamped down on a rather sarcastic remark about his unending shock.
"No. I trust in your. . .expertise."
Remus could tell Severus was trying to get at him, to imply at Remus's
worthlessness without resulting to vulgarity, something the man generally only
used on students or those decisively below him on the food chain. Which Remus
probably was, so it was rather interesting, Severus's choice to forego that
weapon. Remus wasn't going to tell him he was prodding at the wrong wounds. So
far as Remus was concerned there was no shame in selling one's self if
necessary, and certainly none in being good at it. The way customers often
treated him was shameful, the way society ignored the necessity of a paid sexual
outlet and marginalized those who either chose or fell into the occupation was
shameful. Being a prostitute wasn't.
If Severus wanted shame from Remus there were hundreds upon hundreds of areas
from which he could coax it. To deflect from that Remus thought about letting
Severus assume he'd hit his mark. In the end, though, that seemed beneath him.
He smiled, let Severus trust him in something. "You won't regret it."
Remus returned to the room where he'd worked Severus into a state of
reluctant release and relaxation two days later, in the late afternoon before
the moon was to set. Severus had greeted him at the door with the Wolfsbane,
watched to see that he drank it, locked him into the provided quarters and gone
about his business.
Remus hadn't spent much time looking at the room before, there had been
better things on which to concentrate. Remus smiled wryly at the thought of his
fingers skimming just slightly below Severus's tightly buttoned collar, the
choked sound Severus had made at the feeling of Remus's tongue dragging along
the bottom of his cock. A pleasant change from the Johns who merely fucked his
face, careless of the technique that could be applied. But there was nothing
better to do now, with hours until the setting of the moon and nothing besides
him and the dťcor.
There was a bed set into the wall--he'd nearly missed it last time, would
have if not for Severus's insistence on comfort--but otherwise quite a bit of
open space. The windows were high set, nearly along the ceiling. Remus wondered
if they'd always been like that or if Severus had worked on the room to make it
a safer place if the Wolfsbane didn't perform as expected. Either way, it made
Remus feel better.
There was a fireplace but no floo powder to be found. It wouldn't surprise
Remus to find out the house was drafty in the wintertime. Most surprising were
the hidden shelves that Remus only found on his third walk around the perimeter.
Behind a small seam in the wall were shelves filled with books.
Unless Severus had forgotten a large swath of his collection being left in
this room, Remus couldn't help but think this a small measure of kindness. Remus
perused his options. There didn't seem to be any organization to the titles.
Mythology lay next to arithmancy journals, historical treatises next to volumes
of ancient wizarding epics. Not feeling adverse to a little comfort, Remus
slipped out a book on celestial events that he'd read at some point during his
service to the Order (second time around) and enjoyed. He slipped the shelves
back into their hiding spot. He intended to put the book back before
transforming, but there was no need to leave all the books open to possible
attack by a captive maddened werewolf. Not that the Wolfsbane had ever failed
before, but there was a first for everything.
Given the deal between him and Severus, Remus rather hoped this wasn't a
first on that score. Visiting with Harry was almost enough to make Remus not
feel completely disconnected from the human race, but touching Harry with
anything more than a companionable pat on the back would have made Remus feel
like a dirty old man, worse, an incestuous old man. Blood relative or no, Harry
was something just a little too close.
Touching Severus carried different sorts of baggage, but Remus was more than
well-enough equipped to deal with those issues.
Remus curled up on the bed and flipped to the first page of the book, just
starting in when Severus stepped in the door. Remus hadn't heard the lock undo
or even the opening of the door, but he'd nearly tasted Severus's presence. He
tilted his head. "Evening."
"Do you have any specific needs?"
Remus narrowed his eyes. Severus was fidgeting. "Are you feeling
Severus's, "Quite fine," was every bit as venomous as Remus had
expected it to be. It might have even been a touch more virulent.
"You seem unsteady."
"I've been working long and odd hours. One of the few things about me
with which you can surely empathize."
"How come your potions?"
"I came in to inquire after your needs. If you'll be so kind as to
simply answer my questions and allow me to get back to my work."
"Tomorrow after I've changed back I could use water, a painkilling
potion and eventually something easy to digest. Porridge or broth would be
"My elves will see to it."
Remus thought about staying silent for a second as Severus turned to leave.
Decided against it. "They could have seen to this."
Severus walked out without responding. Remus hadn't really been hoping for
Remus left Severus's home after waking up on the third day, eating a little
something, cleaning up and putting himself back into his clothes. Severus, as
promised, had sent elves to take care of Remus' needs and give him more potion
after all three transformations. Remus decided not to think about his feelings
on that until later. He was too conflicted by Severus' actions to deal with them
in any useful way.
Harry liked to see Remus after the full, Remus knew, as some sort of
verification that Remus was still alive and well. Remus could understand needing
the tangible on occasion and he didn't like to make things any harder on Harry
than they were by necessity, so he Apparated to London and made his way to
Harry's place under a slight glamour which allowed him to get around unmolested.
Harry answered the door in fashionable dress robes. Remus raised an eyebrow.
"Am I keeping you from something?"
Harry looked baffled for a moment. "Oh. No, I was just getting back from
an interview. Come on, Hermione left biscuits after her last visit."
"Dare I ask when that was?" Remus stepped inside and shut the door
"Stuff it. I'm an excellent host."
"Of course you are." Remus wasn't really interested in
faux-bickering, though. "What was the interview for?"
"Supplier firm. Heard of Monhagan?"
"They make sneakoscopes or something of the like? There was an article
somewhere, maybe the <u>Defense Monthly</u>."
"Among other things. Malfoy said something about my sense of the Dark
and how to avoid it." Harry shrugged. "Thought I might as well try it
out. Sounded better than anything I'd been able to think of."
Remus watched Harry put the biscuits onto a plate. "It's an excellent
"I know he's a Malfoy."
"I wasn't going to say anything."
"No, I know, you were just going to think it. How are you feeling?"
"Severus made the Wolfsbane for me."
Harry turned around. "That was awfully nice of him."
Remus heard the doubt in Harry's voice. He reached out for a biscuit.
"We worked something out between us."
"Remus-" But Harry didn't seem to have anything ready to say after
that opening note of warning.
Remus shook his head slightly. "I'm fine, Harry."
"Because you have a tendency to not complain."
"Not like anyone else in this room."
Harry had the grace to smile guiltily at that. "I've gotten the talk
from Hermione, trust me."
"I do. Just, it doesn't seem to have done any good."
"When I'm ready."
Remus conceded. "How was the interview?"
Harry slid into a chair. "Well, at least it was with someone who didn't
forget the basics of the English language in my presence."
Remus smiled. "Good omen."
When Draco started to think seriously about kissing Harry Potter--which was,
of course, not at all a good idea--he did two things. The first was to buy
himself a few hours with an escort from one of the houses that Father had never
preferred, a pretty little thing with long black hair and not-quite-green enough
eyes and talents that Draco left a pretty hefty tip over in way of approbation.
The second was to go see Severus.
Severus was a bit distracted and Draco asked, "Have you gotten any sleep
"I'm very close-" Then, in a distinctly un-Severus move, he changed
sentences mid-flow, "Weasley found me a tester. I'll suppose that was your
doing. My appreciation. Just a bit more work and I'll have a product for
Draco took his life in his own hands. "It might be safer for you to come
up with it in a less hectic fashion."
"Are you suggesting something about my brewing skills, Mr. Malfoy?"
Draco merely glared away the iciness of Severus's demeanor. "Stop this.
You know very well what I mean."
To Draco's surprise, Severus gave. "I will attempt to increase my
Draco considered Legilimizing Severus. His odd behavior was sending a
crawling sensation through Draco's stomach and he knew it was his probably his
only hope of finding out what was truly going on. The second Draco began the
process however, all he could remember was the times when his father had used
the skill against him. Also, shaken up or no, Severus was enormously talented at
Occlumency, Draco wasn't entirely sure he could break Severus' mental wards.
Even if he could, he certainly wouldn't be able to do it without alerting
Severus, and the last thing either of them needed at this moment was to be
fighting with each other.
Draco came up with another tactic. "I hear you're providing Wolfsbane
and three-night housing for my somewhat unpredictable ex-professor."
Severus eyed him sharply. Draco said, "Potter."
"Are you sleeping with him yet?"
"Charming. Don't change the subject."
"I found it safer than allowing him to roam the forest."
"You're not the clever mastermind you obviously feel yourself to
be." Severus said it lightly, as though it pertained to nothing.
Draco walked to the nearest chair, seated himself. "He's a half-breed
"I make him a potion-"
Draco didn't allow him to finish. "But you're long past old enough to
make your own decisions."
Severus locked eyes with Draco for the space of three breaths. "I have a
very delicate potion brewing. I need to see to it."
Softly, Draco said, "Of course you do."
"You're not being your normal charming self." Potter kicked Draco
under the table.
They were in one of Draco's favorite dining establishments and as he didn't
particularly want to get kicked out, he declined to kick back on the not-so-off
chance that it started something. "You don't find me charming."
"I was choosing my words wisely so as to possibly draw some information
"You donít choose words wisely."
"Look, do you want me to leave?"
A reflexive "yes," came very close to passing through Draco's lips.
He looked over at Potter, whose annoyance was coming through in his posture but
who still managed to seem concerned in the set of his lips, the expression of
his eyes. Draco shook his head. "No, but I don't know that I should talk
about it with you."
"Contrary to popular belief, I absolutely can keep a secret."
"It's not my secret."
"Professor Snape, then?"
