Who: Severus Snape, Remus Lupin
Where: Snape Manor
Summary: Severus and Remus celebrate their first – and possibly last – Valentine’s Day together.
Watch For: An item from the past resurfacing.
Severus sighed, staring at the box in front of him. The wrapping was perfect. The bow was pristine. The colors weren’t gaudy. Yet, he still felt as though something was missing.
Closing his eyes, the Potions Master tried to envision the actual gift inside the package. To him, it was nothing more than an aged piece of parchment with a particularly powerful spell weaved into it. However, to Remus it was much more.
I should have had Dimpy wrap it, Severus thought with disgust as his mind greeted him with the image of the parchment surrounded by a plain looking piece of tissue paper designed to keep the gift from moving around the box. She would have found some way to make certain it didn’t appear thrown together at the last moment.
That wasn’t the case, of course. No, Severus had been thinking about this gift for a while now. At first he’d left it in the care of his House Elf to give to her new Master in the event of his passing. Except, now that he knew Remus was going to be dying as well, that was no longer an option.
So, giving it to his mate on Valentine’s Day had been his next choice.
It wasn’t that he was trying to be cheap. He certainly had enough money to buy the werewolf whatever he wished. But Severus also knew that Remus much more preferred a gift from the heart. And, aside from the memory of the mating, which he’d already bestowed upon the other wizard, Severus could hardly think of anything more sentimental than what he was holding in his hands.
Now, he just had to wait for Remus to return from wherever he’d snuck off to so he could give him the damned thing and be done with it.
Slipping back into Snape Manor, Remus couldn't hide the satisfied smile he wore. Given the strain of recent days, it felt wonderful to have something go right for a change. He had just spent almost every galleon he had to his name, but... well, he'd worry about that later. If it ended up mattering, he would actually be very happy to proclaim himself penniless.
Fingering the small box in his robe pocket, he walked swiftly up the stairs. Touching the bond with his mate lightly, he could tell that Severus was awake. Perfect, he thought, with a feeling of mixed anticipation and dread. Severus would either love the gift, or hate it... and he hoped that the reaction would be positive. It was important to him to make Severus happy, just in case...
Chopping that thought off abruptly, Remus entered the bedchamber, and walked towards the bed. He felt the simultaneous rush of love and concern that he always felt when he looked at Severus. His mate was propped up in the bed, face pale and drawn, but holding a vague look of impatience that brought a fond smile to his lips.
Leaning down, he cupped his mate's chin with his hand, before dropping a gentle kiss on his lips. Then he sank down into the chair that was close to the bed. "Happy Valentine's Day, Severus," he said softly.
Severus gave Remus a faint smile, nodding his head. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Remus,” he murmured in response. The words felt strange on his lips and he was suddenly struck that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d said them to someone.
Have I ever said them? he wondered idly, before pushing the thought away. He had things to do and brooding over the past was only going to get in his way. As it was, he had a limited amount of time before his muscles became too weak and he was forced to sleep in order to regain the strength it took to merely stay awake and speak.
Raising his eyebrow, he fixed his mate with an unreadable look. “I suppose,” he drawled, “There is no reason to ask where you were. You would no doubt either be deliberately vague, or not answer me at all.” The faint smile returned for another moment then faded into a slight grin that was less difficult for him to maintain. His fingers played along the edge of the box he’d placed under the covers upon sensing Remus’ return to the Manor as he spoke, nervously wondering the best way to give the gift to the other wizard.
Meeting his mate's smile with an answering one of his own, Remus shrugged. "I'll tell you. I went to Diagon Alley, to pick up something I had ordered. A gift for you," he replied. He chuckled, then. "Something sappy and sentimental and guaranteed to make you roll your eyes and comment upon my woeful Gryffindor tendency to mushiness."
Severus’ eyebrow rose higher, his curiosity now piqued. He certainly hadn’t thought Remus wouldn’t get him anything. However, he hadn’t expected the gift to come from some shop in Diagon Alley.
He was tempted to ask the other wizard when he’d found the time to order the gift. However, he instead opted with, “I see. Well, while I am doubtful that I would use the term ‘mushiness’, you are most likely correct on the rest of your assumption.”
Pausing for a second, he finally added, “I also have something for you.” And, without further ado, he pulled the box from beneath the covers.
