[FIC] Severus Snape, The Demon Barber of Fifth Avenue -- Part One (PG-13) Title: Severus Snape, The Demon Barber of Fifth Avenue; Part One Author:thescarletwoman Type: Fiction Word Count: ~5800 Pairings: Eventual Snape/Lupin Series: Yes Warnings: None. Rating: PG-13 this section Summary: The hottest hairdresser in the city is Geoffrey Rickers. Geoffrey's past is a closely guarded secret. Yet when a man from his past arrives in New York, he threatens to destroy everything Geoffrey has worked to conceal. Author's Notes: This is the most fun I've had writing a fic in a long time. It got away from me -- what I had expected to be a short fic began to take on a life of its own. The second part will be coming soon, but I wanted to at least share the first part since it is completed. Thanks to rose_whispers and jateshi for their advise, encouragement, betaing and laughing over funny parts at all hours of the night. Any mistakes left are my own.
That, however you live, There's a part of you always standing by, Mapping out the sky. -- Finishing the Hat, from Sunday in the Park with George
"You're late. There's a twenty dollar surcharge."
"What're you talking about? I was two minutes late. The fuckin' cabbie couldn't understand the difference between Fifty-Seven and Thirty-Seventh Streets."
"That is not my problem. You knew your appointment was for two thirty, sharp. It is now two thirty-five by my watch. Two minutes late and the last three minutes have been spent arguing about the additional charge. Keep this up and I won't have time to cut your hair and then you'll be paying for a hair cut you didn't even get as I will charge you for being nothing but a waste of my time."
"You can't do that!"
"I can do whatever I damn well please. This is my establishment and there are plenty of people who would take your seat in a heartbeat -- people who would pay double what I'm charging you just to sit in this chair."
"No one is that good."
His hands are on the back of the chair and uses the leverage to spin her around and face him. The auburn-haired man snaps the scissors shut only inches away from her nose. She jumps, her eyes wide as she realises just how close those scissors came to snipping off the tip of her nose. Though she isn't in pain, she still raises a hand to her face as if to reassure herself her nose is still intact. She clutches the arm of the barber's chair, knuckles turning white. The eyes can barely be seen beneath the neatly manicured red fringe.
"Oh, but I am."
The one blessed thing about New York City was the anonymity of the place. Thousands of people arrived on the streets everyday, some to go to work, others vacationing and others hoping to find their fortunes beneath the lights of Broadway. One could merely walk down Seventh Avenue and become lost in the throng of people; to lose one's very identity.
That was precisely why Severus Snape had come to the city. The lure of disappearing into the sea of faces was too great. He had survived the attack by the Dark-- no, Voldemort's snake and had lived to fight another day. His days had passed, barely living in the damnable shack; stealing away at night long enough to steal whatever food he could. Perhaps it had been the influx of venom in his system, but his magic worked only intermittently. It made procuring sustenance a damn nuisance, yet he had survived.
Only when he was strong enough did he dare leave the shack, departing not for London but for Edinburgh and then Glasgow. Severus had guessed correctly in his relocation choice and had been able to recover in peace for the next month and a half. The first order of business, though, had been to give his appearance a complete overhaul. There was nothing he could do about the nose, unfortunately. His hair, though, was easier to contend with. A box of dye from a nearby pharmacy afforded Severus auburn hair and a pair of shears transformed his near shoulder-length hair to a much shorter style. Long enough to still run his hands through it, but shorter than it ever had been in his entire life.
Clothing was the only other truly defining mark. Gone were the long, black frock coats with their rows of buttons. Those were replaced by oxford shirts of light pastels (oh Merlin, shoot him), and dark trousers. To the untrained eye, he knew he was completely unrecognisable.
The only thing left for him to do was to leave England behind completely. It didn't matter that word had spread across the country that one Severus Snape had played both sides of the coin. The news, of course, had spread by the mouth of Saint Potter, hero of the Wizarding world. Bile filled Severus' mouth as he sat on the trans-Atlantic plane that would take him to America. Cliche, perhaps, to flee to the "Land of Opportunity", but Severus did not trust his disguise in England. Consequently, he went to the only place he knew he could disappear into the background.
New York City.
The cost of living was high, though -- and not necessarily where cash was concerned either. His magic had been returning in varying degrees. At least now, it was only periods of a few hours when he was unable to do even the simplest of spells rather than a few days. He still didn't have feeling in his left hand. It was usable, but it would take time before he had regained his dexterity once more. That suddenly limited his choices in professions. Cooking had seemed the most logical, given his love of simmering cauldrons -- there wasn't much difference between brewing a potion and throwing together a stew in his opinion. Still, if he couldn't feel his fingers, there was no conceivable way he could finely chop vegetables without risking the removal of his fingers.
