The Serpent and the Wolf

Chapter 1

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Welcome to another installment of "I Don't Feel Like Working on Any of My Other HP Fics So I Wrote This Instead"!

Have a fluffy one-shot, guys. You deserve it.

The Serpent and the Wolf

Remus Lupin couldn't bloody concentrate.

In hindsight, nagging his friends to study with him in the library during their free block was not his brightest idea. No matter if their O.W.L.s were only a month away—Remus, apparently, was the only one who cared.

As he scribbled another constellation on his star chart for Astronomy, James, Sirius, and Peter productively shredded parchment to make spitballs before using their wands to lob them at unsuspecting victims. Remus had chastised them already to spend their time wisely, but he'd given up after Sirius claimed he was wise enough for all of them. Remus had decided not to waste his breath pointing out how stupid that was.

"OI! Who threw this?"

A particularly indignant Ravenclaw pinched a spitball between his fingers in disgust. He stood to scan the room for the offender, and Remus abandoned his chart to glare at his three friends.

Sirius Black wore the perfect mask of bored indifference that had gotten him labeled a rebellious, moody teenager by all their professors, while James Potter feigned innocence beside him, leaning back on his chair legs and whistling. Peter Pettigrew had stuffed his round, red face in his robes to stifle his laughter, but fortunately, the Ravenclaw boy didn't notice. He sat down again, befuddled, and Remus shook his head.

"You're all juvenile," he said half-heartedly. "People are trying to work."

James stopped whistling and threw his friend a smirk. "And we're trying to have a laugh. I think our priorities outrank theirs. Isn't that right, Padfoot, Wormtail?"

Sirius and Peter nodded, sharing a conspiratorial grin with James. Remus frowned but said nothing. He didn't necessarily approve of James and the others' flippant attitude, but he'd learned long ago that arguing was futile. Plus, James was prideful; Remus was afraid that if he pushed too far and drew a line for the other boy, then James would become resentful and stop being his friend. And wherever James went, Sirius and Peter followed. Remus couldn't bear the thought of losing any of them, not when they'd become brothers to him. Not when they'd accepted him for who he truly was when others wouldn't have dared befriend a werewolf.

"Oi, Prongs," Sirius said, punching James in the shoulder. "Found our next target."

Remus and the other boys craned their necks to see Sirius's new victim enter the library, alone and ignorant to the four Gryffindors' stares. Remus's face grew warm as the familiar girl headed for the tables in the back where they were sitting, his heart picking up its pace.

Morsin Kallister was in fifth year like the rest of them, but a Slytherin. Remus didn't know much about her except that she came from a half-blood family like his own. She was a prefect, too, like him, but he'd only ever patrolled with her a handful of times, and they weren't exactly on speaking terms.

She passed their table, trekking deeper into the library, oblivious to the devilish grins James, Sirius, and Peter were exchanging. The three boys seemed to have made it their life goals to hex and prank every Slytherin in existence, and Morsin Kallister was no exception, even if she didn't seem as vile as the rest of her House.

Remus didn't know when he'd taken notice of the Slytherin girl, but for the past year, he'd been fascinated by her. He couldn't possibly fathom why: she was blisteringly cold and unapproachable. He didn't think he'd ever even seen her smile. And while the majority of the Hogwarts student body despised the Slytherins, they could also grudgingly agree that Morsin Kallister was one of the most beautiful witches in the school—something Remus had also taken notice of.

He watched her disappear around a bookshelf, her black uniform robes swishing behind her. He didn't realize he'd been staring until Sirius chucked a spitball at his face, hitting him on the cheek.

"Argh, you bastard!" he said, rubbing his cheek vigorously on his sleeve. "The bloody hell was that for?"

"For making heart eyes at Queen Kallister's backside," his friend retorted, flicking his overlong hair out of his face.

Remus flushed. "I was not."

Sirius snorted. "And I'm Merlin. Godric, Moony, pull yourself together; you can do much better than Slytherin's resident Frost Witch."

"I dunno," James hedged. "He did like Eloise Mathers last year, and she turned out to be absolutely barking. Maybe his taste in birds is off."

Remus scowled. "Thanks for your input that nobody asked for, Prongs. Care to add anything else, or can I get back to work?"

