Disclaimer: Characters herein blong to JK Rowling and repsective affiliates. They are used here without permission and no money is being made off of this peice of fiction.
Title: Time Heals All Wounds
Author:Lady Feylene
Rating:NC-17
Warning: Graphic depictions of male/male sexual situations. Dark themes. OotP spoilers.
Archiving: Master and Wolf FQF Archive. Elsewhere by request only.
Summary: Challenge 55) Snape finally gets what he has always wanted: Remus Lupin. It doesn't take him long to realize, however, that Lupin will never get over the loss of Sirius. When Snape finds out there's a way to bring Sirius back, he has a decision to make.
Feedback: lady_feylene@yahoo.com

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Remus Lupin looked like shit. That was not to say his physical appearance was lacking, not in the least. In fact he looked rather fetching in his blue flannel nightclothes. No, rather his expression was one of complete and utter exhaustion and despair. It had been that way for nearly two months now, and Severus Snape was sick and tired of it. "Yes, Lupin?" he asked, glancing up as the werewolf sat across from him. It was late, and by all rights Severus should have been long gone from Grimmauld Place.

"I can't sleep," Lupin said with a small shrug. "I heard movement down here, I came to see what it was."

"It is me," Severus snapped. "And I am quite busy."

"I'm surprised you're still here." Lupin peered across the table at the papers spread before the potions master. "What are you doing?"

"My syllabus." Severus frowned. "If you need something to help you sleep."

"No." Lupin shook his head. "No, thank you. I don't like taking artificial sleeping aids. I never feel quite right in the morning."

"You need to sleep." Otherwise the man would be completely useless. And in truth, Severus was concerned for his well-being. He had had little contact with him since Black's death, and he preferred it that way. Lupin was not an idiot, and had to know that Severus had looked upon him in *that* manner for some time now. He would be a blind fool not to. But always Black had been there, crawling back to Lupin's heart and bed like a wounded dog.

"I will. Eventually." Lupin gave a tired sigh. "I just. I miss sleeping with someone next to me."

"Mmm." Severus could say little in response. What did Lupin want him to say, really? It took all of his control not to make snide remarks in the werewolf's presence. But he knew what it was to lose a lover, and held his tongue. He had no desire to remind Lupin of his pain, even if his lost love was Black.

"I thought I'd grown accustomed to it," Lupin went on, "but now. I find I toss and turn and just don't feel quite right."

"It is a difficult thing," Severus said, as delicately as possible. He really didn't want to sit there and listen to Lupin bitch and moan about how much he missed Black. Black. It was always Black. Even in death he formed a barrier between Severus and Lupin.

"I thought I'd be over it by now."

"Ah." Why was Lupin bringing this to *him*? Did the man really think he cared? In a way, he did. He felt some form of pity for Lupin, and for his loss. But he didn't care much that Black was actually dead. In his mind, the man got what he deserved. Had he listened and behaved in a way more conducive to his position he would not be dead. It was only Lupin's actual grief that caused him any worry.

"Not. not *it*, just the sleeping arrangements," Lupin went on, with a nervous chuckle. "I. I didn't think I'd ever be sleeping by myself again."

"Life is full of surprises," Severus said, and gritted his teeth at the fallen expression on the werewolf's face. Surprises for Lupin were never good, were they? "Lupin."

"I know." Lupin looked down at his hands, a lock of gray and tawny hair falling to obscure his eyes.

"I suggest you take something. You need to sleep." Severus spoke as softly as he could manage.

"No. They never sit well with me. I'm. surprised that you seem concerned for my well being." Surprised? Surely Severus presented a rather callous face to the world, but he did not think himself so cold as to be completely unmoved by Lupin's situation. Perhaps there was deeper meaning in that statement?

"I would like you to be able to sleep, Lupin," Severus said, choosing his words carefully. "I understand what it feels to suffer a loss such as yours, and you need to begin the healing process."

"I do," Lupin agreed. "But I can't do it alone." His voice was pleading, and he looked up with such pain in his eyes that Severus knew he wouldn't be able to deny the man much of anything.

"What do you need of me?"

"Sleep with me?"

Severus blinked. Had he truly heard the werewolf right? "Excuse me?"

"I don't. I don't necessarily mean sexually," Lupin said. "Though. if you'd like. I just can't sleep by myself. And. I like to think we're somewhat friends, Severus."

"You want me to sleep with you?" Non-sexually, unless he wished otherwise. The potions master was taken aback, and not certain what to think. Certainly the term 'friend' could be applied to their relationship, if only loosely.

