- Harry Potter/Neville Longbottom
- Neville Longbottom Remus Lupin Severus Snape Nymphadora Tonks Harry and Hermione and Ron
- Mystery Adventure
- The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Published: 01/16/2006Updated: 06/19/2006Words: 134,451Chapters: 37Hits: 105,190
- Story Summary:
- Neville's Gran breaks her hip just after his fifth year at Hogwarts, and he must spend the summer with Harry and Remus at No. 12 Grimmauld Place. He and Harry discover a hidden message in the candy wrappers Neville's mother has been giving him over the years, and they begin to uncover secrets about the past, even as they must confront dangers in the present. Along the way, Neville learns just how much he has in common with The Boy Who Lived, and how to be his own kind of hero.
Chapter 17 - Chapter Seventeen
- Chapter Summary:
- In which Neville does not appear, and instead we find out what is going on with Lupin and Snape.
Note: This chapter intersects with my Snupin+Sirius story arc, which includes "Sanctuary", "Last Man Standing", and "Anything but Black", all of which may be found in the memories on my live journal, jedirita.
Snape waited until half an hour after Longbottom and Potter retreated upstairs for the night before heading to the kitchen to fetch the firewhiskey he'd stashed there earlier. Opening the cabinet above the sink, he retrieved the half-empty bottle hidden in the very back. However, none of the glasses draining by the sink could truly be called clean. Lupin ought to talk to those boys about how to properly wash dishes. Soap, for example, was an absolute must. It was a wonder they hadn't all contracted food poisoning from improperly washed dishes. Pulling out his wand, Snape spelled two of the glasses clean.
Bottle in one hand, glasses in the other, he climbed the two flights of stairs to Lupin's floor. The gas lamps in the hallway flared to life at his approach, their steady flames casting even shadows on the wall. He missed the torchlight of Hogwarts. And the house was so very quiet. Hogwarts' stone corridors carried even the slightest sound over very long distances. Quite convenient when monitoring the hallways for students who were breaking curfew. Snape wasn't accustomed to being at Grimmauld Place this late at night. While he enjoyed solitude, he lived that solitude out in a large building filled with hundreds of other beings. Grimmauld Place at night did not feel solitary. It just felt dead. He did not care for it at all.
He paused outside Lupin's door and knocked. Late as it was, he did hope Lupin was awake. Or at least not very much asleep. He listened carefully, and he thought he could hear a soft rustling and the pad of footsteps. The door opened, and Lupin peered out at him, face pale against the darkened room behind him. He looked awful, dark circles under his eyes, his hair quite mussed. Snape had seen ghouls that looked healthier. Not to mention more cheery.
"Severus," Lupin said, blinking against the light of the gas lamps. "You're still here?"
"I did not think it would be wise to leave you three here alone after this morning's events."
Lupin rubbed at his eyes with the heel of his hand. "I don't see why not. The spirits are gone, after all. Nothing could harm us now."
Snape pressed his lips together. That wasn't the point. But he didn't want to get into it now. "Be that as it may, 'the children are nestled all snug in their beds'." He brought the whiskey out from behind his back and held it up. "I don't know about you, but I could definitely use a stiff drink. Or four. I thought you might care to join me."
Lupin's eyes woke up slightly. "That sounds like an excellent plan." He opened the door, letting Snape in.
"You were asleep?" Snape asked as he stepped past Lupin.
"Not exactly, no. The diversion is quite welcome." Lupin turned up one of the lamps and gestured Snape into one of the matching padded armchairs while he took the other.
Pouring out the two glasses, Snape handed one to Lupin, tapping his own glass against the rim of Lupin's. "Cheers." He downed the drink in one swallow. The liquor burned in his throat. God, how he had needed it.
With a wry smile, Lupin held his glass aloft. "Here's to a day I'm very glad to see end." He too tossed back his drink, and Snape poured out two more shots.
Lupin leaned back in his chair, holding the glass between both his hands. "Really, Severus, I can't thank you enough for your help today."
"It was nothing personal. The Order needs that laboratory. I simply wanted to ensure that the banishment spell would be completed successfully."
Lupin swirled his drink, watching the whiskey climb up the edges, leaving alcohol tears along the inside of the glass. "And how did it help the Order when you tended me while I threw up in the loo afterward?"
