Title: Fools in love Author: Anita Dapperens Rating: PG-13 (just to be safe) Pairing: Severus Snape/Remus Lupin Disclaimer: Severus Snape, Remus Lupin and everything related belong to J.K Rowling. I'm not making any profit, I just borrowed them to have some fun. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org Beta: Thank you Ina Sehr and Queen Hatshepsut for your help in polishing this story on such short notice :o) Archive: Second Wave from the 'Master and the Wolf' Snape/Lupin Fuh-Q-Fest and my site once this wave is over. Challenge /
134) Things are changing in Snape's life, and he realizes he is no longer happy being left alone. He decides to form a friendship, and since Lupin is one of the very few who have been willing to spend time in his company in the past, he decides to start there.
No Albus or Minerva watching him like hawks in the Great Hall to make sure he ate enough. No unannounced and unwelcome intrusions in his chambers. No pressure to replenish Poppy Pomfrey's medical stores, and no more ungrateful children.
Life was good for Severus Snape.
Why then did he feel something was missing?
Leaning back in his rocking chair, Severus crossed his bare feet over the balustrade and watched the sun set. He remembered exactly how elated he had felt, standing at the gate with the last of his possessions, to be home at last.
It had taken him over a month of hard work to clean, repair, redecorate and refurnish, but it had been worth it. Granted, the cottage was small and the shed he had turned into his workroom was less than half the size he had at Hogwarts, but it was his and his alone.
Yet, somehow, being able to choose which potions to research and make as he saw fit and spending his nights out here on the porch watching the sunset and reading books weren’t as satisfactory as he had thought. For some reason the solitude and privacy he had always craved weren’t what he wanted anymore.
In a rather desperate attempt to find some company, he visited the nearest village pub last month, having donned what he thought was appropriate Muggle clothing. The locals had been loud and crass and with all the looks he had been getting he had felt like stock on display. He had left as soon as he had finished his drink.
He sighed. At times, he thought of Apparating into Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade, but he held no hope of faring better there. Even with all the accolades he had received for his part in Riddle’s demise, most people were still wary of him.
Still, there had to be someone he could stand to be around.
Someone who could stand to be around him ...
With a satisfied grin on his face, which earned him distrusting looks from by passers, Severus walked down Diagon Alley in search for some particular ingredients. His meeting that morning with Maxmillian Vörster had been very successful.
He had been thrilled when Vörster, a brilliant Potions master from Austria, had first contacted him to ask his opinion on some research he was doing. A challenging correspondence had soon followed their initial meeting, in which Vörster had indicated that he was impressed with Severus' ideas, and, as of this morning, they were deliberating joining their forces.
Yes, very successful indeed.
But, Severus hated to admit, as gratifying as their meetings and correspondence were, he had been disgruntled to find out that it couldn’t fill the void that seemed to be growing inside him.
Severus turned at the familiar voice calling out.
"Lupin ... Potter."
"It is good to see you, Severus. Albus told us you’d resigned. How have you been?"
Severus sighed. Apart from the fact that he had no inclination to give out any personal information, he really hadn’t the time for idle chat. Not when he had two cauldrons waiting for him and he still needed to pay a visit to Knockturn Alley, even if it wasn’t the safest of places for him to be. Some of the known Death Eaters were still unaccounted for, and Severus did not even want to contemplate the ones that remained unidentified.
He was about to cut the conversation short when something dawned on him.
Lupin, as an adult, had always been civil to him, was capable of holding an intelligent conversation and had some common interests with him to boot. He shook his head. He must be getting desperate to consider neglecting his potions to spend time with a werewolf, but he couldn’t let himself pass this opportunity up.
"I am fine, thank you."
"Won't you join me and Harry? We were about to go to the Leaky Cauldron for a spot of lunch."
Oh, right. He had almost forgotten about Potter. He was, however, well aware that if he wanted to befriend Lupin, he had no choice but to accept that Potter would be part of that. Convinced Potter would be annoyed by the prospect of having lunch with his 'great bat' of a former professor, Severus studied Potter's face, but the young man’s expression showed no displeasure.
