eyeus: (snupin)
Title: In Recompense
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Pairing: Remus/ Severus
Rating: NC-17
Words: 6430 (14960 total)
Summary: “To be free of your lycanthropy,” the old witch tells Remus, “you must sacrifice something dear in exchange. And considering the nature of your curse…the dearest.”

Remus never realized it meant Severus.

A/N: Written for the 2016 Lupin_Snape Summerfest on LJ, for this prompt here. The concepts of the shop that can only be seen by those who need something, and the witch within who grants wishes are borrowed from xxxHolic.



~


Remus keeps at his search, throwing open the door to their bedroom. The cellar. The tiny kitchen where Severus distils his potions and drives off the noxious fumes. The storage where Severus keeps his potion supplies, shelves meticulously ordered and jars labelled. The room they’ve designated as their library, the shelves filled floor to ceiling with books, tomes pilfered from Hogwarts, Grimmauld Place, and various shops around the city.

There’s still no sign of Severus, and Remus feels a coal of dread settle in his belly. Had the witch gone back on her word? Taken the last, the final payment, thinking Remus’ absence meant he agreed to the terms, and the cure?

“Severus!” he calls again, desperate, and this time he lets the beginnings of a howl slip into his voice. Before he knows it, Severus has stormed down the stairs, scowling with the fury of a hurricane.

“What’s all this racket—” Severus starts, pallid cheeks flushed with color, before he stops and stands stock-still at the staircase. “Remus?” he asks, an expression of utter hope and surprise in his eyes. He’s as uncertain as Remus has ever heard him, before he jabs a finger in Remus’ direction and launches into a familiar tirade. “I’ll have you know I was just working on—”

“Oh, thank Merlin,” Remus gasps, the sound of Severus being his usual self easing the twisting tightness in his chest. And before he starts thanking another pantheon of witches and wizards, Remus hurries up the few short steps and closes the distance between them. Cups Severus’ cheeks in his hands and kisses him, needing his warmth, his touch, to know Severus is here. To know Remus hasn’t lost him completely, like he’d been afraid of.

Severus’ eyebrows jump into his hairline, but as always, he gives in, pliant in Remus’ arms, safe in the knowledge that Remus will tell him what’s wrong after.

“I want—” Remus tries. “I need—”

I need you, he thinks. All of you. But the words stay mired in his mouth, heavy, thick, like molasses of Muggle confectioneries. “Severus, please.”

Severus nods, even as he huffs out an annoyed breath through his teeth, and leads Remus by the hand to their room.

They barely make it to the bed, before Remus unknots and wrenches the sash from Severus’ dressing gown, Severus upending Remus’ robes over his head with desperation just as wild. But it’s still too much, too many layers and false things between them, and Remus can’t bear it anymore, banishing the rest with a quick charm, because he needs Severus, needs him this very instant.

“Remus,” Severus whispers, pulling him higher on the bed, gasping as Remus falls on top of him, driving the breath from his lungs. “Please.”

Remus wants him so much, so badly, but he decides to take his time preparing Severus, by summoning the bottle of lubrication from their nighttable first.

Severus glares as the bottle leaps into Remus’ hand. “There’s a charm for that,” he says irritably, rocking his hips up toward Remus, insistent, as if annoyed that Remus is not inside him right now.

Remus grits his teeth against the insistent tease of Severus’ hips against his, the hard line of his cock against Remus’ hip. Yes, there were the standard charms to prepare Severus, to stretch and lubricate properly, but there was something in the way he did this, with his fingers, one, then two, that felt more primal and raw and real.

That, and the fact that Remus doesn’t want to hurt Severus, as much as he wants him.

He’s up to three fingers, four, before Severus keens high in his throat, and rocks his arse into Remus’ fingers, needy, wanting. “Remus,” he rasps, his voice strangled, as he clutches the sheets. “Please. Now.”

Remus nods, unable to hold on any longer himself, and he makes short work of slicking himself up. Replaces fingers with cock and lines things up, before pressing inside Severus, rocking, as they share kisses, biting, nipping, hard, to mouth and jaw and neck.

