Updated: 6 November 2005
disclaimer: Books, fortune and empire belong to JK Rowling. I only dally with her characters.
"Well, I was beginning to think you'd dropped off the face of the earth. Where have you been?"
Severus was halfway up the walk to his door when he noticed Lucius standing against the wall, looking bored. Damn. He'd forgotten that he'd agreed to dinner at the Malfoys'. It was the most unexpected quirk of all this rot, but he had considerably more difficulty maintaining the social connections he was supposed to maintain than he had lying straight to the Dark Lord's face. "You invited me to dinner tonight," Severus said, deciding that honesty was as good an excuse as any tonight.
"Yes, I did."
"I forgot. I do apologize, Lucius. I'm not particularly accustomed to dinner invitations."
"You've already had dinner elsewhere, then? You certainly didn't have it here."
"No," Severus replied, unlocking the door with a flick of his wand. "I made arrangements for this evening, and I was coming home now for a quick meal."
"What sort of arrangements?" Lucius asked, following him inside.
"The sort that are none of your affair," Severus answered as he waved his wand and lit the lamps.
"Everything is my affair, Severus. I make a point of it." Severus smirked as he reached for his tea kettle. "Really," Lucius said, leaning against the counter and folding his arms, "if I didn't know any better, I might wonder if you were trying to hide something from our master."
Severus raised an eyebrow at him. "Tell me, Lucius, does every second of your life revolve around service to the Dark Lord?" Lucius faltered, and Severus inclined his head to one side. "Old chums and all that rot, remember?"
"No," Lucius said with a patrician smile of concession.
"Neither does mine. I do as he asks, I look for additional ways to please him, I gather information. I also have a few pleasurable pursuits of my own, and I intend to pursue one of those tonight."
"Taking my advice, are you?"
Severus stared at him blankly for a moment, but there was nothing in Lucius' smug expression to indicate what he was talking about. "All right, I concede the victory. Are you going to tell me which advice I'm taking?"
Lucius laughed. "I suggested that you needed a warm and willing witch," he said.
Severus nearly dropped the kettle. "Out."
"I always know I've hit close when you get defensive. So, who is she?"
Mind whirring at possible answers, Severus settled for evasion. "Really, Lucius, how stupid do you think I am? If I wanted to grace the gossip column of the Prophet, I'd submit the story myself."
Lucius seemed to be half expecting that answer. "All right then. When's she going to be here?"
"At some point after you leave, which will be soon," Severus replied.
"You said your plans were for after dinner. You can still join us tonight."
Severus ignored him, crossing the kitchen to the pantry, where he stood and stared at the contents. After a moment, he became aware of Lucius standing behind him. Lucius reached past him, grabbing one of the tins from the shelf.
"What is this?" he asked, looking at the label with a curiosity that wasn't feigned.
"Soup," Severus replied.
"Soup?" Lucius looked doubtfully at the tin, then at Severus. "You're eating soup out of a tin?"
"Those of us who don't have legions of house-elves at our beck and call make do with the things that don't take too much time or energy after a long day."
"And those of us who do have legions of house-elves at our beck and call serve veritable feasts every night. At least when compared to soup from a tin."
"Then go eat it."
"Do you know what's on the menu tonight?"
"I'm sure I don't, but I sincerely hope you enjoy it."
"Rack of lamb," Lucius said in a sing-song voice that was meant to be tempting. "Asparagus, fresh greens with an almond-raspberry vinaigrette. White chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries." Severus' mouth was already watering, and the tin of soup seemed less and less appealing.
The idea of standing Lupin up was less appealing still. "I told you, Lucius, I have plans," Severus said, taking the soup from him.
"You can't honestly tell me that it will take you a minute longer to come have dinner with us than it will take you to—do whatever you have to do to make that edible," he said, gesturing at the tin.
Severus stared at the label, thinking about how over-cooked the vegetables always were in these tins.
"Eat and run," Lucius encouraged him. "Narcissa and I will forgive you this once."
"Oh, very well."
Severus was sure that Lucius had something up his sleeve, but as he sat at the table at Lucius' right elbow, across from Narcissa, he found it difficult to care. The rack of lamb was much better than soup out of a tin, and the quiet of the Malfoy dining room was infinitely preferable to the bustle of headquarters. It was rare that Severus had the pleasure of a private dinner that was worth eating.
The conversation was pleasant, meandering over a dozen topics that were not the war, nor the return of the Dark Lord nor anything more political than the scandal of who the French Minister for Magic was entertaining in his villa. Narcissa regaled him with a constant string of vaguely interesting gossip about the Pureblood circle, pausing only as Draco added a few morsels about his friends.
After dessert, Lucius made Severus' excuses, though what he left unsaid was enough to prompt a knowing smile from Narcissa. If Draco caught the veiled suggestions, he didn't let on. Severus inclined his head politely to his hosts.
"Thank you for dinner," he said.
"Really, Severus, next time you must stay longer," Narcissa said. "It has been so good having you here again. Almost like old times."
"Almost," Severus agreed.
"Ah, he'll be here longer next time," Lucius said with a conspiratorial wink. "If he isn't, I'll see to it that he's obligated to attend three elaborate soirees as punishment."
