- Alternate Ending -
His eyes flew open. Remus couldn't remember dreaming, couldn't remember anything after resting his cheek in Severus' hair. He certainly couldn't remember turning over so he faced the scorched wall. Where there ought to have been windows there were only deep green curtains over cold stones. He blinked, shuddered at the eerie sudden thought that he was in a cell. Severus had let go of him at some point and he started to turn over to wrap himself defensively around the man.
And then he smelled the blood.
Bolting upright, he looked around. The fire had burned low. Its orange coals reflected a dull light from the stone floor. Narrowing his eyes in suspicion, Remus slid out from between the sheets. Goosebumps rose on his naked flesh.
The mantel was empty save the glint of a few shards of glass. The snowflake was missing from its frame. Shoulders tense, he took a few hesitant steps towards the fire. "Severus?"
Remus released a breath he hadn't realised he was holding. "Thank Merlin. I smelled blood, thought you were hurt."
A hand, wrapped in what looked like strips of a silk sheet, appeared over the back of the chair. Blood had soaked through at his knuckles. "A minor injury."
"Do you need--?"
"No. Thank you."
Quietly, Remus circled behind the chairs and perched in the one he'd had before. The table had been righted, he noticed, and their wands were carefully laid out on its surface. He plunged his hands modestly into his semen-crusted lap; part of him wondered why in Hell he bothered. Severus stared at the fire, a quiet, pensive look on his face. His tattered robe bore silver buckles from neck to hem, just as the Dark Lord's had. The image, the knowledge he'd been imparted, caused a suffocating lump to swell in Remus' throat. The snowflake was spread out on Severus' chest.
"I've been having a chat with Tom," he said quietly. "I think he's gone now. He won't answer me anymore."
Severus held up the scroll that had lain on the mantelpiece. "A bit of magic I've never bothered mentioning to anyone. He recorded himself when he was in school. I haven't talked with him like this in quite a while, but I think he was pleased to see me."
"Like his diary."
Black eyes shifted to fix on him.
"Harry told me."
"Ah. Mister Potter." Severus smirked; it faded. "How do you think he'll react when he learns who's been teaching his Potions lessons all these years?"
"I think once he gets the whole story he'll take it pretty well. He's a clever young man."
Severus sniffed. "Looks too much like his father."
The corner of Remus' mouth quirked upwards. "I know. He's a lot more levelheaded than James was, though. He gets a lot of his personality from Lily."
"And a lot from neither of them."
"Yes. He's very much his own man."
Severus grunted softly. He set the scroll in his lap, stroking it with tender fingers before folding his hands against his stomach. "Thank you for your offer as Secret Keeper, but I don't believe I'll need it. I," he paused, licking his lips in thought, "don't wish to be a captive any longer."
"Not really, no. There'll be Aurors to sort."
Remus nodded. "They'll definitely want to talk to you."
"Did you know my father and brother are with them?"
"No, I hadn't. That's... unexpected."
"Not if you think about it. I rebelled against my family. What better way to rebel against Aurors than to become the very thing they're trained to fight? In any case, I don't especially want to see them. I'm sure my father will have a few words for me."
"Would you like me to talk to him first?"
Severus shook his head. A brittle smile played on his mouth. "No, thank you. If nothing else, I'd like to see the look on his face when I tell him about his late son-in-law."
Remus stared for a moment before turning his head and grinning. A wheezing snicker filled his sinuses. "Sounds like when I told my dad I fancied boys. He was gobsmacked. Couldn't even shout at me."
A low snort met Remus' ears. "I wish that had happened to me," Severus said softly. "Then, you know all about that."
"When did you tell him?"
"After we left school. I hadn't really acknowledged it until," Remus glanced away, "you kissed me." A low rush of heat filled his cheeks. "Carried a bit of a torch for you for a while, you know."
"You and half the school."
"But mine started when I saw the real you, not just the bloke in the hat."
Severus actually cracked a grin. He chuckled. "That damn hat. Lucius took it back when he..." he motioned to his back. "Didn't suit him at all."
"Suited you well enough."
A dark, curious glance flitted over him. Severus settled deeper into his chair, wincing a little. "I've just lost the only person I've ever truly loved. Again. It's starting to get ridiculous."
"A necessary sacrifice." He swallowed hard, blinked, but held his grief. "I don't know if I can do this alone, Lupin. I've been," he paused, brow furrowing in thought, "rigid for far too long."
"I haven't got anything better to do."
Severus' snort wasn't entirely unexpected. "You understand that I don't trust you any further than a first year could Banish you."
"Yes. I'd like to change that, if I can."
Severus gave him a sidelong look, but didn't linger. "You understand what sort of monster I am."
"Yes. I've seen worse. I've been worse."
"You've been a werewolf. I wouldn't exactly call it the same thing."
"You understand I still love him with all my heart and soul."
"You understand that that shan't go away."
Much more softly, Remus said, "Yes."
"Have you got anything to say?"
Remus stared at the floor for a moment. It struck him that he was naked save a sock. It didn't seem terribly important. Licking his lips, he said, "Only that I'm willing to see what happens."
There was a long pause. Tentatively, skittishly, a sallow hand reached across the table. Just as hesitantly, Remus took it. It felt warm against his skin.
"You're all I've got," Severus said.
"Then I'll have to do a damned good job, won't I?"
Severus glanced at him. The sharp black eyes skittered over his face, his frame, the threads of silver in his hair. They glittered. Severus' mouth opened with a soft sound. "We shall see what happens, then."
Remus smiled. "Good."
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