afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:39:41

Pacify Part1:Shatter [end] by Chickenpets

本帖最后由 afterending 于 2021-9-12 02:03 编辑

Originally posted on Archive of Our Own from 2019-12-28 to 2020-06-26

原文地址: Pacify Part 1: Shatter by Chickenpets
Rating: Explicit
Archive Warning: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Category: M/M
Fandom: Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Relationship: Harry Potter/Severus Snape
Characters: Harry Potter, Severus Snape, Remus Lupin, Albus Dumbledore
Additional Tags: First Time, Angst, Sexual Tension, Aftercare, Hurt/Comfort, Dom/sub, Blow Jobs, Guilt, Severus Snape Has a Heart, Hogwarts, Insomnia, Potions, Explicit Sexual Content, Dubious Morality, dubious consent but not in the way you think, Porn With Plot, Breathplay, Panic Attacks, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD, Bottom Harry Potter, Top Severus Snape, Substance Abuse, Falling In Love, BDSM, Frottage, Art, Pacifyverse, actual BDSM, Safewords, Kink written by Kinksters
Series: Part 1 of the Pacify series
Progress: Completed

Summary:
Pacify
1. To allay the anger or agitation of
2. To reduce to a submissive state

Shatter
1. To break at once into pieces
2. to damage badly : ruin

“You think this will ease your suffering,” Severus said, squeezing Harry’s wrists still clasped in his hands. “But it won’t. It will destroy you.” I will destroy you.

“I want you to,” Harry murmured, and Severus' resistance wasn't enough to keep him from being pulled closer, Potter’s breath feathering across his lips. And in some ways, the fact that his eyes were closed made it worse - made the words whispered against his mouth all the more obscene: “I want you to tear me apart.”

***

Harry and Severus tumble into an intensely inappropriate physical relationship after events at Headquarters spiral out of control. Severus, digging his heels in, tries to stop, but he is just not strong enough.

Chapter 1: War

For most of the Order, it was the battle of the Department of Mysteries that marked the Wizarding world’s descent into chaos. It was those events – the unequivocal return of the Dark Lord, Harry’s refusal to guard his mind properly, Sirius Black’s tumble through the veil – that created the boundary between what had been life as usual, and was now war. All around the country, rules were changing. Things that had been safe and static were dangerous, fluid. Harry Potter was once more alone, and Severus Snape was hurled back into the ring: a spy again. Dumbledore, too, found his school compromised again and again as parents lost trust in his ability to keep their children safe. Yes, it was the battle of the Department of Mysteries, then, which marked the beginning of the end, as it were. And it was not just the faculty that felt the shift – not by a long shot.



***



It was the summer after the episode in the Ministry of Magic, and the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix was a hive of activity. At night, however, all would fall silent as all either departed or retired.

Harry tried to sleep, as everyone else seemed able to do so easily, but his eyes would not stay closed. He’d lie there for hours, in the close, dusty darkness of Number 12, yet every time his eyes drifted closed, he’d hear a sound, or imagine a sound, or remember a sound, and open they would spring, his heart hammering in his chest. He turned over, and pressed his face into the pillow, but all that accomplished was to half-suffocate him. With a grunt of frustration, he flipped back over, tangling his feet in the sheets. He struggled with them for a moment, but froze as Ron turned over and murmured in the other bed. His insomnia shouldn’t affect Ron’s sleep – that wasn’t fair. He got up.

Outside, the hallways were dark. Everyone, Harry thought with a touch of bitterness, was asleep. But not him. And how could he? He crept down the stairs, treading as lightly as possible on the ancient steps to avoid any creaks that, in such silence, would surely wake Mrs. Black where she slept on her canvas in the entryway. A lumos would have helped, Harry thought belatedly as he felt his way across the house, no real destination in mind, but he’d left his wand sitting beside his bed. The mere thought of his empty hand set his blood rushing for an instant – a reaction to being unarmed that had become all but automatic. Stupid, he thought. But why was it? Did he really expect to be ambushed, in the dead of night, in the kitchen of the Order of the Pheonix headquarters? Yes, he answered himself, as he wandered into the living room, nearly smacking his shin on the edge of a coffee table. I expect to be ambushed anywhere.

One thing Harry had never learned from the History of Magic classes at Hogwarts (one thing among the admittedly huge volume of things he did not learn from the late professor Binns) was what war really meant for those fighting it. For all the endless hours that Binns had spent recounting the Goblin Rebellions, the constant, inter-tribe wars of the Giants, and the rest of the quite bloody history of Wizardkind, he’d never once so much as hinted at what it felt like to be in the thick of it. To fight, and kill, and die. The blood pounding in your ears as you ran or charged or screamed in retaliation – the way fear permeated every thread of life until it wasn’t really fear at all, anymore, it was constant vigilance . The way your body sometimes chose for you whether you fought or fled. The terrible crash of adrenaline when the fighting was over that left you shaking and in a freezing sweat. It was, now that he thought of it, just how he felt upon waking up from a terrible nightmare – only, in war, the nightmare was real, and it wasn’t over, only paused. And who knew how long the respite would last?

Harry could tell he wasn’t the only one who felt it – it wasn’t just because he was young. He could see the way everyone looked just as the danger subsided. He saw how Tonks and Remus looked at each other just before disapparating together to do Merlin knew what.

There was something fundamentally animal about mortal danger, and it made everything else animal, too, for a while. Harry had never been closer to casting a true cruciatus, for example, than just after an ambush in Hogsmeade not long before. He’d cornered a Deatheater outside the Hog’s Head and disarmed him, but it wasn’t until the bastard had started running his mouth off about Harry’s parents that the fury started to boil up inside him.

“You’ve your mother’s eyes, Potter,” the masked man had said. “Wonder if you’ve got her scream, too…”

The rage was like a tidal wave within him, and before the Deatheater had drawn breath to continue his taunts, Harry had shrieked, “CRUCIO! ” He hadn’t even heard Lupin shout his name, or even notice that the man was there beside him until his hand was knocked sideways, sending the curse into the wall with a sinister crackle. Lupin, still holding his wrist, had sent a stunning spell at the laughing Deatheater, and pulled Harry away, leaving cleanup to Tonks and Kingsley. Harry’d cried, then, and hated that he’d cried. It was the adrenaline, he told himself, even as Remus pulled him, shaking, into an embrace, and disapparated. He’d been taken to Number 12 after that, and hadn’t been allowed out since. It was ‘too dangerous,’ and he had to be ‘protected.’

Harry had wanted to kill that wizard. But not just that – he’d wanted the man to suffer. To torture him. Yet, barely a day had gone by before Harry was revolted with himself. What kind of teenager feels hate like that?

But then, what kind of teenager has gone through what Harry has? He thought briefly of Hagrid’s Thestrals… Whom had the other students seen die? Grandparents, strangers? Harry had seen more death than his share that was for sure. Been – been the cause of more death. He brushed the edge of a cabinet with his foot just then, and reflexively leapt away from it. Bottles jostled gently against each other inside. He looked around the room and found he’d wandered into the Black family’s private Potions laboratory. The air was thick with dust here, as no one used the room for so much as a closet. Snape preferred the climate and light controlled nature of Number 12’s basement, or so he said. Harry happened to think the potions master simply wanted to be as far away from people as possible at all times.

Snape… Snape had changed too, Harry thought. He had always been nasty, of course, even during the peaceful lull between wars, but there had been a noticeable shift since that day at the close of Harry’s fourth year when he’d overheard Dumbledore: “Severus, you know what I must ask of you… if you are prepared…”

Harry hadn’t known then what those few words meant, though he’d been given some vague idea by the way Snape jumped ever-quicker towards rage in the weeks and months afterwards, and the way his eyes began to have a sunken, shadowed look that did nothing to soften his already hard appearance. He wasn’t sleeping. Dumbledore had asked, as Harry learned later, Snape to resume his role as a, what, triple agent? A spy, playing a Deatheater, playing a spy. Yes, Harry could understand how sleep might elude one with so complicated a role to fill. War fostered a simmering sense of panic and fighting on both sides at once could do nothing but exacerbate it horribly. It broke down routine, for one thing. It was, after all, impossible to maintain a routine when any part of it could be destroyed or rendered inaccessible at any moment – when anyone could die or be tortured into madness – when anything could be taken away. You had to hold on to what you could, in times like these, but let go of everything else.

Letting go, Harry thought, padding silently through the filthy floor of the abandoned potions room, was what kept him going. He’d almost fallen apart when Sirius had gone through the veil. Wanted to fall apart. But soon enough he realized that he couldn’t just lay down and quit, no matter how much it hurt, because too much depended on him surviving and fighting. So, he let go , and went on living ever-more alone, into his bleak, terrible future: the prophecy had, after all, ensured it would be so. It made him feel rather hollow at times, to tell the truth, quashing his pain for the sake of The Cause, but it was what he had to do, wasn’t it? He had to forget Sirius, abandon his brief memory, and carry on. But sometimes the empty space inside him filled up with thick, black guilt for the very same reasons. It roiled inside him, every day reminding him that he’d killed his own godfather – the closest thing he had to a parent, and then simply put the whole matter out of his mind.

He was plagued by it for weeks, with no relief to be found. Lupin just made him feel worse, telling him it wasn’t his fault. And Hermione and Ron didn’t know what to say to him anymore. He’d stopped writing to Hermione after the first two letters, and kept things light with Ron, who had graciously chosen to stay with him in the gloom and mold of Number 12, so he wouldn’t be totally alone. It didn’t really help, he still felt alone, just with the added burden of having to act normal around him. Harry had the idea that Ron was telling Hermione all about it, as he spent long stretches of time scratching away at scrolls of parchment, which he gave to members of the Order when they came around to post. Sometimes it made Harry angry. Everyone was talking about him behind his back. Everyone was looking at him, watching him, worrying about him. He wished he could just disappear. Sink into the floor. But no, he was in prison for his own safety. The only other resident of Number 12 that seemed unable to leave at will was Snape, who skulked about in various rooms and kept mostly to himself. Snape was always ready to abuse him at even the slightest provocation – and for some reason, Harry found that he craved it. Harry wanted to fight, sometimes, and everyone else treated him like glass. Not Snape.

That was what Harry seemed to need. He needed someone to see that he was worthless and stupid; that his hubris had killed his godfather. Snape saw him. Snape reminded him that he was foolhardy, reckless, a thoughtless child. But did Harry know that was why he insisted on provoking Snape at every chance? Of course not. But Severus himself did know. Oh yes, to Severus it was quite obvious.



Potter had a way of intruding at the most irritating, most detrimental, most important moments. The more concentration Severus was devoting to the addition of an ingredient or the precise number and frequency of strokes of the stirring rod, the more likely Potter was to burst into the room with some excuse. The more absorbed Severus was in his own ruminations or the maintenance of his mental defenses, the louder Potter crashed about the house. It was infuriating . But then, it was meant to be infuriating, wasn’t it? It hadn’t taken Severus long to deduce the motivations behind Potter’s increasingly disrespectful behavior. If every time Potter provoked him he retaliated in the usual manner, and Potter continued to provoke him, then it must be that the boy wished to be retaliated against. It was not uncommon to punish or abuse oneself in response to emotional trauma such as the loss of a loved one. Potter was simply using Severus as his whipping post.

At first, this unspoken arrangement was perfectly tolerable Severus’ perspective. He never had to act more irritated than he really was, and after a while, Potter would go. However, after a good week or two, Severus began to find it… not upsetting, exactly, but unsettling. He just kept coming back – like a kicked dog that couldn’t help but return to its master. Severus thought that he would stop on his own, after the initial shock had passed. But it only got worse. More frequently, and at crazier and crazier hours of the night. And it was more than that; Severus didn’t like the way he felt after these encounters. Tense, unsatisfied, and on edge. He was being sucked into Potter’s game, he realized. And he could ill-afford to lose his composure.

And so, when Harry predictably invaded his concentration with insolent demands to stop making the whole house smell like rotting corpses (Severus was, in fact, brewing a particularly odious infusion designed to disorient and confuse), Severus was not in the mood to indulge him.

“Potter, get out,” he said simply, as the boy ostentatiously pinched his nose against the smell.

“You can’t tell me to leave my own house.”

It was one of his favorite retorts. Severus took a deep breath and turned to look at him, eyes steeled.

“I have no desire to indulge your need to be punished tonight, Potter,” he said, “So if you would be so kind, do find another method of self-flagellation and leave me in peace.” Harry went pale, then scarlet, and clenched his hands into fists. Severus could see clearly that he had struck a nerve that was very raw indeed.

“You think I want you in my house? You think you deserve to be in my house? You’re nothing but two-faced, traitorous filth, Snape!”

I will not be provoked, Severus thought, I will not indulge him. But Harry continued, launching into a tirade against Severus’ character that, though infantile, managed to do what it was meant to: It infuriated him, despite his best intentions to remain aloof. If he was to dissuade the boy from his path toward self-destruction, he was going to have to learn to control himself. Potter was too good at incensing him. It was a gift .

“Cease this insanity at once!” he demanded, but Harry hardly listened.

“… my father was right about you, and so was Sirius! And now they’re both dead . Seems pretty coincidental, doesn’t it? Dumbledore thinks you’re trustworthy but I know the truth. You’re a traitor. A bloody COWARD to go back to Voldemort to save your own – “

It was that word - coward - that snapped Severus’ self control. How dare this insolent brat question the sacrifices Severus had made to save his worthless little hide? After all he had done? How dare he? And so, in an instant, Severus had taken the four or so long strides to the entryway where Harry stood, and grabbed his wrist, hard, meaning to throw him bodily from the room.

“Get your hands off me!” Harry demanded, wrenching his arm free with no little effort. But Severus’ judgement was clouded, and so he seized the front of Harry’s shirt, and slammed him up against the wall.

“Silence,” he hissed, and Harry’s mouth snapped shut with an audible click, the breath knocked out of him. “You listen to me you little monster. You speak of my right to be in this house, but understand this: I am forced to stay in this filthy pit – to work day and night to keep you and your foolhardy entourage alive another day. Merlin knows what level of hell I will end up in when I die, but I cannot be far from it now with you invading my every moment with your incessant, masochistic need to be abused!” Here he paused, and noticed three things all at once: Potter’s breath – fast, shallow; the flush across his face; and finally, his own sudden, inexplicable use of physical violence. He had never, not ever, laid hands on a student before. No, no, Severus didn’t even want to contemplate how quickly his reaction had been to throw the Gryffindor up against something solid, and trap him there – how having Potter immobilized and powerless felt, all at once, like a something intensely addictive.

Severus blinked, and released his white-knuckled grip on Harry’s shirtfront. But Potter didn’t say a word, didn’t run, didn’t move to curse or strike him. He stayed pressed against the wall, hands flat on the stones. His chest rose and fell with a rapidity that reminded Severus of a trapped animal, and the Potions Master had the fleeting but powerful thought that the boy’s heart must be racing.

“Get out, Potter,” Severus said, and heard in his voice a timbre he hadn’t intended.He placed one palm on the wall by Harry’s head, as if to steady himself. “Before you get in far, far out of your depth.” Harry seemed to awaken from a daze, then, and still without saying a word in retort, he edged out from between Severus and the wall, and fled, letting the door bang shut behind him.

As the door closed, Severus found that his own heart rate was rather elevated – his own breath coming just a bit faster than usual. Hopefully, he thought, turning back to his potion, rubbing a hand absently across the back of his neck, Potter has learned his lesson.



***



If Severus had really hoped that Harry had been scared out of his poor behavior because of that encounter, he was to be sorely disappointed. For, it did not take longer than two days for the Gryffindor to demonstrate that, far from being dissuaded, he was even more unrelenting in his efforts to provoke a response from the Potions Master.

The day after Severus had been pushed to use force, the headquarters had been briefly inundated with nearly the entire order. Severus, for his part, had known that he would be restricted to the house after the meeting. He could not risk coming and going more than absolutely necessary. And so, when the members of the Order went their separate ways, Severus was left, once again in number twelve, to deal with Potter’s behavior as soon as the rest of the residents were asleep. That was, after all, when Potter began trolling around the house, looking for distraction from his insomnia. It was the first night with less than half of the bedrooms full, then, that Severus found himself once again making nothing short of a heroic effort to reign in his temper. It hadn’t taken him much contemplation to realize that to indulge in physical retaliation again would be... unwise in the extreme. To his consternation, however, Potter would have nothing of his stoicism.

“What’s the matter, Snape?” he taunted, “I thought you liked abusing students.”

Severus did rather well, he thought, at controlling himself. He withstood a veritable torrent of insults and jibes without reacting much more than his usual cold retorts. It wasn’t until Potter threw the knowledge of Severus’ most painful memory, though – his torment at the hands of Potter Senior and the mutt, Black – at him, that he truly lost his temper – that he was pushed right past verbal sparring. How dare he - after weaseling his way into the pensieve - after violating Severus’ privacy in that way - to bring it up now - without fear -

“You INSOLENT - " he shouted, but broke off, unable to conjure a word that could express his rage, and raised his hand without thinking, as if to slap Potter backhand across the face. Harry flinched back, and Snape was able to restrain himself at the very last moment. He snarled in disgust and made a fist instead, forcing his hand back down to his side and clenching his fingers together, hard.

Potter just looked back at him, face blank, eyes flickering once between his fist and his eyes. Severus exhaled slowly through his nose. There was a moment of silence. And then Potter spoke.

“Go on, Professor,” he said. “Hit me. I know you want to. I probably won’t even feel it.” He took a step forward. Severus took a step back. “Hit me,” he repeated.

“Potter,” Snape started, holding out both hands. He didn’t know what to say. I’m sorry? Stay back? I’ll jinx you to high heaven if you say another word?

“I can see it in your face,” the boy continued, pursuing him further into the room. “I’m just standing here, I’m not fighting back. I know you want to.” He had backed Severus almost against the cold stone wall of the basement. Harry gave a soft chuckle that had no mirth in it at all. “I don’t even have my wand,”he said, and shoved Severus hard in the chest. “Hit me!”

Severus felt his mouth go dry. Potter didn’t sound angry, he sounded… aggressive. Desperate.

“Potter - You’ve lost your mind,” he said, voice low.

“Me?” The boy almost laughed again. “I saw the way you looked at me before. When you had me against the wall. You want to hurt me. So do it.” He fisted his hands in the front of Snape’s robes. “Hurt me.”

“Unhand me!” Severus growled, goosebumps prickling fiercely across his arms and the back of his neck. “Potter - ”

Harry’s lips pulled back from his teeth in a feral sneer.

“Make me,” he demanded.



Severus panicked.



He seized one of Potter’s wrists and twisted hard, forcing the boy’s fingers to release. As soon as they did he turned Potter around, slamming him face first into the work table, one hand twisting Potter’s wrist up between his shoulder blades, the other pressing his opposite shoulder into the wood. He was held fast, finally still. Severus pretended that Harry’s gasp of pain didn’t hit him like a punch to the gut.

“Control yourself, Potter,” he hissed. Harry’s twisted arm flexed and his fingers twitched. His face was turned to the side, his lips parted.

“Get yourself under control, Professor.”

For a long moment there was only the sound of their breath and the distant ticking of a clock. Potter’s feet shifted apart.

Severus could feel the movement where they were pressed together. Could feel Potter’s muscles tensing and bunching, as he … spread his legs. Could feel him lift ever so slightly up onto his toes as if seeking more contact.

The Potions Master leapt away as if burned.

“Good god, Potter, get out of here,” he breathed, backing away as Harry sagged against the table, his twisted arm falling limply to his side. And he made a noise .

A. Noise.

“Potter,” Severus continued, “please, go back to bed. Please.”

Harry slowly straightened, using his other hand to lever himself up off the table. When he turned to face Severus, there was a small bruise blooming visibly on his cheekbone. Harry’s eyebrows furrowed, and he touched two fingers to the spot.

“Yes, Professor,” he said. And went.



Severus felt his knees go weak as soon as the door had swung shut. He leaned heavily back against the stone wall and covered his face with his hands.

This was a problem.

This was a big problem.



***



The next morning, when Severus had worked up the courage to leave his rooms, he bypassed the kitchen in favor of going directly to his basement workroom. He could send for food later. As he passed, he could hear a bit of breakfast chatter. He paused for a moment as he heard Potter’s voice.

“I had a nightmare,” the boy was saying. “I fell out of bed. It doesn’t even hurt.”

“I can heal it for you, Dear,” Mrs. Weasley replied. “It’ll only take a minute.”

“That’s ok Mrs. Weasley. It’s not bothering me.”

It must be his face, where he’d hit the table.

Where Severus had forced him into the table.

Severus crept past the kitchen door as silently as he could, and fled down to the basement.

He told himself that he didn’t want to see how it looked. He didn’t. He didn’t want to see anything.



afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:44:59

本帖最后由 afterending 于 2021-9-12 01:46 编辑

Chapter 2: The Only One

After almost hitting the boy, and then ending up hurting him anyway, Severus resolved to keep his temper in check, no matter what Potter said or did. Severus was a grown wizard, after all. It was his responsibility to keep his good sense no matter how much he was provoked. He was the master of his emotions.

He toyed with the idea of going to Dumbledore, of telling the headmaster about Potter’s behavior, and about their… altercation, but in the end he decided against it for the time being. He could handle this. He was only a student after all. That he was The Chosen One and a second generation arrogant fool made no difference.

It was all well and good that Severus didn’t set up a meeting with the Headmaster, too, as he was Called the next night. The Dark Lord wanted to inquire after Potter’s condition. Severus wasn’t the secret keeper for the Order, and as such couldn’t give away Potter’s location, but Voldemort knew that full well, and wasn’t expecting that sort of information. As it turned out, he simply wanted to know how Potter was getting along. How he was handling the war, and his losses. If the pressure was getting to him. If he was functioning. Severus told him the truth:

Potter was doing very poorly. He was isolating himself. He was lashing out. He wasn’t sleeping. His personality had changed.

The Dark Lord was satisfied, even pleased by this answer, as Severus knew he would be.

“Perhaps you might help the boy along, Severus,” Voldemort had practically purred at him. “The weaker he is, the better.”

“Yes, my Lord. As you wish.” Severus felt sick saying it. He wasn’t supposed to have so much access. Potter had thrown himself into Severus’ lap. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.



He was dismissed a short while later, and apparated back to the stoop of Number 12 long past midnight. Upon entering the headquarters, Severus was appalled to almost immediately run into Potter, who was sitting alone at the kitchen table, staring at the grain of the wood. He looked up as he heard Snape’s footsteps.

“Potter,” Severus said, drawing his cloak around himself. “It’s two in the morning.”

“You weren’t in the basement,” Harry said by way of a reply. “Or anywhere else.”

“Do forgive me for not alerting you to my absence, your Majesty,” Snape sneered. “Go back to bed.”

Harry made no move to leave.

“Were you with Voldemort?”

“That is none of your concern.”

“I beg to differ.”

Severus sighed, crossed to the cabinet, and took down a glass.

“Aguamenti,” he said, and set the full glass in front of the boy. “Drink some water, Potter. You look terrible.” He did. His face was pale, with dark shadows under his eyes. The bruise on his cheekbone had faded to a greenish yellow smudge the size of a Knut.

“I’m not thirsty,” he said.

“Do as you’re told.”

Harry looked up at him, and Severus realized he had used a harder tone than was perhaps necessary. But he did take the cup and drink. Severus’ looked away as he swallowed the water. He waited until he heard the glass clink back onto the table to look back up. Just in time to see Potter’s tongue flick out over his bottom lip.

“Now, Potter, go back upstairs. You need to sleep,” he said, focusing on the spot between the boy’s eyebrows so as not to make eye contact.

“I can’t sleep.”

The corner of the boy’s mouth quirked up as he said this, but his eyebrows drew down in the center, crinkling the skin there. “I haven’t slept for weeks. Not since…” he trailed off, and tilted the empty glass, balancing it on the edge of its base. “Why did Voldemort call you?”

“As I said, Potter, that is none of your concern.”

At his words, Harry leapt to his feet, and hurled the empty glass to the floor. It shattered, spraying Severus’ feet with shards of crystal.

“NOT MY CONCERN?” he shouted.

“Potter - Calm yourself - "

“I WILL NOT!”

“You’ll raise the whole house!” Severus hissed. He pointed his wand at the door and warded it with a silencing charm. Remus was upstairs, he was sure. And the brats.

“I DON’T CARE! I DESERVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU’VE BEEN TELLING HIM ABOUT ME - "

He seemed about to have a fit. Severus took hold of his shoulders.

“Potter, please,” he said. “Calm - ”

“NO - DON’T TOUCH ME! YOU FILTHY DEATH- "

“POTTER!” Severus shook the boy once, hard. “Breathe!”

“No, you can’t tell me what to do - you don’t get to decide - you - you - LET GO OF ME!” He began to struggle violently against Severus’ grip on his shoulders, and Severus, afraid he might hurt himself, pulled him closer in, enfolding him tight against his chest with both arms like a straight jacket. Harry continued to thrash, his hysterical babbling muffled into incoherence against Severus’ robes. Severus just held him tighter. Squeezing him, crushing him, willing him to stop struggling. He could tell when Potter realized he couldn’t escape, as he went suddenly limp, and Severus had to take some of his weight to keep him from falling to the floor. His shoulders and back began to shake. He started to weep.

I’ll have to clean my robes, Severus thought, as he continued to hold the boy tightly through his tears. Blast him. After a few long moments, Harry’s sobbing began to weaken, and his arms came up to clutch at Severus’ back. He was beginning to regret his silencing charm. He was not equipped to handle this. He needed reinforcements. He didn’t know what to say to the boy. Potter was absolutely right. Nothing about this was fair. And there was no reason to expect him to be calm for even a single moment. Severus cautiously touched the back of Harry’s head. He stroked his fingertips against Potter’s scalp. How could anyone expect more of him? How could anyone expect him to be functioning at all after all he had been through?

As Harry’s weeping slowly subsided to harsh breaths, his back finally began to relax beneath Severus’ hand. Severus’ chin was just touching the top of Potter’s head, and he could smell his shampoo.

“Potter,” he began. But then, in the quiet of his hesitation, he heard the creak of the landing above. Lupin, thank Merlin, coming to save him.

Harry had heard it too, and lifted his head from Severus’ chest, pulling part way away. They made eye contact for a single moment, before Severus released him and stepped back. Harry, breath still ragged, turned away from him and began wiping his face furiously with the hem of his shirt. Severus pointed his wand at the shards of broken crystal.

“Reparo.”

The glass flew to his hand, whole again.

The door to the kitchen creaked.

“Harry?” It was, indeed, Lupin. “Are you all right? I heard - " he broke off as he saw Snape standing awkwardly, holding the cup. “Severus. Did something happen?”

“Potter had a nightmare,” Snape answered. “I was just getting him a glass of water.” He wondered if his robes were visibly wet.

“Oh, Harry,” Lupin continued, seeming to notice the boy’s bloodshot eyes and flushed face, and taking three longs strides to enfold him in a hug. Harry looked stiff and awkward in the embrace. “Are you all right?”

Oh yes, Severus thought. Baby him. Excellent. Pat pat, Potter. There, there. Little madman is going to get me killed.

“Yeah, I just, I just had a dream,” Harry answered. His eyes, red and puffy, met Snape’s over Lupin’s shoulder. “About… Sirius.”

“I’m so sorry Harry,” Lupin said. “I dream about him too, sometimes.”

“Yeah.”

Severus tore his gaze away with no small effort.

“I’ll be going then,” he said. “I’ve a report to make.”

Lupin looked over at him.

“Wait a moment, will you?” he asked, finally releasing Harry from his embrace. He reached for the glass still in Snape’s hand, and filled it. “Here, Harry, try to sleep a bit, ok?”

Harry took the water and sipped at it half-heartedly.

“Thanks professor Lupin,” he said. “I’ll just, I’ll go back to bed. Thanks.” He looked at Snape. Snape saw it out of the corner of his eye as he stared fixedly at the floor. “G’night.”

Remus ruffled his hair affectionately.

“A few hours at least.”

“Yeah,” he smiled weakly. “I’ll try.”



The creak of the stairs as Harry ascended was clearer when Severus was listening for it, and he could tell when the boy reached the first landing, the second…

“You shouldn’t, Severus.”

Severus’ eyes snapped over to Lupin at the words with a jolt of fear. What could the werewolf possibly mean by that? He curled his lip, just a little, and asked,

“Shouldn’t what?” He crossed his arms. Lupin sighed, and leaned against the counter.

“Needle him. He’s not the same boy he was before, you know. He can’t take as much from you.” As if Severus has done anything more than get the boy a drink of water and be assaulted.

“Oh, yes, fragile Potter,” he sneered. “Pity to think that no one will treat him gently when it counts.”

