Title: From the Mouths of Gardeners
Author: SassyInkPen  (July 2003)
Pairing: Snape/Lupin
Rating: [Adult]
Feedback: sassyinkpen@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: These characters belong to JKR, not me. I merely amuse myself with them in the long dark nights.

Notes: Part of the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest, Scenario: "First Date Blues"

From the Mouths of Gardeners

****


Remus Lupin ducked around the corner and peered back to see Severus leaving the dungeons on his way to dinner looking thoroughly disgruntled. Remus grinned. He'd been avoiding Severus all day.

When Remus had returned to Hogwart's some twenty-five years after graduating, he'd been apprehensive to say the least. But Albus had asked him to return...had *wanted* him - despite what he was. It was a wonderful feeling after so much rejection and ostracizing. He worried, however, about the students and what would happen if his true nature were discovered. He'd also been somewhat concerned about facing his former classmate. They had never been on the best of terms. To say the least.

But when he arrived, he was surprised to find that the students loved him, the staff respected and enjoyed him, and Snape...Well, Snape was still Snape. But he was also much changed, or perhaps it was Remus' view that had changed. Severus was still bitter and sarcastic, but Remus now recognized that for the defense it was. What he'd come to learn through staff meetings, dinners, and conversations with other colleges, was that Severus Snape was a very intelligent and interesting man. He'd found out, for instance, that Severus enjoyed fine liquors and wines, was still an avid reader, and didn't despise his students nearly as much as he liked them to believe.

During the past few months he'd learned a few new things about himself as well. Like the fact that he had developed an attraction to Severus, and that this attraction carried a tinge of familiarity about it that suggested its roots went back much further than the start of term.

The realization didn't exactly shock him. He'd always been uncomfortable with the way his friends treated Snape, and often felt he should try to put a stop to it...although he never had. It occurred to him that his discomfort had less to do with a moral sense of right and wrong than he'd always believed.

With this newfound knowledge came a resolve to do something about it. Long years of loneliness had made him suddenly reckless in his pursuit of companionship. To that end, he'd begun going out of his way to forge a new friendship with Severus. He tried to sit next to him at meals a few times a week...enough to foster conversation, but not so much as to make Severus suspicious.

The Wolfsbane potion was extremely helpful in his quest, since it automatically gave him a connection to Severus, and some guaranteed interaction with him each month.

It was, in fact, this very connection that was to serve him well in his first attempt to bridge the gap between friendship and something more. This very evening.

Remus came out of hiding as soon as Severus was out of sight. He was counting on the fact that when Severus didn't find him at dinner, he would bring the potion up to his quarters instead, as he'd done in the past when Remus hadn't been feeling very well. Truthfully, this condition had been a concoction of Remus' as well, designed to give him a few moments alone with Severus in a sympathetic situation. 

Rushing up to his rooms, Remus began making final preparations for carrying out his plan. He set a small table for two, and laid out a simple but elegant meal of cold meats, fruits, cheeses and bread. He'd found an interesting White Cabernet Sauvignon and had an excellent bottle of brandy for afterward. His idea was that when Severus appeared with the Wolfsbane potion, Remus would invite him in for dinner and drinks, during which he would confess his attraction. It was a simple plan, and the simple ones could hardly fail.

He lit a fire in the hearth to chase away the winter chill and looked toward the windows, where a crisp light snow was spattering against the glass in the dark. Perfect. It was just a couple of days past Christmas and the snow still had that magical flavor to it.

He paced around a bit, feeling impatient, then opted to remove his robes...to appear more casual, and hopefully more attractive. A little more pacing and he decided to change his blue shirt for a white one that was softer, if a little more threadbare. He stood in front of the looking glass and smoothed the wrinkles out, examining himself. He could feel his own hands easily through the thin material and imagined Severus' hands in their place. Just the thought of it quickened his breath, and brought a slight flush to his face.

A knock at the door yanked him from his fantasy and he hurried out to the sitting room to answer it. He pulled open the door with a nervous flutter and grinned when he found Severus standing there looking extremely put out. "Severus...Good evening," he said brightly.

