Severus Snape couldn't exactly claim that Remus Lupin had broken his heart. The truth was somewhat more complex than that, though the fact of the matter was that his heart had already been pretty busted up by the time Remus got there. Years living with a fickle bitch who played at being his mother, and after that more years spent with a boy who was in love with someone else had damaged him pretty much beyond repair. Lupin was simply the final blow.
Nor could he claim that Lupin's betrayal was the thing that convinced him that everything he ever loved would be somehow swept away from him. No, his father's suicide in his tenth year, the summer before Hogwarts, had that honor. A cruel man that Severus had loved with a desperate sharpness that pierced him every time he thought of it, and he had abandoned his only son. And then Benito, his cousin, the one person he could really call a friend, had gone home early from his usual summer visit, and had stopped writing shortly thereafter. At the time, Severus had been bewildered. Later, he would take it as simple inevitability in his relationships. His mother again, of course. Ben never told him what happened, but an adult Severus, looking back, could guess.
So on that night, so many years ago, when he had walked in on Lupin receiving a rather enthusiastic blow-job from Sirius Black in an abandoned classroom, it had merely brought home several truths that he had already internalized long ago. But to this day, Severus couldn't decide whether it would have been worse to learn those things for the first time that night, or what actually happened, to have forgotten them so carelessly and be reminded of them in a particularly brutal fashion.
Either way, there was a good deal of pain associated with Lupin in the potion master's mind. Distant pain, hurts that had dulled from the weight of nearly two decades, but pain nonetheless. Like old wounds that cried out on rainy nights, when the weather changed. They were a constant for Severus, but he had gotten used to that in his time at Hogwarts as a teacher. There were so many other things to feel regret about, so much more guilt and betrayal, that on the whole, Remus Lupin sort of faded into the background unless Severus was really thinking about it.
But how was he supposed to ignore the follies of his youth with the man himself sitting just three chairs down the table? Even with Dumbledore's warning (and how had the old man put it? Oh yes, "Delightful news, Severus! Remus Lupin will be joining us this year as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher! Weren't you two especial friends in your school days?"), he could hardly be properly prepared for the sight of Lupin in the flesh, smiling politely, and so, so quiet.
The potions master scowled furiously down at his folded hands, listening as the headmaster droned on with his usual beginning of term announcements. He wasn't even allowed to be properly angry at the man! After all, the boy he had known so long ago was gone almost completely, replaced by this slender ghost that looked as though he would collapse if someone breathed on him too hard.
The Remus Lupin he had known had been a vital young man: short, but broad-shouldered, stocky and muscular. He'd had a brilliant shock of honey-brown hair, threaded with gold, forever shaggy and in need of a haircut, and the most amazingly bright hazel eyes, always crinkling around the edges with his sunny smiles. His Remus had always filled a room with his enthusiastic presence, though he was never particularly loud. His Remus had kissed impatiently, devouringly…
This Lupin was something else altogether. So thin, and it didn't suit him, not with those wide bones. His face was all angles now, instead of soft lines, and his eyes - darker, weren't they? – seemed sunken. Skin that had been creamy, had burnt so easily in the sun, was now dry-looking, papery. His smiles were small, polite, and he never showed his teeth. The generous sprinkling of silver through his hair made the rich hues look almost dusty, and he wore it long now, gathered carelessly back into a horse's tail, strands escaping messily and curling around his face.
"Severus?" He looked over at Professor Vector to his right, frowning.
"What?" he snapped impatiently, and Vector raised a questioning eyebrow.
"I merely asked if you could pass the potatoes," the arithmancy professor pointed out dryly, and Severus sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose tiredly.
"Of course," he answered stiffly, then added, as he supposed was appropriate, "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I was thinking of something else."
"Or someone else, hm?" Vector asked carefully, only the barest hint of a smile in his voice as he filled his plate. And when had the food arrived?
//Have I been that distracted?// Severus wondered in agitation. "Excuse me?'
"Well, you have been-" Vector interrupted himself with a small cough, and looked up with an artificially bright smile at the Slytherin. "So, Albus tells me that you and our new DADA teacher were here at Hogwarts together?"
