Remus finished setting the table and then turned to the oven to check the status of the roast he'd made for Severus' birthday. He hoped Severus would be home soon, though he knew better than to count on it; the war had been in a hot part of the cycle lately. Several Muggleborns had disappeared, and Alice and Frank Longbottom had had a close shave with Voldemort himself, the week after Christmas.
That was why Remus had decided to make something that would do well under a warming charm. He knew Severus had been spending more time than usual either with Voldemort or with Dumbledore. That was also why Remus wanted to make Severus' birthday special somehow. He had the wine chilling, and the fudge he'd made for dessert was in the fridge. He went upstairs to tidy himself up and put on jeans and the dark green sweater Severus had given him for Christmas.
Severus Apparated into the living room with a box under one arm, instantly caught by the smell of dinner cooking. He let it lure him into the kitchen, hoping to find Remus, but it was empty. Glancing around with a small frown, Severus wandered back out into the living room and crossed the room to the entrance to the stairs in the adjacent wall.
"Remus?" he called as he made his way up the staircase.
Remus bounded up from the bed when he heard the noise of Apparation, and stuck his head out the bedroom door. "Hi! Happy birthday!" he exclaimed, beaming at Severus.
If Remus wasn't beaming at him so happily, Severus might have sneered. It hadn't been a good day, and he didn't feel like celebrating his birthday or being around cheerful people in general. He felt like hiding in the cellar. "Thanks," he muttered, less than enthused.
Remus slid his arms around Severus and kissed him slowly. "That doesn't sound good," he murmured when he finally drew away. "Bad day?"
"Yeah," Severus admitted, his shoulders slumping after Remus released him, and he ran a hand through his hair, which needed a wash. "Spent it with Dumbledore, supposedly learning how to teach. He gave me a cupcake." He couldn't help rolling his eyes.
Chuckling, Remus nuzzled Severus' jaw. "I'll give you more than that," he whispered.
"Ooh, really?" Severus asked hopefully, his posture straightening a little, though he had expected something from Remus, of course. It was amazing how easily Remus could affect his mood; he had already stopped wanting to hide in the cellar.
"Mmhmm." Remus nibbled lightly along Severus' jaw, then kissed him again. "Supper's under a warming charm, and there's wine, and fudge, and sex, of course." He smiled broadly.
The day had been shite, but the evening, at least, could be salvaged. Severus smiled back, no longer looking so tense or defeated. "You always do so much for me." Maybe now he could finally relax and enjoy his birthday.
"Supper, by the way, sounds marv--" Severus began with enthusiasm, but the words died in his throat at the first little burning throb from his Dark Mark. It came again, and he stared down at his covered forearm as his hopes for a pleasant, enjoyable evening were dashed. "--impossible," he finished unhappily, "I'm being summoned."
Remus' face fell, but he immediately pushed his expression into lines of concern, pushing down his disappointment. "It'll keep," he promised. He kissed Severus hard. "And so will I. Come back to me soon." He trailed a thumb down Severus' cheek.
"I'm sorry," Severus uttered, watching Remus for a moment longer before stepping back from him. "I'll be back...as soon as possible." Why, in Merlin's name, now? Of all nights!
Severus pushed his frustration away and Disapparated.
Remus sighed and went back to flop onto the bed. Dumbledore'd given Severus a cupcake? Perhaps Voldemort wanted to throw him a birthday party, too. He snorted and rubbed a hand over his face. Was there anything he could do to make this up to Severus somehow? He lay there, thinking, for a long time. The light faded entirely from the western windows and Remus didn't bother turning on the lights, just relied on the glow from the fireplace.
It never boded well when the Dark Lord summoned him and then immediately turned him over to Lucius. Severus had not envisioned spending his birthday evening in the cellar of Death Eater headquarters, carefully brewing a virulent poison under the watchful eye of Malfoy, while Karkaroff moped around the lab and generally made a nuisance of himself, poking his pointy nose places it had no business being.
"You're sulkier than usual," Lucius remarked from the other end of the lab table, where he'd been put to work, chopping ingredients. He himself didn't look too happy, mostly because Severus had insisted he help.