It hadn't been an accident that he had stumbled upon the profession of hair styling. He'd been fairly satisfied with what he had done to his own hair with no prior experience. Besides, the mixing of dyes had the appeal of potions making as well. All it had taken was a few magically forged documents and Severus had lied his way into a small salon in the heart of the East Village. What he couldn't cut himself, he could finish through a carefully muttered spell. It wasn't long before word of his reputation had spread throughout the seedier clubs in the Village.
He shouldn't have been surprised with his rapidly growing reputation. Cut the hair of one queen perfectly and he'll tell every guy he sleeps with. That would usually, in the course of several weeks, turn into a dozen new clients. No matter his thoughts on sexual promiscuity, it certainly was good for business. By December, the waiting list was nearly a month in advance to have a turn in his chair.
Three months later, the salon had moved to Fifty-Seventh Street and Fifth Avenue -- the height of real estate in New York City. Everyone wanted their hair cut by the famed "Geoffrey Rickers" and no one seemed to care that he was, for lack of a better word: a complete bastard to his customers. Geoffrey made belligerent cabbies seem to be as nice as a debutante princess. His rules of operation were beyond strange. Clients must be sitting in their chair at the exact moment their appointment was set or they would be charged a fee. Later than seven minutes and you paid for a cut and had to reschedule, even if an appointment may not be had for another three months.
And if people didn't like it, they could go somewhere else. Yet amongst the elite, it was a badge of honour to have your hair cut by the golden scissors of Geoffrey Rickers. Thus, if one wanted his or her hair cut by him, they paid his outrageous fees and cow-towed to his rules no matter how strange or outrageous.
Consequently, in only four months since he had arrived in New York City Severus Snape had found himself quite a decent living. Best of all, no one knew his true identity and he would be free to live out the remainder of his life in delicious anonymity.
That is, of course, until all hell broke loose. The worst part was that it hadn't even been a dark and stormy night, or even a slightly overcast day. And it hadn't even been a Monday either.
Friday, 2pm. According to the schedule, he had only two appointments to finish out the day, but then again he could never be sure. While the salon forbade walk-in customers, Severus was finding that his receptionist didn't always record proper dates. Then again, she was new -- the eighth receptionist in so many weeks so the mistakes could have been from the previous girl. She had another two days before she would join the line of receptionists to get the axe.
The next appointment was at 2:30, which gave Severus a good thirty minutes for a cup of tea. One could take the man out of England, but they could not take the Englishman out of the man. The salon plunged into blissful silence, the only sounds emanating from the small burner while he heated his tea. Though alone (Sally, Severus believed her name was, or something else equally insipid... had stepped out to leave him alone in the shop. He really needed to stop hiring those with names that sounded like they belonged to blondes with an IQ of 8.), Severus didn't trust a wave of his wand. Besides, it wasn't as if he were in a hurry to drink, on the run and having to watch his every move.
The sound of the door closing drew his attention. It was only 2:12, which meant that his appointment could not have arrived yet. The earliest he allowed any customer to arrive was six minutes before an appointment, otherwise he made them wait outside. And Mimi (No... Sally, Severus reminded himself) said she had some appointment to run. No doubt had a "customer" to meet around Avenue A, she seemed only to have enough brains to know how to spread her legs.
Severus froze, hand hovering over the kettle. He knew that slightly horase, raspy voice. The sheer proximity to a man who shouldn't exist was enough to leave his blood cold. Severus had half a mind to say nothing, let the man leave of his own free will. Of course, life for Severus Snape never worked as he wanted. The moment he thought he could have pulled off the charade, the tea kettle began to whistle. Damnation. "Be out in but a moment," Severus called out, raising his voice only enough to be heard in the reception room. Every so often he would attempt an American accent in an attempt to further separate himself from his past.
Every time Severus Snape opened his mouth using the accent... failing miserably was a gross understatement. He sounded like a Brit trying to sound American. In any case, it was still a work in progress as far as he was concerned.
As soon as the sandy haired head liberally streaked with grey poked around the corner, Severus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Lupin. Though asked to wait, the man had still shoved his nose into business that wasn't his own. It had been his undoing in the end, Severus was sure.
