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The Only Cure for Grief // R ; SS/RL, RL/SB, SS/??
icon by dandelion, art by ursula vernon
_regarde
Title: The Only Cure for Grief
Author: hikaru / _regarde
Archive: The Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest Archive; anywhere else, please ask permission.
Feedback: If you so desire.
Disclaimer: All characters herein belong to JK Rowling and her minions. I'm making no money off of this, and am solely deriving some sort of sick and twisted pleasure.
Rating: R
Pairings: Severus/Remus, Remus/Sirius, non-graphic Severus/?? mentioned.
Summary: Snape offers closure.
Notes: Angst, character death. Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest: Scenario 15: Snape bitterly watches them together, so oblivious in their happiness that they don't even notice him. Thanks greatly to my wonderful and amazing betas -- Shah-rhe, Gloriana, Fox, and Meredith -- for poking me with all sorts of pointy sticks (and in a timely manner, too!) to make me get this right. Huzzah for great betas. However, I can't resist the urge to tinker with my fic, and so all mistakes are still mine. The title is from a quote by George Henry Lewes: "The only cure for grief is action," and therefore is not representative of my creativity, but rather his.


I didn't care enough about Sirius Black while he was alive to notice anything about him other than his ill-mannered, boorish personality. I didn't care to wonder whether he had any feelings or emotions apart from sullenness and rage. I was too consumed by my blind hatred toward him to wonder if he loved, if he desired, if he needed.

And now that he's deceased, I've been given no choice but to discover the answers to my unasked questions.

Remus Lupin mourned the dear departed Mister Black for months after the incident at the Ministry. He held up a brave front while Harry and the other children were around, but after the Hogwarts Express whisked them all away, he collapsed under the tremendous weight of his grief.

Everyone, myself included, assumed that Lupin had lost a best friend, a brother, a confidant. After all, Potter was long gone, Pettigrew was revealed as a traitor, and now Black too was lost forever.

No one would have ever guessed that Lupin had lost a lover.

I discovered, quite by accident, the true nature of their relationship. Indeed, had I been given the choice, I would have chosen to remain blissfully ignorant of the situation rather than painfully aware. And I'm rather sure that Lupin would have had me make the same choice.

Regardless, what's done is done. Lupin's secret lies safe within me. I've got a lifetime of secrets and burdens; one more won't make a tremendous difference.

He didn't seem to believe that, though. At first, he protested a bit, begging me to let my memory be modified so I would forget what I'd seen.

Silly Lupin. He must have forgotten with whom he was dealing. He didn't even want to give me a chance to explain. Of course, the man should have known better. He had locked himself in Sirius' now-vacant room on the day of a crucial Order meeting. It was ridiculous to even think that no one would notice his absence throughout the day's activities. It was also ridiculous to think that none of us could find out where he was, or what he was up to.



"He's been so distant as of late, and I can't quite figure out how to help him." Molly Weasley shook her head sadly.

"Perhaps you would be best to leave him to his own devices?" I put my nearly empty cup of tea back down on the table and looked at her. "He'll either come to his senses and get over this ridiculous period of mourning, or he'll self-destruct and spend the rest of his life in Saint Mungo's."

"Severus!" Molly clucked her tongue and reached out to clear away my teacup and saucer. I said nothing in response, merely raised an eyebrow at her and folded my hands on the table. "Regardless, I think that someone needs to talk to him," she continued. "He's just been so sad lately, ever since Harry went back to those Muggles and my lot went back to the Burrow. Sad and so ... so angry. You know, he snapped at me yesterday when I asked if he'd decided what to do with Sirius' belongings yet. Tonks said that he yelled at her for having pink hair, said the colour was too cheerful for this house." She sighed forlornly. "No matter how hard any of us try, he just seems intent on being angry and withdrawn. Something's different in his eyes, and I simply can't place it." Her tone suggested that she was talking about one of her own children rather than a grown man, but she had always tended to be infernally maternal.

"Molly, I don't give a whit about his anger or his personality issues, so long as he can still function as a member of the Order." I shoved my chair back and stood up. "As long as he's not a liability to us, as long as he can still do his job with some modicum of success, I refuse to concern myself with his mental health, or lack thereof."

Molly sighed and paced alongside the table. She stopped in front of me, hands balled into fists and planted defiantly on her hips. "And I don't give a whit about your lack of concern for a fellow human being."

"He's not completely human, Molly, and you would do good to keep that in mind." I sighed and pushed my chair back in its place, ignoring the fiery look Molly was directing at me.

"It wasn't his choice to become a werewolf, and you know it," she said harshly. "His physical state has no bearing on his grief, Severus." After a short standoff, her body relaxed a bit and she went back to pacing. I had no desire to retort and continue fighting with Molly Weasley.

