"Severus, would you like to explain these?"
Snape was reclining on the couch, in his chambers. He looked up from the large tome balanced on his lap at the inquiry. His lover of all of five days was standing in front of the open wardrobe, gloriously naked, and Snape let his eyes rake down the lean form with avid intent.
Lupin grinned as he recognized the lascivious look in his lover's face. "As much as I appreciate the sentiment, Sev, I couldn't get it up again, even with a Wingardium Leviosa charm." He gestured at the item in his hands. "So tell me about these."
Snape studied the colourful underwear in Lupin's hands and surmised that his lover had been riffling through his drawers. "I believe they are called boxers."
"Very funny," Lupin said, giving him a Look. "I know you didn't buy these for yourself, so what are they? A gift from an old lover?"
Snape snorted. "As if I'd have the bad taste to have a lover who'd choose those for a gift."
Lupin's eyes widened. "Dobby buys you underwear?"
Snape sighed dramatically. "If you must know, I had run out of my preferred pants. Albus having grounded me here, I was forced to rely upon Dobby to obtain replacements. An error I did not repeat."
"So I take it he didn't procure the other items you've been wearing?"
"Merlin, no. I told you -- I ordered them by catalogue."
"Ah, yes." Lupin gave his lover a reproving look. "The one you've conveniently misplaced."
Hastily diverting Lupin's attention, Snape said, "Why ever are you looking through my pants?"
"Because I appear to have misplaced several items of clothing."
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Anything of value?"
"No, it's just that my robes appear to be missing."
Snape looked over at the open wardrobe. "What about those?" he said, gesturing at a new set of brown robes at the end. "I know they're not mine. I mistakenly pulled them out earlier, but they're too short, not to mention the wrong colour."
"They're not mine," Lupin said, taking them out of the closet. "Although they do appear to be my size." He gave Snape a suspicious look, but the other man was looking mildly amused and not in the least bit guilty.
"One of the elves probably put it in the wrong rooms," Snape said dismissively. "It's appalling how lax the house-elves are becoming. I blame it on Albus hiring free elves, but what can you do?"
"I can throw these out," Lupin said shortly.
"Have you ever tried to discard something a house-elf obtained for you? I don't advise it. The only reason I still have those pants you were brandishing earlier is because of the house-elves. I have tried throwing them in the rubbish many, many times but they keep reappearing in my drawer." A wicked smile touched his lips. "You are more than welcome to them."
Lupin regarded the boxers in question for a moment, then grinned. "Thank you, I will."
"Take them all," Snape said magnanimously after a moment of surprise. "I have no need of them. And as for the robes, I expect you'll just have to use those till your own are returned. They're bound to turn up, sooner or later."
Lupin shot Snape another suspicious look, but Snape had returned to his book. Lupin decided that it really wasn't reasonable to blame his lover -- the man couldn't even leave Hogwarts to purchase underwear, after all, much less robes. It was far more likely to have been a mistake by the house-elves. He set out the unlabeled robes and turned back to the wardrobe. Looking through the colourful array of boxers -- rainbow-coloured, tie-dyed, paisley, leopard print -- he grinned wider. It would be worth it to see the expression on Snape's face as he ran around their rooms in nothing but these.
At the bottom of the drawer, he ran into the plain, faded-looking boxers Snape had mentioned and then, under them, he struck gold. Red boxers. Same cut as the other plain ones, but obviously brand new, never worn, boxers in Gryffindor red.
Snape looked up, saw the red boxers in Lupin's hand and the look on Lupin's face. "No. I absolutely refuse. There is no way you will get me to wear those."
Lupin raised an eyebrow.
"I can't believe I'm actually wearing these," Snape hissed as the two of them made their way down the corridors towards the Great Hall.
Lupin's mouth twitched as he contained his smile, and his eyes gleamed at Snape. "I can."
"Stop that," Snape ordered him.
"Stop looking at me like that. Do you want everyone to know about us?"
"Yes, I do, actually," Lupin said, smiling in the way that made Snape's heart flutter. "But not just yet, although I should probably tell Harry before Sirius does. As for the rest of them...for now, I want to keep us to ourselves."
