Title: Shell Shock
Genre(s): AU and Hurt/Comfort
Prompt: Shell Shock
Rating: possibly NC-17
Word Count: 18454
Warnings: See Snarry Games post for warnings.
A/N : When I chose the genre AU, I thought this story would be too AU to fit into the HP universe. However, many have told me no, so I apologise for the misleading genre. I want to thank the following for helping me out tremendously! I couldn’t have done it without you! eyesemerald, lemonade7, rakina, and a huge thank you to igtow for going over and over this story (especially with the punctuations!) for me. A special thank you to magic_helmet for letting me know that parts of the story wasn't too mushy. (the rest did tell me that as well. *g*)
Summary: The war was now over, but the memory of it still plagues Harry.
“I can help you. I’m a right bastard, but I can help you. We can help each other.”
“We can. And I can make you happy … just don’t be … alone …”
Harry Potter jumped in his seat and his eyes snapped open. Quickly looking around him, Harry gave a grateful sigh; apparently no one had noticed his lapse, so he continued staring numbly at the opposite wall as he waited for them to finalise the paperwork for his release from St Mungo’s. He hated those dreams. He had to think of something else. Anything else. But instead, as his mind again went blank, the poster his gaze had been locked onto for the past five minutes began to get blurry, and the edges of his vision started fading to dark grey before finally turning black. Harry desperately shook his head and took several deep breaths through his nose, trying to calm himself. Not that it would help, of course, but he didn't want a panic attack to happen now, not when he was so close to leaving. He gripped the armrests and dug his nails into the material. He opened his eyes as wide as they could possibly go just to prevent them from closing.
Too many memories there. Too many images and Harry refused to give in to the impulse to see them again. Not now. Not ever. But especially not now. Not when he was just a heartbeat away from freedom.
Harry quickly blinked and then sighed in relief. Her voice was a blessing in disguise.
The young medi-witch smiled warmly at him and motioned for him to join her up at the counter.
"We just need you to sign this consent form and you’re as good as free," she said jokingly, unaware that Harry was taking the meaning quite literally.
He smiled back and signed his name at the bottom and took the copy she handed him.
"Thank you, Madam Jones. Am I allowed to leave now?"
Her smile deepened. "Unless you'd like to stay."
Harry all but ran out of St Mungo’s and never looked back.
"No, Albus! This is preposterous! The boy is not mentally fit! I don't care what those imbeciles at St Mungo’s said. He is not ready to leave, and he is certainly not ready to begin any sort of training!"
"I know you've both had differences in the past, Severus, but--"
"Are you not listening to me? This is not about personality conflicts! This is about his mental capacity!"
"The doctors there have already ascertained--"
“I don’t care what they think!”
"--that he is mentally fit--”
"Then they are just as deranged as he is!"
“--and is ready to--"
"No, he’s not! And even if he was, why this profession?"
"He has stated from the beginning that he wanted to pursue this career field."
"That should show you his mental instability! This is just some sort of punishment for all the times--"
Severus Snape stopped his high-speed pacing and looked over his shoulder.
Albus Dumbledore took a deep breath and calmly explained.
"I do not know why Harry has chosen Potions to be his career choice, but--" he raised a hand to silence Severus "--I do know he is very adamant about it and is most eager to learn."
Severus faced him. "He was completely rubbish at it, Albus! He cannot possibly be ready for this type of advanced education. So how do you propose I should go about training him if he doesn't even know the first thing about it?"
"He has been studying almost from day one since his admittance to St Mungo’s."
"But why ME?" Severus shouted, causing Albus to wince.
"You are the best in your field and you know that."
"And that is precisely why it shouldn't be me and don't give me that look, Albus. I am heavily relied on by many--"
"He can ease your burden."
"--and I do not have time to wipe his--"
Severus folded his arms tightly across his chest and looked away.
"Severus," Albus began in that condescending voice Severus hated so much. "He can learn so much from you." Severus harrumphed. "He knows you are one of the reasons that he is alive today."
"And this is his way of paying me back?" Severus snapped.
"No, of course not. I am merely saying he needs your guidance more than ever. And--" Dumbledore looked at Severus seriously “--I know I can count on you to do the right thing.”
"Do not do this to me, Albus. Do not make me feel guilty!"
"I would never do that, Severus."
Severus spun on his heels and glared at him. "Albus," he warned.
Albus' eyes twinkled. "Well. Now that's been settled, he will be arriving in a month so I trust--"
"Al-bus," Severus tried warning him again.
"--that everything will be prepared by then--"
"Yes?" he asked innocently.
The pair of eyes locked, one full of anger and the other full of amusement. Severus knew that look on Albus’ face. He knew that, no matter what, anything else he might have to say at this point wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Severus threw up his arms and yelled in defeat as he stormed out of the headmistress' office, slamming the wooden doors behind him, cursing the whole time. A tall figure emerged from behind a heavy curtain.
"Albus Dumbledore, you are the most devious man I have ever known."
"Why, Minerva, whatever do you mean?" he asked sweetly.
The headmistress raised a knowing eyebrow, and then shook her head. "Remind me never to get on your bad side."
Albus chuckled within his portrait.
Harry rubbed his sweaty hands on his trousers and wondered for the umpteen-millionth time if he had made the right decision. He stopped pacing and held onto the back of a chair for support. He bowed his head and closed his eyes. Images of hazel eyes and sandy blond hair instantly filled his mind, reminding him of why. He smiled warmly and wanted desperately to see him one last time.
A sharp and rather loud knock echoed in the room, startling Harry and bringing him back to reality. He didn’t need to ask who was there. He knew. Suddenly, anger coursed through his veins, and he stormed over to the door and flung it open with ease.
Those two words alone from that dreadful voice caused Harry to shudder with hatred. It didn’t matter to Harry if this was the man who had distracted Voldemort long enough for Harry could kill him or not. What mattered was that Harry was going to have to put up with this man long enough to achieve his goal. And who knew how long that would be?
“Professor Snape,” he acknowledged.
The two of them stared at each other briefly, tolerating each other’s presence and the awkwardness of it until Harry stepped aside and motioned Severus to come in.
Severus shook his head. “There is no need for me to enter,” he said flatly. “I trust you have everything you need.”
It was said as a statement, but Harry answered anyway. “Yes, thank you.”
“There is no need to thank me, Potter. I did not arrange any of this, so if there is anything else you should require in the future, you are to take the matter up with the headmistress.”
Harry clenched his jaw at the bitterness of his tone. “Is there a specific reason why you are here, Professor?” he asked curtly.
“I have been given the unfortunate task to show you around. Not that you need it,” he drawled.
“No, I don't,” Harry answered sharply.
There was a tense moment of silence before Severus continued, “Regardless, I am instructed to show you where you will be,” he paused here to sneer, “studying.”
Harry’s brow furrowed and frowned. “I was told I was to observe you and to assist--”
“The only thing with which you will assist me, Mr Potter, is by staying out of my way,” he snapped. Harry’s nostrils flared. “However, you will be studying; and it will be done in your own time when you are not observing me. And you will only be observing. Is that quite clear?”
Harry pulled his lips in and clenched his fists by his sides. “Yes, Sir,” he hissed.
Severus spun around so fast, his robes flew up in Harry’s face. “Good. Do try and keep up.” And he stormed down the corridor.
As Harry followed Severus through the dungeons, his eyes roamed about continuously. He couldn't help but be amazed that he had only been away from Hogwarts for seven months. Nothing inside the great walls had changed. It was almost as if the war had never taken place.
The war …
The war had started two months before his seventh year ended and it had lasted for two more. It suddenly occurred to Harry that his 'stay' at St Mungo’s had been for two months as well. After his release, Harry had lived with Hermione briefly in order to study for his N.E.W.T.s and to reacquaint himself with the ‘real world’ as she had phrased it so many times.
He could've stayed longer, had he wanted. He knew Hermione had wanted him to, but Harry had his objective and his mind was firmly set. He would not be swayed no matter how many times Hermione pleaded that he should stay. He would be a Potions master and he would be better than Snape.
But it wasn't just that reason alone. He had to get away from her. There were too many memories there. Too much pain. Too many …
Harry jumped then blinked several times, snapping himself out of his thoughts.
"What?" he instinctively shot back. Subconsciously, Harry knew he should be respectful, but consciously...?
Severus froze. His expression revealed the impact of being spoken to in such a rude manner, but he quickly regained his composure and walked the sixteen feet separating them. He stopped within a foot of Harry and looked down his nose at him.
"Mr Potter," he began very slow and evenly, "whilst you are no longer a student here, you are now, in fact, a member of the Hogwarts’ staff and under my supervision and I will NOT tolerate any disrespect from you,” his voice rose with each word, “or anyone else for that matter. IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?" Snape screamed.
Harry pulled up his shoulders and cringed. He had never seen the Potions master so angry.
"Yes," he replied softly.
Harry looked down. "Yes, Sir."
There was a brief uncomfortable pause before Severus inhaled a shaky breath and continued, "You will do well to remember that, Mr Potter."
Harry nodded but he knew Snape didn’t see it because the scuffed, black shoes Harry had been staring at were now gone.
As the days turned into weeks, Harry realised that training under Snape was as bad as he thought it would be. No, it was actually worse. The man was insufferable, and Harry found that he had to remind himself constantly of why he was here and why it had to be Snape. There was one thing Harry knew for certain: the man was shite at teaching. If he'd ever thought Snape abominable when he was a student, it was nothing compared to what he had to endure now.
Snape barely acknowledged Harry in the beginning, and when he did, it was only to bark out orders. Harry gritted his teeth and reluctantly obeyed without question, but inwardly his fingers curled around that pompous man’s neck and squeezed it until blood filled the cold and uncaring black eyes. Harry smiled at the mental image: that--along with other malefic images--gave him enough satisfaction to get him through most days.
Through the following weeks, Harry’s determination grew stronger every day, and he refused to let Snape destroy his spirit or his goal. He studied relentlessly and couldn’t help but feel a satisfying sense of pride when he saw Snape's face turn a nice shade of red as the ‘tests’ he gave Harry were passed without errors. Of course, it only made Snape that much more deplorable towards him, but the gratification Harry felt was well worth it.
It was in the middle of Harry’s second month of ‘training’ that he noticed a slight change in Snape's behaviour. The man was still callous and cruel to him, but the words he spat at Harry no longer carried the bite they'd once held. There was still a trace of bitterness in his tone, but … Harry couldn’t figure out what was different about the man, only that something was. He thought perhaps he had just grown accustomed to Snape and his many foul moods. Or perhaps it was because Snape had finally accepted that Harry was indeed serious about becoming a Potions master.
Whatever the reason, Harry found himself watching Snape more carefully. One of the things Harry discovered was that the man was indeed a genius at potion-making. Of course, he would never tell Snape. Nor would he confess that he was observing Snape more intently.
