Actions

Work Header

Regrets and Rewards

Chapter Text

"I h-hate s-swimming," Remus grouched through chattering teeth as he hauled himself out of the freezing seawater and onto the equally cold and wet rocks of the cave floor. Next to him Severus did the same and the both of them lay there for a moment, catching their breath and spitting out water. Only the messenger bag slung across Severus' body, heavily charmed to protect it from anything they came across, remained dry. The vision in Remus' false left eye—not as obnoxious as the big blue one that Mad-Eye Moody wore, but also only capable of seeing normally as opposed to through solid objects—was blurry and beginning to itch.

Eventually, Severus grunted and got to his feet. "I'm not surprised. It makes you smell like wet dog."

Remus scowled, hauling himself up as well. "At least I don't look like a drowned rat."

Severus' response was to draw his wand and cast a charm that extracted all the water from his soaked clothes and send it flying at Remus, who swore at him. Severus merely smirked, turning away as Remus drew his own wand and cast a simple drying charm while Severus inspected the wall, frowning and running his hands over it, occasionally tapping his wand and muttering spells. Remus said nothing, taking the moment to pop out his false eye and blast it in salt-free water with Aquamenti. Snape would offer no information until Remus asked, but he would only tell Remus to be quiet if Remus asked right now, so he struck his eye back in, blinked a couple of times to settle it in place, and waited.

Eventually Severus stepped back, stared at the wall for a moment, frowning heavily, then gave an irritable sigh, dug into his bag and pulled out a pen knife. Without flinching and before Remus could open his mouth to ask what he was doing, he shook his sleeve back and sliced a shallow cut into the back of his arm.

"Severus!"

Severus ignored him, lifting his arm to smear his blood against the stone. As soon as he pulled his arm away, a blazing silver outline of an archway appeared in the rock face and the stone almost seemed to melt away, leaving a large opening in the wall.

"Positively crude," Severus said disdainfully as he tapped his wand to his arm and healed the cut.

"Really, Severus?" Remus said dryly.

"Well it is," Severus replied shortly. "Honestly, blood to gain entry. Not even a great amount—I might understand it if it needed a body's worth, or even a couple of pints, but it just wanted a splash. I've shed more blood for potions than I did just then."

"I thought blood was only used in dark potions," Remus remarked as Severus lit his wand and peered through the entryway to the cavern beyond.

"It is," he said distractedly, and Remus figured he shouldn't be surprised Severus had been brewing dark, blood based potions. This was a man who'd joined the Death Eaters after all.

They entered the cavern and found themselves looking over a vast, underground lake, dimly lit by a greenish glow coming from somewhere in the centre. They approached the edge of the lake and Remus peered into the perfectly still water, but there was nothing to see here and further in he couldn't see past the reflection of the green light. He could, however, smell death.

"No surprise," Severus murmured when Remus mentioned it. "He likes using Inferi for guard dogs. Don't touch the water."

As if Remus needed telling that.

They moved around the lake, Remus once again remaining quiet as Severus moved slowly, wand drifting from side to side and brow furrowed with concentration. Eventually he stopped at a section of cave that looked no different to the rest, at least as far as Remus could tell.

"Here."

"What about here?" Remus asked, but Severus didn't answer, just flicked his wand in an almost lazy motion and a coppery green chain appeared. A tap of his wand to the metal and, with barely a ripple to disturb the water, a boat rose out of the depths. A very small boat.

"We're not going to both fit on that," Remus pointed out as Severus crouched, careful not to touch the water as he inspected the boat before agreeing, "No, we won't. Even if it was bigger we couldn't—it detects magic. It could be the size of the Titanic and still sink the moment two adult wizards set foot on it."

He sighed, straightening up again and squinting slightly at the green glow coming from the middle of the lake.

"Which means if only one of us went over to fetch the Horcrux, we probably wouldn't survive alone."

"So how do we get both of us across? One at a time?"

"I think that'll work."

"You think?"

Severus shrugged. "This is the Dark Lord's hidey-hole. There could be traps and tricks I can't detect, but logically I don't think he'd spell the boat to take a person over and not return empty. He would need the boat able to return in the event someone other than him got as far as whatever's in the middle of the lake and then died there, as he expects them to. He's arrogant enough to think that no one would succeed in making a return trip."

Remus nodded. "Do you want me to go first?"