Severus snorted in reply. "I'll see you soon, I'm sure," he said, extending a hand to Lucius.
"Maybe we can tempt you back tomorrow night as well," Lucius said. "After all, we're running out of chances to bribe you with good food before classes start again, right Draco?"
There was a flicker of a shadow across Draco's face, but it disappeared quickly. "Right," he said with a broad smile.
It might have sounded like a light-hearted jest, but as Severus stepped into the dark, he had a feeling that he'd just heard the answer to why Lucius was being so bloody insistent about this dinner business. The only question was whether Severus was offended that the Malfoys were attempting to bribe him. As he Apparated back to his own house, he thought he didn't really give a damn as long as they were trying to bribe him with such delectable meals.
When he arrived at his door, it was just in time to see Lupin walking away. "Lupin!" Severus hissed.
Lupin turned around and his face relaxed. "Severus," he said, quickening his pace to return to Severus' side. He lifted a hand to Severus' cheek, but Severus caught his wrist and shook his head.
"Not here," he whispered, gesturing towards the door.
As soon as they were inside, Lupin caught Severus in his arms, a crushing kiss splicing lips to lips. Severus leaned into the embrace and surrendered to the searing heat of Lupin's mouth, losing himself in the intensity of the unexpected greeting. When their lips eased apart, Severus leaned his head onto Lupin's shoulder, trying to find the mislaid muscles that belonged in his legs.
"Good evening to you, too," he murmured.
"Are you all right?" Lupin asked, his arms still wrapped tightly around Severus.
"Mmm." He really could have stayed like that forever. For the first time in years, he had the tempting thought in the back of his mind that this had possibly been the best day he'd had in well over a decade. A good night's sleep; waking to Lupin's kiss; an afternoon of reading; having the opportunity to relay to a captive audience what he had discovered while doing his dangerous duty as a spy; walking away from a chattering throng of witches and wizards who wanted him to stay and continue to talk to them; a dignified and scrumptious meal with one of the most influential wizards in all of Britain; and then to come home to welcoming arms and a hungry kiss—he couldn't have crafted a better day if he'd been trying.
"Do you want to go upstairs?" Severus asked.
"I want you to answer me. Are you all right?"
Severus placed a soft, gently sucking kiss on Lupin's lips. "Never better," he murmured.
"You said that the only reason you wouldn't be here was if you were summoned," Lupin reminded him. "What happened?"
The corners of Severus' lips turned up in mimicry of a smile. "You were worried about me."
"Yes!" Lupin said. "Haven't we established that I worry about you?"
Severus wound his fingers into Lupin's hair and pulled his head towards him for another kiss, long and lingering this time, with a teasing flick of tongue against lips that left Lupin breathing heavily when Severus released him. "Do you know how long it's been since anyone worried about me?" he asked.
"About five minutes," Lupin replied. "What happened?"
"Nothing," Severus said. "I had dinner with the Malfoys." Confusion creased Lupin's brow, and Severus brushed his fingers lightly against Lupin's neck. "When we made our arrangements, I'd forgotten I'd already accepted the invitation. Lucius was gracious enough to forgive the slight of my eating and Apparating."
"Is he up to something?" Lupin asked, leaning his head into Severus' shoulder while Severus ran his fingers through silver-frosted hair.
"He's always up to something. Nothing of particular interest this time," Severus replied absently. "Don't you want to take this upstairs?" He flicked his tongue against Lupin's ear, and Lupin shuddered.
"So it was a dry run?" Lupin asked, allowing Severus to usher him towards the stairs. "Shame you had to waste your time then."
Severus paused a moment, then laughed. "I wasn't on a mission, Lupin. I had dinner with an old schoolmate and his family."
It was Lupin's turn to pause. "What?"
"It was just dinner. Rack of lamb versus tin of soup—which would you choose?"
"He's a Death Eater," Lupin protested.
"So am I," Severus replied.
"But that's different. You're there for a good cause and—"
Severus placed his fingers over Lupin's lips. "Let's not argue about this. You don't like my choice of friends. I can honestly say that I don't particularly like yours either." Lupin still looked torn, and Severus climbed to the next step, standing at eye level with him. "Come on," he urged, circling his arms around Lupin's waist. "Just you and me, the rest of the world be damned for a night."
"I want to talk to you tonight," Lupin said. "Really talk."
Severus took a deep breath and straightened, pulling as far away as he could on a narrow staircase. "What do you want to talk about?" he asked.
"You. Two days ago, I couldn't touch you without you shying away like I was going to trap you. Now, suddenly, it's like you can't get enough. I want to know what's going on."
"I want you. Is that so hard to understand? It's what you wanted too, if I remember correctly."
"Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to listen to you telling me to back off for weeks then suddenly discover that you have a libido made of Mexican jumping beans?"
Severus chuckled. "Shall I take that as a compliment?"
Lupin ignored him. "I just want to know what made you change your mind. That's all. Answer that one question and I'll stop pestering you about anything else."
Severus cast a glance up the stairs at the bedroom, then sighed and made a gesture back downstairs. "Very well. If you want to talk, we'll talk." Lupin had the audacity to give him a wary look. "Damn it, Lupin! Make up your mind about what you want!"
After a brief hesitation, Lupin turned back downstairs and waited for Severus. "Where are we going?"
