月下珠 发表于 2009-7-23 18:15:58

Slytherin Kisses (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: Harry's last summer with the Dursleys is cut brutally short. Angst, child abuse, non-con, violence, hurt/comfort, character death. (not Severus or Harry), out of character. JK Rowling owns the Potterverse, I just play in it from time to time.
Characters: Harry, Severus, Harry/Severus
Genres: Angst/Tragedy, Romance, Drama
Rating: MV
Warnings: Violence, Adult Language, Sexual Situations, Non-con (rape), Character Death




Chapter 1: Slytherin Kisses
Part One

Their blood wasn't really red, it was so deep a burgundy that it almost looked black. Some of it was still dripping from the still forms of the Dursleys. Harry Potter's last remaining relatives were dead, the bodies strewn about the hall, a hall that now resembled an abattoir or a torture chamber. Although he knew it had been the work of Death Eaters, he knew none of them had been the victims of the Avada Kedavra curse, that would almost have been a mercy for them. They had been shown no mercy. Harry knew that most of the time, Death Eaters used the Cruciatus curse in order to torture their victims, he'd been in Voldemort's head enough times to see and feel the curse dished out, but he knew that the Dursleys had been physically tortured, as though they'd wanted to make sure. Perhaps they'd suffered the curse as well, Harry didn't know. He never would know. Just another secret his family would take to the grave with them.

Vernon Dursley was lying half in, half out of the living room doorway, face down, his hands clenched eternally in front of him. Harry couldn't see his face, but he could see the blood spreading out in a crimson stain around the man's middle. Petunia lay spread eagled on her back, her blouse and skirt hanging off her body in tattered shreds. Harry didn't know, but he guessed she may have been raped before she finally succumbed to death. Dudley it seemed had attempted to escape by running up the stairs, but it was not to be. He lay face down on the stairs, his hands gripping the banister, staining it red with his fingerprints. Dudley's shirt had been ripped from his back and Harry could see scabbed over stripes as well as fresher ones, dribbling red. He wondered how long after you died the blood stopped flowing. He could only have missed the moment of their deaths by a short time. Why hadn't the Death Eaters waited until Harry returned? They must have known he was due home from school today.

"Harry come away," said someone, although he wasn't sure who. Harry ignored the voice. Voldemort had been defeated two weeks ago. Two weeks before he came home to Privet Drive for the last time and saw this. Words had been smeared on the wall in his relations' blood and he stared at it, as if he could make sense of the violence perpetrated on the Muggles. The words crawled into his brain and stayed there.

The Dark Lord will rise again!
You will pay!
Potter. Potter. Potter. Filthy half-blood.
Murderer.
Traitor.
You've nowhere to hide.
We'll find you. We'll always find you.

Harry knew that the slaughter of his family was a warning. Those remaining Death Eaters who had escaped justice would be coming after him. He'd thought that with the defeat of Voldemort, his days of running in fear for his life were over. They would never be over. He would always be looking over his shoulder. It would never end.

Harry didn't know how long he stood there staring at the corpses and the messages on the wall before he felt a hand on his shoulder and someone dragged him outside. He was glad to go, he'd seen too much murder, too much death and he knew the messages were right. He was a murderer. He'd killed Voldedemort, he'd enjoyed killing Voldemort at the ripe old age of sixteen. He'd killed his family, oh, Harry may not have wielded the weapons, but it was his fault they were dead. The Death Eaters would never have gone after them if they had not been related to the Boy Who Lived.

"Come away, Harry," said Dumbledore, edging Harry further and further away from the house just as loud pops indicated the Apparation of more than half the Order. Lupin saw Harry and immediately led him away from Dumbledore and the carnage that was in Privet Drive. The garden was filled with bright summer flowers and a cloudless blue sky. Harry threw up over his Aunt Petunia's prize roses and sank to his knees in the flower bed. He was shaking and trembling, shivering uncontrollably despite the sunshine. Remus knelt down beside him and tried to place a comforting arm around him.