Draco fought not to react, not to accuse Potter of things that Draco doubted
he even ever thought to do. Potter caught on. "I'm not prying where I
shouldn't be. He's the only person you speak to on a regular basis whose secrets
I can imagine you needing to keep from me."
This particularly valid point won Potter some more information. "I don't
even honestly know that there's something about which I need to be
"But you suspect."
"He was acting like my mother used to, sometimes."
Potter's face went blank. "I, uh-"
"She was addicted to Sleeping Potions."
"Potions are addictive?"
"Can be, certain ones anyhow. Almost certainly will be if you aren't
careful about your use."
"Snape is a Potions Master."
Draco stared at him.
"I'm not trying to be inane, here, I'm trying to point out the
likelihood that whatever you're seeing is probably something else, given the
things we know."
"He didn't want me there." Draco couldn't look at Potter as he made
"You know how he-"
"Usually it's. . .the behavioral equivalent of a glamour. But he didn't
want me there. I know the difference."
Finally, Potter asked, "Do you want me to ask around, see if I can find
out what's wrong?"
"Wonít that seem odd? It's not a huge secret that the two of you
dislike each other."
"Minerva and Hermione have known me to ask about him before, and the two
of them have the oddest ways of finding things out once the question's been
"You've asked before?"
"I have a saving-people thing. Ask Hermione."
"No, it's pretty blatant." Draco laughed a bit.
"Yeah," Potter joined him. "I guess it is."
Severus tapped his wand to the wine-dark stain spread over the lower region
of Remus's torso. "The simplest of healing spells are completely beyond
Remus shrugged. "Werewolves heal quickly and self-healing wasn't part of
Hogwarts curriculum. I never sought it out on my own."
"I donít like reminders of your. . .other liaisons."
"My life is what it is, Severus." Remus didn't say the words with
spite or bitterness, just a steadiness that he hoped conveyed his unwillingness
to play eternally at being Severus's whipping boy. "I don't like the smell
of ground fluxweed, but it's evidently rather central to whatever you're working
on, so when I can, I breathe through my mouth."
"And when that is not possible?" Severus's jaw tightened.
"I generally have nicer things on my mind." Remus fitted himself up
against Severus, cupped his fingers over the taller man's groin.
Severus glared down at him, but didn't move. Remus took that as approval and
set to doing as he wished. "I have a different plan for today." Which
he really thought should be obvious by the state of his undress, a not so slight
alteration from the previous two months.
"I will not be-"
"I know, Severus. Relax, I'll still be doing all the work."
Severus might not want his skin disturbed by any sort of (com)passionate
touch, but Remus had just taken a day off after a client with a kicking kink
(or, possibly, just a lot of rage) had focused his attentions on Remus, and he
needed something to wash the feel away, something more then the clinical tap of
Remus got it, too. When he slid down onto Severus and Severus could no longer
keep his hands still at his sides, then his fingers crept over Remus's back,
impressing into the skin with a desperation that Remus appreciated, soaked up.
Remus let his head drop back, his eyes following, moved at the rhythm that
Severus' hands urged.
Remus slipped the hand that wasn't keeping him upright, pressed to Severus's
chest, over his cock and got off more from the feel of the ten digits supporting
his position than the five providing pressure.
As soon as he'd caught his breath, Severus let go, Remus falling slightly to
the side. He picked himself up, accioed his wand, and hit
both of them with a cleansing charm.
Severus's hand shot out as Remus turned to re-clothe himself. He turned Remus
back to facing him none-too-gently and soothed a hand over the area he'd healed
completely before any of this had begun. Then he let go.
In the fourth month, Remus wised up. Not that he felt particularly proud of
this, he should have figured things out the first month, with all the clues,
with everything he knew. It wasn't even any of the obvious things that let Remus
in on the secret. It was the fact that Severus touched him first. Not a spot of
encouragement from Remus, just reached out and wrapped his fingers around
Remus's throat. Not harshly.
The hand trembled slightly and all Remus could smell was hellebore and
fluxweed. Remus asked, "How long?"
The hand tightened. "Careful what you ask."
"The fact that you prefer to kill me with your hands is nearly progress
between us, Severus. How long?"
"You've no idea what you're talking about. You could barely brew-"
Remus waited a couple of breaths. "You were going to say Clarification
Concentrate, I believe? With silver nitrate? I'm glad I looked so very
incompetent that day in class that you should remember. Reminds me of how good I
am at keeping secrets. And yet, not quite as good as you."
Severus released his grip. "Not quite."
Remus wanted to touch him as he said, "Psychotropics. You were testing
on yourself." He kept his hands to himself.
"It was. . .unethical to do so on anybody else."
Severus stood stiffly. "I've tried stopping. There are things to be
done, though, and when I stop, I-"
"Feel sick, can't concentrate, can't sleep, experience mental
Severus whispered, "Among other things." Then, and Remus could feel
the pain of this admission, "Draco suspects."
"Severely addictive qualities are a flaw in the design anyway. At the
very least the tests weren't fruitless."
"I think I've found a way to lessen the problem. Not fix it. Mental
"Are always going to have that side-effect. But not to this
Remus moved closer then, close enough to touch, although he didn't actually
do so. "After the moon, Severus. We'll work on this then."
"If I've given you the impression that your help is welcome, I apologize
"Probably the last time I'll ever hear that from you. Unfortunate that I
plan on disregarding it."
Remus said, "No," and touched Severus. Severus didn't pull away.
Severus, although Remus knew he would have protested otherwise, had plenty of
friends. That said, there were very few that Severus would trust to see him in a
place of weakness. In fact, off the top of his head, Remus could only come up
with two outside of himself. He couldn't ask for Minerva's help. It was the
middle of the school year, she was crazed with her own responsibilities without
adding someone else's to the list. Which left one Draco Malfoy.
Remus found him through Harry. Specifically through visiting Harry after the
moon, as was their tradition and saying, "I need a favor," and Harry
saying, "Anything," before really thinking about what anything might
Remus had seen the worry in Harry's eyes when he'd asked how to find Draco,
but all Remus had been able to say without giving anything away was, "I've
no plans to hurt him."
The look hadn't completely disappeared, but Harry had told Remus that Draco
was teaching and Remus had thought, I really need to start paying more
Remus went to the school on the pretext of a Very Secret Visit to Minerva,
who sat with him for a bit, fed him lemon bars and tea fortified with eighteen
year old Scotch, and asked, "You didn't really come here to see me, did
He gave her an apologetic look. "I'll come around more. I just don't
want your reputation being sullied should someone find out."
"Allow me to worry about that, yes?"
Remus inclined his head. "Mind telling me how to get to Professor
Minerva's gaze had sharpened. "Severus has gotten himself into a spot,
"Something of that nature."
"Behind the portrait of the Queen Maeve, one floor up from the Slytherin
Remus found the quarters easily. He knocked on the door and waited the
requisite amount of time for Malfoy to draw back the partition and say,
"Professor Malfoy, may I come in?"
In spite of what were obviously his better instincts, Malfoy allowed the
intrusion. "Is there-"
"Something you can do for me?"
"Rather for whomever you're coming in the stead of."
Malfoy's eyes shut just long enough for Remus to know he had already
suspected something. "How bad is it?"
Remus was surprised this wasn't going to take more effort. "Not sure.
He's been taking for four months, and I've no doubt that if he started it wasn't
just for testing purposes. He needed whatever he thought the potion could
"He says he's found a way to lessen the problem, but no doubt by the
time that advancement came along-"
Remus nodded. "I need help. I haven't any idea how long it's going to
take to get him through the initial withdrawal and getting him to talk about it
at this moment isn't the world's easiest task, probably wouldn't even be were he
to actually like me."
"Youíd best leave him to me."
Remus raised an eyebrow.
Malfoy shrugged. "Figured it was worth a try."
Remus could respect that. "I didn't tell Harry. I'd think it best if you
Malfoy's eyes hardened. "I've never once yet snitched on Severus. And
believe me, there have been opportunities."
Remus could only imagine. "His place, tomorrow? Seven thirty in the
"I'll get someone to take my detentions."
Remus couldn't shake the oddness of the bully he'd taught seeing to his own
responsibilities, but there he was. It was reassuring that what they were about
to do together might actually be successful. "Thank you."
Malfoy looked away. Said, "I appreciate your coming to me."
Severus didn't appreciate it. Severus, in fact, hexed Remus upon Malfoy's
arrival. It was a minor hex, and Malfoy just wrinkled his forehead and
Finited it away, but Remus got the message. He thought about
saying sorry, but if there was ever a word that Severus liked to ignore, Remus
was pretty sure that was the word.
Remus regretted Severus's irritation, but he didn't regret asking Malfoy to
help. Malfoy, as it turned out, knew more about drying someone out than Remus
did, which was saying something. Remus had a tendency to fall in with the
Also, Malfoy evidently cared fiercely for Severus, something that Remus had
guessed at but been unsure of until he watched the two of them together. And
Severus, miracle of miracles, obviously wanted the boy to have a good opinion of
The potions had a half-life of roughly thirty hours, so the first day wasn't
so much a day as sitting around and discussing pertinent issues such as
Severus's, "If you remove all temptation from this place, I lose my job. My
career." He'd left "life works" unsaid.
Remus had conjured some tea. "I don't think we have to remove the
Malfoy looked like he was trying his best to be well-behaved and patient.
Which he probably was. "How do you figure?"
"I donít think Severus's problem lies in having an addictive
personality, I think he's addicted to the actual substances in the faulty
potion. Once he's clean and has had the more completed product tested he can
probably put himself on it to clear up the emotional necessities over which he
originally started taking the potion."
Malfoy asked, "And if you're wrong?"
