月下珠 发表于 2009-7-21 12:02:28

Dark Angel (end) by:Eriador117

Author: Eriador117
Website:http://eriador117.insanejournal.com
Email:[email protected]
Permission:
Yes, you can have permission to repost the stories on your board if you want. :)

take care,
Annette
(Eriador117)



Summary: Snape/Harry Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the Potterverse, I just play in it from time to time. warnings: AU, angst, child abuse, non-con, chan, violence and character deaths. Summary: Dumbledore's methods to ensure Harry's safety after the defeat of Voldemort do more harm than good. Thanks again to Rakina for the beta
Characters: Harry/Severus
Genres: Angst/Tragedy, Romance, Drama, Alternate Universe, First Time, Hurt/Comfort
Rating: M+
Warnings: Violence, Adult Language, Sexual Situations, Chan, Non-con (rape), Character Death, OOC-ness, Under 18




Chapter 1: Dark Angel
Dark Angel

It's only in the dark he comes to me, my dark angel.
It's only in the dark, he can touch me, he can make me his.
I yearn for him, for his touches, his caresses, his darkness.
It's only in the darkness of my dreams that he touches me.

From poem Dark Angel


Part 1

Harry swore as his finger slipped through his hand again. The soap was hopeless, no matter what he tried he just couldn't get this bloody ring off; Dumbledore's spells were too strong. Harry choked on a couple of sobs as he remembered that day in the headmaster's office; the day that Sirius had died and Harry had lost it completely. He'd smashed up all those irritating instruments as he begged and begged Dumbledore not to send him back to Privet Drive.

That was when Dumbledore had put the charmed ring on him, saying that it was entirely for his own good, that it would enable Order members to keep track of him while he was at home. Home! Privet Drive had never been Harry's home, it had been his prison, and he made a vow to himself that he was not going back there even for one second. Not another second in that horrible house with the vile people who inhabited it. He'd begged and pleaded some more, but Dumbledore refused to budge on the issue: Harry was to go back to Privet Drive, back to the place where his mother's blood dwelled.

Now that Voldemort had finally been defeated – a joint Avada Kedavra cast by Harry and Snape had worked where it hadn't before – Harry thought his life would be his own, that he would finally be free. Free of Privet Drive and free of the Dursleys and what they made him do. He couldn't bear it; he couldn't bear to return to that.

The carriages would be arriving at any minute to take them to the station, Harry yanked on the ring one last time but it was as if Dumbledore had cast a permanent sticking charm on it: the ring refused to move. This could not be happening. Dumbledore could not really mean for him to go back to the Dursleys, not after everything. Harry suspected that Dumbledore already knew of some of the abuse that had taken place there, hadn't his first Hogwarts letter been addressed to his cupboard? Dumbledore knew some of it – he must – yet still he insisted that due to the danger to Harry from those Death Eaters still at large after the battle at the Ministry, Harry still needed his mother's blood protection.

Harry wanted to kick, to scream, to punch something. Monitoring spells or not, there was no way Harry was going back to that house. He'd catch the train with his friends, but once at Kings Cross, he'd make his way to Diagon Alley and Gringotts. Perhaps he’d get a room in the Leaky Cauldron for a few days while he decided what to do, for he knew he couldn't live at the inn permanently. Fred and George might put him up for a time, but he hoped he wouldn't have to ask. He should be capable of looking after himself. Soon Privet Drive and what had happened there would be a distant memory.

Harry was planning on running away.

***

"You're awfully quiet today, Harry," mused Hermione. "Is anything wrong?" The three of them were in a compartment on their own and Harry wished they were still on their prefect rounds so that he could have had a little time to himself. Ever since that awful day at the Ministry when he'd watched Sirius fall, no one had seemed keen to let him be. Harry thought they were worried that he might try and do something to harm himself. Sometimes he did think about it. He couldn't deny those thoughts: there would be no more pain, no more Dursleys and he would get to see his parents and Sirius again. It was tempting, but he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to do it.

For a second, a brief glorious second, Harry thought that he might be able to tell her, to tell both of them what was so wrong, but the words just wouldn't come. How could he tell them? How could he tell them that? They would be disgusted with him, just like the way he was disgusted with himself. They were both so normal. No, he couldn't tell them. This was a private horror and not something he could share with anyone.

"Nothing's wrong, Hermione," said Harry with a sigh. "I'm fine." The lies came so easily to him now, he'd been using them for so long they were like old friends. Sometimes if he said it often enough, he could almost believe it was true. Deep down he knew it wasn't, though. He wasn't fine. He'd never been fine, but he'd been using the persona of the happy Harry for so long that nearly everyone else believed it. Believed that he was just as fine, just as normal as the rest of them.

"We're almost there, Harry, you'd better get changed out of your robes. You know we're not supposed to wear them outside school."

"I have to go to Diagon Alley first, Hermione. I didn't want to wear Muggle clothes there."

"Oh. Right," said Hermione and Harry hoped she would leave it at that. Except for his school robes and uniform, all of Harry's other clothes were his cousin's hand-me-downs. Everything dwarfed him and the clothes were so ragged and tatty that Harry felt ashamed every time he put them on. It would have been impossible for a hotel to take him seriously if he was wearing those. Despite being a runaway, he didn't want to look like one. His uniform was the smartest set of clothes he owned and it would have to do until he got some money out and bought some more.

"You're still coming to the Burrow later, aren't you, Harry?"

"I don't know, Ron. Dumbledore might not allow it; he thinks it's still too dangerous."

"Dangerous? But Harry, you defeated You-Know-Who at the Ministry! It can't still be dangerous!"

"There are still Death Eaters at large, Ron," said Hermione. "Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange for starters. They're still after Harry."

Harry felt like a stone had lodged in his chest when he heard Hermione speak so casually of Sirius' murderer. Yes, he and Snape had defeated Voldemort, but too late to save Sirius. Too late to save the one person Harry thought might have been able to save him from the Dursleys. It still hurt too much to think of Sirius, so Harry tried his best not to. But if Bellatrix Lestrange did indeed come after him; he had a feeling that this time his Crucios would work brilliantly.

"We're here," said Hermione as the train shuddered to a stop.

***

The queue behind him was getting restless but the goblin seated behind the wooden desk was adamant. "You cannot make a personal withdrawal until you are of age, Mr. Potter. Where is the adult wizard accompanying you today?"

"There isn't one. I came on my own," sighed Harry. It had never even occurred to him that he wouldn't be able to take his own money out of the vault. There had always been an adult with him before, so he should have realised they weren't in the habit of allowing minors to take out funds.

"Can't you make an exception? I'll be seventeen in a few weeks."

"Mr. Potter, you will be sixteen in a few weeks’ time. Every underage wizard's age is a matter of public record and even if you were nearly seventeen, there would still be no exception. You cannot take out any money until you are seventeen and not a second before. Next!" the goblin called, dismissing him, and Harry was pushed aside by a tall, angular witch who seemed to be all elbows.

Harry made his way outside and stood on the marble steps of the bank just staring into space. What was he going to do? Running away meant he needed money. He had a few galleons left from last term, so there might be enough for a night in the Leaky Cauldron and maybe tomorrow Fred or George would go to the bank with him. It wasn't a brilliant plan but it was the only thing he could think of at the moment.

Dusk was falling rapidly as Harry wandered over to the courtyard of the Leaky Cauldron. The door opened, a rectangle of orange light spilled out onto the cobbles. Two drunken revellers banged into the dustbins and Harry's heart sped up in his chest. He pressed himself up against the wall, hoping they wouldn't see him. Drunken men were not something Harry felt like dealing with right now.

They giggled and wandered off in the opposite direction, away from Harry. He took one step over the threshold of the Wizarding inn and was suddenly yanked away, as if he'd suddenly been given a Portkey. The world whizzed past him in a blur of colours and all he could hear was a loud rushing in his ears. Harry fumbled for his wand, he was getting dizzy but he did mange to get it out of his robe pocket.

Harry thought that Lucius Malfoy or Bellatrix Lestrange might have been at the other end of this awful journey. When the world stopped spinning, Harry's wand dropped from his hand in shock. He was in the living room of number four, Privet Drive and his aunt and uncle did not look at all surprised to see him appear out of thin air like that.

"So," said Vernon. "So. You’re here at last, boy. About time."

The last thing Harry heard before he lost consciousness was the swish of his uncle's leather belt.



Chapter 2: Dark Angel
Part 2


"Seven sickles for a Skiving Snackbox?" exclaimed Ron, holding up the item in question. It was the official opening of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes today and Ron had begged to be allowed to help. "Who would pay that?"

"Supply and demand, little brother," said Fred.

"Yeah," agreed George. "Your little friends demand..."

"... And we supply."

The bell above the shop tinkled like a wind charm and they had their first customer. Fred smiled as he greeted the young witch, who sadly was just browsing today. He heard George warning Ron not to touch anything, as some of their lines were still in the very, very experimental stage yet. Fred didn't think Ron needed warning; he had been the victim of too many of their pranks when he was younger.

As the shop started filling with customers, Fred sought out his twin and gave him a small grin. Sometimes he had to pinch himself to make sure they weren't dreaming. They had a shop, a real honest-to-goodness shop. So what if it didn't have the largest premises on Diagon Alley (the rent was cheaper) and was situated at the Knockturn Alley end rather than the more affluent area near Gringotts? It was theirs and it was all thanks to Harry. They would never have got started if Harry hadn't given them that prize money.

Sometimes Fred felt awfully guilty for taking it, but Harry had been so insistent and it was something Harry had desperately wanted to do. Harry hadn't wanted to take the prize money that reminded him of Cedric's death. Fred had come to terms with it and had set up a vault at Gringotts in Harry's name, where he intended putting a share of the profits for Harry when he came of age. Harry was a shareholder. Fred laughed to himself. They had a shareholder.

By lunchtime they had a steady stream of customers and most of them bought something, even if it was only a sachet of itching powder or a box of stink pellets. "Ron, have you heard from Harry lately?" asked Fred as he wrapped the current customer's purchases.

"No, those Muggles hardly ever let Hedwig out of her cage," said Ron. "He probably can't send us any letters."

Fred was transported back a few years, to his father's flying Ford Anglia and a boy in a room with barred windows. Surely they didn't keep Harry locked in still? Fred couldn't understand how anyone could lock up a child like that. Despite all the mischief he and George got up to, the worst that had ever happened to them was having to de-gnome the garden, but at least it was outside in the fresh air. Fred didn't understand these Muggles of Harry's at all; even for Muggles they seemed a bit strange.

Ron stayed for tea – a hastily prepared chicken salad – as it was too hot to try and cook anything. Shortly after seven their mother turned up to Apparate Ron back to the Burrow. Of course, once she arrived, she had to have the grand tour of the shop and the small flat above it.

"Two bedrooms? But you always loved sharing a room!" she'd protested. Fred didn't quite know how to explain to his mother that there were just some things you couldn't share with your brother; no matter how much you loved your twin. It was bliss having his own room for a change and maybe now he'd even be able to bring someone back if he wanted to. They'd been so caught up in organising things for the shop that neither of them had found much time for romance. Maybe that would change soon.

"George," said Fred as they put the plates away after their mother and Ron had gone. "I think we should pay a visit to Harry. He's always managed to get a letter to Ron before. Has anyone from the Order been to check on him?"

"At the last meeting Dumbledore said it wasn't necessary, that Harry was safe as long as he stays at the house. Blood wards or something."

"Still, it can't hurt, can it?"

"Nope," said George as he brandished his wand and put the last of the dishes away with a dramatic flourish.

"Show off," laughed Fred, but inside he was uneasy about Harry, the boy who was their brother in all but name.

***

They Apparated to an alleyway situated between Privet Drive and Magnolia Crescent. What was it with Muggles and plants anyway? Privet Drive? Acacia Avenue? Beech Road? It was as if they called these havens of brick and concrete after plants because there weren't many in the vicinity and they missed them.

Mindful of how badly Harry's relatives had reacted about anything non-Muggle before, they were dressed casually in jeans and t-shirts tonight. Despite the sun having faded over an hour ago the evening was still quite warm and they didn’t need jackets.

They started walking along Privet Drive and Fred couldn't help shuddering; all these square boxes gave him the creeps. Everything was so orderly, so similar. How could you tell which house was yours when your neighbour's looked exactly the same? Sprinklers sputtered on a few lawns, soaking grass that was such a vivid green it didn't look entirely real, almost as if it was glowing in the dark. How could people live squashed up together like this? Wouldn't it be claustrophobic? Although The Burrow was sometimes overflowing with family and guests, you didn't have to walk too far to get to the orchard or the fields to be alone. Here there was nowhere to go, just more streets with more square boxes.

"What number was it again?" asked Fred. They'd never actually seen the front of the house before.

"Four," said George as he stopped by a lamp-post. Number four wasn't exactly like all its neighbours tonight. Where most of the houses were ablaze with light, number four Privet Drive was in complete darkness.

"No lights," said George, stating the obvious.

"And no car either," said Fred. "Maybe it's in the garage?"

"Maybe they've gone on holiday?"

"With Harry? Or have they left him on his own?" For Fred could not imagine the Dursleys as the sort of people who would take Harry on holiday with them; he didn't think they ever gave the boy treats. Harry was the only person Fred knew who adored his Weasley jumpers: they were the first new clothes he'd ever been given and he'd kept every one; Fred had seen them in Harry's trunk.

They marched up to the front door and rapped loudly on the wood – no answer. They tried the doorbell and the lion-headed doorknocker next, but there was still no movement from inside the house. It seemed as if there was no-one here after all, but Fred wasn't at all convinced that the house was empty. He removed his wand from the pocket of his jeans and cast an Alohomora spell on the front door.

"What are you doing?" hissed George. "What if someone sees you?"

"I'm not leaving until we make sure Harry is all right." Fred pushed open the door and stepped into the darkened hallway, his twin following. Both of them used Lumos to illuminate their wands while they searched for a light switch; there was one on the left-hand wall. They were used to Muggle devices thanks to their father's fanaticism, but nothing happened when Fred pressed the switch. The only light still came from their wands.

The house smelt stale, as if it hadn't been aired for a while. There was a cupboard under the stairs with locks and chains on the door, but the door itself hung open. Inside they could see Harry's trunk and Hedwig's cage, but there was no sign of Harry or his owl. They searched the downstairs – the living room, dining room, and kitchen – but they were all empty.

They knew where Harry's bedroom was having rescued him from it before and they made their way upstairs as silently as they had searched the ground floor. There were four doors leading off the small landing; one was ajar and they caught a glimpse of white ceramic in the bathroom. Two of the other doors opened at a touch, all were empty, with beds made up and no sign of habitation. Fred heard George suck in a gasp when they came to the last door.

The door seemed to consist of more metal chains than wood. All of the chains were locked and there were three deadbolts as well; one at the top, one at the bottom and one in the middle. At the bottom there was a small square flap cut out of the door. "Merlin, Fred, is that a cat-flap?" exclaimed George. "What were they doing? Feeding him through a hole in the door?"

There was no doubt in either of their minds that this was Harry's room, or at least the room where the Dursleys had put him. Fred didn't think Harry considered any part of this house home. They both cast Alohomora at the same time and all the chains slinked free of their padlocks and the deadbolts slid loose. Like the rest of the house the room was in darkness and they couldn't see much even with their wands lit by Lumos. Fred waved his wand around like a torch, the small beam of light not helping much; all he could see were shadows.

"Harry?" George called as he too waved his wand around the room. Compared to the rest of the house, this room was barren: they could make out the shape of a small bed and a chest of drawers that leaned heavily to one side. Something moved in the corner; Fred saw it in the corner of his eyes as he moved the wand away. He hurriedly turned the beam back. "George, over here!" he called and both of them aimed their wands into the corner.

Harry was sitting flush with the wall, knees tucked up against his chest, rocking backwards and forwards, his hands covering his eyes and mumbling one word over and over again. "No. No. No."

There were two buckets sitting a little bit away from Harry – buckets for waste, Fred realised from the smell. Hadn't they even let him out to go to the bathroom? He and George concentrated their magic together and strengthened the Lumos beam from their wands at that one corner. Dear Merlin, what the hell had happened?

Harry was dressed in nothing but a t-shirt that skimmed his waist and underpants about four sizes too big for him. His arms and legs were covered in a pattern of bruises in every hue from purple to yellow. There were marks on him too, cuts and abrasions, were those whip marks? Fred knelt down beside the rocking boy and tried to take Harry's hands away from his face. Harry screamed and twisted in his grasp, managing to scratch Fred's face as he struggled. But not before Fred had seen the cracked and parched lips. "George, get some water," ordered Fred, wondering how long it had been since Harry had been given anything to drink.

Fred wished now he'd paid more attention in Charms, especially to healing spells. One of Harry's legs seemed to be at an awkward angle and Fred suspected it may have been broken. While George looked for water, Fred searched the dresser for some clothes for Harry to wear, as they couldn't very well take him away in just the t-shirt and underwear. There were clothes in the dresser, but every item except for what Harry was wearing now was slashed to shreds, as if someone had taken a pair of scissors or a knife to them.

Fred repaired a pair of jeans with his wand and then resized them so that they would actually fit; then he realised that if Harry did have a broken leg, it would be impossible to dress him without causing him any pain. He spelled the clothes onto Harry, his heart hitching in his chest when Harry screamed as realised he was now dressed. "No! No! Don't take me! Don't take me!"

George returned with the water, but they couldn't get Harry calm enough to drink it, most of it spilled on the wooden floorboards. "We'll take him to Madam Pomfrey at Hogwarts," said Fred. She'd know what to do. Harry kicked and screamed in their grasp as they tried to hold him for an Assisted Apparition. Harry didn't seem to know who they were or that they were trying to help him and it was a struggle to hold on.

They Apparated, making sure they were holding Harry between them. Fred stumbled to a stop, George too, but there was no sign of Harry. "What happened? Where is he?"

"Maybe there are anti-Apparition wards on Privet Drive?" said Fred.

"So why could we Apparate, then?"

"Maybe they're just set for Harry, him being underage. We'll just have to take him out of the house then and Apparate from somewhere else, George."

They both Apparated back to Harry's bedroom, where he was once again tucked into the corner, hands over his face. Fred wasn't entirely sure how they managed it, but they did eventually get Harry down the stairs, despite him clinging onto the banister at intervals and doing his best to ensure that he and George would never father children as he randomly kicked out. At least that meant his leg probably wasn't broken. The screams were terrible – it sounded as though Harry thought he was going to be murdered.

With Harry held between them, Fred and George marched him to the front door and walked outside. Fred felt it first: Harry was yanked from between them and landed flat on his back inside the house. They must have tried to get him out at least twenty times, but something kept bringing him back to the house. It was some sort of spell or charm, it had to be. Fred only knew one expert on Dark curses, for he couldn't believe that anything designed to keep Harry in that awful place was anything but Dark.

"George," he said as they helped Harry up from the floor yet again. "We need Snape."



Chapter 3: Dark Angel
Part 3


Time had no meaning when Severus was brewing a potion; he brewed by instinct alone, not the clock. He didn't care whether the instructions from old journals or books specified an optimal brewing time; he ignored it. Time was an irrelevance. No, what Severus Snape relied on was the scent of the potion, the hue of the liquid, the consistency, and most of the time he got it right. He was naturally gifted when it came to Potions and he smiled to himself as he remembered Professor Slughorn's despair when he'd seen what Severus had done to his Potions textbook in sixth year. Severus had added some improvements in the margins, making up his own recipes and methods, which worked far better than anything written in the textbook.

That book had been old even when Severus was at school and still it was on the curriculum for the Advanced students; at the start of each term, Severus just got every student to turn out their bag and hand in their books for inspection. No one had caught on yet, but Severus had magically altered every book to hold his own Potions instructions so at least he knew the theory was sound, even if some of the Advanced classes were still a bit wonky on the practicals.

Yes, Severus was good at Potions, but tonight he'd already made three barely passable batches of an experimental potion he was working on: not Dreamless Sleep, but a variation of a Calming Draught and a potion to give the subject good dreams. Dreamless Sleep helped with those who were suffering from nightmares, but the body and mind needed dreams to function properly and taking Dreamless Sleep indefinitely was not the answer. Severus refused to let his mind linger on why he was trying to prepare such a potion, but a vision of clear green eyes swam into his head anyway.

He ladled out the latest batch and bottled it in green vials, noting how much the shade differed from Potter's eyes. The boy had been having constant nightmares ever since that final battle at the Ministry, as Poppy had informed him when she'd requested his whole stock of Dreamless Sleep potion. It couldn't be good for the boy to keep taking it. Poppy had even sent him home with some for the summer. Just as Severus placed the stopper in the last vial, his Floo flared into life in the next room.

It had been warded against anyone except Poppy or the members of the Order of the Phoenix. Severus washed his hands and resolved to return later to clean his instruments and preparation area: dirty tables or implements could contaminate future potions.

He was very surprised to see Fred Weasley's head in the fire.

"Sir! Professor! Please come, it's Harry!"

***

Arabella Figg tried to ply them both with cake when Severus Flooed to the squib's Muggle house, but he had patience for neither tea nor cake, so they both declined politely and made their way to number four Privet Drive.

"What happened, Weasley?" asked Severus as they made their way up the path. "Has there been an attack?" Severus was thinking of Death Eaters, but surely they couldn't have got past the wards of that house? What about the blood wards?

"Yes," said Fred. "We don't know exactly what happened, but Harry was in a terrible state. His relatives weren't there, but we found Harry in a locked room. He was hysterical and covered in bruises. He didn't know who we were, he just kept screaming."

"A locked room? The Dursleys gone? Do you think the Death Eaters kidnapped them? Did the Death Eaters lock Harry in?"

Fred paused by the front door. "Sir? You don't know, do you?"

"We are no longer professor and student, Weasley, you may address me as Severus."

"Only if you call me, Fred, then."

"Very well, Fred. What don't I know?"

"It wasn't Death Eaters, Severus. It was Harry's relatives who did this to him – at least I think so."

"You mean he was being abused? The Boy Who Killed Voldemort was being abused by his relatives? We've got to get him away from here!"

"That's the problem, Severus. We can't."

***

"It's some sort of spell, that's obvious," said Severus as the three of them sat in the Muggle kitchen around a square table. Severus had been able to heal Harry's bruises and place him in a healing sleep. He and Fred had tried to get Harry to the bathroom to give him a bath, but Harry had balked as soon as they tried to remove his t-shirt. It was as Fred had said: Harry had no idea who they were or that they were trying to help him rather than harm him. In the end Severus had cast a cleaning charm on the boy and conjured pyjamas onto his body. Had Potter always been this thin? How had he never noticed it before?

Severus found that the fuses had been taken out of the fuse box by the front door, they were easy enough to recover by an Accio spell and soon they had the electricity back on again. Why had the Dursleys left and turned off the electricity, leaving Potter with no light?

When they'd opened the fridge earlier, they discovered all the food had spoiled. Not that there had been much there to begin with. They'd searched the cupboards too, hoping to find something that they could feed to Harry. If he'd been locked up for any length of time he would need food and soon, but there was nothing there. Not a tin of beans or even some soup. It was as if the Dursleys had taken every item of food from the cupboards with them.

"Is it a Dark spell stopping us from taking Harry?" asked Fred as he trailed his finger along the grain of the table.

"I could not sense anything Dark from it, no," said Severus. "If anything, it seems more like a protection spell."

"Protection?" spluttered George. "It didn't do much to protect him here, did it? God, those bastards, if I ever get my hands on them..."

"Fred, George, you both seem entirely convinced that it was Harry's relatives who did this to him and not Death Eaters. Can you explain your reasoning to me?"

Fred laughed bitterly. "For a spy, you can be pretty unobservant at times, Severus. Mind you, I suppose Harry was hiding it: he was ashamed. He never talked a lot about it, but we guessed. Did you see that cupboard in the hall?"

"Yes, what of it?"

"Until Harry first went to Hogwarts, that's where he lived."

At first Severus wasn't quite sure what he was hearing. A cupboard? Those Muggles had kept the hope of the Wizarding world in a cupboard? Severus had seen glimpses of this cupboard during those disastrous Occlumency lessons, but he thought it was some sort of Muggle discipline for misbehaviour. He had no idea the Potter boy had actually lived there. It just didn't seem possible. Severus had always thought that Harry Potter was spoiled by his relatives, adored and cherished as the only child of Petunia Dursley's dead sister. How could he have been so wrong all these years? How could he not have seen?

"In second year, he was in that locked bedroom and they'd put bars on his window so he couldn't get out. They were starving him, he was skin and bone, remember, Fred?"

"I remember," said Fred darkly. "Didn't you notice him at meals in the Great Hall, Severus? He always ate so fast in case the food was snatched away from him again. He hoarded it too… one day Ron found a ton of food under Harry's bed, all with preserving charms on it. Harry freaked out when Ron saw it; he didn't want to admit that he was hoarding food in case he was starved again. The only time he ate properly was at Hogwarts or The Burrow."

Severus was livid. "Do you mean to tell me you knew what was happening to that boy and never reported it? You never told anyone of this abuse?"

"Of course we did!" protested the twins together. "We told Mum, who told Dumbledore."

"Dumbledore knew? He knew?"

"He did, but he said that the blood protection was more important than a few missed meals here and there and a couple of wallops."

"A few missed meals? A couple of wallops? The boy is almost a skeleton! How could he have allowed that to continue? How could anyone?"

"Hey, we agree with you, all right?" said Fred. "Harry should never have been left here, we've got to get him out, Severus, before they come back."

The clock above the cooker chimed midnight. "I suggest we all get some rest and formulate a plan to help Potter in the morning. I presume Muggle shops don't stay open so late?"

"There might be an all-night supermarket nearby," suggested George. "What do you need?"

"Food for a start – Harry needs to get his strength back, he's severely malnourished."

"Okay, Severus, make us a list and we can go and look for a shop. You'd better stay here with Harry, I don't think he should be left alone."

"Very well, Fred." Severus waved his wand to conjure himself some parchment and a pen; he hadn't the patience for quills and ink tonight. He made sure to suggest things that were fairly light; if Harry hadn't been eating for a while his stomach probably wasn't up to anything too stodgy anyway. It wasn't just his body Severus was worried about; the boy's mind seemed very fragile at the moment. He could have used Legilimency to see what was going through the boy's head, but that might make his mind snap completely.

"Do you need Muggle money?" asked Severus as he rummaged through his robe pocket. Every Order member always kept some Muggle money about their person for emergencies in case they could not get to Gringotts or anywhere else in the Wizarding world.

"No worries, Severus," said Fred with a grin. "Remember, we were in the Order too."

"I sometimes find it difficult to accept the two of you as anything other than the imps who used my classroom as a base of operations for their experiments. That stain is still on the ceiling, you know."

"What do you tell the class when they ask about it?"

"That it is all that is left of a very foolhardy student who didn't pay attention to their potion."

Fred and George grinned before Apparating away.

Once they were gone, Severus went back upstairs to check on Harry. He hadn't told the twins what else he had suspected; still considering them a bit on the young side despite the fact that they were indeed adults now. Harry's distress as they'd tried to take that dirty t-shirt off him and his cries of ‘No!’ were adding up to something that Severus didn't really want to contemplate, but it would have to be faced if they were ever to help the boy recover.

Harry was still deeply asleep; hopefully the spell would keep him sleeping until morning. The room was awful; Severus and the Weasley twins had transfigured the bed and blankets into something much softer and cleaner for him. There was nothing on any of the walls: no paintings, no posters of Quidditch stars or rock groups. Even Severus when he was a teenager had posters on his bedroom wall. It was as if Harry had not been allowed to make himself at home.

Severus waved his wand and conjured a few prints from his dungeon; he couldn't supply any posters of Quidditch teams, but he did have a couple of pictures of dragons and a mermaid. It brightened the room a bit and he stared hard at them before he made his way over to the bed and removed his wand. His hand shook as he considered casting the spell; it was a terrible violation, he knew it was, but Severus needed to find out exactly what had happened.

He didn't think Harry would allow it when he was awake, and considering the boy's state of mind, he didn't think that Harry would even be coherent enough to be able to give consent. Severus took a deep breath and said the spell that would take him inside the sleeping boy's mind; Harry would not be able to defend against it while he slept.

"Legilimens," he whispered, wishing there'd been some other way to do this.


Chapter 4: Dark Angel
Part 4

Severus had never attempted Legilimency on anyone who was asleep before. At first all he could see were Potter's dreams; weird scenes that didn't make much sense to an observer: Potter flying on a teapot as he tried to catch a snitch with wings as large as a dragon and sharp teeth that bit his hand; Potter piloting some sort of space-ship, and when the door opened the alien figures which tumbled out were slices of cheese with forks for arms and knives for legs. Severus shook his mind-self; he needed memories, not dreams.

It took a while, but finally he saw the thread leading to Potter's memories. Glowing blue it led him deeper and deeper into the boy's mind until he finally he found some of what he was looking for. This scene was no dream, no imagined incident. With the constant blue glow around it, Severus knew it was a memory, but he'd gone too far back in time. This memory was not recent: Potter was a child again, locked in a dark cupboard. It was important though – it almost felt like Potter's mind had led him here, in order to show him what this memory contained. Severus watched as the memory unfolded and found himself wishing there was some way he could have been able to intervene.

***

Harry was crying again, but trying to be silent about it. His uncle had already taken the belt to him that morning and if he heard Harry crying, he would be beaten again. He muffled his sobs in the one pillow he possessed and prayed and prayed for someone to come and take him away. Maybe his parents weren't really dead and would come for him one day. They would love him and never beat him, never lock him in the dark.

Harry hated the dark. He always imagined he saw monsters in the dark, monsters with glowing red eyes. But when he told his relatives about it, they just beat him and shoved him back in the cupboard again… back in the darkness. Harry shuddered on the thin mattress, the fear making him cry even more. He was five, he was a big boy now, and big boys shouldn't cry.

He heard the cupboard door being yanked open; Harry turned, squinting his eyes up against the bright light that spilled in around his uncle's large form. "Out," said Vernon and Harry scrambled to the far wall. He knew what ‘out’ meant. ‘Out’ meant the belt or the broom handle. ‘Out’ meant pain and Harry didn't want any more pain. Ever.

The cupboard wasn't very big though and despite Vernon's bulk, his arms could still reach in easily enough and he yanked Harry hard by the legs and tugged him outside into the hallway. "Up," said Vernon pointing to the staircase. Harry had never been upstairs before and he looked at all those steps with some trepidation.

"Aunt Petunia said I'm not allowed upstairs," said Harry in a small voice, worried that Vernon was tricking him into going upstairs and then going to punish him for it afterwards.

"Your aunt and cousin aren't here. Up, I said, boy," groused Vernon, grabbing hold of the collar of Dudley's old shirt and dragging Harry towards the stairs. Once they were both on the landing, Vernon stopped outside one of the closed doors and knelt down so that he was on Harry's level; the exertion left him panting for breath.

"There's someone here to see you, Harry. A visitor. You have to be a good boy and do exactly as he says, or I'll take the belt to you. You have to do everything he says and you can't say no to anything, do you understand?"

Harry nodded; he'd learned long ago that the word no in this house never stopped anything bad from happening to him. His uncle had never set down rules like this before, though; it was random whenever Harry got beaten and he wondered who on earth his visitor could be. No one had ever visited him before; Aunt Marge came to visit, but she wasn't really visiting Harry. It would be nice to have a visitor just for him.

"Very well," Vernon pushed open the door and Harry saw his aunt and uncle's bedroom for the first time. It was a lot larger than his cupboard and there was a real bed in it. There was a man sitting on the bed with round-framed glasses and messy hair. A patch of it stuck up at the back exactly like Harry's and Harry stared and stared at the man. That face… it seemed so familiar.

"Hello, Harry," said the man. "I'm your father."

Harry launched himself into the man's arms and wrapped his arms around his father's neck. "Daddy! I knew you'd come for me! I knew it!"

His father shifted so that Harry was settled on his lap and pressed Harry's head against his shoulder. "Excuse me a moment, Harry," he said and took out a strange looking bottle, drinking some of whatever was inside. He shook his head. "There, that's better. Dursley, are you still here?"

"There is the small matter of payment," mumbled Vernon. "You said you'd pay handsomely for the boy."

"And so I shall, Dursley. After I have been fully satisfied. Leave us." Harry's father clicked his fingers and Vernon hurried out, even though he seemed to be struggling against the order. "Stand up, Harry, and let me have a look at you."

Harry slid down from his father's lap and stood feeling very self-conscious in Dudley's old clothes. "What have they dressed you in? You look worse than a house-elf. This won't do, it won't do at all." Harry's father took out a pointy stick and waved it at Harry, and in the next instant he was dressed in a pair of navy-blue shorts that just about covered his thighs, a white shirt with navy trim and pair of knee-length white socks. Harry had never had a pair of socks before in his life and he wiggled his toes at the new sensation.

"Much better," said his father. "Here, Harry, get back onto my lap. You're going to be a good boy for Daddy, aren't you?"

Harry settled himself back on his father's lap, wriggling a little. His clothes felt so much tighter than he was used to and they were itchy and uncomfortable. The man below him gasped and gripped Harry's waist. If anything, the grip hurt but Harry didn't want to say so in case his Daddy got angry at him like Vernon always did. He had to be good for his Daddy, didn't he?

Harry watched as his father's hand stroked his bare knees; there was a scab there from the last time he'd fallen and the man seemed fascinated by it, trailing his fingers along the whole length of it. Harry felt a little odd about it, but he didn't know what to say, how to explain how he was feeling. It was the sort of touch he had never received before, tenderness had never been given to him before and he craved it – craved the feeling of being loved. His father loved him… he must… why else would he be here?

It was only when the hands wandered up towards his thighs that Harry started getting nervous. Aunt Petunia was always warning him that he was dirty there and he must never, never touch himself there except for washing. But his father's hands kept creeping towards him, up to that bad, dirty part of him and his breath hitched on a sob. He wanted to say no, he desperately wanted to say no, but his uncle's warning was ringing in his mind. He was so dirty, how could his father want to touch him there? But he wasn't allowed to say no or he would get the belt again.

"Ssh, Harry. I won't hurt you," said his father as his hand squeezed him there. Harry yelped, that had hurt! "You're so good for your Daddy, my little angel. Lie on the bed for me, Harry, that's it, that's it."

Harry lay down on his aunt and uncle's bed and tried to hold back his tears. He wanted to be good; he so wanted to be a good boy. He was so bad – the Dursleys were always telling him how bad he was, how unnatural – and he didn't want to be a bad boy. He wanted to be a good boy for his Daddy. If he was good, maybe his Daddy would take him away from here and he would never get the belt or the broom handle again.

"I'll be a good boy, Daddy. I promise." Harry was too young then to know what had happened to him, he just knew that it hurt and he hoped it would be over soon. He was good though, he didn't cry out or say no once, wanting his father to know how good a boy he was being. It was as his father turned to leave that Harry sobbed in earnest; his father was leaving him here and Harry didn't know if he was ever coming back.

"Maybe," the man said and placed a soft kiss on his forehead.

It hadn't mattered in the end how good Harry had been, Vernon had beaten him with his belt again anyway; Harry's blood had stained the sheets.

***

Severus was whisked away, he saw glimpses of other memories and other men as Vernon prostituted his nephew to all those who would pay for a child. He lost count after twenty. Vernon didn't touch Harry sexually himself until he was fourteen, the summer after Voldemort's return. Vernon hadn't been as gentle as those men – if you could ever call raping a child gentle. Vernon was into violence: he couldn't get it up unless he'd beaten Harry to a pulp beforehand.

In those memories Severus had seen what Harry in his fear and shame hadn't; there had always been a video camera running every time the men were with Harry. The Muggle bastard had recorded everything.

Severus was wrenched away from the memories and he was back in Potter's bedroom at Privet Drive, trembling and feeling sick. That first memory, that first man had been a wizard, taking Polyjuice Potion to appear as James and molest Harry Potter. Severus thought he might faint. Potter had first been raped when he was just five years old. Raped by a wizard pretending to be his father. It was sick. The wizard knew exactly how to manipulate the child, offering him the comfort his relatives had denied him, pretending to offer a father's love, when in reality all he was offering was terror and pain. No child should ever have been put through that. Not one.

Did Vernon Dursley know who the wizard was? How had this happened? He somehow couldn't imagine Vernon Dursley standing on the corner of Knockturn Alley with Harry in tow. How did the wizard get into the house if Potter was protected by the blood wards?

Then he remembered what Dursley had said; the aunt wasn't at home. What idiot had set the wards to only be in effect when Petunia Dursley was in residence? The woman would not have been in the house constantly and as he quickly scanned the memories he'd seen, Severus realised that it had happened whenever Petunia had been away from home. He realised that Death Eaters could quite easily have entered the house at those times. Potter's so-called blood protection was a farce, and it always had been.

Severus was appalled at himself that he hadn't picked up on the signals sooner; he'd seen his fair share of child abuse cases in Slytherin House but he’d never thought to look for it in Harry Potter. He could hardly believe that Harry, the epitome of bravery and fair play, had been abused like this. It was horrific, that's what it was, and he and the Weasleys would need to get working on the spells that were keeping Harry here, and soon.

Severus was not leaving this godforsaken Muggle house until Harry Potter could leave it too.



Chapter 5: Dark Angel
Part 5

Harry was having a good dream; it had been such a long time since he'd had a good dream that he didn't want to wake up. In the dream he was lying on a bed with fresh, crisp, white sheets; blankets that were neither too hot nor too cool and a pillow so soft and fluffy he imagined it must be like sleeping on a cloud.

Sometimes in the dream the Weasley twins and Professor Snape were there too. When Snape first appeared Harry thought that his dream was turning into a nightmare, but it never did. The dream Potions Master was nothing like the strict teacher at school. He talked gently to Harry as if he didn't want to frighten him and sometimes he made Harry swallow potions that he tipped into Harry's dream mouth.

Sometimes they brought the dream Harry trays of food and lots to drink – orange juice and milk – and Harry allowed them to feed him. His dream self felt very weak and it was such an effort even to keep his head up to swallow any of the food. He was very hungry in the dream though and he ate as much as they would give him. It was a dream; it was okay for him to eat in a dream. He wouldn't get hurt for eating in a dream.

In the dream there were no Dursleys: no Vernon with his fat hands snatching the food from Harry's plate and throwing it to the floor, or spitting on it and then ordering Harry to throw it in the bin because it was filthy now. Sometimes after dinner if Harry was made to do the washing up, he would sneak some food out of the bin and eat it, desperate for any sort of food by then. He never raided the cupboards or the fridge, Vernon knew exactly how much of everything there was and Harry would be punished.

In this dream there was no double bed, no men with leering faces as they used Harry again and again. No Vernon with his belt and his boots, crushing Harry as he took his pleasure in Harry's pain. Harry cringed as memories came flooding back, even in a good dream he couldn't avoid them.

It had hurt so much when he realised that first man – the one who pretended to be his father – was a wizard using Polyjuice Potion to look like James Potter. Harry thought his father had come to save him, but he would never be saved. He would never get away and he would die in Privet Drive. Harry didn't think it would be long now, considering how violent Vernon seemed to be getting as the years went by. "Dad! Dad!" Harry sobbed into the soft pillow, wishing it had been real, that his father had been alive and had taken him away.

"Severus, he's coming out of it," said one of the twins. Fred, from the voice, Harry thought. Harry wanted to wake up now; he didn't want his good dream turning into a nightmare. Thoughts of what those men had done always made it turn into a nightmare and he didn't want any more bad dreams. Harry squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated hard on waking up. It didn't work.

When he opened his eyes again, he was still in the midst of the dream. It was only in dreams he had clean sheets and soft pillows. There were moving pictures of dragons and mermaids on the walls around his room, so he knew he must still be dreaming; the Dursleys would never have Wizarding pictures in the house. There was only one thing Vernon Dursley ever wanted from the Wizarding world and that was the money from those wizards he brought here - they paid well to use Harry's body.

"I'm asleep. I have to wake up now. I'm dreaming."

"You are not dreaming, Mr. Potter," said the voice of Professor Snape from the doorway. Harry lifted his head from the pillow – it was such an effort. His whole body felt as weak as that of a newborn kitten. As the man came closer to the bed, Harry panicked. He knew of only one reason why a man would come to him while he was on a bed.

"NO! NO!" screamed Harry as he tried to struggle free of the bedclothes. He felt trapped by layers of wool and cotton, yet he knew he had to get away. "Please, no," he begged as the covers would not relinquish their hold on him. "Don't touch me. Don't touch me!"

"I'm not going to touch you, Harry. I merely wish to cast a scanning spell on you to ascertain your temperature. You have had a fever for the past four days, that's probably why you feel a bit out if it. Fred, would you pour Harry a glass of water please?"

Harry glanced round and saw that Fred was still in the room; he poured out a glass of water from the jug sitting on the bedside cabinet. Where had that come from? Harry had never had a bedside cabinet before, just the dresser with a wonky leg so that it was lopsided. It wasn't lopsided anymore. "Here you go, Harry," said Fred, handing him the glass.

Harry gulped the water down, his hand trembling as he did so. He felt so thirsty!

"Easy, Harry, you'll give yourself cramps," advised Fred.

Harry sipped the water a little slower, but not by much…he felt parched. Once he'd drained the glass, Fred poured him another and Harry drank the water down gratefully.

"Where am I?" asked Harry in some confusion.

"You are still at Privet Drive, Harry," said Snape and Harry was glad the man was calling him Harry. He hated being called ‘Potter’ in an angry voice; Vernon usually called him either 'Potter' or more often just 'boy'.

"What are you all doing here? Did Professor Dumbledore send you to check up on me? I'm fine," insisted Harry stubbornly, even though in truth he felt far from it.

"Harry, you are not fine," said Snape as he Accio’d a stool from somewhere and sat down by the side of Harry's bed. Fred did the same on the other side and Harry felt hemmed in by both of them. "The Weasley twins were concerned about you, Harry, no one has heard from you since term broke up and you normally contact Ronald at least once. Where is your owl, Harry? We could not find her."

Harry felt tears welling up; he'd thought it was a nightmare, that he'd dreamed what had happened to Hedwig. "He - he killed her," Harry said softly. "My uncle. He killed her."

Fred and Snape exchanged a glance. "Harry, can you tell us what happened?" asked Fred. "Where are the Dursleys?"

"They - they went on holiday," said Harry, his throat tight. "They bought a villa in Spain last year."

"They went on holiday and left you in a locked room?" demanded Snape angrily and Harry flinched away from him. Snape lowered his voice. "Harry, I'm sorry, I did not mean to startle you. I am angry at them, not you. None of this is your fault."

"Sometimes… sometimes I feel like it is," admitted Harry. "That he only hurts me because I deserve it."

"Harry! That man is a monster!" yelled Fred and Harry almost jumped twelve feet in the air. “You did not deserve what he did to you, none of it. You are not to blame."

"Harry, what happened? Why did you come back here?" asked Snape gently.

"I - I didn't want to," said Harry. "I was planning on running away but Gringotts wouldn't let me take any money out unless an adult was with me. I was going to go and stay at the Leaky Cauldron for a night and then visit Fred and George the next morning to see if one of them would go to the bank with me."

"Oh, Harry, of course we would," said Fred, reaching out to pat Harry's hand, but Harry couldn't let him. He hid his hands out of sight beneath the bedclothes and tried to will the old fear away. "So how did you end up back here?"

"Fred - can I talk to Professor Snape alone for a minute?" asked Harry, he didn't know how he could explain it to one of the Weasleys. There were all so happy, so normal, and he didn't want to sully any of them with his filth.

"Sure, I'll just be downstairs with George if you need me for anything." Harry waited until Fred had left before he took a deep breath and stared into his teacher's dark eyes.

"You used Legilimency on me, didn't you?" asked Harry. "I could feel someone else in my mind and it couldn't have been Voldemort. Why did you do that? Why did you violate my mind like that? Was this to get back at me because I looked into the pensieve? I never told anyone what was in there, not a soul!"

"I know, Harry. And no, this was not about revenge. When Fred and George found you, you were half-starved and suffering from dehydration, you were incoherent and having hallucinations. We needed to know what had happened to you to be able to help you. You weren't lucid enough to tell us so I went inside your mind to find out. At first I thought you'd been attacked by Death Eaters and they'd kidnapped your relatives."

"No," said Harry, his voice hollow. "It wasn't Death Eaters. Did you see - did you see everything?" Harry asked at last. He felt so ashamed that someone else knew what Vernon had done and had allowed those other men to do. "Do you know I'm a whore?" Harry broke down in sobs as years of grief and shame erupted out of him.

"Ssh, Harry, ssh. You're not a whore. You're a very brave young man who has been abused terribly, but it's over now, Harry. It's over. They will never touch you again, I can promise you that."

Harry so wanted to believe him. Despite their antagonism, Harry couldn't remember a time that this man had lied to him. The truth may not have been pretty but Harry would rather have the bare truth from Severus Snape than any more of Dumbledore's varnished lies.

"But they'll come back! I can't get out! I can't get out!" wailed Harry. "It's this stupid ring – it's a Portkey or something. It yanked me out of the Leaky Cauldron and drew me back here. It won't come off, Professor. I've tried everything."

"May I see?" asked Snape, holding out his hand. Harry swallowed nervously and removed his right hand from the covers and showed his professor the ring encircling his right index finger. The band was plain silver with no markings and no jewels set within it.

"Vernon was expecting me," said Harry. "When I first got here, he knew about the magic in the ring. There was a wizard here with him - the one - the one who made himself look like my Dad. He wanted what they all wanted and he paid Vernon well." It was how they had afforded their Spanish villa, out of Harry's earnings.

"Harry, I'm so sorry."

"I don't want to stay here," said Harry, wiping his nose on his pyjama sleeve. "I don't want to do this anymore."

"You won't, Harry. Now that we know where the magic is coming from, we can try and work out how to counter it. Where did you get the ring from anyway?"

"Professor Dumbledore," said Harry with a sigh. "Professor Snape… can you tell Fred and George what happened? I can't tell them, but I don't want them to be angry with me because I don't want to touch them. I don't want to be touched."

"Harry, if you wish it, I can certainly tell them. No one will touch you without your permission, Harry. Never again."


Chapter 6: Dark Angel
Part 6

"I'll kill him! I'll kill that Muggle bastard!" shrieked George later that night. Severus had waited until George had come back from the shop so he could tell both of them what had happened to Harry. Fred and George took it in turns: one of them went to the shop one day while the other stayed with Harry and Severus. Severus had never left Privet Drive since he'd arrived; he was just glad he'd thought to bring some potions with him.

"He was five? He was five?" exclaimed Fred. "It's criminal! We can't let him get away with it, or any of them for that matter. Do you know who they were, Severus? Did you see who they were? The ones who raped him?"

"Some of them, yes," said Severus. "None were Death Eaters."

"We need to find those tapes, evidence," said George as he stood up and paced the living room. "Do you think Dursley kept them in the house?"

"Maybe," agreed Severus, but he really had no idea. There was a loud crash from upstairs. All three of them rushed up to see what the commotion was. Harry wasn't in his room, he was in the Dursley's bedroom across the hall, where he'd swept every perfume bottle, every item of make-up off the dressing table and was crushing them beneath his bare feet. Ribbons of red already covered his feet.

"Harry! Stop!" called Severus. "You've hurt yourself."

Harry glanced round at the three of them, but his eyes had a glazed look to them. He ignored Severus and the twins and began ransacking drawers, tossing out all the clothes and throwing them on the floor. The wardrobes were next. Harry just kept going until he'd emptied every wardrobe, every chest of drawers in the room and then he sank down onto the pile of clothes and collapsed in a sobbing heap. His feet were still bleeding, but Harry didn't seem to be aware that he was injured.

"Harry?" Severus asked softly. "Do you know where you are?"

Harry looked up, his eyes swimming in tears and nodded miserably. "I hate them! I hate them!" Harry screamed as he pummelled the clothes as if he hoped their owners were still inside them. Severus allowed it, allowed Harry to vent his feelings on the garments. "Fred, can you can get me a bowl of water and a cloth? And George, I have some salve in the kitchen."

The twins nodded and left on their errands. Severus moved closer to Harry in the room, careful to keep his movement steady so as not to startle him. Harry had been jumpy ever since he'd come out of the fever-induced delirium and considering all that had happened to him, Severus could hardly blame him.

"My feet hurt," said Harry in a surprised voice, as if he wasn't quite sure how he'd done it. Severus wanted nothing more than to scoop the boy up in his arms and carry him far away from Privet Drive and the memories of all the awful things that had happened there. Mindful of Harry's concerns about being touched; he didn't act on the impulse.

"Harry? Can you walk back to your room or do you want me to carry you?"

"I can walk," said Harry, standing up as if to prove his point. He did indeed walk all the way back to his room, but he winced with every step. Fred and George were already in Harry's room when both of them got there; Fred holding a bowl of water in one hand, a soft cloth in the other and George holding the glass vial of Severus' salve.

Harry sank down on the side of his bed, legs dangling over the sides. The twins hovered over him and Severus could hear Harry's breathing becoming strained. Severus waved them out; it wouldn't take three of them to tend to Harry and Severus had noticed before how panicky Harry seemed to get if all of them were there together. Severus understood completely - sometimes there had been more than one man with Harry in those memories. How had Harry been able to keep this to himself for so long? Didn't Harry know that someone would have helped him if they knew?

Severus knelt down, setting the bowl and vial on the floor beside him. "Harry, I just want to wash the blood from your feet, is that all right?"

Harry stared at him, as if not quite realising what the discussion was about, but then he nodded his head and lifted his right leg up. Severus rinsed out the cloth in the warm water and proceeded to wash Harry's foot gently, going slowly so that he could see if there was still any glass embedded in the skin. There wasn't and Severus cleaned the foot as quickly as he could and then moved on to the other one. His touches were precise, he didn't let his hands or the cloth linger, wanting Harry to know that it was just his feet being cleaned, nothing else. Feet cleaned, he put the antiseptic salve on the small cuts and cast a small healing spell over Harry's feet.

"There, all done," said Severus, standing up and stretching the kinks out of his back.

"I'm sorry," mumbled Harry; he was staring hard at his knees.

Severus had never seen the boy this subdued before and it was disconcerting. His memories of Harry Potter at school were filled with images of a green-eyed, defiant nuisance who ignored rules and thwarted authority at every turn and had almost managed to get himself killed more times than Severus could count. Severus realised now that it might very well have been deliberate - had Harry thought the only way out was to die?

"What for, Harry?"

"For being so angry before. I shouldn't be angry. I should be good. I should be good. I should be a good boy."

Harry was rocking backwards and forwards again, his hands twisted on his lap as he fought the demons inside his mind. It wasn't the fever this time – Harry's temperature was back to normal – but still he sometimes went away somewhere inside his mind and considering what Severus had seen in there, it wasn't a healthy place for Harry to be right now.

"Harry? Harry!"

The boy looked up; the blank look had been replaced by one that was full of fear. "I'm sorry; I don't mean to blank out like that."

"It's okay, Harry. You have every right to be angry, more than angry. What those people did to you was appalling: it was wrong, Harry, but you are not to blame. The people who did that – who did that to a child – they are the ones at fault, do you understand?"

Harry nodded, but Severus knew that Harry didn't really believe him. Harry still thought it was his fault, that he'd somehow been the cause of this abuse; that he'd been bad and he had been punished. It would take more than a few choice words from his professor before Harry came to learn that it had never been his fault.

"Harry, you should make a complaint to the Magical Law Enforcement office," said Severus. "There are laws against child abuse and they would be taken to court and – "

"NO!" screamed Harry. "No, I can't do that, sir. I can't. I can't!"

"Harry, you wouldn't have to testify in the same courtroom. The victim is never called to testify in the same room as his abusers, you wouldn't even have to see them."

Harry looked at him. "I wouldn't have to see them? Ever…ever?"

"No, Harry. You would never have to face them again. Ever. Don't you want to see them punished for what they did to you?"

"But it was my fault, Professor. If I complain they'll send me to Azkaban, won't they?"

"Harry, who told you that? Who told you you'd get sent to prison?"

"All of them," said Harry, he sounded so defeated. "They told me it was against the law for people my age to have sex and that if I told anyone, I'd get sent to Azkaban. You won't tell on me, please, Professor?"

Dear Merlin, what they'd put that boy through! Raping him and telling him it was his fault, that he'd get sent to prison if he told what had happened!

"Harry, raping children is against the law, yes, but it's the men who did it to you who would be in trouble, not you. Those men would get sent to prison. Not you, Harry."

"But ... but how can I make a complaint, Professor? It would be my word against theirs, wouldn't it? And there's only one of me. You saw what the Daily Prophet has been writing about me. That I'm an attention-seeking liar. No one would believe me. No one. You even said it yourself."

Oh, he had. Severus knew he had and he wished he had a time-turner so he could go back and change every angry word he'd ever spoken to this troubled boy. He'd thought for years that Harry Potter was as arrogant and conceited as his father had been. With the gift of hindsight he realised that all Potter's bravado and bluster had been a front, a way to keep himself from breaking down completely. He had been using a different persona so that no one would guess he was afraid and ashamed.

"I'm sorry about that, Harry."

The boy on the bed laughed bitterly. "The world must be ending, you just apologised to me. Why are you here? Why are you helping me?"

"The Weasley twins asked me to."

"They asked you? Why not Dumbledore or someone else? Why you?"

"Because they thought the spells keeping you here were Dark."

"And are they?"

"Not as far as we can tell, no. It's some sort of protection spell tied to the blood wards of this house. You needed help and they thought I could provide it."

"And can you, Professor? Can you help me?"

"I'll try."

