I can't thank you enough for your help in diagnosing Ron's
curse. Your observations and suggestions have been
flawless. I've engaged the Unitas
spell each day and I can
already tell that it's making a difference. I'm rather wary of leaving
Ron to his own devices yet, given the strength of the curse and the fact
that his arm wounds aren't healing at a speed I wish they were.
My apologies- three days gone and all I'm doing is talking about what is
essentially work. You may call me a bit of a romantic fool, but I miss
you. I marvel now at those many years of sleeping alone - I know that
you insist you're a terrible bedmate, but I stand equally firm that I
would have no other. Which has put me in an awkward position, actually.
Ron can't sleep without someone else in the bed, and seeing as how I'm
the only option, I've needed to comply. You've not seemed the jealous
type, and I'm not even sure why I've felt the need to tell you. Well,
I'd want to include it in the details of my write-up before I send it
off to Matilda Bracken for that counter-curse project she's engaged in.
Once this healing is completed successfully, that is.
Would you mind sending my copy of Arithmancy for the Artistic
and the two most recent issues of Wizard Sport
? The latter are for my patient, obviously. Ron has
changed a lot, whether since the War or before I'm uncertain. Much
quieter than I remember, and there's a tremendous amount of emotional
pain about him, but I hope much of that can be attributed to the curse.
He's not bad company, thank goodness, but I've become rather used to and
fond of your presence. Thank you again for the extraordinary backrub you
gave me after I got Ron to St. Mungo's. I'll never look forward to the
full moon, but between your unflagging dedication to improving the
Wolfsbane and your generous attentions to this poor body after my
transformations, you've made the experiences so much more
Please write when you're able- if there's an emergency, you know where I
am. I've put up a few low-grade wards, but they're spelled to
p.s. would you mind also sending a couple of boxes of Guineviere's
Ganaches? To help with my patient's healing process, of course.
p.p.s. There's a parchment with several incomplete crossword puzzles in
the study on my desk
somewhere. I wouldn't mind having them as
* * * * *
I am glad to hear from you, now off in the wilds of the Hebrides, and
pleased that my comments about that particular curse have proven
fruitful. You're somewhat correct- the Snape family is not usually known
for jealousy. But if I find out that Mr. Weasley has made any attempt at
seduction of you whilst under your care, there won't be even one
infernal freckle left to him when I'm finished. He may be cursed, but
he's not an idiot, and you're terribly attractive. Stop rolling your
eyes- I can sense it from here. To be frank, it makes my skin crawl to
think of anyone else's body so close to yours, especially when I am
forced to cast heating spells on our sheets, sleeping alone. You've
utterly ruined my solitude, Remus.
I am baffled at how you made it through your years at Hogwarts without
receiving packages every week. Obviously I need to teach you how to
pack. Enclosed are the items you requested. I would have sent you a
bottle of Ogden's finest as you while away your days with your sullen
charge, but I know you prefer that Muggle swill posing as scotch. I
leave you to it.
Since it appears that you'll be gone for at least a couple of weeks,
I've decided to go and visit my second cousin, Beatrice, in Naples.
McGonagall supported my suggestion that a week's reprieve from teaching
was entirely in order, and Professors Granger and Towler have agreed to
take over my classes for those days. It appears that your influence on
me has included a reawakening appreciation for art, perhaps because, in
my eyes, you are a living masterpiece.
I'll stop here lest your eyes begin rolling again and get stuck. Be wary
of Weasley; he was terribly indiscreet during the War if even I knew
about his dalliances.
* * * * *
The rainy weather and daily evocation of the Unitas
have put me
in an even more contemplative frame of mind than usual. Before I forget,
thank you for the card from Italy. I'm glad that your visit was a
pleasant one - perhaps next summer we can go together. Aside from some
trips to the London Museum back when Sirius and I had a flat right after
Hogwarts, I've shied away from most visual art. You would have your work
cut out for you, but I'd hope it would be enjoyable instruction. Thanks
also for the unasked-for pairs of woolen socks. This old cottage is
rather drafty. You're truly thoughtful. I still insist that I'm not
lacking in packing skills- I was merely rushed at the time.
