A/N: Hey, I'm back with a new story! Thank you to everyone who reviewed 'A Little Courage...' and I must say your encouragement really does help keep me writing. This fic's a bit different, it's still about my favourite Severus but it's told mostly from Remus Lupin's point of view. I'm warning you now that this fic is slash, very mild slash but slash all the same so if that's going to offend you here's the time where you make your exit. To be honest though the fic is more about friendship and dealing with loss and past mistakes than anything else. It contains spoilers for Order of the Phoenix as well. I think that's all I need to say so please read and if you're feeling generous drop me a review to tell me what you think.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to J.K. Rowling and I am sadly not her. All I own is the plot.
Right, they seem to have altered document manger and I'm confused by it so if this is in a funny format I'm very sorry.Shades of Grey
One week into the Hogwarts summer holidays Remus found himself sat in the first Order meeting he had attended since Sirius' death. He had been unable to face the others all at once before today, and he was beginning to think that he still hadn't been ready. However he reflected that he would probably never have been ready but life without Sirius had to go on, there were plans to be made, a war to be fought and things weren't really any easier sat in a room alone trying to avoid everyone. That was things hadn't been easier alone until Dumbledore had started to speak about Sirius, then they'd all started. All praising him and reminiscing fondly in a way that is only possible for those who were not overly close to the deceased. Remus noticed Dumbledore quickly fell quiet and McGonagall simply nodded her agreement; clearly he was not the only person who found it too painful to speak of him yet, Tonks had tears in her eyes and wiped them away surreptitiously on her sleeve. It was with a surge of quiet anger that Remus saw Molly offer her a tissue, Tonks' body language made it quite clear that she had not wanted to be seen crying and he couldn't help but feel Molly was being insensitive by showing she had noticed.
His attention was jerked from this though by Dumbledore speaking again, "Would anyone else like to add anything about Sirius?" He turned to the last person Remus would have expected, "Severus, do you want to say anything?" It was true that, besides himself, Tonks and McGonagall, Severus was the only one not to have spoken but Remus could have laughed at the idea that Severus Snape might wish to reminisce fondly about Sirius Black.
Sure enough the potions master scowled at Dumbledore, "Nothing pleasant," he sneered.
McGonagall gave him a reproving look and Moody opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Dumbledore, who seemed to realise that asking Severus had been a mistake. "Right well I think that covers everything, unless anyone has anything else they'd like to raise?"
There was a general silence.
"Well then, we will meet again next week if not sooner. Good day everyone." Dumbledore nodded to them all and left with McGonagall.
The rest of the Order members all filed out, talking amongst themselves, Severus receiving several unpleasant looks. Remus however remained sitting at the large table and as Severus was about to follow the rest out the door he spoke up in a quiet, bitter tone, "You know you don't have to always say what you think, Severus?"
The dark haired man turned in the doorway, "What? That he was a spineless, mangy mongrel who got what he deserved, amusingly enough at the hands of his two female cousins? Actually, I'll think you find I didn't say that. I usually do tone down what I say you just have no comprehension of how much I hate you all." Severus' voice dripped with venom and the purest hate Remus could remember hearing.
"Just stop it! Please!" Remus allowed his head to fall limply into his hands.
Silence reigned for a few moments as the potions master stepped back into the room, closing the door behind him. Remus was about to speak, to break the tension that could have been cut with a knife, when Severus set a steaming goblet down roughly on the table beside the werewolf.
Remus picked it up and sniffed it thoughtfully, "What is it?"
"Tea," Severus snapped, "What did you think it was? I already waste enough of my potions ingredients on you as it is."
Ignoring the harsh tone, Remus sipped the hot liquid gratefully, feeling it calm him slightly. He certainly felt less like wanting to 'forget' his wolfsbane at the next full moon and tear the dark haired man's throat out.
"I don't think you can say 'you all' anymore, I'm the only one left and yes Severus I think I can fully comprehend how much you hate me. You and the rest of the world who think that you can judge everything about a person based on one fact which they're powerless to change. Funny really, because I've never judged you on that basis have I? Though frankly at times it would be nice to have something to throw back in your face. And you're a damned sight more responsible for the reasons people don't like you than I am for the reason they don't like me."
"I didn't try to kill someone at 16!" Severus hissed.
"The fact you have to add the qualifier of 'at 16' says a lot for what you did later on!"
