Title: Brightly Shown the Moon
Beta Reader(s): freckles42
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): Angst. Snape/Lupin. Background Snily, but only in Severus' mind.
Note: I wanted very much for this to fit neatly into canon, and so I made some assumptions about the order in which certain events happened in Snape's life. Not everyone may agree, but I hope you'll just go with it. ;-) The title is taken from the lyrics of the traditional carol "Good King Wenceslas."
Summary: Severus finds an unlikely study partner over the winter break during his fifth year at Hogwarts.
Severus Snape glared at the sheet of parchment spelled to the library's heavy wooden doors. Delicate handwriting looped and swirled across the page as if the writer had felt sheer joy as the words spilled from her quill. He raised his wand and the parchment fluttered to the floor, landing neatly by his feet before bursting into flame. He took a hasty step backward and watched as the flames licked at purple ink — Salazar help us, purple — and those offending words disappeared into the blackening parchment. It was somewhat satisfying.
"Was that truly necessary?"
He turned to see a skinny boy standing next to him, mousey-brown hair dangling around his pale face.
"Go ahead and take house points; I don't care." Severus eyed the prefect pin on the lapel of Remus Lupin's worn robe, gleaming as it reflected the firelight. "Slytherin's so far ahead it won't make a difference."
Lupin's eyes twinkled and it was a moment before Severus realized he was smiling. Or maybe laughing. Severus scowled and tightened his fingers around his wand.
Lupin shrugged. "I don't give a fig, honestly. It's Christmas Eve."
"And that's a sufficient reason to close the library?"
"Most would think it is." Lupin was watching him closely, almost studying him. It was unnerving. "Everyone's going to the Great Hall for the Christmas Eve festivities. Aren't you coming?"
Severus stared at the library's closed doors, willing them to open and swallow him up. "No."
Lupin shrugged and turned away. "Suit yourself." His footsteps receded, and then stopped. "I heard there'll be carol singers."
Severus didn't turn around to look. "I hate carol singers."
There was a pause, and Lupin's footsteps receded once more, growing quieter until they disappeared. Severus stood in front of the library doors for several minutes. He was hungry, truth be told. The thought of the holiday treats that likely garnished the tables in the Great Hall made his stomach growl rebelliously. He wanted no part of the holiday cheer, though. Christmas had never been a particularly pleasant holiday before he came to Hogwarts, and it had remained decidedly unpleasant thereafter.
But of course, if he was going to stay up late reading potions journals, he'd need sustenance. He stood staring at the library doors for a minute longer before turning and walking away.
He felt the warming spell wash over him the moment he crossed the threshold of the Great Hall. Lights and garlands floated high above the tables and the scent of cinnamon and cloves was thick in the air. A few dozen students and staff were scattered around the room talking, laughing, and drinking goblets of what looked suspiciously like wine. A group huddled in one corner around a large pianoforte seemed to be organizing themselves to sing carols shortly.
Severus spotted two Slytherin sixth year students sitting together at the end of one table and crossed to join them. They both nodded at him in greeting, but didn't invite him to join their conversation. He sat stiffly and looked around. As usual, no one had noticed his entrance. Not that he cared. He had no desire for idle chit-chat with any of these people.
Not far away, Lupin was sitting between two Gryffindor girls, nodding and appearing riveted as one of them chattered away. He made a comment that Severus could not hear and the girls burst into laughter, as if he had just told a particularly funny joke. He grinned and looked pleased with himself.
Severus gritted his teeth. How someone like Lupin could be happy on a night like this was beyond him.
Lupin's eyes met his then, and he smiled at Severus with a small nod as if to say, That wasn't so bad, was it? Severus scowled and looked away.
He awoke Christmas morning to find a single package at the foot of his bed. It was wrapped in blue paper with a silver ribbon that had been meticulously tied into the shape of a flower. He felt a fluttering in his stomach as he lifted it. She never forgot to give him a gift for Christmas or for his birthday.
He stared at the package for a long moment, not wanting to rush its opening. It would take but a moment and then the suspense would be gone. Right now, he could imagine she had given him any number of gifts that demonstrated her deep feelings for him. She might have crafted something with her own hands, something intricate and beautiful that took hours to make, hours during which she thought of him constantly. Or perhaps it was a magical object, something she'd transfigured that would burst into fireworks at his touch, or something he could proudly display by his bed — a manifestation of her feelings for him.