"I ... I could use a break myself."
There, that wasn't so hard, was it?
"Great," Lupin said, sounding aggravatingly cheerful.
"Err, Remus? Why don’t you and professor Snape go ahead, while I make a short trip to Flourish and Botts for that book for Hermione we saw earlier."
To Severus it seemed like a blatant excuse not to have to join them, but Lupin merely smiled at Potter and nodded.
"Of course, Harry. I’ll order you a Butterbeer, shall I?"
Expecting Potter to decline, Severus was surprised when he nodded back before walking away.
"Give me fifteen minutes."
The Leaky Cauldron was busy at this time of the day, but they managed to find an empty spot in the back and sat down.
"So, Severus. Tell me what you've been doing with yourself," Lupin asked as he raised his hand to get Tom's attention.
Completely exhausted, Severus sank down in his rocking chair. For the first time, he couldn’t bring himself to care about ruined potions. All he could think about was his afternoon with Lupin.
Not only had Lupin been willing to listen, his interest in Severus’ professional plans had actually seemed sincere. Even Potter joining them had done nothing to ruin it.
The book he had bought for the Granger girl had been fuel for a fiery discussion though, but Severus had thoroughly enjoyed the verbal and mental sparring with Lupin. Potter, surprisingly enough, had also raised some interesting points.
After lunch Potter had bid them good day, speaking of paying a quick visit to WWW before heading home.
Severus had simply nodded to them both and resumed his trip to Knockturn Alley. It wasn’t until he had reached his destination that he realised Lupin was still walking next to him.
He had paused. Unsure how to react, he had fallen back on familiar gestures and raised an inquiring eyebrow. In hindsight, he could care less whether Lupin’s claim to have business in the Alley himself had been valid or not, the conversation they had as they had strolled along was too pleasant, too companionable to be ruined by such pettiness.
Thinking of Lupin as pleasant company made him shudder, he couldn’t help it. Even though he and Lupin had made their peace about the Shrieking Shack incident, a situation he now knew had been out of either’s control, it still brought back bad memories and terrifying nightmares.
Yet this afternoon he had been free of either, and the time he had spent with Lupin had indeed been pleasant, challenging, and, more importantly, fulfilling.
The Three Broomsticks was fairly quiet when Severus entered and he had no trouble spotting Minerva, who was already waving at him.
"Hello, Severus. You look well, moving out has done you good."
Well, if Minerva thought so. He had to admit his hair, which had grown an inch since he left Hogwarts, was less oily, since he had been knee-deep in research for the past couple of days, but other than that nothing had changed. He still wore the same robes, albeit more through force of habit than anything else. Then again, even though she could look resplendent with her hair down, Minerva always wore it in a tight bun, which contributed greatly to her preferred 'strict schoolteacher' look.
"Thank you, Minerva. You look sophisticated as always."
He sat down opposite her, accepting the cup of tea she poured from the pot that stood steaming on the table.
"What was it you wanted to talk to me about?"
Thankfully, Minerva, unlike Albus Dumbledore, hated dancing around the subject as much as he did.
She handed him a list with the three top seventh years in potions. One Slytherin, a very talented girl, destined to go far in anything she’d choose, a Ravenclaw and, to his dismay, one very capable Gryffindor. Apparently all three applied for apprenticeships in potions. Three in one year was extraordinary, but he had to admit they were the best he had had in years.
"Unfortunately your successor does not have the connections you do. Would you mind finding Potions masters who would be willing to take on an apprentice?"
Immediately Vörster sprang to mind. He would be the best master for his Slytherin. The other two wouldn’t be too hard to place either.
"I think I can handle that, Minerva. So, how is Myria getting on?"
He had met the new Potions master only once; she seemed adequately capable. Not strict enough perhaps, and too cheerful to have much experience with unwilling pupils, but passable.
"She gets on well with all her pupils, but the NEWT pupils miss you, Severus."
Severus snorted. Miss him? They all complained about his approach, even his Slytherins.
"I may not have agreed with your methods, Severus, but you weren't a bad teacher ... in the end."
