Author: hatshepsut (email@example.com)
Pairing: SS/RL, some H/D
Warnings: NC-17, rape/non-con, slavery, some language, shameless hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and its characters do not, not, not belong to me. Drat.
Notes: this is in response to challenge 109: Due to past experiences, one is convinced sex is not something he can ever enjoy or want to do. And a big thank you to witch, my lovely, intelligent beta, who saved my story when my computer deleted my copy of it. I love, you, witch
Summary: When Lucius Malfoy dies, he leaves Remus something very surprising. How will he handle it? Set after the war, with RL reinstated as DADA instructor.
"WHAT?" Remus Lupin had just sprayed a good mouthful of tea across the Headmaster's desk. He stared at Dumbledore in disbelief, which quickly turned to dismay. "You know, Albus," he began, frowning, "No matter what Severus' sexual habits may be, I'm not sure such terms are necessary in referencing them."
The Headmaster sighed. Today he felt very old. Very old and very incompetent. "No, no, dear boy, you've misunderstood. I did not mean to say that Severus is--promiscuous. What I meant is that he is--he is a Slut." Remus blinked.
"With a capital 's'."
"With a capital 's' ?"
"But not promiscuous?"
"Not necessarily, no."
"So, a slut, with a capital 's', but not a necessarily promiscuous one?"
"Albus, I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say." Normally, Remus would not have been so short, with the headmaster of all people, but, well, he rather fancied Severus and it made him rather defensive to hear him slandered like this. Actually, it made him quite angry, made the *wolf* quite angry, and protective. The wolf wanted Severus quite badly, and, if he was honest with himself, so did he. But--it could never be. And so he left it at that, and tried to ignore the surge of warmth in his chest every time Severus made some snide remark to him.
The Headmaster leaned forward, sighing. "Remus, you do not come from an old Wizarding family." Remus opened his mouth to speak, frowning, but the Headmaster held up a hand with the unmistakable ring of authority. "And so it would be very difficult for you to understand the stringence with which traditions are observed in the Pureblood household, how unthinkable it is to end even the most trivial of customs." He paused. "And it would be very difficult for you to understand how purely medieval many of those customs are."
"Be that as it may, I have no idea how this relates in any way to this capital 's' business."
The Headmaster smiled. "And that is why I have invited Miss Granger to join us."
Remus looked exasperated. "Hermione Granger? But she's muggle born! What could she possibly tell me about pureblood family traditions? If this is about him, why not just bring in Severus himself? With a capital 's'," he added sarcastically. All this talk of Snape, mixed with his consternation at all the cryptic rubbish the headmaster was spouting, was wearing rather thin with the full moon in only a week. And he was beginning to worry about Severus, as well, about how he was caught up in this mess. "And isn't she at university?"
"Why, yes, Miss Granger is studying at the university. And she is muggle born. So, firsthand, she has no information pertaining to this problem. However, she is an excellent researcher and a conscientious young lady." At that point, there was a knock on the door. "Do come in, Miss Granger." The headmaster waved his hand at the door and in burst Hermione Granger with a very large book and a very determined expression on her face.
"Headmaster, this is unspeakable! It is abominable! Abhorrent! Atrocious! I cannot believe the--the *repugnance* of what is supposedly the elite of the wizarding world. This is slavery, pure and simple, and in the worst, most unspeakably cruel way!" She paused a moment, panting. "And I *will* put an end to this, mark my words. How can our society pretend to be egalitarian when laws like this still exist? We've just done away with the Werewolf Codes, for Merlin's sake, for the exact same reason as this! And those at least stemmed from a legitimate fear and misunderstanding! This is--this is--there is no excuse," she snapped and flung herself in the chair beside Remus'. Remus took a deep breath.
"Will someone. Please. Explain. What is going on." Hermione looked to the Headmaster.
"Please, enlighten the Professor as to your research."
"Well," he could see her settle into explaining mode, "A long time ago, a very long time ago, before the Romans, even, noble families had other, servant families bound to them, to serve them generation after generation. Minstrels, knights, the like. They were respected, honored, well compensated for their services. And this had been going on since our first records." Her eyes lit up a bit. "The practice probably started as a way to encourage solidarity and good morale in a small fiefdom where a number of the inhabitants--" Dumbledore cleared his throat gently. She blushed. "Like I was saying, sometime, maybe a dozen or so centuries before the Roman occupation, there was a period of time, maybe a bit less than a century, when the harvests failed miserably. The nobles in charge had to change tactics to keep the people from just deserting the land. So a new, harsher leadership took over and decided that it was awfully expensive to keep paying these servant families when they could keep them on through force instead. So they enslaved them. This is when house elves and Sluts come into the picture as well. Most of the bonded families eventually got away, but not them. This is because of the conditioning of house elves to serve and the--magical bonds placed on Sluts, which render them unable to function without a master."
"So what exactly do Sluts do?" He had a sinking suspicion what, but he wanted to be absolutely sure.
"They're slaves. Sex slaves, specifically." Hermione's eyes were hard now. "When they reach the age of thirteen, they're officially bound to a master. Which is a deceiving term, since what actually happens is not a bonding spell but a curse. The curse references the person they are bound to, and its terms are the source of the bondage."
"And--the terms are?" Remus' voice shook more than he wanted it to, but Merlin, if what Albus said was true and Severus was one of these unfortunates...
Hermione opened to a page she had marked in her book and began to read, her voice cold. "The Slut must be penetrated, at their master's hand, at least once a day or face pain that increases steadily the longer this condition is not fulfilled. This encourages cooperation with and participation in," she swallowed, "the sex act. If a Slut displeases their master, they will feel the same steadily increasing pain until seriously punished, physically," she took a deep breath, "or sexually. This encourages obedience and honesty. In addition, wizarding laws state that, when a master and Slut appear together in public, the master must hold the Slut on a leash as a matter of etiquette. The Slut is required to wear a collar at all times when in public without their master. If the Slut is seen in public without an escort, any members of the public--" she stumbled, "any members of the public present may request sexual services of them, which requests they are not permitted to refuse." She looked up, closing the book, and now there were tears in her voice. "But that's just wizarding law, that's not the actual curse." Remus put a hand on her arm and Albus came around the desk to pat her gently on the shoulder and offer her a handkerchief, which she took gratefully, and blew her nose.
"Thank you, Hermione," the headmaster said quietly, "You have proven yet again your skills as not only a historian but as a human being." She sniffled and rose to go. "And one more thing, my dear girl." She turned, on the threshold. "Please remember that you cannot solve all this world's problems immediately, or all on your own. This is not a failure, it is the way of things. Nothing worthwhile ever happened that wasn't a long time in the planning." She smiled tearily.
"I'll remember." And with that she was gone.
"Merlin." It was all Remus could think to say. "Severus?" He looked up and the Headmaster nodded, steel of determination in his eyes.
"Lucius Malfoy has recently passed on." Yes. The Ministry claimed natural causes, but it was said that he had taken poison before the Aurors could arrive to take him away. "His will." The Headmaster handed him a piece of parchment. There was only a single paragraph, almost at the very bottom of the scroll. Of course. It *would* be charmed to reveal to a person only the parts that concerned them. He read it
'And to my venerable former schoolmate Remus Lupin, I leave the ownership of the Slut Severus Snape, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereof, that he may remember me fondly.'
"Fuck." Remus felt ill, cast about for something to be sick into.
"Does the thought of Severus disgust you so much?"
His head snapped up. "No, but the thought of *owning* him rather does." He was being snippish with the Headmaster again, but the old man said nothing. And Remus spoke without meaning to. "He doesn't disgust me. Quite the contrary. I've fancied him since our school days."