"You asked what you could do to help, Severus," Lupin said, softly. "This is what you can do."

It was a difficult position to be in. On the one hand, he had been harboring unidentifiable feelings for Lupin since that horrific year they'd worked together. He had found himself thinking about the werewolf in intimate ways, and wondering things such as the way his hair would feel, or the line of his naked back, or his name pulled from his lips in a moment of desire. Yes, there were feelings involved.

On the other hand, Lupin's heart belonged to Black. Dead or no, Sirius Black held the werewolf in the palm of his hand. Regardless of the fact that Lupin seemed willing to share his body and his bed, he would never give any more of himself.

It was a difficult choice, really. For once in his life, Severus would have preferred something that did *not* belong to someone else. Something that had not been tainted by Black, something that Severus could claim as his. But. would he be allowed another chance with Lupin? He was used to laying his hands on used goods, why should this be any different? He never got what he truly wanted, only a watered down half-version of his desires. So be it.

"Fine." Severus stood, gathering his papers together. He would do this, as much for himself as for Lupin.

"Thank you," Lupin said, rising and leading the way through the empty house to his bedroom. The bedroom he had shared with Black.

Reminders of the dead man were everywhere. In pictures on the mantle, in a set of robes draped casually over a rocking chair, in the old comics stacked on the desk. Lupin had changed nothing since his lover's death.

The room had quite a morbid feel to it, one that put Severus off. He felt it in his bones, and in his teeth. Black was still there. His spirit, if one believed in those things, was very much haunting this room.

"Is everything all right?" Lupin's eyes were frightened, as though he feared to offend.

"This room needs to be cleaned," Severus said, brusquely.

"Oh. I. I haven't had the heart to." Lupin dropped his eyes to the floor, and turned away to the bed. "What did you want?"

"For you to not conduct yourself as a two-knut whore." Severus brushed aside the chilled feelings the room gave him and sat down on the bed. Had Lupin even changed the sheets since the last night he shared with Black?

"I'm sorry." Lupin gave a soft chuckle, and folded his hands in his lap. "I."

"Yes, yes." Severus waved the other man's protestations away and began removing his shoes. He was in Lupin's bedroom, on the man's bed. He *would* attempt to enjoy this. "Here." He set his shoes aside and placed a hand on Lupin's chin, turning his face so they could look in one another's eyes.

It had been quite some time since Severus had kissed anyone. His life did not lend itself to romantic pursuits, and he found himself a bit out of practice.

Lupin did not have that problem. Severus was slightly surprised to find sure hands pulling at the fastenings of his robes, tangling in his hair, pulling him down onto the bed. He could do little but give in to the whirlwind that was Lupin.

Soon, he found himself naked and on his back in bed. Lupin was straddling him, worshipping him with his mouth. The werewolf's tongue was insistent and skilled, teasing his nipples, tracing his abdomen, trailing along his straining erection.

How many times had that tongue brought Black to orgasm? How many times had Lupin licked Black's spunk from his lips, heightened Black to planes of exquisite pleasure?

Black was *not* what Severus wanted to be thinking of while he was in bed. Especially in bed with Lupin. Thankfully that skilled tongue was putting coherent thoughts far from his mind.

"You wish to be dominant?" Severus asked, raising an eyebrow. He'd always assumed Black to take that role in the relationship.

"Oh. No." Lupin shook his head. "I'm sorry, are you getting close?"

"Close enough."

"I'll stop." Lupin removed himself from Severus' person, laying himself beside him.

Severus was tempted to make another comment. Lupin was acting in every manner a prostitute. It was disconcerting, to say the least. The way the werewolf divested himself of his clothing in such a clinical fashion, the way he lay like something dead instead of a man awaiting pleasure...

"In the bedside table," Lupin said, pillowing his chin on his arms. "There should still be some left."

"I see." Severus pulled open the drawer. Good lord. There was more then just lubrication there. Black was quite the experimentalist. He shoved aside boxes of condoms - he didn't use the things himself - handcuffs, and phallic-shaped objects he didn't have names for, until his hand closed around a small tube. It was nearly empty, but he supposed it would do. "There's hardly any left," he warned Lupin.

"The condoms in the red box are lubricated," Lupin replied.

"I wasn't planning on using one."

"I'd prefer you did." The tone of the werewolf's voice left very little room for argument. Though quiet, it was steely and firm. Fine. A condom. Severus found the red box, and pulled one of the hateful little packets out. He set it aside, retrieving the lubrication and forcing the last bit of the slick substance onto his fingers. He worked it into Lupin, discouraged by the man's lack of response.

