Title: An Elephant in the Parlour
Author: Marks
Contact: baracct@yahoo.com
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is owned by J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. No money is being made from this.
Challenge #24: Snape discovers the cure for lycanthropy, what must Remus do to get it?
A/N: I'm unable to just do a challenge the way it's written. Beta by Electric Android.

***

When Albus pulls me aside after the Order meeting and tells me he has good news, I'm immediately suspicious. Albus's idea of good news has never exactly jibed with my own. When he adds that it involves Severus, I know my suspicions aren't unfounded. The words "good news" and "Severus Snape" are pretty much the very definition of "opposites".

It isn't that I never try with Severus; I do. I always attempt polite conversation when we see one another. Occasionally, I ask about his students or his work with the Order, but sneering doesn't typically make for brilliant conversation and I usually drop off after a few moments. I suppose there's simply too much history between us.

The next day, I floo to Hogwarts, where Albus meets me. The two of us walk to Severus's office, where he sits surrounded by open books and parchment covered with his elegant script. Barely acknowledging my presence, he nods at Albus and says, "I believe my formula is nearly complete."

"I'm sure it's flawless, Severus," Albus benignly replies.

Briefly, Severus's face tightens. "Of course it is," he says brusquely. "But I'll need a...test subject." Now he regards me, a smirk twisting his lips. Ah.

"And I'm the guinea pig?" I ask, already aware of the answer.

"Do you see any other readily available werewolves?"

"Not presently," I say in the same benign tone Albus used moments before. I learned that from him, actually. It's extremely useful in handling difficult people; nothing infuriates people more than getting no response whatsoever. In reality, I'm quite curious, wondering what my lycanthropy has to do with this, but it wouldn't do to have Severus see that.

Albus faces me, his expression as neutral as my own. "Severus has had quite a breakthrough, Remus. He believes he can control your change."

"But doesn't Wolfsbane already do that?"

"Don't be daft, Lupin." Severus, already looking exasperated, gets up from his desk in order to face me. "This potion suppresses all change whatsoever. You wouldn't turn into a snarling beast every lunar cycle. Well," he amends after a second, "not any more of one than you are in your day-to-day life."

Floored, I feel a sudden need to sit down. "How do you know it works?"

"I've run several successful trials in mammals infected with a mutated, animal form of lycanthropy. With a variant on Wolfsbane, mice turn into slightly furrier mice with long teeth. With the Lycompressius, they stay mice. More of the same with larger subjects, but I've yet to test with a human." Another smirk. Lycompressius. Clever pun. That's probably as close as Severus gets to a sense of humour.

I try ignoring the almost feral look in Severus's eyes -- the fact that he's deriving real pleasure of testing this on me is too unnerving to dwell upon -- and ask, "When do we start?"

"In a week. The potions must be ingested monthly, on the night before the full moon. The beast will be with you; the change is what's suppressed. Killing the beast would only kill the host whose body it occupies." This fact doesn't seem to bother Severus too much.

I have one more question. What's in it for you? "Why did you do this?"

With a snort, he hastily responds, "Not for you, I assure you. The Headmaster believes this will aid in werewolf support of the Order."

Albus nods, but claps his hand on my shoulder and quietly says, "And also for you."

I don't believe him, but I agree to this experiment. Such is the desperation of the werewolf.

***

I hate 12 Grimmauld Place. I hate the way the walls seem to be watching you all the time, I hate that I have nowhere else to go. I hate hearing Sirius's mother scream at me about being a mongrel half-breed and I hate that Sirius is no longer here to scream back. I've taken to spitting on the portrait on my way to the loo, wondering if anyone other than Mrs. Black notices the dried streaks of white marring the paint and staining the wood frame. I hate being here alone.

All of this is heightened while waiting for Severus to deliver the Lycompressius.

I'm nervous. I hate that, too.

The fireplace flares briefly and Severus steps out smoothly because, of course, he's mastered The Art of Flooing Gracefully. I wonder why his robes are never covered in soot, but maybe that's just an advantage of wearing black all the time. He hands me a silver capsule, which I eye warily. Silver's not traditionally a good colour for werewolves. "Suppository," he says without a hint of emotion. My head snaps up, attention momentarily pulled from the caplet. He's smirking. Bastard. I amend what I said earlier; Severus has a sense of humour -- it's just for Severus alone.

He carefully observes me as I take the pill. "May I take this with water?" Severus shakes his head, committing something to parchment. The pill is really not made for a human throat and it gets stuck halfway down my oesophagus. Choking, I still decide this is better than Wolfsbane, which tastes like a combination of urine and raw eggs. Or so I imagine.

We sit around staring at one another for an hour, each uncomfortably looking away when the other would hold his gaze for just a moment too long. Then, Severus rises, apparently satisfied that I'm not going to keel over, collects his things, and leaves.

