- Story Summary:
- Sequel to Valentine. The stage of grief after denial is anger.
- Chapter Summary:
- Sequel to
- Author's Note:
- This is an entirely unworthy sequel. It is the fault of cordeliadelayne.
"I apologize for the deception," Dumbledore said in that maddeningly tranquil voice of his -- the same one he had used at Snape's funeral. "It was necessary for the Death-Eaters to believe that Severus was dead if any of you were watched or questioned. But it is my great pleasure to tell you all that, effective immediately, Professor Snape will be resuming his duties as the Hogwarts Master of Potions and Head of Slytherin House, now that our work here is done."
It was ridiculous to be so angry, Remus told himself, glaring at the headmaster. He had taken the apparent serenity to mean that Dumbledore wished to be strong for the rest of them while privately mourning a teacher and former student who had died fighting in their shared cause. It had never occurred to Remus to suspect a prank.
He should have been relieved, pleased that the ruse had worked; he should have been content to be freed from mourning and regret. Moreover, he should have been ecstatic that the war was over. He had no right to be furious with Snape, particularly since Dumbledore had known the truth and chosen to keep them all in the dark -- and since whatever Snape had done must have helped or at least not hindered the Order.
So irate was he that even the man at the center of the festivities could recognize his mood when, eventually, he forced himself to cross the library and shake his hand. "You don't look very happy to see me, Lupin," taunted Snape as Remus found himself unable to meet the self-satisfied glance. "Were you hoping the Dark Lord had removed me from your life for good, or were you plotting to take over my position at Hogwarts?"
"I'd considered it, but you've made certain that I'll never teach there again," Remus replied in the calmest voice that he could muster. "Of course I'm delighted to see you as something other than a rotting corpse. Perhaps now my nightmares about you being flayed alive will finally end."
"Why, Lupin, I didn't know you cared." The tone was droll but Remus could see surprise in the dark eyes, and cursed inwardly at having said anything at all.
"I'm sure I'd have forgotten you sooner, but Dumbledore put me in charge of sorting and packing your things. I suppose he must think I'm an expert, after Sirius." The words came out far more bitter than sardonic. "What an impressive collection of aphrodisiacs you had -- did the headmaster put those someplace safe for you, rather than giving them to someone who might actually have used them?"
"The headmaster left nothing that he did not want you to find." So Severus was going to have an answer for everything. "I don't suppose you turned up anything not easily explained among the belongings of one who creates potions?" The look on Snape's face was repulsively smug. "Exotic oils, old school essays, a serpent-shaped pestle and mortar...you don't suppose that I'm the one who put those there?"
They had wandered away from the kitchen at Grimmauld Place where most of the others had gathered, drinking butterbeer and celebrating their victory. Remus turned toward the staircase, gesturing for Snape to follow. "There was one item I didn't understand," he confessed. "It seemed such an odd keepsake that I held on to it to remember you by."
A flicker of disquiet crossed Snape's narrow lips but he strode up the stairs, waiting for Remus to open his door, lead them inside and retrieve the decorated card from a drawer. Remus couldn't keep glee from his voice as he handed it to Snape, who turned pale when he recognized it.
"Keeping Valentines from boys, Severus?"
"Albus Dumbledore wouldn't have known who gave this to me," Snape retorted, waving the card in the air as if he intended to toss it into the fireplace. "You wanted me to believe that this was Potter's mother's handwriting; perhaps the headmaster was fooled."
How strange that Snape would call Lily "Potter's mother" -- not the recollection one would expect from a man who had pined for her. "If Dumbledore believed that you'd kept a note from Lily, he wouldn't have left it for me to find. I think he knew who wrote this. If it's true that he sorted your things before sending me to do the morbid work of dispensing with your worldly possessions, then it was practically a gift..."
"Well, keep it," spat Snape, shoving the Valentine away. "I have no need of it." But Remus closed his fingers around Snape's hand rather than the yellowing card.
"Wait. You hid this away for all these years, even after I apologized, just to remind you of how despicable I was?"
Flushing as he tried to tug his hand free, Snape nodded. "Why else would I have kept it?" Instantly he looked sorry that he'd asked. "And exactly why did you keep it, Lupin? Did you hide it away just to have the last laugh?"
Anger flared in Remus again. Dumbledore might have been a manipulative old man, but he wasn't a fool; he hadn't left that card just to let Lupin know that Snape had hated him, not when Lupin already assumed it to be so. It had been difficult enough to face the sorrow of losing another from his year, another valuable member of the Order, and he had so many regrets where Snape was concerned...wounds that he had believed could never heal with him dead.
Remus took a step forward, forcing Severus to move back toward the wall, watching as the dark eyes widened. "Maybe I kept it for the same reasons you did," he replied in a dangerously quiet voice. "You kept it because I wrote it, didn't you? It's the only Valentine I ever gave you. They're all drinking to you downstairs as a hero, but you were too much of a coward to tell me until I thought you were dead."
Snape was still trying to pull his hand from Lupin's clutch, glancing to either side of him as if looking for a means of escape. "As flattered as I am by this interest you seem to have developed in me during my absence, you're delusional if you think I share your feelings..."
"Don't delude yourself, Severus. You've always been interested in me. It's why you listened to Sirius about the Whomping Willow and found out what I am." Remus had him cornered, and when he pressed forward he could feel Snape's rapid pulse and breathing. "The war's over. I think Dumbledore understood why you kept this card, so he made sure that I'd understand, too. But if you'd rather keep pretending, may I show you what happens to your feelings when you discover that you have nothing left but mementos?"
"What do you want, Lupin?" Severus asked in his haughtiest voice. It contrasted sharply with his breathless moan when Remus tilted his head and kissed him, answering both of their questions. After a moment he kissed Remus back, lips parting like an envelope opening. Their fingers clasped together.
Neither one of them noticed as the Valentine drifted, forgotten, to the floor.