Lupin is curious about the source of the Snape family fortune.
"How did the Snape family come into wealth anyways, Severus?" Sprawled on the overstuffed sofa that he kept near the dining table for just such after dinner sprawling, Remus regarded his peer curiously. "I mean, the Black's have had their fortunes since the middle ages when they first learned how to use monolithic religion to their advantage, but I've never heard how the Snape's managed their fortune. Was it a dragon hoard?"
Equally full but much too lazy to go through the effort of working up a good sprawl, Severus leaned back in his chair and savoured the warm glow the good food and brandy had instilled in his belly. "I don't know why you'd want to know, Remus. Let's just say the Snape family is not going to go broke anytime soon. We aren't swimming in galleons you know, not like Malfoy or Black, but we've plenty to keep us a float for a few generations yet. We don't like to 'squander' what we have on ridiculous displays that serve no real purpose."
"Oh come on now, Severus, surely you can tell me something of it?" Remus teased as he waggled his eyebrows, "It isn't something illicit is it? Slaves? Pirates?" He had to cover his grin when in his mind he saw Severus dressed as a pirate complete with eyepatch and colourful parrot.
"Pfffft. DO try to be serious, Remus.. and BEFORE you can say it," Severus forestalled Remus' smart-assed reply with a raised hand, "I don't mean Black!" He settled back in his chair and sipped at his liquor. After a contemplative moment he favoured Remus with lips pursed in a sarcastic smile. "I don't suppose," he drawled, "I can trust you with the secret, can I? You'll be bound to run off and tell your little friends all about it, won't you? You know, I would trust you a lot more if you weren't so easily influenced by Potter and Black, Remus."
"Are you STILL on about that, Severus? You really are trying, even at the best of times." Remus' words were mildly spoken but there was real hurt lurking behind his gentle smile. "If you ask me to keep it secret, I will. I am not in the habit of blabbling intimate details to others."
Severus gulped the last of his brandy and set the empty glass down on the table. He winced a bit at the hurt look Remus threw at him but it wasn't his way to apologize for every little slight he might visit on a person. "IF I could secure such a promise of secrecy from you, Remus, I MIGHT consider letting you in on the Snape secret?"
A few moments passed, letting enough time elapse to lend his promise weight, before Remus spoke, "You have my word, Severus, that I will not reveal the source of the Snape fortune to anyone without your permission."
"I will hold you to your word then, Remus." Severus favoured him with a hard stare then looked away and studied the painting of a hideous sheep that Remus had hung on the wall when he first moved in. He took a deep breathe, then blurted out, "You'd probably never heard of him before, but an ancestor of mine was obsessed with the idea that he could turn this one particular type of pixie into pure gold. The wizarding community thought he was a nutter but he persisted and turned out he was right."
Remus stared at him. "So, anytime you need some cash you turn a pixie into gold?"
"Don't be stupid, Remus. I said it was a particular type of pixie. There were only a hundred or so in existence, they were so rare that they were legendary. Nobody believed great great grandfather when he said they even existed, let alone a hundred of them. He turned them all to gold and came back to the wizarding community in possession of the ONLY source of incredibly rare spell components, preserved as gold statues. Just break a limb off, speak the counter spell and you have a little blue component useful in a handful of very rare potions or charms. Selling the little creatures is big money. We've only sold two dozen or so to make our fortune. We briefly considered breeding them but it turns out there were only males of the species, which would explain why they were dying out."
"I think I need another drink. So you are saying that the Snape family fortune is built on a village of little blue pixies that some great grandfather of yours turned to gold? What was this wizard's name?" Remus poured himself another glass of brandy.
"I believe his name was Gargamel.."