“You know what I mean. He needs a safe place just like anyone else. Don’t take it away from him for nothing.”

“Hmph,” Severus replied. “He doesn’t need coddling he needs training.” And possibly medical intervention.

“I’m not asking you to coddle him.” The wolf sounded exasperated. “I’m asking you to treat him neutrally. Surely that’s not too much to ask.”

If only he would let me


“Yes of course,” he said. “But make sure to give him the same lecture. He brings it upon himself.” That was as close to a disclosure he was going to give, and Severus turned at once and strode from the kitchen and through the parlor. He hesitated at the foot of the stairs. God forbid Potter was lurking somewhere up there…



***



Lupin only stayed at Number 12 for a few days more after that, and soon departed with the remaining members of the Order. It was nearly midnight this time, and Severus had sequestered himself away in an isolated anteroom for the night, high above his usual haunt in the basement.

“Pity they keep leaving us alone, eh, Snape?”

The hairs on the back of Severus’ neck stood up, but he refused to turn around.

“Go away, Potter,” he said, careful not to raise his voice. “I’m not in the mood to play.”

He could hear Potter’s footsteps – quiet and shoeless though they were – but to his dismay they were not the footsteps of withdrawal. He could feel Potter’s presence at his elbow.

“What are you working on?” Severus could see the shock of unruly hair and the glint of candlelight off of eyeglasses out of the corner of his eye.

“Deaf, Potter? I said, ‘Go away.’” There was a pause, then, quietly,

“You know I won’t.” He did know it. “What are you working on?”

Severus refused to acknowledge that his heart was beating faster than usual – refused to admit that he was afraid of what Potter had thought up to torment him.

“Something eventually to be used to prolong your infuriating life, no doubt,” he muttered.

“What was that?” Potter asked, pretending not to have heard.

“Go ask Albus. I’m sure he’d be willing to indulge your incessant nattering. I however, am not.” He pushed a stray hair out of his eyes, and saw, in his peripheral vision, how Potter’s eyes flicked towards his hand when it moved. Not afraid. Enjoying his discomfort. Severus shook himself inwardly. That was not helping. There was a silence, then, only punctuated by Severus’ measured breaths, before Potter spoke again.

“Severus Snape…” he said slowly, as if considering the name. “Has anyone ever told you that you sound like a bastard?”

Severus smacked his stirring rod down onto the table.

“What, Potter? What do you want ?” he hissed through teeth he hadn’t even realized he’d clenched. What was happening to the little brat? Was he suicidal?

“Why won’t you look at me?” The question caught Severus off-guard as he realized that he was still staring into the cauldron before him, though he no longer saw the potion inside.

“Because I feel that to acknowledge your insane behavior would be to encourage it.”

“You’re already acknowledging it.”

Well, he supposed that was true. So, he looked over to Potter where he hovered next to him, and asked again.

“What do you want from me?” Potter, for a moment, seemed not to know. But then, in a whisper that spoke more of pain than shouting ever could, had an answer after all.

“Make me forget.”

The words fell like a pebble into still water, leaving ripples that suddenly changed how everything looked. Severus painfully recalled the way Potter had broken open while held tight against him, held fast, unable to flee. How his misery had come flooding out.

“You’re talking nonsense, Potter.”

The boy didn’t respond, just stood there watching him for a few moments longer, then left. Perhaps wondering what he’d said – what it meant – just as Severus was wondering what any of it meant. Or indeed, if there was any meaning to be found.



***



Later, when Snape tried simply staying in his quarters, which were high above the rest of the bedrooms, almost in the attic, it backfired rather soundly. He’d locked the door – he knew he had – but apparently it does little use to lock doors against the owner of the doors themselves. He was just about ready to turn in, in fact, when he heard the soft, tell-tale snick of the bolt releasing. But he didn’t turn to see who it was. He didn’t need to.

“Hiding, Snape?” Harry asked from the doorway. Severus heard his socked feet move into the room.

“Yes,” he replied frankly, still not turning.

“How characteristic.”

He was expecting it, yet still Severus felt his nostrils flare – and for a moment he wished with all his heart that he could just take points for insolence and be done with it. But he wasn’t at Hogwarts. He was trapped in Potter’s house.

“Oh, yes.” He could tell that Potter was well into the room now. “I am, as you say, a coward.” He refused to rise to the provocation. Not again. He had to try something new… something to make Potter give up this sick fixation.

“Yes, well why else would you be stuck here with me? In Siri- in this house.”

Maybe he could scare it out of him. Shock him so badly he never tries again. Make him realize this isn’t what he wants.

“This may be Black’s house,” Severus began, and finally turned to face the boy. He was dressed in his pajamas, tousle-headed as if he’d lain in bed for a while, trying to sleep, before giving up and coming for him. Severus walked over to him with measured, slow strides. “But Potter,” he was looking down at him now, looming, “you’re in my bedroom.” Potter’s eyes flickered uncertainly: away and then back to his face. And then, he made a small, quiet sound in the back of his throat – an incongruous half-formed noise that Severus found echoing in his head even as he refused to acknowledge it.

“You’re – you’re doing it again,” Potter said, and Snape sensed him shifting his weight, as if unsure whether to move forward or back.

“Doing what?”

“Looking at me like I’m – like you want to…” He hesitated, floundering for the right words, and trailed off as Severus put a hand against his collarbone, just at the base of his throat, and started pushing him backwards. And Harry didn’t resist, didn’t try to dislodge him or stand against him, even as he landed Potter’s back up against the door he’d deigned enter through.

“Like I want to hurt you?” Severus’ thumb was resting against the artery in Potter’s throat, and he could feel the heartbeat in it. “Changed your mind, hmm?” He pressed a little against the pulse, feeling it beat a nervous staccato through Potter’s flesh. Potter swallowed, and moistened his lips with a flick of his tongue.

“I haven’t,” he said.

“Then why, boy,” Severus stroked the speeding heartbeat, “are you so afraid?”

“I’m not afraid of you.” It was a defiant reply, but the voice behind it was soft and sounded almost – breathless. There should have been bravado and insolence there – anger and hatred in those eyes as there had been every time before – but either Potter had tried to summon them and failed, or else hadn’t tried at all. Severus furrowed his brow.

“You should be. You should know what I am capable of doing to you.” He shifted his hand, finding no more resistance now than before, and squeezed just a little: just enough to emphasize how easily – effortlessly even – he could cut off Potter’s breath, right there, against the door, just like that. “You keep provoking me,” he continued, easing the pressure and curling his fingers into the shirt the Gryffindor wore. It was flimsy and worn - hardly a barrier at all to the chill of number 12, which surely explained the goosebumps Severus could see prickling the hairs on Potter’s arms. “You keep pushing me,” Potter’s breath was shallow. “Surely you can’t think there will be no consequences.”

Potter seemed to press back into the wall, turning his head to snatch a breath that sounded like a gasp as if he couldn’t use the air between them. Severus shook him for emphasis, jerking his head back from where it was turned away.

“Surely you can’t think I will allow this insanity to continue.”

There was a flush in his cheeks now, and Severus thought for a moment that he was getting through. But then, Harry lifted his chin in defiance:

“Then make me stop.”

Severus blinked, then growled in frustration, and released his hold on Potter’s collar to slap his hand against the wood beside Harry’s head.

“How?!” he barked, meaning it rhetorically, an expression of frustration. But Potter answered him anyway, pushing off from the wall just enough to… to…

Kiss him.

And, for a moment, Severus didn’t think – couldn’t think – as every fiber in his mind focused to the mouth pressing desperately against his. And, God help him, but he kissed back. More than that – his hand went reflexively to the back of Harry’s head, into his hair, and Potter arched up against him with another of those tiny sounds. But now, Severus could recognize it for what it was: a whimper – and Severus’ attention tunneled to the sound.

Potter’s hands were on his chest, but not pushing him away, oh no, clutching him closer, pulling on him like he wanted to crawl inside. And it was there that the moment broke – that the mouth and body became Harry Potter and the heady rush of arousal became a spike of panic, like a lightning bolt into his mind.

“Potter! Stop!” Severus gasped, using his hold on Potter’s hair to pull free – to look down, shocked, at Harry’s closed eyes, his lips, and his throat, bared and arched back by Severus’ grip.

Harry gasped in pain at the fingers twisted into his hair, and Severus saw him bite his lower lip, scraping his teeth over it as if trying to – to – taste him.

“What in Merlin’s name, Potter? ” he demanded, though his voice surely fell short of authoritative in that moment, with Potter’s hands still clutching his robes and holding him too, too close.

“Please- ” It was more a moan than a word. “Please- ”

And Severus felt his hold on reality tilt crazily – felt that he would never be able to clean this moment from his mind. Not ever. Not when Potter was begging him –

“Mother of God - ” he gasped, wrenching free of Harry’s fingers and stumbling back a few steps before catching himself as Harry sagged against the door.

Severus couldn’t decide whether to shout or curse or run, and so he simply stood there, hand shaking as it clutched his wand. Potter righted himself against the door, and a strange expression passed briefly across his eyes. He slid two fingertips into his mouth, and even Severus could see that they came away red. Harry looked down at them.

“Professor,” he said, eyes flicking back up, “you made me bleed.”

Severus choked – took an involuntary step forward – and pressed the back of his hand to his mouth against a spike of arousal so strong, so violent, that it felt like a dagger in his gut.

“Get out of here right now or I – I swear I will obliviate you.” He’d almost whispered it, but Harry heard, and showed he’d heard with a brief, half-smile that was gone before ever reaching his eyes.

“But not yourself,” he replied, and Severus didn’t like the knowing tone to his voice. Didn’t like the fact that it was true. He wouldn’t have obliviated himself – wouldn’t have given up the memory of what had just happened, no matter how wrong or depraved or disturbing it was. No matter how Harry’s voice cracked as he pleaded… Severus shook his head violently against the thought. “Then obliviate me.” Harry continued. “Just make sure to get everything. Put me in St. Mungo’s in a padded room.”

“Everything,” Severus repeated numbly, and for an instant he could see himself doing it – taking all the burdens from Potter’s shoulders with one sweep of his wand: erasing everything that had ever happened to take a perfectly normal child and turn him into this- give him this life. And he knew with the abruptness of epiphany what Potter was trying to get from him. Rest. Oblivion. Any way he could get it. The boy was suffering, indeed. “Potter,” he didn’t have the slightest idea what to say. “Potter, I- ”

“What, Professor?” He ran his tongue over the split in his lip, and Severus couldn’t quite tell whether it was an absent gesture or a calculated one. It didn’t really matter, he thought, because either way he was still doing it.

“I can’t,” he finished lamely, and realized belatedly that his knuckles were still clutched white around his wand, which was still pointed at Potter’s breast.

“Can’t?” The Gryffindor didn’t seem to care about the wand, however, and simply pushed it aside with one hand as he followed Severus to where he’d stumbled. And now Severus could see the tiny smudge of blood on his bottom lip – the way it was beginning to swell so subtly. “You’re guilty of worse things.” Potter was breathing his air, and Severus found himself shamefully, inexplicably paralyzed by it. “You’ve lied. Tortured. Murdered.” The tips of Potter’s toes touched the tips of his boots, and Severus couldn’t back up any further without climbing over furniture.

It would be easier to obliviate him. Medicate him. It would be better.

“Haven’t you?” He touched Severus' forearm, and Snape knew it was the Mark that caused his hand to linger there before clutching at him. “Haven’t you? ”

“Why me, Potter?” he asked, as Harry’s other hand joined the first, tangling into his robes. “Why choose me for this?”

The look in his eyes answered when his voice did not – it was a look that begged for understanding where it couldn’t be given. It was a look that begged for the simple efficiency of Legillimency. Snape had been inside Potter’s mind many times, of course, during their disastrous Occlumency lessons. But this was different. Severus hesitated. Potter blinked at him once and then closed his eyes – giving his permission.

“Legillimens,” Severus murmured.



You’re the only one who knows what I am.




The thought came at once, as if waiting for an audience, and such a torrent of self-loathing followed that Severus pulled back in shock.

‘And what do you think you are? ’ he wanted to ask.

“Potter, you need help,” he said instead, closing his fingers around Harry’s wrists to dislodge them from his clothes. “And not from me.”

“Who then?”

“Not me.”

Potter let his hands relax as if to emphasize Severus’ grip, and looked up at him, that spot of blood still on his lip, staining it red. He raised his chin, tilted it to the side, and Severus didn’t need any magical help to get the message loud and clear: Kiss me.

Severus forced himself to take a slow, measured breath. It was the masochist in him that wanted Harry to win this. It was madness, weakness – It was foolish beyond reason to touch a student like this. And it was madness, too, for Potter’s mouth to have yielded to him so, so easily – for Potter’s body to fit so perfectly against him.

“You think this will ease your suffering,” Severus said, squeezing Harry’s wrists still clasped in his hands. “But it won’t. It will destroy you.” I will destroy you.

“I want you to,” Harry murmured, and Severus' resistance wasn't enough to keep him from being pulled closer, Potter’s breath feathering across his lips. And in some ways, the fact that his eyes were closed made it worse - made the words whispered against his mouth all the more obscene: “I want you to tear me apart.”

“Merlin, Potter,” Snape breathed, turning his face away at the last moment so that Harry’s lips slid against his jaw. He seized Harry’s shoulders and pushed him to arm’s length. “This isn’t what you need.”

“Then what?” Harry burst out. “Nothing else helps. No one else makes me feel normal –“ He broke off, two red spots appearing on his cheeks. He was getting angry again, that was good. Severus felt as though he could breathe a little easier, now that he couldn’t feel Potter’s body heat radiating through his clothes.

“This makes you feel normal?” he asked.

“It…” Harry licked his lips, looking at the floor. “It makes me feel like I’m not in charge. Like it’s not my responsibility.”

“You aren’t in charge,” Severus replied, dropping his hands from Harry’s shoulders and turning away from him. “There are dozens of people more in charge than you.” Harry exhaled sharply, raking his hand through his hair, causing it to stand up at even crazier angles than usual.

“Doesn’t feel like it,” he said.

“That’s because you are an entitled, self important twit,” Severus said. He didn’t turn to see the anger flash across Harry’s face. “Now please, leave me in peace.” He moved a book from one side of his bureau to the other, doing his best to look supremely uninterested in Potter and his turmoil. As far as that was possible, after his show of … concern.

“You can’t get rid of me that easily,” Harry said, taking a few steps towards Snape where he had retreated. Severus sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I know that, Potter. Just… go now. For tonight.” Please.

“Want me to stew in my own juices for a while, is that it?” Potter asked snidely, suddenly at Severus’ elbow. “Fine, just… ” He ran his hand through his hair again. “Give me something?” Severus looked down at him with one eyebrow raised. He could think of a number of things Potter might want from him.

“I think I’ve given you quite enough,” he said. The corner of Potter’s mouth twitched.

“To sleep, I mean,” he clarified. Severus closed his eyes for a moment, then with a flick of his hand, summoned a bottle from his bedside table.

“To sleep,” he said, and held it out. Harry took it from his hand.

“Thanks.” He turned towards the door, and paused as Snape called after him.

“Oh, and Potter,” he said, back still turned, “I would appreciate your discretion, if you understand me.”

“Yes, Sir.”

When the door latched closed, Severus was humiliated to find that he felt suddenly exhausted, as if all his will had been wrung out of him. He sat heavily on the bed, and put his head in his hands, refusing to acknowledge that he had been so easily and so totally provoked. Refusing to acknowledge that he was painfully, undeniably hard, and it was Potter that had made him that way.

afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:48:17

Chapter 3: Dreamless Sleep

For four days Severus was left blissfully alone. He found, however, that he was not much comforted by this. Potter had gotten under his skin all right, and in the evenings he found himself waiting, with some mortifying mixture of fear and eagerness, for Potter to come to him. He avoided meals as much as possible, not wanting to be seen in the same room as the boy. Who knew what Potter might reveal through body language alone. He didn’t so much as make eye contact with Potter during the day, and at night he didn’t hear his footsteps in the silent house. The sleeping draught he had given the boy was a strong one. But one bottle wouldn’t last forever. In the meantime, Severus occupied himself with brewing extra doses. Extra strong ones, at that. Some of those batches he used himself, to get through the night without dreaming.

On the fifth day, it was near two in the morning when Severus heard a quiet tapping at his door.

“Come,” he said, not moving from where he was reclined on his bed, scrolls piled haphazardly on the bedside table. The door creaked open, and there was Potter, tousle headed and barefoot as usual. His face was drawn, with dark, bruised-looking smudges under his eyes. Severus sat up against the headboard. “How can I help you Potter?” He asked. Harry shifted from foot to foot, and picked at his nightshirt. He held out the empty bottle.

“Can’t sleep,” he said with a small, sheepish grin.

“Ask nicely,” Severus replied. Potter flushed, a rather fetching rose color that crept up from his throat and into his cheeks.

“Can you please drug me some more, Sir?” He said, rolling his eyes to the ceiling. Severus flicked his fingertips and a fresh bottle flew to his hand.

“Dreamless sleep,” he said. “One of the true luxuries of life.” He held it out. Harry stepped cautiously toward the bed, as if he hadn’t barged in only a few days before. “Go on, Potter,” he said, twitching the bottle.

Harry looked around the room and then down at the floor. Severus tipped his head back against the headboard and sighed.

“Is there something else?”

Harry scraped his teeth over his lip. Hugged his elbows.

“Can’t I – would it be alright if I stayed in here for a while?”

“Absolutely not.” Severus looked back down at the scroll in his hands. He relaxed his grip on it a little – he’d been crushing it.

“I won’t do anything obnoxious, promise.”

“What sort of fool do you take me for?”

“Just until I fall asleep?”

“No.”

Potter shrugged his shoulders and turned towards the door, looking dejected. Severus was in turmoil. At the last moment, he wavered. Don’t do it.

“Potter, wait,” he blurted out. Damn. Harry stopped in the doorway, and turned to look at him. “Take the potion. Here where I can see you. When you fall asleep I’ll levitate you into your bed,” he paused. “You look awful.”

Harry smiled at him.

“Alright,” he said. He came over to the bed and took the bottle from Severus’ hand. The bruise on his face was gone. His bottom lip was healed and smooth, perfect, again. Almost as if none of it had happened.

“All of it,” Severus said. Harry looked for a moment as though he might protest, but instead he just uncorked the bottle, and drank, grimacing as he finished it. Severus averted his eyes as he swallowed, pretending to return to his now rather abused parchment. Then, to his abject horror, Harry crawled over him to the other side of the bed.

“S’cuse me,” he said, words already starting to slur at the edges, and plopped down onto his back. “Merlin, Snape, what did you give me?”

“Potter – ” Severus started, but cut himself off as Harry’s eyelids drooped. The whole bottle really was rather too much, he supposed. Harry’s head rolled to rest against his shoulder.

Severus let him sleep there for longer than he had intended. He managed to drop the Gryffindor into his bed around dawn. He thought about getting caught with an unconscious Potter on his hands. It wasn’t too terrible a transgression; even if they found out he had given the boy a sleeping potion. He thought about getting caught with Potter’s hands down his pants. Now that would be one for the record books.



***



He came back the next night. Tap-tap-tapping at Severus’ door long after the house was silent with sleep. This time, Severus put his scroll of parchment down before bidding him enter.

“Potter,” he said, inclining his head. The boy looked a little better for his night’s sleep – a little more alive around the eyes. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yeah. Right up until Ron starting trying to get me up for breakfast. He freaked out when he couldn’t wake me.”

“Oh?” It had been too much.

“Yeah he started screaming ‘Oi! Harry’s in a coma! Come help! Harry’s in a coma!’ I had to drag myself out of bed and pretend to be fine for all of breakfast. Almost did me in.”

“Perhaps not the whole bottle tonight, then,” Snape said, reaching into his bedside table.

“Yeah, or I could be left the fuck alone for two seconds.”

“Language, Potter.”

“You would have let me sleep.” Harry sat down heavily on the edge of Severus’ bed, and Snape fought the urge to scoot away from him. The young man picked at his hands. “I hate the way they look at me,” he said. “All concerned.”

Of course they were concerned. Potter was going off the deep end and it was bloody obvious. Severus’ fingers itched to touch him. He ran them over the coverlet instead.

“Am I not concerned?” he asked, voice pitched low. Potter looked up from his hands.

“Are you? I thought you just wanted me out of your hair.”

“I have evidently failed at that endeavor, wouldn’t you say?” He held out the bottle of dreamless sleep. “Perhaps you should take half this time. It’s still a large dose.”

Harry took the bottle and looked at it critically.

“Can you do me a favor?” he asked. Severus closed his eyes and rested his head back against the headboard.

“I am at your service, Potter.”

Harry hesitated, turning the bottle over and over in his hands.

“Can you- ” he swallowed. “Can you be angry at me again?”

Severus opened his eyes. Looked at the ceiling. He felt warmth pooling low in his belly at the implication. He had done extremely ill-advised things while he had been angry. He would not get angry again.

“I am not angry at you,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Drink it, Potter.”

“What if I called you a coward?” Harry was looking at the floor. “What if I said Sirius was a better man than you’ll ever be?”

Severus took a deep and steadying breath. He could almost hear the unspoken plea – ‘Hurt me. Hurt me. Hurt me.’

“I will not lose my temper again,” he said. A tear fell from Potter’s downturned face and onto the floor. There was a long silence, and then, so quietly as almost to be missed, Potter whispered,

“Please.”

Severus would take the cruciatus over this any day. This… torture. He sat forward and swung his legs over the edge of the bed to sit beside Potter’s slight, slumped frame.

“You need to take your dreamless sleep,” he said, and plucked it from Harry’s loose fingers. He uncorked it and held it out. Potter looked up at him, his eyes shimmering with unshed tears, pupils blown and huge in the low light. They searched his face for a moment. And then Potter closed his eyes, and opened his mouth.

“Potter, don’t,” Severus hissed, “don’t do that.” Harry just tilted his chin up, his eyelashes a dark smudge on his pale skin.

Severus could feel his heartbeat thundering in his ears. What kind of mad behavior – what insanity –

Potter’s tongue darted out to moisten his bottom lip.

Severus just had to get him to sleep – If he would just sleep everything would be all right. He could just forget about all this in the morning. Potter would be embarrassed. They could carry on like before. Severus swallowed hard.

Fine. Let the brat have it his way. Fine.

He brought the rim of the bottle up to Harry’s lips, and, cupping his other hand behind the boy’s neck, supported his head as he tipped it further back. There was a hallucinatory quality to the moment as he dipped the bottle forward, pouring the potion into Potter’s open mouth – feeling him swallow obediently all he was given. And it was with almost physical pain that Severus realized viscerally how beautiful he was. In his grief, his suffering, like a siren leading a ship into the rocks. Severus was not a perfect man. He was weak.

On Potter’s lips he tasted the lavender and chamomile that he’d added to the potion to make it more palatable. The bottle dropped onto the floor, spilling forgotten, as his hand went to the back of Harry’s head. Potter’s mouth; soft, satin, opened easily to him with a low, indistinct moan, and the boy’s hands came up to rest on Severus’s chest. He felt Potter’s fingertips pressing against him, seeking purchase in the fabric of his clothes. Slowly, they began to relax, his arms dropping lifelessly back into his lap. Severus broke the kiss, pressing his forehead against the famous lightning scar.

“Mmmmm…” Harry managed, eyelashes fluttering weakly. “You had to wait until after I took it?” He was fading fast, dropping into the profound torpor that was signature to the draught of dreamless sleep.

“I’m sorry,” Severus said.

But Potter was gone. Limp in his arms.

Severus lay him down gently onto the bedclothes and stood up. Numbly, he walked into his adjoining bathroom, and splashed cold water onto his face. Severus Snape didn’t really believe in Hell. But if the muggles where right and there was such a place, he was surely going there. He might even be there now.



***



Harry woke up easily the next morning. No one shouted at him or about him. Breakfast was an uneventful affair of toast and eggs. Snape was not there, as usual, and Harry had to fight the urge to look up at the ceiling, wondering what the man was up to. Whether he needed any help, and whether or not anyone would notice if he paid the Potions Master a visit during the day.



He decided they would notice.



***



That night, Harry could only make himself wait until 11:30, just after Ron had finally stopped talking to him and dropped off to sleep. He crept as silently as possible on socked feet through the house to Snape’s door – knowing that someone could very easily still be awake. But he was practiced at lurking, having perfected the art during his nighttime wanderings at Hogwarts – though he didn’t bother with his invisibility cloak here.

Hogwarts. The summer almost over. He wondered if Snape would let him come visit in the dungeons once school started. He doubted it. Probably Snape would be fired immediately if anyone knew what he’d done already. Probably Snape would be fired even if he had only been giving Harry sleeping potions without the oversight of a healer. Maybe Harry would be expelled too. That would be a relief. Then he could focus all his energy on not dying instead of classwork and exams. He chuckled to himself. Hermione would be horrified. Sometimes he wanted to shout at her that there was a war on, if she hadn’t noticed. Schoolwork obviously had to come second.



Outside of Snape’s door there was a bottle of Dreamless Sleep with a note.



Take half. – SS


Harry almost snorted, and walked right in.



***



Severus hadn’t really thought it would work, but he hadn’t expected Potter to come to him so early. He mustn’t have even tried to sleep on his own.

“You didn’t lock the door,” Potter said.

“Would it have mattered?” Severus asked in reply, his eyes fixed unseeing on the volume in his hands. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Potter flash him a toothy grin.

“No.” He held up the bottle. “I don’t come just for this you know.”

Severus peered at him over the edge of his book, ignoring the faint thrill of excitement that sizzled down his spine at the words. Severus knew full well why he came. Potter continued, coming further into the room.

“The note is a nice touch though. Did you think I wouldn’t remember?” He put the potion and the note down on the bedside table. Severus exhaled slowly and deliberately through his nose.

“I had hoped,” he said. “Retroactive amnesia is not unheard of at the doses you’ve been taking.” Harry plucked the book out of his hands and dropped it. “What - ” and climbed right into his lap. Severus froze solid. “Potter NO - ”

“Shhhh,” The boy shushed him, bracing his hands on either side of Snape’s head to whisper. “I don’t think everyone is asleep.”

“Then get off me Potter, ” he hissed back, hands coming up to grip Harry’s hips, thinking to dislodge him. “You can’t just–”

“Ward the door,” Potter interrupted.

“What? NO.”

“Ward the door,” he said again, and was suddenly kissing him. Severus’ brain was not working. If it had been, he would have foreseen this and gotten off the bed when Potter walked in. This was his own bloody fault. And now Potter was straddling him, in his bed, in the middle of the night, and god help him but he was filled with such a strong desire to possess that he could hardly breathe. He had to get control of this situation.

He fisted a hand in the front of Harry’s shirt and pushed hard, breaking the kiss with enough force to knock the air from the Gryffindor’s lungs.

“Stop!” he barked. Harry’s hands went to his wrist.

“I would really ward the door if you’re going to shout at me,” he gasped, and squeezed Severus with his legs. Severus clenched his teeth, pressing himself down into the mattress to stave off an unbearable urge to press up. He tightened the other hand on Potter’s hip, digging his fingers in to still him.

“I don’t have a free hand for that,” he hissed. “Listen to me Potter. I don’t know exactly when you stopped being afraid of me but it is foolish beyond measure to push me like this. Get off of me, return to your room, take your potion and sleep.”

Harry made no move to obey.

“If you want me to be afraid you should do something frightening,” he said, shifting his hips forward until he was pressing obscenely against Snape’s abdomen. Severus’ tenuous hold on his personal morality stretched thin, fraying at the edges under this unbearable strain.

Letting go of the front of Potter’s shirt he grabbed his throat and squeezed.

“I told you, Potter,” he whispered. “You haven’t the slightest idea what I am capable of. If you refuse to take your medicine, I will put you out myself you mad beast.” His hand fit perfectly around Harry’s neck, leaving his fingers and thumb to press just so against the branches of his carotid artery. He felt Potter’s throat work against his palm.

Unable to make a single sound, Potter rocked his hips forward again, with more urgency.

Merlin’s beard.

He liked it .

Severus could practically feel the blood leave his brain. He let go, and Harry slumped against him, open mouth gasping, dazed, breath hot against his neck. And Severus could feel very distinctly how hard Potter was, almost twitching with arousal, pressed against his belly.

“Potter,” he managed, desperately fighting to keep himself still, mouth almost in the boy’s hair. “I can’t have you here. You need to leave. Immediately. Take the potion and return to your quarters.” His hand slid around to Harry’s lower back, feeling him quiver, his muscles and nerves coiled tight and ready to burst.

