Severus Snape hated a lot of things.
He hated Muggles in general (and his father in particular). He hated Slughorn, who, despite being his Head of House and Potions teacher, refused to give him any useful advice about going for a Potions Mastery. Something about knowing his place, considering his unfortunate lack of looks, parentage, and money, never mind that Severus knew he was better at Potions than the old whale. He hated Sirius Black for trying to fucking murder him and for being a prat to his housemate Regulus. He hated James Potter for obvious reasons, although that was become far more difficult since the whole business with the Whomping Willow. Ever since then, Potter had gone all twitchy and even, Merlin help him, apologetic. Still, Severus was endeavoring to not forgive the bastard.
One person he couldn't bring himself to hate, however, was the werewolf.
After getting over the shock of almost dying and Black not being expelled for almost murdering him, Severus had gone to the library to think. At first, his research had been narrow, because surely there had to be some sort of law against allowing a werewolf to be in a school. The laws, unfortunately, were muddled, with so many put in and struck out that Severus didn't know what the actual policy was on them at all anymore. So he turned to more informative sources, devouring Kessler's Beast or Being: Werewolf Controversy From 1637-1937 and Draugluin's Famous Wolves of Fact and Folklore. But it wasn't until he came upon Emerett Picardy's book, reading the title with some glee, that he was able to make the decision.
Lupine Lawlessness: Why Lycanthropes Don’t Deserve to Live was exactly what Severus had expected and, at the same time, exactly what made him realize that he couldn't hate the werewolf. It was, he reflected, really quite annoying.
Professor Slughorn was busy lecturing his NEWT-level students about something inane when Severus raised his hand. When Slughorn didn't notice, Severus gave a loud cough.
"Yes, what is it?" said Slughorn irritably.
"Not that this isn't fascinating," Severus said, "but I was wondering if I could ask you about a certain kind of potion."
"Is it related to the Morbus Alzheimeri?"
"No, sir, but-"
"Than I'd suggest you not waste the class's time, Snape."
"It's about werewolves." Across the room, there was a clang as Lupin nearly tipped his cauldron over. Severus could feel Lily's eyes digging knives into his neck. "I was wondering if there had been any research done about potions for werewolves. You know, what kind of elements and - and ingredients would be most effective considering their condition."
"Snape, this is hardly relevant," Slughorn blustered.
"But it's really important stuff, you know. I mean, since lycanthropy is a disease of the blood, there would obviously have to be different brewing recipes to account for their condition. And - And I was looking it up in the library, but I can't find anything on it at all, so I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction." Slughorn opened his mouth to protest, but Severus beat him to the punch. "It's important."
"Well, there's naturally been very little research, what with them being considered, well, Dark. The only person I can really recall is a former student of mine, a brilliant Potioneer and quite a handsome young man. Head Boy and all, you know. His name's Damocles Belby." Severus smirked, filing away all the information for later.
"Thank you, sir," he said. "You've been very... helpful." At the end of class, Severus swooped out of the room, ignoring Lily's glare and Lupin's thoughtful expression, mind already working on his plan.
Severus called his plan How To Make Sure That Lupin Doesn't Kill Anyone, Because That Would Be Painful And Make Multiple People Very Upset. Step One: Find Someone Who Knows Things And Get In Contact With Them had been a resounding success, and Severus couldn't help but grin at the letter that had reached him at the breakfast table.
Mr. Belby had been doing research on werewolves, and he had found that adding wolfsbane to potions usually made them work for the wolves, though not nearly as effectively as for non-werewolves. Some, like the blood replenishing potion, couldn't have wolfsbane added at all. In addition, he'd been trying to make an antidote for lycanthropy, and he believed alkanet, hyssop, and, of course, wolfsbane would be essential ingredients. He said he was sorry he couldn't be of more help, but he had only started research in the past five years.
Of course, Severus had one advantage that Mr. Belby didn't. Severus had a werewolf to test the potions on.
"Here," Severus said, slamming the goblet down in front of Lupin. Most of the Gryffindors and half the Slytherins glared at him, but he ignored them.
"Er..." Lupin said, looking at the potion, uncertain.
"Piss off, Snivellus," Black snapped. Potter shifted uncomfortably, as though he was trying to decide whether or not to do something.
"You have a headache," Severus said. "And, yes, I know it doesn't usually work for wer- for you. I modified it."
"If you're trying to poison Remus..." Black growled.
"Please, in front of all these witnesses? I'm not a Gryffindor, Black." Black looked like he was about to say something ridiculous, but before he could Lupin grabbed the goblet.
"Thank you, Snape," Lupin said, quickly downing the potion. Almost instantly his hand went up to his temples. Black threw himself at Severus, grabbing his shoulder so hard that it was sure to bruise.
"You little Death Eater sneak-"
"Is it actually supposed to work that fast?" Lupin said, awed. Severus rolled his eyes.
