Title: If He Tries Anything
Author: Pocket Witch
Challenge: 133) Snape decides to search for a suitable partner. He does so very systematically and unemotionally. Then, with similar cold logic, he sets out to win his man.
Severus seemed restless. This was curious. Certainly it was common for the man to be agitated, irritated, aggravated - really, any possible variation on the theme of 'annoyed' wouldn't be unusual. Restless, however? Borderline twitchy, even? The situation merited investigation.
"Is everything all right, Severus?"
A bristle. A partial sneer. Remus noted the progress - not so very long ago such a question would have brought about a full blown snarl.
"Why on earth would it not be?"
That did it.
A snarl. "If you are so thoroughly bored with my company that you are reduced to imagining things, I might remind you that you are hardly being forced to take tea in my quarters."
Ah, yes - the "no one is making you do this" retort. A bit earlier than Remus had expected it, even. Whatever was on Severus' mind must be particularly sensitive. Though, knowing Severus, "sensitive" could well fall in the range of "uneasiness brought about due to unsightly spots on the silverware." Still, it wouldn't do to leave it a mystery. Besides, he'd only just arrived, and he hardly planned to make irrelevant small talk and ignore his curiosity while he finished his tea and biscuits.
"I would never dare call you boring, Severus. I just thought you might like to talk about whatever is bothering you." Because, of course, Severus was always so eager to discuss personal matters. If nothing else, though, that answer would surely incite a reaction of some sort.
"Nothing is bothering me, Lupin."
An admission! As close as he was likely to get to one, at least.
"Distracting you, maybe?"
A deep, heaving sigh, absolutely laden with exasperation, the likes of which Remus hadn't heard since the time he gently suggested that, what with the war being over and the need for such severity (was there really any other word for it?) in the past, Severus might consider a slightly less austere wardrobe.
Yes, this was most certainly going to be interesting.
"Very well, Lupin. As you obviously have no intention of letting the matter rest, it seems that my wisest course of action is to simply tell you and free myself of your damned persistent badgering."
"It might be easier that way, yes."
"I never should have agreed to these teas in the first place. I should have known that giving in to your pestering once would only lead to more and more harassment."
It was, really, the central myth of their friendship (a word that, though it caused him to bluster with stunning indignance, Severus had made no true argument against on the one time Remus had ventured to use it). The story from which every interaction since now spun. Remus had, as the tale was now repeated, hounded, pestered and plagued Severus into agreeing to weekly teas.
The truth - that Remus had made the offer once, to be met with a noncommittal answer, and then, the second time, reluctant acceptance - was, apparently, unacceptable. Remus didn't mind upholding the fiction - he had, after all, gotten what he wanted.
Part of it, at least. The rest, he imagined, would take a great deal more patience.
"What can I say, Severus, but that I've made it my life's goal to vex you."
"You're doing a damned fine job of it."
"I pride myself on the quality of my work."
A grumble. Something that might have been "damned nettlesome werewolf."
"I have decided that the time has come to find myself a suitable partner."
Remus blinked. Well. This was unexpected.
Try as he might (and was that satisfaction he saw somewhere deep in those black eyes as he floundered? Surely not ... ) he was unable to come up with a response consisting of more than two words. He was, however, rather proud of himself for managing to hold back the initial pairings that flew through his mind, "bloody hell" being the most likely candidate.
"A partner. A companion." The slightest pause. (Calculation? Couldn't be ... ) "A lover."
Remus hadn't recently taken a sip of tea, and for that he was grateful.
"I thought you hadn't any interest." That was, of course, the impression that Severus seemed determined to give. Remus had never quite believed it, but that likely wouldn't be a prudent point to make just now.
"Do I not appear to be flesh and blood?"
"It isn't that. You simply haven't ever seemed ... receptive."
"Receptive to what exactly? It isn't as though I've had any offers."
Remus managed not to wince. He doubted that Severus meant the point as anything other than a general one, but nevertheless he was suddenly berating himself for his 'taking it at a glacial pace' strategy. As long as they had been having these teas, perhaps he ought to have made his move by now. Certainly he had wanted to, had given it a great deal of thought, often feverishly, frequently accompanied by a rather urgent wank.
It wasn't an easy fantasy to bring into reality, though; what if he was rejected? Severus didn't seem the type to let such an incident pass with grace and understanding. Not only would Remus' hopes and fantasies be dashed, but he would be humiliated in the process.