There were times, however, when Snape returned to his abhorrent self, but Harry quickly recognised it usually coincided with one of Snape's first year classes. When the lessons were over, Harry took the brunt of Snape's hostility without question and remained quiet through it all.
There was one other thing Harry noticed. Snape was always withdrawn and constantly distant. He wasn’t completely surprised by this, but it seemed it was more prominent than before. In truth, Harry didn’t mind Snape's distance, nor that sometimes he was cold to him. Harry was beginning to notice that he himself was behaving the same way. He didn’t like idle chitchat any more than Snape did, and so he was actually relieved Snape never asked any questions beyond, “Did you remember to stir it four times and not five?” Not that he'd reveal this little titbit either. Plus there was nothing to talk about. Absolutely nothing.
So Harry kept silent and was content just to watch and learn all he could.
Severus studied the faces of the first years as they struggled with their test He smirked as he saw a few of them tremble with anxiety, knowing they were closely being watched by him. At one point, Snape stole a glance at Potter who was grading the previous class’s exams. His face was serious and bent so low over the desk, it almost looked as if the boy needed better glasses. It was when Potter’s head bobbed once that Snape realised he was nodding off. He cleared his throat and Potter suddenly came to life, quickly correcting any mistakes he had made. Severus saw Potter sneak a nervous glance in his direction then went back to grading papers, pretending nothing had happened.
The bell rang out through the silence, startling everyone there save Severus. Potter stood but Severus stopped him from leaving with a small wave of his hand.
“Leave your tests where they are,” he called out to the class then directed his next statement to Potter. “Mr Potter. A word if you please.”
“Of course, Professor.”
Severus watched his apprentice straighten the parchments and then found himself frowning. Potter’s behaviour puzzled him. He knew from experience the boy’s normal behaviour was annoyingly outgoing and extremely talkative. But now…Potter had somehow changed. Not that it mattered to Severus one way or another, of course, but Albus was constantly asking about Harry and his behaviour. And it was because of Albus’ request to ‘watch him carefully’ that Severus actually took notice.
Yes. Potter had indeed changed.
Gone now was the light in his eyes and in its place was a dull and glazed look. Potter surprisingly obeyed Severus without question, something that also grated on his nerves. It seemed the only time Potter showed any type of emotion was when Severus made comments about the boy’s past. Then it was as if Potter suddenly became a different person, his demeanour agitated, sometimes even to the point of outright hostility.
So, like the cruel and callous man he was, Snape decided to push the boy. Their relationship was becoming far too amicable between them lately, and Snape hated it.
Severus eyed him carefully for a moment before asking, “Is there a problem, Potter?”
Harry tilted his head to the side, confused. “With…?”
“Do not deny you fell asleep,” he said shortly. “Is there a problem?”
A shade of pink crossed Potter’s features. “No, Sir.”
Severus studied him again, this time more carefully, but the boy betrayed no other emotions than embarrassment. He raised his eyebrow but the boy still remained undaunted.
“Then finish grading the papers along with the ones from this class,” he snapped.
Severus gritted his teeth at the boy’s compliance. It was definitely beginning to get on his nerves. There was indeed something wrong with the boy and for some strange reason, he wanted to know what it was. Severus stood and moved behind Potter, knowing from past experience it would make him uncomfortable. He continued to peer over Harry’s shoulder, but the boy’s attention never wavered from the tests he was correcting.
Unsatisfied, Snape walked back to his desk and leaned against the front of it.
“So, Potter,” he began and smirked when there was a slight hesitation in the boy’s writing. “Why have you decided to pursue this line of work?” Severus was never one for beating around the bush.
He noticed the way Potter’s jaw slightly clenched and couldn’t help but grin. He had hit a sore spot.
“I don’t know what you mean, Sir,” Potter said slowly.
“What I mean is why didn’t you rush out to become an… Auror?” he replied, enunciating the word Auror as if it was the most disreputable occupation one could hold.
Potter remained silent and continued to correct the papers as if he didn’t hear the taunt.
“I would have expected that the famous Boy Who Lived would want to find an easy job, marry the Weasley girl and breed enough spawn to fill Hogwarts.”
The quill Potter was holding snapped in two. He jerked open his desk drawer and retrieved another.
Definitely hit a sore spot.
“Not that it is any business of yours, Professor, but Ginny and I were--” he paused as if searching for the right words. “--never really together.”
“Oh?” Snape asked with a smirk. “So who is the…lucky girl now?”
Potter stood abruptly. “I believe I’m finished, Professor.”
“Are you now?” Severus drawled.
“Yes,” Potter hissed. “May I be excused?” He paused, then added, “Sir.”
Severus continued to smirk, quite pleased with himself for provoking such a reaction from the boy. He answered with a sharp nod and Potter spun on his heel and marched out of the room.
After Potter left, Snape headed directly for his stockroom; it was about time for an inventory. For some unknown reason, he had felt uneasy as he'd selected the necessary ingredients for the first lesson. As Severus mentally summarised them, a dawn of comprehension came over him. There were a few items missing, ones Severus was most familiar with.
The boy was taking ingredients used to create a potion.
Harry took a long drag from his cigarette and held it. He slowly blew the smoke out, watching the way it travelled to the fireplace and blended in with the flames. He reached over to the table beside him and retrieved the glass of Firewhisky. He winced as the liquid burned his throat on the way down. It had been a rough day, and he needed to relax.
It angered Harry that not only did Snape catch him sleeping, but also had the audacity to pry into his personal life. Then there was Albus, who constantly questioned him needlessly about his ‘well-being’. It was enough to make Harry go insane. There was nothing wrong with him. The healers had told him so and, more importantly, he'd begun believing it himself.
Nothing was wrong with him. Nothing.
Harry took another deep drag and closed his eyes. If only the voices in his head would listen.
Harry jumped up from his sofa and dropped his fag.
“Damn it, Snape! I just lit that!”
“What in Merlin's name are you doing?”
Harry picked up the cigarette and tossed it into the fireplace right next to Snape’s face.
“What does it look like?” he snapped.
“I’m coming in.”
But it was too late and Severus Snape appeared before him.
“This is unacceptable! These are my quarters and I deserve some sort of privacy!”
Snape glanced at the half-filled glass of alcohol. “Do you not care about your health?”
“I don’t believe it’s any of your concern, Sir. What I do in my spare time is my business.”
Snape scowled at him and clenched his teeth. Harry knew his rights. He was of age, and there were no rules against smoking or drinking in one’s own quarters. Harry was prepared to argue this further, but was surprised when Snape changed the subject.
“Mr Potter,” Snape began calmly. “The reason I am here at this late hour is to ask you if you have been taking ingredients from the stockroom, ingredients you are not at liberty to take.” The words were not in the form of a statement, nor a question, but rather an accusation.
Harry narrowed his eyes. “Just what is it you are insinuating, Sir?”
“You know very well to what I am referring,” he snapped. “You took the ingredients necessary to make the Dreamless Sleep Potion.”
Harry’s eyes widened but said nothing.
“You obviously already know my answer, so there’s no need to ask me, is there now?” Harry drawled.
“How long have you been taking it?”
Harry’s face burned with rage. “That’s none of your business!”
“It becomes my business if you’re taking it every night,” Snape hissed. “Are you aware of the consequences by doing so? And the dangers of--”
“Yes, I do! I’m not stupid, you know!”
“You are if you are using it every night.”
“I said I know that!”
“Then how long?” Snape demanded.
Once again, Harry remained quiet.
With a loud scoff, Snape turned away from him and marched in the direction of Harry's bedroom.
"What are you doing? How … How dare you! You have no right to search my quarters!"
Snape ignored him and walked through Harry's room and straight into his bathroom, pausing only to sweep his gaze over the disarray in Harry's bedroom. Upon entering the small room, Snape found the empty bottles lying in the waste bin and several phials on the basin counter top. Harry lowered his head in embarrassment as he realised that he didn't even have the intelligence to get rid of the evidence.
Harry began to panic. "Snape!" he cried out, unable to hide it from seeping it into his voice. "Snape, wait!”
Snape spun around to face him.
"Do you know what the penalty is for abusing this substance?"
“I can explain!"
"You can explain to the officials at the Ministry. Though I hardly think they would even bother to listen to your pathetic excuse. You will find yourself back at St Mungo’s with no--"
"Stop! Please, listen to me!"
Snape did stop and folded his arms over his chest, obviously waiting for Harry to continue. Instead, Harry looked away ashamed and shifted from leg to leg.
"Well?" Snape asked impatiently.
"I--I can't. I can't sleep without it." Harry admitted in a soft whisper.
"That much is obvious," Snape drawled. He paused briefly then sighed loudly. "This is no longer my concern, Potter."
And with that, Snape brushed passed Harry, but stopped short when Harry grabbed desperately at his sleeve.
"Please, Professor. Don't do this to me. I've been doing all right in my training, haven't I? I haven't made any mistakes, have I? I haven't," Harry maintained.
"That's not to say you won't."
"I know. I know. But," Harry broke off to swallow hard, "I can handle this. I can. And I haven't been taking it every night. I haven't,” Harry insisted. “Please. Please, just give me a chance."
Snape eyed him suspiciously. "And how will I know you are keeping your word?"
Harry looked away and drew in an unsteady breath. “I don’t know,” he admitted quietly, glancing up at Snape.
Snape exhaled loudly and then shook his head. "I will need time to consider this, Potter."
Harry looked up again with a small bit of hope shining out of his eyes. "Thank you, Professor."
"Do not thank me just yet," he sneered.
Harry nodded and fidgeted nervously. "Yes, Sir."
Severus’ mouth gaped, and he blinked hard. “Is that--Is that all you have to say?”
Albus looked at him thoughtfully and nodded once. “For now.”
“Albus, I have just told you that Potter has been stealing from my personal storage and has been making and using the Dreamless Sleep Potion--possibly every night--and he has been drinking, smoking and whoever knows what else, and all you can say is that it’s interesting?” he half-yelled.
“What would you like me to say, Severus?”
“How about admitting that I was right about him! That he belongs back at St Mungo’s!”
“Severus, there is no need to shout.”
“Yes, there is!”
A long silence fell over the room. Albus sat back in his chair, stroked his long white beard and then adjusted his glasses. He leaned forward.
“Severus, perhaps Harry is telling the truth.” Snape grunted in disbelief. “Perhaps he hasn’t been using the potion every night. After all, the healers at St Mungo’s made no mention of any sort of addiction, and you know--as well as I do--they would never have released him had that been the case.”
“And what of his drinking and smoking?”
“It is very common for those who are suffering from... war, to divulge heavily in alcohol and tobacco products.”
Severus rubbed his hands over his face in frustration. He fell back ungracefully into the high winged-back chair and massaged his temples. As much as he hated it, he had to agree that Albus was right. They may be idiots at St Mungo’s, but they weren’t imprudent. Severus leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
“What do you suggest, Albus?” he asked, irritated.
There was a short pause, then, “Watch him.”
Severus’ eyes snapped open. “I have been watching him!”