Severus frowned, looking like he did, but he shook his head. "You're not that good at detection. I'll go first and figure out what to expect on the other side while you make your way over. I'll send my Patronus over when I've reached it so you know when to call the boat; just tap the chain."

"Alright. But I'd better not arrive to find you dead."

Severus' only response to that was a haughty glance that said Remus would find him fighting, but never dead, and Remus found it warmly encouraging. He watched Severus climb into the boat, which barely dipped under his weight, then he set out across the water, Remus' sharp gaze following anxiously. It didn't take long before he became just a small dot of light and it was almost ten minutes before light flared and shot towards Remus. It coalesced into a silvery doe that'd become familiar in past months, and he wasted no time in tapping his wand to the chain rising out of the water. Despite the time it took Severus to cross, the boat was back before Remus within a minute, though it left no wake in the water and created only small ripples that disappeared almost immediately.

The trip across was uneventful yet tense. Remus tried to ignore the eerie faces beneath the water, staring dead-eyed up at him, and not for the first time cursed his werewolf sense of smell, which could easily distinguish the stench of death and decay despite the bodies being submerged.

The boat coasted to a halt at the edge of a flat stone island in the middle of the lake and Remus was quick to climb out. It was bare save for a stone pedestal in the middle which held a stone basin filled with phosphorous green liquid. Severus was bent over it, scowling heavily.

"Dare I ask?" Remus said, approaching.

"Not poison," Severus replied. "At least, not an immediately lethal one."

"That's encouraging," Remus said dryly. "What is it then?"

"Watch."

To Remus surprise, Severus pushed his fingers towards the potion, but it seemed to be guarded by an invisible barrier. "Can't be touched," Severus informed him somewhat unnecessarily. "Can't be parted, transfigured, charmed, vanished—anything. But—" He flicked his wand and conjured a simple goblet and when he scooped it through the potion, it passed easily to leave the goblet full of liquid.

"Unfortunately..." he added and tipped the goblet, pouring the liquid on the ground. Before it hit it, the liquid vanished and there was splash. Remus' gaze snapped back to the basin to see the level rise back to what it had been before Severus scooped some out.

"An incredibly complex and powerful charm," Severus concluded. "It would take me days of uninterrupted work to break it and I don't think they would let us stay that long unmolested," he said with a jerk of his head towards the lake.

"So it has to be drunk."

Severus nodded.

"Do you know what it is?"

"I can only guess. The charm leaves it equally untouchable by other liquids so I can't test it. Going on appearance and smell, my best estimate would be the Waking Nightmare Tincture, but there's a few others it could be, none of them pleasant."

"Didn't think they would be," Remus sighed. "So, flip a coin?"

Severus glanced at him, something like wariness and apology in his expression.

"Severus?"

"How much in your life do you regret, Lupin?" he asked quietly.

"I... there are... why do you ask?"

"The Waking Nightmare Tincture makes the drinker remember everything they regret—everything they've done that gives them nightmares, the things that disturb a man's sleep. It doesn't have an antidote, but if you drink a full dose—" he gestured to the basin "—then the effects pass. But the more you drink, the more your regret is amplified and the less you want to drink. They aren't many who have few enough regrets and great enough inner strength to make themselves drink the lot."

Remus looked at the potion, the phosphorous green glow seeming even more menacing now that he knew what the liquid did.

"You don't think you can drink it all."

"I would expect you to make me," Severus replied simply. "We've got a task and we've both agreed to do whatever it takes to complete that task, but..." His gaze dropped to the potion and his voice lowered slightly as he continued, "Regret makes men do terrible things, Lupin, and I've..." He struggled for words before eventually lifting his gaze back up to meet Remus' and saying, "I will drink it, but only if you're sure you can stop me from doing anything... stupid."

Remus didn't understand at first what Severus was hinting at, but he noticed Severus' gaze slip towards the water and understanding hit him with horror.

"You think you might attempt to kill yourself? Then no!" he snapped, sharper than he meant, and snatched the goblet from Severus. "I'll drink it. There's nothing in my life I regret that badly."

And before Severus could say anything else, Remus slipped the goblet into the potion, scooped it up, and gulped it down. It tasted like dirty water and he swallowed it with a shudder, then gasped, clutching the goblet tightly in his hand and squeezing his eyes shut as a twinge of pain sparked through his head.

