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2. Keep your Hair on

1st August 1996

Harry was ripped out of his slumber by his own muffled cry. He twisted around in bed, feeling the uncomfortable sensation of his sweat-drenched pillow clinging to the back of his neck. His breath was fast and shallow as if he had been running from Ripper, Aunt Marge's highly unpleasant dog that seemed set on taking a taste of his calve, again; only this time, the sanctuary of a tree had been miles away.

Harry had had a nightmare, which was still fresh in his mind, burning in the back of his lids. He had seen a familiar face, contorted as it screamed in terror and pain. There had been red hair, masses of frizzy red hair, a curious combination of Hermione Granger, his Muggle-born friend, and Ginny Weasley, who was from a pure-blooded wizard family. For a terrifying moment, Harry was afraid that he had seen one of his friends die – as if he hadn't done just that during the past years more than often enough already - but then he realised that the woman in his vision hadn't been anyone he knew; at least, not anyone he knew well. His nightmare was fresh but still very unclear, as if he was trying to look through a frosted glass window at the on-goings inside a house.

Harry thought he knew the woman but something was wrong about her. Well, it could be that he had never seen her contorted in agony before.

Then he remembered something peculiar. It had seemed as if her own tears had surrounded the woman. Diamond-like glistering objects, big as fingernails or even larger, lay scattered around her. Some were changing colours, yellow and orange and red, others just glittered brightly white.

Suddenly, bright green flashed in front of his eyes as Harry remembered Voldemort's high-pitched laughter, so much alike the sound he always heard whenever he met a Dementor and relived the death of his parents.

Harry's eyes squeezed shut tightly, his hands cramped convulsively around fistfuls of sheets as bolts of fire lanced through the famous scar on his forehead.

The boy didn't exactly know whether this was really a vision or just another figment of Voldemort's cruel mind. Or, if this was indeed a vision, why he had received it. Since last year, the Dark Lord knew that Harry and he shared some kind of connection, and he had already taken advantage of it. Why should Voldemort send his nemesis an accurate vision, then? And if this vision was real after all, what did Voldemort hope to gain from it? Harry didn't even recognize the woman Voldemort had killed with two acerbic words.

Harry had a feeling that both elated and numbed him: It would be soon, very soon. Voldemort already had another plan for his annual game of 'trying to get rid of yet another Potter'. Fortunately for Harry, he used to fail each and every year.

Hedwig, Harry's pet owl, hooted agitatedly at her master's pained writhing, spreading her wings in her cage.

"No need to worry, girl," Harry said hoarsely, throwing an arm over his eyes, the pain quickly fading away along with the remnants of his memories of the dream-vision. "It's all right, be quiet." It was in the wee hours of the morning. Harry didn't need his uncle coming barging into his room, demanding that he should shut up his owl or he would do it for him. Harry knew what his uncle meant with that statement. He didn't want to find out whether he would make it true.

Hedwig gave one last soft hoot before settling down again. She curled her talons tightly, flashing a stern glare that went unnoticed.

Harry sighed in relief at the newfound silence. "That's a good girl."

Harry quietly ate his breakfast consisting of two pancakes and a dollop of honey, squinting against the bright morning light. He tried to ignore Dudley's chortles of 'He looks so ridiculous!' and 'Dad? Can I take a picture? Can I? I'd like to pass it around at school!' He closed his eyes in embarrassment. After last morning's incident with the – non-existent – hair in Dudley's fruit salad, Uncle Vernon had forced Harry to wear a hairnet, generously provided by Aunt Petunia, when doing his cooking chores. The mortification was endless for a sixteen years old boy – worshipped hero or not.

"Petunia, dear?" Uncle Vernon said, smiling widely. "Don't forget to go shopping, will you? Choose the nicest dress! And don't let the prize deter you! We've got something to celebrate!"

"Oh, indeed," gushed Aunt Petunia, straightening her back in her seat. "I nearly forgot with all the commotion about," she shot a nasty glare in Harry's direction, "him. Where will we be dining, dear? Oh, and I will have to clean Dudley's finest suit." She smiled sweetly, Harry's teeth ached just looking at her.

"You do that, dear," chuckled Uncle Vernon good-naturedly, inhaling yet another chunk of sausage, "you do that."

Harry cleared his throat. "Uncle?" he asked uncertainly, unsure whether he should interfere with the family discussion.

"What?" the beefy man asked, before his smile from earlier turned nasty. "Oh, you are going to stay at home, boy. Last time, you ruined all my efforts! I'm not going to stand it another time, you hear me?"

