DISCLAIMER: All Harry Potter related characters and themes belong to JK- the world is my house elf- Rowling. I own nothing really, not a damn thing.
SUMMARY: Severus Snape takes some pictures and sees things for the first time. **SLASH** SS/RL
NOTES: Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest – "Snape hadn't realized that would be considered a fetish." Thanks to Kari for her help. Special thanks to Luthien and T'Boy for taking pity on me. And a HUGE thank you to Isis for thinking this fic deserved some extra attention – and also for taking pity on me.
Finally, one last thanks to Portkey for taking one last look.
by The Treacle Tart
Severus Snape warily eyed the contraption on his desk with the apprehensive curiosity he normally reserved for testing Longbottom's latest potions catastrophe. The small silver box with the buttons and the circular glass lens looked interesting enough.
Had Creevey had half a brain, he would have known better than to attempt to use it to take compromising pictures of the female Quidditch players in the showers during Snape's watch, no matter what the Finnegan boy offered to pay him. But, alas, Gryffindors were not renowned for their intelligence. Snape's mouth twitched into what some might call a smile and others might call a painful facial spasm, as he remembered the look on the twit's face as he took fifty house points, issued a week's worth of detentions, and confiscated his beloved camera.
It was these small pleasures that made the job worth it.
Snape never cared much for anything Muggle in nature. Except perhaps the few dozen or so novels he kept for nights he couldn't sleep. Or the cosmetic products that finally rid him of that damned oily hair and dry skin that had plagued him for decades. And the staff knew better than to comment on the noises that could be heard coming from the dungeons late in the evening that sounded remarkably like opera, or some nights, oddly enough, like jazz. No, Muggle items seemed quite pointless to the Potions master, and the absurd looking box on his desk was no exception.
Wizard's cameras allowed the photographer to recreate an entire scene. Replicas of the individuals whose images it captured could wave and smile and interact with the person viewing the picture. All this Muggle device did was capture a simple still, and what good was that? Was a picture that could not move truly worth a thousand… anything? Snape thought haughtily. What could be so special about this apparatus that the Creevey boy would cry upon its removal? Snape picked it up and re-examined it. He would just have to find out for himself.
Snape carried the small camera in a specially conjured pocket in his most voluminous robes, where he was sure no one would be able to detect it. He had never before felt compelled to explain his actions to anyone and had no desire to begin now. He went about his day as he normally would, being a little more observant to the world around him. When he stumbled upon a scene he found interesting, he positioned himself where he could not be observed and snapped a picture.
The number counter on the top of the gadget reached twenty-four and the odd little camera stopped and made a strange whirring sound, garnering him a few odd looks from bewildered students. When he was back in the solitude of his room he placed the apparatus on his desk and gave it his most piercing glare - the one that reduced that Hufflepuff to tears and made that Ravenclaw twitch for two days.
The camera was unaffected.
None of the buttons seemed to be working properly, and a light kept blinking on the top. Snape scowled at the seemingly poorly-manufactured instrument that appeared to be malfunctioning more and more with each passing second. With a quick tap of his wand and a quiet Alohomora, it sprang open. A brief inspection revealed a small cylindrical item that was nestled inside the camera's inner chamber. Written on the item was the word "film." A cursory glance at a few reference books explained that this was the component that actually held the images.
Snape was getting more intrigued by the moment.
He picked up the small cylinder and marveled. Even he had to give Muggles credit; they did manage to find ways around their lack of any real capability. His reference materials revealed that he would have to send this film off for processing at a Muggle establishment. He would need an outside source. Though he was unsure, he could have sworn something that resembled anticipation coursed through him. He sent a surreptitious note to Connor MacManus, his Muggle connection to all the items he would never admit to owning, and soon his film was off to have the images extracted.
After three days, a hearty looking barn owl arrived in the bustling Great Hall with a thick envelope in its talons. Everyone's attention was turned to Snape, who had never received a public owl before. He placed the envelope aside, acting as though it was nothing important, annoyed actually at having it in his possession at all. At the end of the meal he quietly rose, picked up the package as though an afterthought, and headed towards his private office. Once inside and alone, he tore the package open and scanned the images fastidiously.
He groused at the odd angles of some and the poor lighting of others. One picture gave the Weasley girl red eyes, brighter than her ridiculous hair. Could the camera detect the remnants of demonic possession? he thought, aghast. Another photograph showed the Granger girl, her head cut off at the mouth. Could it read his mind and inner most fantasies? he considered, intrigued. Yet a third showed that brat Malfoy with his face twisted into the most unappealing grimace Snape had ever seen. Could this camera show a person's true nature? What sort of Dark Magic was this? he marveled, excited.
