Master and the Wolf
Amazon.com - The World of Harry Potter
Title: Conspiracy Theory
Author: Sorceress (email@example.com)
Disclaimer: Not mine. Wish they were.
Warnings: Slash. Don't like, don't read, don't flame.
Summary: When Albus Dumbledore decides to play matchmaker, Severus and Remus decide to resist... together.
Notes: Master and the Wolf Fuh-Q-Fest Challenge #121: The two know that someone is trying to play matchmaker and get them together. They are determined to resist, even if it means joining forces.
Much thanks to my beta, Taradilien!
And as always, for QueenC.
"We cannot allow this to continue."
"I quite agree, Severus. It's no longer subtle," Remus agreed, staring about him with wide amber eyes. The luxurious room must have cost quite a bit, and it wasn't at all what he had been expecting when Dumbledore had asked him to 'do a favor', said favor being to return to Wizarding London and ride the Hogwarts Express back with the students the following day as a 'security precaution'.
The Headmaster, eyes twinkling, had informed him that as compensation for riding the train back, that he had booked Remus into his favorite hotel, so that he could rest well the night before the trip and have 'a last little bit of relaxation before the term started'. Remus, seeing no reason to distrust Dumbledore, and being ever ready to accommodate any request, had readily agreed... thus walking right into the trap.
As, apparently, had Severus Snape.
"This," Severus said, a slight sneer curving his lips, "is entirely too much." His glittering black eyes took in the plush carpet of the suite, the rich wood panelling, the luxurious upholstery of the chairs, the gleaming crystal lamps, the imported marble of the mantel...
And the bed. The huge, silk covered, green velvet-draped, positively decadent four-poster bed.
"Oh, I don't know about that, Severus," the werewolf responded, lips quirking in a wry smile. "I must say, for a lovenest, it is quite tastefully done. I can think of worse places, or even decor. It could have had a circular bed and gilt cherubs and crimson hearts and a mirror on the ceiling..."
A snort of horrified derision escaped the Potions Master, and the dark-haired man shook his head. "I should have seen this coming," he muttered darkly, scowling at the room's appointments as though they were the very things his colleague had just described. "Albus has been pushing us at each other for weeks. First there was putting your quarters in the dungeons to protect your privacy, yet close enough to mine, just in case..."
"Then making certain that our free periods matched up," Remus continued, nodding his agreement. "And moving my seat at the Head Table next to yours."
"Let us not forget the little errands," Severus added. "'Please give this to Remus, since his rooms are next to yours'."
His imitation of Dumbledore was quite accurate, and the werewolf chuckled in appreciation. "'I can't answer that question, dear boy, but I'm certain Severus knows. Why don't you go find him and ask?'" the DADA professor agreed.
The two men looked at each other, a moment of total understanding passing between them. The both of them were being played, by a man whom they respected, and who, each knew, was genuinely concerned for their well-being.
Which didn't mean that they didn't both find him to be an interfering old meddler whose attempts to play cupid had gone from amusing, to exasperating, to - now - positively outrageous.
The two wizards had come to form something akin to a friendship on their own, since the defeat of Voldemort. Of course, the death of Sirius Black probably had more to do with it, and the fact that soon afterwards the werewolf and the Potions Master had an earth-shattering argument about the deceased animagus which had, strangely enough, rather cathartically cleared the air between them. Severus had then discovered, once he put adolescent grudges behind him, and once Remus moved past his guilt over his lack of a spine when opposing his friends, that they had more in common than he would have thought. But a romantic attachment? No. Certainly not. He felt Dumbledore should be grateful that they were quite civil to each other now.
"It cannot be allowed to continue," the Potions Master sighed, crossing the room and dropping down into one of the almost sinfully comfortable chairs. One fine-boned hand came up, and he pinched the bridge of his nose as though he felt an incipient headache. "The difficulty is, I know Albus... once a thought takes root in his mind, it is virtually impossible to remove it."
He dropped his hand, and looked at the sandy-haired wizard with something close to accusation in his black eyes. "It is, I have found, a rather annoying Gryffindor habit."
Unperturbed, Remus dropped into the matching chair opposite the Potions Master. "Certainly Slytherins have absolutely no ability to cling tenaciously to a contrary notion," he drawled, before giving the taller wizard a toothy smile.
