Written for a friend, not sure ( as usual) when its set, please excuse any minor faults, and shout at me over any major ones!

Thanks, please review, not very brave about posting 'serious' fics, makes me squirm! Any feed back welcome, but don't make me cry!

He wasn't entirely sure how it had happened. There had never been a declaration of feelings from either one of them, no grand gesture or sudden revelation. He knew when the man had come to say goodbye that it would be a Very Bad Thing to let him leave without in someway letting him know. But letting him know what, exactly, he had not been certain. So he had asked him to his office as one might a naughty student, and let him know a number of things. A glass or three of firewhiskey had helped immeasurably, and once he started he found it incredibly easy to talk to the man who sat silently listening. He had told him that as well. So there had been no large, dramatic outburst. No lightening bolt. Just the simple knowledge that if Remus Lupin walked out of his life it would be forever. And he didn't really, deep down, want that to happen. When he had said all he wanted to say, needed to say, there had been a silence which had seemed to last an eternity. Lupin had looked him in the eye and, for a fleeting moment, Snape had thought he was about to hit him. Then the look had become slightly quizzical, and a small smile had played about the lips. Snape had grown annoyed at this point, muttered something about "you can leave right now if all you are going to do is ridicule me.." when Lupin realised his mistake. Quickly altering his face and putting a hand on the others shoulder, he had said just one thing before leaving the room. "I'll stay if you want me to"

The following morning, at Lupins final breakfast at Hogwarts, there had been a letter delivered by a house elf. He had been sat, feeling rather despondent at the absence of a certain Potions Master, who, if he was not mistaken, had admitted the feelings the then boys had shared twenty years ago, still lingered. He had been almost certain of it. When the elf had bounded up to him and dropped the Slytherin sealed scroll in his lap he had hardly dared to hope. Written inside had been one word.

'Stay'.

He had been unable to hide his grin, and excusing himself, had practically run from the hall, confusing the remaining faculty immensely.

As he neared the dungeons, his heart was pounding and he was feeling slightly shaky. The door had opened on his arrival and Snape was sat in a chair reading. He had stood for a few moments watching him, then, unsure of the reception, cleared his throat. Snape had looked up,

"Well?"

Lupin shrugged. "I'll stay then."

Snape simply nodded and returned to his book. Lupin had waited a moment more until it became obvious that no more was going to be said, before letting himself out and wandering back to his room, feeling incredibly confused.

They had continued this way for three days, Lupin looking up expectantly every time someone entered his office or classroom between lessons, and Snape barely saying a word to him, let alone acknowledging the fact that he was only here because of him. Lupin, having confided in the head master that he wished to remain at the school for personal reasons, been given a post teaching first years remedial classes, and Dumbledore had pressed him on every occasion that they met as to whether he was alright, saying he looked peaky and drawn. 'So would you' thought Lupin, 'if you were waiting on Snape to show some emotion.' And so he decided, on the morn of the fourth day of silence that he would confide in the head, and hope to heaven that he wasn't outraged or disgusted.

"Headmaster…"

"Ah! Remus! I'm glad you stopped by, I was hoping for a word with you about Severus." Lupin nearly choked,

"As was I Sir" he managed to barely squeak. "I think there is something you should know…" Dumbledore looked intrigued, and Lupin found himself wishing he hadn't started this. "The reason I have for staying, well"

"Yes my boy?"

"Well, it's Severus." Dumbledore looked blank, "Um. Yes. Severus. We, that is, I, well, apparently we, but I'm not sure," he took a deep breath, looking into the heads eyes which had regained their customary twinkle, "I stayed here because of him. We were…" an uncomfortable pause as Lupin contemplated using the word 'lovers' in front of Dumbledore and whether it would make him cringe too much when he saw the heads twinkle deepen, "… very good friends?" he finished lamely, and looked up with such a forlorn expression that Dumbledore chuckled. He contemplated the young werewolf and steepled his fingers as if deep in thought.

"You have of course, informed Severus of this?"