The room was filled with nothing save our breathing and the sound of Molly's feet shuffling back and forth across the floor. In an effort to relieve the tension, she finally started conversation again. "Do you know that I haven't seen Remus all day? He hasn't come down for afternoon tea, and Moody said that he didn't recall Remus coming down for breakfast, either. I was thinking about taking a look through some of the upper rooms to see if he's hiding up there. Poor dear..." Her voice trailed off as she likely imagined a sad and mewling Remus Lupin, begging for a hug and a lemon candy to make everything better.

"Perhaps he's sulking some more," I sneered, picking disdainfully at a few loose threads on my cloak.

"Since you feel that his sorrow is so trivial, Severus, perhaps it would be best that you go off in search of him rather than me. Teach him a lesson in what it means to be a real man like you." Molly's voice had taken on a tone that I had only heard her use towards her children.

"Perhaps I shall," I shot back. "Or perhaps I'll do more useful things. I do believe my collection of phials needs polishing." I smirked at an astonished-looking Molly before sweeping from the room.

Apparently I was the only one unfazed by yet another despondent act by Remus Lupin. He'd been acting strangely for weeks now, and it really didn't interest me anymore. Hearing him lose his temper for the first time was admittedly amusing, but it had grown old shortly thereafter.

Despite my sarcastic remarks to Molly, I did plan on searching for Lupin. Of course, I intended to reprimand him for his behaviour once I found him, rather than comfort him and tell him that his pain was a necessary part of the grieving process. I've grieved enough that I have it down to a science by now; Lupin would do well with some instructions for quickly dealing with death.

I ascended the flight of stairs that led to a majority of the bedrooms in Grimmauld Place. I knew that Lupin had to be ensconced in one of these rooms; determining which one was a more pressing problem. Without the benefit of a magical eye like Moody's, I was resigned to listening for sounds of life emanating from behind any of the doors.

It didn't take too long for me to find him. Upon reaching the third door on the left -- a room that I remembered being referred to as Sirius' -- I was greeted with slight sniffling sounds. When I paused to listen more closely, I could make out muffled words spilling from under the door; I vaguely discerned Sirius' name being whimpered over and over again. What little conscience I had left debated with the rest of me as to any potential ethical problems that might arise from barging in on a grieving man.

I ignored my conscience and pushed the door open.

Have I ever mentioned that sometimes I regret not listening to that little voice?

For when I peered in the doorway, I found Lupin hunched over in the corner, kneeling in the one spot of light afforded to the room by its grimy window. His breathing was quick and ragged and his clothes were disheveled. Lupin sniffled a few times before leaning forward and resting his forehead on the windowsill, the name "Sirius" barely escaping his lips. One hand was buried in his lap, and with the other he was clutching a few tattered photographs, fingers shaking ever so slightly as his sobs became increasingly audible.

More photographs were spread out across the floor, some crumpled more than others, some ripped clean in half. Lupin must have been going through some of Sirius' belongings as Molly had earlier suggested when he had come upon a collection of photos. There was indeed a trail of photographs, in various states of wholeness, leading from the foot of the nearby bed to the window on the opposite wall, where Lupin crouched.

I scowled at the scene, intending to sweep into the room, pull Lupin up by his shirt collar, and insist that he snap out of the funk that he appeared to have descended into. He seemed to be completely oblivious to my presence, however. Instead of turning around in a panic, he merely wiped angrily at his eyes and muttered some more unintelligible words under his breath. I took a bold step across the threshold and into the room, only to stop short when I got a closer look at Lupin.

In the faint glow of light that bathed him, I began to see details which I had hitherto ignored.

Detail number one: the photographs both clasped in Lupin's hand and spread across the floor were not just photos of old boyhood friends. They were photos of two men, engaging in acts which I didn't think wizards would have felt the need to photograph.

Detail number two: the two men just happened to be Remus Lupin and Sirius Black.

Detail number three: Lupin's trousers were pooled around his knees, and the hand that I thought was innocently resting in his lap was actually wrapped around his penis.

I winced. For the first time in my life, I didn't have the desire to humiliate the man. I drew in a sharp breath and stood, stock-still, at the foot of the bed, steeling myself for Lupin's inevitable discovery of my presence. When the discovery never came, I relaxed a bit and allowed myself to take in a bit more of the situation.

A few more faint sobs escaped his throat and the hand in his lap twitched slightly. Through his gasping for air, I began to be able to make out his words:

"Love you, Sirius ... need you ... your touch ... oh, Sirius, don't leave me like this."

He began to move his hand up and down, caressing himself with slow, yet fumbling, strokes. I could tell that his eyes were fixated on the photographs that he held. I squinted to get a closer look at the photographs. I was already damned, after all, for intruding on this private moment and not having the sense to leave. Therefore, it wouldn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things if I continued to observe.