“Need you,” Remus breathes, hooking his arms beneath Severus’ shoulders, and pulling him in. Relishes the strangled cry Severus makes as Remus buries himself deep inside, hot and hard, the way Severus twines his legs over Remus’ waist. And Merlin, the way his breath blows hot against Remus’ cheeks is a reminder that he’s here, he’s here, he’s here.

But it’s still not enough, because he needs to know he has Severus in every way, every form, still has him in his grasp, because the fear that’d plagued Remus just moments ago, knowing he’d almost lost Severus completely, still haunts him. So when Severus urges harder and faster, bucking his hips into Remus, Remus obliges, slamming in with as much force as he can muster. He knows there’ll be a time for lovemaking, the gentle kind they both enjoy during early mornings and lazy afternoons, but this isn’t it.

“More,” Severus begs, his fingers clutching at Remus’ shoulders, tight. “Make me remember this.”

There’s something about Severus’ request that doesn’t seem right, but Remus is too far gone to just stop and ask—that’s for later, for when they’ve crested the wave building between them—so he hitches Severus’ legs over his shoulders. Presses deep inside, revelling in the startled gasp he draws from Severus, the way his eyes fly open, wide.

Mine, thinks Remus, his hands coming up to grip Severus’ ankles, hard. Mine.

For a moment, Remus wonders if this possessiveness comes from the wolf rising to the surface, not uncommon on days before and after the moon. But then he remembers that he hasn’t felt the wolf in months now, due to the cure, which means this ferocity is all Remus, spurred by fear and dread at the things he’d nearly given up. Fear that’s driven away by the sight of Severus’ mouth, slack with pleasure. The sound of his cries, that Severus tries to stifle with a hand over his mouth, but fails with each subsequent thrust. The hopeful clutch of Severus’ fingers on Remus’ hips, tight, possessive, raking bloody crescents into skin.

To think, he'd almost given this up, for a chance at ridding himself of the curse. That he had come so close to losing Severus, without even knowing it. The thought of that has him pushing hard inside Severus, as if by doing so, by becoming as one as possible with him, Remus will know he hasn’t lost him, hasn’t foolishly given him away in a bargain he didn’t even know he’d made.

“Remus,” Severus whispers, a near-sob, as his fingers move to clutch the sheets, balling them in his fists with each deep and brutal thrust. “Mark me. Make me yours.”

He doesn’t have to ask twice, before Remus is biting bruises into Severus’ ankles. His calves. Letting Severus’ legs slip from Remus’ shoulders before working his way up, leaving a trail of wine-dark kisses along the line of Severus’ chest. His collarbone. The long, pale column of his neck. “Mine,” he growls, daring to voice the words aloud, now that Severus has given permission. Sucks the deepest port-wine bruise into skin, between Severus’ shoulder and neck—a mark of ownership. Proof of Remus’ possession. “Mine.”

It strikes him as strange then, that Severus is being so careful, too careful, not to return the favour in kind, when he normally has no such compunctions.

“Yours too,” Remus says, nudging his nose into the warmth of Severus’ neck. Butting it against Severus’ nose, the way he does when he’s the wolf on nights of the full moon, playful.

Severus’ eyes fill with an unnamed hurt at that, and Remus hears something that sounds like no, or not for long. But Remus isn’t above begging to get what he wants in return, and at the words Severus, please, accompanied by eyes wide and imploring, Severus gives in, leaning up to touch a tiny, bruising kiss against Remus’ chest. Just over his heart.

The mark will fade in less than an hour, but it’s enough that Severus obliges him in the first place—and hadn’t that been the story of their life, Remus obliging in leaps and bounds, while Severus followed, hesitant, with stops and starts aplenty—and it’s not long before Remus feels it, the telltale coil of pleasure winding tight in his spine, his balls, the building of pressure and heat for a single moment of release.

“Severus,” he gasps. “I—”

“Inside,” Severus urges. “Inside me.” He winds his arms around Remus’ neck, too tight. “Let me feel you.”