"Yes! It was him who asked me to stay! And now he ignores me!"

"Let me get this quite straight. You are staying on at this school because you are…" he looked hard at Lupin "…in love?..." the werewolf nodded shyly " …with my Potions Master, and he returns some level of feelings, the depth of which you are unsure off, and he is unwilling to expand on."

Lupin nodded again, waiting for the criticism or rebuking that he expected. What he got was a complete shock.

"Excellent my child! I am truly happy that someone has been able to see past that grumpy façade and love the boy beneath! When did this begin?"

"Forth year…"

"Ah. Before the incident involving Black…"

"Yes. Only I'm not sure he really meant it when he asked me to stay…I'm scared that he didn't…"

"I have a sure fire way to find out."

"You do?"

"Yes. Ask him. I think I may know the answers already, but it is not my place to say. So. Go to him and ask him."

"Thank you Sir."

"My pleasure. Nothing would please me more than two of my children happy with each other. Only, Lupin, let me know how it goes."

"I will Sir." And with that he hastily left the room, full of courage and determination.

Dumbledore returned to his letters, smiling and humming a little tune. He liked it when things like this happened, he had been saved the awkwardness of asking Lupin to sort out his minor obsession with Snape as the staff had begun to notice and not all were as open to the idea of what he had suspected as he was…He just hoped Lupin remembered what time it was.

Lupin had stormed straight down to the dungeons and into Snape's classroom where the professor was mid way through a particularly dramatic description of what the fools in his class could expect to happen if they made their normal mess of the potion. He had fixed Lupin with a glare as he entered and cuttingly said "It would seem I have a new student. Take a seat, Mr" he sneered "Lupin." Lupin had slunk to a bench at the back, his courage faltering slightly, and watched in awed silence as Snape lost himself in the description of the method needed to create a Blood Stop potion. He noticed too that for all the children feared and apparently loathed the other man, they too were all in dumbstruck awe. And it made him feel a little proud. Finally the hour was over and the students filed out.

"We need to talk."

"Really?"

"Yes." Lupin fixed Snape with his sternest glare, which he knew was not all that effective usually.

"Well go on, Lupin, I have roughly twenty minutes before my remedial potions set turns up…"

"Well. I don't understand…"

"Lupin, if this is to be a deep and meaningful discussion of our deepest psyches, I feel now is not the time."

Lupin muttered "Chance…" under his breath before, louder than he had meant to, he shouted;

"No! This is driving me potty! You ask me to stay, you actually asked me, practically admitting you have feelings of any sort, which, believe me, the majority of people I have met disagree with vheminantly, and asking me to stay with you, and that was four days ago, and I haven't heard so much as a word out of you…" breathing rather quicker than was dignified he wandered just when he had started ranting, and noticing that Snape had looked away, continued at a calmer, quieter pace. "I need to know Severus; whether you feel you have made a mistake. I am willing to wait for you but not to be thought of as a fool by those watching. And believe me, people are watching." The silence seemed to last forever, Snape staring at the ground, dark eyes glittering as he obviously thought hard, with Lupin watching his still figure. Just as Lupin was about to say something, his eyes were met and he took in a sharp breath at the expression on the other wizards face, a look of pained confusion and sadness. Lupin held those eyes steady in his own, fighting the urge to gather the man into a bear hug but not quite able to stop his hand from reaching out to touch the others arm, causing Snape to flinch and his eyes to dart to the hand, frown deepening. Barely audible, he tentativly placed one of his hands on Lupins and said;

"I did not make a mistake. I just…." He seemed to mentally pull himself together and suddenly the austere Potions Master was back. "I just am not used to dealing with matters like this, I will put some thought into it and let you know my findings over a glass of Whiskey, say. Tonight, eight o'clock?" His face was entirely blank, only changing very slightly to gentle panic when Lupin jokingly said;

"It's a date."

