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A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 15]

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The very next day Lupin appeared at his door. Snape was about to slam it right in his face, but Lupin edged an elbow in. This time he was bearing a bottle of scotch, a 30-year-old Macallan.

“The fellow at the spirits shop in Edinburgh said it was chocolaty,” Lupin explained, quickly setting out the glasses.

Snape said nothing for a moment, staring at the bottle, which represented approximately a week’s salary.

“You are attempting to purchase my good will,” he said flatly.

Lupin did not deny it, but merely coaxed the cork from the bottle, sniffed at it, and murmuring appreciatively, carefully poured a couple of fingers of scotch for each of them.

“Would you prefer whores?” he asked, a slight twinkle in his eye, as he handed Snape a glass.

Suddenly and with startling clarity Snape saw Lupin’s similarity to Dumbledore. They both possessed the same self-effacingly droll, insouciant charm. Some part of him hated Lupin for it, as he hated Dumbledore for it as well, but he could not bring himself to force him out now, especially since Lupin was proffering that incredible scotch, which Snape with his sensitive nose could already smell.

Snape grumbled something unintelligible and took the glass.

“I will be moving to Hogsmeade after this moon,” Lupin said happily, “and I have you to thank.”

Snape raised an eyebrow. “I would be grateful if you didn’t credit your buggerings to me, Lupin.”

But Remus Lupin wasn’t listening. “To Severus Snape,” he said, “and a much needed kick in the arse.”

Lupin’s glass met his with a thick, satisfying clunk, and Snape sipped his scotch, which was achingly good. His knees softened under him, and he sat. Lupin sat as well, and there was a long, contented silence.

“Speaking of paramours…” Lupin began at last.

“We were most definitely not speaking of paramours,” Snape said, “and I think I know too many details about your sex life already.”

Lupin nodded. “Fair enough. But what about the details of your own?”

This was a surprise. “Excuse me?”

“Yes, well, I know you’re not, ah, involved with anyone at the present time…”

“And how, pray tell, would you be privy to that?”

“Am I wrong?”

“None of your business. And don’t be so stingy with the Macallan.”

“The war is over, Severus. You ought to get out more…” Lupin said, pouring.

Snape put the glass under his nose and swirled it gently. “Why is it that every simpleton in a romantic relationship is determined to inflict their status on the rest of humanity?”

Lupin stared at Snape as if he had just asked the stupidest question in history. “Because we want the rest of the world to be happy, of course! And I would most especially like to see you happy, Severus…”

Snape grunted in disapproval. Happy? He was absolutely sure that he had never, in all his born days, been happy. And, truth be told, he took a certain grim sort of pride in that fact.

“For future reference, Lupin,” he said, “if my personal life required the intrusions of a nosy maiden aunt, I would not have irretrievably hexed the one I already have.”

Lupin chuckled. “I’m not surprised. But take my word for it, Severus. There’s someone out there for you. Maybe even closer than you expect.”

Snape’s eyes narrowed. “If you’re suggesting Nymphadora…”

But Lupin was laughing, now. “Oh no no no…she despises you. I actually heard her refer to you once as a ‘malevolent troll’. That business with her Patronus, Severus, really. That was not very nice.”

Snape smiled icily. “Malevolent trolls rarely are. And by the way, Professor Lupin, how did the multi-colored Miss Tonks react to being informed that the object of her affections is a hopeless nancy?”

Lupin furrowed his brow. “Erm…not well. Seems she has a predilection for growing attracted to…”

“Arse bandits?”

“Ah, yes.” At this Remus looked into his glass, an uncomfortable guilt obviously washing over him.

Snape drummed his fingers on his glass thoughtfully. “So, she didn’t offer to accommodate you then…”

Lupin looked up, slightly puzzled. “No. What do you mean?”

“A woman so enamoured of you, a Metamorphagus, capable of transforming herself into any form she desired…”

Lupin looked confused.

“She did not offer to turn herself into a large, libidinous, well-endowed man for you, then?”

Suddenly Remus’ face cleared. “No. No she didn’t!”

“Tsk tsk. Don’t take it too hard. She did always strike me as rather fickle.”

Lupin was nodding now. “Yes! Most fickle! Most fickle indeed!” And his glass met Snape’s again. “To the wonderful, most fickle Miss Nymphadora Tonks!” he said.

Snape, who would have drunk to the health of Harry Potter himself with such excellent scotch, made a disapproving noise, but put the glass to his mouth.

“Tonks notwithstanding, Severus, you do need a woman….” said Remus Lupin, a bit more quietly this time. “It’s painfully evident to everyone.”

Snape narrowed his eyes. “The only thing painfully evident at this moment is that my complete intoxication is required in order to render you even remotely tolerable. More scotch.”

“A woman might soften up some of those knife-sharp edges of yours, you know,” Lupin said, obliging him.

“In case you have not noticed, my entire personality is constructed of knife-sharp edges,” Snape grumbled. “Besides, I know what you’re doing. Albus sent you in here to improve on his little joke, and you can both go fuck yourselves.” But Snape’s tone was not belligerent. He raised his glass to Lupin this time, and took another healthy sip.

The look on Lupin’s face, however, was one of pure surprise. Curious surprise.

“Whatever do you mean? Albus is making fun of you and I am not in on it?” He seemed genuinely disappointed.

“And here I was sure he had informed the entire staff,” Snape said dryly.

“If he did I certainly didn’t get the memo.”

“Well the old man is losing his touch, then, as he is not making the most of his attempt to humiliate me.”

“What attempt to humiliate you? If you don’t tell me immediately…” Lupin was looking at Snape with a mix of eagerness and exasperation.

“He came up with something so completely and obviously fabricated, there was no way I could ever have been fooled.”