"Or are you just here like all the rest of them? Pretending to care for me… to look after me, and then you'll want payment like all the rest of them. Nothing's free, Professor. You want to fuck the Boy Who Lived, is that it?" Harry yelled at him, his face reddening with the intensity of his emotions. He began to unbutton his pyjama top.

"Harry, no! That is not why we're here. We want to help you.. Not every man is like those men, surely you realise that?"

"No, I don't actually, since nearly every man I've been in contact with has wanted only one thing! You can't help me! No one can help me so stop pretending you even care!"

"Harry, we can help if you'll let us. Make a complaint to the MLE, bring these people to justice."

"I can't! No one will believe me! What evidence do I have?"

"You’ll have my testimony and the twins', how we found you in a locked room. If we could find the tapes, that would be even more evidence against them."

"Tapes? What tapes?" demanded Harry, his face paling.

"Harry, your uncle had a video camera while you were with those other men. He taped everything."

"He taped me? He taped me?" screeched Harry, leaning over the side of the bed and bringing up what little food he'd had that day. Severus banished the vomit and handed Harry a glass of water. "But - but the tapes, the men were on the tapes too? The MLE will be able to see what they did? They'll see I'm not lying?"

"Yes, Harry. The men will be identified and brought to trial. They'll never be able to hurt you or anyone else ever again." For Severus couldn't imagine that it was just Harry who'd been victimised by these monsters. They would be saving more children than Harry.

"And I won't have to see them? You're sure? I don't think I could handle that, Professor."

"You won't have to, Harry. Your testimony would be recorded in a pensieve; you won't even have to go near the courtroom at all. So, Harry, will you do it? Will you make that complaint?"

"I - I don't know, Professor. Can I think about it for a while?"

"Of course you can. It'll probably help if we can find the tapes before we go to the MLE anyway. Fred and George have made dinner. Do you feel like getting up, Harry, or shall I bring you a tray?"

"I feel like getting up, sir, but all my clothes are ruined. My uncle didn't want me to be able to run away… not that I could anyway with this stupid thing!"

"The twins brought you some of Ronald's clothes, magically resized to fit you." Severus waved his wand at the chest of drawers and brought out a pair of cream corduroy trousers and a brown Weasley jumper with the letter 'R' on it. "I'll leave you to get dressed."

As Severus reached the door, he heard Harry whispering. "Thank you, sir. Thank you."



Chapter 7: Dark Angel
Part 7

Harry took his time dressing, trailing his hands over the soft wool of Ron's Weasley jumper. When Vernon had ripped up all of Dudley's old clothes, Harry couldn't have cared less; he'd always hated those clothes. No, it was Vernon unravelling the wool of all of Harry's Weasley jumpers that had hurt the most. Those clothes had been his, the first garments that had been designed especially for him. Mrs. Weasley had knitted those jumpers for him and now he felt tears welling up in his eyes as he remembered how nice the Weasleys had always been to him.

Harry had been terrified the first time he'd stayed at The Burrow. He'd been so afraid that Mr. Weasley might sneak into Ron's room and hurt Ron like Vernon had hurt Harry. He stayed awake the whole night worrying but no one came into Ron's bedroom. It was the first time Harry had started to think that perhaps what was happening to him wasn't normal. The Weasleys were an affectionate family, but Harry had flinched every time anyone touched him, no matter how innocently. He wasn't used to it: the only touches he usually had were from those horrible men and Harry still felt upset that he'd been ruined for any sort of normal affection. Sometimes he felt like he might like a hug, but he was scared of that too. Scared that comfort might turn into something more, like it always had before.

Harry wiped his eyes and got dressed. It felt a little strange to be wearing clothes that had been Ron's, but it was good in a way because Harry felt as though his friend was here with him as he made his way downstairs. The kitchen was empty when he went in, but there were dirty dishes in the sink and the worktops were a mess, covered in spilled vegetables and sauce. Burnt-on food stood stark against the white hob and Harry felt his breath leave his body in a whoosh.

The mess, oh God, the mess! His uncle would take the broom handle to him if he saw all this mess! Harry opened the cupboard beneath the sink and removed all the cleaning fluids and cloths: he had to get it clean. He had to get it all clean before his uncle saw.

"Harry?" came Snape's voice from the doorway. Harry was so shocked he dropped the bottle of Flash. He'd almost forgotten that it was Snape and the twins who were here, not his relatives. "Dinner's in the dining room, Harry."

"I can't," said Harry, struggling not to cry. "I can't -" he waved his hand around at the messy kitchen. Snape waved his wand and everything was pristine again.

"Come and eat, Harry," urged Snape just as Harry's stomach growled.

Harry hesitated by the door of the dining room, he'd never been allowed in there before except to clean up after everyone. He'd never sat at the polished table and eaten a meal there. Fred and George were already seated. Platters of food were on the table: there was shepherd's pie; serving dishes of peas, carrots and sweetcorn; bowls of roast potatoes and two gravy boats.

"Come on, Harry," said George as he started dishing out shepherd's pie onto the plates. "There's plenty here."

Harry sat down on one of the empty chairs, the twins opposite him. Snape sat next to him. George served Harry first and Harry just stared at his plate for a few moments before he attempted to eat anything. This was a dream - it must be. He couldn't really have all this food at Privet Drive. Food that he liked, that he was allowed to eat. Harry shrugged to himself. If it was only a dream, it didn't really matter if he ate the food, did it?

Harry lifted up his cutlery and began wolfing down the meal, barely tasting it, just wanting to eat it as quickly as possible before the dream turned into a nightmare and he found he was dreaming of eating insects or something.

"Whoa Harry! Slow down," said Fred. "There's no rush. You'll make yourself sick eating like that. Take your time, Harry. No one is going to steal your food tonight."

Harry slowed down, but he still ate quicker than everyone else and he didn't join in the conversation round the dinner table either. His concentration was solely on the food and getting it eaten before it was taken away; Harry was still not convinced that it wouldn't be snatched away from him. It was a ridiculous fear, Harry knew, but he still couldn't shake the feeling that this was either a very realistic dream or a very elaborate trap. Were the Weasley twins and Snape really here? Or were they Death Eaters disguised to look like his friends? After the meal would they suddenly suggest that Harry might need a lie down and come into his room and start touching him?

Harry's fork clattered to the half-empty plate; he couldn't manage another bite.

"Harry? What's wrong?" asked Snape, the twins looking over at them in some concern.

"I'm just full. I can't eat any more."

"Okay, Harry," said Fred. "You don't have to eat any more if you don't want to."

"How do I know you're really you?" Harry blurted out before he could stop himself. "That you're not Polyjuiced?"

It was a constant fear of Harry's, ever since he’d discovered that other wizard had been using Polyjuice to look like his Dad. How did he know if anyone was really who they seemed to be? He'd even suspected Mad-Eye Moody in fourth year, but at the time he’d thought it was just his own paranoia. He'd been devastated when he discovered it really had been Barty Crouch pretending to be Alastor Moody.

"Ask us something only we would know, Harry," suggested Snape.

"All right," Harry turned to the twins. "Who gave you the money to start your joke-shop?"

They both grinned impishly at him. "Far too easy, Harry. You did, of course, out of your Triwizard winnings."

Snape looked surprised at that but didn't comment. Harry was trying to think of something to ask Snape that only he and Snape would know, or at least something that Snape would admit to in company. Harry didn't think he should mention what he'd seen in Snape's pensieve about what his father and friends had done to him at school.

"What did you write in the margins of my last Potions essay?" Harry enquired at last and was surprised to see the man flush red, but he did answer.

"That you had the attention span of a gnat and the dexterity of a troll and if you passed your Potions OWL it would be a miracle."

Fred and George laughed. "You wrote all that? Severus, you know not everyone can be as skilled as you."

"Obviously," drawled Snape and Harry burst out laughing. It was Snape and the twins all right. It had been such a long time since he'd laughed like that and he was determined to do a lot more of it in future.

"I'm glad that you all came," said Harry quietly. "Thank you."

"Harry, it was our pleasure," said Fred.

***

Over the next few days, Harry got a little better. He got up in the mornings and took a shower in the bathroom, the first ones he'd ever had in this house. Previously he’d used the hose out the back when it was dark so that the neighbours wouldn't see him. Not that they would have been surprised, Harry's relatives had told them that he was at a school for criminally insane boys.

Snape was usually always there during the day, sometimes he had to go back to Hogwarts for some more potions for Harry, but then one of the twins would stay with him. Harry was never left alone in the house and he didn't think he would be glad of being so completely looked after, but he was. It felt like they all cared about him and Harry was getting to see another side of the Potions master, a caring side that he'd never noticed before.

It had always been there but Harry had been blinded by the fact that the man was a Slytherin and he’d been convinced that the ugly exterior had been hiding an even uglier heart and soul. How many times did Harry think Snape had been trying to kill him when in reality he'd been trying to save Harry all along? Snape had gone to the Ministry and blown his cover as a spy when he stood side by side with Harry and both of them had cast the Avada Kedavra that had dispatched Voldemort. Snape had saved him again.

Snape and the twins had tried casting a couple of different spells to counteract the magic in the ring, but after many more failed attempts at leaving, Harry was getting a bit fearful of even trying to step outside the door. Nothing was working, he was still tied to Privet Drive and he wanted out. He really wanted out.

In the evenings, the four of them searched the house for any sign of the tapes. Harry didn't know whether he wanted to find them or not. It would make it all seem so much more real. Half the time he could convince himself it had all been a nightmare but the tapes would make him face up to it. He wasn't sure he was up to the task.

Harry sneezed as he disturbed the dust in the back of his uncle's wardrobe. Like everywhere else he’d searched, there was nothing there. It was hopeless, where on Earth could they be? He glanced at Snape, who was holding his wand as if he'd never seen it before. Snape had been searching beneath the double bed; Harry had tried his best to ignore that bed completely.

"It couldn't be that easy, could it?" Snape seemed to be musing to himself as he raised his wand. "Accio tapes of Harry!"

There was a rumbling and a groaning from the ceiling above their heads and in a few seconds the ceiling gave way completely and boxes fell through the gap, videotapes and books spilling out of each one. Harry stared at them, then at Snape who looked utterly gobsmacked. The twins rushed to the door.

"Hey, are you guys all right?" asked George, glancing at the mess in the room.

"Yes," said Harry. Fred stared at the tapes and books strewn around.

"Are those ...?"

"Yes, it would seem so," said Severus as he lifted one of the tapes from the floor and read the label aloud. "Potter/Mr. Simon. 10th July 1989."

Harry shuddered. He remembered Mr. Simon, the man was a Muggle not a wizard, but he was creative in his tastes for all that – Harry still had some of the scars. He stared around the room at all those tapes, there were so many! Harry had never kept count, he hadn't wanted to. It was all there in the tapes; his pain, his humiliation at those men's hands. Harry felt sick as he stared at them.

How could Fred, George and Snape even stand to be in the same room as him? He was filthy: so vile, so disgusting.

Harry wanted to smash every one of the tapes to bits, he wanted to rip all the books to shreds, but he wanted those people to be punished too. He didn't know what to do; he wasn't sure what would be the right thing.

"Harry? What do you want us to do?" asked Snape, the videotape still in his hands.

Harry waved his arms around to encompass the room. "Take them to the MLE. I want them all to pay for what they’ve done. All of them."


Chapter 8: Dark Angel
Part 8

Severus hadn't been back to the Ministry of Magic since the day he and Harry had finally defeated the Dark Lord, but he needed to see Madam Bones and the woman didn't often venture outside her office these days. Death Eaters had attacked her family home, killing her husband and children and leaving her for dead. She was now in a wheelchair and no amount of magic or potions could cure her nor bring her family back.

Severus stood in the vandalised phone box and dialled the number for the Ministry, then waited to be connected. It always amused him that the visitor's entrance was via a Muggle phone box.

"Please state your name and business," came the tinny female voice.

"Professor Severus Snape to see Madam Bones of the Magical Law Enforcement office."

"Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes." Severus had owled the woman a few days previously using one of the Weasleys' owls and she knew he was coming, but not what it was about. A visitors' badge flew out of the chute where coins normally went in and Severus picked it up. Severus Snape, visiting MLE blinked up at him in gold lettering and a few moments later, the telephone box shuddered and began to sink underground.

Wand checked, his person searched, (Severus wondered if he was the only person to have been bodily searched and whether it was because of his past), and he was finally on his way to see Madam Bones. There were two Aurors stationed outside the woman's office and both of them sneered at Severus as he approached. "Death Eaters aren't welcome here," said the taller of the two.

"I should hope not," said Severus, shouldering his way past them and knocking on the stout wooden door.

"Enter!" Madam Bones called. Severus gave both the Aurors a smirk as he pushed the door open and went in. The room was decorated like a small study. Bookshelves lined the wall: there were tomes on Magical Law and Wizarding Customs along with histories of punishment and execution. Madam Bones was seated behind a cherry wood desk. The desk itself was empty, but there was a parchment hovering in the air above it, and a Quick-Quotes quill was scribbling away as Madam Bones dictated.

Severus couldn't help but be reminded of Rita Skeeter and all the trouble that particular woman's quill had caused.

"End," said Madam Bones, and the parchment rolled itself up and disappeared, as did the quill. "Sorry, Severus, I know you are not a great fan of those quills, but they do help me."

Severus nodded; Madam Bones had suffered nerve damage from having so many Crucios cast upon her and it was difficult for her even to hold a quill never mind write with it. "Sit, sit," said Madam Bones waving a shaky hand at the chair in front of her desk. "Tea? Coffee?"

"No thank you, Amelia," replied Severus as he sat down. "This is not a social visit."

"I gathered as much when you sent that letter. Since when do you need to ask me for an appointment?"

Severus shrugged. As part of the Order of the Phoenix and one of the few who knew of Severus' true loyalties, Amelia Bones had become a friend of a sort. He didn't find it easy to make friends, but there were a few people whose judgement Severus trusted completely. Poppy Pomfrey, Minerva McGonagall, and Amelia Bones were three of them. He was somewhat surprised to realise that he got on better with women, even though he did not desire them.

"A formal complaint then, Severus?" she asked, her face grave. "The crime?"

"Abuse, neglect and prostitution of a minor." Severus reached into his pocket and removed the shrunken videotapes and the books containing all the names and the amount of money each man had paid to Vernon Dursley in order to rape Harry Potter. "The episodes have been filmed; the proof is on these tapes."

"Muggle tapes, Severus? How can we view them?"

Severus removed two more shrunken items from his robes and set them on the table. "Arthur Weasley has lent me a Muggle video player and television; they're adapted to work within places that are magically warded. He dabbles in Muggle technology."

Madam Bones smiled. "Yes, we know all about Arthur's fascination with all things Muggle. Well, Severus, I suppose you'd better enlarge these tapes and let me see them."

"Are you sure you want to view them, Amelia? It does not make for easy viewing."

"I dare say, but I need to see them so that I can determine if there is a case to answer. I have seen a lot in my time as Head of the MLE. I am not easily shocked."

"Very well," Severus removed his wand and cast the spells to enlarge everything on the desk. Amelia didn't know how to work the Muggle devices, so Severus set everything up, popped a videotape in the slot and turned it on. He could hardly bear to watch, but he did. He wanted to bear witness to Harry's pain. The man on the tape moved slightly and Harry's messy hair came into view along with the legendary scar. Severus tried to ignore Harry's anguished sobs, but each one was like a dagger striking his chest.

"Is that... it that Harry Potter?" asked Amelia. "Merlin, Severus, he can't be more than five or six there!"

"Seven," said Severus. "He has always been severely malnourished and is small for his age. His relatives starved him, beat him and hired him out to the highest bidder. Later, when Harry got older, his uncle raped him too."

The man in the video shuddered with his climax and the tape blacked out. Amelia glanced at all of the tapes. "They are all like this? All of Harry being raped by grown men?"

"Yes," said Severus, opening a couple of the books. "These books are records of who the men were, how much they paid and who the videos were sent to. Vernon had quite a lucrative illegal business in selling his nephew, both videos and pictures of the boy in the nude."

Madam Bones looked livid. "Why didn't Harry tell anyone? Surely he knew that what was happening to him wasn't normal? Someone could have helped him!"

"He was a frightened child. This has been going on since he was five years old. Harry was first raped by a wizard using Polyjuice Potion to look like James Potter. I don't know how we can ever find out who that first wizard was, unless Vernon Dursley knows and talks. The only adults Harry ever came into contact with as he was growing up were the ones who hurt him. He found it difficult to trust anyone. He still does. The boy is this close from having a complete nervous breakdown," Severus squeezed his thumb and forefinger close together. "Those damn Muggles went away on holiday and left Harry in a locked room without a crumb of food in the house. He was delirious when we found him."

"When you found him? You don't mean - you don't mean he's still at that house, Severus?"

"He is. There are spells keeping him there, tied to a ring that Dumbledore gave him."

"Dumbledore? Dumbledore? Are you sure, Severus?"

"I'm sure," said Severus, rummaging through the books until he found what he was looking for. He shoved the pages across the desk. "Dumbledore knew. He knew everything that was going on in that house. He was one of the men Dursley sent the videos to. He may not have raped Harry, but he was the one who insisted that Harry go back there year after year, even though he knew of the abuse that Harry was subjected to, both physical and sexual. He was one of the men who got a kick out of watching videos of the child being molested. Albus Dumbledore was the one who arranged for the wizards to go to the house; Vernon Dursley wouldn't know where to contact wizards."

"My God! Dumbledore arranged it? Well, Severus, there's no doubt about it; there is definitely a case here. Merlin! Azkaban is too good for some of these monsters."

"Yes," agreed Severus, "which is why I want to invoke the Ancient Law of Ulciscor."

"But that Law hasn't been invoked for centuries!"

"But it is still on the books, isn't it?"

"Well, yes, but that's hardly the point. We've come a long way since then, haven't we? People would not stand for it these days."

"Tell me Amelia, if you knew for sure which Death Eaters were behind the masks that tortured and killed your family, wouldn't you want to invoke the Law yourself? Mete out your own justice?"

She was shaking, but Severus could not take the words back. "You’re right. I wouldn't trust the Wizengamot to see justice done. Very well… who are the complainants?" she conjured another sheet of parchment and a quill. This one she held firmly in her fist as if the talk of justice being meted out to the Death Eaters who'd destroyed her family was spurring her on. "And under what method are they invoking the Law?"

"Severus Snape, George Weasley and Fred Weasley. A kinship invocation."

"Kinship, Severus?"

"Harry was always considered part of the Weasley family, even though it was not official."

"And your part in this kinship invocation?"

"The Potters and the Princes are inter-related a few generations back. Nothing that would prevent relationships or marriage between them today, but Harry Potter is my distant kin."

"Very well. And the - and the - what shall I call the other parties?"

"What they'll soon be, Amelia. Deceased."

"And their names?" the quill was poised above the parchment.

"Vernon Dursley and Albus Dumbledore."

There was a pause before Amelia finally wrote on the parchment and signed it. "I'll probably be kicked out of office for this, you know," she said as she handed Severus the parchment. "What about the others? All those other men?"

"All the names are there. I'm sure the Aurors can round up the wizards involved and Obliviate the Muggles so they have no memory of Harry Potter. Harry would prefer a closed trial if possible; he is not going to testify if he can help it."

"He wouldn't need to. Not in this case, not with all the video evidence. I have no intention of making this an open court. I and two trusted members from the Wizengamot will try each man individually. No one else will ever see these tapes."

"You'll destroy them after the trials?"

"No, Severus. I think young Harry has the right to do that, don't you?" Amelia's hand started shaking as she conjured another parchment. "One more thing – these spells, they're tied to the blood wards? Protection with guardianship?"

"Yes," said Severus. "We can't counteract them."

"No, but I can," said Amelia and scribbled furiously before handing Severus the paper.

"What is it?"

Dissolution of Guardianship for Mr. Harry Potter. Considering Harry's circumstances and the fact that he does have his own money and is able to support himself, I've made him an emancipated minor. Harry no longer has any guardians – he should be able to leave the house whenever he likes."

"Thank you, Amelia," said Severus as he stared at both parchments in his hands. The dissolution of guardianship and the other one that Amelia had reluctantly signed.

Ulciscor.

State-sanctioned torture and execution.

TBC

A/N

Ulciscor: - to take vengeance on, to avenge.

Chapter 9: Dark Angel
Part 9

When Severus arrived back at the house, he was pleasantly surprised to discover that Harry was lying asleep on the sofa, curled up next to Fred, his head lying in Fred's lap. "Fred?" he whispered, not wanting to wake Harry just yet. Despite the potions, Harry was still suffering from nightmares and his nights were constantly disturbed as a result. Harry needed all the sleep he could get.

"He just snuggled up to Fred," said George, who was sitting on an armchair by the side of the fireplace. "He didn't seem scared at all today. He just cuddled up and fell asleep." Fred was sitting stiffly on the sofa, his arms taut by his side as if he was afraid of touching Harry.

"Harry trusts you," said Severus. "That would probably explain it." Harry was lying facing outwards, his knees bent up so much that they were almost off the sofa. "Has he eaten anything today?" Harry was still far too thin and all three of them were determined to change that.

"Some soup and ice-cream at lunch time," said Fred in a low voice. "He wanted to wait for you so we could all have dinner together."

"It's my turn to cook," added George. "I got some lamb chops."

"Would you clean the kitchen straightaway?" asked Severus. "Harry was most distressed the other night when he saw the mess, he thought he would be punished for it."

"Sorry," said Fred. "That was me, I'll clean up in future, Severus. I promise. How did it go at the Ministry?"

"Very well," said Severus and handed a parchment to each of them.

"Ulciscor? You got them to agree to Ulciscor?" asked George.

"I got Amelia to agree to it, you know what happened to her family."

The twins nodded gravely. "I still didn't think they would agree to it," mused Fred as George handed over the signed warrant for Ulcsicor so that his twin could read it too. "And this Dissolution, you mean Harry can leave here now?"

"That is the theory at least, with no ties of guardianship to anyone living in this house Harry should be able to leave it whenever he wishes."

"Where's he going to go?" asked George, giving a worried glance to the sleeping Harry.

"Wherever he wants to," said Severus. Harry deserved to live wherever he wanted; after all the boy had been through it was only right that he should choose his own future from now on. The destiny that had been thrust on his shoulders by a garbled prophecy was finished; Harry had nobody to please but himself anymore. Severus again found himself impressed by how brave Harry Potter had really been to face Voldemort when many grown wizards had cowered in fear of the Dark Lord. The Wizarding world had a lot to thank the boy for.

As Severus was mulling things over, Harry opened his eyes and blinked, looking around him. Fred handed Harry his glasses.

"Hello, Severus. Sorry… hello, Professor," amended Harry with a small flush to his cheeks.

"He's been calling you Severus when you aren't here," laughed George.

"Has he indeed?" enquired Severus, raising an eyebrow. "Well, Harry, if you wish it, you are welcome to call me Severus when we aren't at school."

"Thank you, sir. Er… Severus," said Harry, blushing again as he pushed himself upright. He rubbed his right arm, the one he'd been lying on, as if to get the blood flowing back into it again.

"I thought you might like to see this before dinner," said Severus as he reached across and plucked the parchment out of George's hand and offered it to Harry.

"What is it?" asked Harry, taking the scroll and reading it rapidly. "Dissolution of Guardianship? What does that mean?"

"It means, Harry that in the eyes of Wizard Law, you are now an adult. Free to come and go as you wish; free to withdraw funds from your vaults; free to accept any inheritance owed to you; free to own and buy property. Also, as you are now considered an adult, you have some adult responsibilities. Taxes for one: they will now be removed yearly from your vault. You no longer have guardians, you are responsible for your own care and upkeep and you will need to make all the necessary arrangements for your school fees and books. Before, all of that was done automatically for you by the Hogwarts trustees, as they do for all minors, but you are no longer considered a minor."

Harry gaped at him, the parchment trembling in his hands. "Does this mean I can leave? I can leave this house for good?"

"It would seem to indicate that, but since we don't know exactly what spells were placed on the ring, we don't honestly know, Harry," replied Severus.

"Can we try? Now?"

"Don't you want dinner first?" asked George.

"No. Let's try. Please let's try," said Harry, almost on the verge of tears.

And who were they to deny Harry his dearest wish?

***

Harry stood by the open front door. Snape was beside him, the twins behind them. There wasn't enough room for the four of them to stand side by side, but Harry had wanted all of them here for this. He felt so nervous; every time he'd tried to go outside before, the ring had yanked him back in and it wasn't a particularly pleasant sensation. His tummy was fluttering as if it held giant butterfly wings; he could almost feel them pressing against his skin trying to get out. Just one step, that's all he needed to do. Just one step. But his foot refused to move, as if it had been stilled by a permanent sticking charm.

He could do this. He wanted to do this. Harry took a deep breath and put one foot out until it had crossed the threshold. Nothing happened, so he let his other foot join it. He was now on the front path and there was no jerking sensation behind his navel. Nothing. He walked a couple more steps; he was now further down the front path and he still wasn't being dragged back.

All the tension seemed to leave his body in a rush and he felt light-headed. Harry swayed – he thought he might faint, but he could feel Snape's body close to his own.

"Are you all right?" asked Snape.

"I feel dizzy," said Harry as the world around him tilted and he heard cries of Harry! even as everything dimmed and greyed.

When he came to, he was back inside Privet Drive lying on the sofa. At first he thought it had been a dream, that he hadn't really gone outside. Until Fred spoke: "Do you think we can try that again without the fainting, Harry?" smiled Fred. "You worried us there for a minute."

"It was real? I was outside? I can leave?" Harry struggled to right himself. "Let's go, I don't want to stay here another minute."

"What about dinner, Harry? All your things?" asked George.

"I just want to get out of here, please." Harry hated how whiny he sounded, but he didn't want to stay here a second longer than necessary. Maybe one of them could come back for Harry's meagre possessions: his school trunk and uniforms, Hedwig's cage. Tears welled up as he thought of his beloved owl. Vernon had killed her for no other reason than he knew it would upset Harry.

"Okay, we can go back to our flat," said Fred. "I can bunk in with George and Harry can have my room, Severus you can have the sofa."

"I really ought to get back to Hogwarts..." Snape began.

"Please, sir – Severus – please stay," said Harry. "I'd like all of us to be together."

"Very well. Harry, have you ever been Apparated before?"

"No, Severus."

"Then you'll need to hold onto one of us until we get there. Will that be okay?"

Harry was so pleased that Snape - Severus - was being very considerate about touching him. He was still a little bit wary of being touched, but he'd cuddled up to Fred earlier that day and Fred hadn't done anything untoward and Harry just had a sense that Severus wouldn't either. Harry knew that these three men at least could be trusted not to harm him. Ever. He nodded and took Snape's hand in his.

"Ready?" Snape asked of no one in particular. When they all nodded, Harry heard a loud pop and then he was being dragged through a tunnel that seemed far too small for his body.

He could feel his ribs and his innards being crushed and he opened his mouth to scream, but no sound was coming out. Blurred colours flashed before his eyes and he didn't know whether he was still upright or turned upside down. When the world stopped spinning, he was in a small living room with a sofa and one armchair. It wasn't Privet Drive and Harry feel to the floor in relief, sobbing with happiness. He was out! He was out of that awful house forever.

"Welcome to our humble abode, Harry," said Fred as he helped Harry up from the floor. The room was clean, but it was a little messy with cartons of joke products seeming to take up most of the floor space, magazines and photos strewn haphazardly about and clothing draped over every seat. Fred and George both blushed and hurriedly cast a few household cleaning spells.

"Sorry about that, we didn't know we were going to be having visitors," mumbled George as the seats finally cleared and they could sit down.

"That's okay," said Harry. He knew he'd freaked out about the mess in the Dursleys' house, but it wasn't mess that upset Harry. It was mess at the Dursleys', because he would always be punished for that, no matter who had made it.

"Have we anything in the fridge, Fred?" asked George.

Everyone seemed very keen on feeding Harry up and he had to admit it made a nice change. Fred dived though a curtained-off alcove which Harry assumed to be the kitchen.

"I could make up a salad, or we can order in some pizza." Fred peeked his head round the curtain, "Have you ever had pizza before, Harry?"

"No," replied Harry. "But I'd love some."

Fred came out of the kitchen and gave Harry a small hug, but he kept it brief in case it upset him.

Harry didn't mind hugs now, as long as he knew they weren't a prelude to something more. He smiled up at Fred.

"Then pizza you shall have, Harry."

Harry felt a strange bubbling feeling in his chest, as if lemonade bubbles had somehow got trapped in there. It took him a while to realise that what he was feeling was happiness.

Harry was happy, and he was determined to keep it that way.



Chapter 10: Dark Angel
Part 10

The traffic on the M4 was bloody ridiculous! Vernon ranted and swore as they tried to navigate their way off the motorway and back towards Guildford and then on to Little Whinging. Bloody typical! Petunia had to go and book the flight back from Spain on a Saturday. Every man and his dog were out in his car and Vernon was getting hotter and sweatier by the minute. Even Dudley's Gameboy wasn't enough to keep his son from whining. Vernon couldn't wait to get back home.

Decent food, decent tea, no bloody foreigners, half of them couldn't even speak a word of bloody English. What was the world coming too when they still insisted on speaking foreign? Vernon's shouts and attempts at sign-language hadn't helped them communicate. It had been a disaster all round. Vernon had only bought the bloody villa because of Petunia nagging him all of last year.

There was no television at the villa and Vernon hadn't taken any of his magazines with him in case they had been searched at Customs and of course the brat hadn't been with them, so Vernon had spent three weeks in a state of constant frustration that wasn't helped one iota by the heat. He couldn't wait to get back and see his nephew. See him on his knees, sucking his cock. Oh, yes, there was an image. Vernon would choke him with it; see the brat's face get redder and redder as he struggled for breath... Vernon was hard at the thought and he couldn't wait to put it into practice.

With visions of what he'd do to Harry Potter when they got back uppermost in his mind, Vernon's concentration wasn't on driving and a couple of times they'd almost crashed into the car in front.

"Vernon! What's the matter with you?" demanded Petunia as she tried to wrench the wheel from her husband's grasp.

"Nothing! I'm fine, it's these other bloody idiots!"

When they did finally manage to get back to Privet Drive, there was a man standing on the front steps. No, not a man - one of them. Who else would dress all in black in the July heat? Dumbledore hadn't said he'd arranged any appointments for today and Vernon felt a sharp pang of regret that he wouldn't get to fuck the brat straightaway. But they wanted the money the boy's clients brought in and they had to be kept sweet.

"Vernon? Who is that man?" asked Petunia, starting to get out of the car.

Vernon placed a hand on her arm. "Just some business from work, dear. Here," he took out a bunch of notes and thrust them at his wife. "You take Dudley and go to the cinema or something. We'll be talking business all night."

"Vernon, we just got back! We want to go home!"

"No, Mummy, let's go to the cinema," said Dudley. "It'll be fun. I want to go. I want to!"

"Fine!" snapped Petunia as she got out and then climbed in on the driver's side once Vernon had vacated the car.

Vernon watched until they were gone round the corner before he turned back to his visitor. No wonder the man had to pay, he was downright ugly. Greasy, lank hair that was almost as black as his eyes and the most crooked nose Vernon had ever seen. Vernon sneered. He was a cut above these men: he'd never needed to pay for it. He took what he wanted and he had waited until Harry was no longer a child. The fact that the law considered anyone under 16 a child had never bothered him. Who was the brat going to tell? He was too ashamed to tell anyone and Vernon had spent years instilling that shame in the boy. It wouldn't do for the brat to suddenly blab to someone.

"Vernon Dursley?" queried the man in black.

"Yes," he said firmly. "It's a hundred up front, then another hundred afterwards."

"Oh," said the man with a small smirk. "We're not here for that. We're here for you."

The man grabbed Vernon's arm and the world disappeared.

***

Spinner's End wasn't really suitable for what Severus and the twins had in mind and Severus didn't want this vile man anywhere near anything that belonged to him, even if he was a bit ambivalent about his family home. The same applied to the Weasleys' property; Severus wouldn't want to sully one of Harry's havens like that.

They needed space and privacy, away from Muggles and Wizarding folk alike. It would be magically warded and silenced as a matter of course, but they still needed somewhere quiet where they wouldn't be interrupted in their work. Grimmauld Place was considered but discarded, it was still the tentative headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix and they didn't want to risk someone walking in and finding out what they were up to, Ulciscor or not.

Fred and George had told him of an old barn miles away from anywhere but close to Ottery St. Catchpole so that is where they Apparated Vernon Dursley to.

The fat man had fainted as soon as they'd started Apparating and once they landed in the barn, Severus had tied the still unconscious Dursley to a conjured chair. Fred conjured a long table; George conjured the instruments to sit upon it. They were all silver, all sharp and he laid them out with the precision of a surgeon laying out scalpels. Severus knew that as wizards, they didn't really need knives and blades to perform torture, but this man was a Muggle. He'd raped Harry, he'd sold Harry in the basest Muggle way possible and Severus wanted him to feel Muggle pain. A lot of it. He might throw in the odd Crucio as well, he was just wondering what they should start with first.

Harry was safely tucked away at The Burrow, with Arthur and Molly, who were warned to keep him there and not reveal what Severus and the twins were up to. There was no point in Harry getting into trouble over it. Arthur and Molly knew about the Ulciscor and Molly had wanted to come, to punish the man for all he'd done to Harry, but Arthur and Severus had convinced her that the best place for her now was with Harry to look after him while they couldn't.

Severus conjured a bucket of water and threw it in Vernon's face. The man coughed and spluttered as he woke up, his eyes bulging in terror when he realised he was bound. He looked like a rather ugly toad.

"What do you want?" he demanded. "Petunia'll pay a ransom, we've got money!"

"You think we're after your money?" hissed Severus as he lifted a sharp knife from the table and held it underneath Vernon's chin. "We don't want money, Dursley. We want vengeance!" Severus pressed the blade and a drop of blood welled up. Dursley whimpered and struggled and the smell of urine hung heavily in the air as he wet himself.

"You're pathetic!" snarled Severus as he stood up and cast a cleaning charm over his robes; he didn't extend Dursley the same courtesy. "We haven't even started and you're already pissing yourself in fear!"

"I didn't do anything!" bawled Vernon through his tears.

"No?" said Fred. "You call what you did to Harry nothing?"

His tears suddenly stopped. "Potter? This is about Potter? That bloody freak! Wait till I get my hands on him! That fucking bastard freak! He wasn't supposed to tell anybody! I'll show him what happens when he doesn't obey me!"

"Dursley, you are labouring under a misapprehension," said Severus calmly, sounding for all the world as if Vernon was a guest they’d invited for tea. "You will never see Harry Potter again."

"What have you done to him?"

"Again, you are mistaken. We have done nothing to Harry; the same can't be said for you. Now, what shall I do to you first?" Severus made a show of lifting each item from the table, knives, hooks, tongs, saws and pokers as if he couldn't decide which one to use.

"You won't get away with this! I'll tell Dumbledore! He'll protect me! He promised he'd protect me if this ever got out!"

"Accio invisibility cloak," said Fred and as the silvery material floated into his hand, Vernon could see Dumbledore tied to another chair. His face was covered in bruises and blood was trickling from his mouth; his eyes were open but he wasn't blinking.

"Is he - is he dead?" asked Vernon.

"No. Not yet," said Severus.

"I think we should start with castration," said George, caressing an oddly shaped blade. "If he hasn't got the equipment, he can't rape anyone, can he?"

"NO! NO! Keep away from me! Keep away!" roared Vernon.

Severus ignored him and cast a spell to divest the man of his clothes. Vernon's screams rose in pitch but Severus could not feel one ounce of pity for him.

"Mercy! Please mercy!"

"Where was your mercy when you did that to a child? When you starved him; locked him in; beat him; raped him? You think a piece of scum like yourself deserves our mercy, Dursley?"

"Please! I'll do anything! You can take him, take the boy! You can have him for free! Anytime you want!"

"You utter bastard!" screamed Fred as he lunged for the man and began punching his face. "Do you think we're as sick as you? That we want to rape a child?"

"He's not a child! He's a fucking whore! He's a slut! He loves it, he loves being fucked and you can have him!"

"George, hand me the blade," said Severus in a quiet voice. George handed the item over without a word and Severus bent down to Vernon's genitals.

The man's screams didn't stop for a long time.

***

When Severus released the binding spell keeping Dumbledore mute, the man showed no fear. Not even when he saw Vernon Dursley's mutilated and dead body lying on the floor of the barn. Dumbledore must know he was going to die, but as Severus had expected, that held no fear for the elderly wizard.

"Why, Albus? Why?" he asked again, but Dumbledore had no answer for him besides the ever present, "Why not?"

It wasn't an answer and Severus despaired that he would ever be able to understand why Dumbledore had done it, why he had sent those wizards to Vernon in the first place. Now things that had never made much sense when Severus had been at school seemed revealed in utter clarity. While Severus was a student, there had been quite a few suicides in Slytherin House and of those, all had previously been chosen by Dumbledore for some special task, whether it be as a prefect or Head Boy or Girl, they'd all been alone with Dumbledore at some stage.

"How many? How many students did you molest?" demanded Severus. Severus hadn't been one of them, but he remembered now the night he'd fled Voldemort and sought sanctuary. He'd thought nothing of it at the time, but as Dumbledore had hugged him and welcomed him back; his touches seemed to linger longer than they should have and be concentrated in inappropriate places. Maybe Dumbledore hadn't gone any further because Severus had seemed too old by then. Eighteen – not a child by any stretch of the imagination, and he had always been tall for his age.

"I've lost count," said Dumbledore in a resigned tone. Severus could not believe how calm Dumbledore was being about it all, as if he didn't care about all those children whose lives he'd ruined, as if it didn't matter. Severus wanted to kill him now before he lost his nerve, before he remembered the man as his mentor and friend. Dumbledore had never been a friend to Harry, he'd been a fiend. Severus wondered if the headmaster had in fact molested Harry too. How many times had Harry been alone in that man's study?

"Who was he? Who was that first wizard you sent to Vernon Dursley?" demanded George.

"I didn't send a wizard to Dursley that day."

"Come off it, Albus, You're not going to try and tell us that the wizard on that tape really was James?"

"No, James Potter is dead. But I'm telling the truth. It wasn't a wizard that day. It was a witch."


Chapter 11: Dark Angel
Part 11


Harry had never masturbated, he had never wanted to. All his memories of anything sexual were tainted by what had happened to him and he never considered his prick with anything except a distant regard. Sexual matters disgusted him. He sometimes had wet dreams, but they made him feel guilty and sick, calling for a quick cleaning charm if he was at school. More often than not they happened over the summer, which had earned him another beating and rape from Vernon and accusations that he enjoyed it. Harry's only consolation was that he had never been made to come during any of his rapes; the men had been intent only on their own pleasure. How much worse would he have felt if he'd actually had an orgasm? It was bad enough as it was.

Ron, it seemed, had no such qualms or hang-ups about his body and the pleasure it could give him. Ron wanked every night and Harry was more than a little uncomfortable on hearing his friend shift about on the mattress, the wood of the bed creaking louder and louder the closer to climax he came. Of course, Ron was trying to be quiet, but he couldn’t help groaning as he orgasmed and Harry dearly wished they could cast silencing charms during the school holidays.

It didn't arouse Harry; it made him uncomfortable and reminded him of all those nameless men who'd used him in the past.

Would he ever feel normal enough, comfortable enough in his own skin, his own body, to take pleasure in it?

Harry sighed and punched his pillow, tomorrow was his sixteenth birthday and he would have his first birthday party. Maybe Ron would be too tired to wank tomorrow night.

***

Harry had never seen so much food in one place before, Mrs. Weasley had outdone herself. It was such a lovely day that the party had been transferred to the garden. Extra tables had been conjured and they groaned under the weight of all the party goodies: cakes; sandwiches; vol-au-vents; Wizard and Muggle sweets; non-melting ice-cream and bowls of jelly. Jugs of pumpkin juice; lemonade; dandelion and burdock cordial and fruit punch were all kept magically chilled, and the centrepiece of it all was Harry's birthday cake: a sixteen-tiered chocolate cake decorated with chocolate and vanilla icing.

Harry caught up with Remus, who was looking worse than ever these days. His hair was sprinkled with more grey and he had a haggard, lost look. No one had told Harry, but he'd guessed that Remus and Sirius had been lovers. It must have been so hard for Remus to lose Sirius now after getting him back after all those years apart. Harry just squeezed Remus' arm and was rewarded with a soft smile. Neither of them spoke, the grief wasn't really something that could be put into words.

"I'm glad you're here, Remus," said Harry, and he was. He hadn't seen much of Remus since Sirius died and he’d wondered if his godfather had been the only thing they really had in common.

Hermione was her normal bubbly self and had wrapped Harry in a hug as soon as she'd seen him.

The twins and Severus weren't at the party, which Harry thought a bit strange. He was so sure they would have come to his birthday party and he tried to tell himself that he wasn't really disappointed that Professor Snape hadn't come. He'd become so used to Severus being with him almost constantly over the past couple of weeks that it felt really odd not to have him here.

Just as it was starting to get dark, the twins and Severus Apparated onto the lawn. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley took them inside and Harry had the impression that something important had happened, but he had no idea what it could be.

As the party was winding down, Harry took his best friends aside and led them to the orchard. He wished they were allowed to do magic while they were under seventeen – it would have been nice to have a silencing charm or a ward up – but they would just have to rely on good old-fashioned discretion.

The twins and Severus had both encouraged Harry to tell his friends what had happened to him, but Harry was still worried about it. What if they wouldn't want to be friends with him anymore after he told them? What if they thought he'd brought it upon himself?

"Harry? What is it? What's wrong?" asked Hermione, on the ball as ever.

"You know you can tell us anything, Harry. Anything," said Ron.

"This isn't easy to talk about," said Harry. "But what I’m going to tell you has to go no further than you two. Do you swear?"

They both nodded and Harry began his tale, starting from that first awful memory of when he was five right up to the last time it had happened, just a few short weeks ago. The cupboard, the enforced starvation, the beatings… he left nothing out and he was crying and shaking by the end of it, feeling so sick, so soiled. He'd never felt clean, no matter how many showers or baths he took. The stain wasn't on his skin though so no amount of scrubbing or scalding hot water helped.

"Oh, Harry!" sobbed Hermione and leaned in to hug him. "Is this okay?" she asked, blinking away tears.

Harry nodded. "As long as I know it’s just a hug," he sniffed.

"Harry, mate, I don't know what to say," said Ron. "I hope they kill the bastards! Merlin, Harry. It must have been awful."

"It was, Ron," admitted Harry. "But I don't have to go back there ever again. Do - do you think differently about me? Now you know?"

"Harry, we always thought you were brave," said Ron. "Now I think you're even braver after all that you've been through. You're our best friend; you'll always be our best friend."

"Always," agreed Hermione and both of them wrapped their arms around him and hugged him as if they never wanted to let him go.

***

"So, it's done then?" asked Arthur as he wrapped an arm around Molly; the woman did look rather pale, as if she might faint at any moment. Severus was trying very hard not to stare at his hands; he knew all the blood had been washed and cleansed away, but he could still feel it there, thick, clogged, sticking to his skin. After Voldemort's demise, he had thought he would never need to kill again. It never got any easier, how could it when every time a wizard killed, he killed part of his own soul too? Did he even have a soul left anymore? Sometimes Severus wasn't so sure.

The twins nodded at their mother, both of them still pale and horrified at what they had done. What had they thought Ulciscor meant? A gentle slaughter? It was torture, nothing less, reserved for the use of those people with the guts to claim it for their families. Severus was glad they were horrified; it showed him that at least they weren't in danger of losing their souls or becoming monsters like Voldemort had.

"It is done," said Severus. It had taken Dumbledore three days to die in agony, but still he wouldn't speak, would not reveal who that first witch had been, and he'd died without giving them a name. Severus thought they might never know, for she was hardly going to come forward and admit it after what had happened to Dursley and Dumbledore.

Severus handed over copies of a day-old Daily Mail and Daily Prophet to the senior Weasleys, who read the articles quickly. Severus could almost recite both of them word for word.


Surrey Man Slain, Connections to Child Pornography Ring

Vernon Dursley's mutilated body was found late last night on waste ground near London's East End. Police discovered after a raid on his house that Dursley, of Little Whinging in Surrey, was the ringleader of a child pornography ring. Boxes of evidence were seized, including videotapes, photographs, magazines and computer images of young boys and girls. So far, there are no leads to who may have murdered the man, but considering the mutilation of the body, it is believed that it might have been some form of vigilante justice.

Mrs. Petunia Dursley has also been arrested in connection with the abuse and neglect of their nephew, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and who is now on the missing list.

See page 3 for editorial on the lack of suitable punishments for child-abusers.

The Daily Prophet of course, took a more sensationalist view, thanks to Rita Skeeter, but thankfully Harry hadn't been mentioned in either article. They were both keen to rip Dursley’s or Dumbledore's reputation to shreds though, and Minerva McGonagall had been appointed headmistress in Dumbledore's place. Amelia had already owled Severus and told him what the Aurors had found at Hogwarts, but it wasn't something that would ever be released to the press.

There was a secret room in Dumbledore's study, filled to the rafters with videos of Harry that Vernon had sent him along with a television and video player that had been adapted to work within Hogwarts’ magical field. But that wasn't all they'd found. In Dumbledore's pensieve, they discovered incidences of abuse with more than fifty students, both boys and girls. With no access to video recorders, Dumbledore had extracted his memory of each time and could look at it again and again in his pensieve. Severus felt sick at the thought.

Dumbledore had never abused Harry, or at least they could not find any evidence of it, but that begged the question: why did he have all those videos of Harry? Did Dumbledore want to hurt Harry but was afraid of being found out? Dumbledore must have known Severus would see some of Harry's memories during the Occlumency lessons and maybe he didn't want to risk it. They'd never know; Dumbledore hadn't talked and now he never would.

"How is Harry?" asked Severus at last. He really didn't want to think of death and dying any more.

"He seems a lot happier now that he's out of that house, Severus," said Molly. "I think he liked the idea of a birthday party. He’s never had one before."

"No, he hasn't," said Severus.

"We've told him he can stay as long as he likes, but he wants to go house-hunting soon," said Arthur. "He's really taking this adult thing to heart, isn't he?"

"I daresay," said Severus. He turned to the twins. "Why don't we go and wish Harry a happy birthday?"

Severus was determined that it would be the first of many happy birthdays that Harry would have.




Chapter 12: Dark Angel
Part 12


The next time Harry went to Gringotts, the goblins in charge couldn't have been more different: they were as deferential to him as if he'd been some sort of Royalty. They were falling over themselves to help him once they'd seen the parchment from Amelia Bones in his hand. Harry had been shown to all of his own vaults – there were three Potter vaults in all and each of them was filled with more coins than Harry would be able to count in one lifetime.

Now that he was considered a legal adult, he was also allowed to inherit and he'd been given the deeds to Grimmauld Place and keys to Sirius' vault. There wasn't a lot in it, Sirius had been disinherited by his parents years ago, but Harry felt a bit closer to the man as he spent a few hours going through old photograph albums and papers that had once belonged to his godfather. He shrank them all and placed them in his pocket; Severus had told him that now he was a legal adult he could do magic outside school too.

Harry had been a bit worried the first time he tried it; he'd cast a silencing charm round his camp bed at The Burrow, all the time wondering if he was going to get another of those horrible letters from the Misuse of Magic office, but he didn't. So now he could sleep a lot better, knowing he wouldn't have to hear Ron's groans anymore.

Harry signed papers to set up his payments for school and taxes, and was allowed to open an account at all the shops in Diagon Alley so that he wouldn't have to bring cash with him all the time. He set up anonymous payments to go to some children's charities, and the goblins assured him that of course they knew the meaning of discretion.

Severus was still waiting in the lobby for him when Harry returned from the vaults beneath the bank.

"Where to next, Harry?" asked Severus. A few people were openly staring at them, wondering what on earth Severus Snape was doing with Harry Potter, but then people had always stared at Harry no matter what. By this stage, Harry couldn't have cared less.

"I thought we could go and have lunch, if you didn't mind. I'd um - I'd like to talk to you about careers options and then I can get my books for this year." He felt a bit funny about asking; he was a legal adult now, shouldn't he have been able to sort all this out by himself? Harry twisted his hands and tried to slow down his breathing; he seemed to get a bit panicky at the slightest thing these days.

"Harry, you can always ask for advice. It isn't a sign of weakness to ask for help, no matter what age you are."

Severus led them out of the bank towards a small restaurant a few doors down from Gringotts. The Pot & Kettle had a creaky black sign on the wall outside and the windows had so much grime on them that it was difficult to see inside. Harry was a bit wary until Severus pushed the door open and he saw a beautiful modern-looking restaurant with polished wood floors; glass tables and leather chairs. Glasses and cutlery sparkled and the whole place gave off an air of sophistication that Harry would never have expected in a Wizarding eatery.

A maitre d’ hurried over to them with two menus clutched in his hand. "Severus! How wonderful to see you again!"

"Thank you, Anton. For two please."

"This way, this way," he hurried off leaving Harry and Severus no choice but to follow. They were shown to a small, cosy table upstairs, right in the corner. There were no other patrons upstairs and from their vantage point they could see everyone downstairs. Harry wondered if that was Severus' usual table; it would have been a good spot for a spy to observe others without being seen.

"Would you like any drinks?"

"Sparkling mineral water," said Severus. "Harry?"

"Um, pumpkin juice?"

The maitre d’ looked as if Harry had just insulted his whole family, his face screwed up as if he smelled something unpleasant.

"We do not serve pumpkin juice."

"Oh. Oh, then I'll have the same as Professor Snape."

"Very well," the man bustled off and Harry suddenly wished he wasn't considered a legal adult at all. He wanted to be looked after; he'd never been looked after and it had always been hard to look after himself, but he had managed somehow. Was it so terrible to want to be cared for by someone?

"So, I take it you've received your OWL results then, Harry? Considering you want to discuss some career options. I thought you wanted to be an Auror?"

Harry shook his head. "That was before. I thought I might need that training in order to defeat Voldemort, but I don't want a job where I'm going after criminals all the time. I want to do something different, I want to help people. I'm thinking of becoming a Healer, but I don't know what NEWTs I need to do for that."

"Well, what were your results?"

Harry removed a crumpled piece of parchment from his jeans pocket and passed it across the glass-topped table.

***

Harry's hand was shaking as Severus took the parchment from him; the boy had seemed a bit nervous all day today and Severus wondered if being declared legally adult before you were fully grown was a bit daunting for him. Severus unrolled the scroll and read the results to himself.


Ordinary Wizarding Levels: Potter, H. J.

Astronomy E
Care of Magical Creatures A
Charms E
Defence Against the Dark Arts O
Divination P
Herbology E
History of Magic P
Potions O
Muggle Studies E
Transfiguration E

Passing Grades: O-Outstanding; E-Exceeds Expectations; A-Acceptable. Failing Grades: P-Poor; D-Dreadful; T-Troll. Students who have achieved a T in any subject should consider a non-academic career.

"Congratulations, Harry. You've done really well. Only two fails, but not in any subject you’ll need in order to train to be a Healer. Potions, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, Muggle Studies and Charms are all compulsory NEWTs to gain an apprenticeship at St. Mungo's. I would also recommend Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Arts as well as Ancient Runes. Some curses are only known by their runic name and it can only help when dealing with spell-damaged patients."

"But I haven't done Ancient Runes before, Professor," said Harry. Severus wondered if the boy knew that he'd reverted back to the title. It seemed that in anything to do with school, Harry still considered the man as his teacher rather than a friend. Were they friends? Severus liked to think so, but he wouldn't push his friendship on anyone and if Harry only wanted to consider him a teacher, then he would accept it. It was better than them sniping at each other's throats all the time.

"No, which means you won't be able to join the NEWT class; you'll need private tutoring in the subject. Madam Pomfrey hasn't taken on an apprentice for a few years now, but she might be willing to make an exception for you."

Harry's face darkened. "I don't want her to make an exception because it’s me," said Harry, rubbing his hand over the spot where his scar used to be. "I don't want special treatment because of who I am."

The maitre d’ set down two bottles and two glasses, so Severus waited until Anton left again before continuing the conversation. "I didn't mean because of that, Harry. I mean because you have done well in your exams and you actually want to become a Healer, we haven't had anyone at Hogwarts wanting to become a Healer for years. You'll learn a few Healing spells in Charms, as everyone does, but it is basic First Aid really. Madam Pomfrey will help you learn other healing spells and anything else you need to. As well as your NEWTs, there is an entrance exam for the St. Mungo's Apprenticeship Program and I'm afraid First Aid spells won't really cut it. I think she'd love to have someone to pass her knowledge on to."

"You really think she would, Professor?"

"I do. Would you like me to ask her for you?"

"Wouldn't it be better if I asked her myself, sir? To show that I was mature enough to cope with it?" Harry took a sip of water, and then spluttered half of it all over the table. "Sorry, the bubbles went up my nose."

"No harm done," said Severus, dabbing the table with a napkin and smiling at Harry. He was relieved when he smiled back. "You could write her a letter before we get back to school, Harry, so you'll know."

"I can still get my other books today though, can't I? Do you know which books I might need for Ancient Runes, Professor? We should have arranged to meet with Hermione – she'd know and she'd probably know who could tutor me as well."

"Oh, I thought I'd mentioned that, Harry. The whole school knows that I am a Master of Potions, of course, but I am also a certified Master of Runic Lore. If you wish, I can tutor you; we'll have to make some arrangements to fit it in round the rest of your studies."

"Thank you, sir; that would be great. If you don't mind me asking, Professor, why weren't you the teacher for Ancient Runes rather than Potions?"

"Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts were the only subjects vacant at the time I sought sanctuary, I was never offered the DADA post but I needed somewhere safe to stay, so I accepted the Potions position."

"Oh," Harry's face had lost all its colour as the name not spoken hovered in the air between them. "Sir - you - you and the twins, you did that for me, didn't you?"

Severus wasn't so foolish as to ask him what he was referring to in the middle of a public restaurant.

"Yes, Harry, we did. We did it for you."

Harry glanced up, tears dancing behind his glasses. He reached over and squeezed Severus' hands, the first time he'd attempted a touch today. "Thank you, sir. Thank you."

At Harry's touch, Severus could see his hands as they really were: clean – not covered in blood.


Chapter 13: Dark Angel
Part 13


Severus had been to Dumbledore’s office so many times when the man had been alive, it felt rather awkward to go there knowing he was the man's murderer. Minerva didn't seem to notice his discomfort though; it probably helped that she'd redecorated the study as soon as she'd taken over. The headmistress' study now sported a rather alarming amount of tartan, from wall panels to the chairs and the woman's ever-present tin of shortbread.

There was a gap on the wall where Dumbledore's portrait should have hung as one of the former headmasters. Severus couldn't help staring at the blank space. Considering the shame he'd brought upon the school, the governors had decided his portrait would never hang there. Minerva saw where Severus' gaze rested.

"Terrible business, Severus. Just terrible. To think, that none of us even knew, even suspected that he could do such a thing. You didn't hear this from me, but I was relieved when he was found dead. A trial would have been so upsetting for all those students, imagine bringing all of those bad memories back now. No, it's best that it's all forgotten about as quickly as possible. And those videos that vile man made of Harry! How could they do such a thing, Severus? How could they?"

"I'm not sure, Minerva. Some Muggles believe it's a form of mental illness, that they just can't help themselves."

"That doesn't excuse what they did!"

"No, I agree. Those children will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Harry Potter will have to live with it."

"I should have known something was going on. I should have stopped it. I've lost count of how many times Harry asked me to be allowed to stay at Hogwarts over the summer, but of course it wasn't up to me, not then. I wish things had been different, Severus, I really do. To think that he was sent back there, year after year. It's a wonder the boy is still sane."

Severus didn't know what to say. They could play the game of ‘what if’ until they were blue in the face, but it wouldn't help matters now.

"Did you wish to see me for something in particular, Minerva?" asked Severus. It was a week before term started and he had lesson plans to finish, ingredients to organise and a hundred and one other things to do before the little darlings came back.

"Oh, yes, Severus. Now that I'm headmistress, I won't really have much time for my Head of House duties; I was hoping you could take over as the Gryffindor Head of House as well as for Slytherin. I've asked Hagrid to let the castle know that we need a new set of rooms, for both Houses to share. It would be easier for you if both Houses are together, wouldn't it?"

"Headmistress," said Severus, deliberately using the woman's title. "Are you bloody insane? Those two Houses detest each other! There'll be murder done if you put them in together!"

"I don't think so, Severus, I think this is what the school needs. Those two Houses have been enemies for long enough. The sixth and seventh years will not be in dormitories any longer, each will have their own bedroom within the dorm, but the Slytherins and Gryffindors will share the common room and bathrooms. The younger years will be split into dormitories as usual, but each dorm should have some Slytherins and Gryffindors in it. They are not to be split into separate dorms, do you understand? You and I can get along, Severus, so why is it so difficult for our students?"

"Because they are going through adolescence where everything is ruled by hormones and things seem way out of proportion to what actually happens. Are you sure this is a good idea, Minerva?" Dear Merlin, he wasn't actually thinking of agreeing, was he? Just imagine Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy in the same dormitory, they'd probably kill each other.

"I think it is, Severus. So, do you agree?"

"I don't really have much choice, do I?" mumbled Severus, but at least the woman hadn't tried to ply him with tea or lemon drops.

***

"I wonder who the new Defence teacher is," said Hermione as she glanced at the top table on their first day back. Harry followed her gaze; he didn't see anyone new there either. Hagrid and Professor Snape had brought in the first years, Severus holding the sorting hat in his hands. All the first years looked terrified of Snape.

"Maybe they couldn't get anyone?" suggested Ron. "They might drop the subject altogether now that we don't need to fight You-Know-Who."

"There are still plenty of Death Eaters, Ron, not to mention it's good self-defence, and some of us need a NEWT in Defence for our courses!"

"Okay, okay," muttered Ron, his ears going pink. "I was only saying!"

Professor McGonagall stood up and tapped a spoon against the side of her goblet for attention, although it wasn't really necessary. The whole school had gone silent as soon as she'd stood up. Harry had heard snippets of conversation as they'd first entered the Great Hall. It seemed a lot of the pupils knew that Dumbledore had done something illegal and that he was now dead, but none of them knew quite what he’d done. So far, Harry had heard theories that he'd been a Death Eater in disguise and that he was an alien who had returned to wherever he'd come from.

"Thank you everyone. Now that we are all Sorted, I have an announcement to make. As you know I have been made headmistress this year and as those duties will take up a lot of my time, I will no longer be able to perform Head of House duties for Gryffindor. I am pleased to inform you that Professor Snape has kindly agreed to act as Head of House for Gryffindor as well as Slytherin and -"

But no one heard what she said next, for the Slytherin table had erupted into boos and hisses at the announcement; the Gryffindors were just silent with shock. "Kill me now, Harry. Kill me now," mumbled Ron beneath his breath.

"SILENCE!" boomed McGonagall and the Slytherins quieted down immediately as if a switch had just been flicked. "This is a school, not a democracy! There are rules and if you disobey, you will be punished just as you have before. This is the new rule: Professor Snape is now Head of both Gryffindor and Slytherin House, you will show him the respect he deserves or I will see all of you in detention. There is also a new rule for the sixth and seventh years: you will have your own bedrooms rather than having to share a dormitory; younger years will share as before. The new combined Slytherin and Gryffindor dormitory is in the dungeons as Professor Snape needs to be near the Potions laboratory."

"Combined?" hissed Hermione. "Did she just say combined? Oh, how are we going to get any work done sharing with the Slytherins?"

"We have our own rooms, Hermione. We won't have to see the Slytherins if we don't want to," said Harry. It sounded like they would have to share the common areas though. Harry was not looking forward to sharing bathrooms with anyone from Slytherin. Severus as Head of House… he could cope with that. He knew how much Severus cared for the students under his tutelage and if he had any problems it would be good to be able to talk to someone who already knew what Harry had been through. Somehow, Harry couldn't imagine talking to Professor McGonagall about any of it. Yes, a male Head of House was better from that viewpoint.

"Professor Snape will also be taking on the role of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher this year. Let us all wish him the very best in his new endeavours."

The Slytherins clapped and cheered, Harry and Hermione joined in as did most of the Gryffindor table, but Ron was pounding his head on the table as if he hoped to knock himself out. "I thought I'd got rid of him now I'm not doing Potions," he wailed at the air.

"Snape's all right, Ron," said Harry, still clapping. "He saved me from that house. I can't forget that. Ever."

Ron looked up, a sober expression on his face. "Yeah, he did, didn't he? Maybe he won't be so bad after all."

McGonagall tapped her goblet again until the noise had died down. "Fourth and sixth years, please remain behind until you get your timetables for your OWL and NEWT subjects, the rest of you may make your way to the dormitories and we'll see you all tomorrow bright and early for your first classes. Goodnight everyone."

All the other students filed out and Harry wondered how things could change so completely in so little time, but then he should have been used to that by now. Sixth and seventh years hadn’t had their own rooms before, only the Head Boy and Head Girl had been awarded that privilege. Harry wasn't so sure it was a privilege; he'd been locked alone in a room for years, so he'd always looked forward to getting back to school and sharing a dorm with his friends.

Professor Snape was handing out timetables to the Slytherin fourth and sixth years, Professor Sprout and Professor Flitwick to Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw and they waited patiently while Professor McGonagall made their way over to the Gryffindor table. It looked like she had at least sorted out their subjects. The fourth years were dealt with first; the OWL timetable wasn't as complicated as the ones for the NEWT students.

Professor McGonagall handed everyone their timetables except for Harry, who was starting to get a bit worried by now. The others left until Harry was the only student left in the Great Hall with all the teachers. McGonagall sat down beside him, a few moments later, Madam Pomfrey sat on the other side of him and Professor Snape sat opposite him as the rest of the staff left.

"Harry, your timetable is a bit more complicated than everyone else's," said Professor McGonagall. "Especially since you want an Apprenticeship with Madam Pomfrey and we have to add on extra classes in Ancient Runes as well. I've already asked Professor Sinistra but she won't take on anyone for NEWTs unless they have already done an OWL in the subject. Professor Snape has agreed to tutor you each weekday, but I've left the weekends free for now." Professor McGonagall thrust a piece of parchment towards him.

"You are doing quite a few subjects, Harry, and this is what we've come up with for your timetable. Try it for a week or two to see how you're managing but if it gets too much, come and talk to Professor Snape about it and we'll see if we can make it better for you."

Harry read down the list.

Mon

8 breakfast
9 Double Potions
11 Double Herbology
1 Lunch
2 Double Defence Against the Dark Arts
4 tutoring with Madam Pomfrey (Healing)
6 dinner
7 study/prep
8 tutoring with Professor Snape (Ancient Runes)
10 curfew

Tues

8 breakfast
9 Double Transfiguration
11 Double Charms
1 Lunch
2 Double Muggle Studies
4 tutoring with Professor Snape (Ancient Runes)
6 dinner
7 study/prep
8 tutoring with Madam Pomfrey (Healing)
10 curfew

Weds

8 breakfast
9 Double Potions
11 Double Muggle Studies
1 Lunch
2 Double Care of Magical Creatures
4 tutoring with Madam Pomfrey (Healing)
6 dinner
7 study/prep
8 tutoring with Professor Snape (Ancient Runes)
10 curfew

Thurs

8 breakfast
9 Double Transfiguration
11 Double Charms
1 Lunch
2 Double Herbology
4 tutoring with Professor Snape (Ancient Runes)
6 dinner
7 study/prep
8 tutoring with Madam Pomfrey (Healing)
10 curfew

Fri

8 breakfast
9 Double Transfiguration
11 Double Muggle Studies
1 Lunch
2 Double Care of Magical Creatures
4 tutoring with Madam Pomfrey (Healing)
6 dinner
7 study/prep
8 tutoring with Professor Snape (Ancient Runes)
10 curfew

Sat/Sun - free time and study.

"Becoming a Healer takes a lot of work and study, Harry," said Madam Pomfrey. "I know this probably seems like you have very little free time, but if you want to be successful in entering the training program at St. Mungo's you do need to start working for it now."

Harry nodded. "I know, Madam Pomfrey. I'm not afraid of hard work. I want to do this; I'm going to do this. Thank you for taking me on and thank you, Professor Snape. I know it can't be easy with all your other responsibilities."

"Mr. Potter, we will always try and accommodate those students who want to do the work. And believe me, we will be working hard."

"Thank you, sir," said Harry and he couldn't help smiling at the man across the table from him.

"Well, that seems to be everything, I think," said Professor McGonagall. "Severus, why don't you show Harry to his new dormitory?"

The man nodded and stood up. Harry followed him down to the dungeons and got ready to start his new life at Hogwarts.

It was going to be an interesting year.



Chapter 14: Dark Angel
Part 14


A month later, Harry wondered what strange madness had possessed him to make him think he wanted to be a Healer. He was exhausted, he was doing more study than the seventh years and the thought of doing it for two more years and then another three at St. Mungo's was starting to worry him. What if he couldn't cope?

It would probably help if he'd been able to get a decent night's sleep, but he'd barely slept at all since they'd returned to school. He was uncomfortable being in a room on his own. Every time a shadow moved, or a tree scraped along the window, it had him panicking and reaching for his wand. The doors to the bedrooms weren't allowed to be locked or warded in case there was an emergency, but Harry had started shoving a chair under the door handle every night. He just couldn't get rid of the fear that someone might try and sneak in while he was asleep. So he'd just stopped sleeping, it seemed easier that way.

It was Thursday evening and he was having a tutoring session with Madam Pomfrey again, but Harry was almost asleep on his feet. They were touring the infirmary's store cupboard and as Harry stared at each label, he thought he recognised the spidery scrawl. "Professor Snape makes all these?"

"Oh, yes," agreed Madam Pomfrey proudly. "Professor Snape is the best Potions Master in Britain, Harry, if not the world. We're very lucky to have him here. All our patients get the best potions."

"Why do they always taste so horrible though?" asked Harry, grimacing at a bottle of Skele-Gro, remembering the vile taste from second year.

Madam Pomfrey laughed. "That would be Severus for you, Harry. He doesn't believe the children should be coddled just because they're ill so he refuses to adulterate his work with flavours. Sometimes, even a simple addition of a particular flavour can adversely affect the potion, so we don't risk it."

That made sense and Harry nodded as the matron went through all the different potions and what they were used for. Harry had a Muggle notebook in his hand; writing everything down as they went along. It wouldn't do to prescribe the wrong potion for someone.

"You'll find mostly the basics in here, Harry: burn salves; calming draughts; Pepper-up Potion; acne cream; antiseptic lotions; and Skele-Gro . I keep the other potions locked on the top two shelves. Dreamless Sleep, Morpheus Draught, Draught of the Living Death. You are not to give them to anyone without going directly through me, Harry, is that clear? They are controlled substances."

"Yes, Madam Pomfrey." His self-inking quill hovered over the pages of his book. "What does Morpheus Draught do? We haven't done that one in Potions yet."

"No, nor will you. It is a combination of a calming draught and a painkiller derived from opium and cocaine. It is only rarely used and it can cause complications with the patient's breathing and brain chemistry. All painkillers affect the brain to some extent as they mask the pain receptors. The body is still in pain, but the signals do not reach the brain to let the body know it is hurting. It is why you should always examine your patient first without giving them anything for pain until you know what is wrong with them."

"Oh. Oh, I see," said Harry, scribbling frantically in his notebook. He was learning so much, he just hoped he remembered all of it by the time it came to take his entrance exams.

Madam Pomfrey showed him round the rest of the storeroom: the bandages; bedpans; bowls for being sick in; test-tubes and needles for drawing blood; a wizarding microscope that adjusted the magnification to exactly what was needed to help with diagnoses and rolls of parchment for patient's charts as well as about twenty clipboards.

"Well, Harry, I think we'll call it a night. I've sent some books on anatomy and wizarding physiology to your room; we should start on that for our next session. Please read the first two chapters of each book ready for tomorrow afternoon."

"Thanks, Madam Pomfrey. I'll see you tomorrow."

"And Harry?" she called once Harry was at the door. "Please try and get some sleep, won't you?"

Harry nodded; he would certainly try but he couldn't guarantee that he would succeed.

***


Friday. The best day of the week because it meant that after this it was the weekend. Severus was always in a better mood on Fridays than any other day of the week. His last class before lunch was the first year Hufflepuffs and they were attentive to a fault. They were no fun; he had no opportunity to hand out detention. All of them brewed an almost perfect potion but he felt better when he could take points from Dawson for talking after he'd told them to be silent.

Once the class was quiet again, Severus sat by his desk and worked on his lesson plans for Harry later that night. Harry was advancing quite rapidly, already they'd covered Norse Runes and were just starting on Saxon as well as the Runic Spells and Charms that belonged to each section. It seemed Potter had a natural aptitude for the ancient language and he always worked hard in their tutoring sessions, as well as coping with the homework. Severus had to admit that he'd had some concerns that Harry may not have been up to the task – it was a lot of work to pile on a sixteen year old, but perhaps after killing Voldemort, anything else would seem like a holiday in comparison.

So, it was rather a surprise to find his classroom door flung open without even a knock and even more surprising to find a tearful Neville Longbottom in the gap. "Sir! Please! Oh, come quickly, sir! It's Harry!"

Severus had been on the receiving end of those words before and he bounded out of his chair in an instant. He cast a stasis charm over the still-bubbling cauldrons so at least they wouldn't burn the classroom down once he was out of it. "Behave yourselves until I return. Read chapters three and four of your textbook, quietly," he commanded as he followed Longbottom out.

"Longbottom? What is it? Tell me what happened."

"Sir, oh, sir!" the boy sobbed and had to stop to lean against the wall before he collapsed in a heap. It was another few minutes before he was coherent enough to speak. "We were in Muggle Studies, sir. We were supposed to be watching a video on Muggle wedding customs, but someone had changed the videos. It wasn't a video of Muggle wedding customs at all. It was - it was - Oh, Merlin!" gasped Longbottom as he turned aside and vomited in the corridor.

Severus banished the vomit and conjured a glass of water for the distressed boy.

"Thank you, sir. I'm sorry."

"That is quite all right, Longbottom. I take it this video shows something distressing?"

Longbottom nodded. "It was Harry, sir. He was in the video and someone - someone was hurting him. R - r- raping him."

Severus felt the world around him tilt and grey for a moment. How had this happened? How had someone at Hogwarts got hold of those videos? Hadn't the Aurors confiscated all the ones Dumbledore had? He knew the trials hadn't finished yet, so some were still at the Ministry until Amelia would send them to Harry to destroy.

"Harry lost it, sir. After he saw the video. He's crying and screaming and he doesn't know any of us. Please sir, we don't know what to do!"

Was it significant that the first thing the boy had done was to come to his most hated professor? Were the Gryffindors finally accepting him as their Head of House? "You did the right thing, Longbottom. Can you go and fetch Madam Pomfrey as well and I will meet you back in the Muggle Studies classroom."

His tears drying now, Longbottom ran off as Severus made his way upstairs. Severus' heart fell to somewhere near his shoes when he saw that Harry was tucked into a corner and rocking backwards and forwards again. Tears were streaming down his face and he was screaming incoherently at anyone who tried to approach him. Hermione Granger was in tears as she stared at her stricken friend and the others were gawking as if they were rubbernecking at a traffic accident. The tape was still running on the television at the front of the room.

"Will someone shut that bloody thing off!" snarled Snape and the Gryffindor class jumped on hearing him. Professor Martell hastily switched off the video and television, blushing at his mistake. "Give the boy some space, will you?"

The crowd around Harry parted. "I want my Daddy!" screamed Harry into the silence. "I want my Daddy!"

"Harry," Hermione Granger started gently. "You're father's dead, Harry."

"NO! No he isn't! He promised! He promised he'd come back for me!" Harry wailed and tucked his head onto his knees just as Madam Pomfrey entered the room.

"Out, out, all the students out!" yelled Madam Pomfrey as she knelt down to tend to Harry. "This class is cancelled!"

"Madam Pomfrey, this is my class," said Professor Martell, but he quailed under the matron's gaze. "Er, yes, class dismissed," he said and he followed them out.

"What happened, Severus?"

"I think his mind snapped, Poppy, after he saw one of the videos. Someone switched the tapes, the boy couldn't handle it."

Madam Pomfrey gently tilted Harry's chin up to face her. "Hello, Harry, do you know who I am?"

Harry shook his head. "But you look like a nurse," he said. "I had to go to the nurse at school last week 'cos Dudley – he's my cousin and I hate him – telled the teacher that I had nits. But I didn't! I didn't!" Harry sobbed again.

"That's right, Harry. I am a nurse and I'm here to help you."

"Are you going to give me 'jections?" he asked worriedly, eyes widening until they seemed to take up all of his face.

"No, Harry. No injections," said Poppy. "But I'm going to take you to hospital so that you can have a nice rest. Would you like that?"

Harry nodded. "With a real bed and pillows and blankets and hot water bottles and a teddy bear? Can I have a teddy bear?"

"Yes, Harry. You can have a teddy bear," said Poppy, close to tears. "Somnus", she whispered and Harry instantly fell asleep. "Oh, Severus, the poor child!"

"What is it, Poppy?" asked Severus.

"He's regressed to being a child again: he thinks he is a little child. My guess is around five years old from the way he spoke. Is that significant do you think?"

Severus nodded. It was significant all right. He guessed Harry had regressed to age five, to sometime before his first rapes. He was hiding from himself what had happened and the only way to do that was to become that child again, the child before it had happened to him.

"Merlin, Poppy, what are we going to do?"



Chapter 15: Dark Angel
Part 15

Severus returned to his class, dismissed them early for lunch and cancelled all afternoon lessons for that day before returning to the infirmary. Poppy was glad to see him, the Somnus spell had only lasted for an hour and once Harry woke up he'd been frantically screaming for Severus and would not settle down again until Severus had arrived. It was disconcerting watching a sixteen year old cuddling a teddy bear and sucking his thumb like someone much younger.

Harry was lying on top of the blankets, curled up on his side, the small black and white panda crushed against his body. Every so often he would let out another sob and the sound went straight to Severus' chest. Harry sounded so forlorn, as if his heart was breaking.

"Where did you get the teddy bear from?" Severus asked in a whisper. Harry's hand was clenched around it so tightly that his knuckles were standing out against the skin.

"I transfigured it from a bandage."

"How is he, Poppy?"

"Physically, he's doing all right, but he's exhausted. I don't think he's been sleeping. Mentally ..." Poppy shrugged her shoulders as they both stared at the boy on the bed. "I've given him some tests, Severus, and to all intents and purposes, he has the mental age of a young child at the moment. His reading levels and verbal skills are normal for a child of around five. He has separation anxiety: he doesn't want to be parted from you. It's not a form of mental retardation, his IQ is within the normal range, a little bit higher than average really, but he just doesn't have the skills to communicate well at the moment."

Severus stared at Harry. "And the thumb? I thought children grew out of that fairly young?"

"I think it's a reaction to stress at the moment, something to combat how upset he's feeling. A lot of children are orally fixated; they like sucking things, it reminds them of when they were an infant being fed. A good memory."

But Harry had never really been fed when he'd been at that awful house. Was he remembering his time with Lily and James?

"Is there anything we can do for him?" asked Severus, mentally cataloguing his stores, as if he thought a potion might help.

Poppy ventured over to the bed, where Harry had finally fallen asleep again of his own accord. She smoothed his fringe away from his eyes and sighed. "It has given me an idea, Severus. He does still remember the rapes, but he's confused in his mind as to the time frame; he remembers you and the twins rescuing him, but in his mind, you rescued him when he was a small child. Now, I don't know if this will work or not, but I think it might be worth a try. Children are fairly resilient. I think we ought to de-age Harry and give him a different childhood, a loving one."

"I do have aging and de-aging potions," said Severus, "but how would that help him?"

"We can de-age him and then every few weeks, we can age him a year, or six months until he's back to his actual age again. It could probably be done within a year or so. Children don't have such an accurate perception of time; if we tell him months have passed rather than weeks, then that's what Harry will think has happened. While he is still young, five and six years old, we can get him to talk about what those men did. He needs some sort of therapy and Harry as an adolescent is not prepared to talk. I've repeatedly asked him about counselling but he has constantly refused."

"It would have to be kept secret," mused Severus. A five year old Harry Potter would be particularly vulnerable to those Death Eaters who were still active. "And you think having Harry talk about it as a child will help him?"

"I don't know for sure, Severus, but I hope it will, yes. How soon can you have a De-aging Potion ready?"

"Probably by tomorrow morning at the earliest. Do you have any books on childcare, Poppy? I've not had any experience of children younger than eleven; I'd like to know what I'm doing."

"Severus, I wasn't expecting you to take care of him, I thought perhaps Molly Weasley..."

"No, Poppy, I'm going to do this. I'm not going to let him down again."

"What about your classes?"

"I'll ask one of the Weasley twins to share in the childcare and you'll be able to help sometimes too, won't you?"

"Of course, Severus. I think for the moment that only the two of us, Minerva and the Weasley twins should know what's happening. The less people who know about it the better, there's less chance of someone discovering that Harry is a young child again. Will you all be staying at Hogwarts?"

Severus nodded. How many times had he heard Harry say that Hogwarts was his home?


***

Harry liked having a teddy bear; he'd never had one before that wasn't broken. He didn't have a name for it yet; he was afraid to name it in case the bad men came and took it away from him. Sometimes he dreamed about the bad men and then the nurse lady gave him some medicine to help him go back to sleep. He didn't dream after the medicine.

He didn't know how long he'd been in the hospital, but it was nice being allowed to stay in bed and to wear stripy pyjamas that fitted him. Sometimes he had visitors, but he didn't know any of them except Severus. He remembered Severus helped him escape from the bad men before and when he kept asking if he had to go back to the bad men soon, Severus cried and told him he would never have to see the bad men again.

There were pretty windows with coloured pictures in the hospital; he'd never had windows before either and he tried to catch the colours on the wall as they bounced around the room. But when his hand touched them, the colours moved onto his hand and he was staring and staring at the green light on his hand the day Severus came in with one of the men from his dreams. Not a bad man dream, this was one of the good dreams.

"George!" he cried, holding his arms out for a hug, wondering why his hands seemed different today, smaller somehow.

"Actually, it's Fred, Harry," smiled the man. His hair was like sunshine inside, it was so bright and he had lots of freckles on his nose and cheeks. Harry squinted, trying to see if he had any freckles on his face, but that just made his eyes hurt. "George is my twin brother. Do you know what twins are?"

"That means you look the same but you're different?"

"That's right, Harry," Fred smiled and hugged him, kissing Harry on the top of his head. Harry tensed a little, unsure why that felt scary – it was Fred and Fred had helped Severus get him away from all the bad men. Fred wouldn't hurt him. Never ever.

"We're here to take you home, Harry," said Severus.

No! No! Harry thrashed in Fred's grip, screaming wordlessly. He liked it here. He didn't want to go home. Home meant the cupboard and the belt and the broom and the boots and the bad men. "No! No!" He reached up and gripped the slats of the headboard, hoping it would be enough to keep him here. They couldn't take him away. No! No! He struggled and kicked in Fred's grasp, feeling choked with fear and panic. "Bad men! Bad men!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. "You promised! You promised!" he shrieked at Severus, his throat sore as he tried not to cry.

"Oh, Harry. No, you're not going back to that house. You're going to be living with Severus, here at Hogwarts. I'm going to be there as well to help look after you, but there won't be any bad men, Harry. Not here. You're safe here." Fred rocked him against his chest and Harry felt himself calming down.

He looked at Severus over Fred's shoulder. "No bad men?" he whispered.

Severus sat down on the hospital bed and wrapped his arms around Harry as well. "No, Harry. No bad men. Would you like to go and see your new room? Fred and I decorated it just for you."

"Will there be room for my teddy?"

"Of course, and tomorrow we're going to take you shopping to get new clothes," said Severus. "And after that, Madam Pomfrey is going to come and talk to you, do you remember?"

Harry nodded. The nurse wanted Harry to talk about the bad men and what they did, but Harry wasn't allowed to talk about that. They would send him to jail if he talked, but he wasn't supposed to talk about that either so he just stayed quiet and hoped that maybe the nurse would forget and he wouldn't have to speak about it.

"Right then, Harry? All set?" asked Fred as he began to lift Harry from the bed. Harry howled and kicked until he was set back down again. "Harry? What's wrong? Don't you want me to carry you?" asked Fred. He looked a bit sad. Harry didn't want to make anybody sad, but he didn't want Fred to carry him either. He held his arms out towards Severus and it was a few moments before Severus realised what Harry wanted.

Severus' arms came around his waist and he hefted Harry up, resting Harry on one hip. Harry wrapped his arms and legs around Severus and snuggled his face against Severus' shoulder. It was nice there and he didn't want to leave. He bounced up and down and couldn't stop giggling as Severus began to walk faster and faster, making Harry jiggle even more. It was fun.

"You like that, do you?" asked Severus. Harry nodded, but didn't speak. If he spoke, they might make him talk about the bad men and he wasn't allowed. Severus and Fred stopped by a big wooden door and Severus spoke some strange words and then the door opened. Harry shivered, it was cold here, even colder than his cupboard and he hoped he would be allowed a blanket. Maybe the nice nurse lady could bring some down from the hospital.

The door opened into a room that had items of furniture Harry didn't know the name of; he'd never been in the Dursleys' living room. Severus carried him to another door which opened as they got closer. "This is the bathroom, Harry. Feel free to use it whenever you need to."

Harry nodded, but he didn't understand. What was a bathroom? What were all those white things next to the sink? He couldn't see any buckets anywhere, how was he supposed to do his business if there weren't any buckets? Feeling silly, he didn't ask, and Severus continued the tour to the small kitchen (he knew what a kitchen was as he had cooked at the Dursleys'), then Severus' and Fred's bedrooms, and then his own bedroom.

It was a lot bigger than his cupboard, but like his cupboard, there were no windows. The room was lit with lots of candles though and it was lovely and bright. The bed was enormous and as soon as Severus set him down on it, Harry began bouncing and giggling, feeling as if he could fly right up to the ceiling. He stopped, giving Severus a wary look, maybe he wasn't allowed to jump on the bed?

Severus smiled at him. "Jump on the bed as much as you like, Harry."

So that's just what Harry did.



Chapter 16: Dark Angel
Part 16

"I don't care who the bloody hell started it!" roared Severus. "I want to know what is going on in here!"

The noise from the dormitories had woken Harry and Severus had even now left the child hysterical in Fred's arms, with Fred trying to calm him down. Harry was frantic that Severus was leaving him, but as Head of both Houses, Severus did have other responsibilities.

All the Slytherins were on one side of the common room, all the Gryffindors on the other. Both sets of Houses were in a circle around two boys who were lying prone on the floor. Weasley and Malfoy were both covered in blood as if they'd been duelling the Muggle way, or perhaps it was the result of a hex cast by each of them. Severus might have guessed.

"Weasley! Malfoy! Get up, both of you! The rest of you to bed this instant and if I hear another racket like that you'll all be scrubbing floors for Argus Filch!"

"But, sir ..." Granger protested.

"Ten points form Gryffindor, Miss Granger. One would think someone of your intelligence would know when to follow orders. Bed now! All of you!"

The students dispersed, leaving the two bloodied boys behind. "Episkey," said Severus and their faces stopped bleeding. "Well, Mr. Malfoy, what is going on?"

Weasley opened his mouth to speak, but Severus held up a hand. "You will get your turn, Mr. Weasley. I am waiting to hear from Mr. Malfoy right now."

The blond boy mumbled something incoherent. "What was that? Speak up boy. You don't want your father's elocution lessons going to waste now, do you?"

Malfoy glared at him. "Leave my father out of it!"

Severus tapped his wand against his palm. "I'm still waiting, Mr. Malfoy."

"He hexed me. Weasley hexed me! It's his fault, he started it!"

"I did not!" Weasley protested hotly.

"Why did he hex you, Draco?"

"All I did was ask how Harry was and he hexed me and then he punched me so I hexed him and punched him back!"

"Weasley? Is this true? You hexed him after he asked about Harry Potter?" This night was just getting more and more surreal. There was a five-year-old Harry Potter in his quarters, along with Fred Weasley, and Draco Malfoy had asked about Harry?

"Yes, sir. He doesn't care about Harry; he only wanted to know if his plan had worked! Well, Malfoy, you'll be happy to know it did! Harry's lost it because of your stupid videotape! You fucking Death Eater bastard!" Weasley lunged for Malfoy again, but Severus cast a binding spell on both of them to prevent them from killing each other. What was Minerva thinking putting these two Houses together?

"Twenty points from Gryffindor for language, Weasley."

"I'm not a Death Eater!" snarled Malfoy in a rage. "You keep mistaking me for my father! And why do you keep talking about that stupid thing? What is a videotape? I have no idea what you're talking about, Weasley! I just wanted to know how Harry was."

"Since when do you care about Harry? You're lying!" retorted Ron. "You hate Harry! You always have! You put that videotape in the Muggle Studies classroom, I know you did!"

"I didn't! I've never been anywhere near the Muggle Studies room! Why would I?" Draco's protests did sound believable, but then so had his father's, even when Lucius had been lying through his teeth. The only way anyone would find out the truth was if he dosed both boys with Veritaserum and for that, he would need Minerva's permission. Not tonight – he would have enough to deal with trying to get Harry calm enough to get back to sleep after this. The boy was terrified that Severus wouldn't be coming back.

"Tomorrow, both of you will have detention with me all morning and we will get to the bottom of this."

"But sir, it's Saturday!" whined Draco.

"I don't care if it's Christmas, you will both be there, is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," they both mumbled, chastened.

"Twenty points from Slytherin for fighting and another twenty from Gryffindor for the same." He could almost feel the Weasley boy's temper. Fifty points lost in the one night. Barely a month into term and the Gryffindors were almost in negative points. "Now get to bed and if I hear any more noise from these dorms tonight, detention will be the least of your worries." Severus released the binding spells and both boys stalked off to their rooms, slamming the doors behind them. He debated whether to take more points off each of them, but really couldn't be bothered. He needed to get back to Harry.

***

"Still no change, Severus?" asked Poppy as she stared at the boy playing with building blocks on the floor of her office.

"He hasn't spoken a word since we took him out of the infirmary," said Severus. It had been two weeks without a word from Harry; two weeks with Poppy trying to get him to talk about what those men did to him, but Harry wasn't talking about anything. Two weeks since that videotape and they were no nearer to discovering who had placed it in the Muggle Studies classroom. Severus had given Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy Veritaserum that Saturday as part of their detention and neither of them knew how the tape had been brought to Hogwarts. It seemed that Draco had only been interested in how Harry was doing.

That was the question, wasn't it? The five year old Harry didn't seem in much better mental health than his sixteen year old counterpart had been. Harry had been having lots of accidents until Severus and Fred both realised that he didn't know what a toilet was – he'd never been shown at the Dursleys'; they'd had to explain that it was very like his buckets and things were now settling down again. There were wet sheets every couple of days. Poppy had told them it was probably due to stress and they were not to shout at Harry about it, but Harry had been almost hysterical every time it had happened, afraid he was going to be punished. He was still terrified of some sort of physical violence being inflicted upon him.

Severus glanced again at Harry; Harry kept adding blocks to the top of the tower he was building, it was starting to topple a little and Severus worried that it might fall. Before the tower could fall over on its own though, Harry knocked it over and started to cry. He could cry and scream plenty, but as for words, they seemed a whole different ball game.

"Harry, can you look in the toy box and bring me the dolls?"

Harry looked up and wiped his eyes before heading towards the chest in the corner. Every day, Poppy had some new toy in there to try and get Harry to open up, but Severus wasn't sure toys would help. Harry brought out four dolls, two boys and two girls; some blonde and some black-haired. Holding two dolls awkwardly in each hand, he gave the dolls to Poppy, placing them on her lap. Poppy shook her head.

"No, Harry, the dolls are for you," she held them out to him. Harry shook his head and placed his hands under his armpits, as if afraid to touch them now. "Oh," said Poppy. "Don't you think boys should play with dolls? But these are very special dolls, Harry. They are for boys and girls, see this one here? This is a boy doll and he looks like you, doesn't he?" Poppy waved her wand so that one of the black-haired dolls now sported glasses and a small lightning bolt scar. "See?" Poppy held the doll out. This time Harry was curious and moved to take it, tracing the scar on the doll's forehead.

Severus guessed these particular dolls were anatomically correct; he'd heard of this method being used by Muggle psychiatrists when patients couldn't talk about abuse. They could show them with the dolls instead. "Now, Harry, we'll pretend one of the other dolls is a bad man. Can you show us what the bad man did?"

Harry shook his head and cradled the Harry-likeness to his chest.

"You're not supposed to talk about it, are you?" asked Poppy. "You're not allowed to talk?"

Harry nodded.

"You think you'll get in trouble if you talk. But if you show us, Harry, you won't have to talk. You won't get in trouble because you won't have said anything. Show us with the dolls, Harry. You don't have to speak."

Harry seemed to consider this and Severus thought it wasn't going to work for a moment, but then Harry knelt up close to Poppy and took another boy doll out of her lap. He put the doll against the wall and then set the Harry-doll in its lap. Nothing happened for a few moments, Harry just stared at both of the dolls as if not quite sure what to do next. He glanced back over his shoulder to see if Severus and Poppy were watching, then he took one of the rapist-doll's hands and placed it on the Harry-doll's groin.

After that, Harry seemed to lose his inhibitions and for three hours they watched the dolls being undressed; the Harry-doll being anally penetrated repeatedly by the other; the Harry-doll giving fellatio to the other; the Harry-doll being penetrated by foreign objects and the Harry-doll's genitals being fondled by the other doll's hands. He and Poppy watched the scenes and neither of them spoke, just wanting Harry to show them everything without being prompted. The play was sickening to watch, it was almost like watching Harry being raped again, but Severus hoped it would help Harry in the long run.

They expected him to be upset afterwards, what they hadn't expected was for him to try and destroy the doll. Harry was trying to tear it limb from limb, growling in frustration when he couldn't do it. Poppy probably had an unbreakable charm on them or something. Severus could hardly blame him – he'd want to destroy that rapist-doll too – then he had to do a double-take.

It was the Harry-doll he'd been trying to destroy.

"Bad! Bad! Bad boy!" shrieked Harry as he flung the doll against the floor again and again. "Dirty, filthy freak! I'll teach you! You'll get the broom again, boy!" Harry tugged down the doll's trousers again and hunted around for something he could use as a broom handle. Poppy gave him her wand and Harry used it to whack the doll's bare bottom over and over again. Severus winced every time the wood came down, as if he could almost feel those welts as they'd happened to the young Harry. Vernon Dursley had been a brute and watching Harry enact some of the more violent encounters made his guilt about the man's death lessen somewhat. The man had deserved to die for what he'd done to Harry.

"Well? Nothing to say boy? You fucking, disgusting freak! Just like your mother!" The wood came down again and again; Harry was dripping with sweat at the effort of playing out this scene.

"Dear Merlin!" exclaimed Poppy. "A broom handle? It's a wonder he wasn't killed!" she whispered to Severus.

Harry hit the doll with the wand again and again and then hurled the wand against the wall. He dressed the doll again and cradled the Harry-doll against his chest. "Ssh, Harry. It's all right. It was just a bad dream. There aren't any bad men here. There won't be any bad men ever again." Harry kissed the doll on the forehead, just like Severus had done last night after Harry had woken up from another nightmare about his rapes. The words were almost exactly those he'd spoken.

Harry looked up and smiled at both of them. "I talked and the policemen didn't come," he said as he climbed into Severus' lap and laid his head on Severus' shoulder. "Why didn't the policemen come to take me away?"

"Do you know what lies are, Harry?" asked Severus gently, rubbing Harry's back. The weight of Harry in his arms felt so good, so right.

"Yes, that's when you don't tell the truth. Like the time my cousin ate all the biscuits and then said I did it, but I didn't."

"That's right, Harry. So when they told you that policemen would come to take you away if you talked about what they did, that was a lie."

"But Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia always said that I should do whatever a grown-up tells me to do. I have to do it." Harry squirmed a bit, as if he was uncomfortable talking about this.

"You should never have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, Harry, whether or not it's a grown up. What those men did – did that make you uncomfortable?" Harry nodded. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Harry nodded again and then he talked. And talked. And talked.



Chapter 17: Dark Angel
Part 17


Severus looked up from the essays he was marking as Fred came out of Harry's bedroom. "Is he asleep yet?"

"No, he wants you to read him a bedtime story."

"I thought you just read him one?" asked Severus, scrawling a line of red along half the parchment. Utter waffle. Utter, irrelevant and boring waffle.

"I did, but my stories aren't as good as yours apparently," Fred said with a pout as he sat down on one of the armchairs.

"We read from the same story books," said Severus, although it had been a bit awkward when he'd tried to get them out of the library without Madam Pince seeing them. She'd wanted to know what he was doing with story books for young children. "I'm using children in an experimental potion, what do you think?" he replied caustically and the woman huffed before finally allowing him to take the books out.

They were mostly Muggle Faery tales and so far Harry's favourite was The Little Mermaid. Severus thought it was a rather sad story, but maybe Harry related to it because it didn't have a happy ending.

"I know, but he wants you to read to him, Severus, not me."

Severus sighed and set his essays down; this was becoming a habit. At first, he and Fred had taken it in turns to read Harry a bedtime story, but each night that it was Fred's turn, Harry wouldn't settle until Severus came in to read to him instead, no matter how many stories Fred might have recited.

Severus pushed open the door to Harry's bedroom and he had to stop himself smiling at the mess on the floor. Scattered toys; sprawling clothes and books everywhere. Harry was an insatiable reader; as well as being read to; he loved to read by himself and would spend hours lying on his stomach, his legs crossed behind him as he read his adventure books.

As soon as he saw Severus, Harry scrambled out of bed and launched himself into Severus' arms.

"Have you been giving Fred trouble, Imp?" asked Severus as he carried Harry back to bed. Once there, Harry jumped into his arms again, wanting to be carried some more. Severus walked a few circuits around the room, scarcely able to believe the boy in his arms had been that scared child in Poppy's office only three months ago. Talking things through with Poppy had helped Harry so much. It was rare for Harry to have nightmares now and he welcomed hugs rather than running from them.

"No. I just want you to read to me, you can do the funny voices."

"Okay, one story and then you have to go to sleep. I have work to do."

"I promise," said Harry as Severus set him down on the bed again. Harry scooted backwards on the bed so that he was leaning against his pillows and patted the bed beside him. Severus sat down and lifted the book from the bedside cabinet as Harry curled up against Severus' side. The thumb sucking had stopped now, but Harry still looked so much a child, so vulnerable, so young and Severus was appalled at how anyone could look at Harry at that age and hurt him so badly. How could anyone look at a child in such a sexual manner? Severus didn't understand it and he knew he never would.

Severus had the strongest urge to protect Harry, to keep him from harm. He waited until Harry had stopped wriggling before he began the story. Long before he'd finished, Harry had fallen deeply asleep.

Sometimes Severus wondered if it was the story Harry wanted, or Severus himself.

***

Severus gave Harry an aging potion just before Christmas, aging him to seven. Harry seemed to take it in his stride; he believed them when they told him that for him more time had passed than in reality. With his higher than average IQ, it was proving to be no problem for Harry to work on the textbooks for older children, even if only a day or two before he'd physically been five years old. Harry was like a sponge, absorbing every piece of knowledge they taught him and he always seemed to be asking the question why. Why was the sky blue? Why was the sun orange? Did the stars get lonely being so far away from each other? Why did milk make cereal go soggy?

They taught him some simple magic that he could do without a wand, but Harry had been fascinated by their wands. One day when Fred had fallen asleep on the sofa, he'd taken Fred's wand and turned the whole of the dungeon floor into rubber. His spell hadn't been confined to their quarters, though – Harry's innate magic was too strong for that – and all of Severus' class had been in a panic when the floor beneath their feet suddenly became soft rather than made of stone. After a lengthy explanation of why you shouldn't take things without people's permission and why you shouldn't try to do magic with someone else's wand, Harry had immediately wanted to know when he could have his own wand. "Not until you're eleven," said Severus and Harry had seemed to accept that.

Every week one of Harry's friends would be waiting outside Severus' office door, demanding to know what had been done with Harry.

"He is on an extended medical leave," had been Severus' reply.

"But what about his lessons?" asked Miss Granger.

"He will not be attending any more lessons this year, Granger. He may have to repeat a year."

The girl gaped at him as if he'd just admitted to murdering her family.

"But what about his NEWTs? His friends?"

It had been the same conversation almost every couple of weeks and Severus' answers had been invariably the same. There was one question he never answered; and he could never answer it no matter how many times they asked him:

Where is Harry?

***

Very early on Christmas morning, Severus was rudely awoken by a loud squeal coming from the living room. He turned over and tried to go back to sleep, but he should have realised that wasn't really a possibility with an over-excited seven year old in the next room. His bedroom door was flung wide open and Harry screamed at him.

"Severus! Severus! Santy's been here! I've got presents!"

"Of course you have, Harry. Now please, can I go back to sleep?" Severus turned over and was just snuggling down under the covers again when they were tugged off his body and he lay there shivering in his nightshirt.

"Harry! You can open your presents later, it's the middle of the night and some of us are trying to sleep!" Severus yanked the covers back up angrily and glared at Harry, only to be rewarded with a trembling lower lip as Harry tried not to cry. Bugger it all!

Severus held the covers up so Harry could climb into the bed beside him. Harry snuggled close to him and wrapped his arms around Severus' chest as Severus tried his best to calm the boy down. "I'm sorry, Harry. I get cranky when I'm tired, I didn't mean to shout at you."

"I - I don't like it when you shout," admitted Harry. "It scares me. I just - I just wanted you to see the presents Santy had brought me."

"I know, Harry. And I will, just in a few hours, all right? Let's get some sleep and then neither of us will be cranky."

Severus wrapped his arms around Harry; Harry's head fitted perfectly on his chest. "Can I stay with you?" Harry asked in a whisper. Severus nodded, already the warmth from the boy in his arms making him pleasantly drowsy and he fell asleep shortly afterwards.

When he woke up again, Harry was still wrapped up his arms, breathing softly against his neck. It would be such a shame to wake him, but Severus' bladder was making itself known and if he didn't get to the bathroom, he would risk having an accident. He tried to extricate himself from Harry without waking him, but as soon as he moved, Harry's eyes flickered open, as if he knew instinctively when Severus was going to leave him.

"Severus? Where are you going?" Harry's eyes were wide as he struggled to see without his glasses.

"Bathroom."

"Is it time to get up yet?" Harry asked eagerly.

Severus cast a time-spell: it was just after seven. "Yes, if you want to. Have a wash and then we can have breakfast."

"And then presents?" Harry was half-out of the bed already at just the thought of it.

Severus could never remember being this excited about gifts when he was a child, but he knew that until he came to Hogwarts, Harry had never really had a proper Christmas, not one with family and presents, so he could well understand the child's excitement.

"Yes, Harry, and then presents."

Severus smiled to himself as he performed his normal morning ablutions. Looking after Harry had given him a purpose after his role as a spy had finished and Harry certainly seemed grateful. He was starting to remember some things now that he was getting older; he could remember things from his previous future, but it didn't seem to faze him at all. Harry knew they were in a school of magic and he accepted magic like he accepted the fact that the sun rose and set every day. They'd dropped hints about the aging potions and he accepted it readily enough, as if it was just another facet of magic.

For breakfast, Fred had made a large cauldron of porridge and a mountain of toast. Harry dived straight for the porridge, adding three spoonfuls of sugar to it.

"Ugh, how can you eat that?" asked Severus. "It's so sweet."

"You'll rot your teeth eating too much sugar," said Fred just as he poured milk over his own.

"I always brush my teeth," said Harry. "And anyway, I need some sugar for energy. It says so in the book."

"What book?" asked Severus.

"Your book, Severus. Childcare: Ages 7-11."

"You read that? And understood it?" asked Severus in surprise. The book had been very dry, almost to the point of tedium and was written in very scientific terms, certainly not a book aimed at seven year olds.

"Of course. I'm not stupid," said Harry and tucked into his porridge. Severus exchanged a glance with Fred. No, Harry wasn't stupid, but Severus hadn't until that moment thought that Harry's high IQ had been anything more than a number. Was Harry bordering on genius level? Severus didn't know if there was any sort of test Poppy could do to find out and even if she could, wouldn't it be better to let Harry just be a child for once?

After breakfast, Harry went over to the tree and brought Severus and Fred's presents first. George was coming for lunch later so Harry left his gifts under the tree as well as his own.

"Harry, don't you want to open your presents first, pet?" asked Fred as he began examining all the parcels Harry had given him.

"No, I want you and Severus to open yours first," he said firmly.

So they did. Severus got his first-ever Weasley jumper that year, one with a picture of a bat on the front. He wasn't sure whether to feel affronted or to laugh, but the sight of Harry and Fred trying to stifle their giggles made him laugh too. "Thank your mother for me, Fred."

From Minerva, Severus had a new quill and ink set – an eagle feather if he guessed correctly – and two bottles of sherry from Trelawney. It was a vile drink: he'd make sure to give it to visitors. From Harry he received a bracelet made out of shells that had been painted a rather garish shade of purple. "Um, Harry. Thank you, it's lovely."

"No, you hate it," said Harry and ran back into his room and slammed the door behind him.

"Oh, dear," said Severus. "I'd better go and talk to him."

"You shouldn't have lied, Severus. You know how he feels about people lying to him."

Severus did know, but he had just been trying to spare the boy's feelings. How did you explain tact to a seven year old without it seeming that you were condoning lying? Severus knocked on the door; they had always respected Harry's privacy. Nothing happened for a few moments, but then Harry opened the door and stood aside so that Severus could come in. He'd been crying and he hastily wiped his cheeks, as if ashamed for Severus to see his tears.

Severus sat down on the edge of the bed, and then Harry sat down beside him, staring at the floor.

"Harry, I didn't mean to lie to you. I just didn't want to hurt your feelings by saying I didn't like your present. Sometimes people say things like that to spare other people hurt."

"But you lying to me did hurt," said Harry, looking up and pointing to his chest. "Here."

Severus lifted Harry up and settled him in his lap, and although Harry was getting a little big for that now, he never objected. "I'm sorry, Harry. I bet you put a lot of work into that bracelet and while it's not something I would usually wear, I will wear it for you. I can't wear it when I'm making a potion or teaching, but I can wear it when we're in our chambers."

"Thank you," said Harry with a shy smile. "Severus, can you teach me?"

"Teach you what, Harry?"

"Potions? I want to learn what you know."

"Harry, I'd love to teach you. I'd do anything for you."

Harry snuggled his head underneath Severus' chin. "I know," he said faintly.

Severus carried Harry back out to the living room so that he could open his presents. The boy's eyes were almost glowing when he saw everything that Santa Claus had brought, as well as gifts from Fred and Severus themselves. A train set; board games; jigsaw puzzles; paints and an easel; books to read; books to colour in and more teddy bears than would fit in his room. Harry's mouth was agape. "They can't all be for me!" he exclaimed in wonder.

"Of course they are," said Fred. "You've been such a good boy. Did you see what he left you in your stocking yet?"

Three stockings were hanging on the mantelpiece; it was the first Christmas Severus had put out a stocking since he was a child himself. Harry couldn't reach the stocking; Severus had to lift him up so that Harry could take it down and peruse the contents. Inside was an orange, an apple, a striped candy-cane and a small bottle of lemonade.

Harry was staring at the items of food and drink and looked teary-eyed at Severus. "Santy never brought me food before. Even when I was hungry and they didn't feed me. They said I'd been bad and that's why Santy never came for me before." Harry ran to Severus' arms and sobbed on his chest again, the noises muffled a little by Severus' shirt.

Severus wrapped his arms around Harry and knew that if Vernon Dursley suddenly came back from the dead somehow; this time he would feel no guilt at all at murdering the man for what he'd done to the boy in his arms. No one would ever hurt Harry again.

Severus would never allow it.




Chapter 18: Dark Angel
Part 18

The second time Harry turned eleven; Severus gave him back his wand. It felt different to the first time he'd held the holly in Ollivander's shop. Then, Harry had felt that the wand might suit him. Now, when he held it; he knew for sure. The wood felt warm in his hands and welcoming; as if Harry was home again and he smiled up at Severus, so pleased that he could finally have it back.

Severus ruffled his hair and even though Harry thought he might be a little too old for that gesture, he didn't say anything to make it stop, because he liked it. "I feel like a wizard again now," said Harry as he twirled the wand round in his fingers.

"You'll always be a wizard, Harry, whether or not you have a wand. Not many people are as adept at wandless magic as you. We can do some more training on that if you like, although I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination."

Harry nodded, still smiling. He'd been smiling a lot ever since he came to live with Fred and Severus. "I'd like that, Severus. I really want to get back to work; I'll need to catch up if I want to ever become a Healer."

"You still want to do that?"

"Of course. I remember most things, Severus. I just need to focus on the sixth year stuff for now so that I can go back to seventh year with my friends."

The memories of that other future Harry didn't confuse him. Harry knew all about the de-aging potions and how Madam Pomfrey hoped it would help him come to terms with what had happened. He knew the other memories were his, and he knew what had happened to him but it was distant, as if it had happened a really long time ago. It didn't hurt so much now when he had the dreams or remembered some of the worst things and talking things over really had helped. He still saw Madam Pomfrey each week for counselling and he found it really easy to talk to her.

Harry knew that he had been abused and raped and he knew he would never completely forget that awful childhood; but thanks to Fred and Severus he'd had a second chance at a childhood – a better one. He was gradually coming to terms with what had happened to him but he could now consign it to a drawer marked the past and leave it there. He would never have to go back to the Dursleys'; Petunia was in prison and Vernon was dead and without Vernon there was no way for those other men to contact Harry.

"You mean you remember your lessons? All of them?" queried Severus, bringing Harry out of his reverie.

"Yes, but I really need to concentrate on the sixth year curriculum if I'm to pass the end of year exams."

Severus didn't look entirely convinced. "Why don't you test me?" asked Harry. "Give me some past papers or something and let me do the exams."

Just then, Fred entered the living room with a tray of tea and sandwiches. It was Saturday, so Severus didn't have any classes. Harry loved the weekends best, when he got to spend two whole days with Severus. He was mostly with Fred during the week while Severus took his classes, but he really missed Severus when he wasn't here. He liked Fred, but he liked Severus more.

"What are you up to today, Harry?" asked Fred as he handed Harry a plate of cheese sandwiches.

"Harry wants me to test him on his magic exams, first through fifth year."

Fred choked on his tea. "Harry, you've only just turned eleven, you won't know any other magic yet."

"But I remember it from before," said Harry. "I know what I can do, Severus, and I can do this."

"Okay, Harry. It's the Easter break next week; I'll test you over the first few days and then Fred and I are going to take you on holiday. It can be a celebration if you pass and a way to cheer you up if you don't."

"So either way I'll still get a holiday?" asked Harry, his jaw was aching he was smiling so much. He'd never been on a holiday, not a proper one.

