The Other Side of the Mirror
Rating: NC17 (M on FF.N)
Pairings: RL/SS, RL/SB (May change)
Warnings: Slash/Yaoi, Angst, Violence, Non-Com, Werewolf!Snape
Notes: Much of the canon timeline will be the same, but tweaked. Much things will be completely different. I intend on using the series as a guide line but not much more.
Summary: In Sixth year, Remus Lupin nearly killed Severus Snape in wolf form. Miraculously, Severus escaped unharmed. But what if he hadn't?
FF.N readers: This story is originally posted on under the name TGPretender. There, it will be posted in full. Here, there will be obvious edits to keep with the TOS. There will not be on-screen sex or gratuitous violence in this version. This story will also be updated in four chapter increments, a little under twice a week. On AFF.N, it is posted to every day with one four-page chapter. Feel free to watch both.
When It Rains
Severus Snape woke up to a world of pain, bright lights, disgusting scents, and sounds louder than the roar of a dragon right in his ears. It was too much to deal with all at once. All he could do was curl up and whimper and hope to Merlin that it ended soon.
He thought he felt a touch to his shoulder, but everything was so painful that he could only shy from it. There were voices and they sounded so very loud. He covered his ears but it didn't help at all. His head pounded.
There were hands upon him, pulling his hands from his face. He fought but then they pried his mouth open and he nearly choked on a mint flavored liquid poured down his throat. The taste! It was just as overwhelming as the rest of it. He cried and struggled as another potion went down, then another. He lost count but it didn't matter. Soon enough, he fell into oblivion.
Severus didn't know how much time passed. He wavered in and out of consciousness. Each time, his senses screamed at him, but they dulled slowly off. It seemed like years had passed before he opened his eyes and managed to keep them that way.
The hospital wing was familiar, of course. One didn't have enemies like James Potter and Sirius Black without ending up there often, especially when most of the Quidditch team took their sides. Severus slowly sat up and held his head as it began to ache again. The pain didn't burn like fire, but it was still annoying.
He was the only one there, thankfully. Severus wouldn't have been able to bear letting someone see him so weak, and it was weakness he felt permeating his entire body. His limbs felt heavy, leaden, and his head felt full of cotton, as did his mouth. He found a glass of water sitting at his side table and quickly grabbed it, only to have it drop from his weakened fingers. The glass clattered against the floor and Severus winced as the sound bothered his tender ears.
He shifted, shoving his weak legs over the side of the bed and moving to bend and grab the sodding glass, when another sound caught his attention. He tilted his head, frowning a bit. Footsteps, the shift of clothing, as if right next to him. He jerked straight and ignored the way his head swam with the movement. The door to the infirmary opened and Madam Pomfrey entered, but there was no one else. Had he really heard her...?
"Mister Snape!" she called and he flinched, hands going reflexively to his ears. Damn it, why was she so loud? Madam Pomfrey rushed immediately to his side with a sympathetic look on her face. "Oh, you poor dear. Just a moment."
She hurriedly fetched a potion and he took it without even thinking. Within a few moments, his senses began to dampen. Light and color didn't seem quite so bright, sounds so loud, smells so strong... He could still smell the light touch of lilacs in her perfume, along with sugar and bread from her last meal, still hear her heartbeat slow and steady in her chest.
"What...what happened?" His voice sounded hoarse and used and he touched his throat with a grown.
"Oh, child," Pomfrey murmured, brows drawing upward with utmost sympathy. Severus frowned at that expression and a slow panic began in his chest.
She bit her lip, worrying her hands. "We'd better wait for the Headmaster. I've already sent for him."
Dumbledore? What would they need him for? The panic went up a notch as he broke into a cold sweat. What could possibly be wrong with him that would require Dumbledore...? Severus swallowed quickly. Oh Merlin. He was going to die. That had to be it. He was going to die.
He didn't want to die.
Pomfrey fussed over him a bit, then went off to do something. Severus hadn't been listening to her. He didn't care. As soon as she was gone, Severus struggled to his feet and pulled the sheet over his shoulders. He stumbled for the door on weak, clumsy feet, barely managing to bully his worn out body into motion. The door closed quietly behind him and he fled into the halls.
If he didn't hear it, it wasn't real. He didn't want to die.
Hand on the stone walls to keep him steady, Severus held the sheet tightly in his other and just walked. He had to get far enough that he wouldn't hear it. If he didn't hear it, it wasn't real. Barely one corridor later, he was shaking so hard that walking straight became a herculean task. Thank Merlin everyone was in class. If they saw him like this...