“What? What has he done?” Remus Lupin was practically vibrating with curiosity now.

After another slow sip of his scotch, Severus Snape cleared his throat. “If you must know, he told me in most ominous tones that the Death Eaters would be coming for me.”

Lupin actually went a bit white at that. “Not to kill you?”

“As if they could,” Snape huffed indignantly, “besides, at this point it is hardly in their best interests.”

“Well? What then?”

After two glasses of very potent whiskey, Snape actually began to find the dead headmaster’s warning about the Death Eaters somewhat amusing.

“To…to…” At this Snape began to laugh, softly at first, but suddenly it seemed like the funniest thing he had ever heard. He shook his head, beginning to laugh for what had to be the first time in years, one hand on his stomach, the other still on the glass. It was not a loud sound. Just a deep sort of ‘huh huh huh’ that didn’t seem to want to stop.

“What, Severus? Tell me!” Lupin was beginning to laugh himself, just out of sheer proximity.

Snape laughed out loud, then. “To find me a wife!”

Remus Lupin sputtered for a moment, and then joined him.

“Albus thought you’d believe that?”

“A…apparently!” Snape laughed some more.

The two men laughed together then, for a bit, but Lupin’s soon began to taper off.

“It does rather make sense, though, when you think about it…”

Snape stopped laughing immediately. “It makes no sense at all.”

“It makes a bit of sense, when you think about it. A bit…

“What on earth are you babbling about?”

“Well, you’re practically respectable compared to most of them.”

“Respectable?” Snape huffed. “Dumbledore has made my status as a double agent widely known.”

“Which means they can interpret that as they wish. They can just as easily believe that you manipulated the situation and deceived Dumbledore. No doubt they’re convinced you’re the cleverest man in Britain right about now. And according to Narcissa, you spared her son from death. She won’t forget it. Neither will Lucius, and I might point out that the entire Malfoy family is much better off now that Voldemort is dead. They’re all better off, really. What they want now is to improve their reputation.”

Snape poured himself another dose of scotch. “How will finding me a wife improve their reputation?”

“I would say that firmly cementing the allegiance with the most mysterious and powerful Slytherin wizard in Britain is a good start.”

Snape raised his eyebrows.

“And what better way to do that than to marry you off to one of their own?” Lupin continued.

“Why exactly, would ‘one of their own’ appeal to me? I have no wish to share the company of any former Death Eaters, or friends of Death Eaters, ever. I have had quite enough of that.”

Lupin paused for a moment. “We’re not really talking about marrying you to a Death Eater…but perhaps the daughter or niece of a Death Eater. Besides, many of them are unbearably wealthy. Bags of cash everywhere. Grand estates. In my understanding, Severus, you have no more money than I. Your wife would have that. Status, too. And, if it can be arranged, beauty as well.”

Snape was quiet for a long while after this.

“Would you refuse?” Lupin prodded gently.

“Money and status and beauty…” Snape murmured. “Paris himself was only allowed one of those, and from what you are saying, I would attain all.” Despite himself, Snape found his mouth curving into a slow smile.

“Remember, though, what happened to Paris, Severus,” Lupin said. Then, “Tell me you aren’t going to take them up on their offer…”

Snape thought for a moment. Money. Influence. Presumably, sex. Presumably.

“Severus?” Lupin had decided to interrupt his reverie. “Really, it’s not something you should even consider. You know that, don’t you?”

Snape was still quiet, still thinking.

“Don’t you?”

“First of all, they have made no offer,” Snape began. “And I am still not entirely sure that this is not some sort of joke. Second of all…”

“Yes?”

“There is no second of all. I have nothing to consider at this point.”

Lupin nodded. “Good. Best to keep Death Eaters completely out of mind. Besides, you don’t need them to help you find a woman. There’s a personals column in the Quibbler, you know. You might put an advert in there…” At this Remus Lupin began chucking a bit. “As in, ‘Imposing, intelligent Potions professor in search of willing and adoring female…no Hufflepuffs need apply…’”

Snape glared at him. “I suggest that you keep your unfounded suggestions to yourself…that is if you don’t want some rather powerful laxatives in your next dose of Wolfsbane.”

Lupin chuckled again. “Oh calm yourself, Severus. I won’t mention it again. At least this week.”

“Let’s see…” Snape continued, tapping a finger against his chin, “a distilled tincture of senna root should do the trick. It would clear the bowel of even the most exasperating werewolf within an hour. Most violently, too. It has the added advantage of being odorless and colorless as well. The senna root, of course, not the resulting fecal effluvia.”

Lupin stood, smiling mischievously. “I’d rethink that if I were you. Albus has requested that I spend this full moon with him in his office.”

For one brief second, Snape got a powerful image of the ghost of Albus Dumbledore waving his arms in the air, horrified, as a noisome spew of diarrheic werewolf shit sprayed Fawkes. In that moment he also realized he liked Remus J. Lupin entirely too much.

“Oh, stop looking down trying not to laugh,” Lupin said, “you’re not fooling anyone, you know.” And at this he smoothed himself, and reached into a pocket of his robes to retrieve a small brown bag.

“Here, I’ve brought you a couple of petit fours. Bittersweet chocolate with layers of raspberry cream.” He tossed the rumpled sack down in front of Snape as he took the bottle of scotch.

“You are an odd man, Lupin,” Snape said, extracting one of the petit fours tentatively and biting into it. It was extraordinary. “Do you eat these while you read those bleak German novels of yours? How on earth do you tolerate the incongruity?”

Lupin smiled. “Oh, I don’t read them, Severus. Though I suspected you might enjoy them. I’m strictly an Austen man.”

“Predictable,” Snape said sarcastically, forming the words around the last bite of a petit-four, but Lupin was already gone.

A More Merciful Man by Berkana [Reviews - 15]

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