Remus Lupin, who was supposed to be dead. Severus wasn't a fool. He had kept an ear to what news he could discern, wanting and even needing to know the casualties on both side. Remus Lupin had gotten himself killed with that multicoloured klutz right at his side. So if Lupin was dead, what on earth was he doing in New York City? Granted, Severus was aware of the characters New York tended to attract. Apparently cultivating the undead was a new one.
Years of practice concealing his emotions took over, Severus staring blankly into the heavily scarred lupine face.
"This is the salon of Geoffrey Rickers, yes?"
"I assume you can read. The sign out front clearly stated the same."
"I want a job."
The emotionless mask dropped away, Severus' jaw hanging open slightly. "A... a job?" he asked dumbly before regaining his composure. "I work alone. And I have a receptionist." Temporarily, anyway.
"Then I want to apprentice under you," he tried again, Severus detecting a faint note of desperation in his voice.
"I don't take on apprentices. I told you once, I work alone. Or has being dead affected your ability to hear? I thought werewolves were noted for their aural skills."
The slap across the jaw had been unexpected. In all his years, Severus had never been slapped, not by man, woman or dog. Cursed and hexed, yes -- but never struck.
"What are you playing at?" Man-who-looked-and-talked-like -Lupin spoke, scandalized. "My name is Robert Johns. I have never been 'dead' and werewolves don't exist. All I want is a bloody job here. I've heard you were an asshole, but I figured it was new slang for pretentious New Yorker."
If you knew what I knew, you wouldn't say certain things don't 'exist'.
Name change aside, Severus knew it was Remus. He tilted his head to the side, looking the man over. There was the grey hair Severus had always remarked upon, the scarred face that looked like it had been attacked by a feral animal.
Severus decided to go for a different approach. "Who am I?"
"As you so kindly pointed out, your name is Geoffrey Rickers, just like it says on the sign."
"Have we met before?"
"Are you entirely certain?"
"Are you entirely sane?"
Severus pursed his lips, unsure what possessed him to say the next statement. "I will see you here at nine o'clock tomorrow morning. If you are even a minute early or late, you have lost the position."
Johns-nee-Lupin left the shop, leaving Severus to his tea. Either Lupin had a body double running around or someone was lying. For once, it wasn't him.
Robert/Lupin showed up the next morning wearing the same clothes he had worn the day before. The same worn trousers, the same faded blue button-down shirt. The rumpled appearance gave Severus cause to wonder if he had slept in them.
"Nine on the dot," he spoke, glancing at his watch. "Not a minute early or a moment late. Do I get to stay?"
Severus grunted a response, leaving Remus alone in the reception area while he fixed himself tea. How he was expected to make any sort of decision without a cup of black tea in his system was a mystery. Severus returned a moment later carrying only one steaming cup and a broom. Remus wisely didn't ask for his own cup.
"I asked --"
"And I will tell you when I am ready to tell you," Severus snapped, cutting the man off. "Now Remus --"
"Robert," he interrupted. "I don't know who this Remus is or why you keep thinking it is me. If he's your long lost lover," Robert ignored the indignant sputtering on Severus' behalf. "But stop referring to us as being one in the same. Because we are not."
Severus thrust the broom at Robert. If that's what the man wanted to go by, then Severus supposed he should begin to call the man by the name in his head.
Remus looked at the broom, not bothering to hide his disdain for the hair encrusted cleaning implement. "Is this where I say, 'yes, Master?'"
"Not if you intend to keep your job."
Severus growled under his breath, stalking away from the man with the broom. Damn for no longer having the robes to make the dramatic exits he swore he never practiced.
One week and only two different outfits later, 'Robert' was still in Severus' employ. The name had taken on quotation marks in Severus' head now, the only way he could think of to differentiate between Robert and Remus, though he was still sure they were one in the same. Occasionally he would call Robert 'Remus' or even 'Moony' to try and get a response but there was nothing. Not once did 'Robert' slip and call him Snape or Severus or say anything else to otherwise convince Severus that Remus was lying. Hell, at this point, he would have welcomed Snivellus if only to be assured 'Robert' had been hiding his past for some unfathomable reason.
There was nothing and the presence of nothing was the most infuriating thing of all.
"Do you only own two shirts and two pairs of trousers?" Severus asked one evening, waiting for 'Robert' to finish sweeping.
"I had intended to buy more, but as I have no income, you're stuck with this."
Severus lifted a brow. "You have no money."
"You're making me apprentice without pay."
"Do you have a place to stay?"
"What do you care?"