"We have to do this a second time. Which," Remus admitted,
"isn't ideal. But if you're unwilling-"
"Shut it," Malfoy snarled.
Remus watched Severus sip at his tea, as if by watching he could force him to
participate in the goings-on. Remus wasn't sure if it actually worked or if
Severus just felt the time right to say, "We're going to try it his way,
Draco. I'm not sure I'm ready to do this with the awareness that it means giving
everything up. Besides, he has a good chance of being right. The intended
effects aren't even present anymore, it's merely physical at this time."
"Merely," Malfoy echoed.
Severus nodded his head in acquiesance. Remus said, "These ingredients.
How comparable would you imagine them to be to say, Muggle narcotics?"
"Harsher," Severus said.
"In what way?" Remus asked.
Severus launched into a lecture worthy of his teaching days but noticeable
for its lack of insults. "Muggle narcotics merely imbed themselves in the
blood, potions ingredients mix themselves in with a person's. . .core. Whatever
creates the basic essence of a wizard, someone able to interact with magic,
these ingredients actually find their way into that part of the imbiber."
Remus thought about that. "Should we be worried about rogue magic?"
"Should we ever," Malfoy muttered.
Remus stood. "I'm going to go work some warding, then." He walked
out on the small chance that the two of them could work out at least a few of
their issues over him before all of this started. He really didn't think mixing
withdrawal in with everything else was going to lessen the volatility of the
Gryffindors were not subtle. When it came to Potter, this was actually
something of an advantage. Left in a room alone with Severus, Draco was less
than pleased by Lupin's heavy-handedness. There was only one person in the room
to vent his anger on, however. "You trust a werewolf to do this? Has the
reliance gotten to the point of suicidal folly?"
"You were never supposed to be told."
"And that's somehow better than 'you weren't supposed to be told after
the raving not-even-half human in the other room'?"
Severus was distinctly unperturbed. "You kiss Potter with that
"I donít kiss Potter. I don't kiss Gryffindors."
"Neither do I," Severus said, with the air of Innocence Wounded
herself. "There are more pleasurable things. At the price of Wolfsbane,
there should be."
"For. . . At least Father had the sense to never bring his whores
"Your father was a man of impeccable taste, of that there is no
"So are you, normally. None of the ingredients in your little cocktail
of destruction and degradation should cause enormous impairment to your
"You should try his mouth. There's probably a normal going rate. Then
we'll talk about judgment."
"He came to get me, Severus. Not under your order, and not for something
that anyone would deem pleasant, right mind or no. It's not just about his
Severus shrugged. "He's a Gryffindor, Draco."
Draco met Severus's gaze. "As it turns out, things aren't as simple as
Something in the way Severus drawled the question lodged itself inside
Draco's rather frustrated head. "You're telling me that I have to start
understanding some half-breed werewhore as part of an overwhelmingly complicated
situation in which he just might be someone worth knowing?"
"I haven't said a word," Severus said.
"You have an annoying tendency to teach by example," Draco told
him, probably unnecessarily.
Severus didn't respond. He put two fingertips to one temple and pressed.
"Try and work with him. At least until it's clear that I'm not going to
harm myself or anyone else who tries to come near me."
"I betrayed Father and Voldemort for you. I think I can handle a little
bit of time with a Dark Creature."
Severus brought two fingers to the other side of his head. "You might be
The withdrawal effects were more severe than anybody had given thought to
them being. The vomiting, which set in nearly immediately once the potion's
half-life expired went on for hours. Remus knew that using any sort of healing
potion or spell would only cause trouble later, but trading off with Draco hour
after hour at holding Severus steady, stroking his back, running wet flannels
over his forehead and neck made it a tempting prospect all the same.
When Severus had finally voided himself out, Draco tried giving him water to
rather disastrous effect, which had Severus screaming at him. Draco's face
remained calm, but Remus could see the slight shake in his stance and stepped
between the two of them.
Later this earned him a snarl, and a, "I can take a few harsh words,
Slytherins aren't made of blown Gryffindor glass, you know," emphasis on
Remus continued what he was at--washing down the bathroom with a combination
of spells and old-fashioned anti-pollutant potion--"Severus mentioned my
day job, then? Or just our arrangement."
"Shockingly, I was smart enough to cull the former from the
"No, you were always intelligent, just unwilling to think outside of
strictly proscribed guidelines. It was enormously frustrating, seeing all that
talent go to waste." Remus glanced over his shoulder at Draco, who looked
about ready to throw something. Luckily Remus had removed all small objects due
the threat of Severus's rogue magic. Pleased to have gotten a rise, but
realizing this was all rather counterproductive, Remus asked, "What's your
biggest problem with me? That I'm a werewolf, half-blood, poor, Gryffindor,
selling myself, or that Severus obviously trusts me?"
Draco opened his mouth. Snapped it shut. Tried again. "Werewolf."
"Really?" Remus had been expecting that if Draco were to be honest
the answer would be the final one. But Draco's answer had the ring of truth.
Draco leaned up against the doorjamb. "Father used to keep one on the
"Lucius kept a-" Remus knew his expression was horrified. He
couldn't help it. "What did he do with the human being during the days and
twenty eight nights a month?"
"The Manor has extensive holding cells."
Remus swallowed. "All right. So this werewolf-"
"Father liked to threaten me with him. One month, when I'd really upset
him. . .I can't even remember what I did, I'm sure it had something to do with
expectations, he released us both in the maze. Father'd put up wards so that the
werewolf could never actually get to me, after all, disappointment or no, a son
who was a werewolf would be a total loss. I didn't know that, though. That I was
safe. I just ran and ran and ran until I couldn't run anymore and then I used
magic to ensure that I could."
"If I ever come after you in feral form, turn your wand on me and use
the Death Curse. Don't hesitate, don't think any more than you have to, just do
"You killed my cousin."
"I wish she'd had her wand. I wish that Muggle boy had been left with
some sort of weapon, a letter opener, anything. I mean what I just told you.
Don't even think about it."
"Malfoys, as it turns out, can't kill indiscriminately without
consequence anymore. Or is that your angle?"
Remus scoffed. "Be serious. Voldemort himself could come back for a day
just to kill me and the entire wizarding population would breathe a sigh of
relief. There might be a mock trial, just to soothe everyone's sense of
Remus frowned. "What has Harry to do with any of this?"
Draco looked disgusted with himself, but answered, "Losing another. .
.friend would devastate him."
"Which under no circumstances would I enjoy, but at the very least
Hermione, the twins, and Minerva would see to it that he made it through. And I
won't kill again. Also, I was inquiring into the nature of your concern for
"Having Potter in my corner is a safety concern. I'll be sure to keep a
wand on me when in your presence."
"See that you do."
Draco stepped backward, out of the immediate room. "I'm going to check
"Don't try water again just yet."
Draco nodded. "No, perhaps not."
Remus was the first victim of Severus's rogue magic, hit with a shock of
malevolence so intense that when Remus awoke, he was somewhat surprised to have
come out of it whole. Draco saw that Remus was awake and said, "I locked
him in. This is the part where we just have to wait."
Remus nodded. "Did he drink any of the water?"
Draco looked at Remus as though he'd just asked to bear Draco's children.
"Yes, a bit. You were unconscious for several hours."
Remus wasn't terribly surprised. "Severus is strong. I'm lucky he can't
focus. You might not have noticed, but he doesn't like me much."
"I don't think he has any clue how he feels about you."
"I'm starting to think the two of you may have a lot in common."
Draco ticked a list off on his fingers. "We're both Slytherins, of
decent to surpassingly fine birth, relatively to enormously wealthy,
intelligent, and for the most part, on the same side. That's a fair
"True. I was referring to your inability to simply admit that Harry
makes a rather good friend and probably a good shag, although I wouldn't know on
the last and would really prefer to keep it that way. In fact, should I go
through life maintaining my belief in Harry's celibacy, few things will make me
happier. And Severus's inability to admit that I might have my uses beyond
flawless fellatio and a sounding board for untested magical expressions of
withdrawal angst. But I don't feel like spending another few hours unconscious
on the sofa, so we'll just let all that pass, will we?"
"Potter is not-"
"Evidently we won't."
"You don't know your friend very well."
"Nobody, perhaps excepting Hermione, and even there I have my doubts,
knows Harry very well. But I'm starting to think you could be even closer to
knowing him than I. However, had I been forced into betraying everything I held
emotional attachment to when I was eighteen, I've no doubt I would have been
rather wary of re-forming any sorts of attachments. As it was, being the
betrayed, I still had a hard time of it."
Draco stared at Remus for a considerable length of time. "Is this some
sort of penance?"
Remus frowned. "Penance?"
"For my cousin. Trying to pay back the debt through family lines, heal
where you killed, I don't know. Half-breeds take to wizarding tradition in odd
"This hasn't anything to do with Tonks. It has something to do with
Harry, certainly, he deserves happiness and it seems that he's not going to get
any of that without some fairly extensive intervention on the part of several
people. He could use a friend and although I probably would have chosen someone
else, he seems to rather enjoy you in that capacity."
"You've spoken of me?"
"No. I smell things." It was more complicated than that, it was
about instinct and love, but Remus didn't feel like explaining all of that, not
now. "And Severus loves you. And whatever else is between Severus and I,
there's been a lot of touch."
"Touching doesn't mean anything. Especially not when Wolfsbane is
"You have the right to draw your own conclusions."
"They're not-" Draco scuffed his toe along the wooden floor.
"All right, fine."
Remus took the small victory.
