Ok, so here it is.
First, my humble apologies at my uselessness at updating this sooner. Poor excuses all fall into one category; real life. Pah. Honestly though, mother had to have open heart surgery, we've had very ill horses at work and I nearly lost my pregnant mare, what can I say. When the horses are ill, everything stops! Just ask the ex boyfriends...
Anyway, here it is.
And it's the last one. I think. If you have liked it and would like more, with less of a time span between chapters let me know.
Otherwise, thanks for reading, and many many thanks for the reviews. They were all greatly appreciated, even the really really finiccity ones!
I hope you enjoyed the ride.
Lupin couldn't find Snape in any of his usual haunts. After searching them all he admitted defeat and placed a 'find-me' on his wand, surprised when it pointed him towards the main doors and into the grounds. He descended the stone stairs slowly. The vibration he felt from his wand working stopping as the target was approached. Pausing half way down he jumped when a voice from behind and below him said;
"Oh! Um, sorry?"
"There are eight more. Totalling thirteen. Pay attention Lupin, if to nothing else at least to your own lessons."
Lupin ignored the bite and made his way down the remaining stairs towards Snape who was leant on the wall, hands shoved deep into the pockets of the frock coat he was wearing. He didn't look particularly pleased at being found. Lupin pressed on bravely;
"How did you know it was…"
"You?" Snape cut in sharply; "the pad of paws perhaps…"
It came out harsher than he had intended and he cursed himself, sighing, he brought his hands out of his pockets and held them up in mock surrender; an apology accepted by the other.
Lupin moved around to lean next to Snape, the stone hard and cold against his back. They stood side by side in silence for several minutes, until Lupin, remembering the box said;
"I have biscuits!" in what he knew to be far too cheerful a voice. Snape looked bemused;
"I am very happy for you."
Lupin frowned but shut up, shaking his head, thinking. Eventually he sighed and put the box on top of the wall behind him. Turning to face Snape he said quietly;
"I can't do this."
"Do what? Lean against a wall? Make inane comments about baking…"
"Oh shut up!" Lupin snapped; "Stop the sarcastic comments and just listen you…"
Snape raised an eyebrow, eyes gazing past Lupins head without any aim.
"...You annoying fool you! This! I can't do this anymore!"
At that the pale face turned towards Lupins, giving the unnerving impression that he was being looked straight into. If he didn't know better Lupin would have sworn Snape was studying his face.
"And what, exactly, is this?"
"I have no bloody idea!"
Very quietly Snape said;
Lupin took a calming breath and put his hands on his hips, absorbing the details in the lined face before him. Finally calm he spoke;
"Will you listen?"
"I am blind Lupin. Not deaf."
"Just because you hear doesn't mean you listen. Especially in your case. Will you hear me out, with no sarcasm, retorts or snarling?"
Snape considered this, before answering;
"Thank you." Lupin took a deep breath;
"I think, that is, well,"
"You aren't making any sense."
"I know. Here, listen. You remember the other day, after we spent the night together,"
"You make it sound sordid."
"Um. Sorry. Well, I thought…"
Lupin paused, looking down at the floor, trying to steady the quiver in his voice.
"You thought what?" Snape asked, intrigued.
"You were stood there, there was blood, my cut throat, you were shaking…"
"Well, it scared me."
"Scared you? Why on earth…Oh!"
"That is almost amusing! Why on earth would I wish to kill myself!"
"You had just woken up in my bed…"
"Believe me when I say that had I not of wanted to wake up in your bed I most certainly would not have!"
"That is a relief."
"You do understand now why…"
"Oh yes, the potion, Cruciatus… Completely."
"If I tell you something which could be seen as ridiculously pathetic and practically verging on vomitous, would you think me completely mad?"
"Good enough I suppose. The time since I was discovered a spy, these past months, have, if I am being honest, been…nice."
"Yes. Baring the actual physical blindness, of course."
"You think me mad."
"Only slightly. I wait to be corrected."
