I Lie in Your Charms
I lie in your charms
Though it harms the best of me
And I lie on to my friends to them
No wonder why I wait for thee
War was never kind, and even those that came out on the other side as heroes paid a steep price. They all had new baggage to carry, some more laden down than others. It was part of the reason why no one felt like it was appropriate to openly complain about it, and why instead of mourning the loss of their innocence and loved ones, they turned to celebration instead. All around people plastered on smiles and spoke of hope, when behind closed doors, those same mouths twisted around sobs of anguish.
Severus Snape had no such qualms, and openly scorned the celebrations. There were many reasons for his stance on the ridiculousness of pretending things were fine. The first was simply his own losses; there was a time for fun and merriment; even he was not too bitter to admit that, but this felt disingenuous. There hadn’t been more than seconds to mourn during the war, and Albus Dumbledore was one of many who had lost his life. Afterwards, there was a brief vigil, barely a half a day of reverence, before everyone plastered on those stupid smiles and pretended that was the end of their grief.
The second reason, although more complicated and entrenched, was the fact that Severus Snape had never lived in an age of peace. From a young child, through to his adulthood, darkness followed him like a shadow. He didn’t know how to let his hackles fall, stop his eyes from darting around, or relent from second guessing people’s intentions. He was now a war hero, but he didn’t feel an iota of pride about his placement on the chess board of this war. He had done what needed to be done, for slightly more selfish reasons than most, and he didn’t relish in any of it. He accepted his role as a pawn that turned obsidian or pale depending on the day, and couldn’t look too deeply into it without sleepless nights or mental breakdowns.
The third, and perhaps most pertinent to this narrative, was the fact that Severus Snape knew, in every inch of his soul, that he was a dead man walking.
To elaborate; he killed Albus Dumbledore and made the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy knowing that oblivion awaited him at the end of the war. He wasn’t meant to wake up in the hospital wing of Hogwarts in crippling pain from the effects of venom on his body. He wasn’t meant to learn how to speak again, but never without a hoarseness that would remain thanks to Nagini’s fangs piercing through his neck. The first thing he felt aside from bewilderment and pain, was anger. Minerva wouldn’t just let him die in peace, no, she saved him and dumped the very antivenom he’d created to save someone important down his throat.
He wouldn’t talk to her for days as he slowly recovered. By the time the final battle ended, Severus was still too weak and sequestered away to do anything more than wince at the sounds of explosions and screams. Poppy moved his bed into a heavily warded, and unmapped, part of the hospital wing. There he waited to either die by Death Eater hand, or more pathetically, starvation. Neither occurred, and after the dust settled, he was moved into one of the few rooms that weren’t destroyed by the battle.
Minerva McGonagall lied about his death until after his name was cleared and he was given a Medal of Honour, and only then did she let slip he was holed up in Hogwarts. The old ministry would have arrested her, or at least fined her heavily for her obstruction of justice, but this ministry was willing to move forward and quickly forget. That was, of course, thanks to the new minister of magic; Kingsley Shacklebott, one of the few who had to feign surprise when Snape’s survival came to light.
Severus survived the war of dark and light, but his house and personal belongings did not. Death Eaters destroyed everything they could get their hands on, and that left Severus with very little. His rooms in the dungeons were still smoking, not much left in the charred remains except his most sturdy potion’s equipment. Severus had an odd feeling it was thanks to Bellatrix, the psychotic bitch, and imagined she was content knowing she’d inconvenienced him even after her death.
All this accumulated to Severus being offered to stay at Hogwarts until several months after the war. He helped fix the castle as much as he could with a fucked up voice and severely depleted energy reserves. Hogwarts wouldn’t open until January for their next term, and it would go until the end of July in hopes of stuffing in as much education as they could so the students could continue on in their years.
This led to another thing Severus was roped into; first his survival, then the restoration efforts, and most annoying of all; his enforced company.
Harry Potter was a thorn in his side Before Death, and he was just as much of one after, except in a completely different way. He seemed to think of Severus like some sort of friend, or at the very least someone who was irreparably tethered to him. Harry chattered ; spoke about things like a thinly veiled secret only he and Severus were privy to. As Severus ignored his own deeply rooted exhaustion from standing for too long and worked on restoring the front vestibule of the castle, Harry planted himself firmly at his side. Not even the other two of his trio could pull him away.
