Harry Potter stared mutely at the motionless figure on the narrow hospital bed. They had found him four months ago, three weeks before the Final Battle; he had been missing for nine months. Nine months that Harry had thought him dead, in a way hoped he was dead. It was better than the alternative. The alternative that turned into a reality. Held. Tortured. They had tried to force secrets of the Order from the werewolf. They had failed. Harry carefully smoothed the almost translucent skin on the werewolf’s hand. They had inflicted unimaginable horrors on him. Severus Snape had discovered the truth, had blown his cover in order to rescue the catatonic werewolf. It still had the ability to make Harry’s stomach churn, the memory of Severus carrying the barely breathing werewolf to where he, Ron and Hermione had been finding Horcruxes. He had risked his life to bring Remus to them. He had risked his life to save the man he loved. Harry studied the tattoo that looped around Remus’ wrist. It matched one on Severus’ wrist. Tattoos that bound them together. For life. Remus had hinted once, but no one had known the truth. Not until after it was too late.
Four months. Harry gently pressed the thin hand. Four months and he had not woken. Not stirred. The Healers told them that he had shut down, the trauma was too much. Severus had found him in a dark cellar; there had been nine bodies in the room. Three of them children, former students. They had placed a person in the room after the full moon and then watched as Remus grew more and more desperate as knowledge of what would happen, what he would do built. Then, at the full moon, he killed them, the werewolf killed the innocent who had been left in his cell and then, when the moon set, he would weep uncontrollably, mourning the life that he could not save. They had used the cruciatus on him so often, inflicting pain on the kind man who had been the closest link to Harry Potter, who had never once told them what they wanted to hear. He had kept silent and it had only made his captors angrier.
“Wake up.” Harry’s voice broke the stillness of the room. “Wake up, Remus. Please. Wake up.”
They could not tell him how long Remus had been in this state. Could not tell him if he would wake. There were so many curses that had been hurled at him. Dark Magic saturated his body. The Healers had long ago given up any hope, if they had held any to start with, and it was only the furious green eyes of their saviour that ensured the werewolf lived, that cures were continued to be searched for, that Severus Snape was allowed to cross the doorway and sit at his husband’s bedside, silent, unmoving.
“Potter.” Draco Malfoy stood, hesitating in the doorway and Harry’s lips pressed into a thin line.
“What do you want?” His voice was cold.
“Severus is not here?”
“Have you seen him this morning?”
Draco hesitated for a moment. “Are there any changes?”
Harry turned, anger pulsing in his eyes. “Why do you care? Why?”
Draco’s blue eyes dropped. “He was always kind to me and Severus loves him. If your werewolf does not wake it will kill my godfather.” Draco shrugged. “He is really the only person who ever truly looked out for me.”
“Picked sides to which would suit her own end. I am sorry.”
“For?” Some of the fight left Harry’s eyes.
“Him.” Nodding towards the bed, Draco turned to leave. “I never knew they had him.”
“What would you have done if you had known?”
A hesitation. “Told Severus.”
“Did you know… about them?”
“Yes. By then. Yes.”
“Yet you never told your father?”
“The Dark Lord was a monster. I hated him. I never wanted to join his ranks but it was what was expected of me. You wouldn’t understand that. You were the golden child but me… Even at school I was expected to be a certain way. Because I was a Malfoy.”
“You never tried to break free of that.” Harry retorted.
Draco turned sharply and strode into the hospital room. Harry gently placed the motionless hand aside and rose. They stood, the former nemeses, glaring at one another, hate all too clear in their eyes.
“You never tried to help me.” Draco spat. “You and your pathetic friends. Always good. Always breaking the rules. Never being punished. You could do no wrong!”
“Well at least I wasn’t trying to kill everyone because mummy and daddy said it was what should be done!”
“No! Instead you and your god complex got your godfather—”
“Enough!” Severus Snape swept into the room.
“I don’t want to hear it.” Severus’ voice was like ice. “You will distress him.”
Two sets of shoulders slumped.
“Severus, he isn’t aware of anything…” Draco’s voice was strangely gentle.
“I don’t believe that.” Severus had settled into Harry’s vacated chair and taken the fragile hand. “His face tightened just now, as if your incessant arguing pained him.”
The young men exchanged pitying looks.
“No changes, Potter?”
“There is a potion that I have started working on. It is a slow process.” Severus kept his voice at an even cadence. “It will be ready before the next full moon. I wish to try…”
“Anything.” Harry agreed.
“Have you eaten, Severus?” Draco approached warily.
“I am not hungry.”
“You will need to keep your strength if you are planning this potion, will you not? Let me bring food back here.”