His lips are an alluring cherry-red, kiss-bitten and swollen, and Remus surges in to take, to give as Severus wants, to feel, just as much as Severus demands. Angles himself just so, until he knows by Severus’ cries that he’s striking the right spot, savouring the moment when Severus’ brow furrows, tight, and he tosses his head back, exposing the column of his throat, pale and smooth and glistening with sweat, that Remus has to sink teeth into, rough.

“Remus,” Severus sobs. His cock twitches hard, painting his belly with come, a stippling of precious pearls along a pale and lovely canvas. “Remus.”

He doesn’t know whether it’s the sound of his name, spoken on Severus’ lips like it’s a prayer, reverent and awed, or the way Severus contracts around him, tight, but Remus spills inside him a moment after, hot and deep and wet. Pulls Severus toward him, relishing the way Severus cries out at the motion, while pushing in the deepest he can, to fill him, flood him with his seed.

Yes,” Severus whispers, trembling. “Make me remember this.”

And yes, Remus remembers he’d begged for that earlier, with those exact words. With such odd earnestness. It makes him want to ask Severus what he means, because Remus must know, but that can wait, because what he needs right now is to wind himself around Severus, and fit against him, perfect. To let Severus know how much he’s loved, and treasured.

Remus waits until their breaths have slowed, and Severus’ fingers loosen from around his shoulders, before letting himself slip out, slow. Mutters the smallest and most harmless of cleansing charms—it’d been a surprise to find out Severus liked the scent of sex and sweat and the feeling of Remus’ issue deep inside him, proof of their union—before shifting onto his side, like Severus.

“All right?” Remus whispers. He touches a kiss to Severus’ forehead, where sweat’s matted his dark hair to skin, like an errant swirl of ink, wild and unruly. Tucks a lock of hair that’s fallen over Severus’ brow behind his ear, gentle, cradling his cheek in a palm.

Severus hums his assent and leans into the touch, making a sound that’s close to a purr and every kind of adorable—not that Remus would admit it, if he didn’t want to die a slow, painful death by Severus’ hand.

“Good,” says Remus, letting his eyes slip shut for a moment. It’s only been several hours since they woke, but already he feels exhausted, and for now Remus simply wants to curl into Severus and burrow into his warmth forever. Wants to tuck himself up against him, his skin hot against Severus’, and whisper, I love you, I love you, and I’ll never stop.

Not for a cure.

Not for anything
.

But he knows Severus won’t appreciate the surfeit of sentiment threatening to overflow from Remus’ heart, so he keeps the words inside. Lets them warm his heart, his chest, and every fibre of his being, to be doled out sparingly in the days to come. Rationed out in tiny, heartfelt portions that Severus, in his own way, can accept.

Which means he's content to simply enjoy Severus’ warmth and cuddle into him, when Severus suddenly says, “I assume you're going to tell me the reason for this oddly-timed venture.”

Remus opens his eyes and sighs. Right. He remembers now, bursting into their house and shouting Severus’ name at the top of his lungs, storming through every room to find him. And he'd hoped this conversation could wait, but evidently not.

“About that,” Remus says, slipping an arm around Severus’ waist, and hitching him closer. Tighter. “I’ve been thinking, and I…I’m sorry. The price of the cure is…well, it’s rather steeper than I thought.”

He’s sorry, because he thought there’d been a chance, to rid himself of the form that’d given Severus nightmares for years. He’s sorry because he thought there’d been a hope that he wouldn’t have to trouble Severus to brew his Wolfsbane potion each and every month.

He’s sorry he’s selfish, because as much as he wants those other things, he wants to keep Severus far, far more.

“You’re sorry.” Severus’ voice is inordinately cold, compared to the warmth of his skin, his breath against Remus’ mouth. “Finally figured it out then, have you?”

Remus blinks. “It took my memories,” he says. “Of you.”

“Yes, yes, that’s all,” Severus says dismissively. And before Remus can tell him that that wasn’t all at all, that those memories were, in fact, everything, Severus adds, “I suppose this is your way of telling me this is the end. How kind of you to afford me that little courtesy.”

“The end?” Remus furrows a brow. “Severus, what are you talking about?”

Severus only gestures half-heartedly between them. At their room. The house in general. All vestiges of the life they’ve built together. “The end of us. Of everything. You have a chance at obtaining what you’ve wanted all your life, after all.”

