Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters (obviously), nor am I making any money putting its characters through the slashy, emotional ringer (also obviously). There, I said it. Happy now?
A/N: I suppose you could say this story takes place around the time of the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Lupin is the teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts, but...since I have neither read the book or watched the movie in a while...my timeline could be a little off. I THINK I'm right though. If I'm not, well, oops.
Chapter 1: Ancient History
Nightmares. There was nothing else to call them. Waking up in the middle of the night with goosebumps, cold sweats, and a dry throat. Severus paced, tried to shake the images, but it was futile--he knew the images racing through his mind added up to a memory, not a dream. Dreams weren't real.
Calming draughts no longer worked. He'd used them far too much lately and was building up an immunity, so he settled for the only comfort he had left and poured himself a portion of fire whiskey, which he forced down his throat in one large gulp before slamming the glass down and settling back against the mattress in hopes he might manage to fall asleep again before morning. He knew it didn't really matter either way--the memories were always with him these days, but if he could manage to get at least a bit of rest, perhaps it would help his frayed nerves.
He briefly entertained the thought of waking suddenly to find that the bitter reality he was faced with was in fact the dream, but knew he wasn't that lucky. His body was really betraying him, and there was only one possible cause.
Fourteen Years Earlier:
The floating candles were pretty, Severus Snape thought dimly. It must have been Lily's idea. An irreverent arsehole like James Potter, surely, wouldn't think of something so elegant. His gaze dimly followed them around the room. Sirius Black was, as usual, surrounded by women and flirting equally with all of the pretty ones. Bastard. If there was anyone he hated more than James, it would be Sirius. But James is the one who stole Lily, so he got to sit on the lofty altar of hatred. Severus wasn't a fool. He knew where his priorities were. The first was Lily. In order to keep what little shard of friendship they had left between them, he'd accepted the invitation to her wedding. Well, he supposed there was a small part of him that felt vindicated by the fact he knew James probably hated that he was there, but right now, dancing with Lily, he was sure that neither James nor Lily were giving him much thought. Which, evidently, left him keeping the bartender busy and watching the dancing lights.
"Mind if I join you?"
Severus startled. He wasn't usually so jumpy, but he'd lost track of how many drinks he'd had quite a while ago. "Oh, the third," he said blandly, downing the rest of his glass and slamming it down for another. His throat burned and his eyes were starting to blur. Right, the third member of the trio of idiots. Well, Lupin wasn't an idiot, but he was pretty sure he must still be a nuisance of he wouldn't be friends with the other two.
Remus sat beside him and told the bartender, "I'll have the same." His gaze shifted across the floor. Sirius was such a damned flirt. They were friends, but tonight was only a painful reminder that that's all they would ever be. He turned back to Severus. "So...nice party, huh?"
"What do you want, Lupin?" Snape spat, downing another fire whiskey.
Lupin gave him a sad smile. "I was hoping for some company, but apparently the feeling isn't mutual," he said, tilting the whiskey back.
Severus found himself staring as the werewolf's adam's apple bobbed when he swallowed. He blinked the blurriness from his vision and found it seemed sharper than usual as it traced the contours of Remus's jaw, the way he pursed his lips and wrinkled his brow as he put the glass down.
"...that tastes horrible," Lupin complained.
Severus found himself suddenly overcome by a short burst of laughter. It escaped before he could stop it. He shook his head and forced himself to regain a neutral expression. "After the second you hardly notice it."
Remus smiled at him. It was a strangely dazzling smile that could probably be blamed on the booze. "Well," he said, turning to the bartender, "give me a double, then. It would seem I have some catching up to do."
"Why are you here?" Snape blurted a few drinks later.
"Here at the wedding, or in the grander scheme?" Remus asked with a small chuckle. He was already starting to get a little tipsy, Snape could tell. He was glad he wasn't such a lightweight--except...somehow after a few drinks his vision blurred and his head started to feel heavy.
"Here at the bar," he slurred.
"I thought I was drowning my sorrows in some of the worst fire whiskey I've ever tasted."
"I'm sure Black would loan you one of his menagerie if you are looking for a distraction."
Remus's gaze trailed over to the gaggle of women Sirius had managed to accumulate and his gaze hardened. "Not to my tastes, thanks," he said, and Severus heard the bitterness in his tone. He watched the werewolf down another four fire whiskeys in quick succession.