“Nothing with meat.” Severus was distracted.
“No meat?” Harry echoed, puzzled.
“The smell…. Will remind him.”
“What if he does wake?” Harry spoke suddenly and Draco was surprised to hear the fear in his voice.
Severus glanced at the younger man, waiting. They had formed a truce, perhaps an uneasy one, but a truce none the less, beside the bedside of the man they both loved.
“When he wakes…. Remus…. Remus hated being a werewolf but he had never….”
“It wasn’t his fault.”
“I know that! But it’s Remus! He… He will blame himself! He will hate himself!”
Severus turned back to study the pale face before him. “Then we will have to show him that we love him more than he can ever hate himself.”
“What if it’s not enough?”
“It has to be. It is all we have.”
Remus Lupin stared mutely at the wall. It had been six weeks since he had woken, since he had seen Severus’ relief, Harry joy. Six weeks in which he had tried desperately to push them away. Six weeks in which he hated himself. He couldn’t bear human contact. Harry had touched him and he had frozen, before terror filled screams had wrenched from him and the boy who was not a boy any longer had stumbled away, horrified. Severus had tried two days later and the result had been the same. Their touch only reminding him of nine months of torture when there had been no kindness with a touch, only pain. More pain. He wished he was dead. Why had they not let him die? Rather than live with the guilt. The guilt of what he had done. The Healers avoided his room now, they were terrified of him. He refused to eat. Drink. He wanted to die. The pain was welcome, the overwhelming pain that was his constant companion only what he deserved. He deserved to suffer. To be trapped in a bed. He deserved to suffer. He wanted desperately to die.
There was movement in the doorway. Footsteps. And still, Remus stared at the wall. A familiar scent. A loved scent.
Severus. Ah. Severus. He stared at the wall. He did not deserve to Severus in his life. To be loved. To love. He did not deserve happiness.
“Remus, will you look at me.” Severus spoke very carefully. No one dared to touch the emaciated werewolf, the terror, pain and anguish that clouded his features before he began to scream, not seeing someone who loved him; only those who wished him harm tore them apart.
Remus remained motionless. A chair scraped on the tiled floor and he flinched.
“I’m sorry.” Severus was suddenly standing between Remus’ gaze and the wall. “The noise. I am sorry.”
Green eyes traced Severus’ features desperately for a moment before they dropped to his hands. Beloved features. Harsh features that were only gentle for him.
“Ah, Remus. Remus. It was not your fault.”
The hands spasm-ed around the thick blanket.
“It wasn’t. They did that to you. They tortured you.”
There was no response.
“Harry will be here in an hour. The boy is fretting himself about you. He loves you like a godfather. You know that. Don’t let him down, Remus. He needs you.”
Remus stared at his scarred hands. They didn’t need him. They didn’t need a killer in their midst. Didn’t need a monster in their lives. They would be better if he was dead. Dead. They would not feel as if they needed to see him. Dead.
“Perhaps you will take a potion for the pain? The healers have told me that their diagnostics reveal you are in significant amounts.”
A single shake of the head.
“You are not in pain then?” Severus waited patiently. He knew the answer. Had studied Remus. Had watched him push the people he loved away.
Remus could feel his husband’s eyes on him. The tattoo on his wrist glowed; it always had when Severus was near. They were bound so closely.
“Remus? The pain?”
Why could they not leave him alone? Alone to die?
“I know you blame yourself.” Severus’ tone was conversational. “You told me, in fact. I also know you want to die. But I think you should know that I have bound myself to you. Not just in marriage, no, it was a safety measure, before we gave you the potion which woke you. It is ancient magic, probably black magic but Harry was in agreement. It only works on those who love one another dearly, desperately, to death. Which, you and I do, even if right now you are attempting to make me believe you do not care. This binding…. Would have saved your life if the potion had killed it. Of course, if you were to kill yourself, through whatever means you have thought of in that thick skull of yours, it will kill me too.”
Horror flooded Remus’ features and his head lifted sharply.
“Ah, a reaction.” Severus leaned back in his chair.
“Of course I did. I rather thought you might think this way.”
Anger flooded into the werewolf’s face. “How dare you!”
“I love you too.”
“Don’t you see! I am filthy! I murdered people! Children! Because I am nothing but a monster! I deserve to be dead. I deserve to be in Azkaban! Or kissed! I should not live!”
“You were tortured, Remus.”
“I killed children.” His voice broke and Severus flinched.