“Don’t you have to be a guest of honour at a party somewhere?” Severus garbled out in irritation after listening to Harry talk about horcruxes for two hours straight.
Harry just laughed.
“I’m not your therapist.” He tried again on another day, when Harry looked drawn and pale after attending five different trials for captured Death Eaters earlier that morning.
“I sure hope not. You’d be terrible.” Harry ran a hand across his face, grim smile curling up the corner of his mouth as if he knew Snape was joking. “I just wish this part was over.”
“It will never be over.” Severus lifted his wand and blasted a particularly large piece of rubble, swaying after when the dizziness from overexertion kicked in. Harry was at his side in an instant, dragging him over to a pillar on it’s side to sit for a moment.
“You’re probably right.” Harry agreed after they sat there for a few moments in silence. “They all want interviews and to shake my hand, I just want peace.”
“Poor Mr. Potter.” Severus leaned back against the wall behind them and winced at the bright flash of pain that lanced through his chest. “Your popularity comes at a price.”
Harry barked out a laugh that was dry and fake. “Don’t I know it?”
“Why are you here?” Severus demanded, turning to look at the young saviour with narrowed eyes.
“Why am I at Hogwarts living through the nightmare over and over again, or why I am with you when I could be off with everyone else my age?” Harry leaned back as well and closed his eyes. For a moment, Severus had a vivid image of James, thirty seven in age but with more stress and loss. What would the man feel if he were still alive, watching his son go through hell and back for most of his youth? Severus felt something twist in his gut, wondering where the thought came from.
“Both.” He croaked, and he hoped it was just his damaged vocal cords that made him sound so strange to his own ears.
“I’m tired.” Harry opened his eyes and stared sightlessly above him through the branches of the trees that remained in the courtyard. “But I can’t sleep knowing there’s still a part of this world tainted by him. This was my home. My only home. The only place I felt safe.” He continued.
“You were safe at your relatives.” Severus reminded him.
Harry turned his head and gave Severus a crooked smile. “According to Hermione, physically safe and mentally safe are two different things.”
Severus hated that he knew what that meant, and so he said nothing.
“And I’m here with you because everyone else is getting on my nerves.” Harry admitted at last. “They want things from me. Things I can’t… I think Neville is the only one who isn’t asking me to talk. Ron just wants things to be back to what they were, Hermione wants me to go see someone who can help me ‘come to terms’ with things.” He put the air quotations around the words. “Plus… they’re not going to make it.” He looked down sadly. “I can tell it’s over, but they can’t. It’s hard to watch them fight to stay together.”
Severus wondered what had become of his life that he was listening to the woes of teenagers in love.
“And Ginny, she is so smart, smarter than me, and smarter than Ron and Hermione. She knew she deserved better than someone who is only there half the time.” He seemed to choke on something, and then clenched his fists in his lap. “I can’t be what she needs.”
Severus scoffed. “What you need is to be a child who survived a war. You are seventeen, not thirty, and for Merlin’s sake, don’t become a bloody auror .” He stood up and dusted off his robes decisively. “Your martyr complex is astounding, Potter, but even you have your limits. You’re not going to single-handedly save the world, and quite frankly, neither of us owe anyone a damn thing anymore.”
It was the first time Severus had said the words out loud, but he was stunned into silence by them. He turned away from Harry so he wouldn’t see the look on his face. “However.” He continued on as smoothly as he could. “You are doing yourself no favours hanging around with me . It sounds as though you’re just being a coward.” He threw the last words over his shoulder as he walked off. “I thought you were a Gryffindor.”
The next morning, Harry waved at him as he walked by with Neville, and Severus breathed a visible sigh of relief.
The next time he spoke with Harry face to face and not in passing, was at Draco and Narcissa’s trial. He didn’t expect Harry to show up. He’d been at Hogwarts less and less the last month or so, and Severus hoped he was doing whatever young traumatized teenagers did to recover without becoming entitled assholes in the process. Harry certainly took the Gryffindor comment to heart when he rose to make his little speech about Draco. He was blunt, and it made Snape cringe when he said how much of a selfish, bullying, prat Draco had been in his early days. He was already mentally re-evaluating his own statement to counteract Harry’s angry, bitter, youthful rivalry that would certainly get Draco sent to jail just because the Great Saviour didn’t like him.
