Severus/Remus in canon
Apologies if you've already read this, but I blame slashpine, who suggested I posted here. 3000 words or so of meta about moments in canon where a relationship between Severus and Remus looks like a real possibility.
I had a feeling before I started looking through the books that the biggest stumbling block to any suggestions of a Severus/Remus relationship would be Tonks, and the whole Remus/Tonks thing. Apart from Lucius/Severus, of course, which snapelike was so convinced was my subject… This really pissed me off, because (unlike Lucius/Severus) the whole Tonks storyline always struck me as crap. But as it turns out, that’s not true. Actually, re-reading it makes me wonder even more why JKR thought it was a good idea. If you want to be put off heterosexual marriage, take a look at that one. IT’s damn near impossible to find a single moment when Remus looks even moderately content with Tonks, let alone deliriously happy. He’s thrilled over Teddy, but that’s his child, not his wife.
Anyway, I’m going to stop ranting about Tonks (who would have made a lovely gay character and should have ended up with Ginny, thus pleasing all the haters of Harry/Ginny, or even with Kingsley as I can’t help feeling anyone of either sex would probably sleep with him) and get to the crucial point for Snupineers. Which is that Remus only accepts Tonks at all – and even then somewhat reluctantly – AFTER he’s found out that Severus killed Dumbledore. And his reaction to that news is actually possibly one of the strongest arguments supporting a previous Sev/Remus relationship.
“Snape was a highly accomplished Occlumens,” said Lupin, his voice uncharacteristically harsh. “We always knew that.” (HBP, 574, UK Hardback)
Now, his voice is described as “uncharacteristically harsh”. Why? Given the reputed antipathy between the Marauders en masse and Severus, why would this particular betrayal seem so terrible? Especially considering this from a man who thought one of his best mates – Sirius – killed both of his other best mates – James and Peter; and has had to face recently the realisation that Peter was in fact the traitor. He faced Peter calmly in the Shrieking Shack: why should Severus’s behaviour upset him so much?
Obviously, if he’s been sleeping with him, the idea that Sev’s been betraying the Order is going to have a personal resonance. And in fact, given this background – the man he loves having betrayed him so massively – his relationship with Tonks (yes, I’m back on that again) makes a little more sense. Why not agree to marry someone you’re SURE loves you? From a point where Remus has lost his mentor, Dumbledore – the only person prepared to give him a school place and later a teaching job – and his lover, Severus, simultaneously, he probably isn’t feeling too great (understatement of the century!). Tonks is not only persistent, she’s clearly on the side of the Order AND she is supported by the Weasleys.
“I’ve said all along you’re taking a ridiculous line on this, Remus,” said Mrs. Weasley… “This is… not the moment to discuss it,” said Lupin, avoiding everybody’s eyes as he looked around distractedly. “Dumbledore is dead…” (582 HBP)
Remus’s comment can easily be argued to be a sub-textual suggestion of a previous relationship with Severus (look, I’m an academic, these words come with the territory), and in fact make more sense than any other reading. The “Dumbledore is dead” thing brings the whole situation of Severus back to the forefront of everyone’s minds.
But – he does end up with Tonks. And given the pressure he’s got from the majority of people to settle down with her, especially if he’s hiding a previous relationship with the Arch Enemy Snape, and particularly because the Weasleys are probably the closest friends he now has (no James, Sirius, Peter, Dumbledore, Severus…), it’s not surprising he gives in. His life is in total crisis anyway – hanging on to the few people he has left makes sense.
Okay, so having started at completely the wrong end – the supposed ‘finish’ of a relationship that I haven’t shown actually exists in the first place – I’m going to go back and try and build a case that there was ever a relationship TO finish. And, I’ve got to admit it, the evidence is somewhat on the slim side. We’re not talking hints of Hermione/Ron proportions, for example. But on the other hand, as the books are written from Harry’s p.o.v., and therefore all we get of Severus in particularly is an extremely biased view (by the way, I don’t imagine that Severus would be either flattered or consoled for Harry’s behaviour by his naming one of his sons after him – “Hey, I spent all the time you were alive slagging you off and making your life as miserable as possibly, but that’s all forgotten now, yeah? I’ve even given my son your name… not as a first name, obviously, but stuffed in as an afterthought. That makes everything better, right?” What do you mean, I keep getting off the point? Oh. Back to Severus/Lucius… I mean Sev/Remus….) Right, anyway, given the Harry-eye-view, it's unlikely that there would be much in the way of Remus/Severus romance in the actual text of the book. Harry’s blind enough about that sort of thing at the best of times. But the interesting thing is, the hints are still there – if you squint sort of sideways at the books, that is.