"Why do you have to have this poison by tomorrow?" Severus demanded, tossing in a handful of minced scarab beetles and mentally calculating how much longer it would take to be finished. Not only did he have to brew an entire batch of poison, it was a rather complex potion in its own right.
"We need for plan tomorrow," Karkaroff answered in his thick Russian accent.
"And you told me today?" Severus demanded, letting more of his ire show, since it was Igor.
"We just decided today," Lucius said simply with a shrug, nudging a granite mortar full of mashed Belladonna berries down the table to Severus with his wand.
"Today. You just decided today that you had to use one of my poisons in your plans tomorrow, and you had to call me out on the night of my birthday to have me make it."
"Oh, that's why you're sulky," Lucius said with a smirk, pointing the pestle at him.
"Go clean that off," Severus snapped. "Preferably with your tongue."
Lucius' smirk widened. "You would like to see that."
"Only to hope that the residual poison from the berries would kill you," Severus assured him, too cranky to even be embarrassed.
When it was finally finished and the Dark Lord had released him, Severus immediately Apparated home. The dark house and his own suspicions told him that it must be quite late, and a check of his watch confirmed that it was indeed no longer even his birthday. Exhausted from the incredibly long day and feeling disappointed and defeated at missing his own birthday celebration, Severus decided just to go to bed. It was pitch black in the living room, and he could no longer smell good food smells, so he assumed that Remus must've done the same. He hoped his lover wasn't angry at him for not coming back sooner.
With a sigh, Severus trudged upstairs.
The crack of Apparation had caught Remus' attention, and he stopped pacing and Vanished the cigarette he'd been smoking. He hadn't had a fag in ages, not since his clubbing days, but as the evening had drawn on and Severus still hadn't come home, he'd walked down to the corner store and bought a pack of fags and a chocolate bar. He glanced at the pack and shook it; had he really smoked six cigarettes? There were only four left.
With a sigh, he stretched and then took a quick shot of absinthe to cover the taste of nicotine on his breath. He'd fallen asleep last year on Severus' birthday, and--determined not to do the same this year--had taken some Pepperup Potion. Of course he'd had to adjust the plan a bit, since Severus had been gone for so long, but he thought Severus would forgive him for opening one of Severus' presents himself.
He stretched again and ran a hand down his naked torso, giving his cock a few idle strokes, then padding across the room to open the door.
"Are you home, love?" he called softly. It suddenly occurred to him--too late--to hope that none of Severus' pureblood friends had decided his birthday would be a good time to break their policy on visiting Muggle neighbourhoods.
Severus stopped at the top of the stairs and stared. Remus was wide awake, it seemed, the light from the bedroom spilling out into the hallway around him. And very naked...save for his collar. Severus glanced down. He was also rather aroused. "Er, yeah," he said, unable to keep the surprise out of his voice, even as tired as he was.
"I didn't think it was fair for you to miss your birthday celebrations," Remus said, smiling broadly as he pulled Severus into the bedroom and kissed him enthusiastically.
Severus followed and returned the kiss, though with notably less enthusiasm. He pulled back a little when he recognised the taste of sour Absinthe on Remus' tongue, watching him. "Been drinking, have we?"
"I thought you might like me a little pissed," Remus said, pressing against Severus. His lover's clothes were rough against his skin, and one patch of shirt felt damp. He tried not to think about what that might be. "So you can have your way with me," he teased breathily.
Cigarette smoke tickled Severus' nose and he sneezed, glancing around at the rest of the room. He noticed that Remus had laid out a tray of sandwiches and fudge at some point, and there was the mostly-empty bottle of Absinthe Remus must've partaken of. "Have you been smoking?" he asked, a moment later aware that that probably wasn't the right response to 'you can have your way with me'.
"I'm sorry," he said immediately, glancing back to Remus. "I'm just tired."
Remus stared at Severus in confusion for a minute. "Oh," he managed finally. "Um. Okay." He stepped back a little. "Um, there's...I made sandwiches. And the fudge is here. I only ate one piece."
Severus sighed. He knew Remus was disappointed. He understood, and he didn't want to disappoint Remus, but he was exhausted. "I'm just going to sleep. I'm sorry." He felt rotten for it, too, but he undressed and climbed into bed, feeling so much better for not being upright and having cool sheets against his skin.