“Watch him whilst he sleeps.”
Severus jumped to his feet. “I will not ‘watch’ him while he’s sleeping! I cannot believe you would even suggest such a thing!”
“You did ask, Severus.”
Severus stormed off and was not even three rooms away when a voice called out to him from a nearby portrait.
“Severus. Please listen to me.”
“Stop following me, Albus!”
“We need to find out how serious this is.”
Severus walked away.
“No! I won't do it!” he called over his shoulder.
As Severus rounded a corner, Albus was already waiting for him in another painting.
“Just for tonight, Severus.”
“Severus, please.” Albus paused briefly then added, “For me?”
Severus stopped in his tracks, and his hands curled into fists. He looked over his shoulder and glared. The manipulative old coot even had the audacity to smile. With a loud grunt, Severus stormed down the corridor and didn’t stop till he reached his quarters.
Albus’ smile deepened.
The first thing Severus did when he entered into his quarters was to march straight over to his small bar. He picked up one of the flasks with brandy in it, then stopped and looked down. It wouldn’t do him any good if he was intoxicated, would it? Not when he had to watch that idiotic boy all bloody night! It suddenly occurred to Severus that he was actually considering Albus’ request and he became more furious than he already was. He cried out in anger and threw the brandy across the room and into the fireplace just to release some frustration. He unceremoniously sat down on the sofa and began to grind his teeth together. Severus' leg started bouncing as he stared into the flames, cursing under his breath.
Why was Potter doing this to him? Wasn’t it enough that Severus had saved the fool’s life? Sure, it had been the brat’s testimony which had kept him out of Azkaban, but this? Why this?
And just what was the real reason behind Potter's decision to become a Potions master?
Severus let his head fall back and closed his eyes, but then opened them just as quickly. It also wouldn’t do him any good to fall asleep; he’d just have to deal with Albus again and eventually--him.
'Better get this over with as soon as possible,' Severus thought tiredly.
With a groan, Severus rose to his feet and glanced at the clock on the wall. He knew Potter would still be awake so he didn't have to worry about finding him in bed drugged--he really should have thrown the damn things away--but there was still the matter of telling Potter he was going to be ‘watched’ tonight. Severus curled his lips in disgust at the image of confronting him.
Perhaps he should use a Muting Charm.
Harry's hands trembled as he uncorked the phial. He closed his eyes tightly and raised it to his mouth. He needed this. He did. He would just have to suffer with the consequences--and with Snape--tomorrow. But as soon as the precious liquid touched his lips, Harry’s eyes snapped open and they met with the pair of green ones staring back at him in the mirror.
Harry stormed out of the bathroom and into his lounge where he flung the glass into the fireplace. It immediately exploded, but Harry barely blinked at the flash of light nor did he cringe at the loud explosion. Instead, he walked over in front of the sofa and plopped down, leaning his head back against the cushions. His eyes fluttered shut but he quickly opened them. He couldn’t fall asleep. Not now. He would just do what he always did when he ran out of the potion.
Strong coffee and plenty of cigarettes.
Harry pushed himself off the sofa with a groan and headed towards his small bar. He picked up his pack of fags and lightly tapped it on the side of his hand until one peeked out. After pulling it out and placing it against his lips, he reached for his wand.
Harry smiled as he inhaled, making the tip of his cigarette turn a bright red. He held the smoke in and let his eyes fall shut. This was bliss. It was one of the things no one could take away from him. If he wanted to fuck up his lungs, it was his problem, not theirs.
Harry sputtered and started coughing as soon as the pounding started.
He knew who it was. Snape. Fucking Snape.
“What?” Harry yelled, upon seeing Snape's face in the doorway when he threw the door open.
Snape said nothing at first, merely crinkled his nose at the smell of smoke coming off Harry's body. Harry raised a brow in a daring manner but then yelped when Snape pushed him roughly aside and proceeded inside.
“What the...! What the bloody hell are you doing?”
Snape didn’t pause but continued on till he reached the bar. He picked up Harry's pack of cigarettes.
“Put those down, you bastard!”
Snape turned back to him and held them out to Harry, shaking them as he spoke.
“I do not care if you wish to endanger your life, Mr Potter, but if you are seriously considering becoming a Potions master, you will need to stop this disgusting habit at once.”
“What?” Harry cried. “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do and what not to do?”
Snape advanced slowly, still holding the pack out and pushed it into Harry's chest.
“I am the one who is training you and it is I--”
“So what?” Harry snapped, interrupting him.
Snape leaned down till their noses were almost touching.
“Do you have any idea what this does to a person’s sense of smell?”
“I don’t ca--” Harry stopped short and then blinked. He'd never thought of that.
Seeing the look of comprehension on Harry's face, Snape pulled back and his mouth turned into a satisfied smirk. Harry snatched his cigarettes from Snape's hand with a scoff and then tossed them into the fireplace.
“Hardly. You will only obtain more tomorrow.”
Harry frowned. He didn’t want to continue this argument because who knew? There could be a chance he’d get some tomorrow. He changed the subject quickly.
“Would you mind telling me why you here?” He paused. “Again.”
Snape's smirk faded and seeing it made Harry inwardly smile. Instead of answering, however, Snape walked casually over to the sofa and sat down.
“Hey! Just what do you think you’re doing?”
“Since you are without your precious potion tonight,” he stopped and raised an eyebrow as if to confirm that and Harry reluctantly nodded. “I have been assigned to…‘watch’ you as you sleep.”
There was a few seconds of deafening silence before--
Harry couldn’t believe it. He was to be watched? By Snape? Unthinkable! Suddenly, all Harry's rational thought processes were abandoned and he began shouting, cursing, pointing, and throwing out accusations as he stormed back and forth in his chamber. Snape on the other hand, was sitting quietly watching him which, of course, angered Harry that much more.
Harry didn’t know exactly how much time had passed when he was finally able to hear the sounds of the crackling fire. His head was pounding from the abrupt silence so he walked over to the bar and bent over the top of it. He raised his head slightly and his eyes fell onto the bottle of alcohol. Harry closed his eyes and smiled.
Just what he needed.
Harry straightened his back and gingerly picked up the bottle.
“That will only intensify the dreams.”
Harry spun around, the bottle scarcely missing Snape's head as it whizzed by and exploded into the fireplace. Snape didn’t so much as blink.
“Damn it! I can't take the potion, I can't smoke, I can't have sex because of what … who I am, and now I can’t even fucking drink?”
Harry turned back around and clenched the edges of the counter again and pumped his arms, thrashing his entire body down and up until he finally stood motionless and only a small tremor lingered. He finally hung his head in defeat and tried to take deep breaths through his nostrils just to calm himself. When he figured enough time had passed, Harry pushed away and headed over to his bedroom.
“Where are you going?” Snape calmly asked.
“To the loo! Is that all right or do I have to stay in your presence all fucking night?” Harry shot back over his shoulder.
“I was merely curious.”
Harry growled, “Of course you were,” as he entered his room.
Harry closed the door behind him and walked to the bathroom and locked the door. He immediately lifted the lid of the commode and pulled out a knife from the water and shook it dry. He rolled up his left sleeve and stood before the mirror, staring at himself as the blade pierced his skin. He only stopped when he could actually feel the cuts and winced as he looked down into the sink. Too much blood. Harry turned the tap on and rinsed his left arm off before obtaining a white towel from the drawer. He patted his skin carefully before holding it down, firmly wrapping it around the wounds.
Harry waited a few minutes before grabbing another flannel from the drawer and a small phial. He peeled back the bloody rag, uncorked the bottle with his teeth, and slowly poured the liquid over his cuts. He hissed as it absorbed into the thin lines and he clenched his jaw, trying to block the pain.
Wrapping the new clean flannel around his arm securely, Harry lowered his shirtsleeve and buttoned it closed. He took several calming breaths, opened the door and walked over to the bedroom’s fireplace. He fire-called Dobby for some strong coffee. The little house-elf was there in seconds and Harry smiled and nodded his thanks. Harry watched Dobby disappear into the green flames and lowered himself to the sofa. He closed his eyes as the rim of the cup touched his lips and swallowed half of it. Harry wasn’t surprised a bit, nor did he move a muscle, when he heard the door open.
“What are you doing?”
Eyes still closed, Harry replied, “What does it look like?”
Snape made a noncommittal noise in his throat and gently took the cup from Harry's hand. Harry glared at him.
“What? Do you think I’m stupid enough to drink when I knew you'd eventually be coming in here?”
Snape wrinkled his nose as he sniffed the contents and Harry shook his head before looking back at the fireplace. Through his peripheral vision, he could see Snape set the cup down on the table next to him.
“It’s getting cold,” Snape stated, referring to the coffee.
Harry scoffed then cried out, “Dobby!”
In a flash of light the little elf popped in, refilled the cup to the rim and disappeared with a lingering smile.
“You do realise that will make it harder to fall asleep.”
Harry snapped his head to the side and looked up. “Who said anything about falling asleep?”
Snape arched a brow at him then walked over to the chair next to the couch and gracefully sat down. Harry followed his every movement and his eyes widened when he saw that Snape had a small glass in his hand.
“How dare you! Drinking in front of me? You think that’s funny, do you?”
“After watching your grand performance in there and knowing that another will inevitably unfold in here, I felt I might need it.”
“Why, you...! I can't believe you!”
Snape merely shrugged as a small smirk appeared and he ignored Harry, choosing to stare at the fire instead. Harry grunted and tossed back all of the coffee, half-aware of Snape's watchful eyes. Harry grimaced as the hot liquid went down and then covered his mouth when he coughed.
“Ugh. That was awfully strong.”
He coughed again and then turned his attention back on Snape. He frowned when he noticed Snape had not only set his glass down but was watching him intently. Harry blinked and glanced from his coffee cup to Snape and back again.
“Wha--what did you do?” Harry asked, now panicking.
“I gave you something to help you relax,” he said nonchalantly.
Harry jumped up and teetered slightly on his feet. “NO!”
“It’s only a relaxant, Potter.”
“NO! I can't fall asleep! You don’t understand!”
“Potter, you have been lacking a good night's rest for quite some time now. You need to get at least one--”
“No! Aren’t you listening to me? I can't! I mustn't …” Harry lost his balance and stumbled into the edge of the sofa, knocking over the table. “I can't... I can't shleep,” he slurred, groping for the back of the sofa and then slid down it.
Harry opened his eyes wide and tried to focus on the person sitting down beside him. He blinked hard and shook his head in a fruitless attempt to clear it.
“Don’t fight it, Potter.”
“Pleash. Doon do thish to me,” Harry begged.
Snape closed his eyes and tried not to hear the despair in the boy’s voice, nor see the way he slumped over onto the floor.
Suddenly, Harry's head jerked up from where it was laying on his arms.
Snape furrowed his brows and looked in dismay at Potter then to the empty space in the middle of the room where the boy was staring.
Harry. Help me.