"But-" tried Harry to intervene. It wasn't as if he wanted to join his relatives celebrating Uncle Vernon's business success. He had had enough of his uncle's bragging anyway. That, however, didn't mean that Harry wanted to be excluded entirely. They treated him like he had the plague sometimes.

"No buts!" growled Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia nodded empathically, and Dudley grinned spitefully. "I told Mr. Mason that you were still at school. So, he only invited the real family, consisting of myself, Petunia and Dudley, you hear?"

"There isn't a school that houses students over the summer holidays," said Harry with a frown. 'That's only wishful thinking on your part.'

"Oh, yes there is. And if you don't behave while we're not here, you're going to get enrolled first thing tomorrow morning."

"Yeah," chortled Dudley. "I thought dad already told you all about St. Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurable Criminal Boys. That's the ideal place for you, isn't it?" He managed to kick Harry under the table without his parents noticing. "They keep you all year if it's necessary."

Harry grit his teeth, willing his temper down. Every bit of aggression was immediately stored away for the confrontation with Voldemort. "I'm not an incurable criminal-"

"You're incurably back talking," interrupted Uncle Vernon, his patience wearing thin. "You will do as I say, boy, or I will not allow you back to your ... your freak school, got it?"

Harry swallowed the bitterness on his tongue quietly, not meeting anyone's gaze. "Yes, Uncle Vernon."

"Good. You will stay in your room and you will not touch anything that doesn't belong to you, understood?"

That narrowed things down quite a bit. At least he could catch up on some of his homework, then. "Yes, Uncle Vernon."

"And don't doubt that I won't know what you've been doing," drawled the big man unpleasantly, causing Harry to look up with a faint frown. "Ha! I don't have to be a freak to know what's going on behind my back!"

"Very true, Vernon," sniffed Aunt Petunia, while Dudley nodded vigorously.

"Wha-" Harry wanted to ask but he was interrupted again.

"Oh, I only installed a couple of closed-circuit TVs all over the house," said Uncle Vernon slowly, as if to give Harry's brain enough time to wrap itself around the new information. "So, when we're not at home, you can't do anything without us knowing. And if you decide to go against my orders, then I will have to renew the locks on your door." His face contorted into a superior smirk.

Harry didn't know what he should say. It wasn't as if he couldn't sabotage the devices with magic, though he didn't point it out. "Right, Uncle Vernon. I won't come out of my room and I won't touch anything."

"Good, good! Now, off you go. We've got a lot to do today." Harry knew the 'we' didn't include him.

"All right." Harry rose from his seat, leaving half of his breakfast on his plate. He wondered quietly whether he was allowed to come down to eat lunch or dinner at all as he made his way to his room. He opted to use the bathroom now as well in case he wouldn't be able to afterwards.

While he washed his hands a short while later, Harry was humming away to himself.

"I fell into a burning ring of fire ..."

Severus Snape appeared with a loud crack in a side alley to Grimmauld Place, London. He was dressed in his usual set of black robes that concealed his body while his hair took care of his face.

The Potions master wasn't too fond of Grimmauld Place. Not because it was located in Muggle London, not even because the late Sirius Black, who had been the bane of his sorry existence ever since he knew him, had lived here – although that would be a very good reason, really. No, it was solely because of the down rotten place itself. The people, who just happened to be Muggles, were impossible, the streets were dirtied and reeked as if someone had been slaughtered and left to rot there and the houses were falling apart so slowly one could watch its progress.

It was nearly as thrilling as watching grass grow.

Snape turned his nose up as he watched a couple of rats scuttle over to a heap of malodorous rubbish. While his sensitive nose - quite a few of people rather called it a 'big conk' - was irreplaceable when it came to the finer parts of his potion making, there was also a downside, unfortunately. Ill reeking waste almost brought tears to his eyes. At these rare occasions, Snape nearly felt compassionate for Remus Lupin, who, due to the fact that he was a werewolf, had a quite sensitive nose as well.

This fact was also the reason why Snape found himself in this dirty side alley in the first place. He was on his way to deliver the Wolfsbane potion to Lupin, who was living at Black Manor. The Manor was at the same time the headquarter of the Order of the Phoenix, the secret organisation of those witches and wizards who were fighting against Voldemort and his dark followers.

Snape whipped out his wand and cast a quick concealment charm on himself, feeling a thick coat of slick magic cover his body. Then he swiftly made his way to the main place. He didn't want to stay even a second longer than absolutely necessary in this alley lest his clothes absorbed the horrible stench.

