Remus looked down at the cookery book and nodded in satisfaction. The sauce smelled the way it ought to, and he thought everything was finally ready. He'd spent more money than he should have on the wine, but he'd wanted something good. He set a warming spell on the food, then carried everything to the table and set it carefully. Severus had been holed up in his potions laboratory all day, probably hiding from Remus, but Remus was determined that dinner would be the first step in making up for things.
He went to the cellar door and knocked loudly, then opened it. "Dinner's ready," he announced, trying to sound normal.
Severus glanced at the stairs, setting aside his notes. He'd been working down in the cellar all day to distract his mind away from things he didn't want to think about. He felt a bit conflicted about spending time with Remus - he wanted to, but at the same time, he felt the urge to flee. Still, he was hungry, and he did miss his lover, so he went to the sink and washed his hands, then headed up the stairs and into the kitchen.
He approached the table, staring in surprise at the elaborate spread waiting for him there, then glanced to Remus. "Hi."
Remus smiled and went to wrap his arms around Severus. "Hi," he said, and kissed him.
Severus felt a rush of affection and wondered suddenly why he'd been avoiding Remus at all. He leaned into Remus' embrace, kissing him back.
"Been working on any ground-breaking potions?" Remus asked, glad Severus hadn't pulled away.
Severus smiled weakly. "Still trying to fix your day-after potion," he said.
"Mmm, you're so good to me," Remus said, nuzzling Severus' neck. "I love you so much."
"Been working on it for so long now though," Severus sighed, sliding his fingers into Remus' hair.
"Just the fact that you're working on it," Remus murmured. "Just the fact that you want to help, that you've kept working on it all this time, that means so much." He made a happy noise, enjoying the fingers in his hair.
Severus' smile gained strength. "I wish I could do more. I wish there was a way to suppress the change completely, or...."
Remus shrugged. "Perhaps someday you'll be able to invent that potion, too," he said, nuzzling Severus' neck again. "But this is a good starting point." He kissed the warm skin, lifting his head so his lips whispered over the rough day-old whiskers on Severus' jaw.
Severus made a pleased noise, liking the attention. "Love you."
"Mmm, makes me so happy when you say that," Remus breathed. "Love you, too." He ran his hands through Severus' hair.
This was nice. Now Severus felt rather silly for staying downstairs all day. He nuzzled Remus' ear.
Remus wanted to stay like this for hours, but he knew they ought to eat. Warming charms aside, the sauce might coagulate if it were left too long. He kissed Severus' jaw once more, then pulled away for a long kiss on the mouth. Finally he drew back, gazing warmly at Severus. "Our dinner will spoil."
"Wouldn't want that, you obviously went to a lot of trouble," Severus murmured, trailing his fingertips along Remus' jaw as he pulled away. He moved to the table, watching his lover as he filled his plate.
Remus smiled and poured them both glasses of wine. "I wanted to go to a lot of trouble for you," he said. "This is...well, this is my promise, that I won't be a dense arsehead in future, if I can help it."
Severus glanced up from watching Remus pour his wine, surprised. "Thank you," he said softly. "But really, you didn't have to make me a special dinner, I mean, it wasn't your fault."
"It doesn't matter whether it was my fault," Remus said. "I'm horribly ashamed about the way I acted, and I want you to know I know it wasn't your fault, ever. And I'm sorry I acted like it was."
"Well you only did because you didn't know," Severus pointed out. And, I mean, I didn't...put a stop to it, until you made me." He stared down at his plate, his stomach suddenly churning.
"That wasn't your fault, either," Remus said, lifting a hand to cup Severus' cheek. "It...it must have been easier, to just...go along," he said, forcing the words out.
Severus ducked his head at the hesitance he heard in Remus' voice. Maybe this wasn't going to work. Maybe he should have stayed downstairs.
