By Bagoas Alexandros
Summary: Due to Ministry decree, all werewolves must become property. To Remus' horror, he becomes the property of Severus Snape. As time goes on, the two start to more than get along until Severus brings someone home that threatens to wreck their newfound peace. (based on Challenge 233, I changed one aspect of the challenge to fit the storyline).
A/N: It's amazing how stories never turn out the way you want them too. I started this last November (or was it October?) and finished it in one night in January. It just kind of wrote itself. No real sex between the characters (which was not my original intention, as I'd intended a lot of smut) and the third party in this story turned out to be more of a bastard than I'd intended as well. What can I say? I'm not in charge of my brain. As for the title, it should be noted that while in this story Remus is legally considered a slave, a common form of greeting in times past were "I am your slave", similar to perhaps "Your servant". My intention is to have Remus see his servitude not as true enslavement as we picture it in regards to, say, African slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries but more as he comes to view it as something he wants to do and enjoys doing. It kinda fell by the wayside with the plot development though. (shrug) So this is a "just so you know" type of thing.
New Ministerial Decree Restricts Werewolves
In a legislative breakthrough spearheaded by Minister Cornelius Fudge and his 'Committee for the Preservation of Wizarding Freedoms', werewolves have become the latest targets in the Restricted Species Act. In a controversial move, Fudge and the CPWF have proclaimed that the duel nature of the werewolf is untrustworthy and that since many werewolves were found in league with He Who Must Not Be Named, greater restrictions must apply. Backed by scholars and medical practitioners, Fudge announced that werewolves were not 'human' and therefore were granted no legal rights. All werewolves previously registered with the Ministry of Magic were recently captured and taken to five holding areas that will also serve as auction arenas. The intent is to sell them as servants or slaves, the idea that the funds would be used to assist the orphan and widow charities of victims of He Who Must Not Be Named's rampages. The controversy stems not from the werewolves legal status, everyone knows that they are monsters, but the idea of selling them as slaves. Many opposers of the new law -
Albus Dumbledore got no further. He tossed the Daily Prophet Morning Edition in the waste bin as he hurried to his chamber doors. He vaguely heard as the door shut behind him the waste bin belching the paper back up. Even the trash found the trash unappetizing, it seemed.
"Albus!" a voice cried from his right and Albus turned sharply to it. Distraught little Filius Flitwick was waving his own copy of the Prophet in agitation as he raced to meet the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. "It's an affront to nature! It's an abomination! It's -"
"We have to find Remus Lupin, Filius." Flitwick blanched and recovered quickly.
"Oh yes, that poor boy. He's too innocent for that sort of thing. I'll go to Brighton's auction house and see if he's there."
Albus was relieved at Filius' willingness. "Spare no expense. I will reimburse whatever you pay for him."
Flitwick's tiny shoulders squared. "Nonsense! I find this whole thing preposterous. The money for Remus Lupin's freedom, I assure you, is no obstacle."
Albus watched as Flitwick scurried away. Minerva McGonagall rounded a corner with Rubeus Hagrid hot on her heels. Both were breathing fire and waving a copy of the Daily Prophet. Before they could say a word, Albus interrupted, "Minerva, to Diagon Alley. Hagrid, Hogsmeade. Find Remus Lupin. As a member of the Order, he can be easily compromised if he's sold to someone who knows what side of the war he was on. If you do not have the money, I shall reimburse you." Without skipping a beat, both McGonagall and Hagrid turned on their heels and left. McGonagall exuded indignation; Hagrid was red-faced with fury and fear. 'How much further until half-giants are targeted?' Albus thought worryingly.
There was only one other person in Hogwarts that Albus could turn to at the moment, one person who would be difficult to convince to look for Remus Lupin. The one person who had no reason to feel the need to rescue any werewolf, let alone this particular werewolf. The one person Albus was not looking forward to browbeating into searching the Crieff auction arena.
"Severus!" The dungeons echoed with the headmaster's resonant voice.
"My office, Headmaster," responded a calm baritone, and Albus strode into the young Potions Master's office. The furnishings were sparse and the room still had an unused look typical of new professors. There, Severus was hanging various shelves, his wand flicking lazily in the hazy sunlight that filtered in through a grimy window. "What do you think, this wall or ... what's happened?"
"You haven't read the Daily Prophet this morning I see," Albus stated, eyeing the young man cautiously. At 25, Severus Snape easily looking five years older than he was. The life as a former Death Eater and double agent had taken its toll on the young man's features. "A new Ministry decree -"
"Oh Merlin! What now?" exclaimed Severus in disgust.
"Werewolves are being sold as slaves today. It was just announced in the Prophet. Apparently they've been secretly rounding them up based on the registry lists." Severus' coal black eyes narrowed. "Severus, Remus Lupin will be on those lists."
This was going exactly as Albus had feared. "Severus, Remus is a member of the Order. If a Death Eater purchases him ..." Albus saw immediately that he didn't need to finish. With a growl, Severus let the shelving unit fall with a loud clatter. "I have sent Flitwick to Brighton, Hagrid to Hogsmeade and Minerva to Diagon Alley. I need you to go to Crieff and I shall go to Dublin. I will reimburse you whatever the cost."
Severus stared stonily at the headmaster. "If I find him," the young man finally stated in clipped tones, "you will purchase him from me. I will not be responsible for that mangy, flea-bitten -" Severus caught himself mid-tirade. "Fine." He swept out of his office and toward his personal chambers, undoubtedly to change clothes and gather his money pouch.
Relieved at the sudden acquiescence of Severus Snape and hopeful of success in rescuing Lupin, Albus himself departed. He truly hoped, though, that Severus was not the one who found Remus Lupin. If the price was too high ... Severus was liable to let Remus slip by.
Remus was actually surprised at how calmly he was taking the whole thing. It was more like a dream, well, a nightmare really. It definitely had a surreal quality that made Remus feel he wasn't really living the whole thing but dreaming it. He hadn't been all that surprised to see Ministry officials on his doorstep a week ago, ready to take him into custody. Werewolves had been expecting this sort of treatment for years. The selling of werewolves as slaves startled him more than anything. An internment camp was one thing; being sold as a slave was something entirely different.
None of them had been mistreated and most were taken within a week following the full moon, thus the danger of their transformation en campe was nil. Plus it would give their new "owners" adequate time to prepare suitable restraints for their new 'property'. It was well-planned, Remus had to grudgingly admit, even if he couldn't understand the base stupidity and bigotry of those who concocted the mad scheme. Standing now on a platform, stripped to the waist and wearing what passed as a loincloth, he felt a numbness that could only be attributed to disbelief and shock.
It didn't help that it was bloody freezing in Crieff, Scotland at the moment.
Remus scanned the crowd, hoping for a friendly face, someone who knew him and would buy him. He was looking for a savior. What he saw was the glowering countenance of Severus Snape. This couldn't be good.
"Step forward!" growled the man in charge and gave Remus a shove forward. The young werewolf stumbled but quickly righted himself with some semblance of grace. There was a wave of loud murmuring as Remus came into the waning sunlight. Was the day almost finished already? It seemed like only a couple hours since Remus and the other werewolves incarcerated had been rudely awoken for a spare breakfast.
"Who'll give ten Galleons for this fine young specimen? He'll be a hard worker, has a gentle disposition from what I've seen of him, and seems to be quick of mind and feet!"
Remus blinked. Glowing praise considering the last werewolf got "Mangy cur, a bit raunchy and a lot of trouble...start the bidding at a Galleon."
A smooth, honeyed voice drawled, "Fifty Galleons." Severus Snape.
Remus blinked, awed. Surely he wasn't that fine a specimen.
"One hundred Galleons." Remus snuck a look at Snape, ensconced halfway back in the crowd and who had just finished sneering his bid.
There was a pause.
"One hundred and fifty Galleons." The sneer was now a menacing growl.
"Two hundred Galleons!" The counter bid came from the back and Remus' stomach plummeted as he caught sight of a white-blonde head and glinting ice blue eyes. Lucius Malfoy had just made his offer.
Snape's head whipped around as Malfoy easily parted the crowd as he walked, joining Severus with a nonchalant nod. Remus could practically see Snape calculating in his head. "Three hundred Galleons." There were gasps, Remus' joining them.
Malfoy seemed amused. "Five hundred."
Remus snuck a look at the auction master to find the man gaping as well. He'd lost control over the bidding the moment Lucius Malfoy stepped in. Remus' attention was reverted back to his two bidders when Snape drew himself up and announced clearly, "One thousand Galleons."
