|COUNTESS ZERO (countesszero) wrote in lupin_snape,|
@ 2010-09-09 14:34:00
|Entry tags:||fic: nc17, prompt: fantasy fest 2010|
Fantasy Fest 2010: A New Day by countesszero
Title: A New Day Has Come
Word count: ~10.000
Warnings: Implied rape and blood, maybe light angst.
Prompt: # 26. While working as a double agent Severus endures physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Voldemort. One night he returns broken and battered.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe is in its entirety the property of J.K. Rowling. I am making no profit by this story.
Dear Fantasy Fest Mods, Dear Lore!
Apologies for my belated submission! Thank you for allowing me to post despite my lack of time management skills.
Dear Azure Rosa,
Thank you very much for your lightning speed beta-work! You're the best!
I apologise for the unfortunate lack of sexual activities but promise herewith to include lots of it into the sequel I am already outlining!
It was Remus who found him, the day after the full moon.
Once the gray daylight had begun trickling through the basement windows and had touched the dusty ground his claws withdrew and his snout turned into a human jaw. He spent another half an hour just lying there before he downed a phial of Potion, then dressed himself with shaking fingers.
The door of the room unlocked after he said the password: "Der Vogel ist tot." (Yes, that had been Sirius neat, mature idea.) Since it was impossible in wolf form to speak, this was a good way to keep everyone safe.
As he was making his way up from the basement, the heavy stench of blood, human fear, pain and burnt flesh hit him like a baseball bat. He almost stumbled over a pile of black, torn robes and white, naked limbs. At first he didn't even comprehend, could not believe what this ... disgusting mess was. It took him several valuable moments in fact to process that these bloodied limbs belonged to a man, to one man, and this man was still alive. Barely hanging onto life only with the thinnest thread, probably only by sheer stubbornness. Blood, some of it blackened and thick, was pooling on the carpet. A bizarrely deformed hand was twisted into a claw, both legs were broken and greyish splinters were peeking out of torn tissue. It looked more as if an angry giant had gotten hold of the man and had crushed him in his fist.
Remus sank to his knees beside the man, and he knew Please don't let it be him, please don't let it be him please please please ---
He knew him.
He knew this face, although it was cut and burnt, destroyed beyond recognition and despite the gaping wound that once used to be a mouth and ...
There is blood everywhere ...
This was Severus.
Remus stumbled away and threw up.
He called for Sirius and Kreacher, although he knew that Kreacher would probably not show up, then ran into the the parlour. He knew he had to get himself together and be calm. What am I going to do? He should be in control, remember what he had been teaching. Right, I have to call Poppy - and - and Dumbledore. He grabbed Floo powder with trembling hands, losing half of it to the rug and threw the remaining handful into the fire. His cheeks felt cold and numb, and he was suddenly acutely aware that he was sweating and trembling at the same time like a fucking idiot. Even in the next room he could smell the nauseating scent of his own vomit, the heavy, dark blood and the ... other things.
"Remus?" Poppy had not yet donned her cap yet but her grey hair was braided. "What is the matter? Are you in pain?"
"Not me ... " he stammered. "Severus ... he's hurt."
Briefly he thought how odd his own voice sounded, high and squeaky with panic. He cleared his throat self consciously. Poppy immediately said in a way that conveyed that she knew how to handle this. "I am getting my bag and my emergency potion kit, then I am coming through. Go back to Severus and if he's conscious talk to him. Get Sirius and Kreacher. Call Dumbledore." Then she was gone and in that moment he could hear Sirius coming down the stairs.
"Remus, what the fuck?"
Of course he was naked under his atrocious dressing gown. Remus said nothing but went back to the entrance where Severus was lying. He didn't dare touch him out of fear he might hurt him more. The stench of feces and urine filled the hallway.
Sirius threw up his arm in a gesture that opened his dressing gown and left nothing to imagination; he banished Remus' sick, but then fell oddly silent. His eyes were wide and a little glassy, and he was very pale.
"Fuck," he said again, very softly.
Then, thank God, Poppy arrived. She was all business and efficiency. She knelt down beside Severus, opened her bag and began unshrinking various phials and small bottles. She poured some over him causing a strange black smoke rise up.
Remus raised his wand.
"NO!" Poppy said, "Don't--!"
Remus let his wand sink again. He couldn't breathe, he was cold and hot again and he could hear his own heart beating.
"No magic on him," she said, "the curse will feed off the magic and make it worse."
He knew that. He had taught that stuff a year ago to a class of Six Years. He should fucking know that. What was he doing, forgetting all the most essential, basic things?
Poppy was holding her hand over the man, then carefully began turning him around in a way that left no doubt that she knew exactly what she was doing. Although Severus seemed barely conscious she spoke to him in a quiet, reassuring tone.
"Remus, get Dumbledore." she ordered.
Sirius asked, "Shall I levitate him?"
"We cannot levitate him in this state!"
Sirius went into the parlour and transfigured an arm chair into a stretcher, then brought it outside.
"Can we levitate the stretcher?"
Poppy shook her head. "I don't dare risk it. Get Dumbledore." she said again. Remus marvelled about how detached she was, as if this wasn't Severus in front of her, bleeding onto the carpet of Grimmauld place. He went back into the parlour like an automated doll and Flooed Dumbledore who came through before Remus had finished his sentence.
Later after Dumbledore and Poppy had applied Healing salve on the worst of his bruises, careful to not even aim their wands at him, Remus could see the backside and the filthy words they had carved into his skin.
"Looks like his spying days are over," said Sirius, clicking his tongue. Charred, black letters stretched across the nape of Severus' white neck: "Traitor".
When Remus looked over his shoulder at Sirius to admonish him for his careless tone, he saw that Sirius' face was green and his eyes still wide with shock.
Remus looked back at the damage the Death Eaters had wrought on Severus. Thick dried blood covered the bony thighs and then ... other fluids. He could smell them.
Nauseated, Remus breathed through his mouth as much as possible.
They gave Severus one of the big rooms on the second floor close to the stairs, two doors from Remus room. It was not really a proper guest room, but a former library turned study. The other guest rooms were higher up and harder to reach so they decided to put a bed inside the unused study.