Severus didn't sleep for four days straight, and Remus was beginning to worry
that even if he came out of the addiction he would be completely mad. The worst
part of having to deal with Severus's sickness and irrationality wasn't the
symptoms themselves, which were vastly on par with normal potion withdrawal. It
was the things that weren't. The things that suggested this new breed of potion
might be affecting Severus in ways that not even he had predicted. It was almost
enough to Remus to plunk Severus down in a lab and have him just brew up a new
batch of what he needed, but even had he felt comfortable so clearly betraying
Severus' wishes, there was no guarantee that would fix anything at this point,
assuming Severus could even brew it competently in his current state. Remus
shuddered to think what a bastardized version might do.
By the fourth day, luckily, most of the frenzied magical energy that Severus
had been unleashing upon everything and everyone in sight had depleted itself,
and though Remus was still careful about bringing him water, he felt secure
enough to move in close when Severus just held his hands up helplessly. In the
dimness of the room, kept that way so as not to grate on Severus's
photosensitivity, Remus could still see them shaking. "Will you let me
touch you?" he asked.
Severus didn't immediately refuse, which gave Remus hope. After a while he
said, "My skin is excruciatingly sensitive."
Severus was the only person Remus had ever known who could speak in full
sentences while in agony. "I promise to be careful. I just want to help you
relax a bit."
"Gryffindors and your precious lost causes."
"It lends us a certain predictability," Remus agreed lightly.
Severus acceded with the merest inclination of his head. Remus set the water
down on the floor and moved to where Severus was standing. Draco and Remus had
agreed not to leave anything in the room after Severus had destroyed the few
blankets they'd left with a ferocity that made even Remus think twice about
going to him again. Severus' clothes weren't even in the best of condition
Remus placed the tips of his fingers gently atop Severus' hair. "All
Severus nodded jerkily and for a moment Remus was thrown by the unusual lack
of grace in the movement, but he gathered himself and began to massage at points
that would help blood flow to the brain while relaxing Severus. "Just tell
me if anything hurts."
Remus spent a decent amount of time on Severus's head, before moving downward
to gently press at the sinus cavities, and work at the kinks in Severus's neck.
By that time there was a considerable lessening of tension in Severus's posture.
Remus knew better than to descend any lower. "If I bring you some
"I'll use them for sleeping, not for decorating."
Remus snorted. "Not that the dťcor wasn't classy."
"A pillow as well?"
"Certainly." Remus moved to the door. "Try and drink the
water. Your skin wasn't as pliable as it should be."
Severus nodded, and Remus noticed the irritation in the movement. He had just
passed the door, wanting to get out before Severus decided to throw the glass at
him for the suggestion. It was spelled not to break, but Remus wasn't really
going to pit his precautionary measures against Severus' mood swings at the
moment. Then, just as he was about to close the door behind him, Remus
registered a whispered, "Thank you."
Blinking, Remus reflexively said, "You're welcome," before shutting
the door, heading off to find the softest blankets in the house. A nightshirt
Between teaching and tending to Severus, Draco was running on about as much
sleep as Severus was at the point before the latter finally dropped off. That
had been about two days earlier and Remus, Draco knew, had now taken to checking
that Severus was still breathing every hour or so. Draco had sneered at this,
but somewhere inside it was a bit reassuring, particularly during the hours that
he needed to be at Hogwarts.
After a particularly frustrating class with students who were in the mood to
show off to their friends by way of mouthing off, Draco was walking back to his
quarters in order to Floo over to Severus's. Upon reaching his quarters,
however, he found a somewhat beleaguered looking Potter at his door. Draco
stopped, a bit awkwardly. "Potter."
"You have to be the only person in the wizarding world who doesn't know
my first name."
"All right, Harry. It's been a bit of a week, if you don't mind-"
"I mind. It's about Snape, isn't it?"
"You must be the only person in the wizarding world who doesn't know his
first name," Draco mimicked.
"We're not friends."
"Neither are-" Draco stopped, well aware that his protestations
weren't true anymore, and a lie was only useful when it got the liar somewhere.
He slid past Harry. "Would you like to come in?"
Harry followed him in silently. "Remus has disappeared as well. Only, I
think you know that. I mean, Remus is always sort of hard to track down, and
Hermione and I worry about the things that could mean, but of late it's been
near impossible, which means he's somewhere where the wards don't recognize his
friends. Between that and our conversation of nearly a month ago, well, I do
have some sort of investigative mind."
"Severus was ill. He's feeling better."
"Good to hear."
"Harry." Draco carded a hand through his hair. "I have to go
"Remus is there."
Draco nodded his head. "Yes, but I-"
"You look exhausted," Harry said it softly, without any type of
"It's nothing Severus wouldn't do for me."
"No, but if he's getting better. . . A few hours of rest can't possibly
hurt, can it?"
Suddenly it occurred to Draco that he hadn't yet asked the question that
should have been the first thing out of his mouth. "What are you doing
Harry smiled. "Saying hi."
"Hi?" Draco asked, as though it were a language he couldn't quite
"You weren't returning my notes."
Draco's eyes strayed to one of the random pieces of parchment that Harry had
sent over the last couple of weeks. "It's not personal-"
"It's just been a crazy couple of weeks, yeah I'm getting that. But I
thought I'd check, just in case."
Harry shrugged. "Hadn't anything better to do."
Draco squinted. "Really?"
Harry fingered his robes. "Yeah. Really."
"You want-" Draco collected himself. "You want to stay for
Harry grinned. "It's a long Apparition back home. That'd be nice."
Yes, Draco thought wearily, nice.
Draco found Remus sleeping on the couch in the parlor. He was mildly
horrified at the breach of etiquette and knew Severus wouldn't bother with the
mildly, but Draco himself had just spent three hours in his own bed so he
supposed waking Remus was unfair and turned to leave the room when Remus
mumbled, "He's still sleeping."
Draco pivoted back. "True sleep?"
Draco sank into a chair. "Well, good."
"I was going to rest in the room he lets me have, but I didn't want you
to get back and wake him unknowingly."
Draco, not yet at a place where he was willing to acknowledge these sorts of
kindnesses, drew a letter from his robes. "Harry asked me to give this to
"You've seen Harry?" Remus reached for the parchment.
"He dropped by the school."
Remus didn't respond to that, instead opening the letter and scanning it
thoroughly. He glanced up at Draco. "I hadn't thought that the wards might
hide me. I'll have to respond."
"He didn't say this, and I'm hardly one to claim expertise, but-"
"Not being able to find me had him a bit out of sorts?"
Draco looked away. "He was pretty sure you were helping Severus."
"However would he have been pretty sure of that?"
"I. . .had mentioned some concerns."
"Yes," was all Draco said.
"I think Severus is past the worst of it. We should probably wake him in
a few hours if he hasn't done so himself to make sure he doesn't
"I can handle it. You should rest. In your room."
"Wake me if there are any problems."
Draco laughed a little at the understatement inherent in that offer. Remus
smiled a bit himself, "Any major ones."
Remus was almost at the door when Draco called, "Lupin."
"Harry came to see me. To say hi."
"This makes you uncomfortable."
"Perhaps he doesn't know that I merely need allies."
"Why should that be your problem?"
"I'm not entirely sure, but it seems that I feel it is."
"Maybe allies aren't all you need," Remus said, and left the room.
Draco watched his back recede before shaking his head. The unease in his stomach
wasn't anything a pasty wouldn't clear up.
Remus sent Draco back to the school that evening so that he could get some
rest before the next day's classes. Severus was sleeping again at the time, and
Remus was prepared to be unsurprised if Severus slept for a week running. Remus
crafted a letter to Harry letting him know where he was and that things were
fine and most significantly, "If you decide upon snogging Draco Malfoy,
which I suppose I can concede would have its merits even if I really feel
obliged to point out that Zacharias Smith has grown into a startlingly
good-looking young man, I think perhaps you ought to wait until he's figured out
just why he wants to snog you back. Please consider my duties as a responsible
adult to you duly finished for the term of the next 365 days. Remus."
He sent the letter off and made himself a cup of tea, waiting until it was
time to wake Severus up for a bit of rehydration.
The house elf made up a tea tray that was rather appropriately sized,
throwing Remus a bit. When he looked over at the elf to ask the elf merely said,
"Master is needing this," which Remus could hardly deny, so he put it
down to an odd moment of prescience in the creature and took the tray.
Severus didn't wake easy. Not that Remus had really expected him to, but he
wouldn't have complained. As it was Remus woke him slowly rather than resorting
to any sort of forceful waking. He was mostly sure that Severus's rogue magic
would be tempered at this point, still, it wasn't something he wanted to test by
way of putting himself in between Severus and any possible outbursts.
When Severus did finally wake it was with an odd look in his eyes, Remus
would have categorized it as wistful in anyone else. Then he blinked and asked,
"I sent him to the school. He's been working all this time, you know. He
needed more rest."
"And water, you need to drink both. And if you could attempt to get a
little food down as well I would think that best."
"I do actually know the process, Lupin."
"Well, as you've been fuckall insane for the better part of a week now,
I thought you might enjoy a reminder. But youíre right, I might have forgotten
to whom I was speaking there for a moment."
Severus took a long pull of the water. "Is the Wolfsbane worth so much
"Are you wanting honesty, or are we re-embarking upon our relationship
of thorny non-answers so that the cycle of violence and disgust can be carried
out in its own due time?"
"As you prefer."
"The Wolfsbane is worth everything to me, but that's not why I chose to
help and you're too smart not to know otherwise."
"Why can't you just properly hate back where you are so obviously
"Your hatred takes odd forms at times, Severus. And I rather love
touching you, no matter what your opinion of intercourse free of commitment
"Do you. . .enjoy your occupation?"