As soon as the words left his mouth Remus regretted them but it was already to late to take them back if the look on Severus' face was any indication. The man's face drew itself into an ugly sneer and he swept instantly from the room, black robes billowing out behind him, door slamming viciously.
The greying man sighed and cradled the goblet in his hands, feeling chilled despite the summer weather. What he had said was terrible and he knew it but he couldn't yet bring himself to go and apologise to the potions genius, Severus' own comments about Sirius still burned too painfully for him to feel too deeply for the other man. Remus smiled bitterly as he realised that the comment had sounded very much like something Sirius would have said and like something that he would have chastised him for saying. He didn't know what exactly Severus had done as a Death Eater and he wasn't sure he wanted to. It wasn't that hearing it would have made it any more real or that he simply didn't want to hear the worst it was more the fact that whatever he had done it was in the past, along with a lot of other things that also couldn't be changed.
He personally felt that Severus had displayed more courage than he would ever have believed possible; but then, he reflected, Severus was used to being outnumbered by opponents who wished him nothing but harm. It seemed that he had been for most of his life. Remus had never known anything about Severus' home life. He had often excused Sirius' actions because of his own dysfunctional and dark family, but he had long been under the impression that whoever Severus' family were he didn't much care for them. Dumbledore, on the one occasion Remus had dared to raise it with him, had acquired such an expression of sorrow and distaste that the werewolf had instantly let it drop.
However, no matter how accustomed to being outnumbered Severus was, betraying the Death Eaters was a different story entirely; the man was paying dearly for his mistakes and the end price was not yet known. It pained Remus to think that the man might end up paying with his life, but then it occurred to him that maybe Severus already had. He was trapped, hiding in a dungeon, in the school where he had seemed so angry and unhappy, teaching children he seemed unable to stand. He had few friends and no one he trusted, the wizarding society at large wanted little to do with him, all they saw was a mean, bitter and sarcastic man whose friends had mostly ended up serving the Dark Lord and losing their lives in the process. What kind of a life was that?
How Dumbledore had hushed up Severus' involvement with the Death Eaters as much as he had was of no small puzzle to Remus. Many people drew a connection between the Slytherin and the Dark Arts in their minds, but few remembered that he had in fact been placed on trial. Remus remembered; he'd made a point of being there, wanting to see what had become of the boy he'd known. What he'd seen had been painful to watch, Severus had sat in that chair, chains around his wrists and ankles, flanked by Dementors and yet still Remus had felt a little intimidated by the dark man. He looked far too self possessed at being surrounded by the darkest creatures in the wizarding world, until you looked in his eyes. Those dark eyes had looked utterly wretched, as though he'd seen hell and had never quite managed to escape. Remus had at the time thought it was the Dementors that had produced that look but in the following years, in the few times he had seen Severus and in the even fewer instances when he had seen his gaze unguarded, he realised that look had never left him.
That look had appeared once again for the split second when what Remus had said had fully registered, and it was that look that made him really hate himself for saying it. He found he empathised with the man, his life had hardly been easy and his mistakes had been terrible but he had tried so hard to put them right. Had their positions been reversed Remus didn't know that he could honestly say that he could have acted with the courage Severus had.
It was with this in mind that he quietly drank the rest of the hot, sweet tea before going in search of the man.
Severus was no where to be found in the house so Remus took the step of flooing to Hogwarts, assuming he'd be in his dungeons with his precious potions. He really couldn't quite believe that Severus would want the Defence Against the Dark Arts job, his passion for potions was clear every time the subject dropped into conversation.
He was so immersed in these thoughts that it came as quite a surprise to him to hear the kindly voice at his side, "Remus, what are you doing here my dear boy? Is everything alright?"
The werewolf couldn't help but smile at the friendly face of Albus Dumbledore, "Hello Headmaster, I was actually looking for Severus."
"Really? I thought he usually brought your potion to you each month." Dumbledore's tone was light and innocent, too innocent.
How does he always know when something's happened? Remus wondered. "He does, but that's not why I'm here. He and I had a bit of an argument and I wanted to bury the hatchet."
"Oh well I'm sure he will too," Dumbledore beamed a little too optimistically in Remus' opinion.
"Yes, most likely he'd love to bury it right in my skull!" he said resignedly, "But I suppose I have to try. You know what Severus can be like."
The old man smiled sadly, "All too well, he will likely reject your peace offering as he does every other one; mostly because he cannot make peace with himself."