"More than that. Loved him." He swallowed. "I'm in love with him." Remus felt sick again, realizing what he'd just admitted. Merlin.
"I assume you haven't informed him of this."
Remus shook his head glumly. "No. I knew he'd refuse. The man loathes me, which I'm sure is the reason Lucius left him to me. Of course, with *this* hanging over his head, I can't imagine him being able to say yes to anyone." He stared at his knees. "Cripes. Twenty years. Twenty years at the tender mercies of Lucius Malfoy." He glanced up to find the Headmaster watching him steadily. "I've heard Dobby speak about his time at Malfoy Manor and it's nothing pretty, but this, this had to be ten times worse. I can't imagine it."
"If you love him, you will take care of him." That brought his babble to a halt. He swallowed hard.
"Yes, I will." His voice was barely audible "But this is not the way it was supposed to be."
"Oh?" The headmaster looked vaguely displeased and Remus burst forth with the bitterness of lost dreams.
"I don't want it to be like this. I don't want him to be my slave! I don't want to make him wear a collar or fuck him once daily because I have to! I don't want to lead him on a leash or--or beat him if he makes me angry! I don't want this! I want Severus, and me, together, no ancient customs or misnamed curses or deranged Death Eaters! I just want a normal, stable," his voice cracked, "*equal* relationship. *Nobody* loves their enslaver! Why can't I just refuse to bond with him? Then he'd be free." Remus was pleading, now, voice heavy with tears. The Headmaster's expression had softened.
"I believe you'll find that he would not be free. You are forgetting that he has no legal standing. He is, for all financial and legal matters, considered chattel. Lucius has left him to you, but you have the right to refuse him. Then, he will remain Lucius Malfoy's property and be handed down, along with the rest of the estate, to his heir."
Remus' eyes widened. "Christ, to Draco? A former student?" He swallowed again. "Nothing--nothing could--I'll do it."
The Headmaster looked approving. "I do believe you've made the right decision, under the circumstances." He paused for a moment, gazing at a portrait. "Severus is waiting for you in his rooms. I took the liberty of having your belongings moved there." Remus opened his mouth to protest. "At his request." The Headmaster raised an eyebrow challengingly. "I daresay the daily walk to your quarters for penetration would be rather humiliating, wouldn't you?" Remus flushed, abashed, and Dumbledore reached for Hermione's book, handed it to him. "Chapter thirty-seven will tell you most everything you need to know about the rules of this whole affair. The difficult part now will be winning his trust."
Remus was almost across the threshold when the Headmaster called out to him.
"Oh, and Remus? I believe that if you told him you loved him, he would not be unreceptive to it." There was a pause. "He's not used to such things."
* * *
Having intended to take a head-clearing walk, Remus found himself in front of the door to what he knew were Severus' private quarters. He looked up rather nervously at the portrait of two young maids leaning over a wall and made a vague gesture towards the door.
"Err--I--may I, err..."
The girls looked disapprovingly at him. "Oh, yes," one said reproachfully, "He told us about you. We're to let you in and tell you the password." The door sprung open dismissively. Remus hesitated.
"Err, what *is* the password?"
"I ought to kill myself!" they chorused. He shook his head and thanked them, stepping in. The door swung shut behind him. He paused, looked around. No Severus. No Severus, but he was in the middle of a large, somber, surprisingly warm-looking sitting room. The bare stone floor was mostly covered by a large, oriental-looking green carpet. A sizeable couch of the same color opposed an enormous stone fireplace and a few small wooden tables were placed strategically. The walls were mostly lined with wooden book shelves and Remus noticed a small desk, but did not stop to examine anything further. He opened the door between the bookcases on the other side of the room and stepped through, finding himself in a barely closet-sized antechamber. There were, much to his consternation, three more doors, one on each wall, each unmarked. He tried the one to the left, but found it locked. Trying the one directly in front of him, he found it opened.
He stepped through it and into what looked like a prince's bedchamber. Everything was silver and green, everything dripped wealth, from the emerald-studded, silver-and-crystal witch lamps that lined to the enormous, intricately carved bed. That bed was, in fact a work of art. It must have stood three feet off the ground and the shimmering green fabric that draped it looked like it cost more than a certain werewolf earned in a year. The shimmering gossamer curtain around the canopy, which were now held back, had the same look to them. This was not at all what he would have expected from Severus. He knew Snape was well off, although now it appeared to be Lucius Malfoy's backing more than any inheritance or genius for investment, but he had never known the man to flaunt it--or to indulge is such excessiveness. His eyes roamed downwards, to the plush carpet that seemed to glow pale green and what he saw almost sent him reeling--there was proud Severus Snape, kneeling naked at the foot of the bed, forehead pressed to the carpet and hands behind his back.
"I, Severus Snape, present myself to you, master, as your loyal Slut and beg you to take me unto you, that I may serve you."
Remus' jaw dropped, floundering for a few moments. And, finally, he drew his wits about him.
"For Chrissakes, Severus, what are you doing! Get up!"
He did so, standing up and avoiding eye contact. "Sluts are required to present themselves to their new masters in this fashion. Master."
Lupin choked down tears. "Very well, Severus." Biting his lip, he took his own cloak off and wrapped it around Snape, who looked up at Remus, surprised. "Believe it or not, enslaving someone is not a thing I relish, no matter what the consequences would be if I didn't." Snape stared at him for long minutes.
"So you'll do it, then?"
Remus nodded. "I will." He paused, swallowed nervously. "You'll have to show me how."
"You just need an egalus." Snape sounded dazed. Remus himself felt as though he was seeing this all through a dream. He remembered the egalus charm from his studies; it was used to allow another wizard to share in the benefit from an already established spell they had not been party to.
Remus licked his lips. "Are you ready?" he asked quietly. Snape nodded, eyes on Remus' boots. "*Egalus incantatum*." Remus tapped his wnad on Severus' shoulder and felt no different but Snape shuddered and swayed on his feet. Remus put a hand on his shoulder to steady him and waited a minute. "Allright, then?" he asked softly.
Snape nodded, then flinched suddenly. "Err, yes, master." He bit his lip nervously. Lupin closed his eyes as if in pain.
"By Merlin, please don't call me that."
"Yes, sir." And to his surprise, it was not a challenge, it was soft acceptance.
"I'd prefer Remus, if you please." Severus made brief eye contact, a look of shock on his face. "Look, Severus, there are some things I'd like to say--" He stopped abruptly, remembering. "Err, do you need, err--tonight?"
Severus looked away. "Yes. Before midnight."
Remus glanced at the jewel inlaid clock. "That gives us a few hours." He took Severus by the hand and led him to sit in a squat, gilded chair. He himself sat on the floor in front of him, not letting go of Severus' hand. Snape opened his mouth to protest, but Remus stopped him.
"Please. Just listen for now." Remus sighed and hung his head. "I have a confession to make." Snape looked expectant. "I've--well, I've--I've fancied you for quite a long time, now." There was surprise on Severus' face, and Remus shook his head as if to clear it. "No, that's not true. It's more than that. I love you. I've been in love with you for years." He glanced up, and, seeing no censure on his face, continued. "I never told you because--well, you've been very clear about how little of my presence you can tolerate. And I guess, knowing what I know now, it wasn't really your choice to make." He swallowed. "but, well, that doesn't change the fact that I love you." Seeing the look of apprehension on Snape's face he rushed to add, "But I certainly don't expect you to love me. That would be a bit ridiculous. Love doesn't work that way, I'm told." He laughed nervously. "But my point is this: I care for you and I think you deserve better than this whole," he waved his arm in an all-encompassing gesture, "curse thing. So, I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I will try my absolute best to make you feel--human--," he paused, "because I know what that's like, you know, to feel dehumanized, and--and if you have a problem or a--a request or anything, you can always come to me and whatever it is I *will* try to fix it or make it better and I promise I won't be cross because--well, because I only want the best for you." He flushed, seeing that Severus was studying him. "And I just hought it was unfair to keep that from you." He looked up a moment. "Is that all right?"