"Touche," Severus responded, the barest hint of a curve touching his thin lips. It faded quickly, however, and a faint scowl once again creased the skin between his eyes. "The question is how to force him to give up his... matchmaking." The tone in which he uttered that word made it sound like a crime more heinous than any Voldemort had ever committed.
Nodding, Remus steepled his fingers beneath his chin, a thoughtful frown on his face. The werewolf had a strange ability to go almost unnaturally still, barely seeming to breathe, and Severus found himself watching the play of firelight on the other wizard's skin, the flames lending an auburn burnish to his silver-shot hair.
After a moment, Remus gasped, and a wicked smile curved his lips. Amber eyes gleamed as they looked into the black ones of the man opposite, and Severus unconsciously caught his breath at the look of nearly evil glee that transformed the werewolf's face. "I think I have it!"
"Oh?" the Potions Master asked, intrigued, but also distracted by the fact that his colleague suddenly looked ten years younger, the thought of mischief causing his normally placid face to nearly glow with excitement. "So, what is this grand scheme?"
"You agree, do you not, that Albus is going to keep at us until we either give in, or go mad or kill him?"
"Indeed," Severus agreed, frowning slightly as he tried to determine the direction of the werewolf's thoughts, and why they seemed to amuse the other man to such a huge extent. Surely Remus wasn't going to suggest that they feign madness? For, as satisfying as he might find the notion from time to time, killing Albus was out of the question. "I fail to see your point."
Remus laughed, and Severus looked at him, startled. The werewolf often chuckled, or gave wry smiles of amusement, but the dark-haired wizard hadn't heard the other man give an outright full-throated laugh in years... if he ever had. It was a strangely infectious sound, and Severus felt an annoying desire to smile in response... and therefore, he carefully and deliberately kept his face neutral.
Shaking his head, the werewolf grinned at his colleague. "The point is, Severus, that we go ahead and give him what he thinks he wants. We 'get together', as it were, so that Albus thinks he is clever and has manipulated us into a liaison. Then... we 'break up', claiming that it just didn't work out, that we're not, er, physically compatible or something, and he'll leave us alone."
The Potions Master blinked, startled. Of course, it should have occurred to him to do such a thing. He was the sneaky Slytherin, after all, wasn't he? Head of House, even. It was almost embarrassing for the former Gryffindor to have come up with the scheme. He felt that he needed to save a bit of face.
"I may be capable of playing a besotted lover, Lupin," he said drily, raising a dark, challenging brow. "However, I doubt that you could do so in a fashion that would fool Albus. Duplicity is hardly your strong point."
"Don't worry about me, Severus," Remus drawled, apparently unoffended. "I believe I can manage to be affectionate enough to make him believe it."
Their eyes held each other's for a moment, and Severus quietly assessed the other man. Could this actually work? He wasn't entirely certain, but, after all, cooperation seemed to be their only option.
"Very well, then. We will make Albus think we have a, er... relationship," he said. "And after a short time, we will pretend to have an argument and end it, and then both of us can get on with our lives without any more interference from him."
"Agreed," Remus said, and held out a hand. Gingerly Severus took it, shaking it with a rather surreal feeling. For the first time they were actually plotting together and it was something like... this. It was one of the oddest things Severus could ever recall doing.
Satisfied, the werewolf stood, stretching luxuriously. He looked at the clock, then turned and offered Severus his hand again. "Well, we might as well start now."
The Potions Master looked at the proffered hand, then back up at the werewolf, a slightly puzzled frown on his face. "What in the name of Merlin are you talking about, Lupin? What are you suggesting we start? Dumbledore isn't here at this moment to bear witness to any play at affection!"
"Perhaps not," Remus replied, nodding. His mouth was still curved in an amused smile, but he didn't retract his hand. "However, if I know Albus, he will definitely have some means of knowing if we slept in that bed together or not. I am therefore suggesting that we start as we mean to go on, that's all. And since to play this out properly we will undoubtedly have to spend some nights in the same bed back at the school - for appearance's sake, you know."
"Oh." It was not a terribly elegant answer, perhaps, but Severus found himself a bit rattled at the thought of, on such short notice especially, sharing a bed with the werewolf. Reacting in typical fashion, he fixed the sandy-haired wizard with a suspicious look.
Chuckling, Remus shook his head and held his hands up in a gesture of innocence. "I meant to sleep, Severus. Only to sleep. Nothing sinister. I doubt even Albus would want to know THAT much information."