Somehow, Severus managed to get outside. He wasn't even sure why he wanted to be there, but the sun shown down and warmed his skin, bright as it was. Dropping down on the last step, Severus leaned against the stone railing and closed his eyes. The warmth helped his speeding heart and shaking body. Somehow. He didn't feel better, but at least he wasn't shivering.
What had happened to him...? He couldn't remember getting hurt. The last thing that was clear in his thoughts was Sirius Black's gloating face. Severus felt his chest clench at that image. Sirius Black. He hated him. He hated him so very much... Black had to be involved in this, in why he was going to die. That stupid git, it had to be his fault!
I don't want to die.
Sirius Black had killed him. Somehow, it was rather ironic and a little sad. He couldn't say he was surprised. Some of the pranks they'd pulled on him through the years, one's he'd pulled... The real wonder was that none of them had died before this.
It still made him angry. There was so much he had to still do. Become a potions master, maybe an Auror, find something that his father could be proud of him for doing, something that his mother would acknowledge... Get the girl.
Severus swallowed thickly. The girl. If he died, what would happen to Lily? She hadn't spoken a civil word to him in nearly a year, but he still watched her. He still loved her. He would protect her to the end of his days (especially from that sodding James Potter) but was the end of his days so close...? He couldn't die until he'd reconciled with her! Even if Lily never loved him back, if she would just look at him again! Talk to him again.
Chest clenching, Severus dropped his head against it and closed his eyes tightly. He felt weak, so very weak, like at home when he wasn't able to filch enough food from the cupboards and his mother had forgotten him again. But it wasn't just hunger. It felt as if his body was trying to shut down around him.
He didn't want to die but it didn't seem to be his choice.
Severus blacked out and when he came to, he was in the hospital wing again and Albus Dumbledore looked down at him sorrowfully.
"Language, Mr. Snape," Dumbledore replied quietly. His face lacked the usual soft look and twinkling eyes. He knew it. He was going to die.
"How long do I have?" Severus asked. His throat still hurt and his voice sounded so meager. As weak as the rest of him.
"Nothing. What happened?" What did Black do to me?
Dumbledore sighed and seemed to shrink and age in seconds. Severus almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
"I'm afraid it's a little complicated," the headmaster began.
Dumbledore actually hesitated. He looked at Severus over the rims of his half moon glasses for a long for moments. "You were attacked by a werewolf."
Well. That hadn't been what he was expecting. Severus rested back more firmly against the pillow, staring up at the ceiling. A werewolf..?
"It's understandable that you don't remember much about it. Most don't. And most don't survive after the.." The Headmaster trailed off, but Severus wasn't really listening anyway. So, Black had managed to sic a werewolf on him? Imaginative. More innovated than he thought Black was capable of. But how had he managed to lure a werewolf close enough to him? Or maybe it had turned on him too. Ha, wouldn't that be great?
"Is Black dead?"
"Pardon?" Dumbledore looked startled.
"He lured the werewolf, right?" Severus looked at him again, oddly calm for one who was about to die. "He's too stupid to have made sure it couldn't turn on him."
"No, Mr. Black is fine." Dumbledore sighed. "He didn't lure the werewolf to you, my boy. He lured you to it."
Oh. That made sense. He felt rather stupid for falling into Black's trap, but it still made sense. Now Black must be crowing for having tricked him so well. Stupid Gryffindor bastard.
"I don't understand, Mr. Snape."
Severus just frowned at him, rather annoyed. "How long until I die? I want to know if I have time to finish my homework."
Dumbledore said nothing at first. He stared at Severus and it seemed something should have been hilariously funny, but neither of them laughed. Neither of them moved. Not even the warm sunshine streaming in through the windows could comfort them.
"You aren't going to die, Severus," the Headmaster said very, very softly. Severus knew that tone. He knew it meant something utterly horrible, worse than death. And the fact that Dumbledore had used his first name... "You received a wound from the werewolf. A bite."
He wanted to die.
Lycanthropy, it turned out, was a nastier business than anyone thought. Except Severus, of course. With his interest into the dark arts, he'd become rather knowledgeable in the ways of various dark creatures. Werewolves were not excluded, especially when he began to figure out just what was wrong with Remus Lupin.
As such, Severus knew what was happening to him. Lycanthropy tended to kill more than it turned. There was a very low acceptance rate. Just because someone was bitten didn't mean they'd become a werewolf. Indeed, it seemed he wasn't one of the 'lucky' ones either. The virus was eviscerating him from the inside out. His body had rejected the change for two weeks after the initial contamination, resulting in his on-again, off-again comatose state. The next week, he'd been conscious but bedridden. His body was too weak and Madam Pomfrey had the terrible fear that his heart would give out any day now.
