Title: The Peace Pipe
Author: themostepotente
Team: Wartime
Genre(s): Humour/Angst
Prompt: Sanctuary
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: None
Word Count: 11,500 +/-
A/N: Huge thanks go to rexluscus for her pre-beta read through and to venivincere for her final beta. Thanks also go out to sinick for her advice. Lots o' love to Team Wartime for their continued support. Any mistakes thereafter are mine own.
Disclaimer: The characters contained within do not belong to me. I just like to make them do filthy things to one another.

The premise of my story deals with Snape and Harry staying with a Native American tribe of my own creation. It's a humorous fic and was written with that intent in mind. No offense or disrespect is meant in any way, shape or form to any Native American persons. No negative aspects of culture were meant to be embraced, but rather I chose to poke fun of certain stereotypes goodhumoredly.  

Summary: Potter is sent to train with a fabled Indian tribe at Dumbledore's behest. Hijinx ensue when Snape is ordered to supervise.


The Peace Pipe

The old man was always late.

Severus Snape sat at the kitchen table of some long forgotten Order safehouse in Wales, staring at a blank Chocolate Frog card.

The faceless card was Albus Dumbledore's and had been Snape's only source of communication with the outside world after his infamous flight.

A year had passed since Snape had uttered those horrible words, and precious few knew the truth of things, but all of that was about to change.

Snape had been sitting there for hours, bored and hungry. He'd memorised all of the facts on the back of the card months ago, and was now content to make anagrams from Grindelwald's name.

Darling lewd. And lewd girl. Gnarl lewd id.

Snape was just about to write down an anagram beginning with 'dad' when a plate of hot food was plunked down in front of him.

"There. Eat," came a woman's voice from behind. She stared down the same hooked nose at him when he went to protest.

"I've been listening to your belly grumble for the better part of two hours. Steak and kidney pie's your favourite, so I'll have no fussin', Severus Osgood Snape."

Snape cringed at the mention of his middle name. His father had lost the battle with his mother for the name Severus, but Snape was given the name Osgood, the name of his paternal grandfather, in a last minute compromise.

It was his lot in life, Snape thought, that he should suffer with greasy hair, a terrible beak and the name Osgood.

"I'm fine, mum, really. I'll have a forkful, and he'll call upon me. I'd just as soon wait."

Eileen picked up the scrap of parchment her son had been scribbling on. "What's this about then? This nonsense with your father, God bless his drunken, wife beating soul."

They both spat on the floor in tribute.

"I was occupying my hands, nothing more," Snape said coolly.

"Well, occupy them with a fork," Eileen scolded. "I swear if I didn't remind you to eat, you'd forget most of the time."

Snape's tone was loving but duo-syllabic. "Yes, mo-ther."

Snape was just about to wrap his lips around a particularly fine piece of meat when Albus ahemed. He'd reappeared on the front of the card and was cleaning his half-moon spectacles.

"Impeccable timing, Albus," Snape said with an annoyed chuckle.

Dumbledore twinkled his hello. "Haven't caught you at a bad time, have I, Severus?"

"Of course not, sir." Snape said, pushing his plate away two fingered. "You've news for me?"

"Good news and bad news, I'm afraid."

Snape bristled at the prospect of Voldemort's victory. "The good news first then."

"Harry's found and destroyed all of the Horcruxes but one."

Severus arched a crow-black brow. "And the bad news?"

"It is as we feared. Harry is the last Horcrux."

Snape took a deep breath and slumped his shoulders. That was, until, his mother kicked his chair leg for him to straighten. "The boy is aware of this?"

"No, Minerva and I agree that this would shatter Harry's confidence. Voldemort's soul, while negatively influencing, lends certain abilities. Bravado, ego and his gift of parseltongue to name a few. Harry mustn't believe he's lost control."

"I see," Snape said. "So now they must meet one another in battle?"

Albus nodded solemnly. "Sad but true. Which brings me to why I've called upon you. You are to supervise his training with the Tahlewaketani tribe."

Snape could hardly believe his ears. He didn't know which he found more incredible; supervising that idiot boy or the possible existence of the fabled Indian tribe.

"The Tahlewaketani tribe, sir? I thought their legend was myth?"

"Quite the opposite, Severus. And their chief is quite anxious to receive you and Harry as honoured guests."

Snape could not help himself protesting. "Surely it's better for me to stay put, sir? I'm quite certain the Aurors have a reward for my capture."

Or more like a price on my head, Snape thought sourly.

"Not to worry. The tribe dwells in seclusion. And five hundred galleons when last I heard," Dumbledore informed Snape. The old man had an odd gleam in his eye as if he were proud of the fact.

"Albus, I needn't remind you of our past history. He's a fire element, and I'm a water element. We're ill suited to one another."

The old man was having none of his argument. "A Portkey has been buried twenty paces from your front door. You're expected in the morning. I'll be in contact. Good luck, Severus."

And just like that he was left staring at a faceless card again.

Snape mumbled a few choice imprecations under his breath, reaching for his lukewarm dinner. To add insult to injury, his mother intercepted the plate.

"Kitchen's closed," she said, her words tinged with annoyance. "That man does like putting my baby boy in harm's way. Maybe after this, he'll allow you to settle down."

Snape snorted his amusement. "Settle down? You must be joking. Snapes don't settle down. You recall you owled dad twenty-three times with news of your impending delivery before he even responded with 'stop harassing me, bitch?'"

Eileen looked smug. "Persistence paid off."

Snape shook his head. "Besides, my one and only opportunity for anything remotely resembling happiness blew out the door when Lucius married Narcissa."

Eileen put the kettle on to boil. "That poncy bloke with the cane wasn't worth a squirt of kneazle piss. He did you a favour by marrying that Black woman."

Snape bristled at his mother's crassness. "I'm going to bed."

"It's early still," Eileen protested. "Play a game of Gobstones with your mam before retiring?" She had only to give Snape that look and all mention of Lucius Malfoy was forgotten.

"Very well," Snape said, kissing her cheek. "But only if you let me win."

Dumbledore had buried the Portkey in a rusted tin of Bertram's Better Butter Biscuits. It was a small, round campaign button for Minister hopeful Richard Rumpleminz. Stuck to the bottom of the tin was a spare bit of parchment that read: Touch my dick.

The old man had an odd sense of humour.

Snape tipped the tin over and the button fell into his hand, whisking him away to the Tahlewaketani's encampment, situated he knew not where.

Upon arriving, Snape noted his surroundings. There were tipis as far as the eye could see, but the encampment was actually much smaller than it appeared. The Tahlewaketani were practised in illusory and shadow magics, employing these tactics to both protect and preserve their people.

Two monolithic pillars warded the encampment entrance, a bear skull atop one and a buffalo atop the other. The stones bore carvings of man and beast painted in red and ochre, and there hung a basket for offerings in homage to Mother Earth and Father Sky.

It wasn't hard to see why Dumbledore had taken a liking to the tribe's chief. He held a commanding presence in an eccentric sort of way. The old man and the chief must've been fast friends, influencing one another from the get go. There, on the chief's belt, hanging next to his wand, was a pouch of lemon drops.

"Welcome, Severus Snape," the chief greeted, spreading his hands in a warm and convivial gesture. "I am Chief Sitting Bullfrog. To the right is my spiritual advisor, Runs in Circles. To the left is our tribal medicine man, Says Much, Speaks Nothing."

Snape forced a smile in return, battling the impolite curiosity that threatened to spill from his lips. Such odd names, but Snape was certain they were just as fascinated with the origin of his own name.