"Don't touch me! Don't any of you fucking touch me!" Harry shrieked and stood up, not caring who heard him or what they thought anymore. Harry had told them, Harry had warned the entire order what he'd suspected since fourth year when Voldemort shared his blood, that he didn't think the wards around Privet Drive were working properly. He'd begged them to send someone to check on the wards, but he'd been denied. Told that he was just distraught, imagining things, now run along and play like a good little boy. Snape was the only one who put forth the suggestion that it couldn't hurt just to check, but he'd been ignored, as he usually was. The Order may have counted Snape as being of their ranks, but Harry knew they never really trusted him. The Order obeying a suggestion by a Death Eater? Snape and Harry had been laughed out of the meeting.

And now, now that same Order was here to clear up the mess the Death Eaters had left, something that might never have happened if they'd listened to Harry in the first place. Of course, they would want to take Harry away again, send him somewhere safe as the wards were no longer working. As if Harry would want to stay in Privet Drive now but he was furious that yet again his life wasn't his own. Wasn't it enough for them that he'd killed the darkest wizard of the age, he and Snape both? Harry noticed there was nothing in the Daily Prophet about how Snape was instrumental in the Dark Lord's defeat. People did not want to listen to things they would rather not hear.

If only they'd listened to him in the first place. Harry was beyond anger by this point. Now he could hear them discussing where he should be sent next. He was being discussed like some thing, not a person at all, but like some fucking parcel being shunted from pillar to post and he was sick of it. The voices in the hall carried outside and he could hear the arguments as they fought over who was considered a strong enough guardian to protect him until he'd finished school. He was seventeen in a few weeks, he'd be of age. Harry didn't need a guardian, he didn't suddenly need a full time parent when he'd never had one before.

Harry flung the front door open again and glared at the witches and wizards assembled there. The bodies had been removed and all the walls scrubbed clean. It was too clean, too sterile, as if nothing untoward had happened at all. Harry knew better.

"I wish you would stop discussing me like I am some problem that needs solving! I will be of age in three weeks, I do not need a guardian."

"Harry, dear boy, it's not like that at all. We were just discussing the best options for your future." Dumbledore moved as if to embrace him. Harry stayed out of his way.

"Without consulting me! I am not a child, if you want to know what's best for me, why don't you ask me? Or is that my opinions don't count now that I am no longer of any use to the Order?"

"Harry, of course your opinions count," said Dumbledore. "But you're young yet and the young don't always know what is best for them."

"You think me young, Professor? You think I'm still an innocent little boy? Barely two weeks ago I committed murder, a point that all of you seemed to have forgotten. I think that act puts me well on the way to adulthood, don't you?"

"Harry, the remaining Death Eaters are still seeking you, you need protection that a guardian can provide."

"I'll be at school soon, I presume the wards are still intact there?"

"Yes, but you'll still need protection for the remainder of the holidays and over the breaks. You need a guardian, Harry. It's the only way."

"I cannot put anyone at risk in that way, Headmaster. Whoever might become my guardians would be in danger too and I will not allow anyone else to die because of me. The Weasleys have already offered but I cannot accept, I will not put them in danger."

"I really think Harry is too old to require a guardian," said Remus. "How about a strong companion instead? They could stay with Harry in Grimmauld Place until Harry goes back to school, it's a sensible solution."

Finally, someone who could see that Harry was no longer a child. He was just upset that none of them had realised it sooner.

"Are you offering your services, Remus?" asked the Headmaster.

"No, I had someone else in mind. I thought Professor Snape would be the most suitable, he knows lots of protective and repellant charms, no harm would come to Harry with Snape there to look out for him."

"Harry, do you agree to this compromise? Would you be willing to spend the remainder of your holidays with Professor Snape?"

"I would, as long as it is understood that he is not my guardian and I do not have to obey every little whim of his."

"Snape?" spluttered Tonks. "Harry, you can't live with Snape for two months!"

Harry ignored her, he and Snape had been getting on fairly well lately, ever since they'd trained together to defeat Voldemort. Harry knew he never would have been able to do it without him and had spent most of his last day at Hogwarts haunting the professor's rooms to thank him. Two months in the man's company wouldn't kill him and just might save his life. Snape had done that plenty of times before after all.

"Professor Snape," admonished Dumbledore gently and turned back to Harry. "There is no guarantee that Professor Snape is even willing to do this, but I shall do my best to sway him."

