Title: The Fighter

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Harry Potter, post-OotP I think

Rating: PG

Pairing: Remus/Severus

Disclaimer: Just borrowing and playing. I own nothing.

Summary: Snape is not the world's most cooperative patient but Remus has patience.

Notes: this is my first attempt at Remus/Severus. I still don't like them together... but it's got a lot of fun dynamics to work with. This begged to be written and I rather enjoyed it for some reason :-) Title comes from a Highlander episode.



The Fighter


     Kneeling on the bed, Snape decided that stopping his current series of shivers was more important than getting changed out of his robes. Reaching behind him, Snape pulled the giant feather comforter around himself. He gathered up the extra parts of the blanket in front of him, hugging it to his chest as he shivered. Though there was a fire burning in the fireplace, it did little to kill the cold in the room. Or the cold in his head, for that matter. He coughed and cleared his throat a few times, unable to rid it of the scratchiness. Then he rubbed his cheek against the comforter, wondering when he would start to warm up. Usually it didn't take so long. But his patience was thin tonight. His hands were frozen and he considered letting go of the blanket and warming them.


     His nose made the decision for him. The need to sneeze was strong and deep in the back of his nose. Snape wiggled his face around his nose and rubbed it all against the blanket. But the sensation would not concede to him. With a great breath drawn in, and a frown, he snapped forward with a viscous sneeze. "ehhhhURSCHHHH!" He sniffled quite wetly and pulled an arm out from the growing warmth to grab a tissue. The box sat on the bed in front of him, but still felt too far away. He clutched the comforter more tightly around himself as the shivers started again, thinking how silly it was to keep rooms of the castle so cold in the winter. He folded the tissue in his hand and gave a few wet one-handed blows. But a few led to a few more, and by the time he worked his way through eight tissues he had forgotten his complaint about the chilliness of the room. All that he could think of was blowing his nose and clearing his throat to get rid of the tickles in both places.


     When finished, he pulled his wand out and levitated the bunch of tissues towards the trash bin in the corner of the room using a simple Wingardium Leviosa. Halfway through with the task, however, another tickle seized his nose. He sneezed suddenly and freely. "hehhARShhhhhhh!" The sneeze was nothing, however, compared to what happened as a result. The bunch of tissues dropped to the floor and scattered over it. And the wand sent hot green sparks up at the ceiling. The sparks hit and rained back down in a shower. Snape ducked, not wanting to be hit in the face with them.


     When he looked up, however, it was to see Remus in the doorway, shaking his head and smiling. "Sneezed with your wand in hand again?" he inquired knowingly. Snape grumbled something indistinct and tucked his wand away at once.


     Ignoring Snape's harsh glare, Remus headed into the room. He kicked the door closed behind, then scooted the tissues out of the way as he shuffled across the room. "I come bearing tea," he said, smiling pleasantly and gesturing towards the tray in hand.


     "I can see that. I'm sick, not blind." He cleared his throat and sniffed hard. He needed to blow his nose from the sneeze, but didn't really want to with Remus hovering over him. "Who asked you to bring tea, anyway?" Snape snapped, pulling the blanket tighter around himself and hanging his head so Remus couldn't see his face as easily. He cleared his throat several more times and eyed the mug suspiciously.


     "I added a little honey, since I know you prefer that to sugar," Remus went on, as though Snape had asked specifically about that rather than the question the man had asked. He settled on the bed beside Snape and raised the mug of tea. Snape did not move. He did not even flinch or eye the cup any longer. "It's best to drink it now. It will warm you right up, I promise. Please, Severus?"


     Snape scowled but tucked his wand away and took the mug. He had to admit it was pleasantly warm to the touch. "I'm not cold," he snapped. But he took a few sips from it almost immediately and his appreciation of it showed on his face.


      "No one said you were." Still, Remus put an arm around Snape's shoulders with a hugging squeeze, and Snape did not object. If Remus had thought Snape with a bad head cold would be any less spiteful and ill-tempered, he was sorely mistaken.


     After a few more drinks, Snape seemed to feel much better. He had not cleared his throat once since beginning to drink, though he didn't let on that it was an improvement. "I suppose the rest of my classes were cancelled today?" he asked, staring at the steamy drink rather than at Remus.


     Remus nodded. "Dumbledore took your N.E.W.T.s students personally, but the others were cancelled as I was the only professor with free periods to cover them. I'm afraid my abilities in your subject are far lacking compared to yours in mine."


     Snape chuckled, nearly choking on his tea as he did so. He tried to make it look as though he merely had to cough. "Even I would not subject students to a potions class taught by you." Quickly, he was sure to add, "Not that I care about my students." He took a few more gulps of the tea, trying to look casual.


     "Of course not," Remus agreed. "Not you." It was easier to make people think he was always an angry task master. They could hate him and let him off the hook where caring was concerned. And if there wasn't any caring, there couldn't be any heartache either. A childhood full of abuse and two wars had taught him that much. It was much easier not to care than risk getting hurt. Better just to hate everyone up front and stay disconnected. "You don't care about anyone."


