Title: The Plague of the Heart

Author: Draconn Malfoy

Feedback: lionora@hotmail.com

Summary: Somebody has to marry Lupin, but Snape refuses.

Challenge: 61) Even more laws and regulations are made against werewolves, and Lupin's life is in danger. The only way to ensure his safety is to have him marry someone.

A/N: I very much apologize for the lateness of this one. However, my HP inspiration has been lost lately. I fear this is the last HP fic I'll finish for a long time now.


The Plague of the Heart


{Manucrity (Also known as the Heartplague)

Manucrity is one of the worst diseases known to the Wizarding kind. Despite being somewhat like Muggle cancers, which can mostly be won by magical means, this disease is beyond all medical treatment and healing. There's no way to get rid of it, and there's no way to heal its damages.

It is not known how a person catches the Manucrity. However, as this has happened, the disease will wait, not showing up for a couple of months. Then, the first symptoms, fine, golden threads under the skin of the patient's chest, will appear. These threads seem to move on their own, sometimes even sparkling in light. Even though they start to spread over the chest and eventually the whole body with no logic at all, their root is the spot where the person's heart resides.

The next (and last) symptom is an unusual tiredness and exhaustion, which is a result of the disease using the patient's life power and physical strength. The golden threads will eventually reach every part of the body, sucking all power they can, yet not killing the patient completely. Even though the most unfortunate ones may be paralysed in the progress, they won't die yet. This won't happen until the "root" of the disease draws too much power from the heart, making it unable to function and thus causing the patient's life to end without fail.

Some call Manucrity "Gentle Death," because it rarely causes any pain to the patient, merely tiring them until they're ready to fall into eternal sleep. It should be noted that although very painless compared with some other diseases, Manucrity is by no means an easy disease to deal with. Even when the body tires and might almost shut down before the final death, the mind will function wholly to the end, all the time fully aware of everything that happens to the body.

In the ancient times, it was fairly usual for a wizard or a witch burdened with a serious injury or an illness to ask their loved one or a friend to kill them to stop the pain. Although this is not nowadays allowed, unless there are two Ministry officials witnessing that the victim truly wished this to happen, even one Auror's word is enough if the patient has Manucrity. The Auror's word doesn't have to be from the moment of the euthanasia; the knowledge that the patient had willed this to happen when the disease got too far along is enough. This is because the Manucrity, slowly depriving the patient of all control they have over their body with their mind forced to just observe and wait for the end, is considered one of the most difficult magical diseases. Being incurable, Manucrity can always be predicted to have the same results, and it is considered extremely cruel to trap a person inside their body with no hope of release other than death by weakening.

In old legends, it's often said that only a person with "an ice heart" can catch the Manucrity, but this is of course just a myth. Just as mythical is the belief that true love or some other "change of heart" might cure the disease.(1)}


Several members of the Order, as well as most of the Weasley family, were gathered around the kitchen table of the Grimmauld Place for breakfast. Kingsley and Tonks, who had both been staying there for the previous night, were currently sharing a copy of the Daily Prophet. Suddenly, however, Tonks gasped.

"What is it now, my dear?" asked Molly worriedly. "Not something even worse than usually, I hope?"

"They've got a new law," Tonks said gloomily. "Against werewolves."

"Well, that's not really a big surprise," Remus said bitterly, blowing at his tea in an attempt to cool it down. "What it is this time?"

"This isn't like usual," Kingsley said, looking grave serious. "Listen, you all. 'Every Lycanthrope who isn't bonded to someone more powerful witch or wizard, and therefore settled under their custody, and whose therefore named guardian hasn't sent a proper plea of pardon on their behalf to the Ministry, will be executed without further questioning on the thirty-first day of October, 1996.'"

There was a stunned silence. Then Ron Weasley asked, very quietly, "What exactly does it mean?"

"It means," Remus said slowly, as everyone else remained quiet, "that if I'm not married to someone magically stronger before the end of October, and if my spouse doesn't beg the Ministry to keep me alive, they will, fully legally, kill me."


"Ah, Severus." Dumbledore eyed the professor sitting on the other side of his desk. "It is nice to see you here."

"Just spit it out, Albus," Severus snapped. "I don't have all day."