I've spent an inordinate amount of time pondering what it is that has so
fully drawn me to you. Some are general things: a similar cautious
approach to the world; profoundly suffered wounds that made us cling
ever more tightly to our survival; a lack of trust in relationships. You
are a subtle man, complicated and compelling, like one of the
yet-unsolved Arithmancy problems posed by the more esoteric
I can't underestimate my physical desire for you either, as intense as
that is. Who knew that I could be undone by your warm lips hovering next
to mine, the lavish attention you take with this body, a map of scarred
skin; when you look at me as though to consume me whole, your gaze
erases any flaws and inadequacies I feel.
You're probably baffled as to why I'm writing all of this down. Perhaps
it's the Agape
magic at work, or being so aware of loss and impurity due
to being around Ron and his condition. I've spent my whole life hiding
away parts of myself, creating an elaborate facade to protect my
innermost, half-wild self from ridicule and pain, while also trying to
protect others. What a burden, to be possessed by something unwanted and
inescapable - but you know about that all too well, spending those years
as a Death Eater, eventually ruled by two opposing forces and tamping
down nearly all sense of self save righteous anger.
We aren't young, Severus. I don't wish to squander even a moment of our
days together once I return. I've given this much thought, and do not
propose this lightly - are you willing to make our pairing a permanent
one? I would be honoured beyond words if we were handfasted. A ceremony
won't change my feelings for you; it would simply provide an official
and public witness to what we know to be true. Or that I believe to be
Please take your time as you consider my suggestion. If you'd prefer to
wait and discuss this once I've purged the Impuratus
from Ron and
I'm back home, I understand. I don't parade my emotions out for all to
see, but with you, at last I'm able to express myself freely. I ache for
your touch, my heart's keeper. Isolation is not the shining haven it
once was. While my primary focus here is to guide Ron through his
self-healing, I am taking this time to sift through many of my own
By the way, you needn't worry about Ron. He remains as distant,
preoccupied and decidedly untalkative as when we first arrived. I was
rather stunned at the jealous streak you exposed in your initial letter,
though I'm flattered. The thought of you lying with someone else, no
matter how innocuously, would give me pause as well. I'm going to do an
auralic on him in the next few days as I believe we're nearing the end
of this process. The Death Eaters picked this curse for good reason.
It's a wonder they didn't inflict it more often, except that it's not
instantaneously deadly. Torture was more their style
I digress. You know all too well about all of that, thankfully passed.
I'll close here, and I hope to hear your thoughts on the handfasting
p.s. I admit it, I'm really rather anxious now that I've put all this
down on parchment. I'm committed to expressing my emotions honestly: I
want to be joined to you. Publicly. And have others participate in our
I don't mean to pressure you, though.
p.p.s. Why do I feel as though I'm back in year six?
* * * * *
I feel as though I'm back in year four.
During my years as a student, I spent countless hours thinking of new
spells, researching how they might be formulated, and testing them. Many
of them were meant to hurt or humiliate; surely you know why. I didn't
arrive at Hogwarts brimming with pride and confidence, and I certainly
didn't leave it in that manner.
There was a brief interlude of peace. Perhaps you remember when you and
I were paired in Slughorn's class for a two month potions assignment. My
loathing for the Golden Boys of Gryffindor ran quite deep, and I hated
that I was going to have to work with you, ruining one of my best
subjects for eight weeks running. Instead, to my utter shock, I
discovered that despite the company you kept, you were a decent,
non-judgmental individual. We barely spoke at all, but between us I felt
an understood respect: we had sharp minds and were driven to learn and
excel; we had our small cluster of comrades yet seemed somehow outside
of them. Perhaps most importantly, though we never spoke of it, it
seemed obvious that you and I had profound secrets to keep. For perhaps
the first time in my life, I was comfortable around someone. Despite
myself, I grew to look forward to our quiet hours together, delving into
research at the library, the methodical preparation of our ingredients
and subsequent monitoring of the potion's progress. There was, of
course, no hope for friendship between the two of us. To this day I
don't believe that I possess the necessary skills to be a true friend.
Back then I cherished that time and found myself drawn to you, kindred
spirit that I believed you to be. All of those feelings were carefully
hidden behind my blockade of prejudice and survival; it wouldn't have
done for anyone in my house to discover that a Gryffindor had found a
chink in my armour.