Severus scowled again, as he set about dishing several chicken legs onto his plate. "Yes, I suppose so. It was a long time ago. We didn't get along very well," he lied automatically.
"Oh, really?" Vector studiously did not look at his fellow professor as he started to eat. Severus snorted.
"Headmaster Dumbledore needs to keep his nose out of other people's business," the Slytherin offered, spearing a piece of potato viciously.
"True," Vector laughed, flipping a bit of oak brown hair out of his face. "I still remember when I first came to teach here, oh, about ten years before you joined us, Severus…"
Severus nodded absently as the arithmancy professor related some long past incident. The potions master had been the youngest professor on staff at Hogwarts…though he supposed he couldn't really lay claim to that title anymore. Lupin was several months younger than he…
He turned his head surreptitiously to study the new DADA teacher again, now engaged in a quiet conversation with an animated McGonagall. His gestures as he explained something were small and neat, subdued. As the head of Gryffindor answered, Lupin looked up from her, and met Severus' eyes dead on.
There was a space of a few heartbeats in which Severus was captured, his breath stilled in his throat, drowning as he met the werewolf's startled eyes with his own. Clearly Lupin hadn't been expecting him to be looking, either, and both men stared at each other down the short length of the table, neither blinking.
Then Severus came back to himself, and he scowled furiously, narrowing his eyes angrily at the other man. How dare Lupin look at him like that! Like…like he had some right to meet the Slytherin's gaze after what he had done! He watched those normally warm eyes blink a few times, then an indifferent mask fall over the werewolf's face, something else new. And very deliberately Lupin turned his attention back to McGonagall. He didn't look at Severus again for the rest of the meal.
Severus resolved to himself then and there that he would make every effort to avoid Lupin for the rest of the year.
* * * * *
Remus Lupin didn't know whether to be relieved or anxious to be back in Hogwarts again. Certainly, he was grateful for the work, after so many years living hand to mouth. After his family had died, and then James, Lily, and Peter so soon after, and Sirius imprisoned…well, he had been on his own for a very long time. He worked in the Muggle world for a time, but he never was able to hold a job for long. Not that he wasn't a good worker, but the conditions he required to be safe every full moon…he had never made enough money for the proper facilities to lock himself up, which meant having to live in places near stretches of deep forest. He had spent many years in Snowdonia, but it was hard to find work there, at least for an unskilled laborer like himself.
And then the letter had arrived, at exactly the right time, and he had packed up his few belongings in his one meager suitcase, and had come immediately. He had never considered himself much of a scholar, though he had enjoyed reading immensely as a youth, and hadn't exactly figured himself for professor material. But Dumbledore's letter had been so encouraging…
Remus, I know you'll be reluctant to take the position, but I have every confidence that you will be fully capable of fulfilling the requirements brilliantly. I know of no other person who is so familiar with Dark creatures, and your extensive knowledge of curses and counter-curses is equally impressive.
Of course he was familiar with Dark creatures! Wasn't he one himself, and hadn't he spent years living side by side with them? His knowledge of curses and counter-curses was bitterly won as well.
He remember that first conversation with Dumbledore.
"Call me, Albus, please. We don't stand on formality here at Hogwarts."
"Albus, then. Won't the board of governors object to having a werewolf on staff, teaching their children?" He had been so anxious, then.
"Ah, well, I don't quite think that's any of their business." Those mischievous blue eyes had twinkled as Remus had sighed in frustration. He had sat back in shock at Dumbledore's next words, however.
"Besides, there are some mitigating factors to consider. I suppose you've heard of the Wolfsbane Potion?"
"Yes, of course, but isn't that an incredibly difficult potion to prepare?"
"Well, I suppose it is, but we have a very talented potions master teaching here who has assured me that he is quite up to the task." The headmaster had paused then. "I believe you know him, in fact. Severus Snape?"