"Touchy, touchy," James said, his eyebrows rising to his hairline. Peter giggled shrilly beside him. "Have I struck a nerve, Moony?"

"At this point, it'd be impossible to find one you haven't," Remus retorted, tugging his star chart closer and picking up his quill again. "Now, shut up or get out. I have to finish this thing before dinner."

The three boys snickered. Remus forced himself to relax his grip on the quill. He loved his friends, he really did, but they could be completely annoying at times. Taking the piss out of him for staring at Morsin Kallister, like Sirius hadn't asked her out himself last year…

He scratched down another constellation, ignoring his friends' low whispers across from him. Let them go back to chucking spitballs, for all he cared. As long as he could get some work done.

An hour later, James, Sirius, and Peter got bored of harassing the other students and went back to the Gryffindor common room, finally leaving Remus to some peace and quiet.

With the sun setting behind the blue mountains on the distant horizon, the library had become emptier and dimmer. Dinner had likely started by now, but Remus couldn't bring himself to abandon his work just yet. He probably wouldn't have another chance to work alone like this for a long time.

He flipped through his notes, trying to find the right reference to use in this portion of his Transfiguration essay. He could've sworn he'd jotted down the title of Simon Carhart's spellbook before Professor McGonagall had erased her blackboard, but he couldn't find it anywhere. Damn. He'd have to go looking for it now.

He stood from his chair and stretched, the joints in his back and shoulders popping after sitting for so long. The few remaining students paid him no mind as he wandered through the bookcases, looking for Carhart's name along any of the spines that gleamed out at him, some of the books whistling or rustling agitatedly in their orderly rows.

Remus stopped just under the shelf that held most of the 'C' names. He scanned the books, but there was no sign of Carhart, though it should have been between Carbuckle and Carsullin.

"Looking for this?"

Remus turned, his eyes bugging slightly when he saw Morsin Kallister standing behind him, a small red book dangling from her fingers titled On the Tentative Transformations of the Intermediate Transfigurer by none other than Simon Carhart.

It took Remus a moment to remember how to form words again. "Er, yes."

She was even more beautiful up close, especially when he caught a whiff of her perfume—cedarwood and geraniums—that was just as enticing as the rest of her. Her white-blonde hair tumbled down her back in a loose braid, and her eyes appeared gold in the dim light, deep-set and heavy-lidded, like a content cat's. A pale, slender brow rose in question when Remus said nothing else.

"Transfiguration, right?" she asked. He'd forgotten how deep her voice was. Every word came out rich and smooth. "That essay for Professor McGonagall?"

He swallowed and forced himself to nod. "That's right."

"Yeah, I just finished mine," she said, brushing back a piece of hair. "Spent the better part of the afternoon and evening on it. Fifteen inches of parchment!" She scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Torture, if you ask me."

"You skipped dinner?" he asked.

Her eyebrow inched higher. "I'm here, aren't I?"

"Sorry," said Remus, his face flushing. "Stupid question—sorry—"

"Relax." Her pale pink lips curved upwards slightly—could she be smiling at him? "It was a joke. I'm rather capable of making one on occasion."

Remus's face was glowing at this point, but he grinned sheepishly and managed another, "Sorry."

"Here." She handed the book to him. "Good luck on your essay."

Once the book was in his hand, she turned and made her way back down the row. Remus stared after her dumbly. As if she'd sensed his gaze, she glanced over her shoulder once she reached the end of the row, her hand coming to rest on the corner of the shelf as she paused.

"You might find pages forty-eight and sixty-two to be the most helpful," she said, and then she was gone.

Later, when Remus was back at his table and writing his essay, he flipped through the pages of the book and could've sworn the scent of geraniums lingered.

As O.W.L.s drew ever nearer, Remus found himself in the library more and more. Sometimes his friends joined him in studying for a whopping half-hour before they got bored and left, but more often than not, he was alone at his favorite corner table, away from all the windows.

In the weeks since his encounter with Morsin Kallister, he hadn't spoken to her again, though he'd begun to see her in the library more frequently. They never exchanged anything more than a polite nod or quick wave if they happened to make eye contact, which relieved and frustrated Remus in equal measure. He had no idea what he would even say to her if they had another conversation, but he couldn't help but berate himself for never plucking up the courage to approach her anyway.