     Pausing in his drinking, Snape gave him a cold, deadly stare.


     "Oh, Severus," Remus said, squeezing his arm around Snape and rocking him a little with a laugh. "It was meant to lighten the mood. I wanted to see you smile for a change."


     Snape drained the cup and handed it back to Remus a bit harder than he might have normally. "I don't smile," he said flatly.


     "Ohhh..." Remus poked him in the side. "I've seen you smile from time to time."


     Snape scowled again. "Yes, well, not at something as absurd as that. You've a terrible sense of humor, Lupin. Something you no doubt picked up from those childhood friends of... ahhh-" His breath caught but, stubborn as he was, he fought to finish his sentence. "From-those-no-good-friends-of-yours-ehhhARSHuhhhhhh! Ehh-ARChhhhhhh! URTChhhhhhhhhhhh!" The sneezes threw him forward three separate times. They bounced the bed, including both Remus and the box of tissues which seemed to be making a beak for it off the bed. Parts of the blanket slipped from his grasp, loosening around him. The part he'd drawn over his head like a hood slipped down. Its sudden absence made him shiver as the cold of the room overtook him.


     Out of habit, he reached for the tissues, but Remus had already claimed the box before it fell from the bed. Remus had pulled a few out and held them out for Snape, who seemed undecided about them. He cupped his hand to his face, sniffling quite wetly in need. But at the same time, he didn't seem to want to take them out of principle. "I cad get by owd tiss... tissues..." he said, annoyed. He snatched them from Remus' hand and held them to his nose for a serious, long blow. More of the comforter fell, slipping off both shoulders and making his shivering worse.


     He tried to blow his nose properly and get the comforter back up into place, but his hands were both shaking with cold now. He fought to get the comforter to cooperate, but his nose started running terribly between blows and he needed more tissues. Snape's head began to spin, and he wasn't sure what to do about it all. Had he been alone, he would have ignored the runny nose in order to get the blanket in place and the warmth back. But he dared not look so disheveled in front of Remus. It would give the man the impression that he was much sicker than he really was.


     Ignoring Remus' next offered handful of tissues, he coughed and tried to stop his body from shivering. "I'b dot that sick," he said, turning away from Remus a little to blow his nose one last time. The tissues could stand no more of it now, and his nose was starting to hurt when he did that, to boot. Remus pushed the tissues at him, and Snape ignored them as long as he could, sniffing back his runny nose until sniffing did no good. It took close to five minutes, but Snape finally relented and grabbed the second handful of tissues from Remus, ripping two of them in the process. Immediately he blew his nose.


     "Better?" Remus inquired kindly.


     Snape shuddered. Both from the comment, and the cold. Worst of all was that his teeth had started chattering during the wait to make up for him refusing to shiver. "I'b all r-right," he managed through a stuffy nose and chattering teeth. He blew his nose hard a few times, clearing it as much as he could. Without the blanket there, Remus scooted as close to Snape as he could. He started to pulled the comforter back up, but Snape turned and grabbed it from his hands. Snape's annoyance took a more central stage than his ailment at the moment. "I d-d-don't n-need you or-or an-ny-one else. I c-can k-k-eep-p my-myself warm." That was it, too. Not wanting to let anyone in where they could see the real him, where they could hurt him. It was much easier to suffer and stay under the delusion that he was all right.


     Snape tried to pull the blanket up, but was caught in two more sudden, harsh sneezes. "ehh-huh-ARShhhhhh! URShhhhhhhhhh!" These pitched him forward again and he lost hold of the blanket yet again.


     "I didn't say otherwise, Severus," Remus told him, putting a hand on Snape's back and easing him back into a sitting position. He rubbed Snape's nose with a tissue, though the man tried to resist and turn his head away. Remus held it in place by the chin, looking into Snape's eyes the whole time. "I know you're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself when you have a little head cold. I just don't see the point of keeping yourself miserable for the sake of suffering. If I can help you feel a little better, why don't you let me?"


     Snape finally pulled away, huffing, turning his eyes down to the bed. "As usual, Lupin, you miss my point entirely." Problem was that he hadn't. By now, Remus seemed far too good at reading Severus Snape, and Snape was starting to learn when to give in. Usually Remus gave him a way in where he wouldn't be lowering himself. A lecture like this was quite uncharacteristic. His voice softened as he suddenly understood why. "You don't have to worry about me," he said.


     "I'm not worried," Remus said, pushing Snape's hair back carefully from the sides of his face, tucking it behind his ears. "Just feel useless. If you started thinking about someone other than yourself, you'd see that I want to help. And as I've been told I'm damn good at this sort of thing, I wish you'd let me."


