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 ;)
XIV: The Christmas Coup
(A/N: Based on Study Hour ,and Good Morning, artwork by karasu_hime)</i>
For the next four days, the snow continued to swirl and blow outside, and Severus and Remus were all too happy to heed the suggestions of the teachers that they stay inside instead of venturing out into the blizzard. Not so with the three younger students, who spent half each day outside, getting wet and chilled, but what did first and third years know, anyway?
Remus and Severus passed their days finding warm nooks in a drafty castle—curled up by the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room, or in the Slytherin common room, or in one of their beds, or in a classroom where they could cast a Warming Charm, or in the library, poring over books. Three different professors complimented their dedication in putting aside their differences and spending the holiday studying so quietly, and the unexpected part of it was that they were actually studying.
Remus had suspected that Severus would be able to help him piece together some of the more elusive concepts in Potions, and if he overlooked how impatient Severus became when he didn't catch on as quickly as he should have, Remus was right. After two days of Severus helping him with the essay due after the holidays, Remus made a tentative offer to help Severus with his Ancient Runes.
Severus had scoffed at first; after all, Remus hadn't even earned an OWL in the subject, but he'd finally relented and Remus had spent several hours quizzing him over vocabulary and helping him piece together complex syntax. Remus wasn't sure if Severus was getting anything out of it, but it made him feel better to think that he could offer something in return for the help Severus was giving him.
And, almost as unexpected as the fact that they were actually studying was the fact that they were both enjoying the time they spent together, even if it wasn't being clawing at each other's clothes.
After dinner on Christmas Eve, the two of them made their excuses and made quite the show of returning to their separate common rooms, but half an hour later, Remus was in the dungeons, lurking outside the door to the Slytherin rooms. The door opened and he slipped inside, glancing behind him to make sure no one had seen.
"Did you bring your books?" Severus asked.
Remus nodded and held out his Potions text, along with the three books he'd borrowed from the library. "Are we really going to study?"
"If you expect me to look at that essay before you hand it in, you're going to be finished with it by this time next week," Severus replied, pointing at the fireplace. Several cushions in varying shades of green were scattered across the thick rug, and the fire crackled merrily, despite the gray-green, watery light filtering in from the high window.
With an exaggerated sigh, Remus dropped his books onto the floor and settled onto one of the cushions. "What are you studying?" he asked, almost petulantly. If he had to study on Christmas Eve, damned if Severus wasn't going to, too.
"I have the same essay due, remember?"
They fell into a silent camaraderie, books open in front of them, the crackle of the fire punctuated only by the scrape of pages turning and the scritch of quill against parchment. After a bit, Remus sprawled out on the floor, chin resting on one arm, other hand resting on Severus' knee as he read a page three times, trying to make sense of it.
Absently stroking Severus' knee, he worried his lower lip between his teeth, concentrating on a complex theory that didn't make sense. After a few minutes, he had the sensation that someone was staring at him, and when he looked up, he saw that Severus had let his book fall to one side and was studying him intently, as though he was a problem that needed solving.
Remus raised an eyebrow. "What?"
Remus lifted his hand to smooth the curtain of hair back from Severus' face, letting his fingers linger against Severus' pinkening cheek. "Yes?"
"I was just thinking..."
Shifting so that he was lying on his stomach, Remus propped his chin on his hand and looked up at Severus. "Yes?"
Severus muttered something incomprehensible, and Remus grinned, plucking at the knot on his tie. "Why are you wearing your school clothes on holiday?" he asked, tugging the tie loose. Before Severus could answer, though, Remus flicked his fingertip against Severus' jaw. "And what were you thinking?"
Blushing harder still, Severus shrugged with one shoulder. "I was just watching the firelight on your hair. It's pr—" He stopped suddenly, turning away again.
"Pretty?" Remus asked. Severus nodded so shallowly that if he hadn't been watching for the reaction, Remus didn't think he'd have seen it. "It's all right," he said, tugging at a loose end of Severus' tie. "You're allowed to think my hair is pretty."
"It's just not a particularly masculine word."
Remus laughed, and clamped a hand over his mouth. "Maybe not," he said when he'd regained his composure, "but if that's what you think, then that's what you think. I'll take the compliment." He winked at Severus and flicked the end of his tie.
Severus rested his hand on Remus' arm, just above his elbow. "You have a beautiful smile, too."
"Do I?" The smile in question grew broader, and Severus nodded. "So do you, when you forget to scowl."
"I do not scowl."
"Yes you do." Remus wound his fingers through Severus' and pulled him down beside him. "Can we be finished studying until after Christmas?"