"Sitting room is more comfortable," Severus replied. Lupin turned into the sitting room and settled onto the sofa. Severus almost joined him, but thought better of it, choosing the chair instead, though he did move it so it was directly in front of Lupin. "All right," Severus said. "What are we talking about?"
"What brought on your sudden change of mind," Lupin replied.
Severus folded his arms across his chest and propped his feet on the sofa cushion beside Lupin. "I told you this morning—I rather enjoyed waking up to your kiss. Come to that, I rather enjoyed falling asleep with you in my arms. It was pleasant."
"And last night?"
"Are you going to question my motives every time I move?" Severus asked. "I was randy."
"But what brought it on?" Lupin pressed. "Yesterday morning, it seemed that we barely had a thread connecting us and suddenly...."
"Surely a Gryffindor isn't chastising me for making a rash decision," Severus said. "Are you?"
"No. Not exactly. I just don't understand it."
"It's what you wanted that first night," Severus pointed out. "You wanted me to profess undying love or never-ending lust or something along those lines, didn't you?"
Lupin didn't answer, but he looked away, and Severus took that as the affirmation he didn't really need.
"I made up my mind. I prefer being with you to not being with you. I'm giving you what you wanted, am I not?"
"I suppose, but..."
"Have you ever heard the old adage about not looking a gift horse in the mouth?" Severus asked.
Lupin shook his head, laughing a bit. "I was under the impression that saying stemmed from a gift horse the Trojans should have looked in the mouth."
"It has nothing to do with that," Severus said, his tone a bit more icy than intended. Had Remus Lupin just compared him to the Trojan Horse? "It's a reference to scrutinizing a gift. One should be grateful for what one receives."
Lowering his head a bit, Lupin leaned forward and placed a hand on Severus' knee. "I am grateful," he said. "I do appreciate it. And God knows I want it. I just--"
"You just don't trust it," Severus said.
Lupin sat back again, folding his arms across his chest. "I suppose sometimes I have a hard time trusting things that come easily."
They were at a crossroads, and even as inexperienced as he was, Severus recognized it. If he wanted an excuse to nip their budding relationship before it blossomed into something he would have a hard time walking away from, this was the time to do it. He had enjoyed waking up next to Lupin, and had enjoyed going to sleep beside him, and had enjoyed an evening of sexual mischief with him, and had enjoyed the banter over the last few days. He didn't fool himself into thinking he was in love, though. He thought, though he hadn't tested the theory, that he could still walk away with his pride and his defenses still largely intact.
Or he could offer another piece of himself and fight for what wasn't his but what he wanted. There was a difference between wanting and needing, and even if he didn't need Remus Lupin, he wanted him desperately. Faced with the decision, he was quiet for several minutes.
"I don't know what to say," Severus said. "If you're not willing to accept what I'm offering, why on earth should I waste my breath offering it? You want something, and if I don't give it, you sulk, and if I do give it, you don't trust me. How do I win that game? I don't play games I can't win."
Lupin looked down. "I don't know," he said. "I know you're right. I just don't know what to say."
"What did you hope to gain by going down this road?" Severus asked. "What did you hope to hear from me?"
"A reason," Lupin replied. "Any reason. Even if it's not a good reason. Even a stupid reason. Something that tells me that it's not just a whim or...." He trailed off. "You can't expect me not to notice that you go to a Death Eater gathering and come back with a raging hard-on. You can't expect me not to notice that, Severus."
Severus was quiet for a moment. "That's what this is really about, isn't it?" he asked.
Lupin didn't meet his eyes, but he nodded. "Yes. That bothered me. You're on our side and—go on and call me a Gryffindor, Severus. It's the truth. It's very black and white to me. Those wizards are evil, and yet you have dinner with them when you don't have to, and you go to gatherings of them and come back ready to fuck me into the floor, and you're different. You were sarcastic and hateful, and suddenly you're not. Suddenly you're affectionate and aroused and agreeable. You're agreeing to things I didn't really think you'd agree to and... Yes, Severus, it bothers me."
Severus moved to sit on the sofa beside him. "I don't expect you to understand," he said. "Perhaps you will in a week's time. I can't explain it and I don't want to try. If it bothers you so much, then maybe this was an experiment that didn't work."
"No reason at all, then?"
"I've given you my reason a number of times already," Severus replied. "I enjoyed it."
"Just like that?"
"What else is there supposed to be?" Again, Lupin didn't reply immediately. Severus took a chance and reached for his hand, feeling foolishly relieved when Lupin's fingers curled around his own. "Do you ever enjoy the feel of another person in your arms?" Severus asked, urging Lupin towards him.
Lupin leaned his head against Severus' chest. "Of course," he said.
"So do I," Severus whispered with a chaste kiss on Lupin's forehead. "I'm not so unlike everyone else you've ever met, believe it or not."
"The Death Eaters," Lupin persisted. "What is arousing about a gathering of Death Eaters?"
"Nothing," Severus replied. "Perhaps you'll understand better next week."
"Why can't you explain it to me now?"