For the most part, he was ready to call the entire experiment a failure, when at the bottom of the pile he came across one snapshot that caught his attention. Albus Dumbledore was speaking to Professor Sprout just outside Greenhouse Seven. At first, there seemed to nothing special about the image, but Snape found himself mesmerized by it nonetheless. It was the only time in his recollection that the headmaster truly looked his age. Snape could clearly distinguish the lines that cut into his face and the sad glint in his crystal blue eyes. He looked tired. Fragile. He was the strongest wizard in the world, and he looked like he would crumble into dust.
Were this a wizard's photograph, the Dumbledore in the picture would be waving and giving that calculated nod he always gave when he chose to acknowledge your existence. But Dumbledore could not hide in the Muggle photograph. This one moment was captured for eternity, revealing everything he would have otherwise veiled from the rest of the world, because the rest of the world could never see that he was just a man. A tired, fragile, old man.
Snape stared at the picture for hours, examining every minute detail. The way Dumbledore's robe shimmered in the noon sun. The way Sprout's hair pointed out in odd angles, making her look slightly mad. The shadow of a passing bird that darkened the ground at their feet. A group of children that ran in the distance, probably late to their next class. A fraction of a second, frozen in time; preserved in this glossy paper for his eyes only.
His mild curiosity grew into a healthy interest.
He wrote Connor asking for more of this wondrous film. For several weeks people complained of hearing odd clicking noises at the most peculiar times, not to mention the flashes of blinding light that seemed, to some, to come out of nowhere. And once, Neville Longbottom could have sworn he heard a strange whirring sound from behind a suit of armor in the third floor corridor.
Snape reviewed the next sets of prints almost excitedly, insomuch as he wasn't sneering and was actually more interested in something other than the systematic torturing of the student body. With six rolls of film, he had managed to improve the angles of his shots, but the lighting still seemed off. No one's head was cut off, but several people still showed signs of demonic possession.
He was more than a little disappointed at his latest attempt until he spotted a picture he only had a vague recollection of taking. During a late night walk through his personal garden, picking some Orion's Blossoms that only bloomed in the moonlight, Snape had caught sight of someone on a broom, looping in the air. To his surprise it was Madame Hooch. He positioned himself carefully and took a snapshot, the result of which sat in his hand.
This silly little silver box with buttons and a circular glass lens caught an image of Madame Hooch in a way he had never before seen. She was leaning forward on the broom, her eyes wild and laughing, her hair blowing straight back. She looked like a child flying on broom stolen from unsuspecting parents. Though he never heard her utter a word that night, he could hear her in this picture; her laughter, her joy, her unadulterated exhilaration.
He could almost feel the wind whipping past her. He could almost smell the juniper in the evening air. She had never looked as happy as she did in this simple still. No one had ever looked as happy as she did in this simple still. He paused at the notion; had he forgotten what it was like to feel that way about anything?
It was also then he noticed she was riding a Firebolt and there was only one of those at Hogwarts - and it was not hers.
He decided to scan his pictures again, more carefully, looking to see what else he might have missed. He noticed how the youngest Weasley boy and the ever-garrulous Granger would steal looks at one another, when they thought no one would notice. In more than one shot he caught Draco staring at them as well, and his face held neither anger nor annoyance. Quite the contrary. It was the same look Hagrid would give a pint of his favorite ale after not drinking for a month. It was indeterminable, however, if he was looking at Granger or Weasley. It definitely held interesting possibilities.
He caught sight of another picture of some of the pets that roamed Hogwarts in the evening, when the rest of the school was deep in slumber. To his surprise he realized he had caught an image of Crookshanks, Mrs. Norris and what appeared to be Minerva McGonagall in her animagus form, all congregated by the lake. He wondered briefly if they met this way regularly. How often did Minerva wander the grounds with her feline companions? It seemed to suit her; she looked like she was having a wonderful time. He could almost hear her purring. Is it easier to deal with the world as a cat? he thought with an unexpected pang of jealousy. He suddenly found himself wishing he could join them sitting quietly by a lake and not thinking about anything, for once.
He continued inspecting the photos.
Potter looking defiant was no surprise, but Longbottom looking the same way was. Pavarti Patil staring moony-eyed at Justin Finch-Fletchley was expected, but Lavender Brown staring moony-eyed at Pavarti Patil was not. Crabbe and Goyle holding hands under the Slytherin table? Snape quickly tore that one up. Some things were simply not meant to be seen. Ever.
Though his latest effort was worthy of some note, there was still much room for improvement. Severus Snape was not someone who would allow himself to be bested by an asinine piece of Muggle technology. He could do better than this, he thought angrily. Perhaps some rudimentary research was in order.
