Title: Life Sentence
Author: Kristin - firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
Warnings: Slashy sex.
Notes: Thanks to Dani for the beta.
"This is bad. This is so bad," the silent mantra in Remus' head repeated as he paced across the packed dirt floor, staring out the barred window up toward the sun. It was in the west, perhaps three hours from setting. He could already feel the change sneaking up on him, the wolf rising up from within to devour the man he was, waiting for the moon to rise, waiting for the chance to break free. His hands were clenched in fists by his sides, knuckles white, as he tried to think; there had to be a way out. Hardly two feet away, Severus stood staring at the bars on the five-by-five cell, as though trying to break them apart using just the power of his mind. The power of his glare had an effect on his students, certainly, but seemed useless against iron.
"What time is it?" Severus finally asked, his voice calm. Too calm. Remus wanted to reach out and shake him, to slap him, to hold him down and bite into - no.
"I'd say around four o'clock," Remus answered, glancing out the window. "Three hours until sunset." His own voice held a tremble; he was helplessly afraid.
They'd been there for nearly a day, though it'd felt like mere minutes. The time seemed to fly by, and Remus was certain that he knew why. It was because he dreaded the sunset, because he knew what he would become once the moonlight hit the ground outside. And he knew what he would do to Severus, knew that he would awaken the next morning, sore and covered in blood that wasn't his own. This was worse torture than anything else; death, even, would be preferable to this. At least the Killing Curse would be painless, would be quick, would not leave one of them behind to mourn and grieve and go mad with the guilt. When Remus had heard Voldemort's orders, his and Severus' sentence, he'd nearly broken down there before him. Nothing could have been worse than this, and knowing that there was a way to keep Severus safe - an impossible, out-of-the-question way. He knew that Snape would sooner die than accept something like it. So he hadn't mentioned it yet, simply paced across the tiny cell.
"Three hours," Severus echoed quietly, giving up his attempts to somehow perform a wandless magic on the bars and moving toward the window. Remus wanted to kick something, wanted to hit a wall, wanted to scream. Instead, he leaned against the bars, his forehead pressed against the cold metal.
"Aren't you afraid?" he asked Severus, pressing his eyes closed. He gripped the bars, squeezed them, wished he could tear them out. He heard a quiet sigh, a rustle of fabric as Severus shed his outer robe, setting it aside. Remus wanted to know what was going through his mind, wanted to at least... at least know him a little better before the sun set.
"It is regrettable," Severus answered, his voice infuriatingly smooth. "I hadn't planned on death for at least several more years." Remus could feel the temper rising up inside of him, spurred forward by the closeness of the wolf. He was a man who liked to keep civil, who liked to keep from losing himself to anger or passion.
"Regrettable?" he found himself sputtering, back tense, shoulders drawn together, heaving with the deep breaths that he took to keep from throttling Snape. "I'm going to tear you limb from limb in three hours' time, and all you can say is 'regrettable'?" To his utter surprise and anger, Severus laughed quietly, sarcastically, looking out the window.
"What should I be saying, Lupin? Should I tell you just how afraid I am to die? I would rather keep my dignity in the hours before my untimely demise, if you don't mind." Remus stared at the floor just beyond the bars. If only he could get out, if only he had his wand, if only - if only Severus wasn't such an insufferably stubborn git.
"What if I told you there was a way to protect you?" Remus murmured, pressing his forehead between two of the bars. It was really no use, the bars were barely four inches apart. He could practically feel Snape's pause, could tell that the man was uneasy. His senses were starting to pick up, he could nearly taste the fear on the air with every breath he took.
"I would inform you that I'd really rather not die tonight," Severus said at last. "So you might as well tell me." Remus stared at the dirt, silent. "Unless you'd rather have Potion Master for dinner," Snape added, an attempt at humor that was anything but funny.
"The werewolf," started Remus, slowly turning to face Severus, "will not hurt its mate." As much as he didn't want to see the reaction that a statement like this would produce, he felt that he had to at least face the man. In his future years - if there were any - he might look back on the moment and find the expression that Severus made following this proclamation to be quite hilarious. Remus would never have thought that a man could turn that shade of fuschia so quickly, especially a pallid man like Severus Snape.
"Its.. mate," Severus repeated, slowly, as though he'd misheard Remus. "Lupin, I know that you're not suggesting we..." he trailed off, unable to even finish the sentence, it would seem.
"At this point, it seems as though it's our only option, aside from your death and my insanity," Remus said, with a shrug, even though he could feel his stomach twisting at the thought of it. "There's more that you should know, before you attempt to make a decision." Severus' eyes widened slightly.
"How on this earth can there be more?" he asked, weakly, before leaning back against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. Remus cleared his throat, and glanced toward the window just above Severus' head. The sun was growing ever closer to the horizon.
