Disclaimer: Anyone or anything you've heard of before belongs to the goddess, J. K. Rowling, and not to me.
Title: The Ties That Bind
Author: DovieLR (http://www.livejournal.com/~dovielr)
Warning: This story (eventually) contains graphic portrayals of bestiality. Also, this will probably be very, very AU by the time the seventh book comes out. Because of that, I'm not going to even bother figuring out how to fit the story within a canon framework. And it's got an original character, though he doesn't figure prominently. But anyway ... read at your own risk!
Archiving: Master and the Wolf Archive. All others, please ask.
Summary: A combination of the following:
Dedication: Thanks to Gráinne for the beta, Hazel for letting me steal a line from "Sedation in Agony" (even though she had never imagined that story being quoted in a comedy), and Magdellin for pointing out that continuity error I'd completely missed. Doh! *smacks forehead*
- Challenge #47: The couple has a sexual problem and they must seek help.
- Challenge #74: Because of a wayward student prank, Snape and Lupin can't move more than a few steps apart from each other for one month.
Neville Longbottom was a kind enough boy, one who had really come into his own over the past few years, and Remus liked him a great deal. But he was a sore subject where Severus was concernedever since the boggart thing, or perhaps even before that. When Neville had come to Remus for pointers on how to go about asking Severus to help him with a Binding Brew (since he had always had trouble keeping up with his toad, Trevor), Remus had promised Neville he'd speak to Professor Snape and attempt to persuade him.
The reason Neville had come to him first was obvious: Remus was kind and approachable, whereas Severus was ... not. As he'd expected when he broached the subjectafter a making them a nice romantic dinner, getting him fairly tipsy with nettle wine, and giving him a massageSeverus had hated the idea. He had told Remus in no uncertain terms that he'd be hesitant to let the boy try, as he'd mucked up much simpler potions. Remus had pleaded on Neville's behalf, however, and even offered what little help he could give. Finally Severus had given in. And for once Neville seemed to have got a potion right.
Severus had breathed down his neck the entire time, of course, and Neville's hands had shaken when he'd added the ingredients or when he stirred. But the impending doom Severus predicted never came to pass. Remus smiled proudly as Neville dribbled a few drops on his hand and then took a few steps in one direction. Trevor then dutifully hopped along behind him. A small flicker of something akin to pride even showed on Severus' face as Neville tested his concoction, though Neville would never have noticed.
"Moronic though you undoubtedly are, Longbottom, allow me to congratulate you on your first successful potion."
Remus shot Severus a reproving look, even as Neville blushed.
"Or at least your first successful potion without having Miss Granger hissing instructions in your ear."
Severus cocked an eyebrow, as if asking Remus' opinion on whether his qualification of his previous statement was an adequate compromise. Neville blushed on, and Remus only frowned. Severus did not, however, wait for any sort of verbal reply before continuing.
"If all goes as planned, your toad ought not to be able to move more than a metre away from you in any direction. Should he try, you shall be alerted immediately."
Severus regarded Neville for a moment, eyebrows rising high on his forehead, as if pleasantly surprised that Neville had had the presence of mind to ask. Then again, perhaps he was merely surprised Neville had the courage to ask him a question at all.
"I assure you, Longbottom ... you'll know."
His momentary flare of anger soon forgotten, Remus watched and listened with rapt attention as Severus delivered a mini-lecture on the potion Neville had just produced.
"The effects of the Binding Brew endure in full force for a period of precisely thirty days. You'll find that one drop is normally sufficient to produce the desired result. Provided it is properly stoppered in a air-tight container, the potion remains effective for as long as a decade. As such, what you have here in your cauldron should last you throughout the remainder of this toad's life and quite possibly the lives of any other wayward toads you may procure in the future. You'll notice the liquid has an aroma reminiscent of freshly turned soil?"
Neville had bent to scoop Trevor off the floor, but he was evidently startled at the question, as Severus had addressed him almost like an equal. He quickly straightened with a timid squeak and dropped his pet in the process.
"Don't kill him, Longbottom," Severus drawled wearily. "The last thing you want is to be Bound to a dead toad. They become ... aromatic ... with surprising rapidity. Now. As I was saying ... the potion has an earthy scent when it is still effective. Should it oxidise, it will take on the smell of bananas. At the first hint of any fruity odour, discontinue usage ... unless, of course, you wish for your pet to suffer unduly."
Neville nodded, shoving Trevor inside the breast pocket of his robes. Shortly he grabbed the ladle and a flask to bottle the potion and murmured, "Thank you, Professor Snape."
Then everything went to hell.
His cauldron gave a lurch and an ominous rumble. Ever the paragon of safety, Severus shoved the boy aside. As a result he caught the full force of the blast when the potion erupted in a blue arc that reached the ceiling before falling to drench his hair and robes. Severus stood thereeyes widened and mouth agapefor a whole second before narrowing his eyes and clenching his jaw.
"Longbottom. Get. Out!" he growled, his hands balling into fists.
Neville didn't have to be told twice. He took one wild-eyed look at Severus' reddening skin and sprinted from the dungeon classroom, still clutching the bottle and ladle. Severus then stalked toward his office and slammed the door behind him. Remus would have gladly left him alone whilst he cleaned himself upall the better to avoid the impending rage and "I told you so" ... except...
Except he felt strangely compelled to follow.
The compulsion quickly transformed into a tug behind his stomach that reminded him of a Portkey and, soon after that, a burning sensation with every step Severus took away from him on the other side of the door. Before he allowed it to become real pain, Remus closed the distance but found the door locked. Not a second later, a still sopping Severusghostly white, or he would have been if he weren't tinged bluewrenched the door open. He looked utterly surprised and reeked of guilt, whereas Remus was only confused.
Next second, his expression impassive again, Severus beckoned Remus inside. "It appears you'd best accompany me, Lupin, whilst I have a shower and change my robes."
Soon Remus found himself in a small bathroom hidden inside Severus' office. Severus explained that he had had these facilities installed for just this sort of accident, though he'd expected a student rather than himself to be covered in the offending potion. Once Severus had stripped and turned on the water, he stepped inside the shower. Remus made himself comfortable on the closed toilet next to the shower, ready to hand Severus the soap or shampoo or a towel whenever he had need of them.
"Soap!" was the curt order, followed by one long-fingered, faintly blue hand sticking itself out from behind the shower curtain.
Remus placed the bar into that hand without delay. "I see what you meant about how Neville would know immediately if Trevor tried to get away from him," he said feebly, for lack of a better opener.
Only a grunt and sloshy scrubbing sounds answered him.
"So what did he do wrong?"
"Nothing ... for once. Shampoo."
The hand, still holding the soap, appeared again. Remus replaced the soggy bar with the bottle almost immediately.
"How do you know?"
Even through the opaque shower curtain, Remus could tell Severus had stiffened. He hated being questioned about Potions, and especially by the likes of Remus, who brewed no better than Neville on his worst days. His hands rose to furiously scrub his head as he answered.
"The potion smelt right. It tasted right. The colour and texture were both perfect. And furthermore, it worked exactly as it was meant to. Longbottom produced an exemplary Binding Brew if I've ever seen one."
Severus tilted his head back to rinse his hair, and any chance Remus had to pose another question quickly drowned in the resulting spray. In a moment, Severus turned off the water then twisted and squeezed his hair before throwing open the shower curtain.
"Then why am I suddenly Bound to you?" Remus asked then, handing him a towel. "I'm not an animal."
The muttered reply was almost lost in the folds of material as Severus again scrubbed his hair with a vengeance, this time through the towel. "You are once a month."
Remus nodded distractedly, as Severus bent to towel off his long legs and, shortly thereafter, dressed in fresh, dry, potion-free robes.
"What should we do now?" Remus asked.
Severus combed his fingers through his still moist, unruly hair before answering. "I think we ought to see how much of Longbottom's brew we can salvage, and then we should examine his cauldron to try and determine exactly why it decided to spew its contents all over me. And finally, we should see the headmaster."
Remus nodded again, smiling. Most people would have expected Severus to do nothing more than fume or brood for the remainder of the afternoon because of the situation in which they now found themselves. But most people really didn't know him. He would see no reason to wallow in misery over their dilemma, and certainly not when there was still work to do. Always practical, his Severus.
"What, Lupin?" he asked then, his eyes narrowing.
Remus' grin broadened. "Nothing Severus. I was just thinking once again of what a lucky man I am."
Severus smirked and gave Remus a quick peck on the lips. He then jerked his head toward the door to the classroom. "Come, Lupin. We've work to do."
Soon after they were scraping the sides of Neville's cauldron to gather every drop of potion they could.
"Be certain to wash your hands before we leave," Severus warned.
Remus found himself blinking again. "Why? We're already Bound. A drop here and there shouldn't make any difference, should it?"
Severus shook his head, handing Remus a flask to cap. "A few errant drops won't Bind us any more strongly than we already are, no. But this potion is fairly caustic, and eventually you'll develop a nasty rash."
"You didn't tell Neville that," Remus said, frowning.
Severus quirked an eyebrow. "After what Longbottom has just done to the both of us, I have absolutely no sympathy for his soon-to-be itching, burning skin."
Remus sighed and set down the flask. "You know I love you, Severus, but sometimes you can be a right bastard."
Again he smirked. "Why thank you, Lupin. I do try."
Barely resisting a strong urge to sigh again, Remus turned his attention to Neville's now empty cauldron. Once the lingering magical traces of the potion had been cleared away, he found another magical signature underneathfaint, but nonetheless distinctive. Sometime during Remus' examination of the cauldron, Severus had started speaking again, but Remus only half-listed as he attempted to identify the culprit.
"...honestly don't know why I allowed you to talk me into this disastrous undertaking, since everything Longbottom touchesno, looks atturns to shi"
When Remus finally puzzled out whose work this was, he turned sharply to look Severus in the eye, the sudden movement causing him to break off mid-curse.
"What about him?" Severus asked, his eyes again narrowing suspiciously.
"He sabotaged Neville's cauldron, Severus," Remus said, rolling his eyes.
Severus' eyes then travelled ceiling-ward, as well. "Don't be ridiculous, Lupin. I'm the boy's godfather. I think I'd know if he were capable of such advanced Dark magic." His actions belied his words, however, as Severus took a step closer to examine the cauldron himself. Soon enough he paled, and his thin-lipped mouth distinctly formed the silent exclamation, "That little bastard!"
Not normally one to gloat, Remus cleared his throat in an attempt to repress the smile now threatening his features. "I daresay he set the spell to make Neville's cauldron erupt in the unlikely event that he ever thanked you."
"Why would he do that?" Severus asked quietly, still running his hand over the side of the cauldron and regarding the pewter with a puzzled expression.
"Neville would only be likely to thank you after he'd made a successful potion," Remus said with a shrug. "And having the potion in question explode all over him would certainly taint his victory."
"That does sound like something Draco would do," Severus said, looking up with just a hint of a smile. "I shall have to have a talk with him about forging my signature."
Remus' eyebrows rose. "Forging your signature?"
Severus nodded. "There's only one book in the Restricted Section that discusses setting triggered curses on inanimate objects, and I did not authorise him to borrow it." Remus barely had time to marvel at not only how amazing Severus' memory was but also at how quickly his mind worked before he added, "We'd best go and see Professor Dumbledore now."
Soon after they were on their way. The headmaster smiled as he received them inside his office, as always, his grin only fading when Severus announced that there had been an accident in the dungeon.
"Was anyone hurt?"
"No, Headmaster. Well ... not exactly."
"Then what happened?" Dumbledore asked with a slight shrug, spreading his hands palm-up on the desk.
Severus frowned and took a deep breath. "Longbottom's cauldron exploded, bathing me in a Binding Brew."
The headmaster's bushy white eyebrows contracted. "Refresh my memory, Severus. What exactly is a Binding Brew?"
After another deep breath, Severus clasped his hands behind his back and assumed the tone of a lecturer. "The Binding Brew connects the person to whose skin the potion is applied to the animal to which that person feels the closest." Severus frowned again, as the next part seemed painful to admit. "Longbottom made the potion perfectly, so Lupin and I will no doubt be unable to move more than a metre away from one another for the next thirty days. But at least we won't have to worry about any unforeseen side-effects due to an Longbottom's usual lack-lustre brewing."
Despite another barb at Neville's expense, Remus smiled softly as the full meaning finally soaked in: Severus felt close to his wolf form. That's why they were now Bound. Severus had no pets, hadn't in the entire time Remus had known himnot even so much as an owl when they were at school together. In addition to being quite sweet, Remus was surprised to find the idea was also something of a relief, since Severus had been afraid of his wolf form for the longest time.
They'd been an exclusive couple for a full six months before Severus had worked up the courage to see Remus transformed, and even then he had refused to touch him. After another two months, he'd finally petted Remus' pelt tentatively, which eventually gave way to cuddling and wrestling and scratching his belly in subsequent months. Remus grinned when he thought of the last full moon: Severus had paid so much attention to his stomach that night, in factscratching, tickling, and nuzzlingthat Remus had become more than a little excited. But at least Severus had finally accepted Remus' wolf form. More than accepted, as their current predicament clearly showed.
When Remus looked at Dumbledore again, his eyes were twinkling. Apparently he had put two and two together and made four every bit as quickly as Severus had earlier. "And there is no antidote?"
Severus only shook his head, his frown becoming even more pronounced.
Dumbledore nodded. "I see. Well, in that case, you'll be needing this..." He leant back, opened his topmost desk drawer, and withdrew a Time Turner, which he handed across the desk to Severus. "In order to make all your classes."
Staring down at the gold hourglass and chain in his hands, Severus nodded again, but he made no move toward the door. Under normal circumstances when his business had been concluded, he would have swept from the room with his robes billowing behind him. Dumbledore apparently noticed the departure from his Potions master's normal behaviour, as well.
"Was there something else, Severus?"
The question seemed to jolt Severus awake. He looked up quickly, blood rushing into his cheeks. "Ah ... yes, actually ... Headmaster..." Another deep breath went in, and then he spoke quickly, as if afraid to lose his nerve. "I realise this is highly irregularbut seeing as we have little choice in the matterLupin should probably move into my quarters."
By the time he'd finished, Severus had turned completely red. Remus, however, found himself grinning from ear to ear. Not because Severus was embarrassed at asking the headmaster's permission for cohabitingthough that in and of itself was absolutely adorablebut because Remus had mentioned moving in together several times before. Every time Severus had made excuses or simply changed the subject. It was probably wrong of him, but Remus couldn't help being a little excited at the prospect.
Dumbledore nodded again, and Remus noticed his eyes still twinkled. "Perfectly understandable, given the circumstances."
Severus nodded, muttered his barely audible thanks, and wheeled about. This time his robes did flap behind him as he rushed from the office and down the circular staircase. The burning in his stomach urging him uncomfortably on, Remus followed in Severus' wake, almost running to catch him up.
"Please slow down, Severus!" he implored. "This is going to be difficult enough as it is without having a dreadful case of heartburn every time you're in a hurry."
Severus did better than slow down. He came to an abrupt halt and turned back around, scowling. Apparently he'd either forgotten or hadn't fully realised that the "animal" Bound to him would experience pain as a deterrent to wandering too far. "Ah ... sorry, Lupin," he mumbled, face reddening again.
Remus smiled and grasped his upper arm. "No, noit's all right. It didn't hurt too awfully much. But I wanted to walk with you." He resisted the urge to link arms when they started down the corridor again.
"Well, you should be happy now," Severus said, watching his feet as they movedapparently toward Remus' quarters to collect his things.
Remus shook his head with an indulgent smile. "You say that almost as if I'd planned this."
Severus made no reply other than to turn toward him and raise an eyebrow, which said quite enough.
Remus' eyes rolled again, all on their own. "Now who's being ridiculous?"
"Oh, I wouldn't be so quick to call my suspicions ridiculous, Lupin," Severus said, his frown coming back in full force. "I did express my concerns that such a spell might be out of Draco's reach, and you are exceptionally knowledgeable in the Dark Arts. I wouldn't say setting the spell yourself and disguising the traces so that it appeared Draco had done it would be out of the realm of possibility for someone with your talents."
"All so I could move in with you?" Remus asked, his shoulders shaking with repressed laughter. "I won't deny that your quarters are nicer than mine, Severus, but they're not so nice that I'd put myself through the trouble of being Bound to you for an entire month."
"You were exceedingly anxious to have Longbottom make a Binding Brew, Lupin," Severus said with a shrug. "And you seemed to work out not only Draco's method of employing the curse but also the motivations behind the action quite quickly."
Remus could only shake his head. "You don't have to have a devious mind to understand how one works, Severus." He smiled and quietly added, "After all, look with whom I've chosen to spend most of my free time. I can't help it if a little deviousness has rubbed off."
Severus tried hard not to smile as well, but he had little success.
"As for the Binding Brew, I was anxious to have Neville make one because I wanted to help him ... and you."
The eyebrow sprang up again. "Help me? How on earth could presiding over yet another of Longbottom's many catastrophes possibly help me?"
Now it was Remus' turn to smirk. "You have the potential to be a wonderful teacher, Severus ... if you could learn to hide your disgust with any student who isn't as brilliant a potion-brewer as you are, that is."
Though he'd meant the comment as a bit of friendly advice, Severus had taken it as more of a rebuke, judging by his expression and the sullen silence that followed them all the way to Remus' room. He gave a small sigh and unlocked the door to his small apartment. Without another word on the matter, he continued to his bedroom to begin packing. Severus followed, as he hadn't much choice, and sat in the chair in the corner with his arms folded protectively over his chest. When Remus had cleaned out the books and papers in his bureau that he needed for his classes and moved on to the clothes in his wardrobe, Severus had to move, as well. Instead of offering his assistance, however, he only picked up his chair, crossed the room to the wardrobe, and sat down again.
"This would probably go a great deal faster if you'd stop sulking and help me," Remus suggested as pleasantly as he could, setting one filled, tattered suitcase on the bed. "I don't imagine you'll want to be up all night watching me pack, and I know you don't want to stay here tonight."
