Yellow Fingers

by Bernice

Note: Warning - strong content

All the noise from outside his office awakens him; clatter, clutter of bodies, urgent shouts, but no one sounds panicked, so Lupin doesn't bother to move or get out of the makeshift bed on the floor. He feels too nauseous, as if he'd eaten a bad curry the night before. The house-elves at Hogwarts don't do curries, though. Too exotic for them, but something has upset his stomach, and he can feel the bile rising and swallows hard.

He grimaces wide, having read somewhere that smiling suspends the gag reflex. A grimace is the nearest he can get to a smile on a morning like this. A morning after his change when everything is cramped and stretched, all muscles pulled. When he just needs a hot bath to soothe his aching bones, and a cup of tea and some crackers to settle his churning guts.

He strains to hear the voices outside his office where he's resting. Disgruntled, excited children. Firm, efficient teachers. Minerva's calm, yet strained voice telling them to be quiet, that she will be taking the Defence Against the Dark Arts class today.

Why not Snape, Lupin wonders. Usually it's Snape who takes the Defence Against the Dark Arts classes when Lupin is 'indisposed'.

Lupin turns his head slightly and stares at the goblet on the desk. Snape's goblet, the one he'll always use when he brings the Wolfsbane Potion at night. When he brought it last night. Late. Later and later in the evenings has Snape been bringing the potion. To catch Lupin undressed for bed, Lupin suspects, although he says nothing, knowing Snape would vehemently deny any such desires. Snape is playing with fire, Lupin knows, leaving it so late, but Snape has never been afraid of danger.  Perhaps he's even attracted to it. Testing his own bravery, Lupin believes, picking at his fear of the wolf like a child will pick at a scab.

Lupin drags himself out of bed, slowly, with long pauses as he tries to hold onto his stomach contents, and takes a couple of steps closer to the door, trying to hear the voices more clearly. He rests his hand on his desk, near the goblet, and listens, holding his breath so the sound of his lungs working won't drown out the sound of the children's harsh whispers. He knows that although they whisper behind their hands, they are deliberately as loud as possible. Excited by their gossip.

"Snape's gone missing."

"Good!"

"Do you think Voldemort killed him?"

"Maybe Dumbledore finally fired him, and he's snuck off in shame!"

"No, Dumbledore trusts him. Besides, if that was the case, the teachers would know."

"So where is he?"

Lupin staggers back, knocking over the goblet. He falls to his knees, hands on the floor, and retches, finally losing his fight, and his dinner. He stares at the contents as he vomits, retching until his stomach hurts, the acid burning his lips, even coming through his nostrils with the force of its exit.

It all melds with the spilled potion. Carrot chunks that he can't remember eating, corn, a thin brown foaming drool, and four long, yellow fingers.

-oo0oo-

Note: inspiration comes from a 13th century werewolf trial (mentioned in an introduction to a Neil Gaiman book - thanks to Hannah for lending me the book). The smile/gag reflex thing comes from and episode of CSI.    Thank you to Twilight Speaks for beta reading.