"My sentiments exactly," Snape said. "No point in ruining the climactic impact of such a revelation without the proper number of appalled witnesses."
Lupin chuckled. "Severus, has anyone ever told you that you're a scheming, manipulative bastard?"
"On occasion," Snape replied. "But never before while laughing, and certainly not while looking like they wanted to shag me senseless."
Lupin turned suddenly and pressed Snape against the wall. "Good," he said, and took Snape's mouth in a rough kiss. "And I intend to keep it that way."
The corner of Snape's mouth crooked up. "Territorial, are we? Do you intend to brand me, then?"
"Perhaps," Lupin said, and kissed him again. "Or maybe I'll just put a collar on you."
He released his lover and continued on his way to the hall. His heightened werewolf senses could pick up Snape's attempt to control his racing heart and ragged breathing, and then Snape was moving rapidly towards him.
"Prick tease," Snape murmured as he caught up with Lupin, having taken a moment to admire the way the new robes hung on his lover. He'd thought that honey-brown would look spectacular on Lupin, and he was right. Dobby had done a surprisingly excellent job, and he would have to remember to thank him properly. "You knew what that would do to me."
Lupin grinned but didn't say anything. He watched as Snape stalked ahead of him, roughly pushing open the doors to the Great Hall, and followed in a more leisurely manner.
The rest of the faculty plus Harry Potter were already seated and looked around, startled, at the resounding boom of the doors and saw Snape stalk into the Great Hall, followed closely by a smirking Remus Lupin.
"My apologies for our tardiness," Snape said, his voice sounding a little rough as he approached the head table. "Professor Lupin was assisting me with an experiment and we lost track of the time."
Dumbledore smiled at Snape, then at Lupin. "No need to apologize, Severus, Remus," he said, waving them towards seats. "You know we don't stand on ceremony during the Holidays."
There were two empty seats at opposite ends of the table, and Lupin moved quickly towards the one between Harry and Hagrid, while Snape took his customary seat at the end of the table. Professor Sprout was seated next to him and immediately engaged his attention in a discussion about plantings and harvesting of potion ingredients for the coming year. Snape carefully did not look towards the other end of the table.
Lupin turned his attention to Harry, inquiring about his Holidays and his recent visitor. Harry's face lit up and he eagerly began talking about his visit from "Padfoot" then, after a skilfully directed question, was soon talking about his hopes for the upcoming school term and Quidditch season. Lupin listened, occasionally asking a question. He carefully did not look towards the other end of the table.
Several pairs of eyes watched both of them, and speculated.
"Harry, could I speak with you for a moment, in private?" Lupin asked him quietly as they rose from the table following lunch. He could see the surprised look on Harry's face.
"Is it about...Padfoot?" Harry asked, following him into an empty classroom
"No, it's a personal matter," Lupin said, trying to think of the best way to bring up the subject. "Normally, it wouldn't be something that I'd tell a student, but since you're Sirius' godson, and since Sirius and I are friends, I have a feeling you'll hear about this sooner or later. And I'd rather you heard it from me." He sat down in one of the student chairs and gestured for Harry to take a seat across from him.
"What is it, Professor?"
Lupin smiled slightly. "I think, since we're on Holiday, you can call me Remus." Harry nodded and gave Lupin an inquiring look.
Lupin drew in a deep breath. "I'm not exactly sure where to begin. This really isn't my sort of talk," he said, giving Harry a rueful smile. "I assume that you've had Pomfrey's lecture on Human Sexuality." Harry flushed and nodded. "As you were told, most boys like girls and vice versa, but there are some girls that like girls, and there are some boys that prefer other boys. I'm like that."
Harry blinked. "You mean you're gay?"
Lupin looked a little sheepish. "I forgot that you kids today know a lot more about the subject than we did when I was at school. Yes, I'm gay."
"So, what, Sirius doesn't know?"
"Sirius knows, as did your father. Well, most of the school knew. I wasn't, as Muggles say, in the wardrobe."
Harry snickered slightly. "I think you mean 'in the closet'. If Sirius knows, why are you worried about him telling me? Surely he doesn't think that you'll 'corrupt' me, or anything stupid like that."