Black eyes flicked in his direction, followed by what Remus had come to think of affectionately as the scowl-growl: the intense frown and grumbling that always followed when Severus was presented with a task that he really didn't want to do but that he also knew was in his best interest. Severus scowl-growled all the way to the wardrobe door, in fact, and he continued to do so as he tugged Remus' robes off the hangers inside and shoved them haphazardly into a bag. Remus only smiled and shook his head again. The wrinkles could be fixed later with a charm, but at least Severus was helpingscowls and growls notwithstanding.
Once they had finished with his clothing, all that was left were Remus' toiletries. Like it or not, Severus followed to the bathroom whilst Remus packed his shaving kit, some pre-measured dosages of Wolfsbane Potion, and his toothbrush. When he was done, Remus shoved them all in a bag, but before Severus could run away again, he pulled his wand to close and lock the bathroom door. Severus tried the knob and then turned around to face him, the scowl-growl starting anew.
"I'm sorry, Severus," Remus began quietly.
The black eyes now inspected the floor, as Severus leant against the door, his arms again protecting his ribcage. "I've been teaching for fourteen years longer than you have, Lupin"
"I know that, Severus."
"And yet, you presume to tell me how to do my job?" he asked, jaw clenching.
"No, of course not!"
"Then what would you call that?"
"It was only a suggestion!"
Severus took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, clearly working hard to keep his temper in check. "I dislike Longbottom not because he is a lamentable potion-brewer, though he is remarkably bad, but because he is just inept enough that he regularly endangers himself and everyone around him."
Remus clasped his hands together and sighed softly. "All right, Severus. I'll give you that. But look how well he did today! He'll never be as good a brewer as you, granted, but you've obviously taught him a great dealeven if he's terrified of you. As I said, you have the potential to be a wonderful teacher."
A smirk curved one corner of Severus' mouth. "Apparently I'm already a wonderful teacher if the likes of Longbottom can scrape an 'acceptable' O.W.L. Either that, or the Ministry have relaxed their guidelines a great deal since you and I sat for our O.W.L.s."
Remus approached the door, pulled Severus' arms away from his chest, and placed Severus' hands on his waist. "I am sorry, Severus," he whispered and then planted a light kiss on Severus' neck as he worked his own arms around his back. "I never meant to hurt your feelings."
The hands on his waist slid around to interlace their fingers behind his back, and Severus gave him a light squeeze and a peck on the forehead. "Apology accepted, Lupin."
Remus looked up and smiled. "You know, Severusyou are terribly cute when you're annoyed."
Severus rolled his eyes. "I am not cuteannoyed or otherwise."
"But you are! You have this frown line" Remus raised a finger to stroke the crease over the bridge of Severus' nose when he frowned again. "that is absolutely adorable, and even your grumbling is cute."
"Well, I'm glad you find them endearing, Lupin, since you go out of your way to make certain my frowns are surprisingly frequent."
Remus chuckled and went up on tiptoes to kiss him. Severus moaned softly, low in his throat, and ran his hands up Remus' back. As Severus opened his mouth to the kiss, Remus smiled briefly before slipping his tongue inside and sucking gently as the pliant, receptive mouth pressed against his. All it took was one good kiss, and Severus was putty in his hands. It had always been that way, though Remus tried not to use that weakness to his advantage. He wasn't a Slytherin, after all. Barely five seconds later, when Remus pulled away, Severus was flushed and almost panting.
"We'd best get these things back to my room," he whispered. "So we can go to bed."
Remus waggled his eyebrows. "I thought you'd never ask."
* * * * * *
The Time Turner Professor Dumbledore had supplied was calibrated for four-hour increments. It turned out to be the same one Severus used monthly to cover Remus' Defence classes when he was indisposed. Since Severus was an old hand at this, he already had a plan worked out, which he explained as they walked down to the Great Hall for breakfast.
Every day they'd have breakfast and one set of morning lessons followed by lunch. After one turn of the Time Turner, they'd cover the other's morning classes and then have supper cleverly disguised as lunch. Following that they'd get some sleep. The next "morning," they'd give the hourglass two more turns, then have lunch-as-breakfast, and attend the first round of afternoon classes from the previous day. Finally, after one last turn, they'd attend the second round of afternoon lessons. Except for weekends, for every day that actually passed, they would live two. That would make the potion's effects last nearly two months total all told, as the Binding Brew went by calendar time regardless of their repeating increments of four hours. But that shouldn't be so bad. Remus thought that they could survive this quite easily.
On the question of whose morning lessons they'd attend first, Remus had no opinion, and so Severus chose his own lessons. First up was seventh years in Double N.E.W.T.-level Potions. Before proceeding into the classroom, Severus went to his office and grabbed a clipboard and a piece of parchment, which he shoved into Remus' hands.
"What's this for?" Remus asked, surprised.
"I'm going to tell my students that you are observing my lessons, and I suggest that you do the same. The less they know, the better. So you'll need to make notes." He shrugged slightly. "To 'inform' the headmaster of how things went."
Remus nodded, hearing the quotes in the statement, and took a quill off Severus' desk. After that, he followed Severus into the classroom. At the beginning of the period, Severus mentioned casually that Professor Lupin would be observing their lessons for the next month. None of the students seemed to think there was anything out of the ordinary in this, and the class went on about its business, altogether uneventfully.
When the students set to brewing, Remus followed Severus about the room pretending to be intrigued by a subject that more often than not flew miles over his head, scribbling the occasional nonsense note to himself. Surprisingly he found didn't have to feign his interest for long, since he found something infinitely more interesting than the brewing taking place in the dungeon classroom.
A startling transformation came over Severus when in the presence of his best and brightest students. The characteristic impatience all but evaporated as he quizzed them, and they answered his questions immediately and intelligently. He smiled and teased them, evenjust like an old friendand appeared to be having a great deal of fun. It was a joy to watch. Remus had to work hard not to look like a lovesick teenager as he watched his lover come alive in a way he rarely saw outside the confines of the bedroom. He also imagined the notes he began to write would not have been the least bit suitable for the headmaster's eyes.
Suddenly it struck him why Severus had remained at Hogwarts for so long: for the sake of his N.E.W.T.-level Potions classes alone. Anyone who saw him in this room with these pupils would never know Severus had a reputation for favouring students in his House. Remus imagined the Slytherins didn't even know what favouring was, as Severus quite clearly favoured these students above all the othersregardless of House. There were three Slytherins in the class, but he treated them no better than the others. Even Hermione Granger reaped the benefits of Severus' good will when not flanked by Harry and Ron.
After the bell rang, Severus asked Draco Malfoy to stay behind. His godson was obviously disconcerted when Remus followed the two of them into the dungeon office. Remus busied himself with studying the many slimy things floating in jars on the shelves as Severus seated himself behind his desk.
"What's going on, Professor?"
Severus leant back in his chair, placing his elbows on the arms and pressing the tips of his long fingers together. "Yesterday Professor Lupin and I discovered a jinx you planted in Neville Longbottom's cauldron, Draco."
Remus couldn't help noticing that Malfoy looked briefly at him and then toward the door. Severus had apparently read the plea in his expression, too.
"Your wayward curse is precisely the reason why Professor Lupin must be present."
"I ... I don't understand, Professor," the boy replied, shaking his head.
"I suppose you hadn't thought when you set this spell on Longbottom's cauldron that your Head of House might be affected, as well?"
"N-no, of course I hadn't!" A panicked note clearly sounded in his voice.
Now Severus raised an eyebrow. "And why not?"
"I ... I..." His mouth opened and closed a few times. During none of those times, however, did he seem to locate an acceptable answer, so Severus supplied him with one.
"There is a reason we have only one book in the Hogwarts Library that discusses cursing inanimate objects with an activation mechanism: because one cannot possibly account for all the variables involved at the moment when the curse goes off. As such, stimulated curses are very dangerous indeed. Furthermore, I don't recall authorising you to borrow Imprecations of Osiris from the Restricted Section. Therefore I am forced to conclude that you either received permission from somebody else on the staffwhich is highly unlikelyor that you have somehow become proficient at signing my name."
By then, Malfoy's pale skin had turned bright pink, and he practically squirmed in his chair. "Are" He stopped speaking and gulped audibly. "Are you going to tell Father?"
Severus tapped his index fingers together for a long moment whilst he appeared to ponder the question. "No, I don't think so ... Not this time, at any rate. See to it that this doesn't happen again."
"It won't, Professor Snape. And I'm s-sorry, s-sir. I really didn't think"
"That much was obvious, Draco."
The flush in Malfoy's cheeks went from pink to maroon in a matter of seconds, and he suddenly became very interested in his knees. Despite his bowed head, he didn't miss the movement when Severus jerked his head toward the door. Malfoy rose silently and wasted no time in leaving. When Severus turned back to face Remus head on, he wore an amused smirk.
Remus raised an eyebrow. "I couldn't help noticing, Severus, that you didn't actually tell him not to hex Neville..."
He snorted. "Children will be children, Lupin." Severus rose and started across the office to one of his many store cupboards, pulling a large ring of heavy brass keys from his pocket as he went. "They're always hexing one another. If they didn't, Madam Pomfrey would be out of a job."
"That's no excuse, and you know it," Remus protested, stepping closer. The action was so automatic, he'd barely registered the burn in his stomach this time as Severus reached the boundary of the magical perimeter they both had to occupy at any given moment. "As a teacher, you should discourage them from fighting."
Whilst he flipped through the ring to locate the proper key, Severus shrugged. "I discourage fighting amongst pupils when I think it necessary."
"Spoken like a true Slytherin," Remus said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Severus froze with the proper key poised to enter the lock and dropped his voice to a dangerous whisper. "Just what is that supposed to mean?"
Remus shrugged with his arms still folded. "It just means that I imagine you only discourage fighting when a pupil from another House is in the wrong and one of your students is in the right."
"And what if I do?" Severus replied, shrugging again himself as he unlocked the cupboard. "Slytherins have enough strikes against them merely by virtue of their House. Guilt by association runs rampant at Hogwarts and in the wizarding world as a whole. I support and praise my students in public whilst administering my correction discreetly ... as any good Head of House ought."
Remus smiled and shook his head. The next thing he knew, a small, clinking wooden box was thrust into his stomach. He removed his arms from his chest and took hold of the thing instinctively, allowing Severus to close the cupboard and snap the padlock back into place.
"What's this?" Remus asked and nodded at his burden.
"Cyanide," Severus said simply, tucking the key ring away in his robes. He took the box back a second later, turned, and started toward the classroom. "I have the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff fourth years next, and they've been researching antidotes. The time has come to test them."
Remus stopped dead in the office doorwaystomach burn or noand swallowed reflexively. "You're going to poison them?"
Severus turned back around to face him. "I suppose you know a better way to determine the efficacy of their antidotes, Lupin?"
"Er ... no," Remus admitted with a shake of his head.
"Well, until you do," Severus said slowly, "I'd suggest that you not criticise how I teach."
Severus moved toward the back of the room and began to pile a quantity of small, brownish-white, smelly, hairy, ball-looking things in the box as well. He did have a point. Remus was the last person who should have been giving pointers as to how to teach Potions. On the other hand, cyanide was dangerous, and Remus really wasn't sure fourth years should be mucking about with something like thatnot to mention being poisoned by their teacher.
"Are you sure they're old enough to be do?"
"They are according to the Ministry," Severus snapped, rigid-jawed, now walking through the rows of desks and placing a phial of cyanide and one of the smelly balls at each station. "They may be dreadfully immature, but they are required to learn poison antidotes at this stage in their academic career. Therefore I make it perfectly clear that they will be taking the poison themselves to make certain they research their antidotes properly. Fear is an excellent encouragement." When he'd set a phial and ball down at the last work area, Severus placed the box on his desk, and after that, he went back toward the rear of the classroom.
"But what if they don't do it properly?"
Severus stopped again, exasperation written all over his features. "Do you really think I'd still be at Hogwarts if I made a habit of executing my students for their ineptitude rather than merely failing them?"
Remus frowned. He hadn't thought of that. If a student had died on Severus' watch, he would most certainly have been sacked. Too embarrassed to form a coherent reply, Remus shook his head. Thankfully, he didn't have to respond, because Severus continued without being prompted.
"Those smelly things are bezoars, Lupin. They are ... rather disgusting ... but eating one is vastly preferable to death, and Madam Pomfrey can sort out the resulting indigestion. Now if you are quite finished with telling me how to do my job, I've a class to teach."
Severus stepped past him, apparently to open the door into the dungeon hallway and allow the students inside. He'd only reached the back row of desks before Remus had to move that way as well. When the students began to file inside the room, most of them were pale and shaken-looking, as if they had just faced down a dementor. In fact, Remus' hand had gone halfway to retrieve a bar of chocolate from inside the breast pocket of his robes before he remembered that he no longer had to carry chocolate with him at Hogwarts. The dementors weren't guarding the school any more, and this lot were just terrified of their impending lesson.
Shortly Severus strode back to the front of the room, and Remus followed, standing back and off to the sideas far out of the way as he could. He also silently apologised to the children because Professor Snape would be in a bad mood for their lesson. Well, a worse mood than was normal, at any rate.
Looking annoyed, Severus cleared his throat to get the students' attention, though he needn't have bothered. Everyone already stared at him, sitting stiff as boards in their seats.
"Professor Lupin will be observing this lesson," he said without preamble, and Remus thought anyone could have heard a pin drop between words. "I'm sure you all have been studying your antidotes assiduously, so you will no doubt already know that several potions can successfully counteract cyanide poisoning. Everything you could possibly need to prepare whichever antidote you have chosen will be available for your use." With an irritated wave of his wand, he opened the students' store cupboard. "You have precisely sixty-five minutes ... starting now."
He turned over an hourglass on his desk and then began to prowl around the room with Remus following close behind, again attempting the semblance of note taking. Severus breathed down the students' necks as they consulted their parchments with trembling fingers and did their best not to spill ingredients vital to their antidotes. Not a single one of them would likely have noticedthey were far too terrifiedbut Severus seemed to be trying very hard not to laugh whenever they dropped things as he made comments. No one appeared to have the nerve to ask him an actual question.
When the preparation time was up, the hourglass chimed. Again Severus appeared to be attempting to stifle laughter, this time by biting the inside of this cheek from the looks of his face. His expression, however, had returned to sufficiently disapproving by the time he'd reached the front of the classroom.
"All right, that's enough," he said shortly. "Now. You will each find a dose of cyanide at your stations along with a bezoar. One of each pair is to take the cyanide and the other is to administer the antidote. If for some reason you have trouble deciding who will do which..." He lifted the wooden box on his desk and gave it a shake. The remaining phials of cyanide clinked together sharply. "I have enough poison prepared for each of you to have a dose. So ... I'll give you a moment to decide."
He paused and raised an eyebrow, apparently letting this statement sink in. The Ravenclaws got it first judging by their skin tones, which went a shade or two paler. A second later, the collective gasp from the Hufflepuffs showed that they'd worked out his meaning, too. Nevertheless, they all appeared to have chosen within a few minutes and waited patiently, if fearfully, to proceed. Soon Severus replaced the boxnone too gentlyon the desk. Once again he appeared to be having trouble containing himself when a student in the first row flinched, but he cleared his throat and recovered swiftly.
"Cyanide requires approximately fifteen minutes to take full affect, but you will know long before that if you've made your antidote incorrectly. Should you begin to experience any of these symptoms" He flicked his wand, and a list appeared behind him on the blackboard: weakness, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, numbness, tremors, blurred or otherwise affected vision, blue discoloration of the skin, convulsions, loss of consciousness, and death. "swallow the bezoar without delay. As bezoars will not harm you if ingested without the presence of poison, do not hesitate to eat it if you even think you feel odd. While you are waiting, fill a flask with your antidote so that I may conduct further tests. Start."
A few students jumped again at the last word, which he had barked out, rather shortly in Remus' estimation. This time, Severus didn't appear the least bit amused as circled through the desks. He obviously watched them like a hawk, and now he was the jumpy one, turning at the slightest of noises. The students probably thought he was merely attempting to frighten them some more, or that he would like nothing better than to watch them turning blue and gasping out their last as the poison took effect. But Remus knew better.
The tense shoulders; the wary, narrowed eyes; the rapid heartbeat; the smell of adrenaline: everything about Severus' carriage and physiology that moment spoke of concern for these children's welfare and nerves on edge. If they could have only smelt him as Remus could, they would have known the truth. Whether they'd believed it, however, was another matter entirely. In the end only two pupils ate the bezoars, both of whom Severus instructed to go to the hospital wing directly as soon as he'd dismissed the class.
They had the next period free. At least Severus did normally, which meant Remus now did as well. Or as free as he could have it, provided he didn't think of his Defence students upstairs at that very moment, who were most likely twiddling their thumbs and staring at the walls, wondering when he'd turn up. He would catch them after lunch, though. During the next period, Severus decided to test the questionable antidotes. He picked the two flasks out of the group the students had left, placed them in the box with the cyanide and remaining bezoars, and took the lot to his office.
"So how are you going to test them?" Remus asked idly, as he pulled off the parchment with the scandalous notes he'd written during the first potions lesson of the day and replaced it with a clean sheet of parchment.
Only when Severus had sat down at his desk did Remus notice the empty cyanide phial in his hand. He had chased the poison with a generous swallow of antidote before Remus thought to move. His reflexive action of knocking the phial out of Severus' hand was therefore aimed at the flask of antidote rather than the poison, which smashed loudly on the hearth behind Severus' chair.
"Trying to put me out of your misery, Lupin?" Severus asked quietly. Much to Remus' surprise, he looked remarkably calm, and he was even smirking a little. "Or do you merely think that Miss Fawcett and Miss Quirke deserve zero marks for the say?"
Remus stared at him, half in horror and half in amazement. "N-neither," he stammered at last. "I just thought..."
One eyebrow rose. "You thought me unreasonably cruel for poisoning my students. But now you see I'm quite willing to do the same to myself to determine where they've gone wrong with their antidotes, I don't seem so nasty?"