"I don't know that it's something I would have chosen of my own free
will and I rather wish I had more room to say no when I so please, but if you're
asking if I mind having sex for economic profit then the answer is only very
rarely. Sex is what it is, and I'm rather good at it. I don't think it's
shameful to say that. I'm good at other things. I make a good mentor, I've a
wicked way with nearly any Dark Creature you can think of, and I know how to
keep a secret. Sex is just something else I do, something that every once in
awhile, affords me a way to live."
"You were living in the forest."
"Society hasn't been entirely friendly of late. I killed one of ours and
a Muggle, although nobody seems to care about that last except, well, me."
"It would be best if I had someone around for a bit. I plan on going
back to brewing and while the addiction isn't one that will consistently create
a desire to return to the potions once theyíre entirely free of my system, I
think having someone around to. . .monitor the situation would benefit
"The thing is, I find it problematic now, to ask you to touch me."
"Because I enjoy it?"
"Because I'm not sure how to delineate it as anything other than
payment, either on my behalf or on yours."
"You could just say that you rather like having me touch you."
"It's. . .you're right, something at which you're quite good."
Remus nearly choked at the compliment. "Drink up. You need more
"Yes." Severus took another extended sip, his eyes never leaving
Remus. Remus looked away first, knowing that Severus really did, in fact, need
his rest. Remus listened to the sound of Severus swallowing and indulged in a
momentary, rewarding, cursing of the fates.
Draco came back the next evening. Remus said, "He's still sleeping, but
I think he's coming to the end of it. Would you mind if I went out for a bit?
The house elves have gotten the knack of his waking schedule, they'll tell you
when it's time. Although, you have a while, he woke by himself this afternoon.
He may very well do it again."
"Tell me you'll be available every moment you're away," Draco said
in a high, breathless, pleading sort of voice.
"Right, I'll just be off then."
Draco waved lazily. Remus walked out the door and past the Apparition wards.
He arrived at Harry's place a moment later, and knocked on the door. Harry threw
back the door and grinned. "Remus!"
"New detection spell?"
"One I came up with myself. Works beautifully. The company wants to
market it starting in a month."
"That's fantastic news."
"Well, are you coming in?"
Remus did so. Harry said, "I'll just put on a pot. The couch has missed
Remus laughed and went in to sit down on Harry's seemingly sentient
Harry returned in less than a minute with a tea tray, which he set on the
coffee table before settling across from Remus on the couch. "You've been
staying with Snape."
"Yes, sorry about the letters. I didn't think how his wards would. . .
It's unusually paranoid to keep out letters, even letters to one not being the
regular inhabitant of the house. I can only think he put those up after. .
Harry looked away. "How's he feeling?"
"I'm expecting his charm to reappear any day now."
Harry smirked. "If you say so. And you're all- I mean, he wasn't messing
up the Wolfsbane, or anything?"
"Severus has never hurt me."
"There was the end of third year."
"That was more misdirected anger, than anything."
"Feeling mightily relieved on this corner of the sofa."
Harry shook his head. "You used to be- You used to forgive yourself. Now
it's just day after day of repentance without any true horrors to submit
yourself to. And you think we don't notice or that it doesn't affect us, but I'm
done watching my friends suffer." Harry's voice stayed soft, but there was
an intense bent to it.
"I." Remus took a breath. "All right, Harry. But this isn't
Remus raised his eyebrows a bit. "What's your thing with Draco
"I haven't the slightest clue. It just. . . I'm trying to trust my
"See, you do understand."
"This is probably a bad idea, Remus."
"Right then," Harry said, and reached over to pour some tea.
"I need to start preparing the Wolfsbane if it is to be ready in
"I'd made other plans," Remus said. While he did believe that
Severus would be able to resume brewing, he wasn't sure that Severus's going
back to the occupation within less than a week of fully detoxing himself was for
"No doubt something suitably tragic, but I have worse penance for you,
fear not." Severus swept his hand a bit dramatically.
Remus fought not to smile. "Always thinking of me."
"That, or the hapless students who see fit to wander into the
Remus had purposely never stayed anywhere near the edge of the forest where
Hogwarts was located and Severus probably knew it. Besides, "You just used
the students as a manner in which to deflect my suspicion that you might have a
small amount of concern for me."
"Tactical error, I agree. It might take a few weeks before my wit is
"I'll try to squeeze in all the victories I can within that time limit,
thank you for the warning."
"They accuse me of not having manners, you realize."
"It was a purposely vague pronominal."
"I really do plan on brewing. Best to know now if it's going to be an
Remus watched the man across from him. Severus was still, the way Remus
remembered him always being. He wondered if Severus had ever twitched or
fidgeted the way most small children do, but somehow he just couldn't summon the
visual. "There are other things, Severus."
"We can't all be nymphomaniacs, Lupin."
"Sadly, no," Remus agreed. "I meant Draco and Minerva. I meant
parts of the world you've never seen, books you've never read, games you've
never played, music you've never heard."
"I'm not fond of wasting time."
"I'm not sure you've ever had time to waste."
"I've found that's something that people make sure to acquire."
"Well, nobody ever said you played well with others."
"Will you help me brew or not?" Severus snarled.
"Of course," Remus said lightly, calmly. "But I won't allow
you to muck about in self pity should the worst of our fears prove true."
"Our fears, Lupin?" Severus's voice sounded like
green light and imminent death.
Remus was unperturbed. "I'm good at sharing. Besides, you always try so
hard to make the Wolfsbane easy for consumption." He smiled his most
"I could always add a bit of silver bromide."
"That was less than subtle."
"My few weeks aren't up."
"Lethe's milk, perhaps, because it sounds so alluring." Remus well
knew, though, that it would reduce the drinker to nothing more than a hulled out
lump of flesh almost instantaneously.
"Siren's gold." Severus named the mineral that was most often used
in potions meant to transubstantiate something. In a living being, the results
were disastrous unless very carefully applied by someone who knew exactly what
he was doing.
"There you go."
"All right, brewing. But I wonít be your conscience. Mine's barely
enough to serve my needs these days."
"No, I will tell you should there be a problem."
"You could work on your own potions. My plans will stand."
"I thought I'd start with something easy."
"So the potion that only three known Masters in the world can brew was
what you came up with?"
"That's two more than the other things I'm working on."
"Irrefutable logic, that."
"I knew I could talk you into seeing it my way."
Remus sighed. "Don't be terribly impressed with yourself, we both know
The look that accompanied Severus's following silence was too enigmatic for
Remus to even begin poking at its edges. His, "Exactly so," was
several minutes too late, but Remus gave him the benefit of the doubt. His few
weeks weren't up yet.
"You need me as an ally," Harry repeated back to Draco, clearly
unimpressed with this statement of admission on Draco's part. "Well, sure I
suppose I don't hurt in that capacity."
"Come off it, Potter."
"Harry. It's the same amount of syllables, I promise."
"You donít listen to a bloody thing anybody has to say, do you?"
"I think it's good for you, to realize that not everybody hangs on your
every grunt. Healthy."
"Harry, I'm using you!"
"No, but you're very comfortable feeling that you are, so I thought we'd
just let things go on like that. Particularly as I figured it was the best
strategy for my getting laid."
"It's phenomenally amazing that we're not all being ruled by-"
"Don't underestimate me, Draco." Harry said this glacially.
Softening, he said, "I'd tell you not to underestimate yourself either, but
despite your complaints about me, you would hardly listen to
anything I'd have to say concerning that."
"You do know that traitors to one side are likely to betray again?"
"I'm not Severus," Draco spit.
"The fact that you put up with me gave that one away early in the game.
But the two of you have a fair bit in common."
"What is it with Gryffindors assuming that because we're both wayward
Harry pressed his lips to Draco's, almost experimentally. He pulled back and
blinked. "Sorry. Just wanted to see if that actually worked."
"Y'know, kissing someone to make them quiet. Like in the stories."
"Novels, mostly a muggle tradition, but it's infiltrated the wizarding
market over the past few years. You've never read a novel?"
"Father wasn't a fan of frivolous reading."
"You should try it some time. It's cheap fun. A way to get out of your
own head for a bit."
"You kissed me just to see if these stories were telling the
"Among other things."
"Other things," Harry confirmed.
"So if I tried kissing you again?"
"It would be a wholly different sort of experiment."
Draco, despite the fact that their chests were nearly touching already,
inched closer. "I'm curious."
"What it's like to have an ally?"
"Yes," Draco said, and closed the gap.
Remus had never imagined that he could be a room--not all that large a room,
either--with Severus, and have the other man almost completely unaware of his
presence. Remus would have struck the "almost" from that thought, but
this was Severus Snape, and Remus was quite sure the man never entirely let go
of the awareness of any of his surroundings.
As fastidious as Severus was in his potion making, he was also far more fluid
than Remus generally thought of him being, moving without seeming thought or
attention, but never tipping more than one flake or splash than necessary for
the given potion. Remus acknowledged silently while watching Severus that though
there were other things in life, he couldn't imagine being able to redefine this
man without his potions, and Remus could only surmise that Severus fended off an
even larger block of panic at the mere thought.
The Wolfsbane took over a week and Severus finished it just in time. He
ladled the appropriate amount from his cauldron into a goblet and handed it over
to Remus, who sipped without letting himself think too much about it. It
wouldn't do to get sick on it, not after all the work he'd just watch go into
To his surprise, it was relatively tasteless. Not entirely, and Remus would
hardly have ingested it for fun, but it was nowhere near as vile as he was used
to it being. Remus frowned. "Are you. . .I would hardly slander your
abilities or memory, Severus, but there seems to be something out of place about
"Are you referring to the taste?"