"All right," Remus said, feeling a little bewildered but not wanting to make a fuss. I guess I should have gone to bed, he thought. He found his pants draped over the chair and tugged them on, then gathered up the food and the bottle of absinthe and carried them downstairs. He knew it wasn't Severus' fault, but he felt as if he'd been slapped.
Not wanting to waste any more of Severus' absinthe, he poured himself a glass of Firewhiskey and leaned against the sink, staring out the window at the lights in other parts of the town. He wondered if the alcohol would dull the edge of the Pepperup enough that he could get to sleep.
Severus expected to fall instantly asleep, but after he'd put out the lights, he found himself lying awake and staring at the wall. He didn't feel any less tired, but mentally he was alert, and unhappy. It certainly hadn't been the worst day he'd ever had, or even very bad, considering he hadn't got Crucioed by anyone or done any killing, though his mind kept going round and round about a few things Dumbledore had told him, having to teach, and having his birthday dinner ruined by the Dark Lord and his stupid Death Eater 'friends' who didn't give a fig that they'd ruined his birthday - well, technically he knew they didn't think he should have been born at all, and considering how much he hated his Muggle father, he supposed he agreed with them. So he supposed he really shouldn't even care that he'd had his birthday ruined. After all, he'd come home, and Remus had still wanted to celebrate, but Severus had blown him off.
He wondered who that poisonous potion was going to kill. Maybe several somebodies. Usually he didn't care, but if it was an Order member...Merlin, Greyback hadn't bothered Remus in a while, for all Severus knew Lucius and Igor were plotting to attack Remus tomorrow, and then he'd have indirectly murdered his own lover.
Feeling much less tired than he had a moment ago, Severus pulled himself out of bed, threw a pair of robes on over his head, and went downstairs to look for his lover.
Remus heard the footsteps, but didn't turn, not wanting to cock things up any worse than he already had. He wondered if Severus just wanted a glass of water. He supposed he could have offered to bring some up for Severus. He drained his Firewhiskey and felt his stomach give a slow roll. Perhaps he ought to stop drinking...
Severus stopped just inside the kitchen, watching Remus lean against the sink. He felt slightly better just having Remus in sight. Suddenly he didn't know what to say, how to explain all the thoughts whirling around in his mind. Remus was probably angry. He knew he'd been a total berk.
When Severus didn't say anything, Remus set his glass in the sink and turned around, smiling hopefully at him. Maybe there was some way he could make things better.
Well, Severus hadn't expected a smile. He wasn't certain what to make of it. "I'm sorry," he blurted, figuring an apology wouldn't hurt. "Won't you come back upstairs?"
"What are you sorry for?" Remus asked. "I just didn't, you know, want to bother you."
"Oh." Taking that to mean that Remus didn't want to come back upstairs, Severus nodded glumly. "Okay." He didn't understand what was going on at all. He thought Remus was angry, but Remus wasn't acting angry. Remus' behaviour wasn't making any sense to him, but he knew he'd messed everything up. He turned and slowly headed back for the staircase, dreading going to bed alone.
"Wait!" Remus said, following him. "Severus, did you want something? I mean, d'you want company? I just...I wasn't sure if you wanted to be left alone." He stumbled over the sill between the kitchen and the front room and flailed to try to catch himself.
Severus turned when he heard Remus stumble and rushed forward to catch his arm and keep him from falling. "You're pissed," he uttered, holding Remus steady, and couldn't quite help putting his arms around him. "Look at you, wandering around the house in your pants, drinking." Considering how unhappy Remus sounded, it didn't present a good picture. Severus wondered if Remus had really got pissed for him, or if he'd been drinking because Severus had spoiled his birthday plans.
Remus beamed up at Severus, wrapping his arms around his lover's neck. "I am pissed, aren't I?" he said. "Merlin, that absinthe is bloody strong. Mmm, so are you." He buried his face against Severus' skin and after a moment began kissing it.
Oh, maybe that was why Remus wasn't angry. Severus brushed his hand over Remus' hair, tilting his head to one side to give him more room. "Come to bed with me."
"Yes," Remus murmured, trailing open-mouth kisses up Severus' neck. "Mmm, love you."