"Goodbye," I call to no one after he's gone.

***

The next night, I pace around like a trapped animal, which, in a way, I suppose I am. I can feel the beast rising up inside me, my senses heightened, and I swear I can smell blood, but there's no one here but me. Horrified, it occurs to me that maybe the blood is old. God, how I hate this house.

When the full moon rises, I peer out the window, just to make sure it's really there. The beast is the trapped animal now and I can feel it rippling under my skin, wanting food, wanting blood, wanting sex, wanting, wanting. In fact, it's rather the opposite of Wolfsbane. Instead of my mind caught inside a werewolf shell, the werewolf plays inside me. But, all night, I never change.

I never change.

***

Severus's office makes me almost as uncomfortable as the Black Mansion. I find it hard to believe that anyone would voluntarily choose to bury himself underground, especially since these rooms once really were dungeons. In fact, I have a clear memory of James and Sirius sniggering madly when the room not ten paces from where I now sit first popped up on the Marauder's Map. "The Punishment Room," indeed.

The office is damp, cold, and dark. When Severus finally looks up from his work, glittering black eyes regarding me emotionlessly, perhaps I understand just a little better. I'm unnerved, but unsure why his neutral look causes such a reaction in me.

Brusquely, Severus says, "Give me a detailed description of what happened last night."

I tell him about how I stayed in human form, but perceived the beast much more clearly than I do in my typical day-to-day life. I look tired today, which is par for the course the day after the full moon, but it's not because of transformation. I simply spent most of the night prowling, finally dropping off as the sun started to rise. Even with this lack of sleep, I feel better than I ever have after a change.

A quill sits between us, recording everything I say. Severus doesn't look away from me the entire time and I wonder if he half-expects me to leap across the table and eat him. Once my story is done, he casts a few spells to get a good idea of my general health, then walks around my side and places two fingers on my jugular, taking my pulse. I swallow hard, unused to having him in such close proximity. Surprisingly, I have to force myself to regulate my heart rate.

Apparently satisfied, Severus barks notes to the quill and removes his fingers, lightly brushing over my neck in the process. I shiver. Why hadn't he just cast a spell for that, too?

Severus sits at his desk again, and folds his hands, chin resting on his index fingers. "The Lycompressius was a success, then?"

"Complete success. I'd much prefer having a beast crawling inside me to being a sheep in wolf's clothing. Or a wolf in wolf's clothing, for that matter."

"What would you do to keep getting it?"

Nearly of their own accord, my eyebrows fly upwards. He couldn't mean...? "I...I don't know. A rather lot, I expect," I answer honestly.

"Good," Severus replies, voice deep and dripping with promise. I shift uncomfortably in my chair, startled at the reaction my body is having. "I only want one thing from you, Lupin."

"W-what is it?" Any fašade I usually display around him gone, I don't think I'll be surprised by anything he says right now.

Severus pauses, bites his lip, and says, "I want you to leave me alone. Forever."

Well. Except that.

He continues, "I've been tormented by you and your friends since childhood. Two of them had the good sense to die." I bristle. "One simpers at the Dark Lord's hand, but I have no doubt that he'll soon shuffle off this mortal coil as well. That leaves you."

"We have to work together for the Order," I point out reasonably.

He nods. "If we're assigned to work together, I will make the exception."

In the end, I agree. What can I do? I'll get my potion, he'll get what he wants. It's not like I've ever really liked Severus. We've certainly never been friends. In fact, before I taught at Hogwarts, we'd not seen each other in over ten years. I feel like he's daring me, taunting me somehow, but I can't tell why. I won't be fooled.

When I rise to go, he advises me to get checked out by Poppy, just in case anything is amiss. I nod and leave, allowing myself a brief glance over my shoulder as I go. Severus is involved in his work again, my existence already seemingly forgotten.

***

Have you ever thought about white elephants? Or rather, have you ever tried not to think about white elephants? Normally, I don't give a second thought to white elephants, but the mere suggestion of them causes them to completely take over my thoughts. I picture them on brooms, shopping in Diagon Alley, sitting at the dining room table and casually sipping tea. White elephants overtake all rational thought, leaving trampled white elephant remains in their wake.

Severus Snape is a white elephant.

It's been two months since Severus and I made our deal and, so far, I've held up my end. This doesn't stop me from watching him carefully at Order meetings, as I nod politely at Albus or Molly or whoever's trying to hold my attention. I see the way he never takes any offered food or drink, how his rigid posture slumps when he thinks no one's looking, and the way he constantly scans the room. He's always on guard and I entertain the notion that he and Mad-Eye get together to discuss vigilance tactics. Once, but only once, our eyes met while he scanned and I watched, but we both quickly looked away.

