Title: A Short Measure
Author: MusIgneus
Pairing: SS/RL
Rating: NC-17
WARNING: non-con
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and related characters and concepts are the creations of J. K. Rowling. The following story is for nonprofit, entertainment purposes only.
Notes: Response to challenge #28: Remus was given to Snape as a gift by Voldemort.

A Short Measure

Severus Snape was not a happy man. Not in general, and certainly not this evening. Not after spending three weeks in the constant company of Voldemort and his Death Eaters, constantly treading a fine line between uselessness and exposure. His mind seethed as he moved swiftly down the rickety staircase that connected the floors of the country house the Death Eaters were currently using as one of their headquarters. Voldemort had ordered Snape to remain at the house over the Hogwarts break. Ostensibly so he wouldn't have any distractions from the potion he was brewing and so his work would be secure, but Severus knew it was primarily because Voldemort didn't trust him. Snape wasn't even sure where the house was. He had been forced to apparate to it blindly - yet another sign of Voldemort's incomplete trust in his pet Potions master.

Severus knew himself well enough to know that part of his current frustration stemmed, paradoxically, from success of a sort. He hated to look incompetent, and he had been forced to do exactly that. He had delayed the brewing of the complicated potion the Dark Lord had ordered him to make. He hated to fail, especially at anything to do with his chosen field, and he intended the potion to fail. Spectacularly. He was still planning the delicate sabotage that would result in a messy explosion. Carefully timed to occur after his departure, so the failure could be blamed on whatever hapless wretch was left to finish Snape's "careful" work. Hence the delay, without which Snape could easily have finished during the break – and borne the brunt of Voldemort's displeasure at the explosion himself, immediately, instead of merely having a round of the Cruciatus Curse to anticipate the next time he was summoned.

Most of his frustration, though, was due to the knowledge that Voldemort was planning something. A large group of Death Eaters had been active recently, and it appeared that whatever they were doing was coming to a head. Unfortunately, Snape had been unable to discover what they were planning to do. Or even exactly when they were planning to do it. He couldn't contact Dumbledore without taking a huge risk. Was it worth it, to let the old man know the Dark Lord was up to something? Almost certainly not, since he couldn't provide any details. But there was always the chance that Albus had access to some other piece of information, from which he could divine what was going to happen. If Snape warned him...

Sometimes Severus thought the endless balancing of risks - to himself, if he acted - to others, if he didn't act - to others, if he acted now and was discovered and therefore unable to act in the future when he could have done more good - it was endless - was driving him insane. There was no one with whom he could remove all of his masks. No one with whom he could just be. Not even Albus, not anymore; the urge to protect the older man from knowledge of what, exactly, he had asked Severus to do, and what it cost him to do it, was too strong. The strain of keeping up his front with Voldemort and the other Death Eaters for this long was telling on him. Only two interminable days until he could return to the relative safety of Hogwarts, however illusory and fleeting that safety might be. Snape had few illusions, and he knew Voldemort was losing patience with him. One misstep in this game he played, or one too many tiny failures, and it would be over. One day – almost certainly, one day soon – he was going to die. Slowly. Screaming. He didn't want it to be for nothing more than a botched potion and a scrap of uselessly incomplete information.

He slowed his descent as a group of laughing Death Eaters spilled into the brightly lit hallway below him, propelling a bound and hooded figure roughly onto the polished floor. He hesitated, considering returning to his room. He had no desire to watch Macnair and the others make sport with some luckless Muggle. Then Goyle snatched the hood off the captive's head, revealing the familiar face of Remus Lupin.

Severus's evening had just gotten worse.

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Remus blinked in the sudden light as the hood was jerked away from his head. He looked up from the floor, counting. Macnair. Goyle. Avery. Nott. Crabbe. Two others he didn't recognize. Seven to one. Bad odds, even when he had still had his wand and had his hands and feet free. He thought Goyle had broken his wrist, wrenching it behind his back - it hurt like hell. So did his shoulder. Dislocated, probably.

Oh, God. This is going to be ugly, he thought to himself, staring up at the looks of vicious anticipation on the faces surrounding him. No wonder they didn't kill me or rough me up more earlier. They're planning to take their time about it... He began to lever himself up to a sitting position, but gave up the attempt as one of the encircling Death Eaters laughed and kicked at him. Remus rolled away from the kick, only to see the ring of watching Death Eaters expanding.

"Well, well. If it isn't Dumbledore's pet werewolf," a cultured voice drawled. Remus stiffened, recognizing Lucius Malfoy. He wasn't quick enough to roll away as Malfoy reached for him. Lucius grabbed his hair, hauling him to his knees and bending him painfully backward. "Where did you find him, Goyle?"

Remus ignored Goyle's account of how they had caught him in favor of counting Death Eaters again. Seven. Lucius makes eight. Four more that I can see, masked - is Severus one of them? Not that he could help me now...

His frantic thoughts were interrupted by Lucius. "How kind of you to join us for the evening, Remus. It's a shame Peter isn't here - we could have quite the Hogwarts reunion. Don't you think, Severus?"

And now Remus saw Snape, gliding down a flight of stairs and moving smoothly through the crowd of Death Eaters toward him. He felt a momentary flare of absurd hope, before movement in front of him snatched his attention back from Snape as yet another robed figure approached - a figure with slit-pupiled red eyes in an inhumanly pale face. Remus's breath caught as he realized he was looking at Voldemort himself. Remus felt like a mouse pinned by a cat as the terrible red eyes bored into him. Wild thoughts fluttered through his mind... I'm dead. At least I'll see Sirius, and James. James... Oh, no. Harry. Poor Harry... Harry faced this horror. No wonder he has screaming nightmares... before he managed to wrench his gaze away from the glowing eyes. He heard a high, sibilant laugh.

"So. Remus Lupin. You are close to Harry Potter, are you not?"

Remus looked fixedly at the floor near Voldemort's feet and didn't answer.

"Severus?" The voice inquired.

Remus heard Snape's sneering reply from somewhere nearby. "Yes, my Lord. He was a friend of Potter's parents. He was very...close to Potter's godfather. And he was Potter's favorite instructor, as well," Snape paused, for the effect, before saying silkily, "in Defense Against the Dark Arts."

Mocking laughter echoed around the circle.

"Oh, excellent," breathed Voldemort. "Poor Harry, to lose his favorite teacher and a friend of his parents, at the same time. So soon after his godfather's tragic death." Remus felt chilled, even before Voldemort continued. "Yes, we shall certainly have to do something special with you, Remus Lupin."

Remus forced himself to remain impassive, while he was still able to. He already knew that whatever the "something special" turned out to be, it would involve a great deal of screaming on his part before it was over. He concentrated on controlling his breathing as Voldemort kept speaking.

"Yes, something very special. I will let Harry see part of it... and perhaps when we are finished, I will send you back to him. One piece a day, for as long as you survive. Will he rage? Will he scream with frustration and grief, as you scream in pain? Perhaps he will try to rescue you..."

No! Remus realized he was shaking his head and forced himself to be still. Oh, Harry, I'm sorry...

The cold voice went on. "Yes, what we will do with you bears thinking on. What I will do... Unfortunately, our first...conversation...will have to wait. I have urgent business elsewhere, and no time for you tonight. However, I'm sure your old schoolmates can - entertain - you suitably in the meantime. What do you say, Lucius? Severus?"

Remus bit back a groan as Lucius suddenly dropped him back to the floor and his injured shoulder collided with the unyielding tiles.

"Oh, I'm sure I could arrange something suitable, my Lord," Lucius replied, drawing an object from his pocket. Remus eyed the metal ring and leather straps dangling from the blond man's fingers warily. Lucius smiled down at him and continued, "But you know that Severus doesn't partake of such pleasures anymore."

Remus's eyes widened, as he realized what sort of entertainment Lucius might have in mind. He glanced involuntarily at Severus, who had stepped forward and was looking down at him coldly.

"It's true I haven't...indulged...lately, Lucius, but I think the circumstances warrant an exception." Snape smiled unpleasantly. "After all, how could I pass up the opportunity to become more - shall we say, deeply acquainted - with such an old enemy?" He looked at Lucius. "However, I'm not certain our taste in entertainment is quite the same. You're rather hard on your toys, Lucius, and you don't share well."

Malfoy's expression hardened, but Voldemort only laughed and said, "The matter is easily settled. As your reward for your diligent work in the laboratory recently, Severus, you shall have him for tonight. Lucius, you may have him tomorrow. Just remember that I want him still able to speak when I return tomorrow night." Hissing laughter echoed in his wake as he walked away, robed Death Eaters trickling after him.

Remus was left lying on the floor, mentally scrambling for balance. He had expected - had been as prepared as he could be for - a cry of "Crucio," for the sound of his own hoarse screams echoing from the rafters. He had not expected to be tossed to Voldemort's favored underlings as an amusing diversion. Or an apple of discord.

Lucius looked angry. Severus's face was expressionless as he pivoted and headed for the stairs, clearing a path through the Death Eaters still crowding the hallway. "Come, Lupin," he snapped over his shoulder.

Remus lay still.