“You – can’t – send me out – like this,” Potter panted slowly, fingers digging hard into Severus’ shoulders. “You can’t. ” Severus reached out blindly towards the bedside table, eyes squeezed shut, fumbling at the bottle.

“You’ll do as you’re told,” he said, managing to pop the cork with his free hand. He pulled Potter’s head back with the other. “Drink it.”

Harry scraped his teeth over his bottom lip.

“Can’t you – can’t we –”

“No.” He gripped Potter’s jaw. “Open.” He felt Potter’s cock jump where it was pressed against him.

“You’re a sadist,” Harry gasped, and opened his mouth.

“Isn’t that why you come to me?” Severus replied, as Potter swallowed the potion that was poured into his mouth. “Isn’t that what you need?”

Potter’s breath seized in his throat and he turned his lips into Snape’s palm. Fear and lust boiled up in Severus’ core at the soft touch, the hairs on his arms standing on end. Oh, the things he could do to this boy.

“You’ll destroy us both,” he said.

“Please,” Harry murmured, the word indistinct as, against his will, his body began to relax. “You can’t just keep… drugging me…”

“You’ll find that I can.” Potter didn’t even hear him.

Severus caught him as he sagged, eased him to the side to rest against the pillows. He couldn’t risk levitating him back into bed now, not before at least midnight. Severus got up, warded the door, and made his way stiffly into the bathroom. He stripped off his clothes, and got in the shower.

Thrusting into his fist, he tried to think of anyone, anything else, but Potter climbing brazenly into his lap, Potter moaning into his mouth, Potter gasping for air. Potter’s body pressing against him. Of Potter’s mouth forming the words, I want you to tear me apart.



After he was done, he dried his hair and dressed himself, and returned Potter’s sleeping body to his assigned bed. He drank the other half of the potion, and laid down, staring at the ceiling until the dreamless sleep dragged his eyelids closed.



***



The next night, Severus hid. Feeling like an idiot, he left a new bottle of dreamless sleep lying on the center of his bed and crept up into the attic. It had never been fully cleared of detritus and no one went there. He scourgified a corner of the dirty floor and sat down against the wall. Eventually, Potter would give up and he could go back down to his bedroom.Of course, simply avoiding the situation was no solution, but Severus was just too tired to try to think of something better.

He had to talk to Dumbledore, he’d been wrong to keep this a secret. He clearly couldn’t tell the old man everything, but maybe just enough to get Potter some proper help. Treatment, if it was required. Healer-certified sleeping potions. The draughts Severus brewed were far too strong to be regulation. If Poppy were put in charge, Potter might have a better chance at getting out of this undamaged. Because as sure as Severus had ambitions to protect the boy, he would hurt him. That was what always happened. Severus had never learned to be careful, or kind. Had never learned to preserve anything good. And surely it was too late to learn now. Potter would shatter in his hands like a Christmas bauble. He’d break open.

Unbidden, an image flashed into his mind, unforgivably clear: Potter, trembling and twisting under his touch. And Severus, holding him down, denying him, making him plead, and beg. To his shame, the little voice in his head telling him to keep his hands off was getting smaller every day. But it wasn’t quite gone, and in its wake was left an agonizing self hatred. Which, of course, he was quite used to.



***



Despite his intentions to act sentinel, he dozed off in the pre-dawn, awakening some hours later with his face on the floor and his neck stiff and painful.

Far below he could just hear the clattering of dishes as the mob started or finished breakfast. If he left now he might be able to get back into his bedroom without anyone seeing him.

All was well until he rounded the final corner, and walked right into Potter’s back. Of course. Obviously Potter would be loitering outside his door. The boy stumbled forward and caught himself on the wall.

“Potter!” Severus hissed. “What in Merlin’s name are you doing here?”

Harry righted himself, and turned to look him over.

“You’re kind of… dusty,” he said, and brushed at the back of his shirt where Severus had knocked into him. “I thought maybe you had escaped into the outside world.” He took a step forward, reaching out towards Severus’ hair. “You’ve got a – ”

Severus jerked back.

“…Cobweb,” Harry finished. He dropped his hand. “I guess you weren’t outside, then.”

“None of your business, Potter.” Severus felt his hair, pulling free a clump of spider silk and dust. It stuck to his fingers. He flicked it free with some effort. He looked up just in time to see Potter’s mouth curl up in an uncharitable grin.

“Were you hiding from me?” he asked. Severus crossed his arms.

“Certainly not.”

“Yeah, alright. Sure.” Harry took a step towards him. Severus held up a finger in a gesture of warding.

“Ah - Potter, no. Do not come any closer to me.” He paused. “It’s broad daylight for Merlin’s sake.”

Harry tilted his head to the side, and Snape felt abruptly exposed. He’d said that wrong.

“Oh, I see,” Harry answered, before Snape could clarify himself. “Tonight, then.” Harry reached out and plucked another cobweb from the front of Severus’ robes. “See you,” he said, and turned to descend the stairs.

Severus almost called out to him, to tell him that was not what he meant. That Potter couldn’t come to see him every night. Any night. That it was too dangerous for both of them. Maybe even that Severus’ didn’t want him to come. Didn’t want him.

But that would be too obviously a lie.

Potter would probably just laugh and come anyway. Severus had lost control so thoroughly it was almost like he had done it on purpose. His subconscious acting out on his behalf, to punish him for un-pious thoughts. He had to fix this. He had to set limits. Any limits.

afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:50:17

Chapter 4: Sir

"You know eventually someone will notice that you're not in your bed and come looking."

It was quarter to midnight.

"Probably. Especially while I'm still sharing a room with Ron. You should probably come up with something convincing." Potter was tousle-headed and in his sock feet. He looked positively lovely.

Severus just rolled his eyes. Potter came to the side of the bed.

"I won't tell anyone,” he said. “I don't want to get you sacked."

"Sacked? Potter, I would be hanged for what I've done to you." What I want to do to you.

"You could be hanged for all kinds of things."

That, Severus supposed, was true.

Severus stood up abruptly from the edge of the bed, forcing Harry to take a step back. He put a hand on Potter’s chest and gave him a gentle push. He ignored the soft, sharp intake of breath from Potter’s mouth as he touched him. Turning to the bed, he pointed his wand at it, and transfigured it into a pair of armchairs. He sat down in one of them, and gestured to the other.

“We need to talk, Potter,” he said. Harry flushed scarlet.

“I, ah, don’t really want to talk about this,” he said.

“Sit.”

He sat.

Crossing his ankles, he stuffed his hands between his knees and fixed his eyes on the floor, looking supremely awkward.

“All right Potter,” Severus began, looking at the whorl in the hair at the crown of his head. “I understand that you feel you can’t go to anyone else with this.” He paused. “Potter, look at me.”

He didn’t. He kept his eyes on the floor, his shoulders shrugging protectively up and in.

“Potter.” A bit more command in his voice this time. Harry’s eyes flicked up, partially obscured by his eyelashes. He hugged his own arms.

“What?” he asked, his voice little more than a breath. Vulnerable. It was unbearable. Severus sighed. It had to be done.

“You wish to feel taken care of, correct?” he asked. Harry flushed again.

“No, I don’t,” he said. “Taken ‘care’ of. What does that even mean?” His voice was full of scorn. Care.

“Let me rephrase,” Severus paused, and steepled his long fingers together. “You wish to give up control.” He waited for the boy to nod. “To me.” This time he stayed silent until Harry answered him verbally.

“Yes,” he whispered.

“You wish to put yourself in my hands, and at my mercy. Metaphorically, of course.” Harry shifted nervously, and looked back at the floor. His toes curled under inside his socks.

“Yeah,” he said.

“You wish to cede responsibility to me.” Harry interlaced his fingers tightly in his lap, and nodded once. “Do you trust me, Potter?”

Harry looked up again, and then immediately back down.

“I… yes,” he said. Severus gave a small tsk.

“Such a liar. If I am to help you, you must never lie to me again. Now, do you trust me?”

He took a deep and steadying breath.

“No, I don’t.”

“Better. We will need to set some ground rules. First, you are to address me at all times as ‘Sir.’ You have gotten into the dreadful habit of calling me much more colorful names. No more.”

“Ok.”

“Try again.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Good. Second, you must learn to obey my commands. You do not have much practice in this area, and I suspect it will be hard for you.” Harry shot him a dirty look.

“What if you tell me to jump off a bridge?” he asked snidely. “Or turn myself in to Lord Voldemort? Or throw a match with Slytherin?” Severus did not rise to the provocation.

“Within reason, of course. In fact, you will need a signal to communicate to me that you are too uncomfortable, or afraid, and that you want me to stop.”

“Other than, ‘stop?’” Harry asked, looking up more fully at him now.

“Oh, yes, I foresee that you will tell me to stop many times without meaning it. You might even beg me.” Severus paused. “Or you might, for example, scream at me to let you go, to get my hands off of you, as you have done before when you did not mean it.” Harry’s eyes were searching his face above two bright pink spots on his cheeks. “Or, you might be unable to speak at all. Are you able to produce any wandless magic at this time, Potter?”

“Can I - what?”

“Wandless magic. I might, in the future, teach you this.” Severus said, and flicked his fingers, producing a small shower of red sparks. “For now, though, you may simply say the words, ‘red sparks,’ and I will stop. Say it, please.”

“Red sparks,” Harry repeated back, his voice breathless.

“Very good. From this point on, you may struggle and protest to your heart’s content, and I will know what you really mean. Only those words will communicate that you really want me to stop.”

The boy’s face had paled considerably around the patches of high color on his cheeks.

“What, exactly, are we discussing, Professor?” he breathed.

“Sir,” Severus corrected.

“Sir,” Harry repeated. He drew his knees up to his chest and hugged them.

“We are discussing your obedience in exchange for my assistance. There is one more condition. You will not, under any circumstances, accost me again.” He thought again of how Potter had felt in his lap. Of the noise he had made when Snape had ordered him to open his mouth. “If you do, I will terminate this… arrangement… at once.”

“I - ” Harry began, and stopped abruptly.

“Potter,” Severus continued. “Your agreement, if you please.”

“I - Yeah, ok. I promise.”

“Potter,” he said again, his voice hard. Harry looked up again, startled.

“What?” he asked.

“How will you address me?”

What color he had lost crept back up into his face. He was so, exquisitely transparent. It was almost like spying on him.

“Oh. Ah - yes, Sir. Sorry.”

“Lo, he can be taught. Very well, then. Come here,” he said, and tapped his foot on the floor. Harry looked confused. Severus gestured to the floor. “To me,” he said. Harry blinked once, and his shoulders relaxed minutely. After a moment’s hesitation, he slid from the chair onto the ground, and scooted closer. He paused again, the flush on his cheeks deepening, and, Severus noticed, the tips of his ears turning red. Severus tapped his foot again, and then crossed his legs, leaving a spot open just in front of his armrest. Harry slid yet closer, turning his back and settling himself into the space Severus had indicated. Uncertain, he didn’t touch the chair or Snape’s legs, but sat frozen a few inches away. His spine was straight, his breath short.

“Like this?” he asked.

Severus hooked a finger in the collar of his shirt and tugged him back the last few inches until his back touched the chair and his shoulder rested against the side of his knee.

“Very good,” Severus answered. At his words, the boy’s back began to relax, and he settled further against him. Snape touched the very tips of Harry’s unruly black hair with his fingers. A moment passed, before Harry spoke.

“So, is that all for tonight?” he asked.

“Yes.” Severus gave in and slid his fingers further into the boy’s hair, stroking them against his scalp. Harry turned slightly into the contact with a small sigh. “I think I have tortured you quite enough for one night."

“Will you teach me the red sparks?”

“Another time.”

There was another long pause, broken only by their breathing. Then:

“You know I’ve never done anything like this before,” Harry said.

“I had assumed.”

“I used to think I liked Cho Chang.”

Silence.

“I don’t think I like anyone much, now.”

“Quiet, Potter.”



After a while, Severus could tell that the boy had dozed off leaning against him. He wondered how long that would be comfortable. A bit longer perhaps, until his legs went to sleep. He wondered how well he would be able to moderate this little arrangement. It was so incredibly stupid. So deeply, unforgivably, stupid. He should have gone straight to the headmaster as soon as Potter had first come to scream at him in the basement. He should have gone as soon as he had first put his hands on the boy. He should have gone after the first sleeping potion. But now, it was too late. He’d dug his own grave with small concessions, and now he was doomed to forever know the taste of Potter’s mouth, and the depth of his need.

Severus shifted his legs slightly in the hope that Potter would wake on his own. No good. He moved a little more. Too much, that time. Harry jerked suddenly and sat up straight. He leapt to his feet almost at once. Spinning around, it wasn’t until he caught sight of Snape still sitting in the armchair that he seemed to realize where he was.

“Oh, Merlin, sorry. I - sorry,” he said, bringing one hand to his chest, clutching at his heart. “Did I fall asleep?”

“Barely,” Severus replied. “I think its time you returned to your bed.” Harry’s breathing was short and quick. Severus could tell that he was consciously trying to calm it, and failing. He stood up and took hold of the boy’s upper arms. “Potter.” Nothing. “Potter!” That did the trick. The green eyes flicked up to meet his. He squeezed Harry’s arms to make them stay. “You’re quite safe.”

Harry’s eyebrows furrowed, his breath still fast and shallow through his nose.

“You are,” Severus continued. “You are with me.”

“What does - that - mean?”

“As per our agreement, I take full responsibility for you. If something happens to you, or if you kill yourself through some gross negligence, it will be my burden to bear. My responsibility.” He could feel the tension in Potter’s shoulders ease slightly.

“What about you?”

“Me?”

“Yeah, what do you get out of this?”

“A lifetime in purgatory at best. Shall I walk you back to your room?”

Harry hesitated. Severus could tell he was going to ask to stay. He had a retort ready. But then, all Harry asked was: “Can I have a potion? I don’t want to - ” he broke off.

“I am quite confident that I will be able to get you to sleep without it eventually, but for tonight, yes.” Severus flicked his fingers and a bottle flew to his hand. He held it out, but as Harry approached to take it, he withdrew it slightly. “Now, Potter, listen carefully. You will take this potion back to your bed. You will take half of it or less, and tomorrow you will eat three meals, and after dinner you will take a bath.”

Harry raised his eyebrows.

“A bath? Why?”

“Because I have told you.”

“Is this a test or something?”

Severus raised his eyebrows back.

“All right,” Harry said. He reached again for the bottle, and Severus let him take it, but seized his wrist before he could pull back.

“And how will you address me?” He squeezed hard, feeling the bones shift slightly under his hand. The sound Potter made was more than a breath but less than a gasp: more of a soft “oh.” Severus thought that he might like to hear it a thousand more times.

“Sir,” Harry whispered.

“Very good, Potter,” Snape replied, and released him. “You may go.” The boy didn’t move, but just looked at him for a long moment.

“When can I come back?” he asked.

“We shall see how you do. Go.”



***



The next morning, Harry awoke easily with Ron and the general sounds of the house, and at breakfast he actually felt hungry. It was quite a relief not having to force food down, but instead to simply eat. Snape had told him to eat three meals, and at least at this first one, it didn’t seem impossible. He imagined the Potions Master looking at him from across the table and saying, ‘good.’



After breakfast there was a small bother about an overlooked nest of doxies found in a moldering linen closet. After that, there was lunch. Harry hoped a single ham and cheese sandwich would count as a meal. After lunch, there was discussion with Ron about the coming school year, about how Hermione was faring with her parents, about which NEWT level classes they would be taking. There were a few games of wizarding chess in the library, which Harry lost, and then dinner. He managed a few servings of steak and kidney pie, which he was quite sure counted as a meal. After dinner, he announced to the room at large that he fancied a bath. He had no idea if there was a tub anywhere in the house, but he figured that there must be, or else Snape would not have told him to take one. The other order members in attendance (not including Snape, as usual) seemed relieved that he was taking an interest in anything at all, which he found strange. Only Ron raised an eyebrow at him, as if to say, “a bath?”

Remus informed him that there was a single bathtub to be found, and in the master suite. He said that it had been cleared of obvious filth, curses and/or creatures, but not to let his guard down.



Upstairs in the master bath, which was a full three stories above the room Harry was sharing with Ron, despite the fact that from the outside Number 12 appeared to be 3 stories tall in total, he found a massive claw-footed copper basin. It sat in the middle of the luxuriously appointed his-and-hers lavatory, in between an ostentatious vanity and a series of sinks. The tub itself had no less than seven taps, each headed by a rearing serpent. Harry scoffed.

“Deatheaters,” he muttered.

He turned on a few taps, one of which issued forth a stream of what looked like black mud, before finding the one that at least appeared to be plain hot water. As he undressed, a small corked jar caught his eye beside one of the sinks. It had a note tied to it with a string. All the note said was “P.”

Harry, a small blossom of warmth appearing in his chest at the realization that he was where he was meant to be, uncorked the jar and gave it a tentative sniff. It smelled, in a small way, like the sleeping potions he had been taking. Lavender, and a complex tapestry of other herbs. He dumped it into the filling bath, and immediately the surface of the water began to foam. Bubble bath.

“Huh.”

He slipped into the hot, fragrant water with a sigh. The froth was dense and thick, enveloping him in perfumed bubbles. Harry wasn’t normally much for that sort of thing, but he couldn’t deny that it was lovely. He hadn’t had a bath since his fourth year, when he’d taken the golden egg into the water with him, and had discovered that Moaning Myrtle had a voyeuristic streak. The thought of her spying on him made him suddenly suspicious. He sat up and looked around, but the room was quite empty, and there weren’t any ghosts in the pipes of Number 12 as far as he was aware.

Sinking back under the water, he imagined Snape was beside the tub, watching to see if he obeyed. The idea made him feel hot and cold in turn, despite the luxuriously softened water surrounding him. He imagined Snape standing over him, looking at him in his inscrutable way, and passing judgment on him. Had he obeyed well enough? Would he be praised for his efforts, or punished for falling short? He wasn’t sure which outcome he was hoping for. He imagined Snape wrapping him in a towel, smoothing his hair back from his forehead, and saying the words, “very good.” He imagined Snape jerking him out of the water by one arm, throwing him to the floor, standing over him with blazing eyes and accusing him of failing, of being pathetic, childish, worthless, stupid.

He was starting to get hard.

Snape would be in his slacks and tunic, his boots squeaking in the water that Harry surely must have spilled on the floor.

His hair falling over his face, his fists clenched tight, his eyebrows knitted together over his black, unyielding eyes.

Fuck.

He was definitely hard.

He remembered the way Snape had looked down at him after pinning him to the wall. How he had looked while Harry had been in his lap. The way his fingers had felt pressing into his neck.

Harry wrapped his hand around himself under the water.

Snape had kissed him, of his own volition, once. After Harry had swallowed the Dreamless Sleep. Possibly Snape thought he didn’t remember it, but he did. Just like he remembered that Snape had gotten hard while Harry had been in his lap, and Harry had felt it. He had felt it.

He tightened his fingers, stroking himself earnestly.

What would Snape do if he could see him now?

There were two likely answers: First, he might turn away at once, and pretend he hadn’t seen. Second, he might haul Harry out of the water and throw him to the floor. He might pin him down, punish him for spilling bathwater. Or, he might drag him to the wall on his knees, and hold him there instead. Undo his belt, grab Harry’s jaw and order him to open his mouth.

He let out a single strained breath, his hand working up and down his cock.

What would it feel like?

Would it hurt?

His hand sped up, imagining Snape’s hands on his head, holding him still, using him.

He came suddenly, his cock jerking under the foam, spilling himself in the water. Wishing Snape was there to see him. To approve, to punish, anything. Just to see him.



The towel he wrapped himself in felt desolate after his time in the bath. He rubbed himself with it briefly before dressing, absolutely exhausted.

When he returned to his shared bedroom, it was empty. Surely Ron was still engaging in conversation in the kitchen below. Possibly about him. He changed into his pajamas and crawled into bed, and fell asleep within minutes.



He awoke suddenly at 3am. He could hear Ron breathing in the next bed. He tried to fall back asleep. He did try.



He got up at 3:26, and crept out of his room, and towards the stairs. It was late enough that Snape must be in his bedroom. The space under the door showed no light. Maybe he was even asleep. That had never happened before. He gave a few gentle taps on the door. Nothing. A few more. No response. After a moment’s hesitation, he pushed it open and crept inside as silently as he could manage. The room was absolutely black. He stayed still and listened. After a moment, he could just hear the Potion’s Master’s slow, even breaths in the darkness.

“Sir,” he whispered. Snape shifted slightly under the blankets. “Sir,” he said again, just a fraction louder.

“Potter.” His voice was roughened with sleep, deep and low. Harry shivered in the chill air. “Did something happen?”

“I did what you said,” he whispered. “I slept for a while but then I woke up.”

“Come here then,” Severus murmured back. Harry heard him shifting again, and stepped closer to the bed in the dark. He put out a hand and felt the edge of the mattress, the space Snape had left for him. He crawled under the blankets, warm where Snape had been laying. “What time is it?” The Potions Master asked, turning on his side to face Harry.

“Half past three,” Harry answered.

“Two hours.” Severus reached out until his fingertips touched Harry’s upper arm, slid them up to his shoulder, and then into his hair. “Sleep.”

“Yes, Sir.” Harry turned his head into Snape’s hand, and closed his eyes. He didn’treally think he would fall asleep, but after a few minutes of listening to Snape’s quiet breathing, he dropped off.



***



“Potter.”



“Potter.”



“Potter, wake up.”



“Mmh?”

“It’s time to go.”

It was dark, and close, and warm. As his awareness materialized, Harry realized his head was under the blankets.

“Hm?”

It took him a moment to recall which bed he was in. Although he had fallen asleep in Snape’s bed several times, he had never woken up there before. He stretched luxuriously under the bedclothes. One of his legs slid against the body beside him, which withdrew at his touch. Harry was struck with the urge to pursue it, to stay in the warmth, curl up, and sleep again. The blankets over his face were pulled down, and he blinked blearily in the lamplight. The sun wasn’t up yet. He touched his face, and turned towards the dark blur to his left.

“My glasses?”

They were pressed into his hand.

Snape resolved in clarity as he put them on his face. The Potions Master was sitting up in bed, the bedclothes pooled around his waist. Harry looked up at him from the pillows.

“Morning,” he said cautiously.

“It’s time to return to life, Potter,” Snape said. “It wouldn’t do to have you discovered here.”

“No, I suppose not.” He propped himself up on his hands. “Thanks.”

“Not at all. Sacrificing my nights to you has become quite routine.”

The lamplight dug hollows of shadow in Snape’s features: at his throat, below his eyes, and in the contours of his forearms where they were laying over the blankets. His long fingers flexed slightly at Harry’s scrutiny.

“Potter,” Severus said again, pulling the boy out of his small reverie. “Now.”

Harry blinked once.

“Yes, Sir,” he said, and turned away, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and sliding his feet to the floor. He stood up and stretched. He looked over his shoulder to see if Snape was watching him. He was. “Am I supposed to try to go back to my room? Or to the kitchen? Or what?” he asked. Snape folded his fingers together.

“I would suggest the kitchen. Make a cup of tea. You got up early because you couldn’t sleep. Which is true.”

“I could have slept another three hours like that.”

“That is beside the point. Go now, Potter.”

“Ok.”

Snape didn’t correct him, and he went.



In the kitchen, Harry did as he was told, and put some water on to boil. It was 5:45.



Severus stayed in bed a while longer, though he didn’t sleep. The bedsheets smelled strongly of the bathing potion he had left for Harry to find. He breathed it in, and slid one hand into the empty place beside him, still warm.




afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:51:50

Chapter 5: A Good Man

Albus came four days later, to take Potter away. He did not share what it was regarding, which infuriated Severus to an inappropriate degree. He felt like Potter had been stolen, which was, of course, absurd. The boy didn’t belong to him, or to anyone else. Ridiculous reason to feel so bloody anxious. Harry Potter wasn’t his, no matter what mad arrangement they’d entered into.

When Albus returned Harry to Number 12, and then called Severus to a meeting, he had feared the worst. Surely, Potter had spilled everything, had told the Headmaster every last sordid detail, and now Severus would be sacked, turned into a snake, and shot into the sun. At least he’d get some sleep.

Safe to say, Severus was relieved and shocked in equal measure to have the coveted Defense Against the Dark Arts position dropped into his lap. Apparently Harry had been used as a pawn to coerce Horace Slughorn to return to the school as Potions Master. Severus was speechless.

‘How dare you take him with you for that purpose? ’ he wanted to ask. And also, ’When can I start?’ And, ’If you knew what I have been doing you would not be saying this.’ And, ‘Haven’t you noticed what has happened to Potter?’ And, ‘Don’t you care?’ And, ‘Who is supposed to be watching him?’

Instead of all of that, he asked, “Have you changed your mind about me, then?” Albus looked at him over his half-moon spectacles.

“No, my dear boy. I am simply in need of you. If you don’t think this is the right avenue, I will of course send word to Horace that he will not be required.”

“You know I want it,” Severus replied shortly. “Why now?”

Albus stayed silent. Severus scoffed.

“Because it’s a cursed position? You should have given it to me years ago, then. Put me out of my misery.”

“I didn’t want to lose you from the school, on the off chance it is, in fact, cursed.” The old man smiled serenely. “As you know, the time for those concerns is drawing to a close.”

“Yes, I am aware.”

“Do you accept, then?”

“Of course I do,” Severus spat. Then, he hesitated. “But there is something you must know.” He paused again. “Something I have done. I wouldn’t feel right if - ” he broke off suddenly, unable to continue. Albus let him suffer for several seconds.

“Is this about Harry?” he finally asked. Severus was not quite startled. It was what he had expected, after all.

“I - yes.”

Albus did not prompt him, but only steepled his fingers and waited. Severus cleared his throat.

“Potter is … unwell,” he began. “He has not been sleeping. He has been… seeking me out.”

“I take it this has been disturbing to you.”

“Frankly, yes, it has been. After our history I - I struggle to understand it.”

“And what do you think?”

Severus looked away from Albus’ piercing blue eyes and down at his hands.

“He finds my… animosity… calming, somehow. I - He’s been coming to find me at night.”

“To provoke you?”

“Initially. Lately I’ve,” he steeled himself. “I’ve been giving him Dreamless Sleep. Much stronger than healer regulation. He’s come to me most nights since the end of July. I allow him to fall asleep in my presence and then levitate him back to his bed while everyone is sleeping.” Snape rubbed his fingers against his eyes. “I shouldn’t have, and I knew it. I did it anyway. Repeatedly.”

“Is that all?”

Severus looked up sharply.

“Is that all? Drugging a student? Allowing him to come to my rooms at night? Tolerating this arrangement for weeks?” Albus just gazed at him steadily. Severus found himself enraged by it. “No!” he burst out. “That is not all!” He clenched his fists. No need to go to the gallows all at once.

“Well?” Albus prompted. Severus snorted in derision.

“What else? I’ve hurt him. He has lashed out physically at me more than once, and I, I hurt him. I was trying to make him stop.”

“I see.” Albus was silent for a long while. “It seems that you have moved past that, is that accurate? You have an understanding, as it were?”

Severus was incredulous.

“Have you lost your mind? I have manhandled, and drugged a student. I have allowed him to sleep in my bed! And you ask me if we have an understanding?!”

“Harry is a special case, as you well know. Is he getting what he needs from you in these visits?”

“Tranquilized through his nightmares? Knocked off his pedestal and onto the bloody floor? Yes, I certainly have been doing those things for him, despite my best intentions. What precisely do you mean by what he needs?”

“Harry is facing harder times yet, as are you, Severus.” Oh, yes, of course. Harry Potter had an expiration date burned onto his forehead. Can’t forget that. The boy likely wouldn’t see twenty. Or seventeen, if the Dark Lord had his way. And, of course, Severus was doomed to put the light out of the old man’s eyes forever. They were all damned anyway. All of them. Terrible of him to forget that nothing mattered anymore.

Albus wasn’t going to put a stop to it. He was going to facilitate it. He thought about telling the Headmaster about Harry kissing him, climbing into his lap, begging him for unspeakable things. Just the memory of it brought heat to his face.

“I think Potter needs more from me than I can give,” Severus said. And then, a thought that had only just now occurred to him. He held it back for a moment, turning it over in his mind. But, as Albus had said, it really was all over for them anyway. “I am concerned for him once school resumes. If he can’t…” he swallowed hard. “If he can’t come to me.”

Albus’ eyes crinkled at the corners.

“Have you come to care for him, after all, Severus?” he asked. Severus said nothing. “After all this time?”

“I have dedicated my life to him, Headmaster. Caring is hardly the right word for what I feel for him. I hate him.” And I hate you too, old man.

“I’m sure something can be arranged to accommodate you both.”