“I wasn’t—” Remus pinches the bridge of his nose, confused at how things had gone so wrong, so quickly. How Severus could have got the idea that Remus was telling him he was giving Severus up. “Severus,” he says very slowly, very quiet, “I was only going to say the price of this cure was too high. That I wasn’t planning on going through with it.”

Still, it hurts something in him to know that Severus had immediately decided Remus would weigh what years they had shared together against a lifetime of prejudice and isolation and find Severus wanting.

Remus reaches out to cradle Severus’ cheek in his palm again, gentle. Draws in a brave breath. “It isn’t a cure, anyhow, it’s a curse in itself; I’d only be trading one cursed existence for another—being the wolf, or being without love.”

Something softens in Severus’ expression at that, as if his fears that Remus would give him up without batting an eye are assuaged, before his brows knit and he turns away. “You should do it,” he says eventually. His voice is too quiet. “It’s…” He draws in a tight breath. “I know how much you’ve wanted this. You can be free.”

Remus, who’d had to bite back a wounded sound at the loss of Severus’ touch, simply blinks. “Free of what, Severus?”

Severus shifts further away and breathes out, summoning what seems like every ounce of scorn he can manage into his next words. “Free from the curse, and the pain of transformation each month. Free from me.” When Remus stares at him, mouth open in a small o of incredulity, Severus only snorts. “You cannot honestly tell me you didn’t figure this out sooner.”

“No, I only—” Remus says, remembering how he’d felt like the world was crumbling around him, when he’d found out the true price of his cure this morning. Then he hears what’s implied from Severus’ words. “When did you—”

“The morning after the first moon,” says Severus. When Remus only narrows his eyes, confused, Severus sighs. “The sugar, Remus, do keep up.”

“Wait—you knew, even then? And you let me keep going? You—” The words taste like bile on Remus’ tongue, bitter and hurt, and he draws back, staring at the man he thought he knew, thought he loved. “You would’ve let me forget you. Forget everything we had, that we are to each other. The years between us.” He knows he’s raising his voice, but this has him well and truly angry, and he can feel his hands balled into fists, trembling. “Did they meaning nothing to you?”

Severus waves a hand, dismissive, as if all these things Remus is listing—precious moments Remus hadn’t realized he’d cherished until they were utterly gone—are of little consequence. “You would have found another, in time.”

“I don’t want another,” Remus snaps. “I want you.” The gravity of that sentence strikes him suddenly, because when he says he doesn’t want another, he means exactly that. Another life, free from the curse of his lycanthropy. Another lover, that Severus thinks he would have found, in his new and improved state.

Severus’ eyes had flown wide at the revelation, for no more than a brief second, but it takes him no longer to recover, the lines around his mouth tightening, his eyes narrowing, dark, dangerous. “Oh, yes,” he sneers. “I know very well what you want,” he says. “A life of poverty. A life of living hand to mouth, from job to job.”

Remus knows he has a point, and he can’t help but wonder what a life without his curse would be like. He would finally have a real job, and two knuts to rub together, sickles even, galleons if he was careful. He would have stability, instead of drifting from one type of work to another, depending on the rare kindnesses of other wizards and the meagre menial jobs of Muggles.

But Severus isn’t done yet, his tirade a barrage of sleet and rain, so different from the warmth and love they’d shared in bed only short moments ago. “That’s right,” Severus says, his voice like the sharpest shard of ice. “What you want is a lifetime of…” He closes his eyes and sucks in a soft breath, as if it pains him to say this, the motion so brief that had Remus blinked, he would have missed it. “Of living off my charity. Isn’t that right, Lupin?”

Remus flinches, because the barb cuts deep—as it was meant to, he’s sure. The fact that Severus has started calling him Lupin again stings doubly so. It had felt like such a hard-won victory, when Severus had finally called him Remus, the night they’d put their animosities aside for good. When Remus had reached out again, after long years, to twine his fingers with Severus’, and they’d sat together in silence in the stairway of Grimmauld Place, until Dumbledore had called another meeting of the Order.

