That evening at seven o'clock, the four students - three Slytherins and one Gryffindor - were to report to the Potions Classroom for detentions. Bellatrix and Narcissa arrived first, together, looking as they normally did - Bellatrix wry and sarcastic and Narcissa vapid. Severus slunk into the classroom a few moments after Remus arrived.
Professor Utonium looked up from her paperwork, then stood. "Right, then, good, you all are here. Mr Snape and Mr Lupin, you will be reconstructing your potion here. Ms Black and Ms Black, you will be," there was a pause, and Professor Utonium looked singularly pleased with herself. "Aiding Madam Pomfrey cleaning bedpans in the Infirmary."
Bellatrix made a strangled sound and Narcissa looked like she was about to be sick. "Are you serious?" Bellatrix finally sputtered; Severus hid a smirk against one of his hands.
"As a heart attack," their Professor replied, deadpan, lifting a hand to shoo them out the door. "Go on, then. To the Infirmary. It's five minutes past seven now - if you're not there by quarter past - and Madam Pomfrey is going to tell me when you arrive - you'll be serving detentions for the rest of the week. Go on, then."
Bellatrix stormed out, Narcissa hurrying to follow in her wake.
"Now, gentlemen..." The Professor turned to them, gesturing vaguely at the desk, which was set out with cauldron and ingredients already, "You have two hours, the instructions are on the board, go ahead."
Silently, the boys began preparing the components: shredding, cutting, grating and chopping the various items on the desk. Professor Utonium sat behind her desk and began to read. Quietly, Remus tore a strip of parchment from a spare piece, wrote a hasty note and slid it across the desk.
Remus looked up from the last note sharply. Professor Utonium was reading a magazine inside a research tome and paying no attention to the boys at all. He coughed until she looked up.
"Yes, Mister Lupin?"
"Er, we have the potion in hand here... and I think I heard the Black sisters saying they would cause trouble in their detention." He gave her an earnest, honest look-- wasn't he a good student, and trustworthy? She could go, it would be okay... She nodded slowly.
"If I come back and anything has exploded, burned, overflowed, or otherwise gone wrong, you are both in severe trouble," she warned them, set down her hidden magazine, which turned out to be Witch Weekly, and strode out. Calmly, he set down the shredded shrivelfig he'd been holding and glanced at Severus.
"What's nothing, then?"
Severus' back was so tense that he imagined it was going to harden into a humpback and he'd go live in a cathedral and ring bells for the rest of his life. He stared at Remus, and then lifted his chin in a mild show of defiance. "Nothing."
It was, of course, a lie - the worst, most blatant lie he'd told in recent history. How could he tell Remus Lupin the truth? Hi, I'm Severus Snape. I fancy blokes - new development, that - and I'm not entirely positive that I hate you quite as much as I ought to? Oh yes, that would be an utterly brilliant idea.
Remus folded his arms and stared back, fighting down the urge to snap at the neck exposed with the defiant tilt of Severus's chin. Bad wolf. No. Bad enough he could feel the swelling moon already, and it was a week until full; bad enough he was doing impulsive things like kissing burns and being clumsy.
"Okay. If that's what you want..." But he didn't look away, just kept his eyes on the darker ones, half-wishing that Severus did want him dead because that would be easier to deal with, half-wishing that he'd just say what he kept crossing out, which Remus supposed was very like everything he'd crossed out himself.
Severus grit his teeth a bit, and inclined his head a few more degrees; his nose was so high in the air that it would probably make Lucius Malfoy himself proud. He was certainly not the one who was going to back down here. "Why, Lupin?" he asked after a moment, his arms crossed, unintentionally mimicking the Gryffindor's body language. "Do you have anything to say?"
Half of him hated Lupin. He hated the way that he seemed to insinuate himself so easily into his own thoughts. He didn't want to be thinking about Remus Lupin. He wanted to go back to the way things were before, back to being openly hostile toward each and every member of Gryffindor House.
Remus shrugged slightly and nodded at the cauldron. "If we don't get back to the potion, it'll spoil." The haughty tilt of Severus's head was doing nothing to keep the wolf at bay; if anything, it just made the skinny line of neck that much more vulnerable. He swallowed and turned back to the desk full of ingredients, picking up the shrivelfig again. "And I'm not that sorry," he muttered, biting the inside of his lip.
