Severus Snape kept his eyes focused intently on the window, eyes focusing and un-focusing as rain spattered violently upon it, trying to get to the not-yet retired Potion's Master through the thick glass.

So persistent.

Ever present was the rain. Trying to punish him, for everything. Attempting to make him cold, colder than ever, trying to remind him of everything he didn't want to remember.

He saw the Dark Lord behind his open eyelids, an image burned there forever. The picture of a nightmare, wherein you run, and you run, and you run...You can't escape it, though. You can never really escape it.

He saw Lucius Malfoy, as he slaughtered and bowed and kissed the hems of their Master, begging to be praised, begging to be acknowledged. Begging to be something more than mortal, more than wizard, more than Death Eater...More than just a caged bird, faced with the inevitable choice of singing or having it's throat slit.

He saw the youngest Malfoy-the boy named Draco. Not an uncommon name, nor was it unfitting, and it was anything but unusual. He was certainly a Malfoy, indeed. Pompous until the bitter end, Severus had surmised. He hadn't the idea yet, as to whether he was correct or not. He didn't truly care, regardless, of the future of the child who had so willingly thrown himself to the Dark Lord.

He saw Lily. Lily Evans. Lily Potter. Lily, Lily, Lily. The Gryffindor beauty, in all of her joy...in all of her hurt...in all of her shame...Her death. Who had he been? He, the Half-Blood Prince. The Muggle-Fathered Snape. To call himself a friend. To curse her with his love. Disgusting. What had he done for her in the end? Insulted her? Abandoned her?...Killed her?

Of course.

And finally, Severus saw Remus Lupin. Cut from the same cloth, Remus and he. Half-Blood; Half-Wolf. Half-Hearted; Half-Baked.

But, no...No, that wasn't right.

It was shameful to even try to compare. There was so much more than that to Remus Lupin. So much beyond a curse. Beyond a wolf. And, gods damn it all, he did not want to see Remus there, behind those un-closing eyes.

He gritted his teeth, eyes falling down to his crossed arms; scars adorning them in what was a strangely artistic manner. The Dark Lord had always been very hands-on with punishments, you know, and magical healing had been strictly prohibited. Even to this day, Severus couldn't make himself get rid of the markings.

Why should he have the honor of peace of mind, after what he'd done? He required these...reminders. Constantly.

If he lacked them...

Severus Snape laughed bitterly, an unpleasant sound that would've made even a...would've even made the Weasley...twin...drop his smile immediately.

If he lacked the reminders, oh my, he might begin to believe he deserved something better than what he'd managed to carve out for himself out of the wreckage. He might think he deserved more than a castle of sand within this village of kings.

He might even, the pompous bastard that he was, believe one day that he actually deserved to see more of Remus Lupin.

And, God-willing, he couldn't let that happen.

A cheery tapping on his door ripped his attention away from the unforgiving liquid falling from over-emotional clouds. He could see the childish grin that would die on wind-chilled, chapped lips before he even let the man in.

Severus didn't look over, his eyes glazing over, "Lupin." He acknowledged, flicking his wrist as the door opened with his will.

"Sev." The voice was strained with fading enthusiasm, as Severus had been so sure it would. Remus wasn't stupid. He always, always knew when Severus was in the worst of moods. He never treated him poorly, as he so very well should have, but he always knew. "You alright, Sev?"

Severus would've snorted, snapping out some sort of derisive dismissal had this been another day. A better day.

But, it was raining outside, and Severus could see his scars, and no days would ever be better than miserable, because that was what Severus Snape the spy, and the cheat, and the murderer deserved, right?

Right.

And what more could be said of that? Even the gods were sobbing on days like these with their sheer, well-earned disappointment. Severus held no grudge. Who could blame them, after all?

Who wouldn't be disappointed in the Killer-Who-Lived?

You should've died with Voldemort.

"Excellent." He quipped-a tad too dully and a little too shortly; his voice too worn to be believed, "I am excellent. What of yourself, Lupin?"

Severus heard the werewolf uncomfortably shift behind him; debating what actions might make a change, "Severus, what's wrong?" There was no reason to ask. The answer was always the same silence, the same noncompliance. He didn't want anyone's help. He didn't deserve comfort. Remus would see someday. Remus would stop coming around, and Severus could wither away in his chair as the rain scolded him for everything he'd ever done wrong.

He could die remembering.

"Nothing."

He'd like that, Remus;

"Liar."

Dying.

"And here I thought you'd never notice?"