Snape winced at the memory of Lupin huddled over the toilet, sickened to have had his lycanthropy used against him by the spirits. That morning made the second time in his life when Snape had been rescued from the werewolf by a Potter. He ought to resent that more than he did, but Lupin had been so horrified to have attacked him that Snape couldn't quite manage to muster up the required outrage. Nevertheless, he did not really want to talk about it. "I didn't - that was -."
"Never mind," Lupin dismissed. "On second thought, I'd rather not hear you excuse away your kindness to me."
"It was not kindness," corrected Snape.
"Of course not." Lupin smiled one of those damned infuriating little smiles of his. "Why don't you just scold me, then? We're both much more comfortable with that."
"I don't want to scold you," Snape sighed. "I just want to get drunk." To put an end to the unpleasant conversation, he swallowed his drink and poured himself another.
"Fair enough," said Lupin, following suit and holding out his glass for a refill. "Is this your whiskey?"
"I would not buy such a cheap label," Snape scoffed. The whiskey was beginning to warm his belly, and it felt good. "I found it here, hidden behind some books in the library."
"Ah." Lupin studied the bottle. "Yes, I thought I recognized the label. I've found several similar bottles myself."
"How generous of Black to leave a legacy that others could appreciate after his death."
Lupin closed his eyes, and for a moment Snape feared he might have gone too far. He didn't really intend to insult Black around Lupin, but it came all too easily. When Lupin opened his eyes again, however, he smiled and raised his glass. "To Sirius Black."
Leave it to the werewolf to manipulate him into honoring that wretch. But he would try to be a good sport. "To Black. For leaving us this whiskey, which we may enjoy after a miserable day of baby-sitting two wretched teenaged boys."
Lupin chuckled, shaking his head. "Well spoken, Severus."
They drank. Snape refilled their glasses.
But Lupin didn't drink. He just stared into his glass as if searching for something, like Trelawney contemplating a used teacup. "It's strange," he said at last. "How I can miss him so much, and yet at the same time...be glad that he's gone." He shuddered with a sigh.
Snape quickly swallowed his drink. He hated confidences, hated people getting emotional, but he didn't know how to stop Lupin without saying something that was likely to hurt him. While he had no patience for weakness, Lupin had been through a traumatic day, and Snape didn't care for an argument.
Still staring into his glass, Lupin continued, "It's just that he was getting so...uncontrollable toward the end. But now I don't have to worry about him anymore. One way or the other, he's taken care of. I can finally truly let go. I've never really been free of him, not even all those years when he was in Azkaban."
Snape eyed the whiskey bottle but didn't pour himself another glass. If Lupin kept going with the confessions and Snape kept pace with the drinks, he'd be passed out on the floor inside five minutes. He sipped slowly at his whiskey.
"Still, I must confess there's at least one way I definitely miss Sirius," Lupin said. "It was nice getting laid on a regular basis."
Snape choked on his drink. "Honestly, Lupin, did you have to tell me that?"
"Come now. I've had very long stretches of celibacy in my life. Having someone to fuck on a regular basis was a rare luxury for me." He laughed suddenly, raising his hand to hide his face. "Did I really just say that?"
"I'm afraid so."
"I must be drunk already." He raised his glass and poured the whiskey down his throat, then held it out for another refill.
Snape poured both of them a shot and said, "I have found celibacy to be a perfectly fulfilling way to live."
Lupin snorted. "You cannot be serious!"
Snape raised an eyebrow. "It is far preferable to the occasional random coupling with a stranger whom I will never see again. That may satisfy some people, but I find it awkward and distasteful. Self-pleasure, however, is very rewarding. I know exactly what I like, and I don't have to worry about making conversation or figuring out how to part ways amicably afterward."
Lupin chuckled. "You do have a point. But it can't replace sex with another person. Unfortunately, not many people are willing to consider a long-term relationship with a werewolf."
"I would imagine not." A question formed in Snape's mind. Normally he would never ask such a personal question, but the whiskey was rapidly destroying his customary self-control. "Is that what you want? A long-term relationship?"
Lupin sipped at his drink. "I don't know. I was in a long-term relationship of sorts with Sirius, and it didn't exactly work out well for me. I'm not sure I'd really be any good at it. But the sex was definitely nice." He rolled the glass between his palms. "I suppose I would like to find someone who'd be willing to have sex with me, someone I trust who knows about my lycanthropy, but who wouldn't care about a relationship."