"You will indeed," smiled Severus.

"Wicked!" exclaimed Harry and Severus glowered at Fred, as if he knew that's where Harry had picked up the word. Fred just giggled and drank some more tea.

***

On Easter Monday, the day they were due to leave for their holiday, Harry woke up feeling as if his stomach was tied in a giant knot. From Friday until Sunday he'd sat every theory exam and taken every practical that Severus could come up with at such short notice. Harry thought he'd done rather well; he knew he'd done very well on Potions for sure, because Severus had been tutoring him ever since Harry had asked at Christmas. But what if he was just being over-confident? What if he couldn't really do the work and he would have to repeat a year without his friends? He'd already missed months of work.

He groaned and hid his head under the pillow. "Wakey, wakey," called George as he tugged the pillow away. The twins had closed the shop so that George could go on holiday with them as well. "Rise and shine, Harry. Are you all packed?"

"Yeah," Harry mumbled, rubbing sleep from his eyes. He felt a bit faint and tried to breathe through it. He'd packed, unpacked, and re-packed everything last night when he was too excited and nervous to sleep. Since living here, he now had a great selection of clothes that actually fitted him and every time he took an aging potion, Severus and Fred took him on another shopping expedition. For the first time in his life he'd actually felt wanted.

"Has Severus marked my tests yet?" Harry asked, making no move to leave the comfort of his bed. His hand sought out the black and white panda Madam Pomfrey had given him; his first teddy bear. Looking round the room now, he could nearly have opened a zoo for stuffed animals. Fred had suggested that he might want the room redecorated now that he was older, but Harry loved all his bears and he wasn't getting rid of any of them. Ever. Harry plucked the bear's fur and sighed.

"No idea, Harry, but breakfast is ready," said George, leaving Harry to get dressed. Harry pulled on a dressing gown and made his way to the bathroom for a pee and a shower. His face flushed with shame as he remembered his first few weeks here, when he hadn't even realised what a toilet was for. Fred and Severus had never got mad at him though. Once showered, Harry went back to his room and changed into a pair of jeans and a blue long-sleeved shirt.

Fred, George and Severus were already seated at the breakfast table and every one of them was beaming at him as Harry took his seat. Harry was too nervous to start eating. "Please, Severus, put me out of my misery. How did I do?"

"Very well indeed, Harry. You passed everything."

"I did? Even History of Magic?" Harry had hardly ever paid attention in that class.

"Yes, even that. Now eat up, we have quite a long day ahead of us. We have to travel the Muggle way as you are too young to Apparate and the Floo networks are most likely being watched. The Ministry is wondering where you are and Fudge is in a bit of a state about it as you can imagine. No Portkeys either for the same reason. We'll catch the Muggle train from Hogsfell to Edinburgh and from there to London. After that it's a good four or five hour drive to Cornwall."

"You have a car?" asked Harry in surprise. Somehow, he just couldn't imagine Severus driving.

"No, but we can hire one easily enough in London. I can drive, but I haven't for years now. I hope I'm not too rusty."

Fred and George both winked at him. "You know what they say, Severus. Driving a car is like riding a bike and making love, you never forget how to!" Fred laughed and Harry blushed to the roots of his hair.

"Fred, that is not an appropriate discussion at the breakfast table," Severus said, staring pointedly at Harry.

"It's all right, Severus," said Harry.

"It is not all right, Harry. You should not have to be subjected to that sort of innuendo from anyone and I won't have it, is that clear?"

"Yes. Sorry, Harry, Severus," said Fred and Harry felt a bit bad for him. Harry wasn't offended or anything, he was just a bit embarrassed and he knew Fred was only joking. Did Severus think he was too highly strung to handle jokes about sex? Harry had freaked out about that videotape, but Harry didn't think he'd do the same now. He was much better at handling things than he used to be.

Severus changed the subject. "So, Harry, have you thought about how you might catch up on your lessons?"

"Yes, I have actually. I think you should age me back to my proper age and I can go back to class. Hermione can lend me her notes so I can see what I may have missed and I can go back to my tutoring sessions with you and Madam Pomfrey. I really want to do well, Severus. I'm much better now so there's really no need for me to remain a child any more."

"Will you still go to your counselling sessions with Madam Pomfrey until she says you no longer need them?"

"Of course, I can have counselling at age sixteen as well as I can at eleven," said Harry. "I miss my friends, Severus. I'd like to go back to class and back to my own age." Harry had no idea what he was going to tell them, though. Maybe even the truth.

"It will be quite painful to age you that quickly, Harry, so I think we should wait until we come back from our holiday. Is that all right?"

"That will be fine, Severus. Eleven year old Harry has never been on a holiday," Harry smiled at Severus and for the first time in a long while, he felt things were going to work out.



Chapter 19: Dark Angel
Part 19

Severus hadn't been joking when he'd said it would be a long day. The train from Edinburgh had been delayed and they spent most of their time sitting in a coffee shop on the station while they waited. After they got on, Harry sat down next to Severus and fell asleep long before they ever got to London.

He was a little groggy when he woke up and Harry realised he'd been drooling on Severus' shoulder. "Oh, sorry about that."

Severus just gave him a small smile and cleaned his shirt with a wandless spell. Harry almost snorted, remembering Severus' modest admission that he wasn't an expert on wandless magic. Severus used more wandless magic than anyone Harry knew. "No harm done. Did you sleep well?"

Harry knew what the man was really asking: did he have nightmares? "I slept fine, Severus. Where are the twins?"

"They've gone to the buffet car; they thought you might be hungry when you woke up."

Harry's tummy growled in agreement. Harry laughed and then leaned over to give Severus a hug.

"What was that for?"

"Thank you, Severus. For everything. For rescuing me; for tutoring me; for taking me on holiday; for saving me from myself. For what you did to my uncle and Dumbledore."

"Harry..."

"It's okay, Severus. I'm not going to tell anyone. They deserved it, both of them, and I do not want you feeling guilty for the rest of your life for something that you needed to do. You did the right thing, Severus. You and the twins both. Thank you." Harry hugged him again and smiled to himself, noting how much different he felt now to just a few months ago. His paranoia was all but gone and although he still had the occasional nightmare, they certainly weren't as frequent, and now he could hug people as much as he wanted without being terrified that they were going to turn it into something more.

Fred and George returned to the compartment and saw both of them hugging. "Where's our hug, Harry?" asked George as he sat down the bags of food on an empty seat.

Harry stood up and hugged the twins one by one and then both together. "Thank you," he whispered to both of them. The twins nodded, knowing instinctively what Harry was thanking them for.

"We didn't know what you wanted, so we got a bit of everything," said Fred, delving inside the paper bag. "Sandwiches, crisps, pies, chocolate."

"What sort of pies are they?"

"Chicken and mushroom or steak and kidney," said George, peering at the labels.

"May I have a steak and kidney one?" asked Harry.

Fred grinned at him as he handed Harry the pie, a plastic fork and a paper plate. "You can indeed, Harry."

Harry ate the pie slowly, savouring each bite. It was tasty even though it wasn't homemade, but it wasn't a patch on Mrs. Weasley's or Hogwarts' cooking. How different it was now: no longer did Harry worry that food was going to be kept from him or that it would be taken away before he finished. He could eat whenever and whatever he wanted.

He smiled at his three companions and felt his heart lift.

***

The traffic coming out of London was horrendous and it was getting dark by the time they reached the motorway. There was no way they were going to make it to Cornwall tonight, so Severus suggested they stop off at one of the motorway lodges for the night and make an early start in the morning. He was getting tired too and since Severus was the only driver, it wouldn't make sense for them to continue.

In the back seat, Harry was almost bouncing in his excitement at going to a hotel; he'd never been to one before and Severus wondered what other things the boy had never done. He was determined to fit most of them in on this holiday.

The hotel car park was almost full, which in Severus' mind didn't bode well for them getting a room. Maybe they would have to travel a bit further tonight after all. They all got out of the car and stretched after the long drive. Severus was almost sure Muggles had invented the metal box as a form of torture. He had aches in muscles he wasn't even sure he'd had before. Severus, Fred and George managed most of the luggage as they trudged inside.

The reception area was decorated with prints of daffodils and bunnies and the receptionist plastered on a false smile as soon as she saw the quartet get nearer to the desk. Her nails were long and painted blood-red. "May I help you?" she asked.

"We wondered if you had any rooms for tonight?" asked Severus.

"We do have one room left, a family room for four if that would be suitable?"

Severus turned to the others.

"It's only for one night, Severus," said Fred. "We can manage. You're too tired to drive any more tonight. You don't want to have an accident because you fell asleep at the wheel."

No, Severus didn't, especially with Harry in the car. "Very well, that will be acceptable," said Severus as the woman typed away on a computer and printed out a registration sheet.

"Just fill this in and I can give you your keys."

Less than ten minutes later, they were on their way to a family bedroom, whatever that was. Severus wondered if people thought Harry was his son. They both had dark hair and now that Harry had been spending a bit of time with him; Severus had noticed that Harry sometimes adopted quite similar expressions to him, as if he was copying Severus.

The room was quite spacious, with two double beds and a small sofa and desk. Severus transfigured the beds into four singles and surely he had imagined Harry's disappointed pout at that? There was a bathroom which wasn't much bigger than a broom cupboard but it had every necessity and Harry was giggling over the tiny bottles of shampoo and bath gel.

"You may have the bathroom first, Harry," said Severus as he sat down on one of the beds. Harry took his pyjamas and soap bag out before doing just that. Severus took his own nightshirt out and cast a spell to get the wrinkles out.

"Er, Severus," said George. "We normally sleep naked. We didn't bring any pyjamas or nightshirts."

"Well, transfigure something then. You're not sleeping naked, not with Harry in the same room."

"Aren't you getting a little bit over-protective?" queried Fred as he took out a shirt and changed it into a longer nightshirt.

"How can you even ask that? You both know what that boy's been through – he is not going to sleep in a room with naked men!"

"All right, Severus. Merlin, I only asked," said Fred just as Harry came out of the bathroom and stared at the three of them.

"Why are you fighting?" he asked anxiously.

"It's nothing," said Fred, gathering up his recently transfigured nightwear and going into the bathroom, slamming the door hard after him.

"Don't worry about it, Harry," said George wrapping him in a hug and ruffling his hair. "We're just a bit cranky because we're tired."

"Oh," but Harry didn't sound entirely convinced of that. Harry climbed into the bed that was next to Severus' and lay down flat on his back, staring at the ceiling. Severus had the impression that Harry was trying his best not to cry and he hastily looked away from the boy, in effect giving Harry some privacy if he did need to weep.

George took the bathroom after Fred and then it was Severus' turn. He felt like having a shower to wash the travel-stains away, but he wanted to sleep too and knew that if he took a shower now it would just wake him up, so he decided to leave it until the morning. Everyone else was settled in bed when he emerged from the bathroom and the only bed left was the one he'd been sitting on, the one next to Harry's. Fred and George were already asleep and snoring softly.

Severus turned off the lights and climbed in; used to the dungeons, he could see pretty well in the dark. "Goodnight, Severus," Harry whispered across from him.

"Goodnight, Harry," he returned and settled down to slumber.

He was gently woken during the night by a tearful Harry, who was kneeling on the floor beside Severus' bed and caressing Severus' hand.

"Harry? What is it?" he asked.

"N- n - nightmare," sobbed Harry. "Can I share with you?"

Severus nodded and pulled the covers back so that Harry could get into bed with him. The bed was small and there was barely enough room for the two of them; Severus cancelled the transfiguration spells so that his and Harry's bed joined together once more and they could stretch out. Harry was having none of that though, he cuddled up right next to Severus and sobbed against his shoulder.

Severus stroked Harry's back, feeling Harry's whole body tremble with the force of his sobs. He hadn't noticed Harry having any nightmares for a while. Maybe it was because he was in a strange bed. Gradually Harry's sobbing eased off as he cried himself back to sleep and a few moments after Harry had fallen asleep again, Severus did the same.

***

Harry woke to Fred, George and Severus screaming at each other, they were all shouting at once so it was difficult to make out what they were saying. Fred had his wand pointing at Severus' chest as George was trying to hold him back.

"He's eleven for Merlin's sake!" screamed Fred, his wand hand trembling and it dawned on Harry what must have happened. They'd seen Harry asleep in Severus' bed.

"Fred! Nothing happened!" protested Harry as he scrambled out of bed. "I had a nightmare and I went to Severus' bed, that's all."

"Were you one of them?" demanded Fred of Severus. "Were you one of those men who molested Harry?"

"What? No! Of course not!"

"And I suppose you're going to tell me it was entirely innocent, Harry being in your bed?"

"It was, Fred," said Harry. "Severus would never do anything like that."

"Cruci -" Fred began, but then his eyes rolled back in his head and he sank to the ground, clawing at his head. At first Harry thought Severus or George had cast a wandless spell on him, but they seemed just as surprised as Harry. Fred groaned and threw up all over the floor. George went to fetch him a glass of water from the bathroom while Severus banished the vomit.

Fred drank the water and stared around him blankly. "Where are we?" he asked in surprise, as if he'd never seen the hotel room before in his life. George took out his wand and cast a scanning spell on his twin.

"Obliviate and Imperius," he said to the room. "Fred, do you remember who cursed you?"

"No, I don't. Severus - did I hurt you? I was trying to fight it; I didn't want to hurt you."

"I'm fine," said Severus. "Was it the curses making you think I'd do something like that to Harry?"

Fred nodded. "It was like - it was like there was someone else in my head telling me the things to say. I've never thought that about you, Severus. Not when I'm myself."

"Maybe we should take you back to Hogwarts," said George. "I don't think the spell is broken, you're still fighting it."

"Harry? What do you want to do?" asked Fred. "I don't want to ruin your holiday."

"Let's go back," said Harry. "I don't want you getting ill, Fred."

Harry didn't mention the other reason. He thought Hogwarts would be a lot safer if Fred was still under the Imperius Curse. He didn't want Fred to hurt Severus.



Chapter 20: Dark Angel
Part 20

Draco had a secret, a secret that he couldn't tell to anyone, not even the person it most concerned. In a way he was glad of the reprieve when his mother wanted him to go home to the Manor for the Easter break, but once there he became more depressed every day. He spent most of his time in his bedroom, trying not to think of his father in prison, being tormented by Dementors. Trying not to think of his mother and that perfumed bedroom that haunted his dreams and his waking hours.

Draco had grown up amid rumours that his father had been a Death Eater, and that he'd been one of Lord Voldemort's staunchest supporters, but Draco hadn't wanted to believe it. He'd wanted to believe what his father told him; that he'd been under the Imperius Curse and that was why he'd done all those horrible things. But there had been no Imperius Curse; his father had killed and tortured because he wanted to. Draco shuddered and hid himself under the bedclothes.

His mother left him to his own devices for the most part; one of the house-elves brought him his meals and took the still-full tray away again. Draco couldn't eat; he had a hollow ache in his stomach that no amount of food could ease. His chest hurt; his whole body hurt really and he just wanted to be left alone. School was awful now, everyone knew his father was in prison and Draco's past snobbishness meant that there wasn't anyone he could talk to about it. Even his godfather hated him now; Draco couldn't remember the last time Severus had been nice to him.

He only had his mother, but he couldn't talk to her. He wasn't a person to his mother; he was just an ornament, trotted out every evening for the dinner parties his mother insisted on having so the guests could fawn over him as the Malfoy heir. Draco was being groomed to take his father's place and he didn't want it. He didn't want any of it. He choked down a sob, hating himself for his weakness. Malfoys didn't cry!

"Master Draco, you is having a visitor," squeaked one of the elves. Blinky or Binky, something like that. Draco had never bothered learning their names before, but he was starting to. He was now questioning the things that he'd always accepted when he was growing up in the shadow of his father. Did Granger have the right idea? That the elves were slaves who should be freed or paid? Draco groaned and popped his head out from under the pillow. Now he was channelling a Mudblood. No, that was his parents speaking, not him.

"Who is it, Binky?" Draco asked hopefully, maybe his godfather had come after all. Severus used to visit all the time, but not since Lucius had been found and arrested.

"Miss Pansy Parkinson is in the first floor drawing room, young Master," said the elf, bowing so low that his nose scraped along the floor.

"You don't need to bow," said Draco getting up and dressing in a hurry. What on earth was Pansy doing here? He certainly didn't want her to come anywhere near his bedroom. Not considering what had almost had happened the last time the girl was in his room at Hogwarts. Pansy trying another seduction scene was something he could well do without.

He pushed open the drawing room door, only for Pansy to fling herself off the couch and straight into Draco's arms as she tried desperately to kiss him.

"Pansy, stop!" said Draco, pushing her so hard that she stumbled a little.

"But Draco, we're meant to be together!" she pouted, folding her arms.

"I said no, Pansy. I've told you already, I'm gay."

"Don't be silly! It's just a phase, your mother said."

"What do you mean my mother said? You told her?" Draco had never confided in his mother about his inclinations, knowing how much she wanted grandchildren: grandsons to carry on the Malfoy name. It was something Draco tried very hard not to consider. He did not fancy girls, no matter how many times Pansy came on to him. She just didn't have the right equipment.

"Who's your boyfriend then?" continued Pansy.

"That's none of your business, Pansy," sighed Draco. He didn't have a boyfriend, and the one person he wanted would never want him. As far as Draco knew the object of his affections was as straight as they came. Because of Draco's father he would never look at Draco with anything other than loathing.

"But we're supposed to get engaged and get married!" said Pansy. "Your mother said if I did her a favour, she would put in a good word for me with you."

"What favour? When were you talking to my mother?"

"It was at school, around Halloween."

Around Halloween. Back when Potter had lost it and disappeared. Draco waited until Pansy had left, then he sent a message by Floo to Hogwarts. Severus would know what to do.

***

"Severus! How wonderful to see you!" exclaimed Narcissa as Severus stepped out of the Floo and dusted his shoulders, even though the spells on his robes prevented any Floo powder from landing on his clothes. He had to do something with his hands though, or he would be tempted to throttle the woman in front of him before the Aurors got here.

"This isn't a social visit," said Severus just as the wards chimed and two Aurors popped into the room: Mad-Eye Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Narcissa was magically bound and thrown onto a chair. They were the only two Severus would trust with this woman's confession; anyone else and the news would have been leaked to the Daily Prophet before you could say scandal

"What is the meaning of this? How did you people get past my wards?"

"Draco," said Severus. "He dismantled the wards after he discovered what you'd done."

"And tell me, Severus, what is it that I am supposed to have done? It's my husband who was the Death Eater, not me."

Despite the spells binding her, Narcissa was just as haughty as ever.

"It's not only Death Eaters who commit evil acts, Narcissa."

She arched an elegant brow at him. "Oh? You're such an expert on evil, are you?"

"I know what you did. We all do," said Severus, indicating Moody and Shacklebolt. "You took Polyjuice potion to turn into James Potter and molested his son. More than once. Then you had Pansy Parkinson put a videotape of the boy's rape in the Muggle Studies classroom at school so that the boy almost lost his mind."

"Almost? You mean it didn't work? Pity, it would have been the perfect revenge."

"Revenge for what?" asked Moody, his magical eye swivelling round the room. He motioned silently to Severus, who opened the drawing room door to find Draco standing on the other side of it, blushing guiltily at being caught eavesdropping.

"Come in, Draco," said Severus, pulling the door wide. Draco hovered on the threshold, his eyes going straight to his mother. She spat on the floor by her feet.

"You don't deserve the name Malfoy!" she hissed. "I'll see you disinherited!"

Draco paled and Severus wondered if his godson was going to faint. Severus conjured a glass of water for the boy and made him sit down on one of the sofas.

"That won't be an option for you, Narcissa. Not where you're going. Draco will be of age in a few weeks and he will inherit everything in the Malfoy vaults. Prisoners are not allowed access to money. If you want any money, you will have to go through Draco, he will control the purse strings."

"You bastard!" screamed Narcissa, struggling against the magical bindings.

"Wrong again, my parents were legally married," said Severus with a smirk.

"A Muggle and a Mudblood! Fine parents they were!" she screamed. Draco looked at Severus, his brow furrowing.

"You're a half-blood?"

"I always was, Draco." Severus waited for the tirade; he'd heard Draco's arguments with the Granger girl so many times, but Draco just nodded and sipped his water.

"We're still waiting," continued Moody. "Revenge for what? Why did you do that to the boy?"

"Revenge against his father, why else?" spat Narcissa. "He was head over heels for that Mudblood, Evans; he wouldn't even look at me. Thought I wasn't good enough for him! I, a Black, and Potter thought he was so much better than me! He was a fucking Mudblood too and he refused me! Refused me! I vowed that one day he would pay for it and then what happens? He goes and gets himself killed, him and that pretty little wife of his, leaving behind a baby. Since I couldn't have my revenge on James, Harry would do just as well."

"You're mad!" shrieked Draco, lurching up from the sofa, the glass of water shattering at his feet. "You did that to a child just because his father wouldn't go out with you? You're sick! I hate you! I hate you!" screamed Draco as he ran from the room and slammed the door behind him.

"Draco, darling, come back!" called Narcissa. "Don't you want to be Mummy's little angel anymore?"

Severus felt his heart sink to somewhere near his shoes, the words awfully familiar. He'd heard Narcissa as James, speaking them to Harry Potter.

"You perverted bitch!" screamed Severus. "Your own son?"

Severus couldn't stay in the room any longer, he had to get out of there; he had to find Draco. His godson wasn't difficult to find; he was lying at the foot of the marble staircase, his legs curled up as he leant on the first step and sobbed against his folded arms. Severus was getting too used to seeing abused children doing that.

"Draco?" he asked softly, but made no move to touch the boy.

Draco glanced up, his eyes red-rimmed and he shook his head. "You hate me! You hate me!" he sobbed.

"Draco, of course I don't hate you. I didn't know, Draco. Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell anyone what was happening?"

Draco's lip curled into a sneer. "Don't be stupid! How could I tell anyone what my mother was doing to me? Women don't do that, do they?"

"Some do, Draco."

"I - I hated it," admitted Draco. "But I was afraid she wouldn't love me anymore if I told her to stop. She's the only one I've got left and now she's going to leave me too!" He started bawling again and wrapped his arms around himself.

"Draco, you're not alone," said Severus. "You have me."

"She'll go to Azkaban, won't she?" asked Draco, wiping his eyes. "I'll never see either of them again, will I?"

"No, Draco. Probably not."

"Can you take me home, Severus? Can you take me back to Hogwarts?"

"I will, and then I'm taking you straight to Poppy. You can talk to her about this, Draco, she's a trained counsellor."

"She - she won't tell anyone, will she?"

"No, Draco. She won't. No one will know unless you decide to tell them."

Draco nodded and sniffed. "I think I'd like that, Severus. To talk to someone I mean. You - you can tell Potter if you want. I think he should know."

"If you're sure, Draco."

Draco nodded and stood up, wrapping his arms about Severus' neck. "He'll hate me now, won't he? Everyone hates me, Severus."

"Of course they don't, Draco."

"They do, I know they do. They hate me because of who my father was and can you blame them?"

"Draco," said Severus softly. "No child should have to pay for the sins of their parents." And hadn't it taken Severus a few years to figure that out for himself? Harry had never been like James, except in looks, and Severus had let that fact blind him to the real boy who had suffered so much. And now he had another suffering boy in his arms and still he'd been blind; he hadn't seen. "I'm sorry, Draco. I'm sorry that I didn't notice what you were going through."

"It's all right, Severus. Let's just go."

"Don't you want to say goodbye to your mother?"

"I have no mother!" Draco spat angrily.

Severus took hold of Draco's arm and Apparated them both to the edge of the Hogwarts wards.



Chapter 21: Dark Angel
Part 21


Once Minerva heard the full story from both Draco and Severus, it was barely an hour later before Pansy Parkinson was expelled and Draco was sent to the infirmary and into Madam Pomfrey's care. Severus felt guilty that he hadn't picked up on what was happening with Draco either, but he knew how proud Draco was and the boy had been hiding what was happening as much as Harry had.

Pansy was the one who had cast the Imperius Curse on Fred, but she wasn't a great magician at the best of times, which was why Fred was able to fight her spell. It didn't take Poppy long to remove the curse and the Obliviate spells Fred had been under, but he didn't remember anything that they hadn't already guessed or discovered already.

Pansy, it transpired, had fancied Draco, who'd constantly refused the girl's advances. Severus wasn't sure, as his godson had never confided in him about it, but he thought that Draco was gay. He'd sometimes caught Draco looking very longingly at Blaise Zabini when he thought the other boy wasn't looking. Narcissa knew of Pansy's unrequited love and had used the girl to do her dirty work, Obliviating Fred and replacing the video in the Muggle Studies room. The girl was lucky she'd only been expelled and not sent to Azkaban, which was the usual penalty for using the Unforgivables.

They'd let Harry decide, and Harry hadn't wanted her to go to prison over it.

Harry was being very calm about it; too calm in Severus' opinion. To Severus, it seemed as if Harry might be holding things in and one day he was going to snap again like he had that day in the Muggle Studies room.

Severus had a headache by the time he left Minerva's office and walked briskly back to his own quarters. Draco would probably be quite some time yet with Madam Pomfrey, but he resolved to take a closer interest in the boy's affairs in future. He didn't want Draco to feel that he didn't have anyone.

Severus pushed open the door to his quarters and sighed at being back in his own domain. Harry was sitting curled up in front of the fire, a book perched on his lap. It was one of the textbooks for Ancient Runes. He glanced up as Severus came in.

"How are Fred and Draco?" asked Harry, setting his book aside. Harry still hadn't changed back to his sixteen-year old self, with everything that had happened, they'd barely had time to do anything about that.

"Fred's fine, George took him home after Madam Pomfrey gave him the all-clear. They'll pop back in a few days so Fred can gather up his things, and visit the Imp of course," smiled Severus. Harry seemed to like the nickname.

"And Draco?"

"He's with Madam Pomfrey now, I suspect she'll keep him in for a few days; he's suffering a little from shock."

"I'm - I'm sorry I was so mean to him," said Harry. "I didn't know, none of us knew what was happening to him. It's - it's a hard thing to talk about, but talking to Madam Pomfrey does help. Maybe he'll find that too."

"You're being very understanding about this, Harry," said Severus, kneeling down and caressing Harry's hair. He had the impression that if Harry was a kitten, he'd be purring.

"I know it's a bit of a cliché, but I do understand what he's going through. It happened to me too, so I know how he feels. Well, maybe not exactly. I don't know how I'd feel if my mother did that to me, I just can't imagine her doing that. I can imagine some women doing it, though. Look at Bellatrix Lestrange: she was mad, she was capable of anything."

"Yes, maybe the madness ran in the family. I know it's a lot to ask, Imp, but can you try and be a bit friendlier to Draco this year? He feels as if everyone hates him because of his father being in prison, and now his mother too. He's never really had friends and I think he could do with a few of them, don't you?"

"I can try, Severus. That's all I can promise."

"Now, are you ready to take your aging potion? Have you still got any of your sixth year clothes?"

"Yeah, they're in my trunk. I'll go and leave them on my bed."

When Harry left to do just that, Severus made his way to the Potions lab and took down the two vials that Harry would need to take to return him to his proper age. He'd miss having Harry to care for but it was probably best that Harry returned to the dorm and his friends. Having sixteen year old memories and thoughts in an eleven year old body was probably a bit disconcerting.

As soon as he got back, Severus handed the vials to Harry. "Take both of these and then go and lie down. It will be a bit painful as your bones and muscles grow in such a short space of time. It should probably take one to two hours at the most but once you're fully grown again, the pain should stop. If not, I can give you a painkiller until it eases; it's not a permanent pain."

"Thanks, Severus," said Harry as he held the vials in his hand. "I'll miss living with you and Fred."

"I'll miss you too, Imp," said Severus as he kissed Harry on the top of his head. "Now, scoot and let me see the new you."

"Okay," smiled Harry as he made his way to his bedroom and closed the door.

Severus took out the latest edition of Potions Quarterly and spent a good hour snorting at the glaring mistakes in some of the abstracts. You didn't need to gather moonstone at the full moon, that was just a legend and it would not affect the potion no matter when it was gathered. He'd a good mind to write to the editor and complain about the mistakes and he was just about to hunt out a quill and parchment to do just that when Harry's bedroom door opened.

He did nothing so clichéd as dropping his jaw to the floor, but he did stare probably more than was warranted at the sight of the boy - no, not a boy - it was definitely a young man before him. Harry had grown about four more inches in height than his previous sixteen-year old incarnation. No longer was he the scrawny, underfed waif; his chest was broader, well muscled and his face held the chiselled angles of a man, not the babyish softness of childhood. There were no hairs on his chest, but there were a few downy hairs on his chin and upper lip. Harry had draped a sheet round his bottom half and he blushed at Severus.

Severus could almost convince himself that he'd imagined the flash of arousal as he saw this half-naked young man in his quarters. If Harry hadn't been a student... but he was and Severus quelled his body almost as soon as he felt the twitch in his groin.

"Erm, Severus. I think we need to go shopping again – none of my clothes fit me anymore."

Severus couldn't help it; he took another look at the taller, broader Harry and burst out laughing. "That we do, Imp, that we do."

***

Of course, since none of Harry's clothes fitted him anymore, Severus loaned him some of his own which he shrunk to fit Harry and both of them made their way to Hogsmeade. Harry liked shopping with Severus; the man seemed to know instinctively what might suit Harry and he bore no nonsense from the sales assistants who would have tried to get Harry to buy more than he really needed.

They spent a productive few hours in Madam Malkin's getting Harry new school robes as well as three new uniform sets and a couple of pairs of shoes. After that, Harry concentrated on some more casual items: a few t-shirts; three pairs of jeans; some casual canvas trousers and a couple of short-sleeved shirts now that summer would soon be here. Severus left him to browse the underwear by himself, but not before Harry had seen the man blush.

It was a delight to pick out all different sorts; teenaged Harry had only ever had Dudley's old hand-me-downs before, usually greying and frayed y-fronts. Harry picked out cotton and silk boxers, feeling a bit extravagant at buying himself silk, but it was his money and he was going to spend it how he chose. He avoided the y-fronts altogether, but did pick out a couple of pairs of briefs that were more comfortable for flying than the boxer shorts. Some more socks and then he was done, the owner of a whole new wardrobe.

One of the assistants rang up the sale and Harry gave her the details of getting the money out of his vault. The parcels would be sent to Hogwarts by Owl Post in the next few days, so they had nothing to carry after they left the shop.

"Thanks, Severus, and for the loan of the clothes. Looks like I'll have to borrow some for the next few days until mine arrive as well."

"You're very welcome, Harry. Shall we go to the Three Broomsticks for a butterbeer? You must be thirsty after trying on so many clothes."

"That would be great, Severus. It feels so good to be back outside." Harry took a deep breath as they walked along and just as Severus was about to push open the door to the inn, they were halted by a screech from behind them.

"Harry! Oh my God! Harry!"

Harry turned to see Hermione staring open-mouthed at him. "Harry! You look wonderful!" she exclaimed. "Where have you been? How are you? What happened to you? You're so tall!"

Harry laughed. "One question at a time, Hermione. I'll explain later. Is Ron with you?"

"Yes, he's just getting a new quill. I said I'd wait at the Three Broomsticks for him."

"Well, come and join us then and we can tell Ron together."

"Harry, maybe you would like to catch up with your friends by yourself? I can see you back at Hogwarts."

"No way, Severus," said Harry, grabbing the man's arm. "You're not getting out of it that easily, you're my friend too."

Harry didn't notice the strange look Hermione gave him as she saw Harry holding the man's arm.

Once they were settled in a booth at the back, Severus went to the bar to order and Hermione instantly began questioning Harry again. "Harry? What on earth were you doing in Hogsmeade with Snape?"

"Shopping," he told her truthfully.

"Shopping? You went shopping with Snape? Why?"

"Because none of my old clothes fit me anymore. Let's wait until Ron gets here and I can explain everything."

Severus returned with four bottles of butterbeer which he set down on the table and the three of them waited in an uncomfortable silence until Ron came in and made a beeline for Hermione. He bent over to kiss her until he saw Snape.

"P - professor," he stammered. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm wondering that myself, Weasley," replied Severus. "I think now that you are here, Mr. Potter may enlighten us."

Harry's heart hurt a little that Severus was back to calling him Mr. Potter, but he guessed the man was trying to put some distance between them again now that Harry was going to be his student again. "I wanted you all here so I can tell you what Severus and Fred did for me."

"So that's where Fred was all this time?" queried Ron. "He was looking after you?"

"Yes," said Harry. "Fred and Severus took care of me when I couldn't look after myself. You see, after I went a bit mental when I saw that tape, they de-aged me."

Ron's eyes were so wide they looked like they might pop out of his head at any moment. Hermione had a rather smug look, as if she had guessed something like this all along. Harry told them all he could and that was why he was now taller and bigger than he had been before; his nutrition had been a lot better when he'd been with Severus and Fred and he wasn't forced to sleep in a small cupboard. It made sense, but Harry was still surprised when he caught sight of his reflection now, as if he couldn't quite believe that he was the young man staring back at him.

"I'll need your notes, Hermione," said Harry. "If I'm ever to catch up. I'm going back to class at the end of the Easter holidays, I still want to be a Healer and I need good marks."

"Of course, Harry. Whatever you need."

"Um, I've got some notes too, Harry," said Ron, turning almost as red as his hair. "But I don't suppose they'll be as good as Hermione's."

"Thanks, both of you."

"You're very welcome, Harry," smiled Hermione as she took a sip of her butterbeer. Harry had the impression that his friends were dying to ask him some more questions, but didn't feel comfortable about it with Severus there. Severus seemed to notice it too.

"I'll take my leave, I have some lesson plans to complete," said Severus, standing up. "I will see you back at Hogwarts, Harry."

"See you later, Severus," said Harry, waving.

Ron waited until the man was out of the inn before really letting go. "Harry! He called you Harry!"

"I know, he could hardly keep calling me Potter when I was a little child, could he?"

"No, I suppose not, but it's just strange hearing him call you that and - and he seems to like you. I thought you hated each other?"

"Not for a while, Ron. I certainly don't hate him, how can I when he rescued me and looked after me? I don't think I could ever hate him again."

"Just wait until you're back in Potions and he docks points off Gryffindor for no reason – you'll hate him soon enough."

Harry didn't reply. He didn't care about House Points anymore; he couldn't care less how many points might be docked. There were more important things in life than who won the House Cup and Harry knew that no matter what happened he would never go back to hating Severus Snape.

That was just something he knew he could never do. Not now.



Chapter 22: Dark Angel
Part 22

Harry took a deep breath before he walked into the Great Hall on his first morning back. It was the first time the students and the other teachers would see him in his new, taller guise. Sometimes he felt as if he was a whole different person, and not just physically.

He was different in how he reacted to things and people around him. Before, he was wary of any touches, no matter how innocent, because of what had happened to him. He had been paranoid, afraid that people could get into his room to hurt him. He'd been as tense as a harp string and felt as if he might snap in two at any minute. The nightmares and the flashbacks had been almost constant companions before the de-aging. Pansy and Narcissa hadn't anticipated it, but the day Harry saw that tape was the day his life had started changing for the better. He wasn't one hundred per cent – Harry knew he probably never would be – but he was a lot better than he'd been before.

Professor McGonagall had told the school that Harry had been away at a specialist medical facility and that no one was to ask him any questions about it. Harry knew they probably thought he'd been in a mental hospital, but he found he didn't really care what other people thought anymore. He and his very good friends knew the truth and that was all that mattered to Harry.

The mutterings started as soon as he entered the Hall. Harry ignored them and made his way straight to the Gryffindor table where a space was ready for him between Ron and Hermione.

"Merlin, he's so tall!"

"That can't be him, surely?"

"He was always so scrawny."

"He looks hot!"

"Was he at some sort of health spa?"

"Do you think he really was crazy?"

"Didn't you hear? He lost it in Muggle Studies. Overwork, I reckon."

Hermione squeezed Harry's hand as he sat down and Harry let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. He glanced up at the top table and was relieved when he saw Severus give him a small smile. A few moments later the breakfast dishes appeared and the school got down to the business of eating rather than gossiping. Harry poured himself a bowl of cornflakes and felt his stomach calm down once he'd put some food in there. They didn't know. The rest of the school didn't know what was in that tape; only those few Gryffindors who took Muggle Studies knew and they weren't going to tell anyone else.

Neville was sitting across from him and gave Harry a broad grin. "Great to have you back, Harry. Just great."

Seamus and Dean chimed in their welcomes too and Harry felt so welcomed, so enclosed in the little world of sixth year boys that he felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes. He blinked hastily and hoped they hadn't noticed.

"I'm glad to be back," replied Harry, and he was.

***

Harry caught up faster than he ever thought possible and after a few weeks back at school he was on the same level as the other sixth years. He'd given up Quidditch at the start of that year as he knew his intensive timetable wouldn't really allow room for practice. Ginny had been given his spot at Seeker. He sometimes saw the games, but not very often and when he was there his mind was active, going over what he'd learned and what homework he needed to get finished, so he didn't really enjoy it as much as he used to.

Ron and Hermione sometimes joined Harry in his room to do homework if the common room got too busy. Harry had spoken a couple of times with Draco, but he wouldn't have said they were exactly friends. How did you become friends with the son of the woman who raped you? It seemed the only thing they had in common was Narcissa Malfoy's abuse and Harry wanted to forget all about that, not be constantly reminded of it. Still, he wanted to try and be friends, if only to please Severus.

Hermione yawned and set down her quill. "I'm done in, I think I'll go to bed," she said. "You should too, Ron."

Ron glanced up from his book; he had been sitting on Harry's bed, after having found a space in among all the teddy bears. Harry couldn't bear to part with any of them so he'd brought them all back to his Gryffindor room. "Is that an invitation?" he asked, winking at her. Hermione giggled.

"No, it's not. I'm too tired tonight."

Harry glanced from one to the other, feeling rather surprised. It almost sounded like they were - that they had - and here they were, laughing and joking about it. Harry wasn't entirely sure that he'd ever get to that comfortable stage where he could laugh and joke with someone about sex. To be truthful, he wasn't entirely comfortable discussing sexual matters at all; they were always the worst part of his counselling sessions with Madam Pomfrey and he sighed, remembering he had another session tomorrow.

Hermione saw Harry's questioning look. "You can ask us anything, you know, Harry," she said. "But I'll put you out of your misery. Yes, Ron and I have done some things, but we haven't gone all the way, not yet. There's time enough for that after we graduate. No contraception is one hundred per cent effective and I for one do not want to interrupt my education just because I got pregnant or something. We shouldn't have STDs to worry about as we're both virgins."

Harry felt the world tilt at a crazy angle. "STDs?" he asked, dreading the answer.

"Sexually transmitted diseases. Harry? Are you all right? You've gone a bit pale."

"Just tired," lied Harry, but after his friends left him alone, he didn't go straight to bed. He went to the bathroom where he took three hot showers, scrubbing himself raw and then threw up most of his dinner.

***

Harry sat down on the chair in Madam Pomfrey's office as she brought her own chair out from behind the desk, as she did for all of their counselling sessions. Harry was more comfortable when the desk wasn't between them, but he was more nervous today and hoped she wouldn't be angry with him. He felt sick and wondered if it was from nerves or if he actually was ill.

Madam Pomfrey waited until Harry started talking, as she usually did but it was a long time before Harry could find his voice to speak. It had taken him ages to get to sleep and when he did it was nothing but nightmares again.

"Can - can you - are there tests?" he blurted out at last and felt himself shaking. Oh God, he didn't want to discuss this.

"Tests for what, Harry dear?"

Harry inhaled and then exhaled slowly, feeling the beginnings of a panic attack coming on. His arms and legs were tingling with pins and needles and it felt as if a giant hand was squeezing his chest tighter and tighter. His tongue felt swollen and useless in his mouth and he couldn't get enough air. White spots danced in front of his eyes and he knew it wouldn't take much more for him to pass out. He hit his hand hard against the desk to bring himself out of it, the pain making the panic recede that much quicker.

"Harry!" gasped Madam Pomfrey as she grabbed his hand to stop him hurting himself anymore. "What are you doing?"

"P- panic attack," he panted. "Pain stops it that much quicker. I'm okay, I'm okay." His blood was returning to normal and there wasn't that strange rushing in his head anymore.

"Harry, you didn't tell me you were suffering from panic attacks. How long have you had them?"

"Since Severus aged me back. Normally one or two a day. They're worse during the day, with so many people about."

"You've been having panic attacks every day and you never told me? Harry, these counselling sessions are to help you, but I can't help if you don't tell me what's wrong or what is bothering you. You have to talk to me for me to be able to do my job. Would you prefer a different counsellor? I can see if someone at St. Mungo's can fit you in..."

"No! No, please, Madam Pomfrey, I couldn't talk to a stranger about this. Just you. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I didn't think it mattered."

"Harry, anything that causes you anxiety is always going to be of some concern. Do you know why you have these anxiety attacks?"

"Sometimes - sometimes people get too close to me, they crowd me and I feel as if I can't breathe. I'm okay with Ron and Hermione, Severus and you and the twins, but anyone else and I sort of freeze. I thought - I thought I was over that, but I don't think I am. I don't want just anyone to touch me and I panic when they do, even if they just brush against me in a corridor or something."

"I see. You know, Harry, it is perfectly normal not to want to be touched except for those people closest to us, but most people can handle the casual touches you describe without much bother as they know it was accidental and not intended to harm. We both know the reason why they are uncomfortable for you, your mind has been conditioned to expect touches to hurt you, thus the panic. What made you panic today, Harry? No one was touching you."

"Because of what I wanted to ask you about – I was so nervous."

"Harry, I'm a trained medi-wizard, I doubt anything you have to say will shock me." Madam Pomfrey folded her hands in her lap and waited patiently for Harry to talk.

"The - the men - the men who - none of them used any sort of protection," Harry admitted at last. "And Hermione said something about STDs and I was worried that maybe they infected me with something that I didn't know about."

"Oh, Harry, and this was worrying you? You poor dear! No, you've never had any sexually transmitted disease. You've had a full medical when you came back to school; you are in perfect physical health, Harry."

"You're sure?" Harry couldn't quite believe it. There had been so many men over the years and goodness knows who they were with before Harry.

"Positive," beamed Poppy. "I did all the tests myself, Harry. You're fine."

"Oh. Oh, thanks," said Harry.

Physically he was fine, the matron had said so.

Mentally was a whole other matter, but maybe they could work on that.



Chapter 23: Dark Angel
Part 23

Severus sighed as the hot water from the shower pounded down on him; he had put it on the highest setting, and he felt as if he was being pummelled rather than washed. He always liked having a shower or bath after the day's lessons, to wash away any lingering fumes from the potions, but tonight – tonight he had another reason for the shower. It was Friday and Harry was due for a tutoring session soon.

Spending ten hours a week one on one with Harry was starting to take its toll and although Severus knew the best thing would probably be to cut down the time they spent with each other, he didn't want to. He didn't want to stop spending that time with Harry, no matter how many inappropriate thoughts he might have when he saw the young man. Severus wasn't the only one who was noticing the new, sexier Harry. He'd seen the girls and the boys preening whenever Harry walked into the Great Hall for meals. During lessons with Harry, the other students were distracted as they gaped and gazed at him and more than once Severus had docked points from anyone he saw doing it.

He tried to tell himself that he didn't do it because of jealousy, but he knew he was lying to himself. He was jealous when he caught other people staring at Harry. Harry himself seemed unaware of his burgeoning sexuality and was concentrating on his studies; he probably wouldn't have time for romance with all the classes he was taking. Tutoring sessions with Harry would have been unbearable if Severus hadn't taken his showers and masturbated before Harry arrived. Sometimes Severus just had to glance at the boy and he was hard. He had no intention of doing anything about it though. Harry was his student, he was strictly off-limits and after what had happened to him, Severus thought that he probably would not be comfortable in a male relationship anyway. Harry probably wasn't even gay.

Severus would have felt guiltier about it if he thought it was just lust, but he knew in his heart that was only part of it. He cared for Harry; he wanted to protect him from anything or anyone who sought to harm him and he also wanted to snog him senseless. Had Harry ever been kissed? Would he even consider Severus as a potential partner? Or did Harry still think of him as a father figure? It was all so complicated.

Harry still hugged Severus at the end of their sessions, much like the child he had been. Severus tried so hard to remind himself of that child; but one glance at Harry now and the memory of the child disappeared. Severus should probably discourage the hugs, but he hadn't the heart to do it. It wasn't often that Harry initiated touch of any sort and Poppy had said it was best if Harry could touch as much as he wanted so that he could get used to non-sexual touches again.

Severus groaned as his wayward cock pulsed in the shower. It was all very well for Poppy to keep going on about touches and what-not; she wasn't the one who had an armful of sexy Harry Potter every day and it took all of Severus' self-control to let Harry hug him and not turn that into sexual touching. Severus tried to think of something else as he started stroking his cock; he didn't want to use Harry as fantasy material; that felt too much like what those men had done. He thought of a few past conquests; all older, all different from Harry, as he stroked himself to completion and watched the water wash away the evidence. He laid his head against the cool tiles, calming himself once more before he finished washing and got ready for his tutoring session.

Someone knocked on the door half an hour earlier than he was expecting Harry. It wasn't Harry. It was Draco.

***

Harry tried to tell himself that the only reason he changed out of his uniform when he had an evening tutoring session with Severus was because he now had a whole new wardrobe that fitted him and he wanted to try it out. As he spent the few hours after dinner sorting through his clothes, he knew he'd been lying to himself; that was only part of the reason. He wanted to dress to impress. He wanted to dress to impress Severus.

He pulled the hangers along the rail; what had he done with his green shirt? Severus had always liked that one and said it matched Harry's eyes. He found it hanging underneath one of his school robes; a little wrinkled but clean. A quick de-creasing charm soon had it looking fine. A pair of black jeans and his school robe over everything and Harry was almost ready.

His hair was still damp from his shower and as he caught sight of himself in the mirror on the wardrobe door; it seemed in even more disarray than usual. He took a comb, then a brush to it, but that only made it worse. The mirror giggled at him. "You're losing the battle there, dearie. Time to retreat."

Harry slammed the door shut and flung the hairbrush on his bed in frustration. It didn't help that the mirror was right; his hair was hopeless, refusing to be tamed. Harry licked his hand and tried to flatten the most obvious bit at the back, but it sprang straight up again and he growled. If he spent any longer on it; he was going to be late. He gathered up his quills, parchment, textbooks and latest homework for Severus to mark and dumped everything into his spare satchel. Sometimes he was carrying around more books than Hermione.

As he got to the door, he tried to flatten his hair one last time, but his hair was stubborn and refused to be subdued. Harry sighed and made his way down the corridor to Severus' chambers.

***

Severus glanced at the clock, five to eight and still Draco showed no sign of leaving. Yes, he had told Draco that he could come and visit anytime, but Harry was due any minute and he didn't think Harry would want an audience while he had his lesson.

"Draco, I'll have to hurry you along," said Severus. "Harry Potter is due for a tutoring session any minute."

"You're too good to him," grumbled Draco. "You've never given me any extra tutoring sessions and I'm one of the best students in Potions!"

"Draco, I'm not teaching him Potions. You may have noticed that Potter is also one of the best at Potions this year; he wouldn't be in my Advanced class if he couldn't do the work. Or are you telling me you suddenly have a fascination for Ancient Runes?"

"Merlin, no! Boring. Ancient Runes? I thought he was having remedial Potions again, like last year."

Severus didn't comment, how could he? Only Severus and Harry now knew that Harry had been trying his best to learn Occlumency and Legilimency and that the Remedial Potions lessons had been a front. Harry was gifted and he no more needed Remedial Potions than Severus did. He wasn't about to reveal that secret to Draco, though, godson or not.

Severus held the door open just as Draco leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "See you tomorrow, Severus. You promised to take me to Hogsmeade."

"I know, Draco, I haven't forgotten."

A loud thud had them glancing around to see Harry's satchel on the floor of the corridor, books spilling from it like blood from a wound and the edge of Harry's robe as he rounded the corner at a run.

"What's up with him?" asked Draco, his brow furrowing.

"I don't know, I'd better go and see if he's all right."

"As I said, too good to him," smirked Draco and headed back to his own room.

***

Harry couldn't breathe, he just couldn't breathe. His chest hurt so much; it felt as if someone had reached inside, yanked out his heart, cut it up into little pieces and replaced it there. Broken and shattered. He couldn't believe it, but he'd seen it with his own eyes and heard it with his own ears. Draco kissing Severus. Kissing him. Severus smiling as he promised to take Draco on a date to Hogsmeade. It wasn't fair! It wasn't fair! Severus touching him. Draco in Severus' rooms and Harry knew Draco wasn't being tutored in anything.

Harry's throat hurt with the effort of trying not to cry; he didn't want Severus to be reminded of the child he'd been, but maybe that's all Severus would ever see him as. A child, who he cared for, but couldn't love, not in the way that mattered. Not like he loved Malfoy.

Harry stumbled through the common room, just wanting to get back to his room and some privacy. A few classmates tried to engage him in conversation, but he ignored them and went straight to his bedroom. He didn't slam the door, knowing that if he did Ron and Hermione would suspect that something was wrong. Mind you, ignoring them probably wasn't the best idea either if he didn't want them to worry about him.

Harry lay panting against the door, the tears falling unchecked now; the teddy bears on his bed blurring as he felt the anguish trying to choke him.

Did Severus give Draco teddy bears too? Did they sit on the sofa and kiss? Did they do more? It wasn't fair! Severus was his and Draco had no right, no right! No right to be in Severus' rooms with his perfect, flawless skin, his perfect blond hair and perfect Malfoy fucking teeth!

Despite his increased height and broadened shoulders, Harry felt uglier than he'd ever been. How could Severus even bear to look at him, never mind touch him, when he had Malfoy?

You are ugly, you were always ugly.

"I know."

What are you, boy?

"I'm ugly."

And the rest of it!

"I'm an ugly, dirty, freak. I'm filthy. I'm filthy!"

He doesn't want you. He'll never want you. No one will. You're soiled. You're defiled. You'll never be clean enough for him.

"I know. No one will want me. He hates me! He hates me!"

And why does he hate you?

"Be - because of all those men. For what I let them do."

That's right, boy. You let them. You never fought back. It was your own fault, wasn't it? You wanted it, didn't you?

"No! I - yes - I let them. I let them!" Harry was sobbing now, but the voice in his head wasn't going away. He yanked all the teddy bears from the bed and was left staring at the hairbrush. The voice pushed and prodded until Harry had placed his trunk up against the door and transfigured the hairbrush into a blade.

You know what do do, freak.

"Yes, uncle," said Harry as he lifted up the knife.

***

"Potter! Open this door at once!" shrieked Severus. The dormitory rooms could not be locked, but Harry must have pushed something against it, the door wouldn't budge. He could hear the boy's screams from out here and so could the rest of both Houses.

"Get to your dorms!" he commanded, not wanting the entire common room to witness Harry's breakdown. Poppy had warned him that this might happen, that Harry might have relapses: flashbacks, nightmares, disassociation from reality and all the rest of it. His heart ached for the boy on the other side of the door, but Harry was too far gone in whatever imagined horror was happening to open it.

"Bombarda!" Snape roared, waving his wand and ducking just in time as the door splintered outward, as did parts of Harry's trunk – that must have been what he'd blocked the door with. Harry was curled up on the bed with his shoes still on. All the teddy bears were scattered around the floor and Harry was still hacking away with the knife.

"Oh, Harry! What have you done to yourself?" asked Severus as he climbed over the broken trunk and sat down beside Harry on the bed. Harry's hair was scattered around his head like confetti; most of the cuts uneven. Still screaming and sobbing, Harry tried to cut more off with the knife until Severus took it from him. There were small cuts on the scalp where Harry had cut too close to his head.

A curious crowd had gathered beyond the doorway, gaping at Harry and his almost shaven head.

"What did I say?" said Severus in a loud voice. "Back to your dorms at once! Or fifty points from each of you!"

They scurried off as if they'd been hit by a bolt of lightning.

Harry jumped at hearing the shout; almost as if he thought the anger had been directed at him.

"Ssh, Harry, ssh. It's all right, I'm not angry at you." Severus didn't touch Harry, not yet. The boy might still be in the middle of a flashback and a touch now could do more harm than good. A few moments later, Harry stopped sobbing and seemed surprised to see Severus there.

Harry started sobbing in earnest again and flung himself into Severus' arms. "I can't get him out! I can't get him out of my head!" wailed Harry. "He made me cut my hair! He said I was dirty and I am! I am!"

"Oh, Harry, no. You're not dirty. You're not."

"I am! I am!" Harry was becoming hysterical and Severus knew there was no way he'd be able to calm him down without some sort of sedative. He gathered Harry up in his arms; knowing Poppy was their best bet tonight.

"Ssh, Harry, ssh," he tried to soothe the boy as he made his way to the Floo in the common room. "You're going to be all right, Harry. I promise. I promise."



Chapter 24: Dark Angel
Part 24


Harry was asleep now, curled up on one of the infirmary beds, his shorn hair looking so out of place on his head. Poppy was dabbing some antiseptic salve over the small cuts even as Severus watched. Severus was so used to Harry's unruly mop by now and he had to admit he missed it. Why had Harry cut off his hair in the first place and who was he talking about in his head? Was he still having visions or nightmares of Voldemort even though the creature was dead? Poppy had given him one of the stronger calming draughts along with a dose of Dreamless Sleep and Harry should be out until the morning at least.

It was so unfair; Harry had been through so much already and Severus' heart ached for him. He'd thought Harry had been getting better, but maybe he'd just been hiding how bad things had been.