"My, my, such hostility. And just what might you mean with your comment?" the Headmaster asked.

The Potions Professor, however, just scowled. "I know perfectly well what you're going to ask," he said snappishly. "I heard about the new law, after all."

"So what do you think I am after?" Dumbledore asked, his eyes twinkling annoyingly.

"Well, let's see. Lupin himself is more or less average in his power, but as his wolf has unusually strong magical powers, he's very powerful those two combined. There are only five people on our side more powerful than him." Snape raised five fingers. "One, Potter. He's out of the game right away, being too young and the Boy Who Lived. Two, you. Almost as impossible a thought, and we all know that. Three, Black, who'd probably be very willing to save his friend, should he only be free -- and alive, of course. And four, Shacklebolt, who'd immediately lose his job and therefore his usefulness to the Order." On every number he'd let down one finger. Now only one stood remaining, and he wiggled the finger in front of the Headmaster's nose. "Now, what does this leave us?"

"You," Dumbledore said simply.

"Right. Me. And I absolutely refuse."

Dumbledore looked surprised for once in his life. "I beg you pardon?" he asked, blinking in disbelief.

"You heard me very well. I. Will. Not. Marry. Lupin. I will not marry Lupin! Understood?"

"But -- If you don't, he will --"

"He will be killed by the Ministry," Snape interrupted. "I'm well aware of that. And it's a pity, really, I have no personal liking to him but I do know he's useful to the Order. But even if Fudge stood in front of me holding a knife on Lupin's neck, I wouldn't marry him. Not for anything."

"Severus --" the Headmaster started, but the Potions Master cut him off again.

"No, Albus. You can't change my mind. Either you find someone else, or Lupin will die. I will *not* become his spouse."

He got abruptly onto his feet, turned around and stormed out of the office, not giving the stunned Headmaster any time to response.


"Severus?" The voice was filtered by the strong door, very weak and muffled. "Severus, may I come in?"

"No, you may not," Snape snapped, not bothering to even turn towards the door. He was not surprised when the next thing he heard was the door being opened and footsteps approaching him. He had never even expected Dumbledore to stay out.

"Why, Severus?" asked the old Headmaster, sounding weary. "I know there is no love lost between you and Remus, but surely you can't hate him that much?"

"So you want reasons?" Snape asked bitterly, now finally turning towards the older wizard. He raised his hands up to his collar. "I wonder if this is enough of one." Before Dumbledore could say anything, he'd unbuttoned the top of his robe, exposing his chest for the older wizard to see.

Dumbledore stared in horror at the golden threads circling under the pale skin.

After a moment, the Headmaster got his voice back. "It can't be," he whispered, terrified. "It just can't."

"Oh, but it is," Snape replied dryly. He buttoned his robe again. "I hope you understand my reasons now."

"How - how long?" Dumbledore asked, seemingly still too stunned to form a sentence longer than a couple of words. "How long do you still have?" he then managed to ask somehow intelligently.

"They gave me halfway through October at St. Mungo's," Snape said seriously. "So, as you see, I wouldn't be of any use even if I did accept."

"I -- I see." Now, Dumbledore fell silent again. Finally he said, "To lose two such important members of the Order... and such dear friends, too. What a pity."

Snape chuckled humourlessly. "Oh, I'm sure," he said. "You'll definitely miss my insults to everyone around."

"Oh, but I will, Severus," Dumbledore said, entirely sincere. "I will miss those insults because they were said by you."


Remus looked at the man who was standing at the top of the Astronomy Tower, his back to him. After an Order meeting in Hogwarts -- they had used on their advantage the fact that most teachers were away -- Snape had hurried away first of all. This was fairly unusual. And, while Remus could understand this -- Dumbledore had said that there were reasons for Snape's refusing to marry him, but while Remus himself hadn't ever expected him to, others kept shooting him accusing gazes -- he knew something others didn't, and that fact made the hasty leave worrying.

When the Potions Master finally turned to look at him, he looked terrible. The previously pale skin was now white as a sheet, and his eyes, looking bigger and even darker than usually now that they were surrounded by dark shadows, were tired and almost feverish. Remus was almost surprised not to see a feverish glow on his cheeks.