Lupin had arrived early, nervously hovering outside the door to the dungeons with a bottle of best Firewhiskey grasped firmly in a slightly sweaty hand. Twice he raised his hand to the wood and nearly knocked. Twice he chickened out. So, when on the third time with fist in air, the door had opened and he had jumped a mile, nearly dropping the bottle and, he was almost certain, squealing a little, he must have looked utterly ridiculous. The man who stood before him, however, looked oddly pleased at the response, and quietly breathed;

"Nervous?" at the slightly panting man. He had then turned and beckoned him to follow.

The sitting room surprised Lupin with its warmth, and the fire crackling in the hearth gave a golden glow to the many paintings hung on the walls between the numerous bookshelves. Lupins eyes lit up at the books, and he looked greedily around himself, like a child in Honeydukes.

"Oh Severus, this is amazing! There must be nearly an entire library here!"

Snape silently watched him and opened the whiskey, taking two tumblers and filling them. He drained his and handed the other to Lupin.

As the other man began to closely examine the titles around him, lips soundlessly moving as he translated Latin and ancient Greek, Snape was sitting in a high backed chair, growing more and more nervous by the minute. He could feel himself about to snap at Lupin, to come out with some biting cruel remark to hide his own nerves when the other wizard turned to him and looked him straight in the eye.

"Why," he asked, tentatively, "are so many of these Dark Arts books? Illegal books…"

Snape sighed, glad of the diversion and glad to be back in the familiar territory of defending himself as opposed to being friendly.

"Don't be naïve, Remus. You know the answer to that and surely have dealt with it in your own mind or I doubt whether you'd be stood here now. I am not about to discuss my reasons with you, suffice it to say I have inherited many of these from my mother."

"Oh." Lupin looked blank for a moment, unsure where to go next. "I suppose you're right. About me 'dealing with it'." he added as an explanation to Snape's confused face. "So. What are we here to discuss?"

Silence. Both men's eyes searching the others for a hint of what was about to happen.

"Are we not here to discuss, 'us'?", said Snape, bluntly, emotions well hidden again.

"So there is an 'us'?" replied Lupin, and instantly regretted it seeing the expression opposite change from what he knew to be the 'everyday general around the school but I'm not actually angry' snarl to the much miss-understood 'I'm threatened, don't you dare get any closer or I'll have to retaliate' snarl he had come to know and pity in the fourth year. He hastily added;

"I'd very much like there to be."

"So, it would seem, would I." The harsh austere wavered, consciously removed, and the face softened. "I am… sorry… if it seems I have ignored you for the past few days." Snape filled up his glass for the fourth time, and again drained it in one.

'Christ' thought Lupin. 'He holds his drink well. Should be paralytic by now.'

"I admit to panicking slightly over what I had done, and thought that if you decided when sober that you had made a mistake in offering to stay, you could leave easier if I was un involved."

"Un involved?!? Severus, regardless of what you may think, we've been 'involved' since fourth year! And I most certainly do not make drunken decisions regarding matters of this nature. This is no mistake." Snape's face became filled with a mixture of deep sadness and hopeful joy, which tore almost physically at Lupins heart. In response he reached out and snagged a hand, causing the fiery black eyes to widen in shock and momentarily regain the hard angry glint before Snape remembered himself. When they looked up into Lupins, they questioned him without words.

"Its ok," said Lupin, quietly, "Let's go and sit." He led the other man away and positioned them both on the settee, one slouched, looking exhausted against the pillows, the other ram-rod straight and perched, ready to flee. "Why do you think I don't want this? Haven't I made it obvious in the past that I do?"

"Yes." Stated Snape.

"Then why doubt it?"

"It, it's not as easy as that." Snape looked Lupin in the eyes and tried to pull himself together. He had a lot of explaining to do and he didn't think he could get through it if Lupin kept on being so damned nice to him. "I do believe it. That's the problem." Lupin looked confused. "I believe it and I feel so hopeful, and then I get to thinking that it must all be a joke, like it always was, that you'll turn around and say I'm mad, why would someone like you like someone like me, and so the only solution is to not let myself get any closer. Up to a point, all that will happen is I get laughed at, knocked back and told the truth. No one gets hurt and I go on."