Remus and Sirius carried Severus up on that stretcher. It felt odd to do this kind of thing without magic.
Kreacher was sent back and forth with potions and salves and trays of food. He too was silent, keeping his usual insults and complaints to himself. Sensing the dark curses on Severus, he refused to go near him. Even elf magic could be syphoned and used to feed the curse.
Severus was kept sedated, dosed with potions and covered in bandages. Since they couldn't use magic directly on him, they had to treat him with Healing salves. The salves and preparations did help in alleviating the pain, but did not speed up the process.
Poppy spent the night, carefully tending to Severus, feeding him minuscule and timed doses of Skele-Gro and applying salves, washing him gently. Since levitation and cleaning charms were out of question Remus helped her as much as he could.
Severus' fingernails had been ripped out, his ribs were broken, his knee caps shattered and they had pulled his teeth manually, one by one. There were curse marks all over his body, and the stench of darkest magic radiated from him.
Remus found himself incapable of leaving Severus' side. Instead he took to assisting Poppy in washing and caring for Severus.
The day after Severus had been found Dumbledore and Poppy argued in the parlour; even through Dumbledore's hastily cast silencing spell Remus still could hear their voices, if muffled. The Dark Creature in him was strong enough to break through this kind of magic so he could hear her accusations, her furious voice and his attempts to pacify her.
He wanted to hide like a child, to cover his ears like when he heard his parents fight. Yet something inside him marvelled at Poppy's anger, that she was brave enough to fight with Dumbledore. He would have never dared to argue with him.
At long last Dumbledore came out, pale and looking older than his 140 years.
"Remus," he called softly. Remus, out of old habit rose to his feet. "No need for that, my boy." Dumbledore waved his hand and shuffled towards Severus' room.
"You really should get some rest ... Aren't you usually resting after the full moon?"
Remus shook his head. "Could I ...?" He began before trailing off. "I'd like to assist ... in any way I can."
Dumbledore stopped and turned around, peering at him with curious blue eyes. Frowning he approached Remus, all the while Remus maintained eye contact although the old man's piercing gaze was uncomfortable.
After a while Dumbledore nodded as if he had received an answer to an unspoken question. "Yes ... that may be a good idea. Why don't you come with me? I could use some help."
The whole room was drenched in the smell of potions and underneath Remus could smell, despite Poppy's careful washing, the warm, iron scent of blood.
They could soak bandages in Healing salves with their wands but had to apply them manually. After two days still no magic was allowed on Severus directly. Remus could feel the dark, poisonous curse vibrating off Severus pale body, shrouding and suffocating him.
"Thank Merlin he is not awake yet," said Dumbledore. He carefully lifted Severus' leg and laid a hand on the black and blue shin. Remus was glad that the bones had been mended at least, and new skin covered the fracture. When Dumbledore withdrew his hand, the skin looked better, smoother.
"It's not only the magic itself," Dumbledore explained. "The curse recognises the wand and acts out. It doesn't react as strongly to wandless magic."
Remus could not help but admire Dumbledore precise efficient healing. When he was done he sank into a chair and wiped his forehead. Remus poured a glass of water from a carafe and brought it to him who took it gratefully. Watery eyes blinked at him, devoid of the usual benevolence. When he was finished he put the glass on the night stand beside Severus bed.
"He can't go back." he said finally, after looking at Severus disfigured features, the hideously scarred skin, black and brown where it had been burned, contemplating the cuts and welts like a complex riddle.
Remus only nodded.
Dumbledore laid his hand on Severus cheek. Under his aged, wrinkly hand Severus looked almost like a child, his face softened by the artificial, magical sleep he was in. Remus wondered if he was dreaming, and hoped he wasn't.
"We will learn the details at some other time, but for now all we know for sure is that Severus' cover is blown."
The day Dumbledore had hired him he had hinted at Severus' activities, his role, and at that time Remus had not asked questions, but had merely accepted the vague information Dumbledore had given him at face value. Better not to know too much. He had never liked the vulnerable position that too intimate knowledge had put him in. Even in school he had hated it when James, Sirius and Peter had told him about their pranks prior to committing them. Too many responsibilities, and it was not as if Remus in his position could have afforded to have any.
"I take it Severus' famous sunny disposition has not changed, has it?" he had joked, and Dumbledore had only frowned.
"His duties, his responsibilities are quite extensive." was all Dumbledore had to say then.
Severus woke up during the third night, screaming.
Remus who had fallen asleep in the armchair beside his bed, jumped out of his seat and hit his elbow at the nightstand, which toppled over and crashed onto the floor. His wand rolled under the bed.
It was a long, hoarse, wordless scream, full of terror but also of anguish, not like any human sound Remus had ever heard before in his life. The door to the room crashed open and the light of the corridor lit the room for a moment before it shut again with a deafening crash.
Remus could hear books flying out of the shelves, and a vase bursting.
"Severus ..." he said. "Severus. It's going to be alright." he said awkwardly, although that obviously was a blatant lie. He had no idea how something of this magnitude would ever going to be alright again. Then he became acutely aware that he didn't know anything about this kind of situation full stop.
Objects lifted themselves from surfaces and began sailing aimlessly through the room, and a strange whirring noise filled his ears. Remus knew that touching might be a mistake but he didn't know what else to do. He had to do something and throwing caution into the wind he leaned forward and embraced Severus. He was not really surprised when Severus started thrashing, swearing, not even by the bout of spontaneous magic that felt like receiving an electric shock. Despite the pain he didn't let go of Severus, but continued holding him and murmuring to him.
"Shh," he said, thinking of how Poppy had comforted him, when he had been a child. "Hush." Remus was anxious that Severus might hurt himself, break the newly mended bones.
To his astonishment he did slowly calm down a little, or struggle less.
The door flew open again, and a sliver of yellow light from the corridor fell in. Sirius was standing at the door and Poppy pushed past him, clutching a phial in her hand. The glow of Lumos expanded from Poppys wand, and the soft light crept along the walls and reluctantly filled the room. Horrified Remus could see Severus' toothless mouth.