Then halfway though, Harry completely changed his tune, and started speaking about how Draco was a product of his father’s bigotry. Granger must have written this part for him, because it was much more thoughtful and well-spoken. He said that Draco refused to identify him, and was miserable during their sixth year. He knew that, even though Draco was scared, he was not evil. In fact, when it counted, he was just as much of a hero as Neville Longbottom, the boy who destroyed the last Horcrux. Without Draco and Narcissa Malfoy, Harry would be dead twice over.
Harry then finished his little speech with how he was tired of people being categorized as good and evil based on things they had no control over. He wanted to live in a world where people weren’t immediately judged by labels. He included werewolves in this diatribe, which made everyone uncomfortable in the room for varying reasons, and then sat down and shut his mouth.
After the trial was let out for recess, Severus cornered (dragged him away from reporters) and demanded to know where that had come from. Which was when Severus discovered it wasn’t Granger who had written his speech for him, but a combination of Lovegood and Longbottom. Wonders never ceased.
Severus was called on later in the trial, but he knew that what Harry said had already cemented in their minds. He had them at his beck and call, and Severus was surprised to see that he’d used his fame as a tool to help . Instead of being a champion of the battlefield, he was starting to become a champion of the people, and after Draco and Narcissa were sentenced to house arrest, and Draco on probation for his ‘eighth’ year of Hogwarts, Harry only gained momentum.
Severus didn’t see the effects of his little campaigns, but that didn’t really matter to him. It kept Harry and his little posse busy for the last few months of renovations at Hogwarts.
Severus finally moved out of Hogwarts and settled into a small cottage a few hours away from Hogsmeade. It was the second-last week of October when he finally moved all his things over, and then went to find Mcgonagall.
“You’re sure?” Minerva looked both annoyed and surprised that Severus didn’t want his position back as Potion’s Master, which was laughable at best and pathetic at most. He was no teacher, nor did he want to spend the rest of his After Life teaching brats who didn’t know what the hell they were doing. Perhaps he could have looked at it as a chance to start over, but Severus had started to not give a single damn about what anyone else thought he should or shouldn’t do.
“Absolutely.” Severus responded firmly.
“Severus.” Minerva rubbed at her forehead. “You’ve put me in a difficult position. I don’t have anyone to teach potions, especially not at an advanced level.”
Severus arched a brow at her, wondering if she’d dare-
She did. She guilted him into teaching sixth and seventh (and those few eighth years), one of which she assured him would be Harry Potter.
Severus had a sinking suspicion that perhaps Harry was involved with this after all, especially when he received a letter from the prat saying he looked forward to seeing him in January. Severus decidedly did not write him back, but instead pulled out some wine and drank three glasses to fortify himself. He cursed Minerva and Albus to the seventh layer of hell, woke up the next day with a surly grimace from his hangover, and took a potion to alleviate it.
The thing was, Severus was tired. He’d never realized how much effort being alive was before. He had a purpose then, but now he felt like a ghost wandering from place to place, being rearranged how others saw fit. He didn’t see a point in any of it, and many days he found himself staring into the middle distance, so, so, tired but unable to do much but blink and exchange oxygen.
On New Years, Minerva threatened him at wand-point to attend the Order of the Phoenix party being hosted at the Three Broomsticks. The party would be thanks for the effort of restoring Hogwarts, and yet another celebration for the end of the war. The first few parties Severus could beg off that he wasn’t completely well, but Minerva and several other staff wouldn’t take no for an answer. Everyone wanted to celebrate their success, and he was a part of that success.
That was how, on a frigid New Years Eve, Remus Lupin found Severus Snape sitting behind The Three Broomsticks, smoking.
Severus was sitting at one of the new patio tables they’d installed after the war, only enough snow brushed off for him to cast a drying spell and sit. He had his dark cloak wrapped firmly around himself; only his one hand exposed to the elements as he sucked in a drag of the cigarette and let it billow out in front of him. He didn’t care for the sounds of merriment behind him, nor was he in the mood to be lectured about his filthy muggle habit. He had started it up a few months ago, remembering vaguely an image of his mother sitting outside the stoop of their small house with one dangling from her lips.