POA is a curious book all the way through when looking for Snupin hints. On first viewing, the very idea of a relationship between those two seems ridiculous. For example, look at the scene near the end, when Severus is taunting Remus about being “a tame werewolf,” hanging around with a “convicted murderer” and threatening them both with Azkaban, the idea of any sort of love between Sev and Remus looks really bonkers. Even by my standards. But…
Yes, believe it or not, there is a ‘but’ – even here. I’ve already beaten the ‘betrayal’ drum once, so I’m not going to linger on the point here, but I will say in passing that if Severus had been convinced by Remus that he didn’t know anything about Sirius’s escape (and Severus, in my opinion, finds it hard to trust people, so if Remus had managed to convince him then he’d feel all the more let down) and then discovered them together, it would be understandable that he’d be very angry. Still, leaving that behind for the moment…
Wolfsbane potion. I’m going to go off on one about that now. If Severus is the only person in the school who can make Wolfsbane for Remus, obviously he’s going to be asked by Dumbledore (or rather, told by Dumbledore, as Albus doesn’t precisely do requests) to make it. And if D’dore knows he’s quite capable of making it, Severus isn’t going to let him down. Probably professional pride would stop him from intentionally messing it up anyway. Okay, but why is he so very solicitous with it? Early on, Severus turns up with the potion:
He was carrying a goblet, which was smoking faintly, and stopped at the sight of Harry, his black eyes narrowing. (POA, 117, UK hardback)
Why’ve I quoted that line? Well, I think it’s interesting that it is at the sight of Harry that Severus’s eyes narrow: until that point, he presumably is not scowling. He also tells Remus when to take it “You should drink it directly;” and offers of his own volition the information that he’s made a large quantity if Remus needs more. This is in the presence of Harry: he’s unlikely to be less friendly when Harry’s not around – probably more.
What’s more, Severus has come to Remus. This scenario happens again on The Day That Happened Twice ™. Severus, realising that Remus has forgotten to take his potion, trots down to Remus’s office to find him and give him some (any double entendres you like there). Surely it ought to be Remus’s responsibility to take the potion? And if he were to forget, Severus would have a far better case for having him thrown out of Hogwarts, which allegedly is something he’s been campaigning for. “Look, he can’t even be trusted to take a simple potion. He’s a risk to students!” This, we are told, is the line he’s been pushing to Dumbledore since Remus was appointed, yet he goes out of his way to prove himself wrong.
But the thing in POA that first drew me into the murky world of Snupineers is the scene where Severus takes the Marauders’ Map from Harry and it insults him. (Incidentally, if Sev knew the Marauders’ nicknames, why didn’t they know his? Or were they too pleased with the oh-so-clever ‘Snivellus’ name to care?)
Snape strode across to his fire, seized a fistful of glittering powder from a jar on the fireplace, and threw it into the flames. “Lupin,” Snape called into the fire. “I want a word!” Utterly bewildered, Harry stared at the fire. A large shape had appeared in it, revolving very fast. Seconds later, Professor Lupin was clambering out of the fireplace, brushing ash off his shabby robes. “You called, Severus?” said Lupin mildly. “I certainly did,” said Snape. (POA, 212)
What is going on here? This is the ONLY time we see this apparent backwards-floo-powder thingy happen (in similar circumstances between other characters, people do the head-in-fire thing). Why has Severus got a special way of calling Remus to his room, if not to allow people like me to consider slashy possibilities?
Goblet of Fire is a bit of a write-off for any Lupin stuff. There’s about one mention of him and that’s all. So, moving swiftly on to OOTP, there’s one very interesting point. With all the comings and goings of people to Grimmauld Place, JKR never shows Remus and Severus together. (Pause whilst I wait for people to point out several occasions when she does.) And one of the few times that Severus’s name is brought up in front of Remus, he leaps to Severus’s defence. Carefully, since it’s to Harry, but he does.
“Harry, I know you don’t like Snape, but he is a superb Occlumens and we all – Sirius included – want you to learn to protect yourself.” (OOTP, 465, UK hardback)
Not only does he defend Severus’s ability, he also very carefully phrases it so as not to associate himself with the dislike of the man. “I know YOU don’t like Snape…” He is also obviously guilty about his previous failures to support Severus:
“Did I ever tell you to lay off Snape?” he said. “Did I ever have the guts to tell you I thought you were out of order?” (OOTP, 591)
Given the fact that Severus and Remus are never shown meeting in OOTP, it’s also interesting that when Harry tells Sirius and Remus that Severus has stopped giving him Occlumency lessons, Remus says “If anyone’s going to tell Snape it will be me!” with surprising firmness. Possibly he just wants to stop Sirius over-reacting all over the place, but it implies that Remus and Severus have been meeting ‘off-stage’, as it were. And having lots of sex, obviously, even if it doesn’t QUITE say that.
Okay, I started with HBP, so I’m going to skip on to DH now. Yes, okay, we have an extremely depressed married Lupin, but I really do need to stop ranting about Tonks, so ignoring that… When there are seven people pretending to be Harry, with seven protectors… why does Severus choose Remus and false-Harry to follow? It could be seen as a protective move, to try and make sure no one hurts Lupin.
