Title: Public Adoration
Author: Eulalie Moire
Disclaimer: It all belongs to J.K. Rowling, though I would like to borrow the Weasley Twins for a bit… I own nothing, make no money, and intend no infringement.
Summary: Severus and Remus sleep together without really understanding the consequences.
Author’s Notes: This is a response to the Master and the Wolf FqF (which can be found at http://chance.slashcity.net/masterandthewolf), Challenge #168: Snape is harboring a false assumption that werewolves mate for life. This is also my first foray into this pairing in particular and slash in general. I welcome any comments or criticism, the more honest, the better. Lastly, a huge thank you to clashchick, my most excellent beta.
It was a strange thing to wake up in bed next to Severus Snape; certainly, it was no situation in which Remus had ever expected to find himself.
He rolled slightly to the side to have a better look at Snape. Sleeping and peaceful suited the man; his face was less harsh in his sleep, his hair less greasy-seeming when it fanned so prettily across the pillows. He was, Remus reflected, rather lovely. Perhaps not classically beautiful, but most assuredly ‘lovely.’
Lupin lay back and closed his eyes. He was not sorry for having shagged Snape the previous night, not at all. He was a little sorry he’d had so many shots of whiskey, though, as some of his memories were not as sharp as he would have liked them to have been. The bed was comfortable, as was the soft body heat radiating off Severus. He could have stayed there forever, content merely to be no longer alone.
Well, no, actually, he couldn’t. His modest nine shots had been nothing compared to Severus’ downright irresponsible consumption of alcohol the night before. He had not seemed drunk; in fact, he seemed perfectly normal in posture, tone, and outward appearance. One would have thought the liquor had had no effect at all—until he’d walked up to Lupin and said what he’d said. And then Remus had known he was completely plastered. It wasn’t that ‘what he’d said’ had been anything so terrible. “I read your last article in the British Journal of the Dark Arts. It was quite good. I’m curious, do you really think there’s a cure for vampirism to be found in Muggle medicine?” No, nothing bad at all, just the uncharacteristically civil and interested tone in Severus’ voice and the fact that he deigned to speak to Remus at all.
But speak he had and Remus had answered and before the two men quite realized it, they had entered an animated discussion of the relevance of Muggle discoveries in biochemistry to the prevention and treatment of dark creatures. It had been fascinating. Remus had never heard Severus speak so extensively—and certainly never for so long without ice and bitterness in his voice. He found that, relieved of its frigidity, Severus’ voice was mesmerizing, intoxicating almost.
He hadn’t truly known how drunk Snape was, though, until his own measure of whiskey kicked in. He had been watching Severus’ mouth as he spoke and wishing he could touch it to his own. Eventually, with the drink on his breath and in his blood, he had leaned over and kissed Severus Snape softly on the lips.
He held his own lips to Severus’ skin for only a moment before pulling back, his alcohol-induced bravery fading as soon as it had come. He expected to be slapped smartly and warned that a werewolf such as himself had no right to behave like that. In that instant, he imagined: “I do respect you on an academic level, but that does not mean I have sunk so low as to be able to accept your company on a personal level.” What he actually received was one of the most provocative kisses he had ever encountered—and then another, and another. And he had finally known just how much Severus Snape had had to drink that evening: enough to allow himself to take a werewolf to bed.
And Remus had been smashed enough to allow it, to condone and encourage it and reciprocate passionately. He’d taken that small gesture from Severus and ran with it. In his bleary mind, he had worked out that this opportunity would likely not come again and he didn’t need his mind to tell him that he wanted it desperately.
So, no, he couldn’t stay snuggled in bed much longer because when Severus awoke to find him there, all of Grimmauld Place would hear the ensuing explosion.
He crawled stealthily out of Snape’s bed, found his clothes, dressed, and slipped out the door. He did not look at the sleeping man again; he knew he would not be able to resist returning to say or do something he would inevitably regret.
As he made himself tea in the kitchen, Remus overheard Tonks mention how very much she wanted to read a certain Muggle novel that had come off the presses only that morning and how much she regretted having to work late that day. “I reckon all the copies’ll be gone by the time I finish at the Ministry—just my luck, eh?”
He had leapt at the opportunity and volunteered to go and fetch the novel from a Muggle bookshop right then and there. After all, he could always put off his job-hunting for a few hours. Besides, you’ll be sure to miss Severus’ exit to Hogwarts that way. So he set out.