But, you've guessed as much.

"Severus Snape, talk to me. Please, don't be stubborn..."

If he said please, would you let him?

"I was under the impression I was talking to you, Lupin."

He never says please, Remus.

"Sev..."

Wouldn't you like that?

"Lupin."

Severus didn't, however, hear the shuffling as Remus crossed the room. He must have, as suddenly there were two strong, calloused hands on his shoulders; massaging them carefully. Remus' every movement seemed deliberately measured, as if having been planned with perfection: practiced for centuries. His voice was suddenly in the Potions Master's ear; rhythmic as always, soft as ever. Telling him everything he didn't want to hear.

"It's not your fault."

And there it was. The words hung in the air, thick and heavy, like an impenetrable wall.

Damn him.

"Liar." Severus lacked any actual conviction, any real interest in his argument. He knew it was his fault. His fault Lily and Albus and Fred and Nymphadora and Alastor and any and everyone else who'd ever been touched by the damned Dark Lord were dead now.

And he, Severus Snape, the Right-Hand-Spy, the First-Class-Liar, the Survivor-Who-Killed, had the shameless audacity to remain in the country.

In the continent.

On the planet.

Alive.

Remus' hands kept steady, a slightly-stubbled chin locating itself atop Severus' obsidian head, "You can't believe that, Sev. Not really." His voice was barely above a whisper. It reminded him of Lily's voice, when she was in one of her moods. Back when she used to try to protect him from the world. Back when she used to choose him over James Potter, every time. Persistent as hell, the both of them. Always had faith in Hogwarts' Greatest Failure.

But, Remus persisted beyond Lily.

There was no James. There never had been. There was no doubt. No shame. No insult would deter the man.

Remus Lupin was perfection.

Damn him.

"I can. I do. Drop it, Lupin." Through tightly closed eyes that filtered through every negative contribution he'd ever made to the world, Severus swore he saw Remus smile in half-triumph. He knew better, through. Because Severus Snape wasn't begging. He wasn't even close to being convinced of his own innocence.

Really.

"I don't think I will, Snape. See? I can use surnames just as well as you." The hands that had been massaging his shoulders now took to threading thoughtfully through his lank, dull locks. "You're not at fault-not for any of it, I hope you're aware. It never was your fault." Remus' voice held a note of melancholy that Severus was in no mood to acknowledge. Regret on his own behalf? Hah. "You're a hero, Severus. We couldn't have ended the war-we couldn't have won it without y-" Snape couldn't even let him finish.

It wasn't right.

"You're a goddamned liar, Remus, and I'd surely appreciate it if you'd kindly shut up." Severus snapped, suddenly on the offense. He couldn't tell you why he was so upset, if you'd take a moment to ask.

He didn't understand it, himself.

Yet, as Severus looked up into the ex-professor's face, he found it softer than before, "You called me Remus." The voice was filled with all the triumph and childishness Severus had come to expect from the man,.

And, for some reason, this made Severus even angrier.

"Shut your mouth, Remus, I know goddamn well what I called you." Remus, somehow more encouraged than ever, seemed to hold onto the smaller man tighter, his arms slithering down from his shoulders and rubbing slow, calm circles on Severus' chest.

Severus growled, though he'd never in his life say he was desperate for anything. Must have been that Slytherin pride. "No, as a matter of fact, it is obviously far too much to ask you to shut your idiot maw, so, in the stead of such a favor, will you leave my presence-at the very least?"

Remus' response to this was just as immediate as it was infuriating:

"I love you."

And, where was there to go from such a point?

Those three words would never, ever accustom themselves to Severus' ears. Surely they had gotten lost in translation. No one would ever suggest they loved the Turncoat-Villain-Turned-Hero.

No one but Remus Lupin, of course.

In all his life, no one but Remus Lupin. The persistent bastard...

What was Severus to do but give in? Just for now...the sun was even coming out.

"Is that so?" he sighed, leaning back into Remus, trying not seem as utterly defeated as he was.

You could feel the atmosphere lighten as the arms around him soften in glee, "Mhm. Exactly so, in fact." Remus quipped cheerily, knowing he'd won, and doing nothing in attempt to hide it. "And...?"

Severus snorted, closing his eyes. "And I love you, too." he intoned dully, fighting to keep his spirits from rising, and failing miserably as he listened to the outrageously stubborn man he called a lover hum with happiness.

Damn him.

-oOo-

[A/N: Urgh. Wow. More of this.]