Warnings: Teenagers doing wildly inappropriate things in inappropriate places
The Best Christmas Ever
A/N: Gift fic for karasu_hime, written for the Secret Santa Exchange on lupin_snape. Story and characterizations of Snape and Lupin inspired by Karasu's artwork in general, with scenes based on specific pieces.
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, but I'll take the liberty of giving them away anyway ;)
XII: Covert Operations
From his vantage point behind a shelf of books on the many varied uses of nightshade, Severus watched the library door, waiting with bated breath. Lupin came in, and a brief smile tugged up the corners of Severus' lips—the first time he'd felt even remotely like smiling since McGonagall had ordered them to write their parents.
"Lupin!" he whispered, and Lupin's eyes narrowed as he searched, then a wide grin broke across his face as his eyes landed on Severus. He hurried towards him, and had no more than edged into the shadows before reaching for Severus and pulling him into his arms. Severus leaned against him, and their lips met in a long, desperate kiss.
Lupin's hands slid around to Severus' back, and down over his waist to cup his arse. Severus pressed back against him with a groan muffled in their kiss. He felt his cock beginning to stir, despite the fact that this had been the last thing on his mind until fifteen seconds ago, and either his interest piqued Lupin's interest, or Lupin had independently arrived at the same conclusion—with a low growl, Lupin pressed Severus against a bookshelf, pressing himself against him.
They parted for a moment, and Severus closed his eyes as he felt Lupin's hands fumbling with his trousers. "What are you doing?" Severus whispered.
The fumbling paused, and Lupin's eyes lifted to meet his. "Do you not want to...?"
"Here? We'll get caught."
"We haven't been caught yet, have we?" Lupin lowered his lips to Severus' again, and Severus leaned his head back.
"Is all the way up at the front desk," Lupin finished for him. Severus breathed a sigh that mingled relief with desperation as his cock came free of his trousers. "The only way we're going to get caught is if we keep talking."
He pushed Severus' trousers down over his hips so that the waist nestled just under his arse, and Severus gave up his protests as a hand wrapped around his cock, stroking with firm, sure strokes. No words were exchanged as Lupin undid his own trousers, and there was only a soft moan as their cocks touched.
With a gentle, nudging pressure, Lupin turned Severus around, and Severus found himself gripping the bookshelf as Lupin's hand pumped on his cock, Lupin's cock pressing and rubbing against his arse. His knuckles were turning white from the effort of not crying out and not moaning and not moving and not making a bloody sound.
It was only a moment before Lupin stiffened, sinking his lips to Severus' shoulder as he pressed harder against him. Through force of will, Severus held still as he felt a sticky heat against his arse, and through force of will, Severus did not come all over the books in front of him.
Lupin didn't seem to notice immediately as he leaned against Severus, breathing hard while Severus bit his lower lip until he thought he might bite it in half. He needed release, and he was desperate for it, and as a minute passed, and then another, he decided the books could be damned. He couldn't even wedge his hand to his own cock at the moment, though.
When Lupin raised his head from the back of Severus' shoulder, he seemed to realize for the first time that the cock his hand was still wrapped around was still rock hard and its owner was rocking his hips in a futile attempt to find release.
Severus squeezed his eyes shut, suppressing a whimper as Lupin took a step away from him and edged towards the end of the shelves.
"Pince is still up front," he whispered. Severus felt something brushing his face and opened his eyes to find Lupin's hand at his cheek. "What do you want me to do?"
Severus' mouth dropped open, and he looked around for a moment, then whispered, "Suck me?"
Lupin nodded and, after another quick kiss, he sank to his knees in front of Severus. Severus stuffed a knuckle in his mouth as Lupin's tongue flicked against the head of his cock. With short, flicking strokes, Lupin licked and lapped at his cock, and Severus squeezed his eyes shut at the teasing. It was torture. Blissful torture, but torture nonetheless.
When he felt Lupin's moth covering his cock, Severus almost cried out, but he bit down on his knuckle instead and wove the fingers of his free hand into Lupin's hair. Lupin slid his mouth back and forth over Severus' cock, harder and faster, until Severus dropped his other hand to Lupin's head as well.