The little moving people in the photos were crooked and slightly out of focus, as if the photographer had been preoccupied with other more pressing activities. As I surveyed the collection strewn across the floor, I could tell that some were aged, as though the passage of time had taken its toll on them; others seemed to be newly developed. The photos spanned years of memories for the two men. The most time-worn photos were black and white, and judging by the tiny moving figures I spied, they dated back to at least our sixth year in school, if not earlier. In those, little photo-Lupin appeared to be so much happier and more carefree than the man who had returned to teach at Hogwarts, than the man before me now. Even the photos that seemed to be closest to the time of Black's alleged "betrayal" revealed happiness and love.

As my brain dealt with the information I had acquired -- Black and Lupin, lovers -- it began to stall and sputter on the more intimate details that I picked up from the photos. Black and Lupin were lovers indeed, for over fifteen years. I wondered momentarily how hard it was for the two to get back to normal, so to speak, after Black's stint in Azkaban. It dawned on me that Lupin's grief was for someone with whom he had been partnered with for all of his adult life, not just a friend.

For some strange reason, I wanted to know more. I wanted to see these two fall in love. I wanted to know whether this was real, or just a ruse. I bent down to examine the photos more clearly.

The photo nearest me, a fairly recent one, featured an oddly contorted Black -- presumably angled so to get a better view of the activities with his camera -- preparing to bury himself deep within Lupin. Little photo-Lupin was flat on his back, scooting closer to Black, silently urging him to complete the act and join them intimately. Black leered suggestively at the camera before descending upon photo-Lupin, capturing his lips in a searing kiss. Lupin sagged into the touch, but still pushed insistently at Lupin. He stroked his own cock desperately, aiming for some sort of release.

I was distracted from my inspection of the photographs by Lupin's voice. "Please, please, god, please, oh fuck, please, want to, need to, have to..." An endless stream of words flowed from his mouth, punctuated with whimpers and groans as he brought himself nearer and nearer to orgasm.

I couldn't decide whether or not this display disturbed me. Watching a fellow man -- one with whom I have never had a constructive relationship -- in such an intimate situation was certainly something I had not previously experienced. It was exhilarating and disconcerting at the same time, when one combines the fear of discovery with the loathing of the individual being observed. I held my breath, deciding that it was best not to disturb or disrupt the act displayed before me.

The Lupin that was constructed of flesh and blood rather than photographed memories was now pumping his cock with a great degree of urgency, much like his sepia-toned counterpart. Near-feral whimpers escaped his lips now; any resemblance to real words had long ago been lost. He pushed himself up into his hand, fingers working furiously against his shaft.

The Lupin and Black in the photograph were nearing completion of their own encounter. Photo-Black, apparently unashamed of the fact that he was allowing this most intimate of acts to be captured in a photograph, was now thrusting frenetically into Lupin, who writhed underneath the other man's weight. It took only a few thrusts for the photo-Lupin to come, his semen spilling out on his hands and belly. Photo-Black finished shortly after, driving into Lupin one last time before collapsing forward and laying his head on the other man's chest.

Real life-Lupin seemed to think that this was as good an opportunity as any to finish his own ministrations. His grip on his cock tightened, and his pace was furious. In no time, he followed his photographed equivalent into orgasm. The hand wrapped around his slowly softening cock loosened and slid to rest on his upper thigh.

The collection of frayed photos slipped from within his weakly grasping fingers and fluttered to the floor, revealing an entire series of now-satiated lovers curling up in post-coital haze. His body folded in on itself, head nestling on top of loosely folded hands. Lupin sniffled a bit and tried to catch his breath at the same time. He wiped away the first formations of tears with the back of his hand.

For the first time in my life, I was at a loss for words. No sarcastic comments or spiteful jibes came to mind. I had only an overwhelming sense of pity for the man. Indeed, pity is not the first emotion one associates with a Snape, but nonetheless, there it was. I pitied him because he would forever be haunted by memories, by touches and words that he would never have again. I pitied him because the only person that ever loved Remus for Remus would never return to this plane of existence.

I pitied him because I, too, know how it feels to lose a lover.

I frowned. I didn't need those memories now. I had no desire to dredge up feelings of guilt and loss from over fifteen years prior. What I needed was to make a dignified escape from the room, let the man wallow in his memories of his dead lover if it was what could bring him solace in this time. What I needed was a quick exit, a silent departure, and then to lose the memory to my Pensieve forever.

Alas, this was not to be.

I shuffled a few steps backwards, towards the door, when Lupin came out of his post-orgasmic stupor and noticed that not all was right in the world. Particularly, he noticed that there was a large looming shadow cast over him, and said shadow belonged to neither furniture nor boggart. Ever so slowly, he turned to face me, eyes wide and fearful. In an attempt to maintain some shred of dignity, he tugged on his shirttails in order to cover himself as much as possible. I stood perfectly still, waiting for him to make the first move; he seemed somewhat akin to a small animal trapped and facing certain death.

