Title: Things Secret
Notes: written for the fourth wave of Master and the Wolf. Challenge 212) Snape and Lupin are keeping their relationship a secret. One morning the paper arrives, and there it is, on the front page, in painful detail.
Disclaimer: Characters, world, elaboration on the premise, premise: not mine, not mine, mine, not mine.
More Notes: time-wise this is set around or after OotP. Rating probably PG-13.
And my deep gratitute to Vaughn, for the thorough beta-ing.
Midnight had come and gone. Long gone, Snape noted, glancing at the clock on the wall, and still there were topics to discuss on the agenda of tonight's Order meeting. He could think of better things to do right now. He sighed, possibly too loudly, for Arthur frowned at him in reproach.
Better take care that your wife doesn't start snoring, Snape thought, looking pointedly at Molly, who appeared to be falling asleep at Arthur's side. Arthur took the hint, and nudged her with his elbow. Good boy, Snape congratulated him silently.
One, two, three chairs further to the right sat Lupin. Was Lupin really listening to what Shacklebolt had been blathering about the last ten minutes? The man sat with his chin resting on one hand, elbow on the table, and his attention focused on Shacklebolt.
Snape stared at Lupin, concentrating on his eyes. It didn't take long for Lupin to start blinking more frequently. And it was approximately a minute longer before Lupin became consciously aware of being stared at. He looked back at Snape.
And Snape, despite having expected this, felt a jolt when they made eye contact. Now Lupin started grinning, and Snape allowed himself to scowl in answer.
“I think it will be agreeable to all,” Dumbledore was saying, “if we break for the night and continue this meeting tomorrow morning. Some of us seem rather distracted.” He smiled at Snape. “We'll continue at nine. Anyone who won't be able to be here?”
Tonks said she'd probably not arrive before ten, but they should start without her. Then Lupin offered a room to anyone who wanted to stay the rest of the night at Grimmauld Place. Most did.
Half an hour later, the house was quiet and dark.
Without making a sound, Lupin slowly closed the door to his room and tiptoed down the hall to another door. He glanced around himself once more, then quickly slipped inside.
“You certainly took your time.”
“I wanted to be sure I wouldn't run into anyone,” Lupin half whispered, and with a few steps had crossed the dark room to the bed.
Lupin shivered as he felt more than saw his lover reach for him. He felt the warm breath against his skin first, followed quickly by kisses, nips and bites. A growl of pleasure escaped him, and he almost laughed.
Entangled between sheets, wrapped in arms holding him close, he slept until the early morning hours. With the first light greys of dawn he woke, as he had conditioned himself to do. Carefully, he extracted himself from the bed, and thought he had managed to do so unnoticed.
His partner stirred. “Don't go, please.”
Lupin's heart skipped a beat. “It's almost morning,” he said softly. “It's time... I have to...” He let the sentence trail off, and escaped back to his own room, before anyone else was about.
An hour later, the house started coming alive. Arthur and Molly were the first, or at least the noisiest, to move around the halls. When Snape emerged from his room, he found Arthur knocking on the still closed doors, and nearly tripped over Shacklebolt, who was kneeling down at the top of the stairs to tie his shoe laces.
The kitchen was mercifully quiet still, except for Molly humming as she supervised breakfast preparing itself. Snape poured himself a cup of coffee, glanced over the newspapers and magazines that had already arrived that morning, and retreated to a safe corner of the table.
Within minutes the other witches and wizards started filing into the room. The morning chaos didn't seem so much different from a Hogwart's breakfast in the Great Hall. Lupin was among the last to arrive. Whilst he waited for the gaggle in his path to an empty seat to clear, he picked through the mail.
Two letters for him, and – he had to look again. Feeling certain his face was now flushed, Lupin refolded the Daily Prophet and took that with him as well, placing it, along with the letters, under his chair.
At nine o'clock Dumbledore arrived, and Lupin, convinced the twinkle in the Headmaster's eyes was directed at him, avoided his gaze. The meeting lasted another three excruciating hours, and at the end of it, someone suggested an early communal lunch.