A pin dropping on the hay-strewn floor could have been heard perfectly it was so silent. Malfoy looked Remus up and down and then shrugged. "He's attractive, Severus, but not that attractive. You always had weird proclivities however. I concede the match. He's yours for one thousand Galleons."
The gavel struck behind Remus, causing him to jump. He'd been riveted by the war of wills between Snape and Lucius, so apparent in the black and blue gazes, that he'd momentarily forgotten where he was. "SOLD! For one thousand Galleons!" The crowd cheered and Remus found himself bundled off stage by the property master.
Remus was immediately taken to the payment booth where Snape was impatiently waiting for an old crone to finish paying for a young girl who was sobbing miserably. Remus shivered, not liking the look of the old woman or the lecherous gaze of her young male companion. "You'd better be worth this, young man," the old crone was chiding him as she wrote her name on the cheque.
After they'd left, Snape stepped up to the window. "If you would read over the bill of sale and your rights and responsibilities as owner of this werewolf, sir," said the bored clerk. "Then sign it and submit your payment of ..." the clerk's eyes widened at the sale bill handed to him, "one thousand Galleons, the Ministry of Magic humbly thanks you for your contribution to -"
"The enslavement of other magical species, yes, I know," snapped Snape caustically, snatching the contract out of the clerk's hand in a peeved motion. Black eyes quickly scanned the document but froze halfway down. "I cannot resell him? Why can I not resell him? I didn't buy him for me, you idiot! What would I do with a werewolf?"
"He is your responsibility as the purchaser," the clerk said haughtily. "You bought him, you take care of him. If you didn't want him, why did you purchase him?"
"Because he's an intelligent, sentient person, not a piece of furniture, you worthless pile of -!" Snape's rant was cut short by an officious looking man in obnoxious paisley robes and tie.
"Is there a problem here, gentlemen?"
"Why can I not sell this werewolf?" demanded Snape hotly.
"Because you are taking responsibility for him through his purchase." The man stepped away as Snape sneered at him. Remus could understand that; he often had wanted to back away slowly when Snape sneered. It was like being too close to a wild animal, unpredictable and patently unsafe.
"And if I wish to sell him myself?"
"You cannot unless there are financial reasons or health reasons in which you are unable to care for the creature." Both Remus and Snape bridled at the scathing tone used for the word "creature". "Should we remove him and place him back on the auctioneer's listing?"
Remus looked at Snape, who was eyeing him thoughtfully, as if weighing the pros and cons of having him underfoot. "Are you still abysmal at Potions, Lupin?"
Remus blinked. "Well, I haven't had much practice since school ..."
"Highly irregular!" gasped the outraged official.
"Oh, shut up," snapped Snape. "For one thousand Galleons, you can afford to let me make up my mind." Realizing which bidder he was talking to the official quickly backed away to allow Severus some privacy. Remus forced himself not to back away as Snape stepped forward to speak in confidential tones. "I live in the dungeons at Hogwarts, you will be expected to help me with classes and ingredients. I remember you did passably well in Herbology." Remus refrained from pointing out he did better than 'passably'. "No sniveling, no whining, and above all, no mention of Sirius Black or James Potter, is that understood?"
Remus frowned but knew he didn't have much of a choice. "All right, but I reserve the right to -"
"You reserve nothing or back up there you go and I tell Dumbledore I didn't get there fast enough. Malfoy's waiting on me to change my mind. Do you really want to go to Malfoy? I guarantee you won't enjoy it. Or live long, for that matter." Snape's black eyes snapped a challenge, one Remus knew he couldn't disregard.
"Fine. Whatever." Remus backed down. 'Better the fallen angel you know than the devil who's worse,' he thought to himself.
Severus couldn't believe his rotten luck. Well, actually he could, as he'd never once in his life experienced good luck but a morning that had promised to be so nice and peaceful had turned into a nightmare of a day. He was now the proud, and impoverished, owner of a werewolf. And not just any werewolf, but the thrice-damned werewolf who'd been part of his gang of nemeses in school. As he held the chain that served as a leash for Remus Lupin, Severus led the ill-clad man toward the tavern that served had a fireplace Floo network connection.
"Severus, could you please slow up?" Lupin's voice sounded fretful from behind him. Severus turned to glare at him. "I don't have any shoes and -" Severus muttered something foul under his breath and resumed walking, setting a pace and a path that would be easier on Lupin's shoeless feet. "Thanks," he heard Remus murmur.
It was another few steps before Lupin spoke again. "That was a lot of Galleons you just spent."
"Dumbledore promised to reimburse me. For ruining my day, and apparently my life in being stuck with you, he'd better be able to afford it." Snape didn't bother to look at Remus as he answered. "And you aren't supposed to be talking to me in public unless spoken to first." He heard Remus heave a sigh but there was no further attempt at conversation. That was fine by Severus; he was in the mood for a nice long sulk.
They reached the tavern, entered the long queue for the Floo fireplace, and waited patiently. Well, Remus waited patiently, Severus much less so. Their destination brought them straight into Albus Dumbledore's office, much to Remus' surprise, and before either man could completely recover from the rather tumultuous ride, they were enveloped in hugs and rejoicing.
"Oh, Severus, dear boy, you found him!" Severus didn't think Minerva McGonagall had ever called him a 'dear boy' before.
Little Flitwick squeaked his appreciation for Snape's find as well. "Excellent, excellent! We were most despondent that we'd all missed him!"
"See there, I done tole ya, Headmaster, if anyone'd be clev'r nuff to find Lupin, it'd be Sev'rus Snape!" Hagrid boomed out. Undoubtedly that was the first time Hagrid had paid Snape any compliment to his face as well.
"You weren't mistreated, were you, Remus?" Dumbledore asked anxiously, immediately conjuring a chair and a table full of food.
The chatter washed over the two men and Snape's scowl became more pronounced. "Fire me, Headmaster."
The room went dead silent. Snape noticed Remus froze in McGonagall's motherly embrace.
"I beg you pardon?" Dumbledore sounded, and looked, completely taken aback.
"I said fire me." Snape tossed the contract and bill of sale for Remus onto the headmaster's desk with a curled lip. "If I cannot maintain his upkeep, I can sell him. Otherwise, I'm stuck with the mangy cur until one of us pops off." The silence was so intense there wasn't even the sound of breathing. It was as if no one could breath, so shocking was the news. "All sales are final and binding. Right there, in black and white." Snape flopped into a chair, crossing his arms and looking for all the world like a pouting six year old.
Dumbledore carefully picked up the documents and read through them quickly. He reached the price of the bid and his eyes widened. "One thousand Galleons?" he whispered in shock. "But -"
"Malfoy, Lucius," Snape answered in clipped tones. "He was driving the bid up. The only way I could maintain any hope of keeping Lupin was to make it so preposterously high that even Lucius wouldn't be stupid enough to bid, even if he could afford it."
"I will, of course, reimburse you, Severus," Dumbledore informed him curtly, "but why fire you?"
Snape growled but it was Remus who answered, looking at Snape with a strained expression. "So that you can purchase me and he's rid of any responsibility regarding me." Remus turned to Snape. "Am I that offensive to you, Severus?"
Snape glared up at him from his seated position. "Yes." Remus flinched and Snape smirked.
Dumbledore frowned. "I most certainly am not going to fire you and truthfully, Hogwarts is the safest place for the both of you at the moment, so I think the situation is ideal." Snape and Remus both opened their mouths to protest so Dumbledore added hastily, "For now."
"I think," McGonagall said thoughtfully, as she took her turn of looking over the contract, "that perhaps Severus and Remus should take over a set of quarters reserved for professors with spouses. They are roomier and will allow the two of them space while still fulfilling the requirements of Remus'...restricted lifestyle."
"Lifestyle," snorted Hagrid in disgust. "It's enslavement, it is, plain and simple." Hagrid gave Remus a commiserating look.
"Excellent notion," agreed Flitwick. "We can all chip in and help get them settled."
Snape muttered something that only Remus could hear with his heightened hearing; he wished he hadn't. Taking a deep breath, Remus decided that it was better just to try and make the best of this increasingly hideous situation. "Very well," he agreed in a soft voice, chancing a glance at Snape, who merely raised an eyebrow. Remus stood up and faced the room's occupants. "Thank you, all of you, I do so much appreciate this." Everyone smiled at him and murmured things like "It was certainly no trouble" or "Wish we could have done more"; Severus only snorted in disgust again before he too stood up.