Remus put the goblet down before he could drop it, his fingers suddenly
feeling funny and oddly useless. "Yes."
"You mentioned it being less than desirable."
"I'd mentioned that a good hundred or so times."
"It was time I showed to you the full extent of my skills."
"You had the ability to fix the taste all along?"
"A small dose of citric acid. It hasn't the correct qualities to
interact magically with any of the ingredients, therefore it can't change the
composition and harm its effectiveness. But the acidic properties cut the
Remus considered Severus. "Are you showing off for me?"
Severus didn't dismiss the notion out of hand. "For myself, I think. But
if the former was accomplished I see no reason for you not to show off to me in
Remus laughed at that just a little. "No, I don't suppose you
Severus shrugged but didn't follow the comment up with anything. Remus said,
"You'll taste the Wolfsbane on me."
"Not if we don't kiss."
"We will kiss."
Severus stood watching Remus for a few moments before crossing in total
silence to the other side of the lab. He drew something from a jar and then
flowed back toward Remus. He held the object out to Remus, who identified it up
close as ginger roots. Remus took them and chewed slowly, the stinging spice of
the ginger hot and pleasant against his tongue.
He shared the last of the sting with Severus.
Severus tasted bitter, like the inside of freshly roasted coffee beans. Remus
nearly laughed at the appropriateness of this discovery. Severus must have
sensed his amusement, as his hands came up to Remus's chest, as though to push,
but Remus merely threw his weight against the hands and didn't let up.
When Remus was beginning to feel the mutter of impatience in himself, he
pulled back, licked his lips, and asked, "Is it really a good idea to do
this around all these jars?"
Severus shook his head.
Remus lead him into the hallway, "This'll do," and picked up where
he'd left off. When Severus was marginally looser, leaning against the wall for
more support than he'd needed when all this had started, Remus told him,
"I'm going to undress you."
"We're in the middle of my house."
"The elves won't disturb us, and I don't know that I've mentioned this,
but you have quite the warding system." Remus neatly unbuttoned the wrists
of Severus's button-down shirt. As he had been brewing in the privacy of his own
home, Severus was nowhere near to as completely dress as he generally was in
public, but even in the relatively relaxed circumstances, each and every button
on the shirt was affixed in its hole. Remus wondered if that sort of
fastidiousness applied to other things. The idea was definitely worth exploring.
Remus brought one of Severus's wrist, now just barely exposed, to his mouth.
He swiped a line over it with his tongue. Severus struggled a bit in his grasp,
but Remus held on, following his tongue with a kiss. With his free hand, Remus
swept the sleeve of Severus's shirt higher, following in its wake with his
mouth. When the sleeve would go no further, Remus turned his attentions to
Severus's other arm.
Remus drew up a bit, then, and carefully undid each of the buttons keeping
the shirt on Severus before pushing it off of the man, letting it fall to the
ground. Severus, unsurprisingly, was looking underfed. Remus pulled his own
jumper over his head and tossed it aside, leaning in so that their chests made
contact. Severus gasped at the feeling. Remus took a chance and asked, "Was
it always quickies, before?"
Severus shook his head. "Women."
"Oh." Remus laughed a little. "Oh." He insinuated his
fingers between their chests so that he could run his thumbs over Severus'
nipples. Severus tilted his head back ever so slightly until it hit the wall.
Remus kept up the gentle rubbing until Severus's groin began to thrust against
Remus's. Then he moved back a few inches, taking his hands with him in order to
shuck his trousers. He removed Severus's as meticulously as he had everything
else. He ended on his knees, looking up. He ordered, "Stay standing."
He unlaced Severus's shoes and removed them, setting them aside, the socks
that he also removed curled up and stuffed neatly inside. He used one hand to
lift Severus's right foot and one to push Severus deeper against the wall before
used his tongue on the bottom of the foot, wringing a scream from Severus. Remus
smiled. "Sensitive there."
Remus didn't really feel like talking. He pressed kisses to the roughened
pads of the feet, took small swipes at the areas in between the toes. When it
felt like Severus's left leg would give out, Remus carefully planted the right
one back on the ground and switched his attentions to the left.
When he was good and ready, Remus gave Severus back his second leg, and
caught him as he slid down the wall. He laid Severus down, the hallway just wide
enough that Severus's hair touched one wall, his toes, when flexed, the other.
Remus situated himself in the V of Severus' legs, pushing them up so that Remus'
hands rested on the back of Severus' knees for balance. Then he lowered his
head, and drew another neat line with his tongue, this one from Severus's ass to
his balls. Severus arched radically in response, and Remus contentedly swirled
his tongue over each of Severus' balls.
"Lupin!" Severus warned, but Remus just ran a calming thumb over
the back of Severus' knees, which seemed to do nothing but make his cock stiffen
just a tiny bit more. It was a rather pleasing sight, one which Remus began to
take care of only when Severus stopped growling at him and began making
plaintive sounds that were the antithesis of his coffee-bean taste. Then Remus
swallowed him down and worked his tongue up and down the length of Severus cock
until it was clear that if he didn't pull off, Remus wasn't getting what he
wanted out of this encounter, and that just wouldn't do at all.
He pulled his mouth off of Severus's cock, applying a last bit of forceful
suction as he went. Severus snarled when the last of the stimulus disappeared
completely. Remus ignored him. He gently laid Severus' legs back on the floor
and kneeled up over him. Remus bent to his side, rummaging through his trouser
pockets for something that he'd been keeping on himself for the last week or so,
as a sort of talisman of hope. He ripped the tiny package of lubricant, dribbled
it over Severus's cock, spread it out a bit with his fingers and then dropped
the empty package next to Severus before sliding slowly onto Severus's cock and
lowering himself so that his chest pressed against Severus's.
Severus's breathing was shallow when he finally asked, "Are you going to
"When I feel like it, Severus."
Then, and only then, did Remus rock himself slightly, up and down, his
nipples brushing against Severus'. Only then did he tilt his chin so as to kiss
at the underside of Severus's. Only then did his bring his hands over the length
of Severus' arms and down to where they interlocked with Severus' hands.
Severus stopped breathing. Remus said, "Breathe." Severus listened.
Remus would stop occasionally, just to lie on Severus, allow their skins
longer time to make each other's acquaintance. When Severus said,
"Remus," Remus decided to give him what he wanted, pulling himself
upright so that Severus's hand--firmly encased in Remus's guiding one--could
wrap around Remus's cock and pull at it in a slow, nearly harsh rhythm, while
Remus rode Severus into a rather unique sunset.
After a bit, Severus said, "It's rather bad form to lie starkers in
"Yes," Remus said with not an ounce of worry. "I suppose it
is." He didn't move from where he was draped over Severus.
"If you could-"
"Not just yet."
"This is one of the things I mind about prostitution, you see. Sex isn't
just about sex. It's about before, and after."
"This is not a contract of emotional significance."
"This isn't a contract at all, really, and I wasn't speaking of
emotions. Pleasure, true pleasure, has stages. Or didn't you notice when you
were being drawn into your substance of choice?"
Severus threw his weight against Remus and rolled them over at that.
"How dare you-"
"I meant the question, Severus. Just because it was dangerous didn't
make it lacking in pleasure. Some people get off on that, you know." Remus
had met quite a few of them.
"It wasn't about that."
"No," Remus agreed, "not for you. Still, I should think you'd
be able to see my point."
Severus pulled himself off Remus. "I'll have another dose waiting for
you in the morning."
Severus turned a suddenly curious eye to Remus. "Does the release
Remus couldn't help looking just a bit smug. "Enormously."
"And this was-"
"About my pesky fondness for touching you. Doing all sorts of things to
"But there was an element of it-"
"Sex should be about the people involved, Severus. However many that
"And if you were nowhere in my thoughts?"
"It must have been lonely, I suppose."
Severus scowled at that. He fished for his wand in his discarded robes and
muttered the spell for them to replace themselves over his flesh, followed by a
thorough cleansing charm, one that spread wide enough to hit Remus, cold and
just the tiniest bit uncomfortable. Severus stalked off. Remus rolled over and
considered his own robes, still lying strewn about the hallway. Undeterred by
this latest complication, he picked them up slowly and dressed himself,
foregoing magic for the comfort of his own body.
Harry wasn't particularly good in bed, just. . .thoughtful. Fun. At least,
once he'd relaxed enough for the last one. At first it had been obvious that he
was nearly out of his mind with nerves, and Draco had even gone so far as to
taunt him about it, but then Harry just became worse and Draco didn't blame him
really. He apologized with a few words and a lengthy searching out of Harry's
erogenous zones with his tongue. After that, things had rather rapidly spread
toward the delightful.
Draco awoke from a post-coital nap to the smell of bacon and kippers. He
followed his nose into the kitchen. Harry turned around with an off-center
smile. "Thought, erm. Well, it's Saturday, and you haven't much been
Draco said, "Yeah, thanks for that."
Harry tapped the hob with his wand, quieting the flames.
Nothing looked burnt or severely undercooked so Draco sat down.
Harry seemed awkward in his movements. Draco couldn't remember him every
being so, not even when he'd first been learning to wear robes or after his last
major growth spurt. Draco took the pan from him. "Tell me that wasn't your
Harry looked shocked for a moment before laughing. "No, although I can
see where you'd get that from."
Draco thought of Harry's eagerness to touch and be touched, his joy in the
pleasure, the way he wouldn't let go of Draco, not even when they were done,
this morning's edginess. "Sit down."
Harry did, and Draco slid some of the bacon and kippers onto his plate,
taking what was left for himself. Harry tucked in, obviously using the
distraction as a way not to have to talk, and Draco followed suit, not entirely
sure that he wanted conversation any more than Harry did.