     Snape sniffled and shook his head. He reached over and took some tissues from the box for himself. Good or not, he wasn't about to let the werewolf rub his nose dry again. But Remus pulled the comforter back into place, up over the top of Snape's head like a hood and around the front to keep the warmth inside. Snape grumbled with a bit of appreciation. "Didn't want you here in the first place, Lupin. And I don't care about what you wish for." But he did not say he preferred Remus to leave.


     Remus stood and set the cup aside on the top of the dresser. He picked up the used tissues from the bed and the floor and put them in the waste bin. Sniffling and letting the blanket warm up against him again, Snape watched Remus move around the room. Slowly, his eyelids became heavy and finally fell.


     "Tired, Severus?" Remus asked, touching Snape's cheek gently in comfort.


     Snape pushed the hand away. "Obviously," he snapped. Taking the box of tissues with him, he pulled the blanket and managed to lie down with it. He curled up on his side, shivering a bit from the movement. Remus tucked the comforter around him more tightly, making sure it covered his legs and feet adequately.


     "You're still in your professor robes," Remus observed. "Are you sure you don't want to get up and change into pajamas?"


     Snape grunted and closed his eyes. Silence was his reply, as he was feeling too tired to come up with something mean enough to answer the suggestion with.


     Remus, getting the message, did not press further. He did, however, crawl onto the bed behind Snape without bothering to change into his own pajamas. Snape stiffened at first, as Remus wrapped his arm around tightly from behind. But as Remus snuggled close, Snape relaxed back against Remus a little with a repressed sigh and a shiver. "Leave me alone, Lupin," he muttered. He rubbed a tissue at his nose then balled it into a fist to keep, quite sure he would have need of it later.


     Remus smiled, knowing Snape meant just the opposite. He snuggled close, trying to lend a little of his warmth seeing as Snape needed it. And Snape needed to know Remus wasn't going anywhere, no matter what was said. He slid his hand over Snape's, jumping at the touch. "Your hands are like ice," he exclaimed, quickly rubbing it to warm it up.


     With another shiver, Snape shook his head. "I'm not cold," he repeated. Then he pulled his hand away from Remus' to hold the balled up tissue to his rather substantial nose. "heh... HEH... ARShuhhhhh! Hekchhhhhh!"


     As Snape was distracted blowing his nose into a series of tissues, Remus pulled the blanket out from beneath Snape. He burrowed beneath, pressing his front up against Snape's back. Holding the man in a complete hug now, he held his hands around both of Snape's rubbing them to warm them. Snape closed his eyes and relaxed back against Remus. He cleared his throat again and buried his face in his pillow. Warm breath grazed his exposed back of neck. Snape smiled as, slowly, the shivers stopped again much more quickly than they had when he'd been alone with the blanket.


     "Next time I'm about to get sick," Snape whispered, between coughs and a yawn. "Remind me to do it on a full moon so you won't be around to smother me like this."


     "I'll do my best to remind you," Remus smirked. He kissed Snape's cheek and rested his head against the back and side of Snape's to settle in for a long sleep. "I can only imagine how bothersome it is to have someone who cares about you warming you and holding you and making sure you've got everything you could need."


     Snape nodded sleepily and gave another nod. "Exactly. Now if you can cease the sarcasm, I'm trying to sleep if you hadn't noticed." He rubbed his cheek into the pillow again and smiled when Remus squeezed him tightly. Remus made sure the comforter was still comfortably tucked around them, then waited for Snape to fall asleep first.


     But no matter how tired Snape felt, he wasn't going to be able to fall asleep until his symptoms let up a little. Remus knew better than to suggest more tea. The man's nose seemed more of a problem than anything now. Remus reached over him and pulled a fresh tissue from the box for him as Snape took in a sharp breath.


     "URShhhhhhhhh!" He shook beside and beneath Remus, though Remus still held him tight. Remus tried to hand Snape the tissue, but Snape refused it, using his balled-up one instead. "I cad get sniff, sniff, by owd tissues."


     "I know," Remus whispered, kissing his cheek and pressing the tissue to Snape's nose anyway. "But if you don't blow your nose you're never going to get to sleep. Which means I'll never get to sleep either. So if you wind up with a cranky, over-tired werewolf in bed with you tomorrow morning, on your head be it."


     Snape grumbled but blew his nose a few times. He relaxed, letting Remus bring the tissues to him instead of getting them for himself. After a little while, Snape shook his head, indicating he was finished. "Doesn't mean I'm going to sleep now," he said, though he repressed a yawn just after.


     "Course not," Remus whispered with another kiss to Snape's cheek. He followed it with a gentle petting and Snape slowly closed his dark eyes instead of batting Remus' hand away like last time. "Good night, Severus." Snape forced his eyes back open a little as he heard that, but they fluttered back closed moments later and he didn't have the strength to fight them. Snape took his time about it, stubborn and sniffling up to the very last moment. But finally he fell to sleep. Remus simply smiled and followed suit.