He couldn't bear the suspense much longer. He carefully removed the ribbon flower and set it on his pillow, then tugged at the corners of the paper gently so as not to rip it — it might be part of the gift, after all. At last a small white box was revealed, and he held it with trembling hands. He stared at it a moment more before lifting the lid.
Inside the box was a bottle of ink and a quill. He felt his heart sink into his stomach and immediately chastised himself for being so ungrateful. She'd got him a gift, hadn't she? His own parents hadn't bothered — Mum said paying his school fees and buying his books was gift enough for the entire year.
He lifted the quill from the box; it was a lovely quill in a startling shade of green — the exact shade of Lily's eyes. He smiled at that. The ink was good quality as well, far better than the type he bought for his school work. Beneath the ink bottle was a note in her familiar slanted handwriting:
Happy Christmas! I hope you're getting loads of studying done and have the library all to yourself these two weeks. After a few days at home I'm wishing I'd stayed at school as well. I'd forgotten how hard it is to go through the day without doing magic! Enjoy the new quill, and use it to write to me, will you?
He folded the note and placed it under his pillow, then dug some parchment from his trunk to write her a letter in return.
The day after Christmas, Severus found himself once again scowling at a piece of parchment spelled to the library doors. "What the hell?" he muttered, shifting his heavy satchel off of his shoulder to rest it on the ground.
"Still closed, is it?"
Severus suppressed a groan. "One would think you had better things to do than follow me about the grounds, Lupin."
"I'm not following you, you git. I wanted to study as well."
Severus turned to look at him. He did indeed have a bulging satchel slung over his shoulder, and he was staring at the parchment on the door with a frown on his face.
"I understand being it closed the last two days, but closed Boxing Day as well? Don't they realize we have OWLs in a few months?"
Severus blinked at him in surprise. "Yes. Precisely."
Lupin gave him a sideways smile and Severus looked away. He didn't know what to make of this sudden friendliness from a boy who typically stood by and watched while his best friends tortured and bullied him.
"Well, I suppose we could find another spot to work."
"We?" Severus couldn't keep the tone of surprise from his voice.
"Might as well put our heads together," Lupin said with a shrug. "What were you planning to revise today?"
"Excellent. I need to spend some time working on that one especially."
Severus stared at him. "You're seriously suggesting we revise together? Why?"
Severus snorted. "Where do I begin?"
Lupin rolled his eyes. "Just because I hang around with James and Sirius doesn't mean I'm like them."
"Give me a chance, will you? You don't know anything about me."
"I know a great deal more than most."
Lupin flinched, but didn't look away. "Even more reason we should work together."
"I prefer to work alone."
"As do I, so we'll get along fine, won't we?"
Severus frowned. There was a certain amount of logic to that.
"So it's settled," Lupin said as he swept his arm in a grand after you gesture. "Shall we?"
Severus shook his head in disbelief. "Are you in desperate need of tutoring or something?"
Lupin finally began to look exasperated, which pleased Severus immensely. "Yes, Snape, please do me the great favor of sharing the power of your amazing mind for a few hours. I'll be eternally grateful, et cetera."
Severus hesitated a moment more before walking in the direction he'd indicated.
"It's getting late." Lupin stretched and yawned as he flopped back onto the sofa. "Ow, what the—?" He sat back up, rubbing his side. "I think we missed a spot." There was an odd wooden corner sticking out of the middle of a sofa cushion, the apparent cause of his discomfort.
Severus tilted his head. "I can fix that."
"We need to change it back anyway." Lupin stood and stretched again before glancing at the enormous clock they'd transfigured from a pocketwatch. "Merlin, is that the time? We were meant to be in bed half an hour ago."
"I thought you prefects didn't have to follow the rules."
"Technically we're just supposed to enforce them."
It was on the tip of Severus' tongue to ask Lupin why he didn't do that either, but before he could get the words out Lupin frowned as if the same thought had crossed his mind.
"I'll walk you to your common room, if you like."
Severus snorted. "That's hardly necessary. You're not the only one who can conceal himself well enough to move about at night."
Lupin's head jerked up at that, but he said nothing in response, instead pointing his wand at the sofa he'd just been reclining upon. They each reversed the charms they'd cast, and the squashy chairs and sofas that filled the classroom were transformed once again into sturdy wooden desks.
"Want to meet here again tomorrow afternoon?" Lupin asked at last. His tone was tight, as if he was prepared for a retort when Severus declined.
