Both letters are delivered quite properly by owl, opened in secret and saved in likewise secret places, far away from prying eyes.
"..so I told them that it was a delicious new type of seasoning made specifically for kippers, and they were so excited about it, you should have seen them, Prongs!" Remus woke up slowly, catching the end of Sirius's triumphant retelling of his incursion on the kitchens in the wee hours of the morning. He rubbed one hand over his face, yawned, and stretched once before rolling out of bed.
"Moony! This is going to be brilliant, just you watch." James was as proud of his concoction as Sirius was of its smooth delivery to the kitchen house-elves. All Remus could do was shake his head and pray there weren't too many casualties. The door swung open to the room, and Peter stuck his head in.
"C'mon, the first few people are already going down. We don't want to miss a minute of this!" They started out of the door. Remus swore and dragged a sweater on quickly, pulling his pants on as he hopped down the stairs to the common room.
Wisely avoiding the kippers that morning, Severus got a few deviled eggs, some oatmeal, and bacon, then sat down a few chairs away from the other Slytherins. He stared at his cup of coffee - he always preferred it over pumpkin juice - until he heard a familiar voice beside him.
"It's coffee." Regulus sat beside him with his plate covered in toast and kippers.
"You've got quite the gift for stating the obvious," Severus spoke wryly, around a mouthful of bacon. "It's obvious that dim-wittedness runs in your family. Very tragic. You have my deepest sympathies." He gave a slight roll of his eyes, and took another bite of his breakfast. Regulus responded, but Severus didn't pay very much attention - something else had caught his eye. A certain four boys entering the Hall. He shifted a bit, then looked back to Regulus. "Haven't you got anyone else to bother?" he asked, quite shrilly.
Regulus continued to talk - and Severus continued to ignore him - for several more minutes, while Snape poked at his oatmeal. He felt, almost, sullen. It wasn't a normal feeling at all - spiteful, angry, even sour, those were normal feelings. This sudden depression wasn't healthy at all. And he blamed Remus Lupin. So he lifted his gaze with every single intention to glare hard enough to freeze the boy's skin.
Sirius looked over at the Slytherin table and grinned a fierce and savage grin. "Oh look. My dear brother is having his usual, disgusting, Slytherin-tainted breakfast." All four of the Marauders looked at the pale copy of their own bronzed and buff Black brother-- and one immediately looked just to the side, to the paler boy beside Regulus, and Remus caught his breath as Severus's eyes lifted to meet his own.
Severus caught Remus' eye, feeling oddly like he'd just been punched in the stomach or strangled for a few moments.. oddly out of breath, like he'd just been running somewhere. Raising one eyebrow slowly, he held his gaze for a very long moment.. which felt like a century to him, and only stopped when Regulus groaned.
"What's he looking at?" he muttered, setting down his fork with a clatter, folding his arms in front of his chest. "I simply cannot eat with those GRYFFINDORS looking at me."
It was probably a good thing that he didn't, because just then, a Hufflepuff's head exploded.
Immediately, every head in the Great Hall turned to look at the Hufflepuff table, where a small blond boy's head had burst into bright violet and pink sparks. Fireworks flew from his neck and zoomed upwards, expanding magnificently across the grey and cloudy backdrop of the enchanted ceiling.
Thirty seconds after the first shower of sparks, a Gryffindor set off a new round of sparks-- this time obnoxiously green and violent yellow. Peter hooted, "I TOLD you Mundungus would eat them!" and a few Sickles exchanged hands between himself and James. Remus watched the Hufflepuff boy and saw that Gilderoy Lockhart's head was actually fine and still on his shoulders, but he seemed rather disoriented and... well, poncy. He hoped that would wear off before the poor lad took too much of a beating for it.
Severus was altogether appalled at the sudden explosion of a head from the Hufflepuff, then Gryffindor tables.. and then another from the Hufflepuff table, where Amos Diggory had recently suffered the same fate, fireworks of aquamarine and puce bursting just above his head. Severus stared, open-mouthed, quite resembling the kippers they had for breakfast.
And then he remembered Remus' warnings about the kippers and he did a funny thing. He snickered. And Regulus looked at him like he was losing his mind, but could he truly help it?
"What?" The younger Slytherin demanded, and Severus hid a smirk behind a very pale hand, shooting another glance toward Remus.
"Absolutely nothing," Severus said after a moment. "Tried the kippers yet? They're delightful."
Passed in the halls just after breakfast.
Passed during the beginning of Potions.
Passed while both parties involved should have been chopping Potions ingredients.
Passed over three Gryffindor's heads and then promptly ignored by the reciever.
Thrown back and forth, with Peter finally eating all evidence of the letters ever existing after the Potions Professor caught them.
Found doodled in Snape's History of Magic parchment.
During a break in the Potions making...
Passed whilst waiting for their cauldron to simmer.
Passed back and forth quite quickly during Potions, directly before the Cauldron Exploding Incident of the day.
"Now, stirring counterclockwise... I said COUNTERclockwise, Mister LeStrange, do pay attention... add the scales one at a time..." Professor Utonium guided the class through the more delicate stage of the Energetic Elixir, calm tones at odds with the danger of this particular brew. Remus and Severus not only ignored the instructions, but were almost completed with the potion. Their desk at the back of the classroom was covered with bits of paper onto which the ingredients had been measured. Remus picked one up and started shredding it jerkily, trying not to inhale any more of the fumes which were making him twitchy.