I'm alone in Sirius's old house and I'm going crazy trying not to think about Severus Snape. Severus with oily hair, a hooked nose, and crooked, yellow teeth. The Severus I'd never really given a second thought until I was told not to give him a second thought. When Minerva delivers the Lycompressius the month after the original test, I want to scream. When Hagrid arrives the second month, I nearly attack him.

A few weeks before the Christmas holidays, an owl arrives, bearing a letter from Harry. After the normal recount of his classes and how Hermione and Ron are doing, he launches into a full tirade about Severus. Their Occlumency lessons have resumed and, as usual, Severus is the bane of Harry's existence.

Remus, I can't stand it! For three hours a week, I'm stuck in close quarters with Snape. He's such a greasy git -- it doesn't matter how much I improve! He still complains and hits me with spell after spell. Ugh. It's for a good cause, I know, but it's so awful being around him all the time.

I can't help it. I read this over and over and over. My mind's eye automatically replaces Harry with myself, subjected to Snape's brutal treatment for three hours a week. Before I know it, I'm rock hard, hand in my robes, stroking myself with one hand, clutching the letter with the other.

As my arousal builds, I close my eyes and our private lesson morphs into Snape's lanky hair making oily paths on my stomach as he sucks me off. I can practically feel his warm mouth surrounding my cock and I cry out "Severus!" as I picture myself shooting down his throat. In reality, pearly strings of come are already drying on my skin and the inside of my pants.

Christ, it's quiet here.

***

My nightly ritual has grown predictable: Scream at the portraits, make some tea, set up meetings on behalf of the Order, wank to my mental image of Severus, and feel ashamed until I fall asleep. Molly Weasley has decided to adopt me in Charlie's absence, always telling me how tired I look, how I should eat more, how I should go out and meet a nice witch. "...Or wizard?" she asks tentatively one night. I pat her hand and tell her not to waste her time on me.

Luckily, I do have my new assignment from Albus. Because of the success of the Lycompressius Potion, I've been acting as a mediator between the Order and the werewolves and the werewolves and the Ministry. Of course, there are still doubts within both camps, but my success is proof, so hope is rising within the community. Perhaps werewolf legislation will soon become a thing of the past with Lycompressius freely distributed. And if enough werewolves restrain themselves, perhaps lycanthropy itself will soon die out. It's a heady thought.

I've not changed for three moons now -- the fourth will be tonight. Albus, of course, has scheduled an Order meeting for tonight, I suppose to confirm the suspicions about me are really true. It seems as though all the members are watching me, some looking fearful, others merely curious. I feel like a museum exhibition. Everyone gawk at the reformed werewolf! Uncomfortable, I look at the floor, my feet, an empty spot on the wall, Severus.

Severus stares back. I blink rapidly. His expression displays the same cold indifference it always does. I scowl.

Damn. I look away, cursing inwardly for letting him break through my calm exterior.

The hours wear on and I wonder if it was such a good idea to hold an Order meeting on the night of the full moon. The beast is pacing; I can nearly feel him walking all over my heart. Everything is bothering me and, uncharacteristically, I fidget. The room is too hot, Albus's beard is too long, Tonks's hair too chartreuse. When Kingsley, twenty feet away, unwraps a chocolate bar, I nearly jump out of my skin. I'm dangerously close to breaking when I feel someone's eyes on the back of neck. I turn around, only to find Severus watching me again. Can one snarl silently? Because I think that's what I do.

When the meeting adjourns, I don't wait around for anyone. It's nearly two in the morning and I know I need to escape before I do or say something I'll surely regret. Quickly retreating to the sanctity of my bedroom, I attempt to regulate my breathing. It's not working. I lean my head against one of the posts of the bed, breathing in the scent of partly rotten varnish, relishing the cool wood on my forehead. My neck starts prickling again and I turn to see Severus standing in the doorway.

"Wolf wants to play, Lupin?" Disgusted, I try ignoring the pleasurable flips my stomach is doing. The wolf senses prey, but he doesn't want to rip, tear, or kill. Heat rushes to my groin and the beast suddenly has a craving for some white elephant.

"Stop looking at me," I order. "I thought you wanted me to leave you alone?"

Severus takes two steps into the room, shutting the door as he does so. Damn, damn, damn. "I wasn't looking at you."

"You were," I accuse, my voice rough and constricted. "I saw you. I've been doing exactly as you asked, and yet, you're here. What do you want from me?"

"I'm merely observing. You said you can still feel the beast on the nights of the full moon, but I've never witnessed it firsthand." He cocks an eyebrow, looking doubtful. "This is preferable to Wolfsbane?"

"Less painful," I say, beads of sweat forming on my brow. Go away, go away, go away. A horrible thought finally occurs to me. "There's something in that formula, isn't there? That's why I've been like this! That's why I can't stop thinking...." I trail off, unwilling to reveal that much.

Severus looks taken aback. "I've done no such thing," he retorts, anger finally evident in his tone.

