Severus Snape waited patiently one evening in early October outside the classroom that was used for the Prefects' monthly meetings. He knew that Lily wasn't thrilled with him, but perhaps catching her alone once the meeting let out would mean he had the chance to speak to her about what she had seen. After all, he personally hadn't done a thing to that Hufflepuff boy, Avery and Mulciber had. He had just been inconveniently with them. Lily believed him, of course. However she was getting less and less patient with his choice of companionship other than herself.
"What are you doing here?" A familiar voice sneered and Severus' hand immediately went to grip his wand in his back pocket. He turned to face Sirius Black.
"None of your business, Black." Severus glared back at him. He was prepared to fight if that's what Black wanted, but the Gryffindor made no move for his own wand. "Wouldn't exactly think to see you hanging around a bunch of authority figures. I'm sure they've all got twenty reasons each to give you detention."
Black smirked, leaning against the wall opposite from Severus. "I'm on my best behavior these days it seems." The boy's grey eyes scanned him up and down. "You on the other hand..." He clicked his tongue, shaking his head. "Heard you've been going 'round bullying the muggleborns. What's your girlfriend Evans think of that?"
Severus' hand tightened on his wand and his eyes narrowed further. "She's not my girlfriend. And I haven't done anything."
Sirius chuckled darkly. "Guilty by association, Snivellus."
The door to the classroom clicked and opened slowly and the prefects filed out. Lily and Remus were chatting quietly to each other and laughing. Black's posture changed instantly, like a dog who had just spotted his master walking through the door after a long trip.
Lupin smiled and excused himself from his conversation with Lily to greet the other boy. Severus thought he may have imagined it, but he was sure he saw the sickly looking boy brush his lips across Black's discreetly before the two of them headed off down the corridor. He shook his head.
"Hello Severus," Said Lily, but her voice didn't sound as cheerful as it normally did when she would speak to him. It sounded slightly strained, like she would rather he not be there. He tried to act like he hadn't noticed.
"Hi Lily. I thought I'd walk you back to your common room." He offered, keeping his tone casual.
Lily raised one perfectly shaped red brow. "Don't you have someplace to be with Mulciber?" He could sense her sarcasm and he bit his tongue. "Besides," Lily continued. "I know my way back to my own common room." She threw her long hair over her shoulder.
"Well, obviously I know that." Severus sighed. "Just...you know...wanted to be sure you'd get there safely."
Both of Lily's eyebrows shot up and she let out a short, sharp laugh. "Yes, well. I'm very capable to handling myself, Severus. I am a prefect for a reason. And I was suppose to walk back with Remus anyhow."
Severus scowled. "I can't believe they made one of them a prefect."
Lily shook her head. "Remus happens to be a friend of mine, Severus. Same as you are. And you know he isn't like his friends."
"How's he suppose to perform his prefect duties when he's disappearing once a month and nearly falling over for days after?" Severus muttered bitterly. There was definitely something off about Lupin and everyone knew it. Severus had his own theories about the boy...
"You know he's ill," The redhead groaned, clearly growing tired of the argument.
Severus scoffed. "Yeah, alright. That's why those arrogant little friends of his go missing as well? And they treat him like he's going break. Especially Black, you can't even breathe in Lupin's direction without Black practically turning into some sort of guard dog and ripping your throat out."
Lily stopped walking and turned to face him completely. "Why do you care so much?" She snapped, taking Severus by surprise. Even though Lily wasn't necessarily pleased with him recently, she had never spoken to him like that before. He blinked at her, mouth falling open as he tried to think of how to respond.
"You do." Lily insisted, resting her hand on her hip. "Every time Remus comes up in conversation or you see him in the halls, you start on this rant about how strange you think he is." She bit her lip. "You know Sev, I'm getting a little tired of defending you to my other friends when all you do is make wild accusations about other people and hang around with a bunch of bullies that target muggleborns." She started to walk away at a faster pace and Severus hurried to follow.
"I didn't do anything to that Hufflepuff kid." He argued, trying to keep up with her.
"But you didn't stop it from happening either." Said Lily, sounding exasperated.
"I didn't have much of a choice, Lily!"
Lily took in a deep breath as they finally made it to the portrait of the Fat Lady that his the entrance to Gryffindor Common Room. She let it out slowly and looked at him with hurt, emerald eyes. "Everyone has a choice, Severus...so what is yours going to be?" Before he could respond, she faced the portrait. "Godwottery." The painting swung open. "Goodnight Severus." Said Lily quietly, without looking back at him, and she stepped past the barrier, leaving Severus alone in the corridor.
In the weeks to follow, Lily's mood did ease up quite a bit and Severus avoided hanging around Mulciber and Avery in an effort to fix what he was afraid may be their deflating friendship. It had made life in the Slytherin dungeon a little more difficult, as his housemates had become rather suspicious of his sudden disinterest, especially when he seemed to be ditching them merely to please some Gryffindor mudblood girl. Lily Evans, Severus decided, was worth it.