Remus saw Severus' flinch and shook his head. "Don't," he pleaded. "I'm sorry, it's difficult for me to talk about it, because...well, because it was something I couldn't protect you from. And instead I made it so much worse for you. I never meant to make it worse." He stroked Severus' cheek, then lifted his hand to stroke his hair instead. "I know it must be difficult for you to talk about, too. We don't have to. But--well, I wanted you to know how I feel."
"You didn't make it worse," Severus protested. "You were the influence that stopped it. I was too much of a coward," he said, choking on the word. He didn't ever want to be a coward, and yet he had been.
"A coward would have run away from Malfoy, not faced him every day," Remus protested. He didn't like the way Severus was talking. He knew Severus wasn't a coward. Severus had never been a coward. "I made you feel guilty about Malfoy, didn't I?" he asked. "If I did, then I made it worse."
Severus winced, staring down at his food and not feeling the slightest bit hungry any longer. "It doesn't matter, it was my fault."
"No!" Remus said, his voice louder than he'd meant it to be. He stood up and went to kneel in front of Severus' chair. "No, it isn't your fault!" he insisted, grabbing Severus' shoulders gently and looking up at him. "It was never your fault. You didn't want it, you didn't ask for it! You tried to make him stop! Severus, please, please don't blame yourself!" He wanted to make Severus understand, even though he thought making Severus do anything might mean Remus was as bad as Malfoy.
God, and he'd pulled all that stupid bloody Alpha shite on Severus, no wonder he hadn't liked it! Remus wished briefly that he'd put off this conversation until after dinner.
Severus shut his eyes against a by now all too familiar prickling heat behind his eyelids and curled one hand in Remus' collar. "But I..." he paused at a pain in his throat, but at least the prickling began to fade. "I came," he whispered.
"It doesn't matter," Remus insisted, because it hurt to hear that, but really it didn't matter, because it wasn't what Severus had wanted. "That was just your body." He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Severus. "It wasn't your heart, it wasn't what you wanted." He wished he was better at comforting.
Severus had had conflicting thoughts on that score, though he was relieved to hear Remus say that. It was what he knew was true, but at the same time, the knowledge always ate him up with guilt. He slid his arms around Remus' neck, resting his lips against Remus' hair gently.
"What matters," Remus said, making his voice firmer, "is that you love me, and I love you. That's what matters. For forever."
"You loved me anyway," Severus uttered. "Even when you didn't understand, when you thought that I... You still loved me." The thought was enough to keep him from falling apart again, thankfully. "I'm so lucky to have you."
"We're both lucky," Remus said, clinging to him. "I hate to think if you'd never loved me back." He nuzzled Severus and let out a shaky breath. "I don't want to let you down, Severus. I want to be whatever you need, always. I know I'm a right git a lot of the time, but all I ever want is to be what you need."
"You are," Severus insisted, stroking Remus' hair. "You're exactly what I need, because you're you. Without you, I'm nothing."
"Me too," Remus whispered. "Nothing matters but you." He clutched at Severus and lifted his head to kiss him, passionately but tenderly. He wanted Severus to feel what he felt, to understand how loved he was.
Severus returned the kiss in the same manner, taking his time and enjoying it, feeling so warm and happy that Remus still wanted him. "Oh, I have some good news," he added when the kiss finally ended, just remembering of something else Dumbledore had advised him to do. "Dumbledore wants us to go on holiday."
Remus rocked back on his heels, surprised, and stared at his lover. "Dumbledore...what? Really?" He beamed at Severus, even though he didn't quite understand.
Severus nodded. "He's going to say he's sending me to a conference to learn how to teach," he said with some irony. "So I have an excuse for the Dark Lord. If...if you want to go, of course, though I thought you would...We would have to pick somewhere out of Europe."
"Yes!" Remus blurted instantly. "Yes, I don't care where, you pick, I just want to be with you." He surged forward again and kissed Severus.
Severus held Remus tightly, thrilled that Remus liked the idea so much. "I thought I'd let you pick," he said when they stopped for breath. "I know how much you want to travel. I wouldn't know where to pick."