"You and Black..."
"There is no me and Sirius," Remus answered blandly. "Hence the drowning of sorrows."
Snape didn't know what to say about that, so he settled for downing another whiskey. And then another after that. The more he drank the more it seemed that he and Lupin had quite a bit in common. They both wanted something they couldn't have. And the more he drank, strangely enough, the more attractive Remus Lupin became. If he really thought about it, the only thing he hated about Remus was his choice of friends. The fact that he also happened to be a werewolf--that was something he couldn't help. And there were potions that made it more bearable--he'd never tried to make one, but he'd read about them.
"Something on my face?" Remus asked when he realized Severus had been staring at him for quite some time. He blinked, finding himself entranced by a strand of hair that had fallen into Snape's eyes.
"Eyebrows," Snape answered even though it made no kind of logical sense. The fact that he wasn't passed out in a corner somewhere after all that booze made no logical sense either. "Eyes too. And a nose..."
Remus lost control of his right arm--at least he thought so. Suddenly it was reaching up and gently tucking that long hair behind his ear. He hadn't told it to do so, and he certainly didn't tell his thumb to start caressing Snape's jaw or his palm to rest on Snape's cheek.
"...lips..." Snape trailed off. Why was his pulse racing like this? He could barely seem to hear his own voice, but when Lupin spoke, it was like all the ambient noise in the room just disappeared.
"Do you...want to go somewhere?"
"Yes." The word came out of his mouth before Lupin's question ever really hit his brain. He just knew whatever he wanted, the answer was definitely 'yes'.
He put a handful of money on the counter, not even looking at it. He might have just given the bartender his life savings as a tip for all he knew, but as Remus took his hand and pulled him out of the ballroom it didn't seem to matter. The stumbled clumsily up the stairs and into the werewolf's hotel room exchanging sloppy kisses the entire way. It was nice, Snape thought, being kissed. He couldn't seem to get his mind on much other than kissing back or the heat that was rising in his groin. Remus was struggling clumsily with the fastenings of his robes.
"The other way," he rasped breathlessly, finding himself pawing blindly in kind.
"Right," Lupin gasped, finding Snape's fingers surprisingly nimble even with so much alcohol in his system. He shuddered as they came into contact with bare skin. They continued to fumble as they fell to the bed. Grasping. Moaning.
"Lupin, I've never..."
"It's fine," Remus answered as he straddled Snape's hips. "All you have to do is lay there. I'll do all the work. You still want to, right?"
Severus tried to clear his muddled thoughts, but it was hopeless. He'd had way too much to drink. "Do it," he rasped.
Overcome by the pleasure, Severus screamed.
Severus screamed. He sat up in a cold sweat and raked his fingers through his hair. His skin was clammy and his hands shook. His groin... he glanced at the clock and relented. He obviously wouldn't get any more sleep tonight and needed a cold shower. These dreams had to stop. It was going to be the death of him.
He never imagined that so many years later a drunken encounter would still haunt him this way. But then, he never imagined that Dumbledore would hire Remus Lupin to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, either.
He stripped down and let the cold water soak through to the chill in his bones. Lupin--the years had not been kind. He was always a little scruffy, but now? His robes were tattered, his hair unkempt. There were dark circles under his eyes. And in spite of those things, Severus found he still wanted him. One night so many years ago...and yet, Snape's body still reacted to his presence. And then there were the dreams, which hadn't left him alone since Dumbledore had told him he would have to make a potion to keep Lupin ... tame.
He had a feeling that losing his mind would probably feel rather similar to this.
He shivered as he turned off the faucet and wrapped a towel around his waist. Merlin, he was freezing. Pants. Robes. The days were getting cold and the dungeons were bitter. Cold showers weren't helping. And there was this annoying voice in the back of his mind that kept telling him that Remus had probably all but forgotten such a seemingly trivial thing.
...so why hadn't he? And for that matter, who the hell was knocking on his door at quarter to six in the morning?
"What?" he barked, swinging the door open. He regretted it instantly when he saw the man he'd just been obsessing over blinking back at him.
"Oh, good, you're up," Lupin said at last. "I was worried I might wake you."
Snape pulled the door open and nodded roughly inside. "What do you need, Lupin?"
"...I've been having trouble sleeping," he said, eyes wandering the room to purposefully.
