Title: For Life
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters and concepts are copyrighted by JKR and Warner Bros; this is for non-profit, entertainment purposes only.
Challenge #50: Lupin and Snape are captured, and it's just prior to the full moon. Instead of simply killing them, Voldemort has them locked up together, knowing that when Lupin transforms he will tear Snape to shreds, and then probably go mad from guilt. Rescue seems unlikely, but Lupin knows there is one thing that could save Snape: a werewolf would never harm its mate. The trouble is, not only must they have sex, but becoming a werewolf's mate means you must stay with them for life. Will Snape think death is a better option?
Remus stumbled when the Death Eater shoved him into the cell, but he didn't fall to his knees. His upper body was immobilized by a binding spell, and he couldn't move his arms to help keep his balance, but he refused to fall.
"Enjoy the company."
The hooded man's voice oozed malicious glee as he pushed Remus farther into the small stone cell, then backed away. A moment later, Remus felt the invisible bonds dissipate from around his torso, and his arms began to tingle as his circulation returned to normal levels. He shook his hands and flexed his fingers, puzzled by the Death Eater's cryptic remark as the heavy wooden door slammed shut and was locked, then spell locked for good measure. After feeling had returned to his limbs, he glanced around the chilly cell, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. Flickering torches in the corridor beyond filtered through the small barred window on the door, but otherwise, the cell was unlit.
Fortunately, his vision would be enough to compensate, at least until the next morning. During the rest of the month, he was no different from a normal human, but with the full moon mere hours away, his body was already reacting, preparing for the up-coming transformation. His senses were growing keener, and his night vision was already stronger. Strong enough to spot what at first glance appeared to be a pile of rags tossed carelessly in the darkest corner of the cell, farthest from the door.
Then the pile moved, and Remus instinctively reached for his wand, only to remember it had been taken from him.
His nose twitched, and he drew in a deep breath... There. Beneath the musty scent of stale air and mold. A familiar scent...
He hurried over and knelt beside the now-still form, reaching out to brush a matted, oily lock of dark hair away from his cell mate's face to confirm his suspicion. Black eyes gleamed at him, still bright, still keen even if they were sunken in a gaunt, pale face.
Severus' voice was harsh and scratchy, as if he hadn't used it in a while. Or if his throat was damaged from screaming. Remus suppressed that thought quickly.
"Have you been here all this time?" He leaned closer so he could examine Severus more thoroughly, and Severus began struggling to push himself upright until he was sitting up perfectly straight.
"Yes." He smoothed both hands down the front of his torn, dirty robes as if trying to straighten them; he was still wearing the hooded robes of a Death Eater, Remus noted. "It happened during the last meeting. Someone betrayed me. Likely it was Draco. All the Occlumency skills in the world couldn't save me in the face of hard evidence."
Rummaging in his pocket, Remus pulled out a small jar and unscrewed the lid, the pungent aroma from its contents filling the air between them. "Are you hurt anywhere? I have a healing salve, if you are. It's not much, but it'll help a little."
"Not one of mine." Snape eyed the jar critically. "How did you get in here with that?"
"They let me keep it." Remus sat back on his heels and scooped up a bit of the salve on his forefinger, reaching out to dab it lightly on a gash running the length of Severus' cheek, forcing himself not to wonder if Severus flinched because the salve stung, or because Remus was touching him. "They searched me and found it when they brought me in, and they asked me why I had it. I told them the truth. I always keep a little on hand near the full moon, because I tend to bite and scratch myself during the transformation if I haven't taken the potion" He went quiet for a moment, remembering his confusion at his captors' reaction. "They laughed and said I could keep it. They said a few scratches would be the least of my worries this month." He gazed at Severus, his expression troubled. "Now I know why."
Severus nodded, his voice calm as if they were discussing the weather. "They mean for you to kill me."
"No!" he exclaimed, clenching the little jar hard enough that the lid grooves bit into his palm. "No, that can't happen -- I've never hurt anyone -- not ever. I've never killed, I've never turned anyone -- I can't bear the thought of it--"
"Idiot!" Severus snarled. "That's exactly the reaction they want! They want you to kill me, then drive yourself mad with the guilt. Two birds with one stone. Very tidy."
Panic rose up within him, and he scrambled back on his hands and knees, trying to get away from Severus as if he could prevent his wolf-self from doing harm that way. There was no possible way he could retain even a slight portion of his human mind that night; with Severus missing and presumed dead for the past two weeks, Remus had missed his daily dose of the Wolfsbane potion for the week prior to the full moon, and when the transformation occurred, he would be completely feral -- and deadly.
No, there had to be a way, had to be something they could do....
He dropped the jar of salve and wrapped his arms around himself tightly, shivering, but not from the chill of the cold stone cell. Breathing deeply, he forced himself to calm down from the whirl of panic the realization had thrown him into, and as he grew calmer, fragments of memory played at the edge of his mind. He grasped desperately at them, but for several minutes, they eluded him until finally -- finally! -- he remembered.
There was a way. He wasn't sure if it would work, since it was more of a rumor than confirmed fact. But he was one hundred percent sure that Severus wouldn't like it.
Hell, he wasn't sure that he liked it, but any small hope of avoiding the alternative if they didn't at least try was preferable as far as he was concerned.
"It might not have to be that way," he said quietly, and from the corner, Severus gave him a dubious look.
"You've not taken the potion," Severus replied flatly. "You can't possibly retain your mind."
"No, but I might be able to refrain from killing you."
Crawling back towards Severus, he sat cross-legged next to him, watching him closely. "You could become my mate."
Under any other circumstances, the look of stunned disbelief on Severus' face would have been priceless, but this was too serious a matter for Remus to find any amusement in the situation.
"What the bloody hell do you mean by that?" Severus demanded.
"It's something I remembered," Remus said, toying with a loose thread on the hem of his sleeve. "A theory, really." He glanced up, looking Severus straight in the eyes. "Werewolves supposedly don't harm their mates."
