Title: Contaminants
Author: Scribewraith, (scribewraith@yahoo.com)
Disclaimer: Not Mine, I'm just borrowing! JKR Owns...
Rating: PG
A/N: Pre-Slash (again!) Beta'd by Obake
Challenge 129) Lupin is addicted to a potion.

"What the hell did you do to my potion?"

Snape looked up from the desk where he was marking papers to glare at the intruder. Remus Lupin was standing in the doorway, shaking. He was breathing heavily and holding his left arm as if it was broken.

Snape put his quill down on the paper, careful not to spill any ink, and replied, "Nothing."

"Then how do you explain this?" Gently Lupin pried the fabric of his shirt away from his forearm, walked towards Snape's desk and then thrust the offending arm under Snape's face.

It was, in fact, bleeding profusely.

"I don't know, Lupin. Maybe you hit your arm against the wall while you were transformed. Why is this any of my concern?"

"Because it was your bloody potion that made me react like this," Lupin growled.

Snape looked down at the bleeding mess in front of him. It was starting to drip slowly down the arm. The fabric of Lupin's shirt was now saturated with blood. "I seriously doubt that, Lupin," he replied, folding his arms and glaring at the man in front of him. "I have not changed the potion in any way for the last year and a half. There are no ingredients that could possibly stay in your system long enough for you to build a tolerance to them. You have never reacted like this before. Therefore, it is not my potion. Have you gone to see a Healer yet?"

"No," Lupin replied resentfully. "It won't help. I tried to heal it already. I think I made it worse."

Lupin looked down at the table. Snape could see that he was no longer quite so angry. In fact he looked a little scared. Snape sighed. "Damn you, Lupin. If I don't look at this, you are just going to bleed all over my desk, aren't you?"

He pulled his wand out of his robes and slowly ran it across the arm, whispering a revealing spell. The arm started to glow. Lupin jolted in surprise.

"Hold still," Snape said and continued to whisper. When he had finished, Lupin's arm was no longer bleeding and the skin was beginning to heal over. "You should be all right by lunchtime. If you get some sleep." He reached over and ripped a blood soaked scrap of fabric from Lupin's shirt. Lupin reached up as if to stop him and then looked away, dejected.

"Do you need somewhere to lie down? I'm sure that Albus, or Poppy could arrange..." Snape started to ask.

"No, I don't want them to see me like this." Lupin said. "Can I lie down here? I'll be quiet." He was shivering at this point. "I'm not sure I won't splinch myself if I leave now."

Snape glared at the man in front of him. In truth, the spell shouldn't have glowed as it did. He was going to test the blood on the fabric to see if anything had gotten into the Wolfsbane during his brewing. He may not like that he still had to perform this duty for Lupin every month, but he took pride in doing things well. If he had made a mistake, he would take responsibility for it.

And he was curious. Lupin wouldn't usually rely on him. In fact ever since he had outed Lupin to the school, they had been rather wary of each other. For Lupin to suggest that he would rather be here, in his presence, than with anyone else was rather... strange.

Snape waved his wand over the chair behind Lupin, converting it into a bed. Lupin lay down, his eyes closing as he curled into a ball. "Thank you," he whispered. Snape closed the door between his lab and the study quietly.


It took him three hours to finally isolate all of the contaminants in Lupin's blood. It was a short list and could be broken down into the ingredients that came from the Wolfsbane, still present the morning after Lupin had taken it, and a handful of other ingredients. In combination the foreign ingredients made up one of the dark, slightly addictive, sleeping potions.

When he had identified the potion, Snape admitted to himself that he was disappointed in Lupin. Surely Lupin was strong enough to deal with his life without resorting to an addictive substance. But in his defence, he possibly didn't know that the potion was addictive: it wasn't common.

Snape packed away his potions equipment, taking care to levitate the glass bottles and tubes towards the cupboard where they were usually stacked. He returned to his study to find a pot of tea waiting in its usual spot. He had gotten used to the fact, over the years, that the house elves knew his routine well enough to bring him a pot of tea after he packed away his equipment. They seemed to know as much of what was going on in the castle as Dumbledore did.