As if there weren't enough nasty rumours about his body odours going around at Hogwarts already.

Loud music blared out of one house with particularly thin walls. Snape shook his head and stopped. On his left side, there was number eleven, on his right he saw number thirteen. A second later, the two houses were pushed to the side as in between them, house number twelve appeared and grew.

Black Manor looked as shabby and old as ever, and Snape climbed up the stone steps towards the black painted door. With a tap of his wand to said door, it began to unfasten dozens of locks. The door creaked open and Snape crept in, closing it behind him with a soft click. Then he lifted the concealment charm, now that he was out of the Muggles' view.

The gas-lamps were flickering softly, spending scarce light as Snape made his way through the hallway to the library where he suspected Lupin to be. The werewolf's new duty was to look through every tome in the vast library full of dark books and scrolls. Dumbledore hoped there would be hints that could help them destroy the Dark Lord. So far, they hadn't had much luck.

The door to the library was ajar, and Snape slowed down as he neared it. Soft light shone unsteadily from the lit fireplace. Lupin was sitting at a large mahogany table, his greying hair reflecting the light from the hearth. In front of him lay dozens of heavy looking tomes and yellowish rolls of parchment. Snape's nose itched as he stepped through the doorway.

"Just put it on the desk," said Lupin without looking up from his reading. "Then you can go, Severus."

"I was not aware that you had the authority to order me around, Lupin," said Snape frostily, irked that the werewolf had known immediately that he was there. Blasted enhanced smelling abilities.

"Ah, I forgot. It's my hair isn't it?" drawled Lupin, finally lifting his gaze to glare at the intruder. "It's neither too long nor too non-existent, huh?"

"You have no idea what you are talking about," hissed Snape, his fingers twitching. "If you weren't drowning in your own wallowing, I would teach you how to see reason. But as it is, I do not want to waste my valuable time with you and your petty mourning."

Lupin growled low in his throat, his eyes flashing golden in the light of the fire.

Snape was not impressed.

"I only wanted to deliver the Wolfsbane," added Snape with a sneer. "It's not as if you would take it if I were not watching you do it, is it?"

"You know very well that I would never-"

Snape cut him off, "That you would never endanger anyone? Funny. I seem to remember quite a few times when you didn't take your potion. Were it not for me, who delivered it to you time and time again, you wouldn't have drunk it at all. Oh, and let's not forget-"

"Just give me the potion so I can read on in this highly captivating book," said Lupin bitterly with a hint of scorn. Either it was an innate but very deeply hidden gift or Snape was already rubbing off on him. "Please, spare me your sarcasm. It's far too early in the day to endure you." His earlier anger seemed to have gone up in smoke.

"I'm wounded," drawled Snape. "And you are wrong. It isn't too early, it is far too late already." Then he fished a large vial out of his inner robe. Crossing the room with a few quick strides, Snape put the vial down on the desk with a clunk. He crossed his arms and waited.

"You can go," said Lupin.

"I will stay," countered Snape.

"I'm very determined to be alone, so you can go."

"And I'm very determined to stay. At least, until I have seen with my own eyes that you took the potion. It is not as if I had all the ingredients to spare for the Wolfsbane. I want to make sure you don't pour it down the drain once I am gone."

Lupin tried to sneer but failed miserably. Not much practice, Snape supposed. "Fine," the werewolf muttered, reaching over for the vial. Before he touched it, though, Snape picked it up again and held it out of his reach.

"Severus," growled Lupin. "I'm not in the mood for your little power games either."

"You will drink the potion," said Snape unaffectedly, "and you will not try to heave to get rid of it again. Understood?"

"What do you think I am? Anorexic?" asked Lupin angrily. "I'm not going to throw up your precious potion, I promise!"

"And I should take your word for it?" Snape sneered. "I don't think so, Lupin."

"Oh, all right! Stay for all I care! I won't purposely throw up your potion but I can't promise I won't do it due to the revolting taste!" With that, Lupin held out his hand expectantly, his cheeks flushing.

Snape smirked and handed the vial over to the werewolf. "That's all I asked for. Pity that your rather mediocre mind can't work a tad faster, isn't it? We could have settled this many minutes earlier."

"Yeah, yeah," mumbled Lupin, unstoppering the vial quickly. He drowned the contents with a grimace, making gagging noises for good measure. "You worked on the recipe, didn't you? It's fouler than ever."

"You tasted the difference? Oh, be still my heart, you noticed. I did it just for you," said Snape sarcastically. The Potions master had indeed been working on the formula. Not to make it even fouler, though, but to make the transformation more bearable. Courtesy of Dumbledore.