"You've hardly made yourself easy to approach, you know."
Severus looked at him as though he had just suggested adding Neville Longbottom to his list of potential suitors.
"Anyone requiring a partner who is 'easy to approach' ought to save themselves a great deal of suffering and look elsewhere."
The man had a point. Perhaps he had simply been acting the coward, afraid of what he wanted most. Still, if Severus was actively seeking a lover, all wasn't lost.
"I thought you were the one doing the looking."
"I am. Was, rather."
Remus' eyebrows raised. "Was?"
"Yes. I've found my match."
Suddenly the biscuits in Remus' stomach transfigured themselves into rocks.
"But ... I wasn't aware that you ... " Spoke on relatively friendly terms to anyone else? Ever left the dungeons unless it was absolutely necessary? " ... were seeing anyone."
"I'm not. I haven't seen him yet, at least not in that manner."
"Then how - "
"Not everyone bumbles about like a blind fool when searching for a partner, Lupin. I've been researching."
"Researching what? Is there an entry in some almanac that lists single homosexual men interested in prickly potions masters?"
"I oughtn't even justify that with an answer."
"Very well, I'll restate the question. What method of research would one use for such a venture?"
Rather than answering verbally Severus rose from his chair, moved to his desk, and returned with a formidable stack of parchment.
"Charts, lists of compatible features. What I have to offer as compared to what another might find desirable. My requirements, of course. I assigned a value to each based upon its priority. I also compiled a list of drawbacks and assigned negative values to each - "
"You chose a partner using numbers?"
Severus' eyes nearly rolled to the ceiling. "It isn't merely numbers, Lupin, this isn't a lottery. I used a system to find an agreeable match."
Surely the man was torturing him on purpose. There was no other explanation for it.
"Who is it?"
Severus sat up straight in his chair, settling his hands atop his unruly stack of charts, clearly proud of his finding. "Whitby Harrington."
"I wouldn't expect you to know his name. He is, after all, only one of the most renowned potion developers in the wizarding world."
"Oh, that Whitby Harrington."
"For God's sake, Lupin."
"Well, I suppose I ought to congratulate you on your find. Do you have a rendezvous planned, then?"
A slight shift. Discomfort. Nerves, maybe?
"I've not yet approached him."
"Really? Why not?"
"I only just completed my research this morning."
"So that's why you've been so jumpy."
"I've not been - "
"What put him so far ahead of the other candidates?"
Severus' long fingers brushed lightly back and forth along the length of his paperwork, fondly. "We are close in age, have greatly similar interests and equivalent intellects, our financial standings are alike enough so as to not cause an imbalance ... "
Severus went on about his list of perfectly logical reasons, while Remus decided that such an obvious omission must point to a lack that the man would rather not mention.
"Mmm. Is he sexy?"
The curling lip, predictable though it may have been, was impressive nonetheless.
"Not everyone is as hormonal as you, Lupin."
Ugly, then. Or, at the very least, supremely uninteresting.
"Maybe not, but I'd be surprised to learn that you'd be thrilled at the thought of going the rest of your life without rough, desperate shagging."
"There are priorities."
Through clenched teeth. This was getting somewhere.
"How high a value did you assign 'chemistry' in your charts? Was there a category labeled 'wants to tear my clothes off'? Surely you didn't ignore those factors all together?"
Frustration. His near loving caress of his charts and lists turning to a white knuckled grip. "There was the little matter of realism to consider. Where do you propose I find anyone who wants to tear my clothes off, let alone someone with whom I am even slightly compatible?"
Remus stood, strode to Severus' chair, tore the stack of papers from Severus' hands and flung it in the general direction of the sofa.
Then he did the same to Severus.
Having not anticipated this particular development, Severus had a fleeting concern that perhaps Remus might look a bit more closely at the scattered parchments, soon mostly crumpled beneath their movements. Remus, however, seemed far too focused on ravishing Severus with a ferocity born from years of restrained lust to notice that the charts and lists were, in fact, scraps of lesson plans leftover from the previous term.
To his deathbed Severus insisted that Remus had harassed him into a relationship, pestered him away from his plans to pursue a logically perfect partner. For his part, if Remus ever learned that Whitby Harrington was a fabrication, well, he never felt the need to make mention of it to Severus.