Severus found himself really no caring. Fighting a losing battle against the virulent strain kept him calm and sleepy. He slept far more than he bothered staying awake. Homework was only the faintest escape from the dwindling state of his body, but he could not keep up his pen more than an hour or so before the weakness set in again.
The only good thing that had happened was Lily Evans. Once he'd recovered from the initial shock of his condition, Pomfrey allowed him visitors and Lily was the first there. It felt like heaven, as if they'd never had their falling out. Lily sat at his bedside and brought him homework, keeping him up to date with all that was happening in the school. She babbled about nothing important, but just the sound of her voice was a balm on his heart. He'd had to physically restrain himself from writing silly nonsense like SS+LE in his notebooks.
Had she forgiven him? Severus didn't know and he was terrified to ask. If he asked, she might stop visiting him. As it was, she came every evening after classes and they did homework together. Like old times. Like the better times.
Severus did, however, find out what exactly had gone on that night. Apparently, Black and Potter thought it would be a riot to lure him to the fully transformed werewolf, their own friend Remus Lupin. He didn't know if they intended to kill him, but Potter chickened out at the last moment and dragged him to safety...but too late to escape Lupin's jaws. Thus, he'd been bitten. Black and Potter both had detention for the rest of the year and had been removed from their Quidditch team. Severus wished they'd been expelled, but Dumbledore had said some junk about the importance of pure lines, safe places, teenage stupidity. All rubbish, but it made the message clear. Dumbledore didn't give a damn what happened to him when it came to his precious Gryffindor pups. Honestly, Severus wasn't all that surprised, but it had hurt. Not that he'd admit it. But at least he had Lily.
Three days before the full moon, Severus began to feel a strange itch under his skin. He told no one, rather terrified of what it would mean. He was still bedridden for the most part as the virus continued to slowly kill him. Shouldn't he have been dead already? It seemed unnecessarily tedious to draw it out this long. Madam Pomfrey had stopped telling him the truth about his condition a week ago. He was getting worse.
...And what would happen on the full moon? That was what scared Severus the most. Would he transform? Would the virus run its course? If he survived the transformation, he'd never have to worry about illness after, except for silver. But if he didn't... If he didn't, it would leave a very nasty corpse for his mother to bury. If she'd bury a monster.
Neither of his parents had come to see him. Severus was sure Dumbledore had informed them of his condition, but there'd been no word at all. He hadn't been surprised about his father, but he'd held out hope.. Well. If Eileen Snape didn't want to see her dying son, that was her business. He would be damned if he mourned her presence.
The antsy itch under his skin grew worse the next day and then left him vibrating with nervous energy by the full moon. He was still alive, somehow, still aware, so Madam Pomfrey and Dumbledore got him in a coat and helped him stumble his way out to the whomping willow, and from there the shrieking shack. He hated needing their help, but every step made him weaker and weaker. They finally levered him down to sit against one dirty, scratched wall where he sweat and panted from exertion.
And then Remus Lupin appeared.
Severus nearly hexed him, but he hadn't had his wand on him since he'd awakened. Lupin looked at him and blanched. It almost gave Severus a rush of joy to see that. Almost.
"..Snape," Lupin greeted uneasily. He couldn't quite look the Slytherin in the eye. Good. He wasn't worthy of doing so.
"Werewolf," Severus replied coolly. Lupin's nostrils flared and his brows twitched. Severus thought he was either angry or regretful. Either way, it was fine with him.
"Now now, boys," Dumbledore tried to be the voice of reason as Pomfrey fretted. "Tonight may be rather..."
Severus glared at him when he trailed off and looked at him. After a few moments, Dumbledore regained his composure and resumed.
"Lets try for a truce, at least for tonight," the old man murmured. Severus snorted and Lupin looked a little green in a way that rather pleased him. "Mr. Lupin, if you would follow Madam Pomfrey to the bedroom? She'll be performing a number of charms to keep you restrained to that area."
Lupin followed the nurse without a word, but he did give Severus one last look. It was regretful, shamed, and Severus's lip curled in response. This was Lupin's fault as much as Black's and Potter's. No doubt, Lupin had been in on it, whether he was squeamish about it or not.
Dumbledore began casting charms and wards as he chatted about nothing. Severus ignored him, simply concentrating on his breathing. His heart was beating too quickly and his body shook with energy and weakness simultaneously. His senses were going wild. Every knew sound jerked his attention and he couldn't help being fascinated by the scent of lemon drops, peaches, and mint radiating off Dumbledore's body.
