Watching Candles Melt

by Bernice

Lupin watched Snape who watched Lucius and Narcissa on the dance floor. Two tall fair and graceful dancers, they moved with mechanical precision, not even looking at each other as they circled the floor. Their dance was a show for others, a show of unity and superiority, and they blazed like candles, long and slender, hair flickering in the fairy light.

"They dance well," Lupin tempted conversation, wondering what had Snape so riveted.

"Watch them," Snape said shortly, not taking his eyes off the dancing couple.

"What am I looking for?" Lupin whispered. He’d seen people dance. He’d certainly seen people enjoy dancing more.

"Just watch," Snape repeated. So they did, both of them standing on the side, watching as the Malfoys twirled and pranced their show of public affection.

"There... there it is," Snape said, his voice a low rumble, and Lupin watched as Lucius caught Narcissa’s eye, almost accidentally, and his face softened and sweetened, and a small smile tugged at his lips. She smiled back, a genuine expression, ten years falling from her face as she tried to hide the glow of her affection. Their world had narrowed to just the two of them, and Lupin realised that he and Snape, and the rest of the dancers, had simply ceased to exist.

Their dancing changed, too, as the distance between them became nothing, and their movements went from the precision of years of training, to the slight stumble and smile of tiny imperfections. Their public dance became private love making, and yet it was only by watching as closely as Snape did that Lupin recognised it.

"He really loves her," Lupin whispered. It seemed odd to realise this after all these years.

"He loves his family. He’s a good husband. A good father."

Lupin snorted, thinking of the horrible little bastard that had graced his classroom. He was gratified to see Snape’s lip curl in an almost genuine smile.

"Yes, I know. He spoils his boy something rotten, but he loves him. He’d do anything for Draco. He’s a good father."

"Yes, you’re right, Severus. I’m sure we’ve all seen much worse."

Snape turned to his intense gaze to Lupin, "He’s not an evil man, Lupin," Snape said. "No one is all evil. No matter what decisions they may make, or how they may seem to behave towards their enemies."

Lupin was taken aback to see the question in Snape’s eyes, and answered it with one of his own, not understanding what he was being asked.

He realised he’d given the wrong answer when Snape turned and strode away.


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