***



The Headmaster departed the next morning. Potter came to him that night. 11:30, as was apparently their tacitly agreed upon earliest possible time. Unforgivably early. Tap tap tap, as usual, on his door. Severus had taken the liberty of lifting a bottle of brandy from the kitchen. He’d had about 4 fingers from it. Not much for a regular drinker, but Severus was not a regular drinker.

“Come,” he said in response to the taps. The door swung open, and Harry FUCKING Potter shuffled in, looking unbearably innocent in his pajamas and socks.

“Hi,” he said. Severus gestured at the door, which closed. He pointed his wand at it and sealed and warded it. Harry turned to look at it. “Oh,” he said. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” Severus answered, and pointed at him with the bottle in his left fist. “I’ve spoken to the Headmaster about our situation.” Harry blanched.

“You didn’t,” he said.

“I did. I definitely told him more than half.”

Harry stepped further into the room, sat heavily on the edge of the bed beside him, and looked at the bottle in his hand.

“Are you drinking?” He took it from him and studied the label.

“Yes, I certainly am,” Severus replied, trying to take it back. Harry took a swig, and coughed.

“Merlin, Snape, what is this? Lighter fluid?”

“Its brandy,” he corrected, grabbing the bottle again. “And I believe I have a title now as your warden.”

“Yes, Sir,” Harry laughed. “That is really bad.”

“No, Potter, you are just under-aged.” He stopped suddenly. Harry tried to take the bottle back but he withdrew it.

“So, what, are you going to be beheaded for laying hands on me?” Harry asked, still reaching for the brandy.

“No,” Severus answered. “I’m being promoted.”

“You - what? What did you tell him?”

“I told him that you have been bothering me, and I’ve done things to you, and I’ve been giving you sleeping draughts, and I’ve let you sleep in my bed. Under the noses of - Everyone!!” Snape took another long drink. “And I - He - I’m being given the Defense position! PrePOSTerous!” Harry made another grab for the bottle, but Severus held it up. “Ask nicely, Potter,” he said. “He might not care to protect you but I do.”

“Defense? I thought that new teacher I met was taking that job - Slughorn or whatever.”

“Ha, no, he is a Potions Master, like me. Potions Professor. He was my predecessor as head of Slytherin house.” Severus paused. “He’s a pompous prick.” Harry laughed out loud.

“He did seem pompous,” he said, trying again for the bottle. Severus held it still higher. “So, what, you’re being given the position you’ve wanted for ages? You should have slapped me around much sooner.”

Severus grabbed the hand Harry had extended towards the brandy and jerked it down towards the bed, spilling the boy into his lap.

“I have very pointedly not slapped you around, Potter,” he said, and gripped the back of Harry’s neck, holding him down, taking another drink from the bottle with his other hand. “I deserve some credit for not doing much worse to you, even when you begged for it.”

Harry’s body was rigid across Severus’ legs.

“I give you no credit,” he said.

“You should,” Severus answered, and found that he was suddenly angry. He shoved Harry off his lap and onto the floor and stood up, planting one foot on the boy’s chest and laying him out flat with it. “You should care what happens to you, Potter. You’re supposed to care,” he said. “You’re not supposed to be like this. It was never -” he broke off.

Harry was looking up at him from the floor, his eyes brilliant and unforgiving in the shadows.

“Should,” Harry repeated, voice mocking. “Supposed to, ”

Severus moved away from him, and slammed the bottle down on his bedside table. He pressed his palms flat on either side of it and took a deep breath. He’d meant it to steady him but it did no such thing. He could hear Harry making his way back to his feet beside the bed. Severus turned back around, and looked at him. He was fragile, and damaged, and beautiful, as he always had been. Severus hated him for it.

“You,” he growled, and grabbed the front of his T-shirt, digging his fingers into the fabric, wanting to tear it. “I was supposed to save you.” Harry’s hands came up to grasp his wrist, in what was becoming a familiar gesture.

“No one can save me,” he answered.

Severus wanted to hit him, wanted to rip him open. He kissed him instead. No, more than that, Severus assaulted him, one hand fisted in his shirt, the other on the back of his head, dragging him close and pressing their mouths together savagely. He wanted to erase the boy, wanted to consume him, wanted to save him, to protect him.

It was impossible.

He turned them sharply, and crushed Potter to the bed. He could hear the air that was knocked out of him, and the shallow gasp that followed.

“I hate you,” Severus growled, kissing him again, pressing against him, into him.

“Hate me,” Harry gasped back, and grabbed the back of his neck. Severus jerked back, almost relishing the pain of Harry’s fingernails cutting into his skin. He clapped his hand over the boy’s mouth.

“You’re filthy,” he said.

Harry’s legs hooked around him, emphasizing the position Severus, as always, had put them in. Severus snarled in disgust, even as he bore down, pressing them together. Harry was hard, and he was hard, and he ground against him, feeling as Harry’s hips rose up to meet him, his heels moving up to press into Severus’ lower back, demanding more contact. He sunk his fingertips hard into Harry’s jaw, his palm sealed over the boy’s mouth, the hot breath huffing out over the back of his hand. Harry’s eyes were closed tight, his color high, his hips pressing urgently up with each thrust of Severus’ down. Despite the hand over his mouth, Snape could hear every breath and moan, each small sound driven into his brain like a nail. His lungs seized suddenly in his chest. He wasn’t supposed to be doing this. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t. He jerked his hand away.

“Tell me to stop,” he demanded. “Red sparks, Potter. Tell me.”

“No,” Harry gasped back, his hips bucking off the bed, grinding against him. “I won’t, ah- fuck - ” Severus replaced his hand as if smothering a fire, this time covering Harry’s mouth and pressing over his nose, cutting off his air entirely. Harry made a noise, but not of protest.

“Look at me,” Snape demanded, and Harry obeyed, opening his eyes and gazing up at him, fearless. His pupils were huge and black, framed by the tiniest sliver of emerald green, like bottomless pits. Severus stared into them, wanting to fall into the darkness he saw there. A tiny, fractured squeak issued from the back of Harry’s throat, and his hips began to jerk feverishly. He was right on the brink, chasing his pleasure under the weight of Severus’ body. It was excruciating to see. Severus thought his vision must be graying at the edges, yet he didn’t fight. No, he wanted more, always more. Five, maybe ten more seconds of desperate movement, and he was coming, his legs squeezing tight around Severus’ waist and his fingers digging hard into his shoulders. Snape tore his hand away from Potter’s mouth barely in time to hear the most exquisitely depraved noise tear itself from the boy’s throat, a gasp for air, a moan, and a sob all at once, his head and chest curling up off the bed. At the sound, Snape was unable to hold himself back. He turned his face into the wild black hair and cried out, spilling himself in his shorts like a virgin.

His arms unlocked as the spasms subsided, and he collapsed forward against Harry’s chest, feeling the aftershocks in the boy’s body shudder through him like small earthquakes. Harry was panting hard, each shallow breath coming out with a small and piteous whine, his chest struggling to rise under Severus’ weight. Laboriously propping himself up, Severus looked down at him. His eyes were closed again, his dark lashes wet against pink cheeks, his mouth open, lips swollen and red. Severus felt his brain cataloguing every detail, as if the look on Potter’s face now were a priceless treasure discovered at great personal cost. Look what you’ve done, you horrific monster. Look what you’ve done.

Gently, Snape unhooked the boys legs from around him and eased them to the floor. He stood up unsteadily, summoned his wand, and cleaned them both. Then he walked to the bathroom and locked himself inside. He took off his clothes and turned on the shower, standing directly under the cold spray. He let it pour and pour over him as it slowly began to gather heat, steam gradually clouding the air. He stayed there a long time, doing nothing at all, as the water surrounded him.



Severus had once asked Albus about his soul. If Albus cared what would happen to it when Snape eventually had to kill him. The Headmaster had, in his own way, given some comfort; giving Snape a way to see it as something other than murder. It would be a mercy, Albus had said, to help an old man avoid pain and to save Draco the tragedy of doing the deed himself. Surely, such an act of kindness would not harm Severus’ soul. Might even, in some small way, add to the scales in his favor.



Now, he had to wonder, what soul?



Was he, after all these years of striving, a good man?

Whatever redemption may have been possible for him, he had laid at the feet of the devil in exchange for Harry Potter. To look at him. To touch him. To have him in his bed.

How was he different, in the end, than any of the other dozens of people that wanted to use the boy for their own purposes? How was he any better than the Dark Lord himself? Was wanting to possess him any better than wanting him dead?

How was he any different?



***



Severus expected to have to discuss what had happened. Had, in fact, somewhat expected Harry to demand to be let into the bathroom. To pound on the door. But when Severus returned to the room, he found instead that Harry had fallen sound asleep, with his feet still hanging off the edge of the bed. The mere thought of sleeping like that made Severus’ back ache in sympathy. He lifted the boy’s legs and eased them up onto the mattress, maneuvering him so that he lay in a more normal way, with his head, if not on the pillows, then at least near them. Potter stirred a bit but didn’t wake, only murmuring something unintelligible as he turned his face into the sheets. His glasses were on the floor. Snape picked them up and folded them carefully, setting them on the nightstand on Potter’s side.

Potter’s side. Of his bed. Hm.

Severus stood for a while and just looked at him. He should wake him up. Make him go back to his rooms. He should do it now, if he was going to at all. Quickly, like ripping off a bandage. He was frozen in indecision. He should send him away. But, then, he thought about Harry waking up alone after what they had done. Wouldn’t that be worse?

He thought about someone discovering them in bed together. A member of the Order.

What did it matter? Albus knew he was here. What did it matter?

He was feeling reckless.

He put out the light.

Laying down next to Potter’s quiescent body, he pulled the blankets over them both, and after a moment Harry turned towards him. Severus didn’t move away, not even when the boy’s hand found him in the darkness, and slid across his chest. Harry’s face turned into his shoulder and he sighed. Severus covered the hand with his own.

His breath was easy now in sleep. Severus wondered how long it would last.

His sleep.

His breath.

His life.



***



When Harry awoke the next morning, there was sunlight streaming into the room and across his face. He shifted slightly, moving to cover his eyes, and then suddenly registered the surface he was resting his head on. He looked up.

Snape was a dark blur above him, and he heard the familiar sound of a page turning, and a book being closed and put aside. His head was in Snape’s lap.

“Good morning,” Snape said.

“Morning,” Harry replied slowly. “I mean, it’s morning. And I’m still - ”

“Still here?”

“Yeah. Aren’t I going to get in trouble?” He took his glasses when Snape put them in his hand, and sat up reluctantly. He looked around the room. He’d never actually been inside it during the day.

“I assure you, I will be the one getting in trouble,” Severus replied. “Don’t worry yourself.”

“Oh, well, in that case,” Harry started, and scooted back down, burrowing himself into the blankets. He heard a soft snort of amusement.

“Surely you don’t want to sleep more,” Severus said.

Harry found his legs under the blankets and touched one of them tentatively.

“No, I’m not that sleepy.”

“Now, Potter, don’t be starting anything that will get you punished. You’ve only just woken up.” The legs withdrew, as Snape got out of the bed. Harry peeked at him from under the blankets.

“What time is it?” he asked.

“I’ve no idea,” Snape said.

“We could stay in bed.”

Snape looked down at him. He was still feeling reckless, but not quite suicidal.

“Tempting,” he said. “I would, however, prefer to maintain as much plausible deniability as is possible.” He turned, and went into the bathroom.



Harry stretched luxuriously under the blankets. He felt good. He wished he could sleep like that every night. And he hadn’t even taken a potion. He turned his face into the sheets, and inhaled, smelling Snape’s smell and feeling absolutely content. Then suddenly, he froze. Someone was coming up the stairs. He lay still, eyes wide, listening.

Someone banged on the door.

“Severus! Severus! We can’t find Harry! Are you in there?” Lupin shouted. BANG BANG BANG. “Severus, open up! Harry is gone!”

Harry sat bolt upright and clutched the blankets to his chest. Severus stuck his head out of the bathroom door.

“That was fast,” he said. He withdrew for a moment and then came out again. He took his ward off the door but left it locked.

“He’s here, Remus,” he called out.

“What?” Lupin asked through the door.

“Harry’s here,” Snape repeated. “I have him.”

There was a long pause.

“Open the door,” Lupin said.

Severus looked back at Harry, still in the bed, and scanned him. There were no visible signs of what had been done to him. Other than, of course, Harry being there in the first place. There were no marks on him. He was dressed. He was pretty rumpled, but that couldn’t be helped. The bottle of brandy was still on the bedside table. He pointed his wand at it and it vanished. He opened the door wide.

Lupin was standing there, alone. His eyes traveled from Snape’s nightclothes to his face and then past him to Harry, wrapped in blankets, terrified, his glasses askew and hair wild. He looked back at Snape.

“Severus,” he said, voice calm. “I’m going to give you ten seconds to explain this.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be long enough,” Severus replied.

“Hi,” Harry said weakly.

“Why is Harry in your bed, Severus?”

Harry could hear an edge beginning to form in his voice. Harry had seen him angry only once before, when they had discovered Peter Pettigrew, disguised as Ron’s rat. It had been pretty scary.

“He hasn’t been sleeping well,” Severus was saying. “Not at all, in fact. I’ve been giving him Dreamless Sleep to help him. He has lately preferred to stay with me after he falls asleep. I, unfortunately, fell asleep as well this time, and was unable to levitate him back into his bed before morning. Therefore, he is still here.”

Lupin’s eyes got progressively wider throughout this explanation, until Harry was sure they were going to pop right out of his head.

“You’ve - been - what?” he managed through clenched teeth.

“As I said, I have been helping him to sleep,” Severus replied, his voice measured.

“You’ve been drugging him? For how long?”

“Professor Lupin,” Harry interjected, waving a hand. “I’m okay.” Neither man looked at him.

“If you think about it for a moment,” Severus said, “I think you’ll know.”

“Snape,” Lupin growled, and grabbed the front of his shirt with both fists. “What have you done?” Severus raised his hands in a placating gesture. Harry scrambled out of bed.

“Just what I’ve said, ” Snape answered.

Harry stuck an arm between them, pressing his palm against Remus’ chest.

“Hey,” he said. “Calm down, I’m fine, and I’m right here!”

“Stay out of this, Harry,” Remus snarled.

“Stay out of what, my own life?” Harry spat back, inserting his other hand and doing his best to push them apart. “I wish!”

They both looked at him then. Remus let go of Snape’s shirt and stepped back. Snape smoothed his hands over the creases the werewolf had left in his clothes.

“Albus knows,” he said. “I told him everything.” Almost everything.

“You told him?” Remus replied, startled. “And what, he’s allowing it? He can’t be.”

“He is. I meant him to fire me, but he declined.”

“He can’t’ve done.”

“Speak to him yourself,” Snape turned to Harry. “Potter, I think it best if you go downstairs and get some breakfast.”

Harry just looked back at him, plaintive, his dread painfully clear. Snape’s eyes moved slowly over his face as they absorbed his expression. He looked back at Remus.

“On second thought, I think it might be kinder if we went downstairs instead,” he said. Remus looked back at him steadily.

“Fine,” he said. “Harry, you stay here.”

Harry looked at Snape, who nodded once at him. Remus scowled.

“Okay if I take a shower?” Harry asked.

“Take your time,” Severus replied, and turned, leading the way down the stairs. Remus looked at Harry for another long moment.

“I’m fine,” Harry said again, and closed the door in his face.



***



In the shower, Harry couldn’t hear the shouting downstairs. He washed his hair, and covered himself with soap. He tried not to imagine what was going on in the kitchen, or who was there. He tried not to imagine Ron’s face, or the letter he would surely write to Hermione. He tried not to imagine all the questions. All the eyes on him. As he let the hot water rinse the suds off of his body, he found the sound of the spray suddenly quite distant, and small lights began to pop in his peripheral vision. Abruptly, he found it impossible to take a full breath, and braced one hand, and then his forehead, on the cool tile wall. It didn’t help. Dizzy, he sank to his knees.



***



“Call the Headmaster if you don’t believe me.”

Remus, Molly, Arthur, and Ronald Weasley, and Mundungus Fletcher were all assembled as his accusers. The Weasley boy seemed the most upset. He was, in fact, quite white. Severus assumed he had been the one to notice Potter’s absence and sound the alarm. Mundungus seemed uninterested. Molly, however, was bright red.

“I shall!” she said. “ARTHUR!”

The Weasley patriarch jumped. “Yes, Molly, of course,” he said, and grabbed the tin of floo powder from the kitchen island. “I’ll go now.” Lupin was leaning against the wall with his arms folded and his hands in fists.

“If you aren’t telling the truth,” he said, his voice low, “I will take care of you myself.”

“Please do,” Severus sneered back. “After all I’ve done for the boy it’s only fair. Send me to Voldemort in bandages, please. In pieces.”

Remus pushed off from the wall and pointed his finger into Severus’ face.

“I’ll put you in the ground,” he growled, “if you’ve laid a single finger on him.”

“Now, now, Remus,” Mundungus cut in, “no need for that kind of talk.”

“I’ve laid my entire hands on him,” Severus retorted. “It was a mercy. No one was there. He was alone.”

“Remus!” Molly cried, and grabbed the werewolf’s arm. “Just wait for Albus!”

Remus’ lip was curled back, exposing a single canine. Severus wished for the full moon. Rip my throat out. Eat my heart.

“Let him go, Molly,” he said. “He has something to say to me. Go on, Lupin. What is it?”

“You sick - ” he snarled, but stopped suddenly, as Arthur returned with Albus Dumbledore in tow. The Headmaster pointed his wand between Severus and Remus and they were both pushed back a full step.

“Good morning,” he said. “Tea, Molly?”

“Oh, yes,” Molly said, startled. “Of course, Headmaster.” She grabbed Ron’s arm and dragged him with her.

There was a heavy silence. Albus sat at the kitchen table, steepled his fingers, and looked right at Severus.

“I take it you have not been discreet,” he said. Severus thought Lupin might explode at the remark.

“I may have mislaid my survival instinct,” Snape replied.

“I see. Perhaps it would be best if you checked on Harry, now. Assuming he is not currently being minded?”

“I’ll go,” Remus said at once. Severus looked over at him.

“Don’t take this badly, Lupin, but he will not want you.”

“Headmaster!”

“Remus, please, stay. Severus, check on him, will you?”

Severus nodded once, intensely grateful for the reprieve, and swept out of the kitchen. Well, perhaps not ‘swept’ as much as ‘left’. He was still in his nightclothes, after all. No trailing robes to put a punctuation mark on his exit.



***



Upon entering his rooms, Severus could hear the water still running in the bathroom. He knocked on the door. “Potter,” he called, “are you alright?”

No answer.

“Potter?” He knocked again. And again, louder. “Potter! Answer me!”

Nothing.

The door was unlocked. He threw it open, and tore back the shower curtain. Harry was crumpled beneath the spray, his head between his knees and his hands clutching his hair. Severus immediately turned off the water, which by this time was barely room-temperature, and jerked a towel from the pegs on the wall. He threw it over the boy and dragged him out of the tub. Harry was shivering and cold to the touch. Severus pulled him into his lap, wrapped his arms around him.

“Potter,” he said into Harry’s ear. “Breathe with me. Breathe. Breathe. Inhale.” He inhaled deliberately, forcing his own breath to slow, to deepen. Calm, he thought to himself. Calm. “Exhale,” he let his breath out. Slow, slow. Calm. Easy.

He did it again, and again. Harry did not respond, but remained mannequin-like in his arms. He might have been dead, if it wasn’t for the shivering. I did this to him. I broke him open and I let them find him like that.

“Potter, come on. I have you. Breathe with me. Inhale,” one, two, three, “exhale,” one, two, three, four, five. “Inhale,” one, two, three, “exhale,” one, two, three, four, five.

Slowly, he felt Harry’s breathing start to match his own. His ribcage expanding and contracting in time, under Severus’ hands.

“That’s good,” he murmured. “Very good. Inhale…. “ he counted. “Exhale ….” He moved one hand up to the back of Harry’s head, his hair soaking wet. “That’s good, Potter. Breathe. Breathe.” He was still trembling, and under his hands, the boy’s breathing stabilized, but then fractured, as he began to cry.

“Shh,” Severus said, stroking his wet hair. “Nothing’s happened. You’re all right.”

His hands came up to clutch at Snape’s back, and he buried his face further into his chest. He felt so fragile, like a glass figurine, his shoulder blades sharp, and the knobs of his spine very apparent. Had he always been so thin? Was he eating? Who was supposed to be taking care of him?

Just at that moment, Severus heard footsteps in his bedroom, and Molly Weasley appeared in the bathroom door. She froze at the sight of them.

Snape gestured desperately at her to leave.

“They’re - going - to - take - me - away,” Harry gasped, his voice broken by sobs and muffled against Severus’ shirt.

“No,” he murmured back, making hard eye contact with Molly. “No one will take you. You’re safe, I promised. I have you. Breathe.” He began his counting again, not moving his gaze from Molly’s. “Inhale,” one, two, three, four, “Exhale,” one, two, three, four, five, six. “Inhale,” one, two, three, four, “Exhale,” one, two, three, four, five, six. Harry struggled to match him, but slowly, again, his breathing began to level.

Molly stared at them, her eyebrows drawn down. Severus jerked his eyes towards the door, and this time, she went.



He stayed on the bathroom floor with Harry for a long time. Finally, when the boy’s body began to relax, he dared to try to move him. “Let me take you back to bed,” he said. Harry shook his head against Severus’ chest. “Potter. I’m going to put you back in bed. You’re cold. Do as I say.”

He didn’t shake his head that time. Severus tightened his arms, and carefully made his way to his feet, taking Harry with him, wrapped in the towel. He maneuvered him out of the bathroom, and towards the bed. He let the wet towel drop to the floor, and pushed him gently down onto the mattress. As he had done the night before, he lifted his legs up onto the bed and covered him with the blankets. He felt his forehead. It was cold and damp. Potter’s hand slid out from under the sheets and touched his.

“Don’t,” he said.

“Potter,” Severus began. “I’ve got to go back downstairs.”

“They won’t let you come back.”

“No. The Headmaster is here. He’ll fix it.”

“They’ll take you.”

“I will find you again if they do,” Severus answered. “Whatever happens.” Harry turned his face into Severus’ palm. “I swear it.”

“M’kay,” Harry replied. His eyelids were drooping. “Sir.”

“Sleep. I’ll see you when you wake.”

He slept.

Severus threw the extra blanket over him, and drew the curtains against the sun. Hopefully he would sleep for a while. A full day would be a mercy.

afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:53:44

Chapter 6: Magic

Severus did not bother to change his clothes, but returned to the kitchen still wet with Harry’s shower water and tears. Let them accuse me now, he thought.

Albus, Arthur, Molly, and Remus were sitting at the table. Waiting for him.

“He’s sleeping,” Severus said.

“Good,” Albus answered. Remus snorted in disgust.

“What?” Severus demanded, rounding on him. “What is it, exactly, that is enraging you? Unless you’re jealous. Perhaps you wanted the unbearable burden of keeping our savior functional, is that it?”

Remus looked sharply at Albus, who held up his hand.

“Remus, please, sit.” He sat. The Headmaster turned to Severus, still standing in the doorway. “Severus.” He sat down, too. “Molly tells me Harry was in some distress when she went to check on you,” he began.

“He was catatonic,” Severus corrected him, a steely edge in his voice.

“Significant distress,” Albus allowed. “Did he say anything?”

“As I’m sure Molly told you already, yes. Once he started responding to me. ‘They are going to take me away.’ That is what he said.”

“You’ve made him dependent on you,” Remus spat.

You’re right.


“I’ve done no such thing. He needed someone,” Severus answered back. “You can’t have it both ways.”

“And just what do you mean by that?”

“You want him to be perfectly innocent, pure, a child, yet you expect complete independence from him? To need no one? To stand firm in all this storm? Alone?”

“He isn’t alone,” Molly interjected.

“He has all of us,” said Arthur. “The whole family.”

“And the Order,” Remus said.

“He feels alone. That is what matters.”

“And just what, exactly, are you doing for him that we can’t?” Remus sounded quite nauseated.

“I?” He paused, thinking. I put him to sleep. “I allow him to be weak.”

Remus scoffed. “He isn’t weak,” he said.

Severus was beginning to get angry. His wet clothes were drying slowly, itching, reminding him of Potter upstairs, asleep, wet, in his bed. Reminding him of Potter shivering and naked. Of him smashing a glass in the kitchen and dissolving into tears. Refusing to protect himself. Seeking out abuse and punishment.

“You, all of you,” Severus began hotly, pointing around at them. “You turn away from his pain. It upsets you. You need him to be perfect. Perfect, precious Potter. You need him too much to tolerate witnessing his grief. And his rage. You. Turn. Away.” He took a deep breath. “You cannot stand with him in the dark. You refuse.” You would run if you could really see him.

“And what, you, Snape, great tragic hero? You can give him what he wants?” Remus shouted back at him, mocking.

“What he needs,” Snape hissed.

“You think you’re the only one that has suffered, is that it? You think only you can understand him?” Remus was leaning far back in his chair now, his body language scornful.

“It’s not that I understand him, you fool. It’s what I’m willing to go through. To hear him scream, and cry, to have him shout at me, insult me, hit me, smash dishes, to have him demand- ” He stopped. “It’s not my fault that he chose me. I tried to tell him no.” I told him no.

“Chose you,” Remus repeated back. “You expect me to believe that he came to you?”

“For weeks. At midnight, two in the morning, three. Always finding me, no matter where I tried to hide, no matter what I tried to do to dissuade him.”

“This is sick,” Remus said, turning to Dumbledore. “Headmaster, please. Let me talk to him. Let me change his mind - ”

Severus stood up so suddenly that his chair was knocked over backwards. Remus jumped to his feet as well, pulling out his wand. Molly gasped.

“If you make his life harder I will skin you,” Severus growled, knocking Remus’ wand arm aside. “Look me in the eye and know that I mean it.”

“Severus,” Dumbledore said sternly. “Sit.”

“I would prefer to stand, Headmaster,” he said, not breaking eye contact with the werewolf.

“Sit. Down,” he repeated. Severus looked over at him, and sat. “Remus, if you please.” Remus dropped his arm and, finally, did as he was bid. “Gentlemen,” Albus began. “I understand that you both have Harry’s best interest at heart. But please,” he held his blackened hand up as they both opened their mouths to speak, “you cannot expect bickering over him to improve anything.”

“I am not - bickering - ” Remus started.

“I am trying to protect - ” Severus said.

“Quiet.”

And quiet, they were. Severus and Remus each sat back mutinously in their chairs. Arthur and Molly were holding hands.

“We all care for Harry,” he continued. “We all want to protect him. He has suffered a great blow, a great many blows, and each of us thinks that we know best. But only Harry can tell us what he will accept as help.” He paused. “We must let him choose.”

“So, what,” Remus scoffed. “Shall we call him down?”

Severus slammed his fist onto the table. “Is he on trial now?”

“No,” Remus answered coldly. “You are.”

“Take me to the gallows, then,” Severus said. “I have killed for him and I will again.”

“You’re outrageous,” Remus said.

“You didn’t see him, Remus,” Molly said suddenly. “You didn’t see him. He was…” she trailed off.

“Broken,” Severus finished for her. He met her gaze.

“Severus promised,” Molly said, turning her eyes to Lupin. “To protect him. Not to let anyone take him. He was hysterical.” Her voice wavered. “I’ve never seen him like that. Severus calmed him down.” She looked at her husband. “Don’t you think he has lost enough?” Arthur put his arm around her shoulders. Remus looked from Albus, to the Weasleys, and back to Severus.

“I want to make it clear that I do not approve of this,” he said.

“Noted,” Severus replied.

“Severus,” Albus admonished him. Snape stood up.

“If I’m not being executed,” he began, “might I be excused? I’d like to keep an eye on Potter while he’s unconscious in my bloody bed.”

Remus stood up as well, and then Arthur did too, taking his arm as if to hold him back.

“What is going to happen to him when this summer idyll ends? If he is so in need of you, what will happen when he goes back to school? You make it sound as if he will not be able to function without you. Do we leave him to collapse? Do we send him to St. Mungo’s?”

Severus looked at Dumbledore and raised his eyebrows. Albus gave him a tiny nod. “Perhaps the Headmaster will fill you in, now that you have inserted yourself,” he said, and turned to Mrs. Weasley. “Is there some food I can take upstairs? For when he wakes.”

Molly stood up at once and began rummaging in the cabinets. Remus was staring fixedly at Dumbledore.

“Perhaps we might retire to the library,” Albus said to him, standing up from the table. Severus turned his back as they left the kitchen. As he and Molly stocked a tray with sandwiches, biscuits, and tea, he heard a smashing sound from elsewhere in the house, and Remus’ raised voice. Molly jumped, and busied herself more fully.