"I'll transfer my things to the new quarters, then, Headmaster," Snape said in clipped tones, "and then I'll take...Remus," his lip curled as he said Remus' name, "shopping since they didn't bother to give him anything to wear." He gestured at Remus' skimpy loincloth. "And I doubt we'll be receiving any belongings of his either. I'll not have him parading around our rooms like a rent boy."
Dumbledore again looked taken aback and then smiled ruefully. "Of course, good thinking, Severus. We were all so relieved that you'd found him we didn't think -" Again Remus heard something from Snape that no one could hear and was not repeatable in public. Dumbledore cleared his throat and for a moment Remus wondered if Dumbledore had heard the mutter as well. "Yes, well, put the bills on my account in Hogsmeade and we'll worry about the financial details later this week?"
Snape gave a brief nod and unconsciously jerked on the chain that was tied to the little collar around Remus' neck. Remus gave a grunt and a scowling glance in Snape's direction but the other man either ignored it or didn't see it. Resigned to being stuck with the prickly man whom he once agitated and was agitated by in school, Remus followed as meekly as possible.
He followed Snape into the dungeons and into the potions master's private quarters. They weren't large but appeared to be more than adequate for his needs. Snape wasn't a clutter person, it seemed. Everything was clean, organized and impersonal. Remus couldn't see anything that remotely bespoke of personal items or objects of personal value. No photos of family, no ornaments or knick-knacks, nothing that made a place a home. In fact, the only thing Remus could see that really said anything of Snape was two framed documents: his Hogwarts diploma and the certification for Potions Mastery. It was wholly depressing.
"It won't take me long. I don't have much to pack." Snape's voice was sharp.
"I can help," offered Remus. "I can pack the things in here..." His sentence trailed off as Snape waved his wand and the few belongings scattered around the room zoomed into a couple of already opened boxes.
"Taken care of." Snape disappeared into what Remus figured was the bedroom. Ten minutes later, Snape emerged carrying a small ruck sack. Another wave of his wand and the packed boxes in the living area shrunk down and flew into the bag. "Shall we?"
The two emerged from Snape's old quarters to meet an excited house elf rushing to meet them. "The Headmaster says," squeaked the elf, "that you'll be living in the old Muggle Studies professor's room!"
Snape nodded once coldly and marched on. Remus gave the elf a smile and a murmured thank you. The elf immediately vanished with the curious popping noise typical of their kind. "So Professor Marchbanks retired?" Remus asked, desperate to start a conversation that wouldn't irritate Snape further.
Remus waited for more but realized by the third stair out of the dungeons that he wasn't going to get it. "I see. They haven't gotten a replacement?"
"Yes. Professor Ezekiah Crane."
"Oh. Is he nice?"
"I have no idea and why are you asking me irritating questions?" Snape turned on Remus as he emerged into the main foyer of the castle and Remus was two stairs below him.
Remus gave a half-hearted grin, hoping it would be taken as the peace offering it was. "Any other questions I have for you would definitely irritate you."
"Don't ask any questions, then." Snape turned back around and began to walk away.
"I like conversation, Snape. I don't like being lonely." Remus hurried to catch up.
"I'll buy you a dog." Remus flinched, but knew that Snape couldn't know about Sirius' animagus form.
They continued in silence to their new rooms, where Severus ungraciously allowed Remus to help unpack. He didn't particularly want the werewolf pawing through his things but considering he and Remus were now 'partners', so to speak, it wasn't like he had a choice. The werewolf would know soon enough the objects that belonged to the potions master. It just didn't mean Snape had to like it.
Remus liked to decorate. He took the few ornaments and decorations Snape owned and moved them here and there, humming to himself in thought as he tried to decide which spot was best for each piece. It drove Snape to distraction.
"Do that later, Lupin, the shops will close soon," he finally said in exasperation.
"We need curtains," Remus said, turning to look at the bare windows.
"Well, no, but -"
"I'm more worried about you being suitable clothed and not offending to my eyes than whether or not the sun streams through filthy windows." Snape grabbed Remus' wrist and gave him a jerk toward the door. "Let's go."
Remus gave an "uff!" of surprise as he found himself dragged toward the door. "Am I going in just this?" he asked, plucking in dismay at the loincloth.
Snape looked and muttered, "Gods, no! Here." He marched into his rooms and came back with a serviceable black robe. "Put that on and don't get fleas in it."
"That joke is old, Severus, and overused."
"Yes, but I still find it amusing, fleabag, so get moving." Remus wanted to snap that he had no shoes but reasoned that, considering the size of Snape's feet, anything extra Snape had would definitely not fit Remus. Snape had smaller feet and shoes didn't magically stretch very well.
The walk to Hogsmeade was uncomfortably silent, but Remus was quickly getting used to uncomfortably silent. He and Snape both ignored the slanted, sideways looks and the mutterings of the Hogsmeade citizens as they headed for Gladrags clothing shop. A bell tinkled merrily as Snape jerked the door open and stalked through. Remus gently closed the door behind them.
Florentina Krog had been a sixth year Ravenclaw when both Remus and Snape began at Hogwarts. Well-known for her impeccable taste and vanity, it surprised no one when she quickly became the Hogsmeade Gladrags store manager and often a designer for Gladrags' new line of clothing. Beaming a smile, arms outstretched, she made a beeline straight for Remus, completely ignoring Snape's existence in her shop. As Remus recalled, Severus spent her last two years at Hogwarts ridiculing her clothing, her makeup, and her boyfriends.
"Remus Lupin! How excruciatingly wonderful it is to see you!" She enveloped him in a perfumy hug that made his senses overload. She drew back and took a look at his borrowed robe and gave a dramatic gasp of revulsion. Remus belatedly remembered that Florentina loved theatrics. "What is that ghastly thing you are wearing?" She shuddered delicately.
"Mine. Get him something serviceable, cheap and not gaudy." Snape's voice was crisp and no-nonsense.
Florentina turned a very fake surprised look to Severus. "Why, Mr. Snape, I didn't see you standing here." She gave a sniff of dislike. "May I help you with something?"
"Yes, I'm buying the damned werewolf some clothing so he doesn't parade around in this the whole damned school year." Snape whipped the robe off Remus before anyone could react, exposing the loincloth, filthy and barely concealing. Remus blushed to the roots of his hair. Florentina gasped in total, non-fake dismay.
"I most certainly will," she said tersely. "Despicable cads. The Ministry will get theirs, you just wait, Remus." She took his arm and bustled him to the back, consoling, cooing and comforting him. Remus noted she ignored Severus' warning shout of "Nothing gaudy, you theatrical cow!"
Remus submitted to Florentina's good taste where he was concerned. She handed him several serviceable robes in natural tones that somehow she knew he would approve of. One was dark beige, another a creamy white, but his favorite was the deep wine color. She handed him trousers in blacks, browns and greys, serviceable, yes, but comfortable and a bit stylish.
"Maybe something plainer, Florentina," Remus told her, handing back a pair of pinstriped trousers with pleats. She sniffed disdainfully but handed him a pair of dark khaki in the same style instead. He relented.
Shirts were white, cream, beige or grey. He refused any colored ones. "I'm a slave, remember? I'm not a fashion model." She sniffed again, this time angrily; he knew it wasn't at him or his words but his predicament.
Snape stormed in a few minutes after that. "What the devil are you doing? He can't have an entire damned wardrobe!"
Florentina turned on Snape like a mother dragon protecting her eggs. "He can if they are a gift, you contemptible, shriveled bat!"
"He's my property and I'll pay for his expenses!" roared Snape. Remus felt a headache coming on.
Florentina shoved the items at Remus and glared at Snape triumphantly. "Happy Birthday and Happy Christmas, Remus," she said with a nasty grin.
The headache was definitely there.
Snape sneered at her, his best sneer Remus knew. "As his owner, I get to decide whether he may accept gifts or not, and I say not!"
"Consider it an act of charity then! The gods know he'll never get any from you!" shot back Florentina.
Remus dumped the clothing on the floor. That was enough. "I didn't accept charity before this whole fiasco and I will not accept it now. Thank you, Florentina. The black and grey robes with the black and grey trousers with the simplest two shirts you have will do. Four pairs of black socks and two pairs of shoes, one for spring and summer and one for winter and fall." He turned around and exited the back area, collapsing in a chair in the little waiting room.