"I'd like to think that my potions are a little more effective than Muggle aspirin." Black let him go, still looking between him and Lupin suspiciously.
"I just - I've never had a potion work for me, ever. It's-"
"Yeah, well, don't get used to it," Severus snapped, suddenly feeling the need to get out from under the Gryffindors' gazes, all looking at him with varying degrees of hostility and confusion. "It takes a long time to figure out how much-" not wolfsbane, he couldn't say wolfsbane, Dumbledore would expel him for sure "-monkshood to add without killing you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get to class."
As he walked away, Severus glanced back. Black was leaning over the table towards Lupin and Potter, apparently either interrogating them or ranting about Severus. Potter looked ambivalent about the whole situation, especially when Pettigrew nodded enthusiastically at something Black said. Lupin glanced over at Severus and grinned, touching his forehead in a kind of salute.
Severus could feel the blood pooling in his cheeks, and he quickly rushed away. Damn werewolf.
Severus was at the top of the Astronomy Tower, brewing and cursing, when Lupin slipped up the stairs. The werewolf hesitated at the top, but when Severus saw him and scowled he finally approached the cauldron.
"What're you brewing?" he asked.
"None of your business," Severus snapped. Lupin just nodded and leaned against the edge of the tower, watching him. "What do you want?"
"I'm sorry about Sirius. He - I talked to him, he was way out of line."
"Black was as personable as always," Severus corrected, tipping some lavender into the mixture, causing it to go a satisfying electric blue.
"Yeah, and that's the problem, isn't it? God, you must hate me."
"I don't hate you," Severus said carefully, slicing the boomslang skin into thin strips.
"Why not? I wouldn't blame you."
"What's with this sudden bout of conscience, Lupin?" Severus threw the skin into the cauldron, stirring it furiously counterclockwise. "You seemed quite content to let Black and Potter do as they pleased before. What changed?"
"You're right. I'm a bloody coward." That got Severus's attention. He stared at Lupin, who was fidgeting, twisting his robes around his hands.
"Who are you and what have you done to Lupin?" he said.
"James told me what happened, you know. How Sirius - you know."
"Yes, yes I do."
"God, you're an arse," Lupin muttered. "Look, Snape, what I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry. I'm sorry that Sirius did that, I'm sorry I almost killed you. I - God, if James hadn't figured it out, you could've been - Even if you hadn't died, you could've been turned into a werewolf. I've been like this since I was eight, Snape, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone."
"Neither would I," Severus said. "Accio rat. Or mouse, doesn't matter really." A rat flew into his hand, and he used a dropper to drip some of the potion into its mouth. It thrashed around before falling limp in his palm. "Damn. I thought I was getting closer." Lupin looked at him for a long moment, as though trying to work his way into the Slytherin's brain.
"You're not getting out of this, you know," Lupin said. "I - I'm not giving this up."
"Giving what up?"
"Annoying you, apparently." Severus snorted so hard he dropped the rat in the cauldron, causing the mixture to roil, nearly splashing him. He swore, diving out of the way. Lupin, the arsehole, just howled with laughter.
Lupin ignored Black's wave and sat next to Severus in Defense. Severus tried not to read anything into it.
"Hyssop. Lavender. Amaranth - I just hope that they bothered to harvest it correctly," Severus muttered.
"Why amaranth?" Lupin said.
"It's used for protection, mostly against evil spirits in Celtic wizarding traditions, but some more powerful antidotes and immuno-potions use it as well. Since it needs to be pulled up by the root at full moon, it should help counteract the werewolf stuff, not to mention neutralize the poisonous part of the wol - the monkshood." He frowned. "I wish I had mandrake."
"I mean, it's most famous for being essential in anti-petrification potions, but it's more practical application is in amplifying most other potions ingredients, especially those with protective elements. Considering what I'm trying to do in this potion and the other elements involved, it might give it that extra kick it needs to actually work."
"And you just know all this stuff off the top of your head?" Severus glanced over at Lupin, but the werewolf didn't look like he was mocking him. If anything, he looked impressed.
"I mean, I like potions. They make sense. I mean, they're trickier than creating new spells - all you need for those is a basic knowledge of Romance languages and a sense of intent - but potions are... they aren't exactly a science, but they're predictable. If you know enough, you can make potions just based off the magical properties of the ingredients, the type of cauldron, and the method. I'm not there yet, of course," Severus said, slightly sheepish. "If I was, this damn thing wouldn't be giving me so much trouble. But I think I'm getting closer."
"I didn't realize that potions was so complicated," Lupin admitted. "I just kind of followed the way the book told me to do them."
