Pairing: Snape/Lupin (established relationship)
Summary: Remus hasn't quite got the hang of hurt/comfort. Severus is not enlightening him. Written for Senjy's birthday *g*
A/N: This is in the R&D series, following just hours on from Every Burning Kiss We Give. Readers starting here might want to know that Remus has had severe vision problems and that Severus is breeding chupacabras for fun and profit. Bonus points to anyone who can tell me the reason for Remus' reading list. Credit to Harry Turtledove for the Department of Environmental Perfection.
Reciprocity (Vassar Miller)
You who would sorrow even for a token
Of hurt in me no less than you would grieve
For seeing me with my whole body broken
And long no less to solace and relieve;
You who, as though you wished me mere Good Morning,
Would smash your heart upon the hardest stones
Of my distress as when you once, unscorning,
Would sleep upon the margin of my moans–
I yield my want, this house of gutted portals,
All to your want, I yield this ravaged stack,
In testimony that between two mortals
No gift may be except a giving back.
What present could I make you from what skill
When your one need is me to need you still?
The ceiling of the tent had been enchanted to show the constellations. It was not as elaborate as the Great Hall of Hogwarts: there were no clouds. The stars shone with a steady, not twinkling, light. Severus mentioned it once and never again.
Severus had accepted the loan of Shacklebolt's tent immediately: he suspected the man had hoped he'd refuse. As if Severus were in a position to refuse. And at least this way Shacklebolt would be forced to forego his compulsive excursions to Roman ruins and his bird-watching forays. His associates should be grateful, Severus thought, that they'd have a few weeks (well: months, realistically) without having to endure photographs of rocks in fields, or rocks in fields with coal tits on them.
The tent had a pleasant front room with wicker furniture and a bedroom with en suite bath. Severus had removed all the framed pictures of waxwings, warblers, and bitterns and given them back to Shacklebolt, along with assorted knickknacks and a set of tea towels commemorating the Holy Roman Emperors. There was no kitchen: Severus had had to construct a firepit outside. But the bath had hot and cold running water, and the bathtub, apparently, seated six.
When Remus was released from the hospital, Severus Apparated them directly into the bedroom. "Bed or bath?" he asked, and Remus' mouth curled wickedly.
"Decisions, decisions. Bath, then bed, and back to bath? Bed, then bath?"
Remus was wearing a miscellany of clothing that had been charitably collected, and Severus wanted them off. He wanted—needed–to scrub the smell of disinfectant and illness from Remus' skin. "Bath," he said, his hands already working at Remus' buttons. Remus raised one hand to his cheek and leant in to kiss him. Severus kissed him back fiercely, tugging the buttons open and then shoving Remus' vest up to stroke his palms up across Remus' stomach. He was rewarded by a breathless mewling sound and would have laughed if his mouth hadn't been otherwise occupied. Remus nipped and sucked at his tongue, and his hands fumbled with the fastenings on Severus' robes.
"Stop that," Severus said, and pushed Remus' hands away. The burns were almost entirely healed, but the skin on Remus' palms was still too soft and his fingers too smooth and clumsy for some things. Bloody fire. Bloody house reduced to ashes.
Severus tugged off his robes impatiently and hung them on the peg by the door. "The bath's through here," he said. He'd tried to put things in as close to their usual positions as possible, but the room was an entirely different shape and essential things like sinks and towel bars were in the wrong places. Remus refused to let him explain the whereabouts of things like toothpaste and flannels, instead relocating Severus' boxers and vest hamper-wise and following them with his own.
"This isn't a bathtub, it's a swimming pool," Remus said, somehow filling all the space that wasn't occupied by Severus. "It reminds me of the Prefects' bath at Hogwarts. Has it got bubbles?" He fiddled with the taps and somehow managed to turn on Crowley's Nocture performed by a chorus of songbirds and percussive ducks. Remus swore colourfully and discovered how to make the cacophony louder.
Bloody Shacklebolt, Severus thought, and stretched out one foot to poke the music player into oblivion. Remus snagged his leg and settled it across his lap, rubbing his toes in a way that felt too good to be right. Severus slouched into the water. He didn't protest at all when Remus started massaging his other leg as well.
