Title: Gift for a4o 2006
Fandom: Harry Potter
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters or their world. This is fanfiction and I'm just playing for fun, not making any money.
Summary: Snape is sick and Remus knows he needs some care... of one sort or another.
Notes: Written for a4o as a holiday gift. Enjoy!
Gift for a4o 2006
"Feeling under the weather, Lupin?" Snape asked as he scooped a gobletful of Wolfsbane potion out of the cauldron. He had brewed it previously and heated it up on the stove at the Order's headquarters. "I couldn't help but notice you sniffling your way through that meeting."
Remus stood in the kitchen, watching and sniffling a little more. "Why, Severus, are you concerned?" he asked with a smile playing on his face.
"I merely wish to avoid contracting it," Snape replied. He handed the potion over.
Remus took it and drank it down. "Yes, I'm afraid I caught a bit of a cold in my nose. hahChuhhh!" It was only early autumn, and hardly the season for such things, but Remus had managed to easily acquire a blossoming cold in his nose.
He'd been in bed, fighting it, but attending a meeting of the Order was not optional. "I have every hope that I will make a quick recovery. But if you're concerned about your health, perhaps you should not have stayed to work on the potion. I am capable of heating it up myself now." Snape had recently perfected the potion, which could now be brewed in advance and reheated with the same level of effectiveness. Remus headed over to the sink and squirted some dishwashing liquid into the goblet. He ran the water quietly, so he could be heard. "And I do have people who can look after me." He thought briefly of Mrs. Weasley... and of Tonks. They were well meaning, but he did not want to involve either of them. Remus set the goblet aside, upside-down, to dry. Then he took out his handkerchief and rubbed at this nose. "So there's no need for you to be here. Unless, of course, you would miss these little meetings of ours."
Snape glared at him. "Hardly, Lupin. I was just making conversation."
"Feeling under the weather, Severus?" Though it was a good two months later, Remus could not resist the humor in making an inquiry startlingly similar to one of Severus'.
Snape either did not see the humor or had since forgotten that conversation. Possibly both. He sniffed liquidly and ashamedly. Then he drew a white handkerchief from his sleeve and massaged at his nostrils through the folds. "What an astute observation, Lupin," Snape snapped. He muffled two sneezes "humkshh! ehrshhh!" into the handkerchief. "Yes, of course I have a cold. A quarter of my students have some sort of awful bug or another. It was only a matter of time before I came down with something."
"I'm sorry to hear that," said Remus, with genuine sympathy. "I know how miserable a pesky little head cold can be."
Severus dipped a ladle into the potion and filled up a goblet with the bubbling, steaming liquid. It did not escape Remus' notice that Severus held onto the warm cup a little longer than usual.
Remus accepted the cup from him and drank it directly. As he did so, he kept his eye on Snape. He watched the man turn off the flame on the stove then sink down onto one of the benches at the table. With his back to the table, Snape bent over and coughed into his fist. When the coughing had finished, which took all of the time Remus spent drinking and then washing out the goblet, Snape stayed bent over. His breathing was heavy, thick, as though any one breath might send him into more spasms. Snape closed his eyes.
Remus sat down on the bench beside Snape. This earned him a cold look. Then Remus reached out and rubbed his hand up and down Snape's back. This earned him a full-on glare. "What are you doing, Lupin?" Snape's voice was rough and harsher than usual.
"Spend the night," Remus said. Severus' eyes opened wide. "I'm sure it's not as nice as that run-down place of yours in Spinner's End. But there are so many empty rooms here and you have a weekend ahead of you so there's no need to worry about your classes. There's no reason to travel and wear yourself out. Stay here and recuperate."
Snape mulled over the offer for a little while, through another small fit of coughs and then a few sneezes. As he roughly handled his handkerchief, hunching over and rubbing roughly at his large nose, Remus got up for two glasses of water. Having one of his own insured that Snape should take the other, which he did. When he spoke again, his voice was stronger. "I will require half a dozen blankets," he said. "This house always runs cold."