"Well, it's a chance," Remus replied in his most reasonable tone. "And if you ask me, any chance that might lead to both of us being alive and sane tomorrow at sunrise is worth pursuing."
Severus was still eyeing him warily. "What exactly would that entail? I'm assuming sex is involved in me becoming your mate, but what about afterward? What does it mean to be a werewolf's mate?"
"You're right," he said calmly. "We would need to have sex. That's one way the wolf will know you're its mate -- by smelling me on you, particularly the... intimate scents."
"You mean your saliva and semen," Severus said dryly, and Remus nodded, glad that Severus' eyesight wasn't as good as his own in the dark so he couldn't see Remus blush.
"Afterward..." He drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. "Well, that's the tricky part. To mate with a werewolf is to be bound to it and it to you for the rest of your life. That much is fact: werewolves can choose to bind themselves to their partner until death. We don't have to, and most of us don't, but we can."
Severus blanched and shook his head. "Can the bond be broken? What exactly does it mean to be bound?"
"No, the bond can't be broken except by death," Remus answered quietly. "To be bound means..." He released another long, slow breath, knowing Severus was going to like what he had to say even less than all that came before it. "It means you and I would have to be together. Not every minute of every day, of course, but I would need to be with you. In your physical presence. I would need to touch you. Not sexually, necessarily, but physical contact of some kind. If we were separated for a lengthy amount of time, I would begin to pine for you. " He grimaced, not wanting to continue, but he forced himself to admit the truth. "Like a devoted pet deprived of its owner. If you died, or if I were kept from you long enough, I would die."
Severus watched him for a moment, a shrewd expression on his face.
"What's to keep me from letting you claim me as your mate, then going off where you can't find me once we're free?"
"The bond goes both ways. It won't be nearly as strong for you as it will be for me, but it will be strong enough to prevent you from leaving me to die." A small one-sided smile quirked one corner of Remus' mouth. "That's the one thing about the curse of lycanthropy that works in our favor. It protects its host for its own survival. The longer the host stays alive, the better chance there is that the curse will be spread."
"Must have been created by a Slytherin."
Taken off guard, Remus laughed, probably longer than he should have, but it served as a tension reliever as well.
"Shall we try it, then?" he asked.
Remus stared at Severus, dumbfounded. "No?"
"But we'll die! I'll tear you to shreds tonight, and tomorrow, they'll kill me."
"We're going to die either way." Severus shrugged, and Remus could hear the note of hopelessness in Severus' voice; he had given up. "Even if we mated, there's no way out of the cell. They'll just kill us both anyway when they find out we're still alive."
"No..." Remus raked both hands through his hair, wracking his brain. "No, we could fool them somehow. You could hide out of sight by the door, and I could stay in the shadows at the back of the cell. Even with a lumos spell, they couldn't see anything clearly in here. So they'd have to come in, and you could catch them off guard, maybe take the guard's wand."
"And then what? Fight our way out?" he sneered.
"No, we could take the guard's robes and maybe ambush someone else along the way. If we're both dressed as Death Eaters, no one would stop us," Remus suggested, growing more hopeful as the plan unfolded in his mind. It was dangerous and risky, yes, but it was a chance for life.
"If you think there's a hope in hell of that actually working, you're mad."
"It might," he insisted urgently. "It might not, but what if we beat the odds and get out of here alive? I'm not ready to die yet, and I don't think you are either."
"Shows how much you know." Severus sounded weary, and Remus knew it wasn't physical exhaustion, but mental; he had to find a way to get Severus out of the hopeless mire he was stuck in.
"Severus, the information I sent to Albus before I was captured could cause a turning point in the war. We could win, and it could happen quickly. Just think -- do you really want to give up now, when we're so close to victory? You've fought to survive all these years, and now the end could be in sight. Are you going to tell me that you don't want to live to see it? To stand in triumph, knowing you've outlasted your enemies even after they tried to break you?" He let that sink in for a moment, then added quietly, "Are you going to let them break you? Because it sounds as if they almost have."
"They have not broken me!" Severus snapped. "But I'd rather die than spend the rest of my life bound to you!"
The words hit Remus like a physical blow in the dead center of his chest -- it was hardly a surprise, but rejection still hurt, even when it was expected -- but he refused to show it. He kept his voice calm and his expression neutral as he replied. "I don't believe that."
"You might as well start believing it. I hate you, Lupin, and death would be a better choice than you."
"You're hardly my version of a dream lover either, Severus."
"Then why are you so willing to bind yourself to me for the rest of your life?" Severus peered at him suspiciously. "I know you hate me as much as I hate you."
"That's where you're wrong. I don't hate you. I've never hated you. I've been very angry with you on one or two occasions, but I've never hated you." He rested his hand in the small space of floor between them, not close enough to touch, not yet.
"You had a damned odd way of showing it."
Remus watched him silently for a moment, taking in the details of Severus' face, the lines of it made even sharper by the effects of pain and hunger. "I let Sirius and James get away with things they shouldn't have. It was my responsibility as a prefect to stop them, and I didn't. I know that, and I'm sorry. But it wasn't because I hated you. It was because I was afraid of upsetting them and losing the only friends who had ever accepted me, even knowing what I am. It was fear, Severus, not anger or hatred, that kept me from helping you in those days."
"One measly apology doesn't make up for everything that happened."
"I could hold a grudge against you for outing me to the entire school and forcing me to resign. The laws that Dolores Umbridge pushed through that prohibit werewolves from working are a direct result of that, you know. You've managed to punish not only me but every other werewolf as well. Well done, Severus. I'd say we're just about even."
"We are not! I'll never forget what you and your friends did to me, Lupin, and I'll never forgive it either!"