"Alone."

Snape snorted, "It's how I am meant to be. I am not the sort of person who has friends, let alone the sort of person to be loved by anyone."

"I, I don't understand. What sort of person are you supposed to be in order to have friends and be loved. Surely just yourself…? Whose ideas are you basing this on?"

"Remus," Snape sighed tiredly and physically relaxed a little into the settee as he realised he would have to finish what he had started "we're getting into dangerous ground here. I may tell you things, things which back up all my Fathers ideas and make you realise the truth about me, not what ever ideas you have ."

"Your Father?" Lupin said, a little too loudly.

"What? Oh, yes. He was the first to point out that I wasn't 'like the other children' in our street."

"Well obviously! You're a wizard!"

"Quite. As he rightly pointed out, no one wants to be with the freak who makes thing burst into flame by being angry, or who stinks of potions from helping Mother, so when I realised he was right, I turned to books. Which is fine, believe me, I missed nothing in those years of contented solitude. They made me strong, able to cope with being alone as an adult."

"Years of solitude? How old were you when you took to your books?"

"Sometime after my 5th birthday, I think. Anyway, this isn't important,"

"Not important! At 5 you were alone with your nose in a book, reading what? These?" he gestured at the volumes of Dark Arts materials around the room and got a nod from Snape "And helping your mother brew potions! At that age most children are discovering social graces, friendships!"

"Well, I have never been particularly social."

"I know! But we all thought it was through choice…"

"It was. The thought of congregating with a group of students, or now, teachers, to discuss frivolous matters did and still does terrify me."

"I wish we had known." Lupin said very quietly.

"Why? What would it have changed? I would still have been the ugly swatty freak who could hex anyone and brew anything. I thought that knowledge may have bought me some friends, but all it seemed to do was make people hate me more."

"They were scared of you! Everything you knew was Dark magic. It scared them!"

"It didn't scare you, I seem to remember."

"It scared me a little, but, you forget, I am a dark creature too."

"Oh there is nothing dark in you, my friend. Nothing."

Lupin smiled, squeezed the pale hand near his at that and swallowed the lump the soft tone brought to his throat.

"Tell me more. What of your mother?"

"She agreed with Father. I was useful to have around, for helping with the potions once I was old enough to handle a knife, and she almost seemed to like me at times, when I managed a new brew or she had invented some new hex. I remember a time when I managed a tricky hex, caused a house elf's eye ball to explode. It terrified me, the screaming and blood, but she hugged me, the only time I remember, and for that moment I actually thought she liked me…Then father started screaming at her, which of course was my fault and so I was banished to the basement again." He sighed, and seemed to snap back to reality a little, causing Lupin to jump slightly.

"You don't still believe them, do you?" he asked tentatively.

"Who? My parents?"

"You do, don't you? Severus!"

"Were they not right! History has proven their point over and over! No one wants to be involved with me in any way, its just too messy and there's nothing I can offer other than what I do already. My Dark abilities and a certain, expendability. If that is not enough…" he shrugged.

"You are most definitely not expendable! And Dark abilities do not make a Dark wizard. I am a good judge of these things, being what I am, and I would not be sat here if you were."

"I hope you're right, Remus, I really do."

"I am." He decided that the subject needed changing, before Snape slipped into this self-hate any deeper. Lupin knew this conversation was far from finished, but he had got the answers he needed for the minute and counted himself honoured to have seen the Potions Master open up. Maybe there was hope for this relationship after all. "Now, if I promise you that I am here because I want to be and that I am not going any where, no matter what you tell me or how grumpy you get, can we try to enjoy the rest of the evening, maybe have a completely pointless conversation and start this relationship in a pleasant manner."

"Relationship?!"

"Yes."

"-!-"

"OK?"

"OK."