Severus turned back to the potion - this was good, this was keeping himself busy with something he could do. He lifted his wand, gesturing to a few ingredients that needed chopping. "Neither am I," he murmured, quite absentmindedly, making a few more gestures with his wand to skillfully cut the ingredients. He stared at the cauldron for a moment, before shaking his head. "You're honestly.. just a git, you know that, Lupin?" He spoke as though giving up, as though completely accepting defeat. "Did you know, are you aware, of your complete being-a-git? Do you comprehend the magnitude?" Now he was simply not making sense, flicked the wand again to seperate the ingredients.
Slightly shocked, Remus dropped the paper full of dragon's breath flowers on the desk, scattering them over the notes. "I'M a git?" he asked disbelievingly. "What have I done that's so magnificently definitive of being-a-git?" Trying to sweep the scattered and crumply flowers back together, he ended up breaking most of them in his annoyed confusion. "Honestly, Severus, have I hexed you? Did I insult your family? Do I take the last piece of toast in the Great Hall before you come in for breakfast? What have I done that makes me such a git?" Scooping the dried blooms into the palm of his hand, he flung them into the cauldron and dropped his hands to his sides, simply waiting for the other boy's response.
This was Severus' turn to broil now, his turn to fling things and shout - only he didn't. Well, he didn't fling things anyway. He calmly flicked his wand, his half of the ingredients moving into the cauldron, then stared at Remus. There was a sort of odd look in his eye, like a flicker of something behind the dark, beetle-coloured irises. Something new. "Because you won't let me be. You insist on being there in my head every single bloody moment of every single bloody day. And you bite your lip and do you have any idea how positively... you're a git, Remus Lupin. The biggest. Git. Ever." He spoke definitively, crossing his arms once more and having every single bit of the appearance of a five year old pouting about something.
"I..." Remus leaned back against the edge of the desk, just to have something stable supporting him. "I don't... I mean, really..." He stood there and blinked at Severus, mouth hanging slightly open, before running a hand over his face quickly. "It doesn't make me a git, it makes me a crush, actually. Yours." He wanted to laugh. He wanted to bite his lip. He wanted to run out of the room, except he didn't, he just wanted to grab Severus's hand and kiss it again. "And to be fair, if it makes me the biggest git ever, you've still got one up on me. I don't bite my lip nearly as much as you glare at me, and when you glare like you're glaring now that's even worse. Stop it." He did bite his lip then, partly just to annoy Severus, or whatever it did that wasn't annoying him but had the same effect.
Severus narrowed his eyes at him, glaring quite hard at him. Especially when he suggested that he, Severus Snape, had.. a.. a crush on him. A crush. "I do not," he bristled after a moment, nose in the air again. "Have a crush on you. So terribly sorry to - what?" It was entirely possible that it took the last part of what Remus said that long to process. "... what?" Utter confusion glided over his features; puzzlement and a furrowed brow, his head dropping a bit, staring up at him. The slight glimmer was still there, perhaps looking almost hopeful. "And stop biting your lip or-" he cut himself off at that, balling his hands into fists at his sides.
"Keep stirring it or we'll fail," Remus ordered, "and stop acting like you don't know. Honestly, Slytherins are the masters of denial." He kept his glance on Severus's fists, ready to dodge any forthcoming blows, which he felt he deserved after that, but he kept going recklessly. "And just to repeat: Either you have a crush on me or you're just as big a git. And either way we're both being stupid right now." Adding the last few things to the cauldron, he took up the spoon himself, stirring the mixture slightly too quickly and blowing the steam away from his face. "And I know we're not usually stupid, so this is ridiculous."
"I think you're usually this stupid," Severus muttered, quite like a six year old but not caring because Remus was trying to use logic, which made him quite a bit more logical than Snape himself was being right now. "And a git. And I do not have a crush on you at all." He glared at him for a long moment, before letting out a slight breath, his shoulders dropping a little. "And anyway, we already know that I'm a git, don't we? I expect you hear it five times daily from your lovely friends." He always spoke about Black and Potter as though he was spitting poison, as though their names themselves tasted horrible in his mouth. "This is ridiculous," Snape echoed after a moment, and then set to cleaning up the potion. "This is nearly finished and then, we can go our separate ways and not even spare one another a second thought." Oh, that would be nice, wouldn't it?