"It's a pleasure to be here," Snape lied, thinking about the unpleasantness that was Potter. "I look forward to learning about your culture in addition to my assigned duties."

Sitting Bullfrog smiled. "You are a stranger here but once. Consider yourself both friend and ally to the Tahlewaketani tribe."

"I think it sounds like 'Tallywacker Tiny' when you sound it out," came a very familiar voice. Parting the crowd like Moses had parted the Red Sea was Potter, warpainted up like a cheap tart.

Snape flashed a dangerous look at Potter, casting rueful eyes on the chief. "My apologies, Sitting Bullfrog, but the boy hasn't manners enough to fill a thimble…" Snape sneered at Potter, "…half-way."

The chief and his advisor laughed, followed by the rest of the tribe. Apparently, these imbeciles found Potter's lack of manners endearing.

"Harry Potter speaks the truth," the chief laughed. "Your Boy Who Lived is much with the wit. Come, the both of you, I will show you to your tipi."

Snape arched a brow. "Beg pardon, Chief Sitting Bullfrog, but did you say our tipi? As in the one Potter and I will share?"

The chief nodded solemnly. "Our peoples share a great many cultural differences, Severus Snape. This is the time of Wahnatahlewake, when those of us who are unjoined mate for life. I could not risk putting you both into separate tipis."

Snape was more than happy to take his chances, but he was not here to question eons old tradition, nodding weakly in agreement. Potter, on the other hand, did not look the least bit put out. In fact, he looked rather smug about it, the little bastard.

Their tipi was quite spacious inside, the floor strewn with skins and furs. The centre space provided room for a small cookfire and an odd looking urn, and the walls were decorated with artefacts and history. Snape blanched at the scalp collection.

Snape had been adamant about wearing his robes, but the chief was having none of it. He insisted that Snape don the traditional garb of their tribe, leaving deerskin leggings, moccasins, and a vest made of beading and bleached bone for him to change into. Snape, however, politely put his foot down at the suggestion of a breechcloth.

The minute Chief Sitting Bullfrog left, Potter caught Snape in the face with a right hook that displaced his jaw.

"That's for Dumbledore!" Potter snarled.

Snape advanced on Potter with his wand but was hindered by a strange mist that emanated from the urn. The mist separated into five tendrils to form a hand, waving a reproving finger at Snape's face and patting Potter's head before swirling helicoidally back into the urn.

"Can’t threaten me with magic in here. The Guardian responds negatively to hexes and curses."

Snape had to slide his jaw back into place to speak. "I wonder what the chief would have to say about your quicksilver temper, boy. No doubt your time here will teach you a thing or two about discipline."

"You had that coming, Snape. You have a lot to answer for."

Snape winced painfully. Potter had the strength of a Beater when he was furious enough. "Still an arrogant, strutting little snot I see. A year's done little for you in the way of maturity."

Potter's smile was ingratiating. "And you're still an ugly, bitter, repressed excuse for a human being."

Snape wanted to smash Potter in the face. He spat in anger, showering Potter instead. "Why you--!"

Potter wiped the spittle from his face. "Excuse me. Murderer."

Snape tsked. "Dumbledore would be saddened by your behaviour, Potter. I can't imagine why, but he thought the world of you."

Potter blinked back a few tears. "Dumbledore's dead. He wouldn't know to be saddened. He can't hear. He can't speak."

"Really?" Snape said. "I just spoke with him last night."

"Lying bastard!"

Snape's lip curled into a sneer. "Am I now?" He waved the Chocolate Frog card in front of Potter's face.

"Give it here, Snape. I want the truth of things!"

"You're not ready for the truth, Potter. Not until you let go of that anger." Snape approached the urn, spewing a few curses to summon The Guardian. It hovered about Snape menacingly while he reasoned with it. A moment later it took the card from him.

Potter looked absolutely incensed. "What did you just do, Snape?"

"I've used The Guardian to my advantage, Potter. Just as you did earlier."

"Explain," Potter snarled.

Snape was too pleased with himself to censure Potter's pushiness. "I've instructed it to hold the Chocolate Frog card until you can take it. Without displaying so much as a crumb of anger."

Potter tried to take the card. It was reachable but not obtainable. Unconvinced, he tried a second time, a third time.

"You utter fucking greasy bastard!"

"Not entirely true," Snape sneered. "I had a father."

Potter stormed from the tipi.

Snape laughed until The Guardian swirled and reformed a hand, patting his bum in a motherly 'be on your way' affectation.

The tribe's men were gathered in front of the fire for the evening's meal and a ceremonial induction. Their women attended them, filling their clay goblets with drink and their plates with generous helpings of 'the three sisters' - corn, beans and squash - and rabbit, moose and antelope meats. One woman was insistent upon Snape's eating more, poking his bony frame. The look she gave him was that of a farmer wanting to fatten a goose for Christmas feast.

Potter was making a pig of himself as usual, stuffing his face and forcing the women to attend him twice as much. The chief and his men, however, were amused by Potter's behaviour, practically revering him and his atrocious manners. It would've come as no surprise to Snape if the Tahlewaketani erected a totem in Potter's honour, counting him among their Gods.

Upon the feast's close, Chief Sitting Bullfrog stood and motioned for silence. When the chatter quieted, he stepped over to where Snape and Potter were seated. The smile on the chief's face told Snape that something dreadful was coming.

"It is time," the chief began, "to christen our new brothers with their tribal names. Here, in our presence, they are reborn." The chief gave them each a stone, carved in their native tongue. "Cast your old selves into the fire and become one with the Tahlewaketani!"

Potter was the first to toss his stone into the fire, no doubt eager to be rid of the infamous name he'd carried for eighteen years. Snape, however, was reluctant. There was no escaping his past. Perhaps, it was just his imagination, but Snape thought the flames rose higher at his discarding.

Chief Sitting Bullfrog touched the tip of his wand to Snape's shoulder and stared into his eyes. It was a bit reminiscent of Arthur christening his knights, but while the chief might have had the goodness of Arthur, Snape thought himself no Lancelot.

"From this day forth, Severus Snape, you are known to your brothers as Sneers Too Much."

Potter let out a whoop that rivalled a hyena's, but quickly covered his mouth when the chief moved on to him.

"And from this day forth, Harry Potter, you are known to your brothers as Temper that Trembles the Earth."

The chief raised his arms to the heavens, bellowing. "It is done, and so it is!" He gave Potter and Snape a warm smile and held out his hands. Into them, Runs In Circles placed a calumet. The stem was ornamented with feathers and the pipe itself was red pipestone.

"And now we shall smoke to peace amongst our brothers," the chief announced.

From out of the pouch on his belt, the chief filled the pipe with tobacco, tossing some on the ground before him. He said a prayer in tribute to the four directions and to Mother Earth and Father Sky for keeping watch over them. He took the first hit before passing it to his advisor and down the line.

The young brave who passed it to Snape blew smoke in his face as a sign of respect. Snape held in his discomfort, swallowing his cough before turning to Potter. Snape had no qualms with taking part in the ritual, but deep down his insides were roiling with disgust. There would never be peace between him and Potter.

Potter must've sensed this and stood, shaking his head violently in protest. "No way. No. Never. I hate him almost as much as I hate Voldemort. I'd sooner shove that pipe up my arse than smoke to peace with…Sneers Too Much."

There was a great stir among the men.

