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"The shame does not belong to me or to the means by which I make money – it belongs to the society that denies me a legitimate employment" – R. J. Lupin

Even after the defeat of Voldemort, Knockturn Alley was not a safe place to wander. Knockturn Alley had never been a safe place to wander. Remus Lupin suspected it never would be – it was not in the nature of the place to be 'safe'. Still, Remus had certain advantages here, in this shadowed alley and the lanes that intersected it: an almost-instinctive ability to sense the presence of others, even when hidden; slightly better-than-human night vision; sharp hearing; and a powerful sense of smell that not only allowed him to detect others, but often gave some insight into their state of mind and intentions. But these advantages only helped to a certain degree – his biggest asset here would be the focused awareness that it was not safe, no matter how benign it appeared.

However, despite the potential dangers, Knockturn Alley was the best place for him to conduct his business – and he was now too desperate for an income to quibble about what he had to do, and where he had to do it.

The first time went smoothly – a simple discussion of prices and services, and the transaction was performed without fuss in one of the dark and shadowed laneways that branched off Knockturn. This was something Lupin could do and profit from, regardless of the limitations imposed by unjust Anti-Werewolf Legislation.

This was the pattern for the following weeks, with Remus's impoverished state gradually improving through successful transactions completed in dark alleys. Word spread rapidly and his services were increasingly sought out - soon he was able to eat regularly, replace his threadbare clothes and even buy sufficient books to keep him occupied and happy. But most importantly, he could now afford properly-brewed wolfsbane – every bit as efficacious and foul-tasting as any Severus Snape had brewed for him.

~*~

Remus hired rooms off Knockturn Alley, a plain and spare room furnished with a bed and little more, and a tiny bathroom adjoining. He did not actually live there – it was merely the place he conducted his business. He began to expect certain regular clients, anticipating their specific requirements. The occasional stranger would make contact with him, having heard via word-of-mouth what he was offering. One particularly cold and grey afternoon, he received word that he would be rewarded profitably by meeting someone in the lane-way off Knockturn Alley. He took the precaution of arriving well before the appointed time, but it seemed his future client was even more paranoid than he himself, for he was already waiting in the shadows just inside the laneway entrance.

Approaching the hooded man, Remus asked, "You sent me a note?"

The stranger's voice, even raspier and hoarser than his own, quietly replied "Yes."

"Do you want what I'm offering, then? And are you prepared to pay for it?" Remus asked, moving closer to the heavily cloaked and hooded stranger.

The shadowed man looked at him intently before replying; Remus got a glimpse of dark eyes in a pale face. However, Remus knew immediately there was little point scrutinizing the man facing him to seek some clue as to his identity – there was an unmistakable glimmer surrounding the man, readily detected by Remus's enhanced vision, indicating the application of a low-level spell to disguise appearance.

"Yes," the disguised man quietly replied.

Taking a step closer, Remus inhaled and instantly recognized the dark stranger – the scent was far too familiar for him to mistake.

"Come this way, then," Remus said, directing him towards his rented rooms, his matter-of-fact tone hiding the sudden unexpected exaltation that ran through his heart as soon as he recognized the man. He was alive, he was here and he was alive, sang through Remus, as the cloaked and hooded man followed wordlessly.

Once in his rooms, the man removed his hooded cloak. His appearance was not familiar to Remus, but then it wouldn't be – that was the point of a disguised glamour. Dark brown hair, pale olive skin, brown eyes – quite non-descript, particularly in comparison to the real appearance of the man Remus could smell.

"A glass of wine?" Remus offered, pouring himself a glass after the man refused with a terse head shake.

"Please take a seat," Remus continued. "My usual service includes oral and intercourse. Anything extra costs extra. Rough play, bondage, domination and submission are not part of my usual service. If you'd like anything of this nature, we must discuss the terms."

The man hoarsely replied, "That will not be necessary. The usual service will be … adequate."

"Very well," Remus nodded. "You can hire me for half an hour, an hour, or longer, if you wish."

