Snape found Remus Lupin in his rooms. He burst through the door without warning, wand raised, intent on murderous revenge.
As for werewolf, he was sitting with his stocking feet up on his desk, leafing through the Prophet.
“Ah, Severus…” he said, putting down the paper.
“How dare you, Remus!” Snape cried, pointing his wand directly at Remus Lupin’s head.
But the werewolf seemed utterly and quite maddeningly unperturbed by the imminent threat to his life.
“You just called me Remus!” he said, smiling. “That’s the first time you’ve ever called me Remus!”
Snape stalked towards him. His wand was only a couple of feet from Lupin’s head now. “How dare you mislead me about Jane’s condition? How dare you!”
“Remus, indeed,” Lupin said, chuckling, completely ignoring the wand, and Snape’s visage of vengeful fury. “I didn’t know you cared.”
Snape placed his wand directly between Lupin’s eyes, now, and Remus Lupin stood slowly then, and backed up against the wall of bookcases behind his desk. The wand did not leave his forehead, and Lupin looked at it, turning a bit cross-eyed in the process.
“Now, Severus, calm down. I had my reasons. Is it all worked out then?”
“Worked out? Worked out? Of course not!” Snape yelled, exasperated. His concentration broken, his wand fell to his hip. “Everything is ruined!”
Lupin frowned. “Well, as I fail to see how things could have gotten any worse, perhaps you’d best explain…”
“We’re getting married!” Snape said through clenched teeth.
After a moment of brief, blank shock, Lupin’s face expanded into a broad grin. “Ah, my! Better than I ever could have hoped!” He clapped Snape on his wand arm.
“Congratulations, Severus! When?”
Snape poked his wand, then, right into Lupin’s ribs. “Immediately after you meet your unfortunate demise at the end of my wand…” he murmured icily.
“Ah, I see…” Lupin said, edging away slowly. “First you’re going to kill me, and then you’re going to get married. Can Albus perform the ceremony, or are you going to ask Minerva?”
Snape’s wand dropped again. “Minerva should perform the ceremony, simply because Albus is a ghost and we do not know what sort of precedent…”
Then, he recovered himself, and was angrier than ever. “Stop trying to distract me, you imbecile!” he shouted.
But Lupin only paused, thoughtfully, and put a finger to his lips. “Might I make a suggestion? I mean, not trying to keep you from killing me or anything, since obviously you’re dead set on that, but wouldn’t it be better to marry, enjoy your wedding night, and then kill me?”
Severus Snape frowned at him, but said nothing.
“I mean,” Lupin continued, “if you kill me now they’ll probably take you into custody before the night is over. You’ll head straight for Azkaban. That would be rather frustrating, wouldn’t it? A wedding and no wedding night? You haven’t touched Jane for months. Surely killing me can wait until at least tomorrow.”
Snape thought that did make some sense, really, when he thought about it. He began weighing in his head what he wanted more, a night with Jane or immediate revenge. He started thinking of their kiss in the infirmary, and all the promise of pleasure that it held. He thought he might need several days and nights to completely sate himself after their long estrangement. And Lupin was right. Azkaban was no proper place for that sort of thing. The proper place for that was on her bed in her rooms. And then, in her cottage at Penzance. Everywhere in her cottage in Penzance. In front of the hearth. On the kitchen table. On the stairs. In the bath. And yes, on the beds there as well.
The pleasure of revenge was definitely starting to pale in comparison.
Snape’s eyes started to glaze over then, just a bit, and his wand arm lowered again. And Remus Lupin could not withhold a very small, knowing smile. It was then that Snape realized he was falling right into his little trap.
“Less talking, more dying,” Snape snarled, poking him in the ribs again with his wand.
But Lupin had reached his limit. He actually stomped his foot then, and batted the wand away.
“Well, kill me if you like,” he said, stepping back. “Point your wand straight at my face and do your worst. But before you kill me you should at least admit to yourself that I did what I did because of my concern for you and for your well being. As a friend.”
Snape blinked at him. Truthfully, he was still a bit addled from his brief reverie on Jane. “As a…a what?” he stammered.
But now it was Lupin who was angry. “As a friend, you moron! You know, friends! Fellows who seek out each others’ company and hold each other in mutual regard, affection, and trust!”