He lay awake on his back, head twisted at a most uncomfortable angle to get a sneaky look at he man lying next to him. The subconscious smile which crossed his face faded almost instantly into a very worried frown, which, if it had been seen by the other man would have broken his heart. He dare not move, dare not risk waking his friend…'lover' he thought 'oh God…'. He had lain awake for the past two hours, slowly watching the beginnings of light seep into the sky, dreading the thought of the other wizard waking up and being so upset and repulsed by where he found himself that he would run a mile. And Snape did not want that, he was alone for so much of the time and had been for so long that he had almost grown used to it. Almost. He had grown weary of late, and so when Lupin had arrived last night, Firewhiskey in hand, he had hoped it would become a habit. Now, he was sure, he had ruined that. Telling him all that about his parents, he never spoke to anyone like that, barely ever let his own mind even think about it! But Remus had been so easy to talk to. And the Fire whiskey had helped a little. Now he would surely have blown any chance of this happening again with his pathetic display of needy weakness. Although it was Lupin who had become flirty, Lupin who had placed the first, shy kiss on his cheek, and Lupin who had later suggested they adjourn to the bedroom, it was because he was drunk. Must have been because he was drunk. Wasn't it?

As Snape convinced himself of this, the figure next to him began to stir. Much to his horror and delight, an arm was thrown across Snape's chest, causing his entire body to stiffen to the point of pain, and after ten long minutes barely daring to breath, he felt himself begin to tremble. Soon the tremors travelling along his body were enough to rouse the sleeping man from his slumber, and Amber eyes locked onto his. 'This is it' he thought, 'he'll hate me, punch me and run. Tell all the staff. I'll be made a mockery of, Have to resign…' he stopped planning his own demise as he noticed the sleepy look in the others eyes replaced with one of concern. Lupin moved his hand upward toward Snape's face, causing him to flinch expecting a blow or slap.

'Merlin!' thought Lupin. 'What's all this about?' He kept his hand moving and ever so softly, wiped away a tear running silently down Snape's cheek. Snape realised, for the first time, that he was crying, and jerked his head away, curling up on his side, confused thoughts running through his mind. He had not run off. He was still there. 'And now you've ruined it. Idiot' he silently cursed himself, 'The first person to bare to stay with you and you cry like a weak, pathetic child…fool!' "Father was right." He was not aware he had said the last bit aloud, and cursed himself some more when Lupin asked;

"About what?" as he continued to move his hand letting it slip onto Snape's back. He was aware Snape had some major issues concerning his family, that much he learned last night after suspecting it over the years, but he had never expected one night of closeness to break down so many defences. 'Though' he thought, 'it has been several decades in the making, last night.' He brought his attention back to the still trembling man curled up in front of him, whispered "Severus…" and ever so gently scooted over on the bed to lay along the taut back. "Severus…" he said, and very gently, not wanting to scare him, threaded his arms around the mans chest and softly kissed the back of his neck. He lay wrapped around him as a human blanket, alternately whispering what he hoped were comforting assurances that he was ok and kissing any part his lips could reach, until he felt him relax and, the trembling stopping, fall asleep. Leaving Lupin awake and alone with his thoughts and hopes. And the beginnings of a deathly hang over.

"And then just got up. Dressed, and left."

"I see."

"I really am sorry to burden you with this professor, but I'm a little worried. We had quite an…interesting…chat, before bed, and he seemed rather upset."

"I see." Dumbledore sighed and looked hard at Lupin. "You are aware, I take it, of the nature of the work Severus does for the Order."

"Yes, but what has that to do with this?"

"If you are aware of the work, then surely you realise that he can more than take care of himself, and that it takes more than a little soul searching to traumatise him."

"Well, yes, but this was of a personal nature. He revealed some things about his family to me…"

"Stop. I do not wish to know, that would be a great offence against his trust. I assure you that I know all about his family circumstances, and the effect they have had on him and I assure you that if he told you a fraction of what I got out of him many years ago, that he has simply run off is a good sign."

"Good? How?"

