"Our House is Made of Glass"
Our house is made of glass... and our lives are made of glass; and there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves. –Joyce Carol Oates
The world is full of darkness. At least, that is the world that he has come to know. Seething, rippling darkness, like the surface of the lake at midnight, disturbed by the movement of something just beneath its surface. Severus does not like it here. The air is too warm; it makes his skin crawl and beads of sweat form on the nape of his neck. It makes him wish for turning leaves and darker hues. It makes him wish for September.
-autumn. sixth year.
On the first day of school, they lock him in a broom closet with a Venomous Tentacula. There is not much room, even to breathe. His back is pressed to the wall, vertebra sliding painfully against the stone as he hollows his body, tilting away from the reaching stem and leaves. He will never admit it, but he has always been afraid of small spaces, of the walls somehow closing in and devouring him. This is as small as it gets.
His breaths sound foreign and raw to him, scratching the back of his throat. The plant snaps and he ducks. No need. The tendrils cannot reach him. Not yet.
Stomach roiling, he closes himself into a corner and pulls out his wand, muttering a quick Stupefy and praying that it will work on a plant. It doesn't. He knows better than to try to unlock the door with a spell. The incantation that Potter spoke forbade it.
He can feel nausea climbing up from his gut, spitting bile into his mouth, sharp and gritty. His head is spinning and he almost does not hear the voices outside, tones raised and stilted. But then the door opens and light spills into the closet, illuminating the pale, ill face of Severus Snape as he cowers like a child against the back wall. Cowers. The thought is bitter in his mind.
Someone pulls him out into the corridor and he gasps, taking in several deep gulps of air, back still hunched, still twisted as a creature more like a terrified beast than a boy. His saviour is a classmate he knows all too well, and he curses that Lupin should be the one to find him like this. He utters an expletive, some curse about werewolves and murderers, and Potter starts toward him, fury etched on his face.
"No, Prongs, don't," Lupin is saying. Potter looks for a moment as though he is going to disregard the other, but then he falls back, expression still dark and angry.
"Halfbreed," Severus snarls, his face still hot with shame.
He can hear Potter's shouts behind him as he whirls about and stalks down the hall, eyes locked on the floor, still nursing his injured pride.
-winter. seventh year.
"Can I sit here? All of the other tables are full."
Lupin is standing a meter away, arms stacked with four or five books. Severus can see him straining under the weight. He is too small, and ropes of underdeveloped muscle are twisting up his forearms, trembling slightly. He is blinking abnormally fast, although his tone remains steady.
For a moment, Severus considers telling him no. It would be worth it, to see just one of the members of that bloody gang sitting on the cold stone floor. Dirty animal. Someone ought to teach Potter that he shouldn't let his pets in the house.
A harsh noise bursts from his lips, and Severus realizes belatedly that it is a laugh. A guttural, barking noise, but a laugh nonetheless. Lupin looks stunned, lips parting just slightly as though he is about to speak. Severus quells the noise and automatically scowls.
"Fine," he says. "Sit down. But don't talk."
Lupin slides into the seat just opposite him, setting the books down on the table. Severus expects to see a look of relief cross the halfbreed's face, but somehow he manages to keep his expression clear. Severus grunts and yanks his gaze away, forcing it down to the parchments in front of him.
Dipping his quill into the ink, Severus presses the nib to the page, but the words he had meant to write escape him. He grasps in the dark and comes up empty-handed. Lupin's presence is a curse. Severus can sense him, even without looking. He is curled over an open book, leaning down, the ends of his hair brushing paper. He is jittering his leg under the table, rattling it up and down at an abominable speed. Severus waits for him to relax, to get absorbed into the book, but the leg just keeps going and going, vibrating through the floor. Severus is a seething black ball of frustration.
"Will you stop that?" Severus speaks in a near hiss.
Lupin starts as though caught off his guard and looks up too quickly, hazel eyes meeting black, widened. "I—what?"
Lupin glances downward, surprised, as though he had not even realized what he was doing. "Oh. Right." The vibrations stop.
Severus simply glares at him and turns back to his essay. His quill has left a blotch of ink on the page now, a guilty pool amidst lines and lines of practically illegible scrawl. Lupin is still looking at him, but Severus acts as if he does not notice, and eventually the other is reading again.
For a moment, all is still, but then the jittering starts once more, faster this time. Frustration clenches in Severus's gut and he slams his fist down on the tabletop, sending his own quill skidding across the flat surface.
