Who: Severus Snape, Remus Lupin then Hannah Abbott, Remus Lupin
Where: St. Mungo's
Summary: Remus receives two different visitors, and an understanding is reached between former enemies
Burning... it burned, like fire flowing through his veins. Moving restlessly on the bed, Remus rose towards consciousness as the pain-relieving potion ebbed, and his body reacted once again to the poison that flowed through him. It tormented veins and bones and muscles, making him feel as though every atom of his body were being twisted and turned inside out.
Gasping, he opened his eyes, his blurry vision met with shadow and light in patterns that he could not, at first, recognize. Blinking several times rapidly - and that hurt, too, as his lids rasped across painfully dry eyes - he turned his head. Someone there, by the bed, as there had been last time he had awoken. But this time... not the tanned face and red locks of Bill, but the pale, drawn face and black hair of Severus Snape.
Remus blinked again, confused. There was something... several somethings, but thinking even hurt at this point. Bill had said... what was it? It would come to him directly, but for moment all he could think to do was clear his dry throat. "Severus?" he asked, not certain if he was even loud enough to be heard.
Severus had been sitting by Remus' bed for the past ten minutes. Just sitting and watching the other man try to fight the poison that was still coursing through his veins. He knew he really shouldn't be there, that if Bill came back into the room and found him they would most likely come to blows. But, he also didn't care. Remus was most likely going to die, and Severus refused to let him go without getting a chance to clear the air, once and for all.
Leaning forward slightly as the werewolf began to regain consciousness, the Potions Master reached for the glass of water resting on the table. Upon hearing his name, his first name, spoken, he moved closer, glass of water in hand.
"Drink," he ordered gently, placing one hand behind the man's head to help him lean forward a bit. Placing the glass to his lips, Severus watched him slowly drink the liquid down. Once finished, he replaced the glass on the table and moved back to his seat. Steepling his fingers together, he studied Remus for a moment before asking, "How are you feeling?"
Exhausted from even the effort of drinking - although the liquid felt blessedly cool in his mouth and travelling down his parched throat - Remus slumped back against the pillows, feeling perspiration beading on his forehead. Breathe, he told himself firmly, fighting down the nausea that threatened.
This was... bad. Very bad. He knew his body, knew how he healed, knew the subtle signs of recovery that indicated injury or illness was being repaired by his lycanthrope metabolism... but he felt none of that now, just the pain. Turning glazed amber eyes to the other man, he managed a bare lift of one corner of his mouth. "Ready for the Quidditch Cup," he whispered. Then his brow creased, and he shuddered, eyes closing. "Truth, Severus... I'm dying, aren't I?"
Severus paused, his eyes widening slightly at Remus' question. Weasley didn't tell him? Licking his suddenly dry lips, the Potions Master tried to decide what to do. He wanted to lie, to tell him no. He wanted to ignore the question altogether, change the subject into something that wouldn't force him to admit out loud what was happening. He wanted to do a lot of things. But, he found himself, as per usual, admitting the truth regardless of the difficulties surrounding it.
"I'm afraid there is a good chance that you will not recover," he said quietly. "You were poisoned with a rather large dose of liquid silver. Somehow it was placed in the dose of the Wolfsbane that you drank. They aren't certain that your lycanthropy can withstand such a concentrated amount." He then fell quiet, silently begging the other man to reveal whether he, too, believed Severus had been the one to try to kill him.
Remus was quiet for a moment, concentrating on the pain and effort of merely continuing to breathe - funny how he had taken it for granted. "Thought so. Hurts like... well, I imagine you know," he whispered. He forced his eyes open again, and turned his head to look at the other man. "Bill said... you did it," he continued, before pausing for a moment, and swallowing again. "I don't believe it."
Severus stiffened, prepared to defend himself. However, the moment he heard Remus' admission that he didn't believe it, he froze. He thinks I am innocent? Will wonders never cease?
Recovering rather quickly, given the shock he'd just been dealt, he nodded once. "It's good to know one of you has common sense," he replied in a weak attempt at humor. Waiting a second longer, he asked, "Do you know of anyone who would wish this upon you?"
He hated asking that, knowing that there was a good chance Remus wouldn't be able to think of a single person. Hell, Severus had hated the man most of his life, and even he couldn't think of anyone who would wish the werewolf harm...much less death.
"No," came the weak response. "You thought I would think it was you, didn't you?"