Severus nodded, still dazed-looking. Remus smiled reassuringly.
"And there are some other things I was thinking about, too. Will you hear me out?"
Severus did not answer but looked expectantly at Lupin. He flushed.
"Well, those doors in the chamber over there--" He nodded towards the door. "Where do they lead?"
Snape's voice was quieter than he had ever heard it. It made him sound strangely vulnerable. "One goes to my personal research laboratory and study. The other leads to a few small guest chambers and passageways."
Lupin nodded. "Very well, then." He took a deep breath. "I'm well aware that I am invading your personal space by coming to stay here, and I do know how much you value your privacy. I--I thought it might be best if I were limited to the bedroom and the sitting room. That way if I bother you too much or you just need to be alone, you can have somewhere where you know I can't follow to go to. Would that be all right?" He looked up expectantly. Snape nodded.
Lupin frowned. "And also, about this leash thing--"
"It's all right. Hogwarts is not considered 'public', so no leash."
Lupin blushed bright red. "I--er, well that's a good thing." He frowned again. "There's no chance you could get away with leaving the collar off while just, you know, at home, is there?"
Snape shook his head. "No. That's included in my curse. It is for most of the more valuable Sluts, it's just not well publicized."
Remus looked questioningly at him. "I thought Sluts were like house elves--staying with a family and all, and no particular value placed on them."
Remus bit his tongue, but it was too late. Severus flushed and hung his head.
"I didn't mean it that way, Severus! Honest, I didn't!"
"I know what you meant," whispered Snape from behind a curtain of black hair, "Actually, the line of ownership is more like a horse's than a house elf's. A particular bloodline, like the Snape line, does not belong to anyone in particular, but the individuals in that bloodline do. We are generally sold in infancy, but sale is possible anytime before thirteen." He seemed to sink even farther into himself. "Snapes are very highly prized. I was extraordinarily expensive, especially because was the only Snape born for ten years before and after my birth. Still, I think Lucius' father was always disappointed I wasn't better looking for the price."
"Well, I think you're handsome." Severus looked strangely at him and Remus turned bright red.
Snape glanced at the clock, "Is there anything else? It's getting late."
Lupin glanced over, as well. Nearly eleven o'clock. "You're right." He paused awkwardly. "Er, are you...ready?"
Snape nodded and stepped over to the bed. He lay down, and, pushing the cloak off, turned onto his belly, naked, and spread his legs.
"Severus?" Lupin asked softly. He looked up. "You don't have to do that."
Snape looked unsure. He frowned and sat up.
"And Severus? You wouldn't have any lubrication, would you? The charms just aren't as effective."
Snape looked dreadfully confused but replied slowly, "Yes. In my workshop."
Remus smiled gently. "That's off limits for me. Would you fetch it?"
Severus got off the bed, still naked, and left the room. Remus sighed and, as it seemed to be taking Severus a while, began to examine the decor a bit more closely. As he returned with the jar, Remus mused out loud, "You know, I didn't think your tastes ran this way, Severus."
Snape froze. "They don't," he said quietly, "This is an exact replica of his bedroom at Malfoy Manor."
Remus could have kicked himself. Nice attempt at foreplay, Lupin, he berated himself. *Now* try and get him to relax. But he took a deep breath and tried to salvage the situation.
"Well, then I suppose you'll be able to redecorate it, now." Snape looked shocked again. "May I have that, Severus?" He asked, smiling softly as he reached for the jar Snape held in his hand.
Snape nodded and handed over the jar, then went back over to the bed but paused this time, unsure. He looked worriedly at Remus, who smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way.
"It's all right, love. Would you rather we face each other so I'm not faceless or would that be worse?"
Snape blinked. "I'm not really sure," and his voice trembled.
Remus stepped closer and put a hand on his shoulder. "That's all right." He squeezed Severus' shoulder gently. "I want this to be as painless as possible." Snape looked like he was not at all convinced. He sighed. "I'll tell you what, love, why don't we try from the back first for facility?"
Snape nodded hesitantly, went to the bed. He crawled on top of the blanket and turned on his side, back facing Remus.
Having shed his clothing, Remus moved next to him so that their bodies were in almost the same position. Severus was a bit more curled than he was, and was he...yes, he was trembling. Lupin felt again the urge to weep. Severus Snape was a proud man and unfathomable. He did not tremble in fear.
"All right, now. I'm going to tell you everything I do before I do it. Is that all right, love? And is it all right if I call you that?"
"Yes to both, then?"
"All right. Do I have your permission to do this?"
He started, "W-what?," he whispered softly.
Remus smiled reassuringly though he knew Severus could not see it. "Your permission to penetrate you."
"I don't really have a choice."
"No, I do believe there is some choice involved. If you say you don't want me to do this, I will respect your wishes."
"And suffer more in exchange? That's not much of a choice."
Remus smiled sardonically. "That may be true, but what little choice there is is entirely yours, Severus." He paused a moment, then spoke more softly, "Do you understand?"
He was rewarded with another anxious nod.
"May I touch you?"
"You gave me permission to penetrate you, which was a very difficult decision. I think it would make carrying it out much less frightening if I could touch you, just to help you relax. Is that acceptable?"
He hesitated, but finally gave a nod.
Remus smiled warmly. "All right, then. Do you think we can get started?" he waited for the hesitant nod before going on. "I think a massage might be nice, what about you?" He put a hand on Severus' side and stroked reassuringly, moving into a kneading motion and ever so slowly making his way down.
Snape snapped tighter than a bow string as soon as he touched his buttocks. "Hush, it's all right. Just relax, love, I won't let you get hurt, shh..." Remus tried to soothe, but it appeared only to make it worse. The Potions master was shaking like a leaf, now, trying hard to clamp down on noises of fear. Remus sighed and wished he had opted for a face-to-face position.
Remus only caught a snatch of what he was whispering, but it was quite enough. "Severus? Severus, it's all right, love. Turn around, please. Turn over. Come, now..." he continued to coax until finally Snape flipped over.
He wouldn't make eye contact, but Lupin could see the tear trails on his cheeks. He wiped them gently away and caressed his face. "It's all right, love, it's all right, you're all right. Shh, I know it's hard. I know. Hush..." Finally Snape was calm again, Lupin continuing to stroke his back comfortingly. He glanced at the clock and sighed.
He was rewarded with brief eye contact.
"We don't have much time left, love. We need to start again." Lupin's conscience pricked him painfully for not asking permission again, but he told himself firmly that it would probably only stress the Potions Master further. He took a deep breath.
"Can you look at me, Severus?" He spoke as though to a small child. "Just watch my face. It's me, Remus, all right? I won't let you get hurt. I promise I won't let you get hurt." Snape brought his eyes up to Remus' chin reluctantly. "Good," Remus cooed, "Now, can you put your leg right over mine, like this?" He guided Snape's leg over his own thigh. "Well done. I'm just going to touch your bottom, now, nothing painful." He stroked the the cheek as he had been doing to Severus' back before. "Right, now I'm going for the slick stuff." He coated his finger generously. "I'm going to get a little more intimate, here." Remus spread lubrication on Snape's arsehole, which was clenched tight, though he appeared much calmer. "Relax, now, I know it's hard, just relax..." He applied more lubrication and did feel a slight relaxation, but he was still far too tight. "Severus, please relax, you need to relax so we can get this over with--"
"I am relaxed," he snapped, with remarkable bite, considering the situation.