"You might be surprised," Severus muttered under his breath, flowing gracefully to his feet. He nodded once, then turned and stalked towards the bed, pulling his robe off as he went. Certainly, he could get through this, since it was, after all, towards the cause of getting Albus to leave them alone.
Why, then, did he, when Remus assured him they would only be sleeping in the same bed, did a small jolt of disappointment go through him?
He scowled darkly, removing his boots and leaving his shirt and trousers in place. He had a feeling it was going to be a very long night.
"Are you ready?" Severus asked, raising an inquiring brow at Remus, as they stood outside of the side door to the Great Hall. They had hastened back to the school ahead of the thestral-borne carriages bearing the students, in order to make an "entrance" for the Arrival Feast - all for the benefit of Albus Dumbledore.
It had been an uneasy night, at least for Severus. Remus had appeared to sleep deeply and well, but the Potions Master had tossed and turned. He was definitely not used to sharing a bed with anyone, and had been quite on edge, worried that the two of them might somehow end up "too close" in the night. It appeared he could have spared himself the concern, since the werewolf apparently slept like a log, barely moving at all.
As a result, however, the train ride had been a trial. Remus, ever popular with the students, had been drawn out to speak to many of them, while Severus, scowling had withdrawn to a blissfully solitary compartment. He had attempted to relax and catch a few minutes of sleep, but worry about their scheme - and Dumbledore's reaction to it - had prevented him from resting.
Pale, tired, and rather cranky, he wanted nothing more than to get the Feast behind him so that he could retire to his rooms. But, he conceded grudgingly, Remus' whispered insistence that they needed to give the appearance of an apparently besotted new couple had merit.
He just felt certain he appeared more bedraggled than bemused.
"Almost," Remus replied quietly. Severus felt a hand on his shoulder, and the werewolf pulled him around, running a critical eye over him. "No, this won't do. The look of not having slept is fine, but.." His voice trailed off, and he shook his head. "You're too pale, Severus. Pinch your cheeks."
"I beg your pardon?" The Potions Master asked, taken aback. "What do you mean, pinch my cheeks?"
"To give them color," the werewolf explained patiently.
"Ah," Severus responded, catching on to the reason for the request. He raised his hands pinching the flesh along his cheekbones. "There, is that better?" He noted that Remus' own cheeks were flushed, although he didn't recall seeing the other man having to abuse his own skin to do it. Perhaps werewolves had other talents?
"A bit," came the response, accompanied by a raised brow. "There is something missing, though... and we are running out of time." The sandy-haired wizard sighed, biting at his bottom lip contemplatively.
"We don't have all night," Severus hissed, growing annoyed at the weight of the amber gaze on his face. Suddenly he knew his own sallow skin was darkening under the perusal. Particularly when that unholy light of glee suddenly lit up the amber eyes of the man studying him. He resisted the urge to take a step backwards, but his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"No, we don't," Remus agreed, as they heard the footsteps and voices of the children arriving inside the Hall. Scowling, Severus was about to turn away in order to make his own entrance - the plan be damned at this point, he was tired - when once again the werewolf's hand was on his shoulder, turning him back around.
Severus opened his mouth to give an exasperated comment along the lines of "What now?", when he found himself unable to speak. Remus had pressed against him, curving his hand behind the taller wizard's neck, pulling him down slightly and crushing their lips together forcefully. The Potions Master gasped in shock at the contact of the warm, soft mouth on his, and the feeling of hard, somewhat sharp teeth nibbling insistently at his lower lip. A firm, soothing caress from a slightly rough tongue across his abused flesh followed, and then suddenly he was released, spun about, and pushed through the door and out into the Great Hall.
Blinking in surprise, Severus found that everyone at the Head Table was looking at him in surprise, and he felt Remus' hand at the small of his back urging him forward. He glanced quickly back at the werewolf, noting the gleaming amber eyes, the flush on his cheeks, and the reddened, moist appearance of his lips. All in all, he had the satisfied appearance of a man who had just snogged someone quite thoroughly.
Dragging his gaze away, Severus found himself staring into the twinkling blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore. The ancient wizard's face bore a broad, satisfied smile... and that was when Severus realized that his own face must have the bemused expression and swollen lips of a man who had just been thoroughly snogged.