"Keep him still," she ordered Remus and he obediently pinned Severus' arms down to his sides, and tried to rock him. Poppy took Severus jaw into her right hand and then pressed the jawbones apart. Severus eyes rolled back and for a moment only the white of his eyes was visible. He was frothing like a rabid dog, clawing at the bed sheets.
With a determined movement Poppy poured the potion in and immediately Severus body fell limp and he lost consciousness. Around them the magic stopped swirling, and the books fell to the floor.
In the sudden silence only their harsh breathing could be heard.
Sirius who had been standing at the door frame the whole time padded closer. He was standing against the light and Remus could not see the expression of his face.
"Note to myself: Must reorder 'Darkest Potions of the Celtic Ages' at Amazon," muttered Sirius darkly, and picked up a few tomes.
Severus was quite heavy and he was about to ask Poppy for assistance when suddenly Sirius was beside him and helped him carry Severus to bed.
"Lucky you were here," Remus said to Poppy, wiping the foam off of Severus face.
"Sirius called me." she only said.
"The Draughts will only buy ... time ... they won't make it go away," Sirius said hoarsely. He tried to clear his throat and then abruptly turned away and then Remus could hear him going up, taking two steps at one.
Poppy returned to Hogwarts, but came back an hour later, levitating a crate full of vials. Before she entered she cancelled the charm. Carefully she put the crate on the night stand and laid a cool hand on his shoulder. Remus liked the swishing sound her skirt made, the clean smell of the camphor. It reminded him of the days he had spent in the infirmary under her care.
"You can go to your room and sleep a little. I can sit here for a while."
He didn't want to tell her that he didn't want to sleep. It was alright to doze off now and then in the chair. But if he were to lie down, he would fall asleep, would succumb to his dreams, and he could not have that. The thought of deserting Severus caused him physical discomfort. He needed to be alert. And Severus' proximity helped him to stay awake.
He shook his head, and looked up at her kind face, and noticed for the first time in his life, that she had laughter lines around her eyes, although he had never seen her really laugh.
She reached out and gently tucked a strand of his hair behind his ear.
"I'll sit with you, if you don't mind," she said. "School is about to start in only a few hours so I won't go back to bed again."
He nodded, grateful for the cool scent of medicinal potions that wafted around her, for the sober way she treated Severus and she sat down, her skirts rustling a little.
Severus was awake the next day but didn't attempt to speak. The following days he was groggy, still heavily sedated to ease the pain, drifting in and out of sleep, but by the time the week was over he could sit up and look sullen and glare again. It was an improvement that relieved everyone. It was good to see the cuts vanish, the bruises heal. The branding would be harder to heal but they still could remove it, after the curse had run it's course.
Remus wondered how much Severus himself remembered. Maybe it was possible that he didn't remember anything? Would this not be a blessing? But at times Remus could see in Severus' gaze that he remembered everything, every moment of it.
Once Remus witnessed through a crack between the door and the door frame how Severus grimaced and pressed his lips together when Poppy tried to feed him a potion. He refused to open his mouth while Poppy growled at him.
Against his will Remus smiled a little, the first time in days. Severus had his eyes screwed shut and emphatically shook his head and looked like a stubborn little school boy.
"For the last time open your mouth, or I swear I pour this into your nose!" threatened Poppy.
Remus entered the room.
"Do you need some help with certain stubborn patients?" he asked. Severus surprised, opened his eyes, and apparently forgot to clamp his mouth shut as Poppy managed to pry his lips apart and pour the potion in with a small cry of triumph. Severus glared at her but she only wiped her fingers on her apron.
"It's your own potion," she huffed. "You never minded the taste as long as you were brewing it for the First Years."
Remus smiled at Severus who didn't smile back.
Poppy left, after giving Remus and Sirius instructions of when to give Severus which potion. Sirius was unusually quiet and subdued. Remus noticed that whenever Severus woke up in the night, he too came down but never came in, never entered the room but fetched Poppy when it was particularly bad.
"Didn't you notice that he only relaxes around you?" Sirius said, when Remus asked him. "He doesn't flinch whenever you come near him or touch him."
No, he hadn't noticed. Really?
Sirius fell silent for a moment and then he said: "He needs someone to talk to. He can't keep it all inside. That kind of stuff ... it's too much for a man to keep inside."
Remus didn't need to ask what Sirius meant. But he recoiled in quiet horror to confront Severus with his ordeals.
"I don't think he's ready for that." he said after a while. "Doesn't he need ... time to ... heal?"
Sirius bellowed a short, ugly laugh and then turned away.
Dumbledore came by every day, helping heal Severus' wounds, but whenever Dumbledore came closer Severus tensed and his barely healed fingers twisted in the sheets. Sirius was right. Severus was only relaxed in his or Poppy's proximity, and even with Poppy he seemed to feel uncomfortable. Poppy in return picked up on Severus reactions quickly and avoided touching him as much as possible.
As the curse weakened, Poppy and Dumbledore could use some spells directly on him, the physical healing accelerated.
Remus had thought that Severus would deal with any crisis with anger or rage, with tears even. He had seen Snivellus cry more than once during their time at Hogwarts, but the cold, clinical way Severus behaved now when he was awake, upset him. He never protested Remus presence but didn't smile at him once, and when Remus addressed him, only regarded him with black, expressionless eyes.
Sometimes when Remus asked him something - Do you want dinner? A glass of water, perhaps? Do you want me to read something to you? - he barely shook his head or nodded.
Remus didn't dare to touch him, but when it got dark and Severus closed his eyes, he laid his hand on the bed, the other on the pocket, where his wand was. Despite Dumbledore's and Sirius' assurances that the wards had been enforced and that Aurors were patrolling he was not assured.
Severus never objected to his hand, but sometimes sneered at it.
Finally after some weeks Poppy could re-set and regrow his teeth. They had to grow in throughout the next day during which Severus was insufferable. But when the teeth were perfectly set he immediately began to give curt, snappy commands. Strangely enough the oppressive atmosphere in the house improved after that. It seemed that being able to hear Severus speak again raised everyone's spirits, and even Sirius lost a bit of his sullen demeanour.
Remus was instantly awake.