Lupin nearly falls out of his chair this time, but Severus cannot even enjoy the werewolf's discomfort before Pince—wretched, diseased tart—is swooping down on him in self-righteous rage. Severus does not wait for her to start her diatribe; he stands up, knocking his chair to the floor. Lupin probably did it on purpose, bloody little--! Grasping his schoolbag with white knuckles, he stalks out of the library, taking care not to look back.
-winter. seventh year.
Severus, it seems, is not fated to live a werewolf-free life. Someone tosses a note onto his desk in Potions, a neatly folded square of parchment with his name written in unfamiliar, cautious letters on the outside. He opens it with delicate fingers as if it is contaminated.
I noticed that you left your essay in the library the other day. I waited for you to come back for it, but when you never did, I took it with me to the dormitory. I can bring it down to dinner tonight and give it to you then, if you like.
Severus briefly entertains the idea of simply rewriting the essay and avoiding Lupin altogether, but it is already at nearly 120 centimeters, and he does not have time to adequately rewrite the whole thing. He looks up. Lupin is watching him as though waiting for some affirmation, so Severus jerks his head into a single, brief nod. This seems to satisfy him, for Lupin grins widely. What the hell is he smiling about?
By the time it is dinner, though, Severus has recognized an entirely new quagmire: how to preserve his reputation when Lupin walks up to the Slytherin table during the middle of desert and holds out a roll of parchment.
"Here you are, Severus," he says, that irritating smile still spread across his lips. "I sanded it for you so that it wouldn't smear."
Severus hears a snort, and he does not even have to look to know that it is Rosier. He yanks the essay out of Lupin's hands and stuffs it into his bag, face hard as if it is chiseled out of stone.
And yet Lupin still stands there, looking at him with his hands clasped behind his back, as though expecting some sort of—compensation for his good deed.
Severus meets his gaze with a scowl and holds it for a good thirty seconds. Lupin does not move, and his expression does not waver.
A muscle twitching in his jaw, Severus curls his hands into fists beneath the table. "Thank you." He somehow manages to spit the words out from behind gritted teeth.
"You're welcome," Lupin says, tone bright as though he had not even noticed Severus's tone. Maybe he hadn't.
Rosier is laughing and Severus takes a deep swallow of his pumpkin juice, tilting the goblet up to hide his face.
-spring, three years later
The two men sit in the pub and pretend not to recognize each other. The dark one is hunched forward over his drink, face pinched and twisted into an expression that is somewhere between a grimace and a sneer, all amber skin and heavy black hair. The other is on the edge of his seat, spine erect, fingers caressing the curve of his cup. He is not drinking. If anything, he seems to be distracted by the presence of the other, for his keeps shifting hazel eyes to the right, glancing first at hooked nose, then at firewhiskey, then at eyes, and finally resting on Severus's lips.
"Stop looking at me, Lupin," Severus hisses, his grip tightening around the base of his mug.
He knows what the other man is thinking. He is debating between sitting here and silently finishing his ale, or doing the right thing by turning him into the Order. Only, Lupin does not seem to be aware of just how obvious his thoughts really are.
Severus finishes his drink in one swallow and slams the cup down, tossing a few glittering Sickles into the barman's hand.
He can hear Lupin's movements behind him, the clatter of gold on marble, and the pounding of footsteps before a hand touched his shoulder. Severus whirled around, eyes flashing, fury etched onto every centimeter of his face.
Lupin reels back as though, in touching Severus, he has touched something burning hot. "I—I'm sorry. Severus…. Severus!"
But Severus is no longer listening. His heart is beating abnormally fast as he stalks out of the bar and Disapparates.
-summer, the year of voldemort's return
Number 12 Grimmauld Place is enemy territory, so Severus treads lightly. He can hear Black's voice issuing from the other room, never quite soft enough, even in whispering. The sound is a remnant of his schooldays, and it irks him. Molly Weasley had the nerve to offer him tea and scones when he first stepped through the door, forgetting for a moment who he was. It was only moments before his decline that she seemed to come back to her senses, a frown settling on her thin, rouged lips.
Severus hears Black's harsh, barking laughter, and for a moment he is tempted to go into the other room out of spite, knowing that his presence alone will put a stop to the mirth. But no, he reminds himself, Black is not the reason that he is here. He is on business—official business—and he will be damned if that arrogant imitation of a wizard will cause him to spend any more time in this awful house than is absolutely necessary.