The Shrieking Shack, wood and dirt and left over scents of dog and stag and rat and human, but nothing and no one for him to rip and tear and eat

But then a sound and human smell, familiar, of potions and sex and boy, and he wanted blood so he left, charging out and there! human and smelling of fear and terror, but before he could reach it to bite and feed, another familiar human, the distinct smell of stag enough to make him pause, confused, but then he just focused on humanhumanhuman

Remus forced his eyes open, trying to ignore the memory as he dipped the goblet back into the potion and lifted it to his mouth again. He didn't often have clear memories of his time as a wolf, mostly just faint images and half-remembered smells, but there were some that stayed with him and that time in his sixth year was one of them.

He knew it wasn't his fault, lying in the hospital wing the morning after with James' explanation rattling around his head. He knew, logically, that it was Sirius' fault, stupid stupid Sirius, but that didn't ease the guilt of knowing that he'd almost eaten his lover.

It was a struggle to drink a third dose of the potion, feeling guilt and regret burning through him and knowing it would only bring more. He was aware of his hand shaking as he lifted it and he hesitated with it held to his lips, but a glimpse at Severus' face gave him just enough courage to gulp it down.

Sitting at the breakfast bar of Sirius and Harry's flat, drinking tea and laughing at old stories of the Marauders that Sirius regaled him and Harry with. Harry's smile wasn't as bright as it should be, but Remus didn't notice. He didn't notice the looks Sirius gave the boy, or the way Harry flinched away from Sirius' touch, and he didn't push it when Harry opened his mouth to speak but closed it again without saying anything.

"No..." he heard himself gasp, only half aware of sliding down to the stone floor and the goblet slipping from his fingers. "No... please... I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

"Lupin?"

He blinked at Severus, feeling tears fill his eyes, and clutched at the man's arm. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."

"You need to drink, Lupin."

Severus held the goblet to his mouth, but he twisted his head away. He didn't want to, he didn't want to feel this regret anymore, he just wanted it to stop.

But Severus grabbed his hair, firm but not painful, and held his head in place as he forced the rim of the goblet between his lips. "Drink it, Lupin, you'll feel better afterwards."

Yes, yes that was right. Severus had said it would pass when he drank.

But not immediately, he remembered only after gulping down the gross concoction. He couldn't do this anymore, he couldn't. He didn't want to feel like this. He was a horrible, horrible person and he didn't deserve to live, and he wanted this feeling to go away.

"Lupin—Lupin, come on, drink."

"No... please, make it stop... don't want—"

Severus merely shoved the goblet between his protesting lips and Remus gulped instinctively to avoid choking.

As soon as he had, he screamed. He couldn't bare this. How had he lived so long as such a terrible person? How had he overlooked the pain Sirius inflicted on Harry? How had he not noticed the cruelty in his oldest friend? He should have known when Sirius kept coming up with the nastiest pranks, should have seen it when Sirius sent defenceless Severus into the lair of a werewolf, should have realised that Harry was not safe with a man who'd spent twelve years in Azkaban.

Severus was back and Remus shook his head violently, knowing he wanted him to drink more of the potion. "No... I won't... I don't want to, don't make me..."

But once again Severus forced the liquid on him. It didn't occur to Remus to spit it out. He swallowed it down and wailed as the despair washed over him. He should have been killed years ago—the day he'd been bitten. He was an awful person, a monster, and he never should have been allowed to grow up. He was an animal and he should have been put down before he ever transformed the first time, to save his parents the stress and fear and worry of having a werewolf for a son, to save society from having to put up with a monster, to save Dumbledore the trouble of schooling someone that didn't deserve an education.

"Lupin—Lupin, open you mouth. Just drink, it'll get better, I promise."

"Kill me," he begged, feeling tears spill down his face and clutching at Severus' black sleeves, staring at him imploringly. "Kill me, I don't deserve to live..."

"You're talking crap, Lupin. Just drink it."

"No! No, kill me, please... please... anything but that, just kill me... get it over with..."

Severus didn't. More foul liquid, more regret, but now there was fear to go with it and Remus could see them—his parents, faces aged early from stress; Severus, sixteen years old and terrified of the monster that Remus was; Harry, fourteen and huddled in on himself because Remus hadn't seen that he was hurting. He cowered away from them, certain that they would hurt him and afraid, but at the same time wishing they'd get it done with and kill him already.