Snape stopped with one foot on the lowest stair and looked back at him. "Lupin. I'll give you a count of twenty to get moving before I invite Lucius to join us."

Lucius smirked. Several of the others snickered. Remus glared at Snape, who looked back unmoved. After several moments, he gritted, "My feet are still tied."

The dark-haired man raised one eyebrow. "So?" he replied dispassionately. "Five seconds, Lupin."

Cursing inwardly, Remus finally forced himself to move. He inched awkwardly toward the stairs, aching with humiliation. And pain, from his wrist and shoulder. He was white-faced and shaking by the time he reached the foot of the stairs, but Snape only moved up a few steps and waited. Remus struggled up the first few risers, then collapsed panting. The watching Death Eaters laughed.

"Severus. Untie my feet."

Snape stepped down, and leaned close. "Beg me for it, Lupin," he hissed.

"Fuck you!" Remus snapped, stung. He desperately hoped this was all part of Snape's cover, that the man planned to help him out of this somehow. He felt very uncertain, though, as the other man leaned even closer.

"I don't think so, Lupin. If you haven't figured it out yet, I will be fucking you. Now get moving, or I'm sure Lucius would be happy to help you up the stairs. In return for certain small favors."

Furious, and unwillingly a bit frightened of Snape, Remus resumed his painful struggle up the steps.

By the time he finally reached the first landing, the spectators had lost interest and drifted away. Snape was leaning against the wall looking bored. Remus lay gasping at his feet, eyeing the stairs stretching endlessly above him. Eventually, he said quietly, "Severus. Please untie my feet."

Snape smirked. He drew his wand, and the ropes around Remus's ankles loosened, allowing him a little slack. He pushed himself to his feet and hobbled slowly up the stairs and along the hallway, with Snape backing ahead of him, keeping his wand trained at his chest.

"In," the other man said, indicating an open door with a tilt of his head. Remus shuffled in. As he heard the door close behind him, he took in the details of the comfortably furnished room - large window, dresser, small fireplace, bed, desk covered with vials, bottles, and notes. He missed Severus's quick glance at one particular vial among the clutter, and the tightening of his lips at what he saw.

"On the bed," ordered Snape from behind him.

Remus turned. Surely Severus didn't really intend... "No. Severus. Please don't do this."

Snape's eyes met his. "What do you suggest, Lupin? Should I untie you and give you my wand, so you can stun me, leap out the window, dash heroically to the edge of the anti-apparation wards," Snape's eyes moved to a large tree visible through the window, "and apparate home? Or maybe you'd prefer me to say that I slipped a slow-acting poison into everyone's wine, so you can just wait a few minutes and then walk out the front door?"

One of the Death Eaters listening in the kitchen downstairs choked and spit out his drink. Lucius Malfoy, however, just smiled, tipped his cup at the crystal screen he was watching, and took another swallow.

Severus circled Lupin, speaking with silky malice. "I suppose I could do something like that, Lupin. If I were a loyal member of the Order."

Remus looked startled, and Snape laughed humorlessly. "Oh, yes. The Dark Lord already knows all about the Order. And tomorrow night, he'll learn anything you know that I don't."

Remus flinched, and burst out angrily, "Sirius was right about you. I can't believe I ever trusted you, you trait-"

He was interrupted by a furious backhanded blow that knocked him into the wall. Snape loomed over him, glaring with narrowed eyes. "I'm not interested in hearing your dead lover's opinion of me, Lupin."

"We weren't lovers," Remus protested automatically as he straightened, then wondered why, under the circumstances, it should even matter to him that Snape had never believed him.

Severus raised a skeptical eyebrow, and spoke in a more measured voice. "I've changed my mind. Since you've decided to talk about that mongrel Black, first we're going to do something to stop that mouth of yours. On your knees, Lupin."

Remus gave him a disbelieving look. "Severus. You aren't really going to - Ahh!" He broke off with an anguished gasp as Severus seized his injured shoulder and forced him onto his knees. Something shifted agonizingly under Snape's hands, and blinding pain streaked from Remus's shoulder through his arm and chest. Through a haze of pain, Remus heard Snape speaking again.

"You have two choices, Lupin. First, you can suck me off. Do it well, and I'll heal your broken wrist. If you don't like that idea, I'll go downstairs and borrow Lucius's ring gag and fuck your mouth anyway. Then when I'm finished, I'll break your other wrist. Think about it carefully, Lupin. Broken wrists will hurt like hell when I tie you to the bed later." He held Remus's shocked gaze. "But having me heal your wrist - that would increase your chances of escaping, wouldn't it? And isn't that your duty to the Order? Survive, escape, and run to tell Dumbledore about the serpent he's been nourishing at his bosom?" he asked mockingly.

Remus couldn't believe this was happening. He had trusted Severus - Albus still trusted him! Thank God Harry never had. Severus had said at least one true thing: Remus had to warn Albus. And he had to keep Harry from coming after him. Survive. Escape. That was all that mattered.

"What's it going to be, Lupin? Shall I go see Lucius?" Snape sneered.

Remus shook his head. "No. I'll do it," he whispered.

Dark robes fell around his head as the other man stepped closer and unfastened his trousers. Remus was surprised to see that Snape's penis was soft, hanging flaccid. He almost said something worthy of Sirius, but realized he would only make things worse for himself if he angered Snape with stupid wisecracks about his... endowments. Instead, he just bent his head and took the limp shaft into his mouth. It firmed almost immediately with his first tentative sucks and licks. He faltered as hands settled in his hair, but they just rested, didn't force. He tried to move, and not to think. Survive. Escape. Survive. Escape, he repeated to himself, as he settled into a rhythm. He didn't look up at Snape's face, even when he heard his breathing grow harsher and faster. Several minutes passed before he was interrupted.

"That's enough for now, Lupin," Snape said, pushing Remus's head away and settling his robes around his body. "I suppose that was adequate. Hold still."

Cool fingers probed Remus's wrist, then he heard a vaguely familiar incantation. Only it didn't sound quite like the one Poppy Pomfrey used... He stiffened, trying not to cry out in pain as he felt broken ends of bone shifting, aligning, regrowing. The bastard had omitted the pain-killing portion of the spell! He glared up at Snape, who smiled cruelly at him.

"Come, come, Lupin. I said I'd heal it - I didn't say I'd make it easy on you. Now, keep still unless you want it crooked. Not that it's likely to matter."

Preoccupied with the pain radiating from his healing bones and the need to remain still as the spell continued its work, Remus didn't notice Snape cross the room and look appraisingly at the collection of vials covering his desk. Severus scowled slightly as his gaze flicked over one gray glass vial with an ornate stopper. The vial and its contents were unremarkable, but the stopper had been a gift from Albus. An invaluable gift, since Albus had enchanted it for him to let him know when he was under observation. It should have been a pleasant Slytherin green, but it was currently purple, as it had been when he entered the room with Lupin. Damn Lucius and his habits. This would have been so much easier if that bastard had still been in Azkaban. Fingering a small flask he selected from the cluttered surface, he remembered the look of betrayed rage in Lupin's eyes. He'll never speak to me again, not even in that determinedly pleasant way he used to greet me after I forced him to leave Hogwarts. Speak to me - hah. He'll hex me on sight. If I'm lucky. He'll certainly never...

Severus shut that line of thought down quickly. Focus on getting him out of here alive, without exposing yourself. You'll be lucky to manage that. You've never had a chance with him anyway. Suppressing an inappropriate and betraying sigh, he called up the part of himself that used to enjoy this sort of game and stepped behind the kneeling man.

Remus relaxed minutely as the pain passed, then tensed again as Snape's hand closed around his wrist. Remus waited motionlessly as Snape flexed and tugged his wrist within its confining ropes, then released his hold and stepped back, apparently satisfied his spell had completed its work.

Now what? Remus wondered. The skin on his back prickled; he could almost feel the dark eyes raking over him, weighing him. He fought the urge to turn his head so he could see Snape, not wanting to give him any response. He failed - Severus saw him shiver in reaction when a murmured "Divestio" abruptly stripped the clothes from his body.

Remus's fists clenched as Snape slowly paced circles around him, looking his body over with obvious relish. He stared straight ahead, even when Snape finally stopped circling and stood in front of him.

"On the bed, Lupin." Severus gestured with his wand.

Eyes downcast, Remus slowly rose from his knees, but instead of moving obediently toward the bed, he launched himself suddenly at the other wizard. Snape didn't bother to step aside, just removed the slack from the bonds around Remus's ankles with a casual flick of his wand and watched as he crashed to the floor. Another flick tethered his ankles to the base of a bedpost.

"Still defiant? Hmm. We've already done threats. And bribery..." Snape tilted his head and pretended to look thoughtful. "I suppose that only leaves punishment. Are you certain you wouldn't prefer to just do as I say, Lupin?"

"I'm not playing your games anymore, Snape," Remus growled in reply.

Severus gave him a level look. "No choice, Lupin. Now move."

Remus stared at him stonily from his position on the floor.