Madame Pince eyed him suspiciously as he gathered the dozen reference books on photography from the 'Muggle Arts and History' section of her library. Severus Snape only ever came to the library to scan the restricted section, and he had never actually left with a book before. If she didn't know better, she could have sworn he actually said, "Thank you," when she got him the materials he asked for. She made a note to speak to the headmaster at once. Something was obviously amiss. 'Polyjuice?' she wondered. Maybe he was sampling some of the "unusual" flora in Sprout's private collection? Or perhaps he had finally gone off the deep end and was clinically insane. Sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one. She shrugged before turning abruptly to shush some rowdy third-years.
Snape asked Filch to administer his detentions for that evening and began to scan the various books he had borrowed from the library. Before he realized it, he had lost hours to passages on technique and photocomposition, on lighting and advanced equipment. Chapters on developing at home intrigued him as he thought of the unused storeroom down the west wing corridor of his dungeon home. Excerpts on how different solutions and chemicals used in the development process could alter the appearance of the photos took him into the small hour of the morning. The possibilities seemed endless.
His healthy interest was now a mounting fascination.
Snape missed breakfast that morning, forced to rush about to complete the lesson plan and classroom preparation he had neglected the previous night. Muttering under his breath and waving his wand brusquely, he somehow managed to place his trademark sneer on his lips in time for the entrance of his first class.
"Today you will be making The Elixir of Sominae," he drawled. "It is a mild sedative used often by our resident medi-witch on the more jittery students, especially around exam time. If the instructions on the black board are not followed implicitly, this mild sedative can become an addictive narcotic which, incidentally, is illegal to possess. If not made correctly you will get a zero for the day's work. If you manage to commit a felony, I will be forced to have you detained by local authorities. You have one hour."
Normally he patrolled the cauldrons, enjoying his fervent maltreatment of the more inept, but today he sat rigidly behind his desk, a small book called, "Understanding Exposure" opened on his lap, hidden from the view of prying students. Immersed in the world of apertures and shutter speed, depth of field and light meters, resolution and framing, he completely forgot to dismiss the class who waited quietly for twenty minutes after the end of the lesson, too afraid to interrupt.
"Well, what are you waiting for," he barked. He turned the page, unperturbed by the frenzy of confused students all too eager to leave his classroom. It was a small, "Professor?" that caught his attention. Colin Creevey stood in front of his desk, shuffling his feet and biting his lower lip. "Yes," Snape replied, almost nervously.
"I was wondering, professor," he paused to swallow, "You've had my camera for almost two months and… I was wondering …if I could have it back. You had said I could after I served my detentions but …"
"Ah…yes…of course," he replied slowly, nodding his head as if contemplating Creevey's stuttering speech. "I actually have it with me. I was planning on returning it today." A hand, slightly trembling, returned Creevey's property. The pint-sized Gryffindor swept out of the classroom with a smile and an overly enthusiastic, "Thank you." Severus Snape was left watching the swirl of dust he left in his wake, and wondering if anyone would really notice if he Stupefied a student -- just a little one.
The class that had the misfortune of following his meeting with Mr. Creevey got a surprise quiz, three feet of parchment for homework, and anyone who made a noise got to personally test Longbottom's potions for the rest for the year.
Snape stormed back to his chambers that evening. He tore off his robes, poured himself a glass of port, drank it down and threw the glass in to the fireplace where flames erupted, licking the mantle and scarring it black. His already foul mood only increased when his eyes raked over the photography books strewn about his desk and chair. He was about to set his wand to incinerate the entire pile when his eyes stopped on small booklet entitled, "Choosing the Proper Equipment: The Beginners Guide to Photography." He slowly reached for it and began to read.
Two weeks later, four owls came into the Great Hall during lunch, jointly carrying a rather large box and heading directly for the Potions master.
The package was gently placed before him and without so much as a word to anyone else sitting at the table, he paid the owls and levitated the box out of the hall, through courtyard, down the dungeon corridor and into his bedchambers. He told the headmaster he was ill and needed someone to monitor his classes for three days.
His mounting fascination was now his newest hobby.
Three months later, Severus Snape was in his darkroom developing his latest set of photographs when an odd noise distracted him. Though a quick inspection of the room established he was most assuredly alone, the odd sort of humming persisted. Humming? Dear Merlin, it was coming from him. He was humming. Luckily, he was alone. There could be no witnesses to that sort of thing.
There were witnesses, however. It had been months since he took a single house point from Gryffindor. Months since he doled out a solitary detention. Months since he insulted Longbottom's work or Potter's lineage. The entire school was left wondering what had happened to their dour Potions master, for he seemed to have vanished.