He squeezed his eyes shut when Severus, the real Severus, brought another gobletful of potion, but obeyed his orders to open his mouth and drink. He regretted it the moment he swallowed, wrenching himself away to throw himself upon the ground, screaming with pure despair and self-hatred, trying to drown out the noise of his parents and Harry and Severus yelling at him about how terrible of a person he is.

"KILL ME! Just put me down, I don't deserve to live!"

"Yes, you do, Remus. We're almost done. Drink it."

He didn't want to, he didn't he didn't he didn't, but there was already liquid in his mouth and he had to swallow. This couldn't possibly get any worse. He was barely even aware of himself screaming for release, smothered by regret and guilt and loathing for himself. He wanted it to stop—he needed it to stop, he couldn't live with this and if Severus didn't put him down soon then Remus was damn well going to do it himself.

"Last one, Remus. C'mon, this is the last one, I swear."

He hoped it killed him. It was the only reason he drank it, because he deserved to be put down and he thought that another dose of this potion might do the job. And for a moment he really did think it had. There was pain so cold and sharp that he couldn't scream, just gasped in a hissing breath as he thought suddenly, with perfectly clarity, I don't want to die, and then there was darkness.

* * *

It didn't last long. He woke to a sharp slap to the face.

"Remus, damnit, wake the fuck up!"

He took a shuddering breath, coughed weakly, and fluttered his eyelids open to see Severus' figure hovering over him. He was desperate for something to drink, mouth drier than the few times he'd woke with a hangover, and he tried to ask for water but he wasn't sure if he managed to gasp the word out. Whether he did or not, Severus provided what he wanted, curling a hand around the back of his neck to lift him into a half sitting position while his other hand lifted a bottle to Remus' lips.

But nothing came out of it.

"What? But that was—blast it. Aquamenti!"

Where deserts this dry? Remus hadn't felt this bad in ages. Even the full moon didn't leave him feeling so dehydrated and weak.

"Water," he gasped. "Please..."

"I'm trying. Aquamenti!"

He really did feel quite terrible. He couldn't keep his eyes open and his chest hurt with every shallow breath.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me..." he heard Severus mutter then felt himself gently set back down. He heard himself moan slightly at the loss of a warm hand at his neck and the reassuring presence of Severus at his side, but didn't have the energy to do more than that.

There was a moment when he thought Severus had abandoned him. He couldn't hear him and although he managed to open his eyes he couldn't find the energy to look around for him, and he was terrified that Severus had finally realised what the potion had showed Remus and he'd abandoned his worthless, monster self on this godforsaken rock, and for that brief moment he thought maybe he deserved it.

And then heat and light burst around him, which he really didn't appreciate at that moment, but then Severus was back at his side, glowing orange in the flickering firelight. He lifted Remus up again and brought a bottle of water to his mouth, tilting it a bit too fast and high so some of it spilled down Remus' chin, but enough got in his mouth for him to gulp down desperately.

"Quickly," Severus urged. Remus was more than happy to oblige, drinking fast enough to make himself choke. Severus took the empty bottle away and jerked him up into a full sitting position, whacking him on the back a few times which didn't really help. "Come on, up. Time to go."

Remus couldn't really object. Severus was already hauling him to his feet, half dragging him over to the boat and almost shoving him into it. Remus staggered, dropping into it, and felt his head spin as it started to move. He was surrounded by a circle of fire and was a good twenty feet from the rock before he realised that Severus had sent him out alone and that the Inferi who'd so calmly let them pass earlier were now stirring beneath the water.

Remus scrambled to get his wand out. The flames surrounding the boat were thinning, distance making Severus' spell fade, and he conjured his own to keep the Inferi at bay whilst he tried to peer through the blazing light to the rock. It looked as if Severus was keeping himself surrounded with fire too, but Remus wouldn't feel better until they were both back on the same bit of land.

He scrambled out of the boat when he reached the other side and immediately sent a Patronus over to Severus to let him know he could summon the boat. It meant letting the fire die, but the Inferi made no attempt to crawl out on this side of the lake. He could, however, still see hands and heads bursting from the water further in the lake.

"C'mon, Severus," he muttered, leaning against the cavern wall and staring across at the glow of flames in the middle of the lake. "Get your greasy arse in that boat and come back to me."