Remus could easily handle that request, and said as much.
"I will need to eat something more substantial than oatmeal and rice," Snape said, glancing insultingly at the cupboards.
Remus said he would be happy to visit the grocery for any items Severus required or desired.
Then Snape fired off what he had apparently presumed would be the deal breaker. "And I will of course need homemade Pepper-up."
Remus was not as quick to acquiesce to this, but finally put on a smile and nodded. "Naturally." Snape stared at him with a bit of shock on his face. "Potion-making is not my strongest suit, but I daresay I am as good a potion-maker as you are an instructor in Defense Against the Dark Arts."
A well Snape would certainly have never let such a statement go without comment or an equally insulting reply. But a sick Snape had no choice just then but to bring his handkerchief up and sneeze into it. "hehErshh! Ehh-EMChhh!" His nose was streaming, which Remus could see, even from behind the handkerchief. Severus looked wan and weary, and as though he might fall asleep hunched over right then and there.
Feeling quite sorry for him, Remus rubbed Snape's back comfortingly. Snape looked up, glaring. But the glare had little meaning for Remus at the moment. Seeing Snape like this, he knew the man wasn't going to be able to do anything to him. Even the nastiest of unforgivable curses from Snape would have little firepower behind it right now. And Remus took advantage of that assumption, wrapping his arm around Severus' middle as he helped the ill wizard up to bed.
"You don't... have to do this..." Snape said, slightly winded already from the short walk from kitchen to staircase.
"Nonsense," said Remus. The stairs creaked loudly underfoot but there was no noise from the paintings, as they had all been silenced with a spell Remus had concocted a few months back, to the relief of all but the portraits. "Everyone needs a little TLC when sick." As such, he guided Snape to a spare bedroom, tucked him into bed, and layered blankets on the bed until Snape signaled for him to stop. A dismissive wave from Snape had never before been so timid. "I'm going shopping for groceries. What do you want?"
Compared to earlier, Snape had very few demands. Mostly soup and warm, healthy dishes. Remus was glad the meals sounded simple, because he was as bad at cooking as he was at potions, though he would not admit that to Snape.
On his way out, Snape called out to him. "Lupin? Huhhh..." His breathing was heavy from a sneeze on the way. Remus turned, expecting to wait until Snape had finished sneezing. But Snape resisted the urge and carried on. "Did you want ehhh this of me moths ago eh-ehh! Snff! when you had a cold? Hehh-IHRshhh!"
It was a perfectly reasonable question and Remus had every intention of giving a casual answer. But before he could, Snape had more sneezes in store.
"ihhChh! hmmChuh! ehhChhh! ihhChuh!"
Luckily, Remus was too occupied with delivering more handkerchiefs to the patient. By the time the sneezes and snuffles passed Snape by, the question was dropped entirely. There was really no need to state the obvious, anyway.
Remus' nurturing instincts came back to him as they had not since his time as a boy at Hogwarts with his friends. He was half-amused and half-worried about what they might say if they saw him now. No doubt James would have taunted him a bit for being so nice to Snivellus, even after everything that Severus had done for Harry. And Sirius would have been shocked and maybe a little hurt. But neither of them were around any more. And somehow, for some reason, Snape was.
Remus delivered dinner to Snape at half-past seven, after which Snape fell to sleep. Remus kept an eye on him, peeking in every so often. And later he kept an ear, and the bedroom door, open. He heard Snape get up more than a dozen times, making the trek down the hall to the bathroom. The water would run for a minute or two, and then Snape would head back to bed. Remus heard every trip, and after what was probably the thirteenth or fourteenth one, Remus got up and filled a thermos from downstairs with ice water. Softly, he set it on the nightstand and tip-toed out without waking Snape. From then on, he heard the occasional cough or sneeze, but Snape did not get up once.
