04. Remus & Severus
"Here, Severus, for you," Remus smiled, handing him something; Severus stared at it confusedly, wondering why Remus gave him an empty box, when he continued, just as happily, "It's love."
He brushed his long slender fingers over the dusty box before blowing the dust into the air. He couldn't recall the last time this box had ever had the gentle human caress.
The shutters within the rickety house creaked and rattled as the winter storm settled in for the long haul. The man pulled the box into his lap. It was as light as a feather but felt heavy on his heart. He hadn't noticed the tremble of his hands or the hitch in breathing as he slid the lid off the box.
Braving himself, the man plunged his hand in and came out with a stack of envelopes. Of course he thought to himself, how could I forget about these? The delicate ribbon that wrapped around the letters unraveled itself and fell to the floor gracefully.
The stack was thick and the letters stained with age, peeling at the corners and the ink fading. The words though, to the young man, were always clear in his mind. Taking a deep breath, he flipped open the first letter.
January 2th, 1976
I know it's been a while. I haven't forgotten about you so you can stop worrying. I'm writing this by candle light because mother and father don't know I'm awake. To answer your previous question: no. I absolutely forbid you to purchase anything for my birthday. I don't care if you came into extra money or it only comes once a year. I don't want anything. I know what you're thinking and you can forget about that too. I'll be back at school shortly and I swear if you attempt to surprise me you'll be the one surprised.
A small smile danced on the man's lips as he recalled the day that Severus Snape turned 16. It was a day for the ages and something to never be forgotten. The smile slowly dissipated from the man's lips as he set the stack down and proceeded to rummage around in the box. From its contents he removed an old vial, a piece of string, an old button, and a chew toy the shape of a bone. He gave the toy a small squeak and grinned from ear to ear as it gave a soft, dull sound. It still worked. Setting aside the trivial items he reached back into the box and emerged with a tattered and half burnt photograph.
Only half of the photograph served to fill the memory as the other half had long burned before hand. His hands began to tremble again and he ghosted his finger tips over the lean, sneering, beak-nosed man in the picture. Tear drops stained the picture as the man clutched to it dearly.
He promised himself he wouldn't do this. He swore the last tears he cried over this man were years ago. But sometimes the heart cannot forget what it simply refuses to let go of. The man struggled to hold onto the remains of the memory. His mind grew foggier with each new sunrise and he found it a little easier to drag himself up from the rubble of the past and into the future.
But a night like this, where he took out the box, once every few years he'd guess, the memories would come back as if someone had opened the flood gates. But not this memory. Never this one. It was always the memory he tried the hardest to cling to, but also forget. The string, the button, they were easier reminders; but the photographs and the letters and the smell of him in the rain were always the hardest to remember and the hardest to forget.
Flipping the picture over, he glanced at the messy scrawl, half still there, but half gone. Closing his eyes, he let the photograph fall into his lap and put his face in his hands. Noisy sobs spilled from his mouth as he struggled to let go of what was already gone.
It was the same routine year after year after year and the man was one for traditions. If they only knew… he thought desolately. It was always after the sobs had subsided that the man would pick himself up, brush himself off and pack the contents back up. He then would formally place the box back into the closet and pull out the tiniest box there.
The small box was not extravagant, nor was it anything special to anyone else but him. Sinking down onto the bed he opened the box and stole a peek inside. Empty.
It always had been empty. Recalling this particular memory was the easiest of them all.
"Here, Severus, for you," he smiled, handing him something; Severus stared at it confusedly, wondering why the boy gave him an empty box, when he continued, just as happily, "It's love."
Ah love… How easy it was to wrap love up in a box and give it away. Of course Severus had been embarrassed at such a romantic gesture but he had to admit that was totally and utterly like him to pull a stunt like that.
Yes, the box had been filled with love. One may have wondered how such a tiny box could hold so much love. The box has been strong, just like their love, and it had weathered all the bumps and bruises.
Many years the men spent in each other's company. A couple unlike any other, people had called them. It was true, their relationship broke all the laws but they persevered and held their heads high. That was until…
The man tilted his head and held the miniscule box in his hands. He could recognize this box anywhere and he grinned up at Severus. Opening it he glanced at the emptiness inside and his smile widened. "What is it?" He asked curiously. "Disappointment," the other man replied.
It was the last time he had spoken to Severus Snape, and now his feet carried him. It wasn't until he arrived at the gravestone that he knew this was exactly where he needed to be. Sinking to his knees, he watched the carved letters in the stone, thinking perhaps they might rearrange themselves magically. But each time the letters glared back the same: Severus Snape. Born: January 9th, 1960. Died: May 1st, 1998.
Stepping back, he placed the tiny unextravagant box on the dirt beneath the gravestone.
"It's love..." Remus whispered, turning his back and leaving his love for the man behind one last time.