Love, Love Me, Do

Dear Severus-

I can't thank you enough for your help in diagnosing Ron's Impuratus 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 Alchemist and the two most recent issues of Wizard Sport International? 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 bearable.

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 you.

Yours fondly,


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 well.

* * * * *

Dear Remus,

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.

Your devoted,


* * * * *

Dear Severus,

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 wizards.

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 true…

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 convoluted thoughts.

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 soon.

Yours fondly,


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 happiness. p.p.s. Why do I feel as though I'm back in year six?

* * * * *

Dear Remus,

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.

Your devoted,


* * * * *

Hebrides, Lupin Family Cottage

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 room.

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 coy."

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 Remus' belly.

"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, indeed.

* * * * *

Author's Notes This companion piece to Wash Me Throughly is written with love for lyric, Christmas 2005.

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