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The sixth year's lecture on Vampires went better than expected. Though some burst into giggle fits when the discussion leaned toward the Succubi and Incubi. Some of the students went to sleep during the slide show, had to take points from Hufflepuff and Gryffindor. Now they're all copying copying protective sigils off the blackboard. While walking through the aisle a particular student's drawings caught Lupin's attention.

"Those are marvelous Dean," he smiled and bent down for a closer look, "You should be an artist."

Dean flushed with pleasure. DADA was one of his favorite lessons even without Lupin as a teacher. With Lupin, he thought, it was top of the list.

"Thanks, Professor," he said. "But I'd like to join the MLES I think. I can paint anywhere."

Neville watched the entire exchange silently. Something about it bothered him. It wasn't as if he didn't know that Dean was a phenomenal artist. It wasn't even that he didn't want Dean's talent to be recognized. It was more the way Dean responded than anything else. He'd seen that flush before. Only once, and it had been when he'd first asked Dean about his other bloke, the teacher. He lowered his eyes to his paper and fought down the feeling twisting in his stomach.

He had no right to feel this way really. Dean was only partly his and he'd known from the beginning he couldn't really compete if it came to it. He'd just expected to compete with someone his age. Stupid really, considering. He looked up at the board and carefully began copying the next sigil, determined to focus only on the lesson.

Lupin looked over at Neville to check his sigil diagrams. "Seems like you've got a bit of competition there," he said nodding toward Neville's drawings. "Those are excellent Neville," he smiled. Both students copied the sigils wonderfully. Some from the previous students had been awkward or lopsided - or just poorly drawn. He could tell who cared about this class or not.

Neville smiled and whispered a quiet thanks. He'd never really thought much about drawing...Dean was the artist, not him. He was fairly certain the professor was just being generous. Compared to Dean he had no talent for it really. he just wanted to be able to stay alive and mortal, and he didn't see how he could do that if he couldn't protect himself. He purposefully returned his eyes to his parchment after looking at the last sigil and began to draw.

"See," Dean whispered as Lupin moved on. "I told you you were good." He grinned. "Now you don't have to take my word for it." His smile faded a little as he saw Neville's tense expression but Nev was probably concentrating. He turned back to the board himself but his eyes strayed to where Professor Lupin had paused to talk to one of the other pupils, taking her pen in hand and stooping over her desk to correct a line or two.

He looked strong and confident. His hands, one resting on the back of the girl's chair, the other handling the pen, were powerful yet moved with a delicacy of touch. Dean felt his colour rise again.

Don't go there, he told himself. He's a teacher, like Gavin. You've been burned once, you prat, and you wouldn't want the bloke to get the sack now would you? Don't be so fucking stupid. But he still watched longingly.

Neville finished the sigil and looked up. He sighed softly with relief that there was no more to copy and looked over at Dean. His heart stopped and his body froze. Dean was looking ahead of him a few rows and it took only a quick glance to see what - who - he was looking at. His heart breaking a little, he looked back at Dean, trying to convince himself it wasn't longing that he saw there, that it really wasn't with a naked hunger that Dean had never turned his way. He felt whatever hope he had for a real relationship with Dean shriveling away.

Dean had warned him, had told him he didn't think he could do this. And really, he just wanted Dean to be happy and it was more and more obvious he couldn't do it except in small ways. He managed to smother the sound that wanted to make its way past his thick throat and looked away. He'd been right before...he would take what he could get and be happy with it. He'd meant it when he'd said it and he'd follow through on his word now.

He raised his hand and held it 'til the professor acknowledged him and was pleased that his voice stayed steady as he asked permission to visit the loo. He stood up and made his way out of the classroom without a backward glance.

Dean was surprised when Neville got up and left so abruptly. then he shrugged and looked down at his page. One line wasn't quite right. Quickly he corrected it and then blotted the page. Using ink for drawing concentrated the mind wonderfully. He wiped his quill sealed his ink bottle and looked up at the front of the class. Lupin might have homework for them.

Feeling confident with the work the students were doing he decided to end class a few minutes early. "Everyone if I might have your attention before you go," Lupin raised his voice so everyone could hear, "Yes, I'm dismissing you early today. You've all done a wonderful job with your sigils. Though some of you could use some Pepper-up during the slide show." He smirked at a few students that deserved this comment. "As for your homework. Please study these sigils. They may become useful one day. I'll expect an essay over them next week. Tell me of their strengths and which type of vampire they're useful against." He smiled brightly. "Everyone have a nice evening and I'll see you next lesson."

Dean joined the chorus of pleasure and packed away his books. Neville hadn't returned so he packed his up as well then shouldered both bags. He wondered what the problem was - Neville hadn't looked ill. He went to the door, nodded a farewell to Professor Lupin and hurried off to see if he could find his friend.

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Remus J. Lupin

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