Befuddled students entered the potions classroom to find the day's project and accompanying homework assignment on the board. Professor Snape would speak for ten minutes on a quick review of the previous lesson's results and what they were supposed to accomplish that day, and set them to task. Homework assignments were returned with cursory remarks and a grade. Though quite normal by Hogwarts' usual standards, this was highly unusual for their Potions class; ordinarily, those papers would be returned swimming in red marks that practically screamed with sarcastic disgust.
Frankly, this was dull.
There was a running bet in the staff room as to what was happening to Severus Snape. Endora Sprout surmised that Snape was in love, because only true love could change a man so and give him such an agreeable disposition. She scurried out of the room to check the "unusual" flora in her special collection. Filius Flitwick asserted that perhaps he had just grown tired of the façade he had cultivated for years and was finally just letting loose. Secretly he wondered if Snape was dabbling in some experimental potion making. Minerva McGonagall contended that he had finally fallen off the deep end and had gone clinically insane. Sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one.
The debate raged on. The only one who didn't have an opinion was Remus Lupin. Installed for the second time as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus was quiet these days, content to just watch while others tried to comprehend the incomprehensible. Severus Snape was congenial, almost friendly, they said. But the fact of the matter was he was never around. He rushed through meals and corridor watch and hardly spoke to anyone.
Some considered it a great improvement.
But not Remus Lupin. Though Snape seemed to be in an affable enough mood, Remus's heightened lupine senses could detect a faint chemical scent coming from his clothes. It was nothing he had come across before. Despite what the others said aloud, he was aware of what they really thought, and the aroma wafting from Snape's robes were not of plants or herbs or potions ingredients. His curiosity was piqued; it was time to pay the Potions master a visit.
The werewolf made his way down to Snape's private quarters bearing a bottle of merlot and a pleasant smile. Though on the outside he was the picture of calm, inwardly he was nervous. He and Snape never got on well, though he tried. He really couldn't blame Snape, with their mutual history being so tumultuous. But after decades and fighting side by side in two wars, one would think he would want to bury the hatchet in something other than Lupin's forehead. He hoped so, at least.
He was about to knock on the door when it swung open before him. Severus Snape was rushing out, clumsily buttoning his robes. The air was full of the now familiar scent of chemicals Lupin had sensed for weeks. "What are you doing here?" Snape practically snarled.
"Just thought I'd come bearing a peace offering and to see how you were doing," Lupin replied softly.
Remus knew that Snape had promised the headmaster he would do his best to, oh, how did he phrase it - "not hex the flea-bitten beast." Despite that, he expected Snape to give his usual disdainful comment and scornful insult as he did at every opportunity since Lupin's reinstatement. But Snape stood quietly staring at Lupin, almost perplexedly. It was an odd sensation to Lupin, but he could have sworn he was being scrutinized by those dark ebony eyes, as if he was looking at something he had never seen before. And then, just as suddenly, he snapped out of his trance.
"I have been called to attend to a matter in the Slytherin common room. You may enter and wait for me in the parlor if you wish, but you are not to leave the parlor or enter any other room. Am I understood?"
He spoke in a manner that suggested to Lupin that if he did not comply with the rules, he would be dealt with by the most unpleasant method that Snape could imagine. And Snape was the imaginative sort. He gave a small nod and said, "Of course," as he entered.
Snape left immediately, and almost just as quickly the part of Lupin's brain that was mostly Marauder took over. He was alone, in Snape's private chambers, for an undetermined amount of time. He was only trying to find out what was wrong with Snape after all. Who would see fault in that?
A quick search of the parlor disclosed nothing. But he caught a whiff of that damned chemical lingering in the air. Like a resolute bloodhound, he followed it through a long corridor to a formidable looking door. He opened it, unsure of what he would find, but never expecting in a million years to see what he saw.
The room was full of equipment. Muggle equipment. This would explain the rather enormous boxes that flew into the Great Hall for Snape several times a week. Dozens of cameras and an implausible amount of their accessories littered the room. A tripod was set up in the corner next to several portable lamps. Remus's eyes went wide at the thought of the fortune Snape must have spent for all this.
His curiosity getting the better of him, he began to have a look around. The walls held framed photographs that Remus assumed Snape had taken. One of Dumbledore talking to Sprout. One of Madame Hooch flying. One of three cats playing by the lake. One of Professor Flitwick levitating himself while trying to reach a book on a high shelf. Several of the castle and the grounds at different times of the day. One of a herd of centaurs talking at dusk. One of the giant squid, whose tentacles were raised out of the water as if in greeting. There was even a few of Harry and his friends playing Quidditch and almost looking their age; looking younger, in fact, than Remus had ever remembered seeing them. Remus was surprised to discover that these pictures were actually very good. Beautiful, even.
Had Snape truly taken them? With these Muggle tools?