"You don't have anywhere you especially want to go?" Remus asked, running his hands possessively along Severus' back. "I'd like anywhere you wanted to go."
"Outside of Europe? Not really," Severus said, then thought of something else. "Oh - but I hadn't thought - it would probably be quite dear to take a holiday, especially a week, and when you've no job." He deflated a little.
"Dumbledore can bloody pay for it," Remus muttered. He shrugged. "I don't care how much we spend. You deserve a holiday, and I rather want one as well. We'll go no matter how dear it is." He kissed Severus again.
"Mmm, if it is like the one we spent in Italy, I think I shall look forward to it. I wonder how soon we can go," Severus mused, stroking Remus' hair affectionately.
"Oh, that was an utterly brilliant day," Remus said, leaning into Severus. He thought for a while. "We could go to Egypt. Or...hm. Well, anywhere in Africa would be interesting. Kenya, maybe?"
Severus looked uncertain. "I can't imagine there would be a teaching conference in either of those locations."
"Oh, good point. Erm...Canada? Tokyo, maybe...they have two excellent Wizarding schools in Japan, don't they?"
"Yes, they do, though I don't speak Japanese," Severus said.
"Well, no, but we wouldn't really be having to interact with too many people, I hope." Remus grinned at Severus and waggled his eyebrows. "We could just do a bit of sight-seeing and a lot of shagging. And I'm sure there are people in Japan who, you know, speak English."
"Yes, you've convinced me," Severus said, his mind stuck on 'a lot of shagging'. "Japan it is. Let's book a hotel in Tokyo with a very large bed." He didn't know why he needed a week's worth of shagging in Tokyo, honestly, they fucked like rabbits no matter where they were.
Remus chuckled and kissed Severus. "Excellent," he murmured. "I can't wait to talk to Dumbledore about this."
"Mmm, yes," Severus agreed, his good mood for once not lessened by mention of the Headmaster. It might have been his vulnerable condition that night, but he didn't feel quite so nastily disposed towards him any longer.
Smiling, Remus held Severus more tightly for a long moment. "We really ought to eat," he said finally.
"Oh yeah," Severus said, chuckling a little. "I completely forgot about food." He kissed Remus, then let him draw away and focused on his plate for a while, satisfying his hunger.
Remus wasn't feeling much desire to eat, either, but his stomach was growling, and after all, he'd spent a good deal of time cooking. For a while they were silent as they ate, but Remus felt much more comfortable in this silence.
Severus was glad that they'd ended up clearing the air before they ate. Once he was full, he wiped his mouth with his napkin and finished off his wine, then was content to watch Remus.
When Remus looked up after a long while, he found Severus' gaze on him. Remus smiled warmly and held a hand across the table.
Severus took Remus' hand, managing a faint smile of his own.
"I love you," Remus said, his gaze fierce. "No matter what, Severus. And I'll do anything I can to make you happy."
"Mmm, I want to do the same for you," Severus said, his smile gaining strength.
"D'you know what would make me very happy right now?" Remus asked. "Sitting with you, in front of the fire, perhaps, or in bed, with our wine, and touching."
"Whatever you like," Severus said happily, pleased that Remus would ask for that.
Remus smiled and stood up. "In front of the fire, then," he said. "We haven't done that in ages." He flicked his wand at the kitchen table to clear the remains of dinner, then levitated the wine bottle and glasses to follow them out to the front room. He didn't let go of Severus' hand.
Severus followed Remus out to the fire, settling next to him and placing their joined hands on his leg. "Good idea."
Remus loved watching Severus. He looked down at their hands, taking strength from that contact. He didn't even try to suppress the wave of love that washed over him in that moment. He felt so fortunate to have built this life with Severus.
The fire felt good, and Remus' presence at his side made Severus ridiculously happy. He leaned against his lover, wishing he was better at expressing himself.