"An hour for starters, I think," the man replied, his eyes intent on Remus, his lips curling in almost smile.

Remus felt himself flush a little - to his surprise, Remus found himself rapidly becoming aroused - the discussion of services and prices rarely had this effect. The man's scent was intoxicating, just as he had remembered it: dried herbs and fragrant oils, pungent roots and smokiness, and beneath that, the scent of the man himself, a musky, bitter fragrance.

Turning away from the man to hide his arousal, Remus slowly began to strip. Even though he had his back to him, he could feel the man's eyes watching him. Naked, he turned to face the man. There was hunger in his eyes, lust, but also… sorrow? Longing? Remus wasn't sure how to read the man's expression, but he yearned to touch him, and there was enough desire for him to feel a confidence about what to do next.

Stepping closer to the man, Remus reached to unbutton his robes. His client stopped him, grasping his hand firmly. "I'll do that," he said, his voice husky.

Remus nodded, and sat on the bed to wait. The man stripped quickly, carefully folding his clothes. Catching Remus's eyes watching him, he said "Not as pretty as you, I know."

Remus shrugged; the form he wore for his clients was no more real than the form this man currently wore. The glamour disguised him entirely; he looked at least 10 years younger than his real age and his hair was lightened to a golden-blonde and curlier than he was accustomed to, his skin paler and unscarred, and his eyes blue, not golden-brown.

The man was more than half-erect. Remus stepped close to him, and without hesitation knelt between his feet. He leaned forward a little, and then licked his tongue along the man's cock, slowly, from the base to the head, aroused by the man's gasp and the way his erection hardened and jerked. He slowly licked up and down, savoring the man's responses and the taste of the pearly drops of pre-come glistening on the tip.

Inhaling the rich scent of the man's genitals and the surrounding hair, Remus began to teasingly slide the hard cock into his mouth, slowly, so slowly, in and out, till he swallowed the man's cock whole, opening his throat to take him in deeply. The client gasped and said, "No, wait, I'm going to…." and Remus grabbed the other man's balls firmly, preventing ejaculation, and slid his mouth away.

"How would you like to come?" Remus asked softly, glancing up the man standing above him.

Still breathing heavily, his face flushed, the man replied, "On top of you. In you. I want to come in you, fucking you."

Remus smiled. "That's fine," he said, rising to his feet and sauntering over to the bed. He lay back on the bed-sheet, his legs slightly parted, his large, hard cock proudly revealed. The man looked at him, lips half-open, and licked his lips.

"Come over here," Remus softly said, holding his hand towards the man. "How do you want me?"

"Like that, yes, just like that," the man replied, moving slowly to the bed. He lowered himself to lie next to Remus and softly stroked him, up his inner thigh, lightly tantalizing his balls with his caressing touch, and then stroking up Remus's chest to excite and pinch his nipples. He lowered his head to Remus's chest and began to suck and lightly nibble his hard, pink nipples. The man chuckled as Remus's cock jerked in response.

"May I kiss you?" he asked huskily, and to his surprise, Remus found himself nodding in acquiescence. It seemed his usual rules no longer quite applied.

The man lowered his head to Remus's, on hand reaching up to gently caress and stroke his cheek. Remus felt kisses, nibbles, even light sucks along his neck, and when the man finally kissed him, Remus could not control his moans. Their tongues met, meshed, slid against each other, until Remus felt as though he'd drowned in sensation; melting into the exquisite feel of their mouths and tongues enticing, the rich and heady scent of the man and his arousal. When he felt his nipple engulfed by that warm mouth and nibbled, his hips involuntarily canted up and he started to rub himself against the other man's lean body, seeking out friction, pressure.

Remus heard a low chuckle and opened his eyes; the man lightly kissed him and then reached down to lightly stroke the palm of his hand against Remus's straining cock.

Remus whined, "Please," in a voice he can barely recognize, and the man responded by gently massaging lubricant around the ring of Remus's anus, slipping one finger in. Remus's muscles clenched involuntarily around the man's finger, and again he begged, "Please, no more, I'm ready… now, fuck me now, oh please."