The war had not been kind to Remus Lupin. His son was without a mother, and his left arm had little to no feeling left in it. The healers set his hand, and even though the appendage now looked like it was just a little scarred, the nerves were almost completely destroyed. He was learning to hold things again, and had a vague sense of pressure but little else. Taking care of an infant was hard enough as a single father, but even more difficult as a werewolf with a disability.
He, too, lived with the knowledge every day that he shouldn’t have survived the war, but somehow did anyway.
His philosophy was a little different than Severus’s. He didn’t have the luxury to isolate himself and generally push everyone out of his life. He had to raise Teddy and find a way to keep them both from starving to death. Also unlike Severus, he kept tabs on the people who survived the war, and knew all along that the potions master was alive and in the castle. This was because, shortly after Severus had moved out, Remus had moved in.
He had wished to catch Severus alone for a long time to make amends. After he awoke in St. Mungos and moved into a Ministry-appointed flat with his son, Remus decided enough was enough. He had lived his life feeling like it wasn’t his own; stick to the status quo or be outcast. The sad fact was his careful compliance didn’t matter. Dora was dead, he was outed as a werewolf, and all his friends were long-gone. It wasn’t that he didn’t care anymore, because sometimes he cared a little too much. It was that he didn’t want his son to grow up and see how much of a coward his father was.
He wanted Teddy to take after his mother; her bravery, her kindness, and her come-what-may attitude, and he knew that if he stayed the same, he’d just instill bad traits in his son. He needed a steadfast father, not a man who spent his days feeling sorry for himself and hiding away from the world. He had always wondered why he was placed in Gryffindor, but it wasn’t until one am, three months after the end of the war when he held a crying Teddy in his arms, that he realized it.
Sometimes the sorting hat placed people in what they needed the most. And what Remus needed the most was a little courage.
“I’m glad I found you.” Remus forced himself to relax, even though all the speeches and proclamations deserted him when actually faced with Severus in person.
“How unfortunate.” Severus flicked the ashes at his feet, giving Remus that same dismissive look he always did. “As I came out here to be alone.”
This would be the point when Remus normally backed down. The guilt of his negligence to stop the bullying when they were kids was part of the reason why. Remus sought Severus out in their sixth year to apologize one night, when the anger at Sirius outweighed the guilt that often immobilized him. Except when he saw Severus sitting in the library, he’d faltered. He had looked so peaceful for once, and Remus simply stood there and stared at him with all the righteous fury draining out of him.
That boy didn’t deserve Remus interrupting one of his brief moments of peace, was what he told himself as he climbed back up to Gryffindor tower. Except deep down, he knew it was something different; a mixture between cowardice and something he couldn’t quite identify. What would have happened if he apologized, and made Severus believe him? He’d never know, but now he had the time and the fortitude to try.
“I hear we are going to be teaching together again.” Remus removed the rest of the snow on the bench across from Severus with a wave of his own wand.
“I am only substituting until Minerva finds a suitable replacement.” Severus informed him promptly, and then sat up a little straighter. “I suppose you’ll be needing wolfsbane again.”
“Oh, no.” Remus quickly brushed off his suggestion. “I won’t trouble you with that, again.”
Severus was looking at him now with suspicious eyes. “I fail to see what you need from me, then.”
“When did you start smoking?” Remus asked abruptly, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the table in front of him.
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” Severus took in a deep drag and blew it out, not exactly blowing it in Remus’s face, but the putrid smell wafted over anyways.
Remus wrinkled up his nose in distaste, but didn’t take the bait. “It’s not, exactly. I’m just curious. You didn’t smoke before.”
“Kept tabs on me?” Severus hissed.
“I hope that leaves eventually, Severus.” Remus looked at him sadly. “The paranoia. I’m not here to be your enemy. I haven’t wanted that ever.”
“Ah, yes, you’re looking for absolution.” Severus gave him a nasty look. “And I suppose you think we’ll all just forgive and forget, then? That your friends tormented me, how you nearly murdered me.”
“I don’t think you’re capable of forgetting the past, Severus.” Remus’s lips curled up in amusement. “But I don’t want to live like that anymore. I want to live for now . So, I’m not asking you to forgive a sixteen year old coward. I’m asking you to let him go.”
“I don’t see the difference.” Severus hissed. “Between the coward then, and the coward now.”