Harry pulled himself along the floor till he reached ‘Ron’.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me,” Harry sobbed, curling inwards as if he was holding someone underneath him.
Snape opened his mouth but not a word could come out.
Harry's shoulders trembled as he rocked back and forth. “I’m sorry, Ron. Gods, I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault. It’s... I should have... No! Don’t leave me! RON!”
With one last sob, Harry collapsed.
Severus was still sitting on the floor, shell shocked even after five minutes had passed.
Finally he whispered, “Merciful Merlin, what have I done?”
After regaining his bearings, Severus reached into his robe pocket and pulled out his wand. With a swish and a few silent words, Potter’s body rose. Severus stood up and waved his arm and pointed at the bed and the boy floated towards it. He slowly lowered Potter's body and set his wand on the bedside table. He took off Potter’s socks and shoes, placing them at the foot of the bed. He then reached for the top button on the boy’s shirt, but a patch of blood on the sleeve caught his eye. He ripped open the end of it and yanked it up.
Severus scowled at Potter's face then turned and stepped into the fireplace. Within minutes he returned with several phials and different tools he’d need. He set them on the table and then picked up a pair of scissors. He carefully cut the soaked rag, making sure he didn’t touch the skin beneath. Severus sneered as he pulled back the self-made bandage.
Setting the scissors down, he picked up one of the bottles and uncorked it. He poured a little on a clean towel and lightly touched the injured flesh. He glanced at Potter's face but the eyelids didn’t as much as twitch. He swabbed the skin with a different lotion and patted it dry before wrapping the area firmly. Severus knew it would be next to impossible to administer a pain potion by mouth but frankly didn’t care at this point.
Let the boy suffer for his idiocy.
Severus finished undressing Harry, half-expecting to see fresh marks elsewhere, but there were none. Once Potter was down to his briefs, Severus covered him and, picking up his wand again, the chair scooted across the floor along with the small table and his glass of alcohol.
Severus removed his robes and draped them over the back of the chair and sat down, sighing, and closed his eyes.
He knew it would be a long night.
”Harry. Don’t cry. It’ll be all right.”
“No, Ron! Don’t leave me!”
“Please--Please look after Hermione.”
“NO! Don’t--RON! NO! Come back!”
“Harry...?” a weak voice called out.
Harry lifted his head from Ron’s chest. “Her--Hermione?”
“I can hear you, Harry. Where are you?”
Harry scrambled over to her. Her eyes were filled with blood from the large cut on her forehead and her right leg was a bloody stump.
“Oh, gods! Someone help me!”
“Harry? Where’s Ron, Harry? I can't see him.”
“He's… he’s over there, Hermione. It’ll be all right. Don’t worry. It’ll be all right. Someone help me!”
“Harry Potter,” a low voice drawled from behind him and Harry looked over his shoulder.
Seeing the raised wand in his hand, Harry instinctively covered Hermione's body with his own.
“Ah. Young love.”
“Move aside, Mr Potter.”
“No! You’ll have to go through me first!”
“It’s not you I intend to kill.”
“Harry,” Hermione gasped. “Go.”
“You see, Mr Potter? Even she knows when the end is at hand.”
“Leave her, Potter. The Weasley boy is dead and she’s dying. Now go.”
Malfoy sighed. “Why are you risking your life for her, Mr Potter? Look at her. I will be doing her a favour by putting her out of her misery. Besides, she’s only a Mudbloo--”
Harry’s hand scrambled for his wand but it was too late. When he looked up, Lucius Malfoy was lying at his feet.
Harry looked back at Hermione just in time to see her wand hand fall to the ground. Her eyes were open but Harry wasn’t sure if she could see him.
She smiled at him, then gasped. Her eyes rolled back in her head.
He grabbed her shoulders and began to shake her.
“Wake up! Do you hear me? Wake up and look at me!”
Hermione opened her eyes. “H--Harry. Let me go.”
“No! I won't let you die!”
Harry jumped up on the bed and held out his arm.
Snape's eyes widened and froze. Harry blinked several times before realising what he had done. What he could've done had he a wand.
He sank to his knees.
“I’m sorry, Professor. I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t know. Oh gods, I’m so sorry.”
Snape said nothing as he approached Harry. Harry cringed, waiting for Snape to do something, anything to him, but the man just passed him by and stopped in front of his bedside table. Harry let out a small sigh of relief and looked down to his lap. He gasped when he saw the fresh bandages and gaped at Snape in horror.
“Yes, I’ve already seen that, Mr Potter. However, I must say your skill with the knife needs improvement.”
Harry’s breath caught in his throat and he stared at him in disbelief.
Snape looked over at him from the corner of his eye.
“You’re still alive, if death was your intention.”
Harry found his voice. “No! I wasn’t trying to kill myself! I was--” Snape raised a brow. “I wasn’t! I was trying to… to… to make the pain go away,” he finished quietly.
Snape turned to him and handed him a small bottle. “Ending pain by adding pain? Interesting concept.” Harry scowled at him. “Here. Drink this.”
Seeing Harry's eyes open, Snape said curtly, “It’s a small dosage of the Dreamless Sleep. Now drink.”
Harry bowed his head. “Oh. Sorry.”
He swallowed it all in one gulp and handed the phial back to Snape's waiting hand.
“It would be best if you lie back down, Potter. It won't take long before the potion takes effect.”
Harry nodded and slid under the sheets. He turned on his side and watched as Snape settled back into the chair.
“I really am sorry, Professor.”
“My name is Severus. Since we are now... colleagues, it wouldn’t be too inappropriate for you to call me by my first name.”
Harry blushed. “Oh. Right. Sev-er-- Sev-er-us.”
“Merlin. If it’s that hard to pronounce, I’d rather you call me Professor.”
Harry smiled and blushed harder. “S-sorry." Harry paused briefly, then furrowed his brows. "Sir. Er--”
“What is it, Potter?”
“Are you going to call me Harry now?”
Snape smirked. “Doubtful.” Harry’s smile turned into a full grin. “Go to sleep.”
Snape watched as Harry nestled comfortably under the duvet and closed his eyes. Soon the small smile turned into a frown and Severus took a deep breath before sighing heavily. He knew what the boy was thinking. It didn’t take a genius to understand, though. The boy was shit at hiding his feelings.
“It wasn’t your fault, Potter.”
Harry's eyes snapped open and he bolted straight up, the covers pooling around his waist. “What?”
“Miss Granger is alive because of you.”
“Mr Weasley’s fate was already sealed the moment he stepped in front of you.”
“But if I had been looking--!”
“But you weren't able to. And Mr Weasley--Ron--knew that. He knew what he was doing when he decided to shield you.”
It felt strange to Severus to say the Weasley boy’s given name, but somehow he felt it was the right thing to say.
Harry closed his eyes. “But why? Why did he do that?”
Severus leaned forward. “Potter. You would have done exactly the same thing for him.”
“But I didn’t! He risked his life--”
“Yes, he did. For you. Just as you did for Miss Granger.”
Harry buried his face in his hands. “H-He begged me to help him.”
“Potter. Potter, listen to me. Ron sacrificed his life for you and in return, what did he ask of you?”
“What did he ask?” Severus demanded.
“He asked me to look after Hermione,” he whispered.
“And you did, didn’t you?” Harry nodded. “Potter, she’s alive because of you. You were willing to give up your life for hers just as Ron did for you. You never once left her side until help arrived.” He pulled Harry's hands down. “Did you?”
Tears fell down Harry's face as he slowly shook it. “No,” he mouthed.
“And you’ve looked after her since then, haven't you?”
Harry closed his eyes and nodded. “Sh-she killed--”
“Yes, I know. And she's getting help for that.”
Harry snapped his head up. “But I can help! I can--”
“No, Potter. You can't. This is something she has to work out for herself.” Severus leaned closer. “Just as you need to do,” he paused, “with your own demons.”
Harry nervously looked away. “I-I have to get some sleep now.”
“Potter, you need to talk about this.”
Harry slid back down and covered himself, pulling the duvet up over his shoulders.
“I’m tired. I should--”
“No, really. I’m fine. I just need to sleep.”
Severus sat back and sighed.
“Very well. I’ll be here if you need anything.”
“Thank you... Severus.”
“I will! I promise!”
Severus snapped his eyes open, only to witness Harry tossing and turning on the bed.
’Damn. It wasn’t strong enough,’ Severus thought, scolding himself.
He stood over Harry and as soon as his hand touched Harry's arm to wake him, Harry scrambled clumsily to his knees on the bed and wrapped his arms around him.
“I love you! I’ll always love you!”
Severus stood motionless, wondering if the boy was now awake or still dreaming. Harry squeezed tighter and Severus slowly curled his arms around Harry's smaller frame and unconsciously stroked the boy’s messy hair. His body was trembling as much as Potter’s. It had been a long time since Severus had held someone this close. He let his eyes fall shut.
When Severus realised what was pressing into his abdomen, he panicked and tried to pull Harry off him.
“No! Please. Don’t let go of me,” Harry sobbed, pushing his body further into him.
Severus gasped. “P-Potter.”
Harry buried his face into Severus’ neck and held onto him with all his might.
Severus inwardly sighed. At least the boy knew he was with him instead of... someone else.
“Don’t let me go,” Harry whispered.
“All right,” Severus said softly back.
Harry inhaled deeply, his body shuddering when he slowly breathed out. That small movement was enough to cause a similar reaction in Severus. He tried to will it away. He knew this wasn’t appropriate, but the boy’s scent was strong and his body was warm and full of life. Severus closed his eyes. He shouldn’t be doing this. He knew better. It was against everything he believed in and it would also be taking advantage of--
“Hmm?” was the only thing he could manage to say.
“Lie with me?”
Suddenly, Severus became very inarticulate. “I--don’t think... Uh, Potter, this isn’t--”
‘Damn the boy.’
He tried to pull away again, but Harry held fast
“Harry,” he said after clearing his throat, “you don’t want this. This is only because of the dream you had and--Ah!” He cried out when Harry grabbed the back of his trousers and thrust him forward. “Damn it, Potter! You don’t know what you are doing!”
“Severus,” Harry breathed into his ear. “Please. Just lie with me. That’s all I want.”
Even though Severus knew it was a lie, he reluctantly nodded and slowly lowered Harry down to the bed. Sitting gently beside his prone body, Severus bowed his head and shook it. Damn his compassionate side; he usually had better control than this. He sighed softly. "Just for tonight," and almost immediately regretted his spoken words.
“Just for tonight,” Harry echoed.
No sooner had they lain down and faced each other, had Harry begun unbuttoning Severus’ shirt. He had to feel skin, the warmth of another body. Harry knew it was a risk to assume the man’s preference, but he had heard enough rumours to know they were more than just a coincidence.
Harry opened the shirt wide and ran his fingers through the sparse hairs. He felt the skin below quiver and smiled, knowing he was the one causing Severus’ response. Strong arms pulled him further into the chest and Harry nuzzled his head in the crook of Severus’ neck whilst pushing his palm under the shirt. He wrapped his arm around Severus’ side and wedged his leg between his.