The condom. He had worn one once, in his school days when some simpering chit of a girl had lured him into her bed. It had been a messy, embarrassing, troubling experience. He'd stuck with men ever since.

It was colored. It was bright blue, and slick to the touch. He unrolled the thing onto himself with a grimace, and positioned himself over Lupin.

It was like making love to a life-sized doll. Lupin was still and unmoving beneath him, as responsive as a corpse. Severus forced himself to a climax, grunting as he did so. He rolled off immediately, stripping the soggy condom from his flaccid member and tossing it aside.

Lupin turned to him immediately, clutching at him and burying his head in Severus' chest. The potions master could do little other then put his arms around the shaking man, draw the covers over them both and attempt to comfort him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A week passed. Each night Lupin brought Severus to his bed - his and Black's bed - and each night it was the same. Cold, distant, unfeeling. Severus wondered why he kept coming back. But he knew.

It wasn't the sex that brought him. The sex was horrible. It was a meeting of bodies, nothing more. It was afterwards, when Lupin clung to him and wept. That sense of need, the fact that it was *him* that Lupin sought out, gave him a perverse sense of pleasure.

But it seemed as though Lupin's chaotic grief was finally starting to fade. As Severus rolled away, flinging aside another hated condom, Lupin simply rolled over and sighed.

"I'm leaving for a few days tomorrow," the werewolf said.

"Oh?" Severus lay back in bed, glancing at Lupin out of the corner of his eye.

"Albus is sending me to France for a quick mission. I won't be gone long."

"I see." Severus wondered why Lupin felt the need to tell him this. He would have found out, one way or another.

"You don't seem to care." Lupin's eyes fixed on him, almost accusingly.

"Not particularly, no." Severus saw no reason to lie.

"You bastard!" Lupin's voice was shocked and outraged, and he jerked away from Severus as though burnt.

"Excuse me?" What had brought *this* on.

"I'm leaving! You're not going to see me! Don't you care?"

"No, because I *will* see you when you return!" Severus had never seen this side of Lupin. The man had always been meek and composed, a touch apathetic of late.

"Will you?" Lupin snapped, eyes blazing. "Or will you have grown tired of me while I'm away? Will you find someone else to warm your bed? I'm just something to amuse you before Albus sends you scurrying off! You're just using me."

"You are mad," Severus said, more confused then angry.

"Mad? How dare you!" Lupin struck out, his hand aimed to connect squarely with Severus's jaw. The potions master blocked him, grabbing his wrists and pinning him down against the bed.

"You will stop this *now,* Lupin." Severus glared down at the werewolf, eyes cold and hard. "You are mad with grief!"

"I am not!" Lupin insisted, but already the tears were starting. They welled up and overflowed with almost agonizing slowness, and then he was sobbing as usual. Uncomfortable as it made Severus, it was something familiar.

"Calm yourself," he said, softly.

"I'm sorry." Lupin sobbed. "Severus, I'm so sorry."

"Never mind." Severus released his grip on the werewolf and drew him close, rubbing his back and making soothing noises in his throat. Lupin *needed* to get past this.

"We can't go on like this Severus." Lupin said, looking up at the potions master. "We can't. It's. it's not healthy."

"Lupin, I will be honest with you. *You* are not healthy." It was the simple truth. The man was so wrapped up in his guilt that it was addling his wits. "You must move on."

"I. I know." Lupin gave a strange, high laugh. "But a part of me refuses to. There's this part of me that's convinced he's coming back."

"He isn't." Still stuck in denial. That needed to pass, and it needed to pass quickly. "He is gone Lupin. He is dead. He is not coming back."

"Could you. could you do me a favor?"

"What is it?"

"While I'm away. could you. clean up in here?"

Severus didn't answer for a few moments. He understood the weight of what Lupin was asking him. Clean up. Wipe away every trace of Black that still remained. In a way, it would help. It would give Lupin that small push he needed to get over Black. But it could very well cause more resentment towards him. Lupin was unstable enough.

"I will do some cleaning, yes," Severus agreed. He had told Lupin he would help. And there was a sense of sick glee in the thought of gathering up Black's possessions, stuffing them into a box, and dumping them somewhere out of sight.

"Thank you."