Damn the werewolf... since when has he become such a Slytherin? Severus tried to put some annoyance behind the thought, but he found it was nearly impossible. He was far more occupied in trying to control his suddenly watery legs, as he moved numbly forward towards his seat at insistence of the man behind him. And in wondering dazedly why that single, forceful kiss had gone through him like a pulse of fire, and left him wanting to drag Remus back out into the hall and force him to repeat the exercise.
A sound caused Severus to look up from the stack of papers he was grading, and he attempted to ignore the sudden feeling of warm confusion that coiled in his stomach when he was that it was none other than Remus Lupin. The werewolf stood in the doorway of the Potions classroom, regarding the dark-haired wizard with a small smile.
"Hello, Severus," he said, crossing the threshold and approaching the desk. "Well, last night went well, don't you think? Albus seems convinced we are together."
"The entire staff and every student with an intelligence higher than that of a plimpy is convinced we are together," the Potions Master replied drily. He raised a brow, regarding the werewolf with a gaze of slightly amused sarcasm.
"Yes, well..." Remus replied, rubbing the back of his neck in what might have been embarrassment. "Er... kissing you was the only way I could think of to achieve the, um, proper effect. To make it seem real, of course. That's the only reason I did it."
"Of course," Severus responded. He clamped down on the spasm of disappointment he felt, as angry at himself for feeling it as at Remus for causing it.
"So," he continued, scowling at the sandy-haired wizard slightly. "Are you here for us to plan out the, um, 'breakup'? Or are you going to take that as much upon yourself as you did last night? Or do I get to spring it on you this time?"
"No!" Remus replied, eyes widening. Then he looked somewhat chagrined, his face flushing. "I mean, no, I'm not here to plan out the, um, 'breakup', as you call it. I just... I wanted to say that I hope you weren't mad. About me kissing you, that is. Because..." His voice trailed off.
"Because?" Severus asked, sweeping to his feet and circling around the desk. "And no, I was surprised that you kissed me, but not angry. After all, it did accomplish the desired effect, did it not?"
"Yes, yes it did," Remus agreed, letting out his breath. "I just didn't want you to think I was, um... taking advantage of you. Also because I rather think we shouldn't plan the breakup too quickly. Albus isn't stupid, after all... we have to make him believe that we actually tried to establish a relationship. If he believes we called it quits after a quick shag, he'll be as bad as ever - if not worse."
A quick shag... Unbidden, a mental image rose up in Severus' mind, of a bare-skinned Remus lying on the dark sheets of the bed in the inn, eyes glowing and heavy lidded, skin flushed, lips as red as they had been the previous evening. With a bit of difficulty he banished the image, and cleared his throat before nodding.
"Yes, of course. We certainly can't have that," he heard himself agreeing.
The werewolf smiled in relief. "Excellent. I'm very glad you feel that way, Severus." He ran a finger along his lips, eyes narrowed in thought. "Now, how to work this..."
Severus found his attention drawn to that finger, to the caress of it across the soft fullness of Remus' lower lip... but then it was somewhat rudely ripped away as he heard footsteps approaching the classroom. A student outside had raised a cheerful voice in greeting - "Hello, Headmaster!" - which indicated that none other than Dumbledore himself was apparently about to pay a visit.
Remus, caught up in his planning, apparently hadn't heard the voices, and he continued to speak. "Now, which do you think is more believable? Would Albus buy that you would stay in my rooms? Or is it more likely that I would stay in yours? Severus! Are you paying attent...."
Knowing that the Headmaster could walk in at any moment, and that Remus was going to keep up with his plotting - speaking it all out loud in a quite damning fashion - Severus reacted to stem the flood of words before the werewolf gave away the whole plan. Reaching out, he pulled the slightly smaller man roughly into his arms, and captured Remus' soft lips in a forceful kiss.
It was a very effective tactic. After a moment of surprise, Remus practically melted into the embrace, arms wrapping around the Potions Master's waist, hands splaying across his back. The werewolf's lips parted invitingly, and Severus responded instinctively, deepening the kiss, tongue delving in to caress and explore. Remus' taste reminded him of chocolate, deep and sweet and rich and somehow dangerously addicting.
There was a deep, good-natured chuckle from the direction of the doorway. Oddly enough, despite the lengths they had gone to in order to set up this ruse, they sprang apart guiltily, like two small boys caught in a naughty act.
"Carry on, gentlemen," Albus Dumbledore said lightly, his smile beautific. "I was looking for Remus, but I see that you are, er, occupied."