He could hear Severus’ heartbeat, and warm air coated the top of his head as the man breathed heavily.
“What did you mean when you said what you are?”
There was a long pause.
“I meant who.”
“What did you mean?” Severus firmly repeated.
He pulled his head back far enough to look into his eyes.
“It’s not common knowledge that I’m gay, all right?” he said suddenly angry. “And contrary to what Hermione keeps telling me, there’s not an abundance of gay wizards. I mean it’s not like there's a personal section in the Daily Prophet for that sort of thing, is there?” Harry said bitterly.
Severus stared at him long and hard. “I see.”
“What's that supposed to mean?”
Severus narrowed his eyes. “I would hardly refer to myself as a ‘what’.”
Harry paled. “No. No, that’s not what I meant.”
“Isn't it? Are you not referring to me as well?”
“I am not a ‘what’, Potter. And neither are you.”
“I know. It’s just--”
Harry closed his eyes, and placed his forehead on Severus’ chest. “You wouldn’t understand,” he murmured.
Harry gasped as he was suddenly thrown backwards and a large hand clenched his face tightly.
“Understand what, Potter? Understand how difficult it is to be different? Understand how humiliating it is when you are the brunt of every joke? To have people who despise you, make fun of you and call you names?”
Harry closed his eyes and a lone tear slid down his cheek. “Understand how hard it is to find someone to love,” he whispered.
Harry inhaled sharply when fingers dug into his arms, shaking his body.
“You think I don’t understand?” Severus shouted. “You think that you are so special that nobody else but you could possibly feel that way? Do you think that just because I am old and decrepit that I care not for love?” he screamed. “Do you know how that feels, Potter? To know that you are old and decrepit and that nobody could possibly want you, let alone love you!”
Harry stared at Severus and felt his blood run cold. Severus grunted in disgust as he pushed him away and started to get up.
“No wait! Please! That’s not what I meant! Please!” He lunged forward and caught Severus’ shirt. “I didn’t mean you! I didn’t mean you!”
Severus stopped at the end of the bed and glared at him over his shoulder. The look on the man’s face was nothing but pure hatred. Unable to look at him any longer, Harry collapsed on his stomach and buried his head in his pillow, holding it tightly in his arms.
“I didn’t mean you,” he repeated, voice muffled and barely audible.
Several minutes passed before Harry felt the bed shift and a gentle hand began to massage his back. He turned his head to the side and peered up at him. Snape wasn’t looking directly at him, rather was staring at the sheets--past the sheets--his expression and eyes seemingly lost in thought. After a slight hesitation, the man removed his shoes and slowly eased his way back down, pulling Harry up and halfway over him. Harry wrapped his arm over Severus’ front and his skin tingled when he felt the hug being returned. He swallowed hard and tried to fight the tears threatening to overwhelm him; the unexpected compassion was just too much. He took several deep breaths instead and buried his face in the crook of Severus’ neck.
Another moment of silence fell between the two of them before Severus softly asked, “Who was he, Potter?”
Harry remained quiet for a few seconds before opening his mouth to speak, but nothing managed to come out. He knew Severus was waiting patiently; the time had come to say his name aloud. He closed his eyes tightly and pressed his face into Severus’ chest and mumbled the name.
There was another long pause.
“I’m sorry, Harry.”
“Seamus, stop it.”
“What? No one’s looking.”
Harry rolled his eyes and laughed softly. “You have the most twisted sense of humour I know of.”
Seamus chuckled in his throat and gave Harry's bum another squeeze.
“Oh, come on, Harry. Where’s your sense of humour?”
“In case you hadn't noticed, we got separated from our group, had to outrun several curses--a few of which barely missed us, in fact--before forcing our two grown men’s bodies into a cave so small we have to lie side by side and can barely move. So tell me again, Seamus, how is this supposed to be funny?”
Seamus thought for a moment then smiled.
“Because I can do this--”
“--and no one can see it.”
Smiling, Harry shook his head before peering out of the small opening, trying to see something. Anything.
Harry looked back at him. “Don’t, Seamus. Don’t say it.”
“I just wish we had more time, you know?”
“But… at least I know that one of us…”
“Harry, I’m trying to be serious.”
“Well, you can stop it!”
Seamus twisted his body enough to lie on his side, facing Harry. He looked pleadingly at him and Harry smiled gently, his heart finally giving in to the desperate look of hope. He twisted his own body to lie on its side. Seamus pushed him into him instantly and both gasped as their bodies became one. Though it was hard to do in such a cramped cave, Harry managed to wedge his leg between Seamus’ and force his arm between the small gap separating Seamus’ side and the top of the cave. He pulled Seamus close.
“I want to touch you. Touch your skin. Just once… Just one more time before--”
“Shh. We can do that later.”
Harry kissed him deeply. He didn’t want to hear anything more than the way Seamus breathed into his ear. The way Seamus moaned as their bodies frantically clung to each other. There would be plenty of time later. Time for more than just this.
There would be.
“Harry,” Seamus panted, breaking off the kiss. “Harry, I--”
Harry silenced him again with another deep kiss. Their moans of passion filled the small cave until the inevitable climax overwhelmed them both.
“Oh gods!” Seamus cried. “Harry!”
Harry buried his face into his lover’s neck and followed him into the temporary bliss of ecstasy. When their heartbeats finally slowed and their breathing returned to normal, Seamus pulled back and tear-filled eyes pleaded with him.
“Promise me, Harry. Promise me.”
Harry closed his eyes and gathered Seamus into his arms and held him onto him for dear life.
“I will. I promise.”
Severus stared across the room, lost in thought. There were so many questions going through his head but no answers. Just a few short months ago he was in complete control. He was alone and his life was simple, structured. Then Potter came and disrupted everything. Everything. Severus found himself asking - for the eight hundredth time--why? Why had the boy chosen this profession and why did he choose him of all people to train him? He knew now it wasn’t for retribution. In fact, it didn’t seem as if Potter had any ill feelings towards him whatsoever. He was only there to learn. And as much as Severus hated to admit it, Potter was becoming annoyingly proficient at it. He had hoped otherwise, of course. The worse part, however, was that Potter wasn’t even getting on his nerves as much as he had done in the beginning. He was still an irritating brat, but with each passing day he was actually becoming bearable--the sudden outbursts of anger notwithstanding. Perhaps he was just getting used to him. Severus shuddered at that thought. Who would ever get used to Potter?
Severus glanced down at the messy, black bush lying on his chest. He wondered if that boy even owned a comb. He doubted it by the way it was splayed every which way. His eyes drifted down Potter's body, watching his back rise and fall from his heavy breathing. Good. The boy was finally asleep. Perhaps now would be as good a time as any to leave. Severus frowned and glanced over at the door, then back to Potter who was lying so peacefully. He could easily lift the boy up and walk away. He glanced once more at the door to freedom then back to Potter again. Why was he staying?
Albus. That’s right. Albus wanted him to. He had no choice. Severus closed his eyes and sighed. No, that wasn’t the only reason and he despised himself for it.
It took Severus a moment to realise that the boy lying next to him was rutting against his leg. He remained absolutely still and wondered if Potter was even consciously aware of what he was doing. There was a part of Severus that wanted to feel disgust at being used in this manner, but the other part of him couldn’t help but feel... empathy.
Yes, Severus knew what it was like to lose somebody. Someone who at one time meant the world to him. His first love. His only love. Severus closed his eyes and tried to recall the face that he had buried deep within his mind. It was such a long time ago that he was afraid that he had all but lost him. But no, there he was, the soft blond hair and the pale blue eyes watching him. Saying his name as they both reached the point of no return. He recalled how his skin felt underneath him. On top of him. Moving next to him.
Just like the boy was doing now.
Damn Potter. Damn him for making him want to remember.
Severus held his breath and tried to ignore the pain in his heart. Ignore the way his shirt was being stretched over his chest from the fist pulling on it. But most of all, Severus tried to ignore the way the thin legs gripped his own and the feel of the damp moisture now seeping through the side of his trousers.
Damn him. And damn himself for not stopping him.
Sometime later, Severus awoke. It was still dark so he figured he hadn't been asleep for very long. There was a warm hand caressing his chest, stroking the length of it slowly. Soon it was replaced with fingertips that were seemingly trying to map out his skin. He remained silent and unmoving until he felt two fingers gently tugging on his nipples. He snapped his head to the left and grabbed the frail wrist, though he kept his grip loose enough for the boy to break away if needed.
Young innocent eyes slowly closed and then re-opened. Severus clenched his jaw and barely shook his head, warning Potter to stop. Potter's brows pulled together mouthed the word, “Please.” Severus narrowed his eyes and frowned at him, but his attention was soon drawn back to the hand pulling free, and he watched silently as the timid fingers resumed their exploration. If he didn’t know better, he would swear that the way he was being caressed was almost as if Potter had never touched another living soul.
Perhaps he hadn’t. The war had begun so quickly in Potter’s seventh year, and while it wasn’t well-known, Severus had heard whispers that Potter and the young Weasley girl had just started a relationship. But if what Potter confessed to him about her was true--that they never were in a relationship--there really wouldn’t have been enough time for another one to begin. But then that could only mean one thing.
Potter was a virgin.
Severus mentally shook his head. No, there would've been moments he and the Finnigan boy could've stolen. Granted, they would've been short, but there still would've been time enough for... for...
Severus sighed and finally gave in to the wondrous sensations Harry was giving him. He let his eyes close and cursed himself for being so weak.
He needed to find a cure for rampant testosterone.
Harry was afraid to meet Severus’ piercing glare for fear of being refused again so instead he focused on the skin underneath his fingers. It wasn’t as smooth or as soft as Seamus’ but it had a wonderful and unique texture of its own. Harry closed his eyes briefly and cursed inwardly, reminding himself he wasn't going to do that again, wasn't going to compare reality with a memory. Harry closed his eyes tighter and tried once again not to think about the words whispered so long ago.
“I want to touch you. Touch your skin. Just once--”
No. He had to stop thinking about Seamus. About what could have been. About the many times he had longed to be in a situation such as this. Because now it was too late. Seamus was gone. Perhaps, Harry thought, it was for the best they'd never been able to take that final step in their relationship. He didn’t even want to imagine what that would feel like. Maybe Seamus was right.
Everything happened for a reason. Or in their case - didn’t happen.
Harry slowly opened his eyes as his mind drifted away from the past and back into the present. The warm flesh he was absently stroking was still there. Still moving under his touch. He watched in awe as the chest--Severus’ chest--seemed to rise up to meet his soft caress. It suddenly occurred to Harry that something else was happening as well.
Severus wasn’t stopping him.