Remus' hands worked their way up slowly, and then he somehow shifted up to kneel straddling Severus' thighs. He leant forward and started rubbing Severus' shoulders.
"You're very tense," Remus said.
"I'm always tense."
"More so than usual. I like this bathtub," Remus added, persuading the muscles of Severus' neck to relax their death-grip on his skull. "Except for the music. We'll have to get one of our own."
"First a roof to put it under," Severus said, and Remus frowned. Severus raised a relaxed finger and set it warningly across Remus' mouth. "I meant what I said. One more attempt by you to apologise for that fiasco and I will hex you. I've been thinking I might turn you into a girl."
Remus raised his eyebrows. "That wouldn't shut me up."
"It wouldn't get you laid, either."
"That would be a pity," Remus said, shifting forward just enough that the hard length of his cock brushed against Severus'. Severus wrapped his arms around Remus' waist and felt the arch of his spine as Remus bent to kiss him. Remus was very fond of kissing. Severus had once asked him if there was any particular reason for it, and Remus had laughed. "I love your mouth," he had whispered in Severus' ear like a secret. "The contrast between what you say with it and what you do with it." Remus always took it for granted that Severus was a sexual being, which was unnerving. He'd even been known to be jealous on occasion. This amused Severus vastly, but he supposed it gave him leverage.
Remus wound against Severus now, and Severus traced the wide bare places where just a few days ago there had been scars. Remus' neck, his wrists, his ankles. They were now as smooth as his hands, and it was odd that their absence should seem so glaring. Remus shifted uneasily, and Severus moved his hands.
"It bothers you?" he asked, and Remus devoted a good bit of time and energy to licking his neck down to his collarbone before replying.
"I like having a choice in my own fate," Remus said against Severus' throat.
"Don't we all," Severus replied, just low enough for Remus to hear. Severus stroked the insides of his thighs, and Remus laughed.
"What fate would you choose right now, then?"
Severus had endured an extremely uncomfortable twenty minutes with a Healer who had been shocked to the core when he'd asked about what Remus could and could not do. The upshot was that Remus' Healer thought he was depraved, but that Remus was allowed to do "whatever he felt up to." And–Severus felt, just to be sure–Remus seemed to be up to a shag in Shacklebolt's bathtub. Which was excellent, because he felt inclined that way himself.
Severus reached for his wand and felt Remus shudder as the spells took effect. Remus raised his hips, and Severus' eyes slid shut as Remus guided him to his opening and pushed down. The only problem, he found, was that Remus seemed intent of setting a maddeningly slow pace. Probably to make Severus curse and beg. Odd how much pleasure Remus got from driving Severus to the far end of frustration.
Finally, Severus snarled and grabbed Remus' hips with bruising strength and changed the rhythm: harder, deeper, desperate. Remus cried out, his head snapping back, but he moved accommodatingly with Severus; and Severus wrapped one hand around his cock as a reward for being good. Remus' hands were braced on Severus' shoulders, and he panted as he rode Severus. The water slapped the sides of the bath. Remus shouted and convulsed as he came; the contractions around his cock sent Severus over the edge. Remus kissed him, again, and touched him the way he did after sex, with all the little words like 'love' and 'you' and 'mine'.
"Well," Severus said, when he could speak. "I suppose we need a shower, now."
Remus was amenable to showering and soapy flannels and shampoo and all those other intimacies, and the matter of toothbrushes and toothpaste was easily resolved, after all. Severus administered the mediocre potions from St Mungo's: he was not in a position to do anything else. His laboratory had looked very beautiful, burning.
Ginny Weasley had given them matching pairs of striped pyjamas, which despite being ridiculous were warm. And Remus looked very nice in his. So they were snug and sated when they slipped under the blankets of Shacklebolt's bed (and where had the man found a bed with ionic columns, Severus wondered, and how had he got it in the tent?). Remus wrapped himself drowsily around Severus and fell asleep with the ease of the drugged.