Lupin relaxed somewhat when he came to the conclusion no-one else had seen the Prophet. Yet. What he needed was time to think and talk this through. Some sort of decision would have to be made. Denial, perhaps.
“You're awfully nervous this morning, Lupin.” Moody remarked at one point.
I didn't get much sleep, usually an easy excuse, was not the best choice of words this morning, Lupin realised in time.
“And lost your capacity for speech as well?” Snape joined in gleefully.
“I am not feeling so well,” Lupin said at last through gritted teeth, which was actually quite truthful an answer.
After the meal, finally, people started leaving. Snape, of course, was among the first on their way to the door. Lupin cleared his throat, but Dumbledore was quicker.
“Severus,” the old wizard called Snape back, with a sideways glance at Lupin. “Have you seen today's Prophet?”
Yes, Lupin thought, have you?
Snape frowned slightly, “Anything in particular you want me to have seen?”
“The front page,” Dumbledore replied smoothly. “The headline?” he added when no reaction from Snape was forthcoming.
“Yes, something about nocturnal creatures. Why?” Snape was still puzzled.
Dumbledore simply nodded, obviously amused, and took his leave, beckoning Moody and Tonks, who were both still hanging back, to follow him.
Now alone with Snape, Lupin wordlessly handed him the newspaper.
The Bat and the Wolf
A Match Made in Heaven
Hogsmeade – Sometimes strange things happen. And sometimes strange things aren't as strange as they seem. Rumour for some time has linked two certain wizards, first in feud, then in passion. Believed by some to be the product of overly romantic juvenile fantasy, one cannot but admit that all the elements for a classic tale of love are indeed present. And then there's the old adage of all things secret eventually coming to light. So they have. It has been confirmed from several sources that Professor Severus Snape and Remus Lupin...
Snape read no further, but did notice the words “prurient” and “sultry” in the next paragraph. He folded the paper in half again, and put it down on the table. “I resent being compared to a bat.”
“That's all you have to say?”
“And that you could have stayed in my bed this morning after all.”
Lupin smiled, distracted by the fond memory, before admonishing him. “Severus, stop being so facetious. What do you want to do about this?” Lupin sat down again, and motioned to Snape to do likewise.
“Poison the main suspects for the unnamed sources and a maybe a few others for good measure?” Snape suggested as he pulled out his chair.
“Sometimes you have the most annoying sense of humour,” Lupin replied exasperatedly.
“Remus,” Snape said as he caught hold of Lupin's hand. “I wanted to keep this between ourselves, because it is nobody else's business. I never intended to deny you. So, I don't see how there is anything we can do. Or perhaps you have other suggestions?”
“I do find the secrecy more exciting than I ever thought I would.”
“That's because you're a sneaky bastard, and always have been.”
“And you'd be an expert on that, of course.”
“Naturally. And --” Snape stopped short, and leaned back in his chair, thoughtful. “Remus, if your current facial expression is any indication, I don't think you were quite as expert at the secret keeping as we believed.”
Lupin's face changed to confusion, then to indignation in quick succession. “And who's fault is that?” he accused.
“I realise it must be difficult for you to control yourself around me.” Snape sighed theatrically, and Lupin's smile turned into a broad grin.
“Actually,” Lupin admitted after a moment. “It is.”
Snape wasn't quite prepared for the effect this admission had on him. Not surprise exactly, but a wave of joy, that had passed as fast as it started and left him momentarily without a coherent thought.
All this seemed mirrored on Snape's face, for Lupin was suddenly looking at him with an odd expression. He found himself hyper-aware of the other man, and almost oblivious to their surroundings, except the ticking of the wall-clock. This was a strange, giddy feeling.
“I love you,” Lupin said.
“What?” he asked softly, for he thought he hadn't heard correctly... or had he?
“I love you!” Lupin repeated, more sure of his words.
The clock was quiet now, and the air around them moved again. It was a sunny afternoon, the sun shinning in through the kitchen window. He was still holding Lupin's hand. He lifted it up, kissed his fingers and the palm of his hand.
Lupin leaned forward to touch his face, and kiss his lips, and be kissed in return.
“I love you, too. And no more foolish secrecy,” Snape said later, when he had a chance to speak again.