Another snort. No, he just didn’t like children very much.
He gladly answered Minerva’s questions about his work and promised to invite her to see his cottage and to visit Hogwarts, or rather Albus, soon.
"Minerva, Severus. What a surprise to see you here."
Minerva stood up and shook Lupin’s hand, while Severus merely nodded.
"Remus, how nice to see you. How is young Harry?"
"Harry is fine, he just left for Romania with Ron Weasley, yesterday. They’re spending a couple of months studying dragons with Charlie."
From their meeting at the Leaky Cauldron, Severus remembered Potter mentioning he had received numerous offers for the position of Seeker, along with some very prestigious job offers, but had declined them all. Neither he nor Weasley had chosen a career yet, and were taking their time in doing so. He envied the luxury, but could not begrudge them their freedom, with all they had been through at their young ages.
"Well," Minerva said as she passed Lupin, "Thank you, Severus. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Remus, delightful to see you again. Don’t be a stranger ... either of you."
A nod and another handshake later, Minerva had exited the pub and Severus was left with Lupin’s company. A Lupin who gladly sat down in the chair Minerva vacated, pouring himself a cup of tea and refilling Severus'.
"Last week Diagon Alley, this week Hogsmeade. I hope it’s not all business?" Lupin asked, pointing at the parchment in his hand.
"Socialising in Hogsmeade is as likely as it would have been in Diagon Alley, Lupin. I’m sure you’ve noticed they’re not very welcoming to me."
"Rosmerta doesn’t mind you."
"She’s one of few, believe me. The only reason I’m still able to buy my ingredients in either place is because they need the money too much to refuse me."
Lupin seemed to frown at that, but didn’t pursue the subject. Instead he quietly sipped his tea.
"What brings you to Hogsmeade then, Lupin?" Severus asked, trying to keep the conversation going, "Business, or pleasure?"
"A little bit of both."
"Scouting for miss Granger, I presume?"
Lupin had told him that Hermione Granger had landed herself a job at the Ministry and had taken it on herself to change the werewolf regulations. Her first act had been to force the Ministry to employ Lupin as her assistant, because it would show good will towards the werewolf population. The new Minister did not seem as adverse to her ideas as that dunderhead Fudge had. Severus had abstained from comments, a silence which Lupin seemed to accept.
"Over the next couple of weeks I will be visiting registered werewolves with a questionnaire Hermione drew up."
To Severus it looked like Lupin was slightly apprehensive visiting the werewolves and he wondered if he had met with others before, barring the one who had bitten him. He was about to ask when Lupin started talking again.
"I mentioned meeting you to her. She was not surprised that you quit Hogwarts and was very interested to hear that you work independently now."
Now it was his turn to frown. Lupin understood the question unasked.
"She would like to discuss the Wolfsbane potion with you."
Ah, well, he could have expected that. Lupin had been sent to sweet talk him ... or maybe Granger wanted him to prepare it for Lupin again.
"She will contact you some time next week, I think."
Severus sighed in relief. Even though he had been wondering how and if Lupin had been getting his Wolfsbane, he was not going to ask him.
He knew very well that if he and Lupin were to see each other regularly, the subject would come up sooner or later, but the longer he could postpone that particular discussion, the better it would be.
They drank their tea in silence, a long, awkward silence, and the conversation went downhill from there. Lupin clearly tried to come up with ‘safe’ subjects, but for some reason every single one of them died and ended up in even more awkward silences. When he finally Apparated home, Severus was certain he had destroyed every chance of a companionship with Lupin.
Apparently not all was lost, because barely two days later an owl with an invitation to tea arrived.
A week later he still hadn’t accepted.
Grimmauld Place was an obstacle for him, one he couldn't push aside easily. Even during the Order meetings he had hated having to be there.
Granted, with help from Bill Weasley, Potter and Lupin had managed to get rid of old Mrs. Black, but she was the least of his objections. Her taunting he could handle; the fact that the house reminded him of his own childhood, he could not.