Chief Sitting Bullfrog shouted above the din. "Silence!" He turned to Potter, flashing him stern but not unkind eyes. "Another time then. You are excused from our gathering, Temper that Trembles the Earth."

Potter left without looking back and Snape looked deeply apologetic. He spoke in Potter's absence. "Chief Sitting Bullfrog, I must apologise for Potter's cheek. I will speak with him about his behaviour. He has shown you and your men such disrespect, and I am embarrassed beyond words on his behalf."

The chief threw an arm around Snape's shoulder. "Come, let us take a walk, Sneers Too Much."

Snape had no choice but to go, narrowing his eyes at the tipi that him and Potter shared. That little ingrate was going to hear about this later. Away from that wretched urn, albeit.

Chief Sitting Bullfrog spoke softly. "There is no need to explain the enmity between the two of you. Dumbledore has told me everything to better understand you both. We spoke at great length with the help of Sighs at the Stars, our tribal shaman."

Snape felt a mixture of anger and humiliation. Salazar only knew what the old man told the chief.

"There is no need to feel shame, Sneers Too Much. Once, there was discord between Runs In Circles and Says Much, Speaks Nothing. Runs in Circles had coveted Says Much, Speaks Nothing's wife and there was great unrest between them. Says Much, Speaks Nothing shot Runs In Circles with an arrow, catching him in the foot, hence the origin of his baptismal name. They have since made peace, but Says Much, Speaks Nothing took a vow of silence, nevertheless, and has not spoken in twenty years."

Snape could hardly believe this. These people had such alien customs.

"So you see," the chief continued, "I know well what to expect. Peace will eventually come, but not overnight. We will all see to it."

When flobberworms flew, Snape thought miserably.

Nearby, the young brave that had passed Snape the peace pipe was watching.

The chief grinned hugely at Snape. "Whispers to the Wind has taken a liking to you. He is a young priest in training, the air elemental his chosen path." He pulled Snape closer, his tone firm but unthreatening. "Go and have a word, but tread lightly where his virginity's concerned. He may not enter the priesthood without it."

Snape took that as his dismissal, pale cheeks flushing in embarrassment. Snape hadn't engaged in sexual activity in years. He was convinced he'd forgotten how it had been so long. Snape was curious about the priest's religious training, so he thought a conversation over drink wouldn't hurt, though.

Hours later when Snape returned to the tipi, Whispers to the Wind kissed his cheek in farewell. Desire burned trails of fire through Snape's being, and his cock twitched inside his deerskin leggings. Snape guessed the young priest's age to be in his early twenties. Next to him Snape felt so old and ugly. What could Whispers to the Wind possibly see in him?

Potter was no less hostile when Snape entered their tipi. "You were gone a long time. Was it that kind of evening, Snape?"

Snape had had quite enough of Potter's mouth at that point, narrowing his eyes. "Not the kind that you're used to. No money changed hands."

"Sod off, Sneers Too Much," Potter replied, flipping over in his bedroll.

Snape sighed deeply. With any amount of luck when he awoke he would be back in his own bed, this whole situation just a bad dream. Silently, he undressed and burrowed under a large pile of skins. His mind was racing with thoughts of his assignment, the old man and Whispers to the Wind. Quietly, he stroked his cock until he came, falling asleep quickly thereafter.

Snape was startled from his sleep at the sound of a voice. He watched unobtrusively as Potter spoke to the Chocolate Frog card, begging an audience with Dumbledore. The old man did not appear, of course. The card was enveloped in mist, creating a barrier between worlds.

Potter sniffled a bit, restraining his tears, and for a moment, however brief, Snape's heart broke a little at Potter's sorrow. His lecture on manners would wait.


Lesson the First

Snape had slept longer than he'd wanted. There was something about sleeping in an alien environment that messed with his internal alarm clock. He was usually up and about by six a.m., but it was quarter of ten when he finally sat down for a spot of breakfast. If most people found him difficult in the morning, then he was downright insufferable without his perfunctory tea and toast with lime marmalade.

The chief was particularly lively this morning, nattering on about Potter's first lesson. The tribe's tracker, Rattles the Mountains, was going to take Potter out in the wilds to teach him Animagery.

Snape was positively gobsmacked at Rattles the Mountain's nose. It was just as large as his own. It was said that when Rattles the Mountains slept, his snore shook anything that wasn't nailed down in nature. Of course, the tracker had been blessed with the uncanny ability to find anyone or anything by sniff alone, and that in itself was quite remarkable. Snape decided that he liked this man on principle.

They'd set out just after lunch, packing for an overnight stay. Snape hated travelling on foot, but apparently there were no Apparition points once inside the forest. To make the long walk somewhat bearable, Rattles the Mountains began to explain his peoples' method of learning Animagery. Had Snape known it was only a matter of picking and choosing, he would have studied with the Tahlewaketani. Minerva did have her bitchier moments when instructing.

When Rattles the Mountains cleared his throat to speak, all the forest seemed to hush at his insistence. "It is said," he began, "that my people were the first true skin-changers. When a brave showed initiative, he was taken into the wilds and told to sleep by the animal of his choosing. The animal would counsel him in his sleep and share its secrets, thus becoming a part of his psyche. This would then manifest to the physical form, and the brave became a skin-changer."

Snape thought the whole idea ludicrous. Or perhaps, he was just bitter that the Gods saw fit to make him just as ugly in animal form as he was in human form. Vultures, after all, were the scourges of the desert.

"What animal do you make a strong connection with, Temper that Trembles the Earth?"

Potter thought a moment before answering. "A fox. They're clever and cunning."

The tracker stopped dead in his steps, sniffing the air "A wise choosing, and there is a den up ahead. I smell wet fox fur."

Potter looked just as smug as he could be, but that look was short lived when Rattles the Mountains bid them both farewell, saying he'd frighten the foxes with his thunderous snores. Snape knew better than to protest. He was stuck babysitting Potter.

With about six hours until nightfall and a few before dinner, Snape settled under a tree with his book, shutting Potter and the rest of the world out until it was time to make a cookfire. Twenty minutes later, Potter was complaining loudly of boredom, demanding they talk. Snape, however, was having none of Potter's petulance.

"Bored," Potter yawned.

Snape did not look up from his book.

"Bored," Potter repeated.

Snape said nothing in response, reading through the distractions.

The third time, Potter saw fit to enunciate the word dramatically. "Booored."

The fourth bout of silence brought about a challenge as Potter lowered Snape's book with a fingertip, invading his personal space and touching nose tips. "Bored, bored, fucking bored."

Snape pushed Potter away with his middle and index fingers, reading on until the book was finally plucked from his grasp and thrown into the trees.

That did it.

Snape raised his wand. "I suppose you think yourself clever, Potter. I can just as easily retrieve the book with a simple Acc--"

Snape felt quite silly when his wand followed the same trajectory. "Very well, Potter, talk. But I will not discuss Dumbledore. You know that you must control your anger if you've any hope of speaking with him again. And what fine progress you've made."

"This isn't about Dumbledore, Snape. Not yet, anyway. I want to know what you were doing with Whispers to the Wind."

Snape rolled his eyes. "My personal life is none of your concern."

Potter pointed his wand at Snape. "I could have a look inside that greasy head of yours. I've been in there before, you see. Buzz, buzz, buzz - fly zapping's quite fun, isn't it?"

Snape allowed Potter his hollow victory. He had nothing to hide. "Whispers to the Wind has a schoolboy crush on me. He kissed my cheek Exciting, really."

