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FICLET: Afterglow (RL/SS, NC-17)

Title: Afterglow
Rating: NC-17
Characters: Tonks/Lupin, Lupin/Snape
Words: ~ 1500
Fest: [info]bbtp_challenge
A/N: I'd rolled out of bed Sunday morning thinking this would be a short, sexy drabble, but the bunny had other ideas. Grateful thanks to [info]aunty_marion for beta'ing; remaining infelicities are entirely my fault.


Every time the new issue of Playwitch arrived at his house, Remus Lupin’s face broke into a grin. He had genuinely enjoyed impregnating Tonks, in spite of their relationship's foundation as an extended sham. The pretence leading up to their marriage had been intended both to help Tonks continue hiding her homosexuality from her parents and her co-workers, and to silence her biological clock by creating the child it so insistently wanted her to bear.

When he felt like brooding, he found it depressing that their friends had been so ready to believe in their romance, problems and all, considering that neither he nor Tonks had played their parts particularly well: she had definitely overacted her role of besotted lover, and he had been far too weary to invest his impersonation of a newly-wed husband with sufficient enthusiasm or logic. In retrospect, Remus mused, the ideal approach would have been somewhere between their two extremes, but they’d both been improvising as best as they’d known how, and it was ridiculous to feel miffed that their friends had believed exactly what he and Tonks had wanted them to believe. A part of him continued to cringe at how Harry and his friends would forever remember him and what they'd perceived as his callous attitude toward Tonks, but it was his willingness to dissemble to that degree that had also persuaded Severus that doing what ought to be done now truly mattered to him.

In any event, his shock and delight at Teddy’s birth hadn't been feigned -- he had found it overwhelming to behold the joy on Tonks's face, knowing that he'd helped make her so happy. That he'd done so merely as a "friend with benefits" rather than as her life partner, marriage licence notwithstanding, failed to dilute the joy. He had found it wondrous to hold Teddy in his arms while Tonks napped, humming phrases from 70s rock ballads and marvelling at how normal a child they'd produced between them, even with the morphing already in play. After they'd faked their deaths, Remus had found it nerve-wracking to wait out the process of Tonks rejoining her mother's household as a long-lost cousin. Fortunately, it had taken her only a few months to manipulate Andromeda into letting her adopt Teddy as her own.

So far, restarting their lives as other people had been worth the effort: Tonks had moved to Greece, happily raising Teddy with the help of a battalion of formidable "aunts," some of them dating her and most of them cheerfully helping her out whenever her work as a private investigator required emergency babysitting. She earned enough to send a stipend to Remus, which augmented the income he managed to scrape together as a tutor and translator. Remus was conscious that their ongoing ruse still contained the potential to cause considerable havoc and heartache, but given the wear and tear his body continued to endure, he thought it unlikely that he would live long enough to have to face the consequences, and the new Tonks had charm and vitality enough to withstand whatever challenges her biological family and former friends might level at her.

In the meantime, it was amusing to receive the monthly copies of Playwitch, knowing that it was a gift subscription "Siri Black" had purchased in both her name and her son's. "When he's older, Remus, he's going to be able to claim that he was buying porn before he could read," Tonks had said. Even Severus had smiled at that, although the only thing he'd said aloud was a waspish "Get a hold of yourself!" to Remus, who had succumbed to a fit of hysterical laughter.

As he perused the latest issue, Remus's grin settled into a rueful smile. He wasn't so old and decrepit that he couldn't appreciate the fine bodies and erotic fantasies the magazine had to offer, but the fact remained that it was a publication intended for women. It was rather like being handed a fish sandwich when one really wanted steak for dinner -- it wasn't bad, but it didn't take the edge off the actual craving.

He cheerfully Banished the magazine as Severus entered the room. Severus scowled at the rustle of disappearing pages, his eyes narrowing into the sour expression that materialised whenever he felt threatened, but Remus stepped up to him, pulled him close, and kissed him hard before he could voice a pre-emptive insult. Not allowing Severus to recover enough breath to speak, Remus lowered them both to the floor and hiked up Severus's robes, divesting him of his pants and closing his hand firmly around Severus's cock.