"Well, the books are usually wrong," Severus said. "For example, why would you use hawthorn over agrimony in the Blood Replenishment Potion? It doesn't make any sense! I mean, yeah, it can be used to stabilize the blood, but it is hardly an active agent. Agrimony, on the other hand, has hawthorn's stabilizing properties, actually helps along the blood replenishment, and binds and restrains any active bleeding, making it so that you need only one potion instead of two. The only reason why it hasn't been accepted as better is because it's traditionally used in both magical and non-magical Chinese medicine, and you know how the Ministry feels about wizards and Muggles interacting."
"So you're going to go for Master Potioneer after we graduate? Or are you going to do an apprenticeship first?" Severus snorted, carefully placing the amaranth springs in the cauldron one at a time, pausing between each one to stir once clockwise.
"I don't plan on doing anything of the sort," he said. "I already told you that the books are bloody useless, so why would I want to spend two to five more years being a slave to them? No, after Hogwarts I plan on travelling."
"Everywhere! There are so many potions ingredients and, hell, even potions that are being ignored because they're not in the right part of the world, especially by Magical Britain. I want to go to China first, find out more about their traditional healing potions, and after that... I don't know. Haiti, maybe, or South Africa. I've heard that South African sangomas have been using muti to combine talismanology, potions, and transfiguration there for ages. And then - I don't know, I'll write a book or something. Show all those close-minded old coots that there are more than one thousand magical herbs and fungi." Severus suddenly seemed to deflate. "Not that I'll actually be able to go. I don't - I don't really have the money."
"Well, it's not like you won't be able to get a grant or something once you publish the Wolfsbane Potion," Lupin said. Severus jumped slightly. "I'm not stupid, Sev, I know what you're doing."
"I need another rat," Severus muttered.
"Here," Severus said, setting the goblet in front of Lupin. Lupin stared at it, and then he looked up at Severus.
"That's - that's your potion?" he said.
"It's not toxic, if that's what you're asking. I tested it on three rats, an owl, and myself."
"It's not that. It's just... how will you know it worked?"
"I'll be there, of course," Severus said.
"No!" Lupin snapped. Severus raised an eyebrow. "No. If it doesn't work, I could kill you."
"Do you really have so little faith in me?"
"When your criteria for 'finished potion' seems to be 'doesn't actively kill anyone,' yeah, I have a couple of concerns."
"Look, Lupin, I'm trying to help you here," Severus snarled. "I wrote down every ingredient and every motion I made, I've gone over it so many times I could recite it in my sleep. It's going to work, I can feel it." He paused. "Full moon's tomorrow. You should take it right before you go to the Willow. I'll follow you when I can."
"Do you have any bindrunes?" Lupin said. Severus shook his head. "I'll make one for you. For - For protection, on silver. And you need to have wolfsbane on you at all times. And-" He held up his hand to stop Severus's protest. "And you need to have James with you."
"I don't want Potter to-"
"He can calm the wolf. You can't." Severus glared at Lupin. "Those are my conditions, take it or leave it."
"Fine," Severus snarled. "But I'm not the one telling Potter." He stormed away, robes billowing dramatically behind him.
"Algiz, for protection, and Uruz, for strength and speed." Severus slipped the George V half crown, now carved with Algiz and Uruz and imbued with Lupin's magic, into his pocket, trying not to let any sign of his fear show. "If I turn, you run, no questions asked."
"I still don't know what you're so worried about," Severus said, ignoring the way his stomach was rebelling. "It's going to work."
"Yeah, well, I'm not as good at potions as you are, so I'm not nearly as certain. There's no cure for lycanthropy, everyone knows that."
"Don't be stupid, 'everyone' hasn't even tried."
"Maybe because everyone would rather not be mauled by a werewolf," Lupin said. "Just - be careful?"
"Always," Severus said. Lupin nodded and left the room. If Severus had looked out the window, he would have been able to see Lupin press the knot on the Whomping Willow and disappear beneath it. He didn't look out the window.
It was late in the evening when Potter finally came to get him. Severus resolutely ignored his awkward attempts at small talk as they snuck across the grounds, because of course Potter had a bloody invisibility cloak. Of. Course.
"Hey, Moony," Potter whispered when they got to the end of the tunnel. Lupin, who was sitting on the floor and looking very nervous, jumped.
"Jesus Christ, Prongs," he hissed. "No, don't come in here, stay in the tunnel." Severus ignored him in favor of being able to stand up straight.
"It'll work, I know it will," he said. Lupin shivered.
"I hope so," he said. The last half-hour before the moon rose was very long.
As soon as a ray of moonlight peeked through the shutters, Lupin began to shake. The ray grew, creeping across the worn wooden floor, until it finally touched Lupin. He collapsed, twitching and clawing and making a noise that was horribly, distinctly inhuman. Severus's chest felt like it was made of ice. He'd heard that noise before.
"It didn't work," Potter hissed. He pulled at Severus's arm, but the Slytherin was rooted in place. "Come on, we've got to get out of here."