He remembers that, at least. Spares a moment to thank whatever gods above have spared him this memory.

“I see I’ve made my point,” says Severus. He smiles, cold and cruel, but Remus knows it isn’t real, that Severus can’t be taking pleasure from this, from having flayed Remus alive with his words.

Because Remus knows the real smiles, rare but all the lovelier for them. Remembers the way Severus had tilted his head back in the sun, the smile reaching his eyes, when they’d gone picnicking, and Remus had shown him the pouch of dragon scales he’d got Severus as a gift, unbidden. The way Severus had smiled, soft and lazy after they’d made love for the first time. And the moment, suspended, when Severus’ mouth had fallen slack in surprise, as Remus cupped his cheek and whispered I love you—the first he’d voiced the words aloud—before widening into a smile that was so hopeful and grateful and brighter than the sun.

Remus finds himself fighting to hold onto these memories, fighting to hold onto what he can of Severus, because losing these, losing him would be too much for Remus to bear.

“Stop,” Remus says. “Stop this.” He knows what Severus is doing, and it will not work. It is hardly the first time that Severus has tried to drive him away with words, biting and cruel, to protect himself, or to do what he thinks is best.

But the truth of it is, it does work. Severus has always had a way of doing that, laying truths out bare, stripping them to their basest forms, flayed and raw and open until it hurt to hear them said. He had done the same when trying to send Remus away shortly after killing Dumbledore. Yet Remus had hung doggedly on, still believing in the best of Severus, and the heart he'd revealed, on quieter nights when they'd talked and kissed and touched, uninterrupted.

I will not give you away, Remus had promised, of the long and dangerous game Severus had been playing, for both the Order and for Voldemort. But I will not go away.

“You should choose what you’ve always wanted,” Severus says now, as if he’s grown bored of this strain of conversation. “It should be obvious to you by now.”

Remus doesn't have to be a Legilimens to know that Severus has thrown up barriers around himself, a fortress of walls upon walls; he only needs to take in the empty eyes, the hollow voice, to know how heavily Severus has shielded himself from hurt—something he hasn't done with Remus for years.

“Yes,” says Remus, swallowing hard. “Obvious. I see my priorities have been made quite clear to me.” He hardens his expression when Severus turns for the briefest moment, before his gaze flicks away again. “In fact,” Remus adds, more determined than ever, tongue darting out to touch his lips, because he can’t be wrong about this, he just can’t, “I’ve made up my mind. The only mystery here is why I thought I had any choice at all.”

“Well, then,” says Severus, his voice too hoarse by half. “You’ve no time to waste, have you?

“No time to waste,” Remus nods solemnly. He’d had three moons, free of the curse. It could be a lifetime of moons, if only he would reach out his hand, to take this chance.

He reaches out to take Severus into his arms instead. Presses in close, until Severus turns in his arms, mouth dropping open to berate him, to—

“Thank you, Severus,” Remus whispers, pre-empting the poison that Severus might turn his way. He touches his lips to Severus’, heartfelt, sincere. It feels too much like a last kiss, but this is all he can give Severus now, to show him how it is Remus feels.

“For what?” says Severus, his voice still flat, cold. “The years of brewing your Wolfsbane potion? Warming your bed?” As if everything they’d shared could be distilled into such base and simple things.

“For loving me,” says Remus.

At that, Severus’ expression crumples, the mask slipping for all of a moment, and something twists in Remus’ chest at the sight. He wishes he could stay, to press more kisses to Severus mouth, his eyelids, his nose, soft and safe and precious. To show him how much he’s cherished and adored. But he’s only got as far as cupping Severus’ cheeks in his hands when Severus croaks, “Stop.” Pushes Remus forcibly from the bed. “Go,” he says.

He turns away then, bundling himself into the bedding, as if the warm, woven sheets are some kind of barricade between him and Remus, keeping him safe from harm and hurt.

This is how it ends: without bitter farewells or caustic recriminations, only a resigned and exhausted go.

“You’re right,” Remus says flatly, slipping out of the bed and standing stiffly. He throws on a simple shirt and trousers, before scooping his robe up from where it lies, a dishevelled heap on the floor. “There’s no time to waste at all.” He’s made his decision, and he’ll stand by it.