His heart was pounding in his ears. He didn't know what had woke him up, but instantaneously the wand slid out of his pocket. He rose from the wooden chair without making any sound, tensed, ready and listened. He breathed in but there was nothing else in the room besides the smell of Healing Draught, the remains of dinner (Porridge that by now was cold and cementlike, thin soup, tea enhanced with a potion that was supposed to aid the healing of the inner organs), Severus, the faint scent of his skin, the strange thyme smell of his hair, a hint of sweat. Then, he could hear a door open and close, steps coming closer. When he heard the rustling of stiff linen, and recognised a faint scent of Camphor and Rosemary he relaxed and sat down again, the grip around his wand sweaty.
He could see black eyes looking at him, glittering in the faint light of the waning moon.
"Constant vigilance, ey?" His smirk seemed to say, and Remus nodded.
Then he watched Severus falling asleep, and he laid his hand on the bedside again. After he had closed his eyes, he felt a very light touch. It was Severus' hand, his fingertips that barely grazed his'.
Pretending to sleep he moved his hand upwards, and covered Severus hand, who did not pull his hand away.
Remus was preparing tea and and fumbling around with a spoon to feed Severus, one of the tasks he silently had come to like most. Severus' hands were still bandaged, although at least they had lost the twisted and knotted appearance and looked more like his hands.
"It wasn't what you think," Severus said suddenly.
Remus did not freeze, did not stop his movements of arranging plates and cutlery and waited a few minutes before he asked lightly.
"I wasn't ... that," said Severus in a clipped voice.
Remus wondered if he should force Severus to name it, but immediately dismissed the idea. Whatever happened, Severus had to feel that he was in control at all times, he thought. When he looked up from the plate of soup (in which Poppy had mixed a Sedating potion and some Healing draught) Severus was looking at the opposite wall with a strange, upsetting intensity.
"It was not what you and everyone think." he said barely audible, then repeated it, in this toneless voice, that made Remus hackles raise.
He suppressed the urge to say "I understand".
But this would be dishonest, wouldn't it - he didn't understand, at all. He had no idea what Severus was going through. He had a few basic ideas: That he didn't want to be touched, that he was traumatised, that he was confused and didn't want to show his weakness. But he had never understood that complicated, intricate thing that Severus personality seemed to be. Often enough he had asked himself what the hell was going on in this head, behind these closed, guarded facade.
"I could have resisted, but I chose not to." Severus said in an almost bored tone, still refusing to look at Remus. "Technically, it happened with my consent. So you and that filthy dog can heap your pity on someone else. I have no need for it."
"Alright," said Remus. "Alright." He did not know what else to say, and wished with all his heart he could find different words.
He took a spoonful of soup and lifted it towards Severus. He never could help this strange happiness when Severus opened his lips and allowed himself to be fed. To him it was the best moment in their days, the one he was looking forward to with the nervousness of a schoolboy. Every day he expected to be rejected, for some reasons he couldn't fathom himself. Just because Severus allowed it one day didn't mean he would allow it the next day. Just because Severus chose to trust him with a task today, didn't imply he would do so tomorrow. Every day he underwent a renewed test, was scrutinised and judged, and only when Severus had come to a conclusion about him, and lowered his black gaze, he finally parted his thin, pale lips. And every time Remus was ridiculously grateful for this moment of temporary forgiveness, well knowing that the next day this moment would repeat itself.
In his mind every day he asked for forgiveness for another crime.
I am sorry I hurt you.
That day ... I am sorry, I looked away.
I am so sorry that I don't know what to do.
Please forgive me for lusting after you when we were school boys.
Please forgive me for still wanting you.
If there was a hell, surely Remus would go there. It was the human side in him, the man who told him how low this desire was, a base instinct, but the other half of him, the one he thought got stronger through the years, whispered that he would be good for Severus.
It could be good. I could be good for him.
His hand shook and he spilled some of the clear broth onto Severus night shirt and the blanket. Immediately he dabbed him with a napkin and busied himself with wiping the chin, the front of the night shirt, the blanket, only to realise in a sudden jolt, he was rubbing Severus lap, and horrified he yanked his hand back.
Expecting to see Severus frown angrily or to hear some icy remark about his clumsiness Remus put the napkin away again. But when he finally looked at Severus, he didn't look angry at all. Severus regarded him blankly, under heavily lidded eyes.
Remus could not decide if the slight curve of his upper lip was a smirk or a smile and unsettled stood up.
"Would you like me to leave?" he asked, although everything inside him protested fiercely. Immediately he wished he hadn't asked that. Even if Severus wanted him to stay he would be too proud to admit it.
"Can I stay here?" he added hastily.
Severus' expression didn't change. After a long, agonising while he nodded and turned his gaze away from him.
Remus sat again.
If Severus had known that it was Sirius who had taken to prepare breakfast he would have probably had a fit and then thrown the tray against the wall.
Or maybe not.
These days Snape was unpredictable. Mostly he was his cold, derisive, surly self. He was predictably ungrateful, sneering, unnecessarily mean, of course, it was Snape, especially to Sirius who he even insulted when he was only passing by that constantly open door.
Sometimes odd things happened though.
Once Remus was softly woken up by Sirius in the middle of the night, who told him that Dumbledore had a mission for him. Only then Remus saw, that Severus finally unbandaged nearly healed hand was covering his', the tips of his fingers lying across his knuckles. Severus was for once fast asleep (Poppy's soups were little miracles) and didn't move when Remus got up silently and left the room planning to return before dawn.
The mission - identifying two young werewolves who had approached the Order with a plea for asylum - took longer than anticipated. The young couple - both of them barely twenty were frightened out of their wits and Remus and Dumbledore had to convince them to trust the Order and move into a safe house.
Then they went back to Dumbledore's office and as soon Dumbledore finished warding the entrance the Floo went off like a raging fire, and Sirius head was floating in the orange flames, shouting for Dumbledore, Poppy, Remus, for any one. Sirius was almost purple in his face and when Remus and Dumbledore exited the Floo at Grimmauld Place, he tugged and shoved them upstairs.
As it turned out, Sirius had been on the Floo for already five minutes, but as long as Dumbledore wasn't in the office the Floo connection was shut down. Mostly to prevent someone from witnessing Sirius or any other Order members calling.