"We still have a lot to do..."
"And it will be there Friday," Remus said dismissively. "We're running out of time together, though."
"We have a week."
"Just a week." Remus wrapped his arms around Severus' thin shoulders. "Just a break until tomorrow afternoon, then."
Severus nodded finally, settling his head against Remus' chest. "Just a little break," he repeated.
Remus leaned to place a kiss against Severus' lips, hoping he could take his mind off Potions. The trick worked marvelously.
The following morning, Remus woke to the pleasant surprise of lips against his own. When he opened his eyes, it was to see Severus leaning over him, hand at the back of his neck, nose close enough to touch.
"Good morning," Severus whispered.
"Good morning," Remus replied with a sleepy smile. Severus' body was a warm weight against his, his arms a comfortable pillow, his hair a soft caress. Remus shifted, rolling towards him, his smile brightening as the lingering cobwebs of sleep swept away, as though a soft breeze had roused them from the corners of his mind. "Happy Christmas."
"Happy Christmas to you, too," Severus said, nuzzling his shoulder.
Remus rolled his head back, exposing his throat to Severus' nips and nudges. It was unfortunate that he couldn't wake up like this all the time. He shifted again, grimacing as something hit the floor with a rattling thud.
"What was that?" he asked.
"Probably one of the presents," Severus replied, catching Remus' nipple between his lips.
"Get up and open your presents!" Remus said, pushing Severus away.
Severus sat up, and Remus grinned as he watched Severus crawl to the end of the bed to retrieve one of the boxes, eyes as wide as a child's. Severus' expression slipped after a moment, and his cheeks reddened. "I... uh... I guess that the house-elves know."
"Know what?" Remus asked. Severus answered by dropping a package in his lap, and Remus' eyes widened as he saw his name scrawled on the tag. "Oh."
Not looking at him, Severus reached for another box, read the tag, and passed it on to Remus, then another and another. Remus breathed a silent sigh of relief when Severus kept two at the foot of the bed, but the relief was short-lived. When Severus had finished distributing the presents, he had four for himself and Remus had more than a dozen.
"Well?" Severus asked. "What are you waiting for?"
Remus picked up the one on top and frowned at the tag. It was from James, and it seemed wrong on many levels to be opening gifts from James Potter while he was lying naked in Severus Snape's bed. "What are you waiting for?"
Severus looked down at his, and picked up a small one. "Nothing." He picked at the ribbon until it untied, then ran his finger under the tape, opening it carefully and peering into the box.
"What is it?" Remus asked, attempting to open the one he was holding with the same dignity that Severus had opened his. The paper ripped, and he gave up the pretense, tearing it off and letting it fall to the floor.
"A book," Severus replied, flipping through the pages.
"What kind of book?"
Remus leaned over to look, and his eyes widened as he stared at the cover. MacArron's Definitive Guide to Restricted and Forbidden Potions. "Who gave you that?"
"Avery, Wilkes and Rosier," Severus mumbled, closing the book and dropping it on the floor. "What've you got?"
Remus' eyes were still wide, but he finished opening the box. "A Quaffle," he replied, emptying it onto the bed. There was writing all over it, and after a moment, his grin returned. "A Quaffle signed by every member of the Wimbourne Wasps!"
Severus nodded, an expression of polite interest on his face. The second package Remus tore into turned out to be a box of stuff from Zonko's, and a note from Sirius—I figured that since Mr. Prefect can't be seen setting a bad example for the kiddos, that I'd help him replenish his stores. A third box turned up a similar assortment of candy from Honeydukes, this one from Peter. Peter was the most unimaginative gift-giver Remus had ever known—he always gave everyone boxes of candy. And everyone was always thrilled to open those boxes. Remus estimated this one would last him until his birthday, at which point he was sure he'd get another just like it.
"Want some?" Remus asked, passing the box of candy to Severus.
Severus looked at it for a moment, and Remus shook it a bit. "Thanks," Severus said as he picked out the dullest lemon drop in the box. Remus selected a piece of taffy for himself and put the box aside, within easy reach.
"What else did you get?" Remus asked as he lifted the corner of a box from James' mother. He knew what was in that box; he could smell James' mother made the best treacle fudge in the history of the universe, and she'd sent him a whole pound of it. "Want some fudge?"
"Thanks," Severus said as Remus dropped a piece in his lap. "Er, it's from... er..."
"My mother," Severus muttered.
"Well? What is it?"
