TITLE: Playing Hero
NOTES: For the Master and Wolf Fuh-Q Fest, Challenge number 82 - During a battle Remus is badly injured while protecting Severus and needs constant assistance now. Severus takes the job - out of guilt first, but his feelings change soon.
Many thanks to my beta Sadistra
It was a well-known fact, to all Slytherins, that Gryffindors would stop at nothing to play hero. And, although more likable than the average Gryffindor, Remus Lupin was no exception. In fact, his strong sense of right and wrong made him more likely than his less-calm friends to drop everything to jump through a window and put himself in serious danger of having his greying head separated from his scarred torso.
It was also obvious, to all who knew him, that Severus Snape did not like being rescued. If there was one part he was not willing to play, it was damsel in distress. That is why, despite the fact that he had a wand pressed to his throat and his attacker was already muttering a curse, he was not entirely thankful when there was a loud crash and Lupin sailed through the window, wand drawn, baring more than a little resemblance to a Muggle super hero.
"Look what your precious Dumbledore has sent you," Lucius said, turning his head. Severus found the wand move away from his throat. Lupin scowled and stepped forward, wand pointing at Lucius chest. "A mangy half-breed. You see why I question his reliability, Severus?" Lucius turned back to Severus and smirked, waving his wand absently at Lupin. Lupin could only grab at thin air as his wand sailed across the room at top speed.
Lupin looked over Lucius' shoulder and motioned something with his eyebrows. It looked like he had a twitch. Severus frowned and squinted. Lupin rolled his eyes and mouthed something Severus couldn't make out. Lupin crept closer so that he was almost level with Malfoy and nodded his head towards the wall. Severus shrugged. It was at this point that Lucius caught on and sent a curse flying towards Lupin as he opened his mouth to repeat himself. It was a pity he hadn't thought about the fact that Lupin was almost upon his arm by now. Lupin pushed his wand arm to the side, causing Lucius to aim into the corner where there was an explosion of spark. Lupin ran towards Severus. He grabbed the man, sending them both hurtling out of the window as the second curse hit the wall where the Slytherin had been standing just moments before.
"What the hell did you think you were doing?" Severus growled, clambering onto the roof and scowling at the lack of dignity possible in this act. Lupin shook his head and leaned back against the tiles, the one next to his left foot skimmed down the roof and they heard is smash. "I expected you to be able to lip read," Lupin muttered. "You are supposed to be a spy after all."
Severus frowned and shook his head. "That still didn't answer my question. What did you think you were doing, Lupin?" he asked, glaring at the other man as he slid a foot further down the roof and scrambled to keep himself from falling.
"I believe I was saving your life," Lupin said quietly, looking tiredly at him.
"I had everything under control," Severus growled. "I didn't need you to play around and put us both in danger."
"You've broken your wand hand," Lupin observed. "You had Malfoy's wand to your throat and he was about to kill you. I just thought you might appreciate some help."
"I didn't," Severus sneered.
"I noticed," Lupin said. "I've got a portkey to take you back to the grounds." He pulled out a small, muggle book and handed it to him. "It will activate in about five or ten minutes, although it's probably-."
There was a loud bang below them and they both jumped. Severus slid a few feet neared to the ledge and Lupin slid down after him to better see what was happening. It was at this point that there was another bang and the roof exploded in a cloud of broken slate.
"We won't fool around this time," Lucius said, holding out his wand. "But I might have a bit of fun using your own spells against you, Severus." Severus grabbed his wand with his left hand and held it out. "Try your best." He muttered. "You never were too good at charms."
"See if you remember this one." Lucius said, stepping forward. He smiled slightly, his eyes fixed on Severus. "Sectumsempra!" Severus wouldn't be able to say what happened next when asked. All he knew was that a light was coming straight for his chest and the next he knew he was staring down at the ground as Lupin hurtled towards it at a rate of knots. It was around this point, while Lupin headed for the hard ground below that he felt a familiar tug at his navel and he found himself standing before the doors of the Great Hall, gasping for breath.
"Bloody muggles!" Severus growled, glaring at his cup and gripping the handle very hard. Albus sighed and looked down at his own tea.
"They didn't know what they are doing, Severus," he said lightly.
"That much was bloody obvious," Severus muttered to his knees. "Is there a reason you called me to your office, Albus?" he asked, looking up and brushing a curtain of hair away from his face.
Albus looked at him sadly through half-moon spectacles. "I thought you could use someone to talk to."
"If that is all, Headmaster, then I feel I should be getting back to my potions." Severus set the still full cup on the edge of Albus' cluttered desk and swept towards the door. He was already halfway onto the moving staircase before Albus called his name.
"Yes, Headmaster?" he asked wearily.
"I would like to see you here tomorrow morning. Remus is being 'let out' and I will need to know if any member of the Order would be willing to give him a place to stay." Albus looked at him under his eyebrows, his long fingers tapping slowly on the desk.
Severus was going to explode at him. He would question him, he would yell about how he hated the werewolf and then he would grudgingly agree after some compliments and orders disguised as questions. It was always the same with Severus.
"Fine. I will." Severus said. Albus frowned. He had never, in all his years, seen such a change in his temperament.