"It's... quite alright," the werewolf said unsteadily, casting a quick sidelong glance at the Potions Master. "I was... just leaving." He smiled, eyes crinkling in amusement. "I'll, um, see you later, Severus."
Years of thinking on his feet around the Dark Lord came to the dark-haired wizard's rescue, as he watched Remus walk towards the door. "Of course," he drawled, straightening to his full, imposing height and raising a brow. "My quarters, I believe. My bed is far more comfortable than yours."
Severus knew that there was more than likely a tell-tale stain of color on his own cheeks, but it was nothing compared to the deep crimson that suddenly suffused the werewolf's face. Wide amber eyes blinked at him, before the sandy-haired wizard uttered a somewhat strangled sound and practically ran from the room. Dumbledore twinkled at him briefly, before turning and departing in Remus' wake, leaving the Potions Master gazing after them.
Well, I suppose that is appropriate payback for last evening, he thought with a tight smile.
The fact that the thought of Remus' presence in his quarters that night made something else tighten he attempted to ignore completely.
"I brought extra blankets for the sofa, just in case you didn't have any," Remus said, after Severus shut the door of his quarters. He held a small satchel, of the type one took on overnight trips, but the amber eyes wouldn't meet those of his host.
Severus raised a brow. "Indeed," he replied neutrally, turning to precede his 'guest' into the sitting room of his quarters. Now why is it that I hadn't actually considered that he could sleep on the sofa?
Remus looked around the comfortable room, and the light of approval in the amber eyes was inexplicably gratifying to the Potions Master. He had picked out the furnishings himself - all dark, rich woods and deep green-and-grey toned fabrics - and other than Albus, very few people had ever entered his quarters.
The werewolf sat his bag down, then turned and faced Severus. He finally looked directly at the other wizard, and the Potions Master found it interesting to note that the werewolf looked somewhat nervous.
There was a brief, slightly awkward silence, and then Severus spoke. "Lupin," he began, then winced at the sound of the word. They were supposed to be faking a relationship, weren't they? "Perhaps I should, for the time being, call you Remus."
"I think that is an excellent idea, Severus," the sandy-haired wizard responded with a grin, seeming to relax slightly. "Do you mind if I, um, sit down?"
"Please do," came the response. They both sank into the comfortable chairs, looking at each other for another moment.
"Oh, this won't do," Remus said, shaking his head with a rueful chuckle. "Severus, I don't mean to invade your territory. Look - I can floo back to my quarters and then floo back in the morning so that, um, I can be seen leaving..."
"That will not be necessary," Severus said, waving a hand dismissively - and with substantially more unconcern than he was actually feeling. He picked up a book from the table next to his chair. "You are not invading, and, since we have to spend some time in rather more, shall we say, intimate conditions than we have previously, we might as well become accustomed to it. It is also not unheard of for Albus or Poppy to summon me in the middle of the night in aid of a student."
"Oh," the werewolf responded, considering that for several seconds before nodding. "Yes, that makes sense." He watched as Severus opened his book and began to read, then reached over to his satchel and removed a book of his own.
An hour passed in what was actually a somewhat companionable silence. Severus began to appreciate the fact that Remus was a quiet person, his presence restful rather than intrusive. The werewolf didn't chatter, nor did he have any annoying habits such as clicking his teeth, or tapping his fingers, or - Merlin forbid - humming while he read.
The clock on the mantel chimed eleven times, and Severus closed his book. He glanced over at Remus, who, feeling eyes on him, looked up.
"I am going to bed now," the dark-haired wizard said, rising gracefully to his feet.
"Ah, yes," Remus replied, giving a small smile. "I shall just stay on the sofa, then. Good night, Severus."
The Potions Master hesitated. Then he nodded, and started walking towards his bedroom. He had nearly reached the door, when he stopped, biting down on a sudden flare of indecision. "Lup... Remus," he said, turning around to face the other wizard. "I have a very large bed. Seeing that we have already occupied one bed together previously, and, given that you neither snore nor tend to encroach on my space, I... have no objections to you spending the night in comfort." I am merely being polite. It has nothing at all to do with any desire to keep him in my presence... or have him in my bed.
Something flashed quickly in the werewolf's eyes, but it was gone before the Potions Master could identify it. But Remus rose, giving a nod, a small smile playing on his lips. "I appreciate that, Severus," he said honestly. "Sleeping in a bed rather than on the sofa would be much more to my liking. I shan't protest, because I don't want you to change your mind!"