"What do you want, Lupin?" asked Snape with a clipped tone. "If you're here for explanations, you won't get any. I've explained myself well enough to Albus. I'll be damned if I do that again to you."

"There's no reason to try to explain me anything," said the werewolf quietly, "not that I'd expected you to do it, anyway. Werewolves can sense Manucrity, you know." Locking his golden eyes at the Slytherin, he asked calmly, "How long do you have left, Severus?"

Sighing deep, Snape leant back against the cold stones. Of course he wouldn't admit it to anyone, but he tired easily nowadays. It was disturbing him a great deal, but he couldn't do anything to help it. It was the first and only symptom of the disease after the golden threads on his chest, telling him that his strength was already lessening. "Halfway through October," he said quietly, lowering his eyes to the ground. "I couldn't buy you a single day more anyway."

"I understand," the werewolf said, and nodded. Then he observed again closely the wizard in front of him. "You use charms to prevent it from showing, don't you?" he asked. "You weren't that bad in the meeting. I suspect that if you did look as bad as you are, Albus would bind you to an Infirmary bed and keep you there for the rest of your life."

"Which is precisely why I won't let it show to him," Snape replied with a dry smirk. "Albus worries too much about me as it is, I don't need him to behave like a mother hen over me. Not that it would do any good anyway," he added then bitterly.

"Why do you still stay bitter and cold, though?" Remus asked quietly.

"Don't I have a reason to be bitter?" snapped Snape irritably. "My life has been nothing but darkness, always bowing to one lord or another. There has never been anything good in my life. And now it's about to end, far before its rightful time. Tell me, Lupin, what else could I be but bitter?"

"Then why don't you try to change it, Severus?" asked the werewolf sharply. He would not take this from the man! "Your life, I mean. You have only a little time remaining. Why don't you try and enjoy it as much as you can?"

Snape sighed and shook his head. "You don't understand," he said quietly. "It's not that easy. I can't let it to anyone that I'm getting weaker. Letting that to the Death Eaters would be my death warrant - and I have no desire to die any sooner than I'm going to do anyway."

"Yes," Remus said, "if you still are posing as a Death Eater."

"And what else could I be?" asked the Slytherin. His tone wasn't bitter now, however -- it was merely a mix of dry, tired amusement and curiosity. "I'm a spy, in case you've managed to miss that, Lupin."

"Stop spying," replied Remus simply. "It's becoming too dangerous for you anyway. One bolt of the Cruciatus Curse and you'll collapse, and I'd like to see you then trying to pretend you're just as strong and arrogant as ever. If you went to Albus without those Concealing Charms you're obviously using to stop your exhaustion from showing, he'd force you to stop spying."

"And stop teaching, and stop living, basically," replied the Slytherin. "Even if it might be hard for you to understand, Lupin, I'd rather not spend the last months of my life treated like a porcelain doll. At least as long as I'm doing something, I know that the disease hasn't won me yet."

"And while proving that point, you're exhausting yourself further and bringing your eventual failure even nearer," Remus noted calmly. "You just said you have no desire to die any sooner than you will anyway. Then why do you keep trying to reach death voluntarily? Because that what it seems like to me."

"Then again, Gryffindors are all blind," Snape said back bitingly. "Is it so hard for you to understand that I want to live, for the little that it's worth, before I die? How many times do I have to repeat it for the message to get through your thick head?"

"Then why do you try to spoil the little that is left of your life?" snapped Remus back. He was getting a bit angry -- he was a calm man, and seldom got angry, but if anybody could enrage him, it was Snape. "I'm going to die just as surely as you are, Severus. Still I am not going to go offering myself for suicide missions, thinking that I'll die anyway, or try to get some kind of petty revenge at the world by getting myself killed in a work I'm doing only because nobody else wants it. I sure as hell am going to live for the little that it's worth, like you so kindly put it. However, I do think there'd be better ways for you to live than trying to make Albus spend the rest of his life in regret for sending you on a mission you never returned from!"

"I'm not trying to do that," Snape replied quietly. However, from the expression on his face Remus knew that he had hit the right spot.

"Then do something else than getting yourself killed!" exclaimed Remus, forgetting his usual calmness. "You like potions, don't you? Fine. Then why don't you try to teach those kids something for a chance, instead of trying to bite the heads off from as many of them as possible? Or better even, why don't you give up teaching entirely and concentrate on inventing potions? You're brilliant when it comes to anything that is inside a cauldron, Severus, I'll give you that. Now make some use of that skill, before you're entirely unable to move your hands!"