'You and me both,' Severus thought. "Bad dreams?" he asked.
"No," Remus answered. "That's not it, exactly. I suppose my mind has been a bit over-occupied."
"That's understandable, given current circumstances. Have you tried any calming potions?"
"Oh, it's not about that," Remus answered, but then shifted, as if he regretted saying so. He gave Severus a sheepish smile. "I didn't want to try anything without consulting you first, because of the other potion."
"A calming draught should be harmless enough," Severus answered. "I have some on hand. Give me a moment." Now Snape's mind was racing again. What could keep a person up at night when dementors and Black having escaped Azkaban couldn't? Well, Severus knew one thing, but he doubted Lupin was having the same troubles. He opened the drawer of his desk and pulled out a vial.
"You've quite a lot of it, don't you?"
Snape jumped a bit. Why did this man insist on moving in complete silence all the time? "...with the dementors on campus it is in high demand," he said. True, but that was the stock he made for the infirmary, and this was his own personal stock. Lupin didn't need to know that small detail. He turned and put the vial in Remus's outstretched hand, but when he tried to take the hand away, Remus grabbed it. "What?" Severus asked defensively.
"I'm not a fool, Severus. I know you've been avoiding me."
'Crap.' "That's nonsense. Some of us are busy with working, while others are playing with strange creatures all day." Getting defensive should ward Lupin off the subject.
No such luck. "I also know you can hold a grudge better than any man I know. Is it still about the incident at the Shrieking Shack? You do know I didn't know about that, right?"
"Don't be ridiculous. We were children. How petty do you think I am?" he snapped. "Let go of me."
"I see. That's what I was afraid of, " Lupin said as if Snape had just confirmed a suspicion for him. "Then it's about the wedding. I took advantage of you." Really, it had worked both ways--Remus had been thinking of Sirius and Snape had been thinking of Lily, but technicalities didn't matter. "I am truly sorry for that. A person, I suppose, can't help but succumb to their own weaknesses from time to time."
"Do shut up, Remus," Severus sighed. "You're blowing things way out of proportion. We were young and incredibly drunk. Do you honestly think I'm still pathetic enough to be dwelling on something so trivial?" Snape chose to ignore the fact that, yes, he actually was that pathetic. It wasn't that his first time was a drunken, sloppy experience with a person who had no romantic inclinations towards him whatsoever. No, the bitter pill was that, in spite of everything, looking at Remus Lupin and how the passage of time had battered him, Severus still wanted to relive the experience (though perhaps sober this time) very badly. It wasn't love, surely, but the basic chemical reaction was there.
"Right," Lupin said as if Snape's answer disappointed him. He let go of the hand and took the potion. "Well then, thanks for this," he said, lifting the vial blandly before tucking it into his pocket as he turned for the door. He paused when his hand was mere centimeters from the knob and turned, as if caught by surprise.
Snape quirked a brow at him.
"Me?" Severus asked impatiently.
"It's just, you've never called me Remus before."
Snape's dark eyes widened. "A slip of the tongue. Blame it on being disturbed before dawn. It won't happen again." He was relieved that his tone was just as biting as always and that he managed that reply after only the slightest delay.
But Lupin started to chuckle. "I've heard you're a brilliant occlumens, but seeing it first hand is rather a treat," he stated.
"You're more exhausted than I thought. What nonsense are you babbling about now?"
"Oh, I'm sure it's nothing," Remus answered, lips curling into a faint smirk. "Such high walls," he mused, rocking from heel to toe and back again. "...I imagine I'll need a bit of rope."
"Yes, well, try not to hang yourself with it." Snape honestly hadn't the faintest idea what they were talking about now, but he thought the quicker he grudgingly agreed, the sooner the conversation would end.
He was right, to a fashion. Lupin pulled him forward rather suddenly, wrapped an arm about his waist, and rather unceremoniously kissed him on the lips. Fillibuster Fireworks seemed to explode cacophonously inside of his brain and he found his own lips responding(much to his chagrin), his hands curling into the other man's tattered robes. And as soon as it started, it had ended. Remus stared at him for a long moment, and then left without a word.
Severus flopped onto his bed, demanding his pulse return to a normal pattern, and touched his lips gingerly. Damn him. 'I was wrong about him. He's more diabolical than his two idiot friends put together,' he thought.