Chapter 13: All We Know Is Falling
They made love again. Slower this time, without the blunt frenzy of the night before, so they both knew that it meant something. It was like being under a spell. Remus couldn't stand not touching Severus. The moment they parted he felt a harrowing pain in his chest, like a fevered animal trying to break out and recapture that which he needed to survive.
Severus seemed to be undergoing something of the same nature and moaned in pain. Remus couldn't bear it and launched himself upon his lover. The pain subsided only to be replaced with desire once more.
Later, much later, the boys were able to dress and make their way back to the castle.
"Do you want to go to the Hospital wing?" Remus asked, holding one of Severus' bandaged hands.
"I used Dittony. It should be fine," said Severus. "Do you think we'll get in trouble, being out of bounds all night?"
"I think that the Headmaster will be understanding."
"You have no idea how understanding he'd be," Severus' upper lip curled in a knowing way. "Merlin's pants! This is another thing I don't want people to talk about."
Remus felt the sting. "I see. I won't say anything if that's what you want."
Severus blinked. "I didn't mean it like that. I just don't like everyone being in my business is all."
Remus was relieved. He tried to put his other hand around Severus' shoulders, but the other boy fell back against a corridor wall, he was white and breathing hard. "Are you all right?"
"A bit weak. Haven't eaten much this week and we missed breakfast." He shot a nervous glance at several fifth year Hufflepuffs that walked past them. "I-I feel like they're all staring at me, like they know and they want to hurt me. I don't feel that I should be around normal people. I'm so angry all the time. Is that a symptom?"
"Not for what you think. It's a normal response for anyone who is going through a bad situation."
"How do you deal with this, Remus? How do you manage to stay so bloody positive?"
Hearing his name spoken by Severus was like a balm on Remus' wounded soul. He took a chance and put a hand on Severus' back. "I have good friends to help me through the worst of it. So will you. You're a Marauder now."
Severus made a face. "That's a good thing, is it?" A flash of scarlet caught his eye. "Oh god. Lily. She'll murder me after the way I behaved!"
Lily ran down the hall. Severus prepared himself for the attack, but instead found himself bound in a rib-cracking hug.
"Sev!" Lily sobbed. "I was so worried! You weren't at supper last night and when you didn't show this morning I started to panic. You look a right mess. Where have you been? Are you all right?"
"I'm so sorry, Lily," Severus said. "For what I said and the awful way I was treating you."
She slammed both palms into his chest. "Remus told me what happened. I'm more upset that you didn't confide in me from the beginning. I thought we were friends. Best friends."
"We are. I wanted to tell you. I wanted you more than anything else in the world. I was so afraid. You didn't grow up around wizards, Lily. You don't know how much our world hates and fears werewolves. I was afraid of dragging you into this mess with me, or worse, that you would abandon me. I think I could handle everything else, but not you being repulsed by me."
"Oh, honestly, Sev." She pulled him into another hug. "For a genius you can be downright thick at times."
"Tell me about it," he smiled and returned the embrace like he would never let go. "I missed you, Lily. You don't know how hard this has been for me. I wanted to tell you about what was happening with… Black." He nervously looked at Remus before he continued. "And then after I got out of the Hospital wing, all I could do, all I could think about was inventing a cure, so much so that I forgot everything else. Last night was especially dark. I had all these dangerous emotions. I might have done something rash if Remus hadn't found me."
"I can't imagine what you must have been going through, and to have kept yourself isolated, too. Don't you ever think that you are alone anymore, Severus Snape. Do you hear me? If you ever do something like this again I'll turn your shoes into mousetraps!"
His mouth turned upward in a sheepish grin. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind. Remus told me that you decked Big Mouth. Well done."
Remus noticed that Sirius was "Big Mouth" once again. It was of some comfort, and yet couldn't help but feel a tug of jealousy of the closeness that had existed between the two wizards. Or that Severus had traded down for him, Remus. To have to compete with an ex-boyfriend like Sirius—tall, classically handsome, rich, fashionable and funny—Remus was more than a bit insecure. Sure, he now had a bond with Severus, but was it what he wanted? Was it no better than if he had used a love potion to manufacture true emotions?
He looked up. "Sorry. What?"
Severus was staring at him thoughtfully. "Are you feeling well? You looked so sad for a moment."
Remus shook his head. "Nothing. Nothing to worry about."
The Slytherin didn't look like he believed him. "I guess we had better get to class."
"Yeah. That's right."
"Are you available this evening?"
Remus' face brightened. "You want to see me again?"
"Of course I do. Don't be daft. I want to get back to working on that potion. I have some new ideas that I'd like to try."