The room was a mess again. For one moment Remus just stood and took in the destruction. It was unfathomable that it was possible, even with magic, that one person alone had managed this degree of chaos that reigned the room. The bed sheets were torn and strewn across the floor, honey and marmelade bits stuck on the walls, shards of plates and toast slices were on the carpet.
"What happened?" asked Remus.
"Nothing, really, only the average rockband partying in this room. They and their hundred groupies." said Sirius, as always in his hard mocking voice. "Wait, no, it was just Severus Snape."
Severus was crouched in the corner of the room, his hair hanging into his face, pressed against the wall, silent, but with a wild expression in his eyes. It was impossible to say if Severus even saw anyone, his black eyes lost in a nightmare, no one could penetrate.
Again Severus was cursing in that thick northern accent he had never heard on him before, grinding his newly set teeth, clawing the air and hissing.
"Severus." said Remus and took a step into the room. Objects were swirling in the room again, and he had to actually duck and dodge a particularly heavy potion book and a tray. Behind him he could hear Dumbledore saying something, and with that some of the things settled down gently, or at least slowed down in their mad dance around the room, so Remus could approach Severus.
He didn't remember what he said later. Sirius told him it was all sort of childish nonsense, just murmuring and making soothing noises, and somehow some of it trickled through into Severus mind, because eventually he blinked and seemed to become aware of his environment.
His breathing slowed down, and then he wiped his face with his sleeve. Without even moving the tiniest muscle in his face he surveyed the room that now looked as if it had been sucked through a black hole and spat out again.
"I did this?" he asked, his voice raspy. Remus nodded and stepped closer. Severus raised his hand and stopped him.
Dumbledore looked to Sirius who only wiped his face with the sleeve of his grimy dressing gown in an eery imitation of Severus' gesture before: "This room needed redecoration anyway!"
With Remus' half carrying him Severus shuffled back to his bed and laid down. With a slanted look towards Sirius he snapped: "Apologies for the condition of your room, Black."
Sirius' face fell. He opened and closed his mouth several times but was so shocked by Severus apology that he didn't manage to actually utter a word. Dumbledore smiled serenely at Sirius, and after nodding a greeting towards Remus sailed past him and out.
"You can leave now, mutt." snarled Severus, his face set in his usual sneer.
Sirius obeyed wordlessly and left, throwing his arms up into the air.
Remus remained standing close. Awkwardly he patted Severus hand. Severus took his hand and Remus felt the pressure, once, twice. Then Severus pulled his hand back, and stared at the opposite wall, with an angry frown.
"Well, if you are already here, make yourself useful." he bit out.
Remus began cleaning the room, fixing some of the broken items, although one of the vases couldn't be saved. There were only so many times a Reparo would repair broken porcelain. After he was done he sat down beside Severus.
"Severus." he began, slowly.
"No." said Severus. "We are not talking. I do not wish to have a conversation now."
"You have to ..."
"Do not tell me what I have to, or not." Severus snarled.
Remus looked at Severus for a long time, not knowing what to do or say next.
"May I stay here, then?" he asked finally, hating his meek, powerless tone.
Severus swallowed, then raised his chin: "You ... may."
His hands fell to his sides, as if the exhaustion had gotten him in the end.
"I could read some news from the newspaper."
"I can ..." Severus groused again, but then interrupted himself and sat back. "Why not, Lupin. Who knows. You might improve your reading skills."
Remus got the newspaper and then settled himself into the armchair and began to read. He took care that his left hand was on the bed again, and he pretended not to notice when Severus moved his hand closer so that their fingers brushed as usual.
Even when Severus was fast asleep after an hour he did not get up. Instead he looked at Severus thin, white fingers, resting lightly atop his hand, not daring to move.
He belonged here. He belonged to Severus.
It is true, that he treats me horribly and insults me and it's also true that I have never been happier. I am reading silly articles from the Daily Prophet to a man who hates me, has been physically abused, raped, will be probably damaged for the rest of his life and I have never been happier. I must be an idiot, a fool, a masochist. But at least now I'm a happy fool.
There was something else of course. Something that had never occurred to him before, not like this, not in this clarity. Tonight had proven that Remus in a way had no choice. He was the only one who, for some reason, could approach and calm Severus, the only one who could hold touch him, hold his hand, who he would recognise even in the deepest recess of his nightmares.
And that absolved both of them of the necessity of a choice. Remus needn't choose. The choice had been made for him. Severus, if he wanted it or not, had become his responsibility, his charge maybe, and although he was reluctant to admit it, he realised that he had never been more content than he was now.
He awoke in the early morning hours, stretched over Severus arm, his own arm thrown across Severus chest. Severus though slept peacefully, not minding his touch.
Carefully, so not to wake Severus, Remus withdrew and straightened himself.
Poppy entered with her crate of vials and her wand.
"You are awake." she said.
Remus moved his head and rolled his shoulders.
Today was the first day Severus was allowed to leave the bed and walk around. Remus watched with mixture of reluctance and apprehension how Severus pushed back his blanket and swung his legs over the bed.
Severus had long, thin feet with long bony toes. Remus noticed the high arch. Ever since Sirius made fun of his rather flat feet and low arch claiming that his muggle heritage was responsible for that, Remus had developed a hidden obsession with feet.
When Severus stumbled a little Remus instinctively stepped forward and tried to support him, but Severus immediately swatted his hand away. He took a tentative step forward, then another. Poppy clapped and Severus scowled at her. He made it to Remus arm chair and sat down heavily.
"How do you feel?" Poppy asked.
"Impatient. Annoyed. Bored ..."
"Very witty, Severus, how do your legs feel? Any pain?"
"A little," he admitted then. "Feels like tiny needles in my shins."
Poppy nodded and scratched something on a parchment.
"Now," she said, and put the parchment down on the night stand. "Take my arm and try to stand for a minute."
She reached for his hand.
He snatched it away and flinched, hitting his head at the back of the arm chair. For a briefest of moments undisguised, naked panic was visible in his eyes. He blinked and looked at Poppy, then Remus, obviously confused by his own reaction. His hands were clenched around the armrests.