"No, I'm sure he wouldn't think that. Sirius was always very supportive of my sexual persuasion, although he didn't like the person I was in love with. Then -- or now."
Harry digested that for a moment, and then his eyes widened. "You --and Snape?" he asked, shock apparent in his voice.
Lupin nodded. "We were just getting together when Sirius' -- prank -- broke us up. It's taken a long time, but we've finally managed to work our way back. Sirius still doesn't approve, but - "
"You and Snape?" Harry asked, and Lupin was shocked to see that the large green eyes behind the glasses were wide with horror. "Together?"
"Yes," Lupin managed to say. "Since the night of your birthday - Harry!" He called after the boy as he abruptly stood and fled from the room. "Wait!"
Harry either didn't hear him or ignored him, and Lupin slumped in his chair, sighing as he dragged a hand through his hair. "Well, that could have gone better," he murmured, feeling a pang of sadness at Harry's rejection. He'd hoped that, with Harry's help, he'd be able to make Sirius see reason on this matter. Now it appeared that all he'd done was lose Harry's friendship as well. With a weary sigh, he stood up and headed for the dungeons.
Lupin bit back a groan that was a cross between pleasure and pain. "There! Harder!"
Snape, straddling his lover's prone body as he massaged Lupin's back, frowned as he applied a little more pressure. "Do you always end up this tense afterwards?"
"This is actually better than usual," Lupin murmured, wincing as the strong fingers found a sore spot. "Running mindlessly through the woods is rougher on my body. At least the Potion lets me sleep."
"Mmm," Snape said, massaging deeper into the shoulder muscles. "I wonder if we might be able to alter the formula to help. Do you get inflammation or pain in the joints as well?"
"Not much, unless I really overdo it."
"Then Devil's Claw won't be much use," Snape said musingly. "Perhaps a muscle relaxant -- skullcap might work. We can test it and see."
"Feel free to use me as your guinea pig," Lupin said dryly. "Ouch!" He mock-glared over his shoulder at his lover. "Forgetting our place, are we?"
Snape gave him a smug smile. "At the moment, I believe I have you at a disadvantage."
"Oh, really?" Lupin moved suddenly, rolling over and up at the same time, and pinned Snape to the bed. He grinned down into his lover's surprised face.
"Remind me never to wrestle with you."
"Oh, I don't know about that," Lupin said, leaning down to nibble at Snape's neck. "Wrestling can be a lot of fun, particularly naked bed-wrestling."
Snape closed his eyes and arched up into the delicious sensations. "Aren't you...supposed to...have tea with...Albus?"
"You're right," Lupin said, pulling away reluctantly. He padded to the wardrobe in search of clothes.
"Any idea why he asked you to tea?" Snape asked, rolling on one side so he could watch his lover's movements. He thought he'd never get tired of the sight of Remus, naked, in his chambers.
"No idea, actually," Lupin said, pulling on a pair of the garishly coloured boxers. "I expect he wants to remind me about protecting the students: taking the Potion regularly, secluding myself, that sort of thing."
"Speaking of students, I saw young Mr. Potter running through the hallway shortly after luncheon. He appeared to be...distressed."
Lupin sighed and pulled on the new robes. "I told him about us. I wanted him to hear it from me, before Sirius got in his version, or the school grapevine distorted things."
"I assume he didn't take it well."
"No, he didn't."
Snape sighed and sat up. "Remus, I warned you this would happen. First Black, now Potter, and it'll only get worse - "
"Hush," Lupin said, crossing to lay his fingers on Snape's lips. " 'We all must love where the lightning strikes, and not where we would choose'. Remember?"
A faint smile touched Snape's lips. "I remember." He nipped at Lupin's fingertips. "I also remember that Professor Digitalia caught us snogging shortly after I said that and gave us three nights' detention."
Lupin chuckled. "If she'd only given us detention together, so much might be different." His fingers stroked down Snape's cheek. "I wanted you so much back then, you know. I should have told you - "
This time Snape's fingers stopped his words. "Regrets are a waste of time," he said quietly, then kissed Lupin gently. "And you have tea waiting."