***



When Severus returned to his rooms, food tray in hand, Harry was still asleep. He had scooted to the other side of the bed, retreating from the damp spot he’d been left in, and curled up into a tight ball. Severus conjured a stand for the tray, and set it down. He accio’d the single chair and placed it by the bedside. Then he retreated to the bathroom to change into clean clothes. When he came back out, the boy was awake. A single green eye was looking out from the blankets.

“Good morning, again,” Severus said, and sat in the chair.

“I’m naked,” Harry said.

“Yes, you are. Do you remember what happened?”

“Professor Lupin found me in here,” he said, not withdrawing his head from his cocoon.

“Yes.”

“He shouted at you.”

“Yes.”

“And I … took a shower.”

“You did.”

“And… I dunno, I felt sick. I don’t remember anything else.”

“You had a panic attack. I pulled you out of the shower. The water was cold.”

“Not how I imagined you seeing me naked.”

Severus pursed his lips. “I didn’t really look.” He gestured at the tray. “Mrs. Weasley has kindly sent up some food for you.” Harry seemed to withdraw further into the bedclothes.

“Was Ron there?” he asked.

“He was, at first. They took him away when the Headmaster arrived.”

Harry pulled his fortress of blankets closed.

“Oh, god,” he moaned, his voice muffled. “Why did you do this?”

“Pardon, Potter? If you’d like to accuse me of something kindly take your head out of there.” Harry’s body moved around angrily for a moment, like a grub trying to break out of its chrysalis, and he made a sort of frustrated groaning noise. Finally, he stuck out his head.

“Why did you do this?” he said again.

“Do what? Bring you lunch? You’re not hungry?” Severus winced inwardly. He was being a prick for no reason. Harry sat up, bunching the blankets around him like a cloak.

“Why did you let Lupin find me in here? You did it on purpose. You didn’t even try to stop it. You just let him. You showed me to him.”

Perceptive little bastard.


Severus looked at his hands. “I was … hoping he would hit me,” he said. There was a long pause.

“You feel that guilty?”

More guilty by the moment. Severus didn’t answer him. He just took the cover off of the food, and Harry scooted closer to the edge of the bed, letting the blankets pool around his waist. Severus tried not to look at him.

“I thought he was going to hit you.”

“He almost did.”

“What the hell does he think he’s doing? Protecting my honor?” He snorted. “Since when is he my bodyguard? Coulda used one last year.”

“Downstairs it was much worse. What was the phrase he used? Ah, ‘I’ll put you in the ground,’ I believe it was.”

“Jeez. Maybe you’ll still get your wish. What did you bring me?” He looked down at the food.

Now that his attention was on the tray, Severus couldn’t stop himself from looking, just a little. His bare chest, exposed above the blankets. His white skin, and the sweep of his collarbones. His navel, and the narrow dusting of dark hair below it. He looked back up at Harry’s eyes, and found that they were on him.

“Can I bring you some clothes, Potter?” he asked. Harry looked down at himself.

“Why, am I bothering you?” He gave Snape a winning smile.

“I’m glad you’re feeling so much better,” Severus drawled back at him. “Must be your hysterical collapse in the shower that has rejuvenated you to your usual state of obnoxious arrogance.”

“You flatter me, Professor.” He took one of the sandwiches and looked at it. “Mind crumbs in your bed?”

“Crumbs can’t be any worse than you are.”

Snape poured two cups of tea.



They didn’t speak as they ate. Severus was glad to see that Harry did seem to have an appetite, and had no trouble polishing off his half of the sandwiches. Severus himself was still so full of adrenaline that he was not able to eat much, and left the extra for the boy. As he watched Potter eat, he began to notice details of Potter’s person that he hadn’t ever had occasion to notice before. What at first seemed like an unbroken swath of perfectly even skin was, in fact, not perfect at all.

“May I ask you a question, Potter?” he asked.

“Mmph?” Harry answered around his mouthful of bread.

“Where did you get those scars?”

Harry swallowed. “Which scars? These ones?” He held up the back of his right hand. They were not the ones Severus had meant, and he took Harry’s hand and pulled it closer to see.

“I must not tell lies,” Snape read. “Who in Merlin’s name did this to you?”

“Umbridge,” Harry replied. “That was her detention. Creepy evil quill that writes with your own blood.” He took back his hand and looked at it. “They healed themselves for a long time.”

“And she… had you keep writing it … until …”

“Until it stopped disappearing. Yeah.” He took another bite. Severus stared at him.

“That is not a normal punishment,” he said slowly. “Didn’t you tell anyone?”

“Hermione and Ron.”

“No one else? Why?”

“I dunno, I guess I wanted to beat her myself.”

Severus had thought that Albus’ protection would have been enough. Albus was supposed to be protecting him. And no one had noticed. No one had been watching him. How he had stayed alive this long was a mystery, flailing around with no defender. If Severus had known - what would he have done? At the very least the Headmaster could have put a stop to it, if someone had told him.

“Dolores Umbridge is a loathsome toad,” he spat. Harry looked up at him, startled.

“What? I mean, yeah, she was, but it’s ok. It doesn’t hurt me now.”

Potter’s skewed idea of what was and wasn’t ‘ok’ was alarming. And then another thought, one he was not proud of: Harry Potter could keep a secret, if he wanted to.

“What about that one?” Severus asked, and pointed to his upper arm, where there was a large but faint scar about four inches long, thick at the top and narrowing to a point.

“Basillisk fang,” he said. “Almost died. Fawkes saved me.”

Severus had heard about that, of course. But he hadn’t ever seen the mark.

“And that?” He pointed to a long thin scar on his forearm. It was raised, and still red. Harry held it up.

“Wormtail cut me. Took my blood to resurrect Voldemort.” His eyes crinkled. “Almost died.”

“Of course.” He’d heard about that too. From both sides. The Deatheaters present had been humiliated. He’d heard about Potter refusing to bow. Refusing to beg. Wanting to die on his feet, fighting. He thought about telling the boy all of that. And why shouldn’t he? Now, after what he’d done, he could say anything.

“I heard about that night from my fellow Deatheaters. Pretty embarrassing for them all when you escaped.”

Harry laughed out loud.

“Good!” he said. “It was weird and gross. You weren’t there, though, were you?”

“No. I was at Hogwarts. Awaiting orders.”

“Did you get punished for hanging back?”

“Yes.”

Harry seemed about to ask more, but just then, there was a gentle knock on the door. He yanked the blankets back up to his chin, almost upsetting the tray. “I would like clothes now,” he whispered. Severus accio’d one of his own robes and tossed it to him as he stood up. Harry grabbed it and scrambled into the bathroom.

It was Albus at the door.

“Has Remus calmed down?” Severus asked. Dumbledore looked sad.

“He is quite angry with me,” he said. “Where is Harry?”

“He’s in the bathroom,” Severus answered, standing aside to let Albus pass. “He’s just eaten.” Albus surveyed the remains of the food and tea.

“Very good,” he said. “Perhaps you might let Harry know that it is safe to come out now.”

“I think he can hear you,” Severus answered. The bathroom door opened the tiniest bit, and Harry’s eye appeared in the crack.

“Hi Professor Dumbledore,” he said. “I didn’t have any clean clothes so I had to borrow some.”

“That’s quite all right, Harry,” Dumbledore said, holding up a bundle. “I’ve brought some for you. Come on out.”

He opened the door the rest of the way. Severus’ robes absolutely swamped him. He shuffled over to the Headmaster and took the set of clothes. Severus looked at the floor, fighting back a surge of possessiveness so strong that it was shocking. Harry picked at the neck of the overlarge robes, and retreated back to the bathroom. When he came out, he was dressed in one of his worn t-shirts and a pair of baggy jeans that he belted at the waist. He walked back to the bed, sat on the edge, and looked at his hands.

“I’m really sorry,” was all he said.

Dumbledore sat in Severus’ chair, leaving him to stand awkwardly by the dresser.

“There is no need to be sorry, Harry. You have done nothing wrong. It is we, the adults tasked to protect you, who are at fault.” He looked at Severus over his spectacles. “Might I speak to Harry alone, Severus?”

No.

“Certainly, Headmaster.” He looked at Harry, who was looking back at him with quite the same expression he’d worn when Severus had suggested he go down to the kitchen.

“It’s all right, Potter,” he said. “I’ll just be in the library.”

The boy nodded once and looked back down at his hands. Severus had to force himself to leave, but force himself he did. He closed the door behind him.



***



“I didn’t mean to cause trouble,” Harry said.

“You haven’t done any such thing.”

“I thought they were going to kill each other.”

Albus chuckled gently. “Funny how emotion can so easily reduce us to our neanderthal ancestry. You’d think we weren’t even wizards. Care for a refill?” He gestured at the teapot.

“Yeah, ok.” Albus filled the pot and then his cup. For himself, he conjured a clean mug out of thin air. “Am I in trouble?”

“No.”

“Is Snape?”

“Professor Snape,” Dumbledore corrected him. “And no, I shouldn’t think so. After this blows over everything should return to normal.”

“Ok,” Harry answered, holding his fresh cup of tea with both hands and looking into it.

“Understand that I must ask you some questions, Harry.”

“I understand.”

“Has Professor Snape ever coerced you into doing anything that you did not want to do?”

Harry’s eyebrows drew together. That was an incredibly specific question.

“One time he made me drink water and I didn’t want to,” he said. Dumbledore chuckled.

“Anything else?”

Harry thought about Snape grabbing his jaw and saying ‘open.’ But he had wanted to do that, really.

“Just now he made me get out of the blankets to eat. I wanted to stay in the blankets.”

“And has Professor Snape behaved inappropriately with you? Or asked you to behave inappropriately?” He steepled his fingers together.

“Is giving me sleeping potions inappropriate? If so, yes, he has.”

He thought about Snape’s foot on his chest. About Snape’s hand over his mouth, cutting off his air. ‘Tell me to stop,’ he had said.

“Nothing else?”

He thought about the sound Snape had made. Right at the end.

“No, nothing else,” he answered. Dumbledore looked at him for a long moment.



***



The house was quiet now, outside of his rooms. Severus wondered where everyone had gone. Hopefully they had dispersed. He figured he could distract himself with the extensive collection of dark and rare volumes while Albus and Potter spoke. A part of him wanted to seek Lupin out and continue their argument. To escalate it. To fight. A part of him wanted to lay low and wait for the clear to go back upstairs. A part of him wanted desperately to run away from all of this nonsense - to undo the last few weeks and return to normalcy. Return to how things had been before. In the end, though, the choice was made for him.

When Severus entered the library, he found Lupin sitting on one of the plush armchairs with his head in his hands. He froze, but the werewolf had heard him come in, and looked around.

“Snape,” he said, and stood up.

Severus was torn:

Antagonize him?


Turn right the fuck around and leave?


“I take it our illustrious Headmaster did not succeed in mollifying you,” he said. Antagonize it is, then.

“He might trust you, but I don’t.”

“You trusted me when my wolfsbane was keeping you civil to teach,” Severus said.

“This isn’t about me.”

“Isn’t it?”

“No.”

“Then, what, exactly, is frothing you up so high?”

“You think I’ll allow you unrestricted access to my best friend’s son? In the middle of the night? Knowing what kind of man you are? I don’t think so.”

“And what kind of man is that?”

“A deviant.”

Severus tsked softly. “I would have expected better from you: a werewolf, judging others for their atypical desires? How sad. Tell me, did you speak to Albus of my ‘deviance?’”

“Yes.” He was unapologetic.

“Let me guess,” Severus drawled. “He did not seem to care that I am a homosexual. Perhaps he already seemed to know that! How frustrating for you.” Remus clenched his hands into fists. Go on. Take out your irrelevance on me.

“Albus is supposed to be Harry’s protector,” Remus said, “but if he won’t fill that role, I will.”He stepped into Snape’s space. “You can’t pretend you aren’t interested in him.” His lip curled up again. “Letting him into your rooms at night.”

“Of course I’m interested in him you incredible moron,” Severus said. “He’s the purpose of all of this!” He gestured around to the house. “You think I’d leave him alone? After what I’ve seen? No.”

“A good man would have gone straight to the Headmaster.” A good man, I am not.

“I did what I thought was best for the boy.”

“Best for him? He’s just your type, Snape. You can’t fool me.”

“And what type would that be?” He rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Brunette? I am partial to brunettes.”

All of Remus’ teeth were visible now.

“Vulnerable,” he growled. “Someone you can control.”

He’s right.


“I take offense to that.”

“You should.”

“You know, Lupin,” Severus began, taking a half step closer, “this conversation is making me think that maybe you are the one with designs on the boy. Am I somehow stepping on your territory? Perhaps you were hoping to comfort him in his time of need. I can’t imagine why else you would be so angry. You’re not his father.”

“That’s disgusting,” Remus’ eyes flickered between his eyes and his hands. Ready to fight. Come on, then.

“You’re not even his god-father,” Severus sneered.

That was when Lupin punched him.



***



“Very good,” Dumbledore said. “One more question, for now. Do you wish to keep seeing Professor Snape during the school year? Or would you prefer Madame Pomfrey take over managing your needs? There are, of course, some logistical issues to be worked out should you choose to maintain your current arrangement.”

“I really didn’t mean to cause so much trouble,” Harry began.

“No trouble at all, Harry. I would simply like to know your preference.”

“I’d prefer Professor Snape, Sir,” he began. “I don’t want anyone else to - ” Harry broke off as he heard a loud thump from far below them. “What was that?” he asked. Dumbledore looked around.

“Perhaps I should check on my esteemed staff,” he said.

“Where is Professor Lupin?” Harry asked.

“I left him in the - ”

“Library?” Harry asked, and jumped to his feet.

“Harry, wait!” Albus called after him as he sprinted out the door.



***



Harry caught himself on the library door as he sped around the corner, and flung it open. He’d left his wand long before in the room he shared with Ron, but oh how he wished for it now. The first thing he saw was the upended sofa. And then he saw Snape and Lupin brawling together on the floor.

“Oh my god!” He flung out his arms. “STOP!”

He hadn’t expected anything to happen. He hadn’t even really expected them to hear him. But, to his utter astonishment, there was a deafening BANG, and the two men were blasted apart. Remus hit the bookcases with enough force to knock the air out of him. Severus was flung against the opposite wall. There was a stunned silence as Harry gathered his breath.

“And just what the fuck is this about?!” he shouted, staring between them. Snape spit out a mouthful of blood onto the floor.

“Just you,” he said. Harry blinked at him once and turned to Lupin.

“What is wrong with you?” he demanded.

“Harry,” Remus started, grabbing one of the shelves behind him as if to stand.

“Stay down,” Harry ordered. Remus was knocked back against the books. “Just - fucking - stay there.” Remus stared at him, stunned, his eyes wide, and stayed still. Harry felt hot all over. Burning hot down to the tips of his fingers.



Albus positively skidded around the final corner, drawing up short at the scene before him. Severus, sitting against the wall, his nose very obviously broken and blood all down his front, Remus against the bookcases, lip split, one eye beginning to swell closed, and Harry, between them, both arms held out.

“Professor Dumbledore,” Harry said, not looking at him, “can you please make him stop bleeding?” He pointed to Snape but kept his eyes fixed on Remus. Dumbledore dropped to his knees beside Severus with the grace of a much younger man.

“Goodness, my boy,” he said. “Look at you. Episkey!”

Severus grunted in pain as his nose realigned itself, and Albus began siphoning the blood off of his face.

“What is wrong with you,” Harry demanded again, pointing at Remus on the floor. His head was starting to pound. “What are you trying to do?”

“Harry, please,” he began again, “I’m trying to protect you.”

“From what? I’m not some toy you can quarrel over. You aren’t my father. You’re not my owner. ”

“I didn’t mean that.”

“Look what you’re doing! Want to fight over me? Want to make a huge mess? Go for fucking Voldemort if you want someone to punish on my behalf.”

“I - ”

“I don’t want to hear any more from you,” Harry cut him off. “Get out of here.”

“Albus,” Remus began, supplicating. Dumbledore looked over at him.

“Do you require medical attention?” he asked. Remus said nothing. “Then I think it would be best if you took a few days off. To clear your head.”

“Albus, please.”

“Remus. I know that you are upset. Even so, I would have expected better from you. Go, now. We can discuss this at a later date.”

Remus slowly made his way to his feet.

“Harry,” he said again. “I just want what’s best for you.”

“And this is what you came up with?”

“I didn’t mean it to go this way. With Sirius gone, I thought I could - I wanted to take care of you.” Harry’s expression hardened.

“You were a great teacher, Professor Lupin,” he said. “But I don’t know you that well.” He turned away.

Remus nodded at no one in particular. He squared his shoulders and walked out, right past Severus and Albus on the floor, and out the door. As he disappeared down the hall, Harry felt suddenly weak, and his knees turned to liquid.

“I thought you couldn’t do wandless magic,” Severus said, getting laboriously to his feet. He offered his hand to the Headmaster, who stood also.

“What wandless magic?” Albus asked.

“Potter separated us. Forcefully.” They moved over to him.

“Without your wand?”

Harry nodded weakly. “I don’t feel very good,” he said.

“Come on, Potter. Up you get,” Severus took hold of his upper arms, while Albus righted the sofa. They sat him on it.

“What did he cast?” Albus asked.

“He didn’t cast anything. He just yelled, ‘stop,’” Severus answered, and pointed to a blackened spot in the middle of the floor. “You saw where we ended up.”

“With no wand? No incantation?”

“No.”

“Is that bad to do?” Harry asked. His head felt like it was splitting open. He covered his face with his hands. “Oh, god, my head.”

“Generally that sort of magic requires training to execute safely,” Albus answered him. “Let me look at you.” He coaxed Harry’s head out of his hands and looked into his eyes. He turned his head from side to side. Harry wondered what he was checking for.

“No bleeding,” Severus said. “Is he alright?”

“No bleeding,” Albus concurred. “How is your vision, Harry?”

“Bright,” Harry said. “It’s really bright in here.” It wasn’t. The library was, in fact, quite dim.

“Any doubling?”

“No. Head hurts.” Albus let him put his head back down, and he covered his eyes with his hands.

“Do you have any restorative already prepared, Severus?” he asked.

“Yes,” Severus answered, mentally cataloguing what else he might have ready. “A sedative, too?”

“Fetch them for me, please,” Albus continued. Just then, Harry lifted his head.

“Oh,” he said, looking at his red fingers. “Actually, I think I am bleeding.” He looked up at Severus. “Where am I bleeding from?” A single red tear was smeared across his cheek. He blinked strangely. His eyes skipped around as if there were several people before him instead of just two. “Oh,” he said again. “What is happening?”

Albus and Severus both looked at him and then at each other.

“I’ll get his things,” Severus said. Harry grabbed his hand.

“What’s happening?” he asked again.

“We’re taking you to Hogwarts,” Snape said. “Obey the Headmaster.”

Harry didn’t let go of him. Another bead of blood welled up and spilled over, trickling from the corner of his eye and down towards the tip of his nose.

“I’ll see you there,” Severus told him.

“Promise me,” Harry said.

“I promise.”

Harry let go of Snape and took Dumbledore’s offered arm. He stood.

Everything went dark.



***



Molly and Ronald Weasley were right outside the library door.

“What happened?” Ron asked him.

“Remus left and didn’t say anything,” Molly said.

“Out of my way,” Severus demanded, pushing past them. “Potter is ill. I need to get his things.”

“You’re taking him?” Molly called after him.

“Wait, I can help!” Ron shouted.

“Albus is taking him now, and there is no need for that Mr. Weasley.” Ron was running to keep up with him.

“Do you even know what’s his?!”

Severus stopped short, and looked at him.

“Fine,” he said. “Come with me then.”

afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:54:53

Chapter 7: Hogwarts

Everything was white. A great big white blur.

Harry blinked his eyes, but nothing changed. He tried to speak, but his throat was too dry to produce more than a feeble rattle. Someone seemed to hear him anyway.

The curtains around his bed were pulled back, and the sound was so familiar that he knew where he was before Madam Pomfrey even had a chance to speak. He was at Hogwarts, in the hospital wing. For a moment he wondered if he had fallen off his broom again, before the recent past began to filter back into his brain.

“He’s awake!” Madam Pomfrey was saying. And, “Headmaster!”

Harry struggled to sit up, but the matron of the hospital wing pushed him back down.

“Lay down, Mr. Potter. Headmaster!”

A Dumbledore-shaped blur appeared.

“Good morning, Harry,” he said kindly. “How are you feeling?”

“Thirsty,” Harry croaked back. And then, “glasses?”

“Poppy, if you don’t mind,” Dumbledore said over his shoulder. As Madam Pomfrey busied herself with a pitcher, Albus produced Harry’s spectacles and slid them onto his nose. The scene around him clarified. Madam Pomfrey conjured a long thin straw. Even turning his head to reach it made his head ache. But the cool water felt wonderful on his parched throat.

“Better?” Dumbledore asked once Harry had drunk his fill.

“Where’s Snape?” he asked. The Headmaster gave him a small smile.

“He is sleeping, if he did as I told him. So it’s likely he is lurking somewhere nearby.”

“How long have I been out?”

And it was Severus who answered him.

“Seventy-one hours,” the Potions Master said from the doorway. Harry turned his head to look at him.

“Were you counting?” he asked. Severus didn’t answer him, but stepped forward to stand beside the Headmaster. He looked paler than usual, with dark shadows under his black eyes.

“How are you feeling?” he asked. What a question.

“Pretty bad. What did I do?” Harry tried again to sit up, and this time it was Severus who prevented it with a hand on his chest.

“Stay still,” he said.

Harry looked to Dumbledore.

“You produced a very strong bit of wandless magic,” he said. “Much stronger than most wizards would be capable of. If I had known you had this ability, I would have taught you how to wield it safely.” His eyes twinkled. “Silly of me to think any magic out of your reach.”

“So, what? I hurt myself with my own magic?”

“One might say it came out of you too fast. And in your weakened state - ”

“You almost died,” Severus interjected. “Add it to the pile.” Albus frowned at him, but Harry managed a small smile.

“Do I have a scar?” he asked.

“Nothing new,” Severus answered.

“Too bad.”

Albus looked between them. “This well of unforeseen magic you have tapped - It is a rare gift. Once you have recovered fully, Professor Snape will begin training you in accessing it safely.”

“You’ll be wreaking havoc in no time,” Severus added. “As usual.” Harry closed his eyes.

“Has term started?” he whispered. “Are there other people here?”

“No,” Severus answered.

“Term starts in twelve days,” Dumbledore said. “Until then you can expect time to heal. To rest.”

“Can you eat?”

Harry shook his head.

“Sleep then.”

He did sleep, almost at once. And in the blurry edges of his dreams he heard Severus asking:

‘how can we have missed this?’

and, ‘what does it mean?’



And he heard Dumbledore’s answers in fragments:

‘extraordinary,’

‘unique,’



‘precious.’



Or had that been Snape’s voice?



***



The next time Harry awoke, it was to a commotion.

Raised voices in the hall.

This time, he was much more awake. He felt clearer, more alert. He found his own glasses on the table beside his bed and put them on.

“We just want to see him!”

It was Mrs. Weasley.

He sat up, and no one was there to stop him. For a moment his head swam, but after a few deep breaths it cleared again, and he leaned back against the headboard. For the first time he noticed that his hands felt strange. He looked at them. His fingertips were pink and soft, like new skin. Had he burned himself?

“He’s resting,” Snape said. “Come back later.”

“Please, Severus, just let us see him.”

“Severus is right.” That was Madam Pomfrey. “He needs to rest.”

“Hey,” Harry croaked. “I’m awake.”

There was a silence.

The curtains were pulled back.

“Harry!”

It wasn’t just Mrs. Weasley. It was Mr. Weasley, and Ron, and Hermione too. Confronted with all their faces, he immediately regretted speaking up. He wasn’t ready for this. He couldn’t do it. He looked at Snape, met his eyes, as the panic inside him rose to the surface, and Snape held out his arms to block the door.

“One at a time, perhaps,” he said. “He’s only just woken up.” He looked back at him and raised an eyebrow. “Your friends?” he asked acidly.

Harry smiled weakly at him. “Hi Ron, hi Hermione,” he said, and Severus let them through. Hermione was first, looking like she meant to throw her arms around him. She restrained herself, thankfully, and instead perched on the edge of his bed. Ron came next, and stood next to her, putting a hand on her back.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

“Everyone keeps asking me that,” Harry answered, giving her a small smile. “Remember that time I fell a hundred feet off my broom and landed on my head?”

“The Headmaster told us you used a really powerful spell without your wand! Is that true?”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t really a spell, it just kind of came out of me,” he said.

“Just intention! Wow, Harry, that’s supposed to be really dangerous!”

“You sound kind of jealous,” he laughed.

“Dumbledore said it’s addled your brain,” Ron continued.

“That is not what he said!” Hermione interrupted.

“He said that’s why you’re sleeping so much. So it can repair itself or whatever,” Ron finished.

“Must be why my head hurt so much after.”

“That’s why wands were invented, you know,” Hermione started. “I read about it. Wizards were killing themselves left and right just using their hands as casting tools.”

“It burned me, I think.” He showed them his hands. Hermione took one and examined his pink and shiny fingertips.

“Oooh, wow,” she cooed. “I also read that wandless magic can cause vision problems, hallucinations, and bleeding from the nose and ears!”

“And the eyes,” Snape interjected from behind them. Hermione jumped.

“Did you have that?” Ron asked him. Harry was looking at Snape.

“I don’t really remember that part,” he said.

“That’s so dangerous!” Hermione squealed, clutching her head. “You could have died! It was lucky Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape were both right there. What were you even trying to do?”

“I was really angry.” He paused. “I wasn’t really trying to do anything. I didn’t even use a spell, like I said. It just, kind of, happened.”

“I used to do stuff like that all the time when I was a kid,” Ron was saying. “Fred and George would be picking on me and then BLAM! A dish would explode.”

“Yeah,” Harry said. “Me too. All kinds of stuff. I wonder why it never hurt me until now.”

“Well, you’re much more powerful now, aren’t you? You’re a real wizard, not just a little boy. Letting all that magic burst out at once can’t be good for you.”

“No, I suppose not.” He looked back at Snape and the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley was crying. “Hi, Mrs. Weasley,” he said. “I’m sorry if I scared you.”

“No, Harry dear,” she sniffled. “I’m just glad you’re alright.”

Harry looked at Snape.“I think I could eat some,” he said. “What do you think?”

Severus nodded soberly at him. “I’ll have something sent up from the kitchens.”

“Can we sit with you awhile Harry?” Hermione asked. And then, seeming to understand that Snape was in charge, looked at him. “Would it be ok, Professor Snape?”

He waited for Harry to nod before agreeing.

“Very well,” he said. “Molly, Arthur, shall we?”

They left with him, leaving the trio alone.

Ron and Hermione chattered at him as he picked at the food. Ron ate most of it, which was all well and good for Harry. Once the food was in front of him he found he didn’t really want it. Hermione told him all about her summer, about how much she had missed him, about how scared for him she had been when she’d heard what had happened. She talked about wandless magic, and the NEWT courses she had chosen. They had brought his OWL results with them. Harry had honestly forgotten all about that, and once the envelope was in his hands, he felt only a fraction of the anxiety he’d expected. It didn’t seem all that important, now. They told him that they would get his school books and supplies for him when they went to Diagon Alley. They didn’t ask him anything about Snape. Not a single thing. Ron seemed to have forgotten entirely about Harry being missing from his bed. About Snape and Lupin screaming at each other. It felt like a hundred years ago.



Severus returned with Ron’s parents just in time. Harry had started yawning almost as soon as he’d eaten, and he wanted Hermione and Ron to go. Good as it had been to see them, he was exhausted. He wanted to be left alone.

“Alright you two,” Arthur called when they entered the room. “Time to go.”

“Harry has to rest,” Molly added.

“Gotta rest your mashed up brains,” Ron muttered to him, waggling his eyebrows.

“Plus, you’ll be seeing plenty of him when term starts.”

“Term?” Harry squeaked. “How many days are left?”

“Ten.”

He’d slept another two days. That was scary.

He made himself stay awake until Snape returned from escorting his visitors out.

“You should sleep,” Severus admonished him.

“I’ve been asleep for five days.”

“You’ve woken up three times. For several minutes each.”

“I only remember waking up one other time.”

“You were not always lucid.”

“Will you stay with me awhile?”

Severus drew a chair up beside his bed and sat down in it. He crossed his legs. “What’s troubling you, Potter,” he asked evenly.

“Am I going to be normal after this?” he asked softly.

“What do you mean by normal? You have never been normal for even a single moment.”