Every visit he was bombarded with memories. Memories he had tried so hard to put behind him, to forget. Memories of his parents, the screaming, the hate, his helplessness ... his fear.
But could he bear it for Lupin's sake?
That was the question he'd been mulling over all week.
In the end he had to face the fact that he couldn’t put himself through that again.
He did want to meet with Lupin again though. He had not desire to ruin it, not when Lupin was obviously making an effort.
Looking around his cottage, Severus wondered if he was ready to invite Lupin into his home. Lupin had invited him, after all. Maybe he could return the favour, even if he shied from taking Lupin up on his offer.
With a sigh he sat down at his desk and took out some fancy looking parchment, testing his quill on a peace of scrap. First he had to decline the offer, without making himself look weak. Though he had been told he had a way with words, he knew his voice was a large part of that. It was more difficult when it was personal, or ... at least he felt it was more personal. He didn’t want to come across as standoffish either, it would only put Lupin off.
Truth was, he had never before invited someone to his home, not even his dungeons.
None of his pupils, not even his Slytherins, were allowed in his personal chambers. His colleagues had always visited him in his offices, with exception of Albus and Minerva, who had never needed an invitation; they always came by at their discretion, whether he wanted them to or not.
It took him four tries and a half chewed quill until he was completely satisfied with the phrasing of his decline and his own invitation. After attaching a small silver ornament turned Portkey, he whistled for his owl, holding out his arm for him to land on. When he arrived, Severus tied the parchment to his leg and watched as he flew off to find Lupin.
To say he was displeased was an understatement.
Ever since he had sent that ruddy owl to Lupin he had almost ruined a potion and wasted some valuable ingredients due to carelessness. His nerves were shot to pieces ... all because he had to send Lupin that invitation.
So, instead of working in his workroom he sat in his rocking chair on the porch, waiting for Lupin to arrive ... in three hours. If he would ...
But since he had not received an owl in reply ...
Severus sighed and closed his eyes. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
A faint snap of a branch had him crouching low, whipping his wand from his robes and scanning the area in seconds. As he slowly turned on his heels, he found himself looking straight into a pair of amused amber eyes.
"I see you haven't lost your touch, Severus."
Getting up, Severus swore under his breath. Damn, Lupin ... no, damn him for not paying attention.
"Lupin," he greeted the man, his voice slightly hoarse from sleeping, while a voice inside him was cheering: "he came, he came, he came" in a very childish manner.
But Lupin had already turned around and was looking at his cottage.
Severus suddenly experienced a small glow of pride at the approval in Lupin’s eyes. "I'll show you the rest, if you want."
Lupin nodded eagerly and Severus led them through the small hallway into the kitchen, assuring himself everything was spotless, while explaining all the work he had done. He had already proceeded into his small library when Lupin’s voice rang out to him from the kitchen.
"You chose colours I wouldn’t have expected from you."
"Yes, well, everyone seems to think I live and breathe black, green and silver. Sorry to disappoint you."
"No, the orange walls are beautiful. So is the pale wood of the cabinets. They fit well together,"Lupin replied as he joined him in the library.
Severus had to admit that it was good receiving praise from Lupin for what he had worked so hard on. An uncomfortable silence followed as Severus contemplated what to say next. What was expected of him? Would Lupin be interested in the reasons of his choice?
He sighed, wishing he had bought that book on etiquette he had seen in Hogsmeade after all.
"How did you get this paint effect on the walls?"
Relief swept over Severus.. Lupin had just given him the perfect opening.
"It is a colour wash. You dilute a one part paint with 5 or 6 parts water, and apply with a sponge, preferably in arched strokes. I did all the walls in the same colour, apart from the bathroom and toilet; I thought tiles would be more convenient in those. I like uniformity," he explained, keeping his eyes on Lupin to check for disinterest.
Lupin, however, appeared very interested.
"Most my furniture is the same pale kind of wood. It was one of few colours that didn’t make my chambers at Hogwarts look like a tomb. When I bought this cottage, the walls were covered with different sorts of flowered wallpaper. It was absolutely hideous..."