"Very well, then. Come along," Severus responded, opening the door to his bedroom. The satisfied smile on his face he credited to Remus having capitulated so readily... and, of course, to the fact that they were quite handily outwitting Albus Dumbledore.
A week passed, and then another. Remus spent every night in Severus' quarters, reading quietly. Sometimes they would discuss the changes in the Wizarding world since the Dark Lord's fall, or the nature of magic. They had spirited discussions on political issues, and serious talks about how their own lives had changed. Severus was surprised at how easy it was to open up to the quiet werewolf, whose perception was quite keen. For his part, Remus was genuinely grateful to have a confidant who understood his inner darkness and his constant battle against it.
They occasionally touched upon the subject of their impending 'break up', but both would quickly agree that Albus wouldn't be fooled if they ended their relationship too quickly. They had exchanged more kisses as well, always in such a way that either the actual embrace or the immediate effects would be noticed by the twinkling eyes of the Headmaster... although Severus found it disturbing that he would have liked it if they had more opportunities than were being presented.
It was only in aid of the illusion, of course. It had nothing to do with the fact that the touch of Remus' lips and the caress of his tongue were the most pleasant sensations Severus could recall having felt in many, many years. Just as it had nothing to do with the fire that he sometimes thought he saw burning in the amber depths of the werewolf's eyes, a fire that caused an answering heat to rise in his own body. And if their hands roamed a bit during those kisses, and they occasionally stifled a gasp or moan of reaction... well, that was all part of the deception as well.
No, they were friends. Only that, and nothing more. Friends helping each other, with the common goal of ridding themselves of a well-meaning but interfering old wizard.
Thus the week before the full moon started. Severus brewed the Wolfsbane Potion for Remus as he always did, and Remus thanked him and drank it as was normal. The only thing that changed in their routine was that Severus got to witness first hand the changes Remus underwent as the days leading up to full flowering of his curse drew near.
He had noticed before that Remus was pale and tired just before a full moon, but he hadn't realized that it was due to the fact that sleeping became very difficult for the werewolf. The sandy-haired wizard was restless, although he would often doze off in a fitful nap as he read in the evenings, eyes moving behind closed lids, muscles twitching as though they knew - and dreaded - the transformation they were about to undergo. Severus would find himself distracted from his book or his writing, gazing over at Remus in something he refused to call concern.
Still, through it all, Remus remained good-natured and cheerful - which Severus often couldn't fathom. Just as he couldn't quite understand his own response to the werewolf. The fact that Remus occasionally cried out in his sleep and woke him should have annoyed him greatly... but it didn't. Instead he found himself offering up Dreamless Sleep draughts, which Remus politely refused, explaining that they made him feel even more sluggish.
"I'm sorry if I'm bothering you, Severus," Remus told him, two nights before the full moon. "If you would like, I can stop coming here, and stay in my own quarters." A weary, rather sad smile touched the werewolf's mouth. "Perhaps we could even use it as the excuse for our, er, 'falling out'."
A cold lump formed in the Potions Master's stomach. He recognized the logic of what Remus was saying, but for some reason his mind revolted. "Absolutely not," he said firmly, shaking his head and scowling. "If we were to use such a reason, Albus would never let me hear the end of it. He will blame me for being intolerant and not having given you a chance, and I will hear it for the next hundred years. No, that simply will not do."
He paused, raising a brow. "And you are not bothering me. I merely offered the potion as a way to alleviate your own discomfort, not as an indication that you were troubling me. Believe me, if you were, I would not hesitate to inform you of that fact. No... I do believe for Albus to believe that we actually made a true effort at a relationship, you will have to continue to stay."
Remus gave a smile which lit up his tired face, and which caused Severus' breath to catch at the sheer relief and gratitude it contained. "Thank you, Severus," he replied, before leaning over to kiss the Potions Master softly on the lips. There was no one there to see, no ruse they had to perpetuate, no reason at all for him to have done it.
For some reason quite beyond his understanding, Severus found that he didn't mind in the least.
Remus took his final dose of Wolfsbane Potion, then gave Severus a wan smile. "Thank you, Severus," he said, as he always did. Then he sighed, looking around the Potions Master's sitting room rather wistfully... there would be no quiet, companionable evening for him tonight.