But Severus didn't—at least not in the boat. Remus sat up straight when the flames on the lake disappeared, heart twisting inside his chest with a sudden fear that the Inferi had managed to get to him, that Severus was right now being dragged into the water to drown and never see the light of day again, and Remus was stuck here unable to help—

And then he blinked, squinted, and gasped as a broom hurtled out of the darkness, Snape sat atop it and flying as fast as the old Silver Arrow would go. He almost crashed into the cave wall, barely stopping in time and landing with a stagger.

"Boat wouldn't come," he said as Remus gaped at him. "Good thing we packed the brooms. Can you walk? We really shouldn't linger."

Remus did better than walk. He scrambled to his feet, threw himself at Severus, latched his arms around his neck, and kissed him soundly on the mouth. His legs collapsed under him at that moment, but Severus had already wrapped his arms around his waist and he managed to keep Remus upright, but Remus barely noticed because Severus was kissing him back and at that moment, it was really all that mattered.

Chapter Text

Remus didn't expect to wake up in a bed with Severus next to him. It wasn't even his bed, leaving him to assume it was Severus'. The room they were in certainly screamed of the man—tidy, plainly decorated without ornaments atop the chest of drawers, or photos, paintings, or posters on the light blue walls. The navy curtains over the window were lightened slightly by the sunlight outside, but thick enough to keep the room dark still.

The bed they were in was comfy enough, though a lumpiness around the the hip area suggested Severus might want to invest in a new one soon, and Remus stared at the sleeping figure beside him as he tried to remember what'd happened the night before. He recalled staggering out the cave with Severus, barely managing to make the swim to the rocks outside, and then they'd Apparated. After that it was all a bit blurry. He thought he could remember Severus dosing him with potions and water, and he must have undressed at some point because he was wearing only his faded, once-white boxers, but he certainly didn't remember getting into a bed and he couldn't figure out why Severus was in the bed with him. Severus himself was fully clothed still, his robes looking stiff and crusted with sea salt, so perhaps he'd just been too exhausted to find somewhere else to sleep after tending to Remus. That thought made Remus feel both pleased and guilty.

He didn't particularly want to leave the bed. It was warm and inviting, and he liked watching Severus sleep; it was the only time the other man looked unguarded. But his body had other ideas. His felt grimy and unpleasant from the trip through the sea, he was hungry and thirsty, and his bladder was demanding attention, so he reluctantly slid out of the bed, careful not to disturb Severus in the process. The other man didn't even shift.

He found his robes discarded on the floor and grimaced as he pulled them on before leaving. Beyond the bedroom he found the semi-familiar hallway of the upstairs of Spinner's End. He's been there a few times in past months, but he's never had reason to enter Severus' bedroom before. He went to the bathroom, used the toilet and washed his hands, drank from the sink then hesitated only a moment before nipping across the hall to pull a clean towel from the airing cupboard.

The shower was wonderfully welcome, but he forced himself not to stay too long because he didn't know how quickly Severus' hot water ran out and Severus wouldn't appreciate having to take a cold shower. He also took out his eye, filled a glass on Severus' sink with water and let it soak while he washed. He was supposed to take it out every night and soak in a special solution, but that was at the Order Headquarters where he usually stayed so this would have to do for now.

Once out, he dried off then dug his wand from his robes pocket and cast a few cleaning charms on his clothes. It wasn't quite the same as putting them through the washer, but it made them clean enough to wear and not nullify the effort of the shower. Dressed, he headed downstairs to see what Severus had in his kitchen cupboards.

He was halfway through brewing some tea, while bread cooked in the toaster (something he'd been surprised to find in Severus' home even knowing the man was a half-blood; Severus had muttered about it being more even and better tasting despite toasting spells being quicker) and a couple of eggs boiled in a pan, when he heard the shower start. By the time he'd made his breakfast and sat at the small kitchen table, Severus appeared dressed in simple trousers and t-shirt, wet hair curling at his collar. He went straight for the kettle and made himself a coffee before slumping into the chair opposite Remus and replying to Remus' polite, "Morning," with a grunt.

Knowing this was typical Severus attitude, Remus wasn't bothered and merely continued to eat. He finished his meal and was contemplating whether to have another tea when Severus asked, "How do you feel this morning?"

"Alright."

"No adverse effects from the potion?"

"No, there doesn't seem to be."

"Good," Severus grunted. "Bad enough you should die; worse if it should be for nothing."