"He seems to get on with you well enough," Remus sighed.
"Years of trying to persuade Severus to trust me have paid off but not to the degree I would have wished them too. He distrusts everything and everyone, he and his paranoia are a little too well acquainted with each other for him to move on with his life. Of course it doesn't help that he will likely never forgive himself for his mistakes and that though he strives so hard for the respect of others he cannot come to respect or like himself."
"He should forgive himself, he..." Remus trailed off, "I don't know what he did exactly but I do know some of what he's done to make up for it. He was one of the unsung heroes of the last war and yet there's nothing heroic about him at all. He fits the part of the villain so much better."
Dumbledore chuckled, "Ah yes, Severus does love to paint himself as the fairytale villain doesn't he?"
"Yes, but no one who's seen the way he cares for those young Slytherins could ever believe him to be heartless."
"And no one who's seen him with Minerva's poor Gryffindors on a bad day could think otherwise?" Dumbledore's eyes twinkled merrily, "Poor Severus, he will be disappointed that he's failed to convince yet another person that he's rotten to the core."
Remus couldn't help but laugh but stopped abruptly as the twinkle left the headmaster's eyes, "I just wish the poor boy could convince himself of that."
The old man's words hit like a knife to the heart, Remus knew all too well what it was like to hate what you were but he had at least had people to help and support him. Who did Severus have?
"Can't you convince him?" Remus asked hesitantly.
"If I could I would have, but Severus will have to convince himself. He will have to come to terms with himself before he can with anyone else. However, you should go and make your peace offering I always hope Severus will accept a truce even when I feel that he won't. There's no point in giving in trying."
"No, there isn't and I'll make him listen to me. I'm going to put a stop to this childish fighting between the two of us."
Remus walked away feeling optimistic and never heard Dumbledore mutter after him, "You will never make Severus listen to anything he doesn't want to, the boy has quite the talent for ignoring anything he doesn't like or can't deal with."
XXXXXXXIt took a full ten minutes for Remus to pluck up the courage to knock on the door to Severus' private rooms. Eventually he shook himself and rapped firmly on the dark, ancient wood. There was no answer.
Remus knocked again and then tried the handle, it turned easily and the door swung open to reveal a small sitting room with a fire roaring in the hearth flanked by a pair of deep green sofas. There was no sign however of the potions master and the werewolf turned to leave, not wishing to invade the other man's privacy.
"What the hell do you think you're doing in here?!" Severus deep velvety tones snapped harshly from behind him.
Remus turned back to see him standing in another doorway, through which he could see what looked like a bedroom.
"I came to say I'm sorry Severus. For what I said before, I had no right to say that, I'm so sorry."
"Severus I'm trying to apologise!"
"Yes, well you're twenty years too late!"
"That's hardly fair! You weren't exactly an angel back at school!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry I made your otherwise spoiled, pampered, worthless lives a little difficult every now and again but hell at least I caused you plenty of entertainment in the process!"
Remus was shocked into momentary silence by the outburst. "Severus, I never saw you as a form of 'entertainment'!"
"No? Well what was all that about then? What did I do to deserve it, other than fail to conform to the image in your head of how people should be!?"
"I don't know," Remus said quietly, "I never wanted them to treat you like that."
"But you never stopped them either! You were worse than they were, you'd have let them get away with murder!"
"Yes, I probably would. I needed them Severus and you know how easily they could have turned on someone if they'd wanted to. They knew my secret and I didn't need it finding it's way all over the school and besides, who else would have wanted to befriend me? I was the quiet, sickly one that most people didn't give a second glance to. When Sirius first came and introduced himself and asked me to join him and James I couldn't believe how lucky I was. I'd never had friends before and I didn't want to lose them and yes I would have gone a long way to ensure I didn't lose them. I just didn't want to be alone, something I would have thought you'd understand as I can't imagine you enjoy being quite so solitary as you generally are."
"It's certainly preferable to associating with you. Will this, 'poor me, I had a difficult childhood' story be ending soon so that I can throw you out?"
"Severus please, I really am sorry both for what I said today and what we did to you back then. I mean it."
"Whether you mean it or not, you're still too late."
"Why? Why can't you just accept that mistakes can be put right if you just learn to move on?" I don't think I'm talking about my mistakes any more.
"Saying you're sorry does not make things any different."