"If you think I believe everything my friends tell me, no wonder you think I'm a stupid git." Stirring steadily with one hand, Remus gathered the notes they'd passed before and slipped them into his pocket. He collected the waste paper into a pile, crumpling the bits into tight balls. "And if you think it's that easy, well, you are stupid. We have classes together. We do revision together. You'll keep glaring at me even if you never talk to me again." He tapped the spoon on the side of the cauldron and removed it. "I think it is finished. Does it look right to you?"
Severus stared at the cauldron for a moment, before it even registering in his mind that there was a potion in there. After a moment, he nodded and then crossed his arms again. "Looks fine," he muttered, and then moved about the table, picking up bits of garbage and tossing them out, cleaning off the desktop with a flick of his wand. "And maybe I won't. Ever talk to you again, that is. Then you wouldn't have to endure my stupidity." He sounded, at best, hurt - not really angry, but like a kicked animal. "I wonder what's taking Professor Utonium so long."
Professor Utonium ducked behind a hospital bed containing a half-conscious Hufflepuff as Bellatrix and Narcissa flung bedpans at each other, at Madam Pomfrey, and at the Professor herself.
"A. Pureblood. Does. Not. Clean. BEDPANS!" Narcissa growled, as Bellatrix charmed a bedpan to bang repeatedly into a Gryffindor student who was just entering the Hospital Wing, nursing a hurt arm.
"Vile!" Bellatrix hissed, tossing a bedpan - entirely unclean - at the Professor.
"DETENTION!" Professor Utonium shrieked, ducking the assault. "DETENTION FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES!"
"She's probably covered in a mountain of bedpans and irate Slytherin girls," Remus said, and filled two flasks with the potion to be graded. He set them down, labeled each one carefully, and turned to face Severus, pulling the other boy's wrist until their eyes met. "And I didn't say you were stupid. I just don't believe you think it'd be that easy. I know it wouldn't be, because if you could just stop thinking about me, you'd already have done it, right? No reason for you to waste your time thinking about a git of a Gryffindor." He was calm, faking the calmness right down to his bones, and for a second he stroked the wrist he held like calming an upset animal before he stopped and released Severus's hand. "Sorry."
Severus curled his fingers around Lupin's forearm, staring first at his sleeves, of all things - the worn, slightly threadbare sleeves - and then up at Remus' face. His eyes were searching for a moment, before he swallowed hard. Certain that the world was going to crash down upon them at any moment, he stared at him for a long, long couple of seconds, afraid that his heart was going to beat it's way out of his chest. And then he simply let go, turned away, moved back to his stool and sat down upon it. He pulled a book from his bag, and set to reading. Of course, he wasn't really reading. How could he be reading? He couldn't even think, he didn't even recognize the words on the page, they didn't make sense, even though they were in clear English. His mind was tangled, but he couldn't do this. He wasn't ready for it.
That... that had been very close. It had taken everything in Remus to not reach out, lean in, do something to get closer to that intent, stricken look... but no. Severus turned away, and he did the same, ending up at opposite ends of the desk, each with his flask of the potion in front of him. Severus had a book to focus on; Remus shuffled the thin parchment of the notes between his fingers and stared at the door, waiting for the professor to return. Amber eyes unfocused as he considered the events that had just happened, and wondered what would come next; he studiously kept his gaze off his classmate for the rest of the night.
Severus may have had a book, but really he was anything but focused. He stared at pages for about how long it should take to read them, then flipped to the next one. Because something in his mind was clicking, just then; he didn't want to be realizing the things he was realizing, at least not here. Not in a Potions classroom and not beside the person he was realizing them about.
Severus Snape flipped another page, and when the Potions Professor finally returned (looking quite banged-up and perturbed), he handed in his potion, gathered his things, and rushed out the nearest door. He had thinking to do. Thinking, or curling in a corner and crying for a while. Either or.