Snape gave a sort of twisted half smile. "As you wish." He flicked his wand lazily at the other man. "Flagellio." Remus jumped as a red welt appeared along his side. Snape's next gesture laid a long lash of fiery pain along his chest. The third, harder stroke left a bloody trail, and Remus gasped and tried to roll away from the fourth blow. He lost track of how many strokes landed while he twisted and rolled, desperately trying to avoid them. Hard blows, teasing flicks. On his chest, his back, his sides. Eventually he realized Snape was only toying with him, constantly staying just outside the range of his tether, letting him wear himself out. He lay gasping for breath a moment; the other man watched silently. When Snape raised his wand again, Remus stared up at him, defiantly motionless. The wand came down, hard. Remus grunted, but held himself still. The next stroke landed in the same spot. And the next. Stroke after stroke fell, precisely placed. Remus's body jerked at each blow, but otherwise he didn't move except for the heaving of his breaths. At the eighth stroke, he cried out. Somewhere after the tenth, his instincts took over and he rolled frantically - the expected next blow never fell.

"On the bed," came Snape's dispassionate order.

"Go to hell!" Remus snarled.

"How uncharacteristically vulgar, Lupin. And how disappointingly unimaginative," Snape purred. "Not to mention foolish." His next murmured word pinned Remus's shoulders to the floor. Then he picked up the flask he had selected earlier, and, kneeling next to the prone man, poured a thick liquid over the welts on his chest.

Remus's choked scream echoed through the room.

Snape calmly rose to his feet, noting the way Lupin's jaw clenched to hold back another scream. Or a moan. "This resistance is pointless, Lupin." He freed Remus's shoulders from the floor and his ankles from the bed. "Either you get on the bed, or I roll you over, repeat the process on your back, and levitate you to the bed. Where I will do whatever I want to you anyway." He chose his next words to overcome Remus's furious determination to resist. "How much pain is your pride worth, Lupin? Be reasonable."

Remus cursed silently. He could hardly think around the burning pain coursing through his chest, but if Snape wanted him on the bed, there might be a moment when he undid the bindings to replace them. A chance to escape. Survive. Escape. He moved, slightly, in the direction of the bed.

Severus reached down and helped haul him up, laying him face down. Remus waited, watchful, but his captor was too careful - he stood well away from Remus, using his wand to secure one foot to a bedpost before he loosened the bonds between Lupin's ankles. He bound the other foot to the opposite post before he freed Remus's arms, which he then bound to the other posts, leaving Remus spreadeagled face down on the bed.

"How cliched, Snape," Remus managed to force out of a throat constricted by fear of the more personal violation he expected to occur next. He closed his eyes, and so was caught by surprise by overwhelming pain as the flask was upended over his back. He screamed again, and his back arched in agony as merciless hands spread the stuff all over his back, his shoulders, everywhere the spell lash had struck.

"Sadistic... fucking... bastard!" he gasped as he writhed under the relentless touch.

He received a mocking laugh in reply. "Now, now, Lupin. My parents' marriage well before my birth is a matter of public record."

The searing pain seemed to go on for hours, but eventually it tapered down to an unpleasant stinging. Finally able to think clearly again, Remus was surprised to find that, under the annoying residual burning, the wrenched muscles in his side and shoulder, and the deep bruises Macnair and the others had inflicted during his capture, actually hurt much less. Hardly at all. He turned his head and saw Severus leaning against the window frame, arms crossed, regarding him intently. "What-" he began to ask, but was cut off as the other man spoke in a caressing tone.

"Ready for another round, Lupin?"

Remus's momentary bewilderment faded into anger and dread as Snape stripped off his robes and began slowly unbuttoning his shirt. He turned his head away and refused to watch when Snape started on his trousers, but he could still hear the whisper of cloth being removed from skin. He jerked uselessly at the spelled ropes holding his arms above his head, then concentrated on not reacting as a warm weight settled over his hips. He swallowed hard.

Hands smoothed down his sides, caressed his neck, his shoulders, oddly gentle compared to what he had been expecting. Remus held himself still, but the hands felt the quivering apprehension in his muscles as they ran slowly down his bound arms.

"You're too innocent for this game, Lupin," Snape said softly, tangling one hand in Remus's hair to hold his head still while he kissed Remus's jaw, behind his ear, the nape of his neck. "It's too easy."

"You don't seem to be letting that stop you, Snape." Remus twitched when long fingers traveled under his chest to toy with one of his nipples while a warm tongue traced patterns on the back of his neck. His control broke slightly, and he grated, "Damn you - just get it over with, Snape!"

Severus laughed, not kindly. "What about all of this has given you the idea that you're in control here, Lupin? That your wishes matter in the slightest?" Snape traced the curve of Remus's ear with a finger, and chuckled as his prey lay stiffly silent. "Pretend I'm Black if you prefer. I don't care," he said in silky tones. Sitting up and running his hands down Remus's sides to linger on his hips, he continued, "Although given your reactions so far, the mutt doesn't seem to have been much for foreplay."

Remus shifted slightly, uncomfortably, as Snape's hands explored down his legs, wandered back up toward his cleft. His fists clenched at the sound of a cap being removed, and he turned his face into the bed and bit the sheet, determined not to make a sound. Instead of the painful penetration he expected, however, there was only a slight discomfort as a single slick finger entered him. Moved gently. It was soon joined by a second finger, twisting, exploring, moving in and out, slowly stretching. Remus flinched almost imperceptibly when the fingers were removed and he felt Snape shift behind him. I'm not ready for this... He tensed for pain.

He was surprised again. A word from the other man lengthened the ropes securing his arms to the bedposts, and cool hands settled on his hips and urged him up onto his hands and knees. Survive. Don't fight. Yet. He waited. Three fingers went in this time, resuming the gentle twisting and stretching. Remus inhaled sharply as Snape's other hand closed around his prick, long fingers teasing, swirling around the tip, coaxing a response from his body regardless of his protesting mind.

"Don't," he gasped before he thought.

"Don't what, Lupin? Don't touch you? Don't fuck you? Or don't make you enjoy it?"

Any of those. All of those. I could have enjoyed this so much... If you weren't a traitor. If you didn't hate me because you still believe Sirius and I tried to kill you. If you hadn't just tortured me and tied me to your bed. If... Remus had no answers he cared to give.

When he didn't reply, Snape removed his fingers. "Just be glad I was feeling generous, Lupin," he sneered. "You're so tight it's clear Black hadn't been much use to you as a lover lately. Not that he was ever much use to anyone as anything."

Remus felt the blunt warmth of Snape's cock press against him.

"Did you scream for Black when he fucked you, Lupin? Will you scream for me?" Snape whispered viciously as he pushed slowly into Remus's body. Remus instinctively tried to move away, but Snape's hands held his hips bruisingly hard as he entered and began thrusting.

Snape continued taunting Remus as he slid smoothly in and out, but the gibes didn't bother Remus as much as they would have if he and Sirius had actually been lovers. Instead, the barbed comments called up a stray memory - he and Sirius had almost been captured by a group of Death Eaters they had been watching, years ago, before Voldemort's first defeat. At the worst moment, when they had been sure they had been spotted, Sirius had muttered, "We are going to be so fucked." Remus had, of course, thought he meant it figuratively. He choked back a hysterical laugh as he suddenly wondered if maybe Sirius had simply had a better understanding of their enemies. He always had said Remus was too innocent for his own good. Hah - mark it down! Severus Snape and Sirius Black have agreed on something.

Distracted by his thoughts, Remus failed to hold back a groan as Severus's hand closed around his prick again, sliding back and forth as he thrust more strongly. Snape was hitting just the right angle - the pressure of the cock rubbing over his prostrate, the clever hand stroking along his shaft, was too much. His body, long denied, reacted predictably. As Snape bit and sucked at the junction of his neck and shoulder, black hair tickling his face, Remus came, trembling helplessly. Snape made a low growling sound and slammed into him harder, faster, over and over, until he finally froze, release pulsing inside Remus's unresisting body.

Remus let himself sag onto the bed as Snape pulled out and moved off him. That was - I don't know what that was. Not what I expected, anyway. He prepared me so carefully, almost as if... What is going on here? He watched as the other man selected a small vial from among the clutter on the desk and then shrugged on a silky black dressing gown.

Snape turned and saw him looking. Whatever he saw on Remus's face narrowed his eyes before he leaned over, caressed Lupin's cheek, and said in a poisonously saccharine tone, "Was it good for you, Remus?"

Disgusted, Remus turned his head away.

"You've become rather passive, Lupin. Not what I would have expected from one of Albus's brave Gryffindors. I thought you'd put up more of a fight."

Remus lay still, looking at the wall.

"The problem with this passive resistance you've adopted, Lupin, is that it makes me want to do something to... perturb your calm."

Snape's next words brought Remus's head whipping back to stare at him in disbelief.

"Lucius, you voyeuristic pervert, I want you up here."

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Even though he was halfway expecting it, the knock on the door a few minutes later still made Remus jump. Snape set down the blue-capped gray vial he was holding and turned from his desk, looking oddly triumphant for a moment. He quickly drank the contents of the small vial he had selected earlier, then spoke. "Come in."

