"Grief and guilt are your defining characteristics," Severus had said, his tone rather more mild than the feelings behind his words had been.
Remus had sighed. "I suppose that's fair."
That was all he'd said, and it had hurt. Of course, Severus hadn't let on that he was hurt; he'd merely packed his belongings and left the cottage he'd shared with Remus since shortly after the war when they'd discovered each other in the Forbidden Forest. Severus missed their cottage. He wasn't entirely certain that he missed Remus.
"Another?" Aberforth, his new landlord, asked.
Severus nodded and returned to his maudlin contemplations. He still grieves Black. He's never forgiven himself for surviving Tonks. He only suffered me because . . . because I was part of that earlier time when he was with Black—and she . . . she was part of Black, as well. Always living in the past. . . .
It was surprising how easily one could overlook being treated like a memory when the sex was good.
It was the only sex you've ever had. How would you know?
Now Severus sighed. If he was grateful for anything Remus had given him, it would have to be for the knowledge of his own sexuality: it hadn't been romantic love that had caused his obsession with Lily Evans; it had been what she represented to him.
He still blamed himself for her death.
Is it enough, having helped save her son?
Before allowing himself to become too overbearing, even if only to himself, Severus tossed some coins down and left the tap, forcing himself to take the air rather than returning to his musty room. The streets of Hogsmeade were quiet, the moon was a sickle in the star-filled sky—it was no surprise to Severus that he still noted its phase—and there was a clean, crisp snap to the air.
Pleasant, he thought, and this did surprise Severus; he wasn't in the habit of enjoying much of anything.
But, his spirits somewhat lifted by the quiet freedom he felt at being safe to walk about Hogsmeade without fear of capture by Aurors, attack by Death Eaters, or assailment by those citizens now assured by Potter that he was a hero, Severus came to a decision: Better to be at loose ends than tied up in someone else's grief. I want . . . I want to be happy.
With these thoughts in mind, something compelled Severus to walk towards Hogwarts.
Potter was standing by Albus' tomb. It seemed impossible to escape him these days. Severus wasn't surprised to find him here.
At least he didn't come 'round to the pub to rave at me for "hurting" Remus this week, he thought, watching the younger man.
Potter's head was bowed, and he was murmuring quietly as if he were speaking to Albus, himself. Severus stood quietly behind the younger man and listened, unable to fault Potter for doing something that he often did.
"—like Neville. He's a good man, and Ginny's happier with him. . . . And I guess not having to tell her's for the best, yeah? Yeah, sure it is."
Sighing, Potter lowered himself to the ground to sit cross-legged, and began moving his hands idly through the grass.
Not much of an Auror, Severus thought, resisting the urge to snort. And tell Miss Weasley what?
"It would only make her . . . question what we had."
Ah, Severus thought, clearing his throat. Potter started, leaping to his feet and turning in one liquid motion to aim his wand at Severus.
Severus did snort to see the rigid determination in Potter's features slacken into confusion as he lowered his wand.
"Professor, I didn't realise that—"
"I've told you before not to call me that."
"Er, sorry," Potter replied, sheathing his wand. "Hey! How, er, how long have you been standing there eavesdropping?"
"Long enough to glean that you've no business giving me advice about relationships, Potter—and that Miss Weasley has left you for Longbottom—and that you're queer."
"Of course, having seen Draco Malfoy in your mind during our Occlumency 'lessons', that last isn't new to me."
"Berk," Potter spat, turning away from Severus and running a hand through his hair.
There was enough light from the moon, just, for Severus to note how Potter's muscles tightened under his shirt, and the wand sticking out of the back pocket of his denims drew Severus' attention to Potter's arse.
He tried unsuccessfully not to stare at it. Staring at it seemed . . . wrong.
Severus' cock twitched. He took to the air.
When Potter turned around to face him and found him gone, part of Severus wanted nothing more than to land before him and . . . .
Idiot. Pervert. . . . Still . . . .
"Why do you always have to be such a git?"
"How the hell did you get in here?" Severus demanded, shutting his window and gaping at Potter, who was lounging on his bed.
"I'm not such a bad Auror."