Poppy bustled about, scanning Harry with her wand and watching the results of the spells as they appeared in a silver list in the air in front of her. She shook her head at some; nodded at others and then banished them all with another spell. She caressed Harry's brow and then glanced back at Severus.

"What happened, Severus?" she brought two chairs over and waved for him to sit down in the other one.

"I'm not sure. Harry was supposed to have a tutoring session with me tonight, but Draco and I saw him running back the other way, leaving his schoolbag on the floor. When I went to see if he was all right, there were screams coming from his room and he had barricaded the door. I used Bombarda to get inside and I saw Harry trying to cut off more of his hair. He didn't seem to know I was there at first and he kept going on and on about how dirty he was and how he couldn't get him out of his head. I don't know who he meant."

"Oh dear, this is bad, Severus. I thought Harry was getting better, I really did. What with the panic attacks and now this ..."

"Panic attacks? He was having panic attacks?" Why hadn't Harry told him?

"Yes, didn't he tell you? I thought he would have told you. People are crowding him – or so it seems to Harry – and he is still very wary of touches. Do you have any idea what might have caused this breakdown tonight? There's usually something that acts as a trigger in these cases, something that maybe reminded him of what had happened in the past."

"Nothing I can think of, we just saw him running off in the opposite direction."

"Draco was with you? Did either of you say anything to Harry?"

"No, neither of us spoke to him. Draco was just reminding me that I had promised to take him to Hogsmeade tomorrow, but I think I may have to cancel. I don't want to leave Harry on his own."

"Think, Severus. Anything else you discussed? You did? The more I know, the better I will be able to help Harry."

Severus wracked his brain, but he couldn't think of anything that might have precipitated this. They weren't discussing anything confidential by the door, all of the common room could have listened in and nothing would have been a bother to anyone else. Oh. Severus realised now when Harry had run.

"Draco kissed me on the cheek; do you think that's what bothered Harry?"

"Does Harry know Draco is your godson, Severus?"

"No, I don't think so; only the Slytherins know."

"It could be Harry saw that happening and was reminded rather forcefully of those other men who'd preyed on him. Seeing an older man with a young man of Draco's age might have been uncomfortable for him. That could have caused him to become like this. Harry didn't know the kiss Draco shared with you was entirely innocent; in most of Harry's experience, kisses and touches have been anything but innocent."

Severus paled at the matron's words. It was his fault. It was his fault that Harry had lost his mind so much he'd taken a knife to his own hair. He was just as bad as those men, lusting after a student – lusting after Harry – and he resolved then and there to stop thinking of Harry in any way except as his student. The hugs had to stop; any touches from Harry had to stop. It wasn't fair on Harry when all he had been looking for was comfort while Severus kept hoping that it might turn into something more. If Harry had been upset at seeing that small kiss between Severus and Draco, how on Earth would he react if he knew the thoughts that sometimes went through Severus' head? Harry would be shocked and appalled, and rightly so.

"Why did he cut off his hair?" asked Severus, unsure that he really wanted to know the answer.

"I'm not sure, but I have seen it before in rape victims. Some want to make themselves ugly so that they won't be attractive to anyone else and won't have to suffer unwanted attention; I'm not sure what the reason is with Harry. I'm not sure our counselling sessions are helping him, Severus. He still keeps things from me and I know he won't get better unless he can talk freely about everything. I think perhaps it's because I'm too close to him; Harry's afraid that if he tells me some of the things in his head, I'll look at him differently, that I won't like him anymore."

"But that isn't true!"

"I know that and you know that but Harry doesn't. He really needs someone new, but someone who doesn't know him at all, who doesn't know about the Boy Who Lived and all of that."

"A Muggle? Do you think that's the best course?"

"I do, Severus, but I have no idea who to choose. I don't know many Muggle professionals but Harry does need help. I'm scared for him, Severus, I really am."

Severus felt his heart fall to somewhere near his feet, if Poppy wasn't confident enough to help Harry, then Severus had no chance. How was he going to get a recommendation for a Muggle psychiatrist? Severus may have been a half-blood, but he'd never been to a Muggle doctor in his life and he had no idea where to start looking.

"Hermione Granger," said Poppy as if reading his thoughts. "Her parents might know someone."

Severus glanced back at the boy lying on the bed and nodded. It was a place to start.

***

Harry knew he was in the infirmary even before he opened his eyes. He could smell the disinfectant and the wax polish as well as an underlying scent of sickness that no amount of disinfectant and polish could remove. His hair had grown back overnight and he cringed, remembering his madness of the night before. He was going crazy, he must be, why else would he think that his dead uncle was talking to him and making him do things? It was all in his head; he was doing these things himself, but he didn't want to keep thinking things like that. He didn't want to feel dirty anymore.

His mouth felt as though he'd been swallowing sand all night and he struggled to sit up in the bed. As usual, Madam Pomfrey had left him a jug of magically chilled water and a glass; she always remembered how thirsty Harry was after all his potions. Harry poured out a glass of water and sipped it carefully; remembering the first time he'd woken up in the infirmary and downed a glassful in one go; he'd had stomach cramps all day after that.

He saw Severus was asleep on a chair by the side of his bed and Harry's heart thudded against his ribcage. Severus was here? He'd stayed all night? Wasn't he supposed to take Draco to Hogsmeade today? Harry's anger flared, setting off his wandless magic and the glass shattered in his hand, drenching the bed in water and showering him with broken glass.

Severus jerked awake at the noise and he looked worriedly at Harry's scratched hands. "Poppy!" he called as he bent over and tried to take out a few of the shards himself. Harry yanked his hands out of Severus' grip.

"Don't touch me!" he yelled just as the matron came running.

Severus looked as if he'd been punched in the face.

"Harry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean --"

"Get out! Get out!" shrieked Harry. He couldn't bear to look at the man, not now when the image of Draco kissing him was uppermost in his mind. Harry felt so betrayed even though Severus had never given him any indication that he was interested in Harry as anything more than a student. He crushed down his disappointment when Severus did what he'd asked. Harry could see visions of Severus and Draco laughing and joking in Hogsmeade; kissing in alleyways and curling up in Severus' bed when they came back.

"NO!!!" screamed Harry and every window in the hospital wing shattered.

"Harry! Look at me! Look at me!" ordered Madam Pomfrey. "Calm down or I'm going to have to restrain you and put a lock on your magic."

Harry knew the woman never made empty threats. He took a deep breath to try and calm himself; he didn't want to be restrained, he wouldn't be able to handle it if she tied him up. The lock on his magic sounded good though, he didn't want to hurt anybody just because he couldn't control his wandless magic.

"I'm sorry," Harry mumbled as Madam Pomfrey fixed the windows.

"Harry, you're at Hogwarts, you're safe here. No one is going to hurt you here. No one. Severus didn't mean to upset you." Madam Pomfrey poured out another dose of calming draught; Harry didn't want to take it, but he knew he needed it: he felt far from calm yet. He drank the dose and grimaced at the after-taste; it was so bitter.

Madam Pomfrey sat down on the chair Severus had so recently vacated and took Harry's hand in hers. "Harry dear, this is difficult I know, but I don't think our counselling sessions are helping you. You're holding back for fear of upsetting me and you really need to talk to someone who is uninvolved."

"No, please, Madam Pomfrey, please don't make me go to St. Mungo's! I'll be better, I promise I will," sobbed Harry. "I don't want to be locked up! Please!"

"Oh, Harry, no one is going to lock you up. I just think it would be best if you had some counselling with someone who doesn't know you. Severus is going to ask Hermione Granger if her parents know of any Muggle therapists for you. It will all be confidential Harry, no one but you and the counsellor will ever know what you've discussed."

"And - and will they be able to help me?" Harry twirled a loose thread round his finger. He didn't want to keep hearing Vernon's voice in his head while he was awake; it was bad enough in the nightmares.

"They can certainly try, Harry."

"Will they think I need to be locked up? That's what Muggles do to crazy people, isn't it? I don't want to be put in the cupboard again."

Crazy, filthy freak! That's where you belong, boy! In! In before you get the belt again!

Harry shuddered, but Madam Pomfrey hadn't heard the voice.

"Harry, no one is going to put you in a cupboard ever again and I am sure that once the therapist sees my notes, they will know that you do not need to be sent away. You just need someone to talk to about your problems."

"So - so they'll know what has happened to me without me saying it again?"

"That's right, Harry. You won't have to describe it."

Harry nodded. "That's good. I'm not sure I could tell her about that."

"So you'd like a woman therapist, Harry?"

Harry nodded again. "I can't have a man. I can't."

Madam Pomfrey patted the bedclothes. "Then a woman is what you shall have, Harry."



Chapter 25: Dark Angel
Part 25


The psychiatrist had an office in Charing Cross Road, quite close to the Leaky Cauldron in fact, so Harry was able to Floo there every Saturday and make his way to Muggle London. Of course, he wasn't allowed to go on his own – Poppy wouldn't hear of it. She must have convinced Severus to take him, but Harry didn't think the man really wanted to do it if the uncomfortable silences they'd been sharing lately were anything to go by.

Severus never asked Harry what the psychiatrist discussed with him; Harry was glad, he wasn't sure he'd be able to tell him. He wanted to be able to tell Severus anything, but he was so afraid of the strange ideas in his head that if he told Severus, Severus would avoid him even more than he was doing already.

For five weeks Harry had been seeing Dr. Armstrong; five weeks since Severus had seen him cutting off his own hair. Five weeks since Severus had seen how crazy Harry really was. It was hardly surprising that Severus didn't want anything to do with him anymore and Harry sighed inwardly as they made their way along the pavement to the woman's office building.

"I'll meet you back here at one," said Severus as they reached the second-hand bookshop; Dr. Armstrong had an office above the shop. A small doorway opened directly onto a set of stairs that took you up there. "The twins are expecting us shortly after one."

Harry nodded; every time they'd come up to London they'd always gone to see Fred and George for lunch. It was something good to look forward to after the sessions. The twins were always glad to see him even if Severus wasn't. Harry had the impression that Severus thought babysitting Harry these days was a chore he didn't want to do. Severus probably resented having to spend time with Harry when he could be out on another date with Draco.

"See you later," said Harry, pushing the door open and ascending the steps. He was a few minutes early, but Dr. Armstrong was already there and waiting for him with a broad smile on her face. Harry hadn't spoken much the first time they'd met. He'd felt very uncomfortable talking to a stranger about all that was worrying him, but she hadn't pushed, she'd just waited until Harry felt comfortable enough to talk.

"Hi, Harry. It's great to see you, come in. I was just about to make some coffee, would you like one?"

"Oh, thanks," said Harry. He'd never actually drunk any coffee before, but he was almost seventeen now and drinking coffee seemed more grown-up than pumpkin juice or lemonade. Dr. Armstrong busied herself at the sink, filling the kettle and hunting about in the cupboards for cups and sugar. It was almost like a studio flat rather than a doctor's office; there was a small kitchenette area, a couple of comfy sofas and two large armchairs. There was no desk and Dr. Armstrong never took notes during the sessions at Harry's request, nor used tape-recorders. Harry didn't want any records of these sessions to fall into the wrong hands.

He knew the woman thought he was suffering from paranoia, but was it paranoia if they were really out to get you? Harry could just imagine what Rita Skeeter would make of the fact that the Boy Who Lived was also the Boy Who'd Totally Lost It. He could almost see the banner headlines already.

Harry sat down on one of the armchairs. It was his usual position and he tried not to twist his hands in his lap. A few moments later Dr. Armstrong handed him a mug of coffee; there was a crack on the rim near the edge and he set the mug down on the floor by his feet after taking a sip. The aroma was nice, but Harry hadn't liked the taste. Too bitter, even with sugar added.

"So, Harry, what do you want to talk about today? How was school this week?"

"Okay, I guess."

"You guess? Any more flashbacks?"

"No." Harry looked out of the window, wondering what on Earth he was doing here. How could talking about things help him? If it was going to help, wouldn't his sessions with Madam Pomfrey have helped him already?

"Well, Harry, what's the main thing that's worrying you about everything? Is it school? Or homework? Are you finding your studies too much?"

"No, I can do the work easily enough." That was true; Harry wasn't finding the work difficult at all. He worked hard at all his lessons and his tutoring sessions with both Madam Pomfrey and Severus. But that's all they were – tutoring sessions. He and Severus didn't talk anymore, not like they used to before he was aged back. Something had changed between them and Harry wasn't quite sure what it was.

"So if it's not your lessons, what is bothering you?"

"It's - it's everyone else. I know they all stare at me and talk behind my back; I feel like I can't go anywhere without someone touching me. I don't want them to touch me and I try not to freak out, but there are so many of them and I'm afraid I'll contaminate them if they get too close to me."

"Contaminate them? That's an interesting choice of words, Harry. Why do you think you would contaminate them? With what?"

"With me. With my badness; that it will rub off on them."

"Do you remember what we talked about last time, Harry? How children who are abused aren't bad? It is the adults who abused them who are bad, not the children."

"But it doesn't feel like that," insisted Harry. "I feel like it's my fault, I must have done something to make them do that to me. They must have known how dirty I was already."

Harry unconsciously scratched at his arms, as if he could feel the dirt still there, in his skin, under his fingernails.

"Harry, what would you say to people who'd been involved in a plane crash? A passenger just wanting to go on holiday. Do you think the plane crashing was their fault? That they'd somehow brought it on themselves?"

"No, it wasn't their fault. It was an accident."

"That's right, Harry. It wasn't their fault. You being raped and abused, that wasn't your fault either. Those men, and your uncle, they were your plane crash, Harry. You survived it. You survived that plane crash and I know you don't think you're getting better, but you are. I notice it each time you come here; you're more and more comfortable talking about things."

A plane crash, Harry had never thought of it like that before. No one had explained it in those terms. Harry had always thought he must have done something, led the men on or they'd seen something inherently bad in him in order to do that to him. He hadn't thought of it like an accident, something he had no control over and was not to blame for.

"Dr. Armstrong, can I ask you something?"

"Of course you can, Harry. What do you want to know?"

"Have - have you treated rape victims before? Male victims?"

"I have indeed, Harry, but you know I can't discuss other clients’ histories with you, the same way I can't discuss yours with them."

"I know, and that's good. I was just wondering - were any of them gay? Can there be gay men who have been raped?"

"Harry, anyone can be raped. Gay, straight, men and women. Rape has got nothing to do with sexuality; it's a violent act, not a sexual one."

"Oh."

"Harry, do you think you might be gay?" she asked, sipping her coffee.

"I - I have feelings for someone, but I'm afraid I'll never be able to let him touch me. I'm afraid that he thinks I'm dirty because of all those other men, that he won't want to touch me. That he won't be able to like me as a lover."

"Harry, I don't think you are anywhere near ready to engage in any sexual relationship, gay or otherwise."

"I know I'm not, but I can't help being in love with him, can I?"

"No, I don't suppose you can. Does he reciprocate these feelings? Have you talked to him about it?"

"No. It's complicated."

"Things usually are, Harry. They usually are."

***

"Thanks, Fred," said Harry as he set down his knife and fork. "That was delicious." Fred had wowed them all with his chicken and pasta salad and Harry was feeling a lot better after his session with Dr. Armstrong. He kept repeating her words over and over in his head. He was a survivor. He'd survived his plane crash that was the Dursleys and all those other men who had abused him over the years. There was only one thing worrying him about the session: the homework she'd given him at the end of it.

Dr. Armstrong wanted him to try and masturbate, to get his body used to sexual touches that could be pleasurable, not filled with fear. Harry had never masturbated, not before he was de-aged and not afterwards either. It wasn't that he didn't feel desire and arousal, he did, but he took cold showers instead of touching himself to make his erections go away. He didn't know how to tell her that he was afraid of touching himself, unsure how he would feel about it if he could actually give himself an orgasm. He was afraid in case he liked it. If he did like it, would that mean that he'd wanted what those men had done?

"Oh, Severus," said George as he helped Fred gather up the dishes. "I wondered if you could have a look at a new potion for us. We just can't seem to get it right. I have a batch downstairs you can test, if you don't mind."

"No, of course I don't mind. Will you be all right, Harry?" asked Severus as he pushed his chair back from the table.

"I'll be fine, Severus," said Harry standing up to help Fred with the plates. Once George and Severus had left, Harry lifted up a tea towel and started drying those dishes Fred had already washed. Bubbles floated about the kitchen, catching the light from the window and shimmering like iridescent fairies.

"So, Harry. How are things with your new psychiatrist?" asked Fred, elbow-deep in suds.

"I like her, she's nice." Even as Harry spoke the words, he was appalled to find his eyes aching with unshed tears. He sank down and leaned his back against the cupboard door. "He hates me! He hates me!"

Fred dropped the sponge in the water and knelt down beside him. "Harry? Who hates you? What's this? Talk to me, Harry, please."

"He hates me. Severus hates me."

Fred almost laughed but he managed to hold it in check, Harry didn't think it was very funny. He was heartbroken and Fred wanted to laugh at him?

"Oh, Harry. There must be some mistake. Severus loves you. He loves you like a son."

"I don't want him to love me like a son! I want him to love me like a lover!"

"Oh. Oh, Harry," sighed Fred.

***

"There isn't really anything wrong with our potion, Severus. I just wanted to talk to you on your own for a bit."

George ushered Severus into the storeroom at the back of the shop, boxes scattered haphazardly everywhere. It was a wonder they knew where anything was. George transfigured two of the boxes into squishy armchairs and Severus was reminded uncomfortably of all those teas in Dumbledore's office.

"Oh? About what?" queried Severus as George sat down. Severus remained standing.

"What else? Harry."

"I don't think there's much to discuss."

"On the contrary, Severus. I think there is a lot to discuss about you and young Harry."



Chapter 26: Dark Angel
Part 26


"You're in love with him," said George. It wasn't a question.

"Is it that obvious?" asked Severus with a sigh, he'd thought he'd hidden his feelings better than that.

"Only to me and Fred. I don't think the whole world knows if that's what you're asking. Have you told Harry?"

"Of course I haven't!"

"Why not?" George sounded genuinely curious and there was no hint of censure in his voice at all.

"Because I'm twenty years older than him and I'm his bloody teacher! Not to mention that if he knew, he'd probably be horrified. It would remind him of all those other men." Severus sank down in the other armchair and hung his head in his hands. "I've done plenty of things in my time, George, but I never considered myself a monster. I never thought I'd - I'd have feelings like this about a child."

"Stop right there, Severus. Harry is hardly a child any longer, he's sixteen, almost seventeen and I don't think he would be horrified. Not considering he's in love with you too."

***

After a good cry on Fred's shoulder, Harry was able to talk about Severus without fearing he was going to break down completely. It still hurt so much, what he'd seen that day. Malfoy fawning all over him. "Malfoy kissed him," said Harry finally when it was clear that Fred was waiting for some sort of explanation.

"Draco Malfoy? His godson?" asked Fred.

"Draco's his godson?" Harry thought back to that night and tried to remember accurately what he'd seen before he'd lost it and chopped off his hair. Draco was his godson? Had it been entirely innocent then, just Draco giving him a kiss goodbye like Ron would with his parents or family? Was Harry getting things out of all proportion?

"Harry - I hate to ask this - but Severus hasn't - he hasn't touched you or anything?"

"What? No! Of course not, he hasn't done anything like that! He won't even let me hug him, that's why I started thinking he didn't like me anymore."

"I don't think that's the reason, Harry. I think he's in love with you and is scared of frightening you."

"Why would Severus being in love with me scare me? I love him, Fred. I really do. I know I'm not ready for anything really physical yet but I might be one day and I want it to be with him."

"Harry, are you sure this isn't just a crush? You know how close you were with Severus when we were looking after you; maybe you're confusing comfort with something else."

"It's not a crush," said Harry, remembering Cho Chang. That had been a crush and now he knew it. What he felt for Severus ran deeper than that, much deeper. "I know how I feel, Fred. I know people will say that I'm too young to know my own heart, but I do know it and I know I'm in love with him. When I saw Draco kissing him, it was like my heart had broken inside my chest, I couldn't bear it. It hurt so much and now I realise it might be nothing more than a silly misunderstanding. I don't know what to do, Fred."

"The two of you..." said George from the doorway.

"...have got to talk..." said Fred. Severus was hovering behind George and was staring straight at Harry.

"...and you're not going back to Hogwarts until you have this sorted out." George stood aside so that Severus could enter the living room. Harry stood up from the sofa, then had to sit down rather quickly again as his legs refused to support him any longer. It felt as though his entire body had suddenly turned to water.

Severus was sitting down beside him on the sofa in an instant, his fingers pushing Harry's hair away from his forehead. "Are you all right?" he asked worriedly. Harry didn't shy away from the touch. He had never been afraid of Severus.

"Just a bit dizzy," Harry admitted. "I think I got up too quickly."

Severus continued to touch his face, gazing into his eyes. "I thought you hated me," Harry said softly. Neither of them noticed the twins slipping away or the soft snick of the door as it closed, they had eyes only for each other.

"I could never hate you, Harry. Never."

"Why didn't you tell me? Why did you just avoid me? It hurt that you wouldn't let me hug you anymore. I thought I'd done something wrong."

"Oh, Harry, no, that wasn't it. I was scared that I might take things too far. You're my student and no matter how I might feel towards you, if I had done anything about it, it would have been just as much abuse as what they had done to you. You're under my care and I do not wish to betray that trust, Harry."

"But - but it would be different with you, Severus. I - I - love you," Harry admitted at last. "And I don't mean as a father or a teacher or anything like that."

"I love you too, Harry, but it wouldn't be right, not while you're still at school."

"What are you saying, Severus?"

Severus sighed. "You're not ready for a lover yet, Harry. Not in a sexual sense anyway."

"That's true," said Harry, unsure where this conversation was heading.

"There is a way that we can get to know each other a bit better without sex getting in the way. A formal Courtship."

"You want to court me?" Harry asked in surprise. He'd heard of Wizarding Courtships, but most people considered them very old-fashioned and they weren't in vogue among the younger wizards and witches these days.

"If you would permit it."

"What would it entail?"

"If you are amenable, it can start on your seventeenth birthday, a formal Courtship lasts a year and the two parties are either expected to get betrothed at the end of it or decide that they were not right for each other after all. The Courtship has to be acknowledged publicly so that no other person may make a claim on the two involved. Dates are allowed and are encouraged as are any outings. Sex between a Courted couple is frowned upon and the couple may decide to wear bracelets that will prevent them from being intimate with each other if they wish, but it is not a requirement. The other option is to have a chaperone who will make sure nothing untoward takes place between the couple. Again, it is an option, not a requirement. Most Courted couples have decided to make the commitment of nothing sexual before they enter into the Courtship and use willpower alone."

"I don't think I'd like the bracelets," said Harry, shuddering. "I don't have much luck with jewellery."

"No," agreed Severus.

"So if we were Courting no one else would interfere?" Harry couldn't help the shiver of satisfaction at that thought. If they were Courting, Malfoy wouldn't have a chance with Severus at all.

"They can't interfere, it's an impossibility. Once the two parties have agreed publicly that they wish to Court, for the duration of the year of their courtship they share a bond and will continue sharing it unless they split up after that year. The bond will continue through their betrothal and marriage for the rest of their lives."

"What is the bond?"

"It differs from couple to couple. Some can share their magic, others their thoughts or feelings. No one knows until they become Courted."

A bond. A bond with Severus and no sex until Harry felt ready for it. Was he dreaming? He couldn't believe this was actually happening. Something good for a change. "You - you'd be willing to wait for me?" Harry asked anxiously. "It wouldn't be frustrating for you?"

"Harry, I haven't had a lover for the past ten years, I can certainly wait for you as long as you need. You're the one who I've been waiting for my entire life."

Harry blushed at the compliment. "Why are things always so complicated with us?" he complained. "I thought you were in a relationship with Malfoy."

Severus laughed. "Merlin, no! He's my godson, Harry, that's all. I do love him, but not in the way I love you. I must admit it is a bit weird to have feelings like this for someone the same age as my godson." Severus stroked Harry's cheek. "Can you tell me about what happened that night, Harry? The night you cut your hair?"

Harry remained silent for a bit too long. "Only if you wish to. I don't want to pry, Harry, but I do think we need to talk about things a bit more, to save on all these misunderstandings again."

"When I saw Draco kissing you and then talking about going to Hogsmeade, I thought it was a date. I thought you and he - were - you know. I was so upset, I wasn't really thinking straight. That's when Vernon's voice gets into my head, if I get upset, and I just couldn't get him out. He made me cut my hair again."

"Again? He did this to you before?"

"Yes - when he was - when he was alive. They hated my hair and tried to cut it off all the time, but it kept growing back. Vernon thought it was something to do with my magic so he made me cut it myself, hoping that would make it stop growing back, but it didn't. It still grew and then they'd beat me even more." Harry shuddered. "I'm sorry, Severus. I don't want to talk about this anymore, not today."

"That's fine, Harry. Just know that I'll always be a willing ear, all right?"

"Thanks, that's good to know. I think being Courted is something I'd be interested in," said Harry.

"Are you sure you want to do this, Harry? Will you be able to handle people's reactions about this? Everyone will know we're Courting."

"I know, Severus. I want them to; I don't want it to be a secret. There have been too many secrets in my life; I want to share you with the world." Harry knelt down on the floor in front of Severus and took his hand in his. "Severus Snape, I would be honoured if you would Court me."

Severus joined him on the floor and kissed his forehead. "The honour would be mine, Harry."

"Right you two, that's enough sap for one day!" laughed Fred as he flung the living room door open. A couple of flesh-coloured strings were in the twins' hands.

"You were listening?" demanded Harry.

"Of course we were listening," added George, unrepentant. "Had to make sure the two of you didn't end up hexing each other over another misunderstanding. Honestly, you two! We thought you'd never get your act together. Everything all sorted now?"

Harry glanced over at Severus and saw him wink at him before turning to the twins. "Yes," said Severus. "We've decided that we'll elope and have the ceremony next week."

"What?" spluttered Fred. "But what about Harry's school? His Healing career?"

"But Fred, weren't you and George the ones who left school early? I'm only following your example."

"Don't follow our example!" protested George. "We're hopeless role models. Severus, tell him."

"I have to concur with that assessment. Listening at doors? Encouraging truancy? I'm not sure you should be listening to anything these two have to say."

"Oh, I don't know, Severus. I'm sure they could give us a few pointers to help with the honeymoon," Harry grinned up at the twins and then all four of them burst out laughing.

"Harry James Potter! Imp!" shrieked Fred. "You'll pay for that one!"

"What are you going to do?" asked Harry with a smile.

"Something that should have been done to you a long time ago," said George as he and Fred advanced, hands held out in front of them. "Tickle war!"



Chapter 27: Dark Angel
Part 27


Harry spent the first few weeks of the holidays at The Burrow, feeling a sense of nervous excitement increasing more and more each day as his birthday approached. On Saturdays, one of the Weasleys would take him to the psychiatrist – normally Mr. or Mrs. Weasley, but sometimes it was Bill or Charlie if they happened to be home.

The Weasleys were such an affectionate family that Harry soon found himself on the receiving end of more hugs than he could count. And the best thing was, it didn't scare him in the least. They hugged him because they liked him, because they thought he was part of the family and not because they wanted something from him.

Harry knew that on his birthday, Severus was going to make their Courting official and he could hardly wait. The day before his birthday, he was playing quidditch with some of the other Weasleys in the paddock. It had been a while since he'd flown, he hadn't really had much time at school with all his studies, and it was exhilarating to be up in the air again. Did Severus fly? Maybe they could fly somewhere just the two of them and have a picnic in some out-of-the-way place.

Harry caught the enchanted golf ball they'd been using as a snitch and ended the game amid jeers from the losing side, Bill and Charlie. Lowering his broom to the ground, Harry wasn't aware of the silly grin he had on his face. Severus was coming tomorrow and tomorrow everyone would know they were in love. He felt almost as if he could fly without his broom. They still had things to work through, but with the psychiatrist's help Harry knew he was getting better.

"Great to see you smiling, mate," said Ron as they made their way back to the house. Bill and Charlie were laughing and giggling up ahead of them and Harry hung back. "Ron, can I talk to you for a minute?" He wanted to tell his friend before the whole world knew tomorrow when Severus would give him his Declaration of Intent. Hermione wasn't arriving until his birthday party the next day.

Ron veered away from the house and led them both to the orchard. "Sure, what is it?"

"What would you say if I told you I was going to be entering into a Wizarding Courtship?"

"I'd say who's the lucky girl, mate!" laughed Ron.

"Er, no, it's not a girl, Ron."

"You're gay?"

"Yes. Do you have a problem with that?"

"No, of course not. I'm just a bit surprised, that's all. After what happened to you..."

"That's different, Ron. A lot different. It's different when you're in love."

"I suppose it is, at that. So then I should be asking who's the lucky fella?"

"You probably won't like it."

"Come on, Harry. He's going to be Courting you, isn't he? That means it's serious, not some fling. I can grow to like him, can't I?"

Harry took a deep breath. "It's Severus."

Ron laughed. "Sorry, Harry, for a minute there I thought you said it was Snape."

"It is," said Harry. "I love him. He loves me."

"But Harry, he's your teacher! That isn't right!"

"I know he's my teacher, Ron, that's why he's agreed to Court me. Except for getting to know each other nothing will happen until I leave school. I'm not about to jump into bed with him!"

"And he agreed to this no sex rule, did he?" growled Ron. "Harry, if he's hurt you..."

"He hasn't! It's not like that, Ron. It was his idea, about not doing anything. He knows it's wrong if he's my teacher, he wouldn't do anything to hurt me. You can be in love with someone without sleeping with them, you know."

"My parents are going to freak! Everyone is going to freak! You know that Courtships become public once you've both agreed?"

"I know that, Ron. I don't care what people think anymore, they always talk about me anyway. I love him and he loves me and that's all that matters. Fred and George didn't freak," Harry said softly. He had hoped Ron's opinion would be the same calm acceptance as his brothers, but Ron was younger and a bit more impulsive.

"Well, nothing shocks them," sighed Ron. "Is this really what you want, Harry? You want to be with Snape? Bane of Gryffindor and all-round greasy git?"

"He isn't greasy, Ron!" snapped Harry. "Why can't anyone be happy for me? Do you all want me to be miserable for the rest of my life?"

"Of course not, Harry. It's just it's Snape. I don't know what you see in him."

"I don't know what you see in Hermione, she's just not my type," said Harry and Ron burst out laughing.

"Oh, Harry. If this is what you want, if he is who you want, then I am happy for you. I'm just a bit worried for Snape tomorrow."

"Why?"

"My mother will be at your party!"

***

Harry took his time with his shower the next morning; despite there being so many people at The Burrow, there was always enough hot water for everyone within the magically charmed bathroom. The Weasleys' mirror wasn't charmed, something Harry was glad for as he stood in front of it and started putting his clothes on.

He was dressing carefully today; the green shirt Severus liked along with a pair of black dress trousers and shoes. On top of it he put on an emerald green dress robe and smoothed everything out with a spell once it was on. It was the first time he'd worn robes outside of school, but Harry knew how traditional Courtships were and he wanted to dress formally, so that Severus knew he was taking this seriously.

He was worried about how everyone else would react, but Harry wasn't going to back down for anyone. Harry and Severus loved each other and no one was going to stop Harry doing something he wanted. For too long he'd been at other people's beck and call and it was time he was allowed to do something for himself, time he was allowed to make decisions for himself. If other people thought they were the wrong decisions, then that was their problem, not Harry's.

Most of the Weasleys seemed surprised at Harry's choice of outfit when he entered the kitchen for breakfast. Only the twins and Ron didn't seem at all fazed and all three gave Harry a smile; they knew what was going to happen today. Harry sat down beside Ron, smiling back. It seemed that Ron wasn't going to be difficult about him and Severus after all.

"Oh, Harry dear, you look wonderful!" exclaimed Molly as she ladled out a bowl of porridge for him. "I said it should have been formal dress, didn't I, Arthur? It's Harry's Coming of Age, the rest of you should wear robes too."

"Aw, Mum," protested Ron; he hated formality.

"Technically, Mrs. Weasley, I came of age last year when the Ministry made me a legal adult."

There was silence for a few minutes after Harry's words; most of them knew the reason why that had happened, but Harry didn't want to dwell on his horrible past, not today. Molly smiled at him. "Ah, yes, but seventeen is your traditional Coming of Age," she said.

"Yes," agreed Harry. "Traditions are good." The twins snorted over their breakfast bowls, no doubt trying to keep a straight face when they knew what tradition was going to be taking place later that day. Molly glared at her twin sons as she made sure everyone had some breakfast before settling down for her own.

Harry tucked into his breakfast, his mind wandering to later and when Severus would arrive.


***

Molly had prevailed and by the time of the party, every Weasley was dressed in formal robes as they waited for the rest of the guests to arrive. Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey arrived within moments of each other, so Harry guessed Severus wasn't far behind. Remus was wishing him a happy birthday when there was a crack of Apparation and Severus landed beside Fred and George; Harry forgot what Remus said to him after that.

Harry's heart shot so far up his chest he was surprised it didn't fly out from his throat. Severus was indeed dressed formally today and for the first time in Harry's memory, the man wasn't wearing black. He had on a robe in a deep royal blue with white piping on the collar and cuffs and underneath he was wearing an under robe of a paler blue. His hair was tied back in a pony tail with a white ribbon and Harry's eyes were drawn to the man like a moth to the moon.

Almost as if they sensed something of great import was about to take place, the rest of the assembled guests were quiet as Severus made his way over to Harry. He had a bouquet of different flowers in his hand. Azalea; baby's breath; white carnations; red and white chrysanthemums; and white roses.

Once he reached Harry, Severus knelt down on one knee and offered Harry the flowers.

"Harry James Potter, would you honour me by accepting my Courstship?"

Harry smiled as he took the flowers in his hands; knowing why Severus had chosen each and every bloom. The man was a Potions Master; Harry shouldn't have been surprised that he knew the language of flowers as well. Harry knelt down beside Severus, kissing him on the cheek. "You honour me, Severus. I accept."

***

Harry should have known it was too good to last; for the past three hours, Remus, Molly and Arthur had been trying to dissuade him from accepting Severus' Courtship. The other guests were outside, helping themselves to food and drink while three of the adults Harry loved were trying to make him do something he didn't want to do. Severus was chatting with the twins and Harry sighed as he looked out the window at his soon-to-be betrothed.

"Harry, he's far too old for you! This isn't right!" protested Molly for what must have been the hundredth time.

"I love him and he loves me," said Harry.

"Harry, how can he love you? You're little more than a child," said Remus.

Harry glared at him. "I've just reached my majority, don't you ever, ever call me a child! I know what I'm doing."

"Do you, Harry? Do you really?" asked Molly as she followed Harry's line of sight and saw Severus there. "This just seems so wrong, Harry. Like - like what happened to you before."

"It's nothing like that!" exclaimed Harry. Why couldn't they see that Severus would never hurt him? "That's why we are Courting. This isn't about anything physical between us and it won't be, not while I'm still at school."

"Well, that's something at least," agreed Arthur. "But, Harry, he's twenty years older than you. Old enough to be your father."

"Love has got nothing to do with age," said Harry. "It's our decision and nothing you can say will make me change my mind. I am going to marry that man one day and nothing or no one is going to stop me."

TBC

A/N:

Azalea - take care of yourself for me
baby's breath - everlasting love
white carnations - sweet and lovely
red carnations - my heart aches for you
white chrysanthemum - truth
red chrysanthemum - love
white roses - eternal love, innocence



Chapter 28: Dark Angel
Part 28



Harry left the three of them discussing his Courtship with Severus and made his way back to the party and back to Severus. The birthday cake had been cut already but Harry hadn't yet had a slice. Severus wandered over to him and gave him a plate with a slice of the chocolate cake on it along with a silver pastry fork. Harry took a bite, but his mouth was so dry that he could barely swallow it. He just wished everyone could see how happy Severus made him; wasn't he allowed to be happy?

"Ah, Severus," called Professor McGonagall from the other side of the table. "Could I borrow you for a moment?"

Severus gave Harry's arm an apologetic squeeze as he went to see what she wanted. Hermione soon claimed his place next to Harry.

"Are you mad, Harry?" she hissed in his ear. "He's your teacher for Merlin's sake!"

"I thought you were my friend, Hermione. I thought you'd be happy for me."

"You expect me to be happy that you're having an affair with a teacher?" she demanded.

"It's not an affair! We're Courting, there is a difference."

"Oh, yes, as if anyone is really going to believe that the two of you aren't sleeping together."

"We aren't!" protested Harry. How could Hermione think that of him? After what she knew about what had happened to him? Harry thought it would have been Ron who had a problem, but not for a million years would he have guessed that Hermione wouldn't approve. "And anyway, I'm seventeen now. Who I sleep with or not is my own business, not anyone else's."

"It is other people's business if you're being abused by someone in authority over you, like a teacher!" Hermione retorted hotly; she was so loud that conversation around them ceased and the rest of the guests were staring at them. Harry felt his face flush with embarrassment.

"Miss Granger," said McGonagall, "were we still at Hogwarts, I'm afraid that I would feel obliged to take points from you for speaking like that about a Courted couple. A Wizarding Courtship is an agreement by two adults who know what they are doing. It is not abuse and nor can it be, the nature of the bonding will see to that. I am appalled to find you disrespecting your friend in such a way."

"So you approve of this, Professor?" asked Hermione.

"I do. It is unusual for a Courtship to take place between a student and teacher, but it is not unknown and as long as both parties are of age and agree, there is nothing to object to."

"I'm sorry," said Hermione, turning to Harry. "But I don't see it like that and I can't just tell you that I approve, when I don't. It's wrong, Harry and I can't think otherwise."

"Hermione, don't be such a prude," said Ron, sidling up to his girlfriend.

"It's got nothing to do with that, Ron! Harry shouldn't be Courted by any teacher, it's totally immoral!"

With that, Hermione stalked off in a huff and Harry was left feeling as fragile as a piece of glass. He wanted to feel happy, but with the amount of people who considered it wrong, he was feeling anything but happy. His eyes stung with the effort of trying not to cry in front of everyone. He noticed Madam Pomfrey give Severus a nudge towards Harry.

"Harry, would you care to join me for a walk in the orchard?" asked Severus as he stood close to Harry and took his elbow. Harry could only nod; he was afraid he might burst into tears if he opened his mouth to speak. Once away from the others, deep in the shadow of the trees, Harry's body gave in and he broke down in sobs. He was crying so much, he could barely stand upright.

Severus sat down by the trunk of an apple tree and tugged Harry down into his lap, letting Harry rest his head against Severus' shoulder. Harry wept until his throat ached with the effort and still the torrent didn't seem to be abating. His throat ached, his head hurt and his nose was stuffy before he finally stopped, hiccupping a little.

"I thought they'd be happy for us," sighed Harry.

"I don't think we're ever going to achieve universal popularity, Harry. Some people are always going to have a problem with us being together, whether you are at school or not. I was a Death Eater, you're the saviour of the Wizarding world, and people are not going to be jumping for joy that we are Courting. Once people have seen the records at the Ministry I suspect that Howlers will be on their way."

Harry still found some things in the Wizarding world a bit strange, like the fact that a record of their Courtship now existed because Harry had accepted Severus' bouquet and had said he accepted the Courtship. There was nothing to sign, no parchment or anything, but now anyone could read about their Courtship at the Ministry record office.

"Do you regret it?" asked Harry. "Do you regret agreeing to Court me?"

"Harry, no! I will never regret being with you, don't doubt me. Don't ever doubt that I love you. I'm just sorry that the world is still full of small-minded people who cannot be happy for us. Don't let them spoil your day, Harry."

"Our day," Harry smiled shyly at him. "The day the whole world knows about us."

"That too," grinned Severus as he hunted about his robes and pulled out a small square box wrapped with a white ribbon. "Your birthday present."

"I thought you Courting me was my birthday present," said Harry as he took the proffered box warily. Harry hadn't lied when he'd said he had problems with jewellery. Opening the ribbon and then the lid, he was greeted by two very small emeralds nestling amid black velvet.

"They're earrings, but just earrings. No spells of any sort," said Severus. "I just thought they matched your eyes."

"They're gorgeous, Severus! Thank you!" Harry wrapped his arms around Severus' neck and hugged him fiercely, almost squashing the life from both of them. Harry pulled back, feeling a strange sensation in his midriff at how close they were to each other. "There's only one problem, I don't have pierced ears." The Dursleys would never have allowed something like that and they certainly would never have given Harry emeralds.

"No problem, there's a simple spell for that," said Severus as he lifted up his wand. "Allow me?"

Harry nodded and Severus brought the wand tip up to Harry's right ear and then his left. There was a small sting as each piercing was created, but it didn't last long and Harry was free to try on his new gift. He'd never worn earrings before and he fumbled a bit with the small butterfly catches before Severus intervened and pressed the backs onto the earrings for Harry.

"There, beautiful. Just like you," said Severus and Harry blushed at the compliment. "I suppose we ought to be getting back to the party."

"In a while," said Harry, lying down again and leaning his head on Severus' shoulder. "I don't want to share you quite yet. It's my birthday so I'm going to do what I want and right now I want to spend some time with you."

"Sounds good to me," agreed Severus and Harry felt a kiss in his hair. It felt intimate, sitting here wrapped up in Severus' arms, but not sexual. It was different to those other men, Harry knew and he was upset that other people couldn't see it that way. No matter what they thought or said, he wouldn't change it. He loved Severus and knew he was loved in return; people talked about him no matter what and he wasn't going to allow them to dissuade him from marrying Severus.

They sat silently for a while; every so often Severus would stroke Harry's back or hair and sigh contentedly. Harry loved it and was almost drifting off to sleep. "Severus?"

"Hmm?"

"I've been thinking. I can't really stay at the Weasleys' forever. We'll need somewhere to live, somewhere new. I don't want to live anywhere where there are bad memories for either of us. Somewhere for just the two of us."

"I live at Hogwarts during term, Harry."

"I know and I'll probably board with the other apprentices if I get into the training program at St. Mungo's, but we'll need somewhere for holidays and things, won't we?"

"I suppose so, what do you have in mind?"

"Somewhere brand new, a house that no one has ever lived in before. I don't want anything second-hand from the house down to the kettle. Only stuff that we've bought new."

"So, no antiques then?" Harry could almost imagine the man was grinning.

"Well, maybe if they were special to you," Harry said. "But I don't want hand-me-downs. Nothing like that ever again."

"No, Harry," agreed Severus. "Never again."



Chapter 29: Dark Angel
Part 29

The breakfast table was scorched with the remains of yet more Howlers; in the two weeks since his birthday, Harry had never received so many letters in such a short space of time. Mrs. Weasley tried to destroy them before Harry even saw them, but it was an uphill struggle. The shrieks from the Howlers could be heard throughout the whole house and Harry felt a bit guilty that he had to put the Weasleys through that.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Weasley," said Harry as he sat down at the table. Molly's hair was tied back; a few loose tendrils had escaped and hung in sweaty strands around her face. The woman looked so harassed. He and Severus were seeing some more estate agents today and maybe Harry would be able to move out soon.

"Don't worry about it, Harry. These things happen. It's none of their business!"

Molly, Arthur and Remus had all come round once they'd seen how serious Harry was about marrying Severus; only Hermione still remained unconvinced but Harry wasn't going to waste time on trying to persuade her. Life was too short to worry about what other people thought of him.

"What time is Severus getting here, dear?" asked Molly as she set a plate of bacon and eggs down in front of Harry. Only Ron was still at breakfast; the other Weasleys must have left for work already.

"Around ten, but we didn't say anything definite." Harry played with the food on his plate; he wasn't feeling very hungry, not after he'd heard that last Howler.

Molly sat down and squeezed Harry's hand in hers. "You know you can stay here as long as you like, Harry. You don't need to move out. We love having you here."

"I know, but we'd like somewhere of our own for when we do get married." As much as he loved the Weasleys, Harry wanted some privacy. In all his life, he'd never felt as if he'd had any privacy; what with first being with the Dursleys and then at school, at The Burrow or Grimmauld Place; he'd never been in his own place and he wanted it. Wanted to be able to walk around naked if he liked; wanted to have a television and watch whatever he chose; wanted to be able to relax and just be Harry; wanted to be able to cuddle up with Severus on the sofa and not hear anyone complaining. A haven just for them: that's what he wanted and he could certainly afford it.

Molly patted his hand and smiled sadly at him. "Whatever you need, Harry," she said as she stood up and started in on the other breakfast dishes. Harry ate a few mouthfuls to be polite, knowing how busy the woman was, but he barely tasted the food. At five to ten, there was a rapping on the door and Harry almost knocked over his chair in his haste to get out of it.

He yanked the back door open, a broad smile on his face when he saw Severus standing on the other side. Severus was dressed as a Muggle today too; a pair of black jeans that hugged his legs along with a pale blue t-shirt and his hair was tied back again, revealing the angular set of his jaw. Harry couldn't help staring; he'd never seen Severus in anything so casual as jeans before and they looked good on him. Very good.

"Ready, Harry?" asked Severus with a smile of his own at Harry's blatant regard.

"Er, yes," replied Harry, blushing. He said his goodbyes to Molly and Ron and then they both Apparated to Muggle London, in an alleyway just outside The Leaky Cauldron. Harry had passed his Apparating test on the first try, a few days after his birthday. He had been accosted by Rita Skeeter on his way out of the Ministry building afterwards and despite his vehement "No comment" after every question; there was still an article in the Prophet the next day. It was all lies of course, but it still hurt that the woman could be so vicious. Why couldn't he be happy? Wasn't the Boy Who Lived allowed happiness?

***

Severus noticed how quiet Harry was as they made their way out of the alleyway. They were thinking of buying a Muggle house; no new Wizarding houses had been built for over a hundred years so they both thought Muggle would be their best bet if they wanted brand new. Harry was keen on it and Severus was keen to do anything that would make Harry happy.

"What's the matter, Imp?" he asked softly, taking hold of Harry's hand and giving it a squeeze.

"Just thinking about that awful article."

"Oh, that. It's rubbish, Harry. Most people who know you will know it was all lies."

"And what about the people who don't know me?"

"It bothers you that much?" asked Severus.

"Doesn't it bother you?" Harry tugged his hand away, out of Severus' grasp. "They all but called you a child-molester."

Severus paused and turned to face Harry. "Are you worried about what people are thinking, or are you worried about what you're thinking?"

"What do you mean?"

"Harry, I love you and I would never do anything to hurt you, but maybe you think I would. Perhaps because I am older, it has you thinking about all those awful men."

Harry shook his head and hugged Severus tight. "No, Severus. You don't remind me of them in any way at all. This is different, I know it is. I just don't like them comparing you to them, you're nothing like that. Maybe we should sue the Prophet or something to stop them printing all that rubbish about us."

"The publicity would probably help them sell more papers," Severus reminded him gently.

"It was just an idea," Harry shrugged. "I don't want to do anything that will help their circulation and I don't want to waste our money on them. We have a house to buy."

"Are you sure you're okay, Harry? We can go house hunting some other time."

"I'm sure, Severus. I want us to buy a house. A home of our own."

"I'd like that," said Severus as he leaned down and attempted to kiss Harry. Harry pulled away, a frown on his face.

"Severus, what are you doing?"

"I was trying to kiss you," he admitted.

"Is - is kissing allowed?" Harry asked, biting his bottom lip. His full, delectable, kissable bottom lip. Severus' eyes were drawn to that pink mouth.

"Allowed? Oh, you mean the Courtship?"

Harry nodded.

"Yes, it's allowed, Harry. In fact, anything above the waist is allowed. But if you'd rather we didn't..." he trailed off, trying to hide his disappointment.

"No, it's not that," said Harry. "Um - it's just - I thought only boys and girls kissed, not two boys. I didn't think boys liked it."

"Well, I'm hardly a boy, Harry," grinned Severus. "And I do like kissing, but I won't kiss you if you don't want it."

Harry was blushing a delightful shade of shell pink now and he was breathing rather heavily too. Severus was unsure if it was from panic or desire. Suddenly, Harry's reticence made sense. "Harry, you've never been kissed before, have you?" Severus asked softly, as he trailed a hand along Harry's cheek. The boy all but melted against him. Severus could feel Harry's desire and confusion through the bond they now shared. They weren't aware of it all the time, but sometimes feelings leaked through, especially if either of them were feeling strong emotions, like now.

"N- no, a girl tried once, in fifth year, but I panicked and turned my head so she just kissed me on the cheek instead."

A spark of jealousy flared to life in Severus' chest. "Who was this girl?" he demanded, mentally taking points from Hermione Granger for even daring to touch his Harry. The bond had made him even more possessive of Harry than he had been before and he dreaded to think what he might do once they were back at school and he would have to share Harry with his friends and classmates. He sometimes felt like locking him away from the rest of the world and the intensity of it scared him. How could he even think of locking Harry away after what those Muggles had done to him?

It doesn't matter, Severus. It was a few moments before Severus realised the words were in his head and hadn't been spoken aloud.

You're mine, Harry. I won't share you. I can't.

You won't have to, Severus. I love only you.

Harry gazed up at him, emerald eyes so full of love and trust that Severus felt awed. "Care to try an experiment, Severus?" asked Harry.

"An experiment?"

"Yes, shall we see if I like kissing as much as you do?"

Severus didn't speak after that; instead, he brought his head down and pressed his lips firmly against Harry's. Harry squirmed in his arms, as if he wanted to get even closer. Severus opened his mouth deepening the kiss, gratified to find Harry following his lead as they shared open-mouthed kisses for what seemed an eternity. Time seemed to stand still as they kissed in the alleyway; Harry's hands tangled themselves in his hair as he continued to kiss back just as ardently.

How many times had Severus envisioned this moment? More times than he could count, but nothing could have prepared him for the reality of kissing Harry Potter. The slide of saliva between them; Harry's hitching gasps as Severus kissed the breath from him. In his imagination, Harry's lips had always been smooth and supple; but in reality his lips were slightly chapped, rough from the many times Severus had seen the boy biting them. Severus gave them some bites of his own; small nibbles that he soothed with a swipe of tongue.

He was getting light-headed from lack of air yet he still didn't want to stop, he could kiss Harry all day. One of them moaned, he wasn't sure who, but it didn't really matter. Suddenly Harry's hands tightened in his hair and he felt Harry shudder against him, going completely still and then pulling his mouth away so fast that he almost broke Severus' nose in his haste.

"Harry? What's wrong?" Had he rushed things too soon? Maybe Harry hadn't been ready for kisses like that after all.

"I'm sorry, Severus, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! I swear, I didn't mean to!" Harry turned away, facing the wall, tears leaking from beneath his glasses. A few shoppers in Diagon Alley glanced into the alleyway when they heard Harry crying, but none of them lingered. Severus cast a See-Me-Not spell over both of them, realising he should have cast it sooner.

"Harry, what's wrong?" he asked again, turning Harry to face him. He saw the damp patch at the front of Harry's jeans and realised what must have happened. "You came, Harry? Just from kissing?" Gods, how responsive he must be! Severus could hardly wait to investigate further, but he knew they had to wait.

"I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. It just happened. You were kissing me and it was wonderful and I didn't want to stop and then - and then I just sort of - erupted. I - suppose we'll have to dissolve the Courtship, now, won't we?"

"Harry, what on Earth are you talking about? We're not dissolving anything."

"But I came. You said sex between Courting couples is frowned upon."

"And so it is," agreed Severus. "Harry, you just had an involuntary response to stimulus, nothing more. It was like a wet dream. We did not have sex and we won't, not until you are out of school and no longer my student."

"Oh," said Harry. "I - it never happened when I was awake before," he admitted with another small blush.

Severus was finding a blushing Harry very endearing, not that he would ever admit it of course. Despite what had happened to him, Harry had such innocence about him and Severus realised that the Dursleys probably never gave him any proper sexual education at all. Raping and whoring your nephew hardly counted as an education.

"Harry, it's your body, you're allowed to touch it if you want to."

"Dr. Armstrong wanted me to, but I don't know if I can, Severus. I mean, make it happen deliberately. It would just feel so weird."

"I have some books I can show you, Harry. I can bring them with me next time."

"No, don't bring them to the Weasleys' house," said Harry. "Bring them to our house when we move in."

"You think we'll find one today?"

"I do, Severus. I have a feeling today is going to be a good day," Harry stood up on tiptoes and gave Severus a small kiss on the lips. "I think I'll like kissing you."

"Good," smiled Severus as he leaned down and they kissed some more. A cleaning spell later and they were soon on their way to the first estate agent of the day. Severus had a feeling that Harry was right and today was the day they were going to find their dream home. He could hardly wait to share a home with Harry.



Chapter 30: Dark Angel
Part 30

At the welcome feast on the first day back, Harry was inundated with questions from his classmates. It seemed the news of his and Severus' Courtship was not to be forgotten in just a few weeks. He tried his best to be polite, but really, all Harry wanted to do was get to his room and away from everyone.

Hermione hadn't spoken to him on the train or at the feast and she pointedly ignored Harry's requests to pass over the vegetable dishes. Did she really think their Courtship was immoral? Harry had always thought that Hermione was more broad-minded than that, but it seemed the truth was out now and Harry could almost feel the disapproval coming from her in waves.

Harry made his excuses as soon as dessert was finished and went back to the dormitories, realising that as he wasn't a prefect, he didn't know the new password to the dungeons. The portrait was of Salazar Slytherin, with two snakes twined around his arms like living vines.

{Can I come in?} Harry asked in Parseltongue; addressing the snakes directly. He knew Slytherin himself would not allow passage to anyone without the password.

{You speak our tongue, little one?} queried the left-hand snake. Harry bristled a bit; he was hardly little, not anymore.