“You know what I mean. My brain. Am I going to get all the way better?”

“Oh, yes, Dumbledore assures me that you have done no permanent damage to yourself. You should return to your usual level of intellectual and academic poverty just in time to begin classes.”

Harry snorted. “You’re such a jerk.”

“Shall I stay until you sleep?”

Harry laid down and turned on his side. He looked at Snape’s knees, and at his hands clasped over them. “They didn’t say anything about you,” he said. “They didn’t ask me anything. I was expecting… more shouting.”

“Amazing how one crisis can be supplanted by the next.”

“Hm.”

Severus took off his glasses, and the room subsided into vague outlines again. Snape the smudge of darkness in the white room. “Why didn’t the ministry come after me for performing magic out of school?” he asked.

“I don’t think the ministry could have recognized what you did as the magic of an underaged wizard. A magical creature, maybe. Not something a sixteen year old boy could have done.”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“I know.”



***



By the time Harry was well enough to be bored in the Hospital Wing, there were six full days left before the Hogwarts express would be arriving to disgorge the student body. He was getting better fast, and was being pumped full of potions and solutions whenever he was awake. They didn’t taste that bad, and he didn’t ask what they were.

It was around that time that Dumbledore came to tell him that he would be leaving his sickbed for the dungeons.

“Professor Snape has generously agreed to watch you until term begins.” The old man’s eyes twinkled. “I hope you don’t mind. I have taken the liberty of bringing your things down. Your owl, of course, has been staying in the Owlery.”

Harry was startled. “Am I going to be staying in his rooms?”

Can’t be.


“We have prepared a separate, though adjoining space for you. Professor Snape will be close by, should you suffer any delayed effects, or are otherwise in need, but you will have your privacy.

“Oh,” Harry said. “Ok. Good.”

“When term begins, you will of course have to return to your dormitory, but by that time I’m sure we will have found a good way to keep you from feeling trapped. As I know that is your fear.”

Harry looked up at him. “Thank you,” he said. “Am I going now?”

“If you like.”



***



Harry had, of course, never been to Snape’s quarters before. His office, yes, many times, but this was not his office. He followed Dumbledore deep into the dungeons, past all the Potions classrooms, past where he knew the Slytherin common room was hidden, and still further. Down, and down. Finally, they came to a stop at a dead-end corridor. There was a single door, lit by a torch held in a sconce shaped like a coiled and hissing serpent.

Harry remembered the faucets in Number 12 and snorted. Dumbledore chuckled gently at his reaction. “Now now, Harry, you mustn’t offend Professor Snape’s hospitality by mocking the decor.”

“Sorry,” Harry laughed, and then schooled his features into a grave frown. “Slytherins,” he said somberly.

“Indeed.”



Snape’s quarters were pretty much exactly what he had been expecting. Black, green, and silver. Stone and wood. Books, jars, vials, and more books. But no Snape. There was a fireplace, with a large rug before it, and two chairs. On one side, there were two doors, and on the other, one more. Harry looked questioningly at Dumbledore. He gestured to the single door.

When Harry opened it, he found a small room. A twin bed, dressed in red and gold, with his trunk resting at the foot. Harry touched the blankets.

“I bet he likes that,” he murmured.

There was a desk with a wooden chair, a chest of drawers, and a single lamp. There was even a window, though the glass was frosted. Harry looked at it critically, knowing they were underground.

“Magic window,” he said.

“To let in the light,” Albus answered.

Harry looked at him, standing in the doorway. “Thank you,” he said again.

“Thank Professor Snape. He prepared the room.”

“When is he coming?”

“Oh, Severus can be so hard to pin down. I imagine he will return sometime this afternoon. I suggest you make yourself at home, Harry. If you need me, the fireplace is keyed to my office. Simply throw in the powder.”

Harry thanked the Headmaster again, and after that, he was alone. He unpacked his clothes and put them in the dresser. He took out his new books and stacked them on the desk.

He laid down on the bed, and thought.

He felt that a thousand years had passed since Snape had last been alone with him. He wondered how he would behave, now. Maybe he would be solicitous, as he had been in the hospital wing, under the eyes of the Healing Matron. Maybe he would be mean and indifferent, reverting back to his old persona in the time Harry had been ill. Maybe he would be domineering, rageful, angry at Harry for invading his life, and now his rooms, wanting to punish him. Maybe he would be possessive. Passionate. His lover, as had seemed so inevitable back at Number 12, in the darkness of early morning. Harry closed his eyes. He remembered Snape on the floor with Professor Lupin, fighting savagely over him. Spitting out a mouthful of blood. He remembered the look on his face just before Harry had blacked out. The fear.

It could go any way.



He must have drifted off, because the next thing he knew, someone was knocking softly on the door.

“Potter?” It was Snape. “Dinner.”

Harry sat up groggily. The magical window was dark. Merlin, he had to stop sleeping like this. Unsteadily, he got up, and opened the door. Severus Snape was standing there, in full professorial regalia, which was not necessary with six days until term.

“Sorry,” Harry said. “I fell asleep again.”

“That is to be expected. You are still healing.” He gestured to the table, which was set for two.



Harry had been prepared for anything, he thought. Anger, indifference, concern, pity, hatred, fear, passion. But he had not been prepared for the cordial friendliness he was confronted with now. Snape made small talk as they ate. He asked about how Harry was feeling, about his plans for the Quidditch season, about how he liked his room. He discussed defensive magic, potions, and the merits of the new Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook. Harry did not know what to do with this new and impeccably polite Snape.

It lasted for five days. Severus instructed Harry in practicing simple spells without his wand. He learned to levitate a quill just by pointing his finger at it. He found he had an aptitude for this type of magic, despite how exhausted it still made him. Dumbledore came and checked on him several times, and he showed the Headmaster what he had been working on, and tried his best to seem healthy and happy. He learned to make the quill hover, and fly into Snape’s outstretched hand.

“Very good,” Severus said blandly, and, “much better,” and, “well done.”

They ate their meals together. They read together in silence, in separate chairs, and when Harry fell asleep, Severus put him in his bed. Snape was helpful. Encouraging. It was driving Harry mad.

He was still tired enough that he slept all night with no need for potions. Slowly though, over the days, his naps were diminishing in frequency and length, until he was finally able to make it through an entire day without one.

He still retreated periodically into his bedroom, though, to escape from Snape’s abominable niceness. It made him feel invisible. Worse, it made him feel like he had disappeared, and been replaced by a docile little Slytherin first year for Snape to dote on.

Finally, the evening before term began, when Harry had progressed from flying quills to lighting small fires in the hearth, he’d had enough. At dinner that night, he decided, he would make Snape stop.



***



“Why are you acting like this?” Harry asked, interrupting a story Snape was telling about nothing. He stopped short.

“Like what?” he asked.

“Nice,” Harry answered. He made quotation marks in the air with his fingers. Severus put down his fork.

“Pardon me?”

“Why are you treating me like a stranger?”

“Surely you aren’t complaining that I am being too polite to you,” Severus said. “I am treating you like my student, which you are.”

Harry rolled his eyes.

“Stop it,” he said.

“Stop what, Potter? You can’t possibly prefer that I antagonize you?”

“Well I definitely don’t like whatever you are doing right now.”

Severus folded his hands slowly and placed them on the table. “I am trying not to upset you,” he said after a long moment.

“I’m not made of paper.”

“Potter, you were bleeding out of your eyes two weeks ago.”

“Well, I’m fine now. Stop acting like I’ll disappear if you look at me too hard.”

Severus scoffed. “What would you prefer, then, King Potter?” He rolled his eyes. “Do direct me.”

“Something real. That’s a little bit better already, actually.” Severus didn’t answer, but instead took a deep breath and looked down at his folded hands. Harry sneered at him. “Practicing our self control, are we?” he asked snidely. Snape glared back at him.

“Yes,” he said.

“Don’t tell me you regret it,” Harry began. “Just, don’t.”

“I regret everything I’ve ever done in my entire life. What makes you think you’d be any different?”

“You’re so full of shit.”

“You want me to lie to you, is that it?”

“You’ve been lying to me since I got to Hogwarts.”

“I’ve been teaching you to channel your magic safely,” Severus said. “As I said I would.”

“So, what, you’re going to pretend like nothing happened? After getting your nose broken defending your right to have access to me? After I melt my brain trying to keep Lupin from killing you. And now I’m here, right in front of you, and you’re treating me like a student.”

“What do you want me to say?”

“Something true.” He stood up abruptly from the table, and slapped his empty goblet to the floor. “Not this bullshit!” He turned to the fireplace and pointed his hand at it. Flames burst into life there and he glared fiercely at them. “You promised I could trust you. You said no more lies.”

“I told you not to lie.” Severus got up and moved to stand beside him. “You’re getting better at that every day,” he said.

Harry looked up at him in disgust.

“After everything you’ve done to me, now you want to be nice,” he spat.

“I’m not trying to be nice, foolish boy, I am trying not to ruin you.”

“Yeah, well,” Harry sneered, “I could have used your soft friendliness five years ago. This rubbish you’re peddling is way too late. Everyone is nice. Everyone is afraid of hurting me. Like I’m a pet. You were supposed to be different.”

“What do you want?” Severus demanded. And immediately regretted it, as Harry shoved him, hard, in the chest.

“Anything!” he shouted. He pointed into Severus’ face. “You think you can just pretend to be my tutor? You think you can send me out there tomorrow like this?” He shoved him again. “NO!”

Severus was transported back to another night. Another shove in the chest, back at Headquarters. He remembered what Potter had wanted then, and knew what Potter wanted now. He shouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t.

“Potter, calm yourself!” He had said that before, too. Potter had to be healing faster than anyone could have expected, to be doing this to him now. He’d thought he’d have a few more days.

“YOU calm me! That’s your job!” Harry shouted at him. “You promised! You promised me!” Severus was knocked back a step. Harry hadn’t touched him, but he had been knocked back. He was going to hurt himself again, before he’d even fully recovered.

“Potter! Control your magic!”

“MAKE ME!” The fire roared blue in the hearth, shooting up towards the flume in a column of intense heat.

“FINE!” Severus burst out, and grabbed Potter by the jaw. “Is this what you want? Is this what you want from me?!” He slammed the boy up against the wall. “WELL?”

The fire went out.

Harry caught his breath. His eyes were wild. There was a moment of silence. And then he said -

“More.”



More.


Hit me.


Hurt me.


Tear me apart.




More.




Severus kissed him, desperately, pressing their mouths together like he could undo it all just by keeping him from saying any more. Harry tilted his head, lips parting around an unspeakable sound, and he thrust his tongue inside. It was so easy to give in. So, impossibly easy, like Severus was meant to have him. But he wasn’t. He wasn’t supposed to be doing any of this. He’d taken a wrong turn so long ago, and now he was lost, too weak to go back. Harry’s hands came up to grab at his shoulders, and he pinned them to the wall.

“Don’t touch me,” he hissed. Harry just moaned, and arched into him, and Severus pressed closer, sliding his knee between Potter’s legs, leaning his whole weight on Potter’s wrists, pinned against the stones. He buried his face against Harry’s neck. “You can’t blame me for trying to fix it,” he gasped, squeezing his eyes shut as he felt Potter hard against his thigh. “I wanted to take it back.”

“I blame you,” Harry answered, moving against him, turning his face into Severus’ hair. “I blame you for everything.”

Remus had accused him of wanting to control Potter, but Potter was uncontrollable. A force of nature. A hurricane. A wildfire. Severus groaned wordlessly against his skin, boiling with shame, rage, and lust; A hot, malignant soup inside him. He was poisoned with it. Beyond saving. Harry was pressing up against him, riding his knee, trapped between his body and the wall.

“This is all your fault,” the boy continued. “So what are you going to do?”

“Stop,” Severus gasped, and kissed him again. Harry bit him, hard, on the bottom lip.

“Just fuck me,” he demanded. Snape’s head was spinning. The need to have him was like a sickness. A fever. “I know you want to. Just do it. Fuck me, Severus.”

What? What did he say?


Severus released his hands and grabbed his jaw again, looking into his eyes.

“What did you call me?” he demanded.

“Sir,” Harry gasped back.

“Liar.” He dug his fingers in. “Say it again. Go on.” Harry pressed his lips together. Now he looked afraid. Finally, after all, he was afraid. “Go on, Potter. Say it again.”

“You’re hurting me,” was all he managed.

“You want me to hurt you.” Harry’s breath seized up and he tried to turn his face away, but Snape’s grip was brutally strong, and he couldn’t.

“Please,” he breathed, closing his eyes.

“Please what?” Severus demanded.

“Please!”


“Go on, beg,” he said, digging his fingers harder into the soft underside of his jaw. “Beg me.” Harry’s hips jerked.

“Oh, god,” he groaned. “Please, give me anything, please just - ” he swallowed hard and Snape could feel it against his palm. “Just touch me - please, please, Sir - just touch me-” Severus slid his thumb into his mouth, pressed it against his tongue, and Harry closed his lips around it like it was a gift. Severus could feel his pitiful whimper as it vibrated against his fingers.

“The things I want to do to you,” he growled, and snaked his other hand between them, popping the button on his trousers open. He found Harry’s cock and curled his fingers around it. Like hot steel, wrapped in satin. “You have no idea.” He slid his thumb over the head, smearing the precum that beaded up there, and Harry shuddered hard, once, thrusting up and into his hand with an urgency bordering on madness. His tongue moved around Severus’ thumb, curling against it, and Severus thought he would die a thousand deaths, just for this. To feel Potter shaking to pieces against him.

He tightened his fingers as Potter’s hips moved faster. The sounds he was making grew higher, more wild. Severus felt his teeth scrape over the base knuckle of his thumb.

“Come for me,” he demanded, twisting his hand. “Let me see you fall apart.”

Harry’s fingers dug hard into his shoulders, and he made a sound around Severus’s thumb as if he wanted to speak. Severus pressed it harder into his mouth, wanting to make him choke.

“You’re mine,” he said. “Come for me.”

Harry’s body convulsed, pressing hard against his thigh, trapping his hand between them as his orgasm rolled him under. Severus felt his cock spasm in his fingers, spilling in a series of hot spurts, as his teeth closed hard over Severus’ thumb.

A second, two, of intense aftershocks, as he clutched at Severus’ back. Each one vibrated unbearably from Harry’s body to his own, almost painful against his untouched cock. Then, finally, as the boy went absolutely limp, he slipped through Severus’ arms and straight to his knees. His breath hard and fast, he rested his head against Snape’s thigh, burying his face into the fabric of his trousers.

Severus, bracing one elbow on the wall, looked at him down there, utterly subdued.

“Potter,” he said.

Harry’s hands came up to wrap around his calves. He murmured something into his legs. Snape reached one arm down and rested his hand on the top of the boy’s head, stroking his fingers into his hair. A tremor ran through him at the touch.

“Get up from there,” Severus said.

“Can’t,” Harry mumbled back.

“Come on,” Snape insisted. “Give me your hand.”

Harry looked up at him. His eyes traveled over the hard line of Severus’ erection where it strained against his button-fly, and then up to his face. Their eyes met.

“Can I?” he asked.

“No,” Severus answered. He felt the palms of Harry’s hands sliding up to his thighs, and he closed his eyes.

“Please,” Harry said again. “Let me.”

“No,” Severus repeated, and with a titanic effort, stepped back.

Harry was left sitting on the floor. An electric sizzle went up Severus’ spine at the sight of him like that, on his knees. His trousers unbuttoned and his mouth wet. Looking up at him. Oh, hell.

“Hey,” Harry complained. Whined. He was a boy.

“Have you any idea how to please a man, Potter?” Severus shot at him.

“Not really,” Harry answered, and leaned his head back against the wall, exposing his throat and the smooth underside of his jaw, where there was a single red bruise in the shape of Severus’ finger. His eyes were hooded. “But I have a general idea.” Severus wanted desperately to pin his head against the wall. To fuck his mouth, and then him, right on the floor. “You can teach me.” He could do it. He could do anything he wanted, right now, with Potter like this. He clamped down on the urge. Forced it to heel.

“We will see how you do,” he said. “It wouldn’t do to exhaust you further with term starting tomorrow.” Term. God help him.

“Is this my last night here?” Harry asked, and yawned hugely. He seemed ready to fall asleep like that, on the floor.

“I doubt it,” Severus replied. “Come on,” he said again, and this time Harry took his offered hand. Severus’ cleaned him up, and put him to bed. As soon as he had closed the door to Harry’s room, he bolted into the bathroom.

He wasn’t guilty enough not to take care of himself.

It was the thought of Harry’s mouth that undid him, in the end. His exquisite pink tongue, his lips, and the gentle scrape of his teeth. It was enough.

Almost.

afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:55:58

Chapter 8: The Dark

Harry slept hard.

Slept through the sun streaming into his frosted window. Slept through Snape knocking on his door. Slept through three repetitions of his name. Slept through Snape giving up and leaving him alone.

When he finally woke up, there was a tray standing next to his bed, with a note.



You refused to wake up. I had staff meetings to attend to. Eat as much as you can. The train will arrive this evening and you are expected at the feast.


-SS




Harry read the note again. Cold, snide, and mean. And transparently concerned for him. He folded it up and put it on his bedside table. Then, he lifted the lid on the tray. It was empty. He frowned.

There was a tiny popping noise, and before his eyes, dishes began to appear. Toast, eggs, porridge, fruit, sausages, stewed tomatoes. Tea, sugar, and milk. House elves, he supposed. There was no way he could eat it all. He made himself a cup of tea and wondered what time it was. The light coming in through the window was bright. Could still be morning. The Hogwarts express wouldn't be arriving until much later, which gave him plenty of time for dread. The thought of the feast and the streams of students made his stomach clench unpleasantly. He wondered if he could get away with skipping it. Probably not. Snape had said as much in his note. Maybe if he was asleep they would take pity on him. Or maybe he could hide. If he did that he’d probably be found and forced out of the dungeons. He imagined Snape dragging him by the hair like a caveman, and laughed.

He fixed himself a bowl of porridge and fruit and slowly worked his way through it. He had a piece of eggs on toast. He wondered if that was enough. If Snape would be pleased with him for trying.



***



Severus tapped his foot in agitation. Staff meetings were always unbearable, but this one seemed longer than usual. Horace Slughorn, as he recalled from his student days, could easily talk for hours at a time if allowed.

“… I find motivation and inspiration pivotal factors in inducing passion for potion-making…”

All Snape could think about was checking on Potter. He'd left him asleep around 10 am. It was 2:00 now. Who knew what mischief he might be getting up to? Four hours was a long time in the world of Harry Potter. He could have lit the rooms on fire. He could be getting into Severus' things. He could have poisoned himself. Or, worst of all, he might still be sleeping.

Severus hadn't mentioned Harry's little magical outburst the night before to Dumbledore, for fear of letting something show on his face. The boy had seemed alright, after, anyway, just tired. Worn right out. But his head hadn’t seemed to hurt, and certainly there had been no bleeding. The lessons appeared to be helping. Helping him to produce more unpredictable, chaotic magic, that was. Making him stronger, and more dangerous. What a wonderful idea of the Headmaster’s. All the same, it was understandable that the boy hadn’t been able to get up this morning.

He looked down at his hands, at the small pink mark on the back of his thumb where Harry’s teeth had scraped him, and fought down the memory. Wouldn't do to think of that now.

Potter looking up at him from his knees.

No, not that either. Stop it, Severus.


Potter's cock pulsing in his hand.

STOP IT!




"Something to add, Severus?"

Everyone was looking at him.

"Pardon?" he asked, startled. Albus smiled serenely at him.

"You seem impatient."

Snape forced his foot to stop tapping. "What? No - I just - have to go to the bathroom.” Stupid thing to say. Albus just nodded.

"Well, it is about time to break for the afternoon," the Headmaster said. “There is one final issue to address, however. Harry Potter."

Lord in Heaven. Severus’ knee began to jiggle up and down and he stomped on the urge. Stillness. Disinterest. He thought. I do not care about Harry Potter. He does not interest me. I dislike him. I have no idea what his mouth tastes like, nor do I care to.

"Harry has been staying with us in the hospital wing after an incident over the summer,” Albus began. A general murmur moved through the assembled teachers. “Although he is improving rapidly, he still has healing to do.”

“Is this something new?” Minerva broke in. “Or is he still recovering from his excursion to the ministry?”

“This is new,” Albus answered her. “But it’s nothing to worry about. I only mention it because there is a small chance he might fall asleep in your classes. That has been his primary trouble.” There was a silence. “Do you have anything to add, Severus?” The eyes of the other staff members turned to him. Severus looked back at Dumbledore, hating him for bringing him into this.

"You may find him asleep in odd places as well,” he began. “As the Headmaster has said, he is improving, but it is possible that the stress of coursework will cause him to relapse, at least at first. It is unlikely he will be able to fully control it.”

"I would have thought it would be my responsibility, as his head of house," Minerva began slowly, "to handle a situation like this." She looked at Severus and then at Albus, with a question in her eyes.

"One would have thought so, yes," Albus allowed. "But it is Harry's preference to deal with Severus."

"Since when?" Hagrid interjected. "I thought he hated you. No offense."

"None taken," Severus answered shortly. “It is a recent development.”

"Hrm," Hagrid said.

“In any case," Dumbledore held up his hands, "I would like to make his transition into the academic year as painless as possible. And as always, should you notice anything strange or alarming, please bring it to my attention. That will be all."

After a few more questions, which Albus expertly deflected, the meeting adjourned. Severus stood up at once, wanting to escape before anyone tried to talk to him.

"Severus, a moment." Fuck.

"Certainly, Headmaster."

He hung back as the rest of the teachers filed out. Once the room was empty, Albus leveled his clear blue eyes at him.

“How is Harry feeling today?” he asked, resting his fingertips together. Severus sat back down.

“I left him asleep this morning.”

“Yesterday evening, then.”

Enraged. Self-destructive. Reckless.


"His mood is ... volatile. He was angry, yesterday. And afraid.” True.

“Angry at you?”

“Yes.”

“And why is that?”

I didn’t want to hurt him.


“Apparently I was being too polite, and it upset him.”

Albus chuckled. “He does have his own ideas about things,” he said. “How have you left your lessons?”

“We have recently begun incendiaries.”

"And?"

"He's a natural." It's scary.

"Very good,” Albus looked at his hands. The healthy one and the blackened one.

"May I go, Headmaster?” Please let me go.

“There is one more thing.” He paused. “I have something for you to give to Harry, should he need it.”

“Oh?”

Albus summoned a small wooden box with his wand and it flew to Severus’ hands. Inside, there were two wide silver hoops, polished to a high shine. They looked rather like a pair of oversized napkin rings. Severus looked up at the Headmaster.

“What’s this?” he asked.



***



Harry was awake when Snape returned to his rooms around 3 pm. Awake, and positively buoyant. He was laying on the hearth rug and zooming small objects around the room, three at a time, making them collide and ricochet off of each other.

“Making a mess, are we?” Severus asked. Harry jumped, and the three objects clattered to the floor. A glass lid to an inkwell, a ball of crumpled parchment, and a large ugly stone. Severus bent down to pick it up. It was a bezoar. “These are expensive, you know.”

“Sorry,” Harry said, propping himself up on his hands. “I should have guessed, seeing how ugly and gross it is.” He grinned. “I got bored.”

“You won’t be bored for much longer, I expect,” Severus continued, “The train is due in a few hours and you’ll be reunited with your friends.”

Harry’s face fell, and he flopped onto his back. He directed his next words to the ceiling. “Do I have to go to the feast?”

“Yes, you do,” Severus answered, and sat in one of the armchairs. “Everyone is expecting you. Care to light a fire?” Harry’s lips twitched and pointed at the hearth.

“It doesn’t hurt my hands at all, anymore,” he said.

“Did it hurt your hands before? You never said.” Snape crossed his legs and regarded the boy, who shrugged indifferently.

“It didn’t hurt that much. Just kind of like touching a hot pan.”

“I see.”

After a moment, Harry sat back up and scooted over to him. Severus shifted his legs to leave a space for him to sit. He settled into the spot and leaned back, resting the side of his head on Snape’s knee.

“What’s going to happen?” he asked after a moment.

“I have no idea,” Severus answered him. Tell him you have a gift for him. Go on, say, ‘Potter, I have something to give you.’ Complete and utter access to my entire life.

They sat in silence, watching the dancing flames. Maybe he can make it a few days by himself. Surely he can.

“How am I supposed to act in your classes? I thought I wouldn’t have any, because I only got an E in Potions. But you aren’t teaching Potions anymore.”

“No,” Severus agreed.

“I got an Outstanding in Defense Against the Dark Arts,” he said, and hugged his knees. “So, how am I supposed to act? Not like this.”

“No, not like this,” Severus said. “Though if I could have you at my feet it would certainly make things interesting.” How is he supposed to act? How am I supposed to act? This is going to be a disaster. Harry looked back at him, and then turned further, crossing his arms over Severus’ legs and resting his chin on them. His eyes searched Severus’ face.

“I can pretend to hate you,” he said. “I’m good at pretending.”

“Do you mean to tell me that you don’t hate me anymore?” Severus asked sardonically. “Did you hit your head on something?”

“Only the wall,” he answered, his eyes glittering mischievously.

A disaster.

“I would start by not reminding me of what I’ve done to you during class time,” he said. Harry’s mouth twitched again. Almost a smile.

“How can I avoid reminding you?” he asked, and tilted his head to the side. The red bruise under his jaw was now purple. Severus shivered. Harry felt it. “I thought you were some kind of expert spy,” he continued. “Surely you can handle me.”

“I’ve been handling you far too much,” Severus answered. He touched the mark with his index finger. “Shall I vanish it?”

“I kind of like it,” Harry said. “I doubt anyone will see.”

Everyone is watching you. You must know that.


“All the same. I should like to vanish it.” He held still as Severus touched the mark with his wand and said ‘senatio,’ before turning his head back and catching Severus’ knuckles with his lips. “Potter,” Severus admonished him.

“What?” Harry answered. “Still guilty? I made you do it.”

Severus scoffed. “How can you have made me? I’m a grown Wizard.” He brushed the back of his hand across Harry’s cheek, trailing one fingertip against the shell of his ear. Harry hummed and closed his eyes.

“No more fistfights though, ok?” he murmured.

“I give no promises should Lupin seek me out.”

Harry opened his eyes again and frowned. “He won’t,” he said uncertainly.

“I shouldn’t think so, no.” Not after you dismissed him so thoroughly. I should be surprised if he shows his face ever again. Pity he was absolutely right. Should have broken my neck instead of my nose.

They sat for a while in silence, Severus watching the crackling flames and absently carding his fingers through Potter’s hair, and Harry with his eyes closed, resting his head on Severus’ lap. Severus was again struck with a painful stab of should not. And then, of do not deserve.

“Sir?” Harry asked after a while.

“Hm?”

“Will you teach me the red sparks, before I go?”

Ah, yes. He had promised that. May as well. He’d thought originally that it would take time to teach him to focus enough magical energy to produce even a whiff of smoke without his wand. Now, though.

“I think you will be able to produce sparks without any instruction at all, Potter. Lighting the fire is quite similar. It is your intention that creates nuance. I would, however, appreciate it if you were a bit further away from my physical person while you attempt it.”



It took him three tries. Three. He was a prodigy, who would have guessed?



***



In no time at all, it seemed, it was time to get ready for the feast. Snape told him to take a shower, and he obeyed. He stayed in there for a long time, but Snape didn’t knock to see if he was alright. Harry kind of wished he would. Kind of wished he could collapse again, and be taken back to the hospital wing. Anything to delay this unwelcome return to life.

Wiping a hand through the condensation on the mirror, he looked at his reflection. It seemed impossible that he should look the same. Same old self, after all.

He imagined sitting at the table with his friends.

He felt like a stranger.



****



Severus paced back and forth as Harry showered, and showered, and showered. Should he check on him? Surely not. He must just be dawdling.

He’s fine. Leave him be.


He looked at the clock. They would be late.



***



Harry turned his head, inspecting himself, wishing he still bore the marks Snape had given him. All of them. The split lip, the bruised jaw, and cheekbone. The knock in the head. The twisted arm. The ripped out hair.

That was how he felt. Bruised. Raw.

He remembered that last morning, before Lupin had found him. The sun streaming in the windows, the warmth of the sheets, looking up at the blur of Severus Snape above him. Feeling protected. Safe. For that one, single moment. For the first time ever, maybe.

Just then, Snape did knock on the door.

“Potter,” he called. “What are you doing in there?”

“Nothing,” he answered.

“Come out then, you are already late.”

Time to go. He looked into his own eyes in the mirror. Time to go out into his old life. Time to pretend. He could do it. Easy. Go on out to the feast.



