"Men, you have your missions," Sirius spoke to Peter and James while pacing the Gryffindor Common Room and Remus hid in the loo until it was safe for a rule-abiding student to hear what was going on. He sat perched on a counter top, reading over his Charms notes and pretending he couldn't hear Sirius' voice through the wall. "These are not missions from me. They are missions from the Country. Now, at lunch do exactly what we planned."
James nodded sagely and Peter wore a face of sheer determination.
"Now," Sirius pointed toward the door. "FOR THE QUEEN!"
Remus heard the door slam shut behind his friends and he sighed, hopping down from the counter. He tucked his notes away again, carefully, smoothed out his shirt, and washed his hands.
Classes that day were the easiest he had all week. Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfigurations, and then double Care of Magical Creatures.
If he survived lunch, anyway.
"For the Motherland," Sirius whispered across the table. Remus hid behind a text and tried to pretend that Snape wasn't looking at him. "On three. One. Two. Three!"
"For the Queen!"
"For the Country!"
Three wands were pointed across the Great Hall, and flames erupted from the Hufflepuff table.
Sirius's face was dirty with soot, but his smile was white as ever in the crowd around him in the hallway. "I think we've properly acquitted ourselves as Englishmen today." Equally sooty beside him, Peter piped up.
"I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. Or an opportunity to kill Lockhart go unused."
Remus wondered where they'd found soot, since the flaming Hufflepuff had been nowhere near either of them. James's fingertips were blackened, he noticed-- probably a fireplace, then. Show-offs, his friends were...
"He'd never done a thing to you. He's not bright enough to." Lily's defence of the blond went almost ignored; Sirius patted her on the top of the head and continued to lead onwards boldly to the Care of Magical Creatures classroom.
Dragging behind in the corridor, Remus could hear the Slytherins coming around a corner and debated hurrying up a bit. He'd had that drunken semi-confession note on his mind all week, and he was still a bit hacked off with Severus, but he was mostly confused and slightly scared about what would happen afterwards. Severus hadn't said a word to him in class since then; Remus decided he wasn't going to be the one to break the silence, and hurried on his way to class, sliding into a desk by the window and resisting the strong urge to bury his head in a book.
"Come on, come on," Professor Kettleburn spoke at the front of the room. "Have a seat." The students were filtering in from the corridor, a few stragglers lagging outside chitchatting. "Come on, it's six past already. Right."
Severus settled into his seat, precisely two rows across and three seats behind Remus Lupin. Not that he was noticing or anything - he was mostly rolling his eyes at the idiocy of Black, Potter, and Pettigrew and opening his notes. Care of Magical Creatures was one of his worse subjects, mostly because he didn't care about Caring for Magical Creatures much at all. He didn't intend to take in a Clabbert or a Augurey for a pet, so he didn't see why he had to learn about them.
Sighing, Severus stared at his notes, while Kettleburn started to lecture about the Creature of the day, the Jarvey.
Passed back to Severus, while Sirius and James are engaged in a staring contest.
Scribbled back after three very long minutes.
Written back and passed to Severus, narrowly avoiding detection.
Found inside Sirius Black's Magical Creatures text, accompanied by the scent of lavendar..
Jotted down on the edge of notes about the Jarvey and charmed to float to Remus.
Passed back to Severus by Remus, with a smirk.
Written back amidst a chorus of snickering and left later in what was left of Gilderoy Lockhart's hair. When it was to be found, no one knew..
Thrown to Remus Lupin with a Withering Look.
Passed back and forth quickly, near the end of the lecture.
"Now, there's been a few problems with Jarveys out in the Forbidden Forest, so I got permission from the Headmaster to take you lot out, to see if we can't catch a first-hand glimpse of a couple," he said, finishing the lecture after twenty minutes or so. "Now, remember, Jarveys don't eat people, but they'll take a bite out of you if you get too close. If you think you might be easily offended, stay close to me. Otherwise, anyone who can find a Jarvey by the end of the hour gets twenty House Points, and don't stray too far into the Forest."
There was a sort of flurry of excitement, mostly among some of the Gryffindors, as the students gathered their books. Bellatrix shared a disdainful look with Narcissa, brushing past Sirius Black and James Potter, heads held high. Severus gathered his books as well, ducking out the door.
Remus slid his notes into his rucksack and fairly lit out the door. The mass of students followed Kettleburn to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, going by the Groundskeeper's hut; Remus stayed close to the building and ended up in the bright refracted light-and-shadows by Greenhouse Three.
Severus felt as though his stomach was sinking into his toes every single step of the way, following the rest of the class toward the Groundskeeper's hut, but lingering by the Greenhouses. He didn't quite know why he felt so doomed, as though he was going to his own funeral. Swallowing back the urge to scream, and looking slightly more pale than usual, he caught sight of Remus and ducked toward the shadows, circling around Greenhouse Three. He came up behind the Gryffindor, and cleared his throat slightly, to get his attention.