Still, it pains him that Severus won’t look at him as he leaves. Won’t see him to the door. Instead, what’s waiting for Remus at the door is an overnight bag, one that Severus has packed for him—presumably in the time Remus had been away—with all of Remus’ possessions shrunken down to fit.

As if Severus had only ever been waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for Remus to realize what the terrible price of his ‘cure’ would be. Assuming that Remus, upon discovering just what it was he had to give up, would huff oh, is that all, and continue merrily on his way, to find the happiness he’d always sought.

Would leave without a second glance, and once cured, would never return, because he wouldn’t remember what he had, to return to.

“Oh, Severus,” Remus says softly, the ache in his chest growing into a palpable throb of pain. Presses a fist to his mouth to stifle the sob threatening to burst free at how selfless the man he loves is, how sad it is he must hide it all behind a shell of cold disdain.

He's sorely tempted to turn back, to crawl into bed with Severus and hold him, and tell him how much he's been loved. How he's not the less that he thinks he is, always passed over for another, a better, a superior. How what he’s doing here proves he’s not the lesser man he believes he is—being willing to give up what they have so Remus can live the life he’s wanted, be the better version of himself he’s always wanted to be, just putting Remus above all else, even Severus’ own wants and desires—a thought that breaks Remus’ heart all over again.

But he knows Severus will only see what he wants to see, and hear what he wants to hear. Besides, they are long past the time for words now.

So with a heavy heart, Remus reaches out, and does what he needs to with the bag—Severus’ last send-off, so carefully and lovingly packed. Leaves quietly, knowing what he needs to do.

Actions speak louder than words, after all.

~


“It’s done now, Harry,” Remus says, as they wait for their drinks to arrive. And when Harry opens his mouth to protest, Remus adds quickly, “What’s done is done.”

“Still,” Harry says, frowning, “I never thought the price would be so high. And the memories you gave up? Will those—”

“No,” says Remus. He lets out a long, slow breath. “Those won’t come back either. The shop practices a ‘no refunds’ policy, it seems.” The witch had left shortly after, disappearing along with her shop, and Remus wouldn’t be able to recover the memories he’d given up, even if he tried.

Harry nods sadly. “Was it worth it, then?” he asks. “What you decided in the end?”

Remus pauses for a beat, before turning to where Severus stands at the bar of The Leaky Cauldron, hemming and hawing with Tom over the price of their celebratory Butterbeer floats. “Yes,” he says, as the widest smile breaks over his face. “It was worth it.”

With a wistful sigh, Harry picks at a chip in the table. He doesn’t go so far as to say how romantic, but Remus can see it in the dreamy expression on his face.

Severus balances their tray of drinks with his usual grace, having decided it would be faster to fetch them himself, and scowls as he sets down each drink. “What sentimental rubbish are you spouting now?” he asks.

Harry splutters and throws Remus an incredulous look, as if wondering how he puts up with Severus, though Remus arches a brow, amused. “How did you know I was spouting sentimentalities at all?” he replies, smile not dimming in the slightest.

“I heard the sound of deeply worshipful, envious sighing,” says Severus. He takes a seat beside Remus, shifting until he’s found a comfortable position on the gimp-legged chair.

Remus only hums noncommittally in response, and winds their hands together beneath the table. Throws Harry a meaningful look across the table, as if to tell him that there may be many of said sentimentalities coming forthwith, and he needn’t stay if it will make him uncomfortable.

They had only just finished helping Harry pick out the ring he would use in his own proposal—the perusal was to be just with Remus at first, but he and Severus had had made plans beforehand, and Remus insisted Severus came part and parcel with himself, which Harry hadn’t protested at all—before Harry said he would treat them to drinks at the The Leaky Cauldron, as thanks. But this is Remus’ way of giving him an out, in case Harry doesn’t want to be subject to two middle-aged wizards puzzling out their relationship and miscommunications.