***



Harry came out wearing his Gryffindor robes, with his Captain’s pin on the lapel. He looked terrified.

“Ready?” Severus asked, knowing the answer was no.

“Sure,” Harry said. He ran one hand through his hair. “Do I look - ” he stopped. Severus was quite sure he was going to ask if he looked normal.

“You look just as you should,” he said, and gestured to the door. “Shall we?”

Harry walked out ahead of him, and Severus followed, closing the door behind him, and then leading the way back up to the main castle.

“I feel like I’m walking to the gallows,” Harry said from behind him, laughing nervously as they passed the Potions classrooms.

“Just the Great Hall, Potter,” Severus replied. Though, he recalled, he had felt just that way many times, in his first few years of teaching. It was all the little eyes that did it. Looking at you. Hundreds of them.

Harry made it all the way to the very edge of the dungeons. But then, as the first sounds from the great hall filtered down to them, he suddenly stopped. Balking, like he’d hit an invisible wall. Severus stopped too, and looked back at him.

He was frozen. Staring down the hallway at the open door, at the shaft of warm golden light falling into the dim corridor.

“Come on, Potter,” Snape said. “Your subjects await you.” Harry didn’t move. Didn’t even look at him.

“I can’t do this,” he said.

“You can.” Snape walked back to him. “Since when is Harry Potter afraid of even mortal danger? You’ve faced the Dark Lord. What is a feast next to that?”

“I. Can’t,” he said again. He was white. Just how he’d looked when Severus had pulled him out of the shower. He’d been locked up too long. He’d forgotten about the world he belonged to.

“Give me your hands.”

Harry was startled into looking at him. “What? Why?” he asked.

“Because I have told you.”

Harry blinked at him, and then obeyed. Severus took hold of his wrists, taking his time in wrapping each individual finger around the bones. He squeezed hard, digging his fingernails in.

“Harry Potter has never been afraid,” he said. Harry gasped and tried to twist away, but Severus held him fast.

“That hurts,” he said.

“Focus,” Severus said back. “Look at me. You can, and you will, walk out there like the arrogant and privileged wizard prince that you are.” Harry’s fingers clenched into fists. “Say it please.”

“I can’t,” he gasped. His color was returning. Pink. Vibrant. Here with him.

“Say it.”

“Alright!” he burst out. “I can do it, I’ll do it, I’ll go.”

Severus released him. “Very good,” he said. “Go now. It’ll be easiest.”

Harry looked up at him, eyes wide, hands clutched together against his chest. “Can’t I stay in the dungeons?” he asked.

“Forever? Come now Potter. You don’t belong in the dark.” If I could keep you I would. Hidden, and safe, in the basement of Number 12. My little secret.

“But that’s where you are.”

“As I’ve said.” He turned Potter around with a gentle hand on his shoulder, and gave him a push. “Go now. This is just the sort of thing you would do. Coming in late. Very dramatic. It’s perfectly in character. Eyes up.”



***



The Great Hall was filled with an overwhelming quantity of noise and light. The plates glowed and glittered in the candlelight and hurt Harry’s eyes. It was all a golden, meaningless blur. He made his way through the room as fast as he could manage, desperately thinking, Wizard Prince. Wizard Prince. Arrogant privileged. Wizard. Prince. He had almost passed the Hufflepuff table before people really started to stare, and by the time they were standing up to get a good look at him, he had spotted Ron and Hermione. His wrists were tingling and sore and he focused on the pain. Arrogant. Privileged. Prince. He made it to the table and wedged himself between them. Ok. Here he was. Ok. He stared at the table. Ok.

“Harry!” Hermione cried. “I was so worried when you weren’t at the feast! You missed the sorting! Are you alright?”

“Hey, mate,” Ron said. “We were looking for you.”

“Yeah I just… got late,” he said, reaching for a couple of chicken legs that he didn’t really want. They vanished before he could touch them, and were replaced with puddings. “Hat say anything interesting?”

“More of the same, really… advising us all to unite in the face of our enemies, you know.”

“Dumbledore mention Voldemort at all?”

“Not yet, but he always saves his proper speech for after the feast, doesn’t he? It can’t be long now.”

It wasn’t long. After a few more minutes, in which Hagrid waved merrily to him, Nearly Headless Nick stopped by to offer his loyalty, and Harry tried not to make eye contact with too many people, Dumbledore got to his feet. The whole hall fell silent. Harry looked up at him, and then at Snape to his left. Snape was looking back at him, but quickly looked away as Harry met his eyes. Dumbledore opened his arms wide as if to embrace the whole hall. Apparently no one had been warned of his withered hand, though, as there was a general gasp as it was revealed.

“Nothing to worry about,” he assured the hall airily, shaking his sleeve over his injury, and proceeded onto more general regulation and rules. Harry was pleased to hear that Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes had been banned, as that surely meant that Fred and George were doing brisk business. It wasn’t until Dumbledore began announcing the new staff appointments that there was another small sensation.

“We are pleased to welcome a new member of staff this year. Professor Slughorn” - Slughorn stood up, his bald head gleaming in the candlelight, his big waistcoated belly casting the table below into shadow - “is a former colleague of mine who has agreed to resume his old post of Potions Master.”

“Potions?”

“Potions?”

Murmurs swept through the hall, the students trying to figure out if they had heard it right. Potions couldn’t be right, could it? Professor Snape was right there.

“Professor Snape, meanwhile, will be taking over the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.” Harry looked back up at Severus as the hall erupted in conversation. It had not occurred to him that he might be the only one that would know this piece of information, it having been shared with him in the forbidden darkness of Headquarters. Snape raised his hand towards the applause from the Slytherin table, looking rather pleased with himself. As the applause died, he looked back towards the Gryffindors, his expression haughty and unaffected. Harry was unable to mimic this disinterest, but instead could only look up at him, wishing desperately that there were not a hundred people between them.

I did it, he thought. Take me back, now. Please take me back.

Severus looked away from him, and he realized that Ron was saying something.

“…Dark Arts position?”

“What?” he asked.

“I said, did you know Snape was being given the Dark Arts position?” Ron repeated.

“I - yeah, actually, I did.”

“Merlin, but he must be pleased,” Ron continued. “He’s been angling for that job for years, yeah?”

“He didn’t seem that pleased, actually,” Harry answered. “He didn’t say much about it.” Just that he’d expected to be fired. Because of me.

“Why did he tell you ?” Hermione asked. Ron shot her a look.

Dumbledore cleared his throat. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were not the only ones who had been talking. The whole hall had been abuzz with the news that Snape had achieved his heart’s desire. Dumbledore said nothing more about it, but proceeded to a speech about Voldemort’s return, and the importance of adhering to security procedures in this difficult and dangerous time. Harry tuned him out. He didn’t want to hear about Voldemort’s return or about not sneaking around the castle at night. Finally, Dumbledore bade them goodnight, saying:

“But now, your beds await, as warm and comfortable as you could possibly wish, and I know that your top priority is to be well-rested for your lessons tomorrow.” Harry thought longingly of his bed down in the dungeons, knowing he would not be allowed to return there. He looked again at the staff table, but Snape was looking towards the Slytherins, frowning slightly. Harry followed his gaze, and saw Malfoy whispering intently to his cronies. “Let us therefore say goodnight. Pip pip!”

The benches moved back with their usual deafening scrape, and the hundreds of students began to file out towards their dormitories. Harry was paralyzed in his seat. He had no desire to leave with the swarm of other students, and no desire to be left behind either. He just wanted to go back to the dungeons. To Number 12. To sink into the floor. Hermione had jumped up to guide the younger students, but Ron was still sitting next to him.

“Alright?” he asked. Harry looked at him. Ron’s face fell. “Hey, alright, mate? You don’t look so good.” Harry snapped himself out of it, thinking of Snape’s fingernails digging into his skin. Focus, he’d said. Focus .

“Yeah, sorry,” he said. “Just, a lot of people here. I got used to being alone, you know? No more of that, I guess.”

“Yeah. Back at good ol’ Hogwarts, with all the midgets.”

Harry smiled weakly.

“Yeah,” he said.



***



Harry’s trunk was waiting for him when he got to the Gryffindor dormitory. He looked at it and felt evicted. He wanted to kick it. Instead, he changed into his pajamas, and closed himself in the hangings of his bed. He didn’t speak to any of the other boys, and didn’t care if it bothered them. He needed to be alone. Laying in the close darkness of his four-poster, he could almost imagine that he was in the dungeons now. That Snape was asleep just on the other side of the door. Past the sitting room. That all he would have to do was knock and say, “I can’t sleep.”

How could he leave me here like this? he thought. With all these people. All these fucking strangers.

His only consolation was that he would surely have Defense Against the Dark Arts in the morning, and he could beg Snape for mercy.

Mercy, ha. Fat chance of that.

He could probably get detention, though.

afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:57:22

Chapter 9: Wizard Prince

Once their schedules had been finalized, Harry found that he did, in fact, have DADA just before break. And also that he would be adding Potions to his schedule as well, thanks to Professor Slughorn’s relatively lax standards. McGonagall assured him that his complete lack of potions supplies would be no barrier, and the way she looked at him when she said that, Harry was quite sure that he was meant to be happy that his ambition to become an Auror was no longer defeated. He found that he couldn’t quite manage that emotion, however. In fact, he felt quite neutral. Tired, maybe. He mustered an eager face for her, and she seemed to accept it, and that would have to be good enough.



***



Severus steeled himself as the sixth years filed in for their first Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson. He’d been waiting for this moment for years and he’d be damned if he let Harry Potter ruin it by being in the room and distracting him. He gathered his robes around himself impressively as the class sat at their desks.

“I have not asked you to take out your books,” he hissed, closing the door and moving to face the class from behind his desk. There was a small flurry of movement as the few students who’d been unpacking their supplies hastily reversed direction. He let his eyes travel over their upturned faces, doing his best not to linger on Harry’s any more than anyone else’s.

“You have had five teachers in this subject so far, I believe,” he began. “Naturally, these teachers will all have had their own methods and priorities. Given this confusion I am surprised so many of you scraped and OWL in this subject. I shall be even more surprised if all of you manage to keep up with the NEWT work, which will be much more advanced.” He moved around the edge of the room, and lowered his voice dramatically. “The Dark Arts,” he continued, “are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible. Your defenses must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the arts you seek to undo.”

Returning to the front of the class, he whirled around to stare out over the assembled students. They all looked suitably cowed, except for Harry Potter, who was was staring up at him with his chin in his hand, a glazed look in his eyes that might best be described as adoring. Severus’ heart almost stopped.

Oh, god. Look at him.

“Mister Potter!” he barked. Harry almost jolted out of his chair.

“What?” he yelped.

“I’ll have no daydreaming in my class!” STOP LOOKING AT ME. “If you don’t care to pay attention I’ll kindly ask you to leave.” MERLIN.

Harry just stared back at him for a moment, before contorting his face into a deeply unconvincing scowl.

“Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t know this was going to be ‘Dark Arts Class.’ I thought it was supposed to be Defense Against the Dark Arts.” Ron snickered beside him.

“It’s not my problem if you fail to grasp nuance. Try to pay attention.”

“Sorry,” he said again.

“Sorry, Sir,” Severus corrected him.

“There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”

There was a collective gasp of horror, and behind Snape, Ron, Dean, and Seamus shook with stifled laughter and covered their faces. Harry didn’t look at any of them. Just stared directly into Snape’s eyes. Challenging him.

Merlin, what is he trying to do?


“Detention, Potter,” Severus said. “I do not take cheek from anyone. Not even ‘the Chosen One.’” He turned sharply away from the students and towards the board.

Harry did not interrupt the lesson again, and Severus managed to continue his planned rubric, gruesome images and all, without further incident. And finally, after what felt like a hundred years, it was over. A single period with Potter, conquered.

As the students packed up their things, he bade the boy stay in his seat. His friends seemed ready to stay with him, but Harry gestured at them to leave, and leave they did, each one offering him a sympathetic grimace as they went. Harry didn’t react to them, just stayed at his desk until the room was empty. Once the door swung shut, he leaned haughtily back in his chair.

“Sorry, sir,” he said. “What was I even doing?”

Severus crossed his arms. “You were staring at me. Conspicuously. Like a - a - ” he couldn’t think of a fair way to say it. “It was inappropriate.”

“Sorry,” Harry laughed, and stood up. “Your speech was pretty impressive. I couldn’t help it.”

“You’re mocking me.”

Harry brushed past him. “I’m not,” he said. “I’ve never heard you talk about anything quite like that before. It was… inspiring.”

“You aren’t taking this seriously.” Severus turned to look at him. “You cannot look at me like that while other people can see you.”

“For your eyes only, hm?” Harry boosted himself up onto Severus’ desk and leaned back on his hands, his knees apart and his legs dangling off the edge.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m annoying you,” he said, grinning. “Is it working?”

Severus moved to stand between his spread legs.

“I wouldn’t say that is annoying me, exactly, no.” He laid his hands on Harry’s thighs over the folds of his school robes.

“Potion’s didn’t really suit you,” the boy continued, brushing the toe of his sneaker against the back of Severus’ calf. “If you’d been teaching Defense this whole time I might have formed a very different opinion of you from the start.”

Severus dragged him forward towards the edge of the desk. “I’ll not allow you to draw attention to yourself,” he said. “No matter how inspired you are by the subject matter.”

Harry tilted his head to the side, regarding him steadily from under his eyelashes.

“Is this you not allowing me?” he asked. “Because I feel like I’m being given positive reinforcement just now.” He was still leaning back on his hands, absolutely unrepentant. Cocky, even. Severus ran the backs of his fingernails across his jaw, and then slid them into his hair.

“I’ve never done anything so improper in my entire career,” he said, making a fist, and tugging his head back, “as entertaining this nonsense.” Harry's lips parted. It would be so easy to forget where he was, confronted with this behavior. Potter was angling for punishment, and it was more effective than Severus could have thought possible. “And you,” he continued, leaning further into his space. “You certainly seem… outgoing, Mister Potter. I would have thought your first day would be harder on you.”

“Wizard Prince,” Harry breathed, pressing his thighs against Severus’ sides. “That’s what you told me to be.”

“Lay this at my feet, do you?”

“It’s what you told me. How am I doing?” He grinned again, despite Severus' tight grip on his hair.

I'll slap that expression right off your face.


"If your goal is to goad me into knocking you down, you’re doing very well.” Harry’s legs flexed around him. You’re in your classroom, Severus.

“You should,” Harry said, and swallowed, his adam’s apple bobbing. “I'd deserve it.”

“You think I’m so easy to manipulate.” Severus leaned still further towards him, turning his face into Harry's neck and inhaling. He heard the scrape of fingernails as Harry's hands curled into fists against the wood.

“Ah - Why would I think that? You’re a paragon of moral rectitude, as we all can see.”

“Arrogant,” Severus scoffed.

“Privileged,” Harry whispered back.

You are in your classroom. What are you doing?


“You’re a little devil.” Severus released him, prying his legs apart to step back. “Friday night,” he said. “Eight o’clock. If you can make it that long." Harry stayed where he was a moment longer, flushed, leaning back on his hands, his legs spread. Severus imagined sucking him off like that. Just dropping to his knees, in between classes, in service to this insufferable boy. Harry smirked at him like he could read his mind.

“Let me know when you stop liking it,” he said finally, and slid down to his feet. “See you, Professor.”

"Out with you."

Harry sauntered towards his desk and slung his bag over his shoulder. In the doorway, he looked back, hair falling over his eyes in a wild cascade. He looked just like his father.

"Sir, I mean," he added, and gave him a cheeky smile.

Severus watched him go.

It had been one day.



***



Over the next few days, Harry found he could only maintain his attitude for a few hours at a time. He tried to save it for DADA, and whenever he felt particularly vulnerable. The rest of the time he lapsed into a moody, exhausted silence. He hated sleeping in the dorms, and couldn’t care less about his classes. His only hope was that if he pushed hard enough, Snape would put him out of his head for a while. Put him to sleep, even.

He wasn’t really sleeping. Not much, anyway. A few hours a night, maybe, despite how tired he was. He’d been sleeping twelve or fourteen hours a day before the start of term, but now… maybe five. Four at night, and another hour scattered throughout the school day. In his breaks, and at mealtimes, and sometimes in the library. Just enough to keep him functional. Functional. That was all he needed. It was all he could do not to don his invisibility cloak at night and seek Snape out. But he’d said, ‘Friday, if you can make it that long,’ and Harry was determined to make it. Four days were nothing. It was nothing. It was just that each night seemed to last a week.

So instead, late at night when he couldn’t sleep, when he couldn’t get Snape out of his mind, and the snoring of the other boys was driving him mad, he would get out the Potions Text Slughorn had lent him on their first day and peruse it. It had won him the Felix Felicis, and he was sure there were more secrets to be found within. Reading the tiny cramped script that crowded the margins was engrossing, and almost enough to keep him sane through the interminable nights. The Half Blood Prince. Harry wondered who he had been. Every single page was black with commentary, edits, and spells, as if the Prince hadn’t had anything at all to learn in class, and instead spent his time tearing apart the mistakes of the textbook itself. He seemed like a visionary. And funny, too.



He made it through the first Herbology lesson, the first Charms, the first transfiguration. He made it through an avalanche of people wanting to speak to him, to ask about Quidditch tryouts, and to just get a good look at him, as many of the younger students seemed to want to do. He made it through three more nights trapped in his four-poster bed with his potions book. And then finally, it was Friday.

He tried to catch Snape’s eye during dinner but the man refused to look at him. Perhaps he’d overdone it in their latest DADA class. They were working on non-verbal spells, which, of course, Harry had somewhat mastered. With his wand, non-verbal spells were no more difficult to him now than regular incantations. So, he hadn’t been paying attention, but had instead been levitating an ink cap over his index finger and making it spin. The people around him had noticed.

Snape had noticed.

And had glowered at him so fiercely that he’d stopped at once. He hadn’t gotten a face like that in a while. He supposed it was a secret that he could do magic without his wand.

At 8pm he reported to Snape’s office as directed.

“Good evening, Professor,” he said when Snape opened the door.

“Potter,” Snape answered.

“What terrible things have you cooked up for me?” Overkill. “Sir,” he amended. Snape looked down at him imperiously and lifted an eyebrow.

“You will be transcribing counterjinxes. No magic.”

Ugh. Come on. The door’s closed.


“Will I?” Harry ruffled his own hair. “Not exactly what I expected. I don’t think my handwriting is quite good enough for that.”

“Potter.”

“Hm?” Go ahead, do something. I’m right here.

“Sit. Down.”

“Yes, Sir.” He sat at the prepared table. Snape didn’t speak to him for a long time, as he worked his way through the transcriptions. He almost spoke up several times - almost shot a bit of parchment at him - but decided to let Snape do whatever he was doing. After almost an hour and a half, he was rewarded.

“I was under the impression that you have an invisibility cloak,” Snape said from his desk. Harry looked up at him. “I didn’t know you were too stupid to use it.”

“You told me Friday. I waited until Friday.”

“You haven’t been sleeping.”

“Is it that obvious? I thought you were ignoring me.”

“I haven’t been.”

“You don’t look at me in the Great Hall.”

“Nor should I, under the noses of the entire student body and staff.”

“No one is looking at us right now.”

“You think I’ll have you on record as being in my detention and then lay a single finger on you? Think.”

“I was hoping.”

There was a long pause, as Snape shuffled the papers on his desk. “You might find me finished with my night’s work at midnight,” he finally said. “Do you remember where to go?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“That should suffice for your detention, then.”

“That’s all? People will think you’re soft on me.”

“Go, now.”

Harry cast drying powder over his parchment and rolled it up, and then walked up to Severus’ desk.

“I miss you,” he said, and put the scroll down.

“How can you?” Severus answered him. “You see me every day.”



***



At exactly midnight, Severus heard Potter’s soft knock on his door. It was so familiar. Three little taps in quick succession. Tap tap tap.

When Severus opened the door, the hallway was empty. He held it open, and heard Potter’s soft invisible footsteps move past him. He closed the door, and locked and warded it.

“Oh, am I going to be loud?” Potter asked, his voice thick with false innocence. Severus turned to see him pull off the cloak. His head appeared, then his pajama-clad body.

“You can take off that mask now,” he said, walking over to him and tilting his chin up with one finger. “It’s become quite tiresome.”

“You don’t like it?” he asked, that infuriating smile still on his face. Severus frowned at him.

“You think if you irritate me enough I’ll give you what you want, is that it?”

“A little bit, yeah,” his grin widened.

“Well, you’re quite right,” Severus answered, and began pushing him across the room. He didn’t stop until Harry was pressed up against his bedroom door. He pinned him there with a forearm across his throat. Harry’s eyes flickered but his confidence didn’t waver.

“Am I?” he asked. “I thought you said you were going to knock me down.”

“Poor Potter,” Severus purred at him, and kissed his forehead. “You get in so deep.” He opened the door behind Harry’s back and pushed hard, sending him sprawling out onto the rug. Harry hit the ground like a discarded toy, and Severus stood over him. “Get up.”

Dazed, Harry propped himself up on his hands, and touched the back of his head. “Ow,” he said. And then, he seemed to notice Severus’ feet before him, and his eyes traveled up Severus’ legs and body to his face. They widened. “What are you going to do to me?” he asked, shifting back. His voice didn’t quite quaver, but it was close.

“Get up,” Severus repeated in a low growl. Harry scrambled to obey, and before he could even straighten, Severus had grabbed the front of his shirt, and lifted him up almost to the tips of his toes. They were nose to nose. Potter squeaked and seized his forearms, struggling to stay balanced on the balls of his feet.

“I tried to dissuade you but you persist.”

“Are you going to hurt me?” His eyes were full of terror and a wild, unhinged excitement. It was beyond exhilarating. It was intoxicating.

“Do you want me to hurt you?” I’ll hurt you.

“Yes.” He was breathless.

I’ll make you scream.


“Say it.”

The boy flushed and swallowed hard. His pupils dilated. And then, barely more than a whisper: “I want you to hurt me.”

“And how will you make me stop?” I’ll make you beg me to stop.

“Red sparks,” he managed.

“Nothing else will work. You understand me?” You’re going to beg.

“Yes, Sir,” he said. Severus released him and he stumbled back.

“Take off your clothes.” Harry stared back at him, and then looked at the floor. He took a deep breath. When he pulled off his shirt, Severus could see that his flush of color extended all the way down his chest. “Very good. Trousers too.” He unknotted the drawstring of his pajama bottoms and pushed them down, letting them pool at his feet. Severus looked at him. Allowed himself to look at much as he wanted. His smooth ivory skin, his scars, and the angular lines of his limbs. He was lovely, he was still looking at the floor, and he was getting hard before Severus’ very eyes.

Severus unbuckled his belt and slid it free, doubling it in his hand so that the buckle was safely hidden and the heavy leather exposed. Harry looked up at the sound, and saw it.

“What are you going to do with that?” he asked, his voice sounding almost strangled. Severus summoned the glasses off of his face.

“Face the bed,” he said. Potter obeyed, and stood there, tense, hands by his sides and clenched into fists, not moving, not speaking, and not looking around.

Severus moved to stand behind him, and ran his empty hand up Potter’s flank and over his waist to his ribs, burying his nose for a moment in his wild black hair. He could feel goosebumps erupting under his hand. Could feel Potter’s body heat, and his ribs expanding and contracting with each short breath. Without warning, he shoved him face down into the mattress.

“Stay,” he said. Harry didn’t move when he stepped away, but stayed perfectly still with his chest pressed against the bedclothes and his face turned to the side. His legs were just slightly spread. Severus thought he could do better. He kicked the Gryffindor’s ankles further apart with his boot. “Show yourself to me,” he said. “No pretending. No hiding.”

Harry yelped and gasped and fisted his hands in the sheets. Then, exhaling slowly through his nose, he hid his face and lifted up onto his toes. Presenting himself. Severus almost wished he hadn’t done that, as a rush of unfiltered, animal desire flooded him. Look at him. Fucking look at him. Mercy.

“Incarcerous,” Severus growled, and pointed his wand at Harry’s hands. Cords shot from the tip and coiled around his wrists, jerking them up over his head and holding them fast. He didn’t struggle. He didn’t protest.

He would, though.

Severus trailed the doubled end of the belt from Harry’s shoulders all the way down to his tailbone. “One more time,” he said. “How will you make me stop?”

“Oh, god,” Harry turned his face into his arm and squeezed his eyes shut. “Red sparks.”

“What a good boy.”

Severus raised his arm and brought the belt down hard. A wide pink welt appeared almost immediately as Harry jumped and yelped. He did it again.

“Fuck - that hurts!” Harry cried out, his hands jerking against their magical restraints. He was pulled flat enough that he couldn’t move much at all. Not without moving his feet. And he seemed to understand that Severus did not want him to move his feet.

“Language, Potter,” Snape chided him, and hit him again. This time, he flinched, but didn’t say anything at all. Severus ran the belt gently over the developing welts. “Better,” he said. Harry just turned his face back into the bed, trembling.

He did well for three more strikes.

After the fourth, he had broken, bringing his legs together and trying to twist away. Severus dragged him back and pressed him down, and again kicked his feet apart.

“Be still,” he commanded, and brushed his fingers over the raised edges of one of the welts.

“I can’t - ” Potter began.

Severus hit him.

“Please - ”

Again. Harder.

“No - stop - it’s too much - ”

Twice more.

The first few marks were starting to bruise. Red and purple at the edges, and speckled in the middle. He brought the belt down hard across them. Harry almost screamed.

“Stop - Stop - ” he moaned. Severus raked his nails down Harry’s back, feeling the sweat gathering there.

“You know that won’t work,” he said, leaning over to speak directly into his ear, pressing up against him, letting the fabric of his trousers sting his tender skin. “Say what you mean, Potter. Hit me harder. Hurt me more.”

The noise that came out of him was not human.

He’s perfect.

Severus smoothed one hand over the marks and then hit him again, viciously, across the white backs of his thighs. This time, he did scream, and then began to sob, babbling nonsense into Severus’ bed. His arms were tensed against the ropes holding him, the muscles in his shoulders corded and shaking. Again, Severus drew the belt slowly down his spine, and then over his arse, and just gently between his legs.

“You think you can peacock around in front of everyone to get my attention?” he asked, voice low, hardly even a murmur.

“N-no,” Harry gasped back.

Severus brought the belt down, right where he would sit.

“You think it wise to bring attention to your relationship with me?” he asked.

“No!”

Another hard strike, in precisely the same spot.

“No SIR!”

“You want everyone to know what I’m doing to you now? How I have you at my mercy? Well?” Two more strikes, this time diagonally, cutting across the others.

“No - no - I’m sorry - I’m sorry - ” His tears were soaking into Severus’ sheets.

“Say it again,” he said. One more.

“I’m SORRY - ” His knees buckled, and he sagged against the edge of the bed, hanging by his bound wrists. Severus dropped the belt on the floor, and smoothed both hands down the sides of his heaving ribs, down his waist, to his hips. He brushed his thumbs across the worst of the marks. The heat radiating off of him was intense.

“Such a beautiful boy,” he said. “So obedient.” Under his hands, Harry shuddered hard from the tips of his toes to the top of his head. His hips twitched, pressing towards the bed. Was he still hard? “My my,” Severus growled, reaching between his legs, and brushing his fingers over the base of his cock. He was hard. Crying, begging, and ready to burst, his balls drawn up tight against his body. “I could flay you bloody and you wouldn’t stop me, would you?” Severus tugged him back up onto the bed and flipped him over, wanting fiercely to see him fully exposed. Stretched taut by the bonds still holding his arms over his head, struggling to catch his breath, his face streaked with tears, his cock shiny with pre-cum and so hard it was almost purple, he looked like a sacrifice. And what god, what devil, would reject him? What man could?

“Look at you,” he breathed, and dropped to his knees.“Look at you.”

Harry’s toes curled against the floor and he made a small, weak questioning noise.

“Hush,” Severus said, and took his cock in one hand. His hips flexed up again and Severus used his forearm to hold them down. “Be still,” he repeated, and opened his mouth.

Severus had to press hard to keep Harry’s hips on the bed as he laved his tongue up the underside of his cock and over the head, and then took the whole thing into his mouth, wetting it with his saliva. Potter whined and strained against the ropes. His thighs started to tremble.

“Please.” In his mouth the word sounded like the sweetest of prayers. Severus swirled his tongue once more around the head, and then sank his mouth down, taking it all the way to the base. He swallowed around it, and was rewarded with a fragile-sounding yelp and then a long, low, drawn out moan. He swallowed deliberately again, pressing the flat of his tongue against it, and Harry’s legs flexed around him, trying to pull him closer.