“And that is exactly why I’m asking you to know me now before you make that judgement.” Remus shot back, feeling slightly triumphant in the fact that Severus’s brows raised ever so slightly. “For instance, I won’t forget what we put you through, or that you were once an active death eater, but I am willing to know the man who smokes cigarettes and lets Harry talk his ear off when he wouldn’t have before.” Remus paused here and nodded to the slowly dwindling embers of the cigarette. “Even though I can’t imagine why you’d want to smoke them.”
“What do you want?” Severus demanded, dropping the smoke to the ground and vanishing it away after he’d stamped it out.
Remus sighed. “I want to move on.”
“How nice for you.” Severus leaned back. “Do it somewhere else.”
“You don’t want to build a new life, Severus?” Remus stared at him. “You want to wallow instead?”
“You have no idea what has happened in my life.” Severus stood up.
Remus stood up too, and stepped in his way. “You’re right. But that’s your fault, not mine.”
“What do you want?”
Severus opened his mouth and then closed it. It would be too trite to say something scripted like ‘for you to step aside’. For some reason everyone around him was becoming more and more obstinate in forcing their way into his life. Why was he suddenly so important, why now? They thought they knew him now that it came out he was working for Dumbledore. They’d never cared before and turned a blind eye to all his other accomplishments.
“I want to be left alone.” Severus was annoyed at how defeated that sounded, and tried again. “I was supposed to stay dead in that bloody war, and now I’m stuck here having inane conversations with you. ”
“You died too.” There was something too close to recognition in Remus’s eyes.
“Of course I died.” Severus snapped, wrenching open the top two buttons to his cloak and showing the map of scars on his neck. “As far as I’m concerned, this is purgatory! Perhaps next my mother will come along and plead forgiveness for things that cannot be changed as well! A lot of good any of it does me. I’m supposed to be dead! ”
Remus swallowed thickly and the same haze he felt for months after the war settled upon him. Severus should be dead, he should be dead, and yet they were both standing there in the cold December chill. Severus was trapped in his own demise, and Remus was looking for any way possible to escape the clutches of his. He just wanted to do better and be better, but Severus didn’t even see a point in it. He thought a new chance at life was some sort of divine punishment.
That was why he was smoking, and Remus couldn’t help but laugh.
“What is so amusing?” Severus hissed, eye twitching at the audacity.
“It’s just… so juvenile.” Remus said before he could take the words back. “You thought you deserved death, so now you’re just not going to live?”
He hit the wall behind them, and it was only because his wand was already in his hand that he was able to cast a quick cushioning charm. He wasn’t surprised that Severus attacked him, in fact, he would have been surprised if he hadn’t. Severus was already stalking towards him, and Remus saw multiple futures as to how this could go. Words, thrown back and forth, maybe some spells or punches, but he was so tired of that. Severus fisted his hands in the front of Remus’s robes, and instead of pushing him away Remus grabbed his wrists so he couldn’t get away.
“Are you done?” Remus asked fiercely, surprised by his own intensity.
Severus tried to rip his hands back, but to no avail. Remus had werewolf strength on his side.
“Let go of me.”
“Don’t you want to live?” Remus pressed. “For anyone? For yourself? For something ?”
“For what?!” Severus yelled, eyes wild as he realized that Remus had used his anger against him, something he didn’t know was even possible anymore. “I suppose you’ll tell me friendship and love and all that rot will save me? Are you going to save me, Lupin?” He sneered.
Remus paused his life right there, and if anyone asked him what the hell he was thinking at that moment, he’d never be able to tell them. It was a jumbled mess of emotions, each one more fleeting than the last. What he did know was that his mission for a very long time had been to apologize to Severus about what happened, but now that he thought about it, why did he care? Why was he arguing with him about this, when it was clear the bastard was quite willing to waste away in his own grief? For better or worse, he had his attention, whether it was from the corner of his eye, or up in his face like this.
Perhaps Dora was right; he was a little more fluid sexually than he thought. The thought of her still took his breath away, but it was enough pain to jolt him back to awareness.
“Is that what you want?” Remus replied calmly. “For someone to make you feel alive?”
Because maybe Remus needed that a little bit, too.