Then the pain hit. A surprised scream ripped from Severus's throat as his body convulsed. He thought he heard Dumbledore's voice but then a wavy of burning heat raced through him and he could only sob in response. He jerked and shook, whimpering as he felt himself flop uselessly onto the floor. It hurt, it hurt so much and he was going to die, he was going to be ripped apart and die and... and...
He hadn't told Lily how much he loved her.
He must have blacked out because he woke up quite suddenly. Severus lifted his head. His body hurt, a dull pang through the full of it, but he wasn't hurt. He slowly got up, arching his body this way and that to relieve various aches that were quickly disappearing completely. With a jolt, he realized the weakness was gone. He felt strong, powerful, invincible... and angry.
One ear twitched as he caught a sound. Scratching, whimpering. A sniff and he caught the scent. There, another of his kind. His lips curled back as he began to growl, low and deep in his throat. The scratching sounds paused as the other wolf figured out he was there as well. Then a low growl. Severus made his way slowly through the unfamiliar house, shying instinctively from the noisiest planks. And then a barrier, situated against a rattling door. He gave a snarl of anger and crashed into it, hear the other do the same on the other side. The door groaned and rattled between them and the magics sparked with the raw power of two werewolves hell bent on getting at one another.
It couldn't last for long. Soon enough, wood splintered and then a half grown wolf slammed into him. Immediately, Severus fought. He had to. He bit and scratched and tore, as the other wolf did the same. He had to win! Severus managed to knock the bigger wolf off of him and them jumped at him to continue to ripping, tearing fight. He felt tufts of fur pulled out, blood spilling, but none of it mattered in the face of his enemy.
The brown wolf was bigger, stronger, but Severus couldn't give up without a fight and they both understood it. A startled, pained whine left Severus as teeth caught at the scruff of his neck. He managed to rip free, but it was the beginning of the end. He managed to clamp down on the other wolf's haunch, but then felt teeth again at his throat and this time he couldn't get away.
The larger wolf wrestled him to the ground. Severus whimpered as he thrashed, but just felt jaws clamping tighter. Skin ruptured and his vision began to wane. Before he could black out completely, the other wolf let go and began to slowly prowl around him. Severus shivered and stayed down, even as the wounds grew slowly less painful, healing. Finally, he lifted his head a bit and his ears laid back as the brown wolf snarled at him. He couldn't win. All he could do was submit. At least for now.
After a few moments of stillness, the other wolf seemed to loose interest. He traipsed off to another room, scratching at wood here or there or breaking it between his jaws. Severus felt the same need for such senseless violence, but for now, he stayed where he was.
As soon as Severus did rise, the wolf was back and they fought all over again. Each time, the larger wolf subdued him and then left to occupy himself as Severus healed. Over and over and over. Severus rarely got good blows in, but he got better each time.
At last, Severus could feel his body reaching its end. He couldn't keep healing and fighting, tired as it had made him. So, when the other wolf stood before him, stiff and tall with his ears erect, Severus kept himself low with his ears flat and muzzle lifted. After a few moments of staring, the bigger wolf snorted and went to lay down near by. Severus relaxed a bit and went to licking his wounds before falling into a deep sleep.
Morning brought a very strange sensation. Severus thought he felt something in his hair, brushing it from his face, but he only curled a bit tighter into himself, muttering a soft sound. The rest of his body was pained and achy and his head pounded. The touch paused and then returned to gentle petting. It was comforting, strange, unknown, lovely... Finally, he opened his eyes, unable to continue being subjected to something so sweetly painful.
Lupin knelt next to him, staring down, his hand hovering just over Severus's head. They stared at each other for a long few seconds before Severus found his voice.
"Get the hell away from me!"
Lupin drew back, lifting his brows as Severus scuttled from him, limbs weak and clumsy. Then the other boy sighed a little.
"How do you feel?"
"Like hell warmed over. What's it to you?"
Lupin frowned and almost looked hurt. "I'm trying to be civil."
"I don't give a damn. Leave me alone."
Severus then realized he was starkers. He let out a noise and jerked his legs to his body, glaring at Lupin as if it was his fault. His cheeks were colored. At least Lupin had some bloody pants on. And the damned Gryffindor looked amused. After a moment, Lupin tossed a set of pants at him. Severus quickly caught them and dragged them on without a thought to whose they might be. The fit was loose but familiar. His, then. He still hated the fact that he was naked, especially once he looked down at himself.