The Slytherin seemed almost startled at his outburst. Pretty soon, however, he regained his cool mask and smirked. "It's rare to see you like that," Snape said dryly. "Seemingly there's indeed a little lion inside every Gryffindor. I'd thought that you were more likely to possess a housecat inside your mind."

"Not bloody likely," grumbled Remus. He swore practically never, but this man was simply infuriating! "Cats aren't very fond of my kind."

"Funny that you should bring that up, Lupin," the other man said with an even broader smirk, "now that we've been discussing my disease. But your curse is going to kill you just as well, isn't it? So exactly how are you going to live the rest of your life?"

"Hoping," replied Remus simply, quickly regaining his calmness as well as he could. "I've thought that maybe I could pretend to be owling someone who might be willing to marry me. Then, the day before my execution, I would leave the Grimmauld Place, saying that we're going to have a quick ceremony before it'd be too late. My friends wouldn't know anything before the worst had already happened."

"Lying to your friends?" asked Snape. "How very Slytherin of you, Lupin. Really, I'm almost impressed by this. It would be quite a shock for them when they discovered that it was all just a big lie."

"At least they'd have hope as long as I lived," replied the werewolf, shrugging slightly. "Even empty hope is better than no hope at all."

"How can you say that?" questioned the Slytherin. The onyx eyes were observing him closely from their dark, shadowed pits. "Wouldn't it be better for them not to have all their hopes crushed when the news about your death arrives?"

"At least they wouldn't spend all the time till October walking on eggshells around me," said Remus quietly. "And at least they wouldn't have to think that I'm dying and they can't do anything about it. It would be nasty to them when I finally lost the fight, yes, but they wouldn't have to grieve before anything had actually happened."

"So you don't want to be a porcelain doll, either." Snape smirked. "There are flaws in your little plan, though. Like, what about if they wanted to see your supposed spouse-to-be? Or even know their name, to make sure they can be trusted? Or if Molly Weasley started to prepare a wedding? She would do exactly that, you know."

"Like I said, it is only a silly idea by now," replied Remus, shrugging slightly. "Maybe it won't be anything more. I'm just tired of everybody hushing their voices every time I walk into the room."

Snape's response to that was simple. "That's no excuse for a miserable plan."

To this, Remus replied with a mild glare. "And you have a better idea, then?" he asked snappishly.

"Of course I have," said the Slytherin. "Marry me."

This time, Remus didn't say anything. He just blinked, staring at Snape disbelievingly. At last he managed to utter, "Excuse me?"

Snape sighed and rolled his eyes. "Think about it this way, Lupin," he then said calmly. "I'll give the world the image that I am fine. Your friends will have at least some kind of hope for the time being. I'll be able to stop posing as a Death Eater -- as hard as it is to admit, you are right about it being too dangerous to me -- and you can finally stop running on those Order missions as you couldn't be separated from me for a longer time so shortly after we'd been bonded. Then we could both concentrate on whatever it is we want to do with our lives for as long as they're going to continue."

"A nice plan," Remus replied with a blank voice. "Except that it has two obvious flaws. One: you've already announced, very forcefully at that, that you will not marry me. Dumbledore has even told everyone that you have just reasons for that. And two: Any Wizarding marriages, as well as the werewolf's mating rite, which also has to be completed to fulfill the bonding, require one thing to be completed... And that thing is sex."

"I'm well known to change my mind for the pettiest of reasons," was the dry response he got. "And about the sex issue... Unless you find me completely and utterly revolting, I do think we could manage that."

Remus couldn't resist the urge to ask teasingly, "What, so you don't find me completely and utterly revolting?" It did surprise him, though, that Snape actually smirked at that.

"Not necessarily," the Slytherin replied lazily. Then, taking a few steps forward -- first of which was slightly faltering, Remus noticed, but wisely decided not to comment on that -- he came to stand face to face with the Gryffindor. "So, Remus John Lupin," he asked mockingly, "will you marry me?"

