Title: Unspoken Answered
Challenge 12) Snape finally admits his true feelings for Remus Lupin, but will he reciprocate?
Many thanks to my lovely betas: Kellie and Nightfall
It is raining when he finds Lupin, and he thanks Merlin for it, because the blood trickling from the numerous cuts on Lupin’s arms and chest has washed away to show that he wasn’t as badly injured as Snape initially feared.
He lifts the unconscious man in his arms with some difficulty, Lupin’s half-bearded cheek catching in the coarse material of his outer robes. Snape is almost back to the castle before he remembers he could use a spell to transport Lupin. He remembers and dismisses it, clutching Lupin to him like a treasure he is afraid will be snatched from his fingers.
Dumbledore was a fool, sending Lupin to negotiate with the centaurs so close to the full moon. The wolf protected him from the dangers of the forest, but there was no one to protect Lupin from the wolf that night. No potion in him for the forest creatures to smell and reject.
Snape lays Lupin on his own bed in the dungeons. He banishes Lupin’s clothes, ignites a fire, mutters warming charms, covers his hypothermic body with thick, dry blankets....Still, Lupin’s lips are blue and Snape reaches out to rub the pad of his thumb over them without thinking.
Lupin opens his eyes.
Snape snatches his hand back. "Your lips were blue." His eyes skitter away from meeting Lupin's.
"They feel frozen. I feel frozen." Lupin struggles to raise himself, resting on his elbows. "What happened? How did I get back here? Why are you soaking wet?"
Snape takes it as a good sign that Lupin has enough presence of mind to deduce where he is and avoid asking about it. "I found you unconscious in the forest. Your change was obviously difficult and you have several hoof-shaped marks on your back." Snape grits his teeth. "I take it negotiations did not go well."
As feeling returns to his body, Lupin can sense the bone-deep bruises and deep cuts he must have inflicted on himself. He drops back down against the pillows, weary, shaking his head. "No, not well at all. They kept me there for hours, consulting the stars, only to tell me that we are not their concern. I made the mistake of arguing with them...." Lupin closes his eyes against the memory. "At least I got away before the change."
Snape shudders at the thought of what the centaurs would have done to Lupin if they had known he was a dark creature. "Albus should never have sent you. He knew it was a long-shot; why risk losing you-" His speech hitches. "Our numbers are small. We cannot afford to waste anyone's life needlessly."
"Albus would never send one of us on a mission without good reason." Lupin starts to struggle to rise from the bed. "I should report to him now. I should-"
In an instant, Snape is at his side, pushing Lupin back down. "What little information you have can wait. Albus can wait." In pain, Lupin settles, staring pointedly at Snape's hand on his shoulder.
Snape rises swiftly and leaves the room for what Lupin guesses is his washroom. When he returns, his hair is dry and he is wrapped in a voluminous black dressing gown. He crosses to a cabinet filled with many bottles. "You should take a healing potion. And I can work on those gashes so they do not scar."
Snape whirls. "No? Why not!?"
"Not until I have some answers." Lupin studies the man across the room, thin and pale against his own robe, looking exhausted. "Why did you come looking for me?"
Snape moves to hover over Lupin, crossing his arms over his chest. "You are often debilitated the morning after the full moon. And it was raining."
"Why are you concerned about Albus sending me on a suicide mission? Why would you care? You spend every moment in my presence watching me as if you expect me to turn into the wolf spontaneously and eat you alive, yet you venture into the Forbidden Forest to find me, bring me back and put me in your own bed? Am I a monster to you or not, because-"
Snape's hand darts out, clasping Lupin's jaw gently. He places his thumb over Lupin's lips again to still them.
What Lupin sees in Snape's eyes is not the fear he expected. There is a softening around his eyes that could be something more - much more if Lupin let it be. A lifetime of glares, slights, and unreasonable anger shift and click into place.
He sits up slowly, purposefully pushing his face against Snape's hand, showing the man he is unwilling to break the contact with him. Layers of blankets and sheets fall away from his chest. Snape is trapped by Lupin's serious eyes and slow, steady movements, but the trance is broken when Lupin turns his cheek into the palm of his hand, kissing it dead-center with parted lips and an unconscious lick of his tongue there.
It is the answer to a question Snape did not even know he was asking, and he starts to pull away in shock. Before he can, Lupin's arm comes up, circling Snape's wrist with his own large hand, moving toward the middle of the bed and tugging Snape along with him. Entranced, Snape manages to shrug out of his robe before his knees are pulled onto the bed.
There can only be holding and sleep for now, they both know this, but Lupin does not stop pulling until Snape is half laying on him, arm in the middle of his chest, one leg over the other. Snape's breathing is rapid and thready. This is more contact with another human being than he has had in years and Lupin can feel Snape's body tense from head to toe. He drops a lingering kiss down on Snape's head, breath puffing over his hair. "Relax, Severus."
It is not a declaration, not a promise or vow. But it is enough to hear the tenderness in Lupin's voice, the way his name suddenly sounds endearing in Lupin's deep tones.
Snape clutches Lupin even tighter for a moment before breathing out, unwinding his muscles and letting sleep claim them both.