Summary: Severus is confined in Grimmauld Place, when a spell is due to come into effect that requires he have a partner for the night or risk death.
Remus was intrigued. Why was Snape blushing every time he addressed him these days? It wasn’t much of a blush, just a slight flush on the cheekbones. On anyone else it would have passed unnoticed, but on Snape’s pale skin - even paler since his confinement to Grimmauld Place - it was unmistakable.
It hadn't started until after Christmas, but by New Year's Eve it was an established fact. Snape had even begun to blush from simply being in the same room as Remus.
Even Tonks, not normally one to pay attention to subtleties, noticed. "I think he fancies you!" she said at breakfast one day. Remus sighed. It seemed unlikely after all the years of hostility, but if not that, then what was disturbing Snape? He had to find out.
Most of the Order were home with their families over the Christmas break. It was just waifs and strays at Grimmauld Place this week. Today it was just the three of them: Tonks, Snape and Lupin. Harry and Draco were at the Burrow and Moody was out on assignment.
After breakfast Remus curled up on a sofa in the library with A Christmas Carol, a present from Poppy. When Snape stalked in, saw Remus and blushed again, Remus had finally had enough.
"Severus! What is going on?"
All he received in response was an incoherent mutter as Snape attempted to back out of the room and up the stairs, but Lupin pursued him.
"Snape! Why did I suddenly become embarrassing on December the 26th? Everything was normal on the 25th, when I left for dinner at the Burrow."
Snape gritted his teeth but appeared to realise that evasion was useless. Three steps up from Remus he whirled and glared down at his interrogator.
"I am deeply embarrassed, Lupin, because..." he took a deep breath, looking ready to bolt, and just stopped.
Remus waited patiently. He was going to find out sooner or later.
"It's... Have you ever heard of ‘exquisitus iucunditas'?" Snape looked fixedly at the step under his feet, his normally sallow skin ablaze.
"Exquisitus iucunditas... hmmm.... Oh yes!" Remus recalled something vaguely. "Only by reputation, of course. I don't know all that much about it - just rumours really."
Snape hurried on. "I was given one by my godfather at my Christening, to take effect on my 38th birthday. Which is next week."
"I don't know! Maybe he had a particularly good or bad 38th himself! The thing is, me living to see it seemed particularly unlikely for the last 20 years... and yet... here we are."
"Severus. I still don't see why you blush when you see me."
Snape looked down his long nose at the fireplace, avoiding Lupin’s gaze. "You know how it works, Lupin?"
Remus shrugged. "It’s a spell which gives one night of exquisite pleasure, supposed to be as much as anyone can bear."
"Yes. That's about it. It is not recommended for those with heart problems, and... it must be shared with a partner."
"A partner. Oh."
"What happens if you... go solo?"
"Most of the people who are known to have tried it died. Which is one of the reasons that there is a register, and a letter is sent to remind people who have one scheduled soon. I got my letter on the 26th."
The stairwell filled with silence. Finally Severus ventured "I don't know many other gay wizards socially, Remus. In fact, I think I only know one."
Lupin rolled his eyes. Socially, huh? So they were over the whole werewolf prank/eternal emnity thing now, were they? News to him.
Well he wasn’t about to object to that, but... "I'm bi. And that was twenty years ago, Sev!"
"You must have had sex since!"
"Death-eater sex. If you call it that."
Once again the space between them fell silent for some time.
"The pleasure is shared with the other participant, they say; as long as that person is touching the recipient at astrological midnight at the beginning of the specified day." Snape hesitated before adding, "Would... you consider it, Remus?"
Lupin gulped. "I'll think about it. Er... do you have an alternate plan?"
"I'm thinking about it."
"You've been thinking about it since Boxing Day!"
Snape pushed past him back into the library, dropping onto the sofa and staring at the ceiling.
"I've got as far as rejecting the death-eater possibilities and the option of attempting heterosexual intercourse for the first time under a spell." he said reasonably.
Lupin, following, grimaced. "Yes. Good choices."
"I am a wanted man, so cruising the bars isn't really an option at this point."
"I don't want to share six hours of exquisite pleasure with a prostitute."
"Although that is the most likely alternative option."