"You are welcome," the dark-haired wizard murmured, taking the goblet and placing it on the table. He moved to his chair, sitting down and picking up his book as though it were any other evening.
"Well, I will see you tomorrow," Remus sighed, turning towards the door. He had not taken more than two steps, however, when a deep voice halted him in his tracks.
"Where do you think you are going?" Severus asked, raising a brow and frowning at him, book open on his lap.
Remus inclined his head, eyes glinting with curiosity. "Back to my quarters, of course. I will hardly be any good for company this evening, as you know. I'll leave you in peace."
"I doubt that Albus would approve," the Potions Master stated flatly, picking up his book once again. "Really, Remus. Do whatever it is that you feel you need to do, of course, but you will hardly disturb my peace."
The werewolf hesitated, looking at him closely for several long moments. Unperturbed - at least on the surface - Severus gazed back.
"Very well," Remus sighed, finally. "Should I shift in here, or would you prefer me to go into the bedroom or the bath?"
"Wherever you are the most comfortable," the dark-haired wizard replied airily, pushing away the small satisfaction he had in the fact that Remus had agreed to stay. "Do whatever you normally do." He raised his book, as though that put an end to the discussion. His concentration on the pages was mere pretense, but it was enough that he missed the sudden gleam in the amber eyes of the other wizard.
The soft slither of cloth caught his attention, and Severus glanced surreptitiously over the top edge of his book. Onyx eyes widened as they watched the werewolf strip, shirt and pants following the slide of his robes to the floor. The Potions Master swallowed inaudibly when Remus bent over, pale skin and firm muscles catching in the light, as he picked up his clothing and folded each piece neatly. Completely nude - and apparently totally unconcerned about that fact - he moved to just before the fire, not looking at Severus once.
Which was probably a very good thing, as Severus couldn't tear his eyes away from the naked werewolf's body. Remus was scarred under the light sprinkling of sandy hair on his torso, but he was very well shaped, and muscular in a wiry way that fit his slight frame. His legs were lean and longer than Severus would have imagined from his height, and his back formed a slender V from narrow shoulders down to his tapered waist. And the rounded curve of his arse...
No. I will not stare at him as though I were a starving man and he a feast.
Forcing his eyes back down to the page - a battle of will that he was, for a moment, not quite certain he would win - Severus blinked unseeingly at the words. He could hear Remus moving restlessly, until the werewolf seemed to settle down, somewhere in the direction of the hearth.
Risking a peek over the edge of the book again, he found himself the subject of study by an intense pair of amber eyes, eyes which seemed to reflect the firelight, even enhance it somehow, giving them an inhuman glow. The dancing flames burnished the werewolf's creamy skin to tones of gold and russet, throwing each of his features into relief and giving his hair an auburn cast. Severus stared, unable to pull his eyes away from the eerily beautiful sight, almost mesmerized by it for reasons he didn't wish to fathom.
Somewhere beyond the dungeons walls the moon rose unseen, but not unnoticed by the man whose body answered the call his curse had forever destined that he must. Still the Potions Master couldn't look away, watching as the man he knew became the wolf he had once feared.
Watched as bones shifted and reformed. Watched as the handsome face stretched, elongated, cracked and broke and was remade. As arms and legs grew shorter and the body was covered with glistening silver-brown fur. As the mouth full of fangs opened to scream but emitted not so much as a single whimper.
Then the wolf on the hearthrug drew in a deep, painful breath, and raised its head to look at him with those same intense eyes.
Remus' eyes. Remus' soul.
And for the first time in twenty five years, Severus Snape discovered that he truly was no longer afraid of the wolf.
That night Severus was the restless one in the bed, tossing and turning with the vague realization in his sleeping mind that something was missing, something wasn't quite right. He would come close to consciousness, flinging out an arm and scowling in his sleep at how large and empty the bed felt suddenly. Certainly it had never bothered his rest before...
Finally, at some point after hours of tossing and turning but never quite waking, everything felt normal again. There was warmth beside him, and he murmured in sleepy satisfaction, rolling over and - in an action his waking mind would have cringed at - putting his arms around the source. Within moments the restlessness had eased, and he fell into a proper deep and rejuvenating sleep.
