Title: Reflection
Author: Lyricality
Rating: PG-13
Description: Written for the Master and the Wolf 30-minute fic challenge. Based on no particular challenge, but heavily inspired by the music video for Sarah McLachlan's Building a Mystery. Some sexual overtones.
Archived: On the Master and the Wolf website. Elsewhere after November 17th, 2004, only by author permission.
C&C: Please. Contact me at lyricalitys@yahoo.com

"You take me in
No questions asked
You strip away the ugliness that surrounds me."
--Sarah McLachlan, "Sweet Surrender"

"This way." Lupin's voice brushed warm against his ear, hands guiding him, fingers wrapped around his wrists. "Don't trip, now."

Snape responded with a snort. "I'm not so ungainly as that."

Lupin merely chuckled, leading him a few more steps. The air here felt close, pressing in against his skin. A narrow space. Uncurling from his wrists, Lupin's hands slid up his back, over his shoulderblades and along the nape of his neck, settling at the knot of the blindfold. "Let me guess. You see in the dark, like a cat."

"Like a bat," Severus smirked, then caught his breath when Lupin brushed against the edge of his mouth, kissing the curve from his lips.

There came a creaking sound just in front of him, a door opening, then Lupin pressed a hand at the small of his back, and he stepped inside somewhere even narrower, with a scent of dust and ash. Behind them both, the door slid shut, and Snape could feel the darkness pressing in against his eyelids; it was precious and complete. He was all wary anticipation, nerves stretched taut, and he jumped when Lupin's hands slid up his torso and settled over his chest. Unbuttoning.

"Lupin," he hissed, reflexively catching the man's fingers, cheeks flushing.

The voice burned low like whiskey, from the inside out, murmuring against his temple. "I'm the only one here, Severus."

Trust me, unspoken.

Snape let his hands fall, but they clenched at his sides, repressing suspicion as Lupin finished the row of buttons, stripping away his robe, weight off one shoulder, then the other.

"I had a lot of trouble," Lupin murmured, fingers slipping now between the buttons of Severus' shirt, nimbly unfastening, "thinking of just the right thing." Cold air and warm skin touched his chest, shirt cast aside now, and Lupin's hands moved to the waist of his pants. "It had to be something singular. Like you."

Severus quirked a dry smile. "I suppose that's one description."

Ignoring the interruption, Lupin guided Severus' hands to his shoulders, balance offered as he knelt and stripped cloth from one leg, then the other, bare skin in the perfect dark.

"It had to be something no one else could give you," Lupin continued. He rose to his feet again, then stepped back. A moment later.came sensation, and Snape paused, uncertain just how to categorize what was now sliding over his chest, draping him like a garment. It was soft as velvet, tickling sharp as feathers, strong but supple as living metal. "Something no one else would think to give you."

Lupin curved against him from behind, sudden and solid, fingers working briefly before the blindfold fell away. Severus blinked into the dark.

Around his waist curled one of Lupin's arms, hard and hot, and then came a spark of light, a word whispered into his ear. The world around him blazed suddenly into burning dark, black and golden, gleaming gray and bright like ash in stolen fire. In front him stood someone he didn't recognize, lit unearthly in whatever magic Lupin had crafted, and his features were sharp and smooth, lines too harsh, but beautiful contrasted against the smooth curves of darkness that he wore like a shroud. Darkness lovely against pale skin, like raven feathers and dying embers, flickering gold and green.

Then Lupin moved behind the image, behind him, and Severus experience a rush of profound, incandescent disorientation, looking at himself, reflected in this mirrored room. Double-reflected in Lupin's amber irises, clad in the gorgeous darkness Lupin had fashioned only for him.

"For you," Lupin confirmed against his throat. "I wanted to give you yourself--because you don't think you're beautiful."

Severus felt himself sinking, drawn into this blackness, familiar as his own skin. He arched back his neck, and gave out a gasp when Lupin's lips settled at the hollow of his throat. "Remus."

"But I do," Lupin breathed. "I do."

Severus could give nothing comparable in return, so he gave himself, in this seductive beauty, in this new self-awareness. It was surrender and trust, and he could imagine no better show of thanks for Lupin's gift than that.