Remus Lupin was a proud man. Years of discrimination, derision, and mistrust had taught him one thing above all others: If he did not love and respect himself, no one would. Or, to sound less trite about it, no one else loved and respected him, so he had to do it himself and do it enough that he didn’t notice the lack of it from others. This is not to say that he was arrogant; you couldn’t be arrogant and be what he was—your world and reality would be too far apart for you to function in society. No, not arrogant; proud. He did not, for example, expect people to continue to trust him and to associate with him once they discovered he was a werewolf. He knew himself to be trustworthy and quite pleasant to be around, but he did not expect others to hang around long enough to know this or to have any desire to know it.
He took the loss of friends and lovers because of his lycanthropy as natural; that did not mean it did not hurt him deeply—it did. It just didn’t surprise him. But he was proud. He did not beg his friends to reconsider or his lovers to stay. He could not expect them to be anything more than prejudiced, but he would not throw away his dignity—one of the few things that no one had yet been able to take away from him—to retain an awkward relationship.
He was often poor, but he had never begged for anything. He was often alone, but he had never lied for, begged for, or paid for companionship of any sort. This was a comfort when all other comforts were lost to him.
This, then, was the key to Mr. Lupin’s mindset as he rode the underground to the nearest bookshop that morning. He had not expected Severus Snape to shag him nearly senseless the night before—to fulfill a fantasy he had harbored for months now—but he had not refused the gesture. He had taken what pleasure he could from Snape’s bout of insanity, but he did not expect there to be a repeat performance. And he would most certainly not deign to ask for one. He would not stay late in bed, waiting for the long-sought endearments that Snape would never offer. He would not weather the storm of the Potions Master’s anger when he discovered what they had done. In the long run, his pride would serve him far better than sentimentality.
Back in the decay of
Grimmauld Place, Severus Snape was unsurprised and undisturbed to wake alone. He knew from months of careful observation that Remus was a morning person—he himself was not—and it was only natural that the werewolf should have risen to fix a cup of tea and read the Prophet. Snape dragged himself from the bed and towards the shower, considering as he went.
Once he had decided what he wanted to do, it had taken him over a year to work up the nerve to do it. Actually, what it had taken was an obscene amount of Firewhiskey. But he had done it; he had gone to speak to Remus Lupin without that bitter, sardonic note in his voice, to try to have even a little of what he wanted, and Remus had accepted the gesture.
He had laid off the Firewhiskey once they had begun to discuss things in earnest as he hadn’t wanted to become so inebriated that he sounded idiotic in front of Lupin. This had been a mistake. He had meant to go further, to kiss Lupin, to attempt to seduce him. He had meant to, but his body had processed the alcohol too quickly and his courage had left him. They just sat there and talked.
And then, Lupin had done it, had done what Severus meant to do. Their kiss had been exquisite, everything Severus had been dreaming of. Even it had not been, the sheer ecstasy of having Lupin return his feelings and desires had almost been enough to make Severus swoon—which was saying quite a bit. And then, then they’d made love. All night. He could never have hoped for more; he most definitely had not expected it.
Snape suspected that the “morning after” greetings would be awkward, so he was not terribly put out to find that Remus was, in fact, not in the library with the Prophet. He was not flustered when he learned from Molly Weasley that Remus had gone on an early errand for Tonks, not even when he learned that the errand was nothing more serious than the purchase of a Muggle romance novel. He’s such a pushover, wants people to like him entirely too much. I’ll have to have a word with him about that. Public adoration is really not all it’s cracked up to be.
He progressed to a mixture of disappointment and irritation when Lupin did not return after nearly three hours. He could bloody well come back and see me. It’s not as though this is an entirely inconsequential day.
He barely thought of Lupin for the rest of the day, though. Answering the call of the Mark with a mind full of thoughts of a cherished lover was the best way to see said lover summarily executed. Voldemort was a jealous wife; he would not share his men with other loves. So, Severus thought of potions. More often than not, he found his mind on the Wolfsbane Potion, but so long as he didn’t consciously make the connection, he felt he would be safe.
He was, however, extremely gratified to return from the Death Eaters’ post-holiday rally to find Remus in the entrance hall, chatting with Bill and Arthur Weasley. As Snape loathed public displays of affection on principle, he went wordlessly past the trio.
But he couldn’t resist catching Lupin’s eye as he passed. Remus met his gaze very briefly and then quickly refocused on Bill. Too quickly. The practical side of Snape said, Of course Lupin had looked away. They didn’t want their private affairs spread throughout the Order—gossipmongers, the lot of them—did they? Nonetheless, some small part of Snape began to doubt.
Once the meeting had convened, Snape gave his report to a roomful of sharp, disgusted, or downright disbelieving faces. There was, Remus knew, a good half of the Order that believed, had always believed, and would always believe, that Severus Snape worked only for the Dark Lord. There could be little argument that Albus Dumbledore was the most powerful wizard of the era; that did not mean that his habit of trusting people so extensively was a good one. It also did not mean that he could not be deceived or that Snape was not deceiving him at that very moment.