"Very well. I shall endeavour. Before, well, that was not me. It was what I had become and what I had been used to being, but not me. I almost forgot what 'me' was. That is where you came in, you have helped me a great deal, allowing me to realise that I am still capable of having friends, possibly more… And by always being around in the alarmingly un annoying way you have I am no longer constantly alert when in company. I have rediscovered the pleasure in sitting and listening to conversation. For that I want to say thank you, and for that, yes, as mad as it may make me seem, it has been…nice."
Lupin leaned over and planted a kiss on the others forehead;
"I'm glad. But also, that morning, it made me realise how scared I am of loosing you." he paused, and then jabbed a finger in the Snapes chest;
"But you, you run hotter and colder than Hogwarts plumbing, one day it's like walking on eggshells, the merest thing I say can cause you to, I'm sure, be casting silent Crucio's at me, the next you seem to want nothing more than to be bundled into my arms and taken care of. And then there's this blasted sexual tension…" Lupin almost lost it then and laughed at the bright red blush climbing up the others cheeks and the widening of the eyes at the merest mention of the thought of sex, but he bit his tongue. He was on a roll and determined to finish;
"The number of times in that damned tiny supply cupboard of yours where its been, I'm sure, obvious to any observant sixth year with an imagination why either one of us comes out looking decidedly flustered. Now I'm in the bad books again. For voicing an opinion which was just that. The difference between opinion and criticism is something you have great trouble grasping. I have questions I want answers to. Number one being, why the sudden relapse into… 'Grumpy old fart'?
"Grumpy. Old. Fart?"
Lupin had the good grace to look a little abashed at the tone in Snape's voice.
"You know what I mean."
"That is debatable. Lupin, I can assure you that I have always been a…grumpy old…..well, grumpy. It is not something that will change. I happen to like being grumpy on occasion when needed, and I have no intention to change. Not even for you."
"I don't believe you do. I shall perhaps re-phrase that. I don't think I could change. Not even for you. Better?"
"Marginally. Question two. Will you ever, do you think, acknowledge the times I see you at your more…vulnerable…"
Snape winced at the word and when he looked back up it was with disdain etched into his features.
"and not just pretend they never happened."
"When have I pretended?" said Snape, indignantly.
Lupin thought, then answered triumphantly;
"Last week! Minerva read the Prophet aloud, at the mention of the latest Death Eater activity, you were shaken."
"The details were a little hard to stomach for anyone…"
"And even more for someone who…"Lupin interrupted, then lowered his tone; he had sworn to himself that this would not turn into a shouting match; "for someone who has experienced it first hand."
"I fail to see how I pretended…"
"You looked so upset for a moment. I took your hand, no one saw…"
Snape nodded gently, understanding;
"Ah. They certainly saw when you snatched it away and snarled at me."
"Yes. I apologise even. I am rather used to guarding my darker secrets. Perhaps rather too well. I assure you that it was greatly received before I decided on the snarl… I will even allow what is bound to a somewhat smug look on your face."
Lupin schooled his face neutral and inwardly cursed the defiantly smug look on Snape's face.
"There was hardly time for you to appreciate it before the snarl…"
"Oh. Well, thank you for admitting that. Progress."
"Your third question?"
Um, yes. Well, ah, the whole…"
"Blasted sexual tension…"
"I quite enjoy it."
Now it was time for Lupin to blush, and be a little taken aback, he had never expected that;
"Really? That's good. But, well, wouldn't you rather have the act than the tension?" he couldn't help the hopeful tone creep into his voice.
"Perhaps! What the hell does that mean?!"
"It means perhaps Lupin. Yes, in theory I would rather have, as you put it, the act, but in reality…" Snape's voice changed into the one Lupin had come to associate with him when they were alone, a less considered tone; "In reality Remus you remember I am sure what happened last time we attempted any sort of, intimacy."
Lupin took a step toward the other man and said softly;
"Will that stop us from trying again?"
"No…just not this very moment, alright?"