Remus thought for a moment about everything. About his friends, who would have at least some hope. About the possibility to actually stay and rest somewhere for a moment without having to spring onto a random Order mission at the same second. About the reality of being married to Snape -- it most certainly would not be easy. About the sad look that would surely be seen on Dumbledore's face, because he <i>knew.</i>

And suddenly, the answer to Snape's question was right in front of him. "Yes," he said, "Yes, I will marry you, Severus Septimus Snape."


Dumbledore watched the two wizards in front of him with a close interest. "So you are going to get married," he then repeated what he'd just been told.

"Yes." Snape did not say anything else, just that one, simple word.

"You are aware that Severus will not be able to gain you a day more of life, Remus, aren't you?" asked the Headmaster then sharply, turning towards the werewolf.

"If you mean whether I know that Severus has the Manucrity and will die before me, then yes, I am well aware of that," the werewolf replied smoothly. "This arrangement is mostly for the appearance, for the hopes and beliefs it will give to other people. We both know that we're going to die and that there's no stopping it, so the least we can do is to try to live the rest of our lives as conveniently as possible."

"And what's your reason for this, Severus?" Dumbledore then questioned his Head of Slytherin House.

"You heard him," the man said, sounding rather lazy when his now almost normal tone was compared with the strict, scornful voice he usually preferred. "I hardly can make anybody hope, but at the very least, I can keep up the appearances. If I marry a werewolf with seemingly the intentions to keep him alive past October, then nobody will think that I'm in fact dying."

"Well, I don't really understand how anybody could think that yet," said Dumbledore calmly. "You don't look like you were dying. You don't even look properly sick."

"The wonders of Concealment Charms," Remus muttered quietly. However, like he knew very well, he didn't say it quietly enough not to be heard by the Headmaster.

"What?" exclaimed the ancient wizard. In an instant, his wand was pointing at Snape. "Finite Incantatum!" he commanded sharply. The Potions Master's usual appearance seemed to melt away in front of their eyes, now revealing his sick self.

Dumbledore drew a sharp breath. "I didn't even realize it was this bad," he said quietly. "You should have told me, Severus."

"And what?" asked the Slytherin bitterly. "Have you treat me like a porcelain doll?"

"I would never do that," the Headmaster replied, taken a bit aback by his sharp response. "I most definitely know that you're not someone to be handled that way."

"Tell that to the Giant Squid," muttered Snape. "Nobody else will ever believe you. You would try to set Voldemort up with a nice girl if you only could. You'd probably even manage, given the way you meddle with everything!"

After a moment's silence, he spoke again. "Albus, please. That twinkle in your eyes is absolutely unnerving."


The ceremony was simple enough, a magical binding that Dumbledore performed in the privacy of his office. They had agreed that Severus would not return to his teaching when the school began in the autumn as he would soon have to quit it anyway and there would be less questions this way than if he quitted in the middle of the year. Thus this might very likely be the last time either of the two was inside the walls of Hogwarts.

Severus was mildly surprised, however, when after the ceremony Dumbledore handed him a scroll of parchment. "Please, sign this," the ancient wizard said quietly.

Severus took the offered scroll, opened it, and started to read. Suddenly, his eyes widened. The next moment he was already handing the parchment back to the Headmaster. "I can't accept this," he said, his face a tad paler than before. He gave no sign of having seen Remus' questioning gaze.

"You have to," the oldest wizard insisted. "I've never done much for you, Severus. Allow me to now do this for you both."

"No, Albus." The Potions Master stayed firm. "That is not a possibility."

"What is this about?" asked Remus curiously. "What is on that parchment?"

Dumbledore smiled rather sadly. "It's a document that, once signed, will transfer the ownership of the Dumbledore Mansion from me to Severus." Seeing the werewolf's shocked expression, he said, "And don't you dare start protesting, either. Neither of you two has much time left. I'd much prefer you spend it somewhere safe than in the middle of the war. The least I can do for you after everything you've done for the Order is to ensure that the rest of your life is as comfortable as possible. And if you are so badly against it," he then said to Severus, "you can always leave it to me after you have passed away. I intend to live long enough to see the end of Voldemort."