It had gotten to be a little lonely, especially when Lily was tending to her job as a prefect or spending time with her friends who didn't quite get along with him, but he tried to spend the extra alone time in the library. At least he could get his work done.
The sun had yet to start set one evening, and it was far too early to head to the Great Hall for dinner, so he had decided to wander the corridors in hopes that maybe he would bump into Lily during her early rounds. He was turning the corner when out of nowhere, his feet were swept completely from under him and he fell flat on his back, books and parchment flying from his arms and a bottle of ink spilling over his hands and down his school uniform.
He didn't need to look to recognize the voices snickering behind him.
With a growl he lifted himself up and spun around, whipping out his wand in a swift movement and pointing it at Black and Potter. Neither boy seemed all too threatened.
"So much for being on your best behavior, Black." He spat at the smaller of the two. "Or is that just for when your Prefect boyfriend is there to see?"
Sirius shrugged nonchalantly, twirling his wand in his hand. "Well Snivelly, the problem we have here is that your nasty little friends were heard talking about a friend of ours...Mary MacDonald, ring a bell? So the way I see it, fair is fair....What Remus doesn't see won't hurt, I suppose. I did promise him I'd behave but...well, what's that they say about old dogs and new tricks, Prongs?" He smirked to his friend who laughed along with him.
"Too right, Padfoot." Potter agreed, eyeing Severus with a look of pure hatred.
Severus glowered at the two of them, positively seething. "And where exactly is Lupin now? Feeling ill again? How very curious...What is it they say is wrong with him?"
Black's wand was raised so quickly it nearly flew out of his hand and he stepped forward but Potter grabbed him by the back of his robes and whispered something in his ear. Whatever it was, it worked because Black's wand lowered immediately. Severus sneered.
"What? Not going to hex me for talking about your poor little charity case friend? Does hanging around with a freak like him make you feel better about yourselves when you treat everyone else in the school like target practice?"
Black's eyes went wide with fury, hands balling into tight fists at his sides and Severus could see even from where he stood that the boy was shaking. Potter stepped in front of him, his own wand raised as he got dangerously close to Severus' face.
"You listen here, Snivellus." He said through gritted teeth. "You keep Remus' name out of your bloody mouth, keep your nose out of where it doesn't belong, and tell your friends we're on to them. We know how to make you hurt, Snape. And we know how to do it without ever getting caught. Watch your back." He lowered his own wand and turned back to Black who still looked livid.
Both of their backs were turned and Severus' hand was still gripping his wand so tightly his knuckles were white. He could hex both of them-
"What's going on here?"
All three of the boys froze and spun around to see Lily Evans standing there, eyes suspicious and arms crossed. She looked Severus up and down, noting the ink on his robes and the books scattered on the ground. She rounded on Black and Potter.
"Haven't you got some place better to be than causing trouble all the time?" She glared at the two boys.
"At this moment right now?" Potter asked, grinning cockily and doing that ridiculous thing with his hair that he always did in front of Lily. "Yeah, actually we do. For the record though, no trouble was being caused here. Sniv- sorry, Severus- here, tripped." He gave Severus a meaningful look, eyes flashing threateningly. "Isn't that right, Severus?"
Severus bit back an angry growl and nodded, eyes still narrowed on Black and Potter. "Right." He said shortly. "Everything here's fine, Lily."
James threw on a charming smile and shrugged. "See, Evans? All good."
Lily looked between all three of them, one eyebrow raised skeptically. "Right..." She muttered. "Go on then. Get going." She waved her housemates off and turned to assist Severus with picking up his things.
"You know, Evans..." Potter called to her. She sighed and looked back at him. He smirked. "My time would be much better occupied if it were spent taking you out. Think of how much less trouble I could cause if you were able to keep those pretty greens on me all the time, making sure I behave?"
Lily glared. "Not even in your wildest dreams, Potter. No go before I give the both of you detention."
James and Sirius both laughed. "Worth a shot!" Potter shouted back to her as the two of them ran off down the hall.
Lily sighed, shaking her head as she knelt down to pick up some of the books Severus had dropped. "Are you alright, Severus?"
He gave a short nod. "I'm fine. I can handle myself against those two pricks."
The redhead hummed softly as she handed him his things. "Did you really trip?" She asked.
"I told you I'm fine, Lily." Severus repeated sharply. "Nothing happened. I fell and those two assholes just happened to be there."
"Alright," she said lightly. "If you say so."
Peter was waiting for them in the dorm room, invisibility cloak in one hand and the map in the other. He sighed in relief when Sirius and James came rushing in.
"Blimey, I was about to come and look for you two myself!" The shorter boy said anxiously. "I saw you run into Snivellus on the map and then Evans and I was scared you'd both wind up in detention."