Severus sighed. "It's my mind that is aroused after a meeting," he said. "When I came in last night, I'd been concentrating for two hours on what I was telling, what I was keeping to myself, what I needed to remember to tell all of you and what I needed to keep the Dark Lord from seeing. Walking out of one of those meetings alive is a triumph, and knowing that I've successfully pulled the wool over the Dark Lord's eyes one more time is..." He trailed off, shaking his head. "I can't explain it."
"Are you angry with me for asking?"
"No." He leaned his face against Lupin's hair, caressing his back and shoulders. "Are you upset with me?"
"No," Lupin said, shaking his head. "I wasn't upset to begin with. Just confused."
"Are you still confused?"
Lupin turned his face up to smile at Severus. "More than ever."
Severus tightened his arms around him. "I don't take pleasure in performing the vile tasks for which Death Eaters are feared," he whispered. "I'm no sadist."
"I know you aren't."
They fell silent, Severus absently stroking Lupin's back while Lupin lay against him, eyes closed and fingers laced through Severus' free hand. After a bit, Severus gave him a gentle nudge. "You're not falling asleep, are you?"
"No," was the muffled response.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm glad I came here tonight," Lupin said, straightening.
Severus reached up to caress Lupin's lips with the pad of his thumb. "I'm glad you did too," he said. "Any particular reason?"
Lupin caught his hand and pressed it to his cheek. "You're sane," he said, and Severus laughed aloud, caught off-guard by such a simple, yet forceful statement.
"I suppose I should be flattered to meet your standards, which are apparently sky-high," Severus said, his voice still edged with humor.
"Laugh, then. I mean it, though. Between Sirius and Harry, that house is becoming a regular asylum."
It was a measure of Severus' restraint that he bit back all the snide remarks Lupin had left him openings for. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked. Lupin didn't answer immediately, so Severus scooted to the end of the sofa and patted his lap. "Come on, lie down and tell me everything."
Lupin laughed sheepishly, but when Severus gestured for him again, he stretched out on the sofa and rested his head in Severus' lap. Severus smoothed the hair off Lupin's brow, stroking slowly and rhythmically, again and again. After a few moments, Lupin looked up at him. "Do you really want to hear it?" he asked.
"If you want to talk about it," Severus replied. Lupin still didn't start speaking right away, so Severus took a guess about the reason. "I'm not going to use anything you say against you."
"I'm not worried about you using it against me."
Severus' fingers paused in their gentle massage. "I won't use it against anyone else, either. What you say remains in confidence."
Lupin nodded, and Severus continued his ministrations. After a few more moments, Lupin took a deep breath. "I think Azkaban affected Sirius more than he's been letting on," he said.
Severus had a hard time caring, but he nodded what he hoped was a sympathetic nod.
"Yesterday, he was curled up by the fire—as Snuffles. Very lethargic." Lupin laughed, but it was a humorless laugh. "He wanted me to pet him. I didn't think I was ever going to convince him to be human again and tell me what was wrong."
Somehow, the idea of Lupin petting that damned, shaggy dog did little to improve Severus' already uncharitable disposition towards Black. "What was wrong?" he asked, keeping his tone carefully neutral.
"And I don't suppose he can just walk into St. Mungo's, can he?"
Lupin shook his head. "It isn't a physical pain, anyway. Can you imagine what it must be like to be locked in Azkaban for twelve years for a crime you didn't commit? No, not just for a crime you didn't commit, but one you never would commit? Something that, if it happened, would break your heart to begin with, then to be blamed for it?"
Severus thought that one through for a moment. "No," he said quietly. "I guess I can't imagine it."
"I shouldn't have stopped believing in him," Lupin said, closing his eyes. "I should have known he'd never harm James and Lily. That's what trust is, you know?"
"You can't blame yourself," Severus replied. "Even if you had believed him and trusted him all those years, what would it have accomplished? Do you think the Ministry of Magic would have set him free on the word of one of his schoolmates?"
"I suppose not," Lupin replied. "But I still feel guilty for it."
"Do you trust him now?"
"Implicitly? If Harry Potter died in his house tomorrow, and all the evidence pointed towards him, would you believe that he was innocent?"
Lupin was silent again for a moment. "That's a trick question. If I say yes, you'll call me a fool for being blindly loyal. If I say no, you'll tell me I don't really trust him then."
"Forget about him, then. Do you trust Dumbledore?"
"Yes," Lupin said without hesitating.
"And if something happened tomorrow... if Harry ended up dead and all the evidence pointed towards Albus Dumbledore..."
"I'd think there was something missing," Lupin said. He closed his eyes, and Severus didn't have to say anything. Lupin reached the conclusion on his own. "There's my answer, isn't it? I don't suppose I trust Sirius as implicitly as I do Dumbledore."
"And might that be because Sirius Black has given you reasons to doubt him?"
"Don't start, Severus."
"I'm not starting anything. If you don't want to talk about Sirius, fine. Talk about me. Do you trust me?"
"Yes." There was a hesitation that time, but he sounded sure when he said it.
"And if Harry ended up dead and all the evidence suggested me?" Lupin didn't answer right away, and Severus bent to kiss his forehead. "You'd believe I did it," Severus said. "Why? Because I've given you plenty of reasons to doubt me over the years. You know, rationally, that I am probably capable of murder. You know, rationally, that I probably have a motive. If the evidence suggested it, it would not seem outside the realm of possibility."