The sharp edge of the bookshelf pressed just under his arse, the cold, still air caressed his balls, but the warm, wet mouth on his cock was all that he could feel. His eyes opened wide as he felt a tightening behind his balls, and, with a strangled gasp, he thrust into Lupin's mouth. Lupin pulled back slightly, and swallowed around Severus' cock, his tongue and mouth creating waves of pressure as Severus rocked back and forth slowly.
Lupin stood slowly and drew Severus into his arms. Severus leaned against him, eyes closed, knees jelly, waiting for his bones to return. He was vaguely aware that Lupin was pulling his underpants back up, tucking his spent cock back in, then pulling his trousers up as well.
With a soft kiss on his cheek, Lupin wrapped his arms around Severus again, holding him close. "I thought I might spend the night with you tonight," Lupin whispered.
Severus pulled back enough to look at him in confusion. "What?"
A faint blush brightened the flush that already colored Lupin's cheeks. "If you, er, wanted me to, that is."
Sliding his arms around Lupin's waist, Severus closed his eyes again. "All right."
Lupin kissed his temple. "Are you ready to go now?" he asked.
It was early, but Severus nodded. He was sure they could find something to do until it was time to go to bed. "I'm going to check out a book," Severus said, grabbing the first book his fingers touched. "Wait a few minutes before you come?"
Lupin nodded, and leaned in to kiss him again. Severus thrust his tongue between Lupin's lips, and when he pulled back, he noted with a certain satisfaction that Lupin's eyes held a glazed expression. He dropped his hand to the front of Lupin's trousers, and Lupin's eyes widened, his cock stiffening under Severus' touch.
"I'll be waiting for you," Severus whispered, glancing at the title of the book he'd chosen as he walked up to the front desk to check it out.
Severus almost ran to the dungeons, deposited his borrowed book in his dormitory, then returned to linger outside the Slytherin common room, his foot wedged in the door, waiting until he heard footsteps descending the dungeon stairs. A moment later, Lupin's golden hair came into view, swinging slightly as he looked around.
"This way," Severus said, his soft words echoing off the stone.
Lupin grinned and came towards him, and Severus opened the door to let him in. As soon as the door shut behind them, Lupin reached for Severus' hand, pulling him close. "That was a cruel trick, making me hard before I had to leave the library," Lupin said, guiding Severus to a desk.
"I thought it was fun, personally," Severus replied.
"Did you?" Lupin asked in a throat, husky voice that sent shivers down Severus' spine.
"Yes," Severus whispered, catching his lower lip between his teeth again as Lupin undid his trousers. Severus' eyes were on the bulging front of Lupin's open trousers as Lupin peeled off his shirt and tossed it aside.
"And what do you think you gained?" Lupin asked as he nudged off his shoes. Severus' mouth went dry as Lupin pushed his trousers and pants down, revealing his cock to Severus' searing eyes. "Because you know that since you made me hard," Lupin said, kicking his pants and trousers aside, "you're going to have to take care of it now."
Severus leaned forward to kiss him and nearly stumbled as Lupin stepped out of his way. With a deceptive casualness, Lupin turned his back and bent over, peeling off his socks. Severus felt his own cock coming to life again as he watched Lupin's arse in the air. When Lupin straightened again, Severus was undoing his own trousers.
Lupin laid a hand over Severus' hand, stopping him. "What would you say if I told you I want to fuck you now?" he asked.
With a groan, Severus pressed himself against Lupin's hand. "Please?" he asked, and Lupin laughed suddenly.
"I've never heard you say please," he said, letting go of Severus' hand and taking a step back.
Severus felt a flush creeping into his face, but one look at Lupin's cock, hard and bobbing hopefully in front of him, and Severus decided he wasn't offended at Lupin's laughter after all. "I... er... I have a jar of lubricant," Severus offered, ducking his head to pay more attention to the removal of his shoes than was strictly necessary.
"Do you?" Lupin asked.
Severus nodded. "I found a potion," he muttered.
"You made it yourself?"
Severus nodded again, his cheeks heating again.
"You really did like me in your arse, didn't you?" Lupin asked. Severus' eyes met Lupin's again, and he nodded a third time, almost imperceptibly. Lupin caught his face between his hands and pressed his lips to Severus'. "So did I," he whispered. "Where is it?"