Raising an eyebrow, he calmly responded, "Of course. Why would you not blame me? I am the one who brewed the potion. I am also the one with a ready stock of various forms of liquid silver for other potions. I have the motive, given our general dislike for one another, as well as..." He trailed off, unable to put into words what he was thinking.
His lips pressing against mine. Warm, soft yet unyielding...
Fighting down the emotions that came with the memory, he regarded Remus for a moment. "Your lover believes it was me. Why would you not?" he finally said.
"Because I know you, in ways Bill couldn't imagine... And if I die first, I win... prove you wrong," he said, lips curling up just slightly as he made reference to their last quarrel. How long ago that seemed. A lifetime and more. "You're a bastard, Sev. Want me to live on, unforgiven, I bet. Chuckling from Hell about beating Lupin, who will grow old without absolution."
Unforgiven? What is he prattling on about? Then, it hit him. Their fifth year. Sirius Black and the prank that nearly cost Severus his life...at the claws of a transformed Remus Lupin.
His stomach dropped as he realized that Remus still thought he hated him for that. Of course, up until very recently, Severus believed the very same thing. What changed?
Out loud, he snorted. "You are partially right," he admitted. "I do not wish for you to die first. That is my right, and my right alone. I..." He stopped himself just short of saying it was he deserved to die. 'You do,' the darker side of his mind whispered. 'Don't forget about the people you've killed, the lives you've destroyed. Death is the only way you can truly right the wrongs you have committed.
"Knew it," Remus whispered, then sighed. "Severus... will you ever forgive me? Let me die in peace?"
Severus raised an eyebrow, giving the man an unreadable look as his mind scrambled for what to say in response. It would be so simple to admit that I no longer blame him. That there is no reason for forgiveness because he was never at fault for anything more than having idiotic friends. However, the words didn't seem to want to come.
Finally, knowing that his time was drawing to an end and he needed to say something, he tried to speak. "Lupin..." Again, his voice failed him and he scowled at himself. Damn it all! Giving a slight growl of annoyance, he forced the words to leave his mouth.
"I do not blame you."
Remus felt a sense of peace spread over him, and he relaxed against the pillows, no longer caring about the searing pain. At last... he thought distantly. At least I'll die at peace.
"Thank you," he whispered, then gave a brief, hoarse chuckle. "Can die happy now. Or relieved, at least."
Such softly spoken words, yet they caused more pain in the Potions Master than even the worst case of Cruciatus. "No," he said, perhaps a little more forcefully than he'd intended. "You are not going to die," he insisted.
"Hmmm? Not what you said a few minutes ago," Remus replied, closing his eyes. "It's okay, don't have to lie, Severus. I'm a big boy. Been ready for... a long time now. Poor Bill..."
For the love of Merlin, how can he be making jokes at a time like this? Why, even *I*.... His stomach dropped sharply, yet again, as realization crept over him. I did the same bloody thing...
Narrowing his eyes, he studied the werewolf carefully. Was he merely acting this way to prove a point? No, somehow he didn't think so. Growing angrier now that he knew it wasn't just an act, he growled out, "What I said is there is a strong possibility that your lycanthropy will not be able to fight the silver. However, if there is one thing you have proven time and again, it is an uncanny ability to survive, regardless of the odds. And I, for one, refuse to sit back and watch you accept defeat with such ease."
Moving to the side of the bed, he glowered down at the werewolf. "So help me, Remus, if having a clear conscience gives you permission to die, I take it back. In fact, if I have to continue to torment you with guilt for every bloody thing you and your friends did while we were in school, I will. However, I will not allow you to die!"
Gasping for breath after his tirade, Severus' eyes widened in shock. Sweet Merlin, where did *that* come from?
Startled, Remus opened his eyes again. "Careful, Severus... I might start to think you actually care."
I do! I bloody well do, you stubborn werewolf. Can't you see that?
Recovering slightly, the Potions Master raised an eyebrow again. "Believe what you wish, Remus," he murmured softly. "Just believe it while still alive."
Eyes clearing slightly, Remus fixed Severus with a stern gaze. "I'll live... if you promise you will."
Severus blinked. "W-What?" he asked, silently cursing himself for stuttering. He hadn't done that since he was a small boy and his father had 'taught' him that Snape's didn't allow words to get the better of them.
Finally, he shook his head to re-focus himself. "I hardly have any control..." He stopped, knowing Remus would simply respond that neither did he. Damn.