"Shh. You just said you trust me, and I believe it. You're right, I'd call you a fool if you said you wouldn't believe it even if all the evidence was against me. There's a time and a place for blind trust, Lupin, and you have to be discerning about who you give it to. I have a blind faith in Albus Dumbledore, but I can't imagine anyone else in the world who I couldn't find a reason to doubt. Maybe if I spent twenty-five years seeing again and again that even when I doubt you, you turn out to be right, then I would have that sort of blind faith in you as well. I don't, though."
Lupin nodded. "So how long did it take Dumbledore to win your trust?"
"I don't know," Severus said. "I never woke up one morning and said to myself, 'all right, it's been eighteen months, so I suppose I can trust him now'. I realized one day that I would do anything he told me to do, and ask why later, and I suppose that at that point, I trusted him implicitly."
"And that was...?"
Severus snorted. "Four years ago. He told me to keep an eye on Harry Potter."
"You didn't sound like you trusted him this evening."
"You said that the adults who should be responsible for Harry kept putting him in harm's way and facilitating his getting into trouble."
Severus nodded. "I've had my disagreements with Dumbledore on that point. I think he's being too lenient, and Potter has come to the conclusion that he can get away with anything he pleases."
"Then you don't trust Dumbledore's judgment."
"I trust his judgment when I think he's using it," Severus replied. "When he looks at that boy, I think he sees what everyone else sees."
Severus nodded again.
"And is that not what you see as well?" Lupin asked.
It was Severus' turn not to answer. He didn't blame anyone for seeing James Potter when they looked at his son; it was impossible not to. "I suppose that you never do?"
Lupin smiled. "Every now and then, I see a glimpse. I know when Harry's up to something, because he gets the same glint in his eye that James used to get when he was up to something, and I was usually a party to that."
"I see it in the way he struts around the school like the corridors are his personal dominion."
Lupin nodded, staring at the ceiling, his lips still curved in a smile. "James did act like he owned the damn school, didn't he?" Severus raised an eyebrow, and when Lupin saw it, he laughed. "I noticed it back then. I didn't care too much, because I was part of his chosen court, but yes, I saw it. If you're expecting me to start going on about St. James, you're going to be disappointed, Severus. I know exactly what we did while we were in school. Believe me when I say I know more about it than you do."
Severus stared down at Lupin, watching as blue eyes focused on a distant point that was either on the ceiling or far into the past. A glance to the ceiling showed nothing of interest there, so Severus assumed it was a point in the past. Still stroking Lupin's hair, he returned his gaze to the head in his lap.
A small smile turned up the corners of Lupin's lips, but there was a sadness to his eyes. For a moment, Severus wished he was the one who left such a blissful smile on Lupin's face. With a gentle caress, Severus urged him to look up. "Care to continue our conversation upstairs?" he asked.
The smile returned fully and Lupin sat up. "Sounds like a splendid idea," he said as he stood.
Severus stood as well, and Lupin wrapped his arms around him, pulling him close. "Thank you for letting me bend your ear."
"Anytime at all," Severus replied, distantly surprised to realize he meant it.
Severus extinguished the lamps and ushered Lupin up to the bedroom, following a few steps behind. Despite himself, Severus yawned, and Lupin caught his wrist as he covered his mouth to hide it. "Tired?" he asked.
Lupin shoved Severus' robe up over his head and tossed it to the floor, running his hands across Severus' chest as their lips touched again. "Too tired?" he asked as his fingers edged along Severus' stomach to hover near the waist of his underpants.
"I don't know," Severus said. "It's been a long day."
"Mmm-hmm," Lupin replied, not seeming the least impressed by Severus' half-hearted protest. Less than half-hearted, actually; Lupin drew his lips along Severus' jaw and nuzzled his neck and Severus couldn't remember why he was protesting at all. He shifted his hips to allow Lupin to push down his pants, then reached for Lupin's robe.
Their kiss paused long enough for Severus to divest Lupin of his robe and toss it aside with his own. Lupin pressed his lips hungrily to Severus', wrapping an arm around Severus' waist as they pressed against each other, only Lupin's pants to separate them. Severus took a stumbling step backward and collided with the edge of the mattress, sitting because he had no other option than to fall. Lupin bent over him, pressing him back onto the bed, still grinding against him as he climbed on top of Severus and straddled his hips. Severus groaned as he felt the bulge of Lupin's cock nudging his own through cotton underpants.
"Now, you were saying?" Lupin asked.
"Something about being tired..."
Severus leaned his head back and closed his eyes, raising his hips to rub himself against Lupin's cock. "I don't remember saying any such thing."
"Liar," Lupin said, caressing the head of Severus' cock. He leaned down again, his lips brushing across Severus' shoulder. Severus wound his fingers into Lupin's hair, shuddering at the thrill of Lupin's tongue brushing against his skin. "You like that?" Lupin asked, flicking his tongue against Severus' collarbone.
"It's acceptable," Severus replied in a bland voice, the master of disinterest even when his heart was racing and his cock throbbing.
"Talk to me," Lupin murmured.
"Haven't we talked enough for one night?" Severus asked, lifting his hips to grind against Lupin's again.
"No, never," Lupin replied. "I want to hear your voice."