Severus lay awake far longer, stroking Remus' hair. His thoughts fell naturally into one of two sleep-preventing categories: fear and worry about Remus, and the entailing resentment and self-loathing; or fear and worry about the future, which had been more or less consumed by flames.
When Remus had been in hospital, Severus had spent his nights not sleeping in Remus' room mostly occupied by category-one thoughts. No one had been able to tell him what state Remus would be in when he was taken out of the Healer-induced coma. It had been nice that Remus hadn't been mentally scrambled or stripped of his magic or any of the other gloomy predictions that had been made.
When Remus had woken up and Severus had got him to finally shut up with his apologies about the house, and when Remus' arms, weak though they were, were around him, Severus had been terribly relieved. Whatever their relationship was, independence and freedom formed its base, and Severus was glad to not have that eroded too much. And ashamed to feel that way. And resentful of Remus to make him feel that way.
So now he was free to dedicate his time to category-two worries. They were, after all, homeless and out of a job or two. Who knew what the future held?
Severus felt the familiar tension building in his shoulders and smirked into the pillow. Relaxation never lasted, he thought, and his eyes drifted shut.
"Don't fall in the fire," Severus said. "I'll be most upset if I don't get my tea."
Remus paused just outside the tent flap. "Where exactly is the fire?"
Severus sighed and got up. "The things I do for you," he told Remus, who promptly molested him into breathlessness. "You oughtn't," he continued, "to walk around half-naked like this. It's… distracting."
"God forbid I should distract you from your tea." Remus allowed Severus to seat him on the splintery bench that went with the borrowed camping table. "Dare I hope that there will be food with the tea?"
"There's bread on the table," Severus said. "Toast it or not, as you like. There's a rather nasty store-bought jam, and also some kind of luncheon meat. And there is instant porridge."
Remus repressed a shudder and assembled a sandwich. "No cheese? I'll have to go shopping today."
Proving the cliché wrong, the cauldron burst into a rolling boil with one well-aimed glare. Severus ladled water into the teapot and also into the porridge bowl. "We've no sugar, lemon, or milk, either." Remus accepted a steaming mug and sipped cautiously. Severus stirred the last of the sultanas into his porridge. "Did you sleep well?"
"Just fine, until I realised that there was a you-shaped cold spot in the bed."
"People are coming," Severus said. "To see the house and grounds. I doubt that they will find significant contamination—at least from the legal substances that were incinerated–but an official report must be made following an official investigation." He decided not to mention that two days previously an entire row of carrots had uprooted itself and crawled off into the swamps, probably to breed and deplete the songbird population. He blew on his tea and took a long swallow. "Once we have the Certificate of Environmental Perfection we can rebuild."
Remus set his mug down and leant against Severus. "I'm sorry about the house. I tried–"
Severus ran his fingers over the patchy remains of Remus' hair. "You did more than you should have. Houses can be replaced."
Remus laughed. "We're going to be at each other's throats in the tent after a few weeks."
Days, Severus thought, but kept the thought to himself.
"Can we afford to rebuild?"
"The barn could be fixed up."
Remus made a non-committal noise. "I may have just defended your chupas, but that doesn't mean I'd care to live with them. I'll have a look around later. We might be able to do something with the hayloft."
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose. "For once," he ground out, "I'd appreciate your avoiding any potentially hazardous undertakings."
Remus drew back. "Have things changed?" he asked slowly.
"What has changed," Severus said, "is that I love you, and four days ago you nearly died. I would appreciate your maintaining a proper state of not-dead for a few more days, at least."
"I'm sorry," Remus said, sliding one arm around Severus' waist. "I tell you what. You go back to bed and I'll fuss over you. You need it, you know. You're exhausted. And I'm sick of being on the receiving end. I'll fluff your pillows and bring you soup and read you magazines."
"We don't have any magazines," Severus said, weakening despite himself.
"It was a euphemism," Remus breathed suggestively in his ear, "for something naughty."
"Ah. Well, in that case, I suppose we are well-equipped."