"I brought your potion for you," said Severus, stalking into the room with a steaming goblet. "I presumed that since I have not seen you all day, you must hav-" He stopped up short when he saw the table set for dinner. He turned slowly to lock Remus in a critical glare. "I had believed you were feeling under the weather," he said in an icy voice, "But I see, now, that you've simply been busy and just *assumed* I would provide messenger service as usual." He set the goblet on the sideboard with a sharp little clatter, spilling a bit of the contents, and hurried toward the door with a sour expression.

"Severus, wait..." said Remus, moving to stop him. "You don't understand. This is for you." He grinned amiably and nodded toward the table.

"I beg your pardon?"

Remus smiled, "I deliberately avoided you today so you'd have to come up here..." He faltered slightly when Severus' eyes narrowed, but forced himself to carry on. "I wanted - want - you to have dinner with me."

"We take meals together every week. Why all the ridiculous subterfuge?" Severus' black eyes were trained unwaveringly on Remus and his mouth set in a hard line.

"Well, I..." Remus was on shaky ground now. An angry Severus was not an easily pacified one. "I was rather hoping we could eat alone this time," he said boldly, taking a few steps toward Severus.

"Why?"

Remus blinked. This was not going according to plan. By the time he was to explain "why", they should have been comfortably fed, at least somewhat companionable, and tolerably full of wine and brandy. He realized, however, there was no point in hedging around. Severus was on the point of leaving, and if he had any hope of succeeding with his plan, he knew he simply had to go for broke. He smiled and said, "I've become rather...fond of you. I'd like us to get to know each other better. Ahhh...*much* better..." He reached out to brush Severus' arm with his fingertips, hoping that would explain things, but pulled them away quickly when Severus merely stared at his hand as if it were an unpleasant insect. 

There was an uncomfortable silence, after which things got even worse. Severus leveled his gaze on Remus and sneered. "I would have thought that by this point in your life, you might have outgrown the desire to humiliate others with childish pranks."

Dismayed by this reaction, Remus gasped and said, "NO...Severus, you've got it all wrong, I real-"

"Save your pathetic denials and your attempts to dig yourself out. I'm on to you and I'll be damned if I'm going to sit at that table and let you make a fool out of me for your amusement." 

"Severus!?" Remus was stunned. He could hardly believe the man's absurd reaction, or the severity of it. "How can you think that aft-"

"Good night, Lupin," spat Severus, pulling open the door and storming out into the hallway.

Remus hurried after him, grabbing him by the elbow and spinning him around. "Severus, I'm serious...this isn't some prank. I'm honestly attracted to you. Very much so, in fact," he added, relaxing his grip on the other man's arm and letting his fingers caress it softly.

Severus snatched his arm away, "I'll thank you to keep your hands off me." He glared at Remus and said, "If you think I believe a single thing you've got to say.....I know how you've been siding with the students against me, mocking me behind my back for their amusement..."

Remus' eyes grew wide and his own temper started to rise. This was totally unfounded. "That's insane, Severus. I've never done any such thing. I *support* you to the students."

"I've had enough, Lupin," said Severus dismissively, "I'm going to retire for the night." 

"No, you're not..." said Remus harshly, letting his disappointment and hurt fuel his anger over Severus' false accusations. "You're going to stay right here while we have this out. You've no basis to say such things, they're absurd."

"Good *night*, Lupin," Severus said again, giving him a last baleful look before turning his back and starting down the hallway. Remus saw the hurt there, but his anger and his own humiliation at being rejected caused him to squash down any guilt or sympathy he might have felt. 

"Severus, get back here!"

The black haired man continued down the hallway at a fast clip, his body stiff and upright. 

"Severus!" yelled Remus, at a complete loss. "You impossible *ass*!" he roared, forcing himself not to chase the potion's master down the hall. There was an uncomfortable ache in his chest as he thought of the way things should have gone, and of just exactly what it was he might be losing.