Severus upended the box and a dozen pairs of socks and half a dozen pairs of underpants toppled out onto the bed. "Ever the pragmatist," he said, reaching for another box.
Remus went back to his own presents. His parents were responsible for four more of the boxes, which held several new sweaters, some socks, a couple of books, another large collection of candy and a bag of money with a note to enjoy himself in Hogsmeade the next time he went.
Meanwhile, Severus was blushing again, and when Remus leaned forward to see why, he had to fight back a laugh. In the open box in his lap, Severus held a pale blue plush rabbit.
"That's..." Remus began when Severus caught his eye. He couldn't think of anything nice to say, though, and the sentence hung, unfinished.
"It's from my grandmother," Severus said, as though hoping that would suffice as an explanation.
All urge to laugh had passed. As Remus looked at Severus' small collection of Christmas, and at his own growing pile of loot, he found he felt more like crying than laughing. Severus swung his legs off the bed, taking his box of underpants and socks with him. He opened his trunk and began tucking the practical and cheerless gifts into the top, then stood and reached for the trousers he'd been wearing the day before.
"We should probably get down to breakfast," Severus said, avoiding Remus' eyes again.
"Probably," Remus replied, gathering his remaining unopened gifts. He pointed his wand at the crumpled paper and vanished it, then reached for his own clothes. "I'll see you in the Great Hall then?" he asked as he finished buttoning his shirt.
It was on the end of Remus' tongue to wish Severus a happy Christmas again, but it seemed in poor taste. "I'll see you in a bit, then."
After Remus left, Severus sank onto his bed again, staring at a stray crumple of bright blue, glossy paper with candy canes printed on it. There hadn't been a thing in Remus' stack of gifts that Severus would have wanted, but he was unmistakably jealous all the same. It had nothing to do with the box of lollies and taffy, nor a muddy old Quaffle, nor even a bag of Galleons. It had quite a lot to do with the sting of unwrapping a box of socks and underpants as his sole Christmas gift from his mother, and a toy more suitable for a child half his age from his grandmother. It wasn't much consolation that his grandmother probably didn't realize that he wasn't half his age.
He snapped his wand at the crumpled paper and scowled as it disappeared with a puff of smoke and a loud bang. With a sigh, he fell back onto his bed and stared up at the canopy. This was why he hated Christmas. With a passion worthy of any zealot.
He lay there until the urge to rail against the injustice had passed, replaced with a blank apathy that was more suitable to a Slytherin his age, then swung his feet to the floor and walked to the Great Hall as though he was already bored with Christmas.
The other three students who had stayed for the holidays were already there when he arrived, huddled together at the end of the Hufflepuff table. Severus chose a chair at the far end of the Slytherin table, as far away from their giggling as he could get. Even from across the hall, he could hear them chattering excitedly about their gifts.
With one eye on the door, watching for Remus, Severus poured himself a cup of coffee and took a muffin from the small tray that sat in the middle of the table. He drank the coffee and picked at the muffin and watched the door, but Remus never came. Fifteen minutes later, the younger students had left and Severus was staring at a half-eaten muffin when an owl swooped into the Great Hall, hooting as it soared overhead. Severus stared as an envelope fluttered to the table.
It was addressed to him.
He picked it up, glancing around even though he knew no one was there. Sliding one finger under the edge and lifting the seal.
Decided I wasn't hungry. Meet you in the Astronomy Tower. R.
Severus frowned, and almost crumpled the note and incinerated it, but he changed his mind, folding the parchment instead and tucking it into his pocket. He abandoned the uneaten half of his muffin and after only a moment's hesitation, made his way to the Astronomy Tower.
As he climbed the steps, he couldn't help but wonder what would happen when classes started again. It had only been a week, but that was enough to have grown used to such pleasures as waking in Remus' arms and lingering with him in the library. It was going to be hard to return to an enemy state when the other students came back.
Lost in pondering what it was going to be like to return to reality, Severus found himself at the top of the stairs to the tower. He shoved open the trapdoor and emerged into the room, closing the door behind himself.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the brilliant sunlight reflecting off the snow-covered grounds, but when he was able to see past the dazzling light, his mouth fell open and he almost forgot to breathe.
In the middle of the floor, on a dark green blanket and surrounded by pillows, Remus lay completely naked except for a bright red bow tied around his cock. On his stomach, he'd written 'Happy Christmas, Severus'.
"Are you going to just stand there?" Remus asked, and that was enough to spur Severus forward, all thoughts of what would happen in January and all lingering traces of jealousy whipping away from his mind.
This was easily the best Christmas ever.