Holding it on his lap, he glanced at the gift, before looking back at his mate with barely concealed nervousness. “I’m afraid I am uncertain how to go about exchanging gifts,” he admitted awkwardly.
Amber eyes looked at his mate with gentle understanding, knowing how odd this must all be for the dark-haired wizard. His heart swelled with a wave of love and wonder at the thought that Severus was doing this for him. I'm lucky. So incredibly lucky to have him.
"Well, I have a specific way I want to give you your gift, if that is alright with you," Remus said softly, sending acceptance and reassurance through their bond. "I told you it was sappy and sentimental, but nonetheless, I'll just have to beg your indulgence for this once." He looked at the package Severus was regarding with some small bit of anxiety. "Would you like me to go ahead and give you yours first? That way, if you hate it, you may fling my present at me while you rage." Here he grinned drolly, hoping to put Severus at ease.
Severus nodded, relieved that Remus was making this as easy on him as could be expected. He found himself grateful, not for the first time, that his mate was so incredibly understanding. There weren’t many people that the Potions Master knew who wouldn’t have taken advantage of his weakness. Fortunately, he knew the thought had never crossed the werewolf’s mind.
“Very well,” he replied finally, pulling himself out of his thoughts. “Although I highly doubt I have the strength to go about flinging packages.” It was meant as a joke, although he also knew that it was a painful reminder for both of them of how far his health had deteriorated.
Pushing ahead so Remus couldn’t dwell on what he’d just pointed out, Severus raised his eyebrow once again and smirked. “However, I am quite certain I am still more than capable of finding other ways of voicing any displeasure I may have.”
Not that there will be any, he told himself firmly. Even if it is some horrendous gift, I will never say so.
"I have absolute faith in that," Remus replied, still smiling. He reached his left hand into his pocket, easily flipping open the small box, and pulling the single item it contained into his palm. He closed his hand around it, then reached out to take Severus' left hand in his right one, rubbing his thumb over the back of his mate's fine-boned, pale hand. He loved Severus' hands - strong and talented hands, equally capable of creation or destruction, of giving pleasure or dealing out pain... much like the man himself.
Removing his hand from his pocket, he gently slid the now-warmed circle of platinum onto Severus' ring finger, pushing it up until it was seated properly. The emerald eyes of the scaled serpent glittered faintly, the snake's tail grasped in its own mouth, completing the circle in a very old symbol of completion and renewal. "No matter what happens in the future, Severus... I want you to know that my life wasn't complete before you became my mate. And that is the greatest gift I have ever been given in my life."
He dropped a kiss on Severus' hand, on the ring itself, before releasing him and watching his mate with loving eyes.
Severus felt his breath catch in his throat at Remus’ words. Staring at his mate, he didn’t bother to try to fight the faint stinging at the back of his eyes. If tears were going to fall, he wasn’t about to try to stop them.
However, when he finally looked at the ring now adorning his finger, the tears that were blurring his vision disappeared as his eyes widened in shock. An Ouroboros…
The symbol was well-known to him, and he certainly didn’t miss the statement the other wizard was making with placing the gift on his left ring finger. Hesitantly, he let go of the box he was still holding and moved his right hand to the ring. Touching the platinum, he released the awe, appreciation, and love he felt for the item, and especially the gesture behind it, to his mate.
Taking a moment to compose himself, he finally raised his eyes back to the other wizard. “Thank you,” he murmured softly, words failing him for one of the first times in his life. Then, he remembered he still had to give Remus his gift.
It certainly pales in comparison, he thought, briefly wishing he’d been capable of getting something far more personal for Remus. Of course, nothing could compare to what he has given me.
Pushing aside thoughts that were certain to make him cry, or at the very least deter him from the task at hand, he began speaking. “There have been very few people in my life that I have taken the time or interest to shop for. Therefore, I am not nearly as skilled at determining and acquiring gifts as I would like to be,” he began, once more fingering the box on his lap.
His voice became softer as he continued, his emotions nearly overwhelming him as he allowed his heart to speak instead of his mind. “I had intended to leave this to you in the event of my passing. As that is no longer an option, and I do not believe anyone else could appreciate it nearly as much as you no doubt would, I decided to give it to you now.”
Handing the box over, he locked eyes with Remus. “It is not a symbol of what I feel for you, Remus, as I do not believe I could find anything to describe such a feeling of completion. However, I do hope that you find as much enjoyment in the memories it holds for you as I do in the memories we have made together.”