Drawing Remus's legs up and over his shoulder, the man pressed the head of his lubricated cock against the tight ring of muscle, and slowly, so slowly began to press in. He slid himself in and out, gently and slowly, until Remus began to think he was at risk of explosion – he thrust his hips up, pushing the man deeply in, against his prostate; the man responded with a loud groan and began to fuck him hard and harder. The world exploded into silence and blinding white light and Remus began to come, arcing pearly white spurts against the other man's chest and his own stomach, the rhythmic pulsing of his arse muscles pulling the other man into an orgasm as deep as his own.

Catching his breath, Remus clasped tightly to the man panting at his side. He'd always thought sex with him would be wonderful, but this exceeded all expectation.…

The man hastily disengaged from Remus, rising from the bed. "You don't have to go straight away," Remus murmured, smiling up at the hastily dressing man.

"Here's extra money for a fine service," the man brusquely said, throwing a full money pouch onto the bed. "I'd like to book you next week, at the same time?"

"Yes," whispered Remus, feeling an inexplicable loss as his client walked out of the door.

~*~

The weeks between appointments seem to drag by for Remus - each Wednesday, he would eagerly anticipate the man's arrival at his rented rooms.

Remus himself was seeing fewer and fewer clients – legitimate work had unexpectedly come his way. Harry Potter had bought a shop in Hogsmeade and was having it fitted out as a bookstore, stocking both magical and Muggle books. Harry had specifically requested that Remus be the one to manage the store – he couldn't help suspecting that this was Harry's way of throwing money at him, and as loathe as he was to accept charity, he believed he would be a good manager for the store and would actually enjoy his work.

Although the store was not yet ready Remus had begun his employment, fitting the empty store with bookshelves and buying books. The only client he still saw regularly was the man whose identity Remus knew but whose name he did not speak, even to himself.

And Remus had to acknowledge to himself that he continued to see this client not so that he could afford to buy his monthly wolfsbane, but because he had come to crave their time together.

If Remus had known how, he would have suggested to the client that they see each other informally, with no payment required. But he feared that if he suggested this, his taciturn client would prefer to make arrangements with another prostitute.

And he feared that if the man knew who he was, he would leave, never to return.

~*~

His client would always arrive punctually, and enter the room greeting him perfunctorily.

This day, the man murmured without preamble, "Strip."

Remus complied. Humiliation warred with sexual arousal – he could feel himself flush, and he knew he was more than half-hard already. As he straightened, he thought he saw something flash through the other man's eyes. The man slowly paced around Remus, trailing his finger against the bare skin of his chest and shoulders.

"I've been thinking about you all week," the man quietly admitted. "I would like to see you without your glamour."

"What?" spluttered Remus.

"I would like to see you as you are. Without your glamour. I will pay whatever you ask."

Remus felt as though a bucket of cold water had been flung over him. "I don't do that."

"I would pay you whatever you asked," he repeated softly.

Numbly Remus shook his head. "No."

"Very well. Then just suck me now."

And that those few words Remus felt his faltering erection stiffen and fill, almost instantly, painfully hard, as he knelt in front of the man, who watched him unblinkingly, the faintest smirk crossing his mouth.

Gazing up through his eyelashes, Remus carefully unfastened the man's trousers, and drew the stiffening cock free. He delicately licked it from root to head and then swirled his tongue around the retracted foreskin, sucking the head lightly into his mouth.

"Enough," the man said hoarsely. "I want to fuck you."

"How do you want me?"

The man smiled down at Remus, gently stroking his hair, "Every way. But for now, on the bed, on your hands and knees," he said huskily, quickly stripping of his own clothes.

Remus gasped, this man seemed to have the keys to his arousal – with his familiar musky scent; his husky intonations; the intensity with which he looked at him. Laughing shakily, Remus knelt on the bed, resting his weight on his arms and spreading his legs.