The werewolf was still asleep, despite the noise Snape had made making his tea, and so he sat in the other chair, watching. Lupin looked older than his thirty-eight years, but then, Snape thought, so did he. The war had taken a lot out of them both. As had the difficulties in their lives. Had either of them really had any choice: a werewolf or a man tainted by the dark arts from a very early age? Neither of them really fit in anywhere. But, if he admitted any good coming from the man, at least Lupin had had Black.

Snape did have regrets; anybody living his life would, but he understood the choices he had made. At least now that it was all over, and he could look back with some distance. Idly, he wondered if Lupin could do the same. But Lupin still had to live with his curse every month. Snape looked down at his forearm, bare now that Voldemort was dead. He could go places now and leave it all behind, if he wanted to.

The werewolf was stirring now, rolling over in his sleep. When his eyes blinked open, the first thing they focussed on was the calm black figure sitting on the chair opposite.

"Tea, Lupin?" Snape asked.

"Mmm, thank you." Lupin pulled himself up on the bed and threw his legs over. He was blinking, his eyes still unfocussed as he reached for the cup that Snape passed him.

"Did you sleep well, Lupin?" There was a faint touch of menace in his tone.

"Yes." He sipped at the tea in his cup and then as he swallowed the first mouthful, he raised an eyebrow at Snape. "Three sugars, white, just how I like it." It wasn't quite a question.

"I pay attention to details, Lupin." He put his own cup, now empty, back on the table. "And I remember things."

"Oh, I guess you do. You always seem to be observing everything that goes on." Lupin replied. "Thanks for letting me sleep here." He stood up, put his own empty cup down and then patted down the pockets on the robe that he hadn't taken off. He found his wand and returned the bed to a chair. Snape sat and watched as Lupin readied himself to go.

"I won't bother you any more. I'm sorry for accusing you of tampering with the potion," Lupin babbled as he crossed the room and opened the door to leave. "I'll just go then." Snape was suddenly at his side, closing the door in front of him.

"No, Lupin. I do believe that you need to tell me something." Snape had reached out to grasp Lupin's wrist. "Why don't you just sit back down?" Snape could be quite intimidating when he tried and Lupin was back in the chair before he realised what had happened.

"I don't know what you mean," he said, looking everywhere but at Snape.

"Let's talk Potions, Lupin." Shock, and then resignation, flickered across Lupin's face. "How long have you been taking it?"

"Six weeks," Lupin mumbled.

"And where do you get it from?"

"One of the apothecaries in Knockturn Alley." Snape raised an eyebrow. "The one with the crescent on the door." Snape nodded. "The potions maker there said that it would help me sleep. I didn't know where else to go. I haven't been able to sleep in months, and it hurts more each time I Turn." Snape looked at him again and he blushed. "I couldn't come to you, Snape. I know what you think of me. And I know the amount of trouble you go to making the Wolfsbane. Besides, Poppy and I had already tried all of the normal methods." He looked down at his hands. "I didn't know what to do. And I was in Knockturn Alley, trying to get some information and there was the apothecary and I just walked in." He looked back up at Snape. "It worked, you know. For the first time in years, I could sleep all the way through the night. I couldn't face years of restless nights again. During the war it was all right, I was usually too busy to do much other than fall into an exhausted coma. But now..."

"Did you know that it's addictive?" Snape asked. He wasn't really surprised by the confession. Both he and Lupin had been in the frontline of the war. It had consumed their lives, and now...

Making a better world was the job for Potter and his generation. Snape wasn't even sure he knew how to live without the constant pressure and anxiety, and fear. He had dreams and ambitions and goals, once. They had been consumed by the wars. Now he had a routine that gave him a pattern for his days, but it wasn't the same.

"Yes." Lupin admitted finally. "I didn't care."

"Did he ask you about any other potions that you were taking?" Snape questioned in a calm voice. It didn't really matter what Lupin answered; he was still going to report the Apothecary to the Ministry for selling illegal potions. The level of culpability was fairly irrelevant. He'd lie if he had to.

"No, and I didn't tell him about the Wolfsbane. It's not something I usually talk to strangers about." Lupin smiled wryly. "What are you going to do, Severus?"

Snape was surprised at the use of his first name. Despite all of the years that they had spent in each other's lives, they never referred to each other so personally. It allowed them to keep a barrier between themselves. Lupin must be nearly at wit's end: it seemed like he was asking for help.