Remus released a quiet sigh of frustration and switched tactics. "Are you really going to tell me that you're willing to die just to thwart me? I didn't think even you were that petty, not when it came to saving your own hide. You've always been a ruthless fighter, Severus. Are you going to stop now?"
They stared at each other in tense silence for what seemed to Remus to be hours. Severus didn't blink or falter, anger and frustration playing across his features, until finally he glanced away.
"I don't want to die," he muttered in a low, tight voice, and Remus closed his eyes and slumped against the wall, awash in relief.
He took a moment to compose himself, and then turned his head to look at Severus, who was still averting his gaze. Slowly, careful not to make any sudden or aggressive moves, he moved his hand closer, letting it rest against Severus' leg; to his surprise and relief, Severus didn't shift his leg away from the touch. "I think we can find a way to make things work reasonably well between us, if we get out alive."
"Right now, I'm not concerned with what happens after, Lupin," Severus replied tersely. "Fuck me and get it over with, then we'll work on our escape plan."
"I'm not going to do that." Remus gazed at him calmly but implacably. "I'm not going to just fuck you."
"Oh, for God's sake, Lupin -- we don't have time for an elaborate seduction, and in case you haven't noticed, we're a bit short on candles and romantic music."
"That doesn't mean I'm just going to fuck you. We have time enough to make sure we both enjoy it, and given this is a mating ritual, I want it to be special."
"Special." Severus's face clearly said that he thought Remus had gone mad. "We're in a bloody cell, Lupin, I stink to high heaven, and a guard could come along at any minute to interrupt our little tryst. And you want it to be special." He fell silent for a moment, his expression shifting from incredulous to dubious. "You're not a virgin, are you? Is that why you're blathering about it being special?"
"It's not the first time I've had sex, no, but it's the first -- and only -- time I'll take a mate." He smiled slightly. "I think that calls for more than a quick fuck."
"What's the difference?" The suspicion was back in Severus' voice, and Remus fought the urge to roll his eyes.
"There's a little thing at the end that completes the binding."
"What 'little thing', Lupin?"
Remus sighed. "I have to bite you."
"Yes. Hard enough to draw blood. On the back of the neck is best, since that's something of a claiming gesture. The wolf should recognize it as such. Then you bite me, and the exchange of blood is what binds us together."
"What happens if I refuse to bite you?"
"Then the binding isn't complete, you won't be my mate, and the wolf will attack you on sight. The binding is what will theoretically protect you, because it will cause the wolf to recognize you on an instinctual level. It will know its mate, and its instinct will be to protect you, not harm you."
"Why can't we simply bite each other and have done with it?"
"Because it's a mating ritual in the literal sense," Remus replied, trying not to use the same tone as he might use to explain something to a small and stubborn child. "The biting is the culmination -- the climax, if you'll forgive the term -- of what the sex act builds up to. Each step is necessary to create the bond."
"I don't like it."
"Well, neither do I." Remus' patience finally snapped, and he didn't bother to hide the edge of annoyance in his voice. "My options may have been limited because of what I am, but at least I had them. After this, I won't anymore. Scrawny, snarky, big-nosed bastard that you are, you'll be the only one I desire. Moreover, I'll have to put up with you and your bitterness, your pettiness, and your constant negative attitude for the rest of my life. But I've survived this long, and by God, I'm not going to give up now, not when there's a chance for life."
Severus glared at him. "I'm on the verge of developing a headache."
He sighed and reached for Severus' hand, clasping it between his own, holding it firmly so that Severus couldn't tug it free even though he tried. "There's no sense in either of us pretending this is what we would choose if we weren't backed into a corner. We don't want to be bound to each other, but neither do we want to die, so our best option is to be honest and deal with things as they are, not how we want them to be." He lifted Severus' hand to his lips and kissed Severus' fingers lightly. "And I'm still not going to fuck you."
"Just get on with it, Lupin."
As soon as Remus loosened his hold on Severus' hand, Severus snatched it free and turned his face away from Remus as Remus began to undress, removing his shoes and socks first, then pulling his threadbare sweater over his head. As he removed each garment, he spread it on the floor next to them, trying to create a little nest for them so they would have something to buffer against the stones once they were naked.
He had considered undressing Severus first, but he thought Severus might balk at that, not wanting to be naked and vulnerable while Remus was still fully dressed. Thus in the interest of moving things along smoothly, he laid himself bare first, and only then did he reach to unfasten Severus' robes. Severus turned his head to look at Remus again, keeping his eyes fixed on Remus' face, his expression defiant, and Remus gave him a small, reassuring smile before turning his attention on the fastenings. He worked slowly, pushing the fabric aside to bare Severus' body in gradual stages; the last thing he wanted to do was make it seem as if he were simply going to take Severus and use him.
Easing the sleeves down Severus' arms, he bit back a gasp as he stared at Severus' torso. Severus had always been thin, but now Remus could count every rib, and multi-hued bruises showed up with mottled clarity against his sallow skin.
"The Cruciatus." Severus' voice was flat and dull. "Repeatedly."
"I'm sorry." It sounded trite even to his own ears, but Remus was sorry. Whatever personal issues they had between them, he still wouldn't wish this on Severus.
"It doesn't matter," Severus replied brusquely. "Just do whatever it is you're going to do, and get it over with."
"Right. Do you want to finish on your own?"
With brisk efficiency, Severus wriggled out of his robe and underpants, and Remus balled the robes up to use as a pillow if they needed one. Then he sat back and regarded Severus for a moment, considering. As physically depleted as Severus was, Remus didn't want to put him in any position that would make him exert too much, yet he needed to have access to Severus' neck. That left out doggie style, but perhaps they could manage if Severus straddled his lap.
That decided, he reached out to Severus, then stopped, abruptly remembering that they would need something to use as lubricant. Saliva was right out as far as he was concerned, but perhaps that healing salve would do the job. He crawled over to where he had dropped it, retrieved the jar, and returned to Severus' side, leaving the jar within easy reach.
