It was a harsh winter outside, probably around three in the morning and the moonlight illuminated part of the dark forest. Snape was trying to sleep on his bed but one unsettling feeling couldn't let his mind rest. He prepared the Wolfsbane Potion in the morning and left it on Lupin's desk just like they agreed. But when he asked for the vessel back after dinner, Lupin shrugged it off and said he would give that to him the next day or so. Snape didn't think much of it, but now, remembering the past few days, maybe he should have. Lupin was acting weird, he had taken the potion every month for quite a while and according to some reading Snape bothered to do, this could mess up with his perception.
It is reported that the fourth month could make the person decide not to take it because of accumulated side effects from the previous months and also for the fact the potion gave them control, which they could interpret erroneously as a learned ability, when in fact it isn't. Without the potion, they can't think for themselves in a rational way. According to the reports, this attitude had nothing to do with intellect or arrogance, it was almost a bait the inner wolf would make them fall for.
Snape couldn't stop thinking that maybe Lupin didn't give him back the last empty goblet of the week because it was intact. Maybe he was out there, fully transformed and irrational getting himself hurt or very away from the castle or the house he should be. He felt guilt built inside his chest, he should have talked to him about this, there was no reason why he shouldn't have. It wasn't his obligation, but he had that information and decided not to say anything simply to avoid talking to him.
Snape decided he had enough of that, getting out of bed and making his way to Lupin’s office. He hated to sneak on his things, opening drawers and going even further on his accommodations but he had no choice. He looked around on the bathroom and found the glass he searched so badly for. It was half empty and that made Snape freeze on his position for a moment. He had no idea if that gave him some control or no control at all over the transformation.
“Remus…” Snape muttered in the darkness before rushing to leave the castle
He had no idea what to do, going alone in the cold forest to maybe find a werewolf that wouldn't recognize him sounded terrible. Closer to the border of the forest he utilized spells to make his footsteps muffled and to amplify distant sounds to himself. He was soon freezing, his pale hands shaking from the wind as he used his wand to illuminate his path. Snape was considering going back when he heard a howl that soon turned into a horrible human scream of pain.
Snape ran as fast as he could and started to call Lupin's name in the woods.
“S-snape…?” a voice sounded not too far from Snape
Snape widened his eyes when he heard the weak voice coming from behind a large tree.
“Lupin! Stay there!” he said approaching the tree but still not seeing him
When he got closer he had a sight that was painful to see. Lupin was on the ground, shivering with the cold. He had no clothes on and although he hid himself with his legs and arms the color of his skin revealed how cold how was.
Snape took off the cloak he was wearing and covered Lupin fast, his own body complaining about the wind. His black eyes meet Lupin's, which were agitated and scared.
“I’ll make you levitate and when we reach the castle we'll walk,” Snape said pointing his wand to him, he didn't have strength to carry him around
Lupin felt himself leave the ground, this was awfully embarrassing. He was very worn off and probably injured, couldn't articulate much.
“You will be fine, it's over now. You can warm up in the castle” Snape said when he let Lupin touch the ground again.
Snape could see Lupin’s head was probably a haze of confusion, exhaustion, embarrassment and being too cold to think straight. It felt wrong to simply leave him on his room and go to bed, he was still clearly scared, he couldn't possibly find the energy to take a warm bath or anything like that. He needed help and even to someone like Snape, denying a bit of tenderness to someone on his state sounded cruel.
The potions master made up his mind and lead them to his accommodations, no questions asked so far, no accusing him of being crazy or cursing him for putting them both in that situation. Something about his sincere fragility was making Snape heartbroken.
Meanwhile, Lupin was following him almost like a sleepwalker. He was aware of everything that was going on, aware he was walking around Hogwarts covered on Snape’s cloak, aware he had made a poor decision on taking half of the potion and also surprised for receiving help from the wizard that was leading him by his arm.
When they got to Snape's dungeon, the black-haired man searched for something on his shelves until he found a big amber colored glass. He approached Lupin with the rounded vessel and touched his arm under the cloak.