"Now, please, Lupin. Try and sleep." Severus sighed, hoping that tonight's dramatics were at an end. Apparently they were. The potions master found himself looking forward to a few days of peace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cleaning. Severus surveyed the room with a critical eye. He wished for nothing more then to be able to sweep it all into a box and perhaps stomp on it. But Lupin's mental health was a great concern to him.

This needed to be done carefully. It would do no good for Lupin to step into his bedroom and see only blank and empty spaces. The items that were removed need be replaced. Substitutes to help ease the pain, and ease Lupin into his recovery.

The pictures were the first to go. Anything portraying the two of them in an intimate relationship were removed. Severus found himself scowling down at entwined hands and smiling faces, desire to smash the glass and tear the photographs rising up in him. But they went into the box. Lupin's other pictures were arranged strategically, covering all traces of the removed frames.

Black's robes. Severus folded them neatly and added them to the box. He lay his coat down over the chair instead. If new reminders were needed, they would be reminders of him. Lupin would transition in all senses, and familiarity and consistency would be welcomed. A stack of potions journals where Black's ridiculous comics had been, classical music instead of those garish old wizarding bands that the man had favored. The changes were small, but certainly noticeable.

The bedding should be changed as well. Severus was *not* going to sleep another night between sheets that Black had soiled. Stripping the bed with his wand was simple, really, and he would purchase new bedding that afternoon.

The rest he would leave. He had no desire to give Lupin a heart attack. This was enough for now. He would dress the bed later, after he stored away the things he had removed.

It was actually a rather grim task. Despite the fact that Severus had never liked Black, there was still a sense of distaste in it all. These were things that Black had shared with Lupin. These were their memories, their *life* together. It was almost as though the things in his hands were dead, themselves.

Lupin would move on. Whatever was left of Black was now left in his mind. Perhaps it was a cruel manner of cure, but it was the only one Severus was left with. Lupin was becoming unstable and irrational, and would eventually be a threat to himself and the Order. It was far better this way.

Into a closet went the box, and all its contents. Into a closet and locked away until Lupin could handle being exposed to them again - if that day ever came. Either way, they were gone.

No one had seemed to question his presence. He had little social contact with the other members of the Order, nor did he want any. He imagined Lupin had told them, if only in allusions. If they did not know of the relationship then they were surely blind.

"What are you doing here?"

Severus turned, one eyebrow raised. Oh, lord, that damn woman. Looking as jarring as she always did, hair brilliant orange and stuck out at all angles from her round face.

"I had business to take care of," he said briskly. "I hardly see how it is of any matter to you."

"Remus isn't here."

"I am well aware of that fact. If you'll excuse me, I now have business *elsewhere*."

"What the hell do you want with him?" Her voice was shrill, and it grated on Severus' ears.

"I hardly see how that is any of your concern." He as not going to allow himself to be drawn into some foolish argument with the girl.

"Remus is my friend. I'm worried about him. He doesn't need *you* coming in here and taking advantage of him!"

"Taking advantage of him?" Severus didn't bother to stifle the sharp laugh that escaped his lips at that. "He dragged me into his bed!"

"He did not." She sounded so adamant, so righteous! As though the thought that Lupin could possibly sleep with him willingly was out of the question.

"He most certainly did. Now I am through discussing my personal life with you. Good day." He was finished with her. But he knew now what they thought of it; he had used Lupin's current state to get him into bed.

Severus was a cynical man, yes, but he would not stoop so low as to use Black's death to his own ends. He had taken advantage of Lupin's offer, not of Lupin himself. But they were welcome to think whatever they wanted. He didn't care much what they thought of him, only that they keep it to themselves.

But it would be easier when Lupin returned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was strange, the effect that mere things had over a person. With the inclusion of his personal items in the room, it became *his*. More of his personality was in the room he had been sharing with Lupin then his own sterile flat.

Lupin was returning today, or so Severus had been told. And the boy was coming as well, later. He would remain in the room, unless he was needed elsewhere.

"Severus? I'm." The door opened and Lupin trailed off as he entered the room. Severus glanced up from his book, expression mild. Now was the test. How would Lupin react to the changes he'd made? "Home." Lupin concluded.

"And how was your trip?" Severus asked, setting aside his book.

"As well as could be expected," Lupin said, glancing nervously around the room. He seemed small, suddenly, and drawn in on himself.

"Good." Severus watched him, as Lupin moved about the room as though in a trance.

"New bedding?"

"The old needed to be washed," Severus explained. "Besides, it was a bit out of fashion."

