Placet [sometime during 2008]
Title: Placet Author: bronze_ribbons Warnings: Light bondage. Words: 2200 Notes: Spawned by discussions here and there; the initial sketch contained just Peter, Harriet, Remus, and Severus at a Handel concert, but the damn bunny kept hopping sideways. Beta'd by LJ:swooop. Written for catrinella, for her birthday. Originally posted 11 September 2005.
"Wimseys!" snarled Snape, as he stepped out of the Floo. "Too. Many. Wimseys!"
Lupin kissed him anyway. Sinistra continued pouring tea. Hermione looked up from her book and said, "I take it you had both of the twins scrubbing cauldrons tonight, eh?"
Snape dropped into his usual armchair and growled, "Granger, even at your know-it-all worst, you were never as go-to-blazes insolent as those two whiteheaded brats."
Hermione scoffed. "Of course not, Snape. They've got seven centuries' worth of inbreeding in their favor." Snape let out a bark of laughter. Hermione continued, grinning, "I had only Harry."
"Tsk, Granger. That's no excuse." Snape reached for a cannoli. "Potter will forever lack in style and savoir faire, but he had and has no equal in going to blazes."
"A talent you seemed to appreciate during Ginny's birthday fête –"
"As did every person of taste and sanity in that room."
"So why didn't you Incendio those cupcakes as soon as they started singing?"
"I was restraining myself from casting Crucio on the party's organizer."
"Snape, it is not my fault George Transfigured your robes into gold lamé!"
Lupin and Sinistra exchanged amused and resigned glances: their partners' sparring had become as essential to the weekly ritual as Sinistra's antique porcelain teacups. The evenings had originally commenced as part of a Sinistra-Granger master plan to lure Lupin into their bedroom, through the judicious deployment of zabaglione, tortellis, and flirtatiously intelligent conversation. It had taken them half a year of teas, twenty book exchanges, a group excursion to the Covent Garden Semele, and a spectacular hands-off-you-wenches-he's-mine liplock in the Great Hall to ascertain that Lupin and Snape had been conducting an extremely discreet affair for the better part of a decade.
It had taken another three months for the two women to coax Snape into accompanying Lupin to their teas, but it transpired that he was as much of a historical tunings geek as Sinistra: an invitation to examine her cherished Amati viola had handily trumped the Potions master's inclination to persevere in semi-justified sulking. That, and Snape had in fact found it a relief to cease concealing his attachment to Lupin. The day after the Great Hall contretemps, he had caught Urquhart, one of the mouthier sixth-years, casually taunting a housemate with the words "werewolf breath." Nine years' worth of suppressed indignation had roared out in a hex that had stunned the Slytherin common room into terrified silence. It had been one thing for the students to read or hear about the pain and gore involved in lycanthropic transformation; they had found it an entirely different matter to witness Urquhart lunging over and over into an invisible barrier, frantic to escape the twisting and cracking of his bones and muscles as they mutated into werewolf flesh and fur.
Thirty minutes later, having restored the boy to a bloodied, blubbering version of his human form, Snape had demanded, "Have. I. Made. Myself. Understood?" Every student in the room had answered his glare with a mute nod – some fervently, some carefully, but all satisfyingly affirmative. He had then ordered two of them to transport their hapless housemate to the infirmary and swept back to his quarters.
Later than evening, chin pressed to the top of Snape's head, Lupin had murmured, "And Minerva said...?"
He had felt his lover's lips curve against his chest. "'Snape, we never use Transfiguration as a punishment!' To which I pointed out that I had consulted with Urquhart's Head of House, who concurred with my assessment of the situation."
Lupin had rolled his eyes. "And?"
"That a one-time demonstration would prove more effective than fifty detentions."
"I see. Just when did you start designing that spell?"
"During an interminable conference banquet. Stuck next to a ghastly American geneticist named Schuster-Slatt."
"Ah." Lupin had paused. "Is that why you wanted to know if I'd ever wished my curse on anyone?"
"It's just as well you wouldn't tell me," Snape had conceded. "After all, you are living proof that I am not immune to temptation."