And God, what a shock that had been. Severus Snape, the love of his young life, and everything had ended so messily after the fuck-up with the aphrodisiac and the Confundus charm, and Sev finding out he was a werewolf. That had hurt for years afterward, still did, some days. Remus supposed it didn't help that he hadn't been in a serious relationship since then, since he was 16 years old.
Sighing, he leaned his cheek into his hand as he listened to the headmaster introduce him, smiling politely at the assembled faces. A whole hall full of children, it was enough to terrify the staunchest heart. And it had been so long since he had been around children...not since the days when his family was still alive, when his little sister Cerys would whine to him about some boy or other, and the rest of the younger cousins would shove and play and demand that the older ones let them tag along. Remus had been somewhere in the middle…looking up to the older cousins, and sniffing at the younger ones.
He let his eyes drift idly across to Severus as Dumbledore continued speaking, taking in the changes. There were remarkably few of them, at least physically, from the Sev he remembered from his youth. He recalled a tall, lean boy with olive gold skin and shoulder length, unkempt black hair. This Severus was a tall, lean man with sallow skin, the olive leached from him with the lack of sun, and shoulder length, unkempt black hair. For Christ's sake, he still had the same haircut!
Same enormous nose. Same graceful hands with long, elegant fingers. Same thin lips. Same burning black eyes. Same expressive, arched brows.
But much to his relief, Remus realized that he no longer found Severus Snape beautiful. When they had been together, he could never get enough of staring at the other boy. He had been in awe, every time he saw him, and would get lost in those dark eyes, that delightfully disheveled hair. Now, he could look at the man from an adult's perspective, not through the besotted eyes of a child.
And he noticed with some surprise that most people would not find Severus attractive. His features were much too harsh, his eyes too deep-set, his hair greasy and apparently uncared for. He seldom smiled, and frequently scowled. Still, Remus told himself mildly, he was still very interesting to look at. Those hands seemed to have a life of their own, and there were worlds of nuance to be read in that disagreeable face.
But where Severus hadn't changed much physically, his demeanor more than made up for it. Remus remembered a quiet, controlled boy who mostly kept to himself. He had been somewhat inclined to brooding and moodiness, but mostly he kept up a fairly cold façade. Of course, he was entirely different once one worked their way past his defenses, Remus mused.
But this man, older now, seemed almost consumed with anger. His scowls were furious, hate-filled, his gestures cutting, abrupt. The Sev he remembered had never been much prone to anger, unless pushed extremely hard. This dark man seemed about ready to fly off the handle at any excuse. The werewolf wondered what had happened in the years they had been apart to turn a melancholy young man into this apparently rage-filled person.
Maybe it was Remus' own presence. The DADA professor allowed himself a small laugh at the thought, eyeing the table as it filled with the beginning of term feast. He certainly was looking forward to being able to eat regularly!
"What's so funny?" asked Professor McGonagall to his right. //Minerva,// he reminded himself, //It's Minerva now.//
"Oh, just woolgathering," Remus answered, plucking a steaming cob of corn from the bowl to his left. "Rather personal, I'm afraid," he added with an apologetic smile.
McGonagall nodded knowingly, and allowed the younger professor to rather deftly change the topic of conversation to her own transfiguration classes. The two were soon engaged in a rather fascinating discussion of the more obscure applications of the animagus transformation.
As Remus listened to the older professor delve into some detail of her own transformation, he let his eyes drift over once more to the potions master down the table. And found a pair of coal dark eyes staring back at him intently.
He lost the thread of McGonagall's conversation entirely, as his entire world narrowed down to those eyes and the sound of his own heartbeat in head. He found himself staring back, unblinking, as his thoughts blew through his mind like a hurricane, wiping all coherent musings away in their wake.
//So dark, so hot,// he managed, as he let his breath out in an unconscious sigh. And then Severus was frowning at him, his lean features twisted into a snarl of palpable hate. It was shocking as a bucket of ice water dumped over him, and it brought him back to himself abruptly.
He forced himself to look uninterested, turning back to McGonagall and the nice, safe conversation with an effort. He didn't look back at the potions master all night, congratulating himself at the end of the feast at his restraint.
//Now if I can just manage that for the rest of the year…//