"I'm sure you already know this, so it's simply a matter of reminding you," Remus told him, "that a werewolf mates for life." He was certain that he could have pushed on Snape's shoulder and the man would have toppled over, he appeared that stunned at the notion. Letting out an exasperated sigh, Remus looked back at the man in front of him again. "So I suppose it comes down to this: would you rather die, or spend your life with me?"
Remus had given this a lot of thought, through most of the day. He'd carefully evaluated all of his own feelings, and only now did he realize how selfish it was not to give Severus that chance, as well. He was forcing him to make a quick decision - another two and a half hours, and the sun would be set, and it would be too late. Finally, he'd come to the conclusion that, although he did not particularly love the man, he didn't want Snape to die. Even through all of the tension and animosity between the two men, Remus respected him. Severus was talented, was intelligent, was an asset, and wasn't exactly horrible to look at, once one got past the grease, sallow skin, and sour expressions. And Remus was fairly sure that he'd learn to love the man, if it came to that. Since he'd lost Sirius, Remus had felt a certain void in his life; even though they had never been lovers, they'd been very close friends, the closest they could possibly have been. It was the restraints of time, Sirius' madness after twelve years in Azkaban, and Remus' hesitation to begin any sort of romantic relationship because of his condition, that had kept the two of them from anything like that. Now, that chance was gone; he knew that he would always love Sirius, in the special way that he always had, but there was definitely room in his heart for another. And between killing Severus and taking him as his mate, he would rather love him than rip him apart.
What startled him most was how long Severus seemed to be thinking about this. Was he actually considering it seriously? At last, he heard Snape's tired, though still velvety, voice. "And all of this is fine with you?" Remus sighed, and shrugged one shoulder.
"From my perspective, we haven't got too many options. But yes, Severus, I feel that it's an acceptable fate." Remus' lips were twitching. He wanted to smile, but something told him that it wasn't a smart thing to do at the moment. Severus appeared to be going through several stages of disbelief. After several seconds, he looked up at Remus.
"I want to make it perfectly clear," he said in a tone like bubbling acid eating through Remus' nerves, "that I am doing this solely to ensure my own survival." After a few moments, Remus - barely able to grasp what this meant, what would happen, what they were committing themselves to in the name of survival - nodded slightly. A nod that sealed the agreement, like a pact, like signing their names to a contract. Looking as though he was a marionette, with slightly jerky motions like someone was pulling his strings, Severus walked to Remus.
The two men stood close for nearly a full minute, doing nothing but staring at one another. Remus was just slightly taller and looked down a bit at Severus; they had roughly two hours to make this work. To mate, to become lifelong lovers, to put aside nearly thirty years of hatred and competition for the sake of living through the night. With the sky starting to darken slightly outside, dusk settling down, Severus tilted his head upward and kissed Remus.
Remus was amazed to discover that kissing Snape was much like sipping firewhiskey; it was pleasantly warm, and caused his knees to tremble slightly. After the initial awkwardness, Remus learned quickly that Severus kissed gently, almost as though his mouth was shy, and that his hair was really not as greasy as it looked. The kiss went on for a few moments before they broke apart. Severus inhaled sharply, staring up at Lupin, lips slightly parted and pinker than usual.
"Now, about this mating business," he said slowly, and Remus quirked a brow, nodding him on. "Which of us... well, you know, Lupin," Severus appeared flustered, jaw clenching slightly, and Remus chuckled quietly, giving a nod.
"If it's all right with you, Severus, I believe it only proper that I take the more, shall we say, dominant role?" As he spoke, he trailed his finger up the center of Snape's chest, over his black shirt, buttoned all the way up to his Adam's apple, it seemed. He couldn't help but feel as though this was more of a contract negotiation than a seduction, and he was surprised by how disappointed that made him feel. Already, the wolf within was starting to feel attached to Severus, after just one kiss.
"Fine," Severus said after a few moments; he had no time to say anything further, because Remus claimed his mouth in another kiss. It was a claiming in every sense of the word, lips pressed together with bruising force, tongue forced through to taste - like butterbeer and chocolate, he thought with glee, searching for any other secrets that the man's mouth might be hiding - and his hands cupping Severus' face, passion welling up in him until he could barely take it anymore. Pushing Severus back against the cold stone wall, he could nearly hear the man's heart beating, almost feel it in his mouth. Remus had never done this - well, certainly, he'd had sex, that wasn't so big of a deal. But there was a difference between sex and mating, it was a matter of possession and protection to the wolf within. And he'd never mated; nor had he ever done anything like this so close to the full moon, mere hours before the wolf took over fully. He found that it was difficult to keep from ripping Severus' clothes off, to keep from turning him over, pressing his face into the wall, and utterly possessing him, in the most carnal sense of the word.