After a second, he tried again. "You cannot possibly be aware what you are asking of me," he said quietly.
"Don't I?" Remus asked, very softly. "I'm asking you to forgive yourself. Simple, really. Now that you have forgiven me, I can forgive myself. I want you to do the same, Severus."
"F-Forgive myself?" he echoed, scarcely noticing the stutter had returned. Shaking his head, he took a step away from the bed. "It isn't that simple, Remus," he replied. "The things I have done..." Giving a harsh laugh, he fixed him with a pointed look. "You know nothing of what I'm truly capable of. What I did in the name of the Dark Lord...it's enough to turn any man's stomach."
Shaking his head, his voice was firm. "I do not deserve forgiveness for my sins, least of all from myself."
He called me... Remus, the werewolf thought, finally noticing it for the first time. He must truly be distressed to do that... Surprised amber eyes regarded the black-haired wizard, looking at him almost as though he had never seen him before. Then he smiled, a peaceful, genuine smile. "Don't I know? We have the same darkness in our souls, Severus, although we express it differently. I've killed too, and done things... that I am ashamed of. You've paid your debts, in blood and in pain... and in regret. You have a life to live, and things yet to do. Let it go, Severus. Be at peace."
Severus snorted, the intimate conversation becoming too much for him to take. "A life to live?" he challenged. "And what would that entail? Working for a Ministry who would rather see me rotting in Azkaban with the likes of Lucius Malfoy than attempting to rid the world of the threat of Cruciatus? Being reminded every day of the people that were lost during the war, people who were willing to lay their lives down from the very start for what they believed in, while I, a former Death Eater, survived?"
Shaking his head, he continued. "There is no peace for me, Remus. I do not deserve such a reward. And it is not your place to attempt to give it to me."
"I only asked you to forgive yourself, Severus, not to do something revolting like kissing me or something," Remus said, perhaps a bit petulantly. The pain was becoming bad again, as he felt himself growing weaker.
Severus narrowed his eyes, for some reason taking offense to his comment. Almost against his will, images from before came rushing back to him. His lips were softer than I would have thought....
Stalking back to the side of the bed, he glared at the werewolf. "Don't," he hissed in a dangerous tone. "Do not dare try to compare my past to...to that."
"Sorry," Remus whispered, eyes sliding closed in defeat. "I seem to have a talent for... making you angry. Too tired to fight, Severus. Too tired. You win."
Severus sighed, guilt closing in aronud him. "It isn't that," he admitted in a softer tone than he'd intended to use. Moving his gaze from the werewolf, he tried to put into words what he had just realized himself not to long before. "I merely meant..."
I cannot say it. I simply cannot.
He shook his head, slowly making his way to the door. "I'm going to leave. Bill will return shortly and it would be most...unfortunate if I were to still be present." However, just as his hand closed on the doorknob, he paused and glanced back at the dying man in the bed.
Hestitating only a second, and realizing this could very well be the last time he ever spoke to Remus again, he finally forced himself to say a small facsimile to what had been running through his mind. "There are very few things so horrendous that they can be compared to my past. What occurred between us, while unexpected, is most definitely not one of them."
Remus didn't open his eyes, but a small smile curved his mouth in spite of the pain. Although not privy to the other man's thought, he was, as well, aware that this might be their last conversation. "Thank you, Severus. I don't think you realize... exactly what that means to me." Then he did open his eyes, and looked at the Potions Master. "Goodbye, Severus. And... I hope you get your cure... and find peace."
His eyes widened slightly at how calm, how at peace, the werewolf sounded. He opened his mouth to argue with him, to possibly continue on the conversation for just a bit longer. However, he instantly realized that it simply wasn't going to work.
No matter how much Severus wanted to, he couldn't hold onto the past forever.
Nodding his head, he smirked slightly. "Goodbye, Remus." Suddenly, an image flashed before him. Not of the man lying in the bed across the room, but of a young boy in Gryffindor robes who hadn't been expected to survive his childhood. A boy who, during the full moon, transformed into a beast capable of ripping a grown man to shreds. A boy that never directly attempted to harm Severus, yet took all the torment heaped upon him with more grace than most adults.
His smirk now gone, Severus softly said, "It has been ... interesting having known you." Then, he silently left the room, closing the door softly behind him. "And an honor, as well," he added to the shut door, before shaking his head, gathering his robes about himself, and heading down the corridor.