"That's it," the man murmured, "Spread your legs for me."

The man came up behind him, and began to stroke up the inside of Remus's thigh, brushing his balls with the back of his hand. Remus moaned and tried to lean back into his touch, tried to press his aching cock against the hand, and then moaned more loudly as he felt the press of the man's lower body against his arse.

"So keen for me, so eager."

"Yes," Remus whispered.

"Are you such a slut? So keen for all your clients?"

"No," Remus moaned.

The man firmly grasped Remus's chin and turned his head to gaze into his eyes. "No?" he queried.

"No."

"So, you're a slut just for me?"

"Yes," Remus replied, perfectly truthfully.

Satisfied, the man leaned against him to kiss him, hungry and hard, pressing his erection into the cleft of Remus's arse.

They kissed until Remus felt breathless, light-headed, and then the man reached for the lubricant, pumping it over his erection and then stroking it around Remus's arse-hole, and gently sliding his fingers in and out.

"More," Remus begged, rocking back and forth on the fingers. "Please."

Remus felt the man push the head of his hard cock against his ring of muscle, and then slowly slide inside him. Trembling from the burn of it, and the pleasure that began to wash through him, Remus heard the man hoarsely gasp, "Oh gods," and something seemed to unleash inside Remus, and he began to thrust himself hard onto the cock, groaning and crying out.

The client was thrusting deeper and harder, chanting "Oh gods, so good, oh yes."

Remus felt the world recede and dissolve into blazing white light, the man reaching around to grasp his aching, leaking cock and pump it through his fist. A howl flooded through Remus as he came, calling out "Severus, yes," spurting creamy white come into the air as the man pumped wet warmth deep inside him.

Remus fell forward, collapsing onto the mattress with the man, Severus Snape, still clutching him; they lay together, trying to catch their breath.

Remus heard the whisper of some spell, and felt the tingle of magic against his skin, and then Severus said, quietly, still trying to slow his breathing, "How long have you known?"

"Since the first day," Remus sighed, futilely wishing the other man would say nothing, would pretend he had not heard. "It doesn't matter."

"It doesn't matter?" snarled Snape. "It doesn't matter that I've been paying to come fuck you, Lupin?" He laughed, a bitter sound with no humour. "How you must have laughed at that."

Belatedly registering that neither he nor Severus were disguised by any glamour any longer, and that he had just been addressed by name, Remus gasped "You knew it was me?"

"Obviously," was the terse reply.

"Severus…."

"Shut up. Just shut up," Severus snarled, hastily gathering his clothes and apparating away before Remus could respond.

~*~

No longer seeing clients, and without his weekly visits from Severus to look forward to, Remus stopped renting the rooms off Knockturn Alley.

Most nights, he didn't return to his cottage to sleep but simply stayed overnight in the small flat over the bookstore in Hogsmeade. He focused his energies upon stocking the bookstore, Reams and Realms, and making it a success.

During the full moons he returned to his cottage, and at Harry's insistence, he took the next day off also. Harry insisted on staffing the store in his absence, claiming it was a welcome break from his usual routine. Remus was grateful – the last transformation had been even more difficult than usual. Despite the Wolfsbane, Remus found he was attacking himself frequently. He would wake from each transformation, scratched and cut, still bleeding from the worst lacerations.

 

~*~

Remus woke, aching and weary, bitten and clawed. He was lying naked in front of the cold fireplace. After briefly opening his eyes, he slumped limply back onto the rug and fell asleep again.

His dreams were disturbed by strange sounds, a familiar voice speaking softly, the sense of being coaxed to drink a potion, being moved and held in strong familiar arms, and the warmth and comfort of a familiar person lying at his side.

He woke again, hours later, to find he was no longer lying on the rug in front of the fire; he was tucked into his bed, feeling tired but surprisingly pain-free. Almost-memories twirled and swirled in his thoughts; he was unable to clarify his recollections, but had the sense he was missing something important.