It was there, the self-contempt, if one knew to listen for it. In learning to live with Snape, however, Lupin had schooled himself not to react. That night, he had simply tightened his arms around the other man, and Snape had responded with a small but unmistakably contented grunt – an absurd, inconsequential sound, but one that had sent a flash of giddy, untamed joy surging through Lupin's bloodstream.
Paola Sinistra was good at teaching, but she didn't consider it one of her passions. She enjoyed astronomy, and she was pleased when her students did well, but in the end, she considered it merely the means to more important ends: summers biking and hiking through her native Italy, well-cut robes, proper biscotti (owled in from her favorite bakery in Milan), and decent seats at the opera.
After their guests departed, Hermione sat staring at the fire instead of returning to her book. Paola eyed her thoughtfully for a long minute. Then she crossed the room and perched herself on the arm of Hermione's chair.
"Carissima," she murmured, sliding a hand into Hermione's hair. "Is it so bad, that you're agreeing with Severus?"
Hermione sighed, pulling Paola into her lap. Although the older woman was now closer to fifty than forty, the biking and hiking had kept her trim and tanned: excepting the Quidditch coaches, she was the most athletic of the Hogwarts faculty members, and Hermione was not so secretly smug about that splendid body being hers to have and to hold, even though her own pale and plump figure testified to a life spent mainly inside archives and museums and lecture halls.
Paola lightly touched her forehead to Hermione's. "Calling Miss Granger. Miss Granger to the here and now, please."
"We've been known to agree before," Hermione protested. "For instance, we're neither all that keen on skiing." The previous winter, the four of them had split a week between a hotel in Vienna and a cabin in the Alps: during the Swiss segment of the holiday, Paola and Remus had taken to the slopes from dawn to dusk (gleefully Apparating up and careening down, again and again) whereas Hermione and Severus had staked out the two best armchairs and settled into them for the duration, steadily reading through their respective stacks of journals.
"I remember Phoebe," said Paola, referring to the twins' oldest sister. "She caused quite a stir with that mink halter dress." The outfit had been Transfigured from her great-grandmother's cloak, and Phoebe had been a very mature and very blonde sixteen.
"The whole family enjoys stirring things up," muttered Hermione. "Great-grandfather a detective, granddad a knight, their aunt one of Madame Malkin's elite–"
"Hermione," Paola said. "Resentment doesn't become you."
Hermione paused, dismay in her eyes. "I – oh, hell!" she said, and buried her face in Paola's shoulder. "I am turning into Snape!"
"Shhh....shhh...." Paola soothed. "Severus would be exceedingly insulted to hear you say that. He likes to believe he is unique."
Hermione choked out a laugh. "Paola, he is unique. He has far more bitterness to expend than I will ever amass in ten lifetimes."
Paola ran a finger along Hermione's neckline, admiring the contrast between pale skin and emerald green silk. Tracing the embroidery on a clasp, she said, "I confess, I don't quite understand. Excepting Remus, Severus still can't abide Gryffindors –"
"Plus, all of the Wimseys are infamous for talking the hind legs off of hippogriffs –"
"Which doesn't explain why you don't like them –"
Hermione flushed. "They're brilliant, I'll give them that."
Paola waited, fingertips fanning across the top edge of the silk.
Hermione closed her eyes. "They've never had to work for what they have," she finally said. "Brains, money, looks –"
"If you like that washed-out upper-class broomstick-up-the-arse set of genes, sure."
"Just trying to make you feel better. Besides, their great-grandmother was common enough – I had a thing for Harriet Vane novels when I was Muggling it at Magdalen –"
"Stop it." Hermione's hands gripped the arms of the chair. "I know I'm being ridiculous."
"Yes," Paola said, lightly, running her hands down and up Hermione's sleeves. "You and Severus both need to work on forgiving yourselves for being merely human."
Hermione froze. Then a noise escaped from her that sounded suspiciously close to a sob. Paola drew her close and continued, speaking into her hair, "You do understand it's also why Remus and I find you two utterly irresistible?"
Hermione's answer was muffled, her shoulders shaking. "What, that we're both work-obsessed swots who can't let go of how unfair things will always be?"