"Thank you, Professor," said Harry. "That's all I ask."

"It might take a few days," sighed Dumbledore. "Are you coming back to Hogwarts until then?"

"No, sir. I thought I'd stay in Grimmauld Place for a while. I need some time alone."

"Alone? Albus, you cannot allow the child to stay there on his own!" This from Molly Weasley, who at one time Harry had thought of as a mother. Now, all he could think of was that she wanted to smother him, wanted to keep him as the child she saw him as. Harry knew he had left his childhood behind that night two weeks ago. He would never be the same again. There was a darkness in him now, a darkness that he didn't think anyone else would be able to understand, anyone except Snape.

"There are enough wards on that house to protect me for a few days. I mean it, I want to be alone. No-one will be able to Apparate or Floo in. If you want to visit me, you can ring the doorbell. I may or may not answer it."

"What about the portrait?" asked Tonks. "You know she goes on if we make any noise."

"Don't worry," said Harry. "I know how to deal with Mrs. Black."




Chapter 2: Slytherin Kisses
Part Two

"Albus, are you insane? Potter will never allow me into the house!" protested Snape from his position in an armchair so soft that he felt as if he was drowning in stuffing. Albus smiled and sipped his tea. Snape's own tea sat cooling on Dumbledore's desk; he'd given up drinking anything the headmaster tried to ply him with when he discovered that they were usually laced with calming draughts. Snape didn't need calming thank you very much, he enjoyed being cranky and snarky. It helped to control the little brats and gods knew they needed controlling.

"That's where you're wrong, Severus. It was Harry's idea. He refused guardianship but has agreed that you may act as a companion to him until he returns to school. I thought it was a suitable compromise."

Potter? Agreeing to something so sensible? Was the Potter brat finally growing up at last?

"I still don't get why he wanted it to be me. Potter hates me, headmaster and Merlin knows there is no love lost on my end either. We'll end up hexing each other before the week is out."

Hexing the boy wasn't all he was worried about, but there was no need to tell the headmaster that.He could not do it. He could not spend most of the next few weeks with Harry Potter. Alone with Harry Potter. It was impossible. He couldn't do it. He couldn't.

"Come now, Severus. I thought you and Harry were getting along? You did work together to defeat Voldemort after all. Harry may just be remembering how powerful a wizard you are, he raised no objections when Remus suggested you for the task."

Getting along? Dear Merlin, did the headmaster know? Know what was going through Snape's mind at that moment? At any given moment when he was forced to consider the Boy Who Lived as a boy no longer but a young man. A young who without Snape's conscious decision or consent had carved his way into Snape's heart so forcefully that Snape was surprised he couldn't see scars on his bare chest.

"Lupin suggested that I babysit Potter for the summer?" Snape knew there was a reason why he hated that werewolf, besides the fact that he'd tried to kill him as a student.

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "Don't look so annoyed, Severus. It will do you good to get out of here for a while, I don't think you've ever taken a holiday since you came back to teach here, have you?"

"No, headmaster," sighed Snape. Being a Death Eater then a spy ate into one's holiday plans like weevils through soft bread. Not to mention that if he was away from Hogwarts or somewhere that wasn't equally warded, he would be cut down by those remaining Death Eaters who saw him as a traitor quicker than you could say Azkaban. "Although I hardly think spending the time at the Black house will be conducive to any sort of holiday."

"The place is well warded Severus, you know how paranoid the Blacks were. You'll have nothing to fear during your stay."

No, thought Snape. Nothing to fear but Harry.

***

Harry sent his owl to the school on the fifteenth of July, to let Snape and the headmaster know that he had keyed the Floo at Grimmauld Place to accept Professor Snape and only Professor Snape to enable him to travel without having to go through Muggle London.

Snape took his battered suitcase in one hand and a pinch of Floo powder in the other and spoke his destination clearly. He arrived in the library at Grimmauld Place, the curtains still closed so that it seemed he was in a mortuary for books. The Blacks had an extensive collection of Dark Arts tomes, but he was unwilling to risk taking any of them down from the shelves, it wouldn't have surprised him if the Blacks had booby trapped the library.