Severus was watching him, his expression carefully neutral, as he rearranged the little nest so that it was close to the wall, then he sat down and leaned against the wall, stretching his legs out in front of him. He looked over at Severus and smiled encouragingly as he patted his lap. "Why don't you come and sit in my lap?" he suggested, getting a quiet snort in response.
"Is this the part where I should mention what big teeth you have?"
"Well, you could mention the size of something, but I was hoping it wouldn't be my teeth."
Another snort, and for a moment, Remus thought Severus would announce that he had changed his mind, but then Severus crawled over to him.
"Face away from me," Remus instructed, reaching out to help when he noticed that Severus was already shaking with fatigue just from making the effort of moving from his corner.
Wordlessly, Severus obeyed, straddling Remus' lap, but holding himself away from Remus as if the contact was distasteful; sliding his arms around Severus' waist, Remus flatted his palms and pressed, urging Severus to lean back.
"Relax," he murmured in Severus' ear. "I know you're tired. Lean against me, and I'll support you."
There was a moment of resistance, but then Severus slumped against him, his head lolling weakly against Remus' shoulder, and Remus tightened his arms protectively around Severus, wanting to make sure he felt stable and secure. He stroked Severus' chest gently, feeling the sudden urge to burst out laughing over the absurdity of having Severus Snape naked in his lap while they were being held captive by Voldemort.
It was even more obvious than before that Severus wasn't physically capable of anything strenuous, which meant Remus would have to orchestrate the entire thing. God, where was he meant to start? What was he meant to do?
Well, he knew what he was meant to do in the technical sense, but he didn't know if he should try to be slow and tender, or gentle yet efficient in order to get them both through it as quickly as possible. And Severus hadn't been exaggerating: he was filthy, and he did smell. It wasn't his fault he hadn't been given a chance to bathe, of course, and without a wand, a cleaning spell was out of the question, but still, Remus couldn't ignore it entirely.
Then Remus peered over Severus' shoulder at his wasted and battered body, and a bloom of compassion unfurled in Remus' chest. It was not an erotic sight; it was a horrific one. Remus wanted to balance out the suffering and remind Severus that his body could be a vessel for pleasure as well as for pain.
Slow, yes, and tender, too. He would make certain that Severus enjoyed the experience as much as possible under the circumstances. The decision made, he splayed his hands on Severus' chest again, letting them roam up and down from shoulder to hip at a leisurely pace, hoping to sooth Severus.
He could feel the muscles just beneath Severus' skin bunch and quiver, and Severus grew tense within his arms as if trying to resist the effects of the touch, but Remus was patient. They had time. He continued to stroke Severus' chest and arms gently until he felt the tension dissolve, felt Severus begin to relax against him again, and even then he didn't stop. It had been too long since he had felt warm, bare flesh beneath his hands. Some people allowed him casual touches -- a handshake, a pat on the shoulder -- and he occasionally indulged in one night stands, but he hadn't enjoyed the intimacy of making love in years.
His fingers molded to the lines of Severus' body, memorizing him, reading him like a blind man; he felt the bump of Severus' ribs, the indentation of his navel, the sharp ridge of his hip bones. Only when he felt as though his hands were glutted with sensation did he slide them up and skim his fingertips across Severus' nipples. He felt rather than heard Severus' intake of breath, and he smiled to himself as he brushed the pebbled nubs harder, teasing them.
Bending his head, he pressed his lips briefly against Severus' shoulder, then rested his cheek against the curve of Severus' neck as he captured Severus' nipples between his thumb and forefinger, tugging and pinching them. He felt the moment when Severus arched against his hands, seeking the pleasure actively, and he rewarded Severus with rougher tweaks.
He wished, then, that Severus wasn't in so desperate need of a bath; he wanted to learn how Severus reacted to having Remus' mouth on his nipples. Wanted to run his tongue all over Severus' chest and down to his cock. Wanted to feast on his inner thighs until Severus was moaning and writhing with need. It had been too long, and he craved the heady sense of satisfaction that bringing someone to the height of pleasure gave him, even if it was just Severus.
Instead, he reached for the jar of healing salve and scooped out a sizeable dollop, rubbing his fingers together until his hand was coated. Curving his arm around Severus again, he wrapped his hand around Severus' cock; it was already partially erect, and he felt it twitch in response to the slow, firm stroke he gave it from base to tip. A few more strokes brought it to full hardness, and Remus felt his grip grow slicker and smoother as fluid began leaking from the head and blending with the salve.
Severus made a noise that might have been a moan if it hadn't sounded as if it had been wrenched out of him by a mountain troll; he was trembling again, and he clenched his hand on Remus' free arm, his fingers digging into Remus' flesh hard enough to leave bruises. He was fighting the pleasure, Remus realized, or perhaps fighting his responses to it. Remus rubbed his cheek against Severus' neck and slowed the pace, giving him time to adjust.
"It's all right," he whispered. "Relax. I want to give you this pleasure. Let me, Severus. Let me give you this. Please."
At his words, Severus released a long sigh and went limp against him again, turning his face as far away from Remus as he could. Remus suspected that if Severus hadn't been so depleted, he would have struggled longer; as it was, he seemed resigned to letting Remus do whatever he wanted, neither fighting nor assisting. It was, Remus thought, as good as he was going to get.
He continued to fist Severus' cock, slowly at first, but gradually increasing the tempo when he felt Severus' breathing grow ragged. Severus had released his death grip on Remus' arm, and Remus slid his other hand down to cup and knead Severus' balls gently, then more firmly when he felt Severus' chest hitch. He could feel the tension coiling in Severus' muscles as he neared release, could feel the flush rising in his skin, and he began pumping Severus' cock faster, driving him to the edge.
"Bend your head forward, Severus," he instructed softly, and after a slight pause, Severus tilted his head, baring his neck to Remus.