At this, Severus opened his mouth and started to speak with a sharp tone. He spoke about how Dumbledore shouldn't talk about things such as his own death and how the Headmaster needn't worry about them. How they would be perfectly fine about wherever, be it the Order Headquarters or somewhere else. How they were still perfectly capable of aiding in the fight.

Of course, the result was that they left as the new owners of the Dumbledore Mansion.


After an Order meeting most people rushed away. Two of them remained, however; Kingsley Shacklebolt collected his papers, while Snape simply watched him for a moment. "Shacklebolt," he then said quietly.

The black wizard turned towards him, a questioning gaze in his dark eyes. "What is it, Snape?" Kingsley asked just as quietly, obviously sensing that everything was not right.

"Will you do a favour for me?" This caused a pair of raised eyebrows. It was well known that Severus Snape never asked for favours. Never ever.

"If it's in my power," the other wizard replied warily, eyeing curiously the Potions Master. He could now tell for sure that everything was not right with the man.

"If I ask Remus to kill me, will you be a witness of my willingness?" pleaded the Slytherin, sounding almost desperate - again, something he never had done before in Kingsley's knowledge. "I know they'll kill him soon enough, but I don't want him to die as a criminal as well."

"You --" It took a moment from Kingsley to realize just what Snape was talking about. Then, his eyes widened. "You have the Manucrity," he said quietly.

The Slytherin nodded. "Exactly," he replied with an equally quiet voice. "That's the main reason why I refused to marry him - I won't live even as long as he does. I just didn't see the point of letting anybody hope for something that wouldn't be."

"Then why did you marry him, if that's the case?" questioned the black wizard, still confused.

Black eyes met the warm brown ones as the Potions Master replied, "Remus told me that even empty hope is better than no hope at all. And that as long as there's hope, there is life."

"I thought it was the other way around," Kingsley said as he couldn't think of anything else. "That as long as there's life, there's hope."

"That's what I said, too," replied Snape, raising an eyebrow. "But tell that to Remus."


Time went on, like it often does. Remus found that he had not been wrong to think that being married to Severus was not easy. The Potions Master was snappy, smart, and easily irritated -- not a good combination by any means. However, Remus soon got used to these quirks and learnt the best ways to get back at his husband. Eventually the insults mildened into meaningless bickering that was mostly out of habit.

Underneath the harsh exterior, he noticed, Severus was indeed talented, and far more intelligent than almost any individual he had ever come across, possibly excluding Dumbledore and a few others. He also had a dry sense of humour which, while unusual in most people's opinion, Remus found quite similar to his own. After some time they managed to get along rather well and actually enjoy each other's company.

As for the sex... well, it certainly didn't hinder their attempts at building a relationship that would last at least until one of them died. In fact, after the rather awkward beginning they found themselves quite enjoying it.

Slowly, however, Severus' strength was nearing its end. He walked slowly, no more striding confidently like he'd once used to, and rested quite often. Whenever they had guests, he would try to appear strong and confident, only to fall asleep as soon as they were alone again, exhausted. Remus was worried, but there was little he could do.except be there for his husband. He sat on Severus' bedside, watching over him while he slept, and made sure he didn't run up and down the numerous stairways of the Dumbledore Mansion all the time. He'd also brought himself an armchair into Severus' laboratory, where he worked every day, reading a book and keeping an eye on his husband at the same time.

That was also how he got the first warning of Severus' strength being close to its end. Severus was brewing yet another of his potions, careful and patient as ever, stirring and chopping and measuring. There was no reason for Remus to worry. However, he almost jumped out of his skin as suddenly the sound of breaking glass reached his ears. As he turned to look at Severus he saw that his husband had dropped a vial. He was now holding his head with one hand, the other clutching the edge of the table.

"Severus!" Remus exclaimed, hurrying to the other wizard's side. "What's wrong?"

"I -- I feel dizzy," Severus murmured. "I don't think --" And, with that, he fainted right into Remus' arms.

The werewolf sighed a bit, then cast a preserving spell on the potion so that Severus could continue working on it later, like he would surely insist to do. Then he gently picked up the Potions Master and started to make his way towards their bedroom. Once there, he put Severus into the bed, drawing a blanket over him and sitting to his usual chair by the bed, waiting for him to wake up. At the same time he wondered how he could keep Severus from bouncing out of the bed as soon as he was awake.