Severus considered. He generally despised working with others. They slowed him down at best, ruined his hard work at worst, and rarely had the decency to be friendly to him after they'd received a good mark. Lupin had been surprisingly competent, though, and his mind was far sharper than Severus had expected. Lupin was always quiet in lessons, only answering questions when called upon, never volunteering or showing off the way Potter and Black did. And tonight they'd accomplished far more together than he could have done alone.
"Fine," he said, stuffing his belongings into his satchel. "What time?"
Lupin looked surprised. "After lunch? Around 2:00?"
"You'll find me here."
"Think you can manage the lockpicking charm on your own, do you?" Lupin grinned at him, and Severus rolled his eyes.
He had to yet receive a reply from Lily, despite sending her two letters since Christmas morning. He imagined she was busy with her family and hadn't had a chance to find an owl yet. Perhaps he should have gone home for Christmas after all. They could have spent this time studying together, and he probably wouldn't have had to see his father much at all. Why hadn't he thought of it that way before? Two entire weeks with Lily, with no Potter and Black around to make his life miserable.
Though honestly, Lupin wasn't so bad.
The wind was bitingly cold at the top of the Astronomy Tower, and the chill in Severus's brass telescope was making his fingers numb.
"Can you see it?" Lupin asked.
"It's getting cloudy and it's far too cold. Can we give up this ridiculous idea and just go study the star charts instead?"
Lupin cast an annoyed glance in his direction just as the wind whipped them both against the wall. "You may be right."
Severus didn't bother to pack his telescope away before bolting for the door.
The star charts were in a small room just above the Astronomy classroom, just down the stairs from the observatory area. Severus transfigured the room's single hard bench into a squashy sofa large enough for the two of them to sit on, and Lupin levitated the charts so that they floated before them like a projection screen.
Severus cast a warming spell on the sofa before stripping off his heavy outer robe and sinking into the cushions.
"Nice," Lupin said as he settled next to him. Their shoulders pressed together and Severus wished he'd made the sofa a bit larger. "You're getting good at working with furniture."
Severus turned his head to see Lupin grinning at him. He wasn't sure if it had been intended as a joke or a compliment.
"I mean it," Lupin continued, nudging Severus with an elbow. "I mean, I knew you were clever — everyone does — but you're actually rather cleverer than I'd realized."
"As much as it pains me to admit it, so are you."
Lupin's grin became impossibly wider. "Aw, Sev, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me."
"Don't call me that."
"I don't like it."
"Better than Snivellus, isn't it?"
Severus shot him a glare before standing and crossing to the window. He heard Lupin groan.
"Fuck, I'm sorry. That was completely inappropriate."
There were soft footsteps and then Lupin was standing next to him, looking out of the window. The wind had blown the clouds away and the sky was clear once more.
"I'm sorry, for what it's worth. They can be such arseholes, can't they?"
"Why are they your friends, then?" Severus couldn't keep the snarl out of his voice.
Lupin sighed, his eyes fixed upon the Waxing Gibbous moon. "They’ve been there for me when I needed them. In a way no one else has, or could ever be."
Severus stared at him for a moment, trying to imagine what he looked like when he became the wolf, what he sounded like, how ferocious and frightening he was. He'd almost found out, once.
"Has it not occurred to you that others might be supportive as well?"
Lupin's mouth opened and closed again, and he swallowed. He turned to look at Severus, and for a moment they stared at each other. At last, Lupin looked away.
"It's difficult to take that chance, know what I mean?"
He did indeed know. Snape turned his gaze back to the moon. "It will be full in a few days."
"It will indeed." Lupin sighed and gave him a small smile. "I'll have to take a break from studying for a bit. Think you can manage without me?"
Severus snorted. "I've managed well enough my entire life, haven't I?"
Lupin shrugged. "If you say so."
He spent the evening of the full moon in the library, buried under stacks of books about magical creatures. He'd read everything in the library concerning lycanthropy, including an intriguing article in Modern Potion-Making that implied several potion masters were close to discovering a potion to alleviate (though not cure) the symptoms. The descriptions of the symptoms were fairly horrific and he was surprised at the stirrings of sympathy he felt as he read them.
As much as he hated to admit it, he found himself growing oddly fond of Lupin. He'd even enjoyed the last few evenings they'd studied together, and studying alone again wasn't as productive as he'd expected.
It was only a few days before the students returned and classes resumed. He hadn't let himself think much about what would happen then.
He'd finally received a letter from Lily that morning. She'd apologized for not writing sooner and hoped he hadn't been too lonely in the last week.