Severus froze instantly as Lupin suddenly started laughing, anger rising to the surface.
His face must have given his anger away, for Lupin stopped laughing at once.
"I'm sorry, Severus. It was bad form of me to laugh, but the image of you and flowered wallpaper was just too much."
Severus couldn’t help but grin at that. He probably would have looked a right old queen.
After that he felt more at ease with Lupin as he showed him the rest of the house.
With the tour over and done with, Severus bade Lupin to take a seat in the dining room while he went into the kitchen to prepare dinner. He merely sighed when Lupin followed him instead and handed him a chopping block. If he insisted on standing around, he might as well make himself useful.
"You are an excellent cook," Lupin announced afterwards, smiling as he settled down on the steps of the porch, "Which shouldn’t be surprising, considering your adeptness in potions. It was a lovely meal, Severus. Thank you."
Though he preferred his rocking chair, Severus joined Lupin on the steps, becoming slightly uncomfortable with the compliments Lupin was giving him. 'Thank you' had been on the tip of his tongue several times, but unable to utter it, he simply nodded, hoping Lupin wouldn’t misinterpret his silence.
"Hermione told me she visited you last Wednesday. She seemed very content."
Ah, yes. Miss Granger's visit. After Lupin had told him she wanted to talk to him about the Wolfsbane potion, he expected her to ask him to make it on Ministry’s orders. She hadn’t.
"I agreed to take on one short term Ministry's apprentice on a trial basis to teach him how to prepare the Wolfsbane potion."
Lupin’s smile widened.
"That's great, Severus. I know Hermione was planning something, but I had no idea her plans were that advanced already."
"I ... you ... "
"You don't have to, Severus. Both Hermione and Harry made sure I got the Wolfsbane from a reliable source," Lupin interrupted him, "I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye, Severus, but I am well aware of the fact that my Lycanthropy is not your responsibility."
Severus was speechless. Out of all the possible discussions about Lupin’s Lycanthropy, Severus had never considered this point of view. Not when even Albus had made it sound like it was his responsibility to provide Lupin with the Wolfsbane potions. It was liberating.
"Thank you ... Remus."
His tentative companionship with Remus had turned into enjoyable weekly dinners and frequent owls to and fro. His partnership with Vörster had already led to three medicinal potions in development, waiting to be tested and approved by the Ministry. Shopkeepers were less reluctant to serve him and he had finally managed to de-gnome his garden.
Life should be good for Severus Snape.
Something was off ... and that irked him beyond reason.
He was sure many thought his joining of Riddle’s ranks had been due to Black and his consorts, but he had only himself to blame for that.
Himself, and his absurd belief that he was loved.
The 'affection' he had received from Janus had blinded him. He had been in an almost constant state of euphoria, following the object of his love around like a lovesick puppy. It had taken him a long, long time to realise that it had never been about him, but about what he could contribute to Riddle’s cause. His stomach still turned at the fate of all those Muggles his potions were used on. Devastated he had turned to Dumbledore. Spying for him had only been a small price to pay.
Janus had never questioned Severus’ decision to stop seeing each other, and with time it had become easier to see Janus dragging new ‘love interests’ in, luring them as he had him.
Times were hard, and every night before going to sleep he had thanked Merlin for surviving another day, vowing never to be fooled again.
Yet, here he was ...
Pining hopelessly over Remus.
It had started with this strange empty feeling he experienced after their weekly meetings. The first time it had happened he had immediately thought of indigestion, just something he ate. It had taken him two whole months to recognise and realise the pattern.
Now, he couldn't concentrate on his work when he knew an owl was due, couldn't stop himself watching the clock when Remus was running a little late and couldn’t stop himself looking out the window every five minutes to see whether Remus, or his owl, had arrived yet. He felt like a bloody schoolgirl with a crush.
He hated it.
After two weeks of trying to keep his emotions in check, Severus gave up.
After his fourth botched up potion and third nearly chopped off finger, Severus decided enough was enough.
A well drafted letter, that had taken almost a week to write, was sent and all contact with Remus was ended.
He had never felt so alone.