"Why do you think Snapes are so prized? It's certainly not for our good looks."
Remus looked confused. Snape sighed.
"It's genetic, runs in the family. Constriction of the anus. We're bred for it." Snape paused. "That's why I don't eat much at a time," he added more quietly.
Remus blinked and fought down nausea, making a mental note to buy a banner for whatever society Hermione formed on this. "All right, then." A brief pause. "We have to continue."
Severus nodded and, judging the lubrication acceptable, Remus began to slowly insert his finger.
"Easy now, easy," he gentled, but Severus seemed to be doing much better now that they were face to face. In no time at all, his finger was completely inside. If it hadn't been for the circumstances, he might have marveled at the tightness and wondered how it would feel around certain other parts of his anatomy, but he pulled himself firmly away from these thoughts.
He wiggled his finger a bit, paused for a moment, and withdrew it slowly.
"All right, I think we're done. You did smashingly, Severus."
The Potions master blinked in shock.
Remus smiled. "The curse only calls for penetration, it doesn't say with *what*." He grinned wickedly, but at seeing Severus' stricken face, added more gently, "Why don't I give you a moment alone while I go clean up?" Upon receiving a dazed nod, he climbed out of bed and disappeared into the bathroom.
When Remus returned, a still-dazed Snape took his turn in the washroom and climbed into bed. they were both immediately asleep, drained. The clock struck midnight.
* * *
Remus' first thought upon waking was that he did not know where he was, but that he was quite comfortable and had *absolutely* no intention of getting up. He yawned and squinted through sleep-blurred eyes. There was something black and white and red a few inches in front of his nose. He scrubbed at his eyes and pulled back aways to realize that the white was that of Severus' neck, the black a wide, solid looking metal and leather collar around his neck. The red was two livid swaths of irritation at the edges of the collar.
He sat up suddenly, causing Severus to start and sit up as well, blinking sleepily.
"Oy, Severus, why do you wear an awful collar like that?"
Snape stared at him groggily.
"Your collar," Remus said, pointing, "It's hurting you."
"Yes. It wasn't my choice, it was Lucius'. I think he picked it because he knew it would rub."
Remus almost screamed in frustration. "So why didn't you tell me? I could have gotten rid of it for you last night!"
Snape wouldn't make eye contact. "I don't really notice it anymore," he said quietly.
Remus felt the frustration drain out of his body. He sighed. "Well, it's bollocks that you have to wear one at all, but wouldn't you prefer one that doesn't chafe?"
Snape blinked. "I suppose."
Remus sighed again. "All right." He retrieved his wand from the bedside table. "I'm going to cut it. Cortus!" he commanded, flicking his wand at it. A neat cut appeared down the center. reaching out, he graspedeach side and pulled them apart gently as he could.
"Christ, Sev! How could you out up with something like this!" The damage was worse than he had expected: there were oozing sores running al the way round his neck. Snape flushed and hung his head and Remus immediately felt guilty.
"I'm sorry, Severus," he said gently, "I didn't mean it that way. I'm just upset that this happened to you, that's all." Much to his relief, he recieved a shy 'I forgive you' glance. Remus smiled tenderly. "Now, do you have any salve to put on this?"
Snape nodded and poined to the drawer in the nightstand. Lupin retrieved it.
"All right, I'm going to put it on now. The application might hurt a bit, though." Snape nodded and he continued, spreading the gooey substance over the iritated area. He leaned back to examine his handiwork and smiled. "Now there's the matter of a new collar. How about a looser one, cloth so it doesn't rub?"
Snape nodded. "All right"
There was a silence. Lupin looked at him expectantly. "Well?"
"Well, what cloth, what color, what style?"
Snape blushed. His reply was almost inaudible. "Could it maybe be a less noticeable color?"
Remus nodded encouragingly. "Absolutely. What about for the cloth? Is silk all right? I'm assuming you want it to be plain."
"That's fine." His replies were still practically inaudible.
"All right, then." Remus levitated a ridculously expensive-looking bauble from across the room and, after pausing for a moment, transfigured it into two silver-buckled silk collars, one white and one black. He handed them to Severus.
"There. These are pretty unnoticeable colors. I'll make you an invisible one, too, but I'll have to research the spell first, so I can't have that for you until tonight, but this should do all right until then." Remus watched Snape stare at the collar. "The buckles are silver, so only you'll be able to put them on and off." He paused, then continued in a softer voice, "I'm real sorry about this, Sev. I wish there was something I could do." Snape buckled on the white collar and stared at the black one in his hand. Remus reached out and removed the old one completely.
"Do whatever you want with this." Then he glanced at the clock. "Oh, Merlin, we have to teach soon."
Severus shook his head and said in a dazed voice, "Albus gave me the day off."
Remus blinked. "Well, enjoy it." He paused again, looking worried, but went about his ablutions.
Coming out of the toilet, he gathered his books and was about to bid him farewell when he noticed Severus had not moved at all. He was still staring at the collar.
"Are you all right, Severus?" he asked gently.
Snape nodded dazedly. Remus laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"I'll be back in the evening for--" Snape nodded. "I'll have the collar for you tonight, as well." Remus smiled almost sadly. "Would you like me to drop by during the lunch hour, maybe to talk a bit? I know there must be things you need to think over."
Snape shook his head. "I'm luncheoning with the Headmaster."
Remus blinked again. "Oh--well, send my respects." He paused but could think of nothing further to say and advanced towards the door. He paused before reaching the threshold and turned back. "I--I know it may not be welcome, or what you need, but do remember that there are those who care for you, myself not the least."
Severus looked up, confusion evident in his eyes, staring at Remus for long moments before the werewolf smiled softly and said, "I must be going, Severus. I'll see you later." And with that, he left.
* * *
The Headmaster was quite worried. More than he would let on. Severus had never behaved like this before, not even after his first Bonding.
Yes, he well remembered that day, that night, after the feast in the Great Hall. Severus was born two days after Christmas, he had known from the school records. And fourth year was the year he turned thirteen. So Albus had called him, smallest and scrawniest of his peers (three years ahead of his age group in school because Lucius was three years older than he and he had always been required to follow his future master in all things, including schooling. Of course, the boy was bright, bright enough so that he might have been that far ahead anyway, possibly even farther. He was brighter than Lucius, not as ruthless, but quicker. Albus was sure Lysander Malfoy was aware of this, and he hoped quite uncharacteristically that it galled horribly), to his office on his first night back at Hogwarts a Bonded slave.
On that night, the young Severus had dripped a cold, bitter, calculating anger the likes of which the Headmaster had seldom seen, and which by the end of that night he suspected had always been there.
But he had been in control, expertly deflecting all the important questions, giving flawlessly polite and acceptable answers. Finally, the Heamaster had been forced to let him go with no real insight into his mental state but with a firm offer to come back anytime.
A week later, he'd found the boy in his office. Albus had handed him a cup of tea, upon which he'd burst into tears and sobbed himself to sleep on the Headmaster's shoulder. "I hate him," he'd hiccuped brokenly, "I hate him."
And now that little boy was all grown up and sitting in his office again. But he was not crying. No, Albus would have known how to handle that. This--this unresponsiveness he had no idea how to handle, at least not in Severus.
"Would you like a sandwich, dear boy?"
He shook his head
"You really must eat," the Headmaster chided, "We can't have you wasting away like this." He'd lost weight since Lucius' death.