Why am I bringing this up now, you may wonder? I'm not sure. Your
proposition of handfasting yourself to me has brought on an onslaught of
thoughts, feelings and memories. That kind of joining - the permanent
kind - was one I'd eliminated as a possibility for myself a very long
time ago. I'm really not all that likeable, you know. I am all too aware
of the many reasons why I've never had a queue of suitors, but those
traits and habit are what make me who I am. I suppose there's a part of
me that still wonders when you will come to your senses and change your
mind about us, even when you've suggested that our coupling be an
irrevocable one. I will need to give the matter more thought, and would
prefer that we discuss it in person once you return.
Perhaps I don't say it often enough, but I know in the marrow of my
bones that I am the luckiest bastard to walk this earth. I'm also a man
who has grave difficulty trusting in happiness. It goes against
everything I know and believe.
I hope you're able to come back soon; the bed is wretchedly big without
you in it.
* * * * *
Hebrides, Lupin Family
The words of the Unitas
spell were familiar
on Remus' tongue now; the arc and nuance of tones flowed easily out of
him, as though they were favourite phrases from a book read multiple
times in childhood. He looked forward to conjuring it each day, knowing
it brought Ron closer to healing, and also meant that he was ever nearer
to getting back to Inverness, and the new library, and Severus. Remus
continued to keep an astute eye on Ron; from what Molly had told him,
Ron had become increasingly antisocial before the curse, and now he
seemed to be unnecessarily wary, and insular to a fault. Not that Remus
was one to judge people who needed their solitude, to be certain. But he
did heed his intuition when he felt that he was being watched in a more
carnal manner than mere observation.
Sure enough, Ron asked Remus whether or not he'd be interested in
someone like him. He asked while Remus was washing the young man's hair
in preparation for providing an unexpected and rather nerve-wracking
haircut. Remus gently reminded him of their age difference, and let him
know he was seeing someone. He wasn't surprised at Ron's reaction when
he revealed his partner was Severus; most former Hogwarts' students
remained unable to see beyond the crow-like persona he'd perfected over
so many years. Remus was a bit startled that Ron had apparently fostered
high hopes that the two of them would have a relationship that went
beyond friends, and he pondered that for some time after Ron went
sulkily off to bed. The curse was essentially purged; just one more
cleansing and Ron would be healed. Perhaps there was something he could
do for Ron before they left the now-comfortable confines of the drafty
house near the sea. Remus knew a fair bit of dream magic, certainly a
Dark Arts specialty if ever there were one. He could cast a dream
enhancing spell, attuned to the more erotic element in Ron's magic.
Ideally it would provide him with a rather stimulating night, no matter
who he dreamed of.
Remus walked quietly back to their room. Ron was indeed asleep, curled
up on his side, a Quidditch magazine loosely held in his hand. The scars
on his arms were mostly healed now, the pink skin standing out against
his freckles like pale fish trapped in a net. After watching Ron for a
few moments, Remus focused his thoughts and cast the dream enhancing
spell. He got ready for bed in the quiet of the house, thinking about
Severus' recent reply. As he brushed his teeth, Remus wondered whether
or not his passionate but cautious lover would be willing to act on
faith, not something that came naturally to either of them. He crawled
carefully into the bed, pulling the covers up to his shoulders, feeling
a slight pain at his temple resolutely make itself known. Remus did his
best to ignore it.
He slept fitfully, assaulted by an old nightmare in which he was taking
a Transfiguration exam, but he wasn't wearing any clothes. When this was
discovered, he was marched up to the Astronomy tower and forced off the
edge. He was falling, falling -
Remus bolted awake, limbs jerking. A slim copper wire on his wrist
heated and cooled, cyclically: Minerva needed him at her office. With no
small amount of noise in his cracking joints, he eased himself out of
the bed, grateful that Ron merely rubbed at his nose and turned onto his
stomach, still asleep. According to the glow of the wall clock, it
wasn't yet seven; something relatively unexpected or dire must have
happened for her to summon him through that particular form of
communication. He went to the fireplace and fire talked with the
Headmistress, who apologised for the early hour. It was vampires, a
small group; they'd Turned a teenage girl and her pet greyhound, a
thought that left Remus reeling. Despite the War being over and many of
the former Dark Creatures having improved status within the Ministry's
confines, rogue pockets of evil elements still made their presence known
from time to time. He dressed quickly, but took the time both to write
Ron a short note explaining his absence, and to conjure the final
Unitas, placing the glowing energy into a dish near the bathtub. In a
flight of generosity, he left his note on a table with tea charmed to
heat up at nine, and a cup and saucer. Moments later he took the Floo
network to meet Professor McGonagall.
