Title: For Auld Lang Syne
Summary: Some people should be careful what they wish for. They might just get it, and a lot more besides.
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters. They are the property of JK Rowling and her associated people.
Author’s notes: For the fourth wave of the Snape/Lupin Fuh-Q-Fest, combining challenge #10: Unrequited love: either Snape or Lupin admires the other as a student and knows it can lead to nothing..., with challenge #99: A malicious prank causes Snape to believe Remus returns his feelings. The prankster has no idea Remus really does care about Snape, but after the prank, will Snape ever trust again?. Thanks to Starkiller and Suzene for the beta and suggestions regarding canon.
Severus Snape knew that love made you weak, and he hated it.
He hated the way it made his palms sweat, and his heart hammer in his chest. He hated the way it made him clumsy and distracted, likely to trip over his robes or run into a wall, or almost slice his finger off in Potions (Potions, of all things!) if he was sat near to him. He hated that it made him lurk in the library, hoping for a glimpse of that thin, tired face in one of the reading nooks, graceful hands holding a book while long, slim fingers turned the pages slowly as he read. He hated that it made him sit facing the Gryffindor table at meals, hoping for another glimpse, and how disappointed he was when he didn't get one. He hated that it made him go to Quidditch matches just for a chance to see a smile, a laugh, a glint of sun off mousy brown hair. He hated that it made him dream things: things that made him wake up in the morning with his cock in his hand and his own come drying on the sheets, a whispered name on his lips. He hated how he had to know everything, and even once he knew everything (creature, beast, werewolf), it still didn't matter.
But most of all, when he watched Sirius Black pull Lupin behind the greenhouses, or underneath the Quidditch stands, or behind the statue of the one-eyed witch and press him up against the wall, he hated that he was never, ever going to have a chance.
Lupin had been the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor for almost six months, and every month without fail, once a day for the week leading up to the full moon, Severus had been bringing him his Wolfsbane. The first couple of days leading up to the sixth moon were uneventful; Lupin was in his office as usual to receive the potion, and Severus stayed for as little a time as possible in his presence. It was on the third day that things changed. That everything changed.
Lupin wasn't in his office when Severus knocked that evening. After a moment's hesitation Severus entered, intending to leave the potion on his desk. Lupin's office was a shambles, which didn't really surprise him; it was so typical of the man to have an office that was as shabby as his person. He leaned over the desk to place the goblet in the only clear space on the desk, and as he straightened up the sleeve of his robes caught a pile of letter and loose parchment, sending them to the floor. He swore softly and bent to pick them up, and it was when he was putting them back on the desk that he saw what was written on the loose leaves of parchment, and it almost caused him to drop them again.
They were letters. More than that, they were letters to him. From Lupin. There was more than one as well, although the first couple looked like aborted tries at the last few. Severus leafed through them, not able to believe his eyes as he read. They were all variations on a theme: they were adults now, their school days far behind them; perhaps now was a good time to let bygones be bygones, and get to know each other again. See if they could be friends, and if so, perhaps more than friends, in time. That last made him drop the sheaf of parchment as if it burned him, and he backed out of the room, turning in the doorway and walking as fast as he could without running back to his own office.
When he got there he poured himself a large glass of brandy, gulping it down quickly before pouring himself another one and sitting down at his desk. He put his hands out flat on the top of his desk; they were shaking. He wrapped them around the glass of brandy instead, his fingers clenching until his knuckles turned white. What he'd read couldn't possibly be true. It had to be a joke, a prank, just one more cruelty perpetrated by his old schoolmates to add to their already long list of cruelties. He knocked back the rest of his brandy and coughed, his oesophagus burning. It couldn't be true, it just couldn't be.
Severus spent the next day sequestered in his office as much as possible, taking his meals in there and only emerging to teach. Once evening came he was forced out to deliver the Wolfsbane, not trusting the task to a house elf. Lupin was present this time, and Severus stalked into the room with as much bravado as possible. Lupin smiled at him benignly enough, but Severus swore that there was a twinkle in his eye that hadn't been there the day before. His eyes scanned Lupin's desk for the stack of parchments, but they were gone. His heart lurched in his chest at that; if Lupin sent him the letters, even just one of them, then he would know that it wasn't a prank, that it was real, and the ball would be in his court. He could have passed the house elf that was delivering his letter on his way to Lupin's office, even now the letter could be sitting on his desk, waiting for him to open it. Waiting for him to acknowledge something he'd wanted for twenty years. He couldn't get back to his office quick enough, but the letter wasn't there. Hours went past, then days, then weeks, but the letter never came. Severus buried his disappointment along with all the others in his life, and told himself that this was what happened when one allowed oneself to hope.
He avoided Lupin as much as he could after that, but then a curious thing happened. The more he tried to avoid the man, the more he was there. Sitting near him at meal times in the Great Hall, coming into the staff room to read while Severus was there, walking the other way down the very hallways that Severus was. At first Severus ignored him, and Lupin attempted nothing more than exchanging pleasantries with him (if it was possible to say you exchanged pleasantries with such a man). But then Severus found himself being drawn into conversations; on the weather, the latest Quidditch match, on books, music, historical events. They talked about anything and everything. Lupin was a quiet but compelling conversationalist, Severus had always known that to some degree, but what he hadn't known was that when Lupin listened, he listened with his whole body and all his focus, and the force of Lupin's focus directed at you and you alone was quite something. If the sight of the letters that Lupin had written to him but never sent was enough to kindle all of Severus' adolescent feelings, the weight of his attention was enough to fan the flames, until Severus felt like he was being consumed.