Paola kissed her brow. "That you both care so damned much." Another kiss. "That you don't accept things 'just because.'" Yet another kiss. "That you're both driven to save the world from stupidity and shoddiness." A kiss on the nose. "That you're smart, and brave, and devious, and impossibly hard to please." A caress against her cheek. "That I somehow manage to please you anyway."
"Placet," murmured Hermione, pressing her lips against Paola's.
"They do eventually grow up," said Lupin, standing by their bedroom hearth. "For example, Harry and Draco."
"Potter and Malfoy aren't grownups," retorted Snape. "They are merely less immature."
"Harry and Draco have been sleeping together longer than we have."
"Remus, I do not wish to contemplate the sex lives of Potters, Malfoys, or Wimseys, tonight or ever. Besides, I believe the cumulative total of Potter-Malfoy breakups more than cancel out the fortnight's lead they purportedly have on us."
"Hm, I suppose," said Lupin. "My point is, you've outlasted them all. And Vane Parker was actually one of your favorite students."
"Parker was quiet and methodical."
"Parker helped Phoebe Wimsey Transfigure their ties into matching mink wristcuffs."
"Mink do not normally scamper about with blue and bronze stripes."
Lupin snickered. "True -- they weren't as advanced as they fancied themselves."
Snape said, low, "That's all too true of many of us."
Lupin's grin vanished. He looked at his lover helplessly.
Snape swore."Damnation! I don't mean you, you idiot." Furious with himself, he turned away, Banished his clothes to a hamper, and pulled a nightshirt out of a drawer.
Exasperated, Lupin strode across the room and flung Snape onto their bed, enjoying the Potions master's surprised squawk. Throwing himself on top of his partner, Lupin planted a palm on either side of Snape's head and hissed, "When are you going to stop --"
Snape's hands clenched on the sheets underneath them. "I bloody can't. I don't know how you do it, I don't know how you stand me –"
Lupin brandished his wand. "Accio Ties!" As he snatched them out of the air, he Transfigured them into two pairs of fur-lined wristcuffs.
"Ah," said Snape, his eyes tracking the straps as Lupin wrapped them around his wrists. "That color, I do believe I've glimpsed on an actual Mustela vison." His body relaxed a fraction as Lupin buckled the open cuffs to the headboard.
Lupin gazed down at Snape. "Do you know when I finally clued in on just how much you need -- this? It was watching you lose yourself in those insanely convoluted but highly expressive Muggle operas."
Snape snorted. "Overwrought costume-fantasies are not required to co-exist with logic." With a smirk, he added, "Granger would derive far more enjoyment from them if she could bring herself to grasp that elementary fact."
Lupin's lips twitched. "Hermione has never been good at ignoring things. And she isn't the sort to dissect the music by itself for the fun of it – she's too much into results." He slid his hips back against Snape's, and was rewarded with an involuntary moan. "I have to admit, though -- that eighteenth-century frill the month before last? That one was a bit hard to take."
Snape tried to disregard Lupin's roving hands long enough to revisit the memory. "What, you didn't care for lovesick Dark Witches frolicking around their petrified would-be inamorati?"
Lupin nodded, sliding his palms along the insides of Snape's thighs. "For something with more gaps than a Quibbler serial, that silly little story played a little too close to home." His right forearm glanced against Snape's cock as he reached back up to play with a nipple. "That music, though – I'm with you all the way. It was ravishing." He draped himself across Snape's body. "Mesmerizing." He let a finger trace the edge of Snape's left ear, and savored how the other man was already trembling. "It follows... all of the rules and constraints of its time," Lupin murmured, stretching up to lick along the edge of a cuff. "And yet, it blossoms into fire at the least encouragement."
"Not just any... encouragement...would do..." Snape panted. Lupin's mouth was gliding and nipping across his chest; Lupin's hands -- those skilled, sure, experienced hands -- were stroking and slicking and spreading... "How –" Snape's voice broke on a gasp. "Your patience -- your pressing beyond --"
Lupin said softly, "Mine, Severus. All of your passion, mine to release."
"Te... solo vuol' amar..." breathed Snape, and Lupin entered him.
__ _ _ "Placet" = "it pleases me." A quote from Gaudy Night. "Te solo vuol' amar..." = "you alone [my heart] would love." A quote from Handel's Alcina, the opera they saw.