Harry seems to sense this might be a conversation better left to the two of them, and after downing his ice cream-slathered Butterbeer in an astounding ten seconds and an awkward round of light Quidditch discussion, he makes his excuses to leave. “I just, well—” he says, his own happiness shining through, despite the anxiety, “I have something important to do.” He fumbles at the box Remus knows lies in his pocket now, velvet-lined and safe.

“Good luck, Harry,” Remus beams, as Severus mutters, I trust you not to botch this one up, which Remus knows is Severus-speak for good luck, Harry.

Harry nods, beaming at having both their blessings. “Thanks. And, er—same time next week?” he adds, hopeful, regarding their usual tea get-together. He looks to Severus, knowing he has as much say as Remus in matters such as these, if not more. “I might—if things go well—bring a guest, if that’s all right.”

Severus inclines his head, and with that permission, Harry tears out of the The Leaky Cauldron, like a boy—no, a man with a mission.

Remus laughs as he watches Harry slam the door behind him, then return sheepishly to close it more gently. There’s an odd twinge of loss in his chest, as Remus tries to recall his own proposal to Severus, and while he manages to remember the nervousness, the anticipation, and how there’d been such joy, there’s nothing else. Thankfully, Severus is generous enough to share what he remembers of the experience, to fill in the gaps of Remus’ memory.

“Well?” says Severus. He nods toward the door where Harry has taken off at breakneck speed, as if it’s safe to speak now. “What were you really talking about?”

“Harry was asking me if it was worth it,” says Remus. “Giving up the chance of a cure for my curse.”

“And was it?” Severus asks. He stirs the quenelle of vanilla ice cream into his Butterbeer with a practiced disdain that means he is only too curious for the answer.

“Severus,” Remus says, raising his eyebrows meaningfully, a look that means Severus should know. As if there was any room for doubt in the first place.

They’d had this conversation before, when Remus returned from Knockturn Alley that day, a short hour later, to say cryptically, it is done—though by his very presence, it was obvious what he had done.

Severus had shouted and thrown hexes and furniture, before stalking off in a huff, his robes swirling around him. And when Remus followed him up, after casting a few hasty mending charms, to slip into bed and tuck himself behind Severus, Severus had turned in his arms, his own coming to wind around Remus’ shoulders, tight, as if he would never let Remus go again.

You’re a fool, he had whispered against Remus’ chest. His throat. The softness behind his ear.

I’m a fool, Remus had agreed, smothering a laugh in Severus’ hair. For you. He’d carded fingers through it, watching the wispy strands curl around his fingers, familiar, safe. He had decided he would keep this. Would keep Severus, for as long as he was able.

“I didn’t think you’d…” Severus says now, slowly. “Didn’t dare hope…” He clears his throat. “You asked why I didn’t tell you, the moment I discovered what the cost for curing your lycanthropy was.” As Remus nods encouragingly, Severus continues, “I thought…if I told you, you’d simply get your cure straightaway.” He bows his head. “I just—you said there were three moons until you had to decide. And I thought, if I could keep you for just a little longer, until that time ran out, I could let you go.”

“Severus,” Remus says, quiet, his heart aching in his chest. Severus had been driven into secrecy by one tiny, selfish need—to keep Remus by his side until the last possible moment.

“Even if it was just for a while—to know that I was the dearest thing to you in the world was enough. I could let you go, knowing that.” Severus’ voice is more worn and tired than it should be, as if he’d been fighting the battle for far longer than Remus had been aware of. “I would’ve let it happen,” Severus says, his hands dropping to his lap, tightening into fists. “You, making the cure permanent. I wanted you to be happy.”

Remus is torn between weeping and laughing at how they’d got it so wrong between them, but doesn’t want to risk Severus thinking he’s laughing at him. So he reaches out and tips Severus’ chin up, until he can look into Severus’ eyes. “I’m happiest,” Remus says slowly, so there’s no mistaking the meaning behind his words, “when I’m with you.”

Severus draws himself up with a haughty sniff, even if Remus isn’t fooled by his bravado. “Well, how was I supposed to know that?” The charmed straw-spoon continues revolving in place while Severus’ long fingers close around the fluted glass, too pale, trembling. “All you told me that day was that you’d set your priorities straight.” Severus stares into his glass, as if the sugar granules at the bottom could yield Divination secrets far darker and more profound than any of Trelawney’s tea leaves.