Severus smiled weakly. "Love you too." He carefully guided Remus to the stairs, smirking because Remus seemed much more interested in kissing his neck than paying attention to where he was going, and was stumbling every other step. "Careful."
"Sorry," Remus muttered. "Didn't quite hit me until I was down here." He kept one arm around Severus' shoulders as they climbed the stairs together. "I'm so glad you're home," he said, letting Severus dump him on the bed. "Missed you. I always miss you when you're gone." He smiled up at Severus. "Happy birthday."
Severus watched Remus for a moment, wondering how he could deserve Remus, then joined him on the bed and put his arms around him. "Thank you," he said quietly.
"Mmm." Remus burrowed against Severus, nuzzling his skin. "I wish it hadn't been ruined for you. But I'm glad you're home now."
"I'm glad to be with you," Severus uttered, holding Remus tightly.
"Really? You aren't angry at me?"
"What?" Severus asked, frowning. "No, of course not. I'm really sorry, you went to a lot of trouble over me and I ruined it. I'm not angry."
"You didn't ruin it, the Dark Lord did," Remus said. He lifted his head to kiss Severus' mouth. "I love you."
Severus returned the kiss, relieved that Remus wasn't angry. "I love you, too. Very much. More than anything. You're the only good thing in my life and I'm so grateful that you even remembered my birthday, really."
Remus smiled. "Of course I remembered it. It's the anniversary of one of the best days in my life." He kissed Severus again.
"What's that?" Severus asked, confused, and wondering if they'd done anything on his last birthday that would make it monumental to Remus.
"The day you were born," Remus said, grinning. He licked Severus' throat and snuggled against him.
"That's one of the best days in your life?" Severus asked, amused but disbelieving. "That isn't even one of the best days in my parents' lives. It's not even in the top one hundred."
"Doesn't matter," Remus said. "Can't imagine my life without you. You make everything better. So it's one of the best days in my life."
"Mmm, you make me so happy when you say things like that," Severus admitted, relishing the feel of Remus in his arms. "Makes me feel like maybe it is ok that I was born."
"Maybe it's ok?" Remus demanded. "Of course it's ok! It's more than that--it's wonderful. I can't imagine how my life would be if I didn't have you in it." He snaked an arm around Severus and held on to him.
Severus smiled and relaxed against Remus. "Same with me. Love you so much."
"I love you, too," Remus said. "More than anyone. I wish I could go back in time and make your birthday better for you."
"That's okay. It was awful, but I had you to come home to. This is nice," Severus said.
Remus smiled and nuzzled Severus. "I'm glad that makes a difference," he said huskily.
"It makes all the difference," Severus assured him.
"Good. We'll celebrate for you tomorrow." Remus was getting sleepy suddenly. Or perhaps it was just that the room was reeling a little.
"Thank you," Severus murmured, finally feeling as if he could sleep. "Love you."
"Mmm, love you, too." Remus worked his hand around until he could pet Severus' hair.
Severus made a rumbly, contented nose, and let his eyes drift shut.
"Yes, go to sleep," Remus breathed, grateful to have Severus in his arms.
"Nnn, g'night," Severus managed, and drifted off soon after.
Remus listened to Severus snore faintly for a while, but soon enough his own eyelids were growing heavy. He slept.
Severus slept very deeply, and dreamt strange dreams of Dumbledore and Voldemort arguing over who got his company for the day. Dumbledore's wizard hat turned into a ridiculous birthday party hat, and he had cupcakes and balloons and streamers, while Voldemort was trying to lure Severus with dead ferrets, as one would a Hippogriff, and steaming noxious cauldrons full of vile-looking sludge. Then, to one side, Remus was with Dumbledore, making stacks and stacks of party hats, and the Death Eaters were tossing them into the cauldrons so they'd dissolve, almost faster than Remus could make them.
Severus woke, distressed, after spending what felt like hours trying to save the hats from the cauldrons, but always failing, failing. He sat bolt upright in bed, blinked blearily, and then shielded his eyes from the bright daylight in the room. He felt lethargic, and wondered how long he'd slept. It felt like a long time. He had, after all, had a very long day yesterday.
Next to him, Remus grunted when he was jolted by Severus' sudden waking. He snorted and yawned, then rolled over onto his back and peered up at his lover. "Severus?"