"You're queer, aren’t you, Snape?" Potter asked pointedly.

Snape's lip curled into a telltale sneer. "I daresay that it takes one to know one."

Without another word on the subject, Potter Accio'ed Snape's book and wand and laid them at his feet, turning to start a fire for dinner.

Snape couldn't resist his own victory. He had always been a poor loser, but he was an even worse winner. "Come back if you're feeling chatty, Potter."

Snape had trouble sleeping underneath the stars. Or perhaps it was the forced communing with nature that had turned him into an insomniac. At half past midnight, he finally gave up, turning to his book for relief. Potter was, of course, fast asleep in front of the foxes' den, lids blinking rapidly. The little snot was in counsel.

From out of the trees, a creature appeared. Its fur was black, and there was a long stripe of white down its back. It was headed straight for Potter.

Snape had no desire to be sprayed so he raised his wand in defence. Raised his wand and was damned if he couldn't bring himself to zap the skunk. There was a lesson in this for Potter, he thought slyly.

Everything in the skunk's path scurried in fear of the stink attack. Snape was just as still as he could be; watching unobtrusively as the skunk sniffed at Potter, tail hair bristling in disgust. Snape could hardly argue the point.

Potter's eyelids were blinking rapidly again, and Snape was positively beside himself with amusement. Oh, how he was looking forward to morning. The smile did not die on his lips even as he fell asleep.

Rattles the Mountains woke them early the next morning; the fire's embers still smoking. The tracker was eager to hear of Potter's experience, engaging him spiritedly. And Potter, show-off that he was, could hardly wait to demonstrate his skin-changing prowess. There was a pause between transformation and realisation and Snape knew in an instant why Rattles the Mountains had opted to leave their campsite.

His laughter shook everything within a five-mile radius.

Snape fully expected the rest of the Tahlewaketani to tease Potter mercilessly. Instead, they congratulated him on a job well done. While the fox was clever and cunning, the chief agreed, the skunk was dominant and fearless. A bold alternative! Leave it to Potter to become a skunk and still come out smelling like a rose.

He had no time to dwell on Potter's choosing, though. Snape had been summoned by way of the chief to Says Much, Speaks Nothing's tipi for a hush hush assignment. The medicine man was deep in meditation, seated cross-legged with arms extended and palms turned up. Never one to infringe upon anyone's private time, Snape waited outside until he was allowed entrance.

Says Much, Speaks Nothing was mute by choice and well suited to his profession. Snape was almost envious he hadn't thought of taking a vow of silence in the name of stupidity long ago. It would have saved him many painful conversations with incompetent students over the years.

The medicine man communicated by way of picture runes. It was the easiest way for Snape to learn the rudiments of their language. All of Says Much, Speaks Nothing's plants and herbs were neatly arranged in clay jars, crude drawings etched on their surfaces. It was nothing at all like his beloved dungeon and yet Snape felt somewhat at ease and even a bit homesick.

Snape did not know this man from Adam, but he was compelled to engage him in conversation, curious about his blending of science and religion. Says Much, Speaks Nothing did not share in Snape's curiosity, however, putting a finger to his lips in favour of silence. He left Snape to his work and quietly went back to his prayer, silent even in his exchanges with the Gods.

Using a small hipbone as a pestle to pulverise lacewing flies, Snape went about the task of prepping ingredients for Polyjuice Potion. He was not given a reason for its use, only that he would need a quantity enough for thirty.

This, he could only concede, had to have been the old man's idea.


Lesson the Second

If Potter's first lesson proved anything of a delight, the second was sure not to disappoint. The tribe's best hunter, Crazy Thestral, was to teach Potter archery and warfare.

Crazy Thestral cut an imposing figure. He was quite tall and muscled, covered from head to toe in tattoos. His long hair was braided and interwoven with teeth and bones; presumably from the bodies of his enemies.

To get into the spirit of things, Crazy Thestral had lined both Snape's and Potter's cheeks with warpaint. It felt strangely enough like the time he'd painted his face with his mother's lipstick as a boy. His mother had laughed, gently explaining that makeup was for girls, but his father hadn't been so tolerant of his experimental whims. Remembering this put Snape in the perfect mood for target practice.

Potter wasn't quite as enthused, questioning the merits of wandless combat. "I don't see why a wizard would need to learn archery. Not when a wand will suffice."

Crazy Thestral did not look the least bit insulted. In fact, it made him all the more excited to prove Potter wrong. "Tell me, Temper that Trembles the Earth, what would you do if your enemy disarmed you?"

"Well, there's always wandless magic," Potter offered thoughtfully.

Snape rolled his eyes at the very suggestion. "You haven't the skill or the patience to learn wandless magic, Potter. I have only to look at your efforts with Occlumency or non-verbal magic."

"You were a lousy teacher," Potter countered defensively.

Snape took an aggressive step forward and Potter took two.

Crazy Thestral came between them. "Save it for the battlefield."

"Perhaps a demonstration would convince Potter. You see, he seems to think he has all the answers," Snape said with a smirk.

"Very well," Crazy Thestral answered. He notched an arrow on his composite bow from the quiver on his back, showing the proper stance. Pointing to a clump of trees some two hundred yards away, he took aim and loosed his arrow.

Through a pair of pocket Omnioculars, Snape watched as a brown lump fell from the tree. He nodded, impressed.

"Now imagine if that had been an approaching Death Eater. Your wand hasn't the range of an arrow." Crazy Thestral offered his bow to Potter. "Now, you try."

Potter looked a bit apprehensive, nervous almost. He shoved the bow at Snape. "Age before beauty."

"Oh, for Merlin's sake," Snape growled. He notched the arrow that Crazy Thestral had given to him, mimicking his stance. Crazy Thestral stood behind Snape to monitor his line of sight, raising Snape's arm a bit as he took aim and fired. The arrow lodged in the knot of a tree trunk fifty yards away.

Crazy Thestral looked pleased. "Not bad, Sneers Too Much, but perhaps Temper that Trembles the Earth can do better?"

Snape was feeling quite invincible. "Potter couldn't hit the broad side of a castle. I'd even stand against the tree as his target." To prove his point, Snape made his way over to the tree in a swift jog.

With gloves off and gauntlet flung, Potter stepped up to the challenge. "Don't suppose I could use your tomahawk instead, Crazy Thestral? Bow's a bit awkward for me."

Crazy Thestral handed Potter his tomahawk, mirroring Snape's thumbs up when Snape was against the tree and awaiting his fate William Tell style.

Gripping the handle at the end, Potter put a spin on his throw, clipping Snape on the left side of his face. Potter had shorn Snape's hair down to the roots, lopping off a fair bit of his greasy tangles.

Cursing profusely, Snape unwillingly volunteered a piece to the scalp collection.

A narcissistic man would have seen to his hair troubles. Snape felt no such urge.

He supposed it didn't help his reasoning much that Potter's triumph was lessened by Snape's nonchalance. Snape made positively no effort to fume even though he was seething inside.

Crazy Thestral had been surprisingly impressed with his bowsmanship, and had asked Snape to come by his tipi so that he could lend him a bow and a quiver of arrows for practise.

He found the hunter in his tipi putting the finishing touches on a young brave's tattoo. Snape winced in pain as Crazy Thestral penetrated the skin with what appeared to be a modified quill feather. Several clay bowls were filled with different coloured inks from the juices of elder, bear, black and sumac berries.

Snape thought he would have his bow and leave, but Crazy Thestral invited him to stay, plying him with berry pudding and a type of alcoholic beverage fermented from maize.