"I believe the students call it 'friends with benefits,'" Snape observed.
Lupin looked at him. "That's about right." He hesitated, licking his lips. "I don't suppose, um.... That is to say.... Well...."
Irritated, Snape prompted, "Yes?"
"That is - I don't suppose you would be interested in such an arrangement?"
Snape almost dropped his glass. "I, er -." Words seldom failed him. He prided himself on having a response for every occasion. The alcohol must be the cause of his verbal fumble, he decided. Clearing his throat, he tried again. "Are you speaking hypothetically?"
Lupin studied him in silence for a long moment, his eyes dark in the lamplight. "No," he said at last. "I'm making an offer."
Snorting a curt laugh, Snape shook his head. "The spirits seem to have driven you insane. I am Severus Snape, your life-long enemy, not the Ghost of Sirius Past. You expect me to believe you want to have sex with me?"
Lupin shrugged. "Well, I'd like to have sex with someone. And you're an excellent candidate."
"Is that so? And what, pray tell, are my qualifications?"
Lupin smiled. "You're male. I'm afraid that's essential."
"Is that all? If I'm not mistaken, the eldest Weasley has developed a tendency to ogle you during Order meetings. When he was in school he was considered quite the catch."
Lupin shook his head. "He's a nice fellow, but he's far too young."
"That is usually considered a virtue."
"Not to me. Wasn't he one of your students?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Well, if he's young enough to have been one of *your* students, that means he's young enough to have been one of *my* students."
Snape frowned in confusion. "But he was well out of school when you came to teach."
"But it's the potential of the thing that's so disturbing. Anyway, he's too attractive."
Snape shook his head. "You do have odd standards, Lupin. What appeals to others repulses you."
Lupin stared down at his glass. "I don't know about that. It's just, with you I'd know what I'd be getting into."
"Is that so?" scoffed Snape.
Lupin shrugged. "You're my age. We've shared many life experiences. You've known me for a long time. I have no secrets from you. And since you hate me, we wouldn't have to worry about emotional attachment."
Snape wasn't so sure of that. Hatred could be a very powerful emotional attachment. But that was somewhat moot. "I would not say that I hate you."
"No? You just said we're life-long enemies."
"We were. But over the last few months.... Well, I must admit that your awareness of Black's faults raised my estimation of you. And I have not found your company to be entirely repugnant."
"Why, thank you, Severus," Lupin chuckled. "I don't find you to be entirely repugnant, either. In fact, I find you to be quite amusing."
Snape scowled. "I am not amusing."
"Oh yes, you are. Immensely so. You don't know how much I enjoyed hearing your stories about Dolores Umbridge last spring. In fact, I can't think of anything recently that has given me such pleasure."
"Not even sex with Black?"
"Hmm." Lupin tilted his head, as if pondering. "It would be too close to say." His eyes sought Snape's. "So what do you think about my suggestion? We could give it a try, and if we are not both satisfied, then we end it there. No hard feelings, no harm done."
Snape did not answer, raising his drink to his lips and taking a slow sip while he considered the matter. Lupin had made his proposal in a disinterested, logical way. No appeal to emotion, only to reason. It was exactly the kind of argument that would appeal to Snape.
He hadn't lied about being pleased with celibacy. He'd always found that the more prudent course was to rely on himself for his happiness, rather than to trust the reliability of others. But certainly there were times when he could see the benefit of a partner. And Lupin's reasoning was sound. Plus they were both drunk, which while it didn't make for the best conditions for such an experiment, nevertheless provided them with a handy excuse if things didn't work out.
Tossing his drink back, he stood up. "All right. But we'd best act quickly. With the volume of alcohol I've consumed tonight, the window of opportunity may not stay open for long."
Lupin got to his feet, a hesitant smile on his lips. "Perhaps. But on the other hand, years of celibacy may enhance your vigor."
Snape found himself becoming unnerved by Lupin's approach. The man moved slowly, as if he were stalking prey, and there was a heated gleam in his eye. Snape didn't know if this was an attempt at seduction, but he didn't care for it. "Less talk, Lupin," he prompted before his nerve had the chance to fail him. "Best to get on with it."