Severus Snape stared at him as if he were mad. “In case you haven’t noticed, I came here to kill you.”
“As if that makes a difference,” Lupin said derisively. “Friends want to kill each other all the time. It’s pretty much a prerequisite of friendship. Sirius threatened to kill me practically constantly. And I’ve spent the past two months wanting to kill you for being such an enormous git, but have I done it? No! Why? Because we’re friends.”
Now, Snape was just staring.
“Well, go ahead then,” Lupin was saying. “I won’t fight you. Because something had to be done. You’re a blind, stubborn fool, Severus. And I just couldn’t stand by and watch you make yourself miserable. I couldn’t let you. So I tricked you. And if it makes you feel better you can kill me. Or Crucio me. Whatever you like. Hurl every unforgivable at me that you wish if it makes you feel any better.
Lupin was practically raving, now. “Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I befriended you at all!” he said, throwing his arms up in the air. “You, Severus Snape, are an enormous pain in the arse!”
Then Lupin stalked back to his desk and planted himself behind it, frowning very melodramatically. He frowned at Snape for what seemed like a long time, until Snape pointed his wand at Lupin’s face again.
“I know why,” he snarled. “You’re a misguided cretin with a penchant for emotional abuse.”
For a moment Lupin was nonplussed. And his anger seemed to break then. He pressed his lips together, and looked at Snape rather sheepishly. “I wouldn’t argue with you on that, really,” he said, chuckling a bit, “especially when the evidence is so strongly in your favor.”
To this Snape said nothing, just stared at Lupin now with vague suspicion. He hated it when Lupin agreed with him. He found it suspect.
Lupin knew this, of course. But it didn’t deter him. And taking a deep breath he looked into Snape’s eyes now, so that his friend would see exactly what he meant, exactly how he felt, maybe for the first time.
“Severus,” he began, his voice soft now, and all seriousness, “I know exactly why I befriended you. You’re brilliant. Always have been. And tremendously funny. And in addition you happen to be the bravest person I’ve ever known. Yes, you are a great git, and you’re the most petty man in the world when the stakes are small. But when the stakes are high you always come through. Even when it’s the last thing you want to do. How could I not want to be your friend?”
And then Remus Lupin smiled at him again. A smiled filled with a genuine and boundless affection, an emotion to Snape as humbling as the keenness of Jane’s desire.
Snape’s wand arm was entirely limp, now. And he realized then that Lupin had won. Whatever Snape’s wish for retribution, now or into the future, Remus Lupin would upend it by killing him with kindness. But what could he do, with this odd man looking at him, all lopsided grin, and badly cut hair falling into his eyes? He could not kill him. He could not even bring himself to dislike him.
Snape’s knees softened, and he leaned against Remus Lupin’s desk. He shook his head.
“What have I become, Remus, when a gentle word can bleed all the fight out of me?”
And Remus looked at Severus Snape with more than affection, now. It was something like awe. And a compassion beyond words. Severus Snape did not see this in his eyes, because Severus Snape was now staring at his hands. His wand had found its way back into his robes, somehow.
Lupin took a step towards him. “A better man, perhaps?” he volunteered gently. “A more merciful one? The world needs mercy, Severus. And love, and friendship. You need them.”
Snape considered this. He considered it for quite awhile, in fact, as he stared at his hands. And in the end what he wanted to say was that Remus Lupin could not possibly need his friendship more than he needed the friendship of Remus Lupin.
He wanted to say this, but he could not.
“Oh, stop blubbering, you Gryffindor twat,” Snape said instead. “And put your put your bloody shoes on. I won’t have my best man arriving at my wedding in threadbare socks.”
Lupin’s mouth dropped open. “B...best man? I…I…well…” he stammered for a bit, and Snape would not have been surprised if he had toed the floor and blushed. But he didn’t. Remus Lupin, after his bout of stammering, only smiled again.
“I think we’re having a rather warm moment here, don’t you?” he said.
Yes, indeed they were. A moment, anyway.
But then, glaring, Severus Snape rose to his full height, his chin rising into the air as well.
“If you embrace me, Remus Lupin,” he intoned, arching one dark eyebrow, “I’m afraid I shall have to kill you after all.