Remus nosed aside the oily locks that clung to the back of his neck; he could feel Severus' body growing taut, quivering as he worked Severus' cock harder, and he could hear Severus' breath coming in rapid gasps that could have meant pain or pleasure. Severus' body tightened, his muscles bunched, he was close, so close -- and without warning, Remus fastened his teeth on the back of Severus' neck, biting down hard, tearing at the skin until he tasted the metallic tang of blood on his tongue, and with a harsh cry, Severus came, his hips bucking to meet Remus' hand.
Bringing his hand to his mouth, Remus lapped at his fingers before running it over his chest and down his arm, rubbing Severus' scent into his skin so that he would be covered with it when he transformed. Perhaps that would help the wolf recognize the scent of its mate more quickly. It couldn't hurt, anyway. Then he leaned forward and laved the wound on the back of Severus' neck tenderly with his tongue until it stopped bleeding. Severus tilted his head forward again without prompting, a little noise that might have been a moan escaping him.
"That's the first part," he said, almost whispering as he leaned his cheek against Severus' shoulder.
"Are you going to take me now?" Severus asked, just as quietly.
"Yes." Remus guided him, helping him turn around so that they were facing each other, and he watched Severus for a moment, his expression somber. "And you're going to bite me. You must draw blood, so don't worry about hurting me. Just do it."
In the aftermath of release, Severus' face was -- not relaxed, exactly, but less taut than usual, Remus thought. He wasn't holding himself rigidly away from Remus anymore, and when Remus wrapped both arms around him and pulled him close, he didn't resist. Running his flattened palms up and down Severus' back from shoulder to hip, Remus didn't bother trying to hide his own moans of pleasure, reveling in the warmth of Severus' body pressed against his.
But touching wasn't enough. Heedless of Severus' unwashed state, Remus dragged his tongue along the length of Severus' throat, keeping his arms wrapped around Severus' waist as he nibbled and kissed his way back down Severus' chest, latching on to one nipple and suckling greedily as he had wanted to do earlier. Severus gasped and arched his back, his fingers digging into Remus' shoulders; Remus slid his hands down to Severus' hips, grasping them tightly as he nuzzled his cheek against Severus' chest, moaning low in his throat as he tried to soak up as much of his mate's scent and feel and taste as possible. His -- all his -- forever and ever.
He lifted his head and gazed at Severus, his eyes filled with desire. Reaching out, he groped around on the floor until his fingers closed around the jar of salve; he scooped out almost the entire contents and coated himself thoroughly, wanting to make sure they had more than enough lubricant. Severus was already panting, his eyes wide as Remus lifted and positioned him; keeping one hand on Severus' hip, he grasped his cock with the other, guiding Severus into place.
Severus nodded, and Remus nudged him down; that was all the hint he needed. Catching his lower lip in his teeth, Severus lowered himself slowly and carefully, pushing until the head of Remus' cock was inside him. He paused then, his breathing ragged, and Remus held still, letting him go at his own pace even though every instinct was screaming for him to thrust, to grab Severus' hips and shove him down.
Slowly, Severus moved down inch by inch, until finally -- finally! -- he was there, buried deep within his mate, and Severus' body moved sinuously against his, as if assuring him of his welcome. And then Severus lifted his hips and pushed down hard, sending Remus deep all over again, and he let out a strangled cry, his fingers tightening on Severus' hips enough to leave bruises.
"Severus! Yes, oh, yes, just like that..."
Again Severus lifted and ground against him, and Remus thrust his hips as best he could, but he gave up and let pleasure overwhelm him as Severus began to pound against him faster. He wouldn't last long; it had been too long, and he needed to claim Severus too badly. Panting with desperate need, he tipped his chin up, baring his throat as he felt his release building to the breaking point. Severus leaned forward and grazed his teeth against Remus' neck, and Remus closed his eyes, moaning at the touch, his body already growing taut.
Without warning, Severus clamped his teeth on Remus' throat, snarling as he bit down and tore at Remus' skin. Pain shot through Remus, but rather than kill his desire, the feel of Severus sucking and lapping at the blood flowing from the wound doubled it, and he echoed Severus' fierce snarl as he dug his fingers into Severus' hips.
"Mine," he growled, lifting Severus off his lap and flipping him onto his back.
As soon as his back hit the floor, Severus moaned and spread his legs, lifting his hips as Remus covered him. With one swift, hard thrust, Remus entered and filled him, lost in the pleasure of claiming his mate's willing body, slamming into him again and again and again until the pleasure-tension coiled and snapped within him, and he howled as he drove deep one last time, shuddering with the intensity of his release.
He hovered over Severus for a moment, panting, bracing himself with both hands while he caught his breath. Beneath him, Severus lay still, eyes closed, his face averted. Remus bent his head and laved Severus' throat tenderly with his tongue, coaxing a soft moan from Severus.
"I think it worked," he whispered, and finally Severus turned his head and opened his eyes, his expression somber.
"I believe so, yes."
He eased out of Severus carefully and stretched out beside him, reaching out to pull some of their discarded clothes over him. He half-expected Severus to roll away, but he didn't, and Remus took that as a good sign, snuggling closer to offer his body heat. The pull of the moon was growing stronger, and he knew there wasn't much more time left before the transformation began, but for now, this moment, he relaxed, curling protectively around Severus as they awaited their fate.
Disoriented as he usually was after a transformation, Remus lay sprawled face down on the floor, the cold of the stones seeping into his skin and chilling him, but he was incapable of moving right away. The heightened senses he had possessed the day before were gone; he was back to normal, and the near-total darkness wasn't helping him reorient himself any quicker.
He was in a cell.
He had been taken prisoner, and he had discovered he wasn't alone. There was also --
Gritting his teeth against the pain in his aching joints and muscles, he struggled to his knees, his head swimming as he peered around, squinting into the gloom for any sight of his mate.
"Severus?" he whispered. "Are you there?"