Harry gathered up all of his courage and made a bold move by lifting himself up to his forearm. He wanted to see more, to see everything. When there was neither a response, nor any type of refusal, Harry found himself smiling and then allowed himself to continue. He wasn’t exactly sure of why he wanted to continue. Only that he did. But as Harry ran one of his fingertips over the indentation between Severus’ ribs, he unconsciously began to think about it.
Just what was it about this man that made Harry feel comfortable enough to do this? It wasn’t as if he had previously thought about Severus in that way. Nor was there any inclination on Severus’ part that Severus was even attracted to him.
So why was Severus letting him?
Suddenly, a feeling of panic ran through Harry. What if this one night changed everything? Would the unspoken friendship gradually forming between them be broken? Would Severus think he was only being used and then put up an irreparable wall in the morning? Harry shuddered at the thought. That's the last thing Harry wanted and nothing was worth the risk of losing what little they did have. No matter how trivial it was. And if Harry was being honest with himself, he was afraid. He was afraid to start something--anything --with someone just to lose it. Lose him. He couldn’t bear to have that happen to him again.
Harry sighed heavily and decided to stop this before it went any further. Besides, he was almost positive Severus wasn't really attracted to him, and really didn't want to do this, and would most certainly regret it in the morning. Not to mention he would probably hold Harry in contempt. But then--why? Why wasn’t Severus stopping him? Was it because he might actually want to--? Harry inwardly shook his head. No, that wasn’t it. It couldn’t be. But then why? Suddenly, a terrifying reason washed over him. Pity. Harry clenched his jaw. He hated to be pitied. He had enough of that shit at St Mungo’s.
Harry closed his eyes and started to withdraw his hand. He was caught off-guard, however, when his wrist was unexpectedly stopped in mid-motion. Harry instantly snapped open his eyes and looked up in astonishment. Severus was observing him intimately and Harry noticed his expression was neither one of pity, nor contempt. Harry stared at him curiously for a moment before softly gasping as his hand was placed back upon Severus’ chest. He quickly glanced down to his covered hand and then back up. Severus nodded.
Harry realised in that moment that this really wasn’t an act of pity but one of mutual consent.
Harry's heart raced with the knowledge that not only did Severus want this, but would watch him as well. He knew he really shouldn't be embarrassed, but the thought of Severus actually watching him made him ten times more nervous than when he had thought he was doing this as Severus' slept. Glad of the semi-darkness hiding the small flush in his cheeks, Harry stole a quick glance in Severus’ direction and was relieved to note the man had closed his eyes. He hesitated for a moment and then took a deep breath before finally turning his attention to the warm hand covering his own. As it slowly pulled away, its fingers softly caressed his skin, causing gooseflesh to appear over his entire body.
Harry’s eyelids fluttered closed for a moment before opening them again and took a deep, hitching breath. Slowly and timidly, he trailed his fingertips down Severus' body until they met the top of Severus' trousers then back up to the hollow of his throat. He did a few passes before gradually lowering his hand to his palms and began lightly caressing the skin underneath, using only the merest pressure. He heard Severus’ breathing grow shallow and couldn’t help but smile. He continued exploring the warm body for a while longer until he finally got enough courage to circle one of Severus’ nipples and gently tug on it. A sharp intake of air above him was the response and so he reached over and did the same thing to the other one, which earned him a loud gasp.
Feeling a bit more confident, Harry slid his hand down Severus’ torso and gingerly placed his hand on top of the tented trousers. He curled his fingers around the trapped erection and gently squeezed it. Severus’ hips rose slightly and, out the corner of Harry’s eyes, he could see Severus’ hand gripping the sheets. He tightened his hold and awkwardly rubbed up and down the length as much as he was able. Harry jerked his hand back when both of Severus’ hands touched his, giving him the impression that he was stopping him. Instead, however, Severus fumbled with the thin belt, and quickly unbuttoned his fly. Harry moved back enough to allow Severus sufficient room to lift his hips and push down his trousers. When Severus reached for the top of his boxers, Harry smiled shyly and nudged the two hands away with his own; he wanted to do this part by himself.
From the dim lighting in the room, Harry could just make out the colour of Severus’ underpants. They were red. Harry’s smile turned into a full grin, thankfully hidden by his bowed head. He pushed himself up, resting on his forearm, and continued once again rubbing the more prominent erection through the thin material. Severus groaned in frustration, but Harry ignored it, choosing to prolong his slow ministrations. Finally, after a few minutes, Harry curled his fingertips, and slipped them just inside the rim of the material and slowly peeled them down, revealing a rather thick and incredibly hard erection. Harry firmly wrapped his hand around the shaft and pulled the skin up until it met the soft glans, covered by the foreskin. Harry barely loosened his grip and pushed the foreskin back enough so he could see the tiny slit filled with clear liquid. He ran the pad of his thumb over it, simultaneously compressing his fingers, bringing forth more pre-come.
Harry leaned over and slowly licked the head of Severus’ cock, cherishing the sounds he was causing. He could feel the muscles in Severus’ legs tighten as he ran the flat of his tongue against the tip. Another moan escaped Severus’ lips and a trembling hand touched Harry’s shoulder. Harry pursed his lips and carefully slid them down, enveloping just the top. Fingers dug into his shoulder, but not hard enough to hurt. Severus was breathing heavily now and it only increased in volume when Harry lowered his head. He moved his mouth up and down the length of Severus’ cock, keeping the same rhythm with his hand. As Harry increased the speed, Severus unconsciously lifted his hips. Harry knew, from his own personal experience, and by the way Severus was breathing, it wouldn’t be long before the man came.
Harry sped up his thrusts, twisting his hands as he did so. He could feel Severus’ cock swelling and the large vein under his fingers grew hard. With a strangled cry from his deep in his throat, Severus’ cock began pulsating and Harry’s mouth was filled with a warm substance. He held on tight and froze as the last bit of liquid was released then slowly pulled away, swallowing everything. Severus’ body collapsed on the bed, and his chest was heaving with every breath he took. Harry raised his head to look up at him and warmly smiled when their eyes met.
Suddenly, Harry found himself on his back, gasping, when his throat was attacked by a pair of lips fastening onto his neck. His hands immediately flew up and intertwined themselves into the long hair covering half his face. His body was instantly set on fire when a strong hand slid under Harry’s underpants and latched onto his straining erection. He bucked his hips up and met it stroke for stroke. He knew he wouldn’t be able to last long. Severus’ mouth released his neck and travelled down his body quickly as his hands yanked down Harry’s pants.
A pair of tight lips replaced Severus’ hand and Harry cried out as his cock was sucked into a hot mouth. One hand gripped his hips and held him down while the other cupped Harry’s balls, eliciting another cry. Firm fingertips rubbed the sensitive spot just above his entrance and, instinctively, Harry’s legs bent. Digging his heels into the mattress, he clung to Severus' hair for dear life. His orgasm rapidly approaching with every stroke of wet heat, he knew it would be any second now.
When Harry felt lips touch his pubic hairs, he arched his back and howled. He came so violently his entire body shook and all of his muscles locked. He remained frozen in time, feeling every spasm his cock made. After what seemed like forever, Harry finally collapsed on the bed with a groan, his mind swimming from the aftershock. He tried to breathe but the air just seemed to have left him. Small tremors erupted throughout his body as his heart slowly returned to normal. Finally Harry was able to take a deep breath and blinked a few times before looking down at Severus through sated eyes.
Severus stretched out against Harry’s side and pulled him in close. Harry wrapped his arms over his chest, curled his body into his and snuggled up next to Severus. Sleep came easily to him and he was soon enveloped in darkness.
With a smile on his lips.
Harry rubbed his cheek against the soft skin upon which his head rested on. It took a few seconds for him to realise, however, that it wasn’t skin; it was, in fact, his pillow. Fully awake now, Harry quickly sat up and looked around the room. Severus was gone. His heart fell to his stomach, wondering if what he had feared last night was true: Severus had regretted what had happened. He searched his bedroom again, looking for any type of clue to indicate otherwise. He finally noticed his dressing gown lying on the back of his sofa and smiled. He knew it wasn’t there last night before he went to bed.
Harry heard a distant noise to his right and turned his head in the direction it came from. Someone was outside his room and in his lounge. He jumped out of bed and ran over to his robe, put it on and crept over to the closed door. He didn’t hear anything else, but his natural curiosity got the better of him so he slowly opened the door and peeked out. Severus was sitting at his small dining table, holding up the current edition of the Daily Prophet. In front of him were two place-settings and a tray covered with tea and an assortment of food.
“Has anyone ever told you that it is rude to stare, Potter?”
Harry flinched, and walked over and stood next to the table.
“Err, Sev-er -”
Harry stopped when the paper folded down, revealing an emotionless expression. Harry looked away and nervously fiddled with his belt. Obviously, he was right and Severus had regretted last night.
“About last night--”
“Potter, sit down. Have something to eat and then we can talk.”
Harry nodded unconsciously and slid into the nearest chair. He carefully fixed his tea and snatched a scone from the tray. He began to nibble on it and glanced up. After taking a slow sip of tea to wash the scone down, he cleared his throat and tried to look as confident as he could.
Severus raised an eyebrow and Harry quickly looked down at his plate.
“Um, the thing is--”
“I have spoken to the healers at St Mungo’s.”
Harry jerked his head up and his heart leapt to his throat. They were going to send him back.
“And I have agreed with their recommendations.”
Harry closed his eyes, sighed and barely nodded.
“You are to go back to St Mungo’s for counselling.”
Harry slowly raised his eyes and nervously bit his lower lip.
“You will continue your apprenticing here under my supervision--” Harry’s eyes widened in disbelief. “--as long as you agree to attending counselling sessions on Saturdays and Sundays; there will also be a healer on-call twenty-four hours a day should you require him.”
Harry opened and closed his mouth several times, a strangled noise all he could manage.
“Merlin, Potter. Close your mouth,” Severus said with a half-smirk. “Now, do you agree to those conditions?”
“Yes!” he yelled. Harry blushed, seeing both of Severus’ eyebrows raise. He cleared his throat. “I mean yes. Yes, of course. I accept those… terms. Of course.”
“Good. Now that’s settled, we can discuss last night.”
“Oh.” Harry squirmed a bit in his chair. “All right,” he said quietly.
“I assure you that last night--”
“I can explain! I know that you probably think--”
“Would you let me finish?” Severus snapped, clearly annoyed.
Harry flinched slightly and looked away. He heard a chair being pushed back. Severus was ending this and was leaving. Harry’s shoulders slouched when he felt Severus’ presence standing next to him.
“As I was saying, I assure you that last night was entirely mutual, and that if anything else should occur in the future, I demand the utmost discretion. Am I making myself perfectly clear?” he asked, his low voice leaving no room for argument.
Harry inhaled sharply, his mouth falling open in total surprise. When he didn’t answer straight away, Severus impatiently repeated the question.
“Am I making myself clear?”
“Y-yes, Sir. I mean Professor. I mean Sev-er--”
Severus smirked at him and then turned to leave. “You really need to start practicing on how to say my name, Potter. You sound like an imbecile.”