There was an awesome silence in the little shop for several minutes and then Remus heard muted mutterings so low that even he couldn't make out the words. An agreement must have been made between the two protagonists because Snape came walking out at a calmer pace, tossed a pair of grey trousers, socks, a white shirt and black robes at him.
"Get dressed. We haven't got all day."
Remus disappeared into a nearby dressing room and emerged a few minutes later decently clothed. Shoes were waiting on the chair he'd been sitting in and he put them on, reveling in the feel of shoes that actually fit well. He stood up and turned to Snape for approval. He got a terse nod and Snape exchanged an odd look with Florentina before sweeping out the door.
Florentina delayed Remus for a brief hug and a murmured, "I'm sorry, Remus. It's not your fault. I just wanted to help you through this."
"I'll be all right," he assured her. "I could have gone to someone much worse." She nodded miserably and he followed Snape out the door. He caught up with the other man a few doors down as he was opening the door to Derves and Banges. "What are we doing here?"
"Never you mind," snapped Snape and Remus heaved an inward sigh.
"Ah Mister, I mean, Professor Snape!" Filiberto Banges was a boisterous man of indeterminate old age with as much energy and mischievousness as Albus Dumbledore. He laughed at his slip up with Snape's title. "That will take some getting used to, but never fear! You worked hard for the title and you shall be given the respect of -"
"Yes, yes," Snape waved the well-meaning words away with a slight flush of pleased embarrassment. No one could have ill-will towards the well-meaning old Banges, not even crusty Severus Snape, Remus was pleased to note. "Are they ready?"
Banges nodded enthusiastically, shot Remus a curious glance and gestured them both back. "I double checked my work just this morning. I created a couple of complex potions and deliberately put in some ingredients wrong to see what would happen. Those cauldrons don't even have a blemish on their polish!"
Snape looked pleased. "Excellent! I thought that it would work, but I wasn't sure. That's why I brought it all to you."
Banges nodded his greying head knowledgably. "Yes, I have the better facilities to test such things, but you were right! You were most definitely right, my boy! I would dearly love to use your ideas...we could make a fortune, you know...but I did agree and perhaps it is for the best. If people knew they could hex and jinx their cauldrons into not being ruined by a potions incident, why cauldron makers would run out of business!" Banges laughed at the thought and even Snape cracked a small grin.
"Well, it's only for my advanced potions classes, that's why the number is limited. I agreed to supply the cauldrons, though I may give them as gifts to my more exceptional students when they graduate." Snape paused and exchanged a devious glance with Banges, who returned it. "Assuming, of course, I have any exceptional students." Snape laughed this time, joined by Banges.
Remus was amazed. He walked over to the pile of twenty cauldrons and peered into one that still had some muck in it. "So you've spelled these cauldrons to be -"
"Idiot proof," supplied Snape with undisguised eagerness. "The cauldrons needed for advanced potions after the O.W.L.S. can get quite expensive, depending on the brand. And since I'm going to expect the best, I want my students to have the best. I've studied the different types of spells that interact the worst with potions and Banges and I came up with a spell mixture that completely makes these cauldrons impervious to destruction via potions gone awry."
"Well, Professor Snape came up with most of it," Banges interjected modestly. "I only helped a little bit." Remus noted Snape snorted a bit derisively but didn't argue. "It will cost a pretty sickle though, Professor. Shall I open you an account with us for future business?" Banges' mercantile heart took over his inventiveness and soon Snape was filling out the appropriate paperwork for an account at Derves and Banges.
"The Headmaster has to reimburse me for a very large purchase I made this afternoon," Snape said as he handed the parchments back to Banges and jerking his head none too subtly at Remus, "but I'll settle my account as soon as that is accomplished."
Banges waved the comment away as if it were unimportant. "No rush, my boy. Circumstances dictate finances often enough, I understand that. And it's not like you won't be here again anyway. Your credit is good."
Snape nodded. "I'll pick up the remaining cauldrons Monday morning?" Banges nodded and handed Snape a small box filled with the shrunken cauldrons that had already been tested and cleaned. "Excellent! Thank you, Mr. Banges."
"Ah, one more thing!" Banges disappeared in the back a moment and came up carrying an elongated box. "Mr. Lupin, word spreads quickly, as I'm sure you know. Here."
Remus took the box curiously, sliding a glance at Snape, who looked at the box stonily. Remus lifted the top and stared in amazement at the contents. "I can't accept this." He put the lid back on and held it back out to Banges.
"Nonsense. It's a loan anyway. If I know Albus Dumbledore, he's already working on getting your wand back. It was my wife's wand, you know, and it's doing nothing lying in the back room gathering dust." Banges gave a tense smile of encouragement. "Send it back when you get your own and call it an apology for the disgraceful way that the Ministry of Magic has treated you."
"Mr. Banges," Remus began lamely.
"Do it, Lupin. He's a stubborn old goat." Snape's addition to Banges' goodwill took Remus by surprise.
"Ah, as opposed to a 'stubborn young goat', Professor Snape?" wheedled Banges with a grin. Remus smiled wanly in return and pocketed the box in his new robes with utmost care.
"I'll be careful with it, Mr. Banges and I will return it as soon I can," he promised.
Banges waved a negligent hand. "Never you mind. No offense, but I've little liking for werewolves in their wolf form...who does? But I understand your predicament, however. Many of you could not help becoming what you are and you certainly shouldn't be punished for it. My wife's brother was bitten and she instilled in me an appreciation of your plight where otherwise I once would certainly have agreed with the Ministry. I think a better solution can be found but since they didn't bother, we must all do our best to make the best of the situation."
Remus numbly nodded. He had two allies, it seemed, at Hogsmeade, one willing in Florentina Krog and one reluctant in Filiberto Banges. How he got them, though, Remus knew didn't matter so much as the fact that he had them.
The school year began and Remus at first had trouble adjusting himself to the idea that he was residing in Hogwarts not as a student or a returning student, but as a slave cum assistant to Potions Master Severus Snape. Potions had never been Remus' strongest subject; as a werewolf several of the ingredients common to potion making reacted strongly against him. After a few disastrous attempts at being an assistant in helping Snape prepare ingredients for classes, Remus was relegated to the role of merely observing the classes, watching for troublemaking or correcting huge mistakes before they happened.
The two settled into a routine of sorts beyond the classroom as well. Neither were early risers. Remus' nature as a werewolf even out of wolf form craved the evening hours and he often got to sleep very late. Snape didn't seem to sleep much at all until exhaustion forced him to do so. They breakfasted quietly during the weekends and Remus breakfasted alone during the weekdays.
Part of his enslavement dictated that he could not socialize public ally with anyone under legal age present. That precluded him from meals in the Great Hall but not from the classroom, which was considered work. It was deucedly inconvenient and highly annoying but Dumbledore quickly got around that restriction by organizing a late tea for the staff and other adults in the castle, giving Remus the social interaction he enjoyed.
In the afternoons, besides classes and teas, Remus worked on cleaning the labs or helping Snape get his lessons for the next few days together. He helped with the ingredients he could handle and helped grade essays and exams. He'd had no idea how time consuming Snape's position was or that potions could be as a non-student. Eventually Snape began to allow him to help with his personal research, discussing as they worked the properties of this or that ingredient and the chemical reactions that could occur. While Remus wasn't terribly good at Potions, he knew his herbs, fungi, magical stones and vapors.
The evenings were his. Snape gave them to him freely to read, visit the other professors, or to putter about with whatever hobbies Remus wished to indulge in. Once Snape was reimbursed, an arrangement was made between he and Dumbledore in which Severus' income was raised slightly and the excess was given to Remus as a small stipend to pay for his personal expenses. The robes and other clothing items that Florentina had tried to give to Remus appeared in his closet, causing a small row between him and Snape, which Snape won merely saying, "Wear them or I'll burn them in front of you." Unable to let them go to such waste, Remus acquiesced.
Dumbledore indeed managed to find Remus' wand and dutifully Remus returned Banges the wand he'd been lent with a note again expressing his heartfelt thanks. The bookshop in Hogsmeade defied the Ministry and opened Remus an account there, allowing him to purchase whatever he liked, whenever he liked as if he were a normal wizarding citizen. Madam Rosmerta at The Three Broomsticks insisted that Saturday evenings Remus eat in a private room with her, Florentina and Hagrid in which all of Remus' favorite dishes were prepared and served.
Where once people would have avoided him like the plague if they'd known he was a werewolf, they now, if not embraced him, opened up to him out sympathy, pity and scorn for the Ministry. Where once Remus would have backpedaled from sympathy and pity, he now embraced it as his salvation to feeling once again like a normal person when no one knew what he was.