James grinned, shaking his head. "Nah, Evans wouldn't give me detention. She puts on a good act but she can't resist my charms."
Sirius rolled his eyes, grabbing his book bag and dumping it out on his bed so he could pack it with a random assortment of things that only made sense to him: water bottle, handful of chocolate frogs, one of Remus' sweaters...
"Come on, Pads. It's getting late." James urged, glancing at the window.
"I'm coming, keep your knickers on." Sirius grumbled, dropping to his knees and peering under his bed.
James sighed, growing slightly impatient. "Sirius, what are you looking for?"
After another second of rummaging, Sirius emerged holding a small potion vial. He jumped to his feet and stuffed it in the bag with everything else. Both James and Peter knew better than to question Sirius' antic on the night of the full moon, knowing full well that everything he did, he did for Remus.
Sirius slung his bag over his shoulder and looked at the other two boys expectantly. "Ready, then?"
When they arrived in the shrieking shack Remus was already pacing nervously, though he visibly relaxed a little when he saw his friends.
"For a second I thought you weren't coming." He said shakily, tugging on the collar of his shirt which was already soaked with sweat.
"Sorry, Moony." James said as he folded the invisibility cloak neatly and put it out of reach of everyone's animal forms in one of the dusty dresser drawers. "Pads and I had a run in with Snivellus on the way back from the kitchens."
Remus nodded his head, eyes slightly wide and not quite all there. Sirius sat on the edge of the bed and patted the spot next to him. "Come sit, Moony."
Remus made a whining noise in the back of his throat that was clearly left over panic from his friends being so late, but he didn't move. "Remus," Sirius tried again, a little more insisting. "Come here, love." He shifted so he was sitting in the middle of the bed, waiting for the other boy to join him. Remus swallowed hard, eyes darting to the window for a split second before he slowly made his way onto the creaky, lumpy mattress. Sirius sat up against the headboard, spreading his legs so that Remus could sit between them, leaning against Sirius' chest.
"What happened with Snape?" Remus asked after he managed to relax a little with Sirius' fingers running through his hair and his lips on the back of his neck.
James shrugged as he too sat on the bed with them. "We bumped into him in the corridor. He made some stupid comments and-"
Remus groaned. "You didn't hex him, did you?"
"Just threatened him a bit." James chuckled. "No worries. We weren't going to risk not being able to be with you, right Padfoot?"
Sirius nodded solemnly. "Of course." He pressed another kiss to the back of Remus' damp neck and his hands found the hem of his shirt. "Arms up, Moony. You're soaked."
Remus obeyed and let his boyfriend remove his shirt, thankful for the cool October air.
For a while they all made small talk as they usually did to keep Remus distracted. When he started to rake his nails down his arms, leaving angry red streaks in his pale skin, Sirius nodded to Peter who quickly tossed him his book bag. "Stop that." Sirius muttered softly, taking both of the werewolf's hands and placing them at his sides.
"Too hot." Remus mumbled, shifting uncomfortably.
"Mmm," Sirius hummed. "Well, scratching your skin off isn't going to help." He had opened his bag and pulled out the water bottle which he tapped with his wand, covering it with frost with what must have been a cooling charm. He put the bottle to the spot just between his boyfriend's shoulder blades. "Better?"
Remus sighed and relaxed. He nodded. "Yeah." His breathing steadied and his fists unclenched. "Thanks Sirius."
Sirius grinned and James met his eye with an impressed smile.
And it really was impressive, James thought, that Sirius had become so in tune with Remus' needs during the night of the full moon. It came almost naturally to Sirius, who seemed to know exactly how to ease the werewolf's pre-transformation ailments when Remus himself had never been able to.
"How do you do that?" Peter asked in awe, voicing James' own curiosity.
Sirius shook his head, smiling a little. "Dunno. I just...do what I think will help, I suppose." Remus made a content sound of agreement and Sirius kissed his shoulder.
Of course, it never lasted long enough. And soon no matter what tricks Sirius could think of, the moon would rise higher into the sky and it's pull on Remus would begin to get stronger. Remus would become restless and couldn't sit still any longer, walking laps around the room. One of the others, usually James or Peter but mostly James, would keep an out the window making sure to know exactly when they would all have to change.
"Get ready." James instructed, voice slightly tense as he watched the giant orb rising.
Peter was always the first to transform, wanting to be a safe distance from Remus and leaving nothing to chance. James would put their wands and other belongings somewhere safe in the meantime, giving Sirius and Remus an extra moment.
Remus' body started to shake and Sirius grabbed him by the arm with one hand, placing the other under his chin and forcing him to meet his eyes.
"It's going to be okay, Moony." He said in a tone that made it impossible for Remus not to believe him. Remus nodded and Sirius pressed their lips together firmly. Remus kissed him back desperately, needing to feel grounded...needing to feel human...