"Something like that," Remus answered, nodding a bit numbly. "How will you knowerif it's all right?"
Severus looked at the clock on the mantel and shrugged. "We'll just have to wait and see. If I'm not feeling any ill effects after ten minutes, they will only lose five points for distressing their Potions master unduly ... and for wasting a perfectly good bezoar."
The seconds ticked by slowly, as Remus looked back and forth repeatedly between the clock and Severus. After the third round trip, he noticed Severus was pulling some rolls of parchment out of a drawer, along with a bottle of red ink.
"How can you think of marking papers at a time like this?" he asked, fighting down an urge to pace. Since he could only move three steps away from the desk without severe pain anyway, he didn't have to fight the urge too hard. He stood there and wrung his hands instead.
Again, Severus shrugged. "I see no need to worry until I'm feeling unwell. Nor do I see a need to waste ten minutes whilst waiting to see if I start to feel poorly."
"But how can you be so calm?"
Severus took a moment to scribble some remarks on the essay in front of him before answering. "I have conducted this particular lesson twice a year, every year, for the past sixteen years. Without fail, at least one student in each class ingests a bezoar. They almost always do so without needing to. Only once in my tenure has a pupil produced a less than adequate antidote, and that student made Longbottom look like a master potion-brewer. As I said, fear is an excellent encouragement. I assure you that I shall be fine."
He continued marking essays, unnervingly calm. When the ten minutes had finally elapsed, Remus exhaled a breath he hadn't even realised he'd been holding. Severus chuckled softly, setting down his quill and picking up both the next antidote and another phial of cyanide. He didn't even look up as he took them both this time, and he continued marking the essay in front of him without much of a pause at all. Until he stopped to rub his eyes, that is.
"You kept me up far too late last night, Lupin," he said, in what Remus was sure he'd meant to be a chastising tone. As it was, he only sounded sternly amused.
"It's your own fault, you know," Remus answered, finally calming down enough to sink into the chair across the desk from him. "You make the most adorable noises when I nibble your earlobes."
Severus sniggered softly and then cleared his throat, probably so no passing student could bear witness to his mirth. He then rubbed his eyes again. "Well, I'm still more tired than I thought." He looked up and squinted, then blinked a few times. "I'm having trouble focussing my eyes."
Remus jumped to his feet. "Are you sure you're all right?" he asked in a voice that sounded tense even to his own ears.
Severus waved his concerns away. "I'm fine, Lupin," he said stubbornly. "I've done this often enough to know when I'm all right."
Though he couldn't help noticing that Severus' hand shook a bit when he started to write his next comment, Remus resumed his seat. And unless he was very much mistaken, his breathing had sped up. A moment later, Severus set the quill down again, rose, and walked to another cupboard at the other side of the room.
"What's the matter?" Remus asked sharply.
"I'm getting a headache," he said simply. "Nothing out of the ordinary when one deals with dunderheads all d" Severus broke off with a small choking sound, the headache remedy he'd been in the process of retrieving falling through his fingers and smashing on the floor. He turned back to face Remus, wild-eyed, clutching his throat and shaking violently.
"Severus!" Remus yelped and ran to him. Next second, he dashed to the bin of bezoars in the classroom and seized a handful, ignoring the searing pain in the pit of his stomach. When he made it back to the office, Severus still shook, but now it was with barely repressed laughter. Remus threw the bezoars to the floor, disgusted. "That's not funny!" he snapped.
"Oh, you should have seen the look on your face, Lupin!" Severus choked out, now wiping his eyes. "It was absolutely priceless!"
"You. Utter. Bastard."
"Come now, Lupin." Severus approached and put an arm about his shoulders. "Surely you of all people can take a joke?"
Remus stood stiffly, attempting not to respondeither to the embrace or the gentle tonebut he lost the battle. He turned and wrapped his arms about Severus' waist, now merely trying not to cling to him as if for dear life.
He sighed. "It happens so rarely ... you caught me off guard."
Severus chuckled and gave him a squeeze.
After a deep breath and a relieved sigh, Remus kissed his neck. "You're still a bastard."
"Indeed," Severus whispered and tilted Remus' head back to kiss him. "Hungry?"
Not exhibiting any true signs of cyanide poisoning, Severus took his hand, and they started upstairs.
They entered the Great Hall at a respectable distance apart, but that did no good. What sounded like an angry beehive confronted them, as all the students whispered behind their hands. As with any rumours involving the school's least favourite teacher, the story had spread like wildfire. So now they all knew. Severus' good mood evaporated instantly, and he stalked toward the staff table, scowl-growling in all his ominous glory. Remus felt blood rising in his cheeks, but he did his best to ignore the comments.
Severus flopped into his chair and glowered out at the hall's inhabitants. "Of course," he said quietly enough that only Remus could hear him, though the underlying growl was still apparent. "Everyone knows Longbottom was working on a Binding Brew, so now they all know we're a couple. Wonderful! Nothing like my embarrassment to motivate them to take more than a passing interest in Potions theory for once."
"It could be worse," Remus said just as quietly, dishing himself some boiled potatoes.
The scowl then turned on him instead of the hall at large. "How?"
"At least they're studying," he said through a broad grin.
Severus snorted, but Remus couldn't help noticing the smile that followed ... brief though it undoubtedly was.
Despite his best efforts to keep him in a jovial frame of mind, Severus' mood rapidly deteriorated again during lunchto the point that Remus dreaded bringing him along to his lessons. Since he hadn't a choice, however, he led the way to the Defence classroom, with Severus bringing up the rear and scowl-growling all the way. He had always been a very private man, and to be outed in such a public manner would certainly have made him irritable. As Remus wasn't directly at fault, he thought he might have been spared the majority of Severus' ire, but not even he was safe.
"I knew we should have taken your lessons first," Severus grumbled. "No one would care if greasy Professor Snape were gone for a week, but if Professor Lupin is absent for as much as twenty minutes, you'd think the world had ended."
"That's not true, Severus, and you know it," Remus said gently, slowing his pace to let Severus catch him up.
"Indeed?" The characteristic eyebrow raise. "And who would care if I'd gone missing?"
Remus smiled softly. "Well, I would, for one. And Dumbledore. And the Slytherins would miss you terribly. You're the only one who sticks up for them."
At that, Severus' scowl faltered ever so slightly.
"Besides, I wasn't really missing," Remus continued, frowning slightly. "Since we're about to go to my lessons, I would have already been there, wouldn't I?"
Severus nodded once, but his annoyed look was firmly back in place by the time they'd reached Remus' office. Remus rummaged inside his desk, looking for a clipboard that Severus could use, but he couldn't find one.
"I could have sworn I had one here somewhere," he muttered distractedly, opening and rifling through drawer after drawer.
"Accio clipboard," Severus snapped. Not a minute after he'd put his wand away, the clipboard Remus had used that morning landed in his outstretched hand. "You do have a quill I can use, don't you, Lupin? I'd have to put out somebody's eye by Summoning one of those."
"Er, yes ... yes, of course I do." After a much briefer search, Remus located one and handed it across the desk.
As he put on a clean sheet of parchment, without looking up, Severus said, "I see that organization still isn't your strong suit."
"Get stuffed, Severus."
"First up are the Slytherin first years. That ought to put you in a better mood."
"There's nothing wrong with my mood. And what are we covering?"
Remus thought the "we" was a bit rich. "Magical birds."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Those aren't even Dark creatures."
"They're only first years, Severus! They'll have more than enough of dangerous beasts with Hagrid's lessons in a couple of years."
Half a smile at that remark. Definite progress.
Back in the classroom, Severus followed close on Remus' heels as he set up covered cages at the front of the room. The lesson was scheduled to start in ten minutes, but a few students always trickled in early, and he liked to have everything prepared ahead of time. Lastly Remus set out two easels with portraits of specimens they wouldn't be able to view: an occamy (which they'd already covered along with magical serpents), and a Golden Snidget (a highly protected species). He then pulled his own chair out from behind the desk for Severus to use.
"Have a seat, Professor," he said, gesturing toward the chair and grinning as Severus sat down.
The students began to file in shortly, each of them stopping at the desk to hand in the essays Remus had set them the previous Friday. Despite the fact that they were all well behavedalmost conspicuously so by comparison to the fourth year Potions studentsSeverus began to scribble furiously on his clipboard before Remus had even cleared his throat to call the class to attention. A few small sniggers broke the silence when Remus announced that Professor Snape would be observing their lessons for the remainder of the month. That only set Severus to scribbling more furiously, whilst clenching his jaw with blood rising into his face.
The lesson progressed without incident. As always, the Muggle-borns incorrectly identified the diricawl as the supposedly extinct dodo bird, and an Irish student called the augrey a phoenix. One pupil observed that the fwooper appeared to be singing, though it made no sound. Remus explained that the bird had been delivered with a Silencing Charm in place so that those who came in contact with her would not be driven insane. For homework, he assigned a summary of the chapter and set to grading their magical serpent essays during the next period, which he had free.
All in all, it was a very good lesson, and Remus doubted even Severus would have been able to find fault with anything he'd said. He only wished he could have said the same for the next lesson, which he felt certain would be a disaster. As the third year Gryffindors came in, each of them also stopped by his desk to deposit a piece of parchment, though these were not homework: They were small scraps onto which they had written questions.
They had already covered the textbook material on werewolves, but that was dry and a little vague. So Remus had told them they could ask him anything they wanted to know, and he would attempt to answer their questions to the best of his ability. He had even told them about a simple charm to disguise their writing, if they didn't want him to know who was asking. If he'd only had the presence of mind to wait until after this class was finished to have brought up the idea of helping Neville prepare a Binding Brew. Remus had had complete confidence in Neville's brewing abilities, however, despite Severus' constant maligning. But it was too late to cry over that spilt milk now. He'd simply have to grin and bear it.
Severus watched the students with some interest as they dropped off their questions but went back to scribbling again as soon as Remus picked up the pile and sat on the edge of the desk. Upon shuffling through the pile, Remus raised his eyebrows. Every question was in the same regular block printing, so they had all been anxious to hide their identities. This did not bode well. For a second, he had an uncomfortable vision of every question's asking embarrassing details of his and Professor Snape's love life, but thankfully they stuck to werewolves ... more or less.
He cleared his throat. "Right. You have questions, and hopefully I have the answers. So ... in no particular order, the first question is, 'Do werewolves mate for life?' An excellent question."
Remus couldn't help noticing out of the corner of his eye that Severus had stiffened in his chair. He took a deep breath and continued before he lost his nerve.
"No. This is a bit of a misunderstanding fostered in no small part by the pack behaviour of natural wolves. But even then mating-for-life concept is different than most people think among wolves. For one thing, only the alpha pair of a pack mates, but they mate for the life of the alpha male or alpha female only. If, for example, the alpha male is killed or otherwise removed from his position as alphadue to injury or disease or simply being overthrownthe alpha female will not pine for him for the remainder of her unnaturally shortened life. She will immediately bond with the next male in lineformerly called the beta maleor whichever male ousted the alpha. Then that pair will be mated for 'life' ... or until one of the pair is removed from his or her position as alpha."
This wasn't so bad ... if he ignored the fact that Severus was still frozen, straight-backed and thin-lipped a few feet away, looking like an ominous black vulture ready to swoop down on the weakest of the students. Remus even felt he was starting to build up a nice momentum.
"Now ... for werewolves, this doesn't work for a couple of reasons. One is werewolves would only need to mate in order to ensure theersurvival of the species. But werewolves are made, not born. The only way to make another werewolf is through a bite or a transfusion of infected blood. So mating doesn't enter into the equation. The second reason is that in order to form some sort of mating bond as in a pack of wolves, a werewolf would have to mate with another werewolf. There have been a few instances of a werewolf turning his or her spouse, but those cases are rare. Normally, what happens is the husband or wife doesn't want his or her spouse to fret about turning them at some future point in time, and so they just" He waved vaguely. "get it out of the way right off.
"So in short, as far as 'mating' goes, werewolves are exactly the same as regular humans ... at least for most of the month. During the full moon, they areermstill capable of sexual intercourse..." Now he was certain he was blushing. Best to wrap it up. "But that, I think, is well beyond the scope of this course."
His cheeks burning, Remus turned that question facedown on his desk. The next piece of parchment had a similar question: "Is it true that werewolves mate for life?" And the next one was the same. Oh dear. Well, a certain amount of curiosity about his sex life was to be expected, of course. After all, they were teenagers and so they'd be bound to ask about sex. But he'd hoped not quite so many of them would have: the first four out of a total of nine students. Finally he came to a question that wasn't a rewording of the first.
"Ah, here's a fresh one ... or two, actually: 'What do you look like when you're in your wolf form? Is it like the books describe?'"
Remus frowned, scratching his neck as he thought. The best person to ask would be Severus, of course, but he imagined Professor Snape would not be amenable to fielding such a question, especially since he'd gone even more rigid than before. Therefore Remus looked up and forced a smile.
"More or less. Whoever wrote the part about the tufted tail was mistaken, because my tail has barely any hair. In fact, as I understand it these days I look rather like a wolf with mange, with large patches of thin hair. But considering that I'm losing hair during the rest of the month" He raked his free hand over his forehead to pull back his fringe and turned his head both ways to give them a good view of his rapidly receding hairline. "that's hardly surprising. My 'pelt' was never as thick as that of a normal wolf anyway, and I never had an undercoat in winter and the like. The almond-shaped pupils are correct, however, as is the shorter, broader snout."
A general question about mating habits was next in the stack, but he'd already covered that in some detail, followed by a question about diet.
"'Do werewolves only eat humans?' Well ... First let me put you at ease by saying eating humans is not a danger as long as I'm taking the Wolfsbane Potion, which Professor Snape is kind enough to make for me each month ... Like any carnivore, a werewolf will eat just about anything it can find if it's hungry enough, but humans are the exception to the rule. Werewolves will gorge themselves to sickness on humans if they can, so unfortunately filling up on something else prior to transforming doesn't help. But, as I said, with the Wolfsbane Potion, I'm no longer a danger."
Severus then produced what could only be termed a snort. When Remus looked his way, he was apparently no longer frozen, either. He had crossed his legs and now scribbled furiously, looking extremely annoyed. Remus was tempted to ask if he had something to add to the discussion. From the tutting and the viciousness with which Severus now put quill to parchment, however, Remus concluded anything that Professor Snape said would most likely not be helpful. He racked his brain for something he might have said that was incorrect, but he couldn't think of anything.
Well, his bite was still contagious, and in one bout of playful wrestling during his transformation, he and Severus had had a bit of a scare. But upon closer examination, Severus determined that Remus had not in fact broken his skin, because the blood came from a spot on Remus' gums that Severus had scratched. Because of that, for their subsequent full moon wrestling matches, he'd remembered to keep his muzzle firmly closed.
After a moment, he shrugged and cleared his throat again, turning his attention to the next question.
"Next we have ... 'Does it hurt?' I assume this means does turning into a werewolf hurt. The answer to that is yes. Yes, it does. Very much. All of my bones are repeatedly broken and reformed during the transformation. That means they are much thicker due to re-healing after every full moonbecause I heal normally, though at an accelerated rate. As a result, they have become harder to break each lunar cycle, and so it hurts progressively worse over time. It also means I can no longer swim. I sink like a rock."
Now Severus clicked his tongue loudly, and Remus could no longer keep quiet.
"Is there a problem, Professor Snape?" he asked, somewhat more sharply than he'd intended.
The black eyes flicked momentarily in his direction, but Severus never stopped writing. "Oh, noof course not, Lupin. By all means, continue yourahlesson."
He placed a delicate stress on the last word, and nearly all the students frowned. Knowing sarcastic Professor Snape, they couldn't help gleaning just how useless their Potions master deemed this particular lesson to be. Remus took a deep breath and counted to ten, determined to keep his temper in check until the students had departed. With just few minutes of class remaining and only one question to go, surely that wouldn't be too hard.
"And the last question ... I daresay this is something I've not heard before: 'Can Muggles become werewolves?' Indeed they can. And it's a bit of a rude awakening to someone who didn't know of the existence of the wizarding world prior to being bitten. I'd have to do some checking with the Beast Division of the Ministry of Magic to see exactly what arrangements are made to help Muggle werewolves adapt to the wizarding world, but I'm certain I could have that information in a few weeks."
Whoever had asked the last question gave nothing away by nodding or some such telltale sign when Remus smiled out at the class. The bell then rang, and the students left much more quickly than Remus could ever recall, most likely anxious to get away before Severus took points from Gryffindor for their enjoying any Defence lesson that he himself hadn't taught. Severus still scribbled away as the last student left and Remus closed the door behind her.
"That was a fascinating exercise in futility, Lupin," he said without looking up.
Remus grasped the bridge of his nose and worked hard not to sigh. "I thought they might be curious and wish to avail themselves of the nearest werewolf at hand to answer their questions."
"When the Dark Arts textbook has a perfectly good unit on werewolves?"
"We've already done that bit."
"You shouldn't coddle them," Severus said curtly, his jaw going rigid. "They're old enough to know the truth."
"I'm not coddling them," Remus maintained. "I'm teaching them the Ministry-prescribed content for their age group."
"The Ministry don't know anything! They are a bunch of overly cautious, sanctimonious fools!"
All of a sudden Remus had an idea that his lesson hadn't caused this particular burr under Severus' saddle. "Severus, let's go inside my office."
Severus' eyes shot daggers at him, and he didn't movenot until Remus started in that direction, gritting his teeth and steeling himself against the pain in his gut to force Severus to follow him. A moment later, Remus heard the sharp rap of the clipboard being slammed on the top of his desk. Shortly Severus joined him inside the office, and the door banged shut.
"Don't you have another lesson?" he asked, his voice dripping sarcasm as he leaned back against the door and folded his arms over his chest.
"That can wait. I think we need to talk."
"Oh, but your students will miss you, Lupin..."
"With this thing, they'll never know."
Remus stepped closer and moved his hand toward the breast pocket of Severus' robes to get at the Time Turner, but Severus caught his wrist.