"How flattering," retorted Lupin flatly.

He sat back down and bent over the large book he had been reading in. On his left side were a blank piece of parchment and a self-inking quill.

"What? No tea, no biscuits?" mocked Snape and took a seat to the right.

"If you're hungry, you'll have to go to the kitchen and look what's there," replied Lupin tersely. He turned a page, nearly ripping it out in the process.

"What are you reading there, anyway?" asked Snape with faked interest, craning his neck. "Lord of the Fleas- uh, I mean Flies?"

"Your perpetual gibes lost their originality years ago, Severus."

Snape ignored him – he only glared unabashedly in his direction - and claimed a large tome for himself. He opened it at the first chapter and started reading with an inaudible sigh. Merlin, at times he hated Dumbledore. Delivering the Wolfsbane potion across half of the country was degrading enough as it was but Snape also had to watch over the little werewolf. Dumbledore was very worried about Lupin after his best friend's death. Snape couldn't care less, in any case. Black was dead, so what? He didn't cry himself to sleep at the loss.

Especially after he had come to realise that victory dances – undignified as they may be – were far more satisfying in that compartment.

And Lupin was mourning all by himself. Snape knew, with the logical part of his brain, that the Order needed Lupin but, honestly, he didn't concern himself with the melancholic feelings of the walking rug. It was bad enough already that he was dreading the school start more than usually - newly picked up Occlumency lessons with Potter could do that to any sane person - but to be forced to watch over Lupin was more than Snape could handle. His only hope was that Lupin would recover quickly from whatever mental disease he was suffering from so he could be back to his beloved dungeons, brewing the day away.

A soft trilling noise ripped Snape out of his quiet musings. He looked around, searching for the origin. There was another trilling that sounded like it was coming from a large bird.

"Oh," said Lupin, pushing back his chair.

"What's that, Lupin?" asked Snape suspiciously. "You aren't morphing into a second Hagrid, are you? – Merlin alone knows, one is one too many already - Breeding illegal creatures in Black's old home?"

"Just be quiet, Severus," muttered the shorter man irritably. "I'm not breeding anything." He quickly made his way over to the far side of the library, fingering for something in his threadbare cardigan's pocket.

Snape followed him and arched his brow as he arrived at a small side desk that stood beneath a little window. The desk was covered with straw and wool and there was a red and orange bird hopping around on it awkwardly. The bird had a snake for a neck and a fishtail.

"A phoenix," Snape observed dryly.

"An old one at that," added Lupin and held his cupped hand under the bird's beak. It picked at the seed greedily. "He's over one-thousand-four-hundred-sixty years old."

"Indeed?" drawled Snape in disbelief. "Shouldn't the bird have burned twice already, then? Given the fact that they do so every five-hundred years, I mean?"

Lupin rolled his eyes mutely. "Benu's a very old phoenix. He lives after the old cycle. The Black's were having this phoenix since ever it seems."


"'The Rising'." Lupin sighed, poured more seed into a small cup and put it back on the desk. He stroked the phoenix' head gently, before he turned around again. "I found him in the dungeons."

"My wonder and dark amusement know no bounds. Black kept his own pet in the dungeons?" asked Snape with a mixture of mock-awe and surprise.

"Sirius didn't know he had a phoenix," said Lupin stiffly, walking back over to the mahogany desk. "Mrs. Black didn't want him to know and she kept the bird hidden while she was alive. It's something like a family heirloom."

"Black has been living here alone for nearly a year and he didn't discover the bird?"

Lupin pulled the book nearer and bent over it. "He didn't venture down to the dungeons."

"I would have," Snape stated as if it was the most natural thing in the world to first explore the dungeons of one's home. Planning how to divide the space into torture area and cells took a lot of consideration, after all.

"I bet." Lupin sighed and ran a hand tiredly over his face. "Listen, you don't want to be here any more than I want you to. So, why don't you just leave already and I'll tell Albus that you stayed, all right?"

"Oh, you misunderstand my very selfish intentions," drawled Snape. Even if it was true that Dumbledore had persuaded him to stay with Lupin for a short while, he didn't have to admit it; not to Lupin, in any case. "I'm very interested in this phoenix; it has intrigued me. Do tell me: Why did you venture down to the dungeons?"

Lupin glared.

Snape glared back, not to be intimidated.

"That's none of your business," said Lupin curtly.