The door opened, and Lucius Malfoy leaned casually against the frame, extending a goblet of wine. He didn't even glance at Remus, just smiled at Snape and said, "I thought you might be ready for something to drink, Severus. This red Avery brought is quite good, actually."

"Thank you. Are you coming in?"

"If you like." Lucius kicked the door closed and handed over the goblet. He inclined his head slightly toward the bed, and Snape responded with a small shrug. The blond man smiled slightly, and strolled over to Remus.

"A moment, Lucius."

Malfoy waited. Snape gestured with his wand, and the ropes securing Remus's hands to the bedposts abruptly shortened, making him gasp slightly as he was forcibly spreadeagled on the bed again. Lucius advanced when Snape nodded.

"Oh, very nice," Lucius purred, idly trailing a finger along the muscles of Remus's arm, along a whip weal on his back, down the inside of his thigh. "All your pet werewolf is missing is a collar, Severus."

Snape responded by lifting an open palm to Lucius in invitation. The blond smiled and looked Remus in the eye for the first time while he slowly unbuckled and drew off his belt. Remus threw his head back, but he couldn't move far and Malfoy easily whipped the belt around his neck. He smiled at Remus as he threaded one end through the buckle and pulled it snug. Remus gritted his teeth as Malfoy drew his wand; the feel of cool heavy links encircling his neck let him know the other man had transfigured the leather into chain. A choke chain, the increasing pressure on his throat told him.

The bed dipped as Snape settled on the other side of Remus's body. Oh, I don't like the way this is going, Remus thought desperately, even before Lucius pulled the ring gag out of his pocket again.

"Open your mouth, Remus," Lucius ordered, dangling the bit of metal and leather in front of his furious eyes. Remus clenched his jaw and tried to fight, but Snape grabbed his hair and kept him from moving his head while Lucius applied relentless pressure to the choke chain. Suddenly, Snape's long fingers clamped Remus's nostrils closed, cutting off his air entirely. A few seconds struggle ended in Remus opening his mouth reflexively to gasp for breath. Snape's fingers at the corners of his jaw forced his mouth further open, and Malfoy slipped the gag in, buckling it tightly around his head.

Snape stood up and moved away, but Lucius pulled off his boots and knelt between Remus's bound arms. "Lengthen the ropes a bit, would you, Severus?" Lucius asked. He used the chain to pull Remus up, forcing him onto his hands and knees again as the ropes lengthened. Lucius kept one hand on the chain; his other hand freed his erection, then seized Remus's hair and yanked his head up. Remus gagged and struggled helplessly as Lucius drove his cock through the ring into his mouth, down his throat. He choked as the hand in his hair pulled his head back as far as it would go and the cock thrust too hard, too far into his mouth, repeatedly. Blood pounded in Remus's head as Lucius jerked the chain viciously, pulling Remus up so hard that his hands left the bed, still thrusting forcefully into his mouth.

As he was graying out, he heard Severus's voice, coolly amused. "Ease up a bit, Lucius. I do want him conscious for this."

Remus wheezed and coughed for air as the pressure around his throat vanished and his hands dropped back onto the bed. He had a moment's relief as Lucius slowed his thrusts, barely entering his mouth, attention riveted on something Remus couldn't see. When Snape positioned himself behind Remus, cock nudging his entrance again, he realized what Lucius had been watching. His gasp of pained surprise as Snape suddenly drove into him was muffled by Lucius's cock in his mouth - when Snape thrust in, it rocked Remus forward on his hands, pushing his mouth further around Lucius's prick. Malfoy moaned with pleasure and tugged on the chain as Snape pulled Remus back a bit and thrust in again. Forgetting his plan to not react, Remus struggled frantically, uselessly, against his bonds, Malfoy's hand in his hair, the relentless pressure of the chain on his neck, Snape's hands on his hips.

Lucius laughed and tossed his head, shaking sweat-streaked pale hair out of his eyes. "It's been too long since we've done this, Severus," he cried.

Remus felt sick at the realization that Severus - a man he had trusted - had used people before like he was using Remus now. Oh God. He... They... I can't stand this. Let me go! He shuddered and jerked helplessly at the ropes while the two heads above him met in a deep, lingering kiss. Malfoy pushed into his throat ruthlessly, and Remus gagged yet again; Severus's hands tightened on his hips.

"Lucius," Snape said. His voice was huskier than usual. "Were you planning on finishing like this?"

The cock in Remus's mouth stopped moving. "Not if something - more pleasurable - is on offer," the blond man said carefully.

A look passed between them before Lucius slipped out from between Remus's arms and moved to the foot of the bed. Remus heard the rustle of cloth, a slight grating, and wet slick sounds as Snape continued thrusting into him. Slowly and shallowly, now. Remus let his head hang down as he panted, recovering from the panic he had felt at being trapped between the two men, unable to move, unable to breathe. He waited apprehensively for Lucius to take Snape's place. Snape had been surprisingly gentle, but Remus had no doubt Malfoy would fuck his arse as brutally as he had penetrated his mouth. The body moving over him, in him, suddenly stilled. No. Now he's going to let Lucius... Remus was rocked forward suddenly, and hands closed convulsively on his hips. A muffled gasp made him look over his shoulder. He saw Lucius, face fiercely alight, pulling Snape's head back by his hair as he bit his neck. Snape's eyes were closed; tiny lines of pain at their corners told Remus the abrupt penetration had not been pleasant. He looked away.

"Much too long, Severus," Malfoy murmured.

The only response was Snape's "Mmm," before he began moving again. He slid into Remus with long, firm strokes as Malfoy jolted into him. Lucius was groaning with pleasure; Snape was quiet. Remus endured silently, until the ruthless, frantic rhythm as the other men neared climax forced a tiny sound from his opened mouth at each hard stroke of Severus's cock. Long fingers closed around his shaft again, but were removed when Remus flinched.

"Lucius..."

"Oh, yes. Now. Severus! Ah!"

...

Remus slid gratefully down to lie on the mattress when Snape released his hips at last. Lucius cleaned himself and dressed with flick of his wand, then pulled Snape into another deep kiss. Remus lay watching, revolted, hating them both. The blond man released Snape's mouth and met Remus's gaze.

"Feeling neglected, Remus?"

Remus glared.

"No need. You will have my full attention all day tomorrow."

He fought a shiver as cold gray eyes raked over his body.

"Would you like to know what I have planned for us?"

No.

"You responded so well to being choked. A lot like a trapped animal, little werewolf... So I think we'll start by hooking this," his finger flicked the choke chain, "over one of the ceiling beams. We'll leave the chain just long enough so you can barely breathe when you stand on your toes. Then I'll leave you there, while your muscles burn and your legs cramp, until at last you fall. When your air is cut off, you'll push back up on your toes again, but you won't be able to stay there for long until your legs give way and you choke yourself again. Over and over. I will sit in front of you, and drink wine, and watch you struggle." He stroked Remus's cheek. "Eventually I will have mercy on you and give you some relief, letting you hang by your arms as I lift you up and fuck you." Remus wanted to look away, but he was trapped by the cold gray eyes, chilled and shaking slightly as Lucius continued with his plan. "If Severus is free, I think we'll both take you. Have you ever had two cocks at once, Remus? It will feel exquisite... for us, anyway. I think you will scream for us then, pretty werewolf." He leaned in, seizing Remus's head and licking his tongue in through the gag. Remus was shuddering uncontrollably now. Malfoy smiled cruelly and stood, saying, "Until tomorrow, sweet Remus."

He turned to Snape, who was standing silently by the desk. "I shall see you in the morning, Severus."

"Good evening, Lucius."

The door shut with a click. Severus's face was unreadable as he picked up his wand. "Purgatio."

Remus felt a tingle as the cleaning spell worked on him. Snape repeated it on himself, then dropped the wand and reached for the buckle holding the gag in place. He hesitated, then let go of the strap and placed his pale hands on each side of Remus's face, pulling him into a kiss. A deep, hot, desperate kiss, that licked every trace of Lucius Malfoy from his mouth. Remus, frozen, made a broken sound - part moan, part question - and Severus released him abruptly, jerking off the gag and dropping it on the desk with barely controlled violence.

Remus watched listlessly as Severus dumped Lucius's wine into a not very healthy looking plant, then broke the wax seal on a tall bottle. He poured a clear liquid into a glass, then mixed a careful three drops from yet another vial into the glass. He held it so Lupin could drink. Remus started to refuse, but realized Snape would only force him if he did. Besides, he couldn't think of anything Snape could do to him that would be worse than what he had already done. Or than what he was planning to do: hand him over to Malfoy, and Voldemort. He drank.

The liquid was cool, soothing his raw throat. It tasted faintly of mint and other things, none unpleasant. Remus put his head back down, facing away from Snape.

"Move over, Lupin. I do plan to rest sometime tonight," Snape ordered coldly.