"W-Wait," Severus said. He tried to think past his panic, tried to remember what had happened last time he'd been cornered by a bloody werewolf, because something was definitely not right here. "It's different this time. I want to see-" Potter pushed him back towards the passage, more than slightly desperate.
"You won't be able to see if you're dead, you git. Hang your bloody scientific curiosity and let's get out of here." But it was a little too late. The werewolf, now fully transformed, struggled to its feet. Severus and Potter both stared, hardly daring to breath. The werewolf skulked forward, and Severus could feel Potter tensing up beside him, no doubt preparing to do something stupid. So, of course, not wanting to be shown up, Severus had to do something stupid first.
"Here, kitty kitty kitty," he said, stepping forward. Both the werewolf and Potter looked at him, baffled. Severus gave a low whistle. "Hey, it's me, it's Snape. You don't want to eat me, right?"
"Snivellus, you idiot," Potter said. The werewolf growled and snapped at him, which made Severus feel a little more confident.
"I know that wolves are more closely related to dogs, Potter, I'm not stupid," Severus said.
"You - You're - He's not Remus right now! He's a werewolf!" The werewolf in question came a bit closer, sniffed at Severus's robes, and then began nuzzling him uncomfortably close to his crotch.
"Well," Severus said, scratching Lupin behind the ears, "that wasn't what I wanted to happen, but I suppose I can't complain." Potter looked like he wanted to slam his head against the wall, which was just enough of a bonus to make Severus smile.
"But what did it feel like? What were your impressions?"
"I don't want to talk about it, Sev," Lupin said, for the fifth time. Severus scowled and sat stubbornly at the Gryffindor table, ignoring the stares. He crossed his arms.
"Honestly, I can't fix it if I don't have more information-"
"It doesn't need to be fixed, it's fine. I won't kill anyone anymore-"
"You might. You kept snapping at Potter."
"And I really wish that you'd stop sounding so smug about it," Lupin said. "He might be a bit of an arse, but he's my friend, Sev. I mean, you're my friend, too, but that doesn't mean that he isn't." Severus nearly upended his pumpkin juice.
"I'm your what?" Lupin gave him a weird look. "You know what? Never mind. I'm not going to be happy until I get the potion right, Lupin, you know that. So until then, you're stuck with me. Really, it would be much easier for both of us if you just spilled."
"I don't really remember that much, Sev," Lupin said. "It's all flashes, really, like when I'm usually a werewolf. I don't think I was changed, I was more... domesticated." He hesitated. "I remember that you smelled good. Like a packmate." Severus shifted awkwardly. "You are my friend, you know."
"Ask Professor Sprout if you can have some mandrake leaves. Cut the stem with a silver knife and make sure not to fold them," Severus ordered, getting up from the table a little too quickly.
"Alright," said Lupin agreeably, "as long as you eat something. You shouldn't skip meals." Severus glared at him, but he didn't argue when the werewolf handed him a leg of chicken.
The mandrake-enhanced potion just made Lupin act like a puppy, and the one using mandrake essence rather than mandrake leaves wasn't any better. Then Severus tried to up the amount of wolfsbane, but having it even slightly too potent made the whole concoction fatal to the rats he tried it on. A version that replaced the lavender with artichoke petals didn't work at all, and almost resulted in Severus meeting a rather painful end.
"Just let it go, Snape," Potter advised one evening in the library. Severus glared at him, and Potter offered him a Chocolate Frog like a consolation prize. Severus ignored it.
"I'm not in the habit of leaving things half-done, Potter," he said, paging through Magical Plants of the Americas idly. He had the book practically memorized, but maybe there's something he had missed. Maybe.
"Face it, Snape, it might just not be possible," Potter said.
"Of course it's possible, it has to be possible," Severus said. Then he growled and snapped the book shut. "Fucking useless!"
"Look, you've already done Remus more good than I ever have. He's not terrified of his own shadow anymore-"
"But I can make it better!" Potter gave him a weird look, like he wasn't quite sure if anything he could say would be well-received but he desperately wanted to try. "There has to be something I'm missing. It's like - It's like all of the elements are there, I'm just not putting them together correctly."
"Well, you'll figure it out, if it can be figured out. I mean, you're kind of brilliant." Severus froze, blinking dumbly at the Gryffindor in front of him. "What?"
"I utterly refuse to be civil with you, Potter," Severus snapped, gathering up his books and practically fleeing from the library. Potter just looked completely confused, which suited Severus just fine. He had more important things to worry about.
In retrospect, it had only been a matter of time before Slughorn had realized that Severus had been borrowing from his stores. Most of the ingredients had been easy enough to purchase at Hogsmeade or by Owl Order, of course, but a few of them, including, unfortunately, the ever-important wolfsbane, had been controlled substances that couldn't be so easily procured and, even then, would have been ridiculously expensive. So when Slughorn approached him in the hallway, vein looking as though it was going to pop right off his forehead, Severus wasn't surprised.