It went on for months like that, just talking. Severus wouldn't have expected anything less. They were both too used to being controlled, to used to hiding their true natures for it to have gone any other way. When it finally did happen, the night before the last full moon of the school year, when he finally grabbed Lupin by the collar of his threadbare robes and pushed him up against the wall, it was all he could have hoped for, and more. Lupin's sighs and moans were music to his ears, the feel of Lupin's tongue against his was electric, and when they rubbed and thrust against each other like teenagers, their clothes still mostly on, and cried out hoarsely into each other's mouths as they climaxed, Severus felt like he could die right then and be happy about it, because it didn't get any better than that.
He spent the day after in a state of euphoria like none he'd ever known, so when Lupin (Remus, he had to keep reminding himself; he was Remus now) didn't arrive as promised to take his last dose of Wolfsbane before the moon he wasn't overly worried; he was probably just as preoccupied as Severus himself was. He poured out a gobletful of Wolfsbane and set out to deliver it himself.
He didn't find Remus in his office as he'd expected. He found Filch, and both of the despicable Weasley twins, a sure recipe for a foul mood, even if they weren't caught by the scruff of their necks. He put the goblet of Wolfsbane down on the edge of Remus' desk and scowled.
"What is the meaning of this?"
All three of them started to talk at once, and Severus held up his hand. "One at a time! Mr Filch?"
Filch nodded. "Found them loitering around outside here, I did. Loitering, and up to no good, that was for certain. Never are, these two, and if it were up to me, I'd…"
Severus held up his hand again. "That's enough." He pointed to the sheaf of parchment that Filch had in his free hand. "That is theirs, I presume. Show me."
Filch nodded and handed the parchment over, and Severus glared at the two boys one more time before unfolding the parchment and looking down at it. What he saw there made his blood run cold.
What he held in his hands wasn't just parchment, it was letters. Letters from Remus, addressed to him. Not just love letters this time, either, they were…explicit. They detailed everything that Remus wanted to do to him; every bump, every grind, everything, right down to how much he wanted Severus to beg for it. Severus had just enough time to blush to the roots of his hair before his temper exploded. He advanced on them both, seizing them by the front of their robes, still holding the letters scrunched up in his hands.
"Where did you get these? Answer me, now!"
Both Weasleys looked confused for a moment, then knowing. Severus wanted to kill them dead right that second.
"We didn't get them anywhere…"
"…we made them."
Severus tightened his grip on their robes and spat into their faces. "Liars! These are letters, personal letters of mine, and I want to know where you got them!"
The Weasleys looked at each other, as if coming to some sort of agreement, then one of them said, "Ah…they're not letters. They're just parchment. Charmed parchment. Charmed to show the person looking at it whatever they want to see."
Severus felt like he'd been kicked. He stared at them while the blood drained from his face, then suddenly let go, pushing them away from him so hard that they stumbled back into Filch. Severus turned away from them, letting the parchment in his hands fall to the floor.
It was Filch that spoke. "But…"
"I said get out! Get out!"
They obeyed him this time, and he waited until their footsteps completely receded before turning towards Lupin's desk, his hands clutching the edge of it as he leaned over, his head hanging down so low his hair fell forward over his face.
Charmed parchment. He'd been duped by charmed parchment. So desperate had he been to believe that Lupin might have an interest in him, that he hadn't even bothered to check if the letters had been jinxed. More fool him. It had all been for nothing, all of it. Everything. Lupin had probably been in league with those obnoxious Weasleys all this time, just like in their old school days. Lupin was probably laughing about just how pathetic he was right now.
But he wouldn't get the chance again. He wouldn't be made a fool of twice.
He put his head up and straightened up, and was turning around to leave the room when something moving on Lupin's desk caught his eye. He turned back, and saw with a pang that it was a parchment. He moved closer despite himself, and when he did he saw that it was a map, a map of Hogwarts, and that it was moving. He watched it for a minute, amazed, until he saw a tiny dot moving quickly down one of the passageways leading away from the school. A tiny dot called Remus Lupin.
He swept out of the room in a swirl of cloak and righteous anger, fully prepared to do whatever it would take to wreak his revenge.
When Severus got back to his rooms from the infirmary, there was no sleep for him. He sat up all night staring into his fire, and when morning came he got up, made himself presentable and went to breakfast, to tell the whole school what he should have told them twenty years ago. Giving his statement to the Ministry people there to investigate the events of the previous night took until lunchtime, so it was early afternoon before he got back to his rooms. Walking down the corridor to them, he saw something he didn't expect; Lupin, walking away from the door of his rooms down the corridor, coat over his arm and carrying his suitcase. Severus slowed his steps until Lupin turned the corner and went out of sight, then he went to his door and spoke the password. When the door opened and he stepped inside, his foot knocked an envelope on the floor. A letter. He picked it up. It had his name on it, in now familiar handwriting. He turned it over in his hands a couple of times while he walked over to the fireplace, but didn't open it. When he got to the fire he stood there for a minute just holding it, feeling its weight (at least one whole sheet of parchment, probably more like two), then he threw it into the flames, watching as it was consumed and turned to ash.
He had always known that love made you weak. He just wished that he'd remembered just how much he hated it.