Remus shifted, and a word from Snape altered the ropes so that both of Remus's hands were bound to one post and both his feet to another. Remus closed his eyes and tried to gather his strength. He slowly became aware of a pleasant warmth centered in his stomach, extending all over his body. Soon the soreness in his throat was gone. He felt good - strong, flexible, alert. Snape had given him a very strong revitalization draught - why? For a moment, Remus felt faint stirrings of hope - maybe Snape planned to help him after all? Then he realized how foolish that idea was. So far, every time Snape had "helped" him, it had preceded some fresh pain or indignity. Snape was only healing him as he went to keep him in good condition for presentation to Voldemort. At least he was in good shape to attempt to escape - or at the worst, to try to kill Snape. Remus had never killed in cold blood before, although he had intended to kill Peter. However much he wished Peter were dead instead of Sirius, he was not sorry Harry had stopped them from killing the rat. He didn't like the idea of killing Severus either, but he would do it. To keep Snape from betraying the Order again. To keep Snape from betraying Harry. Snape had left quite a bit of slack in the ropes when he moved Remus, and if he actually planned to rest next to Remus, if he got close enough for Remus to reach his throat...

Remus opened his eyes as Severus knelt next to the bed and saw a thin silver pick in his hand. Despite himself, he recoiled, eyes wide - none of the things he could imagine Snape doing with that were at all pleasant.

The dark-haired man looked startled, then something that was not quite a smile twisted his lips. He held Remus's eyes with his own, then placed one long finger over his lips. Next he pointed at his wand, his ear, then firmly downward. Remus looked at him blankly. Snape sighed silently, then put one finger over Remus's lips and raised a questioning eyebrow. He withdrew the finger when the werewolf nodded, and began noiselessly twisting the pick into the bedpost to which Remus's hands were tied. He glanced frequently at the blue-capped gray vial on the floor next to him as he worked. A few minutes of effort resulted in a hole, angling down toward the middle of the post. Remus watched in bewilderment as Severus inserted a tiny, narrow-stemmed silver funnel into the opening and slowly dripped a thin liquid from a small silver vial into the funnel. Next he reached for Remus's hands and positioned them carefully on the post, holding them in place for a moment, then pushing them away and giving him a raised palm signal to wait.

Remus's mind worked at the puzzle while Severus put the items away on his desk and laid down on the far edge of the bed, pulling a blanket over them both. Snape quenched the candles with a word, then rolled and whispered almost soundlessly in Remus's ear. "You should be able to break it by morning. I'll try to send only one up - get his wand. Finite the ropes. Remember the wards. Tell Albus something will happen soon, if it wasn't last night. Clear?"

Remus nodded, stunned. Snape rolled away and lay still. Remus's mind raced. Is he helping me after all? Or setting me up for something worse? Because if he is helping me, why did he - and why did he let Lucius... Suddenly, he realized - "Lucius, you voyeuristic pervert," Snape's motion for silence - they had been under surveillance. Lucius had been watching them. Someone was still listening. All of this - it had been an elaborate ruse to give Remus a chance to escape without exposing Severus's role as a spy.

He felt almost dizzy with relief. I was right about him. He isn't a traitor. I may get out of this in one piece, if I'm lucky. The thought sobered him a little. Or this could still go badly. Worse, I could take Severus down with me. He's taking a terrible risk, even if he has been careful. Why? No one would have blamed him if he hadn't been able to rescue me - he could have just turned away downstairs. Why would he bother - he's hated me for years. Remus remembered the pain he'd felt when Severus "let slip" the fact that the Defense professor was a werewolf and forced his resignation from Hogwarts. Then he remembered the way Snape had kissed him after Lucius left. Desperately. He couldn't... could he? Remus turned onto his side and found dark eyes regarding him warily. He nodded, tentatively. The tense lines in Severus's face relaxed slightly, and he closed his eyes and let his head sink back into his pillow.

Remus also rested, planning possible moves for in the morning. And considering Severus's possible motivations. Eventually, he came to a decision. Scooting closer to the other man, he placed a soft kiss at the corner of his mouth. Severus's eyes flew open and he went rigid with surprise. Remus kissed him again, gently, undemandingly. With a low moan, Severus's hands flew up to bracket Remus's face as his lips yielded, then parted for the werewolf's questing tongue. They broke apart after minute, panting. Severus looked at Remus intently, then smiled, in a thin, predatory way that made Remus's cock jump. Snape glanced at the desk, saw blue, and bent to kiss and lick his way down the other man's body. This time Remus closed his lips against the noises that he wanted to make because they would sound a little too... enthusiastic to their listeners. Then Severus's mouth reached his groin...

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One of the Death Eaters left on duty in the kitchen shifted uncomfortably in his chair, adjusting his pants. "Lucky bastard," he muttered.

"Huh?" said the other, tearing his gaze away from the now-opaque screen that was the source of the sounds. "Oh, Snape?"

"Yeah. Not the other bloke! Didn't you hear? Nothing'll be left of him after-"

He was interrupted by muffled gasps and a pained-sounding whimper, shortly followed by the sound of flesh slapping on flesh and a groan of unmistakable pleasure from Snape.

"Fuck." He stood up and went to the loo. The other man shook his head and started rattling through the cupboards, looking for something to drink. It had been a long night.

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Early sunlight angling through the window woke Severus from his light doze. He looked over at the sleeping form next to him, and winced. The light glinted appealingly on the silver highlights in Remus's brown hair, but it also mercilessly revealed the dark bruises and red whip marks all over his body. Snape fought down a surge of self-loathing.

This had damned well better work. If it doesn't...

Severus absorbed the startling realization of just how far he might be willing to go to keep Lucius or Voldemort from having Remus.

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A firm grip on his shoulder woke Remus. In the early warning light, he could see Severus, already dressed, standing in front of him. Their eyes met, and Snape mouthed, "Ready?" Remus nodded and relaxed back on the bed as if still asleep, one hand already curled around the bedpost, conveniently hiding the slack in the ropes binding his hands.

Severus descended the stairs and was not surprised to find Malfoy already in the kitchen. "Good morning, Lucius."

"Good morning. Care for some tea?" the blond man replied, languidly pushing the teapot in Snape's direction. "Is our guest joining us for breakfast?"

"I think not. I left him upstairs. He was a bit... tired."

Lucius's mouth lifted slightly. "Goyle, move our guest into my room. I'll meet you there."

Expressionless, the stocky man stomped out of the kitchen. Severus poured himself some tea. Lucius began rising to his feet.

"Lucius." Snape spoke quietly, not revealing that he was prepared to kill the other man if he followed Goyle too quickly.

"Yes?"

"If you want me to... be available later this morning, I need to know when. It will have to be a time when I can leave the potion unattended."

"Hmm." Malfoy appeared to be lost in pleasurable thought. "I'd say he'll be ready in three, maybe four hours. You can... come... anytime after that."

Severus considered. "Very well. Perhaps about noon?"

"As you like." Lucius was turning away, when they heard Goyle's muttered, "Ugh. You're a fucking mess." Louder, "Wake up, werewolf."

Severus looked at the clouded crystal screen, then at Malfoy with a raised eyebrow. "Really, Lucius..."

A sudden cracking sound echoed from the screen, followed by a startled "Oomphf!" and then a hoarse voice saying "Stupefy!" As Severus pushed past Malfoy, he heard "Finite incantatem!"

Severus bolted up the stairs, wand already out. Below him, he heard Lucius shouting orders at the few Death Eaters who were awake this early. He burst into his room and saw that Remus was already out the window and darting toward the tree that Snape had indicated marked the boundary of the anti-apparation wards. Smiling grimly, he leveled his wand.

Lucius and Macnair rushed out the front door. And Severus blasted away half the tree Lupin was sheltering behind, just after the werewolf apparated away to safety.

Inwardly ferociously triumphant, outwardly furious, he turned to vent his rage at Lupin's escape on the luckless Goyle.

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Severus's triumph lasted through the day, during which he made the final careful addition to the potion he was brewing and left precisely detailed instructions for the poor fool Voldemort had selected to complete the process. Triumph was replaced by chill dread as the afternoon turned to evening, dread that intensified as he knelt and watched Goyle writhe and scream at the end of the Dark Lord's wand. At last the red eyes left Goyle, sobbing on the floor, and turned in his direction.

"Severus."

"My Lord."

"The escape of our prisoner will make things... difficult for you."

"Yes, my Lord." He hesitated briefly. "I expect I will be able to convince Dumbledore that I had no choice but to mistreat his precious Gryffindor, since I was under observation. That I intended to help him escape. But it will shake his trust in me, and deepen the resentment of other members of the Order."

"Intended to help him escape..." hissed the terrible voice.

Snape didn't permit any flicker of the fear he felt to show on his face. Or his surprise at Voldemort's next question: "Do you regret Lupin's escape, Severus?"

Snape was still. That was not the question he had expected: Did you help him escape? Before the pause became too long, he answered, "Of course, my Lord," at the same time allowing Voldemort a quick glimpse of two memories on the surface of his mind, as if his mental shields had faltered under a surge of some strong emotion... Lucius, between Remus's bound arms, fucking his mouth - a quick flash of memory tinged with possessive fury.... Lucius again, this time standing at the altar with Narcissa Black - a lingering recollection colored by loss and corrosive envy. He whispered, "Not entirely, my Lord."

