A/N: I lied when I said that was the last A/N I was going to give haha. I couldn't insert this one without disrupting the chronology of the original story, since I really wanted this to happen during Christmas, so here, have it as a special treat and my (very) advanced Merry Christmas to all of you. My explanation for this is that I believe when Snape loves, he loves with all his being, so... :')
Also, I reckon WL will have a short sequel in the near future. ;) Again, thank you all so much! :) *loves*
Hogwarts, Remus knew, was a lonely place to be in during Christmas vacation. Without the noise, cheerful chatter of students and the bustle of activity, Hogwarts transformed from a magical place of wonder into an old castle that was just way too big and spacious.
He had spent his holidays as a student alone in this castle. Decades later, the thought that he was still going to spend it in pretty much the same fashion made something in him ache.
He wondered how everything ended up like this. His immediate family was all gone, he was the only one left of the Marauders, and he was hopelessly in love with someone who was also hopelessly in love with someone who had been dead for eighteen years.
As a teenager, he had hopes that what they said about werewolves growing old alone was false. Now, he was actually starting to believe it.
Harry was the only thing that made him feel like he still had purpose in this world. He was going to take care of Harry for as long as there was breath in him. For James, for Lily, for Sirius.
It was the 24th of December. He had a quarter of an hour left until the clock rings twelve and the world rejoices for Christmas Day. He had to finish fixing his papers in his office by then and Floo to Grimmauld to welcome the 25th with the Weasleys, Harry, and Draco.
It had taken quite a bit of persuasion to convince Harry that he was part of the Weasley family now and was required (as Ginny had said, using Molly's words in her letters) to be present in all family events, gatherings and celebrations. Convincing Draco of the same, of course, proved to be harder. He still felt guilty about his father's crimes against the Weasleys, as well as the Dark Mark on his arm.
During the train ride towards Platform 9 ¾, as he sat beside Harry and across from Ron, he had tried to stammer his way out of spending the holidays with the Weasleys, despite having no one to spend it with in the Manor, but Ron merely rolled his eyes and said, "Mum has required you to attend all family events, gatherings, and celebrations. You're not going to get back to Hogwarts alive if you cross Mum."
Draco shut up because yes, he was pretty sure he really wasn't going to get back to Hogwarts alive if he crossed Molly Weasley, because Ron Weasley was actually welcoming him into his family, and also because Harry had thrown his arms around his waist, buried his face in his shoulder and was laughing unrepentantly.
Of course, Ron did have the time of his life snickering at the thought of Draco Malfoy being a Weasley, but upon their arrival at the station, when Molly Weasley fussed over Draco's weight upon his arrival and Arthur Weasley patted his shoulder like he had done Ron's, no one was laughing. All of them were grinning though. (Except for Draco, who was blushing like a newborn baby.)
Draco Malfoy was good for Harry, Remus supposed. They made a good pair. He was almost jealous.
He smiled to himself. Jealous of eighteen-year-old boys loving each other.
It was a testament to how sad he had lived his life.
He looked at his watch and inwardly cursed when he saw that he only had ten minutes left until midnight. He glanced at his desk, still littered with columns of papers and wondered if he could come back here tomorrow instead.
"Are you actually working on the eve of Christmas?"
A voice by the doorway shook him from his thoughts. He thought that Snape had left for Grimmauld Place hours ago.
Convincing Snape to join them for Christmas was surprisingly easy, but also not considering they had Draco on their side. Remus had been happy to hear the news of Snape's approval and at the thought of spending Christmas together, even though he had taken to subtly avoiding the man ever since Snape had admitted hiding the true form of Patronus from him.
"You can go on ahead, Severus," Remus muttered distractedly, not looking up as he placed one column on top of another. "I'll just be a few more minutes."
"You can do that tomorrow."
"I know," Remus said, sighing morosely. "But I've started and I never was one to stop with things halfway through. I won't get sleep over it."
"Have you been avoiding me?"
Remus' head shot up.
Snape was in front of his desk now and he suddenly found his hands going clammy. "Of course not," he said automatically, swallowing down his nervousness.
Snape frowned down at him. "You barely speak to me in the Great Hall. The only time you go to me of your own accord is on the day before the full moon when you need the Wolfsbane Potion. And you've ceased to visit me in my office."
Remus heard his own voice as if it was not his own. "I've just been busy, that's all. And I thought you might not appreciate me disturbing your work."
"Have I recently done or said something that told you I find you a disturbance?" Snape's tone almost sounded challenging.
But Remus' heart, damn the thing, was actually beating faster because Snape actually wanted him to speak to him in the Great Hall and visit him in his office. Remus was having a hard time remembering what kind of papers he was holding and to which column they should go to. What he could easily remember, however, was their last lengthy conversation about Patronuses.
Months of licking his wounds and yearning to be near this man while knowing that he didn't have a chance had Remus blurting out his next words before he could properly think them through. "You hid your true Patronus from me. I thought… I thought you might still hold a bit of animosity towards me."
A look of confusion marred Snape's face as he tried to remember the conversation. Disbelief followed next as he realized just when the conversation had occurred. "That was two months ago."
Remus' face colored.
Snape opened his mouth to speak, only to close it again as he thought of how to word his reply better. He shook his head, still disbelieving. "You've been thinking about that until now?"
Remus put the papers hand down to whichever column was nearest. He'd fix them tomorrow. He just needed something to do to give himself an excuse not to look at Snape's face.
"Unbelievable." He heard Snape mutter and felt a sudden prickle of annoyance. He had spent the last two months dramatizing and agonizing over it and all Snape could say was unbelievable. Of course. Snape wouldn't understand. He wasn't the one in love.
"I'm done," he announced, although the clutter on his desk could tell anyone that he wasn't. He grabbed the robes that was thrown over his chair and put it on while mumbling, "We should get going. We're going to miss the fireworks."
He glanced at Snape's face long enough to nudge towards the door with his head and then he was walking past the other man towards the exit.
In reply, Snape softly said, "Expecto Patronum."
Remus froze. He turned around abruptly, just in time to see a silver wisp of magic seep from Snape's wand, curling upon itself and morphing to form the shape of a –
Remus' breath hitched and his eyes widened.
"Oh," he said, breathless.
The wolf, stoic and standing proud, stared at him with silver eyes.
"Oh," Remus said again. This time, it sounded a little teary.
Wordlessly, Snape let his Patronus disappear into thin air and Remus' gaze traveled upwards to look at Snape. The man's usually pale pallor now held a bit of color, but Snape met his gaze head on. Both made Remus smile.
All of a sudden, the cold in his fingertips was gone and the tightness in his chest that he hadn't even realized had been there in the first place loosened. His eyes felt warm.
"I'll talk to you in the Great Hall," he started softly. "And I'll visit you more often in your office. Every day. If that's…" he trailed off, licking his lips nervously. "If that's alright with you."
For moments, they stood in the middle of his office with a considerable amount of space between them, just staring at each other.
And then… Snape's shoulders relaxed and he nodded. "Better," he said quietly. He started to walk and Remus fell in step with him as they walked towards the door and into the hallway.
Remus felt the butterflies in his stomach fluttering about restlessly. Every time he closed his eyes, he'd see that beautiful silver wolf looking back at him and it made his breath stop. When he opened his eyes, the darkness of the corridor greeted him, but somehow, with Snape walking beside him, Hogwarts suddenly didn't seem so big and cold anymore.
"Happy Christmas, Severus," he murmured lightheartedly.
Snape gave a hum of acknowledgment and turned the corner. As he did so, Remus most definitely did not miss the smile that curved Snape's lips.
He had a feeling this was going to be one very memorable Christmas.