Remus probably shouldn't have felt so pleased to hear Severus say that it would be bad for him to die. He knew that Severus wasn't a bad person and knew that Severus wouldn't want him to die, but Severus was so incredibly guarded with his feelings that hearing him say it, even in that clinical no-nonsense tone, made Remus' heart feel light enough to float and he had to get up and make himself fresh tea so he could hide his smile.

"It'd hardly be for nothing," he said, adding fresh water to the kettle before setting it to boil and spooning tea leaves into his cup.

"It would be. Here."

Remus looked around to see Severus reach into his pocket and pull out a locket that looked different to the one he recalled seeing in the memories they'd traversed for Horcrux information, but he held out his hand as Severus passed it to him. "It's fake. Open it."

Remus did so to find a folded slip of paper tucked inside, upon which was a message written in small, neat handwriting.

To the Dark Lord

I know I will be dead long before you read this but I want you to know that it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the real Horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can. I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more.

R.A.B.

"R.A.B..."

"Regulus Black," Severus said. "I'd guarantee it considering this came off the hand of one of the Inferi that tried to grab me."

Remus glanced up to see Severus holding a ring with a simple crest on it, two angled white bands joining to point upwards, a five pointed star on either side of the arrowhead and an upright sword underneath it.

"The Black family crest." Remus had seen it a few times amidst some of Sirius' things and Regulus had made a big deal in his fifth year about being able to wear the ring denoting him as heir to the Black family now that Sirius was officially disowned. "Sirius said his brother was killed by the Death Eaters for trying to back out."

"He disappeared. I knew there was an order out for his death, but from what I heard he was never found. I think we can guess what happened to him. He always did know more than he should."

Remus handed the locket back. "So do you think he destroyed it?"

Severus set locket and ring on the table and lifted his coffee again. "Doubtful if he ended up in the lake with the rest of the Inferi. But there's no way Regulus drank that potion down himself. Someone had to have helped him, but I don't know who he'd have trusted with that. Certainly none of the other Death Eaters."

The kettle whistled and Remus turned back to making his tea. He should probably have thought about what Regulus might've done with the real locket, but he wondered instead whether he should mention what happened before they left the cave last night. He wanted to because he hoped to repeat the situation, albeit somewhere more pleasant that an underground cave, but he also wasn't entirely sure how Severus would react to him bringing it up because the man could be so infuriatingly difficult sometimes, and Remus didn't want to spoil the memory of their kiss by having Severus brush it off as heat of the moment or something.

And really, Remus thought he'd made his hopes about them pretty clear. He also thought Severus felt the same way about him, but if Severus was going to refuse to admit that for whatever misguided reason, then there wasn't much Remus could do about it, was there?

"His home."

Remus started and realised he'd been absent-mindedly stirring his tea unnecessarily much. He set the spoon down and returned to sit at the table. "What?"

"The Black family home," Severus elaborated. "Regulus might have left some clue there about his plans for the Horcrux. If we can figure out a way to get in we might be able to find something."

"Oh. Yes, perhaps. It won't be easy."

Severus snorted. "Nothing on this quest has been easy."

"True. I suppose we should let Dumbledore know."

"I already did. He came by last night."

That was a surprise to Remus. "He did? Was I already out? I can't really remember much."

Severus looked at him over the top of his coffee mug. "Since drinking the potion?"

"I suppose," Remus said vaguely, then it occurred to him that maybe Severus was fishing to see whether Remus remembered kissing him. Remus wasn't sure if Severus was hoping he'd forgot or not, but he had the feeling if Severus thought Remus didn't remember, he probably wouldn't mention it. And he'd brush the entire thing off as a temporary loss of sanity which Remus certainly didn't want him doing, so he amended, "Mostly after getting back here. I remember leaving the cave, but after that it's a bit of a blur."

Severus said nothing, dropping his gaze back to his mug and drinking. Remus did the same, scowling into his teacup. He might not be able to do anything if Severus decided he was going to deny being attracted to him, but he could demand an answer from him, couldn't he? What was Remus supposed to extract from Severus' silence? They had to talk about whatever it was between them, at least once, even if it was only so Severus could sneer at Remus' sentimentality and pretend he didn't like him. Remus deserved that much at least. Hell, he deserved more. Severus had definitely kissed him back yesterday and Remus wasn't blind. He'd seen the way Severus looked at him sometimes as they worked together in past months. Severus wanted him; he should damn well admit it.