Severus opened his eyes and lifted his head, staring into Lupin's eyes. "What?" he asked.
"Your voice," Lupin answered, kissing Severus' jaw. "Has no one ever told you that you have a voice like silk?"
"No," Severus said, blinking. "And what exactly does it mean to have a voice like silk?"
"Soft," Lupin whispered, his breath caressing Severus' jaw and sending shivers down to his toes. "Smooth. Refined." He nuzzled Severus' neck below his ear. "Please?"
Severus had heard of bizarre requests, but he'd never heard of anyone being turned on by a voice. "What do you want me to say?" he asked.
"Recite ingredients for all I care," Lupin replied, dragging his tongue along Severus' throat.
With a sigh of bliss, Severus leaned his head back again, arching his throat to Lupin's tongue, and said the first thing to come to his mind. "That feels wonderful."
"Tell me about it," Lupin urged, his tongue rubbing against the exposed skin.
Severus let out a slow breath. "It's like... it's like my blood is turning to lava... where your tongue touches," he whispered, feeling awkward.
"Lava?" Lupin repeated.
"Yes," Severus said as Lupin drew his tongue in a sharp line to his ear. "Molten stone. It's as if you're melting me." He arched his neck to the side as Lupin suckled at his ear, teasing and caressing.
"Melting away the stone with my kiss," Lupin said, drawing his lips to Severus' temple. "I like that."
"Warm and soft," Severus murmured as Lupin's lips brushed across the bridge of his nose. "Like a warm breeze."
"Do you like a warm breeze?" Lupin asked, his breath caressing Severus' lips and cheek.
Severus closed his eyes. Trying to conjure poetic images was taxing more of his brain than was available for the task at the moment. "Sometimes," he whispered hoarsely, "especially in the spring, it seems colder than I know it can possibly be in the dungeons. I'm not immune to the changing seasons, and spring has always been my favorite."
Lupin pressed a kiss to the hollow at the base of Severus' throat. "Tell me what you like about the spring," he urged.
With a blissful sigh, Severus stroked the back of Lupin's neck. "It's the warmth. I'm always tired of being cold, but the sun isn't cruel and punishing yet. It's just a gentle warmth, and a fresh smell, the whisper of green on limbs that had been dead..."
"Keep talking," Lupin said, nuzzling and lapping his way down Severus' chest.
Severus thought for a moment, but his mind seemed more than content to hibernate and leave the control of his body to his cock, and without his mind urging feeding him words, his lips were silent.
"Tell me what you want me to do," Lupin murmured. "Anything at all. Ask it, and I'll do it."
Endless possibilities collided in Severus' mind, though none presented him with words to voice the requests. He wound his fingers through Lupin's hair again, gently pressing him downward, but Lupin resisted.
"Tell me," Lupin repeated. "Just say it."
It was torture of the worst sort. He squeezed his eyes shut, his mind sifting through requests that his tongue refused to make. I want your mouth around my cock, he thought frantically, but when he opened his mouth, the words dried on his lips.
I want you to wrap your hand around me and jerk me off. His face burned at the thought of saying that.
I want you to rub your cock against mine until we both come. The thoughts flitted into and out of his mind, none taking hold, all horrifying him.
I want you to figure it out for yourself and not make me tell you what I want. He thought he could have said that one, but he knew that wasn't what Lupin wanted to hear.
"Where do you want my hands?" Lupin prompted, lacing his fingers through Severus' own and pressing his palm against Severus' palm.
Severus guided Lupin's hands to his hips, and Lupin didn't protest. "Don't tickle me." Of all the things he could have said, Severus couldn't imagine a less dignified request, and he grimaced at having made it. To his credit, Lupin didn't laugh.
"Not unless you ask me to," he said, resting his hands on Severus' hips. "Now, what do you want me to do?" Severus didn't answer right away, and Lupin held his hands still, fingers splayed across his hips. "Do you want me to massage?" he asked, his fingers kneading gently for a moment. "Or do you want me to caress?" He stroked Severus' skin with a soft touch.
"Caress," Severus said at last, and Lupin began a slow, methodical caress, stroking him with faint touches that made Severus bite his lip again, this time to keep from laughing. "A little harder," he said. Lupin's caress became more substantial, fingers trailing from Severus' waist to the tops of his thighs, then curving around the outer edges of his bum and tracing back up to his lower back.
"Like this?" Lupin asked.
"Yes," Severus whispered. "Like that."
The circular motion of Lupin's hands was at once electrifying and torturous. "What else?" Lupin prodded, kneeling at the foot of the bed between Severus' thighs as Severus lifted his hips.
Torture, Severus decided. It was absolute torture.
"Just tell me," Lupin urged, leaning forward to place a kiss against Severus' belly. Severus' cock responded when his mouth refused, nudging against Lupin's chin. "Do you want me to suck you off?" Lupin asked, his voice a low growl now, his breath sending sparks along Severus' spine.
"Yes," Severus groaned, lifting his hips again, his cock twitching desperately.
"Say it," Lupin said. "Tell me what you want."
Breathing harder, Severus lifted his hips again and again, but Lupin moved away each time, only his breath caressing the throbbing erection that bobbed desperately in front of his face.
"Tell me what to do," Lupin said again.
