Author's Notes: Beta thanks go to Moonflower. Thank you.

Wolf's Bane

By Louise Lux


A terrible thought had come to Remus Lupin. One that had made him leap up from his seat in the Gryffindor common room and rush upstairs to the dorm. Nobody there. No Sirius. James and Peter hadn't seen him since dinner.

Sirius didn't suspect that he knew. He had to find him, tell him to stop: this couldn't happen.

Where the bloody hell was he?

Lupin hurried along the stone passage, his breath coming in gasps. His skin broke out in goose bumps at the thought of what could happen if Snape was tricked into coming to the Shrieking Shack that night.

His mind raced with awful possibilities, and once again he cursed Sirius for being such an impetuous fool. He just knew Sirius had set something up. Something nasty to do with Snape. Sirius never, but never, talked to Snape, and yet a little while ago he'd seen them walking together in the grounds, and Sirius had had that look on his face, the one that Lupin thought of as his most dangerous.

Lupin half-suspected that Snape knew about him already. He certainly wouldn't put it past him; Snape was the one of the most intelligent people Lupin had ever met, as he'd had ample chance to discover in class: being verbally trounced by Snape was no joke. Neither was sharing a cauldron or crystal ball.

The trouble was that Snape was also curious; that cunning mind loved to peer and poke into hidden corners, and to unearth secrets and store them away for later use. More than once he'd asked Lupin outright where he went every month. But always, Lupin now remembered, in private.

Lupin could see him in his mind's eye; those dark eyes glittering with wicked humour as he uttered the most outrageously rude and insulting comments to all and sundry. But despite the many insults, Lupin had reason to like Snape. More than once he'd seen those lips curve in a genuine smile, most often when Lupin was ordered to sit next to him in class.

One had to admire his utter confidence, and, after all, he could be very funny. Lupin found it difficult to really dislike someone who could make him laugh. It was too rare.

And anyway, Severus was very, very sexy.

Lupin had a sudden melting sensation in his stomach as he pictured that long dark hair framing pale skin, and the way that Severus's long fingers tapped elegantly on the desk when Remus was messing up his potion. They looked very clever, those fingers. A tiny smile painted itself across Lupin's face, despite his fear.

A terrible thought suddenly came to him and he stopped dead in his tracks:

Sirius *knew*.

He'd somehow figured out that Snape and Lupin were, what? Nothing, really, yet, but there was definitely something there between them, a sense of possibilities. Sirius must've guessed, noticed some small comment, or a glance too many in Snape's direction.

His thoughts rushed along frantically as he forced his feet to start moving again. Lupin hoped he was wrong, but his instincts were screaming that he was right. It made perfect sense to him. This was just the sort of stupid idea that would leap into Sirius' head, and Sirius loathed Snape.

He rounded the end of the corridor at a run, and slipped out of the main doors and into the grounds. Checking that he was not being observed, Lupin made his way around the castle walls, heading for the disused greenhouses that the Marauders used as their main hideout. It was here that they would spend time, daring each other to pranks more outrageous and hilarious than the last.

Lupin suddenly paled as he considered the possible consequences of this particular prank. It wouldn't be a prank at all; it would be more like murder, and he would be the murderer. The thought hit him like a steam-train. Why hadn't he seen it before?

As he ran, he checked the position of the sun in the sky. It would be dark soon, and nearly time for him to be escorted to the Shrieking Shack. He should really be on his way there now. At this thought he doubled his pace, nearly tripping over his robes in his hurry to find Sirius.

Heart racing, he reached the greenhouses. Peering through the grimy windows, he saw nobody. A thin whine of fear came from his throat as he yanked open the rusty door.

"Sirius! Are you here? Sirius, please. Come on, answer me, this isn't a joke. Sirius!" His voice sounded shrill with panic to his own ears, but he didn't care. There was no answer, and a quick search showed that no one was hiding in any of the little potting sheds that led of the main greenhouse. "Damn you, Sirius," he muttered, tears of anger aching behind his eyelids.

It was nearly time, and he could already sense a slight change in himself. His body felt all wrong, his hands and feet seemed big and clumsy. It was too late to go back into the school now; he had to meet Madame Pomfrey. Looking down at the trampled shards of broken pot scattered at his feet, the wolf inside him wanted to howl, but with human frustration and fear.

A blackbird let off its piercing call and fluttered out of the dark laurels that surrounded their secret place. He shivered, all warmth draining from him as he felt the pull of the moon. He wrapped the threadbare robe more closely around his shoulders, and left. The light was dwindling fast.

Dusk settled over the grounds of Hogwarts, silencing the last of the birds. The final rays of light outlined the form of the young man. He moved quickly and silently, head down. The glowing red sky had changed to cold blue by the time he reached the figure waiting by the tree, and a frost was already forming on the grass at his feet

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