This was the real skill that enabled Severus to maintain his dangerous deception of Voldemort with any success - not just the skill to hide his thoughts, but to cloak them in a surface screen of acceptable images. To convince the Dark Lord that Snape was an average Occlumens, not an exceptional one. To let him see into the mind of his "servant," while seeing only those memories Severus selected to support his statements. Or, as now, to let him catch Snape in a satisfying but harmless lie.

Severus waited, scarcely breathing, hoping the being looming over him reached the conclusion Snape desired. That, last night, he was possessive of Lucius.

A high mocking laugh rang through the house. "I see."

Snape dropped his eyes to the floor.

"Severus. I do not blame you for the prisoner's escape, my servant. You will not be punished."

Snape bent as expected and kissed the hem of Voldemort's robes. "You are merciful, my Lord." He knew better than to hope he had escaped retribution entirely, though.

His apprehension was justified as Voldemort continued. "There is still the matter of my loyal servant's reward to consider, however. Lucius has been deprived of the entertainment I promised him."

Snape's mouth was dry. Oh, no.

"Lucius."

"Yes, my Lord." Lucius stepped forward and bowed before the Dark Lord.

"Severus will take the werewolf's place. Tonight."

"Thank you, my Lord. Do you have any... conditions you wish me to observe?"

"None, except that he must be able to return to Hogwarts tomorrow." Voldemort turned away. "Enjoy your evening, Lucius."

Lucius looked at Severus with a cold, sensual smile. "I will see you after dinner, Severus. In my room."

Snape bent his head in acquiescence, concealing his dismay.

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Severus's stomach tightened as he approached Lucius's door. He had, wisely, eaten little, but it didn't appear to be helping. He took a deep breath, made certain he appeared relaxed, and went in without knocking.

"Ah, Severus. I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten our appointment."

"I was waiting for Goyle to come fetch me, of course," Severus replied coolly, glancing around the well-appointed room. He went a bit cold at the sight of the manacles and chains already dangling from the ceiling beams, but kept his face expressionless. It was still possible that this encounter would be no worse than some of the games he and Lucius had played in the old days, before Severus managed to disentangle himself after the viper married Narcissa.

Lucius circled him. "Shall we begin?"

"As you like, Lucius."

"Remove the shirt."

Snape calmly began unbuttoning his shirt, knowing he had "won" the first round. He knew Lucius would have enjoyed forcing him out of the protection of his usual severe robes, so he had arrived clad in nothing more than a loose shirt and trousers. He folded the shirt and laid it on a chair, then looked inquiringly at Lucius. The other man extended his hand and said simply, "Your wand."

Severus froze, his dark eyes flicking to Lucius's smiling face, before he forced himself to produce his wand and lay it across the waiting palm. Hesitated too long- second point to Lucius, he thought wryly. Malfoy strolled across the room to place Snape's wand on his shirt, then made an elegant gesture toward the dangling manacles. And waited.

Severus moved toward the chains at a carefully calculated pace: slowly, to increase anticipation - or put off the inevitable as long as possible, depending on your perspective - yet not so slowly as to display reluctance. The manacles hung just above shoulder height, and he was relieved to see that, while not padded, they were at least not lined with spikes. Unlike some of Lucius's toys. He clicked the cold metal rings closed around his wrists, and lifted an eyebrow, still projecting an ease he was far from feeling. Lucius met his eyes for a moment, then looked away. He selected something from a chest open on the floor at his feet and approached Severus. With a blindfold.

Fuck. He would remember how much I hate being blinded. Severus tossed his head back to avoid Malfoy's reaching hands. "Lucius..." he said, in pained protest.

Lucius smiled mockingly. "'No' isn't an option for you tonight, old friend." As he fastened the blindfold, he whispered, "He is... displeased with you, Severus."

Snape nodded silently. He appreciated the double content of the message: a warning of what was to come, and a way to shift any resentment he might feel at Lucius's treatment of him to their lord.

An order came out of the darkness. "Stand still."

Rough leather trailed along his shoulders, down his side. Ah. A whip. How typical, Lucius. You always did enjoy feeling some physical contact with your victim as you inflicted pain. Severus closed his hands around the chains, holding tightly to the links above the manacles. The first blow caught him unawares, and he rocked forward slightly, hissing. He distanced himself from the pain with practiced ease - for a while. Until it became too great, and he finally staggered and gasped under a blow.

"Ah, none of that. I told you to be still, Severus," Malfoy crooned, breathing faster. Aroused. The bastard. Snape flinched slightly, but did not otherwise react as Lucius ran his finger along his waistband, then jerked his trousers off. Calm. You've endured worse, he told himself. Be still. But he couldn't keep from arching away and crying out as, without warning, something fiery hot was pressed into his ribs, then his inner thigh. Then Lucius returned to the lash. Then turned to his favorite spell, one that sent streaks of pain radiating from wherever he touched - and he touched everywhere. Back to the lash, and the burning. On and on, as Severus writhed and twisted, breathless from choking back screams.

An interminable time passed, at the end of which Severus was hanging limply by his wrists, panting hoarsely, wishing dully that Lucius would lengthen the chains a bit so his knees could touch the floor and relieve his aching arms, or that at least Lucius would stop kicking him when he tried to get his feet under him. A hand tangled in his hair and pulled his head up off his chest; Lucius's other hand caressed his face, then a finger tapped his lips lightly.

"You know what I want, Severus."

Yes, he knew. He closed his eyes behind the blindfold, closed his mind, opened his mouth, and did what Lucius wanted.

It was a very long time before Lucius took him to bed. It was even longer before he let him sink into unconsciousness, and rest.

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The dust motes swirling in the shaft of sunlight looked like fish darting in the lake. Except there was no giant squid chasing them...

Severus came back to himself with a start and realized Albus was looking at him with some concern. He was sitting rigidly in a chair in Dumbledore's office, tea untouched beside him. He had already related what little information he'd been able to gather, and the few conclusions he'd drawn based on it. How long had it been since he stopped speaking? Clearly too long. "I apologize, Headmaster. If there's nothing else, I need to make certain everything is in order in my classroom before the students return tomorrow."

"Actually, my dear boy, there is one other thing. Remus has been waiting to speak to you-"

He had told Albus only that he had mistreated Remus as part of his efforts to rescue him. He certainly hadn't been specific. From the way Albus was looking at him without either horror or reproach, he gathered that Remus hadn't told him everything either.

"He can keep waiting. I don't care to discuss anything with him. If you will excuse me."

He strode across the office and opened the door, only to see Lupin leaning against the wall facing him. Severus froze, then backed up a step as Lupin pushed away from the wall and advanced into the room. Tactical error, Severus thought, realizing he was now back inside the headmaster's office. Lupin closed the door.

"We were both very concerned about you, Severus. Remus was worried that you would be blamed for his escape and... suffer some reprisal because of it," Dumbledore said. He had already drawn his own conclusions from the way Severus moved and sat stiffly, his usual gliding grace absent.

"He need not have worried. I was not punished," Snape said flatly. "I am, however, very tired, and I would prefer -"

"Of course, Severus. I'll ask the house elves to have a meal waiting in your rooms as soon as you've had a word with Remus. Then you can rest - there's no need for you to attend the staff meeting this afternoon, unless you choose to."

Snape snorted.

"You may talk privately here, for as long as you need." The old wizard left the room, after glancing significantly at the portraits lining the walls. With some grumbling and shuffling, the painted former headmasters and headmistresses also made themselves scarce.

An awkward silence was broken by Remus's sigh. "Severus. I think we should discuss what happened."

"You didn't tell Albus."

"No. Neither did you, apparently."

"That will make it easier for me to maintain my role. I can say you were too ashamed to tell Albus everything, so he was willing to accept that I had to... handle you roughly. Under the circumstances. I would suggest that in public you react to me with wariness or anger, as seems appropriate."

"All right."

"Now that we've settled that, if you will excuse me." Severus reached to open the door, then hissed in pain as a strong hand closed around his wrist.

"No. We're going to -" Remus began, but broke off at Snape's reaction to his touch. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Lupin," Snape said angrily, twisting his wrist to free it from the other man's grip. But instead of releasing him, Remus tightened his hold. At Snape's involuntary wince, he exclaimed, "You're hurt!" He shifted his grip closer to Snape's hand, and tried to push his robe and shirt sleeve up to examine his arm.

"Leave it, Lupin! Let go," Snape snapped, still struggling against his hold.

Face concerned, Remus ignored him and began unbuttoning his cuff.

"I said let go!" snarled Snape, reaching for his wand.

He had forgotten how blindingly fast the werewolf could be, especially compared to an injured man using his off hand. He scarcely had his wand out when it was ripped from his grasp by Remus's quiet "Expelliarmus."

Furious dark eyes met calm amber ones.

"Damn it, you have no right..." Snape trailed off, finding it hard to sustain his rage in the face of his shame at what he'd done to the man facing him. He shook his head. "Just let me go, Lupin," he said wearily. "You don't want to know."

"Perhaps not." Remus considered the other man's face. Even paler than usual, framed by his lank dark hair. Deep shadows under his eyes.

Severus relaxed when Remus released his wrist. He took a step toward his fallen wand, but was brought up short by the other wizard's next word.