Severus stared at Remus for a moment, then simply rolled his eyes. "Do try not to get any of that paper in the potion, Lupin, I doubt it would bode well." He said simply, stirring the potion with a sort of slow fluidity of movement, then reaching for the next ingredient. It was simple, now, potion-making. Like a second nature. So simple that he could begin a conversation in undertones, audible to none but his Potions Partner. "Thank you, by the way." His tone was still clipped, if just a slight bit gentler.
"Hm?" Remus cupped the shredded paper in his palm, careful to have every piece accounted for, and glanced up at Severus. "Oh... You're welcome. You didn't get burned when Regulus went pop, did you?" He reached for his wand, poked the paper, and it reformed into a whole, if slightly crumpled, square. Setting it aside, he lifted the next component of the potion to the rim of the cauldron, waiting for the other boy's nod before tipping the powder in.
Severus paused a moment, then gave a slight nod, gesturing him to pour the powder into the cauldron. "No, I wasn't burned at all. I daresay that made my day, though," he added, wryly, pausing and going to stirring the potion once more. "And Lockhart.. oh, I do hope I remember that for the rest of my natural life." He pretended that he wasn't praising something that Black and Potter had done at all, pretended that it was an act of nature or some diety to explode heads at breakfast that morning. There was another very long pause, during which Severus felt uncomfortably uncomfortable, and then he cleared his throat. "Er.. Rem-"
He was interrupted, of course, by an explosion.
The explosion was succeeded by a loud and pained shriek-- Lily Evans, unrecognizable under a layer of thick orange goop and breaking out in snakey scales. Professor Utonium sighed and pointed at Narcissa and Bellatrix Black.
"Young ladies, take this to the Headmaster, yes, thank you, bring your books as well, and report back here tonight at seven sharp for detention. Highly unsubtle and foolish to boot, I think that's twenty points from Slytherin... and yes, Miss Evans, come along now, if you don't mind escorting her to the infirmary, Mister Potter?" Nodding slowly, the professor cleared both the ruined potion and the Black sisters' cauldron with a wave. "And if everyone else is fine? Excellent, let's continue, then. By this time your mixture should be an even and soothing blue, and with the addition of the coffee beans it will become a deep red..."
Remus hadn't shifted his gaze until Severus looked back at him and caught him staring. He turned a deep red to match the nearly-complete brew in their own cauldron. "Er, sorry, you were saying, Severus..?"
Clearing his throat after a moment, Severus turned his gaze away from the scene of cauldron tampering and Gryffindor girls growing scales and looked back to Remus, alarmed that the boy was staring at him. He felt inexplicably self-conscious, and shifted his weight slightly. "Er." He said simply, and then shook his head slightly. "Nothing at all, Lupin. Our potion's nearly finished, though, last ingredient," he said, adding it slowly and carefully, then stirring the final few dozen times.
"Oh," Remus said intelligently, still the same shade as the potion as it and he mellowed to a lovely pink. "Well, it looks... perfect, really, not that that's a shock." He glanced up, looked away before making eye contact. "Now we have a good twenty minutes until they're all done." The fumes were still lingering and making him jittery. He shifted to rummage through his bag, brushed his arm against Severus's and almost knocked over the cauldron jerking away. "Sorry.. ah, I'm really sorry." Cursing himself internally, he didn't dare look back at the other boy. How many awkward things could he do at once? He had to be setting a record.
Severus steadied the cauldron, singeing the tip of his thumb slightly, but nothing spilled so it was a victory. He studied the pinkening skin at the tip of his finger, then glanced to his Potions partner. He was incredibly not-annoyed. It was unsettling. "It's okay, Remus." He said, simply.. it wasn't for a few more moments that he realized he'd just called him by his first name. Something he'd never done before. So he went about cleaning up the paper and ingredient-bits left on their desk, pretending that nothing had happened at all but wishing with every fiber in his body that he could go back and not have done that.
Remus's entire body felt like a plucked string, like a finely balanced object about to topple over. He turned slowly, this time, but felt the edgy energy buzzing just under his skin. He'd called him... yes, Severus had most definitely called him by his first name. The Slytherin's face was paper-pale; Remus decided that the best way to keep them both from passing out of embarassment would be to act as it nothing had happened. Reaching to help clean up, he realized that Severus's thumb was pink and burned.
Remus was twitchy and on edge. He would look back on this moment in time and wonder what the hell had been in his mind; the truth was that there had been nothing there but instinct.
Carefully and quickly, Remus took Severus's hand in his own, lifted it to his lips, and kissed the singed thumb. Just as quickly, his eyes widened in shock, he dropped the pale hand, and closed his eyes.
"Please don't kill me," he said quietly, eyebrows knitted as if he expected the fatal blow to land immediately.
Severus felt as though he was going to explode; it was an odd feeling, this almost-explosion, like a timebomb ticking away in his stomach. He stared at Remus for a moment, then did the only thing that came naturally. He turned away so quickly that he upset the cauldron - nay, he upset the entire table and the cauldron fell over and the table tipped, quills and books sliding off of it and he made the single most interesting 'squeak' in the history of all squeaks, and then the Slytherin in front of them was on fire because she'd been splashed with the potion. And the professor was panicking and the Slytherins were panicking and the Gryffindors were mostly just laughing and it was chaos, but Severus was staring directly at a spot right on the floor, holding his hand to his chest as though Remus had bit into his skin rather than kissed it. He almost wished he would have bit him rather than kissed him. At least he would have known how to react to a bite.
"Why, I never.." the Professor sputtered, Severus barely realized she existed. "... twenty points from Slytherin and the same from Gryffindor.. setting a fellow student on fire, I never.." there was a lengthy pause, during which several Gryffindors snickered. "Detention, the both of you, tonight. Hopefully you'll be a bit less twitchy tonight."