Lupin joined him on the sofa, bewildered. "But you'll share it with me."
"It's not as if we haven't done it before."
"Twenty years ago!"
"I enjoyed it then. And you said you did, too."
Lupin sighed, remembering those stolen nights. "I did." he agreed in a quiet voice.
Snape, whose face had begun to resume its normal colour over the course of their conversation, abruptly flushed again at these words.
"I trust you, Remus." he said, suddenly rising to his feet and making for the library door. He hesitated in the doorway before turning to face Lupin again. "Could you... let me know by the 7th if I need to... hire someone?"
It was Snape’s declaration of trust that tipped the scales. Remus would previously have bet quite high sums that Snape trusted no-one, least of all him.
"I.. It’s OK. I'll do it, Severus. I'm... honoured." he said, unsure if this was going to be a terrible mistake, but unable to inflict another wound on the painfully reserved man before him.
A quiver seemed to run through Snape. "Thankyou, Remus" he said stiffly, then he swiftly turned and made for the stairs.
The next few days were awkward Remus had to be back at school for his job as DADA professor on the 5th. Severus, despite his grumblings about his former job as Potions master, was bored and lonely at Grimmauld Place, and envious that Remus was leaving. At least he had stopped his recurrent blushing; mainly because the other occupants of the house rarely saw him.
On Sunday afternoon, Remus knocked on the door of Severus' room. There was no answer, but he had checked everywhere else.
"Severus, I'm leaving."
The door opened. Snape was a little rumpled. Perhaps he had been sleeping? Remus found it hard to look at his face.
"I'll floo in after dinner on Thursday. See you then?"
"OK then." Remus began to walk down the stairs, only to be called back peremptorily.
"Are you sure? I can still hire someone you know."
Remus walked back to the doorway. Hesitantly he reached a hand up to rest on Severus' shoulder and leaned up for a brief, sweet kiss. The scent of Snape was achingly familiar - how could it be so familiar after 20 years of barely tolerating one another? So familiar, and so enticing...
Snape's lips were slightly parted, his breathing a touch faster than usual, as he waited for the verdict.
"See you Thursday night, Severus." Lupin's tread was light and swift upon the stairs.
Behind him, Snape's mouth curved into a rare smile before he closed the door.
* * *
Snape had showered, carefully shampooing the long ebony curtain of his hair. Remus used to like his hair.
He had not been able to decide what to wear. Despite the purpose of the evening, anything less than formal seemed... presumptuous. And he didn’t have anything designed for purely recreational purposes anyway. He settled for his normal attire.
He tidied his room, placing lubricant on the bedside table and enlarging the single bed to a queen-size. Should he... do something more? Candles? For a minute a vision of a floating sea of candles swam before him, before he thrust the thought aside as too embarrassingly forward. Ridiculous. Perhaps one candle. He compromised on several silver candelabra scattered around the room. He didn’t have to light them if it seemed... inappropriate.
He spent the next two hours panicking quietly in his bedroom, before settling in the familiar security of the library. He could have faced death-eaters with more equanimity. He was used to them.
At 9pm Lupin flooed in. Severus heard the footsteps as Remus left the kitchen and made for the library, evidently guessing that he would find Snape there.
Severus looked at the clock. They had three hours before the spell took effect...
“I said ‘Hello’ Severus?”
“Hello Lu... Remus.”
Snape gave him the sort of glare that would have had a Hufflepuff in tears. “Of course not, Lupin. This is a pleasurable occasion.”
Remus’ face twitched.
“Got any brandy, Sev?”
Severus reached behind him and brought it out.
A couple of brandies later, Remus at least was feeling more relaxed. He couldn’t tell about Severus. They had matched each other drink for drink, but the bottle had been breached before Remus arrived, so Snape could be totally plastered by now for all he knew - depending on his tolerance for alcohol. Remus knew his own tolerance was pretty high - practice makes perfect after all.
Remus considered. Another brandy would probably be a bad idea. They were probably going to have sex later in the evening anyway, so he shouldn’t have too much.
‘Probably?’ his mind echoed back at him
Um. He probably should have done some research. Damn. Why hadn’t he thought of that before? An idea struck.