"I'll go get it," he said. As he walked to the dormitory, he peeled off the rest of his clothes and left them on his bed before retrieving the jar of pale blue, translucent cream that he'd tried four times before getting right. It gleamed like a jar of liquid pearl when held up to the light, and when spread between two fingers, it left a silken sheen.
As he walked back to the common room, he felt a thrill coursing straight to his cock—there was something forbidden about parading around in his skin, and it was a heady sensation. When he opened the door to the common room again, Lupin had a blanket around his shoulders.
"Do you mind if I light the fire?" Lupin asked.
Severus pointed his wand at the grate, and a fire leapt into life. "Cold?" he asked, setting the jar aside.
Lupin nodded, and Severus reached for him, pulling him close. Lupin nestled against him, and Severus steered them towards the couch nearest the fire. "I should have thought of that."
"Are you not cold?"
Severus shook his head. "You get used to it."
Lupin leaned against his chest, and Severus ignored the way his cock demanded attention as he wrapped the blanket tighter around Lupin's shoulders. The desire was a slow burn that began at the base of his cock and radiated outward, but there was something almost comforting about it. Usually, it irritated him until he found a way to satisfy the urge, but just now, with Lupin lying in his arms, it made him feel that this was what life was supposed to be about.
After a few minutes, Lupin stopped shivering, and he lifted his head to kiss Severus' lips. "Better?" Severus asked, his lips moving against Lupin's.
"Much," Lupin said, turning around. He sat facing Severus, his legs wrapped around Severus' waist, and their lips met again, in a deeper, more demanding kiss. Their hands roamed freely over each other's bodies, their lips never parting as fingers and palms caressed chests and hips. When they finally parted again, Severus was breathing heavily, his cock aching. When he looked down, he saw that Lupin's cock was hard, too, and twitching as much as his own was.
"I can never decide if I like being this hard or not," Lupin whispered, echoing Severus' own thoughts.
Severus kissed him again. "I like you being this hard," he murmured, attempting to deflect the conversation. Lupin's smile was quickly becoming one of Severus' favorite things.
"Do you still want to...?"
Severus nodded, letting the sentence hang incomplete. He didn't have another word for it besides fucking, but fucking seemed crude after they'd just spent so long lying in each other's arms.
Severus moved out from under Lupin and retrieved the jar of lubricant from the table where he'd left it. As he was unscrewing the lid, he felt Lupin behind him, arms snaking around his waist, chin over his shoulder.
Lupin took the jar from him and dipped a finger into the cream, holding it up to the light. "You really made this yourself?" he asked.
"Was it hard?"
"No," Severus lied.
Lupin turned his finger so that the shimmering cream caught the light. "You were hoping we'd do this again, then, weren't you?"
Severus didn't say anything, and Lupin lowered his lips to the back of his shoulder. A heartbeat later, Severus closed his eyes and sighed as he felt a finger pressing against his arse. He'd tried over the last week—Merlin knew he'd tried—but he hadn't been able to do to himself what Lupin had done in the Gryffindor dormitories the previous weekend.
He caught his lip between his teeth and leaned forward, bracing his hands on the table. Whatever it was that Lupin had done, he was doing it again now.
Lupin worked a finger into him, and Severus felt another thrill of desire shoot from the base of his spine to his cock, and as Lupin moved his finger in and out, Severus was trembling. It wasn't the fiery explosion he remembered, but it was good. It was damn good. Severus concentrated carefully on screwing the lid back onto the jar and moving it aside, to a safer corner of the table, then wrapped his hands around the edge of the table and leaned onto his arms.
"That's not the sound you were making last time," Lupin said after a moment, pausing with his finger.
"What was I doing last time?" Severus asked, his eyes closed as he tried to hold onto the sensation.
"Whimpering and moaning," Lupin said.
"I was not."
"Yes you were, and you know what? You were dead sexy when you were doing it."