Some in the Order had the decency to try and mask their doubts, mostly out of respect for Dumbledore. For his part, Remus made no attempt whatsoever to hide his disgust. What he really wanted was to jerk certain of his comrades—Bill Weasley, for example—up by the collar and give them a good shaking. He has proven his loyalty countless times. He has saved each of our lives countless times. He has saved Harry’s life on more occasions than I can recall. He risks his own life every day. He has fought bravely for us for years. For Merlin’s sake, what more does the man have to do? When will he be worthy of your trust and respect? It made him sick.
It made Severus sick too, that expression on Remus’ face. He understood, finally, and the realization was more than he could stomach. He did not know how he finished his report, where he found the strength to stagger from the room under the pretense of thirst.
He understood. Perfectly. Remus had been farther gone last night than he had thought; the werewolf had not realized what they were doing. He had woken up this morning and remembered and had been horrified. He regretted their union.
His thoughts rebelled against this newest defeat. Bloody noble Gryffindor, so self-righteous and high-handed! I see the revulsion in your eyes. I am, after all, only a sneaking Slytherin, a double agent prized for my skills at deception and destruction. Am I such a snake to you, Remus, who screamed for me so beautifully not twenty-four hours ago? I had damned well better not be, half-breed, because I’m the only one who understands you. Merlin knows, even if you don’t, that everyone loves you, but I’m the only one who understands you. The only one. Just as you are for me.
He stopped there, too broken by the finality of his love for Lupin, and of Lupin’s obvious rejection of him, to continue the mental tirade.
He did not cry, as a rule; he wasn’t that sort of man. He simply went to the room he kept at
Grimmauld Place, took the strongest sleeping draught he had with him, and fell boneless to the bed he had shared with Remus Lupin.
Snape returned to Hogwarts the next day and Lupin lay alone in his bed, fighting with his pride. It had been years since he had had a lover; he had forgotten how good it was to be touched, to be warm, to be wanted in some capacity. Now that he had tasted it again, he wanted it very badly. Well, not it so much as him. He wanted to go back to bed with Severus and he was very close to telling his pride and his dignity to go shag each other while the rest of him went after the Potions Master.
It had not started when they were in school, nor after they graduated, nor even when he came back to teach that year. No, it had only started when they began to fight together for the Order. The medium of a common goal had allowed them to put their feud aside—forcibly at first, but more and more willingly as time passed—and be civil with one another. He had always known that Severus was brilliant with Potions, but he discovered that Snape’s talent extended much farther, especially in the areas of Arithmancy and Astronomy. He found that Severus had a sense of humor; it was so dry it could suck the moisture out of a rainstorm, but it was there, and Snape could be very funny when he allowed himself to be.
He had watched and seen that Severus moved much like a cat, deftly and silently. He discovered, while dressing a fresh curse wound, that Snape’s body under his robes was pale but fit—not overly muscular, but not flabby, either. That was when the fantasies began—first as purely carnal reveries, then peppered with endearments and meaning.
And all this time, they continued to fight the Death Eaters and their master. Remus watched Severus go farther, fight harder than anyone else, day after day. He eventually realized that Snape did this to assuage a gnawing, hideous guilt. Severus, as it turned out, really was nasty by nature and, if you asked the Potions Master, nasty on the inside as well. Snape found the outward unpleasantness necessary and amusing, but the thought that his very soul was equally tainted and foul bothered him very much. This didn’t justify everything, but it did explain a good deal.
By the point he discovered all this, Remus was beyond caring about justification. He found himself in love with Severus Snape.
Yet Remus was proud and he did not expect Severus to return those feelings. Rather, he expected Severus would laugh hysterically and mock him unto death if he ever discovered Remus’ secret. He understood that Severus would never forgive him for what he was and what he had done. So, he took his pleasure in watching Snape and doing what he could to take care of the man.
He saw the last night’s intimacy as a treasure to be kept and relived often, perhaps as someone’s idea of a reward for years of loneliness. It did not occur to him that it could be more.
Snape too had changed toward Lupin only after the werewolf’s stint as Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor. After Severus had revealed Lupin’s secret, something deep inside his conscience had begun to tell him that Remus had had enough from him, that he had gotten his revenge, and that he could let things be. This had made it much easier to obey Dumbledore’s order to patch up the old schoolboy grudges in the interests of the Order.