"Well, on the night we had our little chat, he fell asleep in that very chair. On waking him from a troublesome dream in the morning, he punched me square on the nose and ran. Didn't even look at me for three days, I had to have him brought up here on false charges, as it were by Minerva! Where on he apologised and explained. As I'm sure he will do with you. Severus does not have the necessary experience or skills to let people in, though he is very good at keeping them out, and I can only urge you to please, give him time, Remus. He is a fast study, and I, for one, have never for even one moment, regretted giving him that time. He is one of a hand full of people I trust absolutely with my life. And as such, I will help in anyway I can to keep you two together. You will be very good for him"

"Thank you, Headmaster. I feel so stupid, telling you this like some love sick teenager. But I really want to give this a go. I hope he does. Luckily, time I have."

"Good. Now, I suggest we make our way to the Hall for supper. Its toad in the hole, and I know for a fact that Severus can't resist that." Both men stood, and Dumbledore gestured toward the door for a still frowning Lupin to lead the way.

As predicted, Snape was at supper, enthusiastically making his way through two plates of food. As he stood to leave he paused at Lupins shoulder and whispered something too quiet for the surrounding teachers to hear. They all watched him swoop out of the hall and turned sympathetic eyes on Lupin. All but, Dumbledore, who fixed him in twinkly blue ones and got a slight grin in reply.

Snape busied himself with tidying his work room as he waited for the arrival of Lupin, and tried not plan in his head what he was going to say. He had thought a great deal on the walk around the grounds he had found himself on earlier, and come to a decision which he wanted to tell Lupin straight away. As the knock on the door came, he found himself start slightly at it and forcing himself to compose himself, he shouted; "Come." hoping it was Lupin.

"Severus?"

Good.

"I'm in my work shop." He would do this on his territory, safe ground.

"How are you? I missed you earlier…"

Snape continued to tidy, sub-consciously re-arranging the vials into a different order.

"I feel I should, apologise, for seemingly abandoning you earlier."

"That's ok."

"No, it is not. I did not trust myself to speak to you, and as the situation was so, unusual, decided I probably did not want to hear anything you may have said."

"I'm not sure I understand, but, it is ok."

"No! Don't you see, I should never have thought you did not know your own mind, assume you to be so…thick…to as not know what you were doing. I was insulting your intelligence, and for that, I apologise."

"Apology accepted."

"Good. I also need to explain that I was not running off from you. Please, never think I wanted to leave you. Quite the contrary. "

"So why did you go. I admit I was hurt a little."

"It is as I said. I did not trust myself to talk to you. I was so sure you were going to happily let me in on what ever trick you were playing or suddenly come to your senses and berate me that I felt the need to get in first with the insults, so I just bit my tongue."

"And left."

"Yes. To walk and think. And I have reached a decision."

"Oh?"

"Yes, 'oh'. You may not like it, but I hope you will."

"Go on."

"I have decided, that last night was not only enjoyable, but that I felt a sort of…peace…with you that I have never with anyone. And that oddly enough, I found myself telling you things only one other person knows about, and it was relatively easy. And the other person ended up with a broken nose for his efforts."

"I know." Lupin chuckled slightly.

"You know? What did he say!! When were you talking about me!"

"Relax! We had a little chat today. I was feeling useless and he simply assured me that less than a broken nose had to be a good thing. I was confused and couldn't find you to talk to."

"I am sorry I ran off."

"That's ok, really. He loves you like a son you know, you can see it in his eyes."

"Maybe. Going on my father, I'm not sure I want loving like a son though."

"Well. He cares for you deeply. As do I."

"Thank you."

"So, is that all you decided?"

"No. I also decided that if it is agreeable, I should like very much to continue this, relationship, and hopefully not disappear quite so quickly next time. If this is agreeable to you, of course." He stopped arranging for the first time since beginning the conversation, and Lupin ripped his eyes off the long, delicate fingers to find a pair of dark eyes boring into his with their usual closed expression changed into one of hope. Lupin took a step forward and placed a hand calmly and gently on the other wizards cheek, tracing his lips with the thumb.

"I would find that most agreeable indeed."

FIN