That settles it, we're definitely not talking about our respective high school behaviour now! "I always thought it was a step in the right direction. Please Severus, do you really want to spend the rest of our lives bickering over what we did as children? Haven't we both lost enough people to know that life's too bloody short to keep fighting? I'm tired of it Severus; I'm sorry for what we did to you but you're right, I can't change that. I really don't know what else I can say?"
"There's nothing you can say."
The werewolf sank onto one of the sofas, grateful for it's softness, wincing slightly as the leftover aches from his change pained him.
Ah Severus, you always were observant! "Nothing, just a little sore from the last change."
The man raised an eyebrow and looked thoughtful before disappearing into another room and returning with a potion. "Drink this."
"I thought you said you'd wasted enough of your potions ingredients on me!" Remus managed a weak smile.
"Just drink it before I change my mind!" Severus snapped, the smile going unreturned.
Remus accepted the potion and did as he was instructed. "Thank you."
"Is this a problem that troubles you frequently?" Severus asked, suddenly all business.
"You should have mentioned it before, I could incorporate the properties of that potion into your wolfsbane, the results should be much more comfortable. If not, tell me and I'll experiment with the concentration."
Was that a small display of kindness? Well I'll be damned, the man really does have a heart. "Are you really glad Sirius is dead?"
Severus answered after a moment, without a trace of his usual biting sarcasm. "I've seen too much death to want to see anymore."
Remus couldn't help but agree. "Haven't we all? After all I think one death is too much really."
"Yes," Severus responded shortly. "Are you finished here?"
"Do you accept my apology?"
"Will you leave if I do?"
"Severus!" Remus sighed.
"Fine, your apology is noted you may go. Please allow the door to hit you on the way out."
"The apology may be noted but do you accept it?"
"Yes! Fine! I accept your apology, now for the love of God get out!"
Remus couldn't help but laugh at the harassed note that had crept into the potions master's tone.
"What?!" Severus snapped, "What are you laughing at?!"
Knowing that Severus couldn't stand to be ridiculed and that he would certainly begin to interpret it in that way, Remus stopped instantly. "I'm sorry Severus it's just that this is so ridiculous, we both act like a couple of school boys around each other. Don't you think it's about time we both moved on? We're not fifteen anymore."
"I hardly think I need a lecture on maturity from you of all people," Severus sneered.
"I wasn't lecturing you. Why can't we just let the past die? Why does it have to influence everything we say to each other?!"
"I'm sorry but I find it a little difficult to forget that you and your friends tried to kill me, and you made it quite clear you haven't forgotten what I did!"
"Maybe your problem is that you can't forget anything. I don't care what you did Severus, I respect you though you're a difficult person to like sometimes! And maybe that's because you don't want anyone to like you because you don't like yourself!"
"Get out. Get out right now."
Remus involuntarily backed up a pace as the man's voice came out as more of a quiet growl than actual speech.
"I said get out!"
The werewolf ducked as a potions jar flew from a nearby shelf, passing within an inch of his ear. It shattered against the wall and from the smell Remus vaguely registered that it was a wolfsbane potion. Well I hope he had more of that!
The man was shaking with rage and Remus realised that his continued existence might benefit from leaving the angry man alone. "Ok Severus, clearly I crossed a line so I'm going to leave you be." Telling himself that discretion was the better part of valour, and never taking his eyes off the pair of blazing onyx ones fixed on him, Remus backed out of the room and strode quickly away.
The hate he had seen burning in those darkly intense eyes he had been unable to help finding slightly intimidating. He supposed he should have just left when Severus had first asked but he had always held a slight fascination for the taller man. Severus' cool, reserved manner hid a boiling pot of passionate emotions that intrigued the werewolf.
He was well aware that he had touched a nerve with the other man and that, on some strange, twisted level, pleased him. Remus found he rather enjoyed the fact that he could get such a severe reaction from the usually dignified potions master.
Still, that didn't go as planned exactly. In fact I think I may have made things a hell of a lot worse between us.
Along with the perverse pleasure that came from goading the darkly enigmatic man so effectively, Remus couldn't help a feeling of remorse as the last thing he wanted to do was cause Severus pain.
Ok, so what do you think? Please let me know!
I should be updating one chapter a week but I'm heading into a period of exams so if the chapters are a little late you'll know why and I apologise if that happens. I'll try to be punctual. Now please review!