Later, there is a moment when it is Remus’s turn to show who his mind is lingering on. When Harry, Hermione and Ron are hiding out at Grimmauld Place, Remus comes over. His first words, after demonstrating himself truly to be Remus John Lupin? “No sign of Severus, then?” (DH, 168, UK hardback) I think it’s interesting and telling that caught by surprise, Remus instinctively refers to Snape as ‘Severus’. Since Severus’s apparent betrayal, everyone seems to be calling him ‘Snape’; yet here, Remus’s first thought is of Severus, and he refers to him as ‘Severus’.
And it’s shortly after he talks about Severus, that he says “I made a grave mistake in marrying Tonks. I did it against my better judgement and I have regretted it very much ever since.” (DH, 175). Pining over your lost love, Remus?
Right, just to finish with, a couple of character studies of our two heroes, starting with Remus.
In order to get some sort of reaction, I’m going to suggest that Remus is – at worst – a pathological liar, and at best a man with an absolute obsession about “fitting in”. Look at just about everything we see/hear about him, and it fits into this modus operandi. He goes to school and (understandably) lies to his best friends about what he does at full moon. When they become Marauders, he lies by omission in not telling Dumbledore – also understandable when he’s a kid, but close to unforgiveable, considering the perceived danger, when he comes back as a teacher. He doesn’t tell because he’s still trying to be the “good boy,” to fit in – even at the potential cost of Harry’s life. Similarly, his need to fit in makes him go along with James and Sirius’s cruet treatment of Severus despite the fact he evidently does not approve (he is said to have a “faint frown” in the Pensieve scene).
But what relevance does any of this have to a potential Severus/Remus relationship? Quite a lot, actually. Imagine Remus – desperate to be liked – discovering that he’s gay. He’s not exactly likely to stand up and be the poster child for homosexuality, is he? Any gay relationship he had would be likely to be kept extremely secretive – and as he proves by not telling Dumbledore about Sirius’s animagus abilities, Remus is Good at secrets. If, even worse, he fell for Severus I certainly can’t imagine it being common knowledge, and Remus would most likely go out of his way to keep THAT connection quiet, even when Severus is seen as a “good guy” and part of the Order. His excuses to Tonks about why he won’t enter a relationship with her, therefore, can be seen as an attempt to avoid the “real” reason of a previous attachment. When Severus is made into Arch Villain in HBP, and Remus thinks he’s been betrayed, he’s even less likely to own up. And his desperate desire to fit in could well make him, at a moment of great stress, agree to marry Tonks. So there is room in canon for a potential relationship; and Remus’s character does not make it out of the question.
What about Severus?
Given canon (and yes, I’m not that keen on it either, but this is a paper on the subject of canon, so I need to stick to it), I’m not prepared to write off suggestions of a genuine attachment by Severus to Lily, as I’ve so easily disposed of Remus/Tonks. On the other hand, this appears as “the only woman he’s loved.” So okay, he’s stuck on Lily. You can pose two possible trains of thought to allow this attachment to stand as well as a relationship with Remus. Firstly, not wanting to put another woman where he always wanted Lily, he turns to men. Or secondly (my personal choice), he has a deep and abiding love for Lily as the first friend he had – but on a platonic level. Never underestimate the power of friendship: if we are to believe that Harry would die for Ron, and Sirius did die for Harry, why not allow a similar love-without-added-sex situation for Severus? So I can circumvent Lily nicely, but would Severus ever want Remus? And if so, would he be prepared to be Remus’s dirty little secret?
I think he might. Certainly the dirty little secret bit at any rate, because I imagine that Severus’s reaction to Remus might be a little that way. Remus, to Severus, is a man who not only allegedly turns into a monster (Tonks, one presumes, has never seen werewolf!Lupin) but someone who has actually tried to kill Severus on a previous occasion. Can you imagine finding yourself attracted to what is probably the stuff of your nightmares? I would imagine Severus struggling very hard against any such attraction and being somewhat ashamed of it himself*. Plus, of course, if we’re going to talk about people who are world beaters at keeping secrets, Severus could absolutely thrash Remus at that game (and who knows, Remus might like that... sorry, slashy moment).
As a double agent, Severus would probably not be too keen on his sex life being an open book, either – one whisper to Voldemort that Severus is in a relationship (or at any rate having hot sex) with Remus would be enough to raise big doubts in Voldemort’s mind. Of course, when Remus is trying to ingratiate himself with the other werewolves, this relationship might be quite a good thing – but for all we know, the werewolf underworld are all Snupineers on the quiet.
I would anticipate Severus finding it very hard to trust Remus – but that’s borne out in the books, too: Remus clearly doesn’t know what’s behind Severus killing Dumbledore, so if they were having a relationship, Severus was keeping a lot back.
• Someone (imma?) pointed out that Severus had been noted as taking notice of Remus before, hence the incident where Sirius could play his amusing trick, so possibly the attraction came before the werewolf knowledge. If so, he must have got one hell of a shock...