Hannah's face was puffy with unshed tears as she approached the ward where Remus lay... all because of her. She was the one who'd brewed the potion. She was the one who'd delievered it. She was the reason Remus was probably going to lose his life... and the guilt of that was killing her. But she had to go to see him.
She pushed open the doors to the ward, slipping past a sleeping Bill, and made her way to Remus' bed. "Hi there," she said quietly.
Opening his eyes, Remus blinked slightly at the golden haired vision that stood by his bed. Then he smiled, recognizing Hannah. "Hello, Hannah," he replied softly. "I'm very glad to see you."
Hannah immediately took Remus' hand in hers, shocked at the coolness there. Her eyes filled with tears as she tried to smile. "How are you, love?"
"Wonderful, actually," he said, with a ghost of his normal humor. "Told Severus to sign me up for the Quidditch Cup. He's being mean, and won't bring me my broom, though."
Hannah chuckled a bit, rubbing his hand gently. "Well, maybe I can sneak it in for you, dear."
"Good. Would love to put... one last one over on Sev," he sighed, brow furrowing in pain. Then he glanced over towards Bill's sleeping form, eyes darkening, before turning back to Hannah. "How are you doing?"
Hannah bit her already chewed-up lower lip as she looked down on him. "I've... been better." She took a deep breath, tears spilling. "Remus.. I'm..."
Remus squeezed her hand with as much strength as he could summon. "I'm sorry, Hannah, that you're worrying about me. Everything... will turn out fine."
Hannah shook her head, blinking the remaining tears back. "D-don't apologize to me, Remus... I should be apologizing to you. I... I'm..." Hannah trailed off, gulping, trying to get her guilt and breathing under control.
"You have nothing to apologize for, Hannah," he looked at her, very seriously, seeing the play of emotions across her face, and understanding what they meant. "You didn't do anything wrong. Do you understand me? It was not your fault."
Hannah nodded, her voice failing her as the tears spilled.
"Don't cry," he said softly, squeezing her hand and smiling wryly. "I'd much rather see you smiling at me. Don't make me wake Bill and have him tickle you."
Hannah chuckled again, wiping her face. If Remus wanted her happy, dammit, she'd be happy. "Oh, heavens no, not that," she said dryly.
"Thank Merlin," Remus sighed. "Bill's a total grouch when he first wakes up. I think it's a Weasley trait." He squeezed her hand again, and swallowed painfully. Glancing once again with worried eyes towards the redhead, he beckoned Hannah closer. "Hannah... I need to ask you a favor... a big one." He spoke very softly, his words meant for her alone.
Hannah moved closer, nodding as her eyes grew wide. "Yes, anything."
"When... if... anything happens..." he drew a breath, not meeting her eyes. "I... would you... please, watch out for Bill for me?" He squeezed her hand very tightly. "I'm... worried about him."
Her heart stopped and Hannah gulped, nodding a little. "Nothing is going to happen to you, Remus. Nothing. You'll be fine. Better than before even. But... should something happen... I... I'll do my best."
"Thank you," came the soft response, and Remus looked back at her. "I just... need to make sure he's... watched out for." He sighed, then gave her a smile. "I gave Neville a picture of you for Christmas, did you know that? Hannah, if I can be... forward enough, I suppose, to offer you advice... don't wait too long before you... go after what you want. Life is too uncertain to risk it."
Hannah melted a little bit, a silly grin on her face. "You did? Remus.. you... you're...." She trailed off, shaking her head. He was too much sometimes.
"Hopeless, I know... Always have been a sap that way," he replied. "Neville is a good man. So is Bill. We're lucky, aren't we?"
She smiled softly, glowing. "Well, you are at any rate. As far as Neville and I...." Hannah's eyes grew distant and she shrugged. "Well, your guess is as good as mine, dearest."
"We make our own luck, Hannah... don't be afraid to try," he encouraged her, eyes closing. "Sorry... been so tired lately..."
Hannah nodded, leaning forward to place a small kiss on his forehead. "Sleep now, dear, and I'll come by tomorrow morning with some breakfast... If the 'warden' will let me in, that is," she said grinning and motioning to Bill.
Remus smiled, eyes still closed. "Just offer him a muffin, he'll be your slave..." he said, and drifted back to sleep.
Hannah smiled, giving his hand one more squeeze before she straightened up and left the ward. She had some baking to do.