Title: Missed By: Snape’s Nightie
Summary: A few weeks after Dumbledore’s death, Remus Lupin vanishes.
Disclaimer: Characters and situations belong to JK Rowling, I am just using them for fun and making no profit.
Era: Post Half-Blood Prince.
Warnings: implied slash, implied het.
Pairings: Not happy-ever-after RL/NT, and a twisted sort of SS/RL.
Rating: U, or G, or basically suitable for all, no violence, just a little Slytherin ruthlessness.
Notes: For the 30 min challenge at Master and the Wolf.
I always write quickly but inaccurately when inspired, so spent thirty minutes getting the words down, then much longer editing. It’s hard to tell precisely as I’m at work and people keep interrupting, dammit!
Tonks blames herself.
They all say she’s wrong, that it’s not her fault, that this kind of thing happens all the time when there’s a war on; but she knows that somehow she is to blame.
She has always been so scatty. Her clumsiness has been the butt of countless jokes from her parents, her school friends, her colleagues. They never seem to mind her occasional moments of incompetence because her intelligence, skill and sense of humour always compensate.
Until now. No amount of wit or hapless charm is going to change the situation this time. She has messed up so badly that she will regret it for the rest of her life.
She has never been good with dates – unable to remember her parents’ birthdays, only recalling her own thanks to some serious reminding spells and the fact that it is 7/3/73. With the upheaval, trauma and panic in the wake of Dumbledore’s death there was no way such a scatterbrain could have remembered the dates of the Full Moon. Especially being barely able to catch more than five minutes alone with Remus every few days as the Order and the Aurors scour the country for the treahcerous Severus Snape, knowing that Voldemort’s reunion with his master poisoner can only mean disaster for the forces of the light.
It is painful for an auror to admit they failed to make a simple deduction, but the sleepless nights and desperate days must have taken their toll on her powers or reasoning. The path her thoughts ought to have taken back then replays endlessly in her devastated mind now that it’s too late. Snape had vanished. He would not make any Wolfsbane for Remus this month. Remus could not afford to buy his own potion. Remus would have to spend this Full Moon locked up and gouging at himself as the wolf sought flesh to rip and wound. He would never mention it to the many who would gladly have given him the money, Harry, Minerva, Tonks herself for Merlin’s sake; choosing instead to feel the physical manifestation of the pain and grief tormenting his mind rather than rely on the charity of his friends.
Some girlfriend she is! She smacks her forehead against the window frame again, cursing her stupidity. It was only an offhand leering comment about the ‘time of the month’ from Mad-Eye which made her realise and flee to the scruffy Edinburgh terrace Remus had rented since resigning from Hogwarts, dreading what she might find.
Expecting the chaos caused by a tormented wild animal imprisoned indoors, she was taken aback to find the house neat and tidy. Old, worn and threadbare perhaps, but clean and well cared for. Not so much as a cushion was out of place on the cheap sofa – in fact, everything was in its place with one exception.
Remus was nowhere to be found.
Almost three weeks have passed since that horrible day, yet there has been no sign of him. Harry is furious, Moody is pessimistic, the Ministry is expressing concern about a ‘loose werewolf’, as though gentle, beautiful Remus were some kind of crazed beast presenting a public danger. Molly took her aside and advised her with great kindness to prepare for the worst.
Tonks wonders what could be worse than this. Not knowing what happened is only half of the agony; knowing that she could have prevented it, whatever ‘it’ may be, is slowly breaking her heart.
Remus blames himself.
This awful situation is entirely his own fault and he has got what he deserves.
It was his selfish, masochistic streak which stopped him from telling anyone about his predicament. He thought that with Dumbledore gone, there could be no hope for the defeat of Voldemort, that all their struggles over the past twenty years, all the death and suffering had been in vain. He wanted to hurt, needed to hurt, to somehow atone for the fact that yet another person he cared about had died while he, the cursed one, the hopeless one, had been allowed to survive.
Besides, everyone had more important things on their minds than his condition. He may never get his hands on the expensive potion ever again. It would do him good to get used to the damage which the wolf inflicted on itself.