"That's against the rules," Severus said, scowling.
"I don't care about the rules!" Remus snapped, fighting Severus' grasp. "And I daresay we'll both find the remainder of this month excruciating if we break up over this. So give me that thing."
"No, Lupin!" Severus forced Remus' hand down to his side. "Werewolves aren't al"
"Lowed to use a Time Turneryes, Severus, I knowever since 1612, when Pedro o Devorador got a hold of one and used it to repeatedly revisit the previous full moon in order to eat as many people as possiblethe death toll reaching nearly two dozen before he was caughtbut thank you for educating me on the Werewolf Code of Conduct, since I've only had the entire text memorised ever since I could read!"
Severus took half a step backward, his eyes growing wide, and he released Remus' arm. Evidently he had been taken abackliterally, evenat Remus' outburst, and Remus was a little surprised himself. He rarely lost his temper. He hadn't intended to this time, either, despite Severus' "critique" of his teaching methods. He turned his back on Severus and exhaled slowly, his shoulders slumping.
"I'm sorry, Severus."
An arm slipped about his waist and a chain looped around his neck, even as a light brush of lips grazed the side of his neck.
"It's all right, Lupin," Severus whispered against his skin.
Next second, Remus' office dissolved in a blur of colour as the Time Turner transported them back to where they'd been precisely four hours earlier. A surprised squeak and a clatter of china greeted them as they landed in the staffroom a moment later. Severus still had his arm about Remus' waist, but he stepped back quickly. When he had his bearings, Remus muttered an embarrassed apology for startling Professor Flitwick during his tea break.
They took the back way to Severus' office, rather than run the risk of meeting themselves in either the Potions or Defence classrooms. Once he had locked the door, Severus again crossed his arms over his chest.
Remus took a deep breath and sighed. "Do you hate all werewolves, Severus, or is it just me?"
His lips parted, and he simply stared for a few seconds. "I don't hate you, Lupin," he said quietly, and a bit feebly.
"Then what was all that about?"
Severus frowned. "All what?"
Feigning ignorance was decidedly unlike him, and Remus again found himself losing his patience. "All that in my Defence class: the snorting and tongue-clicking. The heated scribbling on your parchment. The obvious disapproval."
Severus' frown deepened. "It was necessary to keep up the illusion for your students. They're all convinced I'm after your job. They would have been suspicious if I had acted otherwise."
That sounded logical enough, and yet ... "I might accept that explanation if I didn't already know they've found out about us."
One of Severus' eyebrows rose. "You don't think a Slytherin is above stealing his lover's job, do you?"
"I think at least one Slytherin is, yes."
Severus turned away and suddenly became far too interested in a jar of sea cucumbers floating in some bright yellow liquid. "It doesn't matter," he muttered with a shrug.
"It does matter." Remus carefully slipped his arms about Severus' waist and rested his cheek against his back. "We've been together for nearly a year now, and you still don't seem to understand that I care about you. And if something's bothering you, I want to know about it."
Severus' shoulders dropped as he exhaled. He seemed to deflate a little in the process, but he didn't answer.
"So what is it?" Remus asked, giving him a delicate squeeze. "Werewolves? The fact that we've been found out? The price of koala spleens? What?"
A small snigger escaped, and Remus smiled just a little. He quite enjoyed knowing he was one of only a handful of people who could succeed at making Severus laugh.
Following another slow exhalation, Severus covered Remus' hands with his own. "At first I suppose it was being found out. But I shouldn't have taken it out on you. I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry, Severus. This is all my fault."
"I'd say Mr Malfoy also bears a large portion of the blame."
Remus' smile broadened. "Well, regardless of whose fault it is, it's done now, so we should try and focus on the positives of the situation."
"Well..." Remus shrugged. "We don't have to worry about being found out any longer, since it's already happened."
Another snigger later, errant strands of black hair tickled Remus' cheek as Severus shook his head. Then he took a deep breath.
"I'm still of the opinion that your lesson left a great deal to be desired."
Remus sighed, dropping his hands from Severus' waist, and took a step backward. "I told youwe've already covered the relevant material from the text."
Severus whipped around suddenly, an almost fanatical fire in his eyes. "But all that rubbish about Wolfsbane Potionattempting to play down the dangeryou made it sound as if a werewolf would make a desirable pet."
He spat out the last word as though it were rancid. Remus' mouth fell open, and he blinked repeatedlyshocked, horrified, and terribly hurt. He hadn't a clue how to respond. Was that how Severus thought of him? A pet? And yes, they'd had that one scare, but did Severus really see him as a dangerous beast?
Under normal circumstances, Remus would have simply leftmaybe even gone to his room for a good cry. But thanks to the Binding Brew, he couldn't leave. And besides, this talk had been his idea. He clasped his hands together until his knuckles began to whiten and willed himself to remain calm.
"After all this time," he said quietly, "you still consider me dangerous?"
Severus' gaze fell to the floor.
"Do you expect me to rip your head off during the night or something?"
"You don't understand, Lupin!" Severus all but shouted. "You've never had to face down a charging werewolf!"
"What?" Again, Remus gaped. "Of course I've had to face a charging werewolf! How do you think I became a werewolf? And I was much younger than you were, I might add. I didn't infect myself for the fun of it, you know? It certainly wasn't just for an excuse to stay up all night once a month when I was seven!"
There was a ringing silence, during which Severus went terribly pale.
Only then, for the first time, did Remus finally realise how much that prank had cost Severus. Not only in that he could have been killed, but he had also lost his innocence that night, just as Remus had as a child. Even if Severus hadn't been bitten, this was something else they had in common.
After a moment, Remus scratched his head. He still felt as though he was missing something important. "I'm afraid I don't understand, Severus. Why would you choose to become involved with a werewolf if you're afraid of werewolves? And if you are still afraid of my wolf form, then why are we Bound?"
Not surprisingly, Severus didn't answer. Remus sighed and looked toward the ceiling, almost hoping to find the answer etched in the stones above. Some insight into Severus' thought process failed to materialise, however, so he gave up after a minute. When he chanced to look back at Severus, a flush had crept into his normally sallow cheeks. He'd only seen Severus blush like that once before: during the previous full moon.
And then the reason why they were now Bound suddenly became all too clear.
"You've always been uncomfortably astute, Lupin," Severus whispered, still studying the floor.
Again Remus could only blink for the longest time with his mouth hanging open. Severus didn't merely feel close to his wolf form. He found itRemus shuddered at the very thoughtattractive. Did heGod!want to ... have sex when Remus was transformed?
"We can't do that, Severus!"
Though he was still brick red, Severus' head snapped up. "Why not?"
An undeniable hint of sullenness underlay the abnormally undignified squeak Severus produced, as though he'd expected Remus to be overjoyed at the prospect. Remus hadn't remotely prepared himself for this sort of conversation, as he'd never imagined Severus would be interested in such a thing. Severus, however, seemed quite disappointed that Remus had dismissed the notion so quickly.
"Because I'm built all wrong, when I'mthat way," Remus spluttered, now beginning to blush himself. "The mechanics of sex for wolves ... are very different ... than for humans."
"Two men aren't precisely built for having sex, either, Lupin," Severus answered softly. "But we manage well enough. And you're a very large wolf..."
Severus trailed off, blushing even more. What's worse was he was almost pouting, as if bestiality were the most natural thing in all the world, and Remus were being unnecessarily difficult in denying such a reasonable request. Remus might have even thought his expression cute if he hadn't been so flustered.
"That's part of the problem, Severus."
"What you do you mean?"
"When canines have sex." Remus stopped and took a deep breath. He did not want to talk about this. "After orgasm." He took another. "It's call a tie!" he finally blurted out with an exasperated sigh. "The male's genitals swell up to ... keep him attached to the female. I ... I couldn't ... do thatto youknowing I'd swell up to the size of a grapefruit..."
He trailed off since his words didn't seem to be having quite the effect he'd anticipated. Severus didn't look the least bit disgusted or afraid of the idea. In fact, his tongue snaked out to lick his lips, and Remus could smell his building arousal. This was not going well at all.
"I absolutely refuse to discuss this."
Remus turned and started to walk from the office, but he'd until gone two heated strides before his stomach stopped him dead in his tracks.
"I thought you'd be happy. I've come to accept your wolf form. Isn't that what you wanted?"
"Accepting my wolf form and turning it into some sort of fetish are two entirely different things!" Remus rubbed his eyes, shaking his head with a sigh. "No. I'm sorry, Severus, but I can't do that. Cuddling, wrestling, and all that are fine, but ... no."
His face was a perfect mask of stern acceptance, but Severus' eyes betrayed his disappointment as he swallowed and nodded slowly. Remus would have given anything to take that pain away ... anything but that.
After a moment, Severus cleared his throat quietly. "We should probably go down to dinner."
"Don't you mean lunch?" Remus asked, and he attempted a smile.
Severus made no response other than heading for the door, but Remus caught his arm and pulled him into a kiss. Apparently still upset, Severus went still and exhaled impatiently through his nose, but after a second or two, he relaxed into the kiss.
"What was that for?" he asked when Remus pulled away.
"Because I love you."
Severus' expression softened, though his eyes remained sad. Finally he gave Remus a squeeze before pulling away and jerking his head toward the door. Remus nodded and followed. They walked in silence all the way to the entrance hall.
Just outside the Great Hall, Severus caught his arm. "We can't go in yet, Lupin."
He had already drawn his watch from the inside pocket of his robes and now flicked open the face. "We won't have left for another ... four and a half minutes."
By now Remus was sure their past selves knew what was going on every bit as well as their present selvesall of Hogwarts did, for that matter. But the law was the law, and Severus would see no reason to take unnecessary chances. Perhaps it was best that he had charge of the Time Turner, after all. Remus would have found all too many excuses to use it for fun things. He was surprised Severus had considered turning back time in order to get a full night's sleep. He hadn't even dared broach the subject of taking an extra hour or two for shagging, despite the fact that both of them would probably need some stress relief before this was all over.
And thinking of shagging, of course, sent his mind in a hundred naughty directions all at once.
"So ... what should we do whilst we're waiting?" he asked, just knowing his eyes were twinkling.
Severus cocked an eyebrow. "Wait."
Remus smirked and stepped closer. "How about a bit of a snog?"
His face calm, Severus pushed him away, though his eyes flicked nervously about the hall. "No, Lupin."
"You're no fun," Remus sighed.
"Indeed." Much to his surprise, Severus smirked. "But one of us has to behave with a modicum of propriety, and I can't rely on you for thatbecause you, my dear little werewolf, are positively incorrigible."
Remus frowned, again thinking of the word Severus had used earlier: "pet."
"What's the matter, Lupin?"
"Don't call me that," Remus said quietly.
Severus blushed and swallowed again. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I didn't mean anything by it."
Remus nodded. He could tell Severus was sincere, but he wasn't anxious to start rehashing the subject just yet. Instead of attempting to think up a suitable reply, he grasped Severus' upper arm, went up on the balls of his feet, and pecked Severus' cheek. Much to his surpriseand despite the earlier protestationsSeverus didn't push him away. He merely smiled softly before again consulting his watch.
"I think we're safe now," he said quietly, snapping the face closed, and they entered the Great Hall together.
* * * * * *
Try as he might, Remus couldn't put what Severus had said out of his mind all during lunch. Or the next day. Or the day after that. Severus didn't broach the subject againnot oncebut uncomfortable silences became less few and far between. Remus was fairly certain during each of them that sex during the full moon was what Severus was thinking of.
Several times Remus tried to analyse his feelings and put into words precisely what about the idea bothered him, in case Severus asked, but he hadn't much luck. The closest he could come was an analogy to a menstruating woman. That was somewhat fitting, since a typical woman's menses followed the lunar cycle, and it truly was his "time of the month." It fit in other ways, too. He just felt ... so very disgusting and unappealingand not remotely sexyduring the full moon that the idea of having sex then made him shudder.
Despite how well the analogy worked, Remus didn't fancy comparing himself to a woman. Thankfully, Severus didn't ask, though the fact that he hadn't mentioned it at all remained ever present in the back of Remus' mind throughout the remainder of the week. He found himself having trouble concentrating on any task for long, without images of full moons past creeping into his mind's eye. Severus had treated him so tenderly and lovingly for the past five or six full moons ... apparently because he'd had an ulterior motive.
"But why, Severus?"
Their Thursday nights were normally spent reading the most recent journals in Potions and Defence, with each of them catching up on the latest advances in their respective fields. Remus had long abandoned "Countercurse Corner" in Didactic Defence, however, in favour of watching Severus read, wondering what was going on inside his mind. Severus would frown occasionally, then look above the top of his journal in the direction of his feet, obviously attempting to work something out in his head. Once he'd found the solution, his expression would clear; he'd then nod and shortly go back to reading. At Remus' question, though, he slowly lowered Contemporary Concoctions and turned his head to look at Remus, one eyebrow raised.
Remus frowned. He had been thinking rather than talking, hadn't he? And despite popular misconceptions, Severus couldn't read mindsat least not without drawing his wand.
"Why do you find me attractive during the full moon?"
Severus' head snapped back to facing straight ahead, and he pulled the Potions journal up a bit higher on his chest to hide the blood rising into his cheeks. "It's unimportant," he mumbled, reaching up to turn the page.
He had obviously tried to sound as if he weren't embarrassed all over again but failed miserably. Remus suddenly felt terrible for asking, but something inside him needed to know, all the same. He rolled onto his side and tried to fold the journal's cover back, but Severus gripped the thing tightly. Then Remus attempted to work his head over Severus' shoulder, between his face and the page. Even though he wasn't looking directly at him, he could feel the heat off Severus' skin.
"Severus..." he said gently, when Severus started to edge down the bedapparently running away from his embarrassment. "I think it is important."
"You've already said no," Severus bit off curtly. "I've no wish to discuss the matter further."
Remus worked hard not to sigh. "I'm just trying to understand, Severus."
"What's there to understand?" he snapped, though an unmistakable hitch sounded in his voice. "You know what I'd like to do, but you're not interested, so that should be the end of it."
Not sighing suddenly became much more difficult. "But I thought if we talked it out"
"What? If I can only make you understand, then you won't be mortified at the very prospect, and all will once again be right with the world?"
Remus swallowed, rather certain he'd gone pale.
"I do hope you'll forgive me for being realistic, Lupin. I know the concept is alien to you Gryffindors."
"I'm only suggesting," Remus said quietly, "that we take things one step at a time."
"I saw the way you looked at me, Lupin! A leopard doesn't change his spots. Or should I say a wolf doesn't change his pelt?"
Remus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, which he exhaled slowly. He ought to have known better. The past eleven months had taught him many things. Severus was enough of a bastard when he was in a good mood. Oh, he could be passionate and kind and surprisingly tender when he wanted to be, but he was also volatile and could change to cold and cruel without a moment's notice. And one of the most important lessons Remus had learnt was that one did not wound Severus unless one wanted to be hurt in return. So he let the matter drop rather than risk further injury. Severus went back to Contemporary Concoctions, and Remus turned onto his other side, eventually drifting off to sleep with his troubled thoughts.
At some point during the night, Severus forgave him, because Remus woke with what was rapidly becoming a familiar warmth pressed to his back. Prior to the cauldron mishap, they had spent maybe one or two nights together per week at most. But this ... Remus thought he could easily get used to this. He pulled the arm draped over his waist tighter around him and kissed Severus' thumb. Somehow their squabbles always seemed silly in the early morning light. Severus stirred and moaned quietly, pressing a kiss to the nape of Remus' neck before he was even fully awake.
"Morning, Lupin," he murmured sleepily.
"Good morning, Severus," Remus answered through a wide grin.
Next second, Severus stiffened along with a hissed inhalation. "Damn!" he hissed. "We're late."
Remus chuckled softly, twisting in Severus' arms. "We've got a Time Turner. What does it matter?"
No sooner had he turned fully than Severus turned, as well. He now lay flat on his back and raked his hair out of his eyes with both hands.
"We can only use it for 'duties and necessities' related to our positions. You know that."
"It's been a week nowwell, two actually. I think we've earned a bit of a lie in."
"No, Lupin. It's against the rules."
Leave it to Severus to abide stringently by the rules in every aspect of their lives. Remus should have known he would baulk at a luxury such as spending a little quality time together. Then again, he could try to change his mind ... Severus had already sat up halfway, reaching for his wand on the beside table, but Remus caught his arm and pulled him fully back onto the bed and into a kiss.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Severus?" Remus whispered hoarsely against his neck, reaching down to scratch his inner thigh through his nightshirt. "Rules are made to be broken..."
Severus only moaned in response, though the rising material between his legs told Remus all he needed to know. His inner thigh was one of Severus' most sensitive erogenous zonessomething Remus had learnt their first night together, and had used to his advantage regularly ever since. Remus drew up a handful of cloth at a time, still clawing firmly with every upward migration of his fingers whilst sucking and nibbling Severus' neck. More moans followed, and soon Severus sported a veritable tent of cotton at his crotch.
By the time Remus reached the hem and could slip his hand underneath to rake his nails along bare skin, Severus was fumbling one-handed with the drawer on his bedside cabinet. Finally he pulled the Time Turner free with enough force that he threatened to break the delicate chain. Severus snarled as he tossed the thankfully still intact chain around both their necks and gave the hourglass a turn, but Remus only chuckled.
"I knew you'd see things my way, Severus," he said, grinning broadly when Severus again put the Time Turner away and rolled atop him.
"Shut up, Lupin," he hissed.
At first, Remus simply thought Severus was being difficult again. But that was before he heard the soft snoring coming from his side of the bed. Their past selves were still there, fast asleep, and they would remain there for at least four more hours. Furthermore, according to the laws governing time travel, it was essential that they not be woken up.
"I forgot about that," Remus whispered, frowning. "What should we...?"
He trailed off when Severus again reached towards the bedside tablecarefully, in order not to move the mattress too much. When he'd retrieved his wand, he cast a Slumber Charm on them both.
"That should do them for a while."