"These are very nice," Lupin said as he ran a hand over the spread. His voice sounded far away and quiet, as though he was speaking in a dream. "Soft.."

"That is a down comforter," Severus said. "I'm certain you've noticed the draft this room seems to have, especially at night."

"What, no satin sheets?" Lupin asked vaguely, twitching back the covers.

"I prefer good linen. Satin sheets are highly impractical, Lupin."

"I suppose you're right. You. cleaned."

"You asked me to." He watched Lupin as he would watch a frightened animal. The man was quite volatile of late, and his constantly moving gaze gave him a wild eyed look. Taking in everything that was different.

"I did." Lupin nodded, speaking slowly. "I'm going to bathe, if you don't mind?" v "By all means." Severus nodded, and returned to his chair and his book. That had gone far better then he'd expected. Obviously Lupin was distressed by the changes, but he would get over them. He did not become angry or irrational. This was progress. Or it was in Severus' mind at any rate.

It was going to be slow work, but it would be done. The boy wasn't' going to help much, however. The boy would only serve to bring back memories. Merlin forbid the brat attempt to *talk* to Lupin.

They would need to be kept away from one another. Perhaps Lupin was tired, and would want nothing more then to go to bed. Or perhaps Severus could get him into bed, and keep him there. The werewolf rarely allowed himself to be pleasured, perhaps it was time for that to change.

"You didn't bother with the bathroom."

Lupin was done with his bath, apparently. "Pardon?"

"The bathroom, Severus. You didn't. you didn't 'clean' the bathroom."

Severus didn't miss the inflection put on the word 'clean'. "No, I didn't." He'd hardly used the lavatory. "I wasn't aware I needed to."

"You did." Lupin walked stiffly into the bedroom, form wrapped tightly in a terrycloth bathrobe.

"I will get to it tomorrow." There was an awkwardness between them now. Severus had known that would happen. Lupin resented him for doing what was necessary.

"How have you been?" The werewolf's voice was hollow and empty, speaking more out of some sense of duty then any true desire.

"Fine."

"Is it true that Harry's coming?"

"I wouldn't know." He wasn't going to lie outright to the man, but he would come quite close.

"I'd like to see him, obviously. I haven't heard from him at all. Do you think he's all right?"

"Lupin.I am the last person to ask about the boy's mental health," Severus said, joining his lover on the bed.

"I miss him."

"Potter?"

"Yes." Lupin nodded, and buried his face in his hands. "I just hope he's all right."

"Why wouldn't he be?"

Lupin looked up, his expression blank and slightly irritated. Perhaps it had not been the wisest choice of words, but Severus didn't care much what the boy's emotional state.

"Lupin, if one considers all the boy has been through in his rather short life, I hardly see how this will affect him more deeply."

"Sirius was all he had!" Lupin exclaimed, drawing away. "Sirius was his *family,* Severus!"

"Black was *not* all he had!" *That* was a ridiculous argument. "He has the damned Weasleys, and he has you! Though you would more likely give him reason to fling himself from the top of the astronomy tower, then to get by whatever grief he is feeling!"

"How dare you." It was not spoken as a question, or even an accusation. Lupin had to see his own madness, he *had* to.

"I do not want to fight with you, Lupin."

"That's a change!" Lupin rose, crossing the room to stare out the window. "You hate me."

"If I hate you, why am I sleeping with you?"

"To get back at him." Lupin shrugged. "To have the last laugh, so to speak. He's dead, and you have me and there's nothing he can do. You're a sick man Severus, I wouldn't put much past you."

"Lupin." Severus wasn't quite certain how to address this. He needed to remain calm and rational. "You approached me, remember? You were the one who couldn't sleep alone. You were the one who begged me to share your bed."

"Because I knew you wouldn't say no."

"Your actions were not premeditated." Severus forced his voice to remain calm. He had little doubt now that the werewolf was losing what grip he had left on his sanity. "Or at least they did not *appear* premeditated. You were upset, you were restless, and you came upon me. You're now attempting to justify your actions."

"Just leave me alone."

"No." The potions master stood, crossing the room and placing his hands on Lupin's shoulders. "It is late. Come to bed."

"*That* is not my bed."

"No." Severus shook his head, and forced the werewolf to turn. "That is *our* bed."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lupin was different. He lay on the bed, propped up on his elbow watching as Severus undressed for sleep. He'd been silent since the Potions Master had dragged him away from the window.

"Yes?"

"Nothing." Lupin shook his head, still watching. Severus climbed into bed, naked, and was rather surprised as the werewolf curled up next to him. "I'm. I'm sorry. For the way I've been acting."