He went back inside and turned his rage and his frustration on the table instead, flinging a few apples across the room before seizing the bottle of brandy and pulling the top off with an agitated jerk. He drank deeply from it and coughed, but savored the burning sensation, since it helped to cover the sting of Severus' hatred. He threw more of the food at the wall and started smashing dishes. His wolfish temper had been hovering close under the surface all day, and without the Wolfsbane potion to calm it, he now found himself barely under control. He threw a few more dishes and then upended the table itself, before taking up the bottle and having another slug of it.

The true depth of his feelings for Severus was just starting to dawn on him now that he had to face them full force, and he let out a miserable wail as he replayed the events in his mind. He slumped helplessly in a chair and moaned out loud, "I don't understand why he won't believe me.....?

"Oh? Well ya never did give 'im much of a reason to, did ya?"

"I beg your pardon," bristled Remus, looking around for whoever had invaded his quarters. He didn't see anyone, however, and spun around the other way as if that would shed light on the mystery. The action made his head spin slightly as the brandy started seeping into his system.

"Up here, dearie..." came a warm, rather matronly voice. Remus looked up to see a plump woman standing in a garden in one of the paintings. She was leaning on a hoe and had her long, plain skirts gathered up and tucked into her waistband, exposing her scuffed work boots and the frilly edges of her bloomers.

He frowned slightly and said, "What the hell would you know about it?"

"Oh, Darlin', I've been tendin' gardens in paintings all over this castle for nearly two hundred years. You'd be surprised what I know," she said, tapping a finger on her head. Remus blinked in bewilderment as the matron carried on, "I must say, that was as fine a tantrum as I've seen in many a year."

Remus sat upright, "I was *not* having a tantrum."

She leaned forward and peered into the room, surveying the mess of food and china pieces, "Oh look, there's a wine glass you missed."

Remus snarled and got up to stomp on it.

"Feel better, Luv?"

"No...I don't..." he said, heaving a sigh and dropping back into the chair sulkily. Taking another pull off the bottle, he mused over the situation for a long time and finally said, "You're right though...When did I ever give him reason to trust me? All those years, I let James and Sirius tease and humiliate him, and I never did a thing. I knew it was wrong, but I tried to convince myself that he deserved it. He could be really awful too, you know."

"Oh, luv...I don't mean to say that you're all in the wrong. 'E's a tough bloke, that one. Mean enough on the outside, but 'e ain't any different than a Pricklevine plant. They's all barbs and thorns and tendrils that bite, but if you're patient enough to work past 'em, you'll find the sweetest fruit you've ever tasted. They settle right down when they learn you ain't gonna hurt 'em."

Remus considered this for a long time, working the analogy slowly through his liquor-slow brain. "Are you telling me, that I've just got to keep at him until he *does* believe me?"

"Aye, Luv...that's the way of it," she said with a rosy smile, starting to chop at the dirt with her hoe.

"What about all that bilge with the students? I don't do any of that."

She cocked her head as if Remus were being a little dense, "Don' worry yourself over that much, 'e doesn't *really* think all that. 'E's just afraid, you know."

Remus swallowed hard and hung his head, "We were so awful to him, how could he ever forgive me for all that."

This time she had a bit of a stern edge to her voice as she cautioned, "Now you listen up. You and your friends didn't do all that. Don't you go takin' all the blame on yerself." She smiled again and said, "You mark my words, dearie, you just keep at 'im and he'll come 'round eventually."

"I will," said Remus, staring at the painting reverently. The matron's reassurance and the large quantity of brandy had him feeling unusually confident. "I'll go and talk to him right now..." He jumped up, stumbling over the tablecloth, and corked the bottle before heading for the dungeons with it in his grasp. He'd just gotten a new idea.

****

Remus stood outside Severus' heavy door and took one deep breath before knocking on it loudly. He could hear the sound of footsteps and what sounded like a snarl from the other side of the door and guessed that Severus had some kind of identification charm on it, telling him who was there without needing to open it. He pounded again and hollered, "Severus! Let me in, I need to talk to you..."

There was no response, but Remus had a full head of determination behind him now. He beat on the door once more, "I'm not going away until you hear me out...Severus?"