Severus glanced down at Remus. "Oh hello," he murmured happily, and climbed on top of Remus, making himself comfortable.
"Oof," Remus said, though he wrapped his arms around Severus and held him close. "Sleep all right?"
"Yes, I had a strange dream, but I slept deeply," Severus said, closing his eyes and smiling as he relaxed into Remus' arms.
"Mmm." Remus stroked his hand along Severus' back, realising and enjoying anew how much Severus trusted him. It wasn't a new thing, but sometimes it struck him again, how fortunate he was.
Severus enjoyed that contact, and was content to drift, sleepily, for a few minutes, just enjoying himself. Eventually he opened his eyes again, at some little shift from Remus, and glanced upwards towards his face. "You slept in your collar," he observed quietly. That collar perplexed Severus a bit; he was of the opinion that if anyone belonged to anyone, he belonged to Remus, and he wondered why Remus liked it so much. He wondered why even wearing it didn't offend Remus, and if it was indication that Remus didn't think a lot of himself. But he supposed that wasn't right, because he knew that he would wear a collar for Remus, and he didn't think he had issues.
Still, he just didn't quite understand it.
"Did I?" Remus asked, his voice husky. He smiled, still somewhat sleepily, at Severus. He hadn't meant to, but he was suddenly glad Severus had noticed.
"Yeah," Severus answered, liking that tone in Remus' voice. He reached up and traced the edge with a finger.
"Mm, perhaps we should make use of it, then," Remus suggested. He tilted his head a little, giving Severus better access.
Severus smirked, sliding his finger underneath it. "Yes, excellent idea, I think." He kissed the skin under his lips. "You can be...in charge sometimes, you know," he added softly, not exactly certain 'in charge' was the phrase he wanted, but hoping it would convey his meaning. Remus used to be quite good at bossing him around. He didn't really like it, though sometimes during sex it was good, and he didn't want Remus to think he wasn't ever allowed, if he wanted it.
"Oh, d'you want me to wear this collar and order you around?" Remus asked, smirking back at Severus.
"I just meant if you wanted to," Severus said. "I didn't want you to think you couldn't ever, if you wanted to."
"All right," Remus said, and kissed him. He'd sort of thought Severus wouldn't want it, the way Malfoy had treated him; yes, Severus had said it was rather therapeutic, that first time, but at the same time, now that Remus really understood what had gone on with Malfoy... He tilted his head. "What do you want today? This is your birthday celebration, after all."
"Hmm, I want..." Severus smiled widely at Remus and kissed him again. "Kissing and touching and..." He kissed Remus again.
Remus made a happy noise and ran his hands down Severus' back to massage his arse. "And?" he prompted breathlessly some time later.
Severus moaned softly, pressing against Remus. "Massaging is good too, yes, rubbing and pressing...and coming, a lot of coming." He smirked.
"Ooh, an itemised list for me to tick things off," Remus breathed, rubbing against him.
Severus chuckled breathlessly, rubbing back as he kissed Remus. His pleasure was building in warm waves instead of sharp jolts, and he liked that.
"Let's see, pressing, you said," Remus murmured, sliding a finger down along Severus arse to press between the cheeks. "I can do that," he breathed, kissing Severus' jaw.
Severus groaned, pressing closer against Remus. "Oh, I like that," he murmured.
Remus smiled and hummed, massaging lightly. "Good," he said, "I want to do what you like."
"I like everything with you," Severus uttered, which he thought was close enough to the truth. He brushed his fingertips over Remus' collar again. It seemed that not fully understanding it translated to being unable to leave it alone.
Remus tilted his head a little. "Go on," he breathed, thinking Severus probably wanted to curl his fingers in it, but not caring what he wanted to do as long as he did it.
Severus did in fact curl his fingers around the edge, so the tips were resting between it and Remus' skin. "I love you," he murmured.
"Mmm." Remus growled faintly, knowing Severus would feel it. "I love you, as well," he murmured. He slid his finger along the valley of Severus' arse, fingertip just caressing the opening.
Severus gasped and got his leg up over Remus' hip, which gave Remus' finger more room, and made him feel even closer to Remus. "You make me feel good."