Harry softly laughed at himself. He did sound like an idiot.
“Finish your breakfast and then go get ready as the healers are expecting you in one hour to go over the details. We will continue our discussion later,” he said, reaching for the doorknob.
“A-all right,” Harry stuttered.
Severus shook his head as he opened the door and then closed it softly behind him. For two full minutes, Harry sat in shock before springing to his feet and running to the bathroom.
“What in Merlin's blood are you doing?” Harry yelled. “You’re not supposed to add Knoxgrass until after mixing in the ginger root! Can't you read? The instructions are clearly written on the board!”
First year Mark Paulsen cringed in his seat. “Y-yes, Sir. But Thomas over there said it would finish sooner if I was to--”
“Who is the teacher here, Mr Paulsen?” Harry snapped.
“Y-you are, Sir.”
“Yes I am. And you will do well to remember that. Now dump that concoction and start again.”
“Yes, Sir,” the boy whispered.
“Five points from Hufflepuff and twenty-five from Slytherin,” Harry said with a pointed glare at Geoffrey Thomas.
Groans filled the room and Harry walked back the front and plopped down in his chair, all the while shaking his head.
“I can't believe these kids,” Harry grumbled. When he felt a pair of eyes to the left of him staring, he whipped his head to the side. “What?” he asked sharply.
Severus merely smirked and continued grading the exams in front of him.
Harry leaned over and whispered, “He could have blown up the entire classroom!”
Severus made a sound in his throat that actually resembled a chuckle. “I know.”
Harry grunted and sneered over at the Slytherin boy who was laughing with his friends.
“Would you care to make it fifty points, Mr Thomas?”
The boy lowered his head. “No, Professor.”
Harry eyed the other boys sitting next to him. He raised an eyebrow expectantly.
“No, Professor,” they said in unison.
“Good. Now finish your potions. You only have twenty minutes left.”
Harry snorted and folded his hands on top of his desk, watching for any other mishaps.
When the bell rang, the first year students quickly got up and scrambled to the door.
“Don’t forget you have a test tomorrow,” Harry called out. “I expect everyone to be prepared.”
After the last student left the classroom, Harry dropped his head on his folded arms. “I can't believe how stupid these kids are,” he muttered.
“Indeed,” Severus replied. “Although I would have chosen a different word. Ignorant might be a better one. I prefer imbecile myself.”
Harry lifted his head up. “Ha. Ha. Very funny. I was never that--”
Harry jumped in his seat and looked over to Hermione Granger who was standing in the doorway.
“Hermione!” he cried, leaping to his feet and running over to her. “Why didn’t you tell me you would be here today? I thought you weren't coming until next week.”
Hermione put her cane in her other hand and, taking the arm Harry held out for her, hobbled to the front of the classroom.
“I know, but I couldn’t wait. I just wanted to get here early so I could set up my quarters and sort out all my books.”
Harry laughed. She reminded him of the ‘old’ Hermione Granger.
Harry smiled. "Nothing. Go on."
“Anyway, Madam Pomfrey said I could. In fact, she was thrilled to know I would be early.”
“Thrilled? Pomfrey?” Harry asked mockingly.
“Yes, Harry. Thrilled. Believe it or not she actually does have other emotions besides frustration and annoyance,” she said sharply. “Maybe if you weren't always getting into trouble all those times, you would have seen--”
“I know. I know. Sorry,” Harry said sheepishly.
Hermione harrumphed and let go of Harry's arm to extend her hand to Severus. “Professor Snape. It’s good to see you again.”
“Severus, Hermione. After all, we are colleagues now.”
“I know,” she said smiling. “It just feels strange.”
Severus glanced over to Harry. “That’s understandable. I am accustomed to not hearing my name said properly.”
“I’m getting better at it!” Harry said defensively.
Severus raised a sceptical brow at him.
“So,” Hermione said smiling, watching the two of them banter. “How are things going?”
Harry rolled his eyes in frustration and Severus smirked at him before smiling at Hermione.
“Perhaps Mr Potter would like to share some of his ‘experiences’ with you. I have heard enough of them to last two lifetimes,” he said dryly.
Harry whipped Severus a sharp look, but Severus ignored it and returned to his desk.
“Harry?” Hermione asked with an amused eyebrow raised.
“Ugh. It’s a long story.”
“How about over lunch? We can go sit outside.”
Harry nodded and held out his arm again.
Severus watched the two of them disappear out of the room. He sighed and thought about how things had changed so dramatically over the past six months. Harry was getting better at sleeping throughout the night without nightmares, although there were still times he would wake up screaming. In those rare times, Severus would hold him tightly and whisper encouraging words to let him know that he wasn’t alone and that he would always be there for him. In the morning, Harry told him that he barely remembered what he had dreamt about, yet it would all come back to him once he was in counselling.
Severus never took offence to that. He knew in time Harry would feel comfortable enough to talk about it with him. Just like in time Severus would feel comfortable enough to ask Harry again his reasons for wanting to become a Potions master. Not that it mattered as much to Severus as it did at the beginning of their ‘relationship’, but Severus couldn’t help but wonder why. He knew it had something to do with the Finnigan boy, but couldn’t for the life of him figure out how.
That was another thing Harry was reluctant to talk about: Seamus Finnigan. Severus himself had begun counselling sessions with the healers at St Mungo's in order to better understand Harry's concerns, both past and present. It was there Severus learned that Seamus had died in Harry’s arms. That information had never been revealed to the Wizarding World, only that Harry had been with him when he died in the war. Severus could only imagine how tragic it must have been for Harry. Severus also discovered his suspicions were correct: Harry had never slept with Seamus. Of course, it was already quite obvious to him because Harry had asked--politely, of course--if they could take things slow. Harry tried to give him the impression it was because he didn’t want to get hurt again, but Severus knew the real reason.
Harry was still a virgin and he was terrified. Severus also suspected that it had to do with his ‘size’. Harry always mentioned it and frequently made comments that Severus ‘could hurt someone with that thing’. Severus found it amusing how most men always had the misconceptions and the insecurities of being too small. Still, it was amusing to him in the beginning, but the idea that his penis was being described as ‘that thing’ reminded him too much of how Harry had once referred to them as a ‘what’. But what had bothered Severus most of all, was that Harry--unintentionally or not--made it sound as if Severus would purposely try to ‘hurt’ him. Didn’t he know Severus well enough by now to know Severus would never hurt him and had enough experience to insure Harry would only receive pleasure and never pain? Didn’t the nights they shared together show him that much? Severus sighed again. Hopefully in time Harry would finally come to realise this.
Harry was finally able to wean himself off the Dreamless Sleep potion thanks to Severus’ help. It took awhile since Harry had been taking it almost from day one at St Mungo's. The only reason no one knew was because a certain young medi-wizard had been helping him. Severus didn’t even want to ask about how Harry had persuaded him. No charges were brought against the young man, for no one knew save Harry and later Severus when Harry finally confessed, provided he wouldn’t tell.
Still, Harry was making excellent progress. Severus was extremely proud of his lover for his courage to finally face his demons and he hoped it was because Harry wanted to get better and not because he felt he had no choice.
Severus was proud of Hermione as well. Not many who had survived the war recovered as fast as she had. Especially the ones who had lost family members or close friends. On one of the Death Eater attacks against the Muggles, Hermione had lost her mother. Her father was still in denial, but Hermione always managed to keep a positive outlook, for him at least, and visited her father often. She even joined him in the Muggle therapy her father was attending. Her right leg still gave her problems; she hated relying on a cane with her artificial leg, but she never complained. Neither Severus nor Harry were surprised when she chose to become a healer. They knew it was her way of coping with the fact that she had taken a life. Now she wanted to save them.
Some weren't as lucky as Hermione. Molly Weasley had not only lost Ron, but her husband Arthur and her two sons, Percy and Charlie as well. Outwardly, she remained strong for the rest of her children, but inwardly, Severus knew she was hanging on by a thread. No mother should ever have to outlive her children. Fred and George seemed to be unaffected by it all, but every once in awhile it would show on their faces. They had never moved out of the Burrow, insisting that rent was too expensive. Bill and Fleur were eventually married but the loss of so many family members had affected them as well. On several occasions, they had mentioned that they wanted to wait before having children. Much to Molly's distress.
Ginny was still at St Mungo’s.
Yes, some were luckier than others.
As Harry began to get undressed, Severus found he couldn’t tear his eyes away from him. The way he tossed his clothes over the sofa half-hazardously annoyed Severus to no end, yet something about it made it endearing. Severus sighed. He was becoming senile with every passing day. Harry glanced over at him coyly, then raised his brows suggestively.
“Watching me, are you?”
Severus cleared his throat and pretended to straighten the duvet. “Of course not. I was watching the disrespectful way you handle your clothing. You know that annoys me.”
Harry smiled knowingly. “Of course you were. How silly of me,” he said with a grin.
“Are you coming to bed or are you going to stand there all night? I have an early day tomorrow,” he snapped.
“Impatient man,” Harry tsked.
“Of course I’m impatient. I would actually like to get some sleep tonight.”
Harry smirked at him as he pulled back the duvet and crawled into bed.
“Then you won't mind that I’ll be asleep within two minutes. I’m really knackered.” Harry waited until he was lying away from Severus to smile. “Could you get the lights? I left my wand in the loo.”
He heard Severus grunt and the candles went down to a low flame, although there was enough light to see. Harry scooted backwards and pushed his body flush against Severus’. He counted to twenty.
As expected, he found himself flat on his back, lips covering his and a tongue thrust into his mouth with an urgent passion. He moaned and pulled Severus on top of him. He finally had talked Severus into wearing nothing to bed--he hated Severus wearing those ugly pyjamas--so when their erections touched, Harry pulled back from the heated kiss and dug his head further into the pillow, panting heavily. Severus took that opportunity to lean down and torment Harry by biting his neck. Damn him for finding his most erogenous zone. Severus always knew what drove him crazy! Blinded by lust, Harry flung his arms up and his fingers dug into Severus’ arse, simultaneously spreading his legs. Severus pushed himself up onto one arm so he could re-position his body and then slid his free hand under Harry's leg and pulled it up and over his own.
Severus slid both arms under Harry’s, bent his head and began to trail light kisses against Harry’s cheek. His lips finally grazed over Harry's and softly teased his mouth. Harry couldn’t stand it any longer--as Severus knew fully well--so he lifted his head and demanded a deeper kiss. Severus smiled into the kiss and plunged his tongue deep inside, pushing Harry into the pillow. Harry squirmed underneath him, grinding his trapped erection against Severus’. Breathlessly, they broke the kiss and Severus pulled back just enough to gaze into Harry’s eyes. They were dark and filled with hunger and longing. How he wanted to take the boy and make him his. Deep down inside, he also wanted to show Harry that there was nothing to be afraid of and that Severus would never hurt him.