Remus loved ambushing Severus with affection, and he relished how little effort it took for him to make his partner squirm and pant with arousal. Given the injuries they'd repeatedly sustained over the years -- himself as a werewolf, Severus as a Death Eater, and both of them as members of the Order -- as well as their general lack of physical exercise outside of basic errands, neither of them harboured any inclination towards prolonged sessions of athletic sex. Remus loved how easy it was to make Severus come, and he loved letting his hands roam over Severus's body, expressing the devotion neither of them were capable of verbalising: he loved ghosting his lips across Severus's face, feeling the other man tremble beneath him even before he pressed hot, open-mouthed kisses against Severus's throat. Remus loved the way Severus's hands convulsed when Remus lightly combed the hair on Severus's balls with his fingernails and when Remus stroked the underside of Severus's penis with his knuckles, breathing damp kisses against the other side of his erection. Remus especially loved the stifled moan that escaped from Severus's lips each time he finally swirled his tongue against Severus's slit, capturing the pre-come seeping from it. He loved how it preceded the muted groan triggered by the closing of his lips around Severus's cock, and he savoured how Severus's breathing grew harsher and more erratic as Remus slid his mouth up and down, his thumbs stroking the base of Severus's penis and the upper curves of the testicles. He was usually too intent on his task to witness for himself the way Severus's eyes rolled back in their sockets the instant before orgasm, but he could hear Severus's cry of release and taste the hot fluid spurting into his mouth.

Remus also loved the combination of satiation and shyness that pervaded Severus's motions after such couplings. The way Severus nuzzled against him when he stretched out alongside the other man. The fluttering of Severus's fingers upon the buttons and zips of his clothing, and their deft pinching of his nipples once the barriers had been pushed aside. The light tickling of his ribs, his "Stop that!" invariably replied with an "As you wish" and the fingers travelling lower, circling around his navel before plunging into the thicket of curls above his cock. Those marvellous, sensitive fingers finally closing around him, rapidly squeezing and stroking him toward climax. The whisper of fabric against skin as Severus dried his hand. The silent glide of Severus's palm returning up to Remus's chest and resting there.

Remus loved that this happened often enough that he could think of it as a routine, even though what he felt for Severus was at once too volatile and too delicate for him to think of it as "routine." When they lingered like this after sex, he often thought he could detect a hint of gratitude in Severus's eyes. It was something else he knew they would never quite get around to discussing, but that didn't trouble him: they hadn't discussed the past when they'd identified each other at Lily's grave, glamours notwithstanding; they didn't discuss his monthly camping trips in the Outer Hebrides; and they would almost certainly fail to discuss the ramifications of Lupin's infrequent interactions with Teddy as an avuncular friend rather than a father. What they did talk about ranged from Severus's studies at a Muggle technical institute (one with other "non-traditional students" trying to improve their employability) to the roots of irregular French verbs, and Remus felt far more connected to Severus after such conversations than any melodramatic excavation of their feelings would have achieved.

His thoughts were meandering along these familiar lines when Severus lifted his hand and placed it against Remus's cheek, turning his head so that their eyes met. When Severus suddenly said, "Legilimens," Remus was startled: he could feel his own eyes widen, but he made no effort to throw up barriers against the intrusion.

His surprise deepened into alarm when Severus made a hasty, inelegant retreat from Remus's mind and then buried his face in Remus's shoulder, shaking uncontrollably.

Utterly confused, Remus tightened his arms around Severus. His heart raced as he tried to think of what Severus could have seen that he found so repulsive.

Swallowing hard, he finally said, "What is it? What is it that you wanted? I'll give it to you, if I can."

Almost inaudibly, Severus whispered, "You just did. I needed to know I could do that."

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