Remus nodded, once again impressed at his quick thinking. "You know, Severusthat might be why we overslept in the first place."
Severus quirked an eyebrow. "Probably," he said, sounding completely unconcerned. Then he frowned.
"What's the matter?"
"You were right: I do snore."
Remus grinned. "I told you." And then he kissed him.
Despite their trying week so far, he could tell it was going to be a very good day.
With four extra hours now at their disposal, they had no need to hurry. And so they spent nearly two of those hours touching and teasing, squeezing and fondling, working up to a finale of furious fucking that lasted no more than three minutes. Then they collapsed, sweaty and sticky, in one another's arms. As Remus laid his head on Severus' still heaving chest, he realised for the first time that he never wanted this relationship to end. Certainly he and Severus had their problems, but everyone did. When they got things right, though, 'amazing' didn't begin to describe it. No one else had come remotely close to making him feel the way this man he was now Bound to did.
"I love you, Severus," Remus murmured, turning his head to kiss Severus' glistening skin.
A non-committal grunt was the only reply, as long, thin fingers combed through his sweaty hair.
Remus frowned. "Do you love me?"
What seemed like an eternity later, Severus drew in a deep breath. "Would I still be with you if I didn't?"
"Probably." Remus sighed softly. "At least for the next three weeks."
Now Severus snorted. "Have you any complaints regarding how I treat you?"
Trying to put the previous night's conversation out of his mind, Remus said, "Not most of the time."
"Then why should it matter whether I say ... that or anything else?"
Remus shrugged. "I thought it might be nice to hear occasionally. But I wouldn't want you to do anything against your religion," he finished with a sigh.
Severus chuckled quietly and pecked Remus' forehead. "You should know better than anybody never to judge me by what I say, but rather by my actions."
"Spoken like a true Slytherin."
Severus smirked, but then his expression turned serious. "They're just words, Lupin."
"Yes, but they're important words, Severus."
Severus raised his chin and kissed him thena soft, leisurely, decadent kiss that lasted probably a full ten seconds. Everything about that kiss said Severus loved him, as well. Remus almost felt like crying as he wondered why Severus couldn't bring his mouth to express that sentiment in the normal way.
After another half an hour of cuddling and cooling down, Remus suggested that they have a shower. But now he was the one with the ulterior motive. No sooner had he lathered Severus up than he was at it again, tugging and twisting the soap-slicked skin of Severus' cock.
"Positivelyincorrigible," Severus panted, bracing his arms against the shower walls as Remus knelt between his trembling thighs. Severus moaned and spread his feet wide on the tile floor.
Well, they weren't getting any younger, Remus thought as he rinsed the soap from Severus' cock before swallowing him whole. They rarely had enough time these days to wait around until they could get it up again. All too often it was talk, cuddle, kiss, fuck, and sleepin that order. And just as often they were simply too tired and had to forego the fucking all together, or settle for a quick mutual hand job. But this morning they had the time, in addition to being fully rested. And by God, Remus wasn't going to waste the opportunity.
"Oh, God!" Severus gasped.
Despite what he'd said earlier, Severus had immediately looked down and flashed Remus an open-mouthed smile. And now he pushed even harder against the shower's opposite wall, bowing his back. Of course, he was merely trying to keep still, to avoid thrusting down Remus' throat and choking him, but he looked as if he were attempting to demolish the shower. Remus had been stroking himself, alternating between applying soap and water to his own aching cock, but he stopped when the abnormally bitter second-orgasm come flooded his mouth, all the better to attend to his lover's pleasure.
A few moments of laboured breathing later, Severus lowered one hand and then the other to cradle Remus' face. Times like these made all the painful comments worth it. After all, Severus would never lash out if he weren't hurt, and he wouldn't have been hurt if he didn't care. So even if he evidently had trouble saying those three little words, his biting sarcasm could be seen as caring ... in an entirely backwards way.
Smiling softly, Severus crooked a finger. Remus stood on unsteady legs, sliding his hands up the sleek body displayed in front of him to guide himself as he rose. His conspicuous arousal dug into Severus' thigh when he'd finally reached his feet and pressed closer, intent on a kiss. But no sooner than his parted lips met Severus', he found his back pressed against the shower wall, the water cascading down on his left side in a tingling spray, as Severus reached for the shampoo. He applied a liberal amount to both hands and then simply dropped the bottle. One hand squeezed Remus' cock, just holding him in place for now, whilst the other slid around his back and down to his arse.
Remus spread his legs to greet the welcome invasion that was sure to follow and wrapped his arms around Severus' waist to steady himself. A slippery palm trailed from his balls to between his cheeks before one long finger worked itself inside. Severus finally began to stroke him, and Remus bit his lip, thrusting backward to meet the second finger now fucking him. He quietly thanked every deity he could think of that his lover was a potion-brewer, as those strong hands that had chopped and diced tonnes of ingredients expertly fucked and fondled him to a near frenzy.
When he looked up, black eyes were locked onto his in an intense stare, that beautifully stern face set in concentration. Severus never repeated the same action for more than a few strokes, driving Remus mad with teasing pleasure. He was determined not to look away from their sensual staring match until orgasm overtook him. As it did, he closed his eyes, dug his fingers into Severus' waist, and threw back his head. Other than the water splattering on the tile and his own howls of bliss, the only thing he was conscious of hearing was the door of the shower stall when it crashed to the floor. Even that wasn't enough to distract him for long. He sagged in Severus' arms, rocked to the gentle motion of his lover's chuckles at their having destroyed the shower door.
"How did we manage that?" Remus asked, barely containing his laughter.
"No idea," Severus replied, grinning, and then kissed him.
After rinsing and a perfunctory towelling off, they both retrieved their wands. Severus cleared away the water that had sprayed out on the floor whilst Remus repaired the shower door. The last thing Remus heard before the latch of the door clicked behind him was a sharp intake of breath followed by a hissed, "Damn! We're late."
All told, it was the most entertaining as well as eventful morning either of them had had in months. Even though they'd started the festivities with almost four hours to spare, they still ended up rushing down to breakfast at almost a run, still buttoning their robes, wet-haired and flushed-cheeked. But Remus wouldn't have changed a thing. From the look on his face as they sat down at the head table, he concluded that Severus wouldn't have, either.
* * * * * *
Soon enough they had settled into a fairly comfortable routine. They'd all but given up the pretext of observational note taking within the first week, and instead each devoted the time spent in the other's classes to reading, or marking papers, or some other productive activity. Professor Dumbledore had also kindly rearranged the weekend duty roster for the remainder of the month so they could make their rounds together and not have to relive two separate weekends. And they were up the first weekendthe one week anniversary of Neville's cauldron explosion.
Severus insisted that they do their rounds every two hours instead of every four, as they had to go together and didn't have another staff member with whom they could stagger the duties. The trouble was, Hogwarts was so very large that by the time they'd made it from the top of the Astronomy Tower to the dungeons, they had to start all over again. On the other hand, with no one about but the two of them, they could really talk about things. Or at least Remus could try to talk. It was well after two o'clock on Monday morning before he'd worked up the nerve, and even with Severus as a captive audience, he was decidedly uncooperative.
"I've been thinking, Severus..."
Severus' eyes flicked suspiciously in his direction, as though thinking was something Remus shouldn't do. Well, these days Severus probably would think that.
"Maybe we should ... talk to someone ... a professional..."
"A professional what?" Severus asked, scowling.
"Ercounsellor. Someone whoerlistens to couples' problems and offerseradvice. For a living."
And just when he thought Severus couldn't scowl any worse...
"I remember Tonks mentioned once that she had an uncle who's a psychologist. And heersees couples."
"No." In spite of the deep frown, Severus said that without a trace of emotion.
"No, Lupin!" So much for the lack of emotion. "I refuse to discuss my sex life with a perfect stranger, no matter what his qualifications!"
He stopped and took a deep breath to calm himself when he realised where they were: the Hufflepuff dormitories were just ahead. After they'd rounded the corner, they met the Bloody Baron heading in the opposite direction. Severus nodded toward the ghost, who nodded back as he glided past them, and they walked down a few more corridors in silence.
"If I didn't need to see a counsellor after Aurors killed my parents," Severus hissed venomously, though clearly making an effort to be quiet, "I certainly don't feel the need to discuss this with a professional!"
Remus blinked. He didn't know Aurors had killed Severus' parents, though he'd always wondered if something traumatic had happened to himapart from being the unwitting almost victim of a werewolf, that is. During their seventh year, Severus had become very angry and prone to cursing people. True, James and Sirius had always picked on him, from first year on, and Severus had often shown that he was more than willing to fight back, with words as well as curses. But some sort of eerie transformation had come over him in their seventh year. His curses had become progressively nastier, and he didn't even always save them for just James and Sirius. The death of his parents could certainly go a long way toward explaining Severus' bitterness, as well as why he'd become a Death Eater.
"You never told me that," Remus said quietly. "That Aurors killed your parents, I mean."
Severus shrugged. He'd apparently meant it to be casual, but his scowl belied any nonchalance he'd intended to convey. "There's a great deal about my life that I haven't told you, Lupin."
"But you can tell me, Severus," Remus said gently. "I hope you know that you can tell me anything."
Now Severus rolled his eyes. "Thank you, Lupin! I shall make a point to tell you everything in the future, since my last confession went over so very well."
Remus sighed. In truth, he had expected such a reaction. Anticipated it, even. But he considered their future too important to risk it all because of a simple lack of communication. And was he really thinking in terms of their future now? He wondered if all these long-term aspirations he had been having lately might be a side-effect of the Binding Brew and made a mental note to ask later ... when Severus was in a better mood.
"Well, that's all right, Severus," he said, matter-of-factly. "You don't have to talk."
"Excuse me?" Severus looked twice as suspicious now, and with good reason.
"I said you don't have to talk." Remus shrugged. "But I've already written to Tonks, and I have every intention of going to see her uncle."
He could have sworn he heard Severus' teeth grinding. "Youhavesomenerve!"
"I do, I really do," Remus said, nodding with a wry grin. "Comes with the territory when you're a Gryffindor, I'm afraid."
Severus fumed silently for a while before asking, "When did you write to Miss Tonks?" Apparently he was attempting to ascertain if Remus was bluffing.
"Last night, after you'd fallen asleep."
He nodded slowly, processing that. "And that letter you needed to send to your mother when we were in the Owlery earlier...?"
"Was to Tonks, yes."
Surprisingly, Severus smirked. "Very clever, Lupin. Almost Slytherin, even."
"Thank you, Severus. I thought so, too."
Apparently Severus had grown softer in his old age, because his scowl soon faded into his usual passive frown. Remus concluded that either he had been forgiven, or that Severus was now plotting some form of retribution. Both, however, were preferable to another round trip of the castle with Severus scowl-growling the whole way.
Their duty officially ended at half-past six, at which time they dragged themselves back to Severus' quarters and travelled eight hours backwards in time to get some sleep before their lessons started. Unfortunately neither of them had made a point to note where they had been eight hours prior, and so they ended up at the top of the Astronomy Tower again.
Remus sighed and had just started back toward the dungeons when Severus caught his arm. He gave the Time Turner one more turn, and this time they landed outside the Transfiguration classroom, which was much nearer their destination. And back in Severus' rooms, they fell into bed fully clothed and were fast asleep within seconds. Only after he'd awoken some nine hours later did Remus think to ask why Severus appeared to have relaxed his somewhat rigid control over the Time Turner's use.
"As you demonstrated so convincingly Friday morning," he purred, whilst working on the buttons of Remus' robes, "the occasional lie-in can do us both a world of good."
Remus grinned wryly. "Lie-in, my arse."
Severus shrugged. "Close enough."
Again Severus charmed their past selves into a magical slumber, so that they wouldn't be awoken by the sexual acrobatics their present selves were about to engage in. By the time they had shagged, showered, and shaved, they'd also worked up quite an appetite and were more than ready for breakfast.
The best thing by far about meals at Hogwarts was the variety of dishes the house-elves served. Despite repeating breakfast and lunch twice every day, Remus had yet to eat the same thing twice. Severus often did, but that was more a result of his finicky tastes than the house-elves' failing. Remus had seen him eat nothing at all or simply fill up on bread and wine on those rare occasions when the elves hadn't provided a dish to his liking.
Before Remus' first lesson, they stopped by Severus' office so that he could gather some papers. Then they were off to the Defence classroom. By now the first years were used to the scene: Remus perched on the desk, lecturing, and Severus sitting behind him, marking papers. Except for the occasional interruption when Severus couldn't contain his vocal displeasure at a student's performance, everyone almost forgot he was there. Even Remus forgot once or twice, when he was tempted to walk around the classroom, only to be thwarted within a couple of steps.
After the bell rang, they adjourned to Remus' office, where Severus continued to mark papers seated at a small table near Remus' desk. Remus had just sat down, intent on doing the same himself, when his office hearth erupted in green fire. Tonks' head suddenly appeared, floating in the flames, in all her blue spiked-haired glory.
"Wotcher, Remus," she said, grinning. "I hope you aren't busy."
Remus pulled his chair in front of the fire, smiling as well as he sat down again. "No, no," he said waving a hand dismissively. "You've caught me between lessons, so it's fine."
He cast a nervous glance in Severus' direction a few feet away. Though he had only needed to lean back a bit to accommodate Remus' change in location, Severus had pursed his lips and crossed his arms over his chest. Obviously he was still against the idea of any sort of counselling. When Tonks continued, Remus looked back toward the fire and forced a smile.
"That's good." Tonks rolled her (teal-green, for the moment) eyes. "Somehow I managed to knock over a whole bookshelf today, and my owl flapped off in a fright. Besides, this is quicker. So, you wanna see my uncle?"
"Yesyes, I do. He does couples' therapy, doesn't he?"
Tonks nodded. "Yeah." Then she frowned. "Why? Is Old Sourpuss giving you a hard time?"
Remus had only just raised a finger to his lips to silence her when
"Old Sourpuss happens to be listening, Miss Tonks," Severus said plainly, his eyebrows rising, though he had stiffened somewhat in his chair.
The brickwork around the fireplace had clearly blocked Severus from her vision. Tonks' eyes went wide, and she swallowed reflexively. Even though they had worked side-by-side in the war against Voldemort, like many of his former students, she seemed to have trouble seeing Severus as anything other than her strict Potions teacher. To her credit, she recovered quickly.
"Good morning, Miss Tonks." Severus smirked and went back to marking papers, evidently pleased at the effect he still had on his students, even when they'd been out of school for years.
Now Remus smiled genuinely, but his concerns soon gave way to another frown. "Does he see gay couples?"
"Of course he does!" Tonks said, laughing. "It's the 90's, Remus! People aren't as uptight as they used to bepsychologists included."
Remus shrugged. "Well, I wanted to make sure we wouldn't be carted off to a Muggle gaol."
"You don't have to worry about that. Psychologists are like vicars that way. Anything you tell them stays in their office." She smiled reassuringly. "Honestly, I think the fact that you're both wizards will trouble him much more than the fact that you're gay. But if you want, I'll explain things to him ahead of time. And I can even make you an appointment."
"Thanks very much," Remus said, nodding.
"No worries, Remus. I'll owl you with the date and time. How's that?"
"That would be lovely."
Tonks didn't leave, however. Her hand came out of nowhere into the fire, and she started twirling the spike of hair above her left ear around a finger. As she twirled it, her hair lengthened and curled into a perfect blue ringlet that snapped back into a neat blue spike once released.
"I don't suppose either of you is registered with the Muggle health service?" she asked at last.
Severus frowned; apparently he'd never heard of Muggle National Health.
"I am," Remus said promptly, nodding.
Tonks' eyes widened at this, too, though not so much as the last time. "Really?"
Remus nodded again. "Mum insisted. Came in handy after I was bitten, too. The healers at St. Mungo's might have been suspicious." He shrugged. "But the Muggle doctors didn't give a second thought to treating a young boy who'd been mauled by a dog."
Now Tonks nodded, as well. "Smart woman, your mum."
Remus smiled. "Some people would call her smart. I'd be more inclined to say 'headstrong' myself. And thanks again, Tonks."
"Any time, Remus."
Her head had just started to back out of the flames, but Remus called to her one last time. "Oh, Tonks?"
She poked her head back in. "Yeah?"
"I liked your old nose better."
Tonks frowned, confused. "What? Oh!" She smiled. "I've been experimenting again." She hooked both thumbs in her nostrils and gave a small tug, widening what had been her exceptionally pinched nose into something that looked a little more natural. "How's that?"
"Much better," Remus said, grinning.
She grinned back, and then she was gone.
Tuesday morning at their first breakfast, Tonks' skittish screech owl made his presence well known in the Great Hall before swooping down to drop a letter next to Remus' plate. Remus pinched off a bit of his kipper to reward the bird and found himself blushing under the weight of Severus' scowl as he picked up and opened the letter.
"Sorry, Severus," he muttered. "I'd forgotten Tonks had a screech owl."
Severus only grunted, cutting up his tomatoes without comment, though he did use what Remus would have termed excessive force.
Tonks' letter was brief. Her uncle normally reserved every other Saturday morning for emergency sessions, and he caught up on paperwork when no patients dropped in. So he could easily work them in the following Saturday at 10:00 A.M. And, since the office was normally quite dead on Saturdays, they wouldn't have to worry about attracting undue attention. That was just about perfect, Remus thought. She'd also included directions to his office in Islington from Diagon Alley, which Remus considered especially thoughtful.
Though Remus was quite pleased, Severus' attitude toward the idea of counselling certainly didn't improve as the week wore on. In fact, by Friday night he had begun to scowl almost constantly. As much as he'd wanted to know, Remus hadn't dared broach the subject of whether commitment-oriented thoughts were a normal side-effect of the Binding Brew. He had been having such thoughts more and more frequently, however, and because of that, he considered their upcoming counselling session much more important. Even if Severus had been determined to give him the cold shoulder for most of the week.