The first year as Snape's property passed with the two of them marking their boundaries, getting used to each other's quirks and qualms, and settling in. They were two stubborn men, each so immersed in their own cycles and routines that it would take some work to bend around someone else. Remus spent his full moons in the Shrieking Shack as he had as a student but the difference was that instead of James, Sirius and Peter there to help him back to the school, it was Madam Pomfrey and Severus Snape, one clucking over him like a mother hen and the other glowering at any students who dared to say anything about the assistant Potions Master on their way to the infirmary. It was no secret now that Mr. Lupin was a werewolf.
The second year came and went with Remus starting to talk about Snape in his head as 'Severus' instead of 'Snape' or 'you despicable bastard'. Their conversations became more easygoing and sometimes amiable with some teasing. Sometimes if Remus didn't know better he would have sworn they were becoming friends.
There was just one problem to the whole friends notion. Remus was wanting more.
It happened rather suddenly actually. They'd both been reaching for the same ink bottle on Severus' desk in the dungeon office. Remus had been busy reading an essay on shrivel fig usage in potions and wanted to make a correction on the essay while Severus had been scribbling notes on his latest research into wolf's bane. Neither had been paying attention and just reached. They grabbed each other's hand instead.
Both had pulled back as if burned. Remus' flushed beet red, he was certain, while Severus had gone pale as Nearly Headless Nick. Remus compensated for them both by grabbing a pencil instead and scribbling on the parchment, leaving Severus the ink bottle and accompanying quill. Nothing was said and both took care not to repeat any similar exercise again.
The touch, though, had stirred something inside Remus. He began noticing things about Severus he'd never noticed before.
In his own way, Severus was kind. It was obvious that he knew nothing of exhibiting kindness and what little Remus had learned of Severus' past proved that Severus had been shown very few examples of the emotion with which to emulate, but he did try to be kind to those he cared about or had concern over. Every morning following a full moon, he was waiting for Remus' emergence or already in the Shack, helping Remus recover from his transformations. His study into wolf's bane was a crusade to find a way to make the lycanthropy more livable. He'd already found a way through potions to cure the poison from an Erumpent injection before explosion of the infected person became imminent.
Severus had a delightful sense of humor, snarky, sarcastic, and dry but very witty. If one looked below the harsh tone and the delivery manner, Severus was actually very amusing. His sense of observation and his way with words were quite clever; Remus had once pressed Severus into writing some his observations down, kind of like a memoir of observations, but Severus had sneered at the idea and Remus had dropped it. Severus too, Remus discovered, had a low opinion of his personal worth in areas other than Potions and the Dark Arts. Only in being useful did Severus feel there was a point to his existence.
What Severus thought of him, Remus didn't know. Once he'd jokingly asked if Severus still considered him the bane of his existence and received a sharp look and an indecipherable grunt in response.
Never once had Remus seen Severus give anyone an appreciative look or a sideways glance of romantical interest. Never once had Severus vanished on a secret rendezvous or even a normal evening out with a date. Remus tried to think of different ways to broach the subject of any interest in each other but each time he either chickened out or decided it wasn't worth risking the easy alliance the two of them had formed just to satisfy his rampant curiosity.
That is until during Remus' fourth year with Severus when Severus exited his bedroom with a slight smile on his face and looking a bit more spruced up than normal for a mere dinner in the Great Hall. Remus' obsession with Severus had turned into attraction and desire. Remus shied away from considering it love; this was Severus Snape, greasy git and snarky bastard extraordinaire, after all. Apprehension and admiration for Severus' changed appearance and manner warred within Remus even as he asked the almost prerequisite question.
"Going somewhere besides dinner tonight, Severus?" Remus prayed he sounded as casual as he wanted.
Severus only quirked an eyebrow and grinned to himself. "Yes, but it's still dinner. If you don't mind, if someone inquires, tell them I went to London for a private meeting." With no more words to add to that, Severus sauntered out the door, closing it firmly but gently behind him. The closing of the door worried Remus more than anything; usually Severus slammed it shut with the force a hurricane.
Remus picked at his dinner and found himself looking up at the clock every few minutes waiting on Severus' return. 'I'm jealous,' he told himself, 'of a meeting?'
'Ah but he doesn't dress up and smile for meetings,' another voice stated in his head.
'I know,' Remus agreed, 'but Severus on a date is just too much.'
'Why?' asked the voice. 'You fancy him.'
'Yes,' Remus agreed again, this time a bit more reluctantly, 'but I haven't had a sex life in over five years.'
'What are the odds he's ever had one?'
Remus gave a snort of laughter at that. 'So why am I worried?'
'Because you're jealous,' the voice reminded him, 'that he's going to enjoy himself with someone other than you.'
Remus frowned. 'We're just ... well, he owns me.'
'It is not!' Remus snapped hotly. 'Why am I having arguments in my head?'
'Because you're nutters for a snarky, bastard Potions Master who likely would be absolutely horrified that you fancy him and would hex you into the next decade if he knew.'
'Thanks,' Remus told his nemesis voice and then ruthlessly returned his attention back to his boring meal.
Severus entered their quarters promptly at ten o'clock. He said not a word but nodded smugly to Remus and went to bed. Remus stayed up a bit longer and, monumentally depressed, went to bed himself but he couldn't sleep. Was it a woman? Was it a man? How could he find out? Should he find out?
Severus never mentioned the excursion out of Hogwarts, and Remus didn't either, more from lack of knowing how to broach the subject than anything else. The Potions Master went on many more dates the following months and Remus remained completely clueless as to their nature and the person with whom Severus was spending his time.
Severus startled everyone at teatime one afternoon in the staffroom by asking Dumbledore what the restrictions were regarding overnight guests. Completely taken aback by the question, as was everyone else in the room, Dumbledore merely replied that Severus' rooms were his home. Bring 'home' whomever he deemed appropriate but make sure that his behavior was circumspect and discreet for the sake of the students. Severus had merely nodded and resumed drinking his tea, his eyes faraway.
The next day when Severus did not show up for tea (he was serving an afternoon detention with a rather clumsy Ravenclaw student), Remus found himself bombarded with questions regarding Severus' inquiry the previous afternoon. Unable to answer the questions, Remus' only response could be "I honestly don't know."
The following evening was Saturday and as Remus prepared for his weekly dinner at The Three Broomsticks, Severus sauntered into his chambers to chat. "Remus, is there anyway you can delay your return this evening?"
"W-what?" Remus stammered, pausing in the act of tying up his shoes.
"I'm going to have company this evening," seemed to be the only explanation Severus was going to offer.
"I suppose I could stay with Hagrid or -" Remus began but Severus waved him silent.
"Not like that," he amended. "I mean, just stay out a bit longer than you normally do."
Remus frowned, not liking the sound of this. "Um, sure, I suppose so."
"Excellent. Thank you." And with that Severus left and had not returned by the time Remus too departed their shared rooms.
He lingered with Hagrid, Florentina, and Rosmerta longer than normal and then joined Hagrid for a cup of tea in his hut before finally returning home. Fearful of what he might stumble into, but not having a choice, Remus hesitantly broke the wards of their chambers and entered. The remains of a two person dinner sat on the small oak dining table, complete with what had been chilled wine and candles. The fire had died in the living area fireplace, leaving crackling coals as the only light in the room.
A slight ruffling noise from Severus' room alerted Remus to the fact that Severus' bedchamber was occupied and he quickly and quietly crept to his own door, reaching for the knob just as Severus' door opened. An unfamiliar but handsome face peered out at him and then smiled in a manner that Remus could only describe as predatory.
The man stepped out and closed the door behind him. "Ah, you must be Remus," the man said in a deceptively pleasant tone. Underlying it though was a hint of derision.
"Yes," Remus answered, hand still on his own doorknob. "Hello."
"Severus said you might be returning late." The man glanced at Severus' shut door, ignoring Remus' polite greeting, and then back at Remus, looking him up and down contemptuously. "I thought it rather daring of him to allow you out on your own like that, but he told me it was 'routine'. Charming, really, the way he trusts you."
Remus just stared at the man mutely.
"I must say, you're not as rangy as the others of your kind I've seen. Severus takes good care of you, I see." The man smirked. "Commendable but then Severus is a very commendable man."
Remus felt obliged to speak honestly in Severus' defense, despite his growing dislike of the man who obviously was sharing Severus' bed from the looks of the man's mostly unclothed appearance. "Yes, he is very generous and well-intentioned."