Then there was Tonks. A beautiful, clever and successful younger woman throwing herself at an impoverished middle-aged werewolf was the kind of thing one read in cheap paperback novels. Such incredible bursts of good luck never happened to Remus Lupin. He had no business stealing the affection of this amazing woman, yet she seemed determined to have him.
In a normal man, Remus had reflected, this would be something to celebrate, something to warm his heart and revive his jaded soul. In the wake of the murder, however, it was just one more reason to crave pain. It felt obscene to experience happiness after such an event, so he crushed it, avoided her and prepared himself for his lycanthrope’s penance.
The years of taking Snape’s wolfsbane had made him soft. Barricading himself in the little house as the moon prepared to rise, he felt the stirrings of his first natural change in a very long time begin. It terrified him. In his self-indulgent search for self-harm he had conveniently forgotten exactly what he was intending to put his body through. He felt the animal rising inside him, making human thought difficult as the beast crept into his mind.
“What have I done?” he asked aloud, as the first irrepressible growl rumbled in his still-human throat.
Then, uninvited and unannounced, Tonks arrived looking radiant, elegant and holding a goblet of Wolfsbane out to him. He was saved! Without waiting he snatched it and drank it at a gulp, before collapsing backwards onto the floor as the potion fought the wolf in a painful duel which hurt his head, his throat, his stomach and every other fibre of his body. Wonderful girl! Thoughtful girl! She had remembered him without being told. How good it felt at that horrible moment to be loved by such a person.
She still had not spoken, apparently content to watch him from where she stood at the fireplace, an odd half-smirk on her lips as she stood with her arms folded across her chest. Remus knew there was something wrong with this picture, but before he could comment he suddenly noticed an odd aftertaste to the potion which had never been there before.
He rolled over coughing. The mixture always tasted foul, but it was doing unusual things to him today. Perhaps each brewer made it slightly differently.
“Nymphadora?” he croaked. She still did not speak, but raised an eyebrow to show she was listening. Again, this wasn’t right, but the werewolf had other, more pressing things to think about, as he writhed on the floor. “Where did you get this Wolfsbane?”
She strolled over to where he lay, sweating and panting on the floor, until she towered over him with an air of something like triumph.
“Why, Lupin,” she purred in a smooth, baritone voice. “Whoever said it was Wolfsbane?”
Then the world faded to black. And it was his own fault entirely.
Snape is delighted with himself.
He watches the huge silver-grey wolf sniffing its way through the detritus on the bank of the filthy canal behind Spinner’s End and smirks.
Wolves are simple creatures. All they really need is food, a warm place to sleep and someone to belong to. Moony makes a pleasant sound when he is scratched behind the ears, and appears ecstatic to see Snape when he returns from meetings, which are longer and more taxing of late. It is comforting to be unconditionally adored. Occasionally he thinks he sees a glimmer of reproach in the trusting amber eyes, but he knows that the beast would never attack its own alpha.
The wolf tires of his explorations and trots back to Snape’s side, tail wagging slightly in greeting. The Death Eater pats him on the head.
“You know,” he begins, never actually sure if Lupin can understand him or not. “Some would say I did it out of revenge for the actions of you and your friends, years ago when you made my life hell. Or they may speculate that I found a way to overcome my fear of your kind since that eventful night in the Shrieking Shack. I have inferred to the Dark Lord that your removal from society is a fine way to unnerve Potter, and though I am not certain he believes me, he is inclined to be indulgent in light of my recent, ah, success.”
They walk home together along the deserted street, spelled to deter visits from both muggle snoopers and investigating aurors.
“There may be an element of truth to each of these arguments,” he continues. The wolf cocks its head to one side as Snape pauses on the doorstep. “But, by and large, there is a much simpler reason.”
He turns the key in the lock, enters the sitting-room and flops into their usual armchair. Moony leaps into his lap and snuggles happily as long white fingers burrow into his soft fur.
“I just couldn’t let her have you.”
Moony licks him once on the chin and settles down for a nap.