"Perfectly." Remus pushed back a strand of hair and nibbled gently on Severus' neck. "Finish your porridge. Something that nasty must be good for you."
"The inspectors," Severus started, and Remus hushed him with his mouth.
"Leave it to me," he said.
Which was how Severus ended up back in bed, sated from a ridiculously powerful orgasm, with a plate of jam toast and a stack of miscellaneous pamphlets that Remus had found in a drawer ("No clue what they are–amuse yourself!"). His mouth quirked as he set aside the owl-order pizza menu (they had a pineapple, squid, and corn pizza which he suspected Remus would enjoy) and took up "Thank you for buy Aurora Tent! Please read before assemble! And Tips for Enjoyable Camp Life!"
Remus popped in when he was on his second piece of toast. "The inspectors are sorted. They'll be around for a few hours, running tests. I told them you're contagious and not to disturb you," he continued airily. "I'm going shopping. Can I get you anything?"
"Books," Severus said in what he hoped was an appropriately grumpy voice, and not a desperate one. Remus kissed him, put on another shirt (with all the soot about, they were going to become ridiculously proficient at laundering charms), kissed him again, and slipped out. This is ridiculous, Severus thought. I'm not ill. He yawned and curled up to rest for a minute or two.
Severus woke starving. The house smelt absolutely wonderful, and the light filtering through the rolled-up window flaps was bright from the sun low in the west. He rolled out of bed and stood for a moment, preparing for disaster. Then he went out.
The fire was burning cheerfully under a weight of cauldron (full of what looked like barley soup) and frying pan (eggs and sausages) and baking tins (rice? he wondered). Leaf-wrapped potatoes were tucked into the coals. It looked as if a Junior Niffler Troop had invaded. But as far as he could see, the person responsible for all the culinary wonderfulness was Remus, and that was simply wrong. Or perhaps he had just woken before Remus could get to the part where he charred everything black.
Remus had dishes out on the table and a bottle of wine.
"Are you planning on seducing me?" he asked, and Remus' head snapped up, a wolfish smile crossing his face.
"This is just dinner. Seduction is in the paper sack on the bench." Severus looked: it was a jumble of chocolates and paper-bound books. "This is a great chance for you to become acquainted with Muggle literature."
"Your sausages are smoking," Severus informed him, and deftly grabbed the pan out of the fire. "How the hell did you manage this?"
Remus smirked. "All the better to pamper you, my dear." Severus whacked his hand away from where it had strayed towards a ladle.
"I'm not eating if you've enchanted the food, you know," he said, stirring the soup deftly. "Bowls."
Remus handed him two solid earthenware bowls, and Severus filled them. Remus set the soup on the table and served the eggs and sausage, and rolled the potatoes out to cool. The baking tins were set aside ("dessert," Remus said), and then dinner was ready.
They sat down companionably on the bench, side by side. After Remus had elbowed him for the third time, Severus shifted as far away as was possible. "We need to get another bench," he said, and Remus looked at him with raised eyebrows. "And the soup is very good," he admitted grudgingly. "Confess."
This led to a Muggle-studies lesson on plastics and things called Tuppers, with which (Severus discovered) large quantities of soup could be removed from the home of Remus' friends in town and relocated to the only cauldron to have survived the conflagration (because it had been taken out to the barn and filled with chupa feed; "I washed it," Remus protested, all wide-eyed innocence).
"The eggs and sausages I did myself, though," Remus said. "But I imagine the crunchy black bits tipped you off."
Severus unwrapped a potato and mashed his egg into it. "Best meal I've had in days," he said, and tried to ignore the way this made Remus glow. It was really a very disconcerting look on a full-grown man. He thought about mentioning that it was the only meal he'd had in days, but decided that would only encourage Remus in his madness.
Something had gone very wrong with the pudding, but Severus assured Remus that the chupas would eat it, or perhaps they could use it in rebuilding the house. Remus borrowed Severus' wand and cleaned the dishes. Severus wondered how Remus had made it through the day without a wand; and then he wondered if he had. Severus had been asleep, after all, and Remus was known to be devious.