“Severus, can I look at your letter?”
“Hmmm - sorry?”
“Can I read the letter from the Register? It would have had a fact sheet with it, right?”
“Oh. Yes, certainly.” Snape reached into a pocket and pulled out a crumpled wad of paper, passing it to Remus.
* * *
It was fifteen minutes until midnight. Snape’s eyes kept flitting from his book to the clock as the seconds ticked past.
“Time to go.” Remus stood up and reached out a hand. Snape waved it away irritably and stood up alone. He waited for Remus at the door and gestured to him to precede him up the stairs. When they arrived at his room he opened the door for Lupin, then waved his wand to light the candles.
Lupin looked at the softly lit room and smiled. He knew the size of Snape’s normal bed, and the room’s normal utilitarian dustiness. This was a much better ambience.
He started to undress, surprised to hear a slight choking sound from Snape. Oh for heaven’s sake! He rolled his eyes.
“Severus, the letter did say we should be naked or dressed in nothing more than a shift.”
Nevertheless, Snape just stood there, watching as if mesmerised, as Remus took off everything but his long, cream, woollen shirt. Remus looked at his host’s frozen expression uncertainly and moved over to start on Snape’s buttons, but found his hand brushed abruptly aside.
“I’ll do it.”
So Remus sat on the bed, watching, as the barriers fell, button by button. When Severus, too, was wearing nothing but a shirt, Remus went to him. He put out his hand, mutely asking for Severus to take it.
For a moment the taller man just stared at it, Remus saw the flare of panic in his eyes and knew Severus was on the verge of bolting.
No! They had to be touching at midnight! Quickly he stepped forward into Severus’ personal space and flung his arms around his waist.
“It’s all right, Sev. It’s just me. Nothing to worry about.” he babbled, settling his cheek comfortably into Severus’ neck. Slowly Severus’ arms came around the shorter man, although he otherwise remained utterly still. Remus could feel his quick shallow breathing and smell the scent of apple shampoo. And then the spell flared around them...
Remus had thought it would be fierce, but at first it was tender - molten sweetness flowing like lava through his veins. He twisted in Severus’ arms, reaching up to press aching, generous kisses onto his lover’s mouth.
With a groan, Severus tightened his grip, pressing Remus back towards the waiting bed as he responded with all the passion banked inside him, waiting to spring to life. He settled on top of Remus, rejoicing in the exquisite pleasure of touching bare skin, of exploring a willing partner’s mouth.
Remus arched up into him, making soft, urgent noises of pleasure. Finally Severus released his mouth, moving on to ravage his neck and to shower the alluring turn of his shoulder and collarbone with kisses. And all the while the sweet magic was flowing around them and through them; lifting them, enhancing every touch.
Severus took his time, kissing, nibbling and sucking along the length of Remus’ body. When the shirt impeded him he vanished it it, in an unconscious display of wandless magic that shocked Remus later, when he had the leisure to consider it. At the time he was too busy enjoying the ministrations of the other man to consider it.
But oh, it really wasn’t fair that Remus should be so naked and available to Severus while Severus was still wearing a shirt with far too many damn buttons. Remus grinned. One advantage of being a werewolf was unusual strength - but it was not an advantage Remus usually used. Tonight, however, he would make an exception.
“Severus...” it came out as a moan, but the other man must have heard what he meant, because he raised his head to look into Remus’ eyes. It was enough of an opening. Remus caught his shirt by the collar and ripped it to the hem, buttons flying every which way.
The look in Severus’ eyes was worth treasuring. Incredulous, admiring, hotly desirous. His lips curved into that rare smile which Remus barely remembered from his youth, before he returned to his self-imposed task.
“So glad it’s you...” Remus heard him mutter. And then Severus was using his tongue to explore Remus’ thighs, and coherent thought was not possible for a little while.
Shortly after that, Severus returned to Remus’ mouth, plunging his tongue ferociously into Remus’ responsive warmth and running sensuous hands through his lover’s thick hair. Remus’ arms wrapped joyfully around him, hands sliding down the smooth planes of Severus’ back to caress whatever they could reach. Merlin, it had been so long; it felt so good!