Almost a month after their initial conversation, Remus checked his schedule for prefect patrols and felt his heart miss several beats when he saw Morsin Kallister's name stenciled next to his own under "9 o'clock."

"Ooooh," Peter said, reading over Remus's shoulder in the Gryffindor common room where they were relaxing after dinner. "Rounds with Queen Kallister, Moony? Should we prepare an ice bath for you upon your return? Shower you with rose petals after your little date?"

Remus placed his hand over the smaller boy's face and bodily shoved him away, so he toppled off the couch with a yelp. James and Sirius laughed as Peter hauled himself upright again, his round face red. "Hey!"

"Sod off," Remus grumbled, his own face a bit pink. "It's just rounds."

"With your lovely snake," said James sarcastically, grinning.

"Well, Moony?" Sirius said, He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Got anything special planned for the Frost Witch? A little tongue, perhaps? A nip there, a hand here—"

Remus balled the schedule and chucked it as hard as he could at Sirius, who now roared with laughter along with James and Peter.

"Berks," he muttered darkly.

After the other boys had calmed down, James suddenly looked to Remus with an appraising glance.

"Y'know, Moony," he began, "as much as I shudder at the thought of you with a Slytherin, I think you should make a move."

Remus stared at him. "What?"

James shrugged and settled back more comfortably in his armchair. "You obviously fancy Kallister. Just go for it. See what happens."

Remus shook his head. "No way. I don't even know her. We've spoken once! She can't even know that I exist!"

Sirius snorted. "Yeah, right," he said. "She just happens to stare at you in the library because she thinks you're invisible."

"W-what?" Remus's face flushed more. "What do you mean?"

"Come off it." Sirius traded a confused glance with James and Peter before focusing back on Remus intently. "You can't be that thick, mate. She watches you all the time!"

Remus was flummoxed. "She does?"

Peter rolled his head back and groaned. "He's hopeless."

"You're one to talk," Sirius retorted. He ignored Peter's indignant cry and leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. "Kallister clearly fancies you back, Moony. Witch is probably just too stubborn to admit it."

James nodded. "She fits the Evans profile. Although—" he grimaced— "Kallister doesn't appear to loathe you like Evans does me. So, I reckon you have a better chance."

Remus glanced between his friends. "And you're absolutely certain about this?"

Sirius smirked. "Are we ever wrong?"

"Would you like the short version of that answer or should I write it all out for you?"

James waved him off. "Point is, Moony, you should take a leap of faith. See what plays out."

"Right." Although Remus wasn't entirely convinced, the motivation from his friends bolstered his confidence somewhat. He sat back in his cushions and checked the clock. "Well, let's hope you're right. If not, I have to start planning my escape from the country."

Remus approached the entrance hall nervously, his fingers tapping against his left thigh in their usual show of apprehension. He was well accustomed to rounds and his prefect duties now, but with his first patrol with Morsin Kallister looming ahead of him, his nerves seemed to return tenfold.

He descended the marble staircase toward the hall. A flash of silver caught his eye, and he gulped when Morsin Kallister lifted her head at the sound of his footsteps, her hair gleaming bone-white in the moonlight streaming in through the high windows.

"Hey," she said when Remus had joined her. She gave him a faint smile. "Good day?"

Remus tried for an easy grin, but felt like his face muscles were spasming when she fixed him with those golden eyes. "'S been all right. You?"

"Dreadful," she said with a dramatic eyeroll. "But I'll spare you the rant and just assure that it was one of those days when some divine power seems to have it out for you. You know the ones."

Remus (who had had his fair share of dark days when it felt like the universe were specifically mocking him, as he thought grimly of his affliction) nodded understandingly. "Yeah. I know what you mean."

"Good." Then to Remus's intense shock, she took his arm. "I already checked the dungeons on my way up from my common room, but we should do a sweep of the basements and ground floor just to check off all our boxes."