Severus couldn’t hide his reaction, not this close. His pupils dilated, darted down to stare at Remus's mouth. Before he was able to reign himself in and throw something caustic out, Remus’s lips were on his.
The kiss sent a shock through the both of them, but whereas Severus felt all sense leave him, Remus surged forward and sought more of the feeling. He let go of Severus’s hands and threaded his up around the back of his nape and into his dark hair, stepping closer and changing the angle. Severus couldn’t bring his mind back together again for several long moments, and instinctually moved his mouth against Remus’s as heat seared between the two of them.
Remus switched their positions and shoved Severus against the wall, devouring his mouth and chasing the high of closeness he thought he’d never feel again. It wasn’t until Remus kissed the corner of his mouth and along his jaw towards his neck that Severus regained his senses and got his arms in between them.
“What are you doing?!”
“Snogging you, I think.” Remus felt drunk off the giddiness, and closed the distance between them again easily.
Severus’s arms were trapped between them, and Remus must have seen the fear in his eyes, because he took a half a step back.
“Do you want this?” Remus looked like he had to practically scrape the words from his throat, surprised at his own reaction and how fervidly he wanted Severus to say yes. “Severus?” He dragged his thumb along Severus’s bottom lip, staring at those lips as they held the only answer he needed to hear.
Severus tried to remember a time that he felt this intensity between himself and another person. He’d always considered himself to be too broken for such things, but now it was like every nerve was alight with overstimulated awareness. He could feel Remus’s eyes boring into him, but for the life of him he couldn’t think of anything to say, instead he leaned forward to try and recapture the rush. When they met halfway, the warmth slotted back into place, and he let Remus manhandle him further into the wall.
There was nothing but whispered questions after that, and Severus kept on opening his eyes and feeling dazed and slightly alarmed at the sight of Remus in front of him. There was talk of relocating, and Severus didn’t trust himself to apparate, but clearly Remus was feeling eager. There was a tug around his middle and suddenly there was no wall against his back, and he was being directed from a dark living room into a bedroom.
Severus didn’t know he could feel this frantic and impatient, pushing Remus’s clothes off his shoulder and latching onto his neck as Remus worked on his own pants. Eventually they were half naked in the dim lighting of a bedroom and then there was nothing but slivers of moonlight and skin. Severus felt the back of his knees hit the bed and he half expected to feel trapped when Remus pushed him down and slid on top of him. Instead he gasped as Remus grabbed his hips and thrust their clothed dicks together.
The instinctual roll of his hips made the heat in his belly spread like wildfire through his pelvis, and he couldn’t stop long enough to do much but shove his hand down Remus’s pants and take hold of him. The warm heat in his hand made him feel powerful, especially when Remus groaned against his neck and started to suck a bruise into his mottled skin. He stroked him as Remus pushed his thigh in between Severus’s legs, giving him friction.
They moved against each other; the sounds of panting, the feel of scarred but warm skin, the pleasure building higher- too strong to deny. Eventually Remus had half a mind to push his way between Severus’s hips and shove his underwear down to fist both of their cocks and rock against him directly. Severus wouldn’t remember dragging his nails down Remus’s back, or the way his breath hitched with every thrust. What he would remember was the way he was focused solely on the task, and he’d never felt so present, so desired, since way before the war- maybe even ever.
Remus pressed their mouths together messily. With the precum dripping between the two of them, the burn became a slide, and Severus felt everything crash and peak shortly after. Pleasure raced up and down his legs, and endorphins flushed through his brain, leaving him sated and content. Remus collapsed against him shortly after, but was aware enough to not completely crush him, and instead splay out next to him with their arms touching. They were both heaving in deep breaths, and staring at the ceiling as they came back to themselves.
The first feeling was amazement, swiftly followed by the sensation of feeling sweaty and dirty.
“Do me a favour.” Remus spoke between pants. “Don’t start thinking.”
Severus closed his eyes and for once, he agreed. He could feel the panic on the horizon, but there was no disgust where he thought he’d find it. Instead he felt exhausted and a little embarrassed.
“You can stay.” Remus was quick to assure him. “Teddy is at his grandmother’s.”
Severus put his hand over his face and dragged it down.
Well, that happened. With Remus Lupin .
“And, you know.” Remus turned towards him and turned Severus’s jaw so he could look him directly in the eyes. “That doesn’t have to be the last time.”