"So I do." Lupin returned the kiss, then straightened his new robe, which, oddly enough, was a perfect fit, and headed out of the room.
"Professor Lupin, may I speak with you?"
Lupin looked up, startled, as Professor Sinistra stepped out of the shadows of the hallway right in his path. "Of course, but I'm on my way to the Headmaster's office at the moment."
"It'll only take a moment." Sinistra gestured for Lupin to precede her into an empty classroom.
Lupin sighed and stepped in, then turned around -- to find a wand right at his throat. "Professor?"
She leaned in close and said, "It doesn't matter to me that you are a werewolf. In fact, that makes you rather more interesting than the average Gryffindor. What does matter are your intentions towards Severus."
Lupin's eyes widened. "My intentions?"
"Severus is a personal friend and the Head of my House. I would not take kindly to someone toying with his affections."
Lupin decided there wasn't any point in denying his relationship with Severus, although he hadn't the faintest idea how she had found out about them. "I have no intention of hurting Severus. I love him."
Sinistra's eyes narrowed. "I don't trust love, and I'm not sure that I trust you. Just remember that I'm watching you. And if you should hurt him, I will make certain that reparations are made."
Her wand disappeared back into her robes and she swept out of the room, leaving Lupin standing slack-jawed behind her.
Dumbledore looked up with a smile from where he sat pouring out the tea as Lupin entered his office with an apology for being late. "Ah, Remus! I was wondering if the stairs waylaid you." His eyes twinkled at Lupin.
"No, just Professor Sinistra," Lupin said, accepting the cup he was handed.
"Indeed?" Dumbledore settled down with his own cup of tea, his eyes twinkling at Lupin. "Sinistra is a particular friend of Severus'."
"So she said." Lupin stirred in a lump of sugar and looked up at Dumbledore resignedly. "So, how many know about the two of us? And how? The ghosts? House-elves?"
Dumbledore laughed softly. "No, the ghosts avoid Severus' private chambers, ever since he threatened to spray Peeves with a Soggifying Potion. The house-elves are similarly tight-lipped."
"My dear Remus, when two people sit at a table within plain sight of each other and, for an entire hour, do not look at the other, they are most certainly in love and do not wish that fact to be known."
Lupin groaned. "So much for trying to keep it quiet." He cocked his head. "Are you going to question me about my intentions toward Severus as well? I know how fond you are of him."
"Yes, I am. And no, I don't intend to pry intimate details from you. All I ask is that you make him happy. He deserves some happiness in his life."
"I'll do my best," Lupin said sincerely.
Dumbledore stirred his tea absently. "How much do you know about Severus' childhood, his family?"
"Not much," Lupin admitted. "He didn't talk about them much when we were at school together. I know there wasn't a lot of money -- it was one thing we had in common."
"You should try to get him to talk," Dumbledore told him. "I believe it will help you understand much about him. In fact, I think you two should go away for a few days, before the new term starts."
Lupin cocked his head. "Is it safe? I understand from Sev that you have him warded in here -- I take it that's to protect him from You-Know-Who."
Dumbledore nodded. "He's most anxious to punish Severus for his betrayal."
"I have a cottage; it's isolated and warded. Would that do?"
"I believe so. If you don't mind, I will Apparate there and ensure the warding before you leave."
Lupin agreed, then gave Dumbledore a wry smile. "Now all we have to do is convince Sev to go."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I have faith in your persuasive powers. Now, help yourself to the biscuits and tell me about your plans for the coming year's classes..."
Lupin was feeling relaxed and replete as he let himself out of Dumbledore's office and headed towards the staircase. The Headmaster had approved Lupin's lesson plans for the coming year, and he was looking forward to teaching again. Even more, he was anticipating getting Severus away from Hogwarts for a few days.
"Remus, may I have a word, if you please?"
Lupin started at McGonagall's voice. "Of course, Minerva. What may I do for you?"
"It's about Severus," the Gryffindor Head of House said, leading him towards her office.
Lightly, Lupin said, "Minerva, Sinistra has already threatened me with severe bodily harm if I break Sev's heart, so I think you can rest assured on that matter."
"It is nothing to joke about," McGonagall said seriously, closing her office door behind them. "There will be others, many others, who will not understand. From both sides."