The man only continued to grin at him, expression turning slightly hostile in it's manner. "Yes, well, he may be given to indulging you, but don't expect me to, werewolf. Know your place and keep to it in my presence and we'll get along just fine." He flicked a hand in a shooing motion at Remus. "Now run along to bed. Morning is going to come early."
Fighting strongly against his desire to say something entirely unsuitable, Remus inwardly raged as he did as he was bid. He'd gotten comfortable in the freedoms that the residents of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts allowed him in rebellion against the Ministry. He'd never been beyond the two places since he'd come into Severus' keeping so he didn't know what the world was like for werewolves beyond it, though he got glimpses from visitors with werewolf servants who visited Hogsmeade.
He had a feeling he was going to get a rapid education in the outside world with this interloper into he and Severus' comfortable and safe world. He clenched his jaw; he hated being treated like a five year old.
"Hilton said he met you last night?" The question stopped Remus as he lifted his fork full of scrambled eggs to his mouth. He glanced up to see Severus, clad loosely in a bathrobe and pajama pants coming toward him. Severus collapsed into the chair opposite and unceremoniously helped himself to some of Remus' tea, making a face at the sweetness. Severus, Remus knew, preferred his tea unsweetened.
"Yes." Remus didn't feel up to further elaboration because he feared he'd blurt out his unwanted and doubtlessly unwelcome opinion. "Though I didn't catch his last name." In fact, he'd gotten no name at all, as if this Hilton felt unobliged to allow Remus to know anything about him. Technically he didn't, but still Remus felt it would have at least showed some semblance of courteousness.
"Haxby." Severus supplied the information nonchalantly. Another minute passed in tense silence. "He said you were rude."
Remus' head bounced up in shock. "What?" he all but shouted. "I answered yes or no to his inquiries and went to bed as I was ordered!" He ground out the last four words between clenched teeth, outraged.
Severus observed him closely and then shrugged. "I told him that was impossible. You didn't have a rude bone in your body. You'd undoubtedly been tired and therefore seemed a bit curt." Severus swiped a piece of toast from the plate and contemplated it a moment before adding, "Don't let it happen again." With that pronouncement he stood up, grabbed another piece of toast and went back into his bedroom, closing the door firmly and authoritatively behind him.
Remus slumped in his chair, unable to believe what had just happened. The foreboding of ill tidings grew in the following moments and Remus couldn't help but shiver at the thought that things were about to get much worse.
Hilton Haxby was a nightmare of contradictions. When Severus was around, watching them, interacting with them or even within earshot, Haxby was charming, polite and sometimes generous. As soon as Severus was nowhere in the vicinity, Remus felt the world shift unsubtly under his feet. He was ordered around, berated and snapped at. Once Haxby even slapped him when Remus, unable to stand anymore, stood up to the contemptuous demands. Severus had come in just as Remus was getting ready to retaliate with his wand. In that horrific moment, Remus realized it was just what Haxby wanted. Severus confiscated Remus' wand, ranting fit to be tied, and all his privileges were revoked, including the monetary ones.
Remus became a prisoner and a slave in everyway now.
He had one ally, or rather allies, and those were the house elves. Thankfully Haxby only visited on the weekends and Severus mellowed somewhat during the weekdays in his restrictions of Remus. The house elves proved invaluable in taking notes to Dumbledore, Rosmerta, Florentina, Hagrid, McGonagall and anyone else who was willing to help him. The weekends were pure hell for Remus; he couldn't sneak a pencil into his room without Haxby making loud verbal note of it, thus bringing it to Severus' attention.
Severus seemed completely taken by Hilton Haxby. Remus had to admit that Haxby was caring, admiring, open and generous when it came to the Potions Master. In fact, Remus had to grudgingly admit that under Haxby's care Severus Snape bloomed. His features had relaxed and his temper was less, well, temperamental. He dressed with more care and once before a date in London with Haxby Remus had caught Severus preening in the bathroom mirror. He hummed and smiled, laughed and joked, and generally acted like a normal, happy person. While Remus was happy for Severus with Haxby, his own life with the other man in the picture was complete shit. He couldn't even take refuge with Dumbledore or Hagrid during the weekends because Haxby insisted on having Remus around.
Severus denied Haxby nothing and both Haxby and Remus knew it. Something was going to have to change and soon or Remus was going to go starkers. It most certainly changed and in a very unexpected fashion, though later Remus thought he should have seen something like this coming, considering the other lies Haxby told to keep Remus demeaned.
Remus had watched Severus walk Haxby out their chambers one Sunday evening per the usual routine. Haxby returned to London where he lived and Remus and Severus' life would then take on some normalcy for five days and nights. Relaxed for the first time since Friday evening and Haxby's arrival at Hogwarts, Remus got his book on ancient bestiaries out and settled himself comfortably on the settee by the fire. He was halfway through a paragraph discussing the possible origins of the chimera when the door banged open with such force that Remus thought it very likely had been opened magically.
"You disgusting, perverted, sick, twisted, demented, deceitful MONSTER!" Remus sat up and stared at Severus in complete horror and consternation.
"What?" he asked, almost fearful of hearing the answer.
"I've had it with you and your constant torment of my lover!" Severus roared, pointing his wand at him. "I don't know what your problem is, but I have had it!" Remus could only blink in total dismay, unable to form any words that would make any difference as a defense. Severus wouldn't believe him anyway. "Is that how you get your kicks, you demented sneak? Stalking him, terrorizing him and now coming on to him? Isn't it obvious to you that he's terrified of you and still you persist?"
Remus could only stare dumbfounded at Severus. He knew they weren't seeing the same person in Haxby but never once had Haxby shown any fear of Remus. Loathing, yes; fear, never. "I -" Remus tried to begin, but Severus cut him off.
"No more, do you hear me? NO MORE!" Severus slammed the door closed with as much force as he'd slammed it open. "I've been generous with you, even friendly to you. I thought we were becoming friends. Companionable, I should say in the least, yes?" Remus nodded but Severus ignored him as he continued. "I thought you'd be happy for me. YOU would be happy for ME!" he continued to roar. "I am, Severus -" Remus tried, but again Severus cut him off.
"But you continually pester and torment the man when I'm not around and you know you can't be caught." Severus saw Remus' shake of the head and rounded on him irately. "I caught you ready to attack him with your wand, you idiot!" he shouted angrily, flinging an accusing finger at the other man. "You deny it?"
"He provoked me," Remus said quickly.
Severus only snorted in disbelief. "Oh yes, how could I forget the 'provocation'? He asked you if you were pleased with our success with the Wolf's Bane potion he and I had been working on together. Something I was doing for YOU!"
Remus blinked. They were working together as well? "I assure you, Severus, that -"
"SHUT UP!" Remus closed his mouth quickly. He wasn't going to win this battle and he obviously couldn't win the war unless Haxby slipped up on his own. Severus began to pace, muttering mostly to himself but Remus knew he intended for him to hear it as well. "I didn't want to do this, but you forced me to this course of action. Circumstances and the law prohibit anything else I might try to do. I never thought you'd be so insensitive...that was more Black or Potter's way. You never seemed to be so cruel or heartless. I dismissed his reports at first as just misinterpretation or miscommunication, but then your dislike of him became more and more apparent. Your hostility becoming more obvious. I don't like to think that this is the end of our friendship but if you force me to choose him or you, well -" Severus stopped and turned to Remus, who was staring at him in wide-eyed fascination. "I'm choosing him."
Remus swallowed. This did not sound good. "Severus, please, I don't know what he's said or what you think you've seen, but you've got it all wrong. I'm the one who -"
"He said you'd play the innocent, turn it all around. I told him once confronted you'd tell me the truth, werewolf or no." Severus seemed disappointed. "I was proven wrong. Do you know how hard it is for me to trust people, Lupin?"
Remus flinched; he was back to being 'Lupin'. NOT a good sign.
"You know my history, you know my past. How could you do this to me?" Severus' voice was almost pleading but when Remus looked up in surprise the expression was cold, flinty and almost as hateful as it had been years before. "You are confined to these chambers. Period. You will interact with no one but myself and Hilton when he's here. I would prefer you not emerge from your bedroom while he's here but he's absolutely terrified of what you might be doing unobserved. And since I'm stuck with you due to the damned purchasing agreement, I can't get rid of you and thus negate this whole exercise. If this terrorization of Hilton continues in any way...if I hear one more complaint from him regarding your behavior..." Severus took a shuddering breath. "I shall be forced to show you what I learned when I was a willing disciple of the Dark Lord, is that understood?"