Severus raised an eyebrow that he knew Lupin couldn't see. Dead sexy, was he? No one had ever said anything even remotely similar to that to him. He moaned, but it sounded forced to his own ears. Lupin was moving his finger again, and Severus found it easier to moan convincingly as that gentle pressure invaded him again and again. When Lupin added a second finger, Severus' moan was genuine, and he couldn't have contained it if he tried.
"God, that feels good," Severus breathed, lowering his head as Lupin's two fingers worked into him again and again. His cock ached for a touch, and he moved his hand down to grasp himself, but Lupin blocked him.
"Not yet," Lupin whispered. Severus could feel Lupin's cock against the back his thigh, and that was almost as wonderful as fingers in his arse. As he folded his arms on the table and leaned his head against them, Severus reflected that he'd just missed a golden opportunity to whimper. How did one go about whimpering anyway?
He was deep in thought on that point when a jolt of raw pleasure stabbed at him, and he cried out sharply, thrusting back against Lupin's hand. Lupin stopped suddenly.
"What the hell am I doing to make you do that?" Lupin asked, sounding frustrated.
"I don't know, but do it again."
Lupin moved his fingers again, and Severus gripped the table, his knuckles turning white, his cock twitching with the anticipation of that stab of pleasure, but it didn't come again. Lupin wasn't thrusting his fingers into him anymore, but was exploring, and Severus drew a shuddering breath as Lupin found his mark.
"There?" Lupin asked.
"Oh, God, Lupin..."
"Like this?" Lupin moved his fingers, and Severus' only answer was an incoherent jumble of gasps and moans. "Like that," Lupin muttered.
Severus leaned his head onto the table, and he was whimpering, whether he realized it or not.
"Oh, fuck yes," Lupin whispered, moving his fingers faster. "Just like that." Severus was sure that made sense.
"Fuck me," Severus whispered. "I can't... just fuck me..."
Lupin's fingers slid out, but almost before Severus could miss them, Lupin's cock was pressing in. It almost hurt, but not quite, just like it was almost torture to be so hard. Once Lupin was inside him, he felt whole for just a moment before the desire began to mount again.
With a groan, Lupin thrust into him, and Severus cried out. He groped for his own cock, but Lupin beat him to it, and as Severus leaned against the table, thrusting into Remus' hand as Remus thrust into his arse, Severus thought he might actually die from it.
"Don't come yet," Lupin whispered raggedly. The thrusting paused, and Severus moaned, but Lupin was just adjusting his position. "It's too good to stop now."
Severus wasn't sure that he was capable of not coming, but he tried. After another moment, Lupin stopped again, and Severus looked over his shoulder. Lupin had his lip caught between his teeth.
"Why aren't we coming?" Severus asked, rocking back against Lupin.
Lupin's face contorted. "Fuck if I know," he said, thrusting hard again.
Severus moved Lupin's hand out of the way and wrapped his own hand around his cock, pumping vigorously. At last, he felt the tightening behind his balls again, and, with a strangled cry, he came hard, spilling all over the table.
"Fuck," Lupin whispered behind him, tightening his arms around Severus' waist. Lupin came as hard as Severus had, and Severus felt the hot liquid dripping down his thigh as Lupin finally pulled away.
Severus leaned his head onto his arms again.
"Are you all right?" Lupin asked, breathing hard.
"No," Severus muttered. "I'm dead."
Lupin chuckled, and Severus felt himself being pulled against Lupin's chest. "Come on," he said. "Let's go get in bed." Severus glanced at the desk and the floor, and Lupin kissed his shoulder. "We can clean that up later."
Remus followed Severus through a door and down a dimly lit corridor to the dormitories. The room itself was similar to the Gryffindor dormitories, though with six beds in a room instead of five, and the hangings were silver and green instead of red and gold. The furniture was a darker wood, and the light came through a green-tinted window high in the wall and a chandelier in the shape of serpents. Otherwise, there was nothing different.
Severus guided him towards a four-poster bed with heavy drapes, and Remus climbed in, sliding between the sheets. Severus crawled in beside him and, a moment later, they were nestled in each other's arms, Severus' head on Remus' chest.
Slowly, what little light was drifting in from the window faded, and there was nothing but the glow from the chandelier. Remus' breathing had returned to normal, and Severus' had slowed so that Remus thought he might be asleep. He hugged him a bit closer, though, and Severus looked up at him.