He continued to watch Lupin, though, because he was, after all, a werewolf. He watched closely, very closely. It was a shock to him when he began to like what he saw, when he began to watch Remus for pleasure rather than security reasons. He admired Remus’ self-control, it turned out. He fell prey to Remus’ almost-constant pleasantness; he came to know that the werewolf really was a decent person who truly did not enjoy conflict. He began to see a life in which he returned at night to a pleasant home, a home free of shouting and misery. He began to think that he could live with Lupin. He imagined that if he came home in a foul mood, Remus would ignore it or try to soothe it; this, in turn, would ease his foul spirits and make his tongue gentler—gentle enough that Remus would stay, maybe.
Finally, he had come back, cut and bloody from a botched mission, to find
Grimmauld Placedeserted except for Lupin. Remus had cleaned and healed his wounds with gentle hands. After that, Severus’ daydreams turned distinctly erotic. He could not close his eyes without imagining the feel of Remus’ calloused, gentle hands all over his body, doing things he had hitherto only done to himself.
It took Severus a while to come to grips with the fact that he loved a werewolf; it was quite an ideological swing from his former views on the subject. Yet, once he understood that he could not quiet his desires, he set out with the Slytherin’s ruthless efficiency to secure his own happiness. He researched extensively, he formulated plans, imagined every scenario, developed responses to every question or comment he anticipated. While he planned, he made strained conversation with Remus and did any other small thing he could to be closer to the werewolf.
There came a point when there was nothing left to do but wait for a time when he could make himself do what he wished to do, when he could garner the courage to approach Remus. He thought he would need a fair amount of courage as what he intended was nothing less than a perfect, cut-glass opportunity for Lupin to humiliate him. Certainly, Remus and his friends had humiliated him before, but this time was different: this time, he was deliberately seeking out that humiliation on the sliver of hope that it would not come.
As he waited for his courage to wax, Severus often asked himself why it was that he was so bent on this social and emotional suicide mission; he was well aware of the mix of vague distaste and indifference with which the werewolf regarded him. Often, in the throes of his melodramatic and hopeless passion, Severus had interpreted Remus’ kindness as an indication that his feelings were returned. Ultimately, though, he would remember that Lupin was by nature equally kind to everyone and that it meant nothing. So why did he continue to scheme for the heart of the wolf? For the same reason he continued to apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job every year, long after he came to understand that Albus would never give it to him. Primarily because it was not in his nature to shirk a challenge or to leave one uncompleted. And secondarily because the nasty sting of rejection was a form of penance he could not help but feel he deserved. This last, of course, never came close enough to conscious thought for him to have to admit it to himself.
Three days passed after Severus returned to Hogwarts. Neither heard anything from the other. Remus was bitterly disappointed at this, though it did not surprise him. Severus was beyond merely ‘disappointed’ and did not even consider whether it surprised him or not.
On the fourth day, Snape went again to Voldemort. At on the fourth night, Albus Dumbledore’s head exploded among a halo of green flames in the kitchen fire at
“Good evening, Remus.”
Lupin, who had been eating a late dinner after a mission of his own, leapt to his feet. Moving swiftly to the fire, he assessed the worried look on the Headmaster’s face. “What’s happened?”
Dumbledore sighed. “Severus”—here Remus’ blood froze solid—“has had a slight accident—he’s perfectly fine, Remus. At any rate, he will be as soon as Madame Pomfrey administers a certain potion to him. That’s why I called. If you don’t mind terribly much, I would like you to bring two vials of the Elixir of Dying Life to Hogwarts immediately. You will find these in Severus’ workshop at Headquarters.”
Here Remus, who had previously been listening in a daze, blinked vigorously and interrupted. “Severus has a workshop here?”
Albus smiled. “Yes, of course. I believe it is concealed behind the rather horrid tapestry in his chambers. Mind you hurry now, Remus. The sooner Severus receives the draught, the easier his recovery.”
Remus nodded somewhat stupidly—numbly, actually—and sprang to his feet. He was gone from the kitchen before the Headmaster’s head had disappeared from the fire.
The workshop was basically what one would expect of any room in which Snape spent a lot of his time. It was filled, like his office, with jars of unpleasant things preserved in some viscous, foul-smelling liquid. The only difference was that many of the specimens in this room were less easily-acquired and much more dangerous than anything Snape kept at Hogwarts. As Lupin would have imagined, the jars of unpleasantness were neatly arranged on each shelf, each item grouped by its effect in a potion and sub-grouped by its potency. The room was a masterpiece of organization.