When they were finished and he'd helped Harry clean up from an instinct that
didn't seem instinctual at all but was still somehow in him, Draco couldn't
decide whether to stay or go. Normal procedure for him at this point was to
flee, and the thought was terribly tempting. But Harry wasn't his normal type,
and the temptation to stay was oddly strong as well.
"You play chess?" Harry asked softly.
"Badly," Draco told him, surprised at his own honesty, but he'd
never had a head for all the intricate choices necessary, let alone the
sacrifices one had to make.
"Yeah, me as well. Fancy a game?"
Harry set out the pieces. He put a knight in its proper place and said,
"Ron taught me how to play. He was bloody brilliant," and fixed Draco
with a look that burned hot as the Dark Mark.
Draco said, "Father. He had a tendency to repeat strategies," but
he couldnít tell what his face was doing. Whatever it was, Harry asked,
"Do you still really want to be here?"
Draco thought of the work that needed doing, of the visit he should pay to
Severus, of the privacy of his own quarters and the comforting regal nature of
Snape Manor. "You liked touching me."
Harry blinked. "I suppose you returned the favor."
"I wasn't expecting-"
"What were you expecting?"
Draco shook his head. "I don't know. Not the bed. Not breakfast or
chess. Not to want to stay."
"Sit down," Harry said, motioning at the chair on the other side of
"The wards around my room aren't engaging," Remus said, expecting
that Severus had changed the password out of a subconscious need to annoy his
"I deactivated them."
Remus knew that the knot in his stomach was a precursor to a panic that he
had no wish to explore. Tonks eyes swam in his mind for all of a second before
he shoved the thought away with perhaps even more violence than the act it
represented. "I will only leave if you ask me directly, Severus."
Severus seemed confused for a moment. "Ah, no. I merely thought it might
behoove me to trust in my own ability to complete potions correctly. A step
toward recovery, if you will."
"Allowing a werewolf the perusal of your house is less a step toward
recovery than one toward insanity." Remus didn't bother to soften his
words, Severus wouldn't appreciate it even if he did.
"If you eat me I'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing I won't go
down well. Hellebore smarts quite nicely during transformation, doesn't
appreciate physical change so well as mental, and clean or no, I'm sure I still
have some of it settled in me."
Remus tried for calm, took a breath in and let it slowly out, tapped his wand
to his stomach with a Calming Charm that had always worked before, but in the
end it was all useless, and Remus shoved past Severus in the hopes of finding a
chamber pot. He only made it to the doorway of the lab before falling to his
knees and expunging his last two or three meals.
He was still trying to clear his head of the grief and guilt and fear when
the last of the retching tapered off. Something Banished the vomit from in front
of him and if he had been thinking about it, he would have recognized the
gesture as one of uncommon mercy on Severus's part, but he wasn't thinking about
it. He was thinking about little boys with Severus's black hair, and Tonk's
eyes, as frightened as they were determined. Severus pushed a bottle into his
hands. "Drink. The whole thing. And try not to bring it up again."
Remus did as told when the instructions managed to find their way into his
head. No sooner had he finished off the last of the bottle than a brilliant sort
of apathy tore its way through him, wiping any sense of why he might care about
those things that had so recently seemed important. He looked up to see Severus
grimacing. "It's yet to be perfected."
Remus shrugged, he wasn't sure why such a thing should matter. Severus
sighed. "You're no good to me like this."
Remus wondered if that should be a problem. Severus lifted him off the
When Remus shrugged again, Severus said, "Right, silly of me to have
bothered." Severus dragged Remus through the hallways and into the sitting
room, depositing him in a chair and snapping out a house elf's name. Remus
closed his eyes, and let the world go by in darkness.
Remus awoke with the feeling that someone was sitting on his chest, but a
quick glance confirmed this to be without proof. Of course, it could have been
someone in an invisibility cloak, but he seemed to be in his bed at Severus's
house, and that wasn't something he could imagine Severus doing, not without a
good reason. Remus made himself sit up, just in case, and sure enough, nothing
tumbled from him.
He struggled to get in a full breath and then swiveled so that he could put
his feet on the floor and rise from the bed. When his feet hit the ground some
of the hour before he had passed out came to him. "Bloody-"
Remus slipped into some house shoes and made his way into the hall. He walked
down to Severus's study, where he was most likely to be, as he wisely was still
being rather cautious about brewing by himself. The door was open and Severus
was inside, but Remus knocked on the doorframe anyway. Severus looked up.
"How do you feel?"
"I'm having some trouble breathing."
Severus frowned. He summoned a house elf with a wave of his wand. "Bring
us some eucalyptus tea, well-steeped."
The house elf disappeared again. Severus said, "Well, come in."
Remus did, settling himself in the cushiest chair he could find. "Sorry
about earlier. I've some demons regarding Tonks and the boy, and we both know
how close- My mind put together a rather disturbing image for me."
"I said some things that were perhaps best left unsaid."
"No, I'm not certain silence does either of us any good at this
point." Remus tried for another breath. "What did you give me?"
"An emotional rather than physical sedative on which I'm working. It
obviously needs some further trials."
"It caused apathy."
"I'm pretty sure I would not have been bothered by a personal meeting
with Andromeda and Ted Tonks."
Severus frowned. "It's supposed to mute emotion for short periods of
time, not kill it entirely."
"Surely there are others in your field with whom you can consult?"
"I tried when I began. Nobody wants to work in an area that's seen as
walking dangerously close to Muggle habits of medicating emotional trauma.
That's frowned upon."
"That, and sanity."
Severus moved his shoulders in a fluid movement that resembled a shrug, but
Remus could not reconcile anything so casual with the man. "I'm alone in
this. I'm lucky enough I suppose that the Order of Merlin and my previous
reputation have garnered me a position through which I can pursue the
"You would be alone if you had only yourself to talk to."
"Or only my own tail to chase."
"I regret the nature of my sarcastic remarks, but not the point I was
driving at behind them."
"It is your house and your potion, I'm entirely sure you'll have your
way one way or another."
"But I find to my shock that I'd prefer to have it with your
approval." Severus looked away as he said this.
Remus struggled for another breath even as he struggled for something to say.
He was saved from having to deal with the latter by a house elf's reappearing
with the tea. Severus instructed, "Drink, it'll help with your chest."
It took two cups for Remus to breathe normally again. He still hadn't found a
Draco took Harry when he went back to check up on Severus. Remus had been
sending him notes pretty consistently until the day before, and Draco was in no
way put at ease by his missing a morning. He wasn't sure why he took Harry, it
wasn't as though he doubted he could handle a magically crazed Severus if it
came to it, although that was the reason he gave Harry, who had the good sense
not balk at it. Draco supposed it didn't sound all that implausible.
When they arrived, however, Severus was eating a perfectly balanced breakfast
and reading one of the latest potions journals, his robes donned and neatly
swirling around him. He looked up at his intruders and nodded.
Draco said, "Good morning," prompting Harry's rather unsure,
"Erm, good morning."
"Draco. Mr. Potter. Would you like some breakfast?"
Because he could sense Harry's agitation next to him, Draco rolled his eyes
at Severus. "Where is Lupin?"
"He's not generally a very late sleeper," Harry said, and it had
the sound of confusion leading very closely on accusation.
Severus sighed. "Go down the hall, make a left at the end, take your
second right and then the first right after that and you may check on him
yourself, Mr. Potter. I assure you he has come to no harm."
Harry took him up on the offer. Draco was glad of the chance to sit down and
talk with Severus. "What did you give him?"
Severus looked up from his journal and raised an eyebrow. Draco raised one in
kind. Severus made a sound of discontented amusement. "Experimental potion
to dampen emotions. I. . .made a comment that was most likely best left
"And that certainly doesn't describe every single conversation between
the two of you for the last thirty or so years."
"You're being impertinent."
"Do you really want to do that when your," Severus put in an extra
sneer for good measure, "boyfriend is down the
Draco made sure he was collected as he said, "He might very well think
of us that way."
Severus must have heard the fear, though, as he backed off. "You've
slept with him."
"I know somebody must have mentioned that Gryffindors are emotional
psychopaths at some point, but I think I was busy buying new robes that day. Or
something of the sort. He asked me to stay, after. Well, he made me food."
Severus looked unimpressed.
"Also, there was chess."
"Pretty soon there will be discussions about you making an honest man of
Draco thought about it. Shook his head. "He didn't seem to expect that I
would stay. And that didnít seem to bother him."
"Which I suppose is why you stayed."
"I donít know that it was," Draco whispered, terrified at the
options that left.
Draco looked to him to say something cutting, to stop this freefall, to put
things in their proper pessimistic perspective. Severus said, "I will deny
ever having said this, but Gryffindors' greatest strengths lie not in their
willingness to brave physical demolition, but rather, emotional. Potter will
understand himself as the one at risk. If you want him, you have only to hold
"My grip is-"
Draco had never known Severus to lie to him. He couldn't imagine his mentor
deciding this was the moment to start. He didn't want to imagine.
One of the first times that Remus had ever had the advantage of taking the
Wolfsbane, he had curled quietly in his Hogwarts' quarters simply reveling in
the thought that he could go to sleep, since his human mind clearly recognized
this as night time. Instead, though, he had found a mirror, curious at what his
friends had seen all these years, curious as to whether the pictures in books
were at all adequate. The mirror had said, "You're a big boy, aren't
Remus, to his surprise, had agreed. It wasn't that Remus was a particularly
small human, he was for the most part average sized, with the odd bout of hunger
making him a bit on the lean side. His wolf form, however, bordered on the
It shouldn't have been possible, Remus always thought, to make something so
large out of someone so, well, not large. But then, it shouldn't have been
possible for him to turn into a mindless creature feeding on what would normally
be his own kind once a month, either, so the world was just full of impossible
things one had to accept on faith, or the word of a rather nosy mirror.