"Not this very moment, no. It will be very cold in twenty minutes and I have no desire that our first time be in the grounds against uncomfortable stone stairs with goose bumps! Anyway, we have all the time in the world, don't we? Summer holidays and no children…"
"Do we?" The hope in Snape's voice was un mistakable; "All the time in the world?"
"Yes! What were you thinking? That I was going somewhere soon?"
"Term is ending…"
"That doesn't mean we are Severus. I'm here for as long as you want me." Lupin regarded him quietly before touching a cheek;
"I think I see the problem."
"Yes. I'm really not going anywhere. At least, not without you. Is that…acceptable?"
Snape remained silent and slowly nodded his head, he appeared to be deep in thought, brows knit together and sub consciously biting his upper lip in a way which made Lupin want to join in. Lupin was just about to say something when the other man took a step forward, closing the gap between them to mere inches. He reached out a searching hand which Lupin took hold of in a way which was now more instinct than habit, mildly surprised at the firmness of the grasp. The other long fingered hand reached up and found Lupins face, fingers tickling their way around until it was cupping the back of the Werewolf's head, curly greying hair covering the knuckles. As he thought he couldn't be any more surprised Lupin's heart made a small leap as his head was pulled forward in an obvious invite for a kiss.
Snape could feel his heart pounding and he wandered briefly if Lupins was doing the same, and he only briefly wandered whether this was complete madness. He hadn't trusted himself to speak when Lupin had said he was going to be around for as long as he wanted him, so had instead decided on kissing the man. It was only now as he pulled the warm, soft hair covered head towards him that he realised he had only the vaguest of ideas where Lupin's lips actually were. Suddenly panicking that he would end up slobbering down the mans chin, he stopped short, eyes slightly alarmed.
'No chance,' thought Lupin, 'you're not backing out now!' and he closed the gap himself.
The kiss lasted longer then either man had expected, and when at last they pulled apart, both were slightly breathless. Lupin let a grin spread across his face and, feeling the muscles move, Snape traced it with a finger. When the finger was duly kissed itself, Snape's lips twitched upward and he muttered;
"Grinning like a fool Lupin."
They stood together a while longer, Snape idly tracing the smile and Lupin enjoying the callused tip of the finger, before he caught it in his own hand and nipped the end. Snape's eyes rose in mild shock, whispering;
"It's a good job the children are all in bed…"
Lupin chuckled. He pulled the hand away from his face but kept hold of it, gently tugging the man toward the door;
"Come on, its cold out here and its late. I feel a cup of tea is needed, we also have our fair share of Bigbrish's biscuits to finish as well."
They made their way into the castle, amicably bantering with each other, voices growing quieter as they disappeared out of sight;
"So glad to hear you eat something other than Potions Masters…"
"Oh I eat them as well, especially the tasty ones."
"I have no idea what you mean Professor Lupin."
"I'm sure you don't, Professor Snape…"
Lupin stood in the store cupboard of the potions classroom, running through the last minute stock taking he had put off for weeks. He listened to the first years who had cautiously come in a few minutes ago, some excited chatter and some very nervous whispering going on. He grinned to himself, knowing half of them would fear the Potions Professor before even being taught by him, and knowing how much that would please Severus. He continued to tick boxes, seeing no reason to alert them to his presence, the first ever lesson not being a practical there was no point in Lupin being present. He stilled from his task as he heard the classroom door slam shut and familiar footsteps stride across the room. The silence the children had fallen into could almost be felt, and closing his eyes Lupin could see the dark figure stood at the lectern. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
He lent against one of the shelves and listened, waiting in anticipation, having heard about the famous 'speech' from Dumbledore but, obviously, never hearing it first hand.
"There shall be no foolish waving of wands, no silly incantations…"
Lupin had to nearly stuff his fist in his mouth to stop from laughing at the drama in Severus' voice.
By "…subtle science and exact art…" he had calmed down and was almost hypnotised.
By "…put a stopper in death." he was practically drooling.