"Are you all right?" Remus asked.
Severus nodded, and Remus shifted a bit, holding him tight.
"Are you sure? You're awfully quiet."
"I'm always quiet," Severus said.
Remus didn't point out that Severus had not been very quiet a few minutes ago. "All right."
They were both silent for a moment, then Severus turned his face to Remus' chest. "I... er... I really enjoyed that."
Remus smiled into the dim light. "I could tell," he said, stroking Severus' back. "I enjoyed it too."
Severus didn't say anything right away, but a moment later, he cleared his throat. "What I meant was... er... I... er... I like this. Being together. With you."
With a smile, Remus looked at the top of Severus' head. "I like it too," he said softly. "It's nice."
And it was, now that Remus thought about it. It wasn't just a fuck or a wank anymore, and he wasn't sure when that had happened, but he liked this-- this lying in Severus' bed, holding him. He liked lying in Severus' arms. He rubbed Severus' back in slow, gentle circles, urging him closer. Severus nestled closer.
"I love you," Remus said quietly, very suddenly and surprising even himself.
Severus' head came up as though it were on a spring, and he blinked at Remus for a few minutes before his mouth opened and shut again. "You do?" he asked finally.
Remus smiled and reached for him, pulling him back into his arms. "Yes," he said with certainty. "I do."
Severus settled onto his chest again. "I think I might love you, too," he said after a minute.
Shaking his head slightly, Remus held him closer again, deciding to interpret that with less doubt than Severus had infused it.
It was still and quiet, and Remus was aware that it was cold outside of the blankets, but Severus was a comforting warm weight against him and the blankets were heavy and thick. The castle was settling in for the night, creaking and moaning as though the stones themselves were finding comfortable positions to sleep in. It was early, but Remus was on the brink of sleep himself, and might have closed his eyes if it weren't for a tremor that shook Severus.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Remus asked. Severus was trembling.
"Fine," Severus whispered.
"You don't sound fine," Remus said, turning onto his side so he was facing Severus. Severus didn't meet his eyes, and he seldom smiled anyway, but Remus thought he could see a sadness to Severus' expression. "Severus?"
"I don't want to leave Hogwarts," he whispered, lying on his back and staring up into the darkness.
"Your mum won't really take you out, will she?"
Severus nodded. "She would. She said she wasn't going to keep wasting good money if I wasn't going to take my education seriously."
"You do take your education seriously," Remus pointed out reasonably. "You make excellent marks, and you haven't been in trouble once this year, have you?"
"It only takes once."
Remus draped his arm over Severus' waist and pulled him against him. Severus rolled onto his side, facing Remus, but still managing to avoid his eyes. "You really think she'll take you out?" Remus asked.
Severus nodded again. "She was right pissed off last summer."
"Maybe your dad—"
"Oh. I'm sorry."
Remus blinked, not sure what to say to that. He decided on saying nothing, and rubbed Severus' back. "I'll miss you if she takes you out."
Severus finally met his eyes. "I'll miss you, too."
They must have fallen asleep, though Remus didn't realize it. He was quite aware when he woke, though, to the sound of a door slamming open. His eyes flew open as he jerked away from Severus.
"I thought no one else was here!" he hissed.
"No one's supposed to be!" Severus replied, looking around, as wide-eyed as he was.
"Severus Snape!" came a shrill woman's voice, and Severus paled.
"Shit," he whispered, looking at Remus. "It's my mother."
Remus stared at the door, then looked around the room for a place to hide.
"Quick," Severus said, scrambling out from under the blankets. "Under the bed." He shoved Remus under the bed and clambered to his trunk, jerking it open. From under the bed, Remus couldn't see much, but he didn't need to see. The door to the dormitory opened and Severus yelped, jerking the blanket off the bed.
"M-mother," Severus stuttered.
There was silence, then a cold voice responding. "Get dressed," she snapped. "Are those your clothes strewn all over the common room?"
Remus bit his lower lip, watching Severus' feet as he moved to the foot of the bed again. "Y-yes, ma'am."
