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Severus was appalled. "Lupin, you can't be serious."

"I assure you, I am. There's good money in throwing magical pots. These—"

"You're turning down my offer of employment at Hogwarts to be a potter?"

"—are charmed to keep milk fresh for a year, and these," Remus continued, gesturing toward a shelf of small blue bowls, "are—"

"Stop it," Severus ordered, furious. "You're not some backwater craftsman, and you told me that—"

"I'd come back to Hogwarts if you wanted me to, not because you needed a Defense teacher, Headmaster."

Severus sighed and closed his eyes against Remus' emphasis of his title. "What were you expecting? A proposal?" he demanded, opening his eyes to find Remus staring at him, his eyes full of wistful sadness and resignation.

"I don't expect anything from you, Severus, not now."

"Ten months ago, you—"

"And I said a lot of things. We were pissed. We shagged. It was a celebration—I don't expect you meant half of what you told me then. . . . If you had, you wouldn't have left me to my own devices for so long."

"Lupin, I—"

"But you did, and that's fine," Remus continued, running a hand through his dusty hair. "I know you've been busy since your exoneration. I just thought—no. No, it doesn't matter what I thought. Ask Harry. He'll probably jump at the chance to return to Hogwarts."

"I don't want Potter! I want you. Stop behaving like a stubborn fool and come . . . come home. With me," Severus added, hoping that it would be enough.

"What's home, then?"

Severus sighed. "Hogwarts, obviously," he replied, noting how Remus' gaze hardened.

"What's home, then?"

Clenching his fists, Severus said, "Home is . . . home is where you and I sleep. Together. Wake up. Together. Eat and teach and talk. Together. What more would you have it be?"

"I'd hope it would also be the place we shag," Remus told him, his mouth curving into a half-smile as he approached Severus and took one of his fists in his hands.

Severus started as he felt Remus gently unfurl his fingers and begin to rub them; relaxing into the touch, he snapped, "Was that enough of a proposal, or are you going to persist in playing with me?"

"We're not too old to play with each other, are we?" Remus whispered, before drawing Severus' hand to his lips and kissing each of its finger pads.

Severus shuddered, but not with dread. "You're going to frighten away your customers—and you haven't answered me."

A placard flew from the register to the door, hanging itself there, and then the lock snapped.

"Take me home, and I'll scare you up an answer you're not likely to forget."

Relieved, Severus allowed himself to smirk. "Very well then, Professor Lupin."