This time, the door flung open and Severus stood there with his hair hanging close around his face, and his eyes hard and glittering, "What do you *want*, Lupin?!"

"I want *you*," Remus blurted, darting inside before Severus could slam the door in his face. He circled quickly around Severus and backed him against the door, "I find you highly attractive, and I have wanted you for the better part of this school year. I think there could really *be* something between us." He was standing very close to Severus now, and his breathing was ragged as his instincts tried to take over.

"You're drunk," snapped Severus, curling his lip, "I can smell it on you."

"I'm drunk enough to say what's on my mind...to tell you how I really feel. I want to hear what comes spilling out of your mouth when you're in this state. I want to put the past behind us and get to know each other as we are now, and I'll do whatever it takes to get there."

Severus flattened himself against the door and stared at Remus, "You're drunk and you're *mad*...."

"No, I'm not," he said firmly, looking around and spotting some glasses on a side table. He turned one over and filled it with a staggering amount of brandy. "I'm going to do exactly what that woman said and keep at you until you're willing to listen to me."

"What woman?" asked Severus, eyeing Remus coldly.

"The one in the painting, the gardener," explained Remus offhandedly, as if everyone knew her. "She said that if I really wanted you to care for me, I had to be patient and persistent, convince you that I'm sincere." 

Severus cocked his head and said dryly, "You're taking romantic advice from gardeners in paintings? I think I see the primary flaw in your plan, Lupin."

Remus grinned and brought the glass over to him, "I love your sarcastic wit, Severus. I love your dry humor...I want to know where it all comes from and what makes your mind tick." He held out the brandy and when Severus made no move to take it, he said, "It's hundred year old Elvin brandy, Severus. I bought it for you. I was going to seduce you with it."

Severus' eyes widened a bit, and he sucked in his breath, but said nothing. Remus smirked and stepped closer, so that he could feel the heat of Severus' body and feel the man's breath on his hand. He touched the glass to Severus' lip, "I still plan to try, Severus. I meant it when I said I want you." He tilted the glass so that the brandy pooled against Severus' lips and he was forced to open his mouth or let it spill. When Severus gave in and drank, Remus tipped a fair amount down the man's throat before he could protest.

Severus gulped it down reflexively and shoved at Remus, spluttering, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Trying to get you drunk, loosen you up...I'll even settle for pissing you off if it'll break down some of those walls of yours. I can't change the past. I can't fix what's already done. All I can do is show you how I feel now...if I could only get you to listen."

"And you think drowning me with liquor will accomplish that?" 

Remus set the glass down, and turned to face Severus, "I have no idea what it will take. Four months of dinnertime conversation and feigned illness didn't get me anywhere. A private table and a dinner invitation didn't do it either." He advanced on Severus feeling bold and reckless, "I tried to explain, I tried to apologize....." 

He was directly in front of Severus now, only inches away, "All I can do now is *show* you..." With that, he gave in to his urges and slipped his hand around the back of Severus' neck, grasping him firmly and kissing him deep and hungrily. Severus was too stunned to respond and Remus tilted his head to kiss the man's neck, lapping at the skin with his tongue, letting his other hand snake around Severus' waist as his wolfish instincts flared up.

Severus' hands were pushing at him and he hissed, "Stop it, Lupin!"

"No," groaned Remus, whispering in his ear, "Do you see what you do to me, Severus? You must know this isn't a prank." He ground his hips against Severus, pressing his firm erection into the man's leg, with a suppressed moan. 

Severus gave him a hard shove and tried to dart out from between him and the door. But their legs got tangled together and they both went down in a heap on the carpet. Remus, whose reflexes were heightened at the moment, got the upper hand and pushed Severus onto his back, straddling him. He grinned with a feral glint in his eye, catching the other man's wrists and pinning them to the floor.

"Get *off* me, Lupin," hissed Severus, looking more alarmed than angry. 