"Mr. Snape," Slughorn said. The worst thing about Slughorn, Severus thought, was that he always managed to sound so horribly disappointed, no matter what he actually thought of you.
"Yes, sir?" Severus said.
"My office. Now." Severus glanced over at Lupin, but the werewolf just looked terrified and faintly ill. Of course, it was only a few days from full moon, so the faintly ill part was to be expected.
"I'll see you later," Severus said quickly. He followed Slughorn obediently to his office, ignoring the curious whispers from both the portraits and his fellow students.
"Sit, Mr. Snape," Slughorn said. Severus sat in the overstuffed green armchair. Slughorn sat across the desk from him with a sigh. "Well, Mr. Snape, what do you have to say for yourself?"
"I don't know what you mean, sir."
"I'm not stupid. I can see very well what you've been up to. Mandrake essence! Boomslang skin! Monkshood! Well, I'm telling you this, Snape, you will not be getting off lightly for this. Controlled substances are controlled for a reason." There was a knock on the door. "Ah, Albus. Come in, come in." Severus, for the first time, felt his confidence waning. If Slughorn had sent for the Headmaster, he must be in worse trouble than he had expected.
"Hello, Horace," the Headmaster said. He turned his steely eyes to the boy in the armchair, and Severus had to bite his tongue to resist the insane urge to protest. They had no proof that it had been him. Getting upset would only made them more suspicious. "Mr. Snape. I was hoping that I would not be seeing you again so soon."
"Frankly, Headmaster, so was I," Severus said.
"So, Horace, what's all this about, then?" Slughorn puffed up like an indignant kneazle.
"Albus, this boy has been stealing from my ingredients cabinet. Worse, he has been stealing controlled substances!"
"I haven't been doing anything of the sort, sir," Severus replied, trying to keep his voice steady.
"Who else would need these ingredients for their little experiments? Albus, you must expel the boy. I simply see no other solution."
"What controlled substances have been stolen?"
"Mandrake essence and boomslang skin have both vanished once or twice, but I haven't had a decent amount of monkshood in months!" The Headmaster's gaze seemed to pierce through Severus, and Severus felt his face growing hot.
"With all due respect, sir, does Professor Slughorn have any proof it was me? It seems more like he doesn't know how to keep track of his ingredients."
"You - You were asking questions about werewolf potions in class, and then a few weeks later my monkshood starts to vanish. Surely, Albus, you can see this boy is guilty."
"Mr. Snape?" the Headmaster said, his voice low and dangerous. Severus tried to speak, but his tongue seemed awkward and heavy. There was really no getting out of this. He was going to get expelled. He felt tears prickling his eyes, and he savagely scrubbed them away. He refused to cry.
Suddenly the door opened with a crash. All three of the men in the room jumped, and Severus twisted around to see Potter gasping in the doorway, Lupin shifting nervously behind him.
"Snape - didn't do - anything wrong - Professor," Potter gasped out. "Don't know why - you would - think that - sir."
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Lupin," the Headmaster said. "What are you doing here?"
"Could we speak with you privately, sir?" Lupin said quietly. "I mean, Sev can stay, just- No Professor Slughorn?" Slughorn was looking uncertainly between the Headmaster and Potter and Lupin.
"Go, Horace. I will deal with this myself, I assure you." Slughorn nodded reluctantly as he left the room. The Headmaster sat in Slughorn's abandoned chair and gestured for Potter and Lupin to sit as well. "So, what is this about?"
"You see, sir, Snape-" Potter said eagerly.
"Shut up," Severus hissed.
"Let's start at the beginning," said the Headmaster. "Mr. Snape, I thought I told you that any attempts to disclose Mr. Lupin's condition would result in your expulsion. Now I find that you have been asking impertinent questions and stealing leading potions supplies. Is this correct?"
"According to Slughorn," Severus muttered crossing his arms.
"Professor Slughorn," the Headmaster said sharply. Severus nodded but didn't correct himself. "And what is your story?"
"I was curious about werewolves, but I found the information in the library to be lacking. I then proceeded to ask a teacher, in class, a question related to academics."
"Yeah, and he's been-" Potter began. This time it was Lupin who shot him a glare.
"And the potions ingredients?" the Headmaster said.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Severus said. "Sir," he quickly added.
"I don't know why wolfsbane's on the controlled substances list anyways," Lupin said. "After all, holly berries aren't, and they're more poisonous to humans than wolfsbane."
"Outdated superstitions," Severus said, "plus I think there was an incident in the 40s with someone trying to make a potion that induces lycanthropy. Turns you into a werewolf outside full moon, I mean." Lupin shuddered.
"Mr. Snape, that was out of line," the Headmaster said.
"It's in Talbot's Darke Scandals and Early Muggle Cinema. You can't expect me to refrain from mentioning things that any idiot could read in the school library."