He pushed open the door to the hall as quietly as he could, he did not want to start a screaming match with old Mother Black, she'd been bad enough when she was alive. Snape's eyes widened to adjust to the brightness in the hall after the dim library but he realised it wasn't just sunshine causing the glare.

The whole hallway was awash with wet paint, bright lemon for the walls and white for the woodwork. Harry was on the top landing, dressed in an old pair of jeans that were far too large for him; the legs were rolled up a couple of times so he wouldn't trip and they were held up at his waist by a length of rope. Didn't he own a belt? A t-shirt, once blue, now looked like it had been dyed with a yellow and white abstract pattern. The t-shirt was too large as well, the sleeves hung down past Harry's elbows and the neck was so wide that the garment kept slipping from Harry's shoulder. Harry's shoulder was splashed with a little bit of lemon paint; Snape had the strangest urge to lick it off.

Harry didn't notice Snape, he was facing the wall at the top of the stairs and painting away with a roller in hand. He was painting like a Muggle and Snape had never seen someone do that before. His own parents had never decorated Snape Manor, probably worried about offending the previous occupants, but if they had, Snape knew they would have used magic. They would not have condescended to get their hands dirty like this.

Harry was bobbing his head regularly, as though he was listening to music of some sort, but Snape couldn't hear any. Nor could he hear any screaming from the portrait. Snape turned, only to find that the wall the portrait had hung on had been demolished completely, that part of the hall now looking straight into one of the drawing rooms.

"Mr. Potter," he said but the brat continued to ignore his presence. Grumbling under his breath, Snape marched up the stairs and swung Harry round by the shoulder. Harry's binding spell hit him so fast that Snape didn't even have time to go for his own wand. Harry plucked something out of his ear and released the binding spell. Snape glared at him.

"Sorry, Professor. I didn't hear you. You should know better than to sneak up on me."

"I did not sneak, Mr. Potter. I made enough noise charging up those stairs to wake the dead. How come you didn't hear me?"

"I had my headphones on, I was listening to my music. It helps while I work. It takes my mind off things." Harry removed another small black thing from his ear and now Snape could see they were attached by wire to a small round metallic case attached to the rope at Harry's waist.

"This is a Muggle contraption? It allows you to hear music?" Snape was curious despite himself. He'd never had much contact with anything Muggle nature but he was a scientist and very inquisitive by nature.

"Yes, it's called a personal CD player. Do you want to try it?" Harry unclipped it and handed it to Snape.

"CD?" he asked as he took hold of the item.

"Compact disc, it's what the music is recorded and stored on. Sorry, I don't know much else about them."

Snape nodded, as if he had expected anything else. If Potter didn't need the knowledge to get him through his exams or to kill Dark Lords, he wasn't that interested in acquiring it. Potter saw knowledge as something he would be interested in if he could use it, Snape was the opposite. He pursued knowledge, for the value of the knowledge itself, he didn't care whether or not he would ever use it, he just wanted to know things.

He placed one of the small headphones in his ear and listened to the music Harry had been listening to. Not to his taste, certainly, but he couldn't deny that the group playing and singing did have some talent and he was surprised how clear the sounds appeared. He could have been attending a concert.

He handed the CD player back to Harry and glanced around at the newly painted hallway. "Why didn't you use magic to decorate? It would have been a lot quicker."

"I needed something to do, I haven't been sleeping so thought I may as well do something to try and tire myself out, but it doesn't work."

"You haven't been sleeping well?" asked Snape and now that he looked, he could see the dark shadows under Harry's eyes.

"I haven't been sleeping at all," clarified Harry. "I just can't. I even took some Muggle sleeping pills, but they didn't work."

"How long has this been going on?" And why hadn't the stubborn brat told anyone?

"Ever since... ever since my relatives," said Harry, looking down on the floor, as though unwilling to face Snape's gaze. Well, Snape could hardly blame him for that, Snape had been very tempted to use Legilimens on him to try and figure out what was going on in Harry's head. That was the problem, he realised. Harry had no-one to talk to about any of this. No-one had done what he had, none of his peers had murdered a Dark Lord.