"Never mind." He did not want to enter into a heartfelt conversation with Lupin at the moment. He wanted to sleep, or perhaps make love.

"I missed you."

"I'm certain you did." Whatever Lupin had 'missed', it was doubtful he was referring to Severus' charming company.

"What's wrong?" As though he did not know. Severus was tempted to believe the man was developing some sort of bizarre personality disorder.

"I am tired, Lupin."

"How tired?" A hand, snaking it's way over Severus' stomach with sensual slowness.

"Minimally tired." If Lupin felt like actually participating in the night's events, he was not going to deny him.

"Oh?" Lupin shifted, stretching his body out over Severus's. "That's not *too* tired, then."

"No." The word was swallowed as the werewolf's lips closed over his, silencing him quite effectively. It was better, this time. Lupin kissed him and fondled him and moaned his encouragement. He lay on his back, spreading his legs wantonly as Severus fumbled for the tube of lubrication. He slicked himself, moving into position.

"Severus?"

"What?" He had no desire to delay his pleasure much longer.

"You're forgetting something."

Damn. Why did the man insist on protection? It wasn't as if either one of them were diseased. They were monogamous, Lupin's only other ties being to a dead man. Perhaps that was it. Lupin was afraid to taint his body with any flesh other then Black's. Sick, but plausible given the man's mental state.

"I abhor those, Lupin."

"Please?"

Severus rolled his eyes, but gave in. He grabbed one, tearing it open with his teeth. Even the action of putting the damn thing on disgusted him.

"Here." Lupin sat up, taking the prophylactic from his fingers. He rolled it on, eyes hooded and darkened with lust as he looked up at Severus. "There." he pressed a quick kiss to the potions master's lips, before lying back again and arching his hips.

Lupin orgasmed, writhing beneath Severus in a manner that the other man had never seen before. It was disconcerting, compared to the lifelessness the werewolf generally displayed. But they lay together afterwards, breathing heavily and intertwined, and it actually felt as though they had made love.

"Goodnight, Severus," Lupin said quietly, kissing him again.

"Goodnight." Severus put out the light and drew the down cover over them, wondering what exactly had brought about this sudden change.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Keeping Lupin away from the boy was a feat more suited to a god then a man, and Severus soon gave up. And Severus had 'research' he needed to do. The Dark Lord had entrusted him with a task of minor importance, but he had put it aside for too long.

Tea, and an old journal in ancient Greek would keep him company until Lupin dragged himself away from the Potter brat.

Necromancy. Severus didn't understand the obsession. It was a myth, not a magic, but the Dark Lord was convinced the road to immortality lay through necromancy. And it seemed Kytisoros had quite a bit to say on the subject.

The potions master had always made a study of the Dark Arts, and necromancy was as dark as the arts came. He had ventured into it in his youth, and had found nothing but dead ends and madmen. He doubted now would be any different.

The journalist seemed coherent enough, Severus concluded as he read. He dealt mainly with theory rather then application. It was nothing new, simply the same suppositions as every other mad wizard who'd wished to raise the dead.

Halfway through, it descended into mad ravings. Supposedly the man had resurrected animals, or some other such nonsense. It became hard to follow and random, and Severus found a headache growing behind his eyes.

Lupin had seemed slightly more at ease that morning. He had been polite and conversational, if not verbose. It was a pleasant change.

"Severus?"

"Lupin." Putting down his book, the Potions Master glanced up.

"Harry. Harry's going out on some errands."

"I'm surprised you're not going with him." How had conversation with the boy affected Lupin?

"I didn't feel much like going out. He's. he's doing all right." Lupin sat on the bed, looking nervous and distracted.

"I see." What response was Lupin looking for?

"What are you reading?"

"This? Nothing. A bit of research." That as *not* a book he wanted Lupin pawing through. Merlin knew what ideas he'd get.

"It was good seeing him again."

"You will see him at dinner."

"I know." Lupin sighed. "I'm going to take a bath."

"All right." Perhaps it would make him feel a bit better. Severus turned his attention back to the ridiculous journal, scanning for anything new or interesting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ten minutes later, Severus wanted to get very, very drunk.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Severus?"

"Lupin." The journal was snapped close. The werewolf raised an eyebrow, his bathrobe draped carelessly about his damp form.

"Is everything all right? You jumped."

"Fine. I was simply startled." It was a struggle to keep his voice calm. Good lord, the journal could not go back to the Dark Lord. Not if anything in it was true.