"It's fine, sir," Lupin added helpfully. "I really don't mind." The Headmaster's eyes narrowed.
"What has been going on with you three?" he said. None of them said anything. "Mr. Potter? Anything to say?"
"Snape shouldn't be expelled, sir. He hasn't done anything wrong."
"And here I thought you would do anything to throw me under the bus," Severus said.
"Oh, come on, surely you don't think I'm that bad."
"Mr. Lupin? Anything to add?"
"I think you should ask Sev, sir. After all, he's the one who got dragged in here and threatened with expulsion."
"Mr. Snape?" Severus didn't answer.
"If you don't tell him, I will," Potter said.
"Is that a threat?" Severus snapped.
"Don't be stupid, Snape. I can't threaten you over this." The Headmaster was still staring at Severus, patiently waiting. Severus took a deep breath, choosing each word carefully.
"I was researching werewolves, mostly trying to find out if there were any laws against having them at schools, and I found out that potions don't work on them because it's a condition of the blood. So I asked Professor Slughorn if there was any research being done, and he pointed me towards a former student of his."
"Why did you do this, Mr. Snape?" Severus didn't answer.
"He's trying to make a potion that cures it, sir," Lupin said suddenly. The Headmaster turned to him and blinked.
"Yeah. And he's done it, sir."
"No, I haven't. It doesn't work the way it's supposed to," Severus snapped.
"It works well enough, you just won't admit it."
"You're still a bloody werewolf. It's supposed to keep you human, not turn you into a dog."
"Good enough for me," said Lupin with a shrug. "At least this way I won't hurt anybody-"
"Except Potter, apparently."
"Except Potter, apparently," said Lupin agreeably.
"Oi!" Potter said. The Headmaster was looking between the three of them, confused but no longer threatening Severus with expulsion, which was an improvement.
"Well," he said. "Horace certainly won't be happy with me when he finds out about this. You are all free to go, but I would suggest not stealing from his stores." Severus nodded and stood, already trying to figure out ways to get wolfsbane that didn't involve the potions ingredients cabinet, but neither Potter nor Lupin moved.
"But, sir, Snape needs those ingredients," Potter said.
"They are controlled substances for a reason, Mr. Potter."
"Sev said it was a bullshit reason," Lupin said. "Besides, all he's doing is making sure that I'm not able to kill anybody. Couldn't you, you know, make an exception or something?"
"Mr. Lupin, your friend should count himself lucky that he hasn't been expelled. His actions, though they were meant well, put you at risk. Besides, I cannot allow untested potions to be brewed by my sixth year students."
"They're not untested," Severus said hotly. "I do trials on at least rats, owls, and myself before giving it to Lupin for testing at full moon. The only person I'm putting at risk is myself, and even that risk is barely there. I'm not stupid."
"All the same, you are-"
"I'm 17. Lupin's 17. We're both adults and we both know the risks, so fuck off." As soon as the words left Severus's mouth he clamped a hand over his mouth, but the damage was done. Curiously, though, the Headmaster didn't look nearly as upset as he should have. Potter, on the other hand, was grinning.
"He's got you there, sir," he said.
"Perhaps he does," the Headmaster said. Severus had, by this point, completely lost the thread of the conversation. "Potter, Lupin, Snape, you're all free to go. I believe that wolfsbane may, with a dispensation from myself, be purchased in Hogsmeade." Potter grinned.
"Thanks, sir," he said, pulling Lupin and Severus out of the office behind him.
"Why the hell is Snivellus here?" Black snorted. Severus resolutely ignored him. He would have loved to snipe back, but he was depending on Potter's seemingly bottomless pockets to purchase the wolfbane... and, okay, he was hoping to sneak in a couple other ingredients. He was only human, after all.
"Come on, Sirius," Potter said. "He's trying to help us. Hell, his Wolfsbane Potion turns Moony into Padfoot the Second."
"I really wish you would stop calling it that," Severus snapped. "It isn't the Wolfsbane Potion, not yet." Potter rolled his eyes.
"You are literally the only person who isn't happy with it."
"I'm not happy with it," Black grumbled.
"Yeah, well, you're being a bit of a git, so no one's listening to you right now." Pettigrew looked between his friends, chewing his bottom lip nervously. It was obvious that he'd never seen Black and Potter fight like this, a fact that still made Severus feel a little uncomfortable. Not that he wasn't grateful that Potter had apparently decided that it was his job to be nice to Severus, but he knew that Black and Potter had been friends for far longer. Eventually Potter would be tired of fighting with him and fall back into his old habits.
It disturbed Severus that he was so disturbed by the idea.
Entering Linfred's made Severus relax almost instantaneously. No matter what happened, he always knew what he was doing in apothecaries. He went over to the wolfsbane, studying each spring carefully before adding it to the airtight jar he had decided to use. Before long he had enough for a few months, so he moved on to pangolin scales and toothed clubmoss. As he dithered over different types of baculums, Black slid next to him.