This--this was good. Remus rested his head lightly against Severus' and closed his eyes.
"Thank you for making me such a delicious dinner," Severus uttered softly.
"You're welcome," Remus said, matching his tone. "I like doing things for you."
"Mmm, you make me so happy," Severus murmured, shifting to slide a hand across Remus' shirt and curl his fingers into the material.
Smiling, Remus hummed in pleasure. "You make me happy, too. Someday I'll even feel as if I deserve it."
"Of course you deserve it," Severus insisted, pressing closer and frowning slightly. "You're everything to me. If you're not happy, I shall be miserable."
"Merlin, when you say things like that, I feel so lucky." Remus kissed him.
Severus smiled and returned the kiss. "I like that you do."
"Sometimes I still can't believe how things worked out," Remus said, trailing his fingers down Severus' cheek. "Thinking about the way we started out, after I'd shagged my way through half of gay London. And then that time you vanished without a trace for almost a month, and you weren't going to contact me again."
"That was stupid," Severus admitted. "I wanted to be with you desperately and yet I was going to let you slip away out of guilt."
"I'd even spent a week looking for you in Knockturn Alley," Remus said. "I didn't have any way to find you, didn't know where you were living...I was so afraid I'd never see you again. And I was already half in love with you then."
Severus shifted and hugged Remus tightly. "I'm so glad you found me."
That prompted a happy noise from Remus, who got his arms around Severus again and held on to him. "Me too."
Severus gave Remus a kiss full of passion, overcome with happiness. "Will you shag me?" he asked when the kiss finally ended.
"Oh, yes," Remus agreed at once, smiling at him. "I would love to."
Severus wanted Remus to take control, be Alpha, though he didn't know how to say it and he wasn't sure he should. He'd done too much to confuse Remus and himself over that entire situation. "Good," he said, pleased.
Remus nuzzled Severus tenderly, then growled at him. "You make me want you so much."
Severus hummed, pleased. "I love that you do. I love when you growl at me."
"Mmm." Remus growled again, lifting his head to nibble at Severus' ear.
Severus gasped, clinging to Remus tightly as desire pooled within him.
"I love you," Remus murmured. "Let's go up to bed."
"Yes," Severus breathed, standing eagerly. Remus always made him feel so good.
Smiling at how quickly Severus responded, Remus stood, too, and kissed him. "Hmm..." He trailed a hand down Severus' chest, then nodded. "Robes off. Let's see what you're wearing underneath them."
Severus blinked, surprised, and flushed for some reason he couldn't have explained. He obeyed, however, drawing his robes up over his head and revealing that all that was under there was a pair of black pants.
"Oh, God," Remus murmured, a hungry expression coming to his face. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Severus, sliding a hand down to grope Severus' arse through his pants. "You look delicious."
Severus gasped, leaning against Remus, pressing his lips to Remus' neck. "Ohhh," he murmured.
Smiling, Remus growled again, letting Severus feel it through the thin shirt that was all that separated their chests.
Severus closed his eyes and enjoyed feeling the rumble from Remus' chest. It was one of those unique things that soothed and aroused him at the same time.
"Love you," Remus whispered, nuzzling Severus. "Need you, desire you. My Severus."
"My Remus," Severus repeated, pleased. "Love you, too."
"Mmm. Upstairs," Remus said. "Bed. Now." Though he kissed Severus hungrily before allowing him to pull away.
Severus was breathless when Remus finally released him, and his pants made no secret of how all this was affecting him. His heated gaze lingered on Remus for a few moments more, and then he obeyed, leading the way upstairs.
Halfway up the stairs Remus decided he really needed to grope Severus' arse again, so he did, unable to resist the temptation.
Severus jerked in surprise (though he wondered why he hadn't been expecting it), his step faltering. He gripped the handrail tightly for a moment, then continued on with a smirk.
"I really love your arse," Remus said, grinning up at Severus.