"Oh. Right." Remus swallowed the lump in his throat. Severus still wanted a cure. He wanted to be rid of Remus. "Yeah, I'll meet up with you. Whatever you need."
"And it won't be so hard this time, Sev," said Lily, "because I'll be helping you, too."
He beamed at her then turned back to Remus. "Well, I'll catch you up later then."
"Yeah. I'll see you tonight." Remus turned and started to walk away when that ache rose up in his chest again. His palms suddenly felt cold and his legs threatened to buckle underneath him. A cry behind him caused him to jump.
"Remus!" Severus was chalk white and half draped on Lily's arm to keep him from falling over on his face.
Remus darted forward and caught Severus in his arms. He felt the other boy's heart hammering against his own. Their lips crashed together. "Severus. Easy, love. I've got you. I've got you."
Severus clung to Remus' neck like he feared he was about to fall from a great height. "Bloody hell! It hurt. When you walked away it hurt so much. What's happening?"
"It must be the bond. It's a new thing. Tender still. It will be all right. I think we were both just surprised by it, is all. Let me walk you back to the Slytherin dungeon. You need to rest and get something to eat. I can tell Professor Babbling that you are ill and I'll bring you the assignment later."
Severus' blinked. "You would do that for me?"
"I'd do anything for you, Severus. My mate." Remus ran a hand through Severus' hair. He made sure that Severus could feel the affection behind his touch. "Come on. Let's get you back where you belong."
Lily braced Severus' other arm. "He's right, Sev. You need to rest first. Worry about work later. And then you can tell me what mischief you two have been getting up to." She laughed and tickled his side.
Sirius sat at his new place, the edge of the Gryffindor table. A chipped plate. A shoe that had stepped in something unpleasant. His friends sat in their usual place of honor, chatting away in their contentment. They looked like a school pamphlet; laughing faces, slaps on the back, conspiratorial nods towards the girls at the next table. They were part of that golden world everyone instinctively coveted. He, Sirius, had been born to that world, but it had spit him out.
So, this was what it felt like to be an outcast, he thought. Strange. He had spent most of his life sorting out those weak-looking loners, first his brother, then Slytherin boys like Snape; dirty little oddballs that seemed to be asking to be picked on. No body seemed to care, not even the boys themselves. It was probably the most attention they had ever received anyway.
Laughter from the other end of the table. Sirius felt a twinge. Was it about him? Would he have to start watching his back for when they would target him? When the hexes would be thrown at him in the hallways, in the center of large crowds where the humiliation could become a blood sport? Would Severus and James join in? Would they use their wands on him, or merely laugh at how low he had fallen?
He pushed his cold meat pie away, unable to swallow the ashen bits any longer. He wished James or Remus would look in his direction. Even arse-kissing, toadying Peter would have been welcome.
Someone staggered into the Great Hall. It was Severus. He was very late for dinner; the Professors said nothing, they allowed him to take his seat at the Slytherin table. Sirius noticed that the boy still looked pale, thought not quite as sickly as before, and his hair was once again washed and glossy. He seemed different somehow. There was a new glow in his cheeks. He looked taller, if that was possible. The slight slouch was gone, the shoulders proudly held back.
Then Sirius noticed that he wasn't the only one who had observed the differences. Remus was staring at Severus, his yellow-tinged eyes so intense they threatened to burn flesh and cloth and metal. His face was likewise flushed as if from a fever. One of his hands lazily stretched out on the table's surface, unconsciously reaching towards the Slytherin. Severus seemed aware of this gesture for he positioned his hand in a mirror image. They were not touching and yet touching. Severus tilted his head up and his dark eyes flashed gold.
Sirius could not breathe. How had he gotten to the first floor corridor? When had he left the Hall? He could not remember, could not think clearly. He wanted to turn back around and set fire to the Great Hall. He wanted to challenge Remus to a duel, to watch that bastard get eaten by a giant worm. He could use Dark Magic to make them all cringe; to hurt them for discarding him like so much garbage. As a Dark wizard he might even prove to his family that he should have been Sorted into Slytherin after all. They might even be proud of him, finally.
Remus had stolen what was his! Had Severus given so easily to Remus what he had been dangling in front of Sirius for weeks? Had they rutted like animals? Had Severus called Remus his Dog? He didn't want to be the chipped plate anymore; he didn't want to eat his meals alone. He wanted to sit under the beech tree with his head in Severus' lap and have the boy whisper biting, loving remarks to him.
Severus was standing in front of him. His eyes were black again, empty of all emotion.
