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Characters: Remus Lupin, Severus Snape
Genre(s): Angst, Drama, General
Warnings: None
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Back to School
by kittylefish
K+ (PG)

On the doorstep of the shabbiest house on the block, a rather nondescript man hesitated. At first glance, everything about him seemed medium brown: his eyes, his hair, even his clothes. Upon closer inspection, one might notice the gold flecks in his eyes, the gray streaks in his hair. The only feature distinguishing his coat from many similar ones was that it was more worn than most; in fact, it was just as shabby as the house. The man lifted his hand to knock upon the door, but dropped it and turned as if to leave. Then, he squared his shoulders and turned back, rapping firmly before he had another chance to reconsider.

He stood and waited. After a moment, a slight shimmer shook the air, the way things sometimes appear to melt in a heat wave, and the door creaked open a tiny crack—just far enough for one black eye to peer through it.

"What do you want?" the occupant hissed at him. The voice, rich and deep, might have sounded appealing if not for the venom lacing every word.

"May I please come in? I'd prefer not to have this conversation on your doorstep."

"If you must." The black-eyed man flung the door open with a savage jerk and stood aside. Much as the first man was a portrait in shades of brown, the second man was a study in contrasts. Ink black trousers and shirt emphasized the nearly ghostly whiteness of his skin, and long black hair parted in the center framed his pallid face. As the visitor stepped over the threshold, the hook-nosed man shut the door firmly enough that the old house shook from the impact. He turned to face his caller. "Well?"

"Albus offered me the Defense Against the Dark Arts professorship. I thought you should hear it from me first."

"How very considerate of you." Pale hands balled into fists. "And you accepted it, naturally, despite … everything."

"You know as well as I do my options are limited." Hogwarts' newest professor ran one hand through his mousy hair. "I don't have the luxury to be choosy."

"Very well. You've done the noble thing and told me. Now get out." The white face twisted into a sneer as a pale hand gestured towards the door.

The caller started to turn as if to leave, but hesitated. "Does it have to be like this between us?"


Hearing the dismissal in his reluctant host's frigid tone, the visitor nonetheless stood his ground. "It wasn't always this way."

The man's pale face flushed red with ire as he moved closer, drawing himself up to his full height, his posture threatening. "You dare remind me of my youthful folly?"

"Yes, I dare. Think of it as folly if you must, but you can't rewrite my memories." The visitor reached out a tentative hand and touched the mottled cheek. The angry man froze at the contact, and the caller waited for him to pull away, to hex him, even.

He didn't. He stood there staring into those gold-flecked eyes like a wild animal that was unsure whether to flee or fight. When he found his voice again, he said, "Is that why you're here? To dredge up painful memories of the past?"

"They weren't all painful." The visitor exuded an air of dignity despite his shabby clothing.

"I don't remember any others." Arms crossed over a stubborn black-clad chest as coal-dark eyes blazed fiercely.

"Then let me help you remember." The quiet man moved closer until their bodies almost touched. "We'll be working together. There'll be time for us to get to know each other all over again. We could—"

"We could what?" The irascible man backed his opponent towards the wall. "We could start over again and pretend like nothing ever happened to ruin it?" He shoved his caller roughly against the wall and pinned him there, holding his wrists. "Is that why you are really here? To pick up where we left off all those years ago?"

Watching the inferno flare up in the man facing him, the visitor held his tongue.

"Answer me!" The man's voice held an ominous undercurrent that threatened imminent destruction to anyone who defied him. "Or are you too afraid to admit why you came here?"

"I had hoped we could at least be friends." These words were uttered in the careful way one might address an animal that seemed apt to bite.

"Coward." The pale-faced man spat the word so viciously a tiny droplet of spittle barely missed his caller's face. He continued, his voice cold and hard. "But then, you always were, weren't you? Afraid to stand up to your little friends, afraid you might become an outcast, afraid to tell the truth about anything at all. But you can't change who—or rather what you are. A leopard doesn't change its spots, and neither does a mangy cur it seems."

"A mangy …" The sad-eyed visitor shook his head. "I never meant to hurt you, you know."

His grudging host dropped his hands and moved away from him. "Hurt me? You give yourself far too much credit. Disgust me, yes. Repulse me, certainly. But hurt me—I think not."

"How you must hate me."

"Congratulations. I see the truth has finally penetrated that thick skull of yours."

"Have it your way, then. I'll see myself out." At the door, the visitor stopped with his hand on the handle. Looking over his shoulder, he said, "Everybody needs a friend sometimes, even you, Severus. The world can be a cold and lonely place when you haven't anyone you can trust. I hope you figure that out before it's too late." He paused for a moment, but if he'd hoped the harsh man would soften his stance, he was doomed to disappointment.

"Get out and take your platitudes with you," his host gritted.

"As you wish." The visitor opened the door and stepped back into the daylight. Closing the door firmly behind him, he turned his face towards the sun.

On the other side of that barrier, the occupant of the dingy house leaned against the wall for a moment, his hands shaking. He raked trembling fingers through his hair in an effort to assert his control. Then, he pushed himself away from the wall and made his way into the kitchen where he set about preparing his lonely supper.

Author's notes: Many thanks to my auxiliary muse, to chivalric, and to luvsev for their invaluable input. This was originally supposed to be for the September Back to School challenge for the LJ community ptterpr0nprmpts, until the sex was declared unworkable, alas. And yes, it took me this long to rewrite it.

Back to School by kittylefish

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