“Oh fuck, please - ” Harry cried, his hips straining against Severus’ hands with the urge to thrust up into his mouth. Severus hummed low in his throat, sliding his tongue against the base. “Oh f-fuck - oh FUCK-”

Taking pity on him, Severus relaxed his grip, and splayed his hands out flat across Harry’s stomach. He held himself still as the boy realized he could move, and drove his hips up and into his mouth, just once. Severus felt his cock hit the back of his throat. He didn’t have much time to savor the feeling, however, as Harry began to come almost immediately, releasing a string of profanity and praise that would have been quite shocking in any other situation. Severus swallowed, and swallowed again. He didn’t stop, though, even as Harry began to soften, and his words dissolved into shaky, meaningless whimpers. He continued to taste him, to caress him with his tongue until he went absolutely limp against the bed, and his legs fell back to the floor.

Then, finally, Severus released him, and got to his feet, wiping the corner of his mouth with one thumb. Harry was draped over the edge of the mattress like a puppet with its strings cut. His face was turned into his arm and his eyes were closed. Looking down at him on the bed like that, limp, pliable, his body hot and his brain turned completely off, Severus could hardly hear his own thoughts over the howling tornado of desire inside him. It was overwhelming - the savage need to take and take and take. He inhaled deeply through his nose, held it, and then exhaled through his mouth, as slow and steady as he could manage.

“Relashio,” he said. The bonds severed. Harry didn’t move at once, seeming almost unable, before shakily drawing his arms back down and covering his face with his hands. Severus went into the living room to get him a glass of water.

When he returned, he found the boy curled up on the edge of the bed, his ankles crossed and his arms around himself, shivering so violently that his teeth were audibly chattering.

I should have covered him, Severus thought. I’m out of practice. He hadn’t done anything like this in years and years. And certainly never with someone like Potter. So inexperienced, so young, and so very important. He would do better to remember who he was dealing with.

Severus put the water down and took off his shirt and shoes. Then, he summoned a blanket, and lay down, pulling the boy into his arms and covering them both.

“I’m s-s-s-sorry,” Harry said, turning towards him, clutching at his naked skin. “I don’t know w-w-what happened. It was really g-good-”

“Shh.” Severus smoothed his hand over his back, tugging him in closer, tucking Potter’s head under his chin. “It’s alright,” he said. “Too much excitement, that’s all.”

Harry laughed once, a single shaky ‘ha,’ and pressed his face into Severus’ chest. The sensation was very foreign - Potter’s breath hot on his skin, his hair tickling him. Bare skin on bare skin. Foreign.

“D-don’t send me b-back tonight,” he whispered.

I’d more easily tear out my own heart.


“No, I won’t.”

Harry’s hands came up against his chest. His fingertips were cold.

“Stay,” he said.

“I’ve nowhere to be,” Severus answered.

“Stay,” he said again. Severus tightened his arms.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ll stay.”

afterending 发表于 2021-9-12 01:58:58

Chapter 10: Silver

Potter didn’t wake up until 1:30 Saturday afternoon. Severus hoped he hadn’t had anything to do, as he certainly was missing whatever it was. Severus showered and shaved. He sent the Headmaster a note that Potter was in his rooms. He worked on his lesson plans. He read. He sent for lunch, not wanting to leave him alone. He retrieved the box Albus gave him on the day of the feast, opened it, and then closed it again. He opened and closed it three times before taking out the silver circles and looking at them. He turned them over in his hands, and then slid one of them over his left and tapped it with his wand. It tightened to fit his arm, just past the knob of his wrist, below the faint outline of his Dark Mark, seamless. It would fit easily beneath a long sleeve.

He left it on, and put the second bracelet in his pocket.

He read again, wishing he had some papers to grade, and thinking that he should give more homework. Finally, just when he was starting to get very worried, he heard faint stirrings from his bedroom. Finally. Severus stayed where he was, in one of the armchairs before the hearth, and waited.

After a while, the bedroom door creaked open, and Harry appeared. He was dressed only in his pajama bottoms. Barefoot and bare-chested.

“Morning,” he said uncertainly, lingering in the doorway.

“Afternoon,” Severus corrected him. Harry rubbed his eyes underneath his spectacles.

“Merlin. How long did I sleep?” he asked.

“A bit over twelve hours. Perfectly normal for an adolescent boy.”

“What time is it?”

“It’s half past one. How are you feeling?”

Harry stretched and winced. Severus could see his bones moving under his skin, and the delicate shift of muscles sliding over one another.

Mine.


The thought was almost a shout in his head. Severus closed his book and crossed his legs.

“Pretty sore,” Harry said.

“I should think so,” Severus answered. “And other than that?”

Harry considered. “I guess … I’m hungry?”

“Take a shower, then, and I’ll send for some food. And your clothes.”

“Thanks,” Harry said. He shifted awkwardly, and looked at the floor. “I’m a bit afraid to see how I look.” He clasped his hands together.

You look like something I’m not supposed to ever see. Ever.


“No more Wizard Prince, I take it.” Severus got up and walked over to him. “I’m sure you are quite black and blue.”

“Feels like.” Harry’s blush was slowly blossoming in his cheeks and creeping down his throat, and he shifted back as Snape approached him. The sight of it made Severus’ skin feel tight. He reached out, and touched the very edges of his hair where they brushed the back of his neck, and smoothed them down.

“I took it rather further than I had intended,” he began. “Are you quite sure I haven’t damaged you?” Harry’s breath caught, and his eyes stayed downcast. “Answer me.”

“Yeah, I - ” he stopped, and swallowed. “I feel fine just… different.”

Shy. Submissive.


Severus wanted to kiss him very badly. He was nearly irresistible like this.

“After you’ve eaten you’ll feel better,” he said instead. “Take a shower now.” Harry looked up at him, then, and met his eyes.

“Come in with me,” he said. Severus was startled.

Not that submissive, maybe.


“Into the shower? No.”

“No?” Harry laid his hand on Severus’ chest, fingering one of the many buttons there. “My arms hurt. From pulling on the ropes, I think. Will you wash my hair?”

Lord. Not that shy, either.


“You’re so calculating,” Severus said, taking Potter’s hand away from his clothes and pressing it to the wall. “It’s a wonder that you ended up in Gryffindor.” Harry rested his head back on the jamb, and considered him through half-closed eyes.

“I almost didn’t,” he said.

“Don’t lie.” Trying to curry favor as if you needed more leverage against me.

“I’m not,” Harry answered. “I had to beg.”

Stop.


“Come now, Potter.”

“I’m serious. The sorting hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. Said it would make me great. I’ve never told anyone. Not a single soul.” His lips curved up into a wry smile. “Think, I could have been your favorite.”

My favorite.


“You would have never dared pursue me like this if you had been in my house.”

“Wouldn’t I? I’ve been told I’m quite daring.”

“You’re reckless.”

“Yeah, reckless. Thoughtless. Irresponsible, even. Come in with me.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Excellent question. I’m sure I had a reason.


“The Headmaster knows you’re here.”

“So?”

“So, he might pay you a call. And I certainly cannot be in the shower with you if he does. That is slightly beyond the scope of what we are meant to be doing here.”

“I’m not exactly clear on what you are supposed to be doing with me.”

Neither am I.


“Most definitely not what I have been doing.” He stepped back. “Go on, then.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry answered, and rolled his eyes. When he turned around, Severus could see three pink streaks down the left side of his back, from his shoulders all the way down to his waist. Fingernails. Severus had done that with his fingernails. He retreated back into the living room as that feeling rose up in him again. The greed, hot and deep, like a fissure in the earth.



***



Snape didn’t have a full-length mirror in his bathroom, so Harry had to stand on the edge of the tub to see his bruises. They were a little worse than he was expecting. Purple and red, some with raised edges, and some with little black spots. They extended down the backs of his thighs in streaks. Sitting would be painful for some time.

He decided he liked them a lot, even though the hot water stung and tingled as it poured over his body. His shoulders really were quite sore, and he moved gingerly through the motions of cleaning himself. The back of his head hurt a little bit too, where he’d hit it on the floor. It felt good, in a way. The pain. He’d asked for it. He’d chosen it. And Snape had given it to him, like a gift.

What had Snape said? Back in Number 12? ‘You should know what I’m capable of doing to you.’

Harry hadn’t known then, but now, he was starting to figure it out. He shivered under the spray.



***



Severus busied himself sending for food from the kitchens. Then, he considered Potter’s clothes. He’d come in his pajamas, hadn’t he? He’d have to have something better to wear, even if he did leave under his cloak. Didn’t he have an elf? Not Kreacher. The other one. What was the name of that elf? Potter’s elf. Bobby? Something like that.

Severus tried not to think of him in the shower. Naked, and bruised, wanting someone to wash his hair. Potter hadn’t even closed the door all the way. Severus could hear the water running clearly.

He could still go in there.

He could change his mind.

He could just walk in. Pull back the shower curtain, and push him against the tiles. Potter wanted him to do it.

The food appeared. Severus had the feeling that perhaps all of the House Elves had a soft spot for the boy. They always delivered such a ridiculously large and involved spread of food for him. No one was immune to his charms, it seemed. Severus asked the elf that delivered the food who Potter was particularly friendly with.

Dobby, that’s right. Dobby.


He had once belonged to Lucius, hadn’t he? Potter had stolen Lucius’ servant. He’d forgotten. Ha.

When the little creature appeared, Severus sent for a full set of clothes. He couldn’t recall if Harry had been barefoot, so he asked for shoes as well. Had he been barefoot? The only thing he could think of was kicking Potter’s feet apart. He’d certainly been barefoot then.

There was a small sound from inside the bathroom. A… cry. Almost too quiet to be heard over the water. Severus’ whole body tautened and flushed hot. He had heard that sound before. Muffled around his thumb in Potter’s mouth. He stood, frozen, listening. The water ran. He might have imagined it. A memory floating up from the depths of his despicable mind. Or, Potter was in there, touching himself, right on the other side of the door.

Wash my hair?


Fucking.


Hell.




Dobby appeared with a bundle of school robes, bowed, and vanished. Severus set them outside the bathroom door and sat back down in his chair. The water turned off. He tried to arrange himself in a natural way, so that Potter wouldn’t know he’d been heard. His knee began to jiggle up and down.



“Wow.” Harry was looking at the food. Severus hadn’t even noticed him come out. “If I stay here all the time will I get lunch like this every day?” He grinned and looked over at Severus in his chair.

“Feeling better?” Severus asked. Harry met his eyes and the tips of his ears immediately turned red. Severus wondered what sort of face he was making to get that reaction so quickly.

“I - yeah,” he said, and sat gingerly down at the table. “Much better now.” Harry poured two cups of tea and looked at him expectantly.

“I’ve already eaten,” Severus said, but got up anyway.

“Milk?” Harry asked. “No sugar?”

“No sugar,” Severus answered.

While Harry fixed himself a plate, Severus sipped his tea and idly fingered the silver hoop in his pocket. He tried to think of something intelligent to say - some way to casually bring up this gift of the Headmaster.

I have a gift of jewelry for you, my inexcusably young lover. I have a fully appropriate and not at all romantic gift of jewelry. From your Headmaster, my employer. For the two of us. And I’m terribly sorry for sucking you off and I definitely won’t do it a hundred more times if I get the chance. And I wasn’t listening to you in the shower. And we certainly won’t horrifically misuse this magic bestowed upon us. No, certainly not. Perfectly normal, emergency-use only, totally practical, matching magical bracelets.


“You ok?”

Harry was looking at him.

“Pardon?”

“You were kind of… staring into the void.”

“I was thinking, Potter. You might try it sometime.”

Harry snorted and kept eating. “I’ve a meeting with Professor Dumbledore tonight,” he said between two large mouthfuls of potatoes and green beans. “He’s going to be training me or teaching me… or something.”

“Is he?” Albus hadn’t mentioned that.

“Yeah,” Harry continued. “He didn’t say what for. I figured it would be advanced defensive magic or something like that.” Severus made a noncommittal noise and continued to fondle the silver in his pocket. He should do it today, before Potter met with the Headmaster. Albus would expect him to have done it already. He would have done, if he’d been acting correctly. If he hadn’t been so busy thinking about fucking a teenage boy, he would have done it already. “I wonder if I’ll have to leave the castle. Maybe you can come with me?”

“To your meeting with the Headmaster? I shouldn’t think so. You’ll be perfectly safe with Albus.” Harry’s plate was almost empty. Severus poured them both another cup of tea. Milk and two sugars for Potter. Just do it.

“I suppose so.”

“I have something for you, in any case, before you go,” Severus said. Harry looked up.

“For me? What, Dreamless Sleep? I could use some.”

“No, not Dreamless Sleep.” He withdrew the hoop from his pocket and placed it flat on the table. Harry looked at it but didn’t touch it.

“What is that?” he asked, looking concerned.

“It won’t bite you, Potter. It’s a bracelet.”

“I don’t understand.”

He always has to be so difficult. Why is that?


Severus sighed and pushed up his sleeve, so Harry could see the matching cuff he wore on his own arm.

“The pair is linked. They allow the wearers to appear together over any distance.”

“Like apparating?” Harry finally picked it up. He held it in both hands and looked into its mirrored surface. “I thought no one could apparate inside the castle. Hermione must have said it a hundred times.”

“The House Elves can. The Headmaster explained it to me in those terms.”

“Dumbledore made these? How do they work?”

“There is a keyword. Chimera. May I?” Severus held out his hand, and Harry handed the bracelet over, and then offered his arm. Severus slipped the cuff over his fingers and tightened it to size. Like his own, it nestled snugly above Potter’s wrist, just behind the joint. He held his arm still, over the table. “One wearer closes their fingers around the surface, like this, and speaks the keyword. Both pieces will grow hot. If the second wearer does the same, they accept the call, and will appear beside the first.” Harry was staring at him.

“I - wow,” was all he said.

“I can call you, now, and vice versa.”

“So, what, I can have you whenever I want?”

That’s certainly one way to put it.

“For emergencies only, of course.”

“Right.” Harry pulled his hand back and looked at the cuff. “It looks kind of like a manacle. Is this silver?” He turned his hand this way and that.

“Silver and platinum,” Severus answered. “I didn’t think gold would suit your complexion.” It was a feeble attempt at humor, and Harry quite correctly did not laugh. “There’s something else.”

“Is it a wedding ring?” Harry smiled weakly, and Snape ignored him in turn.

“They can also be used to communicate across distance. Watch.” Severus touched his wand to his cuff and said. “Whatever I speak will appear.” Harry’s bracelet instantly warmed, and he looked down at it. In a tiny, elegant script, like an engraving, the words sparkled into life.




“Wow,” Harry said again. “Can I try?”

“Touch your wand to the surface.”

“I can’t believe you would let me have this,” he said. “Thank you.”

appeared on Severus’ wrist. The warming sensation was really quite pleasant.

“Thank the Headmaster, when you see him.”

“No more pretending I’m talking to you at night.” That appeared, too. “Haha. Neat.”




“That’s quite enough, Potter.” Harry grinned and looked away.

“Sorry. Emergencies only. Can we try the apparition part? Or have you tested it already?”

He hadn’t. They moved over to the hearth, standing as far apart as the furniture would allow. Severus closed his hand over his cuff and said,

“Chimera.”

The metal around Harry’s wrist didn’t get warm this time, but quite hot. He wrapped his fingers around it and repeated the word. For a fraction of a second, nothing happened. Just enough time for Harry to look up. Then, he vanished.

He reappeared with a squawk and fell against Severus’ chest.

“Very graceful,” Severus said dryly, holding him at arm’s length.“Gryffindor’s greatest seeker.” Harry straightened himself indignantly.

“I wasn’t expecting it to work like that,” he said.

“What were you expecting? A puff of smoke?”

“I don’t know. Like a tug, or a squeeze, or something. I didn’t feel anything. Just - Poof. Did it make a noise?”

“No.”

“It’s silent?” he looked delighted. It made Severus suspicious. “You try!” He ran into the small extra bedroom and jumped onto the bed, sitting cross-legged in the very center. “Chimera!”

Severus sighed. His wrist heated almost to the point of pain.

“This isn’t a toy, Potter,” he called out. “What are you doing?”

“Chimera! Come on.”

“Chimera.”

When Severus appeared, Harry tackled him to the bed.

“Very graceful,” he said, grinning down at him. Severus was shocked into stillness long enough to keep him from immediately toppling Potter to the ground. “Thanks for the present.” Harry was sitting on him. “I like it a lot.” Straddling him.

Severus grabbed him by the neck. “This. Is not. A game,” he snarled, and flipped them over, pinning him to the blankets. Harry’s knees came up around him.

“No?” he asked. “It’s fun, though.”

“Is it?”

“Ah - yeah, pretty fun.” Severus flexed his fingers, feeling the structure of Harry’s throat, tender and vulnerable under his hand.

“I thought I satisfied you last night,” he said.

“Guess not.” Pressed against him like this, Severus could feel him getting hard again, his body responding as quickly as if he hadn’t just gotten himself off in the bathroom. But Severus knew he had. He’d heard him. And Severus himself hadn’t had any relief. All the night before, and through the day, nothing but frustration and wanting and needing things that weren’t for him to have.

“I thought you took care of yourself in the shower,” he said, wanting to embarrass him, to humiliate him, to take away his confidence. No one so young had any right to be so brazen. Harry flushed but didn’t look away.

“I did,” he said. “It wasn’t enough.” He was unabashed. Severus had never met anyone so free from shame.

“You’re insatiable,” Severus growled, wanting to be angry, impatient, but finding himself captivated. Mesmerized. Bloody blinded, like he was looking into the sun. Harry scraped his teeth over his bottom lip and tipped his head back, pressing his palms flat against the Gryffindor bedspread beneath him.

“You must know you’re making it worse when you do this,” he breathed. “You must know.” His throat worked against Severus’ palm. Severus had almost forgotten that it was he who was holding the boy to the bed. It was he who had escalated. Again. And it was he who was going to hell. Straight to hell, when he died.

Get off of him. NOW.


“Potter, we have to stop this.” He let go of Harry’s neck and tried to move away, but the boy managed to grab the front of his shirt. His grip was strong. “Stop! Stop that!” Please.

“Why?” his legs hooked around him too. “You touch me, why can’t I touch you?”

Severus grabbed his wrists, tore them away from his clothes, and forced them to the bed. “Infixus,” he gasped, and they stuck fast. Harry pulled on them once and then arched his body off the bed in fury.

“Fuck, come on,” he groaned. Severus almost fell off the edge of the mattress trying to get away from him. He hastened to his feet and backed away as Potter thrashed from side to side like a caged animal.

“Calm down,” he said, trying his best to sound calm himself, or at the very least like he wasn’t panting. Harry dug his heels into the blankets and arched up again, like a drawn bow, and then collapsed.

“Why won’t you let me touch you?” he demanded.

“Because, Potter,” Severus straightened his tunic, trying to seem logical and in control. “I have convinced myself through no small feat of mental gymnastics that helping you with your personal stress is not the same as using you for my own pleasure.” One of his buttons had been ripped off. Is it too early to drink? What time is it? Harry sneered at him.

“Well, at least you’re honest with yourself,” he scoffed, “because that makes absolutely no bloody sense. Let me up.”

“I’ll release you if you promise to go.”

“You’re such a coward. Running from the things you want.”

“As you say. Promise me.” He focused on his heartbeat, willing it to slow.

“I fucking hate you.” Harry wrenched his arms against their magical restraints. “Fine. FINE. I promise. FUCK.” He lay still, pressed his lips together, and looked at the ceiling. He took a deep breath, and then said it again. “Fine. I’ll go. I promise.”

“Solvo.”

His hands freed, Harry used them to prop himself up. Severus focused on the wall past his head, but even in his peripheral vision, he could see how Potter looked. Sitting there, on the Gryffindor bedspread, he looked more like a student than ever before. And that’s what he was, a student. A beautiful, violently unhinged, sixth year student. That Severus was supposed to be protecting.

“I don’t know why you’re torturing yourself like this,” Harry said, leaning back on his hands. “But I’ll go, if you want.” He was scornful. Accusing. And he was so. Fucking. Lovely.

Severus pressed his fingers against his eyes. “Please go,” he said.

Harry scooted to the edge of the bed, inserting himself into Severus’ line of sight. “You could have anything you wanted,” he said.

“You don’t even know what you’re saying.” You don’t know what you’re offering me.

“I don’t know what you’re trying to protect me from. I’m covered in your bruises right now.”

“Potter, please,” he said. Please, for the love of Merlin, stop talking. Harry stood up and walked over to him. Severus held up his hands. “Please, go.”

“I’m black and blue from your belt, Professor Snape.” He grabbed Severus’ wrist and kissed the center of his palm. Every single hair on Severus’ body stood on end. “You don’t want to see the marks?”

I do, oh, god, I do. He jerked his hand away like it had been burned.

“Potter, get out of here, right now.” He dug his nails into his own palm, trying to banish the memory of that soft touch. Innocent, and intimate, and awful. “You’ll have been missed. You have to go. And I need you to go, right now.” Harry’s mouth twisted up into a cruel smile.

“Or what? You’ll fold? I want you to fold.”

“Potter, I’m begging you.” I’m begging you.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll go out there and pretend that I’m not thinking about your mouth , shall I? And when I’m in class with you, you can pretend you didn’t tell me to take off my clothes. You can pretend you didn’t bend me over your bed, and call me a good boy. You can go ahead and pretend that never happened.” He smoothed his hands over his shirt, and turned his back. “Sir.”

Severus stayed absolutely still as he walked out, and stayed still as his chamber door slammed shut. Then, his hand still clenched tight around the imprint of Harry’s kiss, he punched the wall. And then he did it again.

His knuckles bloody and his hand shaking, he went into the living room and opened a bottle of scotch. He poured a dram out over his split skin, and then drank straight from the bottle until the urge to call the boy back and take whatever innocence he had left faded into a tolerable buzz in the back of his mind.

It took a while.



***



Harry didn’t bother with the cloak. He just marched straight out into the dungeons, not giving a single fuck who saw him. At first, there was no one to see him at all. After a while, though, he began to pass Slytherins in the corridor. They stared at him and whispered behind their hands, but that was all. And then, finally, just at the entrance to the main castle, he saw Malfoy with two little Slytherin girls. Finally, someone to fight with.

“Potter,” Draco sneered. “What are you doing in the dungeons?”

“Mind your own business, Malfoy,” he spat back, and shouldered past him. “Fucking Deatheater spawn.” Harry almost knocked one of the girls over as he passed. What was Malfoy doing with little girls, anyway?

“What did you call me?” The Slytherin drew his wand, and pointed it at Harry’s back. Harry whirled around to face him.

“Filthy. Baby. Deatheater,” he said, enunciating each word slowly and clearly. Malfoy’s face contorted in a very satisfying way.

“You’re DEAD Potter,” he barked. “CONFri- ”

Harry thought ‘expelliarmus,’ and Malfoy’s wand flew straight out of his hand and into the air before he could finish his incantation. Harry caught it, and held it out between two fingers.

The silence was absolute. The two girls were standing still as statues, their mouths agape, and Malfoy looked as if Harry had taken his entire arm. Was it a secret that he could do wandless magic? What wasn’t a fucking secret?

“Am I?” Harry asked, and dropped the wand straight onto the floor. It landed with a ringing clatter, and he thought about stomping it in two, but just left it laying there instead. He looked up and met Draco’s eyes. This pure-blood ponce used to be his arch enemy, hadn’t he? Now he just looked like a boy. A little, pathetic, blonde boy, play-acting as his father. Sad.

He turned on his heel and walked away. No one followed him.



***



Harry had, indeed, been missed. Apparently, Ron and Hermione had gone to McGonagall, who had gone to Dumbledore, who had told them all that Harry was in the dungeons studying with Snape.

Surprisingly, it was Hermione who was most alarmed by this. When he made his way into the common room, she shrieked and jumped to her feet, spilling crookshanks and a pile of parchment to the floor.

“Harry! You scared us to death!”

Ron looked around at him. “Oi, you have to stop disappearing while I’m sleeping,” he said. “What happened?”

Looking at their faces, the idea of having to make up a plausible lie was almost unbearable. He wanted to turn around and walk right back out. But he couldn’t. There was nowhere else to go.

“Sorry,” he said instead, and sat down in one of the overstuffed armchairs, keeping his face impassive as his bruised skin complained. “I got up early, that’s all. Couldn’t sleep.”

“So you went to see Snape?” Hermione asked.

“He’s helping me with my wandless magic,” Harry answered. “Defensive spells and stuff. He gets up really early too.” Ron was looking at him suspiciously. “What?”

“What time did you go?” he asked.

“I dunno, early,” Harry answered shiftily. “It was… still dark out. Have you two gotten any homework done? I only have a few hours before my meeting with Dumbledore.” He said it hoping that it would derail them from asking him any more about Snape, and it did. This first mysterious meeting with the Headmaster was far more interesting than anything Harry could be doing with Snape, after all.



***



Harry didn’t get that much work done before his meeting. Hermione tried to help him but he just couldn’t concentrate. The academic year stretching out ahead of him felt insurmountable. His only consolation was that he at least had a solid head start in DADA, and the Half-Blood Prince for Potions. His reputation for excellence in Potions had formed almost immediately because of that amazing book, and he wasn’t about to disabuse anyone of the notion that he was just gifted, no matter how much it irritated his friends. It was pretty interesting how sure Slughorn was that he’d inherited his newfound talent from his mother, too, which no one had ever told him before. Maybe he could ask Snape about that. They had been friends, hadn’t they? That’s how it had seemed in the pensieve, at least.



***



Snape was not at dinner, and Harry ate quickly to make it on time to Dumbledore’s office. He hadn’t had any idea what to expect, but what the Headmaster showed him was definitely a shock. Seeing Voldemort’s pathetic mother and abusive grandfather and uncle disturbed him. He didn’t like the sympathy it made him feel for the boy Tom Riddle, or for his mother, Merope. But the Headmaster told him it was a secret, and had, in fact, told him not to tell Snape specifically. Hermione and Ron, yes. But not Snape. He supposed it was to safeguard against any of it getting back to Voldemort. But he had to wonder why Snape was allowed to be alone with him if he couldn’t Occlude his mind well enough to suit the Headmaster. Or how Dumbledore continued to allow it, now, if Snape wasn’t able to hide what had happened. Maybe Dumbledore just didn’t read minds that much.

“I think Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger have proved themselves trustworthy. But, Harry, I am going to ask you to ask them not to repeat any of this to anybody else. And please, do not share any of this with Professor Snape.” Can’t get any clearer than that. Harry even asked why, and was given the deeply cryptic response: “I prefer not to put all of my secrets in one basket.”



That night, he lay in bed, fidgeting with the cuff on his wrist, wanting desperately to talk to Snape no matter what Dumbledore had said. The other boys were probably sleeping by now - it was past midnight - but he was afraid that Snape would rebuff him after what had happened that afternoon. He could try, though, he supposed. That’s what the bracelets were for, weren’t they? To ask for help?

Harry listened to the breathing outside the hangings and tried to think of something to say. Finally, he touched his wand to the silver and whispered, as quietly as he could:

“I’m sorry.”

For a long while nothing happened. He laid back on his bed and looked at the dark ceiling. Then, finally, he felt the bracelet warm. In the darkness, the tiny script glowed faintly silver, like moonlight.




Harry let out the breath he was holding, overcome with relief that he’d gotten a response at all, let alone one that invited discussion. “I lost my temper,” he whispered. Severus’ answer appeared one line at a time across his arm.










“I’m trying.”




“I can try a little longer.” There was a faint rustle as one of the other boys rolled over in his sleep. Harry wondered if he could learn to use the bracelet without speaking out loud. That would be better.




“I left my cloak,” he breathed, dropping his voice yet further.







“Sorry,” Harry said again.




The warmth from the bracelet seemed to be spreading up his arm and into his chest. Or maybe that was the knowledge that he would be allowed back, even after what he’d said.

“Thank you,” he whispered. And then he said it again: “thank you.” He imagined Snape is his bed, reading the words, and feeling the bracelet heat up, warm in the chill of the dungeons.






Harry, of course, could not know that Severus was in fact quite drunk, alone in his chambers. He could not know, either, how much guilt his thanks dredged up - how much remorse was dragged out of Severus and laid bare by those two words.

Thank you?


More guilt than any man could stand.

And Severus, wanting so terribly to call him down. To touch him. To kiss him. But wanting, too, to shelter him. To spirit him away. To hide him from all the people that wanted to make him a soldier. The Dark Lord, and the Headmaster, and every single person that had ever walked on earth. Wanting so badly to have him. Wanting to have never laid a finger on him. Wanting to say, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Wanting, just then, sitting on the floor before the hearth, to drink himself to death.
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