"Divestio."

He whirled. "You..." he snarled, then hesitated at the look of shocked outrage on Lupin's face.

"Merlin! Severus - you said you weren't punished."

Snape stood still, hands clenched at his sides. "I wasn't. This was - a reward. Now if you've satisfied your curiosity, kindly restore my clothes so I can leave." Through his embarrassed rage, he hoped Remus wouldn't decide it would be poetic justice to leave him here naked, since the werewolf had had to make his own escape and subsequent appearance elsewhere without his clothes.

Remus was still staring. "A reward!" Every place his robes covered, Snape's pale skin was marked. With bruises, whip weals, burns, cuts, and bites. Deep bruises around his throat. Shackle marks and rope burns on his wrists, more rope burns on his ankles. Realization struck. "Lucius." It came out as a growl.

Severus nodded slightly.

"So this is what I had to look forward to." Remus's voice was oddly strained.

Snape couldn't bear the look in his eyes and turned away. He realized his mistake too late, hearing Lupin's startled breath at the sight of his back. Rigidly, he said, "In part, perhaps. He would not have had to restrain himself much, with you. He had to return me in good condition."

"Good condition!"

Silence.

"Come on, let's get you to Poppy."

"No!" Snape turned on him, furious again. "Do you think I want Poppy Pomfrey to see this?" he grated, gesturing at his body.

Remus looked startled, then nodded. "Evidently not. Very well, I'm not as good at this as Poppy, but..."

Snape realized what he was about to do, but his protest, "No, Lupin, don't!" was too late. Remus had already cast the strongest healing charm he knew. The pain of it dropped Severus to his knees, then his hands and knees, jaw clenched to resist screaming. He was vaguely aware of Remus on his knees next to him, supporting him, helping him sit up. He leaned away from the encircling arm, too tired to stand up yet.

"What the hell was that, Severus?"

"Lucius spelled the wounds against magical healing. He always used to -" he broke off abruptly. Nothing there he wanted to discuss with Remus. Or anyone. After a moment, he managed, "Consider yourself revenged for that muscle healing salve, Lupin."

Remus snorted. "I didn't want revenge, Severus. Not by the time I knew what you were doing, anyway." Clear eyes regarded the kneeling form. "Which curse did he use?"

"What does it matter, Lupin?" Snape asked, rising slowly to his feet.

"Do you want your robes back or not? Which curse."

Snape's mouth thinned, but he answered. "One of the Maledictus hexes."

Remus looked thoughtful. "Most of those have countercharms, you know."

"I know. I just never bothered to learn the counterspell. It would have been ineffectual if I cast it on myself, and, when it used to be an issue, there was no one I could have trusted to cast it on me."

Silence.

"You got your answer, Lupin. I'd like my robes now."

Remus absently restored his clothes.

"Are you quite finished?" Severus inquired frostily, picking up his wand.

"For now."

"Then you will excuse me."

Snape felt Remus's eyes on his back until the curve of the stairs finally hid him from view.

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It was a painfully long walk back to his quarters, and only pride and habit kept Severus from staggering the length of the last hallway. It was with relief that he murmured the password that opened his private chambers. He stepped inside, then slumped against the closed door in exhaustion before some slight sound, or some disturbance in the air, suddenly warned him he was not alone. Instincts that had kept him alive for years as a spy sent his hand flying to his wand before the identity of the intruder registered.

Remus Lupin. Sitting in one of the armchairs in front of the fire, just as if it were his sitting room rather than Snape's. A large book was open on his lap, and he had half turned toward the door. Now he was sitting still, hands in sight, as he said in his hoarse, pleasant voice, "It's just me, Severus." The firelight made golden highlights gleam in his brown hair.

"How did you get in, Lupin?" Snape said harshly.

"Albus hooked up your Floo for me. We didn't think it would be wise for me to be seen entering your rooms just now." He returned to his book.

Severus slowly lowered his wand, but he remained by the door. After a moment, Remus looked up with a slight frown. "Severus? Your food is getting cold. Or do you want me to bring it to you over there?"

"Lupin." Hell, even his voice sounded tired. "What are you doing here?"

"Reading. Waiting for you to sit down."

Snape snorted, but finally put his wand away and eased into the other chair.

Remus smiled. "Good. Now eat, and show me which curse Malfoy used."

"What?"

"Which curse, Severus," Remus replied patiently. "The counterspells are specific to the particular Maledictus curses, you know, not generic to the whole family. I'm guessing it was probably this one," he pushed the book across a low polished table to Snape, "or maybe the variant on the next page."

Severus looked down at the book, hoping his confusion wasn't obvious. "And this is a concern of yours how?" he asked sharply.

He looked up at the slight intake of breath he heard, to see the smile draining from Remus's lips. The werewolf stood, face expressionless, and spoke in a strained voice. "Of course. I apologize. It was... presumptuous of me to think you would trust me to cast the counterspell." His hands tightened, but his voice remained level. "Albus has already guessed you were hurt. You should ask him to cast it, if you can bring yourself to." He turned to the fireplace and reached into the urn of Floo powder Severus kept there.

What? Severus's exhausted mind finally caught up with what Lupin had said, understood what he had been offering and thought Severus had rejected. As the flames flared green and Remus started to step into the fireplace, Severus rasped, "Wait, Lupin, I didn't - You were offering to cast the counterspell?"

Remus paused, back rigid. "Yes."

"I'm not - I don't understand - Why?"

Remus turned back to face him. "Why? I think it should be obvious, Severus. So you can get all that-" he gestured at Snape's body, "healed."

"No. I mean, why would you do that - why would you do anything for me? After I..." he broke off, and dropped his gaze from the other man's face.

Remus sighed, and sat back down.

"Severus. Did you want to hurt me, to force me, to watch Voldemort take me apart piece by piece to torture Harry?"

"No!"

"Did you want to help me escape?"

"Yes," Snape said quietly.

"Did you not, in fact, risk your life to set up my escape?"

No answer.

"Severus. I understand what you did. Even though some of it was... not pleasant. Thank you for saving my life." He hesitated. "I hope you don't hate me for what Malfoy did to you - I'm sorry, I -"

"I don't want your pity, Lupin! Or your gratitude," Severus snarled angrily. So that's what this is about. He feels guilty. And that last time we fucked - that was just - damn.

"I don't pity you. I feel sympathy for you, and concern, yes. Not pity. But you have my gratitude whether you want it or not," Remus said calmly. "Now that that's settled... can you trust me to cast the counterspell?"

Severus didn't quite trust his voice, but he looked down at the book, flipped the page, and pushed it back across the table to Lupin.

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Severus shivered as Remus's hands smoothed across his neck. Lupin had cast the counterspell. He hadn't said anything at all during the long minutes after the spell took effect, minutes in which Severus would have been completely defenseless against any suggestion Remus made. He hadn't even encouraged Snape to eat or to allow Remus to recast his healing charm, not until Severus had clearly returned to himself. Then he had badgered him into eating, accepting the healing spell, and drinking an analgesic potion. Currently the werewolf was rubbing a healing ointment into Snape's abused back. Severus shivered again as a chuckle stirred the hairs on the back of his neck.

"Is this what I think it is?" Remus asked.

Snape smirked. "Yes. Simple muscle healing salve. Quite painless, except on raw skin." He tried not to twitch as warm hands traveled up and down his back in long, firm strokes.

"You're lucky the charm took care of those cuts."

"Do you seriously imagine I would have handed you this if it hadn't, Lupin?"

Remus laughed. "That's got your back. Turn around, will you?"

Severus obediently turned, then froze as Lupin's hands began working the salve into his chest. Bad idea, he thought, trying to control his breathing and hoping Remus didn't notice his increasing arousal. Despite himself, his breath hitched as fingers grazed his nipple. The wonderful warm hands stopped moving. Remus glanced up and held his eyes, then deliberately rubbed his nipple again. The sensation raced straight to his cock.

"Lupin," he gasped. Whatever else he might have said was cut off by firm lips pressing against his. After a moment's hesitation, he groaned, burying his hands in tawny brown hair and pulling the other man closer into a deep, tongue-tangling kiss. When Remus leaned back a little against his hands, he let go. They stared at each other. Remus was smiling, and his eyes were warm.

Snape's breath caught, and he stepped back. "How can you look at me like that, when you know what kind of monster I'm capable of being?" he said shakily.

"I could ask you the same question."

Oh.

"Severus, I have been attracted to you for a long time. I just thought, after what happened that night at the shack, you would never... And then there were all the other times in school, when I was too afraid of losing the acceptance I'd finally found to do what I knew was right."

Snape flinched a little at that. Yes, he understood that fear, and its consequences, all too well. As witness the Mark.

Remus continued, "I thought you hated us, all of us. But when I came back here to teach, it seemed, sometimes, that you weren't quite as hostile. It was the first time I let myself hope that maybe, someday, we could work around our past." He laughed, rather bitterly. "Then, of course, all that ended with another night at the shack."

"I didn't believe you that night. I didn't believe you until I saw Pettigrew standing next to the Dark Lord. Then I had to - had to accept that you had told me the truth. That night. But Black... I couldn't..." he trailed off. "I tried to have him killed. Worse than killed. And he was your friend."