Lupin merely stared at me, a mixed look of fear and loathing spreading across his face. He didn't seem able to speak, and was content to simply gawk at me. While the first words that came to mind were harsh ones, along the lines of "It's obviously not as if you've never had a man see you without your trousers in the past," I chose to display some sympathy for the man whose life I had just dreadfully intruded into, and instead quietly stated, "I shouldn't have been here, Lupin. My apologies."

Everything seemed to fall into place in his head all at once, for the expression of fear gave way to the loathing, which was rapidly replaced by something akin to hatred. His voice was quiet, yet his words were pointed and harsh in that sickeningly polite manner of his. "No, Severus, you shouldn't have." He shifted his weight forward and began to pull his trousers back up over his hips. "Y-you had no right to intrude, Severus. Not on me, not on this." He waved vaguely at the photograph collection scattered across the floor. "Although I suppose that my dignity isn't a priority of yours." He grunted as he struggled to button the trousers without standing.

I had nothing to say. I couldn't bring myself to speak words of consolation to him, for I knew that he would reject them immediately. As well, I couldn't bring myself to fling a customary insult at him. There was no need to exacerbate the situation.

"You shouldn't have been here, Severus." He scowled, doing his best impersonation of me.

I sighed resignedly and steepled my hands at my chin. Since nothing I had to offer would be taken favourably, I chose to remain silent.

"No one was supposed to find me, Severus." He stood and advanced on me. "No one was to ever know of this. Sirius and I kept it secret for so long, and now it's ruined." He paused, a frantic glint surfacing in his eyes. "Ruined because of you. You're the only one who knows, Severus, when no one was to know at all. I'm sure you'll love reporting this to the rest of the Order." He drew himself to his full height and stuck his chin in the air haughtily, mocking what he perceived as my typical demeanor. "I can see it now: 'Not only do we have a werewolf on our hands, Albus, but we have a poof as well. Surely we can't let his kind loose in the Order, Albus; he's a liability to us.' "

Lupin's expression was as dark as I'd ever seen it. I didn't know what to tell him. I knew he disliked me, but to think of me as this despicable and biased a person? Were I a better man, I would have felt ashamed. Regardless, he didn't deserve a truthful answer from me. I didn't want to tell him that I was just the same as he. It would only be seen as an attempt to gain his trust solely in order to discredit and destroy him. But I had no choice.

"Lupin, I assure you that is not the case."

"Bollocks."

I lowered my voice and paced a few steps closer to Lupin. "I would never suggest that you be removed from the Order because you prefer men, or even simply because you preferred Black. Your lycanthropy is indeed a liability to us, but to ask for your removal simply because of your chosen sexual partner would be, shall I say, hypocritical of me." I backed off to let my words sink in.

He now knew more about me than anyone else alive in this world, save Albus Dumbledore.

"It's a lie, and you know it, Severus." I can't say that his disbelief was a surprise. "You're just dying to get back to the Order to expose me, but I can't let that happen. I just can't." The anger in his tone was giving way to desperation now. "You'll let me work a simple memory charm, won't you, Severus? You'll forget the past few minutes of your life, just as if it never happened, and we'll all move on and be better people." His eyes darted around the room, presumably searching for his wand to cast the charm, whether I agreed to it or not.

Unfortunately for Lupin, I was faster. From within the folds of my cloak, I pulled my wand out and lazily aimed it at him. "You'll do no such thing, Lupin," I sneered. He stopped mid-motion, a look of disgust on his face.

"Only because you'll curse me into next month if I move again. I understand how it works." He pivoted to fully face me. His voice was calm, but the fire in his eyes betrayed his true feelings. "So where do we stand, Severus? You've clearly intruded on my life in a highly unnecessary fashion. You now know the only secret that I promised Sirius to keep unto death. I can't make you forget what happened, because you're a stubborn git who's not sensitive to the needs and feelings of others."

I did my best not to retaliate and respond to his accusations. I failed. "Consider the entire incident already forgotten. I swear that it will be lost to my Pensieve the instant I get away from here. I'd much rather store the memory there than be forced to revisit it at any given moment. Your personal life is no concern of mine; I was much better off before stumbling into this mess in the first place."

"Why should I trust you with this secret? You're not exactly a model citizen. I don't see any good in you, anything redeemable, anything that would convince me that you won't betray me the second you have the chance." His hands twitched at his sides, balling up into fists. "You've certainly betrayed my trust before."