Remus said nothing. He couldn't formulate the words. The crushing disappointment in Severus' blindness to the reality was more than Remus could bear.
"I said do you under-"
"Yes, I understand perfectly that while that idiot is in these rooms, I'm to be present and still as a fucking statue, except when told to move at your or his whim. I understand that I'm to be mistrusted when I've given you absolutely no reason whatsoever to mistrust me nor given a chance to tell my side of this hideous pile of shit you currently call our life. I understand that the one person who I hoped would understand MY predicament is just as big a prick and a prat as I believed him to be when we were schoolboys. I understand that maybe I would have been better off with a shorter, more miserable lifespan with Lucius Malfoy than being mistrusted and detested by a man I've come to admire. May I go to my room now and crawl about in the muck like a good little slave or is there something else that the master needs done?" Remus' tone was clipped, hard, and cold, colder than Severus' had been.
Severus looked completely taken aback at Remus' speech and could only managed a shake of the head. Remus threw his book into the flames of the fireplace, stalked to his room, wrenched open the door, and stepped in. He turned to face a gaping Severus Snape and threw in one final parting shot. "I hope to hell you find out what kind of man you let fuck you every weekend before he does something to you that will cause you the abject misery you undoubtedly deserve. I wouldn't wish that piece of refuse on Lord Voldemort." Remus gave his bedroom door a satisfying slam and fell against it, stifling his sobs of misery.
It was then that he acknowledged that he was hopelessly in love with Severus Snape and would probably never be made happy by it.
If he'd thought he lived in hell before, it was nothing compared to the months following Remus' complete cut-off from the world. What Severus told everyone else, Remus didn't know. He did care; the first couple of weeks Severus returned from staff meetings or Hogsmeade he was absolutely livid. Some perverse part of Remus wanted to know what kind of torture Severus had set himself up for when he denied everyone Remus' company and vice versa.
Hilton Haxby, however, played his part flawlessly. He maintained the polite exterior but had found his means of cruelly taunting Remus blocked by Severus, who wouldn't leave the two of them alone even for a moment. Haxby began to pay more attention to Severus physically in Remus' presence instead; something that could have been avoided previously by Remus simply vanishing. As Remus tried to ignore Haxby's pawing of Severus on the couch opposite one evening, Remus ruminated that it was almost as if Haxby wanted Remus to be forced to sit through his attentions to Severus.
That thought drew Remus up short. He tossed an almost thoughtful look at the two men opposite him, not really seeing that Haxby had his hand down Severus' trousers and Severus' open, glassy-eyed look of ecstasy. It had taken a bit for Severus to teach himself to ignore Remus' presence during these interludes; even longer for Remus to do so. Usually a book worked until the noises of their lovemaking got too loud.
Lovemaking. Did Haxby know that Remus was in love with Severus? Or perhaps Haxby merely got off on having someone else present as he had sex with Severus, or any other partner for that matter? What was the motive?
Remus forced himself to look back to his book and to ignore the fact that Severus had just slid off the couch and was now fondling Haxby through his trousers. A moment later, Remus' peripheral vision caught sight of Severus' head bobbing up and down. Distracted a moment, he looked back up and his gaze caught Haxby's. Haxby's eyes glinted eerily, his face holding an expression of pleasure and something else that Remus didn't want to identify. Then those glinting eyes closed and his head fell back as he enjoyed the ministrations of Severus' mouth.
Remus tore his gaze away from the back of Severus' head where it had drifted and he stared blindly at the words on the page of his book. The sounds of Haxby's impending release grew more disturbing and Remus tried everything he could to shut them out. The two of them had never gone this far before in his presence. Severus had always managed to get them to the bedroom before this stage.
Haxby climaxed with a shout and Remus cringed to hear Severus laugh triumphantly. There were several long minutes before they moved off to the bedroom. The door clicked behind them and Remus sagged in relief. He'd survived another weekend. Tomorrow afternoon Haxby would leave for London again and there would be peace for a few days between him and Severus.
Relieved of his duties of being present at all times, Remus escaped to his own bedroom, which he'd brilliantly charmed silent well-before Severus confiscated his wand to block the noise of their loud lovemaking. Remus, as he had many weekends before, had to admit he was jealous of Haxby. He wanted to be the one that Severus devoted such slavish attention to. He wanted to be the man that made Severus smile and laugh and be so carefree with. He wanted to be the one that buried himself in Severus' body, gasping his name and finding pleasurable release. Remus was man enough to admit that he was jealous.
It was the rest of Haxby that had Remus completely dumbfounded. What propelled the man to act the way he did? Remus had a feeling it was more than just simple prejudice. Was the man just a pervert? Had Remus actually read the man wrong and his cruelties were a form of self-defense against his fear of a werewolf? Was it simply miscommunication? Well, not simple miscommunication, considering the extremes it had taken. Or was there more to Haxby that Remus just couldn't fathom? He drifted off to sleep still pondering his questions Severus' lover. The door creaking woke him and he slanted his eyes open slightly. Considering recent events, Remus trusted nothing. Alerted to the fact that someone was in his bedroom, Remus scanned the darkness. The door clicked closed and even the tiny bit of light from the rest of rooms filtered away. A slight rustling sound alerted Remus that someone was by his bed just seconds before he was pounced on. Whoever his attacker was, and Remus knew from his scent who it was, was good.
"Get off!" he growled, bucking hard.
"Now now, we wouldn't want to wake Severus up, would we?" chortled Haxby. "This would definitely count as a compromising position."
"And how are you going to explain being in my rooms?" countered Remus, mustering his werewolf strength for a good shove. To his disbelief, pain shot up his arms when Haxby grabbed them to hold him down.
"Why, I met you in the hallway on my way to the loo and you drug me in here, of course. He'll believe me, you know." Even in the darkness Remus could see Haxby's smile.
"So what are you going to do?" Remus tried to shove Haxby off again, but the pain in his arms increased with Haxby's grip.
"Why, enjoy you, of course!" Haxby answered Remus as if it were obvious. "You'll enjoy it, trust me. I've not had a complaint yet and you must be desperate for it."
"I said get off!" Remus shoved despite the pain and Haxby rolled off him, laughing.
"Rather convenient of you to put a silencing charm on your bedroom." Remus could hear the laughter in Haxby's voice. Remus wondered how Haxby knew.
"Ah but you see, I only put a one-way silencing charm on my rooms. I didn't give a shit what you two hear, only what I hear." Remus was thankful he had been so careless with his charms. Unless Severus was out cold, there was no way he could miss hearing this conversation. Neither Remus nor Haxby were bothering to keep their voices down.
"You're a liar, Remus Lupin," chuckled Haxby. "I have it on good authority that you do nothing halfway. I'm about to find out just how good that authority is too."
Remus fumbled for his light and it flicked on, harsh and glaring. It took him half a second to realize why his arms had hurt in Haxby's grip. On every finger were silver bands, glinting evilly in the light. Silver bracelets adorned his wrists and ankles. A harness with silver studs crossed Haxby's expansive chest. Haxby was nude otherwise and on his cock gleamed another silver ring. Remus felt sick of a sudden, his head whirling with the enormity of what Haxby intended to do. The silver would negate Remus' werewolf senses the longer his skin was touched by it.
Haxby seemed to sense Remus' thoughts because he lunged for him and pulled him back down on the bed, rolling on top of him and pinning him down. "Silver is such a beautiful metal. So shiny and powerful, isn't it?" he purred. "I did a bit of research in it's effects on werewolves. I wanted everything to be just right."
"Just right for my rape, you mean?" Remus struggled but the silver bit into his skin; he could feel the metal's normally latent magical powers drugging his system. He felt himself weaken despite his resolve.
"Now now, you cannot rape the willing and you will be willing when I'm done," Haxby breathed right before mashing his lips against Remus'. Remus' wrists were banged against the bedposts, held there by Haxby's silver-ringed grip. Remus tried to struggle but his senses were reeling from the poison seeping into his system. Normally he wasn't this affected by silver, but then normally he wasn't exposed to this much silver either. "You must be desperate for it," murmured Haxby as he broke for air. Remus tossed his head forward to bang their heads together but Haxby easily dodged the clumsy movement. "That wasn't nice," he commented, using his legs to thrust Remus' apart.