There were marks... everywhere. Bites, scratches, bruises. He touched a few with morbid curiosity. Some hurt, but most of it had already healed to thin red lines. When he glanced at Lupin, the other boy was in much the same condition.
"They fade," he said. Severus scowled at him.
"Who cares? It's not like anyone but you will ever see it now."
Lupin didn't answer but he didn't have to.
And Then Gets Worse
Survival of that first moon meant survive of the virus. Severus wasn't sure if he felt relieved or not. Certainly not glad. There was no being glad about living the rest of his life as a bloody werewolf.
Lupin had tried to talk with him more, even apologized a few times, but Severus hadn't had any interest in hearing it. Something about Lupin's voice made him want to listen, so he fought the compulsion even harder.
When Pomfrey came for them, Lupin shut up, thankfully, and the nurse presented them with the rest of a full change of clothing. They dressed in silence and then followed her back to the school. Once in the infirmary, Pomfrey checked them out thoroughly, rubbing salve into healing wounds just to make sure and dumping a few potions down their throats. They wouldn't help much with the achy, sick feeling both had, but a little help was better than none. Finally, she sent them off to rest the day away.
Severus shoved his hands into his pockets as he headed for the dungeons, but a grab at one arm stopped him. He looked at the hand around his upper arm and followed it to Lupin's face. The Gryffindor looked so strained and pale... Abruptly, Severus ripped his arm free and glared.
"Don't touch me," he hissed out. Lupin swallowed thickly but he didn't back down.
"We need to talk."
"I don't want to talk to you. Ever."
Lupin's lips pursed and he dropped his eyes. "...Look, Severus-"
"Do not call me with such familiarity!" Severus hissed with violent anger. Lupin's eyes shot back to him as the Gryffindor tensed and fell silent. A moment of quiet and Severus realized he'd drawn his wand. His breathing was suddenly ragged, rage cinching his chest. "We are not friends, Lupin. We never have been and never will be. I detest you. I find you so very disgusting that just looking at you makes me feel ill. Don't you dare touch me. Don't speak to me. Don't even look at me."
Lupin's mouth fell closed with an audible click and stared at the end of the wand trained between his eyes. His face had paled considerably but Severus had absolutely no sympathy for the man who had made him a monster.
"There is nothing to say." Severus was beginning to calm, slowly, at least enough to regain his composure. "Beside the nights we are forced in one another's company, I don't want to even remember you exist. You've made me a monster, Lupin. I will never forgive you for this."
And then he left the Gryffindor standing in stunned silence in the middle of the abandoned hallway. Severus didn't care if he'd been cruel. Lupin deserved it. He deserved every bloody second of it. Severus only wished he could have cowed Black and Potter like that. Another day, perhaps.
The rest of the day, Severus spent curled up in his bed, sleeping off his weary weakness. It was the turning point. He'd survived the transformation and his body made a speedy recovery. The next day, he was back in classes, much to his comfort. There were rumors aplenty about why he'd been in the hospital wing so long. Anything from the plague to a murder plot and other sundry idiocies. Severus found himself more amused by it all than annoyed.
What surprised him as after his last class before lunch, Lily Evans showed up and threw her arms around him in a tight embrace. Severus went very still, sucking in a hard breath at the unfamiliar sensation of the hug, but Lily just held him tighter.
"I'm so glad you're okay," she murmured, muffled against his shoulder. Severus shivered faintly. She still hadn't let go. Awkwardly, he lifted his hands to pat her back before growing a little adventurous enough to slid his arms more firmly around her. She didn't pull away and he relaxed a fraction.
"Yes, well, it will take a little bit more than a murderous animal to kill me," he mused. Lily snorted and then, regrettably, let go of him. Severus hated having to do the same. "I don't suppose this means our... friendship will continue now that I'm off my deathbed...?"
Lily looked at him, serious and so utterly beautiful it took his breath away. She always had. Why such a beautiful girl had ever decided he was worthy of speaking to, he didn't know.
"...Only if you promise never to call me that name again, Severus," Lily murmured with a faint frown. "Ever. You can't slip up again. I don't care if you're mad or hurt. Don't you dare take it out on me again."
Severus nodded stiffly. "Never."
"Good." And then her perfect lips drew into a soft smile that melted him inside. "Then we can go back to being friends."
"Thank you." Severus felt himself smile in return. It almost hurt, as little as he smiled, but she looked so much brighter to see it. They set up a study session for that evening and then headed their separate ways. Severus hadn't felt so elated since finding out that his childhood friend was a witch. He didn't even mind that his first class after lunch was Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts with Potter, Black, and Lupin. Not even they could ruin his good mood just yet.