But if I know you, you're enjoying your solitude and will be sorry to see it end.
That was true, though not in the way she would expect. Still, her letter had lifted his spirits immensely. He considered writing her about his studying with Lupin, but decided that might best wait for when she returned. He wondered if the three of them might study together. She and Lupin were in the same house, after all, and he knew they'd been paired together in classes before. Maybe the two of them could even lure Lupin away from the horrible gang of Black and Potter.
He pushed a stack of books aside and reached for his new quill and a clean roll of parchment. Lupin was all alone in the Shrieking Shack and might appreciate a letter wishing him well. Severus couldn't imagine Black or Potter had ever done something so thoughtful.
It had been three days, and the marks on Lupin's face still looked fresh. Severus couldn't help but stare at them, couldn't stop himself from wondering exactly how Lupin had got them.
"You should see the ones on my back," Lupin said, not looking up from the long roll of parchment he was scribbling notes on.
"I'm sorry. It's none of my concern."
There was a pause. "Would you like it to be?"
Severus looked up to see Lupin staring at him thoughtfully. "I've no idea what you mean."
"You're curious. I don't blame you for that. But it seems like…" Lupin stopped and stared at Severus for a moment, as if trying to decide whether to continue.
"Like what?" Severus said after nearly a minute had gone by.
"Do you like me?" A faint blush rose to Lupin's cheek.
Severus swallowed. Was this a trick? "Do you like me?"
"I asked you first."
Severus shrugged. "I suppose I do. To my great surprise, I should add. I was… apparently wrong about you."
Lupin smiled, his eyes dark in the dim light. "And I like you. Also to my great surprise."
They stared at each other for another moment, and even after Severus turned his attention back to the book he was reading, he could feel Lupin's eyes on him. It ought to have been uncomfortable, but somehow it wasn't. Perhaps the wolf in him made him do things like that.
Severus ought to study him. He could probably write an impressive treatise on werewolves, in fact. None of the research he'd read several nights back had included such personal accounts as the one he could write about Lupin after spending several months getting to know him.
He looked back up at Lupin, and Lupin smiled even wider. Severus felt the corners of his lips turn up in response.
"There it is," Lupin said almost breathlessly. "I've been waiting a whole week to see one of those."
Now it was Severus' turn to blush.
Saturday evening before classes resumed found them in the Astronomy Tower, taking advantage of a clear night to study the winter constellations. They huddled together for warmth and traded friendly barbs, and Severus found himself laughing more than he could remember laughing in a long time.
He'd never had a friend like this, he realized, someone who was almost his intellectual equal, who wasn't afraid to be honest or to argue with him, and who seemed to genuinely enjoy his company. He'd been as happy in the last week and a half as he'd ever been at Hogwarts.
But the students were coming back tomorrow, and it would all change. He knew it would. Remus knew it would change too, though he hadn't said a word. They hadn't discussed it; neither of them had wanted to. Even now, it hung in the cold air between them, almost palpable.
"What is it?" Remus asked, and Severus realized he'd been staring blankly up at the sky. "You look like you're a thousand miles away."
"I wish I were." He turned to look at Remus and saw himself reflected in warm brown eyes. So different from Lily's, yet he found himself drawn to them just the same.
"What's going to happen tomorrow?" he blurted. He wasn't sure where the shot of courage had come from, but he needed to know. He couldn't bear finding out the hard way, not after everything that had happened.
"What do you mean?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "I know you're not that thick. I mean, will we still be friends tomorrow? Or…" He couldn't bring himself to say it. He cast his eyes downwards, suddenly afraid even to look at Remus' face.
"I'd like that," Remus said, his voice soft.
Severus looked up. "What about your friends? They hate me."
"They'll just have to deal with it, won't they?"
Severus smiled at that — he couldn't help it. He'd barely hoped for as much. Remus smiled back even wider and he took a step closer. Before Severus quite knew what was happening, there were soft warm lips pressed against his own and Remus' hands were clenching his worn robe, pulling him closer. Those warm lips parted and he felt the brush of Remus' tongue against his lips. He opened his mouth instinctively and Remus deepened the kiss, arms winding around his waist and pressing their bodies together.
He wasn't sure how many seconds passed before his brain started functioning again, before he realized that Remus was kissing him. Really kissing him like he'd only ever dreamed of being kissed.