In the end he didn't have to do anything. The moment Severus tried to get up he fainted again. When he again came to, he told Remus, very quietly, that he didn't think he could get out of the bed anymore.

The potion would stay unfinished.


The next week was pure torture to Severus. He could do nothing but lie in bed, trying to waste time. His head started to hurt if he tried to read for more than five minutes at a time, and there was nothing else to do as he couldn't get up. Remus spent all his spare time beside him, reading aloud, but when Remus finally fell asleep despite his lycanthropic endurance of lack of sleep far superior to that of humans, he was alone. He couldn't even sleep properly, always waking up after a moment, panting and gasping, feeling like he couldn't breathe. He was afraid that if he did fall asleep, he wouldn't wake up.

Slowly, however, that option was beginning to seem more and more tempting. So much so that one evening, finally tired of it all, he placed something in Remus' hand. It was a dagger.

"Kill me," he demanded weakly. "You know I want it, Remus. Just do it now." He looked intently at the werewolf. Against all odds he had come to genuinely care for his husband during their marriage, and he had to say that if he was to die, he wouldn't have wanted his death to come by anybody else's hand. He knew that Remus cared for him, too, loved even. Hopefully he would have the courage to free him of this hell.

With a slightly shaking hand, Remus raised the dagger to his lover's chest. Carefully placing it over the exact place in which the Slytherin's heart was beating, he bit his lip, trying to collect the courage to do what he must. And all the time Severus was watching him, watching him with those intent black eyes, never letting his gaze drop from him, from his face where lips were trembling, from his hands that were in vain trying to do what was asked from them.

After a few futile attempts to steady his grip on the handle of the dagger, the werewolf finally allowed it to slip from his hands, a single tear escaping his eye as he shut his eyelids tightly. "I'm sorry, Severus," he whispered. "I'm so sorry, but I can't do it... I just can't. Ask me to do anything else instead, my love... But I'll never be able to hurt you. Not in any way."

While he was whispering these words, he still felt the intent onyx gaze on him. Severus was still watching him, not saying anything, since nothing was required to be said. They both knew that Severus would not love him more, nor less, for this futile attempt of euthanasia.


Severus had already got past the date the doctors at St. Mungo's had named his estimated date of death. However, it was clear that death would indeed come soon. He was drifting in and out of consciousness without any clear pattern now, barely able to speak when he was awake. Even when he could speak, he was rarely fully aware of what he said.

The golden tendrils had now reached his face, covering the pale skin with their glittery hooks and loops. Remus hated them, because they marked the soon-to-come death of his husband.

Finally the day had come when Severus' vital signs were practically none. Dumbledore and a few others -- the people who had genuinely cared for Severus were not too numerous -- were in the sitting room, speaking quietly, allowing Remus one last moment together with his husband. The werewolf sat on the bed beside Severus, carefully holding one pale, fragile hand.

Suddenly Severus woke up. His eyes darted aimlessly around the room until they settled on Remus' face. A light of recognition lit up the dark eyes, and dry lips parted to allow voice through.

"Remus," the Slytherin whispered, his voice barely audible even to werewolf ears, "Remus... I love you." After these words, he closed his eyes and spoke no more.

And then, as he heard those words, Remus realized that Severus was truly dying, and that the man knew it himself, too. For otherwise, those three words would have never passed his lips.

The werewolf closed his eyes briefly, then leant down to place a light kiss on his husband's lips, tears trailing down his face. Then he drew back, taking one last look at Severus before the man died.

He blinked, sure that what he saw was wrong, that the tears blurred his eyes too badly to see. However, he then realized that it was true. The golden threads that by now were crawling over the Potions Master's skin were starting to withdraw.

"Severus," Remus said quietly. "Severus, the threads... the traces of the Manucrity... They are fading."

Severus, however, didn't hear. He was sleeping, sleeping a deep, healthy sleep he had lacked the past few weeks. The werewolf could almost see the strength flowing back into the pale body, life claiming back to its realm what death had almost received already.

Then he rose to shaking legs, leaving the room to tell Dumbledore and the others that perhaps the funeral arrangements weren't needed just yet after all.


{(1) However, there are indeed known cases where Manucrity has healed by itself for no seeming reason. Of course, these myths have nothing to do with this.}