"I wish I knew who taught you to be such a slob," she muttered. Remus stole a glance in the direction of her voice, and saw her heels. She'd apparently turned her back to give Severus space to dress. "I had a very interesting owl this morning. I don't suppose you can guess what the letter said?"
Severus went still. "I—"
"Shut up, Severus. I'm not very happy with you at the moment."
Remus would have given anything to not be witness to this.
"So, you've decided that I was bluffing when I said I'd take you out of this school, is that it?"
"Then I suppose you've raised your marks. Outstanding in all your classes?"
Severus didn't say anything.
"What's your mark in Potions?"
"Outstanding," Severus whispered.
Remus thought that if he were the one announcing his marks like that, his voice would hold a bit more pride. Severus' threatened to fade into nothing.
"What other classes are you taking?"
"Ancient Runes, Astronomy and Defense," Severus said quietly.
"What's your mark in Defense?"
There was a long pause, then Severus whispered, "Acceptable."
"Pack your things. You're finished with Hogwarts."
"I'VE TOLD YOU NOT TO CALL ME THAT! Just because your father was an uneducated lout doesn't mean you need act like one."
Remus jerked back, even though the shout wasn't directed at him, and Severus took a step backward as well. The back of his leg, now covered with a pair of trousers, was right in front of Remus' face. Unable to do anything more, Remus touched Severus' calf. Severus stiffened for a moment, then rubbed his other foot against Remus' hand.
"I'm sorry, Mother," Severus said. "I—Please don't take me out of Hogwarts..."
"Why not?" she asked. "You clearly have more important things to do than study, and if you want to get into brawls with other boys, you can certainly do that in a less expensive place."
"We had this conversation already, Severus. You knew what the consequences would be when you boarded the train this year, didn't you?" Severus didn't answer, and Mrs. Snape lowered her voice. "Didn't you?"
"Then pack your things. We're leaving in fifteen minutes, and whatever isn't in your trunk is being left behind. Is that quite clear?"
There were footsteps, then the sound of a door slamming. A moment later, Remus felt the bed sinking, and he crawled out from under it. Severus was sitting on the mattress, staring at the floor.
Not knowing what else to do or say, Remus sat beside him, wrapping his arms around him. Severus leaned against him.
"I told you she'd really do it," he whispered.
Remus stroked his back and his hair. "We'll still see each other," he said. "I'll write and tell you when Hogsmeade weekends are and—"
"And how will I get here?" Severus asked, pulling away. "I don't have my Apparation license, and I'm not likely to get it if I'm not here taking the lessons. I can't just borrow money from her for a train ticket. We're not going to see each other again."
Remus drew his knees to his chest, watching as Severus stood and started to pack. He had no idea what to say. "I'm going to miss you," he whispered finally.
Severus paused in folding his green and silver scarf, then sank onto the bed beside him again. "I'll miss you, too," he said.
They leaned into each other, their lips touching for a moment, then Severus jerked away. "I'll get your things."
Remus watched as Severus left the room, and he cringed as he heard Severus' mother's voice. "What. Is. That?"
"What does it look like?" Severus asked, sounding tired.
"Where did it come from?" Her tone was one that Remus recognized from his own mother—a question she knew the answer to, and if Severus answered it, she was going to be furious. If he didn't answer, she was going to be furious. Remus frowned sympathetically.
"Where do you think it came from?" Severus asked. "I was wanking in the common room. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
"Go to hell."
A loud crack rang out, and Remus cringed. "You had best adjust your attitude, young man."
"Why?" Severus asked. "You're taking me out of school. What the hell do I gain by being polite now?"
"Have you finished packing?"
"It hasn't been fifteen minutes."
There were two sets of footsteps coming down the corridor, and Remus scrambled under the bed again, his eyes wide. The door opened, then slammed again.
"You are not following me into the dormitory!" Severus shouted.
"You do not tell me what to do, young man!"
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, Mam. See, I really don't got the manners to know the difference between talking back and insisting that you respect my privacy!" His speech had started in a coarse, forced accent, but he lost it as he spoke.
"DO NOT CALL ME—"
"Mam?" Severus was taunting her now. "How about hag?"
"Face it, Mam. You couldn't get no better than Tobias Snape for a husband, and you ain't got not better'n me for a son. I'm very. Fucking. Sorry."