It had a tidy, sterile feel as well. There was a single, massive set of bookshelves, but it was completely filled with texts Severus might use in his research. There was nothing human about the place, except—
Remus stood completely still, forgetting his assignment and staring at the smallish tome on Severus’ desk. Its cover displayed the likenesses of two wolves mating passionately under the full moon. The title read The New Revised Compendium of Lycanthrope Courting and Mating Rituals.
Well now, thought Remus, I certainly don’t know enough about werewolf mating rituals to merit a compendium. Then again, said another voice inside his head, maybe that’s why you have had such trouble procuring a mate…
Curious, Remus picked up the book to inspect it more closely. As he did so, he noticed a green leather bookmarker placed in its pages. He allowed the volume to fall open to the appointed location and glanced over what Severus had marked. And stared, open-mouthed. And then laughed out loud—let go a war whoop, more like. And then read again, just to be sure he had not misunderstood:
“Werewolves mate for life. Therefore, a werewolf’s first mate is his only mate; it is not in their nature to be unfaithful. For a werewolf, the act of sexual intercourse with another is tantamount to marriage; it constitutes a permanent, unbreakable bond.”
Still laughing with delight and relief, Remus hurriedly found the stoppered flasks of the Elixir of Dying Life and tore back down the stairs to the kitchen fire.
The Elixir restored Snape in short order and even Madam Pomfrey agreed that he could return to his quarters for the night. As he did this, he reflected on the fact that, according to Dumbledore, Remus had delivered the Elixir to Hogwarts. And then returned immediately to Headquarters, it seemed. Severus could not help the crackle of hurt and bitterness that danced around him. A week ago, Remus would have come out of a sense of decency, of friendship. Now, it seemed, he would not even bear the sight of the Potions Master unless he was commanded.
Snape opened his door and took his own turn to stare. Lupin was standing in the middle of his sitting room, his shirt unbuttoned, his left shoulder bared.
“Bite me, Severus.”
“Excuse me?” No amount of hurt would make him accept such an insult quietly.
“This is rubbish.” Snape was horrified to see Lupin holding up the book on werewolf mating habits. Will he leave me no dignity? Snape wondered. He moved to snatch the book from Lupin’s hand, but the werewolf danced back a step. “Absolute rubbish,” he laughed here, “I would expect you to procure your research materials from a reliable source, Severus. Werewolves don’t mate for life and we’re most certainly not celibate until we do mate. Honestly, if you knew the times I’ve—“ he stopped, seeing the pained look on Severus’ face.
He stepped closer to Snape, close enough to be unmistakably invading the Potions Master’s personal space, close enough that each could feel heat radiating off the other. Snape stood motionless, hunger for Lupin’s closeness winning out over dignity. When he next spoke, Remus’ voice was much softer, “I wouldn’t have thought you capable of something like this, Severus. Not for me, at any rate.” Snape’s face registered his surprise at these words and at Remus’ hand as it rose to touch his cheek lightly. He could not help but shiver slightly.
Now Remus’ voice was husky. “Bite me, Severus, here on the shoulder,” he tapped the named area with his other hand, “Then, take off your clothes, bare your own skin to me, and I’ll do the same.”
Silence and a confused look from Snape were all the answers he got; he sighed softly and continued, “This is how we marry, Severus. By marking each other, by tasting each other’s blood. It’s a sign of trust to bear one’s flesh to the teeth of a monster, you know. It isn’t automatically for life, but it can be…if we want it to be.” He paused. “Well, there’s always the traditional ceremony, but considering what you thought you were doing…I mean…” He stopped, suddenly uncertain of whether or not he had read the signs correctly; Snape was being entirely too quiet, was looking at him entirely too intently.
After a moment, “Severus, speak. Say something, anything.”
There was a note of pleading, so Severus, struggling madly with desire, confusion, surprise, and disbelief, felt compelled to answer. “I saw the look on your face when I returned from the Dark Lord. I saw the disgust. I won’t be made a fool of, Lupin. Not even for you.”
Remus stared, then shook his head. “I was only disgusted with Bill and Kingsley and the others for being snide with you. I suppose that sounds trite, but it’s true. I dislike very much the way the Order treats you, Severus. I understand what it is to be so blindly mistrusted.”
One thing you learned when you were being taught the art of Legilimency was that it was under no circumstances acceptable to go prying around in other people’s minds without permission in all but the most extreme circumstances. It was, Snape knew from experience, an unforgivable violation of one’s privacy.
But as much as he was loath to do such a thing to Lupin, he had to know, to be absolutely sure, just this once. So he reached out, ever so subtly and delicately, and brushed the very surface of Lupin’s mind with his own.
And felt no deception, but a good deal of something very much like love.
It startled him speechless, so he did not speak.
He simply leaned forward and bit down hard on Lupin’s exposed flesh.