{May I pass?} Harry asked again.

{First you must speak the word.}

Great, just great. He'd have to wait until Hermione or another prefect came by and Harry really wasn't up to having an argument with Hermione tonight.

{Please?} He tried again and was surprised when the portrait swung open to allow him admittance. Please? That was the word they wanted? Harry turned. {Thank you} he said just as the portrait swung closed. The common room was empty this early, but the House-elves had been busy and a fire was already roaring in the grate; lanterns were lit and bowls of snacks were laid out on some side tables. Harry lifted a handful of peanuts and took them into his room.

He wouldn't be seeing Severus tonight; the man would be welcoming the new Slytherin and Gryffindor first years as well as whatever preparations teachers did for the new term. Harry was missing Severus already as he pushed open the door to his bedroom. His trunk was at the foot of the bed and it looked like the elves had been busy in here too. There was a new desk pushed up against one wall, with pigeon holes above it to better organise his parchments. Scrolls of parchment were laid out on the surface of the wood, along with quills and ink-bottles in a shade of dark blue.

Walking over to the bed, Harry realised the covers had been turned down and lying on his pillow was a single white rose and a scroll tied with blue ribbon. Harry smiled to himself, not House-elves after all. He lifted the rose to his face and smelled the hint of perfume on the flower before laying it aside to read the note.

My Imp,

I hope you like your gift. Think of it as a late birthday present or an early Christmas one. I know how hard you will be working this year and your own desk will be something of a necessity; I know how noisy the common room can get.

Sweet dreams.

The note wasn't signed, but Harry didn't need a name to know who it was from. He lay down on his bed fully clothed and smiled his delight at the canopy over the bed. Who would have thought Severus would have been such a romantic? Harry hadn't expected any presents after his birthday, his hand unconsciously caressed his ears and the emeralds in them as he thought of the day Severus gave them to him.

Harry shivered and as he remembered their first kiss shortly afterwards and how excited he'd been, a flash of arousal flared in the pit of his belly. His groin tightened – his cock pressing uncomfortably against the zip of his trousers. He'd come so suddenly that day when they were kissing, but he'd yet to bring himself off deliberately, there hadn't been much privacy at The Burrow. He and Severus had bought their new house, but it wouldn't be ready to move into until nearer to Christmas as it was still being built.

Harry had hoped that they'd been able to move in before he returned to school, but Muggle houses took longer to build than Magical ones. The privacy they'd hoped for had never materialised and they had contented themselves with brief kissing sessions on the Weasleys' sofa whenever they got the chance. Severus' kisses had always aroused Harry but he hadn't come again, not like that first time. He guessed he was getting more used to being kissed now.

He cast a wandless locking charm on his door so that no one could come in; he knew the students weren't supposed to lock their doors, but he didn't want anyone coming in and catching him. His breath caught; was he really going to do this? His prick throbbed in his trousers; almost answering for him. Yes, he was going to do it. He was going to touch himself and try to make himself come.

The only problem was, Harry wasn't entirely sure what you were supposed to do. Probably the first thing would be to remove his clothes or at least unzip his trousers. He wasn't quite feeling brave enough to lie completely naked, so he just unzipped his trousers and slid his hand inside the v they made at his groin. His boxer shorts were damp as his hand caressed his cock. Oh, that felt good. He pressed harder this time and felt himself arch up on the bed.

Good, but it could be better; he moved his hand inside the slit of his boxers and pulled out his cock, staring at it as if he'd never seen it before. He had, but not like this. It looked so big, so red and wet. Harry groaned and gripped his fist around it; loving the wet slide of his fingers along the length. It felt so hard and yet so soft at the same time.

He was aching, yearning for something as he continued to stroke. How good would this be if it was Severus touching his cock? Severus kissing him at the same time? Harry loved kissing Severus and he so wanted to be kissing the man right now. Harry took his left hand, the one not stroking his cock, and shoved three fingers in his mouth, licking and sucking them as if they were Severus' tongue.

He gasped and bucked on the bed, feeling sensations build and build at the base of his cock and in his balls. God, he was so hard! This felt almost too good, the pleasure verging on the point of pain. He cried out around the fingers in his mouth as his toes curled and his hips arched against his hand. More, he needed more, but he wasn't sure what. The pressure of his hand wasn't enough.

Harry let the fingers slip from his mouth and removed his hand from his groin before he sat up and pulled a pillow down to the middle of the bed. He shoved his trousers and boxers down to his ankles and turned over, his cock pressing into the pillow. Yes, oh God, yes! That was it. He thrust again and again, grabbing the slats of the headboard to give himself more leverage as he humped the pillow. He could feel every fibre of the cotton on his thighs, belly and cock. His balls felt so full, so heavy and he felt as if he might explode at any minute and suddenly he did.

Harry shrieked Severus' name as he felt the first pull of the orgasm, soaking the bed beneath him as he came and came, muffling his voice in the mattress below him. His whole body was trembling with the force of his climax and he shuddered against the bed. Harry felt weightless, boneless and he just couldn't keep the grin off his face. He would have to do this more often in future. A lot more often.

***

Harry woke up, something had startled him but he wasn't sure what. His door was still locked by the spell from earlier and he realised he'd fallen asleep still half-dressed and a cold, damp patch underneath him reminded him that he had forgotten to clean up as well. It wasn't remotely sexy any more and he cast a wandless Scourgify spell, wondering what had woken him. He didn't remember having a nightmare and then he heard it.

Someone was knocking on his bedroom door, but knocking softly as if they didn't want to be heard by anyone except for Harry. Had Severus come to visit him tonight after all? Harry stood up and pulled his clothes back up before walking over to the door and undoing the locking charm.

Whatever he expected when he opened his door, it was not a bloodied and bruised Draco Malfoy who was raising an arm to knock on Harry's door once again.

Blood was still dripping from the Slytherin's mouth and nose, his green silk pyjama top was stained crimson and his face looked more red than any other colour.

"Potter -" he rasped, before falling at Harry's feet in a dead faint.

"Harry? What's going on?" asked Hermione as she peeked her head out of her room, a dressing gown wrapped around her and her arms folded across her chest. "My God! Is that Malfoy? What happened to him?"

"I don't know, he just turned up like this," Harry was just glad that Hermione seemed to be on speaking terms with him again. "I think someone has beaten him up."

"Who?" asked Hermione as she came over to them. "We should probably get him to Madam Pomfrey."

"Yes," said Harry, removing his wand and getting ready to cast a levitation charm on the unconscious Malfoy.

"N- no. No Pomfrey," Malfoy croaked, grey eyes filled with pain opened and pierced Harry with their gaze. "Don't want - don't want anyone knowing. You - heal - you - " gasped Malfoy as he fainted again.

Harry had been learning a lot from the mediwitch, it was true, but he was nowhere near her level of expertise, he wasn't confident that he would be able to heal Malfoy properly. And what did he mean about not wanting anyone knowing? Harry cast scanning spells over the unconscious boy so he'd know at least what he was dealing with. Bruises on his back; torso; footprints on his back; broken nose, sprained wrist and numerous cuts across his chest and back.

Harry really didn't want Malfoy in his bedroom, but he couldn't very well heal him out here, anyone could come into the common room at any moment; if Hermione had heard Malfoy, it was a fair bet that someone else had too.

"Put him in my room, Harry," said Hermione. "We're both prefects, we can always say we were discussing school policy or something if anyone sees him there."

"At three in the morning?"

She shrugged. "Better than him being caught in your room, isn't it?"

Harry nodded and levitated Malfoy across the corridor into Hermione's room and set him down on her bed. Malfoy was still out, but Harry cast a sleeping spell on him just to make sure. He didn't want Draco to wake up while he was healing him. All Madam Pomfrey's lectures came back to him and in hardly any time at all, Harry had healed the cuts and bruises as well as the sprained wrist. He was just thankful the boy had no broken bones; he would have had to sneak into the infirmary for some Skele-Gro and Madam Pomfrey kept as close an eye on her stores as Severus did.

"Who do you think did this to him?" asked Hermione as she sat down on the chair by her desk.

"I don't know," said Harry. Draco wasn't exactly Mr. Popular this year after his father had been imprisoned. "Should we take him back to his room now?"

"No," replied Hermione. "He'd better stay here tonight; they could still be waiting for him in his room."

"What would Ron say if he found out?"

"Harry, Draco is gay. I know that, the whole school knows that. Ron won't be a problem."

"Um, thanks, Hermione. It's good of you to do this."

"Harry - look, I'm sorry I was being such a bitch, all right? I can see how much you love him and how much he loves you. This Courtship, it's an honourable thing. I know you and Snape aren't sleeping together and I'm sorry for freaking out. I was worried about you, Harry. Just promise me one thing."

"Oh, what's that?"

"That I get an invitation to your wedding." Hermione stood up and hugged him.

"I think we can certainly arrange that."

Malfoy snorted from the bed. "Merlin save us from romantic Gryffindors."

Harry just couldn't stop the smile. "I prefer romantic Slytherins myself."



Chapter 31: Dark Angel
Part 31

Harry was hiding something from him; for the three weeks since they'd been back at school, Harry had rushed away as soon as their tutoring sessions had finished and didn't stay to linger for kisses and cuddles. If Severus didn't know better, he would almost say that Harry had been avoiding him and he was almost sure he knew the reason why.

Draco Malfoy.

He'd seen Harry laughing and joking with his godson at meals; they even seemed to tolerate each other in class and Severus was heartily sick of it. He knew he'd asked Harry to be friendlier with Draco, but did he have to be so friendly? When was the last time Harry had laughed with him like that? The two young men were at the Gryffindor table at dinner that evening; sharing jokes with Weasley and Granger. Since when had all four of them become such firm friends?

The way the quartet were sitting, Harry next to Draco, Hermione next to Ron, it almost seemed as if they were paired off. Had Harry regretted agreeing to the Courtship already? Did he want to be released so that he could pursue Draco Malfoy? Compared to Malfoy's silvery beauty, Severus knew he fell short and wondered what on earth Harry saw in him. Maybe Harry had come to his senses at last. Severus sighed and speared a chunk of beef with more force than was really necessary.

How dare Malfoy sit so close to him? Laugh with him? Severus let his fork fall to the plate with a clatter; he couldn't manage another bite. Everything tasted like ashes in his mouth.

Harry had a tutoring session tonight and for once Severus wasn't looking forward to it. How could he look forward to finding out for sure that Harry wanted to leave him?

***

As usual, Harry was five minutes early and Severus had left the door open for him. Severus saw Harry take note of the empty desks; there were no textbooks or parchments tonight. The boy stared around the room and then at Severus, noting too that Severus was still in his teaching robes and hadn't had a shower yet. What was the point? There was no reason to look good for Harry anymore; it wasn't as if he'd ever appreciated it, was it?

Harry sat down at his usual place by the desk and removed his own textbook, along with a quill and parchment.

"We won't be studying tonight, Potter," said Severus, feeling his heart shatter in the middle of his chest even as he said the words. Guileless green eyes sought his.

"Severus? What's wrong?" asked Harry as he stood up and attempted to hug him. Severus backed away.

"Hugs won't fix this, Potter."

"Fix what? And what's all this Potter business?" demanded Harry.

"I thought it would be easier when we go back to being just teacher and student."

"Severus, what are you talking about? You've completely lost me."

"You've been hiding things from me, Potter. Things regarding a certain Mr. Malfoy."

"Oh. That," said Harry darkly and Severus felt as if he'd just had the wind knocked out of him. It was true? Dear Merlin, his suspicions were true? "I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Severus, but he made me promise not to. It's his secret to tell, not mine."

"How - how long have you been enamoured of Mr. Malfoy?"

"Enamoured? What!? You don't think that me and Malfoy ... You do! You think that there's something going on between us? The bond won't let us be with anyone else, Severus, you know that!"

"The bond won't allow physical intimacy with someone else, that's true, but you may still have developed feelings for him. I've seen the two of you. At meals. In class. Laughing and joking."

"Yes, that's what friends do! You were the one who wanted me to be friends with him in the first place!"

"Friends? Are you sure that's all it is?"

Harry glared at him. "I am not having this conversation with you." Harry threw his things back in his bag and stalked to the door; he flung it open and didn't look back.

Severus stared at the door for a long time after Harry had gone, wondering how he could have been so stupid.

***

Harry was so angry that he was sure there must be a thundercloud over his head. How could Severus think that of him? How? Didn't Severus trust him? Was he always going to be like this? Jealous over any friendships Harry had? He had made friends with Draco after that night; even Ron and Hermione had accepted Malfoy into their little group but all Severus saw was that Harry wanted someone else.

He didn't want someone else. Harry wanted Severus, only Severus. Didn't the fact that Harry had agreed to this Courtship, that they'd bought a house together mean anything? What did Severus think this was? That Harry was too young and was only experimenting with him or something? Harry had tried so hard to defend their relationship, did that mean nothing now? How could Severus think he could ever be interested in someone else?

Harry almost knocked someone over as he entered the common room and mumbled an apology before striding straight for his room. "Hey, Harry," called Draco just as Harry reached the door. "What's up?"

Harry turned, glowering at everyone who was in the common room, Slytherin and Gryffindor alike. Professor McGonagall had decided to keep the two Houses together but right now Harry didn't want an audience for what he was about to say to Malfoy. Harry nodded at Hermione and Ron as well, then held his door open so that all three of them could go into his bedroom.

He cast a locking and silencing charm on the door.

"Harry, we're not supposed to lock –"

"I don't give a fuck what we're supposed to do!" he roared at Hermione and began pacing the room. His skin felt too tight for his body and he just wanted to rip it off in shreds. His hands itched to do it and he made them into fists before he could start clawing at himself.

"Harry? What's wrong?" asked Ron, his hand automatically reaching out for Hermione's as if he needed some moral support in case Harry went mental again.

"Draco," spat Harry. "Severus thinks there's something going on between me and Draco."

The three of them laughed, but Harry didn't think it was even remotely funny.

"That's ridiculous," said Hermione. "How can he think that?"

"Either you tell him what happened that night, Draco, or I will," threatened Harry.

"You promised you wouldn't tell anyone!"

"You're my friend Draco, but he's - he's my - "everything", and I won't let anyone come between us, not even you. Tell him what happened that night and why we became friends in the first place. He thinks we're developing feelings for each other."

"But I don't like you like that!" protested Draco.

"So go and tell him and while you're at it, tell him who beat you up that night."

"I never said anyone beat me up."

"You didn't have to say it, Draco. I knew." Harry had been on the receiving end of so many beatings over the years that he knew what the victim of one looked like. Someone had really gone to town on Draco that night, but who and why? That was something Draco had never revealed to any of them.

"What did happen that night?" asked Ron as he stared round at each of them in turn. "Come on, Draco, I'm not letting Harry get hurt over this. You have to tell."

"I don't have to do anything, Weasley! It's no one else's business!"

"It is when my best friend gets accused of having an affair with you!"

"Stop it! That's enough, both of you!" Harry stood in front of both of them, hoping it wouldn't come to hexes or even fists. He felt sick to his stomach from all the stress and he just wanted to be curled up in Severus' arms right about now, but from the way they'd parted, Harry would be lucky if Severus ever wanted to see him again.

"Draco, please, please tell Professor Snape what happened if you won't tell us. He's your godfather, he's hardly going to think any less of you," said Hermione, the voice of reason.

Draco ran his hands through his hair and sat down on the chair by Harry's desk with a sigh.

"All right, I'll tell you, but it goes no further than here, okay? Then I'll go and speak to Severus. It was - it was Blaise Zabini. That's who beat me up that night. I - I've fancied him for ages; I thought he liked blokes; I really did, otherwise... Well the long and the short of it is that I asked him out on a date for the next Hogsmeade weekend and he totally freaked. Called me all sorts of names, then the punches and the kicks started; I think there might have been some hexes there too, but I was so surprised I don't really remember much. It seems he didn't like being mistaken for a queer – his words, not mine. The whole fucking school knows I'm gay and he goes mental because I asked him out? All he had to do was turn me down."

"He beat you up because of that?" exclaimed Harry. "You didn't try something with him, did you? Hit on him or something?"

"No, I didn't. I just asked if he wanted to go with me to Hogsmeade and he went crazy. He was vicious."

"I know," Harry almost whispered. He'd seen the damage inflicted on the other boy that night. "But you will tell Severus, won't you?"

Draco nodded and stood up. "I'll go now, but no one else is to know about this, right?"

The trio nodded as he left.

"I always thought Blaise was gay," mused Ron. "I've never seen him with a girlfriend or anything."

"Just because he hasn't got a girlfriend doesn't mean he's gay, Ronald."

"I know, Hermione. I was just saying."

Harry sat down on his bed and hugged his panda to his chest, wishing it was Severus who was hugging him. He shouldn't have stormed out like that; he should have stayed and talked things through but he'd just been so angry when he realised that Severus didn't trust him.

Hermione sat down beside Harry and placed a hand on his arm. "Harry? You okay?"

He nodded, rocking the panda, willing the tears not to spill. He wasn't okay and he wondered if he ever would be.

"Wh - what if he never wants me back?"

***

Harry was sobbing into his pillow later that night when he heard his door opening; since he'd warded it, he knew only one person could have breached the protection.

"S- Severus? Severus? Is that you?" asked Harry, sniffling a little as he sat upright on his bed. He hadn't slept and his throat was raw from all his crying.

"Oh, Harry, I'm so sorry," Severus said, sitting down on the bed beside him. Harry didn't speak, didn't think, he just flung himself into Severus' arms and bawled his eyes out. He had been so afraid that they would never be able to fix it, that Severus would never want him again.

"Ssh, Harry. It's all right, it's all right," whispered Severus as he stroked Harry's back. "Draco explained what happened, but it still doesn't excuse my actions. I know you wouldn't betray me, Harry. I know it, but this bond has been playing havoc with me lately. I'm afraid I'm getting very possessive of you. I never meant to hurt you, Harry. You have to believe that."

"I do, Severus," said Harry, wiping the tears from his eyes. Everything was blurry round the edges; he'd already taken his glasses off. "I - I was afraid you wouldn't want me back after - after I walked out like that. I'm sorry I was angry."

"Harry, you have nothing to apologise for. You had every right to be angry about how I was with you."

"I- I don't like being angry," admitted Harry. "It scares me. It - it reminds me of Uncle Vernon. He was always angry with me and then he would - and then he would –" It was no good, Harry broke down in tears again feeling as if he might never stop. He clung to Severus like a shipwreck survivor might cling to a floating log. "D-don't leave me, Severus! Promise you won't l-leave m-me!" he begged through his sobs.

Severus lowered Harry to the bed, still holding him, and kissed his forehead. "Ssh, Harry. I'm not leaving you, ever. I promise you. Ssh, sleep now, Imp. Sleep."

As Harry's eyes drifted closed, Harry realised it must have been a spell. He allowed dreams to claim him, knowing that whatever happened, he had Severus' promise now. Severus would never leave him.

Nothing could ever part them. Not now.



Chapter 32: Dark Angel
Part 32

"Mr. Potter, are we boring you?" McGonagall's voice roused Harry from the stupor he'd almost fallen into. He just felt so tired lately. Most evenings he spent being tutored by either Severus or Madam Pomfrey and after that he still had to find time to fit in his homework as well. He and Severus had barely had time to themselves since they'd been back at school and Harry had even had to cut down his sessions with Dr. Armstrong to every fortnight rather than every week because he just couldn't afford the time. He'd wanted to cut it down to once a month, but Severus and Madam Pomfrey were having none of that. They still insisted he needed to see her as often as possible.

"Sorry, ma'am," said Harry managing to clasp his hand over his mouth in time to catch the yawn. Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows at him, but didn't comment any more. Harry had lost count of how many lectures she'd already given him about getting enough rest but there wasn't a lot he could do about it. There were only so many hours in the day and he had to fit in his work somehow.

Thank God this was the last class of the day and the last one before the Christmas hols started tomorrow. Harry pinched himself on the leg to try and keep himself awake, but his mind was far away from Hogwarts and school. Tonight he and Severus were moving into their new house, it was finally finished and furnished. It was something Harry had never had before – a home of his own. A home to share with Severus and he could hardly wait.

After Draco had talked to Severus, things between him and Harry were just getting better and better. Every Potions lesson, Severus found some fault with Blaise Zabini and the boy was more often in detention with Argus Filch than he was out of it. The trophy room had never seemed so sparkly before. No one knew why Severus was suddenly so against Zabini and they kept out of it. Every time Zabini lost points or got a detention, Malfoy would glance quickly at Harry or Hermione and smirk. Ron wasn't in the Advanced Potions class, but Harry guessed Malfoy would have been smirking with him too. Severus had wanted the boy expelled over what he'd done to Draco, but Draco had insisted that he didn't want to make a public spectacle of what had happened and if Zabini had been expelled that's what it would have turned into.

Things with Severus improved even further when Draco finally found himself a boyfriend; Harry was just very surprised that it was Neville who returned the Slytherin's affections. He hadn't even known Neville was gay until one day over their Herbology homework he shyly asked Harry if he could put in a good word for him with Draco. It seemed Harry had turned into something of a matchmaker without even trying.

Severus was still very possessive of Harry and due to the bond Harry was feeling the same. If he even saw Severus so much as talk to another male he felt a surge of jealously beneath his breastbone and it scared him a little. He knew Severus would never cheat on him, just like Harry wouldn’t cheat on Severus, but it still hurt when he saw Severus with someone else.

They'd both decided that this Christmas, the first in their new house, was to be just the two of them. There would be no visitors this year, no unexpected callers. They had yet to be connected to the Floo network and wards were set for five miles in every direction so that no one could Apparate or use an unauthorised Portkey to get in. Anyone who did want to visit would have to arrive the Muggle way and knock on the door and just like Muggles they could decide whether or not to answer it.

A few butterflies flitted around Harry's tummy as he thought of moving in with Severus, seeing all their new furniture and accessories in place. They'd spent a couple of weekends after Harry's psychiatric appointments traipsing around shops for furniture and fittings for their new home. It was fun, even if they did sometimes clash over colour schemes or whether they really needed three different sets of dinnerware.

Of course, they hadn't got much time to spend looking for things, so Hermione had gladly ordered them lots of Muggle catalogues. Sometimes on Friday evenings, instead of studying, Harry and Severus could be found poring over the glossy pages deciding what to get. They only ever bought small magical items; Harry didn't want any of the Magical shops knowing where they lived so they got large items from Muggle shops.

Last weekend, Severus had gone back to the house and got everything organised as a Christmas present for Harry; Harry could hardly wait to see what the house looked like now with everything finished and the furniture in. The last time he'd seen it, the kitchen was just a bare space with pipes in the walls and wires hanging down from the ceiling and the bathroom looked much the same.

He wasn't just looking forward to seeing the finished house; he was looking forward to spending two whole weeks alone with Severus. No school, no one else impinging on their time. It was going to be bliss. Two whole weeks where they could kiss and cuddle (on their own sofa!) without keeping an eye on the clock to make sure Harry wasn't breaking curfew. Harry could hardly wait.

The bell rang for the end of the lesson, but McGonagall hadn't dismissed them yet. Everyone waited.

"For homework," – there was a collective groan at the teacher's words – "I want you all to have a nice rest and come back refreshed ready for your NEWTs." McGonagall smiled at them, paying particular attention to Harry; he nodded his thanks to her. If no one else had homework either, he wouldn't fall behind, but he knew he needed to have a bit of a break over his holiday before he cracked up again. These days he was even dreaming of books.

"All set, Harry?" asked Hermione as the class filed out around them. She was spending Christmas at The Burrow with Ron this year and as much as Harry loved his friends and the Weasleys, he was glad he and Severus were going to be on their own.

"Yes, I just have to meet Severus and then we're off. It's the first Christmas he's had away from Hogwarts for years."

"It must be so exciting! Your first house and everything!"

"It is. Maybe next year it'll be you and Ron?"

"That's a bit soon to be moving in together, don't you think?" asked Ron as he arrived beside them.

"Well don't expect me to be moving in anywhere with you, Ronald Weasley unless there's a ring on my finger," called Hermione as she hurried off, leaving Ron to scurry after her.

"See you when you get back, Harry!" Ron shouted behind him as he hurried down the corridor after his girlfriend.

***

Severus waited until Harry's friends and other classmates had departed before he alerted the boy to his presence. He loved observing Harry when he wasn't aware of the scrutiny. Harry was almost painfully shy at receiving compliments and would blush any time Severus mentioned how beautiful he looked. Severus had never thought he would use that word in context with a man before, but there was no doubt about it, Harry was beautiful.

He was too androgynous to be considered conventionally handsome, but beauty was there, oh yes. The raven hair that refused to be tamed by comb or hand; no matter how many times Severus was tempted to try. Harry always looked as if he'd just that moment stepped off a broomstick or come in from a tornado. Then there were the eyes that drew in everyone who saw them. They were not quite the same shade as the light of the Killing Curse but they were close to it, and sometimes Severus wondered whether if he stared at them long enough he would just expire gazing into their depths.

Harry turned as if he sensed he was being watched and as soon as he saw Severus his beaming smile lit his whole face from within, it was as if he'd swallowed the sun and it was blazing out through his skin.

"Severus."

"Harry." No other words were spoken, none needed to be. The bond was thrumming under Severus' skin, as he felt it was under Harry's. They were aware of each other on a magical as well as a physical level; they were almost the same person now. As an experiment they'd tried casting with each other's wands, which was something considered very taboo in some wizarding circles. The power they'd unleashed had almost brought the dungeons down around them – it was too much and they'd decided to stick to their own wands in future. The fact remained though, that they could use each other's wands if they wished to or if they needed to.

They didn't hug, not there, not then, but Severus knew that both of them wanted to.

"Ready, Harry?" asked Severus, as he removed a silk scarf from his robe pocket and held it in mid-air.

"I'm ready, Severus. Let's go home," Harry said.

As soon as Harry touched the blue fabric, they were whisked away from Hogwarts and on a dizzying adventure to their own house. Severus had arranged it so that they would both land outside on the front path, despite the snow; Severus knew Harry would want to see it from the outside.

Their house was on the outskirts of York, the nearest neighbours were miles away and there was nothing but fields and trees in the distance. Harry hadn't wanted to live anywhere that was reminiscent of the square boxes of Privet Drive and Severus could hardly blame him. Although brand new, the house was traditional in style, with half-wooded walls and dormer windows on the roof, it was what the estate agent had called one-and-a-half stories.

They had four bedrooms upstairs, the master suite had a dressing room and ensuite bathroom. Because they'd bought the house so early, they were able to change the layout inside so that they had room for a large bath rather than just the standard shower. Severus could hardly wait until they could bathe together and put it to some good use.

Downstairs was a large kitchen and breakfast room along with a living room with french doors into the garden. Harry hadn’t wanted a formal dining space, so they'd asked the builders to put in a cellar instead. Severus had already warded it and prepared it magically to become a potions lab, feeling a bit guilty that Harry had no space like that to call his own, but Harry hadn't seemed to mind.

Harry fell to the ground and looked up with tears in his eyes as he saw the roof ridge and every window lined with multi-coloured lights, reflected in the snow. It didn't always snow at Christmas in Yorkshire, but this year Severus was so glad it had. Harry deserved a traditional Christmas; he'd had so few of them in his life.

Severus helped him up and they both stood staring at their house. Their home. "Oh, Severus, it's beautiful," breathed Harry as he started to shiver. They'd been so keen to get here that Severus realised Harry didn't even have a cloak on, just his school robe and uniform. Both their trunks were already inside, sent by Portkey earlier that day.

"Come on, let's get you inside and warmed up," said Severus leading Harry up the front path. He opened the door with a key and then turned round to lift Harry up in his arms. Harry's hands went round his neck as if they belonged there, but Harry was looking a little wary too.

"Severus? What are you doing?"

"It's our first night in our new house, what does it look like I'm doing? I'm carrying you over the threshold."

"I thought that was for when you got married?"

Severus smirked and bent down to kiss him. "Well, Imp, when we do get married, you can carry me!"

"It's a deal, Severus," smiled Harry as he leaned up to kiss him and after that, they both seemed to forget about the cold and the snow. At least for a while.



Chapter 33: Dark Angel
Part 33

"Getting warmer, now?" whispered Severus as he leaned over and began nibbling on Harry's neck. Both of them were sitting in front of the fire on the sheepskin rug in their living room; mugs of hot chocolate sat forgotten on the floor beside them. Harry was sitting with his legs tucked under him, Severus was kneeling behind him.

"Mmm, yes," he gasped as Severus nipped his neck. He was so sensitive there and Severus knew it. They'd enjoyed exploring each other before as much as they could, always conscious of the desire to go further, but always able to pull back. "Kiss me," said Harry as he untucked his legs and lay down on the rug. He could just about see the Christmas tree from here; the lights on it and the fire were the only illumination in the room.

Severus' face was in shadow as he bent down and gave in to Harry's request. Harry had soon discovered that he loved kissing Severus; loved the anticipation just before their lips touched. It was almost as if there was a magnet attracting them to each other's mouths and he could never get enough of it. Severus was a wonderful kisser and had soon taught Harry by example as well. Harry was glad that it was Severus who had given him his first kiss; glad that he had one of his firsts to give to the man he loved.

Severus' lips pressed down against his; Severus was supporting himself on his elbows so that only their face and feet were touching. Harry opened his mouth and coaxed Severus' tongue out to play with his. It always amazed him, that first jolt of sensation as their tongues touched and he couldn't help the moan. The kisses were slow, sensuous, they had all the time in the world and tonight Harry didn't have to rush back to his dorm just before curfew.

Severus' hands reached down and undid Harry's school tie and the top button of his shirt. He left Harry's mouth to trail kisses along his jaw and down to the hollow of his throat. Harry fisted his hands in the rug, pulling out a few strands as he tried to stop himself from pulling out Severus' hair. He wanted more, more than this slow teasing and slide of lips through his clothes. Almost as if Severus could read his thoughts, he began unbuttoning Harry's shirt; Harry sucked in a breath; they'd never gone this far before, but Harry allowed it. He wanted to feel Severus' hands on his bare skin.

As each button was popped out of its hole, Severus leant over Harry's chest and kissed each patch of skin revealed; Harry mewled when Severus kissed his nipples. He'd never thought of them as sexy before, but it was like they connected directly with his cock and balls. Severus licked and sucked at Harry's chest until he came to the waistband of Harry's trousers and then licked all around Harry's bellybutton. The arousal built up slowly, but soon Harry was arching his hips, desperate for any friction. Severus' body still wasn't anywhere near his though and the rough slide of fabric against his cock did nothing except frustrate him further. He wanted the man's hands on him, wanted Severus to reach inside his uniform and grasp his cock. Just the imagining of it sent a bolt of desire through him and he shuddered. He might want it, but he knew he wasn't going to get it, not yet. Severus surely must guess how desperate he was; Harry's erection was so close to his face.

Severus pulled away and gazed at Harry, his eyes blazing with lust. "Harry, we'd better stop now."

Oh, God, Harry didn't want to stop. He knew his face was flaming as his whole body felt as if it was on fire.

"You're too tempting and we can't do anything. Not yet."

Harry looked across at Severus and saw that he too was heavily aroused, his erection stretching the fabric of his black trousers taut. Severus stood up and paced up and down in front of the fireplace. Harry lay panting on the floor for a little while longer to calm himself down. What he really wanted to do was get himself off, but felt it would be a bit rude to do it while Severus was there to say the least. He was surprised he hadn't felt scared when Severus had started undressing him; but he knew what he had with Severus was a lot different from his memories.

"Harry, I'm sorry if I pushed things too far tonight," said Severus, talking to the fireplace. It was good they weren't actually facing each other; Harry wasn't sure he'd be able to keep his hands to himself when he saw the desire for him shining in Severus' eyes. It was partly the bond, they knew, but partly the fact that Harry had finally rediscovered himself as a sexual being and he wanted to share that with Severus. His own hand was all well and good, but Harry had the impression that making love with Severus would be a whole lot better.

"You didn't, Severus. I would have asked you to stop if I hadn't wanted it. I wish we were married already," said Harry. "I - I hate that we have to stop just as things start happening."

Severus turned around and gave him a small smile. "That's why we have to stop."

"I know, it's just so frustrating." Harry buttoned his shirt again, but he didn't bother with his tie.

"Harry, it's only six months. We can cope for six months, can't we? And won't it be worth the wait when we finally do get together once we've married? Our wedding night will be even more special, won't it?"

"I hate it when you're right," laughed Harry, standing up and wrapping his arms around Severus in a very platonic hug. "I can hardly wait to be married to you."

"Me too," said Severus, kissing him softly on the nose. "How about I give you the grand tour?"

Harry nodded, his body had calmed down a bit now and it would do them good to do something that didn't involve either of them getting so worked up again. Harry had only seen the living room so far and he was looking forward to seeing the rest of the house. Their house! His heart still skipped a beat when he thought about it like that.

Severus led him into the kitchen, placing his hands over Harry's eyes as a blindfold as they entered the room.

"You can open them now," he whispered and Harry had to quell the shiver of desire the man's voice sent straight to his groin. Did Severus know what that voice did to him? How every Potions lesson Harry was half-hard hearing the man barking out instructions to the class? How every night after their tutoring sessions, not to mention the kissing afterwards, Harry had to wank sometimes three or four times before he could get to sleep? The man's voice was sex personified and Harry wondered if he really could wait six months.

Harry opened his eyes; squinting against the glare from the overhead spotlights. The kitchen cabinets were beech, with stainless steel handles. Appliances were mostly hidden behind a beech door as well. A stainless steel double oven and hob were matched by a sink overlooking the garden. Every kitchen gadget imaginable was there from kettle to microwave; toaster to coffee maker; bread maker to food processor.

At one end of the room was a breakfast nook with a round table and four chairs. A slate floor and granite worktops were glistening under the lights. Harry had been there the day they'd picked out the kitchen and the multi-coloured tiles for the walls, but nothing had quite prepared him for how good it looked in real life, in their kitchen. He would enjoy cooking here and he grinned up at Severus.

"Supper is served," said Severus, waving his wand; two plates filled to the brim with pasta in a tomato sauce appeared on the table.

"You cooked?" asked Harry, surprised.

"I did, but kept it warm with preserving charms. I'm not quite sure how our oven works yet."

"I'm sure we'll figure it out," said Harry, sliding into one of the chairs. Severus waved his wand again and this time two crystal flutes appeared along with an ice bucket and a bottle of champagne.

"Severus, I'm too young to drink," giggled Harry, but he lifted up one of the glasses anyway. Severus sat down opposite him and did the same. They clinked their glasses together.

"To the first night in our new home," said Severus.

"And many more," agreed Harry as they each took a sip of the champagne. Harry didn't care much for the taste. "I don't suppose we have any pumpkin juice?" asked Harry.

"Philistine," laughed Severus. "That was twenty galleons a bottle."

"You were robbed," giggled Harry and he wondered if the small amount he'd sipped had already gone to his head. He could hardly believe they were actually here; at home in their own house. Happiness had never come easily to Harry; he was always worried that if he got too happy, too complacent, then it would be ripped from under him like an unsteady rug.

After supper was eaten, Severus made them both coffee and ushered Harry into the living room to drink it. It was very romantic, lounging together on the sofa as they sipped at their mugs. Either Harry had grown more accustomed to the taste or Severus made better coffee than Dr. Armstrong, for he loved the taste of this one. The two of them watched the fire flicker in the grate; their own pictures and candlesticks sitting on the mantelpiece. It felt like home already.

Harry's eyes strayed to the Christmas tree and all the gifts wrapped beneath it. Some were from school friends and the Weasleys, but Harry knew most of his were from Severus and vice versa. It seemed they were determined to spoil each other.

"You deserve to be spoiled, Harry," said Severus, picking up on Harry's thoughts through the bond and kissing Harry's neck again. The man seemed fascinated by that part of Harry's body; Harry knew he'd never had anyone pay such attention to it before. "I want to indulge you in everything."

God, those words spoken so close to his ear had Harry erect again in an instant. He knew what he wanted Severus to indulge him in. How on earth were they going to manage for another six months? "Severus," Harry moaned, arching his neck to give Severus better access to it. Severus suckled on his neck, licking and biting as he tasted every inch of flesh there. Harry thought he might go mad with need. He was definitely going to need some time alone with his hand tonight.

"Merlin, you're beautiful," Severus breathed against his throat, pressing hard on the hollow there. Hard enough to bruise; Harry cried out at the thought of being so marked. So branded. "I don't know how I'm going to keep my hands off you." Severus looked up, locking his eyes with Harry's; Harry's coffee cup fell to the floor with a thud, but both of them ignored it in favour of kissing each other hungrily. They weren't just kissing; they were devouring each other, putting the passion they couldn't yet share into the joining of their mouths. Tongues fought against one another; teeth clacked together; lips bruised as they stole the breath and the soul from each other's bodies.

Harry was soon lying prone on the sofa, Severus on his knees on the floor in front of him.

Harry knew he was sweating and getting more and more excited as the kiss continued. They couldn't stop; their arms clawed at each other's backs and necks, trying to get closer to each other as possible and then the unthinkable happened - Severus pulled away, gasping for breath. Harry felt like wailing or whimpering.

"Fuck!" he swore instead. His heart was beating like a drum in his chest and his cock felt hard enough to hammer nails with. Oh, God, how could Severus just stop like that? The man must have better self-control than Harry; all Harry wanted to do was keep going, but maybe that was his teenage hormones kicking in.

"Harry, I'm sorry. I had no right to tease you like that."

"Don't be sorry, get back over here and kiss me!"

Severus' face was flushed with arousal and he looked more than tempted to do just that, but he shook his head sadly and stood up again. It seemed he was keen to put some distance between them.

"So - so I guess this means sharing the master bed is out?" Harry was disappointed; he'd wanted them to share the bed as soon as they moved in, so that they'd know it was theirbedroom right from the start. But if Severus' honour wouldn't allow anything else, then they'd have to put up with separate rooms until June. It wasn't as if they could sleep together while they were at school anyway.

"Harry, I think it was a good idea about sharing the same bed from the start but neither of us could really share the bed in this state, could we? It would be too easy to give into our desires and I didn't bring you here to seduce you."

"Not even if I want to be seduced?" Harry licked his lips, and then regretted it. If he was hoping to get the man to share the bed with him, trying to tease him was probably not the best way to go about it.

"Harry, you have no idea how much I want you, how hard it was for me to stop when I did. You're not the only one who gets frustrated."

Harry did know, he could feel it through the bond. "I'm sorry, Severus. I don't mean to be a tease either."

"Look, we can share the bed, but we need a few ground rules. One, you masturbate before bed and so do I and we do not… do not do anything except sleep while we're there. Agreed?"

"So, no goodnight kiss then?"

Severus smiled. "I think that might be acceptable."

"Good," agreed Harry, stopping to give Severus a lingering kiss before he made his way to the bathroom to obey one of Severus' ground rules.



Chapter 34: Dark Angel
Part 34

Severus had barely taken his trousers down in the downstairs loo before he was coming with two sharp pulls to his aching cock. The taste of Harry's lips and the scent of the boy's arousal were still at the forefront of his memory as he brought himself to such a shuddering orgasm that his vision greyed out for a moment and he had to grab hold of the small basin for support.

Thoughts of Harry doing the same thing upstairs had him quickening again and this time he took a more leisurely pace, rubbing and teasing his shaft as he imagined Harry doing it to him. They were going to drive each other mad before the wedding at this rate. It probably wasn't such a good idea to share the bed… all that hot flesh next to his. Severus cried out at the thought, coming again, spurting over the mirror. Merlin! He hadn't felt his randy since he'd been a teenager himself. Harry was like Severus' own personal aphrodisiac, he was exactly what got Severus hot.

His legs felt like rubber. Severus washed his thighs and groin, before wiping the evidence of his desire off the mirror. That done, he splashed cold water on his face and made his way upstairs to the master bedroom suite. Harry was already in bed, reading by the light of a bedside lamp. Thank Merlin he was dressed in pyjamas; Severus wasn't sure if his good intentions would have been able to stay that way if Harry had slept only in underwear or even naked. Somehow, Severus didn't think Harry was someone who would sleep naked, not after what had happened to him, it might make him feel too vulnerable.

"I thought you didn't have any homework this holiday?" asked Severus as he noticed the book was a textbook.

"I don't, but I still need to keep up with my reading." Harry glanced up at him and Severus felt as if someone had punched him in the chest when he saw Harry's eyes. Those emerald orbs always surprised him by their brightness.

Harry's hair was damp and he flicked his fringe out of his eyes.

"Did you have a nice shower?"

"Yeah," Harry blushed and turned his attention back to his book. Severus couldn't help the small smile; they both knew what else Harry had been up to in the shower.

"Harry, there's no need to be embarrassed. Everyone does it and if it eases the frustration because we can't be together yet, then it's a good thing, right?"

"I suppose so," said Harry, setting his book aside and straightening his glasses. "Severus, can I ask you something?"

"If you want."

"Oh," Harry played with the quilt cover, bunching parts of it in his fist and then smoothing it out again. "I - I just wondered - but it's probably a bit rude to ask. Forget I said anything."

"Harry, it's okay, we're getting married soon. You can ask me anything you want - is it about sex?"

Severus had given Harry a couple of books that dealt with various things about growing up and sex in general, but maybe Harry wanted some more specific information, considering that most of the books only skimmed over homosexuality, if at all.

"Um, sort of," admitted Harry and there it was again, that delightful blush. "I - um - I just wondered if - if you'd had a lot of lovers."

Whatever words Severus was expecting to come from Harry's mouth, they certainly weren't the ones he had just heard. It was only natural that Harry was curious, but he was just surprised that Harry had actually given in to it. It just seemed a little odd coming from him, that was all, considering how shy Harry normally was discussing sexual matters, except when they'd both been in the heat of the moment.

"If you mean lovers, then I would have to say three, but if you mean sexual partners, then a lot more than that." Spies couldn't afford to have lovers; they were too easy a target if Severus' duplicity had ever been discovered and schools were breeding grounds for gossip. He could never entertain at Hogwarts and his sexual encounters were usually among his fellow Death Eaters; two people who forgot the world for a few hours while they were together; forgot the horrors they'd done and seen. But he would never have called many of them lovers.

Harry looked surprised that he had answered. "Does it bother you, Harry? The amount of experience I've had?"

Severus changed into his nightshirt and climbed into bed, relieved that Harry scooted over and cuddled up to close to him. "I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if it did, wouldn't I? Considering how many - how many men --"

Severus felt tears dampen his neck. There was a big difference between Severus' willingexperience and Harry being raped, being forced into it by different men while he was still a child. Severus had been an adult and had known what he was doing; Harry hadn't been given that choice. He was not experienced as Severus understood the word. Harry had merely been used and abused by all those people.

"Harry, that was different. A lot different. Being the victim of rape or abuse is a lot different than being in a loving relationship."

"Dr. Armstrong said I wasn't to call myself that anymore," Harry said softly.

"What?"

"A victim. She said I'm a survivor, like in a plane crash or something. There was nothing I could have done to stop it."

"She's right, Harry. You are a survivor; she sounds like a smart woman."

Harry was quiet for a while after that, but every so often Severus noticed the hitching of his breath as if he was trying not to cry, or was actually crying and trying to hide it from Severus. He stroked Harry's back, wondering again at Harry's resilience. What the young man had been through was harrowing and Severus was surprised how well Harry had bounced back after the de-aging. There had been a few bumps along the road, that was true, but on the whole Harry seemed to be recovering well. Severus didn't think Harry would ever forget it completely, but he seemed well on the way to accepting that it hadn't been his fault, just like Dr. Armstrong had said.

"Severus," Harry glanced up at him. "Do - do you ever wish I was different?"

"What do you mean, Harry?"

"That I was - less damaged. That I was still a virgin."

"Oh, Harry, what's going on in that head of yours? The past is the past, we can't change it and I wouldn't change anything about you. I'm with you because I love you, virgin or not. And technically, Harry, in this body you are a virgin."

"What do you mean?"

"Madam Pomfrey gave you a De-aging Potion that sent you back to age five, but your age then was a few weeks before you were raped."

Harry gaped at him. "But - but I remember, I remember what those men did to me. Are you saying it's all in my head? That it didn't happen to me?"

"No, it happened to you, Harry. You went through it and I'm not trying to belittle what you went through, but it didn't happen in this body, in the body you have now."

"Oh my God. Oh my God!" exclaimed Harry and Severus thought he'd made things worse. He was mentally dialling Dr. Armstrong's telephone number in his head when Harry flung both arms around his neck. "Thank you, Severus! Thank you! It's the best Christmas present ever! I can be a virgin for you!" Severus could feel Harry smile against his face and a smiling Harry was the best present he could have.

"Harry, you do know it doesn't matter to me whether you are a virgin or not? It's still you I want to be with."

"I know, Severus. But now our wedding night is going to be even more special for us, isn't it?"

"It will be special, Harry. I'll be with you."



Chapter 35: Dark Angel
Part 35



Severus woke up in the middle of the night; Harry's side of the bed was empty and the sheets were chilled where he had been. Harry had obviously been out of bed for some time. There was a small sliver of light from underneath the ensuite bathroom door. Severus padded over on bare feet and knocked on the door. "Harry? Are you all right?"

His only response was the sound of Harry throwing up. Severus knocked again and tried the handle, the door was open.

"Harry, I'm coming in, all right?" He didn't want to invade Harry's privacy but he didn't want to leave him to suffer alone if he was ill either. Severus pushed the door open. Harry was kneeling in front of the toilet bowl, one elbow leaning on the bath, his head bowed over the porcelain. He turned round on hearing Severus enter. He had an unhealthy flush to his cheeks and his hair was pasted to his face in sweaty strands.

Harry turned back to the toilet and threw up once more before flushing it and standing up on none-too-steady feet. Severus caught him round the waist as Harry went to the sink to wash his hands and rinse out his mouth. The heat emanating from Harry's body was like being right next to a furnace. Harry was sweating, but he was shivering too. "So cold, Severus," he mumbled.

"You're burning up," said Severus as he placed the back of his hand to Harry's forehead. "Let's get you back to bed. Any other symptoms?"

"You sound like Madam Pomfrey," Harry began to laugh, but it soon turned into a wracking cough and he clutched at Severus' arm to keep himself upright. "I don't feel so good, Severus," Harry admitted. "My head hurts, and my chest."

Severus had plenty of potions, but he wasn't sure which ones Harry would need without a diagnosis; he wasn't a medi-wizard. They had no way of contacting anyone by Floo so help from Madam Pomfrey was out unless they sent an owl, but that would take a few days to get to Hogwarts and back; the same with any of the Healers from St. Mungo's.

"Harry, do you know what's wrong with you? Can you do a scanning spell?"

"No, I tried, my magic's messed up. Can - can you call Dr. Armstrong?"

Harry was gasping for breath by the time he'd finished speaking. Severus scooped the boy up in his arms and carried him back to bed, laying him down on top of the covers. Harry lay there, shivering as if he was freezing, but if anything the temperature of the room was on the warm side.

"Isn't she a psychiatrist?" Severus couldn't imagine what use a psychiatrist would be in this instance; it was obviously a physical illness, not mental. Harry must have been feeling terrible if he'd requested a doctor.

"Yes, but Muggle psychiatrists train as doctors first before they specialise," wheezed Harry. "Please, Severus. It's getting difficult to breathe."

Severus was on the bedside telephone in an instant; he apologised profusely for disturbing the woman this late and at Christmas too, but she was very gracious about it and promised to be there as soon as she could. She was staying in York, so at least she wasn't travelling all the way up from London.

Once he'd replaced the phone, Severus dampened a flannel with cold water and bathed Harry's forehead and chest. The boy had a fever; there was no doubt about that. He just hoped this Dr. Armstrong would be able to do something about it. He daren't give him any potions in case they interfered with any tests or Muggle medicine the woman might give him.

Less than an hour after he had telephoned, the front doorbell rang and it took a few moments for Severus to realise what the sound was. They'd never had any visitors before and he just wished their first one hadn't needed to be a doctor.

Severus squeezed Harry's hand just before he went to answer the door, reassuring him without speaking. What could he say? Severus almost ran down the stairs in his haste and swung the door open. "Mr. Snape? I'm Dr. Armstrong."

"Please come in, Doctor," said Severus, holding the door wide. The woman was younger than he expected, maybe around Severus' own age or even younger. Long, brown hair was tied back in a pony tail and she was wearing a pair of jeans and underneath the open wool coat he could see a brown jumper. The only thing that marked her out as a doctor was the small black case she was carrying.

"Call me Ellen," she said. "Where's Harry?"

"Upstairs. He has a fever; I don't know how high, we've no thermometer here. I'm sorry again to call you out like this but we've only just moved in and we didn't know any other doctors."

"You're Harry's guardian?" she asked as they walked upstairs. The woman was probably only trying to make conversation, but Severus' felt warning bells ringing in his head. How did he explain his relationship to Harry? That they were lovers but hadn't yet gone all the way? Some Muggles, just like some Wizardkind, did not approve of same-sex relationships; but marriages between men in the wizarding world were legal, whereas in the Muggle world there was no such concept.

"No, I'm his - we are -” Severus wasn't quite sure how to continue.

"Oh," she said. "I see." Severus wasn't sure, but he thought he saw a flicker of disapproval in her eyes before they entered the master bedroom. The doctor's eyes at once took in the large double bed and the two trunks sitting side by side at the foot of it along with the fact that both sides of the bed were rumpled and slept in. It was pretty obvious that both of them had been sharing the bed.

"Well, Harry. What have you done to yourself, eh?" she smiled down at him and set her bag on the bed. The woman removed a stethoscope and hung it round her neck. "Mr. Snape, it's probably best if you waited outside while I examine Harry."

"No, please, can Severus stay with me?"

"If that's what you want, Harry."

"It is, please."

"Very well, Mr. Snape, you may stay."

"Thank you. You may call me Severus."

Severus had surprised himself; it wasn't often that he gave up his name, but there was just something about this woman that inspired trust. There must be for Harry not to make a fuss every time he went to see her. When he'd been having the counselling sessions with Poppy he'd made all kinds of fuss about going to them. He just hoped his trust wasn't misplaced and that she could help Harry.

"Very well, Severus. Can you help Harry sit up for me?"

Severus did as she bade him and she smiled at him. "I want to listen to his chest, but I think Harry is going to be fine. There's been a lot of 'flu going round lately. Deep breath in for me, Harry. And out."

Harry obeyed and the noise sounded terrible, his breath rattling in his chest. Severus felt his own chest tighten in sympathy.

"How else have you been, Harry?" asked the doctor once she'd removed the stethoscope. "Nausea? Dizziness?"

"Sick. I've been throwing up and was a bit light-headed. Headache. Feel as - as if I can't breathe. My bones ache."

The doctor examined the sides of Harry's neck, his armpits and groin. Severus almost stopped her touching Harry there, before he realised that it was just part of the medical exam. Harry didn't seem that bothered by it. "Well, your glands aren't swollen. Can you move your neck for me?" Harry moved his head from side to side. "And up and down." Harry did that too with no problem. She took out a small penlight from her bag and shone it in Harry's eyes before rolling up his sleeves and searching his arms for something.

"Yes, it does seem to be 'flu, Harry. I was worried it might have been meningitis, but you don't have the rash or the photophobia. It's compounded by a bit of a chest cold as well, that's why you're having trouble breathing. There's not a lot that can be done except alleviate the symptoms. Are you allergic to any medication?"

"I - I don't know." admitted Harry. "My - my relatives never took me to a doctor before."

Dr. Armstrong glanced from Harry to Severus. "Severus, can I talk to you outside for a moment?"

Harry looked completely panic-stricken at the fact that Severus was leaving. Severus stroked sweaty hair away from Harry's forehead. "It's okay, Harry. I'll only be outside. We'll be back soon."

He followed the doctor out into the hall. She whirled round to face him. "Just what the hell is going on here? I've been treating Harry for post-traumatic stress for the past few months and I find him living with someone who is a lot older than him! Harry is nowhere near ready for a sexual relationship and this could end up putting his recovery back even more! And what's this about never seeing a doctor? How could someone go through seventeen years of life without needing some sort of medical care, even if it was just for a cold?"

"He has had medical treatment at school."

"Then why doesn't he know about different medications and whether or not he's allergic to them?"

"Because he's never been given any. Hogwarts has more of an herbal-based infirmary."

"Herbal based? Next you'll be telling me Harry is a witch and can fly around on a broomstick!"

Severus was silent but his guilty flush gave him away.

"Oh my God, it's true! Isn't it? Harry kept going on and on how his relatives kept mistreating him for being different, for being a freak, but I thought he meant it was because he was gay. That wasn't it though, was it? Harry was different from them. Different from me and you." She looked at him and paused. "No, not different from you. You're magical too, aren't you? I sensed something from both of you, but I had no idea what it was."

Was Ellen Armstrong one of those Muggles who were more sensitive to things around them? There was no point in hiding the truth from her, especially considering that Wizarding physiology was a lot different from that of Muggles and there was no telling what effect Muggle medication might have on a wizard.

"Harry and I are both wizards, yes. He's never had any Muggle medication and it might be dangerous. If you tell me what type of medication he needs, I can give it to him."

"Magic potions?" she queried with a smile.

"As a matter of fact, yes," replied Severus deadpan.

She didn't faint or even seem at all shocked. "Very well, he'll need something to bring his temperature down, a panacea for the aches and a chest decongestant for starters."

"I'll need to brew the chest decongestant, but I have the others already."

Her eyes widened. "You brew it? In a cauldron?" She sounded very curious for a Muggle.

"Yes, would you like to see our laboratory?"

"If you wouldn't mind, I've been reading up a bit on complementary therapies lately, it sounds very interesting."