Severus glanced back at Remus with what he would have sworn wasn't a grin (but actually was, a bit), then finished the last few steps quickly and darted into the bedroom.
Ooh, Severus was running from him. Remus growled and darted after him, catching him just before he reached the bed and wrapping his arms around him. His teeth closed on the nape of Severus' neck and he lowered his eyelids lazily, enjoying Severus' body.
Severus made a delighted noise when he was caught, leaning back against Remus and closing his eyes a moment. "You're fun," he uttered when the moment had passed, squirming a bit in Remus' arms.
"Mmm," Remus said, nuzzling Severus. "So are you. Like chasing you." He nibbled at Severus' throat. "Like catching you better."
"I like that part, too," Severus agreed, gasping a little. "Like giving you a reason to catch," he added, and threw his weight forward in an attempt to break away again.
Remus growled as Severus pulled away from him, though he was utterly delighted that Severus was feeling so playful. He waited a moment, then pounced, bearing them both down onto the bed, still growling.
Severus "Oof"ed as he hit the bed, grinning up at Remus (though he would debate it if called on it), feeling so delightfully trapped and appreciative of Remus' growling.
"God, I love you so bloody much," Remus said, pinning Severus to the bed and trailing kisses down his throat.
Severus groaned softly, arching his neck, enjoying the weight of Remus and the feeling of being pinned as well as the lips on his throat. "Love you too!"
"Want you," Remus said, licking along Severus' collarbone and splaying his hands over Severus' chest possessively.
Arching under Remus' touch, Severus groaned again and drew his nails down Remus' shoulders. "Want you!"
Remus growled at the faint sting of nails, liking that very much. "Mine," he said hoarsely, fumbling at the zip of his jeans and wishing suddenly that he'd undressed before they came upstairs, as well.
Taking that as a cue, Severus tried to push his pants down off his hips, though with Remus pinning him, he couldn't get very far.
That brought a growl of frustration, but Remus solved it quickly enough with a burst of magic that banished all of their clothes to the laundry bin. "Sexy," he muttered, lowering his mouth to nip at Severus' throat.
Severus laughed, clinging to Remus, and then moaned for the sharp nip at his throat. "Mmm, Remus."
Oh God, Remus loved making Severus laugh. He laughed, too, pressing open-mouthed kisses down Severus' chest until he reached a nipple to lick and suck.
"Remus!" Severus gasped, then moaned, tugging Remus' hair lightly. "Ohh."
With a pleased noise, Remus sucked harder, scraping his teeth gently across the sensitive skin.
"Oh Merlin, Remus!" Severus whimpered, arching a little towards Remus' mouth.
That was such a lovely reaction. Remus ran his hands down Severus' body, flicking his tongue across Severus' nipple, feeling hungry and desperate in a way he didn't quite understand.
Severus was so aroused, so hungry for Remus. "Merlin, so good, Remus," he gasped. "Yours!"
"Yes," Remus growled, panting, "only mine, no matter what." He smiled fiercely at Severus, then kissed his way down to the pale stomach, tracing ribs with his fingers.
Severus whimpered with happiness, tugging Remus' hair again.
Merlin, that was good. Remus nipped very lightly at Severus' hip, then lowered his mouth to kiss his erection. He nuzzled tenderly at Severus' cock, breathing in the scent of arousal, before taking the tip into his mouth.
Severus tensed as pleasure swept through him. "Oh Merlin, yes," he gasped, fighting to keep his hips from jerking under Remus' expert ministrations.
Remus pulled away to smile up at him hungrily. "Love you. Want you. Love sucking you." He returned his lips to their former use.
"Uhn!" was all Severus managed, and he wasn't able to keep his hips from jerking this time. "Sorry!"
"Mmm." Remus just stroked his hip and sucked, working his tongue along the length.
"Oh Merlin, oh God," Severus gasped, clutching the bedding in his fists.
