Author's Notes: Thanks to TouchingDarkness and Emilyedge for their speedy and most helpful beta jobs.
Mastery of Passions
By Queen of the Castle
"The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions"
– Alfred Lord Tennyson
"You think of him, don't you?"
Remus Lupin didn't need to turn around to look at the owner of that dark voice in order to recognise him. He'd heard that tone taunting him in that exact manner more than enough times to know that it was Severus Snape speaking.
"I've no idea what you're talking about, Severus. Perhaps you'd like to be a little more specific?" he replied tiredly.
He could practically hear the resultant smirk on the Potions Master's face. "You think about Potter late at night after you've finished crying over your lost mutt." Even as Remus was swinging around angrily to face him, Snape was taking a self-protective step backward. "The knowledge that you'll be able to fantasize about him later is all that allows you to make it through each day without breaking down. There, Lupin, that should be specific enough to satisfy even someone as dim-witted as yourself. Now, answer the question."
Remus' mouth moved without any sound bar the exhalation of breath escaping his lips. "You're sick," he finally rasped breathlessly. "Of course I don't ... how dare you even suggest such a thing?"
"I dare suggest it because I have heard you crying out his name in the throes of passion, Lupin. Half the castle has probably heard you. Never mind that you stare at him far more often than is acceptable for a professor, and it is usually in a very un-teacherly way." Yellowed teeth flashed in what Remus supposed was intended to be a humoured smile; on Snape it looked more like a grimace. "Dear me, Lupin, what would Potter's schoolfellows say if they noticed. Perhaps they already have. Perhaps they are already spreading the gossip, even more disgusted now by your very existence than they were when they first learned of your monthly change into a beast. You might already be a full-time beast in their eyes, now. For who that is not classed as a monster would lust after a boy that not only has yet to come of age, but for whom he is also considered the chief guardian?"
Remus only realised as Snape's tirade came to an end that he was repeatedly shaking his head in denial. "You have no idea what you're talking about. I think all those years as a Death Eater have caused you to assimilate those sick perversions you experience in their company into normal life."
Snape showed no sign that he had heard a word of it. Rather, he continued to hiss those obscenities at a volume that caused Remus to have to strain to hear the words (though he was unsure why he bothered to do so when he had no desire to hear anything more out of that man's mouth). "What would Black think, I wonder, if he was still around to see his best friend exhibiting paedophilic tendencies toward his beloved godson."
Remus recoiled. "You foul, loathsome prick! Get out of my office!"
Snape smirked once more and shrugged elegantly. "As you wish. We will be expected at dinner very soon anyway. I hope you will attempt to restrain yourself from your usual drooling at the sight of him for the length of just one meal."
"Get out," Remus repeated in a growl.
Snape walked to the door of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher's office before glancing back. "He looks at you as well, you know. The boy obviously has no taste and absolutely no idea how to maintain his own safety." He was gone in a flurry of black material before Remus could so much as breath in reaction.
Remus stood staring in shock at the door long after that point.
From his vantage point at the High Table that night, Remus could watch any member of the student body with little chance of them catching his gaze. He pointedly looked everywhere but at the dark-haired sixteen-year-old whom he could hear laughing with his friends at the Gryffindor table.
Snape was wrong. Remus was not lusting after Harry, for that would be very wrong. And Harry certainly wasn't looking back with the same inappropriate lust tinging his eyes. Not that lust of any sort tinged Remus' eyes, of course.
"So you're taking my advice," Snape murmured from the seat directly beside him. Remus lowered his eyes ashamedly to his plate. Despite his own self-denials, hearing Snape say such a thing brought to the front of his mind the fact that he was actually finding it very difficult not to let his eyes drift in Harry's direction.
"Truthfully, Lupin, I'm quite impressed with your ability to restrain yourself. I was always under the impression that werewolves were reckless and uncontrollable at all times. But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps that only applies closer to the full moon, when the animal side is closest to the surface. What will you do when the lunar cycle draws closer to its peak? Will you allow yourself to take him to your bed?"
Remus twitched, his hands wringing themselves around empty air that he half-wished was filled with Snape's neck. He had thought the Headmaster barmier than he'd ever realised when he first discovered that his assigned position at meals was directly beside a man who hated him and would probably sooner just kill him than speak civilly to him. He'd thought at the time that Dumbledore might be trying to continue the yearly tradition of having to replace the Defence teacher by having Remus killed off. Now, however, Remus wasn't entirely sure that he wouldn't instead be the cause of the Headmaster having to replace his dead Potions professor.