"I'll report the Apothecary. I guess you've figured out that it's the combination of the potion you're taking and the Wolfsbane that has caused the reaction. There's a build up of certain substances in your bloodstream and your body was taking the quickest route to purging them. You know you can't keep taking the sleeping potion, don't you? You'll end up killing yourself."

"Yes, but I don't know how else to sleep." There was an undertone of desperation in the way that Lupin said that.

"We'll work that out when we've dealt with getting the potion out of your system--" he paused "--Remus." It was probably the first time he'd ever said the name without anger. And he wasn't angry any more. He continued before either of them reacted to his use of Lupin's first name. "You have two options. You can go cold turkey, waiting for the addiction to break and for your blood to clear. It's slow and there will be some bad patches that may feel worse than your Change. Or we can take you to St Mungo's where there's a treatment for addiction that is a lot faster and less painful."

"We. You keep saying we," Lupin looked uncertain. "Are you going to help me?"

"Yes, I suppose I am." Snape replied. "But you have to decide what you want. And I'm not going to be easy on you. I guess you know that though." Snape could feel the tentativeness in this conversation. As if something was changing fundamentally in their lives. He wasn't sure why he was willing to help Lupin, they didn't have a happy history, but here he was offering a lifeline to another person. Maybe it would help distract him from his own apathy.

"If I go Cold, will you be there? I don't think I can be alone again." Lupin reached out his hand and touched Snape's wrist, as if by that contact he could make Snape realise how important this was. And, maybe, what it was that he was asking. Snape looked down at the slender fingers encasing his wrist.

"I won't let you become dependant on me." He replied, answering the unspoken question. "I know that you think the addiction is a side affect of the potion. But it's possibly the dependence that appeals to you as much as the sleep. Neither of us have too much to live for." Snape looked up to Lupin's face, watching to see whether he was being understood. "But we're both too stubborn to die."

Remus blinked. Snape hadn't really paid much attention before, but the way that Remus' expressions flitted across his face as he thought about what was being said, was fascinating. Despite everything that had happened to him, Remus was an open book: if you knew what to look for.

"Ok. I understand, Severus. I might substitute one dependency for another. But I think I need to be clear of this, and functioning, before I can build a life for myself." Lupin paused. "Do you think you can help me find a way to sleep, if I give this up?"

"Yes." Snape replied seriously. "I can think of at least three potions that Poppy may not have heard of, but won't interfere with your Wolfsbane or interact with your condition. And it might be as simple as learning to live." Remus flickered at this; hurt, and then resigned.

"I'm sorry I didn't come to you first." Remus looked away. "So, why didn't you ever become a mediwizard? You know as much about this as Poppy does."

Snape was surprised at the question. "I never thought about it as a boy. And then after the Death Eaters, this was the only place I was safe. I don't think I have the patience for people that it would take. And I'm more interested in the intellectual side of Potions. Wolfsbane takes a lot of background knowledge to understand how it works. I think I know more about your condition than I do about healing."

"Ok, Severus. Believe it or not, I trust you enough to place my life in your hands, again." Remus said. "I don't think that I could bear to go to St. Mungo's if I can avoid it. It's different as a visitor. I still have nightmares about the time there when they first found out about my condition." Remus' hands were in his lap and he was gently turning them, fidgeting repetitively. "Can you help me through this?"

They were sharing more about themselves in this one conversation than they had in all the years they had known each other. Because despite all of their differences and the anger through their lives, Snape trusted Remus, and it seemed Lupin trusted him. Something had changed between them with this admission.

"When are you due to take the next dose?" Snape asked.

"Tonight," Remus replied.

"Then we'll start tonight. It may take a while, at least a week before you can function properly. Arrange what you need to take the time off, and then come back here. I'll let Dumbledore know that you're coming to stay and what I'll need." Remus started at this and Snape sighed. "I won't tell him why, just that we're working on some improvements for the Wolfsbane." Remus nodded.

Snape stood up, directing Remus to the door. Remus turned back before leaving, to look at the other man. Snape reached out, put his hand on Remus' shoulder, and then brought it up to lift Remus' chin. "It will be all right, Remus. We'll get through this." He brought his hand back down and opened the door to let Lupin out.

After he closed the door, he leaned back against it and closed his eyes. 'What am I doing?' he thought. He stood up, brushed down his robes, and went back into his laboratory to prepare for the evening ahead. It was going to be a long night.