Waking was a slow process, a languid, almost luxurious rise towards consciousness. Opening his eyes at last, warm and strangely content, Severus was surprised to find his vision taken up by a mass of silver-brown hair. Moving his head slightly, he realized that the warmth that felt so wonderful came from the fact that he was curled against a smooth, ivory skinned body, one of his arms wrapped possessively around the narrow waist he had seen revealed the previous evening. Remus was lying on his back, and a quick inventory showed Severus that one of his legs was thrown over one of the werewolf's, and that his face was close enough to Remus' neck that he could have easily leaned forward and kissed it. Or nibbled it. Or...
Sweet Merlin, he thought, stiffening. What should I do? What is he going to think?
The Potions Master thought for a panicked moment, wondering if he moved quickly enough if he could escape the bed without Remus having realized that he had, for the first time, touched him in his sleep. Severus blinked, trying to force down the rising heat of that thought and keep his mind clear to concentrate on extracting himself from this predicament, when he felt the werewolf's abdomen rise under his arm as the other man drew a deep breath. And began to speak.
"You know, something occurred to me just now, Severus," Remus began in his soft baritone. "I was thinking about Albus, and about the fact that he, like you, is a Legilimens, and can smell a lie from a mile away. You know, I have no talent at Occlumency at all, either. So, if Albus were to ask me directly about our, er, physical relationship - and you know him, he just might - I wouldn't be able to keep him from discovering this was all a sham."
Severus blinked again, considering those words. He opened his mouth to speak, finally, and found that he had to clear his throat first. "Is that so?" he asked, not moving, almost not breathing as he wondered exactly where the werewolf was going with this.
"Oh, yes," Remus said, nodding slightly, and Severus felt the brush of the sandy hair against his skin from the movement. "I'm utterly hopeless. So, I was thinking..." his voice trailed off.
A moment of silence, and Severus felt a hand touch his own where it was flung across Remus' body, felt warm fingers slide up his arm slowly, very, very slowly. "What were you thinking?" he asked hoarsely, having to say something, anything to distract himself from that tormenting touch. Was Lupin deliberately trying to drive him mad in retaliation?
"I was thinking that, if you were willing, it might be in our best interests to make certain that I can answer truthfully that our physical relationship was wonderful, that any, er, problems between us had nothing to do with anything in that area."
Severus stopped breathing, as the hand on his arm continued up to his shoulder, then to his neck, causing a shiver to run down his spine from the seductive caress. "So, you think it would be wonderful?" he asked faintly, eyes sliding closed as he waited for the answer. He felt strange, vulnerable and confident and sure and apprehensive all at the same time. Maybe it had something to do with a decided lack of oxygen.
Remus' hand moved to the dark-haired wizard's chin, tilting his head up so that the onyx eyes were forced to open and meet his. Severus saw the same glowing intensity that there had been in them the previous evening as the werewolf had sat near the hearth. He had thought, then, that the light in those eyes had been a result of the fire... well, perhaps it had, but if so the fire was one inside of Remus himself.
"Oh, yes, absolutely wonderful. Perfect even," the werewolf said softly, lips curving up and eyes crinkling as he grinned. Then he leaned forward, pressing his mouth over Severus', drawing in the Potions Master's lower lip and flicking his tongue over it.
Severus remembered to breathe, then, as he drew in air in a gasp of pleasure. His arm tightened around Remus' waist, and Remus turned into the embrace, pushing Severus onto his back and pressing him down into the mattress. The dark-haired wizard's gasp turned into a moan, as he felt Remus' body - his hard, warm, aroused and still quite naked body - on top of his own.
Touching, tasting, exploring, Severus discovered that they came together as though they had been made for each other, Remus taking him, fitting him, completing him in a way he had never imagined was possible. From the look in the werewolf's eyes, he knew the other man felt it too, felt just as overwhelmed and overcome as he did himself. It was true... Remus' eyes hid nothing, not his desire, his passion, or the fierce light of love that Severus saw in their golden depths as Remus claimed him, filling his body and sending him spiralling off in a dizzying, electrifying whirl of pleasure.
Later, sated and exhausted, with Remus' head pillowed on his shoulder and their damp, languid limbs entwined, Severus found himself smirking slightly. There were many things, he thought, that he and Remus were going to have to do now, a great many things they were going to have to try. It could literally take years to explore all the possibilities.
After all, who knew what Albus Dumbledore, that interfering old meddler, might ask, and they had to be ready to give him a reason why they broke up, didn't they? A reason that would be the truth, since Remus wouldn't be able to lie.
If they ever found a reason... but Severus, for one, was going to make absolutely certain that they never did.