Snape took a sandwich, bit into it indifferently.
"Severus," the Headmaster asked gently, "what's wrong?" Nothing. Dumbledore sighed. "I worry about you, Severus. I don't want you to be miserable." He paused, and added more gently, "I care about you."
Snape gave a bitter laugh. "Oh, yes, the werewolf told me that. Yes, apparently I am cared for. Cared quite a lot for. Fat lot of good it's done me, too." He chuckled with an edge of hysteria and drained his teacup.
"No, no, I understand. You *care* for me. Quite a lot of people *care* for me, it just doesn't amount to anything." He laughed again. "If my students cared for their grades the way everyone cares for me, they'd all be expelled!"
"Severus, I don't know what you mean."
"No, no, of course not." He was on a roll, now. "You *care* for me so much you did what? Had me taken from the Malfoys? No. Stopped me from being bonded? No. Stopped the Gryffindors from constantly humiliating me? No. Stopped the other Slytherins from completely ignoring me, and I do mean completely? No. Stopped Black from sending me to what he hoped was my death? No. Saved me from having to follow Lucius into the Death Eaters? No. In fact, you rather profited from that one. Oh, and what else? Did you--"
"Severus, that is quite enough!" the Headmaster looked agitated. "You *know* I would have done all those things in a heartbeat foryou if I'd only been able to! There are--"
"Very ancient laws covering the subject. Yes, I know. And I know that laws are not real obstacles to you, Headmaster." Dumbledore opened his mouth to reply, but the potions master cut him off. "And besides," he sneered, "nothing worthwhile ever happened that wasn't a long time in the planning." The Headmaster looked at him in dismay. "Oh, yes, she knows," he spat,"You see, the Snapes are one of the oldest, most celebrated lines and it was, of course, in the book you gave her."
"I never meant for--"
"Oh, no, no, you never meant for me to be utterly humiliated in the eyes of my student. No, no, no. You only meant for her to take on a fight you were too busy or too lazy to take on yourself. She was never supposed to *seek out* knowledge on the subject she was researching. No. Of course, she won't tell anyone about me. She'll just floo me several times a day asking me questions about Potions that she thinks I don't know she is perfectly able to answer to on her own, just so she can give me a pitying look when she thinks I can't see. And this is just until she decides to take her crusade into the public eye, which, I might point out, is more than anyone who allegedly cares for me has ever done, and then it will be no good even trying to pretend anything!"
"Severus," and his voice was surprisingly gentle, "I know it may be hard for you to see right now, but I do care for you. And to answer your questions, there are some things that I'm not proud of, the toleration of your treatment while at Hogwarts not the least of them, but I have made inquiries into these things in the past. They were all rebuffed immediately and silently. There was nothing for it." Snape made as if to speak. "But I don't think that's what this is really about, Severus. I think this is very much about the fact that you do not believe Remus loves you."
"I have *no* idea--"
"And I think you want very badly to believe it, do you not?"
"It's only natural that you feel this way, Severus. I know you haven't--"
"You know NOTHING!" he roared, "NOTHING! Not you nor anyone else knows the slightest thing about me! No one! No one knows me and NO ONE loves me!" There was a soft trill from Snape's lap. It was Fawkes.
He swallowed and bowed his head, black hair falling over his face like a shield. Fawkes nibbled affectionately at it and made soft cooing noises. There was a silence, Fawkes rubbing his head against the Potions master's cheek.
"I cried last night," he whispered at last, and it seemed as though he would not go on. "I only ever cried for Lucius." He paused, on the verge of tears. "I tried not to at first, the night after the Bonding, but he was expecting that." Suddenly, he looked up at the Headmaster, eyes wet and pleading. "It wasn't my fault. It wasn't. I tried, but it was what he wanted. He *always* got what he wanted." Tears were trailing down his face, now, and he lowered his head, stared at his lap and let out a ragged sob. "He knew exactly how, exactly what it took." Another sob. "No one else, I'd never do it in front of anyone else." The hysteria in his voice was growing. "Not even when there were so many," he hiccuped, "and r-rough." He began to sob in earnest.
The Headmaster moved around the desk and embraced him, Fawkes fluttering out of the way, still gurgling worriedly. Severus continued his defense through tears.
"Not--not even at the Death Eater revels. All of them would come, all of them. Sometimes the others would cry, but not me. Not me."
"There, there, dear boy," the Headmaster said, stroking the hair that really wasn't so greasy, "There, there. I believe you, I do--" He smoothed a hand up and down his back and the sobs eventually petered out, leaving Severus with a look of exhaustion. Albus went to remove his arms from around his body, but Snape gave a tiny whimper and looked desolate.
"Hush, my dear, I haven't left you," The Headmaster soothed, rubbing his arms slowly. He then cupped Severus' face in his hands and sighed. "Severus, there is no question this has been hard on you, but you are now faced with a wonderful opportunity. You have the chance to be happy, dear boy, truly happy." He smiled affectionately. "Life has dealt you a very difficult hand, and you have overcome it as few others could. I trust you implicitly and I do believe that you can do anything you wish to, but I can tell you this with the utmost confidence: if you turn down love, you *will* regret it."
Severus swallowed and looked down. The Headmaster smiled gently.
"All I ask is that you think on it, my dear, because in the end, the decision is yours. But I do suggest you find Remus at some point and talk things out." Albus tilted his wayward student's chin up. "He's a good man, Severus, and I do believe he does care for you, if not as much as I, then more." He paused, then frowned in alarm. "He has treated you civilly, has he not?"
Snape smiled shakily and nodded. "He's been very considerate," he half-whispered, "He talked me through--last night and he's made sure I'm comfortable."
Dumbledore frowned. "Made sure you're comfortable?"
"Yes," he smiled, blushing shyly, "he's given me my own private areas and I've even got a new collar."
"A new collar?" Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "May I see it."
Snape blushed again, but nodded and unbutonned his high collar. He pulled the fabric apart and Dumbledore stared in horror at the sore red ring still left around Severus' neck.
"What *is* that?" he asked indignantly.
"This? It's from the previous one." The Headmaster of Hogwarts was rendered speechless. His jaw hung open, but his facial expression must have revealed something because Severus hurriedly added, "It doesn't hurt, honestly." He flushed. "Remus applied healing salve to it this morning."
Albus had regained some control and shook his head. "I'm so very sorry, Severus." He paused. "And so very glad that man is dead."
"It's all right, Albus. Look, the new one's much better."
"Is it?" The Headmaster blinked, then caught sight of the collar. "Oh, there it is. It blends in quite well." it did, in fact, blend into the Potions master's pale neck almost perfectly.
Severus smiled. "It has a silver buckle, so Remus can't touch it. He made a black one for me as well, and he said he'd have an invisible one finished tonight."
Dumbledore shook his head again as his Potions master rose to go. "That's very clever, Severus." he sighed. "Please think on what we've discussed, dear boy."
Snape nodded. "I will, Headmaster. Good day."
"Good day." Albus smiled and Severus stepped outside, closing the office door behind him. He thought of going to find Remus, but the prospect of facing him was daunting. So he did what he would normally do in such a situation--he went to see Xiomara.
* * *
Remus, meanwhile, had returned to Snape's quarters during the lunch hour, wanting to check up on him. But there was no Severus. Sighing, he turned to go.
And found Dobby and a whole flock of house elves blocking the door.
"Master Lupin," Dobby squeaked indignantly, "We is wanting to speak with you!"
Remus blinked. "Of course, Dobby, anything you wish."