To say 'no' would have been impolite. And after the day he'd had, the prospect of a guilt-free alcohol buzz seemed inviting.

When Crazy Thestral had finished, the young brave examined his tattoo, grinning in appreciation. Snape was surprised to find that the barter for services rendered was a Chocolate Frog card; a limited edition foil card of Elric Marchpine, free lance hunter and hired wand. Crazy Thestral was so overjoyed that he kissed the card before putting it someplace safe.

Snape had always found avid hobbyists to be a bit eccentric, but most people would've found his obsessions with potions and herbology just as peculiar. It was hard to fault another man for his loves.

"Please, sit," Crazy Thestral grinned, gesturing to the chair the young brave had occupied.

Snape sat, unsure of why he was asked to stay. The Tahlewaketani, he'd noticed, didn't beat around the bush so his answer was forthcoming.

Crazy Thestral handed Snape a bowl of wojape. "You display a natural ability for bowsmanship, Sneers Too Much. You'd make a fine archer."

"Thank you," Snape said humbly. All his life, he'd never taken well to compliments. His father had assured him that he was a no talent loser just like his old man. For a good while, Snape had believed that.

"A fine hunter, really. And you've the battle scars to prove it." Crazy Thestral followed up Snape's pudding with drink, filling his cup to the brim. "I could not help noticing the scars on your chest and back."

Snape shook his head. "These are not battle scars. They are reminders. You cannot know where you're headed, if you don't know where you've been."

Crazy Thestral nodded in agreement. "Sage advice, Sneers Too Much. Twinkles like a Shiny Sickle thinks of you as a son."

"Do you mean Albus Dumbledore?" Snape emptied his cup and gestured for another.

"Yes," Crazy Thestral answered. "Chief Sitting Bullfrog has granted him a seat on our Great Council."

Snape wanted to smile in reflection, but he was unable to will the muscles necessary. "He was more of a father to me than my own father ever was."

"It would be my honour to ink your skin, Sneers Too Much. A good man should be proud of at least one of his scars."

"A gracious offer, Crazy Thestral," Snape said kindly. "But I fear I'm not nearly drunk enough to endure your quill."

Crazy Thestral laughed, throwing his head back. "You tempt this old bear by sticking your head in his sharp-toothed maw."

Snape shook his head, sure of this. "This is my last cup."

The men spoke through the night, carrying on and swapping stories. Snape had never had many friends, let alone friends that listened to him. Crazy Thestral treated him as an equal; not as an underling or a half-blood or a poor, working class sod. There was kindness in his eyes, pride in his heart and respect in his voice. But in the morning Snape thought quite differently of Crazy Thestral, cursing his blasted hangover.

And the huge tattoo on his shoulder blade.


Lesson the Third

The last vestiges of Snape's hangover disappeared with a cup of coriander tea. No sooner had he rid himself of the headache, than a new headache appeared with a second headache in tow.

"Good morning, Sneers Too Much. I am Sighs at the Stars, shaman to the Tahlewaketani. I am to escort you both to the desert for Temper that Trembles the Earth's next lesson."

Snape's mouth was a moue of displeasure. He disliked extreme heat just as much as he did extreme cold.

The three of them Apparated to a remote part of the desert whereupon there was a tipi already set up. Only it wasn't quite a tipi.

Sighs at the Stars gestured them inside. The stifling air was made worse by a flick of the shaman's wrist, igniting the coal-heated brazier.

"This is a sweat lodge. The heat drives the body's temperature up, allowing an exploration of the mind. The white man would call what he experiences inside the sweat lodge hallucinations. We call them visions." The shaman pointed to a talisman on his necklace. "I will return when the Keeper of the Shadowrealm summons me."

Snape untied his moccasins and toed them off as Potter watched him. He sat cross-legged on the floor and shrugged from his vest and shirt, trying to make things as comfortable as possible.

After only ten minutes, Potter voiced his discomfort. "It's too hot in here, I'm leaving."

Snape laid a hand on Potter's arm. "You will remain. I will not suffer this alone." His smile was perhaps more ingratiating with eyes closed. "Besides, I thought the House of Gryffindor touted bravery?"

Potter shrugged from Snape's grasp. There was no sound of exiting footfalls; only the sounds of choked breaths.

Let us see what path their foolish Gods have given me to follow, Snape thought with a dark chuckle.

) O (

Snape was in his tipi, lying on a bed of furs with elbows propped. A gentle breeze blew through the door flap, licking the flames and rousing the fire.

From across the room, a dark haired man came at him, crawling on all fours, gaze fixed upon the ground. With that of a serpent's slither, he slid between Snape's legs, crawling up his body. Innocuous green eyes met with dark, lambent ones.

Snape watched as Potter cupped the angle of his jaw and drew a line down the muscular column of his throat, flattening his palm against the pale planes of his chest. He drew Snape into a kiss, expertly manoeuvring about his nose and pressing their lips together hungrily.

Desire blossomed in the pit of Snape's stomach, spreading like wildfire to his cock and balls. A pleasurable surge swam from root to base and his cock peeked through the loose folds of foreskin, stiffening until it beached against his belly.

Snape scarcely touched Potter, fingertips hovering above his warm flesh, but where they passed, the fine hair rose on Potter's arms like a wheatfield stirred by a summer's wind.

He moaned hotly against Potter's lips when their kiss deepened, Potter's eager tongue forcing its way though thin, resistant lips. Their lips remained pressed until Snape was satisfied that Potter had had his fill of the taste of his sneers and scowls.

Snape arched up against Potter's body, crashing their hips together. He drew Potter nearer, the pads of his fingertips burrowing into the underside curves of Potter's arse cheeks.

He skimmed the hard line of Potter's teeth, Snape's tonguetip dragging over points and edges, as their cocks swung and danced like swords rang in battle, velvet lengths of steel vying for dominance. Wetness dewed and dropped, spattering Snape's belly.

At a snail's pace, Snape slid his tongue inside Potter's mouth, snaking it around his tongue in an exploratory kiss. Potter's kiss had begun as a shallow pool that deepened with every twist and shift of his lips. Snape's body was weakening as his strength waned, muscles unclenched and trembling underneath the weight. Helplessly, he clawed and fought his way back up to the surface before he drowned in that kiss, chest hitching madly as their lips parted.

"Prepare yourself for me," Snape said, eyes half lidded, his tone low and uneven.

Potter obeyed, fetching an indicated preparation of salve, peppered with caper and cardamom. Snape watched as Potter sank to his knees and lubed the cleft of his arse before sliding his fingers in and out of the tight, slicked hole.

Snape's cock was throbbing painfully, and his balls were tightening to burst. The head was flush, and the shaft was thick and veined, eager for hands to palm and stroke it. "Now my cock," Snape said grabbing Potter's wrist.

When Snape was satisfied with Potter's anointing his cock, he gestured for Potter to squat over his pelvis. Cock in hand, he directed Potter down until the tip was nudging at his entrance. Balanced unsteadily on tiptoe and spreading his arse cheeks, Potter sank down on Snape's cock, anchored by Snape's last minute and desperate reach.

All of the nerve endings in his body were on fire, and his cheeks flushed with fever burn. Snape's toes curled with every subsequent plunge of his cock into Potter's arsehole, his brow dappling with perspiration as he arched his back to meet Potter's wanton plunges.