"I'm sorry about your relatives, Harry," said Snape and too late he realised what he'd done. He'd called the boy Harry, something he vowed he would never ever do in his presence. Harry didn't seem to notice that Snape had done anything different.

Harry looked up and Snape was shocked to see the boy's eyes swimming in tears, magnified by those ridiculous glasses.

"Oh, God, professor, I'm so awful! I'm so awful!" Harry wrapped his arms around himself as though trying to give himself some comfort. Had the boy never been comforted then? Had no-one held him while he cried?

"Harry? What is it? Do you want to talk about it?" Snape moved closer to the boy on the landing, but Harry stepped too far back, away from him and almost tumbled down the stairs. Reflexes honed from his years of spying, Snape managed to grab hold of Harry and pulled him back, just holding him while Harry sobbed against his chest. Snape didn't know what to do or say to comfort the boy grieving for his lost family. He just held on and said nothing, hoping Harry would get some comfort from being held at least.

"I hate them, Professor! I hate them!" Harry sobbed.

"That's understandable, Harry. The Death Eaters killed your relatives."

Harry looked up at him, the tears slowed to just a trickle now. "Not them. I hate the Dursleys, professor. I'm glad they're dead! I'm glad they suffered, that's why I'm so terrible. I'm glad it happened. Oh, God, I'm glad of it, I'm glad!" Harry sobbed again and buried his face in Snape's robes, clutching at them as if he was afraid that Snape was going to disappear on him. Snape wasn't going anywhere, hadn't Harry realised that by now?

"Harry," asked Snape softly once Harry's weeping seemed to have stopped. "What did they do to you?"






Chapter 3: Slytherin Kisses
Part Three

Harry could have cursed himself. He shouldn't have spoken, he should never have said how he was feeling. And to Snape of all people! How could he have been so dense? Snape was a spy, he never missed a thing and now he knew, now he knew that something had happened. Harry didn't want to talk about it. It was something he just couldn't talk about. Not today, maybe not ever.

He shook his head, still clutching the man's robes. "Please, sir. I can't! I just can't."

How could he talk about this? How could he tell the man in front of him that almost every night at Privet Drive, alone and in pain, Harry had imagined the Dursleys dying? Had imagined them being tortured and killed, sometimes by Harry's own hands. How could he tell Snape that?

"It's okay, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I'm not going to force it out of you."

Harry didn't know why the man was being so understanding with him, it was a little disconcerting. He was much more used to Snape insulting him rather than comforting him.

"Thank you, sir," whispered Harry and released his grip on the man's robes. He'd never been held like that before by anyone and he was unsure of these strange feelings swirling about his gut. It had been nice to be held, he'd never been comforted before and he was very surprised that the man who had offered him comfort was Severus Snape, Potions master and all round snarky git.

"May I ask you something else, Harry?"

"Not about them. I can't talk about them," said Harry firmly.

"No, I wanted to know why you thought I would make a suitable companion. Wouldn't you rather have gone with the Weasleys or spent time with Miss Granger? Or anyone else in the Order for that matter. I was sure Lupin would have jumped at the chance to look after you."

"None of them understand, Professor. They don't know what we did, they don't know about the darkness in me. I don't want to taint any of them with it."

"You think there is darkness in you, Potter?"

"Don't you? You were there, you saw what I did. How could I do that if there wasn't darkness in me? I killed him, Professor. I killed him with my bare hands. I snapped his neck like a twig and enjoyed it. I enjoyed knowing that he could never hurt anyone I loved ever again. Do you think any of them will understand that? I murdered him in cold blood, he wasn't attacking me, there wasn't a battle where I needed to defend myself, I just went to him that night, prepared to kill him. They all think I'm some hero or something, but they're wrong. All I am is a murderer."

"Harry, you're more than that, you know you are. Do you think that Voldemort would have spared you if it came down to it? He's tried to kill you so many times already, how can you say you killed him in cold blood? You did what you had to do to survive, Harry. As do we all."

"Sometimes I wish..." Harry began and stared into those deep black eyes. Snape nodded, Harry didn't even need to say it. Snape understood, more than anyone, for he had probably felt the same so many times. Sometimes Harry wished he hadn't survived the confrontation with Voldemort.