He had always treated Dobby (and the other house elves, as well) with consideration and they had always semed appreciative, but now Dobby glared at him. "Dobby and his friends is hearing you is Master Severus' new master!" The house elf looked to be daring him to answer.
"Well, I suppose--"
"We is not being happy Master Lupin is unkind to Lolly's friend!"
"Lolly?" Remus was utterly confused. A house elf he did not recognise stepped forward.
"I is being Lolly! I is looking after Master Severus since he is being very small!"
"I is not finishing! I is knowing what Master Severus' master and Master Severus' master's friends is do to Master Severus! I is seeing him is being hurt for long time since he is very young!" It was the first time Remus had seen a house elf anywhere near angry. "And now Lolly is being at Hogwarts and Lolly is having many many friends at Hogwarts, and Lolly is telling Master Lupin if he is hurt Master Severus Lolly and Lolly's friends is telling the Headmaster and never serving Master Lupin again!" The rest of the house elves made a collective noise of agreement.
"Well," Remus began slowly, "That seems perfectly reasonable to me. And I must assure you, Lolly," he said, looking her earnestly in the eye, "That I have no intention whatsoever of hurting Severus, and you are welcome to ask him about my conduct." He paused for a moment. "Lolly, you say you looked after Severus quite a bit when he was younger?"
"Yes, Lolly is looking after Master Severus until he is being seven!" She looked sad. "But then Lolly is being sent away to the country estate and is not seeing Master Severus again and is only arriving this morning at Hogwarts and is not find him all day! I is miss him," she squeaked, tearful, now. Remus handed her a kerchief.
Remus smiled kindly. "Well, Lolly, why don't you stay here and wait for him? He should be back sometime soon and I'm sure he would be glad to see you again."
"Oh, thank you," she squeaked, on the verge of tears, "Master Lupin is being so kind to Lolly!"
"Not at all," he said, smiling winningly, "You can tell me all about Severus as a child."
* * *
He found Xiomara in the broom shed, straightening the twigs on some of the ones that had seen better days.
"Oi, Sev! Haven't seen you in a while!" She stood up, dusting the front of her robes, and clapped him on the back. He allowed her this because it came naturally to her, but mostly because the camaraderie was not entirely fabricated--another former Death Eater's Slut, Xiomara had not cried at the revels, either, and they had often sat in silence together afterwards, waiting for their masters, both in pain and both trying to ignore it.
Snape nodded once. "I've been rather busy," he said quietly.
Hooch nodded. "I heard the taxi did himself in."
He smiled faintly and nodded again. She'd always called Lucius a taxi--'light on top'. 'Most definitely a hair coloring charm,' she'd whispered to him conspiratorially after a particularly raucous Death Eater gathering at which they had both provided entertainment, 'You can be sure of that.' He had never bothered to point out that both Lucius' parents had blond hair which, presumably, they had passed on to him.
"Did us all a favor."
He sighed. "Well, I'd always fantasized about doing it myself, but there's nothing for it, now." He grinned twistedly. "But I am somewhat comforted by the fact it was my potion that did him in."
She raised an eyebrow. "Was it?"
He smiled. "Yes, Dobson's elixir. Developed to cure arterial rot in dragons." He sighed again, slowly walked the length of the room, then stopped, staring into the blank stone wall. She was straightening twigs again.
"Who's the new one, then?" She asked the question quickly, brusquely, with the air of someone who knew how it hurt. That was why she did it quickly: she did know, and though she and Severus joked about taxis and arterial rot, they both recognized it for the thin veneer it was, and they both knew that all Sluts were deathly terrified of their masters. And yet...he was no more afraid of Remus now than he had been before.
She was pretending not to wait for an answer, hands twisting twigs deftly, like spinning. She had always had beautiful hands, he thought. But she was waiting. He swallowed, bowed his head.
"Remus," he said.
She stopped twisting. "Remus," she echoed, and frowned, turning to look at him. "How...?"
"He," voice catching, "left me to him. It was that or Draco."
She nodded. He'd come here for reassurance, then. "I can't imagine Remus a master."
He couldn't keep from smiling at that. "He's very gentle."
Her gaze snapped to his face. "You want him?"
He suppressed a wince. She was always so blunt. He made no reply, looked away. There was a long pause.
"Severus?" Silence. "What are you waiting for?"
* * *
From what Remus had gleaned, Severus' childhood had been a long stretch of loneliness. He had not been permitted to play with Lucius or any of Lucius' friends. The children of the manor staff were not allowed to play with him, either, nor did their parents want them anywhere near him. Even Remus, a werewolf, had had more playmates.
And, although he'd had more or less the run of the manor, Severus had been expected to keep out of sight and out of mind. Remus could not imagine a small boy never making any noise or mess. He'd mentioned this to Lolly, who had nodded solemnly. "After many whippings, sir, one is learning to keep quiet," she'd said.
Apparently, there had been supervised sessions in which the two boys had had some contact, but they had been mostly to get Severus used to obeying Lucius' orders, it seemed. Remus sighed. He and Lolly were sitting in silence side by side on the bed, he contemplating what he had just learned, Lolly anxiously twisting the hem of her pillowcase tunic. Eventually, Remus moved to the sitting room.
"I ought to kill myself." The door swung open and Snape walked in.
"Hello, Severus." Remus smiled warmly at him. "Did you have a good tea?"
Snape froze. He'd had every intention of telling Remus exactly how he felt about him before walking in the door. Now, doubt began to creep in.
What if--what if Remus really hated him?
'He's already said he loves you--repeatedly,' he tried to reason with himself.
But what if he only *thought* he did? What if, once he *knew*, once he *saw*--?
'That's ridiculous,' he told himself, 'He's already seen *and* touched and he wasn't disgusted.'
But it *could* happen. And if it were going to happen, it would happen to him. And there *were* things Remus didn't know about.
Severus swallowed uncomfortably at that thought. Even if Remus thought he was in love now, if he knew about some of the things he'd done, some of the parties he'd entertained at...he'd drop the beak-nosed, dungeon-dwelling Potions master faster than Neville Longbottom inevitably had the most expensive potions ingredients. Or worse--what if it was all a trick? What if it was some horrible prank Black had put him up to in order to bring Snape to his knees, admitting his love to a man who not only loathed him but had him under his complete control? Salazar knew he'd given Lupin little reason to love him over the years. Would he let his friends fuck him? Severus had a horrible vision of Black and Potter bending him over his desk and shivered, completely forgetting that James was dead.
Snape started. Lupin was calling his name.
"Err--what?" he recovered not-so-brilliantly.
Lupin smiled patiently. "I asked if you had a good tea with the Headmaster."
"Err, yes. Quite good."
"That's wonderful. You have a visitor."
Snape blinked. "A visitor?" The only people who ever came to 'visit' were Lupin and Xiomara, and he'd just talked to her a few minutes ago.
Lupin smiled encouragingly. "Yes. She's just come to Hogwarts today. I think you'll find--"
Snape blinked. He could have sworn it was--but no, it couldn't be--
Lolly stepped into the room, bouncing excitedly.
"Master Severus! Master Severus! Lolly is so glad to be seeing you again! You is being so big!"
Severus' mouth hung open. Where the hell had Lupin found Lolly? How had he known? How could he possibly have gotten her away from the Malfoys? He was reeling in shock, staring, and from up in his throat came the burning desire to fall to his knees and weep. He clamped down on the tears, but knelt and embraced Lolly. She chattered comfortingly and put her arms around his neck, but he didn't even notice, in such shock was he at seeing the closest thing he'd ever had to a mother again.
Remus slipped discretely from the room.
* * *
By the time Lolly had to leave, it was almost midnight and Remus performed the penetration quickly and efficiently. They were both asleep soon after.