"I had better get a guest room ready, I suppose. I will see you tomorrow to sort out the details."
He was gone in an instant, leaving Albus staring after him. This was all going too well. It did make him wonder over Severus' health though. Severus Snape had never been one to pass up a chance to argue.
Severus closed the door to his living quarters behind him and leaned against it, staring at his living room. It was the least he could do really. After all, Lupin had saved his life and, as much as he loathed admitting it, he knew he hadn't been the one to put his life in jeopardy before. He walked across to his bedroom and flicked his wand at the bed, watching as it made itself. It looked like he'd be giving up his bed, he just hoped Lupin would realise how sorry he was.
He had promised himself he would 'be nice'. Severus scowled slightly and shoved his hands in his pockets, trying to hide how much he wanted to strangle his guest. Lupin looked up at the ceiling and tapped his fingers on the edge of the sofa, not looking half as uncomfortable as Severus felt.
"So…" Lupin said, looking down at his fingers and then back up at Severus. "Could you sit down? You're making me nervous with all that pacing." Severus stopped and stared at Lupin. He hadn't even realised he'd been moving. He sat down quickly, locking his legs in positions so he didn't feel the need to get up and pace again.
"Sorry," he said. Lupin blinked and frowned at his fingers. "Not you as well," He said. "I expected better."
Severus was confused, but he knew that Lupin wouldn't like to think that he was playing the fool, and he didn't want to feel foolish either.
"What would you like for dinner?" Severus asked after a minute of uncomfortable silence. Lupin looked pensive for a while, so long a while that Severus thought that maybe he'd have to deal with Lupin not eating on top of the rest, before he smiled meekly.
"You wouldn't have any lamb, would you?"
It turned out Lupin wasn't half as annoying as Severus remembered. Which was strange, as surely people became more annoying when you had to wait on them hand and foot all day. Instead Lupin had become a lot more pleasant, in Severus' mind, which meant that he had finally stopped his mindless chatter.
It would be a lie to say that Severus found Lupin's presence in any way comforting and a preposterous one to say that Severus enjoyed Lupin's company in the first week that Lupin was there. The most enjoyable thing about Lupin's company, indeed, was that Lupin spent most of his time in complete silence, except for the few times he'd hesitantly asked to be moved, and thus it was rather like there was nobody there at all.
It was the second week that the acts broke. Severus wasn't made to be nice to anybody. An hour of pleasantness was more that he could usually take and, although it had become increasingly easy to ignore Lupin for long periods of time, his new attitude couldn't last forever.
Lupin, equally, wasn't a man who could remain silent. It wasn't that he was compulsively loud; he never felt the need to shout or make unnecessary conversation. It was rather that when the situation arose when he was felt the need to speak he would rather he could. (Rather he could? Wha?) After all, ten days of silence was impossible for anyone.
On the tenth day, Harry Potter came to visit.
It needn't be said that Severus hated Harry Potter with a passion. The hatred had started long before Harry ever met Severus Snape, or at least was at an age to acknowledge him. The fact was, nothing was going to make Severus like the boy, and Severus could not remember inviting him into his rooms. When he arrived back from his study, however, Potter was there, sitting on his sofa where he had sat Lupin earlier that afternoon, drinking something luminous from one of Severus' crystal brandy glasses.
Severus did not explode, however. He was trying incredibly hard to be 'nice'; he owed that much to Lupin, after all. He managed to get across the room and into his bedroom, giving Potter and Lupin an amazingly curt nod before he slammed the door and let out a hiss between his teeth.
"He just wanted to visit," Lupin said for the fifth time. "Severus, surely you can't begrudge the boy a visit!"
Severus scowled and picked up his glass of brandy; it had taken three charms to get them clean after Potter had used them. "I can and I will. I don't want him arriving unannounced in my chambers again."
Lupin closed his eyes and nodded. "What would you have said if asked though?" he asked. He knew the answer and Severus did too. The two men scowled at each other before Severus stood up and walked to the doorway.
"I'm going for a walk," he growled, picking up his cloak from the peg next to the door.
"Severus," Lupin murmured. Severus glared at him, daring him to argue. Lupin said no more and Severus nodded before turning and closing the door behind him.
When Severus returned an hour later it was to a silent room. He stilled in the doorway, allowing himself to look over the room. Lupin was asleep, still sitting where Severus had left him. Severus frowned and moved forward. Trust the werewolf to fall asleep on him.
He hung his cloak up and slid onto the sofa beside the man. Lupin could always make him feel guilty, it was an art, and Severus aimed to never feel such emotions. Now, as Lupin furrowed his brow, Severus had to try hard not to berate himself. Instead, he gripped Lupin tightly around his waist and carried him into the master bedroom.
He laid Lupin down on the bed, throwing the covers quickly over the man and scowled again as he walked towards the door.
"Sorry Severus," the man muttered, opening one amber eye tiredly. Severus fought back a smile, although he would rather admit he had a facial twitch than he felt a smile pulling at his lip.
"Go to sleep, Lupin," he growled as he closed the door gently.