***

Snape helped him to finish painting the hall, he'd cast a paint repelling charm over his clothes and Harry wondered why he'd never thought of that himself. Once they'd finished, they both showered and Harry cooked dinner, enjoying the surprised look on his Potions master's face.

"You didn't know I could cook, did you sir?" asked Harry as he dished up a chicken casserole and took the home made bread out of the oven.

"You're full of surprises, Mr. Potter," said Snape as he poured them both a glass of mineral water. Harry placed the casserole dish in the sink to soak and then took his own place at the kitchen table. He'd wondered if maybe they should eat in the dining room, now that Snape was a guest of sorts, but he found the long cavernous room depressing, and he felt depressed enough already. Harry had eaten every meal in the kitchen and Snape didn't raise any objections to eating there.

Snape tucked into his food with obvious relish. Harry had never had anyone so appreciative of his cooking before and he cast a shy smile in Snape's direction. This felt so strange, him and Snape being almost civil to each other.

"Harry, that was delicious," said Snape after he'd finished his last mouthful. "Where did you learn to cook?"

Clang! Harry barely heard the noise as his cutlery fell to the floor.

"You call this a hard boiled egg, boy? Well, do you? Look at it. Look at that yolk, it's all runny. Did I ask for a runny egg? Well, did I?

"No, Uncle Vernon."

"'No Uncle Vernon', that's all you say these days. I'm sick of it! I'm sick of you! You can't even boil an egg properly! Take off your shirt."

"No, Uncle, please!"

"Do as I say." A hand pulling on his arm as Harry tried to run away. "Don't you dare run away from me, you filthy brat! Get back here! Get back!" Vernon removed the saucepan from the cooker, still filled with hot water. "Maybe this will teach you how to cook properly."

"Harry?" asked a soft voice and Harry slowly came back to himself. Snape was kneeling on the floor by Harry's chair, one hand resting on Harry's knee. To his surprise, Harry didn't object to the man's touch.

"I'm sorry, Professor Snape. I just zoned out for a minute."

"More like half an hour," said Snape standing up and stretching. Harry glanced down at his now cold dinner, he wasn't hungry anymore anyway. He thought these episodes would have ended now that his tormentors were dead, but obviously that was not the case. He would just have to cope like he coped with everything else in his life. Alone.

"I think your lack of sleep is catching up with you," said Snape. "I have some Dreamless Sleep with me, would you take some?"

"Thank you, sir, I'll try it." Harry was just glad the man had seemed to rationalise his zoning out as due to lack of sleep and so wouldn't try and seek another explanation. Harry wasn't sure he could provide one if he was asked.

"Go and get ready for bed, Harry. I'll do the dishes and see you in about half an hour, all right?"

Harry nodded, but he was a little uncomfortable about having the man in his bedroom, having anyone in his bedroom really, but it was only sensible. The Dreamless Sleep worked straightaway and if he drank it downstairs, Snape might have to carry him to bed. Harry didn't like either option but guessed him being dressed for bed and under the covers would be preferable than Snape trying to undress him while he was unconscious.

He performed his evening ablution rituals (pee before bed, then brushed his teeth) and changed into his only pair of pyjamas. They had once been Dudley's and were far too large for Harry and had faded due to so many washes. Harry had tried to shrink them with magic, but either he wasn't very good or the clothes just wouldn't take to it and his spells hadn't worked.

Harry's hands shook as he buttoned up the pyjama shirt and he hoped it stayed on long enough to cover everything. He didn't want Snape to see what had been done to him, he didn't want anyone to see. When Harry heard the stairs creaking, he quickly cast a glamour over himself, the same one he used if he wasn't alone in the Quidditch showers or changing rooms. So even if his top slipped, considering how large it was that was a likely outcome, Snape wouldn't be able to see any of his scars.

Harry propped two pillows up behind him and leaned back just as Snape knocked the bedroom door.

"Come in," called Harry. "It isn't locked."