* * *
It could not have been more than a few hours later that Remus was awakened by a very soft sound. He frowned, confused, then realized it was coming from Severus. He was whimpering in his sleep, very softly, yes, but it was still enough to identify the soft noises as ones of fear.
Remus frowned with worry and reached a gentle hand to Severus' side. His love was quaking like a leaf, whimpering more urgently now.
"Severus," he whispered, "Severus." No effect. He tried again, louder this time. "Wake up, love, you're having a bad dream."
Severus woke with a gasp of terror.
"Master?" he whispered, petrified.
"Shh, it's all right. It's Remus--"
"Master?" His growing terror was palpable.
"Hush. You had a bad dream, that's all, Sev--"
"Did I wake you, master?" He seemed even more frightened by this prospect and Remus swore under his breath, reaching for his wand.
"Lumos moderata." A dim light emmanated from his wand. By it, he could see a pair of wide, frightened eyes and a trembling, too-thin body. He reached out and began to stroke Severus' side soothingly. "Hush, now, love, you're all right. It's Remus. You're all right, now. I'll keep you safe." He continued in this manner until the tremors had all but stopped and smiled sympathetically. "That must have been some nightmare, love."
Snape looked down. "I'm sorry I woke you. I know I'm a b-bother," he said, sounding very small.
Remus gently tipped his chin up and looked solemnly into his eyes. "You are not a bother and I don't mind at all. You're frightened and you deserve a little comfort. There's nothing wrong with that."
Severus looked confused and, if possible, more frightened than ever. "But--aren't you going to punish me?" he asked, voice trembling.
Remus felt his heart twist, but he smiled gently. "No, love, of course not. I could hardly punish you for something out of your control. And I don't mind waking up at all, not if you need me."
Snape looked very confused, and still very frightened.
"I love you, Severus," Lupin said gently.
Severus stared at him, lower lip trembling.
He held out his arms, smiling encouragingly. There was a moment of indecision before Severus all but launched himself into them, sobbing.
Remus held him close and rubbed his back soothingly. He murmured comforting things to him as Severus wept, face buried in his chest.
And finally the tears did stop, and he wiped the Potions master's face clean with a warm wet cloth summoned from the bathroom, then resettled him in his arms.
"Poor darling," he murmured, "Do you want to tell me about your dream?" Severus hesitated. "I think you would feel better," he added softly.
But Severus shook his head. "No, I wouldn't," he said miserably.
"Why not?" Remus smoothed black hair back from the pale face.
"Because--," and his voice was tearful, "because right *now* you hold me like this and call me 'love', but if you kn-knew--" His voice faltered for a moment and he drew a shuddering breath, "If you knew all the--things I've done, you would never want to see me again." He began to cry again, curling in on himself. Remus was shocked for a moment, then pulled Severus gently back into his arms.
"Oh, no, love," he soothed, holding the Potions master close, "I would never do that. I would never want to leave you. I love you, and no story can change that."
"But once you heard--," Severus sobbed.
"No. I will always be here for you and nothing those horrid people did to you could make me love you any less."
"But you don't love me!"
Remus was rather confused. "Why would I tell you I do if I don't? What could possibly be in it for me?"
"You don't understand," his love sobbed, "No one could ever love me! Not anyone!"
"What? Who told you that?"
Severus whimpered miserably. "Everyone. Lucius and Lysander and--everyone." He was fighting the tears, now.
Remus pulled him closer, cradling Severus' head against his chest. "Darling, you mustn't believe things like that."
"But it's true! No one loves me. No one ever will." He was crying again.
Remus put a hand under Severus' chin and brought it up firmly, looking him in the eye. "And do the people who told you that seem particularly trustworthy to you?" He paused a moment, letting it sink in. "And the proof? I love you, Severus. So do Albus and Lolly and so, I suspect, does Xiomara."
"And if none of them has ever told you that, then they have made a mistake, but you *are* loved."
Severus studied his face for long moments before settling back onto Remus' chest, silent. Finally, he spoke. "Are you sure you'll want to stay with me if you know about everything I've done?"
Remus gave him a squeeze. "You have my word as a wizard."
Severus looked doubtful. "Your word as a wizard?"
Remus nodded solemnly and tightened his arms around Severus. "My word as a wizard. Would you like to tell me about it?"
And so Severus, trembling fitfully and with tears running down his cheeks, told Remus the story of his first Death Eater revel. And Remus listened with tears running down his own cheeks, and held him tightly and murmured soft words of comfort when he could not go on.
And finally the story ended and Remus was left with a sobbing Potions master desperately in need of comfort. And this he provided, rocking the man and cooing gently to him, stroking his arms, back, and hair, caressing his face and wiping away tears.
And finally Severus had sobbed himself out and he stayed, sniffling, on Remus' chest. Remus continued rubbing his back for a moment, then paused.
"I love you, Severus," he said quietly. Snape shivered and pressed closer. They were silent a moment, Remus still rocking them both. "Do you feel a bit better, now, angel?" he asked.
"I'm no angel," Severus muttered sleepily.
"Oh, yes, you are. My own angel."
And Severus was too exhausted to argue, and yawned.
"Are you tired?"
He nodded. "But I do feel a bit better," he said quietly, shyly.
Remus stroked his hair. "Well, I'm glad." He smiled a little. "Why don't you try and close your eyes, mmm?"
Severus nodded and did so, but just as Remus was about to drift off himself, he heard a soft voice. "Remus?"
He cracked an eye open. "Yes?"
"I--love you, too."
Remus felt a big smile spread across his face and maneuvered Severus in his arms so that they were lying face-to-face. He kissed his forehead and then both his palms. "I am so very glad you told me that, Severus. It means quite a bit to me." And then all he could do was gaze at his new lover, smiliing stupidly. Severus even found a shaky little smile, and it was that that reminded Lupin that they really did need to get some sleep. He leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead. "Close your eyes, now, love," he crooned, "You need your rest." Severus again complied, shivering. Remus wrapped another blanket around the thin shoulders and hugged him tight. He was about to close his eyes when again he heard the soft, pleading voice.
"Will you stay with me? Tonight? And hold me?"
"Of course, my heart." He squeezed his love even closer. "Tonight and every night." He gave him one last tender kiss and murmured "Hush."
Severus didn't even hear it.
* * *
The next morning, Remus Lupin woke with his nose pressed into the crook of Snape's neck. He grinned helplessly.
Then he rolled out of bed and dressed, humming. But upon finishing, he could not help but notice that still dead to the world was a certain Potions master.
"Oh, Seeeeeveruuuuuus," he called. His lover stirred and grumbled. Remus moved over to plant his face directly in front of Snape's. "Sev."
One eye opened. Remus could see the momentary confusion. Then the recovery.
"What?" his mate snapped.
"You have to get up, now, darling. Breakfast is in twenty minutes." Remus knew he was grinning like a loon, but he didn't really care.
Snape gave him a look of wrath, but began to get ready, hiding his incredulity. Remus had stayed. He had known, and he had stayed the entire night. It was almost too wonderful. Why, he almost felt like whistling himself! Well, almost. He did have his image to consider.
Having made the wise decision to retreat, Remus had begun to organize his books when he happened upon the transparent collar.
"Oh, yes, love," he chirped merrily from the bathroom doorway, waving the collar so Severus could see it in the mirror, "I made you that collar. I'll leave it on the dresser. Tap it with your wand and say, 'transpara illusus' and it goes completely invisible." Remus left the threshold for a moment, then poked his head back in. "Err, Sev?"
"What?" Severus did his best to sound irritated. It worked.