"I know," Lupin said, sighing. "Sirius thinks I've lost my mind...or that Sev has something on me. Harry -- when I told him earlier, he went running off, horrified."
"Things are not always what they seem," McGonagall said cryptically. "Severus already has a difficult time with his House, given the truth about his association with You-Know-Who. When they find out that he has taken up with a former Gryffindor..." Leaning closer, she said, "Watch your back, Remus. And watch his."
Soberly, Lupin nodded.
McGonagall smiled then, and held out her hand to clasp his. "As for myself, I wish you much happiness. You both deserve it."
Lupin grinned at her. "Thank you very much, Minerva. I'll do my best to make sure Sev is as happy as he can be." He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. "And now I must find him. Albus wants me to take Sev on holiday for a few days."
McGonagall sighed. "I think that's an excellent idea. I believe we will all face difficult times in the year to come."
"Pr'fessor, if I might just have a few words with you."
Stymied once again in his attempt to reach the dungeons, Lupin sighed as he swung around and faced Hagrid. "You, too? I swear, if one more person asks me about Severus and my intentions, I'll - "
Hastily, Hagrid said, "I weren't gonna ask yeh nothing personal-like. I just, well, young 'arry's feeling a mite done in by what yeh told 'im, and I was hopin' yeh could take a minute to talk."
Lupin sighed but agreed, and Hagrid turned to look over towards the shadows. "You see, 'arry? I told yeh Pr'fessor Lupin would listen."
Harry came forward, looking a little embarrassed. Lupin couldn't blame him; he felt a little awkward about meeting Harry again, after their disastrous earlier talk.
"Hello, Harry," he said quietly.
"Professor," Harry said, equally quiet. He looked over at Hagrid, and the groundskeeper moved away so they could have some privacy to talk.
"I'm sorry about earlier," Harry said quickly, as if needing to talk before he lost his nerve. "I wanted to let you know that - that it wasn't - that I wasn't upset about you being gay or anything because - because I think I am too."
Lupin raised an eyebrow. "Really? I thought Sirius said something about a young lady."
Harry flushed a little. "Cho. Yeah, I thought I liked her but...well, when it came right down to it, Ron was the one the goblet picked in the second task, wasn't he? That made me think a lot." He flushed. "Not that I fancy Ron or anything. He's just a friend and he's straight."
"Harry, have you talked to anyone about this? Told anyone else?" Lupin asked gently. Harry shook his head. "You should, you know. It helps. Really."
"I don't know who to talk to," Harry said quietly.
"You should tell your friends. I think you'll find them supportive of you, even if they don't understand. You might want to talk to Fred and George, since they're both gay as well." Lupin studied Harry and added, "You could talk to me, if you'd like. If my being with Severus doesn't make you uncomfortable."
"It's not...I wasn't upset because it's Professor Snape you're with, not the way Sirius is," Harry said, flushing. "I was...I was angry. Jealous. Because I..." His voice trailed off.
"Oh," Lupin said, feeling a little disconcerted. He fought down the instinctive jealous surge, the territorial growl of "mine", and said, "Harry, I'm sorry. I had no idea...I didn't even think you liked him."
Harry nodded, his eyes on the ground. "Yeah. And I know what you're going to say: I'm just a kid, lots of kids have crushes on their teachers, I'll grow out of it."
"Those things are all true," Lupin said gently. "That doesn't make the feelings any less real, and it doesn't mean you're not hurting."
Harry nodded, his throat too tight to speak.
"Look, I expect I'm the last person you want to talk to about what you're going through. But you do need to talk to someone who understands, so I suggest Professor Hooch and Poppy."
Harry's head jerked up and his cheeks went flame. "But...but they're girls!"
"Obviously," Lupin said dryly. "But Poppy can be a very sympathetic ear, and she knows some really good books. She was very helpful when I was going through this and confused, and gave me a lot of good advice." Giving Harry a stern look, he said, "Especially about safe sex, which is something we didn't have to worry about much when I was a kid. And Xiomara understands first hand."
Harry considered that. "You mean she fancies girls, right?"