"We have to talk about things sometime," he said to Remus as they put the fire out and set a charm on the soup to keep it warm until morning.
"You're worrying, aren't you?" Remus said, checking to make sure that the table was cleared and clean. "I thought… well, it's a bit forward of me, I know, but I thought perhaps this might be a good opportunity for you to do some of the research you're always talking about. I expect to get a pay rise and a bonus, so I should be able to cover monthly expenses. And you'll still get your cheques from the Aga Potions Division. We won't be able to afford season tickets to Quidditch, vacations in Bali, or too many visits to discothèques, but ends will meet." He took up his sack of books in one hand and wrapped the other arm around Severus. "I know you'd have to start from scratch—I know all of your work burned. But would you want to?"
"Live off your earnings?"
"Exactly. Be a kept man," Remus said, ducking through the tent flap. "If all else fails, you could write a shocking autobiography. I Was a Werewolf's Sex Slave."
Severus activated the locking and protective charms which Shacklebolt had been kind enough to set up. "It does have a certain appeal, when put that way. What, exactly, would that entail?"
"I suppose you'd have to submit to all my perverse sexual whims. If, for example, I asked you to take off all your clothes and stretch out naked on the sofa, I imagine you'd have to do it."
"Doesn't seem that hard," Severus said. His belt buckle made a distinctive clunk as it hit the ground, and Remus grinned. "But I suppose there are penalties for disobedience."
"Well, there ought to be," Remus agreed, and ran his fingers lightly up Severus' chest. "For example, for not understanding 'naked' to mean 'without this shirt.'" The top buttons were open, and Remus simply yanked the shirt up and off.
"Ow. You ripped my hair out with the buttons."
"Subtle are the ways of sadism," Remus said, but he ran his fingers apologetically through Severus' hair. "If you were my sex slave, could I make you wear women's clothing?"
Severus paused, and Remus traced his mouth with his thumb. "To humiliate me?"
"I've always thought you'd look lovely in black silk stockings." Remus curled his hands around Severus' arse, stroking demonstratively. Severus made a low noise and copied the gesture, pulling Remus forward and tight against him.
"Odd. I've always thought you'd be fetching in a leather skirt and heels."
Remus blanched. "Seriously?"
"Not at all. But it makes a very good threat, now that I think about it. I like you best in nothing. Yes, that's a good start—and then we can get rid of the Weasley's trousers as well. What, no knickers?"
Remus growled and wrapped one hand around both their cocks, rubbing them together. Severus shuddered and kissed Remus hard. Remus surrendered his mouth and matched the strokes of his hand to the thrusts of Severus' tongue. It was delicious and wanton; as knees threatened to collapse, it became untenable.
"I thought," Severus said raggedly, "we were going to debauch the sofa?"
"Sofa, floor, wall, whatever," Remus panted against his shoulder. "So long as we debauch something soon."
Severus pushed Remus back and dropped him unceremoniously onto the sofa, then settled carefully over him. Remus ran his hands down Severus' back and pushed up into him. Severus dropped a taunting kiss on Remus' mouth and sat back, smirking.
"Don't think you can pass off your responsibility that easily. I'm doing what you tell me to, correct?"
It took a second for Remus to stop gaping and start grinning wickedly. "Turn around. I want your arse—" he made a gesture in the air over his head—"here. And your cock in my mouth. And my cock in your mouth."
"Right," Severus said. "This is going to be very awkward, you do realise that?" He narrowly avoided kneeing Remus in the head, but any thought of apologising was vaporised when Remus' hand returned to sheathe his cock even as his mouth stretched hot and warm around Severus' cock head. Never one to be outdone, Severus licked his way up the shaft of Remus' cock. Remus swallowed convulsively, and Severus shifted sideways just enough that he thought he wouldn't smother Remus if he collapsed on him.
He slipped the head of Remus' cock into his mouth and swirled his tongue around as he sucked, and Remus tensed, trying desperately to thrust up as he came, shaking uncontrollably. Remus would have cried out if his mouth hadn't been otherwise occupied; as it was, the vibration of his swallowed response and his ragged breathing did unbearably erotic things to Severus' cock. Remus' hand tightened, and Severus bowed down, his forehead resting in the junction of Remus' hip.