"I still don't trust you, Snivellus," he muttered.
"The feeling is mutual," Severus said cooly. Black looked at Severus's shopping.
"Those are controlled substances. How are you expecting to sneak that back into Hogwarts?"
"I have a dispensation from the Headmaster."
"What'd you do, hit him with the Imperius?" Severus didn't answer, but to his surprise Lupin did.
"Lay off him, Padfoot. He's trying to help."
"He tried to out you!"
"Yeah, well, nobody's perfect," Severus said. "I seem to recall you trying to murder me a couple months ago."
"That was just a bit of fun. You could've gotten Remus expelled!"
"Sirius," Lupin said. Black glowered, but at least he kept his comments under his breath. "Hey, Sev, how much have you got there?"
"Enough wol- monkshood to last a couple months, plus a few more controlled substances I think might help. I," he paused, "I don't know exactly how much it'll cost. I can pay Potter back eventually, I promise." Black snorted.
"Leech," he said. Severus felt his face grow hot, and he opened his mouth to retort, but to his surprise Lupin spoke up.
"Leave him alone, Sirius. He's trying to help me. Besides, not everyone has a trust fund, you know." Severus recalled Lupin's shabby clothes and secondhand trunk and felt a rush of kinship for the Gryffindor.
"I guess it's your funeral if you decide to trust a Slytherin, Moony," Black snapped. Lupin looked like he was about to say something, but Severus quickly decided on a dog baculum and grabbed Lupin's arm.
"Come on, I'm done," he muttered.
"Sev, I'm sorry about-"
"Look, it's fine, just help me find Potter. I need-" They turned the corner, and Severus nearly bumped into Potter and-
Lily. He swallowed down his nerves and tried not to act like a man on his way to Azkaban.
"Se- Snape?" she said, looking from him to Lupin curiously. He decided to ignore her.
"Potter," Severus said. "I've got what I need." Potter's grin was annoyingly genuine.
"I'll pay you back, I don't need your charity." Potter waved him off, and that just made Severus feel more wrong-footed, which of course made him feel more angry.
"Don't worry about it. Anything to help with Remus's furry little problem." Severus could never miss the way Lily's eyes did a double take at that.
"Severus is... helping you? With-"
"Finish flirting, Potter, and hurry up. I remember hearing you complaining to Pettigrew that I was going to spend all day holed up in here, but you seem to be the one holding us all up." Severus swept away, resolutely trying not to eavesdrop on whatever Potter and Lily were saying. It wasn't any of his business anyways.
Lily sat across from him in the library, a look of forced composure on her face.
"What changed?" she said. "Last year after OWLS - God, Sev, I thought you were-" She took a deep breath. "What changed?"
"I almost died," Severus said honestly, "and then I did quite a bit of reading."
"You got distracted from the Dark Arts." Severus shrugged.
"I mean, I'm still studying them. I've just narrowed my focus now. Besides," he said, trying not to hesitate, "I figured I might as well find a new person to annoy now that you're gone."
"It's fine," he snapped. "I made my decision. You made yours. I was wrong, and you were right to cut things off with me. That's just the way things are now."
"So, what did you change in that version of the potion?" Lupin said, head in Severus's lap. He had fallen asleep like that as a werewolf, and he saw no reason to change a thing.
"Toothed clubmoss and dog baculum. I was hoping that the clubmoss would be a cognitive enhancer that would act as a reversor for the baculum."
"It may have worked a little. I mean, I was still a werewolf, but I felt like my mind was more human. It wasn't just animal instinct. I remember more, too." Severus almost grinned.
"Alright, so we're getting closer. I don't think that Potter will be too happy about me bugging him for more Galleons, but that can't be helped right now."
"I'm not stupid, I know that he'll get annoyed with me leeching off him soon enough. I can get a job in the Muggle world this summer, start working on paying him off, but until then I'm kind of at his mercy."
"Prongs would do anything to help his friends," Lupin said. "He's helped me out more times than I can count. I don't think there's any way he could get upset with you, especially since you aren't exactly doing it just for yourself."
"I suppose that's true - it is benefitting you," Severus said. "Although I still don't know why I'm the only one taking the development of this seriously."
"We are taking it seriously, Sev. You're just the only one who has any idea what's going through your brain," Lupin said cheerfully. "Even I only understand you half the time, and James is way worse at potions."
"I still don't get why you're still transforming. Grinding the dog baculum rather than adding it whole should give you full human intelligence, if we're really that close, but there's no reason why the boomslang skin shouldn't be working to prevent the transformation."
"Maybe it's just-"
"No, it's not just anything. It's possible, I know it's possible, and I'm going to figure it out."
"Patchouli," Severus said, sitting across from Lupin at the breakfast table. Lupin raised an eyebrow.
"I have no idea what that means," he said.