"Be quiet," Remus spat finally, fully aware that his ineloquence was likely to further amuse Snape. "Do you want the entire staff to hear your depraved thoughts about my relationship with a student?"
"Why not? Perhaps then they might more closely inspect the ‘relationship' themselves. They might save the boy from you before you permanently damage him. Though I almost doubt that that particular boy could be any more damaged than he is currently."
Remus abruptly stood up, glaring at Snape, and stalked away much in the same manner in which Snape himself tended to travel, leaving his barely-touched dinner on the table. Just before he turned his back on the hall, his eyes met a familiar green pair. The boy disappeared from his view as he rounded the corner out of the Great Hall.
He was left to wonder how long before he'd met the boy's gaze Harry had been staring at him in that manner.
I am not lusting after Harry Potter, Remus repeated silently to himself later that night, even as his hand was wrapping firmly around his hard length. The fact that I fantasize about him like this has nothing to do with reality. I am strong. I can resist the urge to act on my passions. The words had become almost like a mantra that he'd been clinging to, since thoughts of the boy had been clouding his mind all day.
He'd found it especially difficult to erase the image of Harry looking at him that way from his mind. Perhaps it was just his mind playing tricks on him after what Snape had said earlier: he looks at you as well, you know. But whether that was the case or not, the thought of Harry lusting after him had sent Remus' mind off on its own tangent.
It didn't take his feverish thoughts long to mutate the fantasy of Harry watching him all meal with lustful eyes into one of Harry seeking him out after a lesson and kissing him, confidently pressing him back into the edge of his desk as his lips devoured Remus'. That, of course, turned into cruder thoughts (involving testing of the durability of the top of Remus' hard wooden desk) that made him moan with want – with uninhibited need – and writhe under his own ministrations.
"Harry," he murmured, then repeated the name louder as his climax drew closer. Another moan was punctuated by a voice from just outside his bedroom.
"Professor, are you alright?"
There was only one student who knew both the destination of Remus' quarters and the password to get in. Remus had told the boy both of those pieces of information himself, along with stressing the fact that he was always welcome. But not right now, Remus thought frantically even as the door swung open and Harry Potter charged into his room with his wand drawn.
The boy ceased moving when those bright green eyes took in the spectacle of Remus' naked body lying on the bed, the tip of his erection peeking out from his hand for a moment before the hand let go and grasped instead for an object with which he might cover himself.
"Oh," Harry breathed. "Oh god ... I'm sorry ... You were moaning ... I thought you were in pain ... The other guys in the dorm are usually pretty silent when ... So I don't really know what it sounds like when someone's ... I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Remus said quietly, unsure to whom he was speaking; he needed to attempt to repair the damage to Harry's innocent mind, but he also thought that perhaps he needed to pound that phrase into his own head before he died of mortification. As it was, his face was currently burning a shade of red that he suspected was even darker than Harry's blush.
"No, it's not okay," Harry insisted, still talking faster than his brain could produce intelligent words. "I should have ... I don't know, knocked, or run in the opposite direction, or something! I'm sorry."
They both stared at each other in silence for what seemed like hours before Harry eventually spoke again.
"I heard you calling out my name," he said quietly. "That was why I burst in like that. I thought you needed help and knew that I was just outside. But ... that obviously wasn't why, was it?"
Remus shook his head regretfully. "Harry, I'm very sorry. It was inappropriate and very wrong of me."
"You didn't mean for me to hear it or know about it, though," Harry reasoned, and through the absolute shock Remus felt at Harry attempting to reason on his behalf when he should, by all rights, be running straight to Dumbledore, Remus mentally remarked that the boy suddenly seemed much calmer.
"It doesn't matter that I didn't mean for you to know about it. The fact that it happened at all is grounds for my expulsion as a teacher. I'll leave the decision to you regarding whether you'd like to report me or simply allow me to resign."
"What?" Harry asked sharply. "No, neither! What on earth are you talking about? You're the best Defence teacher I've ever had ... the best teacher of any class I've had! You can't leave, not again! It's not like you tried to make a move on me or anything! And even if you did, I'd be too happy about it to consider reporting you, because I really rather fancy you." Harry seemed very breathless as he said this. He looked at his Professor with eyes too innocent for the words that issued from his mouth. "I like the fact that you were thinking about me, because I think about you when I touch myself, as well."