"Let me guess: The kitchen was empty and you wanted to see if the pantry was stocked?" mocked Snape with a sardonically raised brow. "Or you were searching for Kreacher because you forgot that the deceiving little house-elf isn't even here anymore?"

"I won't tell you, so you can stop asking," said Lupin quietly, not rising to the challenge. He averted his gaze again, simply dismissing Snape's presence, something that irked the Potions master to no end.

"Very well," said Snape curtly, sitting back down.

"And stop invading my mind, Severus," said Lupin, oddly strangled. "You have absolutely no right whatsoever to pry into my head without my permission." He read on, not looking up.

Snape shot him a quick glance, then gritted his teeth in anger. He cut the connection. "Happy?" he asked shortly.

Lupin didn't lift his head. "No," he said very softly.

Two hours later, Snape left without a word. Lupin heaved a sigh of relief that he was finally alone again. He was even more tired than before, even though he hadn't actually read much. Most of his energy had been used to ward his mind against Snape's attempts at breaking through his defences.

Sometimes the man had definitely too many burglary tendencies to be healthy.

Lupin closed the tome without book marking it and pushed it away. Then he crossed his arms on the table and laid his head upon it. Closing his eyes, he tried to rest.

He must have napped a bit because the next thing he knew was that he was ripped out of his slumber by a sudden bang that sounded as if the door to the library had been thrown shut.

Lupin's head spun around, one hand massaging his aching neck. He only hoped Mrs. Black hadn't been woken by the crash. Snape must have left the door open when he went back to Hogwarts. Inconsiderate prat.

Lupin stopped short. Snape hadn't left yet. He was standing in front of him, holding a tray with a couple of sandwiches and two mugs of steaming tea. He headed over to the large table and set the tray down.

Lupin lifted his brows instead of a question. Had Snape just brought him something to eat? Was he looking that bad? Regina, it had only been a joke when he asked whether he looked like he was suffering from anorexia nervosa! Snape shouldn't have taken him seriously. However, just as Lupin rolled the thought around in his mind that Snape only acted on Dumbledore's orders, the screeching started.

"Filth! Scum! By-products of dirt and vileness!"

Lupin sighed and went around Snape to quieten Mrs. Black's painting. The old woman in the picture screamed for all she was worth, waking up the other paintings in the hallway. Moth eaten curtains blew around her frame as she screeched on about the infection the honourable House of Black was suffering from.

Lupin tugged on the curtains to cover the painting up again but they seemed to be stuck. Normally, Sirius would have helped him to hide his mother again.

"Begone from my house! Join the shame of my own flesh and blood, filthy creature! You have no right to contaminate my house and let it fester!" the old woman shrieked shrilly, drool dripping down her chin.

Lupin pressed his lips into a firm line, cursing Kreacher for letting Mrs. Black know that he had sent Sirius straight to his end.

"Back to the good old days! The Lord should have killed you, as well!"

Lupin gave a harsh yank and finally the curtains loosened, shielding the painting from view. Minutes later, she was back to sleep. The other paintings were easier to control and in no time, the hallway was silent once again.

On his way back to the library, Lupin wondered why Snape was still here. He knew Snape respected Dumbledore a great deal but why would he still stay when the headmaster couldn't even check whether or not Snape had really been with him the whole time? And hadn't Lupin himself told the Potions master that he would lie for him? He didn't need supervision. All he wanted was to be left in peace. He wasn't going to do anything rash, for Merlin's sake!

He might change his mind, though, if Snape stayed any longer.

"Had a lovely chat with the old hag, Lupin?" asked Snape with a smirk as the werewolf entered the library again. The dark-haired man was sitting at the desk, which was now cleaned from the books, slowly sipping at his tea. "I couldn't help overhearing, you see."

"Oh, I see, all right," said Lupin crossly as he sat down in his chair again. "You couldn't have closed the door a tad more quietly, could you? It's not as if I'm not hearing enough insults from her, you know? Do you always have to be such a bastard on purpose?"

"Have something to eat, Lupin," said Snape, calmly taking another sip.

"Oh, so you already brought your peace offerings with you?" asked Lupin sarcastically. "How considerate of you."

"Stop being such a child and at least try to act your age."

"I wouldn't have to act at all if I were left alone at the manor!"

"Is that your not so subtle idea of a hint, Lupin? If you really wanted me gone, all you would have to do is ask me nicely." Snape took another sip.

Lupin tried his best to rein in his surprise. "Well, if that's the case ... Please, Severus, would you just go and leave me alone for a while?"