Haxby was so intent on beginning to disrobe Remus and Remus so intent on fighting that neither heard the door open. They were aware of their audience only when Severus' silky dangerous voice stated coldly, "Am I interrupting anything?"
Remus had just enough presence of mind to gasp, "Severus, please -" before passing out, the silver taint in his system working its evil magic.
"The pr'fess'r said to leave." The gruff voice belonged to only one person. Hagrid. Remus wondered vaguely where he was that Hagrid was. Surely his transformation hadn't been that bad, but it sure felt like it. He ached everywhere and the urge to vomit was strong. He hadn't felt this bad since he was a child.
Besides, if it was a transformation why would Hagrid be ordering someone away?
There was a loud protest of words that Remus couldn't quite make out, followed by a loud squawk of indignation. The slam of a heavy door followed the squawk and movement jarred Remus' senses and made his stomach churn. "Stop," he croaked and then he rolled to his side and vomited.
There was a curse and an exclamation from two someones, but Remus didn't have the energy to care who made them. He continued to vomit, feeling as if his body was purging something from it. As he gagged and retched, cool hands brushed his hair from his face and rubbed his back soothingly.
"That sick fuck, I'll kill him!" Remus recognized the voice that rang in his left ear. He heard footsteps as he leaned back onto the stretcher he now understood he was in.
"Severus, no!" That was Minerva McGonagall, sounding quite frantic. There was a heated discussion, which Remus couldn't hear because his consciousness was floating away again. He did hear one thing though, something that heartened him.
"I never should have believed that Remus would be the way that idiot said he was."
When Remus drifted back into the world of the living again, he was tucked neatly in a bed in the infirmary. It was daylight but he couldn't tell the time. He blinked a couple of times to make the world stop spinning and then turned his head. Albus Dumbledore was sitting quietly in a comfy sofa chair, reading a book, and looking for all the world as if he were merely waiting on his tea to arrive. "Albus," Remus said in a croaky voice. He winced. His throat felt on fire.
"Ah, Remus, you're awake. I was sure you would be coming to sometime today." Albus lowered his book and smiled warmly at him.
"I feel like hell," Remus confessed, grimacing again at the burning pain in his throat as he talked.
"Silver will do that to you, you know," agreed Albus, handing him a glass of some murky blue liquid. "That will help, drink it. I understand it's quite revolting," he added as Remus gagged as he swallowed. Remus finished the glass and handed it back weakly.
"I do feel better," he acknowledged. "Does all medicine take like dung?"
"Normally," Albus chuckled. He sobered and eyed Remus warily a moment. "Do you remember what happened, dear boy?"
Remus thought and then shrugged. He couldn't remember much, truthfully, and confessed so. "I would wager a bad transformation? But that doesn't explain silver poisoning."
"Ah, no, though it would have been preferable for all involved, I'm certain." Albus looked so somber Remus was certain the news was truly terrible.
A horrible thought occurred to Remus. "Oh, Gods, I didn't attack someone did I? I didn't bite or ... or... or kill someone, did I?"
Albus held up a hand to calm Remus as he struggled to sit up. "No, no, nothing like that, though I wager you'll want to when I finish. Severus has suggested it might be ample punishment for both him and Hilton Haxby."
"Hilton Hax-" The name brought the memories flooding back and Remus felt himself going red with rage. "He covered himself in silver to negate my senses so he could rape me."
"Yes, Severus walked in just in time apparently," soothed Albus, patting Remus shoulder in a fatherly fashion. "Pulled the man off you and punched him square in the jaw. Dropped him like a stone. He then summoned me and we began to carry you to the infirmary. Haxby caught us all in the main foyer and Hagrid -"
"I remember hearing that. Hagrid tossed him out?" Remus supplied. Albus nodded. "I threw up."
"Yes, it seems you got a good portion of the poison out of your system that way. Messy but largely adequate. Mr. Filch won't thank you the mess, though." Albus' watery blue eyes twinkled at him.
"I'll apologize and thank him later." Remus sagged into his blankets and pillows, exhaustion creeping up on him again.
"You do that," agreed Albus. "In the meantime, I suggest some sleep and then some food, followed by groveling by someone not used to groveling. If I were you I would make him do the complete speech. Allow him the complete guilt trip he deserves for his treatment of you." Remus didn't need to ask whom Albus was speaking of. It could only be Severus.
"I'll give it some thought," he answered before drifting off to sleep once more.
He awoke once more in daylight but he knew it was sometime after his first wake up. Maybe even by a day. Severus' voice muttering washed over him for a few minutes before he started concentrating on what Severus was saying.
"I was such an idiot. I thought it odd that he'd say such things about you, but he seemed so sincere and you acted so stiff and formal around us. It just seemed to confirm everything Hilton was saying. Every lie he told, every twisted detail that easily could have been debunked by you but I never gave you the chance. I just remembered all the things your friends did to me and how you did nothing to stop them. I thought that maybe you were showing your true colors finally and that...and that...ah dammit. Now it sounds like I'm accusing him."
"Well, I agree with all of it, including the parts that you're an idiot and that it sounds like you're accusing me." Remus' voice sounded croaky again but it didn't hurt this time to speak.
"Remus!" Severus' face swam into view, coal black eyes searching his face and his body for signs of pain or discomfort. "Are you all right? He didn't actually...did he? That prick! I should have Killing Cursed his arse as soon as I opened that door!" Severus continued his tirade but Remus heard none of it. The outrage and fury on Severus sharp features were for his benefit. Remus closed his eyes and sunk into peaceful slumber once more, content.
"You sleep too much."
"Well, I was poisoned you know."
"I have apologized profusely for seven weeks regarding the incident. Must it continue?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it must."
"I heard that."
Severus glowered at Remus from his position in Remus' bedroom doorway. "How long must my groveling and sniveling continue, your royal majesty?"
"Until I am properly compensated for my mistreatment and misery, I should think?" Remus answered with a cozy smile, surveying the breakfast on a tray that Severus had just placed in front of him. "Those were Albus Dumbledore's exact words, or pretty close anyway."
Severus snorted disdainfully. It was the weekend and the one time Remus allowed himself to totally guilt Severus. For three weeks Remus had recovered from the silver poisoning, taking sometime to regain his motor control and stop falling unconscious when some minute trace of silver passed through his brain's system. On the plus side of the incident, Severus had shown Remus the copious notes he'd forced himself to take regarding silver poisoning of a werewolf. Normally a werewolf was shot in the head or the heart with a silver bullet and thus ended any contact of werewolf and silver. No werewolf in his or her right mind allowed himself or herself to purposefully be contaminated. The incident was a rare opportunity for science, and Severus' need to find a way to make up the incident to Remus, to record the exact effects of silver on a werewolf.
Remus could attest that the silver poisoning itself was extremely horrible but the perks were nice. He glanced at his tray. "I don't have any juice?"
"You ordered coffee this morning, your grace," Severus ground out between clenched teeth.
Remus flashed a grin. "I know, but this is fun." Severus said something impolite beneath his breath. "I heard that. My senses are coming back, you know."
"I wish your sense would," Severus snapped, stalking toward the bed and plopping down on the end. Remus moved his feet over to allow Severus room to perch.
"My sense of what?" baited Remus, munching down on a piece of toast, lightly buttered and with marmalade.
"Sense of fair play. I've apologized, played slave to your every whim while you indisposed, exposed the cretin for the fraud he is, and even publicly informed the Minister of Magic on the streets of Diagon Alley that he's a lumbering, prejudicial jackass who should be banished from public service." Severus tossed his arms in the air in exasperation. "What the hell else more can I do?"
Remus pondered Severus' frustrated expression for a moment before murmuring quietly, "How about love me as much as you loved Hilton Haxby?" Remus sighed when he saw Severus' astounded expression turn on him. "Apparently I ask for too much." He shoved the tray away, not hungry anymore.
"What did you say?" Severus' voice sounded strangled.
"Never mind." Remus moved to toss the blankets aside and get up, but Severus hands slammed the blankets back.
"What. Did. You. Say?" ground out Severus, leaning forward until they were practically touching nose to nose.
Remus lost his temper. "Love me like you did that stupid idiot prat!" he shouted. He opened his mouth to shout again but Severus' lips clamped over his, cutting off the verbal tirade that was ready to spill out.
"How about if I love you more?" Severus murmured against his mouth before swooping in for another kiss.
Remus blinked and sank into the embrace. "Okay," he answered. "But I want a better blow job than you gave him."
Severus gave a lazy blink and his snarky half-smile. "Okay."