He could only assume that Harry had looked in on him and had assisted him to bed without fully waking him. That didn't feel quite right, but he was unable to explain it in any other way.

~*~

The morning after the next full moon, Remus woke up, not in front of the fire, where he had gone to sleep as a wolf, but comfortably lying in his bed. He heard a muted oath and then a rustling sound from the room next to his. Startled he sat up, aware that he felt remarkably well for the morning after transformation. Hearing steps moving towards his room, he lay down again, rearranging the covers so that it looked as though he still slept. Peering through closed eyelashes, he could only make out a dark silhouette, but had immediately identified the intruder as soon as he entered the room. Against his will, his heart began to race, and he felt a faint stirring in his groin.

Sitting up he said, "Severus, what are you doing here?"

Startled, the other man dropped the vial he was carrying; before it hit the ground, Severus caught it with a hasty wingardium leviosa.

"Lupin," Severus said, quietly, steadily. "Drink the entire vial of this potion now – it is a remedy for the various aches and pains you experience after transformation. Do not eat anything for at least 30 minutes for the potion to have maximum effect."

"But what are you doing here?"

"Nothing. That is, Potter was concerned about the increasing difficulty of your transformations, so I…."

"Harry was concerned… what the hell is going on, Severus?"

"Two full moons ago, I went to your bookstore. Potter told me that your transformations were becoming more difficult, so we agreed I should come and tend you after the transformation. Surprisingly, Potter was accurate and fortunately I was able to administer some remedies…" His voice trailed away. Looking increasingly uncomfortable, Severus studied the ground at his feet, reluctant to meet Remus's gaze.

"You agreed you should come and tend me… what the hell gives you the right to… what the fuck… just go, Severus… I'll tell Harry you were very helpful… just go now, please," Remus said, his voice softening from his initial yell to a hoarse whisper. "Just leave, please," he repeated, turning away from Severus, wearily rubbing his hands through his tousled hair.

"Remus, I would like…" said Severus, sighing. "Remus, do you think…?"

Remus looked at the uncharacteristically flustered man standing before him with some surprise.

Severus continued, "Potter told me how long you had been working in the bookstore, and how you'd stopped seeing clients, even though you were still seeing me. Was it just… for the money? Or for the Wolfsbane potion?"

Bitterly he added, "I would understand if it was just the money. I know it can be difficult for you to find employment, and I know how much the Wolfsbane potion means to you."

Remus gazed at Severus without speaking. He had no idea what to say without somehow making things worse. Finally he sighed, "I just wanted to see you. I wanted to tell you that I didn't want you to pay me, but I thought that might… drive you away. And I drove you away, anyway, by saying your name," he added sadly.

"Why are you doing this? Why are you acting like you want me?"

Remus tried, unsuccessfully, to catch Severus's gaze as he replied "I'm not acting, Severus. I do want you. More than I've ever wanted anyone."

"Why now? Why did you suddenly want me now?"

"Because you let me."

Unable to respond, Severus swept out of the room, the crack of apparition, echoing through the empty space.

~*~

Curled up in his bed-covers, Remus instructed himself not to think. Not to think about Severus; not to think about the deeply fulfilling sex they had; not to think about the aching emptiness inside him.

To his surprise it actually worked. Snuggled in the warmth of his bed, post-transformation weariness slid him effortlessly into a dreamless sleep, until the sharply-echoing crack of apparition startled him awake again.

~*~

Severus entered his bedroom. "Remus," he said, "there are things I must say to you."

"First let me tell you something myself. Please, Severus," he added as it looked as though Severus would not allow him to finish.

Continuing after Severus nodded, Remus said "I knew it was you from the very first day. Werewolf, remember. Enhanced sense of smell. So I knew it was you even though you were wearing a glamour to alter your appearance. That's why… that's why I found it so easy to respond to you. You were not just another client. You were Severus Snape, the man I had wanted for so long."