Apparently one of the side-effects of Nagini's venom had been the onset of a case of Tourettes. "You will stay with me in lieu of payment." Severus' mouth went dry as soon as he spoke the words. Maybe 'Robert' hadn't heard him. Maybe...
"And live with a homicidal maniac who thinks I'm a werewolf?"
So much for the maybes.
"Do you want the room or not?"
"Not," Remus said stubbornly.
A week following their conversation about the exchange of lodgings for education, Severus found himself making up the spare bedroom of his flat for 'Robert'. Either it was the thought of trying to survive on the rough streets of New York or the fact that winter was fast approaching that forced 'Robert' into the den of the serpent. Whatever the reason was, he would be arriving within the hour.
Severus still wasn't sure what had possessed him to offer the room to 'Robert' in the first place. He had no attachment to the man, nor did he really care what happened to him. Yet, there was a part of Severus that needed the contact with a man he had once known. No matter if 'Robert' continued to insist that he did not know, nor had he ever been the man known as Remus Lupin, Severus still suspected. It was his tenacity that had kept him alive through two wars and was allowing him to continue to live and prosper in this Muggle world.
That, and he could see if there were any signs this weekend suggesting that 'Robert' was a werewolf. True, he may have been inviting a wolf into his home without the benefit of Wolfsbane. Another week and Severus would find out for sure. But at least, should 'Robert' change, Severus could knock him out.
At least, so he hoped.
As the week drew on, Severus continued giving Remus nothing but menial tasks to do in the salon. Part of him hoped the man would get fed up and quit. Yet, Remus did whatever Severus asked without complaint in that 'silently suffering but I'm enjoying it' infuriating way Remus had always possessed. If this wasn't Remus, then it was someone who looked exactly like him and knew his movements and mannerisms down to a tee.
If 'Robert' was a ghost sent to haunt him, then Severus was going to look into an exorcism. However, if he had died and this was his lot in life for all eternity, then the afterlife had a sick and twisted sense of humour.
He continued to watch Remus' motions and movements as the moon drew nearer, hoping to tell if the man was going to change into a raving, feral monster. If the indication was that Remus stopped drinking tea and was drinking coffee suddenly, then he may not have to worry quite so much about being torn limb from limb in two day's time. Every now and then, when Remus was sweeping the floors, Severus would throw out comments to see if Remus would rise to the bait. Of course, the infuriating man never did, which served only to piss Severus off all the more.
"I'm cooking steak tonight," Severus had said the night before the moon in a last ditch effort to catch Remus.
"You've cooked steak the past three nights. I realise humans are carnivores but can we at least vary the menu? There is such things as pork and chicken. Hell, I'd settle for fish right about now."
"Would that be sushi?"
Remus visibly blanched. "Thank you, but I prefer my meals dead and not staring up at me."
"Unless you plan on ordering a salmon head, I don't think it will be staring up at you."
"I don't care. No. Raw. Fish." Remus said, enunciating each word.
"So that would be a rare steak then?"
"No. That would be a medium-well steak. Honestly, are you learning impaired or something? You've cooked steaks for the past three nights and for the past three days you asked me what I wanted. If my answer was medium-well the first time it's going to be medium-well each time you ask me."
"I wasn't sure if you'd like something bloodier. Full moon's tomorrow," Severus said, forgoing stealth and blatantly bringing up the moon.
"What, are you expecting I want to bathe myself in the blood of innocents?" Remus asked, sweeping the last of the blond hair into the dustbin.
It was a start, in Severus' estimation. However, he could have done without the sarcasm.
As it would turn out, Severus' fears were well-founded. At moonrise the following night, he had been summoned to Remus' room by a scream. Severus flew from the sitting room, nearly crashing into the closed door leading to Remus' bedroom. He knocked on the door and received no response beyond the soft whimpers punctuated every few moments by a loud cry. Severus tried the doorknob, only to find it locked. In the month that Remus had taken up residence, the only time Severus had known the man to lock his door was when he had secreted away for a good wank, or so he assumed it was what Remus did when he hid himself away. This, upon hearing the piteous moans and whimpers coming from inside the bedroom, was not a wank.
It was the presence of a werewolf in his apartment. Well, fuck.
Leaving Remus' door momentarily, Severus retrieved his wand from the bedroom, hoping his magic would cooperate long enough to unlock the door. It wasn't as if the wolf would be able to open the door if it were unlocked. Oh the wonders of having opposable thumbs. The following few moments contained an inner battle wherein Severus argued with himself if he should even open the door. He had seen a werewolf as a child and he had no desire to see it again. Yet, if this wasn't a werewolf and 'Robert' had actually hurt himself, precious minutes could have been slipping away, bringing the man closer to death. It was against his better judgment that he opened the door.