A flicker of uncertainty crossed Lupin's face. "Ah. Yes." Brows knit in concentration, he took another step forward, tilting his head up as if to kiss Snape, but at the last moment he hesitated.
Snape's heart rate sped up at Lupin's approach, and he waited, but Lupin made no further move, just stood there, his eyes searching Snape's face.
"What is it?" Snape asked.
"It seems an awkward way to begin," Lupin murmured.
Snape could feel Lupin's breath on his lips. "Allowances can be made for the situation. In this case, a good finish surely can make up for a weak beginning."
It seemed to be the right thing to say, because Lupin's expression relaxed. "Quite so," he said, then leaned forward and pressed his lips to Snape's.
It was a short, dry kiss, altogether unremarkable. But it served to break the ice, and the second kiss was more insistent and lingering. Though it had been years since Snape had kissed anyone, it seemed that, like riding a broom, one never forgot how to do it. Lupin opened his mouth against Snape's, and he opened in response, hesitant at first, but gaining in confidence.
It was as warm and wet as he remembered, but there were other things he'd forgotten: the slightly sour taste of unclean teeth, the rasp of day-old whiskers against his lip, and how truly pleasurable kissing could be. This was one thing he could not do by himself - one thing among many. It was all coming back to him now, and his body tingled with anticipation as nerves that had not been stimulated for years flared once more to life.
Lupin's hands were on him, clenched in his sleeves, and Snape's arms rose to circle Lupin's waist. This sweet feeling: how two bodies could fit together, chest to chest, the hollow of another's hip fitting against his own, their legs falling into place alongside each other. But one thing from his prior encounters was missing: fear.
There had always been fear that his partners would scorn him. Snape knew he was not an attractive man. He feared that others wanted to manipulate him, that they would somehow turn his need and vulnerability to their advantage. But in this Lupin had been right: they knew each other too well. If things ended badly between them, they would simply return to their original state. They already knew each other's secrets; they had nothing to lose.
His arms tightened around Lupin's waist, and he could feel the man's erection against his belly. Yes, definitely time to move on. He broke away from the kiss. "Shall we proceed?"
"Enough with the foreplay?" Lupin smirked, his hands rising to unfasten the neck of Snape's coat.
"That's not what I meant."
"Why do you wear clothes with so many buttons? Is this a subliminal message?"
"Hardly." Snape began undoing the buttons at his waist, working his way up as Lupin worked his way down. "The buttons provide a snug fit. And don't even think about doing something melodramatic like ripping my coat open and sending buttons flying everywhere."
"I wouldn't dream of it," Lupin murmured, his eyes following the line of white shirt being exposed beneath the coat.
Their hands met in the center of Snape's chest, and the coat fell open. Lupin pushed it back over Snape's shoulders, but Snape caught it before it fell to the floor. He did not care to have his clothes mussed. Removing his coat, he draped it over the back of the chair.
He appreciated Lupin's dispassionate small talk. It helped to cool his nerves somewhat, helped him not to shiver at the touch of Lupin's hands sliding over his chest, worming their way into his shirt. Disentangling himself from the wandering hands, Snape reached for the lamp, turning it down low.
"What's the matter, Severus?" Lupin's lips brushed the hollow of his throat. "Is it that you don't want to see, or that you don't care to be seen?"
"It's not that." Why did Lupin always have to misunderstand him? "I'm not ashamed."
The lips moved down his sternum. "But some things are best done under cover of darkness?"
"Quite so. Less talk, Lupin."
Lupin surged up to kiss him again, hands working quickly, and within moments, both of them were naked from the waist up. Snape felt a shocking amount of scar tissue beneath his fingers, along Lupin's shoulders and down his sides. But he didn't want to look. He wasn't ready to confront that reality yet. He kept his eyes closed, concentrating on the feel of skin against his own, this human contact - mere touch - a sensation that he had seldom experienced in his life. Naked skin, so warm and soft, and even the scars provided a delicious friction against his palms, the sensitive skin of his inner arms, rasping against his chest. It felt good.
Lupin's hands worked at the waistband of Snape's trousers, and he felt fingers sliding low down his belly. He grabbed Lupin's wrist. "Stop."
"What?" Lupin looked up at him, wary.
"I don't think I'm going to last very long."
"That's all right. It depends on what you want."
Snape hesitated, trying to decipher Lupin's meaning. "I-I'm not sure what you mean. It's been a very long time since I've done this."