He told Severus, "I'm your size as a wolf, maybe a bit bigger."
"I remember," Severus said, with only a hint of trepidation.
Remus thought a hint was actually quite a bit when one was facing the idea of
spending an evening with one's almost murderer. "It can be a bit
"Unlike the feral eyes or the fangs."
Severus had a point. Remus wasn't going to point out that his eyes weren't
quite so feral when on the potion, more placid. If he was lucky, Severus would
talk himself out of it.
Remus should have remembered that of the many, many things that he often was,
lucky was not among them. Severus said, "Of course, I would imagine neither
of those are quite so intimidating when you're in your right mind. The eyes
probably respond to the presence behind them and you most likely do not go
around with your fangs bared."
"It's sometimes more comfortable-"
Severus cut him off with a quelling glare. "Then you'll just have to
remember you have an audience."
Remus voiced the question that might make this entirely easier to bear even
as it was the last thing he was sure he wanted to hear. "Is this some sort
of revenge that I cannot wrap my Gryffindor mind around?"
"It seems your mind is wrapped enough for possible identification of it
"I'm good with the plans, but not much for the carry out."
"Would it make it easier if I said it was?"
Remus frowned. "What do you care about easier? It would make it easier
for you to lock me in that room."
"I care about easier," Severus said. "But there are
"Why? Why are there limits?"
"Because this isn't about revenge."
There was a crash of something that Remus only vaguely recognized as joy
against the restraints of his rib cage, and Remus thought that perhaps the other
answer would have been easier after all.
Hermione said, "Look, somewhat incredibly what I'm about to say to you
is nothing personal, but if you hurt Harry, what Voldemort did to traitors will
honestly seem like a day of being caressed by Cheering Charms."
Draco said, "Right, well. Would you like to come in?" and stepped
past her to open the door to his quarters. She took the invitation, Weasley
twins following in her wake.
George (at least Draco assumed it was George) said, "Thanks for the
advice regarding Snape."
Draco found it somewhat tactless to acknowledge that information a person
wasn't necessarily supposed to have given out originated from said person, but
he had a feeling that Weasley hadn't gone around sharing the news, so he just
nodded. Hermione told him, "George had mentioned that the prof- that Snape
hadnít contacted him in a bit, so I got hold of the Headmistress who vaguely
didn't really mention that I might ask Harry. She's channeling Dumbledore far
too frequently these days."
"No, but he reassured me that things were all right and then talked
about all sorts of other interesting things."
Fred snickered at that. George just kept his eyes on Draco. Hermione asked,
"Mind if we have a drink?"
Draco started, "The house elves-" and then stopped, cringing,
remembering something Harry had told him about Muggle philosophy on the societal
conditioning of Othered species, but Hermione just nodded and summoned them all
drinks. Draco was surprised to find himself with a black Ethiopian blend and
wondered whether she'd actually requested it, or if the house elves had just
filled in the blanks, as they were.
She took a sip of her own beverage and sighed, sitting in the nearest chair.
"You're at least partially responsible for saving George's life, and Harry
seems rather contented, so I actually didn't come to get on your case."
"Just to remind me that Harry Bloody Potter has friends? Because I'd
Both Fred and George snickered at that. Fred began, "Hard to miss-"
And George capped off with, "Isn't it?"
"Harry has plenty of people who mildly worship him and a small group of
friends. I would lecture you on your blithe treatment of the manner, but I'm
busy being sad over the prospect that you actually might not know the
difference." Hermione challenged him with a slanted look.
Draco took another sip. "I haven't any intention of hurting him."
"It's not so much your intentions we're concerned about, mate,"
Fred told him, "although I can't say as I ever thought I'd be saying that
Draco frowned. "Then why-"
"To let you know you can hurt him," George said softly.
Hermione added, "We weren't sure you knew. Harry's not the most
"Ah." Draco looked around at his three guests. "You're
"Quite," all three said together.
As much to his surprise as any one else's the foremost emotion that rose up
in Draco wasn't panic. There was certainly confusion, and not a bit of
amusement, but mostly there was an odd and uncomfortable feeling of awe. All he
said was, "All right. Thanks."
When Hermione rose to go he said, "You can finish your drink."
She sat back down. Fred asked, "How's it feel, not being evil?"
Remus woke up from the transformation sore and thirsty. Severus said,
"If you sit up, I'll give you water."
Remus croaked, "No legilimancy when I'm recovering from forced
Severus sniffed. "I wasn't-"
"Joke, Severus." Remus eased himself into an upright position.
"Water just sounds brilliant."
"There are water-leeching components in the Wolfsbane."
"I rather figured. The need is far more urgent when I use it than when I
Severus handed over the water. "Are you nervous?"
Remus took several slow sips, waiting to feel a little more. . .well, human.
"When I'm in wolf form, I'm far more. . .empathic isn't the right word. I'm
more sensitive, I suppose, to small changes in others moods. There's an energy
people give off that the wolf," Remus thought about it, "it tickles
"I was a bit-"
"Terrified?" Remus offered. "You shouldn't have stayed."
"Would you prefer I left?"
Remus snorted. "Hardly. Solitude is lovely at times, but not when I'm
feeling like this."
"Would you like?" Severus eyes were intent.
"Like this," Severus said, and put both his palms against Remus's
chest, moving in slow circles.
"Yes," Remus said with a small smile,
"I am not a coward."
Remus shook his head. "Have you ever thought that perhaps you've been
afraid enough for one lifetime?"
"I helped win a war being afraid."
"Right, there was that."
"One has to believe that the rewards will outweigh the disadvantages of
any choice one makes."
Remus laughed a bit. Severus raised an eyebrow in question. Remus leaned
forward just a bit in order to kiss Severus somewhat chastely, but with the
offer of more. "That's definitively the nicest thing you've ever said to
"Best not get used to it."
"You're not a coward, I'm not a fool."
"As long as we know what we're not," Severus said, and took Remus
him up on his offer of more more more.
Draco said, "Harry and I have plans for the summer. He's never been to
What amazed Remus was not that Draco and Harry had plans, for the two had
been settling into an unacknowledged monogamous partnership for the same stretch
of months in which Remus had been living as Severus's sometimes assistant and
regular lay, nor that Harry had never been to Switzerland, as Harry hadn't been
much of anywhere. It was that Draco made the announcement in front of both him
and Severus, as though he might owe both of them an explanation as to where he
Severus asked, "For how long?"
"Harry was able to get a full month with all the overtime he's been
working. That's probably why he's running late."
Remus laughed. "Harry's running late because he's Harry."
"Telling all my secrets?" Harry asked, as he strolled in and
slipped into the chair next to Draco's.
"Nice of you to join us, Mr. Potter," Severus said in his best
detention-giving voice. Remus did his best not to give into the temptation to
give Severus a blow job under the table. With just the elves around that sort of
behavior was fine, but Draco and Harry would surely notice.
"I knew you'd be glad to see me." Harry gave his widest, most
unaffected grin, and reached for the nearest platter of food while inquiring
after Draco's day.
Draco didn't even bother wiping the smirk of amusement over Harry and
Severus' antics off his lips. "I killed two Gryffindors and a
"But Hufflepuff's are really quite inoffensive."
"He was standing near the Gryffindors and I shot wide."
Severus shook his head. "Not even I can condone that sort of
"I'll concentrate harder next time," Draco promised.
Harry smiled at his plate. "What were the rogue Gryffindors doing?"
"Being-" Draco stopped at the doleful look Harry gave him.
"Tormenting a Hufflepuff."
"The one you accidentally killed?" Remus asked.
Remus laughed. Harry followed in his wake. Severus just asked, "What
would the literal definition of death be these days?"
"Three nights of detention, one with me, two with Filch, all three
overlapping quidditch practice."
"You didn't really assign the Hufflepuff-"
"No, Harry," Remus said, "he didn't."
And although Draco threw him a look that clearly said, "I can speak for
myself," he didn't take the issue up. Harry just looked pleased. "Have
you told them about Switzerland?"
"That we're going, yes."
"I'm going to ski," Harry told Remus. Draco looked at his plate
with a certain expression of disgust that he reserved for times when he'd lost
several arguments over the same thing in a row.
Remus said, "Remember to use self-protection spells."
"There will be Muggles everywhere," Harry protested.
"Severus and Draco can obliviate them all. They'll have fun."
Severus glared at Remus. "I'm rather done doing the dirty work of
Gryffindors." He turned to Harry. "Besides which a well cast
self-protector shouldn't be detectable, even when doing what it does best."
"Yes, sir," Harry said.
Severus asked, "Do you need-"
"No," Harry said, "but thank you."
Severus took the thanks as his due. Draco cast an oddly grateful look at both
sides of the table, catching both Severus and Remus in his net. Harry pretended
to be blissfully unaware of his boyfriend's terror of all things non-magical,
and Severus pretended to be blissfully unaware of Draco's feeling of
Severus said, "You'll owl regularly."
Harry grinned, "And regale you with the brilliant time we're having
while you're stuck here."
Severus looked up at Remus. "Ever been to Spain?"
Remus blinked. "No."
Severus said, "I think you would like it."
Severus might not always know Remus all that particularly well, and the
reverse was certainly true, but they were getting better at feeling their way to
easier and improved understanding. "Entirely possible."
Harry and Draco were both concertedly looking anywhere but between or at
their two former professors. Remus repeated, "Possible."