Remus could only nod as she whisked him toward the stairs leading to the Hufflepuff Basement and kitchens, too distracted by the scent of geraniums again and the feel of her warm arm linked through his to say anything. In fact, it was all he could do to stay upright as they swept the area for any signs of troublemakers, her smooth voice chatting about something he wasn't so sure about. It was only when they had returned to the ground floor and started walking through the corridors that he found his voice again.

"—and I think that's why Potions is my worst subject. It's just—er, Remus?"

He started at the use of his first name. "Y-yes?"

"Er…why is your hair green?"

His hand immediately flew to his hair, where he promptly felt something gooey and cold. "What the—? PEEVES!"

The poltergeist burst into shrill laughter when Remus looked up toward the ceiling, where the portly ghost floated holding a vial of suspicious emerald green liquid.

"Loony, loopy Lupin!" Peeves cackled, swooping through the air. "Out for a late-night stroll with a lovebird, are we? Ooooooooohhhh!"

Remus wrestled his robes to extract his wand, his face burning. "Peeves, you bastard—" He stopped swearing when Morsin put a hand on his arm, her expression calm and oddly mischievous as she looked at him.

"Allow me," she said to Remus before turning to Peeves. "Oi, Peeves!"

The poltergeist still cackled as he hovered midair, but he peeped through his legs while he was upside down to see Morsin take out her wand and a wad of something Remus thought looked like chewed bubblegum. She pointed her wand at the pink goop and said, "Waddiwasi!"

The goop launched itself at Peeves like a high-velocity bullet, shooting straight down the laughing poltergeist's throat. Peeves choked, his laughter silenced as he worked furiously to remove the wad of chewing gum stuck in his throat.

Remus laughed as the ghost shot Morsin a vulgar hand gesture before zooming away down the corridor, still choking on the gum.

"That was brilliant," Remus said. "I'll have to remember that spell in the future."

She shrugged carelessly, but in the torchlight, her cheeks looked the slightest hint rosy. "A prefect taught it to me my third year. It's come in handy since then."

"I can see," Remus said amusedly. He was about to say more before a gob of green goo dripped down the side of his head. "Argh, dammit. I forgot about this mess."

Morsin glanced uncertainly between his hair and her wand. "I'm rubbish at cleaning spells, sorry. I can try to remove it, but unless you're all right with your hair potentially falling out…"

"No, no, don't worry about it," said Remus with a wave of his hand. "There's a loo right around the corner…I'll just get it out the old-fashioned way."

Morsin nodded. "Let me help you, at least. I can get the back since you can't see it."

"Yeah, er, all right." Remus was already embarrassed enough, but her offer made his face burn. He was positive he looked like a strawberry within that moment with his green hair, but Morsin said nothing, only leading him—to his utter mortification—into the girls' lavatory.

"Oh, sorry," she said to what was undoubtedly an expression of pure discomfort on his face. "I wasn't thinking—er, I hope you don't mind."

"It's fine," Remus said hurriedly, relieved that she only took his face as one of alarm at being in the girls' loo rather than his embarrassment at having such a beautiful witch see him dripping with disgusting green slime. "Er, here—"

He set one of the faucets to run with warm water, and they waited in silence for the temperature to rise. Remus caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and inwardly groaned; he looked like some sort of seaweed creature that had risen from the depths of the Black Lake. With Morsin beside him, looking so painfully pretty and perfect, he wanted nothing more than to throttle Peeves and kill him for a second time.

"That should do," Morsin said after putting her fingers under the running water. "Lean your head forward and I can work the back while you get the front."

Remus obeyed her order and hunched over the sink, filling his cupped palms with water before beginning to scrub his hair vigorously. Morsin was much gentler, massaging his scalp with soothing, circular motions that sent pleasant shivers dancing along his spine. As the goo washed down the drain, he was acutely aware of the witch at his back, and how good it felt having her fingers running through his hair. His hands tightened involuntarily on his head as one of her fingers traced down the nape of his neck, following a trail of water that attempted to soak the collar of his robes before she caught it.

After several minutes of silent washing, Morsin deemed his hair goo-free and shut off the water. Remus lifted his head and dried his face and neck with paper towels that Morsin provided. He slicked back his wet hair and sighed.

"Thank you," he said, turning to the Slytherin. "I'm sorry I had to put you through all that."