Remus slips one hand to the small of Severus’ back, rubbing soft, soothing circles to reassure. His other closes over Severus’ fingers on the glass, warm, stilling them. “So I did,” he smiles.

By the way Severus returns his smile with the barest hint of his own, tiny, barely-there, but a smile all the same, Remus knows he finally understands. You are my priority.

They’re silent for the span of a heartbeat, two, before Severus says, “You do realize this means you’ll have to continue to take the Wolfsbane potion every month.”

“Yes,” says Remus, remembering the foul taste of it, bitter, noxious, in his mouth. But the sweetness of Severus’ kisses will more than make up for it. “I’m sure I shall manage, somehow.”

“And you’ll continue to suffer my ‘tyrannical rule’ of thematically organized bookshelves and cupboard spices,” says Severus.

Remus, who used to organize his own meagre bookshelves alphabetically and never stayed long enough in one place to even have spices, has long grown used to these things. “Yes,” says Remus, his grin growing broader with each supposed fault Severus lists. “I have considered that as well.”

And,” Severus adds, as if floundering for more things to add to his rapidly diminishing list of demands, “you will…not complain when I borrow the bulk of your mother’s afghan to cover my feet when we read.”

“Of course,” Remus beams. He thinks the more appropriate word is steal, but he would gladly suffer the way Severus steals the bulk of the afghan, pulling it to his chest, leaving just enough to cover Remus’ knees, their feet twining gently as they read together on the loveseat. Or the way he swirls it around his own shoulders, leaving only enough for Remus’ lap and their joined hands while they watch Muggle films, Severus pointing out the banalities of all the plots, ruining the endings of mysteries, and criticizing the practices of movie spies, including one spirited discourse on James Bond that began with ‘that imbecile would have died ten times over by now’.

Because it meant he would be able to share those quiet evenings with Severus. Instead of drawing an utter blank, never knowing what had given Remus such happiness on so many nights.

He would have the memory of those nights still, and the promise of all the nights after.

“If you’re quite done with your drink,” says Severus, “Flourish and Blotts is having a signing for their new line of potions books.” As Remus lifts a brow, Severus adds hastily, “I haven’t an interest in the signing itself, but I was thinking we might browse their new offerings.” He finishes by scowling at their drinks, as if he can’t believe anyone would like this over-sugared dreck.

Remus only laughs, letting his hand press more snugly into the small of Severus’ back. Letting the warmth of Severus’ skin seep into his palm, an assurance that Remus hasn’t lost him, in his blind desperation for a cure. Then he winds it more fully about Severus’ waist and tugs him closer, undaunted by the number of eyes and ears about in The Leaky Cauldron.

And when Severus knits their left hands together, cautious, careful, Remus smiles, his heart filling with affection enough to burst, because the tiny clink their rings make, pressed together, is not only a reminder of the promises they’d sworn to uphold, but proof. That he is still Severus’, as much as Severus is his.

And perhaps Remus had lost the memory of how that came to be, but in time, he and Severus would make—

“From the besotted look on your face, I suspect you’re harbouring the foolish sentiment that ‘we can make new memories now, to replace the ones we’ve lost’,” Severus says. His lip curls in distaste, though Remus doesn’t need to look closely to know there’s a tiny tug of a smile hidden in the motion. A sign, then, that Severus hardly minds the besotted look and foolish sentiment he claims to berate Remus for.

“I—” Remus tries to deny, before his smile breaks into a grin, broad and wide and genuine. “Yes,” he says softly. He lets his hand slip away from Severus’, and stands to signal that their business here is done, before knitting his fingers with Severus other hand, gentle. “And we have the rest of our lives to do it.”

“The rest of our lives,” Severus murmurs, in wonder and gratefulness both. “Indeed.”

And as they step out into the bright, sun-lit day and set forth down the cobbled stones of Diagon Alley, they proceed to do exactly that.


[End]

End Notes:
And that’s a wrap for this fic! Hope you all had as much reading this offering for the Summerfest as I did writing it! :D
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