"Good." Remus arched against Severus, liking the feel of that. He licked at the edge of Severus' ear as he did a nonverbal charm and slid his finger just inside. "I always want that. You make me feel good, too."
Severus groaned quietly, pressing down on Remus' finger. He shifted so they were eye to eye and kissed Remus slowly.
Making noises of enjoyment into the kiss, Remus slid his finger in deeper, massaging carefully.
"Oh Merlin, Remus," Severus gasped between kisses. "Yes, do that. More."
"Mmm." Remus obeyed, growling at Severus and pressing up against him.
Severus clutched at Remus desperately and rocked against him with small, shallow movements. "Oh, Remus."
"Love how you say my name," Remus growled, finding the spot he was seeking and giving steadily increasing pressure.
Severus gasped, tensing as his pleasure began building more rapidly, and groaned when a strong jolt shook through him. "Oh God, Remus--" he gasped, then clutched at Remus again as pleasure jolted again and again.
Remus growled at him. "Come for me, Severus. Will you?" He pressed a little harder, then pulled away, then pressed again. "That was on your list. You're so wonderful to watch when you come. When you come just for me."
"Oh Merlin--fuck--" Severus gasped, reaching in between them to stroke his cock a few times with urgent, desperate movements, and then he stiffened and groaned, coming over his hand and their bellies.
"Yesss," Remus hissed, watching him hungrily. He loved the way Severus' come felt against his own erection. He slid his hand down between them to stroke himself, palm slicked with Severus' come. "You're so beautiful to me," he whispered in Severus' ear, leaving his finger just inside Severus possessively.
Severus curled against Remus happily, watching him stroke himself and liking Remus' possessiveness. "I love you," he whispered, feeling overwhelmed by Remus' words. He shifted the fingers trapped in the band of Remus' collar, but just so Remus would feel it.
Remus swallowed and growled at Severus again, smiling. His hand moved faster. "Oh, Severus, I love you," he murmured, watching his lover's face. "I want you. You make me so hard. You make me desperate for you. I love watching you come, it gets me off."
Severus hadn't felt this emotional over something Remus said in a long time. He wasn't certain why he was taking it so personal, anyway, when he knew Remus was just trying to get off, but it felt so good to hear it. He wanted to help, but he wasn't certain what he should do, so he leaned in and trailed kisses over Remus' neck and even the collar.
Moaning softly, Remus arched his neck, his hand slowing for a moment. "Oh, Severus, feels so wonderful!"
Severus let his teeth scrape the skin as he went, encouraged by Remus' enjoyment.
"Ohh, Severusss," Remus gasped, arching. He squeezed his cock, then stroked harder, wanting that to be over so he could relax and enjoy Severus' touches.
Severus bit at a spot and then sucked on the indentations from his teeth happily.
"Oh, God, yes," Remus moaned. He gave a few more hard strokes and came with Severus' name on his lips. As soon as he'd relaxed again, he wrapped his arm around Severus, pulling their bodies close. He massaged Severus' arse with the other hand.
Severus nestled against him and relaxed, liking the way Remus kept touching him. "Mmm, feels so good."
"I love you so much," Remus whispered. "I love touching you. I love being with you." He stroked his hand up Severus' back, smearing come along the skin, then remembered Severus didn't usually like that. He did a quick cleaning charm, then trailed his hand up into Severus' hair.
That felt strange, the come and then abruptly the cleaning charm. Severus felt oddly disappointed, but he told himself that he definitely should not be thinking that way. "I love you too," he uttered, closing his eyes. It felt so wonderful to have this, despite the rest of his rotten life. "I'm so grateful."
"So am I," Remus murmured. "The rest of the world can be fucked up, but I have you." He kissed Severus softly.
"Yes," Severus breathed. "You make me feel...not fucked up," he said. "And I really appreciate that, because I'm pretty fucked up." He chuckled weakly.
"Hey, I'm a werewolf," Remus said, smiling at Severus. He cupped a hand against his lover's cheek and stroked the skin. "Mm, and I love you more than anything. For all my life." He kissed Severus again.
"I love you, too," Severus murmured. "Always." He smiled at Remus and kissed him, feeling entirely better than he had yesterday.
Remus wrapped his arm around Severus again and held him, closing his eyes happily as they kissed.