“Five drops and you won't feel cold anymore,” Snape said on his ear, the sudden proximity and touch making Lupin feel butterflies on his stomach
Snape took the five drops himself first, to show Lupin he could trust him. As soon as the liquid touched his purple lips, Lupin started to feel warmer, it was crazy to think he decided not to take his Wolfsbane earlier that night, Snape was an extremely talented potions master.
“Feeling better?” Snape asked with his characteristic voice
“Yes… I… I'm so sorry for all this… How did you find me?” He managed to ask
“Don’t be, I should have known. I was lucky to find you before we both freeze to death” Snape said in an indecipherable tone
Lupin wasn't sure of what that answer meant. He was divided between going back to his room or maybe staying until Snape politely asked him to leave. The last thing he wanted was to be alone right now.
Snape was studying him with his dark eyes, Lupin could swear he saw kindness hidden on that cold mask he would usually put on.
“Come here, I've been doing some reading regarding your condition. I think this might make you feel better. Do tell me if it’s working or not. But first -” he interrupted himself looking at his wardrobe. “I'll give you something else to wear, this must have been enough exposure to you”
“Thanks” Lupin said blushing
Snape noticed and gave himself a mental punch, he didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable.
“I didn't mean it that way. It’s ok, Lupin, I didn't look for more than two seconds. I saw you there and covered you. It was dark anyway” Snape reassured him
The minutes he spent inside the bathroom, changing into Snape's clothes was strangely lonely to him. He felt Snape's scent on the clothes and wanted nothing more than seeing him again, feeling his touch on his skin. He felt attraction toward the other wizard, but where was all this neediness was coming from? He didn't feel like a wolf anymore, he felt like a lost dog somehow.
When he opened the door he found Snape sitting on the corner of his bed.
“Come over there, Lupin”
This was funny in a way, Snape tried to sound like it was no big deal but he blushed slightly. And Lupin didn't remember to hide he was strangely excited with the idea of being closer to the other wizard, sitting by his side on the bed. They had only two candles illuminating the room so it was a cozy environment.
“Well… I read that after werewolves return to their human form they might experience a need to… receive some… special care. Do you agree?” Snape asked hoping Lupin would fill in the gaps on his statement
“I do,” Lupin said in a dreamy way, he was exhausted
“Could you be more specific? Tell me, doesn't mean I'll do it. Save your blushed for another moment”
“I could use a hug, honestly. Whatever in the lines of stroking my hair, hugs, this kind of thing, maybe...” Lupin wanted to continue but he was too shy to say that out loud, even if he was the only one in the room
“Remus… be honest, do you want me to pet you? Like a… dog? I didn't know how to put it in any other way, please don't be offended” Snape said getting slightly apprehensive
“Actually… that's exactly what I want. Could you please do that for me?” he asked looking away from him
“Sure” Snape answered also looking away for a moment before he started
Snape first placed his hand on Lupin's face, his thumb on his cheek, that made the other wizard had no place else to look but to him. He proceeded to slide his hand to his neck in slow motion, using the tip of his fingers to massage the skin a little, much like he would do to a dog. Snape saw Lupin’s tension unwind quickly, amusing himself with the idea that if he had his tail now he would probably be waving it. Snape moved to rub the skin behind Lupin's ears, scratching it slightly with his short nails. That made Lupin moan, it wasn't a moan of arousal, it was a relief type of sound.
They got more comfortable with it soon and Lupin started to move according to Snape's touch. It was interesting to watch, looked like a reflex coming from pure instinct and at the same time, Snape could notice some of that was exclusively coming from Lupin's personality.
They went under the covers after some time and leaving whatever shyness that was still there, Remus snuggled to Snape's chest. His heartbeats were soothing and he soon started to calm down from his inner agitation to fall asleep.
Lupin never had that before. Certainly, he had people who cared for him and gave him comfort the day after the full moon but never someone to find him in such deplorable state and offer personal attention like this. It simply felt good to be taken care of.
Snape watched Lupin’s breathing become deeper and deeper until he was surely sleeping. He had no idea why he suggested all that and why he wanted to do this for him. He could just have left him on his own bed and it would have been a huge favor already. He didn't know or at least didn't remember having this kindness inside him. He could do it all over again next month if the had to, nothing in return needed. It was gratifying to see Remus trust him and look less lost and desolated. Snape never had the chance to show this much compassion to somebody else. And he liked it.