"Sirius," James warned and Sirius broke the kiss, holding Remus' gaze once again.
"I love you, Remus."
"I love you too Sirius." Remus responded shakily as Sirius let go of him and stepped away.
"I'll see you in the morning, okay?"
Remus bit his lip and nodded, watching as both Sirius and James transformed mere seconds before white hot pain took over his own body.
When the sun came up early the next morning, James always found the same scene once he transformed and fetched his glasses from their safe place;
Wormtail, curled up on top of the piano, a furry gray snoozing ball, snoring louder than James thought any rat could.
Remus, looking frail and sometimes covered in fresh wounds, but somehow still seeming peaceful as he slept on the hard wooden floor.
And Padfoot, draped over the sleeping werewolf, keeping him warm with his heavy black fur and protecting him from whatever the dog thought might try to hurt him at this point in the morning.
Yawning hugely, James made his way to the piano and poked the rat. "C'mon Wormy." He mumbled tiredly. The rat's head perked up and he gave a big yawn and stretched before hopping down and transforming back into Peter.
"Grab the cloak and the map, I'll wake Sirius." It was always a better plan, as Sirius was less likely to snap at James than Peter upon being woken. Peter nodded sleepily and went to the dresser.
"Oy, mutt." James said quietly, nudging the dozing dog with his foot. "We've got to go before Pomfrey get's here."
The dog opened its eyes and huffed stubbornly, but after only a little nagging from James he slid carefully off of Remus and transformed. "You two go ahead, I'll catch up." Sirius insisted.
"Are you crazy?" Peter stared at him. "You'll get caught."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "I will not. I'll leave before she gets here. Leave me the map or the cloak. I can handle myself."
James sighed, knowing there was no use it arguing with him. He handed the cloak over. "Be careful, prat."
Sirius nodded, waving the other two off. "Yeah, yeah...Relax. I'll be up soon."
Once James and Peter left, Sirius sat back on the floor beside Remus. He did look peaceful, even though the floor of the shack was dreadfully uncomfortable. For a moment he considered turning back into a dog and curling back up with him, but he thought the better of it. Very carefully, he shook Remus' shoulder.
"Hmm?" Remus mumbled as he began to wake. "Y'should go, S'rius..."
Sirius chuckled softly. "Yeah, not yet..." his eyes scanned over Remus, checking to see if he had any noteworthy injuries. A few scratches, one on his collarbone that was a little on the bloody side, but nothing horrible. "You can't be comfortable. Can I help you to the bed?"
Remus mumbled something unintelligible and stretched, wincing a little as his joints popped. He yawned and sat up a little too quickly, causing Sirius to wince.
"You twat, let me help you." He reprimanded lightly, placing his arm around his boyfriend and getting him to his feet.
"I'm alright, Sirius." Remus insisted, though he did lean heavily on the other boy for support.
"Stubborn arse." Teased Sirius, helping him to the bed.
"You should talk." The werewolf managed a weak, tired smile before he yawned again. Sirius grabbed his book bag from the dresser and slid into bed beside Remus. He dug through his bag and fished out two chocolate frogs and the tiny potion bottle.
"Starving." Remus admitted, graciously accepting the chocolate and unwrapping it, watching Sirius uncork the vial. "What's that?"
"Nicked it from Pomfrey's store," Sirius grinned, ignoring the look of disapproval he got from the other boy. "Here, let me see that gash you've got there..." Remus didn't argue or question as Sirius used a cleaning and sanitizing charm on the wound, though he hissed softly when he poured a gracious amount of the potion onto it. It burned for a second as the gash began to close itself up.
"I'm impressed." Said Remus, looking up at Sirius who actually appeared to be blushing a little.
"Yeah, well...I've been reading up on some simple healing spells and such..." The dark haired boy said sheepishly.
Remus' heart swelled in his chest. Sirius really went to extraordinary lengths to take care of him, and never asked for anything in return. He shook his head. "I don't deserve you, Padfoot."
Sirius laughed. "Nonsense. Don't...Don't say that." He pulled Remus' sweater out and handed it to him. "Put this on before you bloody freeze."
Remus sat up, a little slower this time, and tugged the sweater on over his head. "I mean it, Sirius." He said, taking his hand. "You...you're incredible, you know that?"
Sirius shrugged. "I just...I care about you a lot." He mumbled, looking down. "And I just want to make sure you know it, that's all..."
Remus smiled and leaned in, kissing the corner of Sirius' mouth. "I love you, Sirius."
Sirius turned his head to kiss Remus properly. "I love you, too." He sighed, glancing out the window. "I should go before Pomfrey comes, I guess."
With one last kiss goodbye, Sirius stood and threw the cloak on over his head. He watched for another moment as Remus settled himself among the lumpy pillows before he left the shack and headed back to the castle.