There was no answer, and cold sickness spread from Remus' stomach throughout his body. The story had been wrong after all. He had killed Severus. Killed his own mate. He covered his face with his hands, his shoulders shaking -- and then he heard a faint rustle of cloth.
He looked up just in time to see Severus emerge from the shadows, stepping into the small bit of light from the corridor beyond, and he nearly collapsed with relief at the sight.
"I'm here, Lupin. The mating ritual worked. You didn't harm me last night."
"Thank God," he breathed.
"Yes," came the scathing drawl. "We're both alive. Just in time to be killed by the guards when they come to check on us."
"We have the element of surprise on our side," Remus insisted as he tried to stand up, but his legs were still wobbly, and he couldn't manage it, not yet.
"The surprise will be if we do actually get out of here alive."
"As long as we're alive, there's hope."
"Damned Gryffindor optimism," Severus grumbled, but he stepped back into the concealing shadows, and Remus noticed that he was on the side of the door that would allow him to reach for the guard's wand without impediment.
As weak and shaky as he was, Remus knew he wouldn't be of any help in an ambush, and he slumped to the floor again, playing the decoy instead. He waited, ears straining for any hint of footsteps in the corridor, but all was silent, and without meaning to, he drifted off to sleep.
His body was less sore when he awoke, which told him that he had slept for quite some time; he sat up, and this time, he didn't feel light-headed at the movement.
"The guard hasn't been?"
"No." Severus was still lurking near the door, but Remus couldn't see him.
"Well, that's odd."
"It is indeed. Someone usually makes the rounds to check on the prisoners and dispense rations, but there has been no one this morning. If it's still morning."
"Do you know what time it is?"
"They took my pocket watch when they brought me here."
"I don't own one." Remus raked his fingers through his hair to comb it into place and yawned. "There hasn't been anyone at all, or no one has checked on us?"
"No one at all."
Then it wasn't a case of someone assuming Remus was half-mad with guilt and leaving him to die after murdering his cell mate. Something was going on, but they had no way of knowing what it was, or if anyone would come later. That being the case, he saw no reason to stay where he was, not when it had been hours since he had felt the touch of his mate's hand.
He crawled on his hands and knees in the direction of Severus' voice to find him huddled against the wall, and he curled up next to Severus, resting his head on Severus' shoulder.
"What do you think has happened?" he asked quietly.
"Who knows. Perhaps the Dark Lord decided to move his headquarters again and left his prisoners behind to die. It wouldn't be unheard of." He paused, then added, "Lupin, you're naked."
A slight smile curved Remus' mouth. "It was too much effort to go and get my clothes just yet. I wanted to be near you more anyway."
Silence stretched out between them for a long moment before Severus spoke again. "I felt a similar desire while you were sleeping. Is that a side effect of the bond?"
"I imagine it is." Remus lifted his head and tried to get a look at Severus' face, but it was too dark. "I know it must be unsettling for you."
"That is an understatement. I never imagined I would find myself in the position of wanting to be near you, of all people. It's only a little less disconcerting than if I had ever felt a desire to be near Potter or Black."
Remus pushed himself away from Severus, putting a little space between them; he didn't want to overwhelm Severus when they were both still adjusting to the new bond. "Maybe one day you'll be able to forgive me, and the bond won't be so unbearable."
"I don't want to forgive you!" Severus exclaimed. "It's wrong, not being angry with you. It isn't--" But then he shut his mouth abruptly, cutting off whatever he had been able to say.
"It isn't what?" Remus reached out and touched his arm lightly.
It was a long time before Severus answered, and when he did, his voice was quiet, his tone grudging. "Safe. It isn't safe."
"We're both in unfamiliar territory here, Severus." He rubbed Severus' arm, hoping to reassure him, at least a little. "We both have reason to be unsettled about being thrown together like this. But I don't hate you, Severus, and even though I've done things that have hurt you in the past, it was never deliberate. Never because I wanted to hurt you personally. I was afraid of loss and rejection, so I did things that I'm not proud of, and I ended up losing everything anyway. I don't want that to happen again. I don't want to lose you."
"Those are very pretty words, Lupin."
"Maybe one day, you'll realize they're true."
Severus fell silent then, and after a while, Remus crawled across the cell to retrieve his clothes. He was still stiff and sore, but he managed to dress in everything except his socks. Instead he returned to Severus' side and dropped the socks in Severus' lap.
"What are those for?"
"I noticed yesterday that you were barefoot," Remus said. "I have my shoes. You can take the socks."
Severus stared at him for a moment before picking up the socks and putting them on. "Thank you," he said gruffly, and Remus smiled slightly in response as he settled next to Severus again, not quite close enough to touch.
The hours passed at a crawling pace, but Remus could feel the faint pull of the moon as it rose. It wasn't strong enough to cause him to change, but he could still feel its influence, letting him know that night had fallen in the world beyond their little cell. Still no guard had come, not to them, not to any of the prisoners, however many others there were. He was beginning to believe that Severus was right: they had been abandoned.
"Tell me about yourself," Remus said as they lay spooned together on the floor, to which Severus had grudgingly agreed after Remus had pointed out the benefits of shared body heat. He thought it might be their second, maybe third day of captivity, but he wasn't certain at that point; he simply knew that they were both cold and hungry, and that things would only get worse.
"Why should I?"
"Well, it's likely we're going to die here together. There isn't much point in hiding anything now." He paused for a moment, nuzzling the back of Severus' neck, before adding, "Tell me why you learnt so much about the Dark Arts."
Severus didn't answer right away, but Remus was in no hurry. There was nothing either of them could do to conjure food, water, or a key to the door, so it was simply a matter of waiting for the inevitable now. At least he had Severus to talk to and to hold until the end; it would have been far worse if he had been alone.
"In part, it was due to my own natural inclinations and interests. The Dark Arts have been a source of fascination to me since I was very young. It was also due in part to my father. A means to protect myself from him."