"Well--you are going to change the decor sometime today, right?. It's just a bit uncomfortable for me, you know." He grimaced. "Everything has silver fixtures."
Severus, at first hurt by the reminder of why exactly the room was decorated the way it was, burst out laughing. Now it was Remus' turn to look hurt.
"Don't worry," he grinned at Lupin in the mirror, "I'll change everything this afternoon during tea."
And Remus could not help but smile, too, at the site of a happy Severus. He did not bother him again until it was time to go.
"Ready?" Snape asked.
"Not quite," Remus replied mildly.
"What is it?" Making Remus grin all the more with the curiosity that was such a part of him.
"This," the werewolf said, standing on tiptoe to kiss his paramour. Then he turned and walked out the door, seemingly quite unaffected.
And if the students noticed that their Potions master was slightly more leniant that day, they did not complain.
* * *
Remus was puttering about in his office smiling sunnily and singing a Weird Sisters tune when a very familiar face appeared in the fireplace.
The grinning boy--no, a man, now, Lupin reminded himself--called out to him. "Hello, Remus!" Scrutinizing his former teacher, "My, but you look chipper today!"
"It's love, Harry." He was sure he had an idiotic expression on his face.
"And who is the lucky man?"
Remus smiled mysteriously. "Well, I can't tell you just yet--"
"Oh, come on! Just a hint?" He looked pleadingly at Lupin.
"Is it someon I know? And what does he do? No, what does he look like, at least tell me that!"
Remus smiled slyly. "Well, he's tall, dark and handsome..." He sobered abruptly. "But that's all I can say right now, Harry."
The Saviour of the Wizarding World recognized defeat. "All right, then. I hope you're happy with him, whoever he might be."
"Oh, yes," Lupin smiled, "I am."
Suddenly, Harry lit up with his own grin. "And speaking of love..."
Remus was immediately attentive.
Harry looked like he might split. "Draco and I are getting married!"
"Oh, Harry, I'm so happy for you both!" Harry and Draco had become close while fighting the war together and had become quite a public couple in the days after due to Harry's new status as a super-celebrity. "And where's Draco? I must congratulate him, too!"
A blond head appeared next to Harry's.
"Draco is right here, as he has been all morning and afternoon while Harry has been making a ridiculous number of floo calls. Never should have proposed," he grumbled, but the two shared a very affectionate kiss before turning back to Remus.
"Well, congratulations to you both. When is the wedding?"
Harry beamed. "May. We were hoping you would be able to come. And maybe even bring your tall, dark stranger with you!" he turned to Draco. "Did Remus tell you? He's involved with someone and that's all he'll tell me about them."
Draco raised one thin, blond eyebrow. "Is it?" His gaze seemed to penetrate through the fire. He knew, Remus was sure. Of course he knew. He'd probably noticed that his father's Slut hadn't gotten passed down to him. And yet, the look he'd given Remus was more protective than anything else...
The clock struck one.
"Oh, drat, I can't talk any more, boys, I've got to teach. I'll call you later, if you like?"
"Of course, Remus." Harry remained happily oblivious. "But you will come to the wedding, won't you?"
"I would be honored," he replied seriously, "But now I really do have to go. Good bye, Harry, Draco." They nodded to him in turn and then disappeared from the fireplace. And he could have sworn Draco had just given him a warning look.
* * *
That night, Severus changed the decor to something more modest. With brass fixtures.
Remus did notice that, although the bedsheets were changed and the carving was gone, the bed was actually the same.
And so, later that night, lying on the bed together, it became time for the penetration. Remus, gently as ever, worked his finger into his lover.
"Sev?" He nuzzled a pale thigh. The Potions master blinked quisically at him. "I want to try something different. Is that all right?" He looked hesitant. Remus placed a gentle kiss on the inside of one milky knee. "Youll enjoy it, love. I promise."
There was a hesitant nod. Remus grinned and rotated his finger a bit, pressing on just the right spot...
Severus gasped, eyes wide. Remus licked along his cock, which was just now starting to pay attention, then slurped the whole thing into his mouth without warning.
Severus cried out and pulled clear to the other side of the bed.
"Why did you do that?" he demanded, furious.
Remus blinked. "Well, I rather thought you'd like it--"
"Like it! How could I possibly *like* watching you debase yourself?" Snape was livid.
Remus frowned. "Sev, I'm not *debasing* myself. I think it's rather nice--"
"Rather *nice*! Remus, I've done that innumerable times and not one of them was rather nice! In fact, I seem to recall all of them being rather nasty and humiliating!"
Remus looked hurt. "Well, I don't think you're nasty and it's certainly not humiliating to try and do something nice for my lover."
"WHAT? Why--" but Remus had taken him in his arms.
"Sev, have you ever had sex?"
Severus almost felt like crying. Why did Remus want to make him relive this? "I should think the answer to that is rather obvious, is it not?" he ground through clenched teeth.
"No, not that--whatever was done to you without your consent does not qualify as sex. Now, have you ever just--shagged for the fun of it?"
Snape was incredulous. "What? No! Shagging's a bloody horror! I've seen it before, Remus!"
The werewolf shook his head. "But that's just it, love, you haven't. Not normal sex, anyway. Normal sex, between two *willing* people, feels fucking *fantastic*. That's the whole point, is to feel good."
"But--how can--how can--?"
Remus smiled gently and gave him a kiss on the forehead. "I know it's not the same for you, love, but I've never had bad experiences with this kind of thing, and I actually find some enjoyment in it." He drew back. "What I'm asking you to do is to trust that I'm telling the truth about that, just for now, and sit back and enjoy it. Do you think you can do that?"
Severus hesitated, then nodded.
Remus smiled. "Good." He began to move down Severus' body, back down to the now-flaccid cock that he now ran his lips over, licking haphazardly along the shaft before settling down to lave the head lavishly with his tongue. Severus groaned, hard now. Remus chuckled and licked the shaft in broad swipes. Severus clenched his fists in the bed sheets and Remus smiled, right before swallowing the entire thing down. Sev's cries were hoarse as the werewolf began to suckle at him, harder and harder, tickling with his tongue. The Potions master's breath was coming in short gasps, fingers clenching and unclenching. Remus gave a hum low in his throat and came, hips arching, mouth wide open in silent ecstasy.
Remus continued to suck at him, swallowing every last drop of cum. Then, he gently released his lover's penis and crawled up the bed to collect a kiss. But Snape was staring at his erection in disbelief.
"You really *did* enjoy that."
Remus kissed his love. "Why, yes, I did. You can just ignore that, it'll go away soon enough."
But Severus shook his head. "No, I want to do something for you. I'm not sure if I can--" He looked helplessly at Remus and swallowed. "--yet, but I can do something else..." He trialed off, looking questioningly at Remus, who nodded.
"All right. What if--just your hands? The lube--" he was cut off as Severus stroked the back of a fingernail down his cock.
"Shh," Sev whispered sexily in his ear, "No talking." And then he slicked his hand and began a slow, torturous stroking, front to back, front to back. Remus growned, and Severus lightly squeezed the head, rubbing it. He brought the other hand in and kneaded silkily.
"Please--please," Remus choked out, but Snape only smirked and continued, teasing the shaft wth his fingertips. Remus moaned incoherently, and the time had come. Severus tightened slick hands around his lover and began to pump up and down, up and down--
Remus came with a cry and sagged back onto the bed, allowing Severus to perform a cleaning charm on the both of them.
"That was lovely," he sighed.
"See, I told you," said Severus, smirking, before turning the light out, rolling over and promptly falling asleep.
Remus blinked for a few moments before recovering.