Severus reined in the snort; Muggle complementary therapies were as different from potions as black was from white.

"Very well, just let me give Harry his potions and I can show you."

Severus pushed open the bedroom door and went straight to his trunk to fish out the willow-bark tea and a Body-Ease Potion. "Did you hear all of that?" asked Severus as he watched Harry take both doses of liquid.

"I did. She doesn't seem surprised, does she?" said Harry once he'd finished and set the bottles down on the bedside cabinet.

"Will you be okay for a little while, Harry? It'll take me about an hour to brew the decongestant for you."

"I'll be fine; I'll try and sleep for a bit. Don't shout at her if she touches your equipment, will you?"

"I'll do my best," smirked Severus as he kissed Harry's rather hot forehead. The willow bark should lower his temperature soon and he hoped Harry would be able to get a little sleep.

"Sleep well, Imp," he smiled down at his soon-to-be husband. He wanted nothing better than to climb into bed beside him and hug him close, but they had a visitor. A Muggle who was more intrigued than frightened of them. Severus never thought he'd see the day when he would be showing off his potions lab to a Muggle.

It was certainly turning out to be a strange Christmas.


TBC

A/N: The law in the UK has recently changed and gay civil marriages can happen now, but at the timeline for HP this story would be around 1996/97, so Muggle gay marriages weren't legal then.


Chapter 36: Dark Angel
Part 36


Severus led Ellen Armstrong downstairs to the basement once Harry had indeed fallen into a fitful sleep; he would try not to be away from him for too long but already his mind was working on the potion long before they got to the lab.

He was quite proud of it; it was as good as any professional lab and much better than the one at Hogwarts. Without space needed for student workbenches, Severus had gone to town and had installed everything that he'd ever need. There were cauldrons by the dozen; sitting on shelves lined around the room or hanging from hooks on the ceiling. Harry had insisted Severus buy all the best of everything; he now had a couple of gold and platinum-based cauldrons that he would never have dared to use at school. Not only was there incompetence to contend with, gold and platinum would have been worth stealing.

Three storage cupboards held nearly every ingredient he would ever need; those that he needed fresh were kept with preserving charms that he and Harry had added into the wood. It was intricate magic; some things needed to be kept damp or dry; warm or cold, but each storage cupboard could keep everything in its optimum environment without needing separate cupboards per ingredient. It was a lot more efficient than the one hot and cold cupboard Severus had at school.

There were two fireplaces at either end of the room, as well as three small firepits set into both workbenches for those potions that only required a small cauldron.

"Wow," said Ellen. "I've never seen anything like it. You really are a wizard, aren't you?"

"Did you doubt it?" Severus removed his wand and lit one of the smaller firepits. The woman's eyes almost popped out of her head.

"And a magic wand! Wait until my friends hear about this!"

Severus face darkened. "Your friends will never know, Dr. Armstrong. If you are not prepared to keep our secrets, I have ways of doing that for you." She couldn't have mistaken the threat in his voice, or the fact that his wand was pointing straight at her.

"Ellen, please. And I was only joking about the friends part," she eyed a stool and dragged it over to the workbench while Severus acquired a cauldron, ingredients and knives. "I'll just sit here and not bother you. Do you always have to heat potions?"

"I am not normally in the habit of conversing while I brew," he said. "It takes concentration."

"Oh, right. Sorry."

There was blessed silence for a few moments; the only noise came from Severus' dicing and chopping, but it seemed the woman couldn't keep quiet for too long. How did Harry cope? Did he go to his sessions and just let the woman talk over him?

"That's sage, isn't it? And feverfew?"

"You know your herbs, doctor. Ellen," he amended on seeing her chagrined look.

"A little."

She was quiet until Severus had finished brewing his potion and began washing up his cauldron and knives in one of the large sinks on one wall.

"Can't you use magic for washing up?" she asked.

"Not for implements used in potion brewing; the magic of cleaning spells can have disastrous effects with the potion's magic. Now for dinner dishes, that's another matter."

"So - so it is magic, then? Potions, it's not just like cookery?"

"No, it is not just like cookery," said Severus as he rubbed the knife dry rather more briskly than was warranted; he was afraid that if he didn't, he would be tempted to aim for her throat. Muggles were one thing. Curious, ignorant Muggles were quite another, but he would put up with her if only for Harry's sake.

"I'll take this up to Harry," said Severus, lifting up the bottled potion. "And after that, I suppose you ought to be getting back to York?"

"First, I want to talk to you about Harry. About your relationship."

"My relationship with Harry is no one else's business but our own."

"I'm afraid I have to disagree with you there, Severus. Especially considering Harry's past history and the inappropriate relationships he was in."

"I would hardly call being raped and whored by his uncle a relationship, would you?"

"So he told you? Everything?" For the first time tonight, the woman actually showed some surprise.

"I probably know more about it than you do."

"Look, I'm not here to pass judgement --"

"No? Aren't you? I can see you disapprove just from your expression. Harry is over the age of consent, he can decide who he wants to be with and he wants to be with me."

"No, Severus, I'm not. I'm just worried about Harry. Afraid that he is unable to form attachments with people his own age because of what happened to him. That he's turned to you as someone older because that is the only way he can relate, the only way he can envision having sex. He doesn't know any other way. And I still don't think he is ready for a sexual relationship; he has quite a way to go yet."

"We are not actually doing anything physical yet besides kiss," said Severus, feeling the heat creep into his cheeks. "For want of a better word, we are engaged and it is all very formal in the Wizarding world. No sex until the wedding night."

"I see. But you are sharing a bed?"

"That is really none of your business, but for your information, we are doing so as Harry likes to be touched for comfort."

"I'm sorry if I spoke out of turn, but I was just worried about him."

"There's no need to be worried. I love him and that should be enough for anyone."

***

Harry woke up feeling as if he had a goldfish bowl stuck on his head. Everything around him seemed fuzzy and distant, as if he was seeing and hearing things through a wobbly pane of glass. The room was dark except for a small Lumos cast by the end of Severus' wand. Severus trailed his hand along Harry's cheek again.

"Sorry to wake you, Harry. I have your potion."

Harry nodded and tried to sit up; he felt too weak and exhausted though, it felt as though all his limbs were made of soggy spaghetti. Severus hoisted him up and tipped Harry's head back before allowing three drops of the potion to fall into Harry's mouth. It almost burned his tongue and he gagged at the horrible taste. Now that he was training under Madam Pomfrey Harry knew about additives sometimes rendering potions ineffective, but that didn't make them any easier to swallow.

Severus was ready with a glass of water which Harry downed gratefully. "Thanks, Severus," he mumbled sleepily. His eyelids were drooping again already and he'd barely been awake for five minutes. "Is Dr. Armstrong gone?"

"Yes, she left about ten minutes ago. We can talk about it in the morning, Imp. Now get some sleep."

Harry was so tired that he had no trouble obeying the order, but he did wonder what they were going to be talking about.

His dreams that night were weird, but thankfully not nightmares. He was restless though and he kept waking up, feeling too hot sometimes and then too cold. When it happened, Severus would hold him close and kiss his neck until Harry fell asleep again without the aid of any more potions. Harry liked it; he liked knowing that Severus was there in the bed with him, looking after him. It felt so good to be looked after when he was ill. It was comforting and a lot different from how he had been treated while he was growing up.

The next few days passed by in a bit of a blur. Severus wouldn't let him out of bed except to go to the bathroom and even though Harry didn't have much of an appetite, Severus brought him every meal in bed. Harry couldn't keep much down besides soup and juice. Severus brought him some hot drinks to soothe his throat, but the hot drinks only made Harry feel nauseous, so then he stuck to cold ones, especially after his potions.

It wasn't until New Year's Eve that Harry actually felt well enough to get up and open his presents. Severus even allowed him downstairs, but made sure that Harry was ensconced on the sofa with his feet up and his lower half wrapped up in a blanket. Harry felt as if he was inside his very own cocoon.

All the presents were still underneath the tree. "You didn't open yours yet?" asked Harry.

"No, I wanted to wait for you so we could open them together." Severus patted Harry's legs then rummaged under the tree. He levitated a pile of parcels over to the sofa and settled them on the floor by Harry's hands. Harry removed Severus' presents to one side, wanting to leave them for last. Harry received the usual Weasley jumper, this time in emerald green with a golden snitch on the front; mince pies from Hagrid which he decided not to taste quite yet; a quill and ink set from Hermione; a skiving snackbox from the twins; three new journals from Madam Pomfrey; chocolate frogs and the largest box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans that he had ever seen from Ron. Did Ron think he wasn't going to get fed this holiday or something? Harry smiled as he set them down and then lifted up the largest of Severus' presents. It was heavy and he grunted a bit as he heaved it onto his lap.

Severus was looking very nervous as Harry unwrapped it; as if he wasn't quite sure whether or not Harry would like it. Once he'd ripped the paper, Harry was left with a cedar wood box, decorated with Ancient Runes: healing and protection spells.

"Open it," urged Severus and he seemed almost as excited as Harry.

There was a small lock with a brass key at the front; Harry twisted it and opened the lid. Inside there were square dividers, eighteen in all and each one held a bottle of potion that Harry knew Severus had brewed. He lifted out a few vials, seeing if he could recognise any from the aroma and colours alone, as none of them were labelled.

"It's an apothecary box," explained Severus. "All Healers are expected to have one and keep it stocked with healing potions for emergencies." Severus was kneeling on the floor by Harry.

"It's beautiful, Severus, thank you," Harry leaned down and gave Severus a soft peck on the cheek. "Now you've got to open yours." If Severus had seemed nervous about giving Harry his present, it was nothing to how Harry was feeling. He'd been so busy that he hadn't been able to go shopping and had bought Severus' present by Owl Order; he just hoped the man liked it.

Severus did the same as Harry and moved Harry's present aside, before opening the rest. Severus had another Weasley jumper this year but instead of a bat, it had a cauldron on the front. Severus too was the recipient of some of Hagrid's cooking and smart man that he was, set them aside. Severus' eyes were very bright as he unwrapped the gaudy red and green paper and Harry held his breath.

Severus held out the book; holding it by just two fingers as if afraid he would damage it. The book was very rare and Harry was lucky to have found a copy. He'd heard Severus mentioning it a few times when Harry had some questions about Potions. From Asphodel to Wormwood had been written in the eighteenth century, and it was still the basis for a lot of today's potion-making.

Severus opened the book and gasped. "You managed to get a signed first edition?"

"Only the best for my husband," smiled Harry.

Severus laughed. "Not your husband yet, Imp."

"No, but soon," Harry grinned. "Very soon."

Severus leaned over him and the two of them forgot about presents and food for the moment; too intent on tasting each other.



Chapter 37: Dark Angel
Part 37


Returning to school after their holiday seemed a little bit of a let-down. Harry had been so used to having Severus' company all to himself and now he had to share it with the other students and the staff as well. It wasn't the same, and after every tutoring session Harry just wanted to curl up in the man's lap and be kissed senseless again and again, but they couldn't really afford the time. A few minutes each time was just not enough. Harry was craving the man's mouth, craving his touch and sometimes he felt as if he was going mad. June could not come soon enough.

He'd had his last meeting with Dr. Armstrong at the end of January. She seemed to think he would do fine on his own now and had even wished him and Severus well on their forthcoming wedding. Harry wondered if she would have been so supportive if she'd known Severus was his teacher. He didn't bother to enlighten her on that fact; he was still miffed that she'd talked to Severus about her worries about the age difference and he was just glad when he could finally leave that office forever. It was none of her business.

In Potions lessons he was distracted as he spent half the time staring at Severus, wondering when he would next get to feel those lips on his and reminiscing about the last time he'd felt it. Harry's cock was getting very well acquainted both with his hands; and his pillows; and his mattress and if truth be told, it was rather sore these days. He'd brewed his own lubricant, not wanting to ask Severus for one, but he was still sore there. Despite that, he still couldn't help making it worse after Severus' teasing kisses or even just after the way the man stared at him when he thought no one else was looking.

There was heat in those dark eyes and a need that Harry was sure Severus could see in his own face. They were going to go mad at this rate. Harry felt so out of control around the man and he was sure other people could sense it. Sometimes when Harry was in another class, he felt the flare of arousal and then the completion that bore no relation to what he was doing at the time. He finally figured it out: it was Severus masturbating and Harry could sometimes feel it through the bond. He wondered if Severus could sense the same from him too and he resolved to put on a show. Each time he shouted Severus' name as he came; wanting Severus to know that it was him he thought of when he touched himself, that he wanted it to be Severus who was touching him.

"A knut for them, Harry," said Hermione, reaching across him and lifting up the salt cellar.

"Hmm? What?" Harry dragged his eyes away from the top table where he had been avidly watching Severus devour a lettuce leaf; the tongue sweeping out to lick Severus' lips, reminding Harry very vividly of the day before when Severus had used those same lips on Harry's mouth and neck to drive him to distraction. He swallowed, but his mouth had gone dry, and turned to Hermione.

"You were miles away," said Hermione. "What were you thinking about?"

Harry could no more have stopped the blush than he could have stopped the sun from setting.

Hermione giggled. "Never mind, I thought you were worried about the NEWTs or something."

"The exams are months away," said Harry. He knew how many months, how many days and right down to the hour when he would no longer be a student and he wasn't worried. He'd worked hard and he anticipated doing well.

"I know," she shrugged and leaned in close. "You stare at him a lot, you know."

"Am I that obvious? He probably hates it that I go all moonstruck over him."

"I don't think so, he watches you as well. I think it's romantic, anyone can tell the two of you are in love."

The Howlers had dwindled to a trickle before Christmas and now at the beginning of February, they seemed to have stopped altogether. Harry wished the whole world didn't take such an interest in his love life, but that was like wishing for the moon and the stars. He was a celebrity whether he wanted to be or not and celebrity sells newspapers. He just wanted to be left alone to be happy, was that too much to ask?

After dinner, Professor McGonagall stopped by Harry's table and requested to see him in her office.

"I have a tutoring session with Professor Snape," said Harry.

"I know, Harry. He will be meeting with us as well," the woman looked very grave and Harry felt as if he'd just swallowed a large boulder. Whatever she had to say, Harry didn't think it would be good news.

***

Severus waited for Harry in Minerva's office; the tea in his hand cooling as he waited. He hadn't drunk any of it and he had the impression that Minerva had only made the tea so that the three of them would have something to do while they waited for Harry to appear. Poppy was standing by Fawkes' perch; her face as pale as her apron. None of them were sitting down and each of them were avoiding staring at the item on the table. Severus felt chilled to his bones; there was a horrible sinking feeling in his guts.

It hadn't been long since Dr. Armstrong had stopped giving Harry therapy and Severus wondered if they were going to need the woman here tonight; it was the reason Poppy was here after all. They had no idea how Harry was going to react and Severus hoped the news wouldn't make him feel worse; he'd been doing so well lately.

There was a timid knocking on the door and Minerva waved the door open. Harry stood there, still in his school robes but he'd left his rucksack of books behind tonight. Severus knew that no matter what happened, there wouldn't be a tutoring session this evening. Even if Harry felt up to it after the news, Severus wasn't sure that he would.

"Good evening, Harry," said Minerva. "Have a seat."

Harry sat down on the chair next to Severus and clasped his hands in his lap. Severus could sense his worry through the bond. Harry's eyes went directly to the small cube on the headmistress' desk and he glanced anxiously at Madam Pomfrey, no doubt wondering what she was doing here.

"I thought it best if you didn't hear the news on your own, Harry," said Minerva. "That's why I asked Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey to be here."

Harry nodded as if he understood and his face was as pale as moonlight; a large stripe of firelight across his cheeks and nose made his skin there seem orange.

"Madam Bones from the Ministry of Magic sent these to us today," said Minerva, indicating the cube.

Harry swallowed nervously. "Is that - is that -?"

Severus squeezed his hands. "Yes, Harry. It was the evidence in the case. The videos, the journals."

"Oh God, I think I'm gonna be sick," Harry turned aside and even though he retched quite spectacularly, he didn't actually vomit.

Poppy handed him a glass of water and rubbed his back as Harry sipped at the liquid. Severus felt jealousy flare in his chest at the gesture, even though he knew it was impossible that there was anything between Harry and Poppy. He hadn't lied when he'd told Harry the bond made him possessive; he wondered if it was the same for Harry.

Harry set down the glass and looked at each of them in turn, paying particular attention to Poppy. "You all thought I was going to lose it, didn't you?" he asked with a sigh. "That's why you're all here. Afraid I'm going to go crazy again."

"Harry, you were never crazy," insisted Poppy. "You were suffering from post-traumatic stress. But we were worried how seeing these items again might affect you. Considering what happened last time."

"Why did Madam Bones send them to me? Don't the Ministry deal with evidence like this?"

"Usually, yes," said Severus. "The court case is over now and she thought you might like to be the one to destroy them."

"It's over? What happened to - to them?" asked Harry.

"Tried, convicted, Obliviated and sent to prison."

"Obliviated?" screeched Harry. "You mean to tell me that those men get to forget what they did to me? That they'll live happily ever after and not even remember what they did? They raped me and you're telling me they get to forget all about it? What sort of justice is that when I remember it all the bloody time?"

"Harry, we thought it was for the best at the time, so they wouldn't keep thinking about you," said Severus and Harry rounded on him.

"You thought it? It was your idea to have them Obliviated? I wanted them to remember! I wanted them to wake up from nightmares every night about what they'd done! I wanted them to remember me and hate themselves for what they did to me!"

"Harry, that was never going to happen. They didn't feel guilty over what they'd done; they would never have had nightmares about it. If they had dreams, they wouldn't have been nightmares; they would have been erotic dreams. They -"

"Severus!" exclaimed Poppy. "That's enough! Harry's distraught enough as it is!"

"He needs to know, Poppy. He needs to know what sort of monsters those men were."

"Stop it! Just stop it!" screamed Harry. "I can't deal with this right now. I can't!" Harry rushed out and fled downstairs.

Severus made to go after him, but Poppy laid a hand on his arm. "Let him be, Severus. He needs some time on his own."

Severus wasn't entirely sure that was the case. Harry left on his own meant he would have plenty of time to think and remember what he'd been through with those people.

He wondered if Madam Bones sending the records was something of a mistake. Maybe it would have been better if the Ministry had destroyed them quietly and Harry wouldn't have had to face this yet again.

***

Harry didn't come to Severus' rooms later; Severus waited till midnight then went searching the dorms himself. Harry's door was open and he wasn't in his room, but there was an envelope on the bed with Severus' name scrawled on the front, as if it had been written in a hurry.

Severus ripped it open and felt his heart sink to somewhere near his feet at the words written there.

Severus, I'm sorry. I can't do this any more.

It wasn't signed, but Severus would know the handwriting anywhere.




Chapter 38: Dark Angel
Part 38


Severus stared at the words for a few moments, but the letters didn’t change, didn’t suddenly make any more sense to him. Severus, I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore. How could anyone have missed how upset Harry was? The psychiatrist; Poppy; Harry’s friends and of course Severus himself. Shouldn’t he have known that Harry wasn’t happy? Had Harry just been pretending he was well all this time?

Severus couldn’t forget the boy’s words in Minerva’s office: that Harry thought about the abuse every day, that he dreamed about it every night. He grabbed the note from the bed and began pounding on the doors to all the sixth year dorms, maybe one of the students would at least know where Harry might have gone.

Severus refused to think the note was anything other than a message from someone who was running away. He refused to think of that other, darker possibility. Harry wouldn’t do anything like that. He wouldn’t.

Hermione Granger came out of Ron Weasley’s room with a blush that could have powered a small town and Neville Longbottom emerged from Draco’s room, the blond boy’s arm draped around his shoulder. Severus was too concerned for Harry to worry about this flagrant disregard of the rule about fraternising with other students.

Severus didn’t show any of them the note; he didn’t want his fears realised. “Do any of you know where Harry Potter is?” he demanded, his eyes raking over each of them.

Hermione and Ron exchanged significant looks with each other and seemed decidedly guilty. Did they know where Harry had gone? Had Harry confided in them when he hadn’t confided in Severus? He squashed down the envy that thought engendered in his chest. Harry should have come to him. “You two, come with me,” ordered Severus. He didn’t bother about sending the other students back to bed; they would probably be too het up to sleep now anyway.

Hermione tightened the belt of her dressing gown and made her way down the corridor to Severus’ office but Ron was still standing by the entrance to his dorm. “You as well, Mr. Weasley.”

“Yes, sir. Just a moment.” Before Severus could object, Ron had gone into Harry’s room and emerged clutching a grubby piece of parchment, then stopped in his own room to pick up his wand. The parchment seemed familiar, but Severus couldn’t remember where he’d seen it before.

Severus ushered him down the corridor and into his office. Hermione Granger was standing by the desk as if she was one of the miscreant students Severus usually saw in his office. Her face was pale and she looked worried.

“Talk,” commanded Severus. “Do you know where he is?”

“No, sir,” they both replied. “But this might help,” said Ron. He set the parchment down on the desk and pointed his wand at it. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” Miniscule writing emerged on the front of the parchment.

“What is this?”

“It’s the Marauder’s Map, sir,” replied Hermione. “It shows where everyone is in the castle.”

“Everyone?” Severus lifted the map from the desk and perused the named dots; none of them were Harry. “What if he isn’t on here? Does that mean he isn’t in the castle?” How could any student leave the castle at night? All the Floos in the common rooms were disconnected at night; no one could Apparate in our out except for the elves and Portkeys had to be authorised by the headmistress. Not to mention that Filch and Hagrid had the place locked tight every night after curfew.

“What about the Room of Requirement?” asked Hermione. “Could he be in there?”

Severus didn’t bother commenting, but he was curious. How on earth had students discovered one of the castle’s most closely-guarded secrets and what on Earth would they need such a room for? Considering the fact that many students hadn’t been in their own beds tonight, it certainly wasn’t for privacy.

“No, the Room only appears on the Map if it’s in use,” said Ron. “Harry said so.”

Severus glanced down at the Map in his hand and realised the boy was right; the Room wasn’t visible anywhere on the Map.

“So if he isn’t in the castle and this Map is accurate, where did he go? And how did he get out of the castle?”

“The Map is accurate, sir. Very accurate. Harry - Harry’s father and his friends made it.”

Well, wasn’t that just typical? The Marauders weren’t even here and they still managed to get Harry involved in their little schemes.

“Um - er - probably one of the secret passages to Hogsmeade,” said Ron.

“Why on earth would he go to Hogsmeade?” queried Hermione.

“Why would he run away at all, Hermione?”

“Harry received some distressing news this evening,” replied Severus.

“Oh, right. Professor McGonagall wanted to see him after dinner. No one has seen him since he came back. He went to his room and we guessed he wanted to be alone.”

“So no one saw him leave his room at any time, Miss Granger?”

“No, sir, but he might have used his invisibility cloak.”

Severus swayed a little on his feet as a wave of nausea rushed over him. It took him a few seconds to realise it was coming through the bond; it was Harry who was feeling ill. Severus breathed in and tried to clear his mind of all thoughts and sensation except for those concerning Harry. He’d never used the bond to track Harry’s whereabouts before; he hadn’t needed to and he wasn’t even sure if it would work or not. He had a sense of cold, of darkness, of foul smells that it was difficult to discern.

“Tell me, Mr. Weasley. Why would any student want to sneak out to Hogsmeade in the middle of the night, considering all the shops are shut at this hour?”

“To get drunk?” suggested Weasley with a flush to his face. “The pubs aren’t shut.”

“But Harry doesn’t drink, Ron!” protested Hermione. “You know how against it he is! After his uncle -” she paused then, but she wouldn’t have been revealing anything Severus didn’t already know. He knew Harry didn’t consider himself a drinker, but after seeing that cube tonight, wouldn’t anyone have been tempted to find oblivion in whatever way came easiest to hand?

“I am going to Hogsmeade, you two get back to bed and not a word about this to anyone. The last thing Harry needs right now is more gossip.”

“We won’t sir, thank you, sir,” said Hermione grabbing her boyfriend by the arm and dragging him back to the dorms. He wondered briefly if they’d be going back to their own beds, but somehow he doubted it.

Severus made his way to his quarters, thankful at least that his own Floo was working and Flooed directly to The Three Broomsticks. Madam Rosmerta greeted him from the bar. “There you are, Professor. Thank Merlin, I was just about to Floo Hogwarts for someone to come and get him.”

“He is here then?” Severus’ heart beat frantically against his chest in relief.

“I just put him in the back room to sleep it off. This way.” The woman parted some curtains and Severus saw Harry lying curled up on a tatty couch.

“Did you serve alcohol to a minor, Rosmerta?”

“What do you take me for? Of course I didn’t! Harry came in here already three sheets to the wind. He threw up over two of my best chairs and then just fell over. I don’t know what he’s had, but it’s something a lot stronger than butterbeer, that’s for sure. It’s The Hogs Head, they’ll serve anyone as long as the money’s there, no questions asked. Please don’t be too hard on him, Professor. They all try it sometime. Mind you, with the head he’ll have in the morning, he probably won’t want to try it again any time soon.”

A blanket had been draped round Harry’s sleeping form, reminding Severus of when Harry had been ill with ‘flu over Christmas, but this illness had been self-inflicted. It surprised Severus, especially considering Harry’s past with a drunken man. How could he have even walked into a pub at night on his own? Wasn’t he scared?

“Thank you for looking after him, Rosmerta. I’ll take him back to school now.”

“Remember, don’t be too hard on him,” she said. “I remember another seventeen-year-old who got himself into a bit of a pickle.” She was smiling now.

“Yes, well, the least said about that the better.” Severus knelt down and caressed Harry’s forehead. “Wake up, Imp. It’s time to go home.”

Harry’s eyes fluttered open and he groaned in pain. “Come on, Harry. Let’s get you home.”

“I’m sorry, Severus. I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it,” Harry gabbled as he clung to Severus’ arms.

“Ssh, Harry. It’s all right. We all get drunk now and again. What did you drink?”

Harry shook his head, tears sliding down his face.

“Severus! He’s going blue!” exclaimed Rosmerta. “He isn’t drunk! Oh, Severus, I’m sorry! I didn’t know; I just assumed he was drunk!”

“Harry! What did you take?” Severus shook Harry by the arms, worry and anger flaring in the pit of his stomach.

“D- don’t know,” gasped Harry. “P - potion.”

“What potion? What was it?” he demanded, but Harry couldn’t answer. His eyes rolled back in his head and he went as limp as a rag doll in Severus’ arms. Severus scooped him up and ran to the fireplace in the taproom. Rosmerta cast the Floo powder in and Severus roared his destination to the flames. “Hogwarts Infirmary!”

He stumbled out at the other end, almost dropping Harry from his arms. “POPPY!” he screamed as loud as he could, uncaring whether or not he woke any other patients who may have been in the wing. Poppy came out of her bedroom; dressing gown flapping behind her as she rushed over to them.

“Severus, what is it? What’s wrong?”

“It’s Harry! He’s taken something, I don’t know what! Rosmerta thought he was drunk, but he isn’t. It’s something else.”

“Here, set him down on the bed for me, Severus, that’s it, that’s it,” she soothed him as if he was one of her patients. Severus was finding it difficult to let Harry go. “Have you no idea what he’s taken, Severus? None at all?”

“No, he fainted before he could tell me. Some sort of potion – it could be anything. He will be all right, won’t he, Poppy?”

She didn’t answer him for a while. “It depends on how long ago he took the potion and how soon we can figure out what it was for the antidote to be administered. You should go and rest, Severus. There isn’t a lot you can do tonight.”

“I’m not leaving him, Poppy. I’m not.”



Chapter 39: Dark Angel
Part 39


Harry felt as if he'd thrown up half his insides in the past few days and it still hadn't stopped. He came to dread every time Madam Pomfrey approached him with another dose of antidote for the potion he'd taken and he vowed never to do anything so foolish ever again. Harry had no idea what possessed him to buy it from a stranger in The Hogs Head; he was betrothed to a Potions Master; he knew how dangerous it was to sample unknown potions. But at the time it had seemed the sensible thing; and it had been suggested rather forcefully to him that it was what he should do. He hadn't told anyone else about the voices in his head; he was too afraid of being sent to St. Mungo's, but the truth was it was the voice who told him to leave the note for Severus, to buy that potion and drink it. It was almost as if he'd been compelled to do it; but how could that be? Harry was very resistant to the Imperius Curse.

Three days after he'd taken the potion, Madam Pomfrey pulled up a chair beside his bed and sat down on it. The matron looked as if she hadn't slept in days and Harry felt renewed guilt gnawing at what little insides he had left. He hadn't meant to worry anybody, but that's all he seemed to do lately. He was going crazy; he wondered how long it would be before everyone around him noticed that he was not as sane as he had hoped.

"Talk to me, Harry, or do I need to send you to St. Mungo's? They have plenty of therapists in the closed ward, you know. Why did you try to kill yourself?"

"What? I didn't!" That hadn't been what Harry was trying to do at all; but that dodgy potion had almost killed him anyway. "I wasn't trying to kill myself!"

"No? You think taking strange potions from even stranger characters will help your health, do you?"

Harry closed his eyes and breathed rapidly; this was so mortifying, it was the reason he sought out a stranger for the potion rather than confide in Madam Pomfrey or even Severus. His only excuse was that he wasn't thinking straight at the time; his condition was making sure of that.

Harry opened his eyes and stared directly at the medi-witch. "I wasn't trying to kill myself, Madam Pomfrey, you have to believe that. I - I was trying to make it stop."

"Oh, Harry," she said and patted his hand. "You were taking potions to forget about everything and you accidentally overdosed?"

He shook his head. "No. I was trying to make it stop," Harry said, waving a hand in the general direction of his groin. He was sure he was the colour of a tomato by now. "I'm - I'm hard nearly all the time and it hurts! It hurts so much!"

Poppy blushed, but it soon subsided and she was back to being the professional. "Have you tried to take care of it in the normal way?" she asked briskly.

Harry nodded miserably. "That only helps for a little while. I - I've been masturbating seven or eight times a day and it just won't go down!" Even as Harry spoke, his erection was tenting the bedclothes. "I'm going mad, please can you do something?"

"You should have come to me or Severus about this in the first place and not gone haring off taking strange potions."

"I know, I'm sorry. I won't do it again."

"Can you have an orgasm?" she asked then and Harry thought he would surely die from embarrassment; could this conversation get any more surreal?

"Sometimes, but sometimes I can't and it just stays hard. I - I feel sore," admitted Harry; it felt as though his face was burning. "From trying so much."

"Harry, dear, please don't be embarrassed about this. This is a medical problem just like having a broken leg is a medical problem. It's called priapism, and you should have come to me as soon as this happened, it's an emergency. We need to get the blood flow away as soon as possible. The blood vessels could be damaged already."

The woman waved her wand and cast a spell at Harry's groin; blue light flared around the tops of his thighs and he had a warm, tingling sensation in his genitals. A few moments later, his erection had subsided and the constant ache that had dogged him ever since his return to school had diminished to a dull throb.

"How's that?"

"Better, much better," sighed Harry. He felt normal for the first time in weeks. "Priapism? You mean this is a real condition, not just me being a freak? I thought I was oversexed or something."

"Actually, it has nothing to do with sexual desire at all, but a blockage of blood flow. The blood flows into the penis and should flow out again after orgasm or as the body calms down. How long were these erections lasting, Harry?"

"Sometimes it's a couple of hours."

"Any erection that lasts longer than two hours is not normal, especially if you are not engaging in any sexual activity. You're training to be a Healer, Harry, you should know that. Come and see me right away if this becomes a problem again."

"Do you know what caused it?" Harry was beyond embarrassment now; he didn't want it to happen again.

Madam Pomfrey scanned him with her wand and nodded thoughtfully. "Harry, have you been on any Muggle medication?"

"No, Severus gave me potions when I had the 'flu. I don't think I've ever had any Muggle medicine."

"Well, there doesn't seem to be any underlying physical cause; you're not ill. The only other reason I can think of at the moment is that it stemmed from some vigorous sexual activity at some point. You did say you'd been masturbating a lot?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"So would you say you have a high, medium or low libido, Harry?"

"Definitely high. I - I feel arousal nearly all the time."

"I'd like to do a blood test. We all experience arousal to some extent, but it shouldn't be all the time and even for a seventeen-year-old, the time you are spending masturbating does seem excessive."

Harry sank his head back onto the pillows; what was she saying? That he was addicted to sex or something? The way some people were addicted to drugs or alcohol? He tried not to wince when she conjured some needles and vials. "Right, Harry. Roll up your sleeve for me."

***

Harry was asleep when Severus came to see him that night after dinner. Severus sat down on the chair beside Harry's bed and just gazed at his sleeping face. He couldn't understand it. Why would Harry go seeking out an unknown potion from a stranger when Severus would only have been too happy to brew him whatever he needed? Yes, it was an embarrassing condition, but Harry should know better than to take any sort of potion from a stranger. What was going on in his head? Why hadn't he confided in Severus? Didn't Harry trust him?

Severus sighed and hung his head in his hands. He felt as if he'd let Harry down, but he didn't know how to fix it. Their Christmas holiday seemed a lifetime ago. Had Harry been pretending all that time? Or was it Severus' fault that Harry had been suffering from priapism? Had the teasing been too much for Harry's body?

The lights were dimmed in the infirmary and cast strange shadows on Harry's face; Severus leant over and pressed a soft kiss to Harry's forehead. "Get better soon, Imp," he whispered, trying not to wake him. It didn't work. Harry's eyes flickered open, green gaze searching his out.

"Sev'rus? I - I'm sorry, Severus. I'm sorry."

"Sorry doesn't fix this, Harry. It's not as simple as that. Why did you run away like that? Why didn't you come to me or Poppy for help? Do you know how dangerous that was? What possessed you to buy a strange potion? You could have been killed!" Severus roared, surprised at the tone of his own voice. He was angry and he was bloody terrified, too. What would he do without Harry? Severus could hardly bear thinking about it; but he'd thought of little else for the past few days. He was so sure that Harry had been trying to do himself in.

Severus stood up and paced up and down by the side of Harry's bed, running his fingers through his hair. It was greasy and could do with a wash, but he hadn't had much energy to spare on his personal hygiene lately, he'd been so worried.

"Why didn't you talk to me, Harry? Why?" The anger had left him almost as soon as it had appeared. He knew Harry hadn't been doing it to deliberately goad him, but sometimes it felt like that. "Do you really have so little faith in me? That I can't help you? That I won't help you?"

"It wasn't like that," said Harry, tears shimmering in the lantern light.

"What was it like, then?"

"I don't know. I - I felt weird, like it wasn't me. Someone else. Someone told me to run away."

Severus paused in his pacing; he'd heard Harry mention that before, the night he'd chopped off his hair. "Your uncle? You still hear his voice?"

"I'm not sure it was my uncle, Severus, even that other time. It's someone else."

"You're right, Harry," said Poppy as she emerged from her office, trying to juggle a pile of parchments in her hands. "Whatever is wrong with you, it's not physical and it isn't mental either. According to all my blood tests and scans, you should be in perfect physical and mental health. There are, however, some brain anomalies."

"Brain anomalies?" asked Harry, his hand reaching out for Severus'. Severus grasped Harry's hand in his and kissed the knuckles softly. "So I am crazy? I've been crazy all this time?"

"No, Harry. You were never crazy," said Poppy. "The brain anomalies, they're spell-based. Someone has Obliviated you."

"But who would do that? And why?"

"Well, it's only a guess, but it was probably one of the wizards who raped you. As for the why, I can only imagine they wanted you to forget that it happened, that they didn't want you going to the authorities."

"None of the others bothered," said Harry softly. "They knew I wouldn't have told, I'd been too well trained."

Severus felt his heart break anew at all that Harry had endured. "So what can we do about the spells, Poppy?" asked Severus.

"First we need to find out about that memory and reverse it. We'll need your skills, Severus."

He nodded and turned to Harry. "Legilimency."



Chapter 40: Dark Angel
Part 40


Harry had never remembered anything good about Legilimency; his head swam with memories of those disastrous Occlumency lessons in fifth year and he was loath to subject himself to it again. The fact did remain however, that if he had been cursed – which seemed to be Madam Pomfrey's thoughts on the matter – they needed to find out what the curse was and who cast it in order to be able to try and counter it. Finite Incantatem only worked on simple spells and charms, not on the more complex curses or jinxes.

Why was his life so bloody complicated? Why couldn't everyone just leave him alone? Harry sighed and plucked at some loose threads on the bedspread. He almost knew every piece of fabric in the infirmary off by heart; he'd spent so much time in here as a patient and quite a bit recently during his training.

"The sooner the better, I suppose?" asked Harry, not looking at either of them.

He felt so ashamed that he hadn't been able to talk to them about what had been happening; and wondered if the fact that he hadn't sought help from them was part of the curse. For the truth was, Harry did trust them; he trusted both of them with his life and he was upset that they thought he didn't.

"That's probably best," agreed Severus, placing his hand over Harry's and making Harry still. "Harry, I love you. You do know that, don't you? There isn't anything you can tell me that would make me stop loving you. You can tell me anything. Anything at all and I will still love you."

Harry felt the tears start again and he leaned up from the bed and wrapped his arms around Severus' neck. "I know, Severus. I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

Severus rubbed his back and kissed his ear. "Ssh, Harry. It's all right. You're going to be fine. I swear it."

Hearing the determination in his betrothed's voice, Harry didn't doubt it for a second. Severus continued to hug him until Harry's sobs subsided and then he sank back to the bed, feeling drained but happier than he'd felt since Christmas.

"Do you want to wait until you're feeling calmer, Harry?" asked Severus, twirling a lock of Harry's hair in his fingers.

"No. Please, let's get it over with."

"Very well," said Severus as he removed his wand. "Legilimens!"

Harry felt the man poking about inside his mind; Harry hadn't tried to block him this time, he knew Severus needed to find the memory that had been hiding inside the Obliviate spell. There was a push, a tug, and Harry suddenly felt himself falling into his own memory as if it had been a pensieve and he was staring agape at his younger self.

***

Harry didn't want to go to detention, but how could he explain to his friends how terrified he was of going to detention on his own? That he would be alone with a teacher, a male teacher? They wouldn't understand. They wouldn't understand the terror. He'd even gone to Professor McGonagall to try and get out of it; telling her he'd do lines, anything, but please don't make him do detention.

"Mr. Potter, detention has been used as a discipline at this school long before you were even born. You will serve your detention just like every other student and I do not want to hear another word of complaint about it or you will find yourself doing yet another one, is that clear?"

"Yes, ma'am."

His Head of House glanced at the clock, which showed five minutes to eight. "Now hurry along or you'll be late."

"Yes, ma'am," said Harry and left the office.

He wondered if he went back for his invisibility cloak if he could somehow manage to escape the castle and run away. But where could he go? He couldn't go back to the Dursleys', things were even worse there. Harry had thought he would be safe at Hogwarts, that the things that happened at Privet Drive wouldn't happen here, but what if he was wrong? What if the professor was like those other men? Those other men who paid Vernon to use him?

Harry had worked himself up into such a state by the time he reached the Defence classroom that he was hyperventilating and he almost willed himself to faint so that he could go to the infirmary and skip the detention altogether. They wouldn't make him do it if he was ill, surely? No, but that would only postpone it, not get him out of it completely.

Harry took a few deep breaths before knocking on the classroom door. He didn't want to be here, he really didn't want to be here. For the few scant moments it took before the door opened, Harry allowed himself to feel a surge of hope. Maybe the professor had forgotten about his detention and wasn't here. It was a futile hope, but he clung desperately to it all the same.

All too soon the door opened and the smiling, shining face of Gilderoy Lockhart peeked out.

"Harry! My dear boy, come in, come in!" He held the door open and was so enthusiastic, as if he thought detention with him was a great treat.

Harry followed the man in and was shown to a desk at the front of the classroom.

"I thought you could help me with my fan mail, Harry. Such a lot of it these days. Here you are," Lockhart pushed a couple of moving photographs onto the desk beside Harry along with a batch of envelopes. "I'll sign, while you put them in the envelopes, Harry. It's easy, isn't it?"

Harry nodded and set to his task. It was easy and mindless as well. Normally his detentions were something useful like chopping up potions ingredients; helping Hagrid find the unicorn in the Forbidden Forest, or learning spells but this just felt like a waste of time. Harry relaxed a bit as the evening wore on and the professor hadn't tried anything untoward. He did love the sound of his own voice though, droning on and on about celebrity and wasn't fame such a burden?

Harry zoned out after a while; Lockhart wasn't saying anything terribly profound, so he was shocked out of his own thoughts when he felt a slap on his cheek.

Harry recoiled and darted from his chair, before lying down on the floor and curling in on himself, wrapping his arms around his head, hoping to protect it from any more blows.

"Harry, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you; I only slapped you to bring you out if it. You were screaming."

Screaming? Harry didn't remember screaming, but he knew he sometimes had flashbacks. Is that what had happened?

"Look at me, Harry. I want to help you, I can help you."

The man did sound sincere and since he hadn't touched Harry again after the slap, Harry slowly turned his head and stared at him. He wasn't prepared for the spell the man cast at him; Harry found himself reliving all those horrible things and he couldn't get them to stop. He was screaming in earnest now, trying to get the man out of his head. No one could see, no one was allowed to see! He would be locked up; they'd send him to prison.

"Stop! Stop! Make it stop! Please make it stop, Professor!"

"Of course I will, Harry. Of course I will," said Lockhart's voice and Harry felt himself drawn outside his own head once more. "You poor boy, what awful memories to have, but I can fix it, Harry. I can fix it."

"You can?" Harry's voice was high with hope.

"I can. Close your eyes for me, Harry."

Harry didn't want to close his eyes; not only was his mind still filled with those memories, but he had never been quite comfortable with Defence teachers ever since he discovered Quirrell had been hosting Voldemort on the back of his head.

"The spell will work better if your eyes are closed, Harry."

"Um. Okay," said Harry and closed them. He felt very nervous standing there with Lockhart hovering somewhere nearby.

"Obliviate!" roared the teacher but before the spell hit, Harry had opened his eyes and he felt the light of the spell bounce off his forehead, onto the walls and floor before hitting his head once again.

He reeled from the spell and felt sick as he felt magic other than his own course throughout his body.

"What did you do? What did you do?" asked Harry in a panic.

"I made all the bad memories go away," said Lockhart with a toothy smile.

***

Harry came back to the present to find Severus staring down at him in shock.

"That idiot Lockhart used Legilimency on a twelve-year-old and then Obliviated you? Mind magic is so delicate, a twelve-year-old mind would not have been prepared for mind magic at all."

"He tried, but it didn't work; I still remembered the rapes. What did that spell to do me?"

Madam Pomfrey scanned Harry's head with her wand again; a picture of Harry's brain appeared in mid-air above his bed.

"His spell misfired, from what I hear that is par for the course with that man; instead of it affecting your memory, it affected the pleasure receptors in your mind as well as the nerves."

"But wouldn't I have noticed this before, then? It's only recently I've felt like this."

Harry couldn't remember ever feeling this out of control when it came to his libido before.

"It's because of the Aging Potions, Harry. When you were previously a teenager, you were underweight, and how much you weigh affects your libido. Low weight tends to correspond with a low libido as well, as the body has its work cut out trying to keep all the other systems healthy; sex hormones are a low priority. Now that you've been aged again, you have basically gone through puberty in a very short space of time and your body's system was flooded with hormones. Add to that Lockhart's misfired spell and you were suffering as your system overloaded."

"And the voices in my head?"

"Again, Lockhart's spell also affected the part of the brain that enables you to tell dreams from reality. It was as if you were dreaming while you were awake. To you, the voices seemed real, probably even sensible in what they were saying, but they were more like dreams than anything else."

"Is there anything I can do?" asked Harry. He didn't want to go through this again and he wanted those voices to stop.

"Now that we know what it is, yes. Severus can deactivate the spell and then I have some hormone potions I want you to take for the next few months."

"Hormones? Wasn't that the problem in the first place?"

"Over-acting hormones, yes, but by taking regular doses your body will begin to regulate itself again and once you come off them; your body will be back to normal and you will be able to feel regular arousal again. Not like this."

Harry nodded; even being a patient he was learning things and his hands itched for his medical journal so that he could write all this down.

Severus smiled as he conjured Harry's notebook. "Looking for this?"

"How did you -?" smiled Harry. "The bond." Severus nodded.

Madam Pomfrey dismissed the picture of Harry's brain and made a show of coughing and fixing her apron. "Well, I'll just go and get those potions for you, Harry."

As she left, Harry heard her cast a silencing charm and she pulled the privacy curtain round the bed.

Harry grinned at Severus. "Why did she think we might need a silencing charm? What does she think we can get up to in the infirmary?"

Harry began scribbling in his notebook, but Severus plucked it out of his hand.

"I'm sure we can think of something," said Severus as he lowered his head to Harry's.

Harry closed his eyes and revelled in the feel of Severus' lips against his. The kiss was gentle, not done to arouse and Harry was glad of it; he didn't want to go through that again. When Severus pulled away, they were both grinning madly.

"I really am sorry, Severus. I should have gone to you. I don't really know why I didn't."

"Do you find it uncomfortable to talk to me about things, Harry? Sex things?"

Harry shrugged his shoulders. The truth was, he found talking about anything to do with his body highly disturbing; after so many years of the Dursleys calling him dirty and filthy.

"They always made me feel so dirty, Severus. I - I never even used a toilet until I went to primary school, they only gave me buckets. I don't feel comfortable talking about my body at all; it's not you."

"Harry, nothing a body does is wrong or dirty. It's all natural and we all do it. Nothing about your body is ever cause for shame."

"I know that, Severus. It's just it's sometimes still there in my head, what they said to me. I know now they were talking bollocks half the time -"

"Try all the time," growled Severus.

"Yeah, you're right. They were hopeless and I'm not going to spend another minute thinking about them."

Harry knelt up on the bed and kissed Severus soundly on the cheeks. "I love you, Severus Snape, and I really think we're going to be okay."

"We are, Harry, we are."



Chapter 41: Dark Angel
Part 41

During the last weekend in April, Harry had to go to London to take his entrance exam for the St. Mungo's apprenticeship program. To say he was nervous was an understatement. He'd been up half the night throwing up; his stomach felt as if it had been filled with writhing snakes; snakes that wriggled and gnawed at his innards. It was also a Hogsmeade weekend and Severus was chaperoning, so Harry had to go to London by himself.

Professor McGonagall had given him permission to have the day off away from school and Fred and George had promised to take him sightseeing after his exam. He'd rather it had been Severus, but it would be good to see the twins again; he just hoped he wouldn't be the focus of any of their new experimental lines. Their joke shop was doing rather well these days and they employed three full-time staff now and could have a bit of time off when they wanted.

Harry dusted himself down after emerging from the Floo in the Leaky Cauldron; he was a little unsteady on his feet and the nausea that normally accompanied him on Floo trips was back with a vengeance. Tom gave him a glass of water before Harry headed on his way; it seemed that news of his impending exam had reached quite a few Wizarding ears and he was congratulated and wished well by the patrons for half an hour or more before he could make his way outside.

Harry had left in plenty of time to get to the hospital; he didn't want to arrive all flustered before he even started the exam. The exam was a written one; the hospital staff wouldn't let anyone near the patients until they were accepted as Healing Apprentices. Harry spent the walk calming himself and going over his work in his head. Madam Pomfrey seemed to think he was ready; he'd covered all the coursework. He hadn't done his NEWTs yet and even if he passed the entrance exam, an offer of an apprenticeship would be conditional on those results.

Even this early in the morning the street outside the hospital entrance was filled with Muggle shoppers. None of them seemed to notice the dusty department store with its air of faded grandeur. The windows were dusty; the brass-coloured name was flaking off in places and the window only held one mannequin wearing a dress so out of date that it was bound to become the fashion again soon. Harry sidled close to the window and spoke to her.

"Harry Potter; here for the apprentice exam."

The mannequin nodded and beckoned him forward. Harry stepped through the window and felt the glass flow around him like water, but yet he remained dry. The noise of the shoppers was replaced by the crying and wailing patients milling about in the reception area of the hospital. A Healer dressed in burgundy robes marched up to Harry, clipboard in hand.

"Mr. Potter, this way please," he said and didn't bother to check to see if Harry was following him.

A few of the waiting patients turned to stare at Harry when they'd heard his name, with lots of frantic mutters and whispers. It seemed that even despite Voldemort being gone for almost two years now; Harry's celebrity was still well and truly intact. He sighed and followed the Healer down a series of corridors. It would have been too much to hope that he could just go and take his exam like any other wizard.

"I'm Healer Austin, I will be the invigilator for the exam this morning," said the Healer as he stopped outside a plain wooden door with a label on the front: Silence Please. Examination in progress.

Austin pushed the door open and waved for Harry to follow him in. There were already five people sitting down at tables; three women and two men. They all looked older than Harry and for a brief moment; he felt all hope fly out of the window. They were bound to have so much more experience than him, being that much older. Harry smiled at them; if they were all accepted, they would be training together, but none of them returned his smile.

Harry sat down at the only empty table. On the desk was an array of quills, ink bottles and plain sheets of parchment. There was no clock, but a large hourglass stood on a desk at the front of the room. Healer Austin lifted up the exam papers and began handing them out face down.

"The exam will begin at nine o'clock and you will have three hours to complete it. If you require extra parchment, quills or ink, please raise your hand and I will provide them." Once the Healer had finished handing out the papers he returned to his desk. "Just a reminder that cheating will not be tolerated and you will never be offered employment at this hospital." Austin lifted the hourglass and turned it over. "You may begin."

***

Fred and George were waiting for Harry in reception once he'd finally completed his exam and handed it in. His hand was cramping and his thumb and forefinger were covered in ink with the amount of writing he'd done. He was so glad that Madam Pomfrey had made him sit mock exams for her that were timed so that he could get his essays done within the limit. It wasn't that difficult when you'd done the work and Harry thought he'd probably done quite well, but wasn't getting his hopes up just yet.

"Well, Harry, how did it go?" asked George, slinging one arm around Harry's shoulder.

"I think I did okay," he replied. "It's just the NEWTs to get through now."

"Don't work too hard," smiled Fred. "All work and no play and all that."

"I'll be fine; Hermione's made all the seventh years a revision schedule with plenty of time marked in for breaks."

"You're joking?" laughed George. "She didn't fill every hour with study?"

"No," Harry playfully punched him on the arm. "And anyway, I'm supposed to be on a break now, aren't I? I seem to remember you two promising to show me the sights of London."

"Er, yes, about that," said Fred.

"We may have just stretched the truth a little," said George.

"Oh, didn't you find anyone to mind the shop and you have to get back?"

"No, we have the day off, but it isn't just us who'll be showing you the sights, Harry," said Fred.

"Indeed," drawled a very familiar voice behind him. "I couldn't allow you alone with these two for long, who knows what mischief they might get up to."

"Severus!" Harry squealed in delight, not caring who was watching as he launched himself into Severus' arms. The whole world knew about their betrothal and impending marriage so seeing them hugging was hardly going to be a surprise. "What are you doing here? I thought you were chaperoning the Hogsmeade visit?"

"Ah, a little deception practiced by myself, Minerva and the Messrs. Weasley. I wanted to surprise you. It's actually Professor Sinistra's turn to supervise the little devils today. Is it a good surprise?"

Harry felt his face break out into the largest grin yet. "No, it's bloody fantastic!" He couldn't believe it: Severus was here, Severus had come to see him and they could spend the rest of the day together.

"Lunch first, I think," said Severus as Harry's tummy growled and gurgled. "You need it after all that brain work."

"Sounds great," said Harry, smiling at the twins over Severus' shoulder.

***

After lunch, the twins dragged Severus and Harry round as many sights as they could manage to fit into one day. They gazed enraptured at the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London and shuddered at the London dungeons – Harry found them a bit too realistic and gruesome for his taste. They spent quite a bit of time in the reptile house at the zoo, where the other three watched in bemusement as Harry conversed with the snakes.

When the twins ducked outside, Harry saw that Severus' eyes were glinting in the low lighting and moved close to whisper in Harry's ear. "Parseltongue sounds so sexy."

Harry resolved then and there to surprise Severus with some of it on their wedding night. He blushed in the darkness, anticipating when they could finally get together like that. Madam Pomfrey had taken him off the hormone potions a few weeks ago and Harry's body was back to normal. He hadn't had another incidence of priapism since and although he did get erections and masturbated, it wasn't painful like before. He could hardly wait until the time came for Severus to be the one to touch him so intimately. Both of them were finding it harder and harder to keep their hands off each other, but they were also both determined to wait until their wedding night.

Severus leaned down and kissed him soundly; a few of the snakes wondered aloud if Severus was Harry's mate. Once the wonderful, knee-trembling kiss had finished, Harry replied to them in Parseltongue.

{Yes, he is my mate.}

Severus groaned and Harry had to grin at feeling Severus' erection dig into his midriff. He really did find the sibilant language sexy. {Severus, Severus, Severus}

"Harry! Stop! Oh, Merlin, you could make me come speaking like that!" Severus whispered against Harry's ear.

The thought that Harry might be able to make Severus come just by speaking to him in Parseltongue sent such a flood of desire through Harry's body that he went a bit light-headed. If he and Severus hadn't been holding onto each other so tightly, Harry was sure he would have fallen to the floor. A few kids on a school trip glanced at them, but their teacher hurried them out and told them not to look at the two men embracing each other in full view. Harry had forgotten how some Muggles and wizards considered same-sex relationships.

"I'm sorry, Severus. I didn't mean to tease," sighed Harry.