"You looked it." Lupin smiled, slightly. It was the first smile Severus had seen on his lips for a long time. Severus nodded, his hands shaking slightly as he tucked the small journal into his pocket.

Kytisoros had not brought animals back to life. He had brought *animagi* back to life. Or so the journal claimed. The last chapter, if the sections could be called, detailed the successful revival of what could only be an animagus.

Severus read and reread the account. The spell was ridiculously complex, but he could find no flaws in it. It could be done.

This information would be brought to Dumbledore. It could not fall into the Dark Lord's hands. How simple would it be to research animagi? Or to simply. ask..

Black. Black had been an animagus. Black could be brought back.

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The next day passed much the same, and the next, and the next. Lupin seemed to bounce from one extreme to the other, as a man possessed of some mental illness that controlled his moods. At one moment he would be warm and amiable, the next withdrawn and cold. There was no judging the swings, no rhyme or reason to his emotions. Some nights he was an eager partner, and others he lay unmoving and unresponsive.

It was the boy, Severus was certain of it. Lupin had been coming along rather well, until the boy came. Merlin knew what they talked about, Severus certainly didn't want to.

Black. It all came down to Black. The name had been running round Severus' mind, offering up possibilities that didn't bear thinking about. He needed to make a decision, to bring his findings somewhere. Either to Albus, or to Lupin.

He would give it more time. Perhaps Lupin's mental state would smooth out on it's own. Perhaps even the boy would be of some help, *he* seemed stable enough. Severus would simply wait and see.

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"Severus. you seem distant tonight." Odd, that Lupin would call him distant. The man was normally a corpse in bed.

"I apologize." He had kept his discovery to himself for days. He had the power to give Lupin what he wanted. He had the ability to end his madness, his grief, and his pain. But in doing so, he would lose Lupin himself.

And so emotions came back into play. He was not comfortable with emotions, and preferred to push them away rather then deal with them. But it could no longer be denied that emotions were heavily involved when it came to Remus Lupin.

Love was not a word that Severus quite felt he understood. It was tossed around with such ease and lack of care that it had lost all meaning. He could not honestly say that he *loved* Lupin, but he felt for him.

A part of him wanted Lupin to be happy. Another part wanted Lupin to be with him. And the last part just didn't care.

Lupin was miserable. It was obvious that Black had left his mark. With the man dead, Lupin would never move on. He would never be more then the shadow he had become. He lived now only because he had a duty to the Order. What would become of him when the war ended? Suicide?

Either way, the two would be together again. In this life or the next, they would be reunited. Severus could make the choice. It was in his hands how Lupin found his 'true love' once more. But what to do?

It would be true to his supposed nature to go on as they had. To allow Lupin to wallow in his agony, and eventually waste away. And then he had another dead lover on his conscience, and an empty bed.

But to bring Black back. he would still lose Lupin, but the man would be alive. And happy. And Black would owe him more then he could afford to pay. It was the right thing to do.

"We need to talk."

"Those are never fortuitous words." Lupin propped himself up, his torso angled over Severus'.

"I highly doubt you could predict what I wish to discuss with you."

"You don't give me much credit, then. You're tired of my attitude. You find me morose and difficult to handle. You're sick of dealing with me, of fighting with me, or attempting to calm me down when I throw a fit. You can't take my mood swings. You've done all you feel you can, and it hasn't worked, and you simply can't do it anymore. I'm a nice guy, but it just isn't working."

"I can bring Black back from the dead."

Silence. It seemed to stretch on for eternity. Lupin's eyes widened, almost comically. He rolled over, lying on his back and staring up at the ceiling. He looked very much as though he had just been stunned.

"Oh."

"It is a difficult procedure, but I do not believe it to be dangerous." Severus went on. Obviously it was something difficult for Lupin to take in. "It has been done successfully, long ago."

"And you. you can do it?"

"Yes." He nodded, glancing over at Lupin. His expression had not changed.

"Would. would he be.?"

"He would be the same as before, or so my research indicates."

Lupin said nothing for a good while. Severus could see his mind working, see the emotions pass behind his eyes.

"Why would you do this?" Lupin asked, hic voice pained and his face drawn.

"Because it is in my power." Severus shrugged.

"Why not. why not bring back someone you cared for?" It was as though Lupin was searching him, searching for some clue to his decision. It was almost as though the werewolf felt he was being toyed with, lied to.