Remus was shocked silent for a long moment prior to the long groan that tore its way out of his throat. "I'm most definitely resigning."
Harry was frowning in a mixture of disagreement and annoyance, even as he lowered himself down to touch his lips quickly to Remus' right cheek. "I love the fact that you're so selfless, but this whole ‘this is wrong' thing is stupid. I won't have you hating yourself over something that I want just as badly as you do. Probably more so, in fact."
And as if to prove this, Harry touched his lips to Remus' skin again. This time the kiss was long and not at all chaste, and it was placed directly on Remus' own lips. Remus responded automatically to the mixture of tenderness and need, meeting each of Harry's movements and slipping his tongue into the boy's mouth.
It was only when Harry's hand inched down beneath the messy pile of sheets Remus had pulled over his groin that Remus simultaneously pulled back and pushed Harry away.
"We can't," he rasped.
"Tell me you want me," Harry demanded without even a moment's pause.
"I want you," Remus replied truthfully.
"Then we can!" he replied simply, his mouth set in a very determined matter. That mouth approached Remus again and he had to push Harry away hard in order to control himself.
"We can't, because you will still be my student for over a year and you are not yet of age! Never mind being sacked; I could be thrown in Azkaban for starting a relationship with a student!"
"So that's it, is it?" Harry shouted angrily. "I should just forget that this ever happened? Forget what I feel for you? I've felt like this since the holidays, since you insisted I called you Remus, since before I knew that you'd be my Professor again this year. I never pursued you because I thought you'd hate me for ruining that tentative little relationship we've been trying to build. But now that I know that those feelings are returned, I can't just forget!"
Remus nodded. "Nor can I. But I will not begin an affair with you while you are still a student, whether I continue to be your teacher or not. After you finish school, then we will see if you still wish to pursue this."
"After ... but either or both of us could be dead by then!" Harry exclaimed.
"All the more reason to wait. I refuse to leave you with a dead lover to remember, especially considering that I'd be your first. After you finish school, we won't need to worry about it. Voldemort will attack you before you leave your seventh year, mark my words. He will want to hit you before you are at full power and recognised as an adult. If you survive that and kill him, then we will both be safe from him. The chance of us losing each other will be minimal."
The look on Harry's face proclaimed that he agreed, but that he still hated that Remus was right. "You've had too many loved ones die," he admitted. "I wouldn't want to add to that. But you must promise me that after that you won't keep resisting me!"
Remus nodded. "Alright. I will promise both not to resign for the fact that I kissed you and to stop resisting you after you graduate – if you still want to be with me, of course – if you will promise not to turn away opportunity on my behalf. You are a teenager, and I want you to live like one. I won't be the reason you turn down someone you could love who is closer to your age."
Harry shook his head. "I know I won't find anyone ... but if it'll make you happy, I promise not to turn that person away if they do suddenly pop up out of thin air." Harry paused while he surveyed Remus. "Wouldn't it hurt you to see me with someone else, though?"
"Dreadfully," Remus replied. "But if it made you happy, then I would be content with it."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, then grinned. "Alright, but I have one more request to make of you: promise you won't listen to anything Snape says about your feelings for me. I saw the way he was talking to you at dinner, and how it affected you. I know what it had to have been about. What he says doesn't matter, because he's a passionless old bastard who doesn't have a clue what love is."
"I'll try," Remus agreed, knowing that Snape's hurtful words might become too hard for him to just block out like Harry suggested.
"Good," Harry leaned back down to kiss Remus, and this time the other man allowed it. He savoured the soft press of lips, knowing that he wouldn't be able to feel that for at least another fourteen months.
"I originally came down here to ask you for a favour," Harry said when he pulled away. "Would you give me private lessons on Defence spells? Like you did with the Patronus. Because if I'm waiting until after I fight Voldemort to be with you, I'd like to have the best possible chance of defeating him."
"Of course I'll help you," Remus replied, trying his best to sound like a responsible Professor rather than a breathless teenager. "You can do some research in the next few days and find useful spells that you believe you would require my help to master, and then you can come see me to arrange a meeting time and place. How's that?"
Harry smiled. "Brilliant. I'll see you tomorrow in class."
Remus watched him go, longing to simply run after Harry and drag him back to the bed. They wouldn't get back up for days, if Remus had his way. But that was very wrong (for the time being, at least). He would have to remain strong in his resolve.
Fourteen months wasn't really that long.
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