The door opened again, and slammed once more, and Severus slammed the lock into place, placed a Silencing Charm on it and an extra Locking Charm. "I have your clothes," he said flatly, the mattress sinking again.
Remus crawled back out, reaching for his underpants. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "We should have cleaned it up—"
Severus leaned forward, his elbows braced on his knees, staring at the floor. Remus did up his trousers and tucked in his shirt, then sat on the bed beside him. "I—"
"Just forget it," Severus repeated.
Remus moved Severus' hair aside, tucking it behind his ear, and he frowned as he saw a red mark on Severus' cheek. "She hit you."
"She slapped me."
"I don't give a damn what she does." He fell back onto the bed, draping an arm over his eyes. His voice cracked as he said, "I just want to stay here."
Remus reached for Severus' hand and pulled his arm away from his face, half expecting to find Severus crying. He wasn't, though. His face was contorted, and he was blinking more rapidly than usual, but there was no sheen of tears in his eyes or on his cheeks.
"I'm sorry," Remus whispered again.
Severus squeezed his hand. "So am I." With one last kiss, Severus sat up again. "Wait five minutes after I'm gone," he said. "And... I'll miss you. Really."
Wrapping his arms around himself, Remus nodded. "I'll miss you, too."
Severus aimed his wand at his trunk, then hesitated. "Maybe you should stand over there," he said, gesturing to the wall closer to the door.
Remus moved to stand out of the line of sight when the door was opened, and leaned against the wall, watching. Severus levitated his trunk and opened the door.
"Ah, Severus," said a familiar voice that did not belong to Severus' mother. "Your mother is in Professor McGonagall's office, attending the paperwork. Why don't you leave your trunk and go up to my office. The house-elves can bring your trunk if it's necessary."
"Just go on and wait in my office. The door's open, and there's a bowl of chocolates on the desk. Help yourself."
"But my mother..."
"As I said, she's talking with Professor McGonagall. It isn't merely a matter of walking out the door with you, you realize. Now go on and wait for us." Remus could almost hear Dumbledore's eyes twinkling as he said, "And perhaps you should take a detour and gather Mr. Lupin as well. No, Severus, don't look at me like that. I won't tell a soul that you've made friends with a Gryffindor. Your secret is safe with me."
Remus' eyes widened, and when the door shut, Severus turned to face him, wide-eyed and pale-faced. "You don't think he knows, do you?" Severus whispered.
Remus was staring at the door. "No," he said. "He'd have given us detention."
Remus looked at Severus again. "He said 'if'."
"He said 'if' your trunk is needed. Do you think McGonagall can talk your mother out of—"
"Don't say it," Severus said, touching Remus' lips. "I don't want to get my hopes up."
Half an hour and breakfast later, Dumbledore came into his office with McGonagall and Slughorn on his heels, and Severus looked up from the game of exploding snap Lupin had been distracting him with.
"Well, Severus," Slughorn said, not meeting his eyes, "I'm afraid I have bad news."
Severus balled his fists under the table, shaking with the effort of not making a fool of himself. "What's that, sir?" he asked.
"Your Potions essay is still due the Tuesday after classes start again."
It took a moment for that to sink in, perhaps because it wasn't what he was expecting to hear, but when he looked up, blinking, Severus saw that the professors were smiling at him. "She's not taking me out of school?"
"No, Mr. Snape," McGonagall said. "I, for one, had no intention of allowing that to happen. If I'd wanted you expelled, you may rest assured that you would have already been on the train home."
Slughorn clapped a meaty hand onto Severus' back. "If I tell you, my boy, you must promise not to let on to anyone else how we did it. Right?" Severus nodded, looking up at the Potions master. Slughorn bent forward, lowering his head until his lips were even with Severus' ear. "Magic," he whispered.
"Why don't you two go be about your business?" Dumbledore suggested. "It isn't healthy for young men to be cooped up in the headmaster's office all day."
"Is my mother—"
"Regrettably, she has already left," Dumbledore replied to the half-asked question. "She did request that we give you her love."
Severus snorted again, though this time with less humor. "I'm sure she did."