Severus got up to put his mug in the sink then turned towards the door, and without really thinking Remus was on his feet and grabbing the man by the arm. Only when he'd yanked him around to face him did Remus realise that he didn't really know what to say, and he just knew that whatever he did say, Severus would be awkward and snarky about it, because that's what Severus Snape was like.

"Wha- hmph!"

Remus shoved him against the wall, a little harder than intended, and crushed his mouth to Severus', pressing their bodies flush together. Severus could be a snarky bastard all he liked, but his reaction to this—that'd tell Remus what he really wanted to know. If he pushed Remus away then he would know that Severus didn't really want him, and Remus would accept that and focus on finding the Horcruxes and saving Harry and once they were finished he'd never call on Severus again.

For a moment he thought that was exactly what Severus was going to do. He grabbed Remus' arms and he went tense all over, but when Remus started to withdraw before he could be pushed away, Severus' hands tightened and he moaned. The noise went straight to Remus' groin and he growled against Severus' mouth, pressing his hips forwards. Severus pressed back, hands sliding up to tangle in Remus' hair, lips parting to let Remus deepen the kiss. He tasted like coffee and Remus could feel his erection pressing through their clothes, rubbing against Remus' own as they thrust against each other like a pair of horny teenagers. Remus got both his hands under Severus' shirt and he couldn't help the pleased noise escaping his throat as he ran his fingers over warm flesh.

When he brushed a thumb over one of Severus' nipples, the other man broke the kiss with a gasp, hips jerking forwards at the same moment. His hands clenched in Remus' hair and jerked his head back slightly, baring his throat for Severus to duck his head and mouth at, tongue leaving a cool wet trail and teeth worrying at his skin hard enough to leave bruises, stopping only to pant against Remus' neck and then cry out when his hips jerked up against Remus' one last time as he came. Remus was quick to follow.

They stood catching their breath for a moment afterwards. Severus' hair was tickling Remus' cheek, still damp. His hands slid down and around Severus' waist, tugging the other man against him in a hug because he was afraid that Severus was going to shove him away, but he was glad to instead feel arms wrap loosely around his neck as he leant his forehead to rest against Severus' shoulder.

"We're too old for this," Severus murmured and Remus couldn't help a snort of laughter.

"Probably," he agreed. "Makes me feel young again though."

Fingers were playing in Remus' hair and Severus leant his head back to rest against the wall. "I just put on clean underwear this morning."

"I should hope so."

"Shut up, prat. You know what I mean. And you can't talk, unless you stole my underwear to put on this morning."

Remus felt his cheeks flush. "I used cleaning charms," he said defensively. "I didn't have much choice. Anyway," he added, trying to detract from his embarrassment, "I wouldn't want to put your underwear on. I'm more interested in taking it off."

Severus shifted but when Remus tried to lift his head to look at him, the hands in his hair tightened just slightly so he stayed were he was.

"You're a presumptuous smart-arse, you know that?"

"Who's being presumptuous? I just expressed a desire."

"You were presumptuous when you shoved me against a wall. I don't let just anyone attack me in my own home, you know. I could have hexed you to smithereens."

"It's a good job I'm not just anyone then, isn't it?"

"There you go again. Presumptuous."

"Insufferable bastard."

"Mongrel."

"Git."

"I could throw you out."

"You won't."

"Why's that?"

Remus drew back, just enough to look him in the face. There was a slight redness to Severus' cheeks and his fingers were still threaded through Remus' hair, gentle and comforting, and they tightened slightly when Remus leant in to press a soft, gentle kiss to the man's mouth.

"Because then you'd have no one presuming the right to do that," he murmured.

"Maybe I'd like knowing there was no one around who'd presume to take such liberties with me."

"Then you'd best throw me out."

It was a challenge, a question, a hope. Remus stared into Severus' dark eyes, comforted as always by that lighter ring around the edge, and waited for an answer. The ball was entirely in Severus' court now and Remus hoped he wasn't going to throw it in Remus' face and knock him out of the game, but there was a part of him all too aware and very much afraid that Severus might.

He didn't realise just how afraid until Severus kissed him and he let out the breath he didn't notice he was holding. Then the relief bubbled up and left him in an uncontrollable burst of laughter that made Severus draw back and scowl at him.

"What are you sniggering at?"

Remus shrugged, unable to keep the smile off his face. "I knew you wouldn't throw me out."

"I still might!"

Remus just kissed his cheek and then his mouth.

"Presumptuous arse," Severus muttered against his mouth, but kissed him back.