Snape could feel his chest tightening, his breaths becoming more and more ragged as he claimed Potter. His heart was thumping rapidly, threatening to explode in his chest, the pounding in his ears loud and savage like the beat of war drums. He almost stopped breathing a few times, driven to the delicious brink of death by Potter's touch. If any other man had been his heart attack, Potter had been his flatline, delivered back into the hands of his divine healer. For Potter had the Lazarus touch.

) O (

Snape's eyes snapped open the moment his vision became clear. His skin was cold and clammy, and every inch of his body ached. It was as if his fever broke.

Not one, but two sets of eyes were staring him down, casting rueful glances. Snape hadn't felt this guilty since he was a boy, sneaking a biscuit from the bloody jar. Damn them both!

Sighs at the Stars led them from the sweat lodge wordlessly, linking both his and Potter's arms for a Side-Along Apparition. Turning to Potter he nodded, pride in those steely grey eyes. Turning to Snape, he smiled, knowingly. "It would appear," the shaman said with a wink, "that you have a path to walk as well."

The lake Chief Sitting Bullfrog had suggested to Snape was the perfect temperature. Snape liked his bath water anywhere from cool to tepid, and depending upon where he swam to in the lake, he was treated to both temperatures.

It wasn't often that Snape indulged in a bit of outdoor frolic, but when he had, he enjoyed the Loch Ness as well as Hogwart's own lake.

It was a peaceful time alone. A time for thinking and for smoothing rough edges. It had been near three weeks since he had first communicated with Dumbledore, and he wondered if he'd hear from the old man again soon. Potter had been unsuccessful in his attempts to obtain the Chocolate Frog card, but as time progressed, Snape became less and less amused with keeping Potter at bay. The boy had been owed his dues.

And then there was the matter of his vision. This had been a great source of personal embarrassment for Snape. Like he'd been caught staring at his friend's father. The way he'd first looked at Orion Black when Regulus had brought him 'round to 12 Grimmauld Place. Potter was only further proof that the Gods were cruel.

His fingertips beginning to prune, Snape swam ashore and dried off, watching the sunset. He was just about to towel his privates when a voice ahemed from behind.

"I might've gone all year without seeing your dangly bits, Snape," Potter said. He stuck a finger down his throat to emphasise his meaning.

Snape had been quite the body conscious teenager, but as an adult, he didn't seem to care who saw what. "I don't recall inviting you to watch. What are you doing here?"

Potter rocked to and fro on his heels, hands clasped behind his back. "I've just come to tell you that I've figured out a way to get the Chocolate Frog card. Thought you’d like to know."

Snape snorted, picking up his clothes and dressing. "You're bluffing, of course. You do get off on being defiant. Like your father before you, and most likely his father before him."

"This isn't about being defiant," Potter snapped back. "And I'm not."

"Oho?" Snape said, unsheathing his wand. He drew a line in the sand. "What is your first instinct?"

Potter crossed the line.

"And now?" Snape drew another.

Potter crossed that, too.

Snape started to draw a third line, but Potter crossed that even before he'd finished. Snape shook his head. He was actually more disappointed than angry. "Not only are you defiant, you are exceedingly arrogant."

"No," Potter said, poking Snape in the chest two-fingered. "It just means that I won't be bullied."

Before Snape had time to think, Potter took Snape's face in his hands and kissed him. Potter broke the kiss just about the time Snape's body began to respond.

"Or doubted," Potter said with a dangerous wink.

Snape watched unobtrusively from the outside flap as Potter plucked the Chocolate Frog card from The Guardian's keep, victorious. The triumphant hoist was indicative of Arthur pulling the sword from the stone.

"Potter kissed me earlier," Snape told the chief. "And there was no rhyme or reason to his madness."

"Are you aware that anger can be transferred via a kiss?" the chief asked Snape.

Snape arched a crow-black brow. "Really? You don't say."

Potter had found a way, and a clever way at that, to best Snape. Leave it to the boy that barely studied a wink at school to initiate extra lessons on the sly. And with trickery, no less. What fools these natives be, Snape thought wryly.

Potter had even gone so far as to don Snape's robe, drawing the hood over his face in an attempt to fool Albus. At least enough for a summons. Potter had such nerve, and dwelling on it just made Snape angrier. The strict disciplinarian in him wanted to turn Potter over his knee and tan his backside for this little stunt.

Snape was just about to intrude on Potter's privacy when Potter drew back his hood, falling to the floor and sobbing.

He'd seen the old man.

"Sneers Too Much?" a voice came from behind. The voice was low and melodic. Like bells tinkling on the air.

Snape turned around a bit, enough to see that it was Whispers to the Wind.

The elemental priest laid a hand on Snape's shoulder. "I taught Temper that Trembles the Earth how to transfer his anger. I thought he might come to you."

Snape was absolutely livid, but he could not tell where his anger ended and Potter's began. "And then you to me?"

"Yes," Whispers to the Wind said quietly, taking Snape's face in his hands. "You'll need your wits about you for tomorrow's lesson."

"And if I don't wish my wits about me now?" Snape spat, narrowing his eyes. "Potter should be punished for this."

The priest caressed Snape's cheek with his thumb. "Say nothing to Temper that Trembles the Earth. Allow him his answers."

Snape closed his eyes at the touch of soft lips, and in an instant he felt an air of calm envelope him.


Lesson the Fourth

If Potter had been apprehensive of Apparition lessons, he was positively terrified of Shadowmancing. Snape was always pleased to see Potter flinch in the face of fear.

The tribe's Shadowmancer, Dwells in the Darkness, was a tall, lithe brave. He was muscled from head to toe, and his skin was the colour of ink. It was rumoured that he preferred the comfort of shadows and was merging with the darkness.

As much as Snape was enjoying Potter's discomfort, Snape's stomach knotted at the prospect of catastrophe. Where Apparition held the dangers of splinching, Shadowmancing held the dangers of imprisonment in darkness.

Dwells in the Darkness chose to teach them deep within the forest; shadows a plenty made by the sun penetrating the canopy of green. It was the perfect place for their lesson.

"Shadowmancing," Dwells in the Darkness began, "is not merely another form of travel but also an otherworldly experience. It is not difficult to master, but it does require precise timing and knowledge of one's surroundings. Ideally, a forest like this, or perhaps the cover of night when the moon is pale enough."

Snape found the idea of travelling in shadows a bit menacing, but Potter seemed utterly fascinated with anything that provided even the slightest bit of danger despite his obvious alarm. Even as a teenager, Snape tried to play it safe. Now, in his late thirties, he wondered where he would be if he'd only taken more chances in his life. On some levels, he was living vicariously through Potter.

"Like Apparition," Dwells in the Darkness explained, "Shadowmancing is based on three key principles; destination, determination and deliberation." He tapped his temple with the tip of his wand to reiterate his meaning. "Concentration is paramount for a successful jump between shadows. Distraction equals disaster."

Potter interrupted with a question. "Er, what sorts of disasters are we talking about here?"

The Shadowmancer smiled, his teeth whiter and brighter than Lockhart's. "I'm glad you asked that question, Temper that Trembles the Earth."

Snape rolled his eyes when Dwells in the Darkness gave Potter a congratulatory pat on the back. The Tahlewaketani certainly liked to cosset Potter.

"A Shadowmancer should never fear the darkness," Dwells in the Darkness continued, making a fist and punching the air. "But embrace it! The darkness is able to sense fear and may collapse a shadow before a jump can be made. One of two ways imprisonment occurs."