"Liar! There is. Something to control me."

"No."

I take two steps forward. Fear radiates off Severus in waves. Fear and...is that? I keep walking forward until Severus's back is against the wall and sniff again. Yes, it's definitely more than fear there. Voice low and dangerous, I say, "I'm not someone you can control, Severus. I don't care what's in the Lycompressius."

Weakly, he replies, "There's nothing --," but his response is cut off by my lips crushing brutally against his. It's an awful kiss, completely unlike anything in my dreams. I'm too forceful and Severus completely unprepared. Our teeth clash together and one of my canines gets caught on his lower lip. It's been awhile since I've been properly kissed and I hypothesise that's probably true of Severus as well. He's mostly unresponsive, but he doesn't pull away.

I end the kiss, breathing heavily, aware that my fully erect cock is pressed against Severus's thigh. I expect him to deck me or knee me in the groin, but Severus is simply appraising me, something unreadable in those fathomless eyes. Gaining control over myself, I move to take a step back, the beast snapping its proverbial jaws of protest. I take only one step when Severus also protests, grabbing the front of my robes and pulling my lips to his this time.

This kiss is better. He forces me to slow my pace, this time opening his mouth so my tongue can gain access. The tip of his tongue swirls across the top of mine. I sense his erection pressed against me and I moan into his mouth. This is something I've wanted for so long, wrapped up with something I never knew I wanted. Severus responds to my moan by licking and lightly sucking on my lower lip, forcing another noise out of my mouth.

I begin pushing his robes out of the way, wondering why exactly he has to wear so many damned layers. When I finally managed to shrug them off his shoulders, I step back to look at him, breaking our kiss almost reluctantly. He exposes a chest lightly covered in black hair, faded white scars criss-crossing his stomach. I decide not to ask about those. He'll soon see my scars. There's nothing to tell.

Bending my head, I suck on the place where his neck meets his shoulder, causing Severus to finally elicit a hiss from between clenched teeth. Encouraged, I move lower, licking my way down his chest until I catch a nipple between my teeth. My hand moves to the front of his boxer shorts, slowly rubbing the erection that's nearly poking through the gap in his pants. Severus moans, bucking his hips and pressing into my palm. I massage him slowly, enjoying the feel of fabric against my hand and move up once again for a kiss.

I memorise every inch of his cock as I stroke up and down. I notice it feels differently from the way I'd imagined it. First, it's not as long as I would have imagined, though it is thicker. It's also curved and I can feel the spider network of veins, even through the material. Severus is practically growling now. "Lupin," he rasps. "I need more."

Nodding, I pull the shorts past his hips. They slide easily down his thin, bony legs, pooling near his ankles. Measuring my options, I decide I want to keep touching him, as I'm quite enjoying feeling him moving against my hand. Eyes never leaving his, I bring up my palm and lick, thoroughly wetting it before bringing it back to his aching prick, stroking, teasing him. As I kiss him again, my mouth matches the slow pace of my hand. It's almost as though I'm fucking him with my tongue.

The beast likes this. It likes Severus. I know that already, but I suppose this is the first time I've admitted it.

Severus's moaning grows louder and I hope against hope that everyone has stopped lingering after the meeting. My tongue and hand move faster. "Remus..." he moans against my mouth. His breathing quickens, he fucks my hand faster, and the loud moans turn into louder, more insistent cries. With a final shout, he comes, spurting against my robes.

Huh. Didn't even realise I was still wearing those.

Soon enough, I'm not. After a moment of recovery, Severus practically rips them off my body, turning me so I'm now the one with my back against the wall. He drops to his knees and I get to learn exactly what those oily strands feel like pressing against my stomach and thighs. Considering the build up and what I'd just done to him, it doesn't take me long to finish. A few minutes of that wet, warm mouth sucking my length, a swirl of his tongue against the head of my cock, his hand lightly fondling my balls and I come undone. He milks my orgasm, slowly bringing me down with long, careful licks.

When he stands again, sharp, shallow breaths still escape my mouth. He kisses me and I taste myself on his tongue, hot and bitter, much like Severus himself. As the first rays of sunlight poke through the curtains, he leads me to the bed, where I promptly fall into a deep slumber.

***

I finally wake, sometime around noon. I'm unsurprised to find Severus is no longer here. To say I feel guilty is an understatement. I broke Severus's promise and what he and I did has done nothing to help push him from my mind. If anything, I now want him more.

This will never happen again, will it?

An owl is scratching against a window in the kitchen. Still hazy with sleep, I idly wonder why owls can find even houses under Fidelius. No matter. I take the letter, giving the bird some toast and a bowl of water.

The script reading my name is obviously in Severus's handwriting. I rip the envelope. Inside, there's a card bearing only three words: LEAVE ME ALONE.

I sigh. Is this an order or a dare?

END.