"Patchouli is an herb of manifestation, usually used to revert things back to their previous state. I didn't think - It's usually used in antidotes to love potions, but if I pick it as the moon wanes-"
"Why when it's waning? Why not at new moon?"
"New moon is a time of magical introversion and rest, so it wouldn't help us here. Waning moon, on the other hand, is an energy reductor. With the patchouli, it'll reduce the power of the full moon and revert you to your previous state, which is, of course, exactly what we want." Severus whipped out a piece of parchment and began to make a list. "I'll need more toothed clubmoss and dog baculum next Hogsmeade weekend. I have enough wolfsbane already, but I didn't realize that I'd need more of them. Mandrake essence. Lavender. Hyssop. I can ask Professor Sprout for the patchouli; she'll let me have some. Amaranth. Boomslang skin." He threw down the quill, smiling triumphantly. "It's going to work. I know it is."
"Of course. I - I didn't even realize until I wrote it down, but toothed clubmoss and amaranth - And, of course, patchouli should ensure that the boomslang skin acts how I want it to. I just," he stopped for a moment to catch his breath, "I can't believe it's almost done. Now all I have to do is brew it."
"Oh, and that's such an easy thing for you to do," Lupin said. Severus gave him a mock glare, but he couldn't be upset, not at all. He was going to make it so that no one would ever have to be afraid of a werewolf ever again.
Severus leaned against the wall as he watched Lupin down the Wolfsbane Potion. He had been spending far too much time in the last six months in the Shrieking Shack, at least for his tastes, but that was about to change, he was sure of it. As the first rays of moonlight began to creep across the floor, Lupin looked at him nervously.
"You still have the bindrune?" he said, just as he always did.
"Of course," said Severus, "not that I'll need it." Lupin nodded and sat on the floor to wait. He was trembling, but it wasn't the kind of trembling he did when he was about to become a werewolf. Severus could tell that much by now. No, Lupin was just terrified.
"Just open your eyes, Lupin," Severus said. Lupin obeyed, and then he looked down. His body, completely human, was doused in the moonlight that shown through the shutters.
"Jesus, Sev," he breathed out, like he was going to break through wards set around him if he spoke too loudly, "I could kiss you right now, I really could. I - You did it. I don't believe it."
"Didn't I tell you it was going to work?" said Severus with a smirk.
"Oh, excuse me if I didn't think some 17-year-old classmate of mine could cure my incurable disease." Lupin smiled at him, and then, before Severus could react, he threw his arms around the Slytherin. "Merlin, I don't know how to thank you enough."
"I - It's fine," Severus said stiffly. Lupin kissed him on the cheek, and Severus felt his face catch on fire.
"Oh, no it isn't. That's okay though." Lupin grinned again, bouncing on his heels a little. "Come on, Sev! I want to go freak out the Headmaster!" Severus let himself be pulled along, a stupidly large grin of his own on his face.
The Wolfsbane Potion was everything he'd hoped it would be.
Severus Snape didn't join the Death Eaters after his sixth year at Hogwarts.
He didn't join the Order of the Phoenix either, though he happily provided potions for them when asked. He was too busy concentrating on his Masters in Potioneering to fight a war, he explained when his boyfriend asked him to join for the thousandth or so time. Remus wasn't exactly happy with Severus's decision, but he understood it. The man could do more for the cause while laboring over a cauldron, really, than out on the front lines.
When Lily and James named Sirius Black their son's godfather, Severus rolled his eyes. He and Black would never get along, and he was of the opinion that Remus or even Pettigrew would have been better, more mature choices, especially since the War meant that becoming Harry's guardian was a distinct possibility. Still, he gifted the Potters with a rather large number of child care potions as a baby gift, since the little Potter, he thought, would be just as much trouble as the big one.
Severus Snape was surprised when Lily and James picked him, rather than Black or Remus, as their Secret Keeper when You-Know-Who began targeting them specifically for whatever reason, but he couldn't argue with their reasoning. He was a far less obvious choice, and his position behind the scenes meant that there was far less of a chance of him being captured and tortured for their location.
He never gave their location to the Death Eaters or to You-Know-Who.
After a few more years (and many more sleepless nights), He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was finally defeated, killed in an explosive duel between him and the Order. Dumbledore seemed to think that he would somehow find a way to return, but Severus was doubtful. One doesn't usually survive being blasted with Reducto by a surprisingly competent Pettigrew, after all.
When he was 26, Dumbledore invited him to take over the position of Potions Professor from Slughorn. After a little debate with Remus, he decided to accept, if only because of the lure of practically unlimited potions ingredients. Remus rented a flat in Hogsmeade, though he rarely spent time there, as any of the house elves could attest. Severus became famous (or perhaps infamous) for being one of the toughest, most exacting, and most acid-tongued professors in Hogwarts history, a fact that was of no surprise to pretty much anybody.
All was well.