"And the other way?" Snape chimed in. Unlike Potter, he was given no smile or clap on the back. Typical.

The Shadowmancer looked Snape over as if to size him up. "The other way happens when there is a disruption of light, displacing the shadow. Either total darkness or total brightness will eclipse a shadow, trapping the traveller between worlds. For today's lesson, I will jump in tandem as a safety measure. Which of you would like to go first?"

"He can," Potter and Snape said in unison. Snape gave Potter a funny look that was neither hateful nor contemptuous. The boy could piss off with his 'age before beauty' rubbish, though.

Neither of them stepped forward after that so the Shadowmancer volunteered Snape. "Your job," he said, turning to Potter, "will be to try and distract, Sneers Too Much."

Potter proceeded to snicker at Snape's dumb luck, that was, until, Snape whapped the back of Potter's head in passing. Oddly enough, it wasn't because he was terribly angry, but because he found it amusing. Snape felt strangely out of sorts this day.

Dwells in the Darkness stood behind Snape, linking their arms. "That shadow up ahead," he indicated, pointing. "Your job, Temper that Trembles the Earth, is to break Sneers Too Much's concentration. No touching, though. Ready. On my mark. The both of you. Go!"

Just as Snape was readying his mind for the jump, Potter deluged him with insults. "Nice, tattoo, Snivellus. Did you get inked to impress Whispers to the Wind? Did he show you his 'Little Big Horn?'"

Snape had cleared his jump but just barely. The boy still possessed the power to get under his skin.

The Shadowmancer shook his head. "That was sloppy, Sneers Too Much. You're capable of doing much better." When Snape returned to the starting point, Dwells in the Darkness stood behind Potter, repeating his words. He nodded for them both to go.

Snape's expression was deadpan. He had quite the insult planned, and if that didn't work, he had an ace up his sleeve. When Potter made to leap, he commenced with part one of his attack. "Top or bottom, Potter? My sickle's on your being a feisty bottom."

That seemed to rattle Potter sufficiently, but to add insult to injury Snape threw a non-verbal Locomotor Mortis curse Potter's way. The Shadowmancer cleared the next shadow all by his lonesome. Potter looked none too happy.

Dwells in the Darkness was quite impressed with Snape's quick thinking despite Potter's accusations of cheating. Hadn't the Shadowmancer's only contingence been 'no touching?'

The Shadowmancer gave his pupils quite the workout, imparting them with his words of wisdom when the hour grew too late for them to continue. "Remember," he said gravely, "more assassination attempts are successful when the attacker employs Shadowmancing."

That night, Snape slept with one eye open.


Battle Royale

In the weeks that followed, Snape continued to supervise Potter's lessons. Though he was loath to admit as much, Potter's training was progressing along nicely. Where the boy once lacked maturity there blossomed patience and control. It was amazing how much he could accomplish without the bane of his temper. The anger transference spell had actually worked in their favour.

Of course, those words were spoken much too soon.

In the dead of the night, Snape awoke in a cold sweat, clothes moist and clinging. The tipi was pin-drop quiet. It was as if the world lacked a pulse. No voices. No insects. No sounds at all.

The calm before the storm, Snape thought, rising quickly. Potter was nowhere to be found.

And then the explosions began, loud and earth shattering like a German blitzkrieg. Snape's heart sank. There, in the sky, hung the Dark Mark.

Their sanctuary was a sanctuary no longer. Death Eaters descended upon them like a plague, swarming like locusts. Snape panicked. He had to find Potter. Salazar's scrote, where had the idiot boy wandered off?

Outside, the Tahlewaketani were assembling, steadfast and battle-born. Fear had been driven from them at an early age. Even the women and children had parts to play. Here, every man, woman and child was a soldier at arms.

Snape found Potter in the bushes of all places, half-dressed and apologetic. Either to him or to the young brave he couldn't wager a guess. Snape was ashamed to admit that even in the midst of war, there arose a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach that he cast aside in favour of disgust. He had a job to do.

Snape met up with the chief and the two of them exchanged worried glances. The Death Eaters were just outside their gates, busily trying to figure a way inside. Or to tempt Potter and his army outside.

The Dark Lord was first to speak. "Come out, come out wherever you are," he crooned singsong. "Severus, I know you have the boy with you. Bring him to me, my favourite turncoat, and I will make your death quick and painless. Lucius will even eulogise your passing."

Snape stiffened. Every pore and fibre of his being told him to be angry, but he felt nothing. Potter looked just as lost.

And then he felt a wind at his back and a tap on his shoulder. "I have something that belongs to you," Whispers to the Wind said. He kissed Snape tenderly on the lips, pulling back when Snape's pale cheeks rosied. "Thought you might want that back." The elemental priest nodded in Potter's direction. "Share the wealth, won't you?"

The Dark Lord roared in rage. "Come out! Come out now! Fight like men and die with dignity, or I shall burn this place to the ground!"

Infuriated beyond words, Snape took Potter by the crook of his arm and kissed him fiercely.

Potter looked stunned. "W-what w-was that for?"

"Returning the favour, you little shit," Snape sneered.

There was a chorus of mocking awws from the Death Eaters when Potter approached the gates. "It ends tonight, Voldemort!" Potter snarled through clenched teeth, pointing an accusatory finger.

The Dark Lord had something more to say until Potter turned his back on him, rejoining the others. In all his years of service to Voldemort, Snape had never seen such a courageous snub. Courageous and stupid and Snape was sorry he hadn't done it himself.

In a cover of grey mist, they Apparated one by one to Says Much, Speaks Nothing's tipi where Snape had set up the makeshift potion's lab. When the fog cleared, the monolithic pillars warding the encampment crumbled, allowing the Death Eaters their entrance. With illusory magic in place, the number of tipis was quadrupled. Several of the Dark Lord's men cursed, hiding defeated looks behind those masks of comedy and tragedy.

Inside the medicine man's tipi, each brave was given a small phial to quaff. Only Potter did not receive one. "What's this, then?" Potter complained, looking slighted. Chief Sitting Bullfrog answered Potter's question with a sly grin.

In about the time it took to recite the alphabet, the men began to transform, watching as their separate identities became carbon copies of one distinct personality; Harry Potter.

Potter was agreeably astonished. "Brilliant, that is. Which one of you lot took my hair?" he asked, feeling for a missing clump in the back.

Somebody clapped Potter on the shoulder from behind. "You're a heavy sleeper. It wasn't that difficult."

There was a titter of laughter among the men. Hardly expected from men who might soon be casualties of war.

"Glasses," one of the copies offered thoughtfully. "I hardly think we'll be as convincing without them."

There was a clash of wood and blade as wands and tomahawks were raised in commencement. A flood of Potters rushed the exit, alike in every way but each with a dissimilar and curdling warcry.

It had begun.

Unbeknownst to Potter, Snape had accompanied him on his quest to destroy the Dark Lord. It had been the old man's dying wish.

In the distance, Snape could hear Unforgivables followed by screams. Fires were blazing all about, and the bodies of the fallen were strewn haphazardly. The battle grew uglier and uglier.

It had been on everyone's mind to be sure, but no one had asked until now. No one but Potter. "How d'you reckon they found us?"

Snape shrugged his shoulders, but he knew the truth of it. Somehow, Potter's contact with Dumbledore must have alerted the Dark Lord. If only he had had more patience with teaching the boy Occlumency. Thinking about it only seemed to intensify the anger he was feeling.