Realization began to flood his veins in a cool rush. It wasn't supposed to be like this. His first kiss was supposed to be with Lily; he'd always planned it that way. Lily was going to be the one who would look at him that way in the moonlight, who'd close the distance between them and press her lips against his, who'd giggle at his instant erection and say she didn't mind.
And oh Merlin this wasn't the way he wanted it to happen. It wasn't supposed to be a boy who made him feel this way, who made him hard and wanting more and whose cool hands were creeping under his worn jumper right now.
"No!" he said, and pushed Remus back as hard as he could. He couldn't look at him, couldn't make eye contact. "This is not—- I can't—" And he felt something crumple inside him, something he couldn't explain.
"Severus," he heard, and risked a glance at Remus' face. Remus' eyes were wide and he looked terrified. And his mouth — it would be so easy to… no
This wasn't what was supposed to happen. It was supposed to be Lily, and Remus had ruined it. Ruined it. Panic rose in his chest, and he felt a desperate need to run away, far away. Remus took a tentative step toward him.
"Stay away from me!" Severus snarled. He shoved his telescope into his bag and then turned and ran. He ran down the stairs, down the corridor, all the way down to the dungeons. He closed the curtains around his bed and pulled the covers over his head.
He hadn't realized, hadn't suspected that Remus was… that he liked Severus that way. All this time, he'd misinterpreted Remus' friendliness, had encouraged it, even. He'd been so desperate for friendship that he'd almost—
Almost what? He buried his face in the pillow, feeling his cheeks burn. He could still feel those lips against his own. He was still hard, even. He'd liked it before he'd let himself think about it.
He rolled onto his back and stared up at the green canopy. Had he just made a horrible mistake?
"I've never been so happy for the start of term in my life!" Lily exclaimed. "I didn't even mind all the homework McGonagall set us. How am I going to survive the summer without doing magic?"
Students bustled around them as Severus walked beside her, hearing but not really listening. She hadn't even noticed that he was unusually sullen, hadn't asked more than a few perfunctory questions about how his holiday break had gone.
Not that he wanted to talk about it. Not yet, anyway.
Out of nowhere, a hex hit him in the thigh and he felt his legs seize in pain. He stumbled and his books flew everywhere, and the sound of laughter rang through the corridor.
"Oi, Snivellus! You ought to be more careful. Those books could've hurt Evans here when they went flying about."
Severus glared up at the sneering face of James Potter. He hadn't missed this at all.
"Leave him alone, you pathetic arsehole!" Lily shouted, but Severus' stomach did a flip. Standing just a few feet behind Potter was Remus, his nose buried in a book.
Severus glared at Remus, daring him to look up, but he didn't. He just stood there, as if he hadn't seen a thing — just as he'd always done.
This was the first time he'd seen Remus since the kiss on the Astronomy Tower. Even though it had ended badly, Severus had hoped they might still be able to be friends. That something — anything — would be different. Apparently he was mistaken.
"Fuck you, Potter," he snarled as he pushed himself to his feet.
Potter's eyes narrowed. "What did you say?"
Severus took two steps forward, his jaw clenched tight. "Fuck you, all of you. You're nothing but bullies, and I'm ten times the wizard you'll ever be."
Potter's grip tightened on his wand. "Prove it."
"Come on, Severus," Lily pleaded, tugging at his arm. "Don't do this, not now."
Severus ignored her. He was feeling particularly self-destructive today and hell, he had a few new dark curses up his sleeve. Trying them out on Potter would be a pleasure.
"Remus, you're a prefect, for fuck's sake!" he heard Lily say. "Do something!"
There was a long moment of tense silence, and then Remus' soft voice seemed to fill the corridor. "Enough, James. Drop it. We're going to be late to potions as it is."
Potter sneered at Severus, but he backed down. Remus was watching Potter, his body tense but his face expressionless.
"Some prefect you are," Severus muttered. Remus flinched, but he didn't look at Severus. The two of them turned and walked away, and the small crowd that had gathered in anticipation of a duel began to disperse.
"Oh, I hate him so much!" Lily said, shaking her head. "I have no idea what all the girls see in him."
Ordinarily that sort of comment would have made Severus' day, but this time it barely registered. He couldn't take his eyes of the form of Remus Lupin, following Potter down the corridor, a shell of the boy he'd known in the last two weeks.
He'd just stood by and done nothing. Nothing.
"Don't waste another moment thinking about him," Lily said with a determined nod.
Severus swallowed down the emotion that had risen in his throat. "Don't worry. I won't."