Title: 500 Steps

Author: Nijijin

Rating: R

Pairing: Light SS/RL

Disclaimer: They don't belong to me…but aren't they so much fun to borrow?

Feedback: Phfffft

Notes: Severus steps closer to the truth.

Spoilers: Some…but mostly post war speculation.

Five steps into his parlor…he notices the room is spotless.

Twelve steps around the room…he realizes it's spotless because all of his lover's carelessly strewn things are gone.

Nine steps into his bedroom…he confirms that Lupin has completely cleared out of the dungeons.

Thirty-two steps paced back and forth across the floor…damn, he knew that his silence had hurt and upset the werewolf.

Seventeen steps to the kitchenette…he starts to make tea. Fine, if that's the way the prat wants to be, fine. He didn't need or want a relationship anyway.

Three steps to the cupboard…he gets down his favorite cup. Severus blinks a frown at Remus' usual mug next to his.

Twenty-one steps back out to his settee…he blinks another frown at the tin of chocolate biscuits on the coffee table. They're Lupin's favorite kind.

Two steps over to the small table and chairs…he notices the chess set. All the pieces have been returned to their start positions.

Seven steps to the door…he's out in the hall. Severus is still holding his cup of tea.

Twenty-eight steps down the corridor…he's at the bottom of the staircase. Two weeks ago, Remus yelped here when Severus accidentally pressed his back into the end of the handrail.

Twenty steps up…he's standing on the first landing. It all started here months ago, when Remus caught Severus' arm just after the Potions Master tripped.

Twenty steps more…he's on the main floor. That day, Remus continued holding his arm "to keep steady" and kissed him before they parted ways. The hard chest and soft lips didn't surprise Severus; they were just as he always fantasized.

Forty-seven steps…he's in front of his classroom door. Since that first kiss, they've spent a great deal of time together in there. Sometimes just talking, other times doing…well…other things.

Eight more steps…he's in front of his office door. They've done quite a bit more than just talk in there. Severus' body flushes warm.

Thirty-nine steps…he's rounded the corner and runs into Albus and Minerva. Both are surprised to see the Potions Master holding a cup of tea.

Four agitated shuffles…he asks if they've seen Lupin. They note seeing the newly returned DADA professor heading towards his own classroom. Albus offers to relieve Severus of the teacup.

Five rushed steps away…he can still hear the Headmaster and his Second snickering. Severus' cheeks stained pink when Minerva suggested that two empty hands might be useful later.

Sixty-four steps…he's standing in front of Lupin's classroom. Last night Severus hadn't really meant to be so cruel.

Three hesitant steps…he's inside alone, Remus isn't there. As Severus glances around the room, the memory of their horrible evening swirled in his mind.

Thirteen unlucky steps…he's standing in front of Lupin's lectern. When Remus admitted…oh hell…declared with joy, his love and utter devotion, Severus didn't respond in kind. In fact, he didn't speak at all. It was only after he happily gabbed on about fulfilled hopes and confessed his dream of sharing the rest of their lives together that Lupin noticed Snape staring but not speaking.

Severus could tell the instant Remus' restored faith and heart broke again. Glittery, animated eyes flared brighter for an instant before completely dulling out and closing. When he opened them to Severus again, it was Lupin of old standing before him. Tired, withdrawn and leery.

Severus tried to speak then, but Remus interrupted with a quick apology. He asked Severus to forgive his foolish Gryffindor habit of rushing into things without thinking. Of course, he had completely misunderstood their situation. Now that the facts were quite clear, the werewolf would keep his presumptuous assumptions to himself. Remus hoped things could remain as they were and now if Severus would excuse him, there was paperwork to be done. With that, Lupin abruptly rushed a wide berth around Snape and was out the door.

Seventeen uncertain steps…he's back out in the hall. Severus could smack himself for not following Remus last night.

Eight quick steps…he's in front of Remus' office door. There's no reply when he gently knocks. This time, he smacks his head on the door. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Forty-two determined steps…he's at the main entrance. Four weeks ago, Remus' bright laugh moved out into the sunshine as he held the door open for Severus. He could not help his own smile at the thought of spending the day with his Lupin in Hogsmeade.

Eighteen steps…he's at the staff entrance into the Great Hall. Three weeks ago, when no one could see, Remus shoved Severus up against the wall and pressed their mouths together. Tiramisu is now Severus' favorite dessert.

Ten steps…he's at the flight of stairs near Remus' rooms. Severus remembers when he and Lupin sat here after patrolling the grounds and talked into the wee hours about nothing. Now he realizes it meant everything.

Twenty steps up…he's on a first landing again. They're both very fond of shoving each other against walls. This one is a particular favorite.

Twenty more steps…he's on the second floor. Severus always feels a rush of excited anticipation when he stands here, so close. He's feeling it now.

Five nervous steps…he's standing in front of Remus' door knocking. There's always a soft flicker from the fireplace backlighting Remus' handsome features when he opens the door. It's no different this time, except that his lover looks so tragic.

"I've hoped for this as long as you have, maybe even longer. I want to paint the kitchen with colors that have names like Paprika, Saffron and Curry. When I'm old I want to yell at you for getting fur all over our furniture. And by the way, I love you too."

One step…he's being pulled into Remus' rooms…into his future.