In the morning, Remus put on a bathrobe and went to check on Snape, who was not only awake, but also not in bed. Remus found him in the kitchen, slumping over in front of the stove. There was a cauldron on one burner, and Remus' teakettle sat on the other.
As the kettle began to whistle, and Snape swore. Instead of reaching for it, he let the steam escape as he turned to the side and sneezed freely. "hetchuhh! ehhhShehh!"
Snape's cheeks went a brilliant shade of red and he clamped a hand over his nose and mouth afterwards. He looked over at Remus, an apology in his eyes. Remus kept the mood light. He breezed right behind Snape and took the kettle. While pouring water and preparing the tea, he respectfully ignored Snape as the man blew his nose repeatedly into a handkerchief.
He handed a cup over to Snape a few minutes later. "Here you are, Severus. Tea with sugar and lemon." Snape's sweet and sour tea was a lovely representation of himself.
"You know how I take my tea?" Snape asked, perplexed. He took the tea and drank it.
Remus nodded. Not only had he noticed, several years ago when they breakfasted at the staff table, but he had remembered.
Snape set the tea aside and turned back to his potion.
"I told you I would help you with the Pepper-up," Remus said. "You should not be tiring yourself out."
"I can handle it," Snape replied, sniffling. He added the root of some crushed plant that went into the brew so quickly that Remus could not identify it. He sniffed again, turned his head away from the potion, and coughed.
"I am certain you can handle the potion," Remus said. "However..." Seeing the way Snape was sniffling, and looking, there was more to the man then just potion-making at the moment.
Remus went up behind Snape. He pressed himself to Snape's back and slipped his arms around Snape's side, leaving Snape's arms free to maneuver. And, when Snape's breathing hitched and he grew tense as he felt a sneeze coming on, Remus pulled a handkerchief out and held it up for the man to sneeze into. With one hand on the cauldron and the other on the wooden stirring rod, Snape pitched forward, sneezing into Remus' handkerchief. "ehhhTtshhihhh!"
"Bless you," Remus whispered. He felt Snape's nostrils flaring, then felt the large nose nuzzle into his hand, snuffling. It was Remus' turn to go warm, cheeks flushing.
"Why Remus..." Snape said, with something like a chuckle. He trailed off, feeling more of Remus. Remus pulled back, sheepishly, and sat down behind the table to hide the erection Snape had already discovered. Changing his tone now, Snape repeated himself. "Why, Remus?"
Remus looked down at the table, shaking his head. "I'm not exactly sure."
"Is it me?" Snape asked, pausing in his stirring to turn and look at Remus, then to rub his nose. "Or is it just to have someone?"
"It's you," Remus whispered.
Self-consciously, Snape turned back to the potion. He pretended that it needed all of his concentration.
Remus, however, saw that Snape's nose was not willing to stop everything. Controlling himself, and taking a few deep breaths, Remus walked back over with the handkerchief as a peace offering. Snape added another few pinches of something, then nodded in Remus' position, nose twitching. Remus held the handkerchief up and Snape buried his nose in it. As Snape's breathing went heavy with a build-up, Remus rubbed a hand up and down the back of Snape's head. "ehh-Tshoo! ehhShuhh!" Snape risked blowing his nose a little, then tilted his head forward just a little to press his forehead against Remus'. "When you asked me to stay," Snape whispered, his voice desperately needing to be cleared, "I had not thought this a possibility."
"One you might be open to?" Remus asked, hopefully.
Snape looked reluctant to answer. "I am in a difficult place right now, Remus. What is being asked of me..."
Remus did not pretend to understand every pressure Snape was under. "Right now, you are here. With me. And all that is being asked of you is that you take it easy and let me look after your needs a little." He looked into Snape's dark eyes, hoping the man understood.
Finally, Snape nodded and tilted his head differently, placing a quick kiss on Remus' cheek. He had to return immediately to his potion. But when Remus wrapped arms around him again, and reacted to the closeness of Snape's body as before, Snape made no comment about it and Remus stayed put.