* * * * * *
First thing Saturday morning, Remus dug out some of his Muggle clothes for the two of them to wear to London, as it was essential that they be inconspicuous to the casual Muggle observer. He was fairly certain Severus didn't have any attire that wouldn't stick out, even if Remus' clothes would have to be altered a bit to fit him. Severus started the morning scowl-growling, when he quite literally got up on the wrong side of the bed.
"Put these on," Remus said, tossing some clothes at him. "I've enlarged them for you."
Even in his half-asleep state, Severus caught them. "What are they?"
"Trousers and a jumper. You'll need to pass for a Muggle."
"Still determined, are you?"
Severus slung the garments over his shoulder and crossed his arms, but he made no move toward putting them on. "I have no intention of going anywhere."
Remus took a deep breath, as calmly as he could. "Severus, in half an hour, I am going to get inside this fireplace and emerge in Diagon Alley. Clearly I'm no expert on the Binding Brew, so I can't be certain, but considering what we've experienced so far these past two weeks, I would assume that you would have no choice but to follow me. If you don't come along willingly, I'd imagine that you're going to be in for a bit of a bumpy ride."
Glaring, Severus began to unlace the neck of his nightshirt. He then followed Remus into the lavatory to brush his teeth, which was the only time he appeared to have unclenched his jaw. Though he was grinding his teeth, he dressed quietly. After Remus had done some final adjustments on the fit, Severus looked very handsome in black trousers and a green jumperor at least he would have, had he not been scowling. And Severus strode over to the hearth, scowl-growling all the way.
"I really hate you right now, Lupin," he ground out through clenched teeth.
Remus grinned. "I know, Severusbut I have complete confidence that you'll get over it in time." And with that, he tossed some glittering powder into the flames. Severus followed him into the fireplace shortly, and Remus put his arms around Severus' waistjust to be sure. "The Leaky Cauldron!"
They attracted a moderate amount of attention when they stepped out of the hearth in the pub. But better to appear out of place in the Leaky Cauldron than in Muggle London. Remus navigated from Tonks' letter as they walked along, with Severus still grinding his teeth. Once in a while he would stop long enough to express his displeasure, usually only unclenching his jaw far enough to declare, once again, that he was dead set against the idea of counselling.
Remus gritted his teeth and steeled himself against the pain to take another step forward, when the familiar burn and tug behind his stomach clearly said that Severus had stopped againprobably for the twelfth time. Severus' grunted low in his throat, but he had no choice except to follow. Certain advantages accompanied being a werewolf, including a rather high tolerance for pain. Which was good, Remus thought, considering the condition had more than enough drawbacks.
"I do wish you wouldn't do that," Severus growled.
"If you'd just walk with me, I wouldn't have to."
"What? Arm in arm, wearing a foolish grin like some maudlin schoolboy?" He snorted his disdain. "Thank you, no, Lupin. It's quite enough that everyone at Hogwarts now knows we're involved. I don't particularly relish the idea of appearing a raging queen to Muggles, as well."
Remus stopped and turned to face him, and Severus immediately stopped as well. "Please keep your voice down," Remus implored.
"Sorry," Severus muttered, his entire face drawing into a frown. A moment later Remus felt yet another tug as Severus stopped again, looked both ways, and tugged down both inside legs of his trousers. "I don't know how Muggle men stand these ... what did you call them again?"
"Trousers," Remus said simply.
"A ridiculous name for an equally ridiculous article of clothing."
Remus grinned. "Oh, I don't know. I'd imagine they come in fairly handy if you're hanging upside down in the air..."
"That's not remotely amusing."
Evidently his attempt to lighten the mood was not appreciated. "Good God, Severusit's been more than twenty years! Haven't you forgiven me for that yet?"
"Not entirely," Severus answered, barely moving his lips. "And after this little outing, I'd say your chances of a full pardon have slipped even further."
The directions Tonks had given them were exemplary, and within another half hour, they were in Canonbury in Islington. Even if Severus wasn't too happy about where they were headed, he seemed to be enjoying the sights, which included a great number of historical buildings and inns. Or at the very least, he looked around with interest and wasn't scowling as much as before. Nothing they saw even approached Hogwarts' age, but the architecture was lovely nonetheless.
Which building housed Dr Tonks' office was obvious once they'd rounded the last corner. The much newer granite contrasted highly with the earth toned brick structures all around it. Little plastic letters on the directory just inside the lobby told them that Dr Tonks' office was on the fourth floor, which Tonks had clearly forgotten to mention in her letter. But apparently she'd thought if they'd made it this far, they would be able to find him. Remus didn't see an obvious stairwell, and he wasn't too certain how Severus would react to travelling in a lift. Severus took it in stride, however, when Remus explained that the lift was a sort of moving Muggle staircase run by electricity.
With only five minutes left to spare, they found Dr Tonks name painted on a glass door that led to his waiting area. The room was cheerfully decorated, with tasteful flower-patterned wallpaper and vases of flowers in all the corners. Situated around the comfy-looking sofas in various parts of the room were coffee tables covered with magazines. A large glass panel set in the wall across from the door was where Remus assumed they'd find the receptionist, but when he looked, he didn't see anyone in the room beyond. He didn't have to look for long, however. Another door off to his right promptly opened, and a stocky, distinguished gentleman emerged.
He was likely in his early fifties, with blue eyes that fairly sparkled when he smiled, and black hair greying at the temples. Remus wasn't certain quite what he'd been expecting, although judging from Tonks' appearance, he imagined he'd been subconsciously picturing someone who looked as outlandish as she did on most occasions. Then he reminded himselfas he and Severus stepped closer to greet himthat since Ted Tonks was Muggle-born, his brother was apparently just a Muggle, and certainly not a Metamorphmagus.
"Dr Tonks?" Remus asked tentatively.
"Please, call me Lionel," he answered, still grinning and extending his hand, which Remus shook.
"I'm Remus Lupin, and this is Severus Snape."
Severus shook his hand somewhat reluctantly.
"Severus is here under protest," Remus quickly explained.
"Under duress, more like," Severus grumbled.
Lionel's smile faltered ever so slightly, but he cleared his throat and gestured towards the door he'd just come through. "Why don't you both step inside?"
The office was every bit as elegant as the lobby. The walls were a light sage colour, but the rest of the room was decorated in varying shades of greens and ebony furniture. Remus suspected that Severus might feel right at home thereif he hadn't been so opposed to being there in the first place. A desk stood on the far side of the room, nestled in between to full-length windows. Directly in front of themwith the back facing themwas a small, comfortable looking sofa with emerald green upholstery. Three black leather armchairs sat around the sofa, one directly in front, and two off to either side, with lamps located strategically around the room. For the most part, the place seemed quite homey. All the better to make people feel at home and get them to open up, Remus imagined.
He and Severus sat on the sofa, whilst Lionel retrieved a pad and pen from the desk. Then he sat in the armchair opposite them.
"Nymphadora has told me that you're both wizards, and one of you is also a werewolf. Is that correct?"
"Yes," Remus answered, nodding, "and I'm the werewolf."
Severus' only response was to cross his legs and fold his arms over his chest. Lionel seemed to take his posture as a physical manifestation of Severus' unwillingness to be there, but he didn't dwell on it. Either that, or Tonks had warned him about Severus in advance.
"So..." Lionel smiled again. "What did you both want to talk about today?"
The snort from his immediate right told Remus that Severus obviously objected to the "both" in that statement. Undaunted, Remus cleared his throat.
"Well, I should probably start with a little background ... The reason Severus is here is due to a Potions accident. A cauldron full of Binding Brew erupted on him, and because of that, we can't move more than a metre apart for the next fortnight."
Lionel blinked for a moment, writing something on his pad. Even though he'd known, apparently the realisation that Remus and Severus really were wizards had just now soaked in.
"That is a bit of a sticky wicket, isn't it?" he finally asked, looking up with another grin.
Severus only frowned and blinked.
"It's a cricket reference, Severus," Remus said. "I'll explain later." He cleared his throat again and turned back to Lionel. Then he took a deep breath. This was proving more difficult than he'd imagined. "But the reason I'm here is that I'm ... er ... concerned ... as to why exactly Severus is now Bound to me. Heer"
Remus broke off and glanced at Severus. He was now very red and scowling at the lamp on Lionel's desk. A vein throbbed in his temple, and he flexed and unflexed his hands, as though itching to smash the lamp to little bits.
"He-wants-to-have-sex-during-the-full-moon," Remus blurted out, before he lost his nerve.
Next to him, Severus flinched as if he'd been struck.
Lionel only nodded slowly, scribbling something else on his pad. "And you find that idea..." He shrugged and looked up at Remus, pausing for him to fill in the verbal blank before he supplied his own answer. "Unacceptable?"
Frowning now, Lionel made another note on his pad. "And why is that?"
Remus' eyebrows rose. He would have thought the reason was obvious. "Because ... well, it's the full moon ... and I'm a werewolf."
Lionel scratched his chin with his pen, still frowning slightly. Evidently he wasn't following. "You just" He shrugged again. "get a little hairy and grow fangs, don't you?"
Now Remus understood. Apparently all Lionel knew about werewolves had come from viewing too many Lon Chaney, Jr. films as a child. "Er ... no. I transform completely, I'm afraid. Into something that bears little resemblance to a human being."
More scribbling followed. "So this is essentially a problem of sexual incompatibility."
Remus shook his head. "Wellno."
Next to him, Severus looked murderous. His eyes shot daggers at Lionel's poor desk lamp. If it had been aware of how he was looking at it, and if it had been able, it probably would have been running from the room as fast as it could. Remus' cheeks had started to burn, but he took another deep breath and reminded himself that this was important.
"We're very compatible sexually. I'm just ... uncomfortable ... with the idea of" He waved a hand, unable to bring himself to actual say what bothered him about the idea. "You knowduring the full moon."
Lionel nodded again. "And why do you feel that way?"
Remus really couldn't believe what he was hearing. Did he have to spell it out? "Because I turn into a wolf."
"But it's still you, isn't it?" Lionel asked with a shrug.
After gaping for a moment, Remus said, "Well, yesbut that's not the point."
Lionel wrote something else on his pad. "Then what is the point, exactly?"
"First, you have to understand that werewolves are despised in the wizarding world," Remus said, trying to remain calm. "We aren't allowed jobs. If we hurt someone, we're hunted down and executed. We're considered dangerous beastsnot humanseven though we're only dangerous once a month."
Lionel continued to write, nodding the whole time. "And the fact that Severus doesn't see you that way is a problem?"
"What? Er, no." Remus paused and scratched his head. Maybe that was what was worrying him. But that made no sense. Was he merely punishing Severus for not treating him the way he was used to being treated? For challenging his notions of how things were supposed to be? "I..."
Remus looked over at Severus and was utterly surprised by what he saw. For someone who had been strenuously against this visit less than half an hour before, Severus seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself now. The redness was all but gone from his face, and now he was smirking in a very satisfied way. Frowning, Remus shook his head, and only turned back to face Lionel when he posed another question.
"You say people in the wizarding world treat you as if you're an animal?" After Remus nodded, he continued. "I think you may have internalised that somewhat."
"I'm sorry, I may have what?" Remus asked, blinking.
"Internalised it," Lionel repeated, more slowly. "If people treat you like an animal for long enough, it's only natural for you to think of yourself as an animal after a while. But you aren't an animal."
"I know that," Remus said, frowning again.
"I don't think you do, Lupin," Severus said suddenly.
Remus turned on the sofa to fully face him. "What do you mean?"
"You were appalled to learn that I found your wolf form attractive." Severus shrugged with his arms still crossed. "But as far as I'm concerned, your wolf form is just another part of you. It's not a question of being attracted to your human form as well as your wolf form. I'm attracted to you. Full stop."
Remus blinked, scratched his head, and blinked again. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but he still couldn't think of a proper reply. Nevernot oncehad he thought of it that way. Severus really had accepted him for who and what he was. The very thought was both amazing and flattering, even if he was still a little squeamish at the idea of anything physical. But if Lionel hadn't been there, he would have kissed Severus for all he was worth right on the spot. Instead he reached over and squeezed Severus' hand. Surprisingly, Severus unfolded his arms, interlaced his fingers with Remus', and smiled.
"I'm glad you've finally decided to participate, Severus," Lionel said, smiling again.
Severus arched an eyebrow. "Well, I do have a stake in this relationship."
"So you do." Lionel paused for a moment to make another note. "But this brings us back to the question of compatibility. And I would like to assure you both that this is nothing to be ashamed of. Many a couple has troubles with sexual incompatibility. In fact, next to infidelity, I'd say that contributes to more failed relationships that any other single factor."
Remus shook his head again. "But that isn't a problem. Normally, we're quite compatible."
Clearly Severus was becoming uncomfortable again. He tried to pull his hand away, and Remus let him, though reluctantly. No sooner had Remus released his hand than Severus had it tucked away under his other arm.
"But it's the abnormal situation that poses the problem, is it not?"
Severusonce again focussing on the lamp on the deskhad withdrawn inside himself, so Remus answered for them both.
"Yes. Yes, it is."
For the first time since they'd come in, Lionel didn't seem to have anything to write down. "Now I'm compelled to ask ... Severus, is this matter something you'd be willing to lose Remus over?"
Severus' gaze snapped back from the desk, and he surveyed Lionel coolly. "No. And I've told himrepeatedlythat it's inconsequential." He shrugged. "But he insisted that we come here regardless."
Lionel nodded thoughtfully. "And how about you, Remus? Is your unwillingness to try this new thing stronger than your desire to stay in this relationship?"
Remus' mouth went very dry, his heart jumped into his throat, and his stomach did some sort of uncomfortable flip-flop. Severus might be difficult, or even a bit of a bastard occasionally, but Remus had to admit that he wasn't anywhere near ready to give him upif for nothing other than the sake of those times when Severus wasn't difficult or a bastard. Of course, he still had his reservations, but they were nothing compared to the thought of ever losing Severus.
"No," he answered at last.
Severus' head turned sharply in his direction now. His eyebrows were raised, and he was clearly surprised, but he seemed wary of allowing himself to become overly excited. And Remus raised a hand, just to make certain he stayed that way.
"I'm not saying I want to try it next week or anything, SeverusI'll have to work up to the idea..."
"That's all right, Lupin," Severus said, smiling gently and again taking Remus' hand. "We have nothing but time."
Remus smiled as well, trying very hard not to read too much into that last statement. He couldn't help wondering, though, if Severus had been having the same or similar commitment-oriented thoughts.
"I wish I could say that," Lionel said, smiling at them both. "But I'm afraid our time is up for this session. Shall we schedule another appointment?"
Severus looked to Remus, his eyebrows rising again.
"I don't think that'll be necessary, Lionel," Remus said, smiling. "We ought to be able to work things out ourselves from here. But thanks very much."
"It's my job," Lionel answered, waving his thanks aside. "I will need to get some information before you leave, though, or my receptionist will murder me."
"Yesyes, of course."
Remus dropped Severus' hand and leant forward to fish his wallet out of his right rear pocket. Surprisingly, Severus looked a touch disappointed. After he'd given Lionel his address and National Health number, Remus thanked him again. Lionel then walked them out. As soon as they were alone in the lift, Remus grabbed Severus and kissed him.
"What was that for?" he asked, clearly bemused, when Remus pulled away.
"For what you said earlier."
Severus frowned for a moment, apparently trying to puzzle out what exactly he'd said. Then he shrugged. "I was merely stating a fact, Lupin."
"I know. Don't you see, Severus? That's what makes it so wonderful." Remus shook his head, feeling completely unable to express how much that had meant to him. "It was quite possibly the sweetest thing that anyone has ever said to me."
Flushing, Severus looked away. Apparently he wasn't used to being told anything he'd done was sweet, and he didn't seem to know how to handle the news. But Remus wasn't about to allow his embarrassment to ruin this moment. He caught Severus up in a tight embrace and kissed his neck.
"God, I love you," he whispered.
Severus only squeezed him back a little more tightly ... but for once that was more than enough.
"What does a stuck gate have to do with crickets?" Severus asked suddenly.
"What?" Now it was Remus turn to frown until he'd worked out what Severus meant. "Oh! Cricket is a game some Muggles play. And the wicket isn't a gate. It's a wooden ... thing ... used in the game. The wicket is made up of three vertical pieces called stumps and two bails that sit in grooves across the top of the stumps. One of the ways to put a player out in cricket is to break the wicket, which means knocking one or both of the bails off the stumps. Sometimes the bails will stick in the groovessuch as when you're playing in the rain, which makes the wood expand. That's called a 'sticky wicket.' But outside of cricket, the saying means a difficult or tricky situation."
"Cricket sounds dreadfully boring, compared to Quidditch," Severus said, with a slight frown.
Remus grinned. "A great many Muggles would be inclined to agree with you."
* * * * * *
The next Thursday evening, Remus again had trouble keeping his mind on Defence. But this time, watching Severus read wasn't distracting him. This time he was pondering long-term thoughts he'd been experiencing lately and trying to work up to asking if they were normal. After fifteen long minutes of dreading the possible repercussions, he finally decided not asking was more stressful than dealing with Severus' reaction. So he took a deep breath, licked his lips, and cleared his throat.
"Severus, I'm curious about the Binding Brew..."
After marking his place, Severus turned to face him. "What about it?"
And Remus promptly lost his nerve. "You said there would be negative effects if Neville used the potion after it had gone off. I was wondering what those effects were."
"I don't remember," Severus replied with an unconcerned shrug, once again opening his journal.
Severus rolled his eyes. "No, LupinI don't. Despite popular misconceptions, I'm not a walking encyclopaedia of Potions. The Binding Brew is a very obscure potion. I'd only made it once myself, as I'd never had a pet that eschewed my presence." He sighed and scanned the page to find his place. "I remembered enough to know the effects, how long those effects lasted, and the potion's distinguishing properties: colour, taste, and odourwhen fresh as well as when expired." He shrugged. "So what if I hadn't committed the negative effects to memory? I daresay knowing there were negative effects would be enough to encourage Longbottom to give the bottle a sniff prior to application."
Remus nodded, and then decided to try again. "Does it have any side effects when it's still fresh?"