"Don't worry about it," she said with a shrug. "Peeves is a right little git. At least we could get it all out." She reached up and smoothed back a strand of hair that had fallen across his forehead. "Besides, green didn't suit you."

Remus forced himself to remember how to speak. "Yeah. It was never really my color."

"But your eyes are green." She tapped a finger at his temple, just at the corner of his eye. "They're lighter, though. Calmer. It's quite a lovely shade."

"Thank you," Remus repeated, his voice oddly hoarse. "Your eyes are—er—lovely, too."

She hummed. "Really? I always thought they were a bit odd."

"They're beautiful," Remus said instantly. He cleared his throat when her lips curled in a puzzled smile. "I'd never seen golden eyes until I met you."

Her smile widened. "No, I don't suppose so."

Remus didn't notice until then just how close they'd gotten. He rested against the sink, the cold porcelain digging into the small of his back, while Morsin stood directly before him, so close he could feel her heat saturating his robes.

This was it, he realized. The time to make a move, or whatever his friends had said. He couldn't quite remember their words—or anything, really, with Morsin standing right there, her beautiful golden eyes boring into him.

"I wanted to talk to you, you know," she said unexpectedly. "In the library," she added to his questioning look, "this last month. When you were by yourself studying." She fiddled with the end of her long, pale braid. "I just couldn't…work up the courage, I guess."

Remus watched her, confused. "Why would you need courage to talk to me?"

"Well…" She sucked in her bottom lip. "I rather fancy you."

Right. Well, there was only one explanation for any of this. Remus had been slipped a faulty potion at dinner that was now certainly the source of his realistic hallucinations. He stared at Morsin. She stared right back. Waiting. Waiting for him to…Merlin! Waiting for him to say something!

"Me?" Remus said intelligently.

She nodded slowly. "Yes. You."

He couldn't be imagining this. He didn't want to be. She was here, in front of him, smelling like geraniums and watching him with entrancing eyes, and she fancied him. Him. Tall, awkward, bookish Remus Lupin who had just gotten slimed by Peeves the Poltergeist. Him. And she…

"Really?" he blurted. "Because I-I fancy you, too."

"Oh." She blinked as if he'd said something unexpected. As if he had not obviously pined after her since the day he woke up and realized she was the most beautiful girl he'd ever laid eyes on. As if she hadn't dared to believe he could fancy her back, just as he was with her. "Right, then. Er…excellent."

Remus nodded. "So…Hogsmeade next weekend? Before exams?"

"Yes. Yes, of course." She nodded quickly. "That sounds super."

He beamed. "Brilliant."

She turned toward the door, paused, then turned back to him. "Not to jump the wand here or anything, but should we…? Can I…?" Remus stared as she floundered, bewildered, before she said, "Oh, all right," and snogged him.

There was no hesitation. Remus's hands came up instantly like they'd been standing at attention, ready to spring into action, and gripped her waist as she pressed into him, her own soft hands cupping his face. She was warm and solid and utterly irresistible, her lips moving against his own with feverish intensity that he returned in kind, praying that he wouldn't accidentally bite her lip too hard or use too much tongue. But she said nothing, continuing to kiss him like her life depended on it, and he was weak for it, utterly weak and wrapped entirely in her.

Eventually, they broke apart for air, but she kept his face in her hands, and he kept his grip on her waist, as they watched each other with dilated eyes and ragged breaths fanning the small space between them.

"Should we finish our rounds?" she asked, breathless.

"You sound like you don't want to," he dared to say, emboldened by the realization that Morsin Kallister, Slytherin's resident Frost Witch, was in his arms.

She shook her head. "I don't."

"Good." Remus took out his wand and pointed it at the door. Without a word from him, it locked with a loud click. "Neither do I."

She grinned. "Does this mean Hogsmeade will be our second date?"

He pulled her closer, the tips of their noses touching as he said, "Only if you'd like it to be."

She draped her arms over her his shoulders and pretended to look around, contemplating. "At least it's not a broom cupboard."

Remus laughed. "No. No, it isn't."

"Well." She checked her watch. "We have a half-hour left on our patrol. Let's make it a first date worth our time."

He chuckled. "Sounds like a plan."

It was the best night of rounds Remus ever had.

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