The rest of the day went on in a blur. As soon as classes let out, Severus hurriedly gathered his books and headed for the library. He hadn't felt so eager in so long. Actually, he felt a bit giddy. How stupid.
However, just as he met up with Lily and basked in the glow of her smile, Professor McGonagall came to fetch him. Severus could have cursed the woman but he managed to keep his cool and promised to find Lily once he was finished. Then he followed the damned professor to the headmaster's office. Before Dumbledore could greet him, Severus stopped dead in the doorway. Sitting in front of the headmaster's desk were his parents.
Tobias Snape did not look like a pleasant man, nor was he. He stood, taller than Severus by half a head, and his sunk in, gray eyes flickered over his son without sympathy. It looked as if he were trying to find some sign of...monstrosity? Severus folded his arms over his chest in tight defense but he knew his father wouldn't strike him with witnesses.
"The boy looks fine," Tobias ground out finally, glaring back at his wife. "You dragged me from work for this?"
Eileen Snape swallowed thickly as she rose as well. She rung her tiny, skeletal fingers and glanced nervously at her husband, only to drop her gaze a moment after.
"It... this is important, Tobias," she murmured so quietly they could barely hear it. Tobias narrowed his eyes, then grunted and sat back down, hands on his bony knees. Eileen gave Severus a glance and a fleeting, insincere smile before she took her seat as well. Now that the warmth lacking greeting was over, Dumbledore conjured another chair for Severus.
"Mr. And Mrs. Snape, thank you for coming. I know this will be a very difficult change for your family and I will personally do all I can to make sure the transition is painless," Dumbledore began. Severus nearly snorted, but he didn't want to bring his father's attention on him.
"Just spit it out," Tobias sneered, his lip curling. "What do we have to do about this...condition?"
"Well, you'll need to alter a room in the house or near by where Severus can spend the full moons. I will teach Eileen the necessary warding spells to make sure he doesn't escape while transformed-"
"So this 'werewolf' thing. It's real?" Tobais looked back to his son with narrowed eyes, as if he expected the boy to sprout fur right then and there. "Can't you people just keep him? I don't have time to deal with a dangerous animal."
Severus stiffened and his throat felt dry. He knew his father wasn't fond of him, but it was another thing entirely to actually hear it, especially where others could hear as well. Especially in front of Albus Dumbledore. His chest clenched painfully.
"...I'm afraid we cannot," Dumbledore murmured after a moment of quiet. "However, I'm sure Eileen will be able to take care of this. Won't you, my dear?"
Eileen flinched faintly at being addressed directly, especially when Tobias's cold eyes fell to her. She said nothing at first, pale and still.
"...Y-Yes, I suppose," she whispered finally, quiet and mousy.
"Lovely." Dumbledore managed, somehow, to smile at the dour couple and rose from his seat, holding out a hand. Tobias stared at it narrowly and then turned, leaving the office with a grumbled farewell. Eileen shivered a little as she got up, smiling tightly.
"...Thank you, Headmaster," she murmured, ringing her hands once more. "I-I will do my best to learn."
Dumbledore nodded compassionately, then stepped around the desk and set a hand on Severus's shoulder, startling the teen.
"You have a very special son, Mrs. Snape," he said with a smile. "I will do all I can to keep him from harm."
Eileen nodded with another tight smile as she regarded her son. Severus sat just as stiffly, arms still crossed over his chest and head lowered. She almost reached out to him but caught herself and drew her hand back again.
"It..It's good to see you, Severus."
"Mother," he greeted, jaw clenched tightly. Eileen faltered at his coldness, but she was more than used to it. What more did she expect from him?
"..I...I suppose you have...studying to do. Is it...going well?"
"Oh. I see. That's good. Potions?"
"Head of the class."
"That... that's wonderful, Severus."
He didn't answer and she lapsed into an awkward silence. Finally, Eileen gave another tight smile and turned her black eyed gaze onto Dumbledore.
"Well. B-best that I learn the spells now..."
Severus left soon after. He didn't see his parents off, nor even wanted to think about them. No doubt, his father would take this out of his hide when he got the chance. As if his son was more important than work. And now Tobias had a slew of new names to call the monstrosity he'd sired. Severus couldn't bloody wait.
When he dropped into bed that evening, Severus tried vainly to ignore the ache that still permeated his chest. Someday... Someday he'd find something that made his father proud of him. To acknowledge his brilliance and skill. Someday... Tobias would be glad he'd been born.