Severus finds Lupin as a hunter stalks a beast, slinking through hallways and along walls until he finds his prey in the upstairs library, a thick book perched neatly on his hand, thumb and fifth finger gripping its pages in a manner that seems almost rough for a man so frail and slender. Severus refuses to allow himself to be taken aback, however, and he waits for a moment for the other man to acknowledge his presence.
Lupin either ignores him or is impervious, and eventually Severus is degraded to clearing his throat in a pointed manner, eyes already sharpened and narrow.
"Hello, Severus," Lupin says seconds later, glancing up from his book. His tone is calm, and he gives no sign of being startled. He knew I was here all along. The bastard.
"Lupin," he snarls back, intentionally putting even more bite in his words than usual.
The wolf is imperturbable. "I thought that you were not coming until the Tuesday meeting."
"Oh, believe me, Lupin, I would rather be anywhere other than here. I bring a message from Dumbledore."
One light brown eyebrow lifts. "Could he not have sent someone else?"
This is the first sign of anything other than cool amicability that Lupin has ever displayed toward him, and for a moment, Severus's scowl falters. "He wanted me to give this to you in person." He retrieves a plain brown package from within his cloak. It seems as though he has pulled it out of nowhere, though with those billowing robes, it is quite easy to imagine that he could be concealing a great many things within the folds of black cloth.
Lupin glances down at the package, eyes amber crescents beneath briefly lowered lashes. They are the same pale cedar colour as his hair, and the lightness of them often makes Lupin's expression look shifty, as though he is constantly on tenterhooks. Severus frowns and wonders why he is noticing such things.
After what seems like minutes to Severus, but was likely only a few seconds, Lupin takes the package. "Thank you."
Now it is Severus's turn to arch a brow. "Don't mention it."
Their gazes meet and Severus feels a muscle tighten in his jaw. Lupin's face is blank, unreadable, and Severus quite suddenly feels as though his own thoughts have been plastered quite clearly across his countenance. Lip curling, Severus steps back, first as a preventative measure, before whirling about, black cloak flapping, his feet unable to take him from the room fast enough.
autumn, two months later
In his seventh year, Severus had been kissed. He let his lips and his body fall under the calloused touch of wide hands, moving along his spine and molding him like clay. There had been a sense of obligation to the act as Rodolphus fumbled with the buttons of his shirt, their mouths heavy and wet, Severus's body acting as a being separate from his mind as he watched on from a distance, studying each movement, academic. They stopped before Rodolphus's tie was even entirely undone, scarcely speaking a word to each other about what had just occurred as Severus passed the other a Transfiguration textbook and they settled down at their respective desks, quills scratching against essay parchment.
This is nothing like that time. Lupin's breath is hot against his skin and their bodies pulse together as one flesh, chest to chest, throbbing in a balanced rhythm. Severus wonders for a brief moment if he has finally—for the first time in years—finally lost control, but he finds that his mind will not linger on the subject, and that he no longer particularly cares.
Lupin is responding to his touch, back arching, pressing his pelvis forward, soft sighs escaping his lips, heat against Severus's tongue. His hands disappear into the black liquid of Severus's robes and now he cannot hold back his own moan, as the other's hand curls around his cock.
Severus grabs Lupin by the hair, twisting ink-stained fingers among those honey curls and yanking his head back, lips falling upon bared throat, venomous kisses.
"I hate you," Severus says against the warm skin, licking the jugular vein that snakes across Lupin's neck. "Monster."
Somehow, though, this seems to spur Lupin on and he grabs Severus by the high collar of his robes and presses him against the wall, his hand quickening its rhythm between Severus's quivering legs.
"But you will fuck me anyway," Lupin says, with all the smugness of a man who knows his own triumph is at hand.
Severus nods. And he submits, letting the werewolf spin him around to face the wall, hands flat on the stone, as he tears into him. Severus bites back a cry and Lupin digs his nails into his shoulder. Their bodies move sinuously together, fusing at the hips, Severus arching back against the other, tilting his head back so that Lupin's lips can move along his ear, biting at the crest.
Afterward, Severus will let his robes fall straight to the floor once more, feeling the wetness of his own come smeared against his cock, and turn to face the other. Their eyes will meet, and Severus does not say it, but Remus knows. The truth is embedded in his eyes, in the way his hand lingers on Remus's arm before he pulls himself away and disappears from the room.
And Remus will stand there for a moment, the fire still crackling behind him, as he smiles—and then, as he laughs. He can still smell old books, fresh ink and pressed parchment, a slowly simmering potion, Severus's scent buried in his skin.
"I love you too," he will say. And Severus, although he is already halfway to the dungeons once more, will smile.