The magic spiralled around them as Remus ground his desperate cock into Severus’ erection, both moving with frantic need as they hurtled towards the edge together.
They came to climax that first time in a rush. But once the hot edge of their desire was assuaged, they took their time. They had all night, and the spell supported them, swelling their desire to fever-pitch when it became fierce, languidly teasing them in the pauses of their dance. They took it in turn to explore and to be explored. Remus thought he was going to die of pleasure when he felt Severus spurt his seed into his arse, coming with a shout of ‘Remus!’ as he drove deep inside; quivering with the intensity of his release.
And just before dawn Remus returned the favour. He was still rigid in the throes of his release, when the spell dissipated. He cried out with the shock, his cock still buried in the velvet, pulsing clamp of Severus’s arse.
And then at last they were just two middle-aged men alone in a bed. As Remus slipped out of Severus he felt tears come to his eyes.
It had been so beautiful, and it was over.
Severus lay sprawled on his stomach across the bed, his beautiful silken hair falling to one side. He didn’t move, except for the slowing breaths which animated his ribcage. Remus couldn’t resist: he gathered the shining fall of Severus’ hair in one hand, lifting it to kiss the nape of Severus’ neck.
“Thankyou Severus.” he whispered.
The exposed line of spine beneath him looked so good, so inviting, that he followed it down to the swell of buttocks, kissing each separate vertebra as he went. At the cleft of arse, he paused. He no longer had the spell to excuse such intimacy, so he simply placed one last gentle kiss above the rosy pucker which was still leaking his come, before rolling onto his side and falling asleep.
His last thought before dropping into sleep made him grin.
‘I kissed his arse. Ha! Let’s see him complain about that!”
* * *
Remus woke alone. Well, it was what he should have expected had he thought about it at all - which he hadn’t, being focussed so totally on the intimacies of the spell itself.
The room felt cold; abandoned. Glancing at his watch, he realised that he had exactly 28 minutes to get to his first class. Damn! A shower would have been good but he made do with a cleaning charm and an additional odour remover. His shirt he found under the bed. It was his favourite shirt and he was glad it hadn’t been vapourised. It had been a birthday present from Minerva some years ago, and it was by far the best garment he owned.
There was no parchment. He checked Snape's dresser, finding nothing useful. He couldn’t leave without some kind of note! But there was no time...
He ran down the stairs still buttoning his shirt, robes hanging loose as his fingers tucked and tidied. “Severus! I have to go!”
As he passed the door of the library he glimpsed Severus reading in an armchair. He didn’t look up, which Remus took to be a poor attempt at nonchalance.
Damn. He was going to be awkward about this.
Remus didn’t yet know what ‘this’ was going to be, but at the very least it deserved friendship, and maybe more. It was not going to take another twenty years and a spell to make Severus smile at him like that again.
Remus’ feet slowed as he reached the kitchen. As his feet moved from carpet to tile he stopped. There was a faint smell of toast and cinnamon - someone had been eating breakfast in there not long ago - but he barely registered it. In his mind he was hearing the echo of a voice in the night. So glad it’s you... He turned and marched back to the library.
“Good morning Severus.”
“Good morning,” was that a faint hesitation? “... Lupin.” Severus barely looked up, and his face was as blank as ever, but Remus was remembering a face alight with sensual pleasure and hearing again that murmur of joy: So glad it’s you...
He pushed aside Severus’ book, overriding his protests by landing astride his lap and kissing him thoroughly, his unshaven chin rasping against the smoothness of Severus’s cheek; relishing the feel of warm Severus under the many layers of clothing.
“Lupin! You haven’t even brushed your teeth!”
Not ‘Get Out!’; not ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing!’, just a complaint about his hygiene. Yes!
Remus smiled, crawling reluctantly out of his lap. “Sorry, Sev. See you tonight?”
He turned anxiously at the door, waiting for some further sign to show that he was welcome.
Severus was watching him with those unreadable obsidian eyes. “Better go, Lupin. You’ll be late.” He hesitated a long moment before adding, “Ragout of lamb tonight. Tonks and Moody will be here too.”
It was going to be all right.
“I’ll be here.” said Remus, a promise in his eyes.