They said that curiosity killed the cat. Severus, however, was a confirmed serpent. He wasn't sure if snakes had the same nine lives thing that felines did. If they did, he had one or two lives left. And he was going to waste one of them on 'Robert's' possible lycanthropy?
Taking a deep breath, Severus cast an Alohomora charm, rewarded by hearing the soft snick as the lock slid back into the door. Cautiously, his heart in his throat, Severus opened the door to peek inside. There, curled up on the carpet was the animal he had barely glimpsed down the passage to the Shrieking Shack so many years ago. Severus' breath caught, staring at the older animal. The malice seemed gone from its form as it lay on the floor, apparently sleeping off the transformation. Perhaps that was the difference between older werewolves and younger ones -- the need to hunt and kill was no longer so prevalent.
The wolf picked its head up and its liquid amber eyes met Severus' black ones. The placidness was gone, immediately replaced by the look that said he was a hunter and prey was across the room. Fear gripped Severus and he was once more transported back to his sixth year when Black had played the prank on him. He survived that time only because of bloody James fucking Potter. This time, no one stood between him and certain death. The wolf stood and Severus managed to unfreeze his body, slamming the door just as it pounced. The movement was accompanied by the sound of a wolf crashing into the wooden door. There was a second bang as if the wolf was trying to break its way through the wooden door. Severus' grip tightened on his wand, praying that the door would hold or the wolf would give up -- whichever came first. Severus then heard the sound of scratching, as if the wolf was pawing at the door before there was silence. Blissful silence. As a second protection, he reinforced the door with a muttered spell. It had glowed feebly. This was not a time for his magic to fail him. He attempted the spell for a second time with the same results. Hopefully that would hold.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Severus fetched a blanket from the linen closet and summoned a pillow from his bed. If he was going to have a feral werewolf pawing about in his apartment, he sure as hell was going to be sleeping outside the door to make sure it didn't escape. Of course, he didn't manage to sleep much that night. Every little sound woke him, Severus worrying that the door wasn't going to hold.
It was not because he was concerned about Remus. Not in the slightest.
Morning came and it found Severus with a stiff neck and a sore back from sleeping on the floor. He stretched, feeling as if every bone in his body cracked and moved themselves back to the proper alignment. He was getting far too old for this. He banished the blanket and pillows back to his bed, lest Remus get any strange ideas.
He opened the door to find a very nude and very ill Remus curled up on the carpet, much in the same position he had found the wolf the night before. He seemed to be sleeping soundly, even if his body was covered with a multitude of strange bruises and cuts, not to mention the sweat pouring off his body that seemed to indicate a fever. Severus would have to consult a book to see if a fever following a lupine transformation was normal. He had never cared to look before as he never would have envisioned himself to live with an amnesiac werewolf. Then again, he never expected he would be living in New York City, cutting the hair of every elitist snob this side of Trenton.
Severus' hand clutched his wand, staring down at Remus. He could do it -- easily, he could do it without fear of modifying any other memories. If Remus truly didn't know who he was (and Severus was suspected this was the case and not some conspiracy theory), he would never be able to comprehend that he was a werewolf and all the implications that came along with it. Severus knelt by Remus, brushing his fringe from his face. Remus whimpered, curling into a tighter ball and it was evident that the man was in pain. Drawing in a deep breath, Severus leveled his wand at Remus.
He barely had replaced his wand into his back pocket when Remus roused himself. Remus seemed more aware of his surroundings than his current state of undress.
"Must... oh God, my head," Remus croaked, his voice still possessing a slight tinge of a growl from the transformation. "How'd I get on the floor?"
"You must have passed out last night," Severus lied smoothly. "I told you to quit while you were behind with the wine, but as always you chose not to listen to me. I have a right mind to throw you out on the street, you drunk."
Sympathy was an emotion Severus possessed in spades.
"Glad to see you haven't changed -- why am I so cold?" Remus asked, abruptly changing the subject.
"It seems you passed out completely nude. Shall I warn the neighbours that you have a perchant for sleeping au naturale?"