It was the most hedonistic experience of his lifetime. Severus turned out more willing than he'd let on earlier, a very attentive lover, and was most excellent at wrapping his lips around a man's length and sucking him dry. Remus, in return, was as gentle as he could be when the time came to take him; he pushed carefully into the man, whimpering and mewling on the packed dirt, Severus' own essence used to ease the way. Lupin's fingers curled around his shoulders, dragging his nails along his shoulder blades, then down his arms to his elbows. He'd insisted upon doing this the proper, animalistic way... Severus was on his knees, leaning forward on his forearms, back arched most splendidly. And Remus knelt behind, covering his back with his own chest, thrusting with short, shallow motions. Lavishing his back and neck with licks and kisses, Remus claimed him, until the pain that Severus felt died down, from a stabbing sort of torment, to a sore ache, to an uncomfortable twinge, until finally his moans were wanton and begging for more.
The sun was setting when Remus finished, pressing deep into Severus and filling him. The man beneath him whimpered, and Lupin smiled, pressing a few kisses to his hair. Severus turned his face a bit, caught his lips in a soft kiss. It was surprisingly sweet. Before long, Remus pulled out of him, collapsing on the floor by his side. Both men were naked, clothes strewn about the tiny cell, both smelling of sex and sweat. Severus curled up slightly against him, pressing a kiss to his shoulder, before looking up into his eyes.
"Remus," he sighed. "That was-" he was interrupted; Remus jerked slightly, then groaned, sitting up. "What-?"
"Close your eyes," the man panted, with another few jerks, his body curling slightly. In one quick movement, he twisted and scurried into the corner, hunched up. "I don't," his voice was labored, drawing in breaths, nearly every word seemingly a challenge to speak, "want you to see." Severus could already see the change starting to take hold of him, but he did as he was told and closed his eyes, laying very still. This was it, this was his life or his death. Severus Snape found it very unfair that the night he finally allowed himself to feel an emotion other than anger, hatred, or resentfulness, his life was in grave danger.
It felt like years passed in the span of a minute. When he opened his eyes at last, he found himself staring into the eyes of a wolf. Forcing himself to clear his mind of emotions - skills he learned in legilimency, though he'd never had to exercise them in the company of a murderous beast before - he stared up at it. To his surprise, the wolf leaned forward, licking at his face gently. Then, it lay down beside Severus, a paw closed over the man's body, possessively holding him. Severus found that the fur was actually almost pleasant, soft and fluffy. He pressed his face into it, finally resting, for the first time in his life not alone.
When Remus woke the next morning, he was sore from the transformation - that never stopped, though; every single month it hurt, and he rarely thought that he'd survive it. Of course, he always did, always woke up the next day feeling as though he'd honestly rather have died during the night - and curled around Severus, who had been a calming force to the wolf within. Remus barely had time to consider what things may have been like if his passions hadn't been satiated the night before, if the wolf hadn't already felt fulfilled enough to simply curl around its mate and sleep; there was someone close by. He lifted his head, sniffing softly, and squinted against the sunlight filtering in through the bars on the window. He turned his face, looking to the dirt floor, the open cell door, the faces of Dumbledore, Arthur Weasley, and Tonks, all seeming on the verge of hysterical laughter.
"What..?" Remus' voice was hoarse. He sat up slowly, before he realized that he and Severus were still quite naked. He reached hastily for the billowing black robe by his head, covering Snape with it, then seeking out his own pants. Thankfully, at least Tonks was averting her gaze. Arthur seemed too stunned to stop openly gaping, and Dumbledore was looking on with that grandfatherly sort of twinkle in his eyes, as though he knew exactly what had happened.
"Surprise?" Tonks said, as though it was a question, and even through the pain Remus laughed a bit, shaking his head and looking down to Severus, who was just beginning to stir.
"In a manner of speaking," he responded, voice weak and pained. Once he had his pants on, he turned to face Severus; he leaned down a bit, pressing a kiss to his forehead, smoothing back his hair. "Severus? The search party has arrived for us." Opening his eyes, Snape looked upward. He saw Dumbledore, Arthur, Tonks... and frowned a bit.
"You couldn't have arrived twelve hours ago?" he muttered, standing, his robe pulled tightly around himself. He sought out his own pants, and pulled them on. Once he had situated himself, he turned back. Remus sat on the dirt floor, staring up at him, his jaw dropped and eyes wide. Even Dumbledore looked stunned, as though he'd just informed them that marshmallows grow on trees or some other such nonsense. Sighing exasperatedly, he leaned down and wrapped his arms around Remus, helping him to stand. "May we leave?" he asked, evenly. "I require a very long bath."
"A werewolf--" Remus started, and Severus nodded his head a bit, doing everything to speed them along save for picking Remus up and carrying him out of the cell.
"Mates for life. I'm well aware. Which is why it's a very good thing that there's room in the bath for both of us."