"Right. It's not easy being gay, Harry, and she can help you with some of that confusion. And don't forget the Weasley twins, seriously."
Harry nodded, looking back at the floor as he fought his blushes. "Okay. Thanks."
"Harry," Lupin said, gripping the young man's shoulder with one hand while he tilted Harry's chin up so he could look him in the eyes. "You will get past this, even if it doesn't seem like it at the moment. I know from first hand experience."
Harry nodded again.
"Go on; you look like you could do with a bit of a wash."
Harry looked grateful for the dismissal and hurried off, and Lupin turned to Hagrid.
"Thanks, Pr'fessor," Hagrid said, jerking his head towards the stairs where Harry had disappeared. "Er, is what 'arry said right? You an' Pr'fessor Snape?"
Lupin nodded, a faint smile on his lips. "Yes, it's true. So are you going to jump up to defend Severus' honour, too?"
"I expect it's none of my business who yeh're with," Hagrid said hastily. "And the Pr'fessor can defend his own self. Just wanted to say...well...I hope yeh'll be happy. Both of you."
"Thank you, Hagrid," Lupin said hastily, seeing that the sentimental half-giant was starting to get teary-eyed. "I need to get back -- Sev will be wondering where I am."
He hurried down the stairs, praying that no one else would stop him on the way.
Snape looked up as Lupin entered their rooms. "I was beginning to wonder if I should send out a rescue party."
"I was accosted by half the faculty, demanding to know my intentions toward you," Lupin said, flopping down on the bed. "I'm not sure what scared me the most - Sinistra's threats if I broke your heart, or Hagrid starting to weep over our happiness."
Snape raised an eyebrow, looking at him as if convinced he'd lost his mind, and Lupin noticed that he was packing what appeared to be a carpetbag.
"What are you doing?"
"As I understand that we are taking a sojourn in the country, I was attempting to pack a few necessities."
Lupin groaned and closed his eyes. "Albus told you."
"Sev, we don't have to go if you don't want to. Albus thought we might like some time alone together, and I thought my cottage might be nice since it's pretty isolated and - "
Snape closed his bag with a decided snap. "Remus, I have been immured in this place for almost two years. I would agree to an igloo in the frozen north, just for a change of scenery. Two weeks in the Welsh countryside could be considered heaven."
"Albus' words. He doesn't want to see either of us for two weeks. I wonder if I should be offended."
Lupin tugged Snape down on top of him. "Be offended later. For now, kiss me."
Snape resisted being pulled into a kiss. "You do realize that if you were to get your lazy arse into motion and pack, we could be shagging in your bed with no one around for miles. Or would you prefer more cosy chit-chat with the staff?"
Lupin almost ran for his suitcase.
Lupin leaned back on his elbows as he sat on the roof of his cottage and looked around him in satisfaction. The day was bright and beautiful, his newly thatched cottage was in better shape than it had ever been, and he'd had more sex in the last two weeks than in his entire life prior to Severus. All in all, it had been a nearly perfect two weeks.
Not that there hadn't been some bumps along the way. During their first day there, he'd coaxed Severus out into the garden for a bit of lounging in the sun, "to get some colour into those cheeks". Only it appeared that Snape and Sunlight were not comfortable together, and the only colouring Severus had gotten was a rather virulent sunburn. And for a man who was so good with his hands as far as potions were concerned, Severus was a disaster with household implements like hammers and paintbrushes. Lupin had managed to convince his lover that he preferred to do the work himself, and that just having Severus nearby, reading aloud to him while he worked, was heaven.
Speaking of which, Severus was no longer reading. Lupin sat up and peered down into the shaded part of the garden. Snape was lying on a blanket there, asleep, the book lying on his chest. Lupin's eyes trailed along the slender, nearly naked body -- it had been very warm earlier, and his lover had peeled off all but his boxers before taking to the shade -- and he could feel his groin tighten.
Maybe he could convince his lover to indulge in some more al fresco sex. After all, tomorrow they'd have to Apparate back to Hogwarts, go back to being respectable teachers and role models...
Lupin chuckled as he descended the ladder. Somehow, he doubted that they'd ever manage to do that. They'd just have to settle for giving the school something to talk about.