What little patience I had left was slowly waning. Lupin, while not being able to make love with his deceased partner, was certainly channeling Sirius Black. His anger and nearly unbridled hatred towards me was indeed quite reminiscent of Sirius. "Is the fact that Dumbledore trusts me not enough for you? Is it not enough that I've risked certain death by holding both Order secrets and Death Eater secrets? I know more about the inevitable War than most of the Order members, and it's solely because they all trust me. What can I do to assure you that I am trustworthy?" I resisted the urge to raise my voice further, although I felt a familiar twitch in my right eye, the one that tells me that I'm about to lose my temper irrevocably at any given moment.

The room was silent, except for the pounding in my head and my fierce exhalations. Lupin drew his breath in and looked at me contemplatively, then closed his eyes. He gnawed at his lower lip slightly, appearing to mull very carefully over his words. After some time, he slowly opened his eyes again, saying nothing. Gradually, he let his eyes travel down the length of my body, seemingly examining every inch of my being. His gaze paused a few times before heading back up and fixing itself on my eyes.

"I know." His expression remained serious, grave.

"Congratulations, Lupin," I sighed resignedly. "Now out with it, so we can resolve this matter and get on with our lives."

He let the room resonate with silence once more before speaking. "You say that you won't use this incident against me, but your past actions have proven that your word may not be sufficient. You go on and on about how important you are to the Order, about how your actions and your covert works have gathered more information than the rest of us combined. Every day, Severus, I hear you complain about all our inadequacies, and yet I don't hear you offering to help us improve as functioning members of the Order.

"Well, here's your chance, Severus. Help me. Help me be able to work again. Help me regain my life." He paused for a minute, seeming to debate within his head as to what to say next. "Help me say goodbye."

"What are you trying to ask of me, Lupin?" I was growing weary of this entire situation.

"Fuck me."

The retort I had concocted died before it even began to leave my lips.

Fuck?

I was prepared to be asked to be a Secret Keeper. I was prepared to take an oath swearing secrecy. Brew a potion. Promise to make wolfsbane for the rest of our natural lives. Swear that I would never again poke fun at his lycanthropy. Do a jig on a tabletop in a stuffed vulture hat and green dress to assuage the irrational fears of the Longbottom child.

But fuck?

Snapes don't fuck. Especially people such as Remus Lupin.

"Excuse me?" I spat the words at him, hoping that I had heard him wrong.

"You heard me. Fuck me." His face was expressionless, but his tone was dangerous. "You said yourself that you'd be hypocritical to criticize me for my choice of partners, so obviously you wouldn't terribly mind a fuck, no? You'd do well, I suppose."

"Do well for what?"

"For helping me forget." He paused, and his eyes narrowed. "For ensuring that you do forget," he added, almost as an afterthought.

Was he trying to manipulate me? Following in Black's footsteps, indeed. My upper lip curled in disgust.

"If you're trying to coerce me into sleeping with you, I'm afraid that you're sorely mistaken." I snorted and folded my arms across my chest. "Honestly, Lupin, you think that I'll let myself be intimidated by you? You hold no sway over me." I stepped closer to him until we were nose to nose.

"You don't understand, Severus." He backed off a bit; most of the anger seemed to have left his expression.

"What don't I understand? Your motivation? It's clear as crystal to me. You merely desire to get yourself fucked into a mattress for one night to alleviate the grief you feel, to allow you to yell out his name in passion, to pretend that it's his cock rather than mine, to delude yourself once more that he's not gone. What else is there to understand?"

Lupin said nothing and merely lowered his eyes.

"Tell me, Lupin. What is it that I don't understand?"

"You understand it all," he said in a hushed voice. "Just ... do this for me, Severus? It's all I ask of you. One night. You can leave when you're finished. Please?" Lupin frowned and sank to the floor at my feet. "Do you understand how much I need this? I just need him one more time, and all I can do anymore is pretend. He's been my soul since we were fifteen, Severus, and I never got to say goodbye. He died. He died. I can't forget him, I can't move on, I can't live like this, without him." His head sagged between his shoulders. "If you just help me pretend, Severus, if you just allow me one night to say goodbye to him, I think I can be at peace, I think I can get on with my life." Lupin's voice trailed off.

I sank to my knees to sit next to him. "This won't bring him back," I said softly. I knew of no way to console him. I'd been in his position before, and I knew that nothing would make the pain go away. Nothing. Not gifts, not galleons, not a sympathy fuck from a man who hates you. I tried my best to be compassionate. "It will only help you deny that he's gone for another day. And then you'll want me to be with you again, to help you pretend for another week that he's still alive and breathing and moving in you, Remus."

I angled my head so that I was looking straight into his pleading eyes. "And then you'll be all right for a while. You'll have your photos and your Pensieve and this old room, and you'll be all right until you realise that every night, you wake up calling his name, clutching the sheets beside you in a futile attempt to make them real, to make them him."

His eyelids lowered mournfully as he slowly understood the truth behind my words.