He turned his attention to two bookshelves that appeared to be completely brand new. One was full of reference books on photography, all Muggle in origin. The other had several leather-bound albums. Impeccable and meticulously displayed, each volume had a title embossed in gold lettering on the spine.
Snape seemed to have categorized the photos by theme. Each holiday had its own photo album. Though some were empty, it appeared Snape was anticipating the photos he would take to fill them with later. Okay, so this was obviously a relatively new hobby, Remus ascertained, guessing this hobby probably started about the time Severus started his vanishing act.
Remus continued to examine the photo library. An entire row was attributed to students. "Adolescent Amusements" had photos of Quidditch games and chess matches. Of students running in the courtyard and playing cards in their Common rooms. Of Ron trying to teach Dean exploding snap and Dean trying to teach Ron about Muggle soccer.
Each Quidditch team had its own sub-section. Players were photographed individually and in groups, in the air and on the ground. The pictures captured facial expressions and nerves. You could see the sweat trickling down the face of the Hufflepuff keeper as she stared down the Ravenclaw chaser.
The chess matches were shot from several different points of view, including overhead shots of the boards. You could see the looks of concentration on the players' faces and feel their nerves as they reached for queen or pawn. In one picture, Remus could see a fallen queen reflected in a competitor's glasses.
The next album was entitled, "To Toil and Seek," and was made of up students working. Reading under the trees or studying in classrooms or researching in the library. Hermione walking, while balancing a stack of books taller than she was, brought a smile to Remus's face.
Hannah Abbot mixing potion ingredients. Blaise Zabini charting constellations. Terry Boot replanting aconite in the greenhouse. In one series of about thirty pictures, Snape had managed to capture Adrian Pucey transfiguring a canary into what appeared to be a yellow plumed hat. Each shot melting into the next, Remus got the feeling if he stacked the pictures and flipped through them in succession, he could actually see the transfiguration happening before his eyes.
The next row on the same shelf was dedicated to the staff: in the staff room, refereeing Quidditch matches, teaching, laughing in the corridors, drinking at the Three Broomsticks. Some were funny, like a red-faced Hagrid giving a redder-faced Minerva a peck on the cheek. Some were interesting, like Professor Sinistra conjuring a representation of the constellation Ursa Major, holding it between her cupped hands, the glow resonating off her face. Some were poignant, like Madame Pomfrey comforting a home-sick first-year. Some were sad, like Filch drinking alone, his cat curled on his lap.
These photos displayed a range of emotions Remus never thought the Potions master possessed. They were beautiful and wistful, sometimes inspiring, sometimes thought-provoking, and nothing at all like Severus Snape. At least the Severus Snape he thought he knew.
There were a few volumes entitled, "Concepts of Self," which showed Snape attempting to photograph himself. The first few were pathetic; odd angles, cut off heads, blurred shots. Oddly enough, Snape kept all the attempts, almost as if he was keeping a record of his progression. As Remus continued to scan he found the pictures got increasingly better and more creative. Shots taken with mirrors, reflections in potions bottles, a shot of his robes floating in the air without the benefit of a body. There was one where Snape's image was distorted in a puddle of spilt potion that vaguely resembled the wolfsbane Remus took every month.
Through all these prints, Remus could see the beginning attempts and how greatly Snape had improved in what was probably just a few months. Some rather clumsy endeavors quickly progressed to some rather stunning photographs. It was illuminating, to say the least.
A thought came to him. He picked out a few random albums and flipped through the pages. He furrowed his brow and picked up a few more. There was not one picture of himself anywhere to be found. There were pictures of students and faculty, of ghosts and house elves, of flora and fauna, but not one of the werewolf. It saddened him some. He thought they had at least moved past this open animosity. Or, at least, hoped they had.
These pictures spoke to Remus. They told the story of the photographer more articulately than any book or written word ever could. Remus longed to talk to Snape about his new hobby. How did he discover it? What motivated him? How did he choose what to photograph? What not to photograph?
He realized with a start he had been looking in this room for two hours. Deciding he was already in danger of getting caught, he left, albeit very reluctantly. He left a note with the bottle of untouched wine on the small table by Severus's armchair and departed. For the life of him, he couldn't remember what he originally thought had happened to Snape to change him so, but whatever it was, he was obviously very wrong. He did know one thing for sure, however -
At some point Snape's newest hobby became an unmitigated obsession.
Remus became more aware of Snape over the next few weeks, looking for him at every corner, stopping by his office, trying to sit next to him at meals. He wanted desperately to "accidentally" run into him while taking one of his photographs. Every time he heard the rustling of leaves behind him, or thought he felt eyes gazing upon him, he would turn abruptly and search, hoping to catch a glimpse of dark ebony eyes. In truth, he thought he must be a little obsessed himself, because since he had seen Snape's picture albums, he could swear he was being following and photographed. He sighed when he realized that this couldn't be. There was not one picture of him in all the albums he perused, he reminded himself. Not one.