"What . . . what are you doing?"
Potter grinned at Severus and continued to disrobe. "Though we could fuck, since we're both queer."
Severus awoke, sweating and hard, but he refused to gratify himself.
Not to thoughts of him. No. It would be wrong.
On the seventh night of waking to dreams of Potter's mouth on his prick, Severus gave in; he didn't leave his room for two days for the resultant wanking.
"Ridicu—lous!" he gasped in orgasm, rising at once from his bed to wash.
Something would have to be done.
Yes, Potter, Severus thought, snorting.
It was time to move on.
"Tell me about not being queer, Potter," Severus demanded, striding past him as he entered Potter's home.
It was early, yet, and the idiot had come to the door in pants alone. Severus refused to gape.
Potter slammed the door and spun on him. "What the hell's your problem?"
"That has been your constant refrain for some time now, hasn't it?" Severus said, crossing his arms and giving in to the desire to examine Potter's body more closely.
Severus almost smiled. "Contrary to your idiotic notions of romance, it's not my place to 'save' Remus, and I expect you'd be happier if you weren't wallowing in the idea that you've saved your girlfriend by stepping aside for Longbottom."
"What are you talk—"
"You left Miss Weasley because you're queer. Why not accept it?"
"Who do you think you are, showing up before dawn to give me advice?" Potter demanded, striding towards Severus, his fists balled.
"Haven't you been darkening my door for weeks to importune me in much the same manner?"
"Ha! Your 'door' is a pub. I can go where I like. The Hog's Head's a public place."
Severus straightened. Lowering his arms, he advanced on Potter, smirking.
"What are you d—doing?"
"I don't think it's been for Remus, your stalking me in 'public'."
Potter's eyes widened, and he looked away briefly before turning a hooded glare upon Severus. "If you'd just—"
Soft lips going softer as they moved against Severus' own stopped Potter's mouth—but his tongue was anything but still as it slid over Severus' and explored his mouth in a surprisingly un-tentative manner. Soon, he and Potter were clutching at each other, hands exploring each other's bodies, until Severus pressed his thigh hard against Potter's erect prick.
"Wha—wait!" Potter insisted, pulling out of their embrace. "What . . . we . . . why?"
"Because we're both queer, Potter, and I thought we might . . . fuck."
"'Oh'?" Severus whispered.
"Yeah," Potter said, reaching for him.
As stunned as Potter had just looked, Severus felt; he hadn't truly believed it would work, inviting himself into Potter's flat and taking what he wanted, but he wasn't complaining—not when Potter seemed so intent upon taking him.
"Fuck, that's—more," he ground out, his teeth clenched as the grip around his cock tightened.
"I want to see you, touch you," Potter said, pulling at Severus' clothing. "Can't you just ban—"
Severus removed his clothing with a wordless spell, astonished to find Potter on his knees, to feel Potter's warm mouth close around his cock. His knees shook. He didn't last long.
"Did . . . did I do it wrong?" Potter asked, as Severus slumped to the floor, pulling him down with him to lie on the rug.
"Potter, you. Are. An. Imbecile."
"Pretty good cocksucker though, it seems."
In spite of his recent release and general disinclination to it, Severus laughed.
Potter snorted. "Made you laugh and come. I must be good."
"We'll soon see, won't we?"
"That's the idea, Potter."
"Whatever you say, Professor."
"You need a new word. Try 'Harry'."
Severus shifted so that he could bite Potter's—he wasn't yet ready for 'Harry's'—neck, and smiled against his skin as Potter groaned.
"T—try anything . . . you like."
"Never said I liked you," Severus replied, rolling himself over and up to straddle Potter's hips and staring down into his eyes.
He saw nothing of Lily in them; it was a relief. What he did see was enthusiasm, for him, which was, however bizarre, too welcome to ignore.
"I'm not interested in you for the conversation," Potter quipped, thrusting upwards.
"Nor so concerned about Re—"
"Less talk. More shagging," Potter said, reaching up to pull Severus down into a kiss.
And Severus, who had in that instant resolved not to permit grief or guilt to define him, didn't argue.