Potter broke away at some point, leaving Snape to deal with the Carrow siblings. He was amazed at how easily they were dealt with. The anger from the kiss had given him such an edge, and it left him merciless and wanting for more. The Tahlewaketani weren't so much fools as he first thought.

That was, until, he heard the lilt of a familiar voice. A rich contralto that could only belong to that of Lucius Malfoy.

"Potter," Lucius purred. "Oh, how I prayed I'd be the one to find you. Your death will bring me back into My Lord's good graces again." He raised his wand and trained it at Snape's chest. "Beg, and I might spare you the pain of a Crucio, boy."

"Not if I can help it!" the real Potter growled, rounding the corner. The confused look on Lucius's face gave Potter all the time he needed to send an Avada Lucius's way. He dropped in a crumpled heap at Snape's feet. Dead, he didn't look quite so glamourous.

Snape gave Potter a slight nod of thanks.

Potter wasn't fooled. "Come off it, Snape. I know that's you. I watched you from a bush. Only you would hesitate in killing Malfoy."

Defeated, Snape rolled his eyes. "You were watching? Way to have my back, Potter. And that wasn't hesitation, it was a slight pause."

"Can't say that I blame you, though," Potter said with a dark chuckle. "I'd probably hesitate in killing my only sexual outlet, too."

Snape was practically foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog after that insult, but he still needed Potter alive. Instead, he redirected his anger and plucked Lucius's cane out of his cold, stiff grasp. He snapped it in two across his knee and tossed it callously over his shoulder. Snorting derisively, he clenched and unclenched his fists. "Don't be ridiculous, boy. There's a reason an ugly man finds beauty in his hands."

Potter had no further insults after that.

The battle raged on, but the Dark Lord was nowhere to be found. Potter had made a quip about Snape being an old man, and wouldn't he like to rest for a bit. It was rubbish, really, because Potter looked just as exhausted. Together they shared a fallen log, catching their breaths and reflecting.

It was almost over, Snape thought, and he wondered what he would do after the war if they were successful. Would he have to live out his life in seclusion? Would they send him to Azkaban with all of the other prisoners of war? Or would he be allowed some dispensation? It had always been a small dream of his to open up a shop like Slug and Jiggers. He was, after all, a better potionscrafter than those two imbeciles. With the help of his mother, he could put them out of business in no time. It was a pleasant consideration, even if he hadn't a snowball's chance in hell at peace.

Potter finally spoke, breaking the long, cold silence. "Are you sorry I killed Lucius Malfoy? I know you two were tight, and all."

Snape sighed deeply. "I will mourn the Lucius I knew twenty years ago." He turned to look at Potter, unsure if he was angrier with Potter for asking him or having answered. "Why do you care?"

Potter shifted his weight around to answer Snape. "I don't hate you anymore, Snape."

Snape gave a silent 'Oh really?' expression. And then the little shit retracted his statement.

"Okay," Potter corrected. "I don't hate you as much. I'll probably always hate you, just not to the degree I used to."

Snape could feel the anger swelling inside him again. All it took was something stupid to come out of Potter's mouth to accomplish this. "Was this supposed to make me feel better about helping you?"

Potter shrugged. "I don't care if it does, but th--"

Snape thought he heard a voice. His voice. "Shh, you idiot."

"Don't 'shh' me, Snape," Potter fumed.

Snape stood, pricking up his ears.

"It's in my head," Snape said softly. "The Dark Lord is trying to draw me out. Stay put."

Potter did not look too happy being ordered around like a dog, but for the time being he obeyed.

When Snape stepped out from the clearing, there the Dark Lord stood, surrounded by his followers. The Dark Lord look surprised at seeing Potter in Snape's place. Immediately, Snape slammed up his defences, but it was only a matter of time before the Dark Lord would be able to break through them.

The Dark Lord shook his head, tsking. "Potter, how disappointing. I called for my favourite turncoat. We've unfinished business first. Where is your lover?"

Snape made a gagging noise, trying to be convincing. "The greasy bastard is not my lover! He ran. Again. He's a bloody coward." It was easy if not surreal to make fun of himself, he thought.

There was a round of laughter from the Dark Lord's followers.

"Then you shall pay for his mistakes," the Dark Lord laughed. He threw a Crucio Snape's way, and Snape dropped to his knees, writhing in pain.

Through the pain, out of the corner of his eye, Snape could see Potter watching. The moment the Dark Lord let up, Snape sent a non-verbal Legilimens at Potter, searching for the embarrassing moment when Potter first discovered he was a skunk Animagus. With any luck, the stupid boy would get the message.

The Dark Lord rounded on Snape again for a second Crucio when a skunk came wandering by. The Death Eaters scurried about, trying to zap the poor creature. Most of them fled at the prospect of being sprayed. Few others remained to try and dispose of the nuisance. The skunk retreated into the trees with a few of the Dark Lord's followers hot on his heels.

The Dark Lord approached Snape, slitted nostrils flared in anger. He toed Snape over onto his back. "I suppose I'll just have to be happy killing you, Potter. But don't think for a moment I won't enjoy torturing your lover. Pity, you won't be around to watch."

"I told you," Snape said weakly, "Snape's not my lover."

The Dark Lord rested the tip of his wand at Snape's forehead. "Really? Shall we find out for certain? Legilimens!"



Snape grasped the sides of his head as if that would stop the Dark Lord from entering his mind. He could feel the imaginary walls beginning to crumble when he noticed the Dark Lord's shadow, followed by Potter's feet inside the shadow.

Potter rapped the Dark Lord on his bald head with the tip of his wand. "He really isn't my lover y'know."

The Dark Lord spun around. "You?! Him?!"

Potter gave the Dark Lord his cheekiest grin ever. "Surprise, Mouldy Voldy!"

Snape grinned in spite of himself.

Without skipping a beat, Potter put an end to it all. "AVADA KEDAVRA!" The Dark Lord fell with a dramatic thud on top of Snape.

Disgustedly, Snape shrugged the body off of him. He proceeded to get to his feet when Potter extended a hand. Snape took it, and Potter let him fall back down.

Snape groaned in pain, cursing the idiot boy.

Potter chuckled and extended his hand again, this time tugging Snape up to his feet. "I can't believe you fell for the oldest trick in the book."

"I can't believe you're a bloody skunk Animagus," Snape countered, sneering.

Potter swung his leg back and kicked Snape's arse. "Shut it, or I'll spray you!"

The celebration that followed their victory was spectacular. The surviving members of the Order of the Phoenix were summoned, and even the old man was in attendance, smiling from his Chocolate Frog card.

Prayers and toasts were spoken in honour of the fallen, and thanks were given to Mother Earth and Father Sky by those blessed with continued life.

There was singing and dancing and feasting, and those barely acquainted were being ushered into tipis for congratulatory sex. Potter looked a little jealous and sullen, Snape observed, when Weasley and Granger closed the flap on their own tipi.

Snape was still too angry himself to celebrate, and he hated putting up a front. Slowly, he gravitated towards Potter, resting a hand on the boy's arse to test the waters.

"This changes nothing," Potter said, not moving his lips. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to watch all of my friends shag while I sit here."

Snape nodded, agreeing. "Besides, with the war won, it's not as though we had many ways to rid ourselves of this excess anger."

Chief Sitting Bullfrog, just as oblivious as the old man, crashed their little pity party, waving the calumet pipe about. "Now you two will smoke the pipe of peace, yes?"

Snape looked at the chief and whispered in his ear, clueing him in. "Later, perhaps. Potter has a different pipe to smoke."





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