Severus' groan turned into an undignified whimper. "I want you..."
"You want me to what?"
He was going to explode if Lupin didn't touch him soon. "Your mouth," he gasped. "I want your mouth..."
"Where do you want it?"
"For fuck's sake, Lupin, put your mouth on my cock and shut up!" The words were out of his mouth before he realized he was thinking them, and he lifted his head, struggling to prop himself on his elbows from the sprawled position. His eyes met Lupin's, and for an awful moment, Severus thought he was going to have to apologize for his outburst before anything else would happen.
Lupin smiled a slow, lascivious smile, though. "As you wish," he said, then lowered his mouth onto Severus cock.
Severus collapsed back onto the bed again as Lupin's mouth closed around him, the desperate desire satiated for the moment just to feel hot and moist surrounding his throbbing, aching cock. The relief was short-lived, though, replaced by a gnawing need as Lupin held his mouth perfectly still. Severus lifted his hips, but Lupin raised his head. Closing his eyes, Severus pleaded, "Remus, please..."
Swirling his tongue around the head of Severus' cock, Lupin lifted his mouth off enough to say, "Please what?"
With a shuddering sigh, Severus lifted his hips again, but to no avail. "Slide your lips along my cock," he whispered haltingly.
Lupin pushed Severus' foreskin back and took his cock into his mouth again, lowering his head slowly to draw Severus into his mouth, then pulling back. Again, and again, tantalizing and slow, Lupin's lips slipped along the swollen length of Severus' cock.
"Faster," Severus whispered, and Lupin moved faster. "Tighter." Lupin sucked lightly, the insides of his mouth forming a soft sheath that constricted around Severus. "Perfect," Severus murmured, tilting his head back, his breathing becoming labored.
The pace was agonizing, but it was a blissful agony. He opened his eyes and lifted himself to his elbows again, watching as his cock disappeared into Lupin's mouth, again and again. The vision of Lupin's mouth forming an 'o', the hollows in his cheeks, the glossy fog of lust covering his eyes, was a vision that Severus wanted to hold onto.
"Oh, God, yes," Severus murmured, tilting his head back again, his throat arched upward. He closed his eyes, wondering distantly if it was possible to die of pleasure. If it was, he seemed in danger of it.
His eyes flew open again as he felt a pressure against the backs of his thighs, and he had no choice but to lean back onto the bed again as Lupin lifted his legs, bending his knees and rising off the floor, still holding Severus' cock in his mouth. The soft tickle of Lupin's hair against his stomach threatened to be Severus' undoing, but his protests were cut short.
Lupin pressed his hand against Severus' sac, massaging gently, rubbing his balls against the base of his cock. Severus' breathing grew labored as Lupin massaged his palm against Severus' arse, fingers stretching against his balls.
Severus urged him on with a series of incoherent hisses and groans, and when Lupin pressed a fingertip at the base of Severus' balls, he answered with a strangled gasp. Lupin sucked hard suddenly, and Severus felt every muscle in his body tense as Lupin wrapped the fingers of his other hand around the base of his cock and pumped his hand up and down vigorously.
"Oh God," Severus groaned, stuffing his fist into his mouth in a futile attempt to contain the undignified noises he knew he was making. "Oh fuck."
Release was an explosion, and Lupin sucked harder, drawing Severus into his mouth deeper and faster as Severus clutched the sheets, waves of raw pleasure ripping through his body on wings of fire. It was as though he'd spilled his muscles into Lupin's mouth along with his cum, and he sank into the mattress again, panting, eyes fluttering as he stared unseeing at the ceiling above him.
Lupin drew his mouth off Severus' softening cock, his tongue lapping at the head, then at Severus' belly, as though licking every lingering drop of salty, pungent evidence from Severus' body.
Head still resting heavily against the mattress, Severus flicked his fingers at Lupin, gesturing for him to join him. Lupin stretched out beside him, draping an arm over Severus' chest. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" he asked, nipping at Severus' ear.
Severus exhaled sharply and shook his head. That was all he could do. "You're going to regret that," he muttered.
Lupin nuzzled his neck. "Why?"
"Because if you expect me to move an inch in the next twelve hours, you're going to be sorely disappointed."
"Oh," Lupin murmured. "That does present a problem, doesn't it?" He moved closer, draping a leg over Severus' thigh, and Severus knew exactly what the bulge pressing against his hip was.
"Should've thought of that before you tortured me," Severus muttered, his eyes drifting closed. He felt marginally guilty, but he hadn't been far off when he said he wasn't moving for twelve hours. It was going to be at least thirty minutes before his muscles reasserted themselves, and as relaxed as he was and as late as the hour had grown, there was a distinct possibility that he wasn't going to be awake in thirty minutes, however guilt-ridden his sleep might be.
"I guess I'll have to take matters into my own hands then, hrm?" Lupin said, nuzzling Severus' neck again.
Severus wondered idly just when Lupin had taken off his pants, but it was a fleeting thought as the other wizard nestled closer to him, nudging him onto his side. An arm circled his waist, and Severus leaned back into Lupin, his eyes closed. Lupin nipped at his ear, and Severus murmured something that didn't even make sense to himself.