"Ah." Lupin's arms circled his waist, hands sliding up his back. "Don't worry. I'll take care of everything."
That was not very reassuring. Snape never liked for others to be in control, especially not in a situation like this. But by now the alcohol was working into his bloodstream, muddling his thoughts, impairing his ability to make decisions. Even if he were in full possession of his faculties, he wasn't sure how he would want this encounter to play out. After all, he had never imagined Lupin would proposition him. He didn't want to surrender, but Lupin was the one with more experience, so it was probably for the best, and if he didn't like it, he never had to do it again.
"I think we should hurry," he urged.
Snape found himself naked so quickly, he almost wondered if Lupin had used magic. He was pushed backward onto the bed while Lupin fished something out of the nightstand, pouring some kind of goo onto his hand.
"What is that?" Snape asked as Lupin crawled onto the bed next to him.
Lupin smirked. "Don't you know what lubrication is?"
"Oh. Right." He didn't remember much of that when he's been among the Death Eaters. Thank God he was drunk, or he'd be embarrassed by his ignorance.
Lupin grasped Snape's cock, smoothing the slick stuff over him, and Snape went rigid at the touch. He grabbed Lupin's shoulder, squeezing hard. "I - Lupin -," he gasped.
"It's all right," Lupin muttered. He rolled onto his back and pulled Snape on top of him, hand still on Snape's cock, guiding him into place.
Snape hadn't expected this. He'd thought Lupin was going to penetrate him. Wasn't that what being in control meant? But while his mind fought to process what was happening, his body had no problem figuring out what to do, and he surged forward, burying himself in the other man. "Oh, god!" he groaned aloud.
Lupin grabbed his neck and pulled his face down against his shoulder. "Quiet. The boys are downstairs."
Snape paused, struggling to regain some semblance of self-control. It was unbearably tight. Lupin burned around him, and it felt so good. He'd had no idea. He'd never topped a man before. There had been plenty of sex during the Death Eater days. As the war had escalated, with more and more death and mayhem every day, some of Snape's colleagues reveled in the air of lawlessness, and simply fucked everyone in sight to prove their dominance. Others, like Snape himself, were scared witless, and fucked in an attempt to subvert their helplessness. He'd slept with both men and women - basically with whoever grabbed him for a shag, and he'd had no more choice in positions than he'd had in partners. Not that he'd been particular. But now he wondered why he'd never done this before.
He propped himself on his arms above Lupin, thrusting rapidly. Lupin was right: this was much better than masturbation. His head spun, and he could feel sweat trickling down his brow and over his neck, but all he could do was rock back and forth, thrusting as deep as he could. Before he knew it was happening, orgasm ripped through him, and he groaned and went still.
His breath came in harsh gasps, and he shuddered, his arms threatening to collapse beneath him. He started to pull out, but Lupin's hands clutched at his hips, holding him in place.
"Keep moving," Lupin instructed.
He didn't think he had any strength left in him, but he rocked slowly against Lupin, who reached between them, stroking his own cock. Dimly, Snape was aware that he probably ought to be doing that for him, but Lupin didn't ask, so he didn't offer, just kept rocking. He watched as Lupin writhed beneath him, eyes closed, breath rapid, and he wondered if Lupin was thinking of Black. Not that he cared.
Lupin grimaced, and Snape felt a hot splash against his stomach. As Lupin relaxed, Snape at last pulled away, rolling onto his side next to the other man. He watched as Lupin took several deep breaths. Without opening his eyes, Lupin said, "Thanks."
Lupin's lip curled in a smile, and he opened his eyes. "Was it?"
"Yes," said Snape, mildly irritated that Lupin would think he said such a thing out of mere politeness.
Lupin started to roll toward him, then groaned and clutched his head. "Oh god. The whiskey's catching up to me."
"I know." Snape's head drooped to the pillow. "We should drink some water."
"I can't move."
"Neither can I."
Lupin yawned. "So we get a hangover. We'll live."
"Surely Black kept some hangover potion around?" Snape mused.
"I expect he used it all up."
Lupin's arm snaked around his waist, and he nuzzled against Snape's chest.
"Fucking bastard," Snape muttered, thinking of Black.
"Yes," Lupin said, already half-asleep. "That's why I like you."