With a growl, Remus pulled slowly off Severus' cock, then engulfed him again. He slid a hand down to circle Severus' opening, doing the spells nonverbally.
Moaning, Severus tossed his head and tried to keep his hips from jerking, which was difficult with all that pleasure sapping at his will.
That was such a wonderful reaction. Remus slid a finger inside, flicking his tongue across the tip of Severus' cock.
"Oh Merlin!" That caught Severus off guard enough that his hips jerked up, despite what he intended. It felt so bloody good!
With a noise of satisfaction, Remus worked his finger around, adding a second after a while and seeking out the spot that would bring Severus
even more pleasure.
Severus let out an incomprehensible noise of pleasure, winding his other hand into Remus' hair and letting his hips thrust up once again.
Pleased, Remus sucked as he drew slowly off Severus' cock, watching him hungrily. "Want to fuck you," he said, his voice hoarse.
"Yes, yes, anything you want!" Severus gasped, arching.
Growling, Remus positioned himself, then thrust inside with a single, smooth motion, lowering his mouth to kiss Severus hungrily.
Severus groaned into Remus' kiss, wrapping his legs around Remus' waist.
Remus loved that feeling. He growled again, more loudly, and began to move almost at once, wanting--needing--urgently.
Severus cried out, digging his fingers into Remus' shoulders, and arched beneath Remus, baring his throat. The pleasure was so intense, so good, and all he could do was beg for more.
"Mine," Remus growled, drawn irresistibly to Severus' bared throat. He closed his teeth firmly on the tender skin, leaving indentations from the force of his bite. Then he licked and sucked, enjoying his claim.
Severus let out a groan, dragging his nails down Remus' shoulders as the stinging pain made pleasure course through him.
The bite of nails made Remus' hips jerk, throwing off his rhythm for a moment. He made a noise of enjoyment and licked his way down to the circle of scar tissue that was his spot. Without hesitation, he bit hard enough to break the skin, the overwhelming joy of reclaiming Severus making his hips jump again.
"Oh God, Remus," Severus cried, clutching desperately at his lover as he felt the intense pleasure of being claimed, tensing against him.
"Severus," Remus gasped, bathing the spot with his tongue, tasting blood and sweat and feeling himself beginning to be swept up on the crest of rising passion.
Severus squeezed his inner muscles around Remus, desperately aware of nothing besides the passion Remus was rousing in him. He could feel his body approaching climax, pushing against Remus' thrusts and urging himself on, desperate to come.
Severus' movements were driving Remus mad with wanting. He got an arm under the small of Severus' back, pulling them closer together, and a few more thrusts pushed him over the edge. He broke the seal of his mouth on Severus' neck to let out a strangled howl as he came.
Crying out Remus' name, Severus let Remus' climax pull him into his own. He clung to Remus tightly as pleasure crashed over him, shivering and gasping for breath.
Remus clutched Severus to him, burying his face in Severus' neck and panting. "Severus, Severus, love you," he murmured, repeating it quietly.
Severus abruptly felt tears on his cheeks, clinging to Remus and frantically willing them away. "Love you," he uttered, glad Remus couldn't see.
"You're my everything," Remus said, wanting to be closer even though it wasn't possible. He didn't loosen his hold on Severus.
"Yes, need you," Severus gasped happily, nuzzling Remus.
"So happy," Remus sighed, letting his eyes close.
Severus hummed his agreement.
Finally Remus shifted so they were lying next to each other, but he didn't release his hold on Severus, just using a wandless accio to summon the quilt up to cover them.
Severus shifted against Remus, fitting their bodies together as snugly as he could manage, and let out a contented sigh.
"Stay with you always," Remus murmured. He wanted to open his eyes again, but his eyelids were so heavy.
"Yes," Severus breathed, shutting his eyes tight and smiling against Remus' skin.
For a long time Remus basked in this quiet joy, feeling warm and loved. When he finally slipped into sleep, it was with a smile on his face.