"I ... just need a moment ... "
He frowned, and small beads of sweat appeared on his forehead.
"It's alright," Poppy said. "You experienced a trauma and it is normal ..."
"No," said Severus. "Don't presume anything!" He looked up at her, fury in his eyes. "I am perfectly capable of recognising post traumatic stress disorder. All I've experienced is physical trauma due to the injuries but since I have been a Death eater for the past sixteen years I have learned how to manage that."
Poppy opened her mouth and was likely to say something, but Severus glared up again at her, then grabbed her wrist and pulled himself up with gritted teeth. He looked nauseous and in pain.
After a minute he sat down, releasing her wrist. She asked him some more questions. He nodded or shook his head, but didn't look up anymore. She wrote his answers down and then left.
When Remus put his hand over Severus' he turned his palms up and curled his fingers around his wrist. Only after a minute they both looked at their entwined hands.
Remus slowly knelt down in front of Severus looking at his face. Despite the bland, bored mask he wore he could still see the fear lingering in his eyes.
"In a war there are casualties." Severus suddenly said in a strange, monotonous tone. "I am not a victim."
Severus sat upright now, his back ramrod straight, his face determined. "I know," Remus said softly. "I know that you are a fighter, a warrior ... "
"And here is where you go wrong," said Severus, his mouth set in a strange grimace. He leant forward.
"I didn't fight." he said. "I didn't."
He grabbed Remus collar. "I didn't fight back, whatever happened was consensual."
Disbelieving, Remus shook his head."What are you saying?"
"I am trying to tell you there was no rape, and all of you, including the filthy, dirty, pathetic mutt can stop pitying me. I chose not to fight, but instead was an active participant, and thus. There. Was. No. Rape. It was my choice. My fault."
"Stop this, Severus, please." Remus cried. "How can you say these things?"
Severus was breathing heavily. He leant back and looked up at the ceiling, his expression empty.
"At least he can't go back and endanger himself any longer," Molly Weasley said. She was knitting a black jumper and had just started on a green "S". Her fingers moved fast, of their own volition, while she was speaking.
"We lost valuable intelligence," Arthur mused.
Molly looked at him sharply, and he coughed. "A blessing in disguise maybe."
Remus shifted in his seat, uncomfortable. Sirius had cast a Silencing Charm, and Poppy was upstairs distracting Severus with a brand-new potions manual and some new textbooks they gave him to "survey" but he still felt strange sitting here, without him. Was that even healthy? But what in this crazy situation was healthy?
This shouldn't be an excuse though.
"He needs a mind healer," Sirius said suddenly, waking from his sullen stupor. He was nursing a glass of whiskey, rolling it between his hands. Everyone at the table stilled. Even the clicking of Molly's knitting needles stopped.
Minerva McGonagall leant stiffly forward, her hands resting on the table. She regarded Sirius with undisguised curiosity.
"There are only two mind healers at St. Mungo's," she said hesitantly. "At the moment it would be far too risky to send him there."
Dumbledore, who had been quiet thus far, cleared his throat.
"I contacted muggle healers. Psychologists." he said. "It would be too dangerous to send Severus to London, but we can relocate him to a safe house, where the psychologist would conduct his sessions with him."
"Is isolating him healthy?" Remus heard himself ask.
"At this moment we have no other choice." replied Dumbledore. "Some of the Slytherin student's parents are Death Eaters. We cannot let Severus teach again. He cannot even go near Hogwarts."
"So, what are your plans with Severus?" asked Arthur. "Is he to stay here?" His gaze flickered nervously towards Sirius, who toasted him with a bitter grimace.
Dumbledore smiled. "We have to let him decide, for once. After his ordeals he deserved some personal freedom."
"He would want to fight," said Sirius immediately. "Snape is not someone who appreciates leisure. Maybe sometimes you have to take some choices away."
Everyone was looking at Sirius. He frowned and Molly reached out to pat his arm. When Dumbledore left the room to talk with Severus he let out a belch. Molly withdrew her arm and resumed knitting.
Remus rose too, impatient to get away. His chair made a scratching noise. Sirius looked at him, a mocking smile in his eyes. He refilled his glass to the brim and toasted Remus before he downed it in one go.
When he reached upstairs Dumbledore was already speaking to Severus. He could not imagine Severus agreeing to any vacation plans that Dumbledore might have harboured.
And it seemed he was right: "Under no circumstances," he heard Severus say. Remus smiled to himself.
"Your position with the Death Eaters is compromised." Dumbledore said. "But to be entirely honest, the last mission was supposed to be your, well, last one. I had another far more important task for you in mind, than merely gathering intelligence."
"I would like you to take a vacation. We have several safe houses that we could contact, for example one in California. I always wanted to visit the Stow Lake myself, so why don't you spend some relaxing weeks there until you are fit enough to come back to England?"
"I am not a child and I don't need a vacation." Severus interrupted him sharply. "I will surely not let myself sent off to this barbaric continent to waste my time in some ludicrous resort."
"As you wish, my child." he said. "But you have to promise me ... whenever you feel strained, exhausted, you will ... "
"The task, headmaster, you were talking about a task, before you lost yourself in mindless rambling."
"No, Severus, you really need to rest!"
"Very well then, but I'd rather call Horace ..."
Remus nearly jumped as he heard a sharp, slapping sound, and realised he heard Severus punch the bed in frustration.
"I need a set of potions, that could help us to fight Voldemort."
"You need me to brew potions?" Severus sounded incredulous.
"Why yes, my boy, I would think you would know what a potion is."
"Very amusing, Headmaster." Severus let out an exasperated breath. "I am not going to spend time brewing! Every imbecile can brew Healing Potions. Surely there are more important projects I can contribute to."
"Actually, these potions are too complex and difficult to accomplish by anyone else than you. They border on Dark magic and involve a lot of research." Dumbledore said. "But if you don't want the challenge I understand. I'm glad you don't. You have been through a lot and ... well, I shall ask Slughorn. After you, he is really the only possible option."
Remus could hear Dumbledore's robes as he got up and moved towards the door.
"Headmaster," Severus nearly exclaimed.