Despite that cold fact, Remus couldn't stop thinking about Snape's photos and what they revealed about a man that otherwise hid from the world. Well, that was not completely true; he was not hiding, per se, he was simply selective as to the face he would share with others. Remus wanted to find out about this other Snape, the one who looked at the world through a camera lens and saw things in ways that showed the truths we often ignore and the minutiae we often overlook.
Remus found himself walking around and framing shots in his head. Everything became a picture in his mental photo album. It was odd how different everything looked when observed that way, when one picks a scene or a moment to focus on and blocks out the rest of world. He wanted to learn more. To see more. He wanted to understand. Every night, since he stumbled into Snape's private haven, he wanted to go back. He longed to look at the pictures again. Soon enough, he would get his chance.
Despite all his efforts to avoid any prolonged contact with the students, Snape would be out this evening monitoring a detention. Harry had been complaining about it all day to Remus, who quickly realized this was his chance. Underneath a borrowed invisibility cloak, he waited in the corridor for Snape to exit his quarters. When he finally emerged, a dung bomb conveniently exploded at the far end of the passageway. Snape turned and ran to the end of the hall leaving his door wide open. While Snape was distracted by the blast, Remus sneaked into the parlor and stood motionless in the corner next to a desk. Snape returned, muttering something about disembowelment, and slammed his door shut.
Several minutes passed while Remus waited silently. Finally feeling it was safe, he removed his cloak and started down the corridor. He was halfway down when he heard someone fidgeting with the wards on the parlor door. Someone was coming in and he smelled remarkably like Severus Snape. In a panic, Remus entered the first door he came to and crouched in a corner, shutting his eyes and listening nervously. After what seemed like an eternity, Snape retrieved whatever he had forgotten and left, slamming the door again. Breathing a sigh of relief, Remus finally opened his eyes. To his disbelief, he found he was in Snape's bedchamber.
This was the stuff of legend. There was an ongoing bet as to what Snape kept in here. Madame Hooch insisted he kept whips and chains and other implements of torture. Professor McGonagall insisted it was all green with mirrors on the ceiling…and full of whips and chains and other implements of torture. Filius Flitwick was certain he kept his least favorite students prisoner there …as well as whips and chains and other implements of torture.
Remus was wondering if he should tell them how wrong they were. The furnishings were antique and very elegant; the bedclothes were green, but also red and amber, like a warm autumn day. There were no whips or chains or shackled students to speak of. There was nothing noteworthy- except a bookshelf and a dozen photo albums.
Bookshelves in the bedroom. Remus's eyebrows went straight up. Had this unmitigated obsession turned into something more? Remus walked over to the volumes apprehensively. They all had the same title, "The Enigma." What could be so puzzling to Severus Snape that he would devote hundreds and hundreds of photos to it? As much as Remus wanted to find out he couldn't bring himself to look.
This felt like an intrusion. Were this his own bedroom and his private albums, and Snape going through them, he would be incensed. It was like sneaking a peek at a diary. It was personal, intimate. These particular albums were so personal in fact, that Snape segregated them from the others; so personal that he viewed them in his bedroom.
There was plenty of empty space on the shelves in the room Remus had discovered previously. It had only been three weeks; surely Snape had not taken enough pictures to fill up that space. These pictures had to have a special significance to him.
Remus pulled back and stepped away from the bookshelves. It was bad enough he had sneaked in to these rooms, and bad enough he was going to look through Snape's things, but this was wrong - more wrong, anyway, and he couldn't live with himself. He stood looking at the albums and dropped his head forward. Running his hand through his hair, he sighed and shook his head in defeat. He turned to leave, when-
"You've come this far," said a sullen voice. "Why stop now?"
Remus whipped his head around to find Severus Snape standing in the doorway. Remus was a little more than surprised that flames weren't shooting out of his head. On the contrary, his expression was placid, and somehow very sad.
"Severus," Remus replied in a breathy voice, "I wasn't…I mean I was, but I didn't…I couldn't-"
"You're probably wondering how this all started…" he began talking, walking over to the shelves and pulling out the first volume. "Truth be told, I'm not really sure myself."
His voice was distant, distracted, detached. Remus wondered who he was talking to; perhaps insanity was not so far-fetched a consideration after all.
Severus just continued talking into the air. "I'm not very good with people…well, that is the understatement of the century, I suppose." He gave a small laugh. "I don't like getting close, too much of a possibility of getting attached and that can never lead to anything good."
He sat down on the edge of the bed with the book held closed on his lap.