"Because I cannot. The only reason it is possible to bring Black back is because he was an animagus." He was not going to lie, to attempt to force Lupin to feel for him. It was well within his powers to spin some inane story of his love for Lupin, and his desire for him to be happy. But he would not do that, because it was Lupin and Lupin did not deserve that.

"And you would do this? For me?"

"Why do you assume it would be for you?" Severus snapped. Self-centered werewolf. He did not like being so easily read, having his motives dragged out into the naked night. It would not do to show such an obvious sign of love or some other bastardized emotion right before he gave the man away.

"Who else?" Lupin shrugged. "You hated him. You know my. my feelings for him."

"My reasons do not matter."

"What about us?" Lupin asked. "You know if you brought him back, I'd leave you for him."

"We don't exactly have something to sing to the heavens about, Lupin." Would that it were different, but Black had killed any chance between them as sure as he had killed himself with his arrogance.

"But we have something."

"Make up your mind, Lupin. I do not wish to argue morality and motivation with you." He wasn't supposed to argue, or ask questions! He was supposed to be speechless with joy and incoherent with thanks.

Another long silence stretched between them. Lupin seemed to slip into some sort of a trance, eyes glazed and staring at the ceiling. He lay unmoving, and Severus feared that his mind had finally let go.

"Dead is dead," Lupin said, finally. His voice was low, and the words seemed to be pulled from his throat with quiet agony.

"Pardon?"

"Dead is dead, Severus. Sirius is gone. You said so yourself. He's gone. He died. He left this world, and that is that."

"You don't want me to do this, then?" The potions master could hardly believe what Lupin was saying. The man truly was mad.

"No." His voice wavered, and he looked distressed as he shook his head. He was clearly second-guessing himself even as he spoke. "No. Thank you, for offering, but it wouldn't be right."

"Then you have no right to go on as you have!" If he was going to fling his offer in his face, then he was *not* going to mope about as he had been! Severus offered him what he wanted, what would save his pathetic excuse for a life, and he denied it! The depths of his insanity had been greatly misjudged it seemed.

"I'll heal, in time," Lupin said. "That sort of thing. it's not natural and it's not right. No matter how much I *want* him back, I don't have the right to make that decision. And I'd rather we never spoke of this again, please."

"Of course." Severus agreed, watching Lupin warily. He was speaking and acting more rationally then he had in weeks. Perhaps he had been snapped out of his spiral of grief and self-pity, and was returning to the waking world.

Lupin's mind was something Severus could not begin to fathom. He had always seen the other man as having a strength, even if it had weakened of late. But his thought process, his mental workings. they boggled Severus' mind. Perhaps it was his disease, that made him so unreadable. In any student, Severus would have been able to mentally dissect and predict, to write up a textbook classification, but Lupin.

"Come here." The werewolf pulled Severus on top of him, kissing him softly and drawing him close. Foreplay was slow and leisurely, and silent. Something had changed between them, Severus could feel it in the air.

Lupin had refused. Given the choice, he had allowed Black to remain dead. Out of some sense of righteousness and morality. That was the difference between them, he supposed. *He* would not have refused, had the offer been extended to him.

"I'm ready," Lupin whispered, spreading his legs eagerly. Severus retrieved the lube and set it aside, before reaching for one of those damn condoms.

"No." Lupin shook his head, and pushed it aside. "Don't bother."

"Are you certain, Lupin?" The man was rather insistent they be used. Regardless of how Severus attempted to avoid them. It was, in Severus' mind, some form of clinging to Black.

"I'm certain. And please. call me Remus?"

"Remus." Severus repeated the name vaguely, nodding. Perhaps Lupin wasn't quite free with his emotions, either. As the potions master entered his lover, bare skin touching bare skin for the first time, he realized that Lupin - Remus - was telling him something.

Remus had made more than one choice in leaving Black dead. He had not chosen what was morally right, or what was fated. He had chosen for himself. He had made his choice based on what he *truly* wanted, despite what his conscious mind believed.

Perhaps the werewolf wasn't so hard to read after all, with a bit of work. Or perhaps it was Severus who was believing what *he* wanted to believe.

It didn't matter. Black was gone, Lupin accepted it, and they were making love as lovers did. In time, Lupin would grow to feel for him and care for him. Certainly never to the extent that he had loved Black, but Severus would accept whatever he was offered.

But for now he would enjoy the feel of Remus' body beneath him, the glint of lust in Remus's eyes, and the heady sound of his own name torn from the werewolf's lips.

Sometimes he got what he truly wanted after all.