"It's fine, Harry, but I think we ought to leave that to somewhere a bit more private, don't you?" Severus smiled and kissed the top of his head. "How are things with you now?" asked Severus, glancing down at Harry's groin. "No more trouble?"

Harry shook his head. "No, Madam Pomfrey says I'm as healthy as the next wizard."

"That's good."

"I can hardly wait to be married to you, Severus. June can't come soon enough."

"It's not long now, Harry. You just worry about your exams, let the Weasleys and I worry about the wedding."

Traditionally, in the Wizarding world, either the bride or the groom's family organised everything from the cakes to the dress robes, but Severus' family were dead and Petunia was in prison, so the Weasleys had taken it upon themselves to ensure that Harry and Severus would have a wedding day to remember. Harry had been so welcomed there since his first visit that he wasn't at all surprised. They viewed him like an adopted son and by extension Severus too, as he was going to be married to Harry.

As they made their way outside, the twins were casually leaning along a fence encircling the lions' enclosure.

"Just promise me one thing," said Harry as he and Severus approached George and Fred. "No stag parties, at least not for me."

"Aw, Harry, where's the fun in that? You and Severus ought to have some fun on your last night of freedom," pouted Fred.

Harry just smiled at them and shook his head. They didn't understand. The day Harry married Severus wouldn't be the day he lost his freedom.

It would be the day he gained it.



Chapter 42: Dark Angel
Part 42


Harry, Neville, Draco, Ron and Hermione were all sitting underneath the beech trees by the lake after their final exams. A few of the other seventh years were running around whooping with delight and throwing books and parchments in the air as they tasted freedom from study, at least for a little while.

"Well, Harry?" Hermione asked pointedly and Harry couldn't help the grin. They all knew he'd received his results about the apprentice program that morning at breakfast, but Harry had refused to tell anyone else except Severus how he'd done. "You've told Professor Snape now, why can't you tell us?"

Harry had indeed told Severus during the brief lunch break between his exams.

"Okay, okay. I got in," Harry finally admitted with an embarrassed blush.

Hermione squealed and hugged him; the boys settled for shaking his hand.

"What was your score?" asked Hermione, seeming as excited as if she'd been the one to pass the entrance exam.

"I passed, that's all you need to know."

Harry had done more than pass, he'd earned the highest score ever since the apprentice program had first been implemented and the hospital governors had told him that thanks to his high marks, the offer of a place wasn't dependent on his NEWT results, as it had been for nearly every other apprentice. Harry didn't like to boast, but he was pleased that he could share his news with Severus without feeling like he was being big-headed or something.

"Congratulations, Harry!" said Hermione, hugging him again. "You deserve it; we all know how hard you worked."

"Thanks, Hermione."

"I can hardly believe you and my godfather are getting married in two days," said Draco. "I never thought he'd get married."

"Because we're both men?" asked Harry softly. He didn't think the fact that they were men bothered Draco, not considering he was going out with Neville, but it was a curious thing to say.

"No, not that. There are plenty of wizards who have bonded to each other," replied Draco. "I just didn't think Severus was the marrying type. Maybe now that You-Know-Who's gone he felt more comfortable about falling in love."

As he finished speaking, a cloud passed over the sun causing the friends to shiver at the unexpected chill. Robes and jumpers had been discarded for shirt sleeves earlier on, but Hermione was the only one to reach for her robe again.

"I'm getting cold; are you coming in, Ron?"

"Okay," said Ron, standing up and brushing his trousers free of grass and loose leaves. The bell rang for dinner causing Neville and Draco to stand up as well.

"Coming, Harry?" asked Neville.

"In a minute." Harry waved his friends on ahead, he just wanted to be alone with his thoughts for a while and his friends understood, leaving him to it without pestering him. Seamus and Dean waved at him as they passed on their way back to the castle.

Once everyone had gone in, Harry plucked a few blades of grass from around the tree and twirled them around his fingers. He felt sad remembering another group of students who had once sat around the trees by the lake. Harry wished his parents and Sirius were here to see him married, to see him happy. From the screams Harry heard whenever a Dementor got too close to him, he knew his parents had died thinking he was going to be killed too. He hoped that wherever they were now they knew he was happy and they could forgive him for finding love in the most unexpected place: in Severus Snape's arms.

The sun was sinking into the lake by the time Harry started walking back to the castle, a pang of nostalgia burning beneath his breastbone. His last night at Hogwarts; the last time he'd see sunset over the lake; the last time he would have dinner in the Great Hall; the last time he and his friends would be Hogwarts students. They would never be as close as they had been for the past seven years; Harry knew that but it would still be a wrench to leave everything familiar behind.

He knew they were all going on to new lives, new adventures and despite his excitement at marrying Severus, it was tinged with a touch of sadness too. Hogwarts had been Harry's home and he would miss it and his friends.

Hermione was starting work at the Ministry as a Muggle Magical Relations Officer; Ron had been accepted into the Auror Training Program; Dean Thomas was going to play for West Ham, a dream he hadn't shared with anyone until he'd actually succeeded and Seamus Finnegan was going to apprentice under a Fire Mage – it seemed his penchant for accidentally setting fire to things had really been his innate skill at Fire Magic trying to get out. Draco was taking Neville on a trip around the world to look at magical plants and maybe even discover a few more. Draco could certainly afford it and Neville was ecstatic at all the discoveries to be made. Harry wasn't sure but he suspected that this time next year there might be a few more weddings in the air.

With each step nearer to the castle, Harry felt his childhood slipping away and he stopped in front of the giant entrance doors. Such a lot had happened since he'd first passed through them as a broken eleven year old. He'd made friends and enemies; studied hard and got detentions; fought Voldemort and won. He'd fallen in love; something he'd been sure would never happen to him.

He wondered if the bricks were like pensieves and stored the memories of the students who had studied here over all those years. Did the stones of the castle absorb something of each witch and wizard who passed beneath these doors? Harry lifted his hands and pressed them against the grey stone next to the doorway.

"Goodbye, Hogwarts."

The stone beneath his hands was warm and his fingers were tingling like pins and needles. When Harry removed his hands, there was a ghostly image of his palm and fingerprints stark against the grey which disappeared after a few seconds. Harry smiled. It didn't matter that the image was no longer there; Harry now knew that a piece of him would always remain with Hogwarts.

***

After a tearful goodbye to all their friends Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Harry took a Portkey directly to The Burrow. Severus wouldn't be arriving until the wedding the next day and the firm hug and kiss goodbye they'd shared was not enough to sate the growing need between them.

Harry knew it was partly the bond seeking consummation and partly the fact that they were in love, healthy and wanted to express it physically. They only had to spend one more night apart; tomorrow night would be their wedding night and a culmination of almost eleven months of foreplay. Harry just hoped he'd be able to cope.

Once the dizzying effects of the Portkey wore off, Harry found himself wrapped in an enormous hug from an unexpected Weasley.

"Bill! I didn't think you'd be able to make it!" Bill had been on an extended expedition in South America for Gringotts, looking for some hidden Wizarding cities.

"What? And miss my little brother's nuptials?" he grinned and ruffled Harry's hair.

"My sentiments exactly," said Charlie, slapping Harry on the back.

After that it was a bit of a blur: Harry lost count how many back slaps he had, how many handshakes – some from people he didn't even know but he assumed to be Weasleys, for they all had the shock of red hair that Harry was coming to associate with belonging.

"Enough!" roared Molly. "Let the poor boy get his breath!"

"I'm not a boy anymore," grinned Harry, feeling a surge of warmth for his surrogate family, for he had never considered the Dursleys as that. They'd never loved him and Harry had no concept of what a proper family was like until he'd encountered the Weasleys.

"No, I don't suppose you are at that," said Molly, her eyes glistening with tears. "You're quite the young man now. Oh, Harry!" she exclaimed, wrapping him in a bone crushing hug and sobbing on his shoulder.

Harry awkwardly patted her back. "Hey, you're supposed to cry after the wedding," said Harry. "Mum."

Molly wailed even more at the endearment, but Harry wouldn't have changed any of it for the world.

***

Harry was sure that he would be too excited to sleep the night before his wedding, but after a couple of games of Quidditch, a nature ramble to gather wildflowers for his wreath and a dinner so heavy it could have been used to sink a battleship, he fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow on the camp bed in Ron's room.

When he woke up at dawn, feeling more refreshed than he had in a while, he wondered if Molly had given him more in his dinner than just white wine sauce. Sunlight was streaming in through the gap in the curtains and Harry smiled to himself; the wedding was taking place in the orchard and it looked like they were going to have fine weather for it.

As one of the grooms-to-be, Harry was allowed first use of the shower. Mindful of the Weasleys' full house, he didn't want to linger too long, but his prick had other ideas. Harry sighed and gave in; it probably wouldn't do to go about with an erection all morning. It didn't take him long, anticipation about tonight and memories of Severus' kiss the day before had Harry erupting over his hands in moments, his legs shaking with the force of it. He grinned to himself; knowing that the next time he climaxed it would be at his husband's hands. He hoped his silencing charm was still working; he tended to get a bit vocal as orgasm approached.

Harry wondered what Severus sounded like when he came; what he looked like naked and he had to stop those thoughts quickly unless he wanted to spend even more time in the shower. Still grinning, Harry soaped himself again and got on with the business of washing. He was getting married. He was getting married to Severus! He sometimes wondered if it was a perfect dream; for so long he'd known only pain and despair, but now he would cherish every moment with his husband.

Hermione had asked him once if he ever got scared about the physical aspects; Harry knew she hadn't done it to pry, so he told her the truth. Yes, he did, he sometimes had nightmares too, but he'd told his psychiatrist and Severus all about it and they'd both agreed that they would only ever do what Harry felt comfortable with and "stop" would mean stop. It meant a lot to Harry to know that he would be in control. What he and Severus had was different from his early experiences, being in love was different. Hermione had smiled at him and said that she was glad he could find love, that he deserved it more than anyone she'd even known.

Harry switched off the shower and grabbed a towel. He did deserve it, him and Severus both, and he was going to grab it with both hands.



Chapter 43: Dark Angel
Part 43

"Stop fussing, Severus!" scolded Poppy. "Your tie is fine."

"Are you sure? It feels crooked."

Severus began fidgeting with the bow-tie yet again until Poppy slapped his hands away. "Will you stop that? You'll ruin it!"

Severus couldn't help it; he was nervous and when he was nervous he needed to do something with his hands. What he wouldn't give to be stirring a potion right about now. Severus gazed around the orchard; the Weasleys had outdone themselves. Every tree was bedecked with garlands of flowers and strings of white fairy lights. He and Poppy were standing within a ring of wildflowers where the ceremony itself would take place.

There were no chairs in the clearing; all the guests would stand while Severus and Harry pledged their lives to one another. It was only at the wedding feast afterwards that they would get to sit down. Severus ran his hand round his collar again and Poppy sighed in exasperation, muttering something about stubborn men.

What if Harry had changed his mind? Shouldn't he be here by now? The guests had started arriving and were milling about in the clearing. All had gone with the Wizarding tradition and there was a sea of multi-coloured robes as far as the eye could see. The wizened Minister of Records tottered to the ring of flowers and bowed to Severus. He looked so frail that a gust of wind might knock him over; Severus just hoped he could hold on to his tenuous grip on life a little bit longer.

All the Weasleys came over and shook his hand as they waited for Harry to arrive. Poppy kissed him on the cheek and then made her way out of the circle as the murmurs and whispers ceased. Only Severus and the celebrant were in the bonding circle now. Severus' heart was beating a frantic tattoo on his ribs as the crowds parted, leaving an aisle and at the end of it, there stood Harry dressed in all his wedding finery.

Harry was dressed in a white sleeveless tunic, the silk embroidered with protective runes; runes for happiness and long life, runes for fidelity and constancy; runes for eternal love. But it wasn't the fact that Harry's tunic was covered in runes that caused the crowd to gasp; it was the fact that Harry was covered from head to toe in a long white gauzy veil. Traditionally, only brides wore a veil to Wizarding weddings and Severus could hear mutters from the guests nearest to him wondering what it meant. The veil was held in place by a wreath of wildflowers: buttercups, daisies, baby's breath, calendula, forsythia, forget-me-nots and peonies. Severus felt himself gasp in response to seeing the selection of flowers adorning Harry's head.

Severus knew what the veil meant to Harry. Harry was showing him without having to tell him that he was ready to submit; he wanted to be the one to be taken. In effect, he wanted to be the bride. Severus felt his groin stirring in response to that knowledge. They'd never actually discussed it, but that Harry wanted this, that he was ready for this made Severus love Harry all the more. He was glad they'd waited, frustrating though it had been. It would be a special night for both of them.

Harry stopped at the outside of the ring of flowers; Severus took his hand and led him inside it. Their hands tingled as they touched each other and Severus wondered what would happen when they finally joined their bodies if even touching hands made their skin sing. Severus lifted the veil away from Harry's face and was surprised to find Harry's eyes glimmering with tears, but Harry was smiling through it. The two of them held hands again and turned towards the Minister of Records.

"Dearest friends, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of body, souls and magic of Harry James Potter and Severus Tobias Snape. If there is anyone here present who knows of any impediment why these two souls should not be joined, let them speak now or be forever silent."

There was a pause, but no one spoke.

"Marriage is a union of equals, so I do not ask who gives you away; rather I ask who has come with blessings for each of you. Who has come to give blessings to Harry James Potter?"

"I do," came a resounding shout from the entire congregation.

"And who has come with blessings for Severus Tobias Snape?"

"I do," came the voices of the whole congregation again and Severus felt his throat tighten. He had never been so welcomed anywhere before.

"Severus and Harry have decided to speak their own vows to each other. Severus, you may begin."

Severus cleared his throat and spoke the words straight from his heart. He felt embarrassed that everyone would hear, but he wanted Harry to know how much he was loved, how much he was cherished.

"If in the morning when you wake,
If the sun does not appear,
I will be here.
If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand and have no fear,
I will be here.

"If in the morning when you wake,
If the sun does not appear,
I will be here.
If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand and have no fear,
I will be here.

"I will be here,
When you feel like being quiet,
When you need to speak your mind I will listen.
Through the winning, losing, and trying we'll be together,
And I will be here.
If in the morning when you wake,
If the future is unclear,
I will be here.
As sure as seasons were made for change,
Our lifetimes were made for years,
I will be here.

"I will be here,
And you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we're older.
I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me.
We'll be together and I will be here.
I will be true to the promises I've made,
To you and to the one who gave you to me.
I will be here."

His eyes were stinging by the time he'd finished and Harry had broken down into sobs already so that it was going to be even harder for him to say his vows. The Minister turned to Harry. "And now you."

It was a few minutes before Harry had calmed down enough to speak and when he did, his voice was on the verge of cracking all the way through.

"True love is a sacred flame
That burns eternally,
And none can dim its special glow
Or change its destiny.
True love speaks in tender tones
And hears with gentle ear,
True love gives with open heart
And true love conquers fear.
True love makes no harsh demands
It neither rules nor binds,
And true love holds with gentle hands
The hearts that it entwines."

As Harry finished speaking his vows, the Minister placed a ring on Severus' finger and then another on Harry's; Severus saw Harry wince a little at that, he still hadn't forgotten what had happened with Dumbledore's ring. Then the Minister clasped both their hands together and tied them with a white ribbon.

"These two wizards are now bound by the force of their promises; neither man nor wizard can unbind them. You are husband and husband."

The wizard tapped the ribbon and it disappeared amid blue sparks. Severus and Harry still holding onto each other, turned to face their friends and spoke together:

"Today I married my best friend,
Our bond complete, it hath no end,
We share one soul, we share one heart,
A perfect time – a perfect start.

With these rings we share together,
Love so close to last forever,
This special day – two special hearts,
Let nothing keep this love apart."

Harry was crying again after they'd finished speaking and Severus did what he'd been longing to do ever since he first saw Harry beneath the veil; he leant over and kissed the tears away. People were whooping and clapping behind them, but Severus was aware of little else besides his new husband. They were married. No one could ever part them now.

Molly Weasley gave them both hugs and waved them off in the direction of the marquee on the front lawn where the feast was to take place. "Oh, it was beautiful, just beautiful!" sobbed Molly. In fact most of the female guests seemed to be crying.

Severus held out his elbow, Harry slipped his arm through his and they made their way to the marquee and waited outside with Arthur until the other guests were led inside. Arthur gave both of them a hearty handshake before stepping inside and they heard his voice announce them.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our newly-bonded couple, Harry and Severus!"

At their cue, Harry and Severus stepped inside the marquee and were almost blinded by the shower of confetti that fell on them. Circular tables dotted the room; each holding a centrepiece of white roses tied with green ribbons. On the head table at the front, two seats were left empty for the grooms and at the side of it stood their wedding cake. Twenty one pillared tiers, each tier smaller than its predecessor until on the top tier there were two small grooms who waved at the assembled guests. Iced in white, the cake was decorated with green ribbons too.

Beside him, Severus heard Harry giggle at the tiny waving grooms on top of the cake. "Oh, it's wonderful," said Harry as he sat down next to Molly. "Thank you so much for doing this for us."

"It was my pleasure, dears," said Molly, squeezing Harry's hand under the table.

Once Harry and Severus had taken their seats, waiters appeared as if out of nowhere (and considering this was a Wizarding wedding, that may well have been the case) and began taking the guest's orders, but they served the grooms first.

Replete after a meal of roast turkey followed by trifle, it was time to cut the cake. Cameras whizzed as people got ready to take a picture of the pivotal moment. Severus stood up and offered Harry his hand, when Harry reached for his, Severus bent over and brushed his lips along Harry's knuckles. He enjoyed Harry's shiver of desire when he did so and spoke through the bond.

Soon, Imp. Soon.

Harry's eyes darkened with lust and he nodded to show he understood Severus' promise. The two of them walked the short distance to the cake and lifted up the silver knife, engraved with both their names and even more protective runes. Gripping the knife together they cut the cake, the blade sliding in easily and Severus noted Harry's blush. The blade sliding into the cake so easily like that was considered a good omen for the wedding night – that the consummation would go well too.

Severus fed the first slice to Harry with his fingers and wished they didn't have to go through a couple of hours of dancing before he could be alone with his new husband. Harry did the same to him and then they were whisked apart as the guests came over to get some cake, but their eyes sought each other's over the crowds and Severus knew there was the promise of 'later' in both pairs of eyes.

***

Three hours later, Severus and Harry stood on the back porch of the Weasleys' house as people wished them well and waited for Harry to throw his wreath of flowers. Wizards didn't have bouquets, but the tradition meant the same as the Muggle one. Harry turned his back on the assembled guests and threw the wildflowers backwards into the crowd.

Severus couldn't help the laughter when he saw who had caught it. Draco Malfoy was blushing like a new bride himself as Neville wrapped him in a hug. After some more hugs from the Weasley clan, he and Harry were finally allowed to take their leave. Severus wrapped his arm around Harry and Apparated them to their honeymoon destination.

"Alone at last," he whispered in Harry's ear.

TBC

A/N

Severus' vows are the poem I will be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman

Harry's vows are the poem True Loveby an unknown author

The poem spoken together by Harry and Severus is Today I Married My Best Friend by Rachel Elizabeth Cooper

Harry's wreath flowers:
buttercups – cheerfulness
calendula – joy
baby's breath – everlasting love
daisy – innocence
forget-me-not – true love
forsythia – anticipation
peony – aphrodisiac


Chapter 44: Dark Angel
Part 44

Harry stumbled as they finished Apparating, but Severus was there to hold him up and when the man whispered in his ear that they were finally alone, Harry almost came there and then. He'd been in a constant state of near-arousal all day and seeing the heat in his new husband's eyes, he could hardly wait to take advantage of that fact.

They were on a tropical beach with white sand, blue skies and palm trees swaying in the breeze. Waves lapped softly against the shore like the first tentative kisses of new lovers. Harry sighed with contentment and leaned his head up for a kiss. Severus needed no more prodding; he leaned down and captured Harry's mouth with his own. Harry lost himself in the kiss; the feel of Severus' lips on his was a sensation like no other. This was nothing like the wet slap of Cho's lips; this was passion, desire, love and lust all rolled into one. Harry moaned when Severus' tongue gently slipped inside his mouth and he clung to Severus, afraid of falling.

His cock was so hard it was aching and Harry was rubbing himself shamelessly against Severus' thigh, but he didn't want to come like this. He reluctantly pulled his mouth away and stood there; panting so harshly it felt as if he'd swallowed sand rather than stood on it. "S- Severus. Need you," gasped Harry as he began pulling at his husband's tie. He wished he could be a bit more coherent, but both of them had been waiting for this for so long that it was a miracle he could form any words at all.

"Ssh, Harry," said Severus, stroking his back. "There's no rush. We have plenty of time."

Harry almost whimpered. How could Severus be so calm? Harry felt as if he was going to explode at any minute. Severus stepped away from him, then took Harry's hand and led him to the small thatched hut at the edge of the beach. Harry dearly hoped there was a bed in there, but the way he was feeling now, he wouldn't have minded the floor or the sand either.

There was indeed a bed; it was large with four posts draped with filmy white fabric and a scattering of pink tropical flowers on the white sheets. A fan whirred silently overhead and from the open doorway they could still see the beach. "Wait," said Harry, going outside. "Come here, Severus."

Severus smiled and stepped outside again. "Yes, Imp?" he asked, his eyes twinkling.

"I promised, didn't I?" grinned Harry as he scooped Severus up in his arms and carried him over the threshold, but that was about all he managed before he had to put his husband down again. Despite being a bit more muscular than in his previous incarnation, Severus was still taller and heavier than Harry and it had been a bit difficult to do.

"Thank you," said Severus. "But I think we'll stick to me carrying you from now on." And with that, Harry was scooped into strong arms and set gently down on the bed. He groaned as Severus' weight pushed him down against the mattress. Severus proceeded to kiss Harry breathless; lips, teeth and tongues clashing as if they were duelling rather than kissing and Harry wasn't sure how much more stimulation he could take.

He thrust up against Severus, moaning deeply when his cock connected with Severus' thigh. "Severus! Touch me! Touch me!" begged Harry.

"I am touching you, Imp," smirked Severus as he gazed down at Harry and cupped his face in his hands. He bent down and kissed Harry on each cheek, his eyelids, his forehead and the tip of his nose. Harry shivered when he felt his husband's breath ghost over his mouth. "But that's not what you meant, is it, Imp?" whispered Severus and Harry lost it.

"Oh God!" he moaned and he was writhing on the bed now, trying to get as close to the other man as possible. Saying 'Imp' in that chocolate-covered tone should be illegal. Didn't Severus know what it did to him? Harry was on the verge of losing control already; he wouldn't last, he couldn't last, not with Severus still whispering to him and skimming his hands over Harry's chest, tweaking his nipples into little peaks through the cloth of his robe. Harry's hips were moving almost of their own volition now and he just knew he had to get more.

"Please! Severus, please!"

"I love it when you beg," Severus smirked as he leant down and lightly nipped Harry's neck at the junction of his shoulder. It was too much. "Fuck! Oh fuck!" shrieked Harry as the orgasm was ripped from him by Severus' teeth; pulse after pulse shooting out and splattering the front of his wedding robe with his seed. He was trembling, feeling buoyed up on wave after wave of pleasure so intense that for a moment he was sure he was going to pass out. Severus kissed him through the aftershocks, breathing Harry's name into his mouth.

When Severus pulled away from the kiss, he was smirking again and Harry couldn't help the giggle.

"You enjoyed making me lose control like that, didn't you?"

"I did, my Imp," admitted Severus, kissing him again. Harry loved kissing; he could never get enough and it wasn't long before Severus' teasing licks and nibbles had him hardening again. He shifted, uncomfortable now in the sticky robe. Severus cast a silent spell and Harry gasped when he felt the naked body of his husband against his own nudity. He pulled away from the kiss so that he could look. Severus knelt astride him and let Harry stare to his heart's content.

Feeling languid after his orgasm, Harry was gazing at the body before him; watching Severus' eyes darken under the scrutiny. It aroused him; Harry looking at him aroused him. Severus was lean; his chest and arms were well-muscled, but not too much. His chest was mostly hairless, but there were a few hairs around his nipples. Unlike Harry, he didn't have a trail of hair from his navel to his groin; instead he had a perfect triangle of coarse black hair around his cock.

Harry couldn't help the gasp. Severus' cock was standing straight out from his body and it was larger than Harry's both in length and girth. Harry had seen his fair share of men's cocks (unfortunately) but none had been as big as Severus'.

"It's so big!" exclaimed Harry. "How will it ever fit?"

Severus bent down and kissed him briefly, his arousal pressing into Harry's stomach and Harry couldn't help feeling a little nervous, now that the moment was approaching. "Harry, we have plenty of time. As this is technically your first time, it will hurt a little at the beginning, but after a while it gets better. I want you to remember the pleasure, not the pain. I intend to prepare you well before we start. If you don't want to do this tonight, we can wait, you know."

"No, no, I want to," insisted Harry. "I'm just a little nervous."

"I'd be very surprised if you weren't. I'll go as slow as you need to, Harry. I promise."

"Severus, what did you mean about preparing me?" Harry didn't understand, he didn't remember anything like that.

"I'll stretch you, relax you with fingers or tongue first, add some lubrication before we make love."

"I - I - they never did that."

"What?!! They never even used lubrication?" demanded Severus. "Those fucking bastards!"

Harry tried to make himself shrink further against the bed; he didn't like shouting and Severus' face was angrier than he'd ever seen it. He wished he hadn't spoken. He hadn't wanted to remind Severus of all those other men. "I'm sorry, Severus. I'm sorry," he was mortified to find himself close to tears and he turned his face away, feeling tears drip down onto the pillow.

Severus rolled off him and curled up behind him; Harry could feel the man's erection dig into his lower back and he couldn't stop the sobs. This wasn't what it was supposed to be like. He was supposed to be happy, not terrified of the one act that would join them. Severus' wrapped his arms around Harry from behind and rocked him.

"Ssh, Harry. I'm not angry with you. You're distraught; it's been a long day. Why don't you get some sleep?"

"I - I wanted to make love with you," Harry whispered brokenly.

"We will, Harry. But just sleep for now. Nothing is going to hurt you here." Severus caressed his chest and cast a cleaning charm over him. "Sleep, Harry. Sleep." His eyelids drooping, Harry was surprised to find he did.

***

When he woke, Severus was sitting at the small table and dismissing a house-elf. Platters of fresh fruit and bowls of bread sat on the table beside him. "Hungry?" asked Severus. Harry's tummy growled and he nodded, smiling. He felt much better after his sleep and he started to get out of bed.

"No, stay there," said Severus, grabbing the plates and settling them on the bedside table. "I want to keep you in bed."

Severus sat down cross-legged on the bed and lifted up a halved strawberry and fed it to Harry with his fingers. The fruit burst on his tongue and Harry groaned, he didn't think he'd ever tasted a strawberry as good as that before. He felt like some ancient prince being fed by a handmaiden, only Severus was no maiden. Harry smiled around the food and then his eyes fell on the jar sitting on the bedside cabinet. He tensed.

"Harry, I told you, we don't have to do that yet," said Severus. "Just whatever you’re comfortable with, I promised."

"I'm sorry, I thought I was ready. I - I just keep remembering how much it hurt - before."

"I'd like to show you something," said Severus. "Penetration doesn't have to mean pain. Turn over for me, Imp."

"You won't - you won't do it yet?" asked Harry in alarm.

"No, Harry. My cock won't be going anywhere near your arse until you ask me for it. Trust me, I won't hurt you."

"Oh. Okay," said Harry turning over onto his stomach and placing his hands underneath the pillows. He started a little when he felt Severus' kisses along his neck.

"Ssh, Harry. Relax. You'll enjoy it."

As his husband kissed what seemed to be every bare patch of skin on Harry's body; his neck, shoulder blades, his arms; his feet, his legs, Harry was doing just that. He was melting into the mattress beneath him; feeling so weightless that he might actually fly away without a broom. Severus had magic hands and a magic mouth.

"Mmm," Harry murmured to the pillow beneath his cheek as Severus continued stroking and kissing him. He felt the arousal begin gradually, more like a slow burning flame rather than an inferno like before, but welcome for all that. Harry's face flamed as he remembered Severus' earlier words about preparation. With tongue. His cock hardened at the thought and at the fact that Severus was even now kissing his lower back.

Surely Severus hadn't meant what Harry was almost hoping he had? That - that a tongue would touch him there? Would pierce that secret part of him that was even now twitching and throbbing with need, as if he wanted to be touched there. It surprised Harry; he'd never thought he would feel an ache like that inside, that he wanted to be filled with something. It seemed so naughty; so forbidden.

"Please, oh, please," whispered Harry, not even sure what he was asking for. His prayer, if prayer it was, was answered as he felt Severus' tongue lick a swathe down his crease from his tailbone right down to his sac.

"OH! OH!" Harry's head shot off the pillow in shock. He hadn't expected it to feel so good. A flood of precome dripped from his cock onto the mattress beneath him at the intense, new sensations. Severus teased all around his entrance, little nibbles, little licks but not quite breaching him just yet.

Harry had never felt like this before, nothing had ever felt like this. He was panting for breath, clutching the pillow in white-knuckled fists as he felt himself twitching back there, yearning for something, anything to fill him. There was a carved snake on the headboard and Harry stared at it as he tried to keep himself together for just a bit longer.

{Please, Severus! Please} He begged and it was only on hearing Severus' deep groan that he realised he'd been speaking in Parseltongue. {Inside me! I want you inside me. Make me yours, Severus!}

Severus pressed his tongue hard against the ring of guardian muscles and after a few moments, Harry felt his body relax to let the invader inside. Inside him, Severus was inside him. Harry didn't know whether to press up onto that talented tongue or press his cock down against the mattress, both sensations felt so good. Severus twirled his tongue and almost before he knew it, Harry was coming hard onto the mattress beneath him. He tore the pillowcase in his hands, his cries muffled by damp cotton.

Severus still kept kissing and licking him until the tremors subsided and after a while, Harry wriggled, he was getting a bit sensitive now. Harry turned over and grinned down at his husband. "Oh, wow! My bones have melted!"

"I take it you enjoyed that, then?"

"Yes," grinned Harry, noticing that Severus was still aroused. "I'd - I'd like to make you come," Harry said shyly.

Severus lay down with his hands behind his head and smiled. "Do your worst."

Harry stared at the cock in front of him, wondering what he ought to do. He didn't think he would be able to take it in his mouth, at least not yet. Too often that act had been forced on him and he didn't want reminders of his rapists, not in their marital bed. They had no place here. This was for Harry and Severus. Two men who loved each other, didn't that make all the difference?

Harry lay down on his side facing Severus and began stroking, marvelling at the differences in his own cock. It wasn't just that Severus was bigger, but his cock had different bumps and ridges and a larger head. Harry enjoyed the sensation of rubbing along the velvet-covered flesh. He twirled his finger along the slit using the precome to aid him. Severus was very quiet, but he was panting harshly so Harry hoped he was doing all right.

"Is this okay?" Harry asked.

"Talk to me," whispered Severus with a flush to his face. Harry glanced at the carved snake and understood.

{You're so hard, Severus. You're so beautiful like this. Panting, aroused. I want to feel you. I want to feel you come. I want to feel your come in my hand. Do it, Severus. Do it!} And almost as if Severus had understood the command, he tensed, arching his body almost completely off the bed and spurting over Harry's hand; his cock pulsing with every breath. Harry had leaned over and kissed Severus soundly as soon as his orgasm had started and they kissed and kissed for a good while afterwards.

Pulling away, they both lay on their backs, gasping for breath, sated and smiling.

"Merlin, Harry. Do you know what you sound like when you speak Parseltongue? I've never heard anything so fucking sexy in my life as you speaking that."

"I don't actually, it sounds like English to me," replied Harry, scooting up and leaning his head on Severus' shoulder. "But I could tell you liked it."

"I did indeed. I did," Severus kissed Harry's forehead. "Are you okay, Harry?"

"I'm fine, Severus. Maybe – maybe tomorrow we could try for the consummation?" Harry didn't want Severus to be disappointed in him.

"We'll see, Harry. We'll see."



Chapter 45: Dark Angel
Part 45

When Severus awoke the next morning, Harry was already awake; leaning on his elbow and gazing down at him with bright green eyes.

"Morning, sleepyhead." Harry's hair was damp from a morning shower and drops of moisture still clung to his chest, just begging to be licked off.

Severus yawned and stretched, his bladder gave an uncomfortable twinge. He knew he should have gone to the bathroom last night, but it had just been so comfortable tucked up in bed with Harry that he hadn't wanted to leave. Harry leaned down and kissed him fully awake but any more of those kisses and he wouldn't be able to pee for a while.

"Hold that thought," said Severus as he pulled away and got out of bed to pad to the bathroom. Necessities taken care of, he brushed his teeth and had a quick shower; the scent of Harry's soap was still lingering in the tiled cubicle and Severus felt himself growing aroused at the scent and the memories of what they'd done yesterday. It would have been only too easy to let his hands linger and bring himself to orgasm in the shower, but he had a very sexy husband waiting for him in the bedroom.

That's right you do, Harry said through the bond. So get out here.

Severus smiled as dried himself. Impatient, are we Imp?

I've been waiting for you to wake up for hours! Severus could almost imagine he could see Harry's pout.

When Severus came out of the bathroom, Harry was lying flat on his back on the bed, his hands trailing up and down his naked chest. His cock was standing out of the nest of dark curls and by the side of Harry's body sat the jar of lubricant. Severus' eyes widened at the implications. "Are you sure, Harry?"

Merlin knew he wanted it; wanted to be connected to Harry in such an intimate way, but he didn't want to feel as if he was forcing Harry into things he wasn't ready for yet.

"I'm sure," Harry said, his voice steady. "Just - just can we take it slow?"

Severus dropped the towel on a chair and prowled towards the bed. Harry was aroused, there was no doubt about that; his eyes so glazed with lust that only a small rim of green was showing. Sinking his knees on the mattress either side of Harry, Severus bent over to kiss his husband, gratified when he heard Harry moaning into his mouth. He kissed and teased until Harry was writhing with unfulfilled passion; the bond allowing him to know how much Harry adored being kissed.

Severus lightly ran his tongue over those soft lips, a silent request for entry, and the act of Harry fully opening his mouth to him, sent a sharp ache into Severus' groin. He reached out to caress Harry's cheek, to touch his hair, feeling as if all this was just some wonderful dream. Was he really here, kissing Harry on a bed in a thatched hut in the middle of nowhere? As his tongue touched Harry's, Harry bucked beneath him and Severus was lost. He pressed his whole body against Harry's, rubbing against him and moaning when their erections collided. Severus pulled away from the kiss to bestow a necklace of them around Harry's throat and neck, before licking his way down Harry's chest and to the prize that waited for him at the bottom of Harry's belly.

Harry's cock was firm, musky with arousal and Severus just had to taste it. He could see Harry's thighs trembling as he bent down and sucked just the head into his mouth. Severus only wanted to excite Harry, not make him come just yet; he wanted to be inside Harry and the more excited Harry was, the easier it would be to penetrate him. But there would come a day when he could drain Harry dry right from the source and Severus moaned in anticipation of doing just that. His own cock and balls were throbbing like a second heartbeat as he suckled at Harry.

"Severus! In me! Please! In me!" gasped Harry, arching his hips. Severus fumbled for the jar of lubricant and unscrewed the lid; watching Harry's eyes widen as he did so. Harry knew what Severus was going to do next, even if he had never experienced it before. Severus felt a flash of indignant anger as he remembered all that Harry had been through and he was amazed at how calm Harry was being about this.

"Are you sure, Harry?" Be sure. Please be sure

"I am, Severus. I'm ready," said Harry. "I love you. I want you to make love to me."

Severus nodded and liberally coated his fingers with the oil. It would be making love; they might be fucking, but it was lovemaking too; it couldn't be anything else, not with Harry, not with his Imp.

***

Harry took a deep breath when he first felt Severus' finger circling around the outside of his hole. Severus hadn't tried to penetrate him, so he got a bit more relaxed the longer Severus caressed the sensitive skin there. With one hand still rubbing his cock and the finger making Harry shiver with desire, he didn't feel scared at all. This was a lot different to those other men. A soft press, a push and then the finger was inside him, the oil making it slide in easily. It didn't hurt at all, but the strange stretching sensation was unusual.

Severus played with him for a while, the finger going in and out like a miniature cock, before he added another finger. That felt a little uncomfortable, but not too bad and Harry allowed himself to breathe again. He could feel Severus stretching the tight channel, moving his fingers about inside him and then Severus crooked them just so and Harry almost shot into orbit – he was certainly seeing stars.

"OH! Fuck!" shrieked Harry as he arched off the bed. "What was that?"

"That, Imp, was your prostate. It's an interesting sensation, wouldn't you say?"

Interesting? Harry could only nod, he didn't think he'd be able to form coherent sentences any time soon and he groaned as he imagined something much bigger, much thicker than a finger brushing against it. When Severus added a third finger, it burned and he couldn't help a grunt of pain escaping. "Breathe, Harry. Push back against my fingers," advised Severus.

Harry obeyed and found it easier to bear. Severus stroked Harry's cock with his free hand and continued to play with Harry's arse until Harry thought he would just float away to the ceiling. "In me, Severus. I'm ready," Harry gasped as he felt another jolt of electricity shoot through him when Severus touched his prostate again.

"Your hands and knees would probably the most comfortable way," said Severus.

"No, I want to see you. I need to see you."

"That might be more painful for you."

"I don't care. I need it this way, Severus. Please."

"As you wish." Severus tugged a pillow down and placed it underneath Harry's hips. Harry lifted his knees and enjoyed watching Severus' eyes flash with passion as he took in the probably wanton picture Harry made; legs falling apart so that he was exposed to his husband's dark gaze. Harry blushed under the scrutiny, but he didn't hide himself. Severus slicked up his cock and groaned; Harry guessed that Severus must have been feeling very aroused too.

"You're so beautiful, Harry," breathed Severus as he leaned over to kiss him and enter him at the same time. Harry gasped into Severus' mouth at the pain. It hurt, but not as much as he was expecting and he kissed Severus back frantically, trying to use the kiss to distract him from the pain. Just as he thought he couldn't endure much more, Severus stopped with just the head of his cock inside.

"Harry? Are you okay?" asked Severus, pulling back from the kiss.

Harry nodded. "Do it, just do it."

Slowly, Severus eased inside him; Harry could see sweat beading on his husband's forehead and he lifted a hand to wipe his brow.

"I love you, Severus. I want this. I want you."

When Severus was fully seated inside him; the pain lessened somewhat, but it was still there, a slight burning sensation that nagged at the back of his mind and it wasn't until Severus started fisting his cock again that Harry could relax fully and try to enjoy it. Severus moved, changed the angle slightly and hit Harry's prostate.

"Yes!" Harry hissed. "There! Oh God there!" he wrapped his legs around Severus and drummed his heels on Severus' thighs as they both began to move in an ancient rhythm. A giving and taking of pleasure that Harry had never experienced before.

He couldn't believe how connected he felt; how at one with Severus he felt. The headboard was rattling against the wall behind them as Severus' thrusts increased in intensity. Severus tugged Harry's hips towards him and pounded into Harry as if he wasn't close enough to him already. "Touch yourself, Imp. Make yourself come," urged Severus in a breathless tone.

Harry didn't think twice about obeying. He grabbed hold of his cock and began stroking in earnest; loving the dual sensation of being filled and being stroked at the same time and Severus seemed to know just the right angle to hit that magic spot inside him with every downward stroke. Soon Harry was unconsciously matching the rhythm of their thrusts with the strokes on his cock. All too soon he felt the delicious tingling ache in his lower belly and groin; the fullness of his balls and cock. "Severus! I'm gonna come!" Harry squealed as the sensations tore through him. He arched up into his hands, feeling his arse clamp around Severus and then he was there, spilling himself over his hand and belly in ecstatic pulses.

"Fuck! Fuck!" screamed Severus as Harry's climax pushed him over the edge too and Harry felt himself filled with wet warmth. They were both shaking at the force of their orgasms. "Harry, oh, Merlin, Harry," moaned Severus, leaning down to kiss and nuzzle at Harry's neck. Severus slipped out and turned over, holding out his arms for Harry to snuggle into.

Severus cast a cleaning charm and then began stroking Harry's back and shoulder. "Are you sure you're okay, Harry?"

"I'm fine, Severus. I - I didn't know it could feel like that. I - I enjoyed it," he admitted, wondering at how he could.

"Good," Severus smiled down at him. "There is nothing wrong with enjoying making love, Harry. Don't feel guilty that you enjoyed making love. It's different, isn't it?"

Harry nodded, what he and Severus had just experienced was as far from rape as you could get. Never once did Harry feel that Severus was just using him to get off; it was a partnership. They had both been active participants and Harry hadn't felt frightened of Severus at all.

"Maybe we can do that again sometime," Harry grinned against his husband's chest and fondled his thigh, his fingers inching higher.

"Maybe we can," Severus chuckled and stilled his hand. "But right now we need some breakfast."

***

For the rest of the week, they explored the island and each other's bodies. They made love in the shower, on the beach, plenty of times again on the bed and once on the floor when they couldn't quite manage to wait that long to get as close to each other as possible. Severus was amazed at how sexual Harry was turning out to be. As Severus had guessed, Harry was very responsive, particularly on his neck and once Harry came with no other contact besides Severus suckling on his neck for almost an hour.

He loved hearing Harry's cries of passion, loved having his cock buried in that tight heat, loved sucking on Harry's cock and the surprised look on his face when Severus had brought Harry to climax like that for the first time. Harry had been standing by the wall and his legs had almost given way when the orgasm was pulled from him with rope of after rope of sweet come.

They did very little but eat, sleep, shower and make love as if they were making up for all those months when they couldn't and Severus wasn't looking forward to Harry having to stay at St. Mungo's for the duration of his apprenticeship. How could they be apart for so long? Two weekends a month wasn't enough time to spend together and he sighed on their last morning on the island.

Harry's apprenticeship didn't start until August, so they had a bit of time to spend together before then.

Severus? What's wrong?

Just wondering how I'm going to cope with being away from you for so long.

You just want me for my body.

Harry giggled out loud and proceeded to flaunt said body in a very provocative manner and Severus allowed himself to be provoked. The packing could wait. He grabbed Harry around the waist and tumbled both of them to the bed.

"And a very nice body it is, Imp," growled Severus as he lowered his head and bit gently on Harry's neck.

The house-elf who Apparated in with breakfast, took one look at the very busy masters and decided to come back later. Much later.



Chapter 46: Dark Angel
Part 46

Three days after their return home to York; Severus was jolted awake by loud crashes coming from the kitchen. The bed beside him was empty, a few dark hairs on the pillow and wrinkled sheets paid testament to the fact that Harry had indeed been there the night before. Severus grabbed his dressing gown and made his way downstairs.

The kitchen looked as if a tornado had just recently passed through it. Plates, mugs and glasses lay broken on the floor around Harry's feet; a mosaic of white and blue ceramic. Harry smashed another glass and screamed.

"Harry! Harry!" Severus gingerly walked among the shards and lifted Harry out of the way; his feet were already bleeding.

He sat Harry down on one of the kitchen chairs and repaired the kitchenware with a spell.

"Harry? Harry, what is it? Talk to me, Harry. Talk to me." Severus couldn't help remembering another night when he'd found Harry with bleeding feet and he hoped Harry wasn't having a flashback.

Severus stood up to get a cloth to wipe Harry's feet; it was just blood, there was no glass embedded in his skin this time. "Harry?"

"Those bastards! Those bastards!" Harry thrust a rumpled piece of parchment into Severus' hands.

"When did you get this?"

"The owl arrived this morning. Can you believe it? After falling over themselves to accept me into their stupid program they're rescinding my offer! I had the highest marks in that fucking exam but that doesn't matter! Not when they know the Boy Who Lived was a fucking whore!"

"Harry, stop it! You were never a whore, you know you weren't!"

"Then how come that's the headline all over the Daily Prophet this morning?" Harry shoved the paper from the table towards him.

"I thought you didn't subscribe to that any more?"

"I didn't, it came with the letter from St. Mungo's, their reasoning for not allowing me in. They don't want people with lax morals apparently. I might be a bad influence on all their other saintly apprentices."

"They can't get away with this, Harry. You did nothing wrong."

"That doesn't seem to matter to them. All I wanted was to be a Healer, but I'm not even allowed to do that. Now I've got rid of Voldemort, the Wizarding world doesn't care about me, if they ever did. I was just a symbol, a boy with a scar and now they're getting rid of me like I'm rubbish. They make me feel like rubbish, Severus. All of them."

Harry burst out crying and Severus was by his side in an instant, wrapping his arms around his sobbing husband.

"Ssh, Harry. You aren't rubbish, you could never be rubbish. They don't know how special you are. I do. Don't let them get to you."

"I'm sorry, Severus. It - hic - it hurts so much when - when they write all that horrible stuff about me. Stuff - that - that I never even wanted."

Severus rocked Harry until his tears subsided. "I promise you, Harry, they will pay for what they've done. All of them."

***

A Few Years Later


The day Harry graduated from the London University College Hospital, Severus couldn't have been more proud of his husband. Only a handful of people from the Wizarding world were there; he and Harry had been living as Muggles for the past few years; Harry refused to go back and Severus didn't blame him. Except for their few friends, the Wizarding world had effectively turned their back on Harry Potter and every week there was some new scandal about Harry in the rag that passed itself off as a newspaper.

The Weasleys, Minerva, Poppy, Hermione Granger, Remus Lupin, Draco Malfoy and his own new husband, Neville Longbottom were there to see Harry receive his diplomas. Dr. Armstrong was there too, and had offered Harry a place at her new children's clinic - Harry had specialised in child psychiatry. He wanted to work with damaged children, hoping to help them get through the same things he had.

Severus had to smile at the robes the graduating class wore, they were almost reminiscent of Wizarding attire and he thought that perhaps the Muggle and Wizarding worlds weren't that far apart after all. He'd settled in to life among Muggles himself; instead of Potions he now sold herbal remedies and perfumes over the internet. It used the same skills as potion making, but he had to remember not to use magic when distilling because the Muggles couldn't quite handle that.

Harry made his way over to his friends, talking quickly with them before making a beeline straight for his husband and kissing him in full few of everyone. A few people snorted their displeasure nearby, but Severus didn't care. If this is what Harry wanted to be happy; who was he to deny him? Harry had been through too much in his life to be denied one second of happiness now.

"Congratulations, Harry," said Severus once Harry had pulled away from the kiss. "I knew you could do it."

"Thanks, Severus."

"Yes, congratulations Dr. Potter," smiled Hermione as she approached with Ron Weasley in tow.

"Actually, it's Dr. Snape-Potter," replied Harry, beaming. "We changed our names by deed-poll last week."

It wasn't a legal marriage in the Muggle world, but they did now share a legal name. Severus kissed the top of Harry's head; Harry's hair was still as unruly as ever and despite the party organised to celebrate Harry's graduation; he could hardly wait until they were alone again and he could run his fingers through it.

Patience, Severus! We'll have all night after the party

No, not all night. We'll have forever, Harry

"I love you, Severus," said Harry, standing on tiptoes to kiss him again.

***

The party lasted well into the night; Harry just wished the guests would leave. Yes, he was glad he'd passed his exams to become a doctor and they were here to celebrate with them, but he was getting rather horny. Severus kept sending him rather graphic messages through the bond and he wanted them to become reality rather soon.

Once two o'clock hit, Severus chased everyone out by threatening to hex them if they stayed another minute. The ex-Hogwarts students were the first ones to leave – they knew it wasn't an idle threat. But finally, finally both of them were alone in their house.

"Did we ever christen the kitchen?" asked Harry once the Floo had whisked Madam Pomfrey away. He'd closed it as soon as they'd all gone; they rarely used it these days but thought it would be easier for the party-goers.

"The kitchen? I can't be sure."

They'd spent the first few weeks after their honeymoon making love in every room, or almost every room.

"Well then, we'll just have to do it again to make sure," replied Harry as he climbed up on top of the table. His cock was throbbing already, just remembering what he'd seen in Severus' mind - Harry, kneeling on the table, Severus in a chair below him, sucking greedily on Harry's cock.

"I suppose we shall," said Severus as he immediately pulled down Harry's zip and yanked his trousers and underwear down around Harry's knees.

"No seduction?" gasped Harry, he was so hard already he didn't think it was going to take him long to come. It never got old, no matter how many times they were together.

"I can feel you through the bond, Imp. You don't want seduction, not tonight. You want to be taken, hard and fast until you're screaming my name when you come."

"Yes, fuck, yes!" panted Harry, arching his hips towards Severus' mouth.

Severus obliged and wrapped his lips around the head of Harry's prick.

"Sev! Oh God Sev!"

When they were being intimate was the only time Severus allowed the nickname, Harry thought it might excite the man the way 'Imp' excited Harry. Harry tangled his fingers in Severus' hair, keeping the man in place; he wanted to come like this, devoured whole by Severus' mouth. "Please! Deeper, Sev! Please!"

Soon, Harry could barely form words; his cries were inarticulate grunts as he allowed himself to fuck Severus' mouth. He could feel the back of Severus' throat brushing the tip of his cock, the wet suction drawing him in deeper and deeper with every thrust. Harry stared down at those red lips wrapped around his cock and it was enough to send him over the edge. His belly coiled, his hips tensed and arched as he shot straight down Severus' throat. "AHH! Sev! Sev!" wailed Harry as the orgasm just went on and on.

Severus licked and sucked until it felt as if he was draining Harry's soul straight out through his cock. Severus kept nuzzling at his cock until Harry was hardening again; it never took him long when Severus was touching him.

"Now you were saying something about hard and fast?" Harry grinned down at his husband.

Severus let Harry's cock go and summoned the jar of lubricant to him. "Turn over."

Harry scrambled to remove his shoes, trousers, underwear and bend over the table. Severus didn't take long to prepare him now, the bond knew how aroused each of them was and Harry just wanted Severus to fill him, to impale him. He loved it; loved that first moment of burning before it coalesced into the most wondrous pleasure imaginable. Severus knew just how to make him howl.

Once Severus' removed his fingers, Harry was wriggling, knowing how much Severus loved to watch his arse. He was ready, more than ready.

"Please, oh please!" pleaded Harry.

"You'll be the death of me, Imp," gasped Severus as he gripped Harry's hips and in one swift move, he was fully sheathed inside Harry.

Harry gasped at the slight pain, but from experience, he knew it would get better. Lots better. Severus moved and there it was; the burst of sensation from his prostate.

"A little death, I hope," Harry grinned over his shoulder at his husband.

Severus' whole face was flushed and his eyes were closed as he gave himself over to the pleasure. He looked beautiful like that and it was a pity that this position didn't allow Harry to stare at his husband for longer; he was getting a crick in his neck. Harry turned back and closed his eyes as he gave himself over to sensation.

It didn't take long for either of them to come; they'd both been so aroused before they started. Severus' thrusts became more and more erratic. "Harry! Harry!" he screamed as he bit down on Harry's neck as he came, Harry spent himself over the table below him, shuddering with the force of it and crying wordlessly as the climax left him.

"God, Sev! That was brilliant," said Harry just as Severus slipped out.

Once Severus removed his weight from Harry's back, Harry tried to stand up, but his legs were just too wobbly and wouldn't support him. Severus was there with strong arms to catch him.

"I'll always be here to catch you, Harry."

"I know, Severus. I know," smiled Harry as he bent up to bestow a soft kiss on his husband's lips.

They would always be there to catch each other.

***


Epilogue

Molly Weasley turned up the volume on the Wizarding Wireless Network when the news came on. Her hand shot to her mouth. Both St. Mungo's and the offices of the Daily Prophet had been burned to the ground. No one was hurt at the hospital; they had managed to evacuate the patients and staff but Rita Skeeter had been working late and had died in the fire.

"Thank goodness you weren't working at St. Mungo's, Harry dear," she said, sitting down at the table and getting on with knitting bootees; Ron and Hermione were expecting their first child soon.

Harry smiled and turned to Severus, his Dark Angel, as they shared a smirk.

"Yes, wasn't it?" smiled Harry.

THE END

camillayoung 发表于 2012-7-18 14:26:56

刚开始看第一张引用的Dark Angel时,我还以为Dark Angel指的是黑化的Harry ,哪想到后面指出是教授。。。还好这篇结尾是happy end

青衣水袖 发表于 2012-7-20 21:15:03

完全看不懂,果然英语废就是麻烦,只能一个一个词慢慢查字典...

暗暗r淡淡 发表于 2012-7-28 00:53:38

%image033**好长的一篇英文哦,呜呜,英语有待提高,以后在来看吧!

莫篆微 发表于 2012-9-23 12:58:00

我想我需要让自己的英文有所提高可以来看文。这是兴趣学习法

eveline 发表于 2012-10-8 00:11:11

前面小哈的设定太心酸了,这么折磨人,揪心啊。还好结局不坏,所谓结局好一切都好啊

dxyflygirl 发表于 2014-5-1 20:33:31

Dark Angel ?
教授应该是一半天使一半魔鬼吧……
小哈是hp里面最令人心痛的孩子了…………
用在线翻译看原文的伤不起!!

yua 发表于 2014-5-25 16:36:02

恩,英语不好的前来报到,一篇文大概只能看懂一小半啊。。呜呜,啥也不说了,默默地去学英语了

aikozhang 发表于 2014-8-23 11:37:03

昨晚一口气看完的!!真的太棒了!!!!
小哈怎么可以那么萌……那么令人心酸……嗷嗷嗷!

requim 发表于 2014-8-24 17:29:18

用这些文练英语果然最好了。天哪论坛规则弄得我不敢回帖但是金加隆又不够>< 蠢萌小哈好棒
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