After an eternity of silence, Lupin finally spoke. "It won't bring him back, no, but I just need to forget, Severus. Don't you understand that need to just obliterate your feelings and emotions and forget that nothing will ever be the same again?" He opened his eyes and peered into mine. I nodded, almost imperceptibly. "Don't you understand that, like it or not, I need this from someone? And that someone might as well be you. Better you than some two-knut whore in the dregs of Knockturn Alley." He smiled slightly, then looked at me imploringly. "Help me, Severus."

I sighed. In my heart of hearts, I knew that there was only one choice to make. I could choose to deny him the only thing which would make him content for any period of time, or I could choose to help him.

I couldn't blame him for asking this of me, as much as it initially angered and appalled me. I couldn't blame him because I made the same request of another man so many years ago, after the only person I had ever loved had been cruelly ripped from my life.

"Fine. You can have what you want." He raised an eyebrow at me. "Suffice it to say that I've been in a situation akin to yours, so that while I may not inherently agree with your choices, I can assure you that I do sympathize with you." I stood and began to remove my cloak. "Go and prepare yourself."

If I had to do this, I would be as detached and emotionless as possible. Typically not a tough task, but when one hasn't had intercourse in upwards of fifteen years, emotions and raw need are bound to jump in.

"Severus?" He didn't seem to believe me.

"I'm doing you a favour, Lupin." I didn't bother looking at him and instead continued unfastening the many hooks and buttons which held my clothing together. "Now go and undress or pull your trousers down or whatever it is you need to do to prepare yourself for this." I eased my overcoat off my shoulders and draped it over the back of a nearby chair. "Do you have any lubrication in this place, or will I be forced to use my own saliva?"

"Dresser stand, s-should be some left." Lupin's voice was hushed, and he stumbled a bit over his words. "It's a rather new jar, if I recall correctly. Didn't have time to use much..." His voice trailed off and threatened to break.

"Keep emotion out of this," I snarled. "I don't need you doing something ridiculous like crying. Or, Merlin forbid, falling in love or something, all because I fuck you once." I unclasped my belt and unfastened my trousers. "Undress more quickly, Lupin. I haven't got all day. There's still an Order meeting this evening which requires our attendance." I toed my shoes off and turned to slide them underneath the chair which my outer garments rested on. Turning around afforded Lupin the privacy he apparently needed to disrobe, for I heard the distinct sound of clothing hitting the floor as I arranged the few pieces of clothing that I had removed on the overstuffed chair.

When I turned around, Lupin was perched uncertainly on the edge of the small bed, a sheet tossed haphazardly over his lap.

"Not planning on changing your mind, are you?" I arched an eyebrow at him before turning to rummage in the folds of my cloak for my wand. "Do hurry and make up your mind." He lazily dragged his fingertips across the sheets, focusing his attention on the intricacies of the woven threads rather than my voice. I wasn't about to complain. The less time he spent thinking that it was his lifelong enemy fucking him, the better off we all were. "Whenever you're ready." I cast a quick locking spell on the door and then placed my wand back inside of my cloak.

We remained in silence for what seemed an eternity, Lupin clutching the bed sheets uncomfortably and I glaring impatiently from the opposite corner of the room. Finally, he spoke: "I may need to call you Sirius." He seemed so innocent and childlike with his hushed tones. "I'm sorry if you're not okay with it, but it's just what I need to do."

I nodded. "Understandable. Anything else?"

"No."

"Then we best get started." I stepped forward and sank down next to Lupin on the bed, who turned away from me. "Listen to me." His eyes, clouded with tears he couldn't bear to let fall, swiveled to meet mine. "This isn't going to be easy for either of us, to be completely honest. There's no right way to do this, so I suggest we just get it over with." I paused, waiting to see if he had any words for me. Upon being greeted with another extended silence, I continued. "I suppose that you might as well start this off and pretend as if I'm Sirius."

More silence.

Perhaps he needed a suggestion or two. "If you're not ready for that, then perhaps we should get some ideas first. What would you do when Sirius would come back from a mission as Padfoot?" I moved closer to Lupin so our thighs were touching. "Would he come to you in the night, or would it be you who would slip unseen into this very room and wake him with your kiss?"

I slipped my arm around his waist to pull him even nearer. His entire body tensed up and he tried to shy away from my touch. "Remus, what would you do? How would you help Sirius get in the mood? How would you make him want you? Would you play music? Kiss him? Or would you simply be ready and willing and waiting for him?"

Lupin blinked, shattering the edgy stillness he had been maintaining since I first agreed to assist him.

I could tell that he would have preferred silence, but I knew by his demeanor -- breath rapid, sweat beading up and rolling down his exposed skin, fingers scrabbling at the sheets -- that he was just starting to respond to my voice. I too was starting to feel just as I had in years past when I had someone to call my own.