"He drank. He had a temper. He was free with his fists."
Remus stroked Severus' shoulder. "I'm sorry."
"It matters little now."
"Perhaps, but I'm still sorry that he hurt you."
"He prepared me for the real world. I owe him for that much, at least."
Remus propped himself up on his elbow and gazed down at Severus. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that not everyone needs the excuse of drunkenness to behave like my father. Your friends and my former colleagues certainly didn't."
He opened his mouth to defend James and Sirius, but shut it again when he realized that he couldn't, except to say that they had been immature, heedless of the consequences of their actions at the time. He doubted Severus wanted to hear that, however. "Not everyone is like that, though. There is good in the world. In a lot of people."
"You of all people can say that?" Severus' tone was incredulous.
"Yes, I can. My life has been difficult, but not all of it has been bad. I was fortunate in that I had parents who loved me very much. They did the best they could for me in a difficult situation, and they tried to protect me. But we lived in a small village, and everyone knew what I am. There wasn't much they could do to keep me safe from prejudice and harm once I stepped outside our house."
"They're dead, I presume?"
Remus nodded. "They died in a train accident when I was twenty. They left me a small inheritance and a house, which helped keep me from becoming a beggar on the streets when I couldn't find a job."
"And when you lost the job you did find."
"That too." He leaned his cheek against Severus' shoulder. "I don't hold it against you, Severus. I don't want to spend my last hours of life in bitterness, anger, or recrimination."
"You'll forgive me if I don't join you in any maudlin deathbed reformations," Severus sneered.
"I would be shocked if you did," he said, chuckling. "It's too bad things are ending this way," he added. "I would have liked to build a life with you."
"Did you or did you not say that I was not the one you would have chosen?"
"I did say that, and so did you." He smoothed a stray lock of hair away from Severus' face. "Things are different now -- as I'm sure you've noticed."
"I would still be less than thrilled to be saddled with you for the rest of my life, were it destined to last longer."
Remus slid his fingertips down to Severus' cheek, stroking it gently. "It would have been a challenge, adjusting to being together. We would have a lot to sort through, but just think of all the explosive rows followed by fantastic make-up sex we could have had." He bent his head and growled against Severus' ear. "The sex was fantastic, you know."
Severus squirmed a little in his arms. "How long had it been since you had sex for you to say that?"
"Sex? Not all that long. I haven't made love with anyone for a very long time, though, and it was wonderful with you, despite our conditions. I do wish we could have made love again when you weren't filthy and reeking, though. There is so much I would have liked to do to you. With you."
The squirming turned into a shiver, and in the darkness, Remus heard Severus' breath catch. "I would have seen no reason why we couldn't satisfy each other's needs occasionally, since we are irrevocably bonded, and you require touch."
"Very practical of you," Remus said, keeping his tone serious. With anyone else, he might have laughed or teased, but he doubted Severus would take that well.
A quiet snort was all the response he got, and he settled down, feeling drowsy again. It had been longer since Severus had eaten than since he had, and neither of them had had any water since Remus had been brought in. He could tell Severus was growing weaker; their exertion during the mating ritual hadn't helped, but it had bought them a little more life, and he didn't regret the decision. At least Severus hadn't died in pain and fear; he would die resting in the comfort of Remus' arms, and Remus would follow soon after.
They didn't talk anymore. They slept, and when they were both awake, Severus seemed to be withdrawing into himself, drifting away from the world already. Remus didn't try to bring him back; with hope of escape gone, he saw no need to cling to life, and he didn't want his mate to suffer any longer than necessary. He simply gathered Severus up in his arms and held him close; at first, Severus simply lay there, unresisting, but eventually, he nestled against Remus, as if he wanted the solace of another person's touch during their final hours.
Remus let himself fall into a cycle of sleep and muzzy wakefulness that lasted for shorter and shorter intervals, but he never loosened his hold on Severus, and each time he drifted off, he thought perhaps it would finally be the time that neither of them woke up.
Remus woke, and this time, it was different. Gone was the smell of stale air and Severus' unwashed body. Gone was the feel of cold stone beneath him. He was lying on something soft, and he was warm -- but alone.
His eyes flew open, and his body jerked as he tried to sit up, but his head protested, inflicting dizziness on him for the abuse. Still, he could see a familiar sight: one of the sterile, bland rooms in St. Mungo's. His narrow bed was surrounded by plain white curtains, obscuring his view, and he couldn't tell if there was anyone in the room.
"Severus?" His voice was even more husky than usual even to his own ears, but the sound echoed in the room, loud enough for Severus to hear if he was there. If he was awake. If he was alive.
But there was no response, and Remus' heart began to pound in his chest as he struggled to push back the covers and get out of bed. He had to find Severus, had to make sure he was all right.
Metal scraped against metal as the curtain on his right was drawn back abruptly, the harsh sound capturing his attention, but it was only a nurse who stood there, a small vial in her hand.
"Ah, Mr. Lupin. You're awake." She set the vial on the bedside table and looked him over. "You're not to be out of bed just yet."
"Severus -- Severus Snape. Is he here? Is he all right?"
"Professor Snape is here--"
"Where?" Remus slid out of bed, leaning against it until he felt his legs grow steadier beneath him. "I want to see him."
"That isn't a good idea, Mr. Lupin. You need to rest--"
"Either you take me to him, or I'll wander around on my own until I find him. You'll have to hex me or tie me down to prevent it."
The nurse glanced at his face, and apparently what she saw there was enough to convince her of his determination. Setting her mouth in a thin line of disapproval, she beckoned to him, and he followed her out of the room. The floor was cold beneath his bare feet, and he still felt weak and shaky, but he needed to see that Severus was all right for himself.
Two doors down, she stopped and gestured for him to enter. "He's in there. Don't disturb him, and don't stay long, or I will tie you down."