"I'm sorry about yesterday, Severus," Lupin said over breakfast. Severus wanted to say that he should be sorry for at least the last fortnight, or even the past twenty years, but instead his found himself nodding and taking a sip of his coffee. Lupin seemed to take this as a sign of forgiveness and smiled widely.
"Harry wanted me to ask if he could come over next weekend," Severus scowled. This was going too far. Hadn't he given Lupin enough? For Merlin's sake, he'd only saved him from a little curse.
"Yes, Potter can visit," his voice drawled and he wished he were physically able to glare at himself. Instead he settled for glaring at Lupin, which the man continued to ignore as he ate his breakfast in a contented silence.
Potter turned out to be a godsend. He arrived on the Saturday afternoon and took care of everything. In fact Severus had two blissful days to himself. These days were useful, of course, as he managed to make a full batch of Wolfsbane for the coming full moon and several burn salves and other simple potions for the infirmary.
In fact the weekend was a perfect one. He returned to his rooms on the Sunday evening to find Lupin already in bed, reading as usual, and his rooms amazingly clean and Potter-free. It was evidently Lupin's influence, but Severus did not let on as Lupin smiled and said what a good boy Potter was. Severus could hardly disagree.
Severus realised, in about the forth week of him and Lupin sharing quarters, that he actually didn't hate the werewolf at all. He didn't know what caused it, although, of course, he put it down to the 'life debt' at the time; after all you can't really blame things on the man that saved your life. It was in this forth week that Lupin apologised for the final time for what had happened so far back in time (so far back in their past, indeed, that Severus wondered why he still remembered it). Lupin looked astounded when Severus nodded and turned back to his own book, leaving Lupin to his own pensive silence.
"Does that mean we can be friends, Severus?" Lupin asked, hesitantly.
Severus snorted heavily and looked up over the edge of his book. "You're almost forty, Lupin," he stated. Lupin looked expectantly at him. "Surely, you know that friendship is not something you ask for like you once did in your infancy."
Lupin nodded and smiled slightly, looking back at his dog-eared paperback. "I'll take that as a yes then."
The thought of friendship, however, was one alien to Severus. And now he wondered if that was why he suddenly found himself unable to refuse any of Lupin's wishes. After all guilt hadn't caused him to be anything but bitter towards Potter or Longbottom. Could it be that he and Lupin had become…friends?
Over the next month Potter became a near permanent fixture in Severus' rooms. He could hardly say that the boy was being a bother, although every time he came back he found yet another brandy glass stained with whatever florescent muggle drink Potter had taken to drinking. Other than that, however, Potter was very handy, if rather loud.
In fact, the only time Severus found himself without Potter, most times, was at night. Then it was a time for Lupin and him to spend 'quality time' together, which usually consisted of them both silently pursuing very separate activities, often in separate rooms but with Lupin allowing the odd comment to pass between them.
Severus had begun to find that, actually, having someone else there was indeed a pleasant thing. There was something oddly comforting about having someone, even if they were incapable of complete silence, sitting so nearby him as he read or marked papers or scribbled down notes.
Lupin, however, seemed to become more uncomfortable each day. In fact, each time Potter left it was like he moved away from Severus and, as he had been the first to declare himself Severus' friend, this was rather odd to Severus indeed. The thought had even kept Severus awake on some nights, but Severus had never been a deep sleeper, and so the fact that he had found himself sitting up late at night in Lupin's room (as his old bedroom had now become known) speculating while sneaking calculating looks at the man was not something that alarmed him quite as much as it would others.
The answer, however, was to come to him in a rather strange way. As it was, Severus was sure he could find the answer in one of his many books. As it was, however, there was actually nothing he could really see that was wrong with Lupin, after all, Lupin still spoke to him, still spent much of his time reading and writing and still smiled at him during breakfast and dinner.
It was during one of these late night sessions that Severus had his first insight into what had happened and it all began with an eyelash. Indeed, there was nothing in anyway spectacular about this eyelash. It was stuck to Lupin's cheek, about an inch below the eye and such a small detail would usually drive Severus mad. True enough, Severus, having spotted it, felt the need to remove it straight away from where it was lying, spoiling the flawless area of pale cheek.
It was this that shook Severus, stopping him in his tracks as he reached across to brush the lash away. When had anything about Lupin been flawless, after all he was covered from head to toe in scars, he was anything but flawless. In fact, this particular cheek had two large, raised marks running across it.
He reached out a finger and flicked the lash away, his finger catching the sleeping werewolf and startling him from his sleep. Lupin stared at him for a second, mouth slightly open in surprise before his cheek coloured slightly and then Severus finally realised what was wrong just as his own cheeks betrayed him by reddening.
"Severus?" Lupin asked, pushing himself up on his elbows to look at Severus. "Did you need anything?" Severus shook his head.
"No. Do you…need anything?" Lupin smiled.
"No. I'm perfectly alright, thank you." He lay back down and frowned at Severus.
"Why did you-?"
"Eyelash," Severus said hurriedly, holding up his finger where the eyelash still rested. Lupin nodded and closed his eyes.
"Good night, Severus," he muttered.
"Good night, Remus," Severus looked back to see Lupin's contented grin before he closed the door silently behind him.