He was hovering on the edge of sleep's oblivion when he felt a hardness at the base of his bum and his eyes flew open. "Wha—" he began, looking over his shoulder at Lupin.
Lupin nuzzled his neck again. "Shh," he whispered. "I'm not going hurt you. Trust me."
A little doubtful, but feeling guilty enough to put his doubts aside, Severus reached for a pillow and tucked it under his head, staring at the opposite wall. Lupin's cock nudged at his buttocks again, and Severus closed his eyes, bracing himself for what he was sure was going to be an uncomfortable invasion.
It didn't come. Lupin pressed his cock against Severus' arse, his hips bucking. Surprisingly, Severus felt the tingle of desire stirring in his own cock as Lupin rubbed himself against his bum.
"Are you enjoying that?" Severus asked, pressing his hips back against Lupin.
Lupin didn't answer, and when Severus glanced over his shoulder, it was to find him biting his lower lip, his eyes closed as he tightened his arm around Severus' waist. Severus straightened, leaning back against Lupin, rubbing his arse against Lupin's cock. Lupin groaned.
"Does that feel good?" Severus asked, moving his hips to meet Lupin's shallow thrusts against him. It was a bit disconcerting to not be party at all to his partner's attempts to find release, but if Lupin's breathing was any indication, Severus didn't need to worry about his pleasure.
"Do you ever think about this?" Severus asked, schooling his voice to his most caressing tone. Lupin whimpered, and Severus took that as encouragement. "Do you know that you make me feel like a randy teenager again?" he asked. "Waking up every fucking morning with my cock hard as a rock. Trembling in the shower as I wrap my hand around myself. I imagine your mouth... your hand... your cock against mine. What do you think about?"
"Severus," Lupin murmured, leaning his head against Severus' neck.
"Do you call out my name?" Severus asked. "I whisper yours, Remus."
Lupin jerked against him.
"I close my eyes and I see your face. The way your head tilts back, the way your throat bares, the way your lips part..."
Lupin tightened his arms around him, rubbing himself faster against Severus' arse as Severus thrust back against him.
"Don't hold back, Remus. I know how you taste when you come. I know how you look, how you sound. I want to know what it feels like to have you release against my arse, your arms around me." Lupin made a strangled noise, and Severus grasped Lupin's arms, pulling them tighter around himself. "Come for me," he whispered.
Lupin lowered his head against the back of Severus' shoulder, and Severus felt a spurt of hot liquid against his arse. Tightening his arms around Severus' waist, Lupin sank his lips onto Severus' neck, sucking until it almost hurt, then finally relaxed.
They lay still for a moment, Severus listening to the ragged sound of Lupin breathing. When his breathing slowed to a steady pace again, Lupin rolled away, and Severus glanced back at him, feeling suddenly exposed without Lupin's arms around him.
"I'll go get a flannel," Lupin said, not meeting his eyes. He was out the door before Severus could speak.
Severus lay blinking at the opposite wall, his elbow tucked under his ear, listening to the sound of running water, then the toilet flushing, then water running again. Lupin returned a moment later, flannel in his hand, and Severus jerked as he felt it against his arse.
Still not speaking, Lupin pressed the warm cloth against him and wiped gently. Severus' face burned, and when Lupin finished and took the rag back to the lavatory, Severus summoned his missing energy and rolled off the bed. Both their wands lay on the dresser, and Severus' hand hovered over them for a moment before he picked up his own and turned it to the bed. He cast a cleaning spell and was smoothing the sheets when Lupin returned and turned out the lights.
Without a word, they both climbed into bed, Lupin reaching for Severus as they settled. Severus nestled against him hesitantly, and they lay in silence. Silence awarded Severus plenty of opportunity to recall with painful detail every word he'd said, every confession he'd made, and he was glad his back was to Lupin. He wasn't sure he'd be able to face him again.
After several long, awkward moments, Lupin nuzzled Severus' neck. "Are you all right?" he asked.
Severus nodded, his eyes still staring, unfocused, into the darkness. "Are you?" he asked.
Lupin pulled him closer. "I am if you are. Are you sure you're all right? I wasn't intending to... let things go so far without talking... first."
With a snort, Severus leaned his head back against Lupin's chest. "We never seem to talk about boundaries before we're faced with one, do we?" he asked.
"Did I barrel past one?"
Lupin kissed the back of Severus' neck. "Do you really think about me when you're jerking off?"
Severus' face burned in the darkness. He closed his eyes, as though he could force that admission to be a nightmare.
"If you don't, it's all right. It was a nice thing to hear, though."
Twining his fingers into Lupin's, Severus opened his eyes. "Yes," he whispered. "I spend entirely too much time thinking about you."
He could feel Lupin smiling against his neck. "I think about you, too," he whispered.
Severus rolled over to face him, and their lips touched. A suggestion of salt lingered in Lupin's mouth and it curled Severus' tongue. "I suppose it's official, then," Severus said, brushing his fingers over Lupin's face.
"We're a couple of queer old men." Lupin laughed, and the laughter was what they needed to cut through the tension. Severus pulled Lupin's head down to rest on his chest. "Good night," Severus whispered, kissing Lupin's forehead.
"Good night," Lupin replied.
As Severus drifted off to sleep, he thought he might survive the humiliation of his admission after all.