Unable to stop himself, Severus slowly made his way down Harry's body, kissing and touching him everywhere, never once breaking contact. He buried his face in the junction of Harry's leg and breathed in the heavy, musky scent as he caressed the sensitive skin with his lips. Severus placed one of Harry's legs over his shoulder and wrapped his arm around the other, pulling him in closer.
For months, Severus had always got this close -- mouth, lips and many fingers -- but it would be Severus who finished Harry's release with his mouth instead of pushing Harry any further. Perhaps it made Severus a coward, but he wanted Harry to decide when he was ready.
Harry's heel dug into Severus back, arched his back, and his breathing was beginning to grow faster and more laboured--all signs of Harry's pending orgasm. Severus sped up his thrusts of the three fingers inside of Harry, curling them and massaging his young lover’s prostate as he did. He tightened his lips around Harry's cock and just as he thought it was time, Harry perched himself on one arm and gently pulled on Severus’ hair with his other hand.
“No,” Harry panted.
Startled, Severus quickly pulled back and looked up. “I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t mean to push--”
“No,” Harry repeated. “Its just that … I think I’m finally ready.”
“Harry, there's no need to rush anything. I can wait.”
“No, I want to. I know you’ve been patient and I think I owe it to you.”
“Harry! You don’t owe me anything!”
Harry scooted back on the bed and leaned against the headboard. “Yes I do. I owe you the truth. And I need to tell you. It’s the only way that I--that we can move forward.”
Suddenly, Severus realised that this wasn’t about sex. It was about something--someone--else.
Harry lowered his head and sighed. “I guess I should start at the beginning, huh?”
Severus put a comforting hand on Harry’s leg. In a soft voice, he whispered, “That’s usually the best place to start.”
Harry took a deep breath and nodded. “Well, Seamus and I had only just started seeing each other a few weeks before the war. We hadn't really done anything yet. Well, we had, but not--” Harry paused a minute but Severus remained quiet. He wanted Harry to go at his own pace. Harry sighed again. “We… er… kissed a few times, and did other things, but that was it. I guess we just knew straight from the beginning that it was going to be more than just… shagging. We talked mostly. We had fun together. And then when the war started there wasn’t really much time for anything else. We did manage to be alone every now and again, but it was never for very long.” Harry stopped and thought for a moment. “I think we both didn’t want a quick shag for our first time. I know we were teenager boys with hormones and all, but I think we both wanted it to mean something. Who knew I was so romantic, huh?” he laughed nervously. “Anyway, I also think we were afraid we might hurt the other one as well. We knew enough that, for men anyway, it had to be done carefully and should never be rushed.
“When we were finally able to be alone, well, we knew others might show up at any moment and so we sort of attacked each other. Stolen kisses I guess they call it. It was very intense,” Harry smiled as he remembered and glanced up at Severus who smiled warmly. Harry looked back down at his twisting hands. “A few times we forgot about the risk of getting caught and… well, there wasn’t enough time to get naked--to feel each other--but that’s when we did… other things.” Harry frowned. “I don’t even know what he looks like. I know what he feels like… tastes like, but I just wish--”
Harry shook his head and continued. “Anyway, we were with a team of others--Patti Patil, Tonks, Remus and Neville--and a group of Death Eaters caught us by surprise. The team got separated and Seamus and I ran away and we hid in a small cave so small we had to lie side by side. Seamus began to talk about… Have you ever known someone who wasn’t afraid to talk about death? Someone who was realistic about it? Well, that was Seamus. He wanted to make sure that if something was ever happen to him... that I wouldn’t wallow in grief. He wanted me to move on with my life and not become a lonely, old bitter man.”
Harry peered up at Severus and smiled wryly. “Sorry but I think he was referring to you.” Severus nodded that it was all right.
“Anyway, he made me promise that that would never happen to me.” Harry sighed and closed his eyes. “I’m just one of those people who don’t like to talk about death or what might happen. I guess I live too much in the present and try not to think about… anyway, in that cave, he made me promise again. I told him I would.
“When I thought it was safe enough to leave, we crawled out of the cave to look for the others. As we were walking, Seamus saw his sack, you know, the one we were always supposed to carry with us. Before I could stop him, he ran out into the open and… and…” Harry’s eyelids tightened. “I guess a Death Eater was standing by watching, thinking someone might come back for it. That’s when Seamus was hit.” Harry took a shaky breath and hugged his chest. “It was Macnair who had struck Seamus. I killed him and then ran over to Seamus. He was hit bad, but I guess some part of me thought that... that he’d be all right. I couldn’t find the cave, I honestly didn’t think we could've fit in it anyway, but I did find a secluded area and put up several wards to shield us.
“After I felt it was secure enough, I finally was able to look at his wound. It was bad. I knew then that--” Harry swallowed hard “--I knew there wouldn’t be enough time to find someone to help us. Seamus knew he was going to die and he wanted me to leave, but I couldn’t. I just… couldn’t.” Harry stopped to rub his eyes. He took a deep breath and continued. “Well, as you know, every bag had a small phial of pain potion and a small dosage of healing potion, so I gave him both. It was all I could do.” Harry paused then smiled. “I knew from experience that they tasted awful and Seamus, well, he had some choice words to say about you.”
Harry glanced over at Severus and looked apologetic. “Sorry.” Severus smiled back.
“Anyway, Seamus started cracking jokes that if I was a Potions master, I’d probably make it taste like--” Harry grinned and blushed. “Well, either that or chocolate frogs. He also joked that I would be better at potion making than you. I told him anyone would be better at it than you.” He smiled at Severus again. “We had a good laugh over it for quite awhile and then--” Harry closed his eyes “--Seamus stopped laughing. He just fell silent. I thought maybe… I thought maybe…” Harry choked. He held his breath and then shook his head, trying to clear it. “Anyway, I laid down next to him and held him in my arms and began to cry. I’d never seen anyone die--not that I remember anyway--so all I could do is hold him. I ended up falling asleep, I guess, because a bit later Seamus woke me up. He told me that my mum had given him a message to give to me. I knew then he was close to dying. I’ve heard that if you see someone who is already dead, then you’re close to it.
“Anyway, I didn’t know what to do. Call me selfish, but I had hoped he would have died in his sleep. I didn’t want to see… I didn’t want to watch him die. Then he began to talk to me about... I don’t really remember all of it, but I know he must have been delirious or something because, of what I do remember, what he said didn’t make any sense.”
There was a long silence and Severus finally spoke up. “It’s all right, Harry. You don’t have to tell me.”
Harry turned to face him. “No, no I want to. I need to. He said…”
“You’d be good at potions you know. You would.”
“Shh, Seamus. You need to get some rest now. The others will be here soon. You’ll see. It will be all right. You’ll be just fine.”
“Tell me you would.”
“Of course, I would. Anyone would, remember?”
“And you made me a promise, Harry. Tell me you’ll keep it.”
“Seamus, please. Please don’t talk like that. You know I don’t--”
“Promise me, Harry. I want to hear you say it.”
“I promise I will.”
“I can help you. I’m a right bastard, but I can help you. We can help each other.”
“We can. And I can make you happy … just don’t be … alone …”
“Seamus. Seamus? Seamus? NO!!
“Oh gods. Seamus… I love you. I will always love you.”
“You see? He must have been delirious. I mean why would he bring up our shared joke right before he died? And why… why did he call himself a-a bastard? Why?”
Harry looked over at Severus as if he somehow had the answer, but then quickly turned away.
“I don’t know, Harry,” he whispered and Harry nodded. “I think he just wanted you to be happy.”
Harry looked up and nodded again. “I know. I just wish I knew why.” He glanced away then sighed. “This might sound like a ridiculous reason, but I… well, when I woke up at St Mungo's after the war ended, all I could think about was becoming a Potions master. Maybe in some sick, deranged way I thought it would bring Seamus back. Or maybe--” he closed his eyes and sighed. “I don’t know why.”
Severus sat next to Harry, cupped his face and turned it towards him. He wiped a tear away with his thumb. “It’s all right, Harry.”
“I’m sorry, Severus.”
“For not telling you sooner.”
“You weren't ready.”
“I know, but you’ve been so patient.”
“And I would’ve waited forever.”
Harry looked into Severus’ eyes and smiled. “I know you would have.”
There was another long pause.
“Harry. Is he the reason why you never wanted to… go any further than we already have?”
“No! That’s not it. It’s… I guess I just felt--”
“Guilty? Of betraying Seamus’ memory?”
“No. It’s because… Well, I just never expected for us to, you know, get together, but now that we have, I just… I couldn’t let it go any further because it felt like I was keeping a secret from you and… it just felt wrong. Like I was deceiving you by not telling you everything.” He sighed deeply. “Does that make any sense?”
“Of course it does,” Severus answered earnestly then held out his arms, and Harry immediately went into them. After a minute, Severus whispered, “I thought maybe it was because--well, it doesn’t matter now.”
Harry pulled away and frowned. “Please tell me, Severus. No more secrets, all right?”
Severus smiled and then a pink tint crossed over his cheeks. “You’ve always made comments about my--” he glanced down at his lap then looked back up at Harry.
Harry’s eyebrows raised and then half-laughed. “What? You thought it was about that?”
Severus nervously cleared his throat. “Well, I didn’t know what else to think.”
Harry smiled mischievously. “You may be big, Severus Snape, but you are not that big.”
Severus’ eye twitched and sat up a little straighter. “I see,” he drawled.
Harry laughed and pulled Severus to him. “Don’t be mad. I’m only playing.” Severus raised a sceptical brow. “I’m sure it works fine.”
Severus growled and tossed Harry back, landing on top of him with Harry still laughing. He started attacking Harry's throat causing more laughter. Finally, Harry nudged on Severus’ shoulder to move up. Severus looked down at him smiling, but Harry's face was turned away.
“Are you… mad at me?
Severus smiled. “No, I believe I am used to your sense of humour by now. Although in the future, I would appreciate it if ‘it’ wasn’t referred to as ‘that thing’.
“Fair enough,” Harry said with a small grin. Then it faded. “Actually, I meant are you mad at me for my reasons for wanting to become a Potions master?
“Not at all,” Severus said softly, brushing a lock of hair out of Harry's eyes.
“And what Seamus said about you? About your… inability of making potions and all?”
“I am certain that I have heard worse, but no. I wasn’t. I’m not offended. And Harry. I was serious. There's no need to rush anything. I can wait.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
Severus paused and studied Harry hard. “Are you certain?”
“Yes,” Harry said smiling. He pulled Severus’ fingers to his mouth.
“Mr Potter. What may I ask are you doing?” He gasped when his fingers were led down Harry’s body. “I-I don’t want to hurt you, Harry.”
“You won't. I trust you.”
Severus leaned down and grazed his lips over Harry’s. “I will never hurt you.”
“I know. Now come on. I think we’ve waited long enough.”
“And you like it.”
“He can help you. He’s a right bastard, but he can help you. You can help each other.”
“You can. And he can make you happy… just don’t be… alone…”
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