Why couldn't someday be today?
There was a thing to be said about scholarships. The only reason Severus stayed able to go to school were scholarships. He'd qualified for the First Year Assistance Plan when he first began, which took care of his tuition and books, though his father had still had to shell out more pounds than he'd wanted for the uniforms and supplies. Because of this, Severus had quelled any interest he'd had in Quidditch or any school team requiring specialized things to make sure his father would never have to pay for it. Thus, he'd ended up on the Gobstones team mid year after being gifted a set of Gobstones. Plus, Lily made the team as well and he'd do anything to spend more time with her.
At the end of First Year, Severus had managed to rank third in the school overall and thus had access to another tuition waver for the next year as well as a secondary scholarship to cover his books. He hadn't grown much so only minor alterations were needed. His mother had tended to that. Third, fourth, and fifth years went on the same, except for a rise to second rank and the growth spurt he went through in fifth year that shot him up nearly as tall as his father. New robes had not been a welcome expense.
Because Severus understood just how precious his schooling was, he did not waste his time there. He knew that if he managed to flunk out of school and lose the scholarships, there would be no returning. Tobias Snape had little use for a failure son with as much as Severus failed him already. Thus, Severus worked his bloody arse off. Only a few of the teachers knew just how much work he put into his perfect essays and how much time he spent after school practicing.
A month on his backside had set him back, but not as much as he'd feared. The theory work he'd finished and he was up to date on all his essays. He'd read the required chapters. However, his wand work, which had never been spectacular anyway, was rusty. Lily offered to work with him and he gratefully accepted. The two of them thus spend long afternoons doing this or that charm with Lily correcting his pronunciation or movements here and there.
Lily wasn't too much farther in the rankings than he was, but she did had such an eye for charms that not heading her direction would have been just plain stupid. Of course, it helped that when he did something particularly badly, she'd come up behind him, take his hand in hers, and show him just what he was to do. The warmth radiating off her body was nearly too much to handle. Merlin, he was going to have dreams that night after feeling her soft curves against his back and side...
A full moon came and went. Severus ended up in the Shrieking Shack with Lupin. They didn't talk. They barely even looked at one another. After transforming, they spent most of the night trying to tear each other apart. Lupin kept winning, but Severus vowed he'd over take that monster someday. Then it would be a little easier to bear.
The week before next full moon, Severus made a mistake. It happened after another bout of practicing with Lily, feeling her hands on his, her body against his when she corrected him, her voice in his ears, her sweet scent. It had all gathered and driven him stupid.
"I... I love you."
The words hung in the air and Severus immediately regretted them. Lily stood very still. She nearly dropped the book bag in her hands. He could easily read the tension that had spun up her spine. Severus' chest clenched so tightly that it hurt to breath. Oh Merlin. Why the hell had he said that?!
"Before. I.. I thought I was gonna die, but...but all I could think about was-"
Then Lily turned and smiled at him so prettily. He felt a faint flash of hope.
"That's very sweet, Severus," she said in that soft, bright tone of hers as she carefully broke his heart. "I like you too. You're my best friend."
He couldn't breath. She said nothing more as she finished gathering her things and left. Severus's legs trembled under him and then he fell to his knees, staring after her. Oh Merlin. It hurt. It hurt so much. It hurt worse than the time his father had beaten him stupid for breaking a neighbor's window. It hurt worse than the time Black hit him with an acid hex and burned off half the skin of his chest. It just hurt. Merlin, why did he say it...?
Lily had made it very clear. Best friend. Was that all he could be to her? Was that all she would allow? Why couldn't she have looked at him and smiled and said she loved him too? Why?!
Because he wasn't good enough. Because he wasn't Potter.
Severus sucked in a hard, painful breath. Potter. Potter had to be the cause of this. That stupid, self-serving, egotistical, arrogant bastard. Severus didn't know how he'd done it but he knew he had. Somehow. Somehow...
But what the hell could he do about it? If Lily couldn't accept him... then there was no changing her mind. Fine. That was just fine. He could deal with it. He could be her best friend. He could! He could do it...
Before he realized it, there were tears racing hot and stinging down his cheeks. He'd never been so ashamed in his entire life.
As he broke down, he was dimly aware of someone arriving in the empty classroom he and Lily had taken to using in the evenings. He didn't get up, couldn't. There was no curbing the flow of disgusting, unmanly tears. He heard footsteps, slow and hesitant a rustle off cloth, and then there were arms around him. He was dragged against a hard chest. Severus fought it viciously, but the strength of his sorrow soon sapped him of everything. He sagged against that body, gasping as each broken sob stole his breath and wracked his body with trembles.