"Yes. He was my friend. But never my lover, Severus."

"I know."

"You know? But you said -"

"I had to say something, Lupin. That was plausible, but I didn't think it would..." He searched for the right words. "I thought it would hurt, but not too much."

Remus nodded, watching him thoughtfully. "Severus. What was in that vial?"

Snape looked at him quizzically.

"The one you drank before..." his face hardened, "before Lucius came in."

Severus looked uncharacteristically discomfited. "Why do you ask?"

"I'm curious." Lupin waited.

Finally, staring at the fire, Severus replied, "A mild aphrodisiac."

Remus's smile twisted a bit, and he said, "Ah." A bit hesitantly, he asked, "So, that last time..."

"No. It had worn off. It was only - I knew Malfoy -" he faltered. "I didn't think I'd find the sight of Lucius forcing you sufficiently arousing to... perform as expected. Quite the opposite. And that would have been... unfortunate."

Remus thought he knew, but he had to be certain. "Lucius - why did you ask Lucius -" his throat closed, and he couldn't think how to finish his question.

Severus answered anyway. "I knew someone was watching. I was sure it was Lucius, at the least. I couldn't risk doing anything overt to help you until no one would see, and I know Lucius. He... he hates to be watched as much as he loves to watch." Painfully, "I'm sorry."

They sat quietly for a few minutes, avoiding each other's eyes, watching the small fire the house elves had laid popping in the grate. Remus broke the silence at last.

"Severus. I have wondered what that last time might have been like. Without the ropes and the desperation and the audience."

For a moment he thought he'd gone too far, strained their fragile understanding. Then Severus spoke slowly, carefully. "I... would not be averse to performing the experiment. Should you desire it."

"I desire you, Severus."

Snape looked up, startled at the intensity he heard in the werewolf's voice.

"I think we should get the rest of this," Remus picked up the flask of salve, "on you. Would you be more comfortable lying down?"

Severus nodded, and silently led the way into his bedchamber. His quiet "Incendio" lit the logs lying ready in the grate, bathing the room in the warm glow of firelight. He turned, and froze when he saw Remus standing near the bed. The flickering light revealed his face, calm, pleasant, ordinary, marked with faint lines of pain and strain by his monthly transformation. He looks - perfect. How can he possibly want me?

Remus took in the quiet elegance of the small bedchamber. Spare, reserved, and rather dark - just like its owner. He glanced at Severus, wondering why he was still standing near the fireplace, admiring the play of light and shadow over his pale skin. Oh, very nice. Except - he looks uncertain. Almost frightened. Certainly the most vulnerable I've ever seen him since we were children. He felt like smacking himself. Of course he does, Remus, don't be an idiot. Give the man some help.

Remus smiled gently, and said, "Why don't you lie down, then? I think there's plenty of salve left; we should be able to get your legs taken care of." Severus nodded slightly and stepped slowly toward the bed. Remus made a production of removing his shoes, to give Severus a chance to adjust. And hopefully remove his trousers.

At last Snape was arranged on the bed, and Remus began gently smoothing the salve over his stomach, along his ribs, down his legs. He nudged Severus's hips to encourage him to roll over and rubbed salve down the back of his legs, then over his hips and buttocks. He felt Severus's reaction to his touch quivering through his fingertips, and smiled.

"Better?" he asked, capping the flask and setting aside.

"Significantly improved. Thank you, Lupin."

Remus was pleased to note that Severus's voice was unusually husky and his breathing was fast. "Well then, shall we proceed with the experiment we discussed earlier?" Remus asked, sliding one hand up along Severus's side and leaning in to kiss his shoulder. He jerked away, horrified, as Severus tensed and snapped, "Stop, Lupin!"

"Severus - I'm sorry, I didn't - I thought -" Remus stood up. "I'll just -"

"Lupin. Stop blathering."

Right.

A cool hand closed on Remus's wrist, preventing him from reaching his shoes, as Severus rolled over and sat up. "You didn't misinterpret what I said earlier. It's just that the salve is not meant to be ingested. Some of the ingredients are toxic after exposure to acid. Stomach acid. A mouthful wouldn't kill most people, but your metabolism is different enough that I wouldn't care to take the chance." He let go of Remus's wrist.

"Oh." Remus sat back down on the edge of the bed. "Sorry. Thank you." He felt tension singing in the air between their bodies. His eyes dropped, and he realized Severus had been quite aroused by his ministrations with the salve. I'm not the only one then. But now what? "So. I guess that leaves us with two options. You could have a bath. I could help, or I could lie here naked and hard and waiting for you." He heard Snape's quick inhalation. Hmm. He likes that idea... "You would come out, with your hair still wet and sleek, droplets of water clinging to your neck." He traced the line of the other man's neck down to the hollow of his throat with a careful finger, and felt him shiver. "You would shrug your dressing gown off your shoulders, let it pool on the floor at your feet. And I would kiss you and lick you, all over your body, until you were hard and wet and ready to fuck me." He heard a low moan, and smiled. "Or," he whispered, leaning close to Severus's ear, "I could just concentrate on the parts of your body where we didn't put any salve."

Before the other man could react, Remus slid down and closed his mouth over Severus's cock. He was rewarded by Snape's gasp, and the reflexive jerk of his hips.

"Lupin -" Severus said, a bit breathlessly.

Remus put a hand on Snape's chest and pushed gently, wordlessly urging him to lie back down. He swirled his tongue around the head of Severus's cock, then teasingly across it, before he leaned in so it plunged deeply into his mouth. He let his hands roam over Severus's chest, caressing his nipples, then down to feel the bones of his hips fitting snugly into Remus's palms. He moved his head up and down, pressing the underside of Snape's shaft firmly with his tongue. He cupped Snape's balls gently in one hand, then stroked the sensitive area behind them. Severus's hips jerked up slightly, then pushed back down against the stroking finger, so he moistened it and gently pressed in as he kept sucking. Breathy gasps became moans of pleasure as he moved his finger gently in and out in time with the firm strokes of his tongue on Snape's cock. Oh. I may just come myself, if he keeps sounding like that.

He paused when Snape said raggedly, "Please. Lupin, please..."

"Please what, love?"

Dark eyes that had been half shut snapped open, and Severus's entire body went still at the endearment. Remus stared at him. What? He replayed what he had just said. Oh. Fuck.

Just as Remus was mentally cursing himself for a fool, the tense body relaxed slightly. Severus met his eyes. "You. I want you. In me." His pale skin was flushed.

Oh. Remus blinked. "Oh, yes."

Snape's elegant hands reached to unbutton Lupin's shirt. Remus shivered at the contact. "Do you have -" Remus gasped as the hands paused in their task to tease his nipples. "Lubricant? Here somewhere?" he finished hoarsely.

Severus rolled away and stood up. "I'll find something."

Remus had stripped off the rest of his clothes by the time Severus returned and passed him a small jar. His automatic "Thank you" was muffled by Severus's mouth descending on his. Snape kissed him wildly, sliding his tongue along Remus's, sucking his lips, burying his hands in his hair. Remus wrapped his arms around the man and tipped them both onto the bed before his knees buckled. He managed to open the jar and dip several fingers in without Severus ever releasing his mouth.

Severus gasped again when Remus slipped two oiled fingers into him and began stretching gently, but promptly resumed his attack on Remus's mouth. The werewolf groaned into the kiss as their erections rubbed against each other, and slipped a third finger in. He broke off the kiss.

"Severus. Are you-?"

"Ready. Yes. Now, Remus!"

Remus had not thought it was possible for him to be any more aroused than he was already, but the sound of Severus saying his name - at last, and in that tone - was electrifying. He rolled Severus over so they were lying on their sides. He didn't think the other man would enjoy feeling the least bit pinned down by his partner any more than he would, at this point. Then Remus stopped thinking as Snape shifted his hips back; instead, he concentrated on the long, slow slide of his cock into the other man's welcoming body. He rocked his hips, moving gently inside the tight heat, encouraged by Severus's deep gasps and moans of pleasure. He's much noisier this time...

He moved faster, harder, enjoying the way Snape rocked back into each of his strokes. Then he curled oiled fingers around Snape's prick, and Severus arched desperately into him with a wordless cry and came. Remus growled and bit Snape's jaw just under his ear as he slammed into him with a few quick, firm strokes before he exploded.

They lay entwined, breathing hard. Remus kept one arm wrapped around Severus's chest. Severus let himself relax against the werewolf's firm body, accepting the comfort of his touch.

Safe. He is safe for now. I made him safe, Severus thought. This small victory, at least, is mine. An unaccustomed feeling of contentment settled over him. And it is enough.

"Severus. What are you thinking?"

"In short measures life may perfect be," he murmured into the darkness.

He felt Remus's lips curve into a smile against his shoulder.

"Yes."

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Author's Notes:
“...in short measures life may perfect be” is from The Noble Nature by Ben Jonson. I have seen Divestio used in several fanfics. I regret that I do not know to whom to attribute the origination of this spell. Feedback to musigneus@hushmail.com would be appreciated.