“Yes.” The potions master spoke carefully, his black eyes locked on distraught green. “When you were tortured they placed people in with you during full moons knowing that when you were a werewolf that you would kill them. That does not make you a monster. That makes them monsters. You cannot help your change. You cannot help that you turn into a werewolf.”
“A werewolf.” The voice was sharper now.
“You never gave me up. You never gave Harry up. Do not think that we cannot see that you are littered with hundreds of new scars. Scars that the werewolf gave himself because he hated what he had done. What he could not help doing?”
“It does not change what I did! I killed people! I killed innocent people! I am just like them!” Remus’ voice rose in uncontrollable anguish. “I should be dead! Merlin! Let me die! Let me die!”
“Don’t say that!” Harry’s voice, sudden, anguished, tore through the room. “Please, Remus. Please. Don’t say that!”
Remus shrank against the pillows piteously as the young man entered, stopping short at the foot of the bed.
Harry glanced at Severus’ for a brief moment and met the dark, tired eyes.
“Did you tell him?”
“About the binding? Yes.”
Relief flooded Harry’s face and he turned back to the werewolf. “Then you know you can’t kill yourself with killing Severus.” There was more than a hint of triumph and relief in his voice.
Something in Remus’ eyes flickered for a moment. It was the first time that they had called one another by their first names. The first time that an initial arrival had not been met with a barbed insult or sharp word. These two who had hated one another so vehemently, who were so alike, these two precious souls in Remus’ life were finally, finally, moving on from their grudge.
“It changes nothing.” Remus muttered. “I am a monster and you would both be well to stay away. Your parents would not have wanted you near me. Not after what I did.”
Harry snorted. “My parents would have wanted me exactly where I am now. I mean, Dad learned to transform into a bloody animagus to help with the full moons. Remus, you sacrificed everything to keep me safe.”
“He is right. James Potter was a self-righteous, egotistical, arrogant prat.”
Harry muttered something under his breath and Severus smirked.
“You did sacrifice everything.”
“Not everything. Not my life.”
“I don’t want you to give your life.” Harry spoke harshly. “I want you in my life. To see my children! I want to visit you and Severus. But no. You are so blinded. You are so filled with self-righteous guilt that you are thinking of no one but yourself—”
“Harry!” Severus rose.
“No! Fine! You don’t want to live! Fine! But you are, you are alive and seeing your clearly don’t care about anyone but yourself I am leaving. Merlin. Maybe I should have died. After all. It’s my fault that so many people died. Because bloody Voldemort couldn’t even get that right when I was a kid! You were alone and everyone was dead and it was my fault! And now, you are lying there, hurt, in pain and hating yourself and that, that is my fault too. So. Maybe it’s me who should kill myself.” Harry turned and strode from the room.
“No! Severus! No! No! He can’t! He… You must stop him!” Remus’ distress nearly broke Severus’ heart.
The werewolf was shaking uncontrollably. “Harry! He can’t! He can’t! Severus!”
“I will go after him.” Severus soothed. “But, he is right Remus.”
“No! Not a single death was his fault. Me being captured. That’s not his fault! He can’t believe that.”
“He does.” Severus chose his words carefully. “From the moment that you were brought back here Potter has blamed himself. You were undertaking a dangerous mission to help protect him. Why wouldn’t he blame himself?”
“No. He can’t.
He can’t. Severus. Please. I can’t lose him!”
“Yes you expect us to willingly lose you?” Severus turned. “You are more a fool than I ever realised.”
“I will attempt to find him.” Severus strode from the room, his heart breaking at his seeming cruelty, the anguished murmur behind him.
Harry was waiting at the end of the hallway. His face was grim, unreadable. “Well?”
“I don’t know. He was distraught at the idea of you harming yourself. He loves you dearly, Potter.”
“He’s like a father to me.” Harry whispered. “He always was. I just wish he could see that.”
“Remus has always been blinded to certain aspects.”
“You married him. Surely he knows how much you love him.”
A grim smile settled on the potion master’s face. “It was never easy for us. We had to keep our marriage a secret. From those we loved best. It had to be done, for his protection and to keep me as the spy I was groomed to be. Then those laws put in place by that foul bitch…”
“May have guessed. But he would not have acknowledged what he could not have.”
Slumping against the wall, Harry glanced at the man beside him. “Will it help, do you think?”
“Guilting him into living is all I can think of.”
“He will never be the same though, will he?”
“No. But… if we show him how loved he is… that will help? Won’t it?”
“I hope it is enough. It is not just hid mental state, Potter.”
“He will never be strong again.”
“So long as I have him in my life….” Harry’s voice broke. “Can you… I mean…. It’s not the future you had planned.”
“He is my future. Without him. I am nothing.”