I couldn't stop now. Despite the inappropriateness of the entire situation, Lupin needed this; he and I both knew it. I reached over and lightly placed my palm on his thigh, the thin sheet the only thing that stood between skin meeting skin. "How would you get him ready to take you, Remus? Would you trail kisses up and down his body, driving him crazy with need? Would you suck him off until he was hard? Would you simply touch yourself for him? Or would you talk -- just like this -- and tell him what you needed?" As I spoke, I began rubbing my palm up and down his leg, fingers kneading gently at the flesh underneath the thin fabric. "Tell me, Remus. Show me."

He trembled a bit before shifting underneath the fabric, underneath my hand. Ever so slowly, he reached down and clasped my hand within his own. "Sometimes Sirius would have me ... touch him ... to get him hard ... before we started anything." He faltered over his words, partially because of his nerves and partially because of his own arousal.

I spoke softly, trying my hardest not to change the mood of the situation. "Then do that, Remus." He nodded almost imperceptibly before shifting to kneel next to me. His hands apprehensively fell at the fastenings of my trousers. "That's good Remus, just like that," I encouraged quietly.

He quickly found that I had already undone most of the tiny hooks that closed the trousers; only a few more and he had them loose enough to slide down around my hips. Those deft fingers soon worked their way inside my pants to find a half-erect penis. Lupin gasped a bit in surprise. "Good, good, now go on," I murmured.

Lupin said nothing, merely letting his fingers speak for him. Tentatively, he wrapped his hand around my penis and began lazily stroking it. Despite my mental reservations about this entire fiasco, my body was more than willing to respond to Lupin's touch. In no time at all, I was completely hard. I noticed that Lupin had taken away one hand to stroke himself; he gnawed at his lower lip in concentration. I was glad to see that he had finally gained focus on the matter at hand. My breathing quickened as his strokes increased in speed. I closed my eyes and leaned back on the bed, propping myself up with my elbows.

"Could you remove your trousers?" Lupin's voice startled me. He was still working at my cock with his fingers, but had slowed somewhat. "I'm ready for you now."

I grunted in agreement and lifted my hips slightly so that my trousers and pants could slide to the floor. Lupin hefted himself onto the bed next to me. "Please, just do it." He settled onto his hands and knees at the head of the bed, waiting for me.

I refused to allow myself to think any further about this situation. I reached for the tin of lubrication that Lupin had indicated would be in the dresser drawer. The lid was partially unscrewed, as if its last user had been focused on activities that were more important than closing the tin properly. As Lupin situated himself on the bed, I scooped out a generous amount of the substance, coating both my fingers and my cock with it.

Finished with the tin, I placed it back in the drawer, and then turned to Lupin. "Are you sure about this?" I just needed to hear him reassure me that he was making this choice consciously.

He nodded and whispered, "Yes."

"Fair enough." I inched forward on the bed until I kneeled behind Lupin. I merely wanted to get this over with, but I was somewhat apprehensive. I could think of at least a hundred reasons why I should not be helping Lupin like this. First and foremost, I knew from past experience that it would only satisfy him for a short period of time before he came to his senses and realised that Black wasn't alive.

"Do it, please." He inched back towards me, situating himself between my spread legs.

It was now or never. I reached down with one hand and firmly grasped his cock; with the other hand, I began tracing lazy circles around his opening. He sighed immediately and pushed himself into my hand. As I began increasing my speed, I noticed that he had begun moaning and whispering. I couldn't make out any words, but I presumed that he was carrying on a dialogue with the Sirius Black that now existed solely in his head. Perhaps he was apologising for coming to me; perhaps he truly was pretending that Black was touching him rather than me.

My circling path eventually drew closer and closer to its goal; tentatively I slipped my finger inside, eliciting a small gasp from Lupin. Slowly, I began to move the finger in and out until he was pushing himself into my hand, seemingly begging for more contact.

"Please," he whispered -- no, moaned. "More, please, oh, gods, please..." He was back to whimpering almost incoherently.

I withdrew the first finger, much to Lupin's displeasure, but quickly replaced it with two fingers, pushing and thrusting and twisting inside of his body. He thrust himself upwards, forcing me to increase the speed of my touches. Lupin twitched whenever my fingers brushed his prostate, shivering at the sheer sensation.

"Now, god, now," he murmured, arching his back and pushing himself into my touch.

Not wanting to break his concentration by speaking, I sighed softly and pulled my fingers out, placing my hands on his hips instead. He whined slightly at the sudden feeling of emptiness, but the whines quickly converted to satisfied moans when I nudged his opening with the tip of my cock.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I worked my way in. His heat enveloped me, surrounded me, completed me for the moment. I pushed gently into his body until I was completely buried. I waited for a moment, allowing the both of us to be enraptured by the way this joining felt. Soon I found my rhythm, and snaked one hand around the front of his body to grasp his cock, already leaking.