Looking away from Severus, unable to bear the intense scrutiny of his eyes, Remus said, "From the very beginning, I wanted to tell you that you didn't have to pay me – that I wanted you, and that being with you gave me the greatest pleasure. But I thought you didn't realize who I was. And I didn't want to risk you no longer coming to see me, so I said nothing. After I began working for Harry and stopped seeing my other clients, I wanted to tell you, so much, but I thought that if I did, I would never see you again."

Severus stood in front of Remus silently, gazing at the werewolf thoughtfully.

Remus met his eyes, "Severus, please say something."

"I wanted you. I've always wanted you. When I heard that you were selling yourself in Knockturn Alley, I decided to tell you that you didn't have to do that, that I would help you, that I could employ you as an assistant in my potions-making. I knew you would probably refuse… and then when I saw you, I didn't know what to say. When I thought you didn't recognize me, well… I thought I could finally have you at last." Severus whispered, "Forgive me, Remus. I just thought I could finally have you."

"You could have had me all along, Severus."

Watching Severus standing in front of him, his face shuttered and without expression, belied by the hunger in his eyes, Remus felt inchoate sensations flow through him, and then intensify and solidify – he felt relief, and love for this difficult man, and undeniably, desire.

"Please let me show you how I feel," Remus said, standing up to press his mouth against Severus's. "I want you so much. Please let me show you."

"What do you want from me?"

"Everything. I want everything from you." Smiling ferally, his amber eyes glowing, Remus added, "But for now I want to fuck you. Hard."

Looking dazed but pleased, Severus quickly undressed.

"On the bed. On your front."

Remus felt almost dizzy with desire as Severus mutely complied. He looked at the pale, lean form lying before him as he idly stroked his cock.

"You're so beautiful, Severus."

Severus turned his head to look at Remus. "Hardly," he snorted.

"Hush. You have no idea how beautiful I find you," Remus whispered hoarsely, lowering himself on the bed next to him.

He leaned over Severus, nuzzling his neck, ghosting kisses along his throat.

"So beautiful."

Remus began licking down Severus's spine, kissing over his buttocks. He slid his tongue into the cleft, and then parting the buttocks he began to lick around the tight, puckered rim. Severus moaned and shifted as he stroked up the insides of the lean thighs, his touch flirting up to circle and caress the smooth pale buttocks presented so perfectly for him, letting his touch linger in the cleft and circle around the opening.

Whispering the lubrication charm he smoothly slid two fingers inside without warning, rewarded by Severus's gasp and the way he immediately began to rock back, pushing on his fingers. Without delay, he lubed his own cock, hard and aching for contact, and slid it into Severus's tight opening.

Slowly, steadily he thrust in, then buried to the hilt, he began to thrust helplessly; small, shallow thrusts rocking back and forth, then deeper and harder, pulling the other man back to increase the thrust. "So perfect," Remus muttered, "so perfect and beautiful, warm and tight." Severus moved with him, his hips grinding back to impale himself roughly, moaning and muttering undecipherable words, his voice rising, a paean, a chant, a litany of ecstasy.

Remus thrust deeper, the world dissolving around him till nothing remained but Severus and himself and this wild, fierce fucking. Reaching forward to slide his hand along Severus's cock, he tightened his grip, fisting hard as Severus screamed and came, the muscles tightening around Remus's cock a compelling pulse pulling him into howling orgasm.

Remus collapsed on top of Severus, then slowly slid to one side to remove his weight, holding Severus in his arms. Together they caught their breath, and waited for their hearts to slow.

 

"Severus, I've always wanted you. Being with you gives me the greatest pleasure: I'd like to be with more. Often. Always."

Severus turned to look at Remus, his eyes still heavy-lidded, and whispered "Always? You must be out of your mind."

Smiling happily, Remus reached up to stroke Severus's face tenderly. "Yeah, I reckon I am. So, what do you think? Should we do this more often?"

Unable to prevent his lips shaping into a smile, Severus replied, "If you don't know the answer to that questions, you are out of your mind."

"So, I take it that's a yes then?"

"Idiot. Yes."

~fin~