Closing his eyes, Severus inhaled the scents of the Bournemouth auction halls , wizardry section. It was one of his favourite haunts, well-known for unearthing rare books and Dark Arts objects. Seeing how busy it was, Severus could safely assume that the rumours he had heard about new findings had to be true, and he was looking forward to finding out what it was all about.
Five hours later he found himself standing outside again, extremely pleased with the volume he needed to complete his collection of Potions books by a seventeenth century Potions master, and three rare Dark Arts books. He was about to Disapparate home, when someone bumped into him. Ready to bite the person's head off for their inattention, Severus turned around, staring straight into a familiar pair of friendly amber eyes, and froze.
He hadn’t seen or heard from Remus since he had owled him that dratted letter, but, despite his best efforts, he had not been able to put him out of his mind. Remus looked stunning, though slightly tired. Yet as soon as Remus seemed to recognise who he had bumped in to, something cold replaced the laughter in his eyes, but neither could hide the pain nor something else ...
Something Severus had never expected to see in those eyes, and the realisation that he caused it was too much for him.
He abruptly turned away and Disapparated.
He was such a fool.
"Damn it, Severus. I know you're in. Open the bloody door!"
His newly acquired books stacked neatly next to him, Severus sat on the floor with his back against the front door, where he could virtually feel the fists banging against it. He hadn’t moved an inch since he slid down there when he came home. How long ago that was, he didn't know, but it could have been hours.
The banging on the door had been going on for a while now, but Severus wasn’t about to open it. A small part of his mind told him to get up, open the door and get it over with. The rest of him was paralysed with the certainty that there was nothing he could say.
He wouldn’t know how.
When the banging finally stopped, he didn’t move. He was so tired.
With a sigh he closed his eyes and let everything wash over him.
He had had a chance and he blew it. He had been so busy trying to 'shield' himself, that it never even dawned on him that ...
"Merlin, Severus. Why do you always insist on making things so difficult?"
Severus opened his eyes and nearly jumped. How had Remus got inside?
"I was waiting, you know. Against better judgement, I had put it in my head that you would find the courage to tell me."
Severus couldn’t help but snort at that.
"You really hurt me when you sent that owl. Even when I realised you ... Well, I was angry and upset, and, for a while, all I wanted was to forget you even existed ... "
Gaping, Severus looked up at Remus.
"But I couldn't."
Remus knelt in front of him and Severus’ cheeks burned with shame as he found himself unable to look away from the compassion in Remus' eyes.
"You had such expressive eyes when we were young. I spent hours watching you, trying to figure out what you were about. And when I wasn’t watching your eyes, I studied your hands. So elegant, so graceful and so damned quick. I couldn't help but fall ... "
Shocked, Severus looked away, but Remus' hand captured his chin and turned him back to face him again.
"I knew it couldn't be ... you and me. I always knew, yet somehow, like the fool I was, I kept hoping. Even after we left school I hoped I'd run into you somewhere. You can’t imagine my surprise when we actually did."
They had? Severus couldn't remember, but then again ... he hadn't noticed Remus that way then.
"You were with someone ... it was beautiful. I never saw your eyes shine like that before, and I knew I was watching you in love. I never forgot that look."
Severus' throat tightened and he closed his eyes as Remus' thumb traced his lips.
"How I wished your eyes would shine for me," Remus whispered, "And then it happened. That same look, directed at me after a particularly heated discussion about Krakov's theory on Dark Arts. It blew me away. I wanted to kiss you then ... but like a fool I waited."
Severus remembered that discussion well. They had been opposed on almost every point, but the sparring had made him feel so alive, so ... so wanted.
"I've studied you most of our school years, yet I kept hoping you would open up. I wanted you to sweep me off my feet even if I knew full well you would never ... "
Severus could hold his control no longer.
He grabbed Remus by his neck and pulled him down for a kiss, silencing him most effectively; a fact he filed away for later use. Remus tasted of chocolate and tea, rosehip and hibiscus, his favourite, and kissed him back just as enthusiastically.
Maybe he was a fool, but at least he wasn’t the only one.