"It's odd, taking pictures. You are far removed from everyone, nothing more than an observer really. Detached from everything, yet somehow, still a part of it all. This inane piece of machinery allows me to be part of people's lives and still be completely safe from any personal involvement. It is…a historical record, an artistic statement, a personal sojourn… It is an addicting hobby, to say the least. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I'm not used to losing control of my faculties…my temper, of course, that goes with out saying while a Potter and a gaggle of Weasleys still infest his school, but not my mind…I never lost focus before." He paused only to sigh. "But then, quite unexpectedly, during my eagerness to take pictures of everything, I saw something I had not intended to see." He opened the album on his lap and took out a single photo. "I was photographing the dawn on a particularly bright and colorful morning when my camera captured an image I had not realized until after I developed the film."
He held the picture out to Remus.
It was a stunning picture of the sunrise. The sky was awash in red and blue and yellow. Though a beautiful picture, he could not understand what Snape had wanted him to see. His eyes flickered over to Snape who sat quietly looking at his hands. Too afraid to ask what he should be looking for, Remus scanned the picture until something caught his eye. On a window sill on the highest tower of the castle, a lone figure was perched, watching the sun rise. It was someone Remus knew rather well.
"I hadn't realized I photographed you when I took this picture. It was only until afterwards that I saw it…that I saw you. I went back the next morning and you were there again in the exact same spot, the exact same pose, the exact same expression on your face. I went for a third time the next day and there you were again. And every subsequent morning, like clockwork, there you were, sitting still and watching the sunrise. Even on those mornings just after you transformed back to your human state, after the full moon, you would be there. And each time, I took a picture."
He handed Remus the album and Remus thumbed through it. Page after page of him sitting on his sill, watching the sunrise; nothing spectacular about the shots with the exception of the quantity. It looked to be a couple of months worth of stills. Toward the end, the pictures moved closer to the window where he sat, so they weren't pictures of the tower anymore, but of Remus himself.
"There is fear in your eyes when you look at the dawn. Did you know that? Fear and hope and anger and sadness and joy. I had never seen so many emotions evoked at the same time. I didn't think it was possible to feel all those things at once. They all contradicted each other, yet they all made sense. You should be feeling all those things. It was normal. It was…human."
Remus was certain Snape wasn't talking to him anymore - if he was ever talking to him at all. He obviously needed to get these words out, so Remus allowed him to do so undisturbed, quietly watching Snape's confession.
"I'm not sure when this little recreation of mine turned into something else. But I found the more I saw, the more I wanted to see. So I began taking even more pictures. But no matter what I photographed, none of the pictures held as much interest for me as those in that album. I needed to see more."
He was silent for a while and Remus wondered if he was supposed to be saying or doing something. More what? he wondered. He turned to the albums on the shelf, and without knowing why, he retrieved one and began looking. It was full of pictures of him.
Remus Lupin teaching. Remus Lupin reading. Remus Lupin eating. Remus Lupin talking to Hermione Granger. Remus Lupin tutoring Ron Weasley. Remus Lupin laughing with Harry Potter. Sharing a drink with Hagrid. Writing a note. Smiling at Professor McGonagall. Sitting with Professor Flitwick. Pages and pages and book after book, full of photos of himself, never knowing he was being watched, being examined, being studied. Over a dozen albums in this bookshelf and they all contained pictures of him.
And then it dawned on him. The photography wasn't the obsession anymore, the werewolf was. He didn't know what to say.
"I realized you must have deduced something the other night, because since then it has been impossible to get a clear shot of you. You seemed to be looking for me. You seemed to always know I was around. I must say I am somewhat relieved. If you hadn't discovered me, I'm not sure how long I would have continued in this way. I apologize for stalking you, and I ask that you keep this information to yourself, if for no other reason than your honor and my privacy."
He got up. "I trust you can see yourself out."
He made to pass Lupin, but a hand tenderly touching his shoulder stopped him.
"Severus," whispered Remus in a soft, sad voice as they faced each other. Remus looked at him appraisingly. Severus was not good at losing control like this. It confused him. It terrified him. Suddenly everything that made up his reality was not real anymore. He had to face the fact that the world is not as he always believed. That there are levels he did not understand and that in those levels, he would find things that changed his world. Once changed, they could not change back.
Men like Severus Snape needed clearly defined lines of good and evil. Even if one walked that line daily, it mattered not; it only mattered that there was a line to balance on in the first place. His camera captured a world where strong people were fragile, where the brave hid, where the most stoic among them showed a great capacity for joy and the most cheerful, a great capacity for sorrow. Where the strongest seemed weak and the weakest seemed strong. Where the world no longer followed the rules he had believed in ardently. His own photographs proved it.