Lost in thought, Remus hadn't heard Severus approach; he twitched and turned sharply, then his shoulders sagged slightly in relief. "You scared me. I thought McGonagall was about to twist my ear and drag me off." He ran a hand nervously over his mouth, turned fully to face the Slytherin, and shrugged somewhat sheepishly. "Hi."
Smirking a bit, Severus let out a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding - breathing, he reminded himself sharply, keeps one from passing out due to oxygen deprivation. "I didn't mean to scare you," he said after a long pause, then went right back to feeling uneasy. What in the world was wrong with him? He was Severus Snape, he brewed potions and was at the top of most of his classes and knew more Jinxes and Hexes than most Seventh Years combined. And yet Remus Lupin - a Gryffindor, mind - had him so nervous. "Hi." He added, becoming positively enchanted with his own sleeve, looking down at it, enraptured. "Er. About Halloween."
"Yes, about that..." Remus looked at Severus's sleeve and found it as completely amazing as Severus did, being an amazing way to keep from even accidentally making eye contact. "Uh, did the willow bark help, then? I was a little surprised you didn't think of that, you might be rubbish at Healing but you're brilliant with Potions." He shifted from one foot to the other, opened his mouth again, and thought better of apologizing for his stupid mouth.
Severus twitched a little, shuffling slightly forward. He wasn't sure why, possibly because his voice was lowering, just a bit. "Er. Well, I might have if my brain was functioning properly. As it was, it.. well, it was not," he said, then nodded a bit, so quickly that a bit of his hair falling directly into his face and he had to remember to thank Heavens for that, for the very welcome shield it gave some of his face. "Yes. It worked swimmingly. Er. Thank you."
"Right..." Making a mental note to grow some fringe so he wouldn't have to look right at anyone any more, Remus glanced at Severus's face for a moment and paused. Neither said anything for a moment; deciding he should be the brave one, Remus swallowed and ventured waveringly, "Now when you mean your brain wasn't functioning properly do you mean that note was wrong? Or do you really think I have a stupid mouth because you want to inkblot it?" A weak attempt at humor, and a weaker one still at evading the issue; he looked into the greenhouses and stared, red-faced, at rows of Waning Moonflowers. He felt ill.
The Slytherin blinked a few times, wincing slightly. Inkblots. Oh, the inkblots. His brow furrowed slightly as he thought, wishing that a Lethifold would happen along and eat him whole, leaving absolutely no evidence of his awkward teenage self behind. "Er." He reached up, pushing some of that hair out of his face, and looking up to Remus. "I... really don't think I should answer that," he said, a noble attempt at honesty.
"Um." Well, that wasn't what he'd been expecting to hear one way or another. Remus ran a hand through his hair and worried his lip with his teeth for a second, and sighed heavily. "This is so... this is stupid. We're both dodging the same thing, aren't we?" He reached out, praying to whatever might be listening that he wasn't about to make the biggest mistake of his young life, and took Severus's hand in his own. "I mean... oh, hell. I like you, Severus." He held his breath, waiting for a sign, any sign-- a glance, a nod or a frown, anything at all that couldn't be scratched out in ink.
Severus' eyes widened a bit, and he bit down on his lower lip hard, mostly to keep it from shaking or to keep him from saying anything impulsive or stupid. His hand, slowly, curled around Remus', long fingers curving and squeezing slightly. "This," he said, with a little whisper, "is most probably doomed." He wanted to make sure Remus knew that, that neither of them were harbouring any notions of 'off into the sunset' romance or anything like that. Doomed was precisely what they were. But maybe doom wasn't so bad after all. Not if it felt like this.
"Yeah," Remus agreed quietly. "But I'm willing to chance it if you are." Severus's hand was warmer on his skin than it had ever felt through cloak and robe; if doom was anything like burning, he didn't think he'd mind it too much. Anyhow, they were young, and doom seemed far off, and it was a chilly grey November day when Remus leaned in, slowly; both boys held their breath the instant before their lips brushed together gently.
The kiss was soft and short, what every first kiss should be, complete with sparks and a tickly feeling at the bottoms of their respective stomachs. Severus pulled away after a moment, Remus already smiling.
"We should join the rest of the class," Severus murmured, breath warm against Remus' cheek, and the other boy nodded. "I'll nip out now, you wait a bit. It'd look suspicious if we went back together." Remus nodded once more, and Severus pulled away, letting go of his hand. Trying to let go of his hand. Straightening his fingers and tugging himself away from Remus.
Only he didn't.
Because he couldn't.
Maybe doom wasn't that far off, after all.