* * * * *
Four days later, Remus was finally able to return home. "Severus?" he
called, walking into their sitting room. He was met with silence. They
had exchanged a few words before he'd gone to Bulgaria, and he was
anxiously anticipating a talk face to face after their barrage of
letters. In the kitchen he made himself a cup of tea, and then wandered
back to their bedroom. On his pillow was a piece of parchment with a
sketch of a braided band with the words 'a vila mon coeur gardi li mo'
written in elegant script underneath. Remus picked up the paper, hope
and gratitude unwinding slowly in his chest, a universe of contentments
spiraling from this moment into the future.
"I'd like to have that made," a rich voice declared from across the
Startled out of his reverie, Remus turned to see Severus standing in the
doorway, still wearing his Hogwarts teaching robes. His expression was a
conflicting mixture of his usual stern composure and a smile which
threatened to break through. Remus was stunned.
"For you?" he asked, gesturing at the picture.
"Yes, though I'd thought we'd get two. Or did you even wish to wear a
ring? It is a rather archaic practise," Severus said as he walked over
to Remus, who placed the parchment on a dresser and pulled Severus into
a tight embrace.
"My French is a bit rusty, but if it says what I think it does, it would
be an honour to wear it." He nuzzled into Severus' hair, inhaling the
scent of cedar in the shampoo he used. "Severus, you make me so very
happy. Merlin, I've missed you!"
He cradled Severus' jaw in his hands, seeing a flicker of desire in the
pride held in the inky depths of his eyes.
"This ceremony - us - defies all logic and contains not a shred of
common sense," Severus murmured against Remus' lips.
"I love you too," Remus replied before greedily claming Severus'
inviting mouth. He kissed Severus with focused intent, savouring the
sensation of their playful tongues in wet heat. Remus' blood was
honeyed; every caress and stroke was slow and unhurried. He felt a
tranquility of purpose as they moved to their bed, reclaiming each other
with kisses and moans.
After Remus had wrung a most delicious, second climax out of his lover,
he crawled back up Severus' body, possessively appreciating the scarred
terrain of bones and muscle. Severus wore a sated expression, complete
with flushed cheeks and faint sheen of sweat. It was a look that was one
of Remus' very favourites; the vulnerability on display humbled him when
he was privileged to see it. Severus curled into him with a rumbling
sigh of satisfaction. They lounged in silence, Remus idly running his
fingers around Severus' upper back.
"I'm so pleased that you'll do the handfasting," Remus said gently. "But
I meant it when I said it doesn't change how I feel."
"I appreciate that." Severus draped an arm across Remus' waist. "You
didn't coerce me; I just needed some time to get used to the idea.
Because I am rather stuck in my ways, you do realise."
Remus chuckled. "Yes. It only took me a few months to figure out when
you said you didn't want to be disturbed, that you weren't being
There was a haughty sniff. "Coy doesn't even exist in my vocabulary.
Some of my projects demand uninterrupted concentration. Uninterrupted
even by you."
Quiet drifted around them again until a growling sound emerged from
"Hungry?" Severus lifted his head.
"Quite," Remus nodded, leaning down to place a brief kiss on Severus'
lips. "Brilliant sex gives me quite an appetite."
Severus arched an eyebrow at him. "I'll clean up then, and go see what I
can make for dinner."
Remus lounged on his back for a few moments longer. He marveled at the
unexpected waters of fulfillment he had discovered with Severus, after
parched years of pain, loss and loneliness. That he had agreed to the
handfasting with relative speed meant that Severus really had changed
since the War, his Dark Mark still present, but the grey lines now
impotent on his skin. Who knew the depth of Severus' openmindedness?
Remus threw caution to the wind.
"Severus, how would you feel about getting a cat?"
A mischievous smile settled on his lips as he heard Severus sputtering
and swearing in the bathroom. Love was quite an adventure,
* * * * *
This companion piece to Wash Me
is written with love for lyric
, Christmas 2005.
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