He could see his hair tangling black with Remus' pubic hair against pale skin that never (well, very rarely) saw the sun, and then the world imploded around him. He twisted his face down, burying his face in Remus even as Remus lapped the come from his cock, each touch an electrifying jolt of pleasure and pain. Finally, Severus forced himself up, and Remus shifted so that they were nearly sitting side by side.
"I seem to have bitten your stomach," he said, tracing the bruised indentations of his teeth with more than a little wonderment.
"I wouldn't call that my stomach," Remus said, his voice somewhat hoarser than usual. He twisted Severus into a kiss that was languid and sweet. "Shower and bed?"
"Only if you promise not to molest me any more. I think I would probably disintegrate."
"That would be a pity," Remus murmured, pulling him to his feet. "No, we'll tidy up tomorrow, just leave it."
They took the shower in turns, just to be safe, and emerged in the matching pyjamas. Remus tugged Severus into the bedroom. Severus hung the lantern from the ceiling hook and watched as Remus slipped into bed. Normally he would never think of green striped cotton as attractive. Odd what strange things love did to the senses.
"Come to bed," Remus said, tipping the contents of his sack out on the quilt. "And loan me your wand." Severus went around to climb in his side of the bed, and Remus deftly plucked the wand from his fingers and cast the reading spell.
"There now," he said, sorting the books and handing Severus something Muggle with raisins and nuts. "It's rather a lot of verse, I'm afraid. I can't resist a good anthology. And we've Borges, Homer, Milton."
"We are not reading Is Sex Necessary? Now or ever. I don't want it giving you any ideas. This one," Severus said, picking one book at random and removing the others to the bedside table. "We should buy you a wand tomorrow. There's a new shop in Diagon Alley. I won't have you stealing mine again."
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be," Remus said, idly winding his fingers in Severus' hair.
"You're simply a thief," Severus said, slicing the gold foil open with a fingernail and breaking off a square of chocolate.
"Stole your heart—best day's work I've ever done," Remus said.
"Mnf," Severus said, and swallowed. "This is good chocolate. Don't make me gag." He offered the chocolate, knowing Remus would refuse. "So. You don't think we've anything to worry about."
Remus put the book down and leant on Severus in such a way that Severus was forced to put an arm around him to prevent total collapse. "When have we ever not had worries? We may have a few more than usual, I grant you. But I have hope. I have you."
"I was enjoying a very nice dinner while you were being tortured."
"Hush. I don't even want to think about what would have happened had you been there. And I slept through all the dreadfulness with the Aurors, the Ministry, the media, enraged former students and the Radical Squibs."
"Don't forget the Chupacabra Liberation idiots."
"How could I forget? Criminal of me to put you through that, really. Insensitive."
"I would have liked—" Severus paused, then continued. "I'd have liked to be the last person you saw."
"This happens to be a personal fantasy of mine," Remus said. "You and a bed full of books and chocolates. Don't ruin it."
"As fantasies go, it's fairly disturbing. Mine usually involve your tongue, shirts that lace up, and candelabras."
Remus snorted laughter into Severus' shoulder. "Tomorrow night," he said, "I and my tongue will be entirely at your disposal. But you can't deny the lure of books and candy. You're on your second Cadbury bar."
"I worked up an appetite," Severus said. "And you haven't started reading yet."
Remus cleared his throat and picked up the book of poetry from where it had been splayed down. "Then shut up and listen, all right? This is supposed to be romantic."
Severus contemplated mocking the poetry—it was his natural inclination—but that would have been a waste of Remus' reading voice, which was very soothing. Severus finished a third chocolate bar and thought how cozy it was in the tent, listening to the wind and the brush of Remus' fingers and watching the shadows flicker as the lantern swayed. Somehow their point of balance had shifted again, and Severus found that he was leaning on Remus rather heavily. He sighed and Remus' hair fell in his face. Annoying, he thought, and fell into dreamless sleep with a smile on his face.