"I don't want to," said Remus, stretching his body out over the other's. "This is what I wanted. My god you feel good," he said breathlessly. Leaning in close, he ghosted his lips across Severus' cheek, inhaling the scent of him, and simply savoring the feel of having the object of his affections on the floor beneath him. He noted with some small satisfaction that Severus was not putting up much of a struggle, and wondered just what that meant. Was it merely the man's usual self-composure, or did he not find this nearly as objectionable as he tried to make out?

The heat from the man's body was creeping through him and Remus shifted against him, noting the taut, smooth muscles, and the planes and curves of Severus' form. He ran his tongue up the side of Severus' neck, panting hotly against his skin and lapping at his earlobe. He was close enough to feel it when Severus swallowed hard, and when he concentrated, he discovered that Severus was also breathing hard, chest rising and falling raggedly. "Mmm....Yes, Severus," he groaned. "There's something in this for you after all, isn't there?" He trailed his hand down the man's side, and lifted up a little so that he could slip it in between them. The stiff bulge he found there mirrored his own and he stifled a moan against Severus' neck.

"Lupin, get off me this instant," Severus blurted out in a panicked rush. But he choked back a groan and arched his hips upward when Remus squeezed him firmly.

In his drunken and lustful state, that was all the encouragement Remus needed, and his fingers flew into action, tearing at buttons and cloth to get Severus' pants open and out of the way. He brushed the backs of his fingers over Severus' hot erection and was rewarded with a jerk and a soundless shudder that sent chills through him. "Severus," he gasped, working his own pants open as well, "I swear to god, I haven't been mocking you. Everything I said was the truth...." It was the best attempt he could make under the circumstances, and he was past the point of holding back.

When he finally got his own cock freed, he pressed it hard against Severus', dropping down onto his body with a sharp cry and a long moan, which he buried in the crook of the other man's neck.

"Fuck..." rasped Severus, clutching at Remus' shoulder. 

The tussle as they went down, and the tension of the situation had caused a light sheen of sweat to form on both of them, making their cocks slick as Remus began to move against him. The friction was intense and Remus moaned out loud, picking up his pace rather quickly. His mouth desperately sought out Severus' and claimed it in a heated and passionate kiss. To his surprise, Severus was kissing back. Perhaps not *enthusiastically*...in fact, he seemed almost resigned to it. But Remus felt that was a start and went at it with renewed fervor, tangling his fingers in the thick black hair.

He could feel the rough fabric of Severus' robes through his shirt, and the man's legs brushing his own as they hitched up, trying to find a bit of leverage. There was an erotic wantonness about being only able to feel the man's cock and his mouth...both hot and wet, responding to him hesitantly, but unable to resist.

Remus ran his tongue along Severus' lips, prizing his way inside and stroking it across Severus' own, making them both moan. His cocked ached with need, and he ground himself harder against Severus, panting with lust. He could feel the intense tightening at the base of his spine and he ducked his head, temple brushing Severus' cheek, as he climaxed with a strangled cry, bucking hard against him. "Severus! My, *god*..."

He felt Severus' body go tense and then jerk suddenly, and Severus came, groaning helplessly and clutching at Remus' shirt. Remus kissed him firmly and brushed the hair from his face. He continued to move gently against him, cock sliding through the warm wetness.

Severus lay still, with his eyes closed and a faint flush on his cheeks. Finally he said quietly, "Get off me now. Get out, Lupin...you have to go...."

"Severus..." pleaded Remus, somewhat taken aback, "I...I'm sorry..." He wasn't entirely sure what to say at the moment, so he got up and buttoned his pants, feeling suddenly sheepish. He'd been so sure that Severus' response was a positive sign, that things were going to be ok now. He had no doubt that there really was something there, but he didn't want to risk hurting Severus either.

Severus pulled his wand from his robes and muttered a cleaning spell, before fastening his pants and straightening his clothes. "Just go, Lupin...please," he said, not looking up.

Remus mused over the situation for a moment, thought about the gardener's advice, and her opinion that Severus was afraid. He thought maybe he understood. Slipping his hand around the side of Severus' neck, he kissed him softly. "All right. I'll go now...but I promise I'll be back," he said with a smile.

~~end~

(Continued in "Here Be Dragons")