"None that I recall." Severus frowned, closing his journal again and now searching Remus' face. "Why? Have you not been feeling well?"
"No, no," Remus said quickly, smiling and shaking his head, "I feel fine. But Ierwell, I didn't mean anything physical. I was thinking oferemotional side effects."
Severus' frown deepened. "What sort of emotional side effects?"
"Well..." Now Remus frowned, too. How to put this? "We're Bound physically, of course, but I was wondering if the potion mighterinduce feelings of wanting some sort of ... emotional Bond ... in addition to the physical one, I mean."
Continuing to frown, Severus lowered his journal into his lap and ran one finger over his lower lip. "Not that I know of ... And I don't suppose anybody has ever used this particular potion on a sentient creature before to have noted any such effects..."
At first Remus had been worried that Severus might have been scared off by the idea of Remus' hinting at a long-term commitmentwhich he was. But now he was worried for an altogether different reason. The way Severus was talking started to sound far too dispassionate and scientific ... as if he might be contemplating using Remus as some sort of research subject.
"Fascinating..." Severus' finger still traced his lip for a few moments, then ... "Lupin, would you mind if I?"
"Yes, I would mind, Severus," Remus said, simply but firmly. "Quite a bit."
In an instant, Severus seemed to snap back from the scientific fervour that had gripped him. "I'm sorry, Lupin. It just seems like a unique opportunity to"
"I'm not a 'unique opportunity' for anything."
Severus swallowed, nodded, and buried his nose in his journal, looking thoroughly abashed. And Remus felt terrible. He couldn't blame Severus too much. After all, he was a scientist to the bone, and Remus knew that. Still, he thought he might have found a gentler rebuff.
Remus sighed and laid his head on Severus' shoulder. "I'm sorry, Severus."
Smiling just a little bit, Severus shrugged. "It's all right, Lupin." They both went back to reading, but after a moment, Severus sniggered.
"What?" Remus asked.
"I was just envisioning Longbottom suddenly finding himself the object of his toad's unwanted affections."
That was a fairly amusing image, Remus thought chuckling. "Can you imagine Neville awakened in the middle of the night by Trevor nibbling his earlobe?"
Severus sniggered again. "It would serve him right." Then he put his arm around Remus and pecked his forehead.
Remus leant close, and they read quietly for a while, when something else occurred to him. "Severus ... You wouldn't happen to have a calendar, would you?"
"On my desk. Why?" He closed his journal again and then nodded when he realised why. "Is it that time again already?"
Remus nodded as well and started to slide off his side of the bed. But he couldn't go that way unless Severus followed him, so he got off Severus' side of the bed instead, as Severus rose as well. Then they both headed toward the desk.
Just as Remus had suspected, the full moon was exactly a week away, and so he needed to begin his regimen of Wolfsbane Potion that night. He muttered an apology for forgetting, which Severus dismissed, and then headed toward the bathroom. Remus took a phial from his shaving kit, uncorked the potion, and downed the horrid liquid in one swallow. Then he shuddered. When he replaced the empty phial, however, he noticed he only had five left.
"ErSeverus? I'll need some more before the week is out."
Severus shook his head. "That's fine, Lupin. I can make another cauldronful Saturday morning. At least, I haven't any plans for the weekend." He arched one eyebrow. "You haven't decided on another outing without telling me, have you?"
Remus grinned and then gave him a quick kiss. "No, I haven't made any plans." He folded his arms over his chest, still grinning. "But I can, if you'd like. There's still time."
"Thank you, no," Severus said, smirking.
* * * * * *
First thing after breakfast Saturday morning, they both headed down to Severus' office in the dungeons. By now Remus had watched Severus make the Wolfsbane Potion dozens of times, but he'd never before been forced to follow him around the small office so closely. Soon enough his proximity seemed to grate on Severus' nerves. He began grinding his teeth and snapping at Remus whenever he said anything, however innocuous. Remus tried not to take these comments to heart, because the Wolfsbane Potion was very complex and required concentration. But it was hard not to be a little hurt.
He took a deep breath to calm himself at one point, when Severus' comments and scowl-growling had gone beyond the pale. "Is there anything I can do to help you, Severus?"
Severus snorted. "Thank you, no, Lupin. Considering I won't be able to get more than one metre away from you during the upcoming full moon, it's vital that the potion actually work."
Remus sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Surely I don't have to simply sit here, like a bump on a log. Can't I at least hand you ingredients or something?"
Stopping mid-chop, Severus straightened and stretched his back. "Come here, Lupin," he said, setting down his knife.
Nodding, Remus rose and walked around the desk. Severus wiped both his hands on his handkerchief and then pulled Remus close, careful not to touch his hand to Remus' back. They'd learnt the hard way that raw aconite juice was very bad for his skin, when Severus had once failed to scrub his hands as thoroughly as he might have. After that they'd both been careful to keep any from getting on him, or even on his clothesjust in case.
Severus kissed him softly. "You are helping me, Lupinmerely by keeping me company." He exhaled slowly and gave Remus squeeze. "I can brew most potions in my sleep, but this one is highly complex. And because of that, it's frustrating. I can say, however, that I'd be in a far worse mood if I had to do this all alone."
Remus nodded slowly and tried to smile. Severus' cutting remarks still smarted, but at least they weren't due to something Remus had done. Soon Severus went back to chopping aconite roots, when Remus was struck with another troubling thought.
"This isn't going to react badly with the Binding Brew, is it?"
Again Severus froze in mid-action. This time he had been scooping up bits of chopped root to transfer to the cauldron. "I'm not sure."
"Because if sugar makes the Wolfsbane Potion ineffective, other things might, as well..."
Severus finished gathering up the roots and put them in the cauldron. He then stirred the contents clockwise twice and anti-clockwise three times, as he rubbed his forehead with his the back of his left hand. "I don't think it should make any difference. After all, the Binding Brew was applied to me, not to you. It's just a magical effect that's Bound you to me. But I honestly don't know, and I doubt anybody else has ever tested the two together." He took a deep breath and shrugged. "We'll know by next Wednesday."
Remus frowned and fought down the urge to pace. "We could probably get a cage from Werewolf Support Services before"
"No, Lupin," Severus said, stirring the cauldron again. "That won't be necessary."
"Severus, I think we"
"You shouldn't have to be caged as if you're some animal!" he snapped. "And I won't do that to you."
"But I don't want you to get hurt!"
Severus shook his head. "I won't get hurt."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because I trust you." He smiled. "Now, would you mind handing me my fine ribbon grater?" he asked, nodding toward a cabinet where he stored some of his smaller utensils.
Remus wasn't so easily reassured, but he rose nonetheless, skirted the perimeter available to him to avoid the aconite fumes, and opened the cabinet. "Which one is it?"
"It looks like hair brush, but without the bristles."
Two items in the cabinet matched that description, and Remus assumed that one must be the coarse grater while the other was fine. He selected the one with the holes closer together and handed the thing to Severus. Apparently that was the correct one, because Severus gave the grater a only a cursory glance before picking up a piece of dogwood bark and setting to work.
After the Wolfsbane Potion was complete, and they'd measured several doses into phials, they headed for the library. Though Severus said he couldn't see any reason why the Binding Brew might react badly with the Wolfsbane Potion, he also thought analysing the components of each and looking for possible interactions couldn't hurt. The Binding Brew didn't contain anything resembling sugar, so that wasn't a problem, but between them, the two potions required thirty-six ingredients, all of which had to be crosschecked against the others.
Thankfully Remus could be much more helpful in this endeavour. He hadn't the foggiest notion of half of what Severus was doing, but he could at least retrieve books from the shelves or look up a particular ingredient when he had a book shoved at him from Severus' side of the table. Severus wrote down ingredients, looked up more things, and drew many arcane diagrams, the likes of which Remus had never seen. They resembled something out of an advanced Arithmancy text, but Remus had no clue that Arithmancy ever figured into Potions. Severus would list the magical attributes of one ingredient on one side of the diagram and the other ingredient's properties on the other side. Then he looked up a series of symbols to write on the lines connecting the two.
These weren't any sort of rune, as far as Remus could tell, but they looked vaguely familiar. One resembled a rectangle with a musical note sticking out of the centre. Another looked like a spear tilted at a 45-degree angle, but with a rope attached to the head of the spear. Yet another reminded him of a heart perched on the top of a pedestal. When Severus didn't appear to need the book from which he'd taken the symbols, Remus sneaked a look at the cover: Elementary Alchemical Analysis. So the symbols were alchemical. No wonder Remus hadn't recognised them. Though he had always done quite well in Transfiguration, his Potions marks had been too horrid for him to even contemplate Alchemy.
After a brief break for dinner, they came back to the library, and Severus kept at it by candlelight until the early hours of the morning. At some point, Remus drifted off using a copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi as a pillow. He woke with his face stuck to the page when Severus shook him.
"What time is it?" he asked, yawning as he tried to extract himself from the book without ripping the page.
"A little after two," Severus said gently. "High time all young werewolves were in bed."
"I don't think 'young' really fits me any longer," Remus said, grinning. Nevertheless, he rose and followed Severus to the dungeons, barely aware of where he was going until they were over halfway there. Only then did he remember why they'd been in the library for so long.
"Did you find anything?" he asked, stifling another yawn.
"Not a thing," Severus replied, shaking his head. "I'm almost certain there's nothing to worry about."
Severus shrugged. "Call it a hundred to one against."
Remus grinned wryly. "Those are the same odds of being bitten by a werewolf, you know."
"I know," Severus said, nodding. "Which makes the chance that something will go wrong with the Wolfsbane Potion all the more unlikely."
Remus sighed softly. "Severus, you should know better than anyone that probabilities operate independently."
"I do," Severus said, frowning. "And you should know that you're damned difficult to comfort."
Remus couldn't help chuckling a little at that. "I'm sorry." He took and squeezed Severus' hand.
Back in their bedroom, they undressed quietly. Severus looked thoroughly exhausted. His eyes were bloodshot, and he seemed to be having trouble keeping them open as he crawled under the covers. Unfortunately, after the walk back from the library, Remus was now fully awake. And he lay there for a bit, turning the idea of the upcoming full moon over and over in his mind.
"Severus?" he asked at last, tentatively.
"Are you still awake?"
"I've been thinking ... Maybe we should try it ... this full moon, I mean. I think ... I think I'd like toergive it a go. If you're game."
Severus snuggled closer and gave Remus a squeeze. "I've told you, Lupin," he mumbled, "we can't use the Time Turfer on broomsticks."
Remus grinned. Well, perhaps Severus wasn't the best judge of whether or not he was still awake. Then again, at least now Remus had had a chance to practise saying it aloud once. That would make things easier when he tried again the next day.
"I know," he said gently, pulling Severus' arm more tightly around him. "But it never hurts to ask."
Severus exhaled against and then kissed his neck. "Mmm."
* * * * * *
When Severus was fully awake, his reaction was much different. His eyes widened and his lips parted in a small gasp. Then he closed his mouth and swallowed hard before whispering, "Are you sure?"
"No," Remus said, laughing. "But I want to try it anyway."
Severus blinked, frowning. "Why?"
Remus shrugged. "Because I love you ... and I want to make you happy."
"I am happy, Lupin," Severus whispered, putting his hand to Remus' face and caressing his cheek with his thumb. "That's what I was trying to tell you last Saturday. I'm happy with the way things are now. While it's true that I would like to try that, it's not necessary."
"Well ... then I want to make you happier," Remus said, shrugging again.
"You don't have to," Severus said quietly, butoddly enoughhe wasn't blushing this time.
Remus grinned. "I know I don't have to. That's one of the reasons why I want to."
Severus smiled softly, and then kissed him.
After breakfast, they came back to Severus' quarters, where they lay in bed and discussed the details for most of the morning. Quite apart from his lingering doubts about the effectiveness of the Wolfsbane Potion, Remus wanted to leave nothing to chance. Not only that, but talking things out ahead of time seemed to quell his nerves a bit. They decided he should probably top this first time, even though Severus usually did. One reason for that was Remus wasn't quite certain what to do about his tail. From what he'd read about dogs, he might have exhibited flagging behavioura reflex action exhibited by a bitch in heat in which she naturally moved her tail far out of the waybut he couldn't be certain. Another reason was it would be easier for him to stop things if he were assuming the active role. Severus didn't seem to mind. In fact, he appeared to be so pleased that they were going to try anything at all that exactly what they tried hardly mattered.
"But if I decide at some point that I can't go through with it," Remus said gently, "you mustn't take it personally."
Severus shook his head. "I won't."
Remus frowned. "We'll also have to take care of the lubrication and such well ahead of time. Because I won't be able to do that after I've transformedfor obvious reasons."
"I'm sure that can be arranged," Severus said, nodding.
"And I may scratch you bit," Remus added, still frowning. "I can't always manage my claws as well as I'd like."
Severus still nodded thoughtfully. "I'm not worried about that. I can take it."
"Moonrise also won't be until after three in the morning ... so we may need to use the Time Turner so we can have a nap in the afternoon or early evening."
Now Severus smirked. "I think I could see my way clear to bending the rulesjust this once."
"I knew you had a little Gryffindor in you," Remus said, grinning.
"Not yetbut hopefully I will, come half-past three Wednesday morning."
Remus huffed playfully and pinched his arm.
Severus stopped smirking only long enough to say, "Ow!" But then he chuckled. After a moment, though, his expression turned serious. "Are you sure you want to do this, Lupin?" he asked, gently. "We can wait until next month, if you'd like a bit more time to get used to the idea."
Remus took a deep breath and kissed him softly. "I'm more confident about the idea now. Not completely certain ... but I do want to try."
* * * * * *
Whether or not Remus would be able to go through with the act once the full moon came, he found that his willingness to try had greatly improved their sex life. Now he had Remus' permission to view him as a sexual being during the full moon as well, Severus' libido had doubled. They shagged three times on Sunday, twice on Monday, and twice more on Tuesday. Luckily the times on Tuesday were first thing in the morning and a quickie during lunch. Remus hoped after all this activity that they wouldn't be too tired for the festivities in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. But thankfully, since moonrise was so early in the morning, they'd have a full eight hours sleep ahead of time.
A couple of times Remus wondered if Severus' increased randiness was due to his fantasising about what was soon to come. Oddly enough, the idea didn't bother him nearly as much as he'd imagined it might. In fact, the thought that Severus would be so distracted by fantasies about him was somewhat flattering. Remus found that a bit of a turn on all by itself. And he certainly hadn't turned Severus down...
When Tuesday evening rolled around (the second time), Remus started to get nervous againbut it was a notably different kind of nervousness. Not the sinking feeling he'd experienced before. The closest thing he could think of to compare it to was the butterflies in his stomach and sweaty palms that had plagued him the first time he and Severus had had dinner alone. He was nervous and excited all at once, and just a little scared, but he also wouldn't have changed a thingnot for all the world.
Severus appeared to be experiencing something similar. During dinner, he wiped his mouth compulsively, as he had on their first date. He also had a tendency to drop his fork, stammer a little more often, and jump when someone addressed him. It was very reminiscent of how he had behaved as a teenager. Remus thought it was sweet. Severus jumped again when Remus squeezed his leg under the table and leant closer to whisper in his ear.
"Don't worry, Severus. Whatever happens, I'm sure we'll muddle through all right."
Severus swallowed, nodded, and gave him a feeble smile. Remus was glad to know, however, that he wasn't the only one who was nervous.
They had made a point to stop by their rooms during Remus' free period that afternoon so that they wouldn't have to waste time trekking back when Severus employed the Time Turner after dinner. Their earlier visit had been right at four, and so after dinner they had to hurry to make certain they arrived before eight. That was probably a good thing, Remus thought, because the less time they had to dawdle, the less they'd dwell on their respective nerves before they arrived.
Severus had the Time Turner out when they were barely inside the door. He double-checked his watch, then threw the chain around both their necks, and gave the thing a turn. Just as the room began to dissolve around them, Severus pressed a quick, nervous kiss to Remus' lips. When things came back into focus, Remus noticed they had only moved a few feet further from the door. They had made it just in the nick of time, as evidenced by the retreating backs of their past selves heading out the door.
In order to make the most of their nap, Remus had asked about the possibility of taking a mild sleeping draught. But Severus hadn't thought that a good idea. After all, he'd spent nearly eight hours looking for possible interactions between the ingredients of the Binding Brew and the Wolfsbane Potion. Adding another set of ingredients to the mix was too much to risk. Luckily they'd had a very full day, not even counting their noontime shagging, so they both drifted off fairly quickly after lying down, still dressed except for their shoes.
Remus woke first, a little after midnight, to the soothingly familiar sound of Severus' soft snoring. He was beginning to get nervous again, and he wished quietly that Severus would wake up too, so they could at least talk. Severus finally stirred twenty or so minutes later, pulling Remus closer whilst still asleep. That always made Remus smile. Despite the brusqueness designed to kept people at a distance when he was awake, clearly Severus did long for physical closeness. But he only seemed truly comfortable with expressing that desire when he wasn't entirely aware of what he was doing.
"Mmm ... what time is it?" Severus murmured a few minutes later.
Remus nodded against his neck. "How about you?"
"Exceptionally well." Severus pecked his forehead. "And when is moonrise, exactly?"
"Seven minutes after three."
God, were they really making small talk? Remus tried hard not to wince. Granted, that was better than how they had both been acting during dinner, but not by much. Though, once Remus thought about it, this was more or less how they'd acted the morning after their sixth date. That was the first time they'd had sex, after roughly two weeks of seeing one another off and on. In a way, this was a second first time for them both, so the nerves made sense. And they'd already gone through two weeks' worth of awkwardness in the few hours since dinner. So that was progress.
At some point during his musings, Severus had begun to stroke Remus' back, and now he interrupted Remus' thoughts with a kiss.
"You should ... ah ... probably get undressed," he whispered, blushing just a little when he pulled away.
Remus nodded and grinned, trying to look more confident than he felt. "You probably should, too."