How long had he been pacing the corridor? Sirius turned to study the needlework on a tapestry of Ethelred the Ever-Ready. "You and Remus, hun?" he growled. A long pause. Was that shame? Pity? "That didn't take long. Having shagging sessions in the library, are you?"
He expected one of Severus' incensed remarks. Even that would be better than the limbo he felt trapped in.
Severus merely regarded him, his face revealing nothing. "Is that what you think of me? That I could love you with all my heart one moment and then transfer it all to another so effortlessly? Not even a Gryffindor's worst conception of a Slytherin could be that cold."
Sirius looked at him. "Then why are you with him? He attacked you."
"And you lied to me. You might have told me that Remus had been the one to send me those blackberries."
"He said he wanted it to be a secret. I never thought you'd believe that I had done it."
"Is that why you were always rowing with me? Because you were feeling guilty?"
"I was stupid," Sirius said. "It started out where I was trying to set you guys up, as a favor to Remy, but then you and I started hanging out together and you were smart and funny, and I liked being with you."
"You tossed over your own pal, then."
Sirius frowned. "I liked you. I didn't plan on it happening, but it did. I just couldn't stop thinking that you would run off with Remus. You two seemed to be hitting it off with one another. I panicked. I didn't think anyone would get hurt."
Severus clucked his tongue. "You failed to think that exposing me to a werewolf might be a bad thing?"
"Remus always said that I was a thoughtless brute. I didn't think about what it would do to you, or to him. Are-are you happy, Brain?"
"Don't call me that. And I don't think you should be the one to ask me such things."
"But, Remus is a good guy, yeah? You two are happy being a couple?"
Severus drew his arms around himself, trying to make his robes a protective cocoon. "We've hardly had time to become what you'd call a couple. If you had been more forthright from the beginning, things might have been different between us. I just wish it did not have to be like this. Like it has to happen because we are now bonded. It leaves something out."
Love is what's missing, Sirius realized. That excitement of first meeting someone, that warm quickening of the blood, a skipped heartbeat, a sweaty palm. The yearning to be near that person, the thrill to know that they fell the same way. Knowing that there had been the freedom of choice all along.
Love cannot be held with the fist. It must be caught with an open hand.
Sirius reached for Severus, but the other boy stepped back.
"I can't," Severus said. "Not anymore."
"Are you in love with him?" asked Sirius. Everything in the world danced upon the edge of a pin.
"Remus is a good person. He deserves the chance for this to work. We are bonded. The rest will follow. I'm fortunate that he is someone that I can love."
"I have to go. I only came this way to get to the Potions lab. Full moon is only days away and I need to find a cure before…. Well, I don't have a lot of time. I'd appreciate it if we could keep things civil between us. The spilled ink cannot be put back into the bottle, as it were."
Sirius again tried to hold Severus. The other boy appeared to have trouble breathing. That was not quite right. He was inhaling in short, deep bursts; his nostrils were wide as tunnels. Severus was smelling him. The boy emitted a low growl that sounded very much like the hungry rumble of a bare stomach.
"Leave me be," Severus snapped. Then his tone grew softer. "Please. Please, leave me be. It's over. It has to be over." He would not meet Sirius' eyes.
Sirius watched as Severus disappeared down the stairs to the dungeon classrooms. He wished he could find an equally deep hole to crawl into. He felt his world teeter off the edge and fall, and fall.
Things were as they should have been from the start, he told himself. Remus was with Severus, and Remus was a good man. After all, he had liked Severus early on.
Sirius tried to pin down the exact moment he realized that he had liked the Slytherin boy. He recalled how lovely Severus looked in the moonlight, the way his hair had shined and rippled. The sweet taste of apple on those lips.
Only vain fools think that looks are everything.
But no. Hang on. That first time they had been studying together in the library, before Severus has invented that hair elixir, when they had been joking and Severus, in an unguarded moment, had smiled at him. He had smiled and Sirius had felt a spark, fire from tinder.
He had liked Severus Snape, too!
Sirius began laughing out loud. He couldn't control it. He must have looked like a mad man because several terrified first years fled from him. Sirius ran up the staircase. He was no longer a ship lost at storm. He had found his bearings.
A/N: A few notes on this chapter.
The chapter title is another Paramore song.
Professor Babbling is the Ancient Runes teacher at Hogwarts.
You might recognize the reference to the burning down the Great Hall, dueling and the giant worm from Albus Dumbledore's notes on "The Fountain of Fair Fortune," in The Tales of Beetle the Bard.
Ethelred the Ever-Ready, was a wizard famous for taking offense at nothing and cursing innocent bystanders. Found in the HP Lexicon.