Remus stood in the doorway, the nurse already forgotten as he frantically darted his gaze around, looking for Severus and finally spotting him lying in a bed identical to Remus' on the far side of the room. He shuffled over, sitting heavily on the edge of the bed, and rested his hand on Severus' arm as he peered closely at Severus' sleeping form.
At first glance, Severus was still obviously too thin, but Remus noticed that the scratches and bruises on his face had been healed, and his cheeks didn't look so sunken. He was clean, too, and that made a significant difference. Remus stroked his arm gently, relieved to see Severus alive and healing. He didn't know how they had got from the cell to here, but he didn't care. The important thing was that they were both all right.
Noise from the street outside caught his attention, and he leaned over to peer out the window. Even muffled by distance and glass, he could tell the sound was raucously loud, and it didn't take long to spot its source. A cluster of people were singing and shouting as they danced down the street, their expressions joyous, and a small surge of hope welled up in Remus' chest at the sight. He had seen something like it once before years before, and he wondered if it meant the same thing now as it had then.
When he looked away from the window and down at Severus again, he was surprised to find dark eyes gazing back at him, and he squeezed Severus' arm, smiling to see him awake.
"I'm alive." Severus' voice was raspy, his tone one of disbelief.
"You are." Remus nodded. "I don't know how. I just woke up myself, and here we both were. I don't know what happened."
"Maybe he can tell us." Severus' gaze flickered to something -- or someone -- over Remus' shoulder, and Remus turned to see Albus approaching, smiling warmly at them both.
"Remus, Severus, I'm glad to see you both well," Albus said as he drew near.
"Thank you, Albus." Remus returned his smile, never more glad to see Albus than he was at that moment.
"I imagine you have a number of questions." Albus peered over the top of his spectacles at them, the smile still playing in his beard as if he couldn't quite contain it.
"Including the obvious one," Severus said, not bothering to hide his impatience. "Stop hedging, Albus, and spit it out. How the bloody hell did we get out of that cell?"
Chuckling, Albus moved closer to the bed before answering, meeting Severus' look of annoyance with one of fond affection. "Alastor Moody and his team found you. Thanks to the information that Remus sent, we were able to formulate a plan of attack, drawing Voldemort out of his lair and into battle. We were victorious."
"You mean--" Remus gaped at him, stunned. "Then Harry defeated him? Is Harry all right?"
Albus lifted his hand and nodded reassuringly. "Harry is recuperating just as the two of you are, but he is alive. He survived. Voldemort did not. After the battle, we began the search for his headquarters. Regretfully, it took a few days before we were able to extract the information from one of his followers. Otherwise, we would have rescued you sooner. As it was, Alastor and the others were almost too late. You were both unconscious when they found you."
"But it wasn't too late," Remus murmured, turning his attention back to Severus, who was watching him, his expression unreadable.
"Indeed it was not," Albus said, and Remus could hear the relief in his voice. "But now you have some explaining of your own to do. We've been quite curious to know how you spent the full moon together and both came out unscathed."
Tearing his gaze away from Severus, Remus looked at Albus calmly. "A werewolf will not harm his or her mate." If Albus wanted any more detail than that, he would either have to ask or look it up; Remus had no intention of embarrassing Severus by divulging more than absolutely necessary.
"I see." Albus' shrewd gaze flicked from Remus to Severus and back again. "It would seem an adjustment of accommodations at the school is in order, then. Provided you intend to stay on," he added, inclining his head towards Severus.
"We will discuss it later," Severus replied tersely.
"Of course, Severus," Albus said mildly. "I'll have copies of the reports sent to you both as soon as you're released. They will provide the details, and I will, of course, be happy to answer any questions you might have -- later." He gave them both a stern look. "In the meantime, I have been admonished to let you rest, and I intend to follow that instruction and see that you do." Reaching out with one gnarled hand, he patted Severus and then Remus on the shoulder. "Well done," he said before turning to leave, and Remus found himself growing unexpectedly choked up.
It was almost too much to bear -- waking up to find himself and his mate alive, the war over, Harry alive and well, and to top it off, acknowledgment of their efforts on behalf of the Order from Albus. It was overwhelming, and he found himself clutching Severus' arm tightly as he fought to calm and steady himself.
"Well," he said at last, mustering a shaky laugh. "It seems we'll be able to have that make-up sex after all."
"That would, of course, necessitate an explosive row first."
Remus laughed again, and this time, it was genuine. "Somehow, I doubt that will be a problem."
"Not bloody likely," Severus grumbled as Remus climbed into bed with him and stretched out beside him, resting his head on Severus' shoulder.
"I have no regrets, Severus," he whispered. "We're alive, and we're free. Your days of being a spy are over. Whatever happens now, we'll sort it out, and neither of us will ever be alone or lonely again."
"And there will be sex."
After a lengthy silence, Severus lifted his arm and draped it loosely around Remus' shoulders, and Remus let out a breath that he didn't even realize he had been holding.
"It's a matter of practicality, of course," Severus said.
"I'm accustomed to living alone, and I've my own way of doing things that I'll expect you to respect."
"I don't want to be bothered when I'm working, either."
"I wouldn't dream of it."
"How are we supposed to have an explosive row when you're being so damned agreeable?" Severus glared at him, and he smiled as he leaned closer and brushed his lips against Severus'.
"I'm saving up all my disagreeableness for when we're home and can have that fantastic sex right after the row."
"Very practical of you," Severus replied, and Remus' smile turned into an outright grin.
Instead of answering, he closed what little distance remained between them, closing his mouth over Severus' and seeking entrance with his tongue; Severus parted his lips, his arm tightening around Remus, and twined his tongue with Remus', coaxing a low moan from Remus' throat.
It wouldn't be easy trying to carve out a life with Severus Snape, and he knew it, but as their kiss deepened and their tongues danced, he also knew that like anything worthwhile, the results would be worth any amount of difficulty along the way.