Snape took another long sip. Then he sat down his cup. Then he reached for the pot and poured more tea into his cup. Then he answered, "No, I don't think so." Had it ever been so much fun winding up the werewolf? No, definitely not.

Lupin threw his hands into the air and groaned. "What have I done to deserve you?" he asked the ceiling, not expecting an answer.

"Dumbledore is worried about you."

Lupin sent the Potions master a glance out of the corner of his eye. "Did he say that? Is that the reason why he sent you?"

"I think so, yes," said Snape, sweetening his tea. "Now eat. Dumbledore will have my hide otherwise. And you're not worth a lecturing from the headmaster, Lupin."

"Oh, that's just rich!" snapped Lupin. "I'm not a child anymore! I don't need a babysitter!"

"I won't stand for that," drawled Snape. "Me a babysitter? I beg to reconsider your choice of terms."

"I won't do anything at all but kick you out," growled Lupin. "And now go. You know I've got quite a lot of patience but you're skating on thin ice currently."

"I won't go until you've eaten," said Snape calmly, making a mental note to read up on the metaphor of skating on thin ice. "And if you want to be difficult, I'll have no qualms force-feeding you. Dumbledore only told me to see to it that you ate." His sneer disappeared behind his cup of tea.

"What?" spluttered Lupin. "You can't just come here and threaten me to-"

"Watch me," smirked Snape. He drew his wand and pointed it at the werewolf faster than the other man could blink. "Locomotor Mortis!"

Lupin gasped as his legs were suddenly bound together and he found himself unable to move his lower body. "Severus! Remove that spell this instance!"

"I will remove it once you've eaten. And if I were you I would hurry a bit; the sandwiches are getting dry."

"I can't believe you," muttered Lupin. Just a few hours ago, life had been all right – well, as all right as it could be considering the circumstances. Now Lupin was left immobile with his least favourite ex-classmate who was threatening him should he not eat. He must have somehow missed the punch line of the joke that was his life.

"Better believe it, Lupin, you will not be released until you've finished. I'm not taking any chances with Dumbledore."

Lupin swept his gaze over to the calmly sipping Snape, his brown eyes narrowing. "You're afraid of him," he stated lowly. Diversion was a clever tactic, though Lupin didn't really think it would work with Snape.

"Don't be even more stupid than usually," chided the Potions master almost gently. "Now eat or I will help you. Believe me, you don't want that to happen," he added forcefully. God, how could one single person be so bloody difficult? Did it usually take half the day to get someone to eat a damn sandwich? That was absolutely ridiculous. Somehow the term 'babysitter' seemed to fit more and more.

Lupin muttered something unintelligible under his breath before he picked up one sandwich, sniffing it tentatively. It smelled good enough – though he supposed Snape would know ample taste and odourless poisons – and he took a small bite. To his surprise, it tasted not half as bad as Snape's potions would have led him to believe.

"That's not bad," mumbled Lupin around a mouthful of sandwich.

"I'm flattered and you're disgusting," sneered Snape, pushing the second cup of tea over to the werewolf. "Didn't you learn any manners at home? Or is 'don't eat entire animals at the table' already the absolute limit?" Inwardly, Snape was seething. Couldn't the bloody werewolf give a simple thank-you, if only for once? It wasn't as if Snape thrived on it, no, far from it. However, Snape didn't really have to actually cook, well prepare something to eat for Lupin. Was it too much to ask for a little bit of gratitude instead of the perpetual complaining about the taste, even if it was only indirectly this time?

Lupin closed his eyes and swallowed, putting the not even halfway finished sandwich back onto the plate. "It's unfeasible, isn't it? To have a normal conversation with you without your low remarks about my lycanthropy is not possible. But you know what? I'm tired and I don't want to think about it right now. See, I have eaten," he indicated the started sandwich. "Now take off the spell." He gave Snape a pointed look and crossed his arms over his chest.

Snape sneered and waved his wand quickly, muttering, "Finite Incantatem!"

"Thank you very much," said Lupin with a sarcastic touch to his hoarse voice, slightly squirming under the tingling sensation as the blood rushed back into his legs. "Now you are finally free to go." And not one second too late, it appeared.

Snape rose from his seat. "Until tomorrow, then," he said, giving a nod.

Lupin only groaned.

"I am looking forward to it, as well," sneered Snape, "but I am not expressing my excitement so openly."

"I would have been worried if you had," muttered Lupin, rubbing his suddenly throbbing temples. "Goodnight, Severus."

Snape pursed his lips tightly. Then he turned around and left without another word.

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