That said, he waited wordlessly for his mate to open the package.
Remus took the box, almost overwhelmed with the intensity of the emotions in their bond, added to what he was feeling himself. He swallowed hard against a sudden lump in his throat, one which sprang into being from the words Severus spoke to him. Sending a wave of gratitude to his mate, he took a breath before nodding. For the moment, he couldn't trust himself to speak.
Carefully unwrapping the package, he removed the lid, brushing aside the tissue to reveal the rather dog-eared piece of parchment nestled within. A piece of parchment he recognized instantly, with an indrawn breath of wonder and disbelief. He felt his eyes begin to sting, and he swallowed again, looking at Severus with a stunned amber gaze.
"Merlin... Severus it's... it's the Marauder's Map," he whispered, trying desperately not to cry. His mate had given him a piece of his own childhood that he had thought was gone forever, a reminder of friends now gone, of innocence lost. A reminder of who he had been.
What was more amazing was that it was Severus giving it to him. It was an almost unbelievable gesture of acceptance and love, that his mate would gift him with an object that, while it held many good memories for Remus, could be nothing but a reminder of many painful things for Severus. The generosity of the gift, the amount of caring that it showed almost caused him to fall apart; but he held on with determination as he reached out one hand to touch the faded vellum reverently, feeling the magic and the memories that were woven into it.
After a moment he drew a deep, shuddering breath. "It's perfect, Severus," he said, voice thick with unshed tears. "Absolutely the most perfect thing you could have done." Remus sent everything he was feeling through their link, not able to find the words to express it properly. He wanted to pull Severus to him and kiss him fiercely, but not only was his mate not physically up to the intensity that Remus was feeling at the moment, he honestly wasn't sure he could hold himself in check.
Severus felt a wave of relief wash over him. While Remus could certainly have lied verbally about the gift, there was no way he could have faked the emotions that were coming through their link. Emotions that, while certainly pleasant, were almost too much for the Potions Master to handle.
Now he was grateful he’d taken the object from Albus’ personal items following the Headmaster’s death. Of course, how the aging wizard had gotten it away from Harry Potter was anyone’s guess. Although Severus suspected he’d most likely merely asked for the Map, stating it would be used to ‘assist in keeping the school safe’ or some other such rubbish.
A lot of good it did…
Pushing aside those thoughts, he returned the feelings of love and happiness to his mate. Then, he reached out and gently grasped his Remus’ hand. Squeezing it, he sat in silence and allowed the werewolf a moment with the memories of a childhood that were far behind them now.
After a few moments, the Potions Master was fighting back a slight yawn. The emotional strain was weighing him down and his eyelids became heavy as he attempted to hold onto the perfect moment they were sharing. Finally, though, he was forced to let go of Remus and lie back in the bed.
“The ring is wonderful, Remus,” he finally said, looking at the other wizard with sleepy, pain-filled eyes. “It is far more than I could have expected … or deserve.”
Remus felt his mate's strength ebbing, and pulled himself together as quickly as he could, damping down the emotional load gently but firmly... and with a fleeting feeling of regret, too. But he smiled, setting the box on the bed as he rose slowly, breathing deeply and slowly. After a few moments he moved, leaning over to arrange the covers tenderly around his mate's slender form.
"You deserve more than I can ever hope to give you, Severus... so I'm afraid you'll just have to settle for me," Remus replied softly. He leaned over his mate again, tenderly smoothing the ebony hair, then caressing the pale check lightly. "You rest now, and I'll be here when you wake." He bent to kiss the pale lips softly, lovingly, all the while wishing he could hold his mate in a tight embrace and never let him go.
Instead, Remus eased back into the chair, laying one hand on top of Severus'. His fingers lightly caressed the ring, and he prepared to keep vigil over his mate, watching him sleep and keeping him safe.
Severus wanted to reply to his mate’s statement, wanted to assure him that he was in no way ‘settling’ for him. However, he was simply too tired to force his mouth to form the words. So instead he did what he did every time he fell asleep, not knowing if this would be the last time he’d see Remus again. He sent all the love he felt for the other wizard through their bond and closed his eyes. Moment later, he dozed off with the thought that he finally understood why so many people looked forward to Valentine’s Day every year.