A few minutes later, they were both starkers and back under the covers, but talking was evidently not in the cards. Remus probably would have felt uncomfortable about that, too, if they hadn't already negotiated all the particulars ahead of time. They lay there for a long while, just holding and caressing one another in the darkened room, neither of them saying a word. But soon enough, Remus decided they had better things to do with their mouths.
With nearly two full hours to kill, they had to take frequent breaks from their intensive snogging to make certain neither of them got over exited before the main event. The image Remus had had at dinnerof Severus as a teenagercame back very strongly then. That was rather how he felt: as if they were two teenage boys, fumbling around in the dark, doing "everything but." Their prolonged foreplay was carefree and playful and made Remus forget any concerns he'd had earlier almost completely.
At a quarter to three, Remus rolled away to retrieve the lubricant. Severus was very relaxed, but he still needed a thorough stretching. Before orgasm, Remus' cock would actually be a bit smaller in wolf form than in human form. But that was before the swelling, and he had to be sure to compensate for that as much as he could. He also used about twice as much lubricant as he normally would have, because there would be a good half hour of waiting whilst he recovered from his transformation. Some might leak out or be absorbed or what have you in the meantime.
Their first few full moons had been hell, due to Severus' lingering fear of Remus' wolf form. But for the last four months, he'd started something of a pre-transformation ritual. At precisely five minutes before moonrisealmost as if he had his own internal lunar chronometerSeverus took Remus' hand and held him close. He then petted Remus' hair and whispered sweet words of comfort. Anyone who knew Severus would hardly have believed how kind he could be during those horrid minutes leading up to the transformation. But no one else really knew him as Remus did, and to Remus, he was a Godsend.
Though he'd transformed hundreds of times since he'd been bitten, Remus never could quite suppress the stab of panic that seized him when the moon finally rose. He inhaled sharply and froze. By now, Severus knew the signs all too well, and he gripped Remus' hand tightly and pulled him even closer, despite Remus' instinctive struggle to get away. He wasn't running from Severus, but instead from the panic and impending pain.
"It's all right, Lupin," Severus soothed, rocking him. "I'm here, and you're going to be fine. Everything will be all right."
A million needles pierced his skin as the sharpest hairs of his pelt poked through. The crack of his own bones breaking filled his ears as his jaw jutted out in front of his eyes. His finger and toenails contracted into claws, feeling as though they were being ripped from the quick in the process. But then, as suddenly as it had started, the pain stopped. All that remained in its place was a dull throbbing in most of his body, and a tingling in his paws as his skin thickened into pads. Remus lay exhausted and panting on his side, only vaguely aware of Severus' hands timidly stroking him. The good news was that he still had all his faculties, so the Wolfsbane Potion had undoubtedly worked.
Severus watched him carefully, apparently for any signs of aggression. "Lupin?" he asked, tentatively, after a bit.
Remus whined softly, pawed at his chest, and made a half-hearted attempted to roll on his back and expose his belly. He hoped that the non-threatening posture would put Severus at ease, but he hadn't the strength to complete the manoeuvre. Thankfully, Severus still got the gist.
"I'll take that to mean the potion worked?"
After he'd fallen back onto his side, Remus nodded.
"I told you there wasn't anything to worry about," Severus said, smirking.
He chuckled as Remus rolled his eyes and whined again. Still panting softly, Remus laid his head on Severus' chest to rest for a bit. Unfortunately his nerves started to creep back up on him in the interim. He wanted to tryhe really didbut he was terrified that he might hurt Severus. If Severus wanted to do this, though, he felt he owed it to him to try at least once.
Remus was unsure of how to begin, never having done this before, or at least not in this form. Kissing was right out, he knew that much. Too long a snout that he wasn't practised at controlling made a kiss far too dangerous. Thankfully Severus didn't rush him. He merely lay beside him on the bed, stroking his ears and neck for a gloriously long time. Remus found himself alternating between relaxing to the point of drifting off to sleep again and wanting quite badly to kiss him. He sadly reminded himself that the latter wasn't a possibility, though he couldn't stop the pitiful whine that told of his desire.
Severus rubbed his cheek against the side of Remus' muzzle. "I know, Lupin," he murmured soothingly.
Whether he really knew exactly what Remus had been thinking hardly mattered. Severus knew what he'd meant: "I love you."
"We can wait until next month, if you prefer..."
Remus shook his head with another whine. He wanted to make Severus happy more than anything, and if this was what it took ... well, he'd give it a go.
Severus rolled on his side and continued to work his fingers through Remus' pelt as he edged down the bed. When it came to ruining a romantic mood, Remus was convinced that nothing beat turning into a werewolf. Severus, however, was doing quite well in counteracting that. God, he smelt good. And Remus could only smell his delicious scent more keenly when in this form. It was intoxicating. Remus certainly couldn't deny that he was every bit as attracted to Severus during the full moon, so shouldn't he be happy to know Severus was still attracted to him, as well? Was it just some silly taboo that kept him from enjoying those long fingers caressing his neck? Scratching his belly? Rubbing hisOh, God! Rubbing his cock!
His hips began to pump all on their own. Instinctively. He also found he had a sudden urge to lift his leg, duck his head, and lick himself. And maybe he should? Would Severus like to see that? He wondered. Then he wondered if he was simply thinking too much, and that's what had been ruining his enjoyment all this time. He worked so hard to prove he was human for twenty-seven days that the struggle must inevitably carry over to the twenty-eighth day. Perhaps the time had finally come to give up the struggle and just be whoand whathe was.
When he'd made up his mind, Remus sat up and turned around so quickly that Severus cried out, eyes growing wide, and threw his arms up to shield his face from a possible attack. And it tore Remus' heart out. If he'd been in his human form, he might have buried his face in his hands and cried. Clearly they both still had a great deal to learn as far as being together this way went.
The resulting sigh came out as more of a whimper. Instead of licking himself, Remus bent down slowly and laid his head on Severus' hip. Eventually Severus lowered his hands from his face, because he once again began to rub Remus' head and ears. Encouraged, Remus swiped his broad tongue lightly over Severus' cock, which twitched to show its approval. Its owner seemed pleased, as well, since he moaned and urgently gripped a handful of Remus' scruff. His other hand fumbled around Remus' hip and stomach, again seeking his cock.
The angle was awkward, and Severus twisted and squirmed, using his elbow to propel himself down the mattress. Even so, when Severus could finally reach and began to slide the skin up and down, Remus couldn't hold back either the involuntary motions of his hips or a low, growling moan. And when those lips closed around the tip of his cock where it protruded from the protective sheath, Remus thought he'd go mad.
Severus had sucked him off many times, of course, but something about this was different ... primal ... nasty. He wanted to fuck Severus, and he wanted to fuck him now. Something in the possessive growl Remus let out must have told him so, because Severuspanting and eyes half-closed with lustrolled up on all fours and presented himself like a bitch in heat.
And Remus pounced.
Gripping Severus' hips with his legs took a bit to work out, but within a few strokes, he'd mastered it. The correct angle was harder to find, but not for lack of trying. He slipped in and out half a dozen times before bowing his hips just so ... and oh, God! Yes! Severus whimpered and shuddered as Remus' cock finally drove home, his sheath peeling back like a hairy foreskin.
As excited as he was, Remus knew he wouldn't last long. But somehow he had a feeling that Severus wouldn't mind. They'd have plenty more full moons to get it right. Barely thirty seconds later, he pumped madly as he came into glorious warmth. Then he began to swell.
Remus went as still as death when he felt it start. What if Severus couldn't take it? Or what if he panicked? Again Remus whimpered pitifully, so very worried. But Severus didn't appear to be panicked. Quite the contrary: he rocked his own hips ever so slightly and moaned, which only grew louder as Remus expanded inside him. They'd be tied for a few minutes at the very least, but he imagined that if Severus enjoyed the swelling this much, it wouldn't matter that Remus hadn't lasted long.
Severus shifted his weight to one hand in order to grasp his cockslowly, so Remus wouldn't fall off and rip them apartand his moans echoed off the walls as he stroked himself. Just as Remus started to shrink again, Severus cried out, shuddering and tossing his head with abandon as he came. It was beautiful to watch, despite again having trouble hanging on. Remus lost his balance when Severus gave a final shudder. They toppled down on the bed together, parting a touch uncomfortably.
When Remus yelped, Severus twisted around, his open-mouthed breathing still laboured, and took Remus in his arms. "Are you all right?" he asked, looking and sounding very concerned.
Remus nodded vigorously, thinking he really couldn't remember the last time he'd been quite so "all right."
Severus held him close, nuzzling his face, squeezing and caressing him, planting light kisses on his muzzletreating him like a lover, not an animal. It was after five now, as they'd got off to a slow start. Their weekdays started at six anyway, so there was no point in trying to get more sleep now. If he could have spoken, Remus would have told Severus to give the hourglass a couple more turns so that they could do that again. Instead, he simply lay there. Severus stroked his side and held his paw, toying with his claws, and Remus licked whatever patches of skin he could easily reach.
"Stop that, it tickles!" Severus would occasionally snap, but without a hint of venom. He also couldn't seem to stop grinning. He did finally after a few minutes, though, and pecked Remus on the tip of his nose. "Thank you," he whispered.
Remus shook his head, and Severus blinked.
"Do you mean there's no need to thank you?"
Now Remus nodded. He'd enjoyed it every bit as much as Severus had, and he could barely wait until moonset to tell him so in no uncertain terms. This nodding and shaking his head was for the birds.
Normally the house-elves delivered his meals and Remus ate alone during the full moon. For some reason he didn't feel the least bit self-conscious about having breakfast with Severus todaywhich was a good thing, since he hadn't a choice. Remus had forgotten to mention that he'd be eating breakfast in Professor Snape's room to the house-elves the night before. They had apparently anticipated the situation, however, because before Severus was fully dressed, Remus smelled sausages. A soft knock sounded on the door a moment later. When Severus opened the door, a cart sat in the hallway outside with two trays of food atop.
He brought the trays inside and set them on the table, but then he frowned. Remus couldn't eat at the table in this form, and there was no use pretending he could, in spite of Severus' obvious concern that he'd consider eating off the floor degrading. To rescue him from the dilemma, Remus shook his head, pointed his nose toward the table, and then nodded toward the floor in front of him. Severus nodded as well, picked up a tray, and set it on the floor. He also shrugged and muttered an apology, but Remus laid a paw on his hand and shook his head. There really was no need to apologise, and Remus could only hope that Severus understood why, as well as what he was trying to communicate.
After they'd finished eating, and Remus had lapped up the last of his tea, they headed downstairs for their classes. Moonset wasn't going to be until lunchtime, so he had to attend all their morning lessons in wolf form. Unfortunately the Time Turner wouldn't help at all with this situation. Travelling back to before noon would only force him to transform again. Therefore, he had no way to teach his morning lessons.
The Potions lessons were completely uneventful, apart from Severus wrapping Remus' feet with leather before the class began. He had no choice but to follow Severus around the room as he inspected his students' cauldrons. But, as Severus explained, many spilt potions over the years and stray pieces of glass made the Potions classroom hazardous to bare paws.
Remus' own classes were the ones he was dreadedquite irrationally, he knew. Over the past couple of weeks, he had imagined all sorts of humiliating scenarios in which he could only whimper as Severus made a spectacle of him in front of his students, ordering him to sit and roll over, or something equally devastating. His waking nightmares, however, could not have been further from the truth. When they entered the Defence classroom, the first years were noticeably agitated at seeing their instructor in his alternate form. Severus cleared his throat with a stern look, however, and all eyes immediately snapped toward him and away from Remus.
"As you can see, Professor Lupin is indisposed, so I shall be teaching you all today."
And that was it. No other mention of Remus' current state, as Severus plodded on into mermen and kelpies and other aquatic creatures. If he hadn't been in wolf form, Remus felt he could have kissed Severus then and there. Instead he merely watched him adoringly throughout the remainder of the lesson.
After the first year pupils had filed out and Severus closed the door behind them, he turned back to face Remus with his hands clasped nervously behind his back. "Ah, Lupin? Would you object to my concluding the third year's lesson early ... so that your students can examine you a bit more closely?"
Remus cocked his head to one side, as he mulled that over. At one time he might have found the prospect of his students' scrutinising his wolf form awkward ... but a number of things had changed in the past week, as well as the past few hours. He wasn't sure he'd ever regard being in his wolf form quite the same again. Finally, he shook his head. Severus flashed him a brief, reassuring smile before approaching, putting his hand to the side of Remus' face, and caressing his muzzle with his thumb.
"Don't worryI won't let them get carried away." He cocked an eyebrow. "I am the jealous sort, after all."
Remus laughed, although it came out sounding more like a series of muffled barks. Severus smiled and bent down to plant a light kiss on the tip of Remus' nose. He then went into Remus' office and began to read the first years' essays aloud. After all, following his transformation back to human form, Remus was unlikely to feel like marking papers for more than a few hours.
Things went more or less the same during the next lesson. Since they had studied werewolves recently, the third years were naturally more interested in Remus' wolf form than the first years had been. But Severus soon got their attention.
"Professor Lupin has agreed to give you all a few minutes at the end of the lesson in which you may study his wolf form more closely, should you so chose. In the meantime, I would suggest that you all turn to page 243." He paused for a moment to allow them to get out their books and find the correct page. "Today we shall discuss undead creatures. Which of you can tell me the chief difference between a vampire and a zombie?"
Remus sat back on his haunches, preparing to watch his lover do something he clearly loved. The lesson seemed to pass abnormally quickly, probably because Remus was so enthralled. Ten minutes before the bell, Severus beckoned the students to the front of the room, where they gathered around Remus, looking him over from head to toe. At first he imagined he probably would have been blushing if he had been human at the moment, but he quickly got used to the attention.
Severus cleared his throat. "You'll noticeif Professor Lupin opens his mouth wide enough for you to see, that is"
Remus parted his jaws in what probably resembled a gaping yawn. A couple of students nearest him flinched, but they recovered quickly when he didn't lunge.
"that he has only 32 teeth, as is normal for a human, whereas canines have 42 teeth. The absence of those ten extra teeth has led some experts to believe that this is why a werewolf has a shorter snout than a true wolf. Why the snout is broader, however, no one really knows."
The bell rang shortly thereafter. After the students left, they went back to Severus' room to wait for moonset. The house-elves had already dropped off their lunch before they arrived. They decided to forego lunch in order to eat together after Remus had transformed back. Severus also said that they were going to wait a full four hours after Remus transformed before going to their afternoon classes, so that they could use the Time Turner again. That way Remus wouldn't have to teach whilst he was still tired.
"Besides, that way we can still have a hot lunch," he added, smirking.
The fact that he'd made this announcement before the moon set indicated that he would brook no refusal. But Remus didn't mind. He could think of quite a few things he wished to discuss during those four hoursincluding plans for what they were going to do during the next full moon.
* * * * * *
The following Sunday night marked their thirtieth and final calendar day of being Bound. They'd actually lived closer to seventy-five days, once their classes had been figured in. Regardless of how one measured the time, however, things had changedso very, very much. At first, Remus had considered their predicament amusing if inconvenient. Then he'd become accustomed to it. Now, when it was finally coming to an end, he found himself more than a little sad. Their forced physical proximity had undoubtedly brought them closer emotionally, in so many ways. Oddly enough, Remus didn't want it to end. And he was afraid that Severus did. They could never go back to how things were before, or at least Remus thought they couldn't. But did Severus feel the same? He really couldn't be sure.
Throughout the day, he'd looked for signs in Severus' expression that might give him a clue, but nothing clearly presented itself. The day passed as the previous two Sundays had: they'd slept late, wandered down to the Great Hall to have a leisurely breakfast after most everyone else had left, and read for most of the morning. The only real difference had come in the afternoon, when Severus performed an inventory of the student stores so that he'd know what he needed to order for the next term.
Remus had been glad to help. Severus had been every bit as affectionate as he normally was when they were alone. He would hardly pass by Remus without touching his shoulder or back, pulled him into frequent cuddles, and pecked his lips often when he was certain no one was about. But he'd done that long before they were Bound, even back when he'd been adamantly against Remus' merely moving in. Why should Remus assume anything had changed?
Now Severus sat at the desk, filling out a requisition form for the ingredients and supplies that were running low. Since Remus already had to be there and had nothing else to do in the interim, he decided he'd best start packing. For some silly reason, he felt like crying. But he set his jaw, telling those feelings to go to hell, and headed toward the wardrobe, sighing softly as he pulled out his suitcase.
"What are you doing, Lupin?"
When Remus turned 'round, Severus stood directly in front of him. His arms were folded across his chest, and he was frowning. Remus wasn't sure why he hadn't heard him get up. Perhaps he had simply been too preoccupied with his own thoughts.
"I would have thought that was obvious, Severus," Remus said, without missing a beat. He allowed himself a small smile, despite the finality of the situation. "I'm packing."
"Yes, I know that," came the reply with just a hint of impatience. "I meant why are you packing?"
"The Binding Brew will wear off in the morning," he said with a shrug that looked much more nonchalant than he felt at the moment. "I thought I'd go ahead and pack so I won't be underfoot any longer than necessary."
A small nod later, Severus cleared his throat and clasped his hands behind his back. "Well, I've been thinking about that, actually. I'm rather used to having you around now."
Remus blinked for a moment, his jaw slack. Was he saying what Remus thought he was? "Do you mean that you want me to stay?"
Severus nodded with a small smile. He took the suitcase, which he replaced inside the wardrobe, and then he pulled Remus into his arms. "We'll need to ask the headmaster, of course, but I cannot imagine any reason why he might object."
Remus couldn't help grinning. This was undeniable progress.
After a long moment of simply holding him, Remus shook his head. All the doubts he'd had that day just seemed silly now. And yet, the first thing out of his mouth was a disbelieving "I never thought you'd want me to move in permanently."
He felt rather than saw the resulting shrug. "Never is a very long time, Lupin."
Remus pulled back enough to look him in the eye. "But why, Severus?"
"I would have thought even you could have worked that out by now, Lupin," Severus said simply, arching one eyebrow. "Because I love you." And then he smiled.