"Fine, I'll do it," Severus said with gritted teeth.
"Thank you," Dumbledore said. "But really if you'd like to try the safe house at Stow Lake, I heard the Healing magic there is quite rejuvenating."
"Spare me the details," Severus grumbled.
There was a brief pause and then he heard Dumbledore say: "If there is anything I can do for you, Severus, promise me you will tell me. If you need some time off, or ... anything."
"Thank you, headmaster!" Severus grumbled, cutting him off.
Then Dumbledore came though the door and, upon seeing Remus, nodded.
It relieved Remus that even Dumbledore seemed helpless at times in his handling of Severus, too. So it was not only him. This gave him some courage ... and hope.
Maybe I am not that useless.
Severus complained and grumbled some more when Remus came in, but was quiet during the evening. His hand was lying on the side of the bed again, his fingers slightly sprawled, moving nervously against the linen until Remus put his hand on the bedside too.
Remus didn't really read whole articles to him anymore, but interrupted his own reading periodically when he stumbled over something that might amuse Severus. His happiness and relief stood in no relation to the tiny, barest curl of Severus' upper lip.
Later, when Severus had fallen asleep, Remus noticed that the bruises were gone completely now, leaving no visible traces. The branding was harder to erase, resisting the usual healing spells, reappearing again and again.
When Severus slept he snored a little, but very regularly. Sometimes he murmured and spoke. Once or twice he took points in his sleep. Traces, remains of the branding flickered red in the weak light from the corridor and Severus knitted his brows together as if he could feel the curse even in his sleep. Remus reached out and gently stroked Severus face to soothe him.
As soon as he touched Severus slightly clammy skin, felt the stubble, he couldn't take his hand away. He felt a sudden burst of love, of warmth and protectiveness welling up inside him that he had never felt for anyone before.
Remus closed his eyes, examining each and every emotion in turn.
He had never thought his heart to be so complex. He had always believed himself to be a simple man, someone focussed on only few things in life; a Gryffindor through and through.
Love had never been a complicated thing for him. He had had lovers, men and women, they had spent their time with him. and he was still grateful to them for their kindness, for loving him. When they had left he had been satisfied to be alone again, in a way he had never expected to really long for someone else, to truly feel that desire to be with someone.
And here he was sitting in a dark room, holding Severus Snape's hand and stroking his face.
When he looked down again, he saw that Severus was awake.
His black eyes glittered in the darkness reminding him of black beetles. He was absolutely still, and again he wore this unfathomable expression, as if he was calculating something, a formula or an equation and weighing and ...
Remus moved to pull his hand back, but then Severus, without looking away, laid his white, thin hand over his. They remained like this for a while, and all Remus could think was: What to do next?
He wanted Severus.
I want him. I want to have him. I don't even know who he really is, and I want him so badly it hurts.
Fuck, he wanted him so much he couldn't move his hand away.
Carefully he brushed his thumb over Severus' dry, warm lips.
The question was, what did Severus want? What was it that he needed? Severus parted his lips very slightly and then his tongue darted out, moist, warm, and licked the pad of his thumb.
Remus should have pulled his hand back, but he didn't. Something akin to panic seized him. Something was not quite right. Severus was acting so strangely. The way Severus regarded him, the heavy lidded expression on his face. His face was blank, and white, and his eyes blacker than obsidian. He took Remus hand and guided it down his body.
He could feel scars through the thin cotton, the edges of curse marks, then the unexpected, soft roundness of his ass.
He swallowed, thinking of Severus on his hands and knees in front of him, presenting his delicious arse. Suddenly impatient with greed he pushed the night shirt up, and put his hand on the smooth, slightly sweaty skin.
Something inside him threw itself against locked the locked doors of his mind, howled and whined and snarled.
He wants it. Maybe this is what he needs now. To erase the touch of others, to make new memories of being touched.
Before Remus could move, Severus sat up. The sliding of the bed sheets was the only sound in the room.
Remus felt hatred, fury towards himself but all he could do was to stare into Severus eyes; it was like looking into the night itself. He responded to it. Everything inside him urged him forward, to take more of Severus offer, to make him his, to tear open that cotton fabric that still covered him, to push it up so he could see, feel, taste Severus thin, bony thighs, to lick his flesh and inhale him.
Severus wanted it. Why else would he do this?
Then Severus placed his hand at his chest and pushed him a bit away from the bed, kneeling down before him. Remus blinked, looking down at his head, the angular, broad yet thin shoulders and where the skin was visible, ghostly white.
Severus opened his trousers, yanked them down as Remus held on to the bed, his confused mind trying to catch up with what was going on here. Severus was going down on him, that was going on here, an unhelpful voice in his head supplied.
He felt Severus warm lips touch him, then the moist tip of his tongue lick around the slit and around the head, then he did something with his mouth, he couldn't really tell but suddenly he was inside Severus. The head of his cock was down Severus almost painfully tight throat.
I'm going to come now, any second fuckfuckfuck.
Remus tried to think, but all he could do was feel. Feel that marvellous, wonderful, heavenly suction, the skilled tongue licking at him.
It was better than any cunt, than any arse, any other mouth he had ever had before. And he had had many. Sex shouldn't ... unravel him this much. But right now he felt exactly the way he had when he had lost his virginity so many years ago to that sweet Ravenclaw girl with the dimpled cheeks and the brown hair. Her name he had long forgotten, but he still could remember the sensation when his virginal cock first touched wet, hot velvety skin. Until tonight he had been convinced that the first time could never be surpassed by any other sexual encounter.
He looked down at Severus again, who was steadying himself against Remus thighs, smiling around his cock. He locked eyes with Severus and he felt like a sailor caught in a maelstrom gliding nearer and nearer to his destruction unable to escape.
The next thing he saw was Severus bracing himself against the bed and his mind snapped in an entirely unpleasant motion back to reality. He realised that he had said it aloud.
"Stop." he had said, and pushed Snape off him.
His cock was still protesting. Are you out of your mind?
He held out his hand, stiffly, and a little too dramatically, as he thought. When he looked at Severus he paled. Severus' smirk had vanished and was replaced by a furious, snarling grimace.