I matched the speed of my hand with the speed of the rest of my body, and soon he was writhing underneath me, impaling himself on my cock with one thrust and pushing himself into my hand with another.

His words had turned into a series of growls and deep, throaty moans. I too was having a hard time remaining completely silent. It had been so long since I had known another man in this way, and while this wasn't the way that I would have chosen to retire from celibacy, I refused to deny myself some modicum of pleasure from the whole experience. Soft grunts escaped my lips with each thrust that brought me closer to the edge.

I could tell that he was nearing completion as well. His moans were getting louder, and he bucked his hips with more intensity, with an increased need for my touch.

"Almost ... there ..." he panted as I thrust my cock inside him to the hilt and paused to let the feeling -- of being so deeply penetrated for him, and of being so completely surrounded for me -- sink in.

And then neither of us could hold back any longer. I thrust into him once, twice, three times, enjoying the sound and the feel of skin slapping against skin, before he shuddered greatly and orgasmed.

"Sirius!" he cried out as he came into my hand. Shortly afterwards, I too felt release, and it took all that I had not to cry out the name of a man who has been dead for over fifteen years.

I sighed and slumped forward to cover Lupin's body with my own, burying my semen deep within his body and burying my face in his back.

Eventually, I pulled my softening cock from his body, ignoring the small trail of come that followed it. We sat like that for a while, he still on his hands and knees and I with my arms around his waist and face buried in warm, sweaty skin, until he finally stirred and shifted his weight uncomfortably.

I sat up and moved away from Lupin, who had curled up, satiated, on the bed. His lips tried to form a smile, but I couldn't help but think that he looked terribly sad at the same time. I turned away from him and shook my head vigorously, trying to remove the cobwebs that had seemed to settle there during my brief period of physical activity.

Upon removing the metaphorical cobwebs, I realised slowly that I had just fucked Remus Lupin.

I shook my head again, hoping that somehow the information would rearrange itself and the man before me would be someone I would find more favourable.

No, it was still Lupin who lay before me.

I stood, deciding to ignore the voice in the back of my head that said I should talk to him, and wiped off the remaining semen which clung to my penis with a corner of the bedsheet. Lupin said nothing, and actually didn't even bother to look at me. Silently, I picked my trousers up from the floor and pulled them on. I glanced back at Lupin, who was staring at the ceiling, still somewhat dazed. I smirked, then padded over to the chair nearest the door, where I had draped the rest of my garments.

And then he spoke. "Why do you understand me, Severus?"

He sat up and looked at me from his position on the bed, eyes pleading. "Why now, after all these years, do you finally act in sympathy towards me? Why have you helped me today?"

The corners of my lips turned down in a frown. "You needn't know, Lupin." I tucked my shirttails in and picked up my cloak in preparation to depart the infernal room and return to the rest of the Order.

He merely looked at me for a while, eyes boring into the very depths of my soul, if one even remained after all these years of transgressions. And then it dawned on him. "You understand me because you've been here yourself." It was a statement, not a question. "You alluded to it yourself. You've lost a lover, you've wallowed in grief, you've begged to be reunited, and you've called his name out in the night." Again, more statements rather than inquiries. He paused, and then asked a question that no one else had ever asked me. "Who was he, Severus? And how did you lose him? Did you love him?" The question was sincere, unlike the accusatory words Lupin had thrown at me earlier.

I found that my mouth, for once, worked faster than my brain. "He was a fellow follower of the Dark Lord. He and I pledged ourselves to his service at the same time. We were young and foolish; we thought that together, we would be invincible." I blinked, wondering how I had let my guard down so much in front of Lupin.

"Go on," he said, now sitting up on the bed, a sheet lazily draped across his lap.

Against my better judgement, I did. "We both became disillusioned with the ideals of the Dark Lord and vowed to leave his service at the same time. I never made my disillusionment public; I merely repented for my deeds and was accepted back into the fold by Albus. He, however, made a show of leaving and was murdered for his treachery." I lowered my eyes and pretended to be fascinated by the intricacies of my shirt's buttons. "I thought that I loved him. I thought that my life was meaningless without him. So I found myself in your predicament: how do you bring back the one you love, if even just to say goodbye?" I paused again, searching for words to tell a story that no soul, save Albus, had ever known. "Much like you, I found someone who would be willing to assist me in forgetting all about my deceased love. And it worked, for a time, until I found that I was merely deluding myself. So I sunk myself into my teaching and my potions. I tried my hardest to forget about the man that I thought I loved. Over the course of fifteen years, however, I found that one's definition of love changes radically with the passage of time."

I had no more to tell him. I flung my cloak over my shoulders and reached for the doorknob when I was stopped cold by Remus' voice. "What was his name?" he inquired softly.

"Regulus," I said as I turned the knob and exited the room.

End