Slowly, he became aware that he was being slowly rocked. He didn't move, himself, letting this person comfort him. Wide hands rubbed along his back, just shy of getting tangled in his hair. Severus kept his eyes firmly closed as he concentrated on trying to control his breathing and become something more than the shaking, pitiful thing.
There was a scent, something familiar. Something like pine needles, chocolate, the faintest hint of coppery blood..
Severus' eyes snapped open as he jerked his head up, nearly bashing into his comforter's chin. Golden brown eyes stared back at him, widened at the sudden movement.
He was being held by Remus bloody Lupin. Severus stayed still, too shocked to speak. Remus just stared back at first, hesitant and a little confused, and then he drew Severus back against his chest. For some reason, the Slytherin still couldn't force himself away.
There was something very warm about being embraced like this, wrapped up in someone's arms as if they could save him from everything. It was horribly humbling. Even if Lupin was the one holding him, Severus couldn't help leaned a little tighter to the other boy's chest.
And then Lupin ruined it.
Severus swallowed the lump in his throat. His face felt hot and stung where salty tears had tracked. His body was strained and tired. And his heart... He felt empty inside.
"Why do you care?"
Lupin frowned. Severus could hear it in his voice when he answered. "Because you're a human being? I don't know. I just came to talk to you and you're like this-"
"I'm not like anything. I'm fine," Severus ground out, even though he'd made no move to leave Lupin's embrace.
"Right. Crying like someone died is fine."
They fell quiet. Lupin was still rubbing his back in slow, careful circles. It felt good. It shouldn't have, but it did.
"...You can talk to me about it, you know. I won't make fun of you."
Severus snorted. "Right. Like you aren't as bad as those bastards you call friends."
He felt Lupin tense up against him and felt a flash of savage glee. But Lupin didn't let go just yet.
"Severus-" It was his turn to tense. Lupin hesitated, then back peddled. "Snape. Like it or not, we're in this together now. You can scoff if you want, I don't care. But until graduation, we're going to have to get used to one another. We might as well be civil."
"Great sentiment, coming from you."
Lupin failed to rise to the jab, but Severus didn't mind too much. He was a little tired of treated everyone like an enemy. For now. Soon enough, Severus got itchy with the continued hug and had to end it. He drew away from Lupin's embrace, getting up and looking off with vague embarrassment for letting himself be held so long. He wiped his face, listened to Lupin stand as well.
Severus looked over and stared at the hand Lupin held out as if it would bite him. After a long minute or so, he gingerly reached out and took it, ready to jerk back if there was some kind of hidden prank. But there wasn't. Lupin gripped his hand firmly and gave it one shake before releasing. Severus drew his hand back and glanced to the other boy's face.
Lupin smiled and Severus didn't even feel like insulting how dumb it looked.
The next day, it was as if he'd said nothing to Lily at all. They met up for their usual training session and joked around like usual. Had she really misunderstood his confession so much? He didn't want to dwell on it.
Someday, he'd confess to her properly. She'd likely reject him, but he still had to do it. He couldn't be afraid of everything for the rest of his life. Hell, he was one of the most dangerous creatures on Earth now. What was there to be afraid of?
Days later, the moon came upon them. Severus and Lupin went down to the shack. Spring was starting to peek out of the cool days of early April. Severus realized, as he tugged off his robes and folded them neatly, that there would only be two more full moons before the summer. He couldn't help being a little intimidated by the thought of going through the change alone, even if all he and Lupin seemed to do was fight with each other. He sighed a little, unbuttoning his shirt. Just as well.
Their clothing was stashed away just as the change came over them. The shack was alive with whimpers, howls, and half human cries of pain for what seemed like hours. The change ripped and tore at their bodies, reforming them to its own devices.
Finally, two wolves slowly got up, stretching aches away. They sniffed each other curiously, remembering scents . The brown wolf stiffened, standing taller with hunched shoulders. The black rolled onto his side and showed his belly, ears flickering. And that was that.
The rest of the night they spend rough housing, exploring the shack, napping, and otherwise taking up time. It might have been pleasant, really, had they really been the simple dogs they now acted like. Here and there, however, the rage overcame them and they bit a little too hard, fought a little too much. Still, it was more pleasant than when they'd been trying to tear each other apart.
The morning was better. Pomfrey came for them and was much happier with the amount of scrapes and bruises they'd managed to give each other. She sent them on and outside the door, both werewolves looked at one another and nodded. The accord was set.