"You fucking hypocrite." he hissed in a low voice."You filthy, little animal. Don't tell me you can't get it up for Snivellus," he pointed a shaking hand at Remus insistent erection. A Gryffindor erection, as it was. Foolhardy, stubborn, and suicidal. Severus looked as if he was going to single-handedly rip it off him.
"It's not right," Remus said. "You shouldn't be ... you don't have to do that."
Oh for fucks sake, what the hell am I trying to say?
"Severus," he said. "I don't want you to do that because you think that's what I want."
Snape straightened himself and at the same time tilted his head in a snakelike motion. He slithered closer, so close that he could smell himself a little on Severus' breath as it ghosted hotly over his skin.
"Oh, you want the broken victim, that fucked up, raped Deatheater, who'd be thankful for every little scrap of pity he can get, is that it, Lupin?" he hissed and Remus felt moisture on his face.
Severus was so close now he could see the strange blue-black irises, almost purple, the dilated pupils, the white of the eyeballs. His eyes were framed by long, black lashes and he would have looked nearly effeminate with the high cheekbones and the enormous eyes, were it not for the nose and his strong jaw.
But all of a sudden Remus understood.
He had seen the same look on Sirius' face, the same expression of hopelessness and despair. Suddenly it all came together.
When Severus' hand snaked down to grip his - I'm still hard - cock he nearly let him, because it felt so good, so fucking right and sweet, but then with all of his remaining will he pried Severus' hand away. As he expected Severus tried to yank his hand out of his grip, but Remus held on to it.
He took a deep breath, and after a while he released it to pull up his pants and did his zip up. He felt a little better now, more in control and less exposed.
"I want you, Severus." he said.
"Then take what you want like the brainless, brawny animal you are." Severus hissed.
"Don't do this," Remus pleaded. "I understand you're angry and full of rage and what happened to you is ... terrible. I understand that you need to .... you need to be like this. But I don't know what to do. I want to be good for you, I want to help and be close to you, and fuck, I do want you so badly, like I never wanted anyone before, ever. But not like this."
Remus was aware of how he was babbling. He closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to endure Severus' sneer, but when he opened them again he saw with surprise that Severus didn't sneer at all.
"Shut up," he whispered instead, grimacing as if someone was cutting him.
Remus shook his head. "No, I won't. I'm only getting started."
He took Severus by his shoulders and pushed him onto the bed.
"You nearly died. They tortured you, beat you up, Crucio'ed you, they broke nearly every bone in your body, they raped you ... "
Severus shook his head, and whispered: "I told you, they didn't ..."
"And you survived."
Remus repeated, this time softer: "You survived. Whatever they did to you, you are alive."
"But ..." Severus looked at him, and for the first time since he had woken up, he really looked at him.
"You are a survivor. You did what you had to do to survive," said Remus. "And believe me, if I can help it ... they won't survive. I'll gladly rip their balls off and stuff them down their throats."
"Animal." Severus muttered, but there was no venom in his voice left. He closed his eyes.
Remus shrugged. "Sure, but I am your animal."
Severus looked at him with unveiled curiosity.
"You are so fucking strong," Remus whispered. He stroke Severus face, his cheek bones, his high forehead, the small widow's peak, the large nose, the thin lips.
"You are so strong, that I feel I can't ... I'm not good enough for you," Remus said, and suddenly he felt his heart open wide. Yes, these were the words he had been looking for, the truth he had been avoiding. "I want to be good enough for you."
Severus shook his head. "You don't know anything about me." he said. "I whored myself out to them. I thought I'd rather take it up the ass a few times than being tortured and killed."
He laughed bitterly. "Well, they obviously had thought of this, because the moment McNair put his prick inside me they started casting Crucio on me."
Remus did not close his eyes. He did not look away, or stop caressing Severus' arms. He did not bite his lips or worse, vomit, the way he wanted to.
"You know, they say, nothing is better than fucking someone on Cruciatus." said Severus. "They say nothing makes one tighter than a nice round of Cruciatus."
He was trembling.
"I stopped counting at seventeen. After seventeen ... I lost count ... " Severus face was tense now. Remus could see that he was trying not to fall apart. He furiously bit his lips, as if trying to prevent himself from talking, the muscles above his jaw clenched and unclenched.
Remus cupped his face.
"I let them." Severus was nearly hissing. "I let them do this to me. I should have fought ..."
"No," said Remus. "Give them the satisfaction to kill you? No. You made it. You managed to escape and live. You live, and they ... they won't. You will live and they will die. I promise you that."
Looking into Severus' black eyes was like balancing on the edge of an abyss. Remus had to concentrate hard not to fall, not to lose himself. From the corner of his eye he saw that the night was fading slowly, and the darkness outside was less impenetrable and more translucent. Then Severus blinked once and a tear was sliding down his cheek.
"Fuck." Severus whispered. "I swore to myself that I wouldn't ..." He broke off, wiping his face.
Remus gently stroke his face, then kissed him, and this time he felt no greed, no lust.
"It's going to be alright." he said, but this time he knew he meant every word, knew exactly how it was going to work out. It was simple. They both deserved happiness. And he would be damned if they didn't get what they deserved.
He looked at the man before him: Broken, and yet so strong, ugly and yet so ...
"Fuck, but you're beautiful," he said, in awe.
Severus' snorted but he could not hide his little smile.
He urged Severus into a lying position covering him with his blanket. Then he bent down and kissed Severus on the tip of his nose.
"And if you still feel you have to let out your anger on someone, you know, when you still feel you need to insult someone ... that's alright. I understand ... just take it out on Sirius, alright?"
It made him giddy with relief to hear Severus snicker.
Soon he listened to Severus even breathing that eventually turned into a light snore. Even later when the sun was shining, and the room was filled with bright hopeful light he remained sitting beside the bed. Severus slept deeply, talking in his sleep now and then, but from what Remus could hear it was mostly insults to imaginary Gryffindors "Stir, you imbecile" and "Five points from Hufflepuff", followed by a satisfied smacking of his lips.
With one hand he was clutching the blanket, the other he had flung over his face to shield it from the sunlight.
It was going to be alright.