Though ill, Remus still had his reflexes, rolling into a tight ball and whimpering as he did so. Severus supposed his body wasn't ready for fast movements. To put the man out of his misery (this was not concern, he kept reminding himself), Severus reached for the blanket on the bed and tossed it at Remus. The man awkwardly covered himself and attempted to get up, his muscles too weak to support his weight. Sighing as if this were the biggest burden, Severus bent down to help Remus stand. He ignored their proximity and the sudden spicy, masculine scent that reached his nose. Severus' stomach gave a strange lurch as if... No. There was no way.
He was not attracted to Remus Sodding Lupin.
"I'll get you some water. Something to cool you down. I think you have a fever." Severus said, his voice stilted.
"If I have a fever, I obviously couldn't have been drunk. You liar."
Severus cracked a rare smile. Even ill as he was, the man could still verbally spar with him. "I prefer to call it bending the truth as opposed to outright lying."
"Will you stay with me?"
Severus paused at the doorway, the question taking him by surprise. "Stay with you?" he asked, the words feeling foreign on his tongue.
"To make sure... nothing happens to me."
"Of course," Severus replied without thinking. "Besides," he added quickly, "If I lose you, I'll have to invest in someone to clean up the shop. I much prefer the free help."
"Geoffrey, you're a bastard."
By the time Severus had returned to the bedroom, Remus had fallen into a deep sleep. He carried with him a glass of water and a cold compress, both hopefully would aid in lowering Remus' fever. Severus pulled a chair towards the bed, gently laying the compress on Remus' forehead. He whined in his sleep, hands fisting in the covers in an attempt to kick them off. Severus aided the man, pulling the covers down to his waist but no farther. He had already seen too much of Remus Lupin in his estimation. Remus settled down, slipping into a deep sleep once more.
Gently, Severus brushed his fingers across Remus' cheekbones, over his eyebrows and along his nose. He was taken back to his childhood, a boy of only eight being looked after by a girl in the neighbourhood. If he closed his eyes, he could still picture her fiery red hair and the piercing green eyes. She had done that to soothe him while he had a fever.
Then she had gone off to marry James Goody-Fucking-Two-Shoes Potter. His mind made the jump from eigtht to eighteen, forgoing the fights they had had during that ten year span. In his mind, she would always be there when he slept. Severus' hand fell away from Remus' form as Severus slipped into sleep. First the floor and now a chair -- his body was going to rebel against him if he took refuge in too many more unconventional sleeping areas.
Lily was on his mind as he faded off to sleep. She was the only woman he would ever love and would ever admit to loving.
Men... on the other hand... men were fair game as far as he was concerned.
Severus' head snapped up so quickly he nearly gave himself whiplash. He had been close to nodding off, as watching over Remus' feverish body for the majority of the day was more tiring than he would have expected. He had left only to take a piss and eat a small lunch, not trusting to be away from Remus any longer than that. It wasn't concern for Remus' wellbeing that drove him to be the watchful master -- it was the worry that his memory modification spell had had adverse affects. It had seemed when Remus had awoken on the bedroom floor following the memory modification that Remus had no knowledge of his transformation, turning into a raving, slobbering monster. It seemed that Severus would have to test his potion-making skills once more and brew the Wolfsbane. Living with a feral werewolf was fine for one night, but he was not going to put his person in jeopardy again. Not when he had seen the look of hunger in the wolf's eyes. No, he wanted a nice, docile wolf as opposed to a feral creature.
Besides, the room was a mess. There were tears in the cushions of one of his favourite chairs, not to mention claw marks on the back of the bedroom door. Those would have to be fixed when Remus wasn't around. Werewolf marks were not something one could easily explain to his landlord. The room couldn't survive another month with a feral werewolf.
This was, of course, assuming that Remus would be here longer than a month. Severus simply ignored the pang in his stomach at the thought of not having Remus around. How in the space of one month had he gone from despising the man to tolerating him to actually wanting to have him around.
No, he had heard Remus speak. Severus slid his chair closer to the bed, pressing the back of his hand to the other man's forehead. To say he was feverish would have been an understatement. Remus was positively burning up and the cold compresses were doing nothing to bring the temperature down.
Severus' brow furrowed. Harry? Either this was a massive coincidence or there was something afoot. Remus' murmurings seemed to have passed, the man once more sleeping in relative peace. Severus stayed by his bed for the rest of the day, changing cooler cloths when the others became too soaked with sweat.
Why he cared so much about keeping Remus healthy was beyond him. The excuse that he was invaluable to the salon was a lie.
A motorized vacuum cleaner could have replaced Remus. It would have been less expensive and less emotionally draining to boot.