And there was this monster he had hated for decades. But his own hands, his own eyes, showed him this monster had the emotions of a man. He was a man. Not a werewolf, but a man. Not a beast, but a man. Human. And how could he be asked to handle that as well? The world around him was not what he thought it was. It had been forever changed by a small silver box with buttons and a circular glass lens.
Once changed, it could not change back.
No, Severus was not used to losing control. And it showed in a normally acidic voice that now sounded lost, in a normally confident demeanor that now seemed broken, in normally cold ebony eyes that now seemed not to want to see anything anymore because they had already seen too much.
Remus had been looking for those ebony eyes for weeks, looking for them because he hoped Severus would see him as he saw others - the others he photographed. To deem him worthy of preservation in his personal visual journal. He realized at this moment that Severus had already seen him, that he had seen him in ways no one else had ever have tried to. And now, two men who had explored each other's souls were seeing each other for the very first time.
Without saying anything further, Remus leaned in and gently pressed his lips against Severus's. He pulled back and surveyed the Potions master's expression, looking for permission to continue. He got it in the form of a smile - a genuine smile. Not needing further encouragement, he brought his hand up to Severus's chin and stroked it gently before reaching behind his neck and pulling him closer.
It was a slow, sinuous kiss. A leisurely exploration that went on and on, as neither was in a hurry to do anything other than savor each precious second. Wet and warm as tongues intertwined, soft and moist and tasting of spiced honey. Teeth gently nipped soft lips. A faint moan floated slowly through the air.
A hesitant hand rested on Severus's waist and when he offered no resistance, that hand snaked its way around the small of his back and pulled him closer still. With one hand secured around his slender waist and the other still holding the back of his head, Severus felt an odd sense of security, anchoring him to the spot where he stood. Though his heart was beating wildly in his chest, he was calm, placid. Tentatively, he brought his own hands up to rest on Remus's chest, and instinctually they began to touch and discover everything they had photographed in the previous months.
Severus couldn't deny that as much gratification he got from his last hobby, this new one had much potential. Bearing witness to the world though a lens might have been a safe way to be a part of life, but it didn't make his blood burn in his veins. It didn't make him dizzy with emotion and need. It certainly didn't feel this good.
Remus finally pulled away, his breathing fast and deep. "It's getting late," he said, "but I don't want to leave."
"So don't," was the silken reply.
"I don't know if that's a good idea," he said nervously. "I think you and I have stumbled onto something here, something neither one of us expected. I don't want to ruin that by rushing into something now just because I want it."
He gave a crooked smile. "We are not children, Remus. We have known each other for decades."
And Remus smiled back. "But we've only discovered each other tonight."
He brought his hand up to Remus's face and trailed his fingers slowly down his face, across his cheek and over his lips. "I think we discovered each other a long time ago, but circumstances being what they were, we were unable to do anything about it." Severus leaned in and placed a small kiss on the lips he had just touched before he continued,
"Remus, neither of us is used to wanting something and getting it without dire consequences, but I think it is possible."
"I know it's possible, but is it right? Is it the best way to go about this?"
"Probably not…but sometimes action is required without the benefit of scrutiny and speculation. Because thinking about anything too long will only succeed in convincing you to take a safer path and sometimes it is the risks we take that lead us to places we never thought we would go, but always hoped we would."
Remus smiled. "Interesting philosophy. Very Gryffindor of you."
Severus scowled. "Remarks like that will only succeed in getting you kicked out of here, you realize."
Remus brought his hands up and began to unfasten Severus's robes. "We wouldn't want that now, would we? I'm sure I could think of other things to say that you would find more agreeable."
"Of that I have no doubt."
Their kisses now were punctuated by the slow, methodical removal of excess clothing; their names, whispered prayers to gods neither thought existed before that instant. Moment by moment passed them by like snapshots in a photo album meant for their eyes only.
Severus, bare-chested, head thrown back and neck bared before Remus's pearl-white teeth.
Remus rubbing his cheek on Severus's shoulder.
Severus's fingers raking the fur of Remus's chest.
Remus kissing the soft tuft of hair on Severus's abdomen while unbuckling his trousers.
Severus swooped up in Remus's arms to be carried to a waiting bed.
Remus taking his lover deep into his mouth, and the look of utter ecstasy on Severus's face as he did so.
Severus on his back, his legs thrown over Remus's shoulders, as the first thrust found that one spot that brought the stars and the moon to them both.
Remus howling for the first time in his life as a man.
A lustrous stream of spent seed glistening on Severus's torso, and Remus bending forward to taste the honey.
A hard kiss in thank you.
A soft touch in adoration.
A smile for a smile.
And a laugh. A laugh. A laugh.
Two lovers curled together, joined in sleep, fingers intertwined.
And, for the first time in two decades, two figures perched on a windowsill, watching the sunrise from the tallest tower of the castle.