Snape entered the room, a dark shadow in black robes. He'd discarded his robes sometime before they'd both started in on the painting again but they were back now, as if the man wanted to put some professional distance between them. Harry knew it was an odd sort of situation the two of them found themselves in, a sense of informality that would never have occurred had they still been at Hogwarts. Snape set the potion down on the bedside table, taking a long look at Harry's oversized pyjamas.

"Harry, why are all your clothes too big for you? Is this some new trendy fashion I'm not aware of?"

"No, sir. Except for my uniform and Hogwarts robes, all my clothes were hand me downs. They used to belong to my cousin, they never bought me anything new."

"The Dursleys weren't well off, then?"

"They were comfortable enough, I suppose, but they hated me and never spent a penny on me."

"What about the money your parents left you? Couldn't you have used that to buy your own things?"

"I couldn't suddenly turn up with new clothes. If they found out I had any money, they would have stolen every last knut." Not to mention what other punishments might have been meted out if that happened. "I want to buy new things, but I have no idea where to go. I only know about Madam Malkins for robes, but I need everything."

"Would you - would you like me to accompany you on a shopping trip, Harry? I know the headmaster will probably not allow you to go on your own anyway."

"I wasn't intending in asking his permission, " said Harry and he just knew he was pouting. Why, oh why was everyone still treating him like child?

"Nor was I suggesting it, but I still think I should accompany you. I dread to think what weird things you'll dress yourself in if left to your own devices." The man grinned down at him and Harry felt his tummy flutter.

"Thank you, sir. It will be good to get a second opinion. I want to burn everything that belonged to them, I don't want any of it. I want nothing of theirs. Nothing." Harry was breathing shallowly and he tried to get back to normal, he didn't want Snape to see how distressed he could still get over them.

"Wait here, Harry," said Snape. "I'll be back in a moment."

He returned a few moments later with a black nightshirt which had a row of tiny white buttons down to the waist of it. "It will still be a little bit large for you," said Snape. "But I thought you might prefer it to those hideous pyjamas."

Harry choked on his tears. "T -thank you," he stammered, taking the nightshirt from Snape's hand. Snape turned around to give Harry some privacy while he changed. Oh, God, Harry thought he was going to bawl like a toddler, he was given privacy, and he almost fell to the floor in relief. Snape would never know how much that simple act meant to him.

Harry yanked the top off, not even bothering to undo the buttons before tugging down the legs and pulling the nightshirt on. Snape was right about the size, it was far too big for Harry. Where the garment might well have reached Snape's knees, it almost reached Harry's ankles and the sleeves hung well past his wrists. Harry rolled them up, enjoying the feel of the material on his skin. For the first time in his life he was wearing an item of sleepwear that felt clean, that felt new. Harry felt something irritating the back of his neck and reached up, his hand encountering a label. The nightshirt was new.

Snape had given him something new to wear. Harry felt his eyes filling once more. He took off his glasses and rubbed frantically at his eyes, feeling embarrassed at how easy the tears came tonight. "You can look back round," said Harry, setting the pyjamas on the bed in neat pile.

When he turned around, Snape took out his wand and cast a spell at Dudley Dursely's old pyjamas. When the spell finished, there was nothing left of them, not even ashes. They'd been completely incinerated. Harry clambered back into bed and lay back against the pillows again. He had no words to say how much tonight meant to him. Snape understood, even without Harry explaining what had happened at the Dursleys, he understood.

Snape handed him the vial of Dreamless Sleep and almost immediately Harry felt his eyes droop. "Goodnight, sir," mumbled Harry as slumber sought to claim him.

He wasn't sure whether or not he heard the returning goodnight from his professor.




Chapter 4: Slytherin Kisses
Part Four

Shopping. That's what people the world over had decided to call this ninth level of hell. The crowds, the noise, how could anyone stand it? Snape regretted his offer to take Harry shopping almost as soon as they'd stepped onto the tube train to take them into the heart of Muggle London. Three people had already trod on his feet on the train and if it hadn't been for the secrecy act, he would have hexed the lot of them long since. Harry would have to decide that he wanted to try some Muggle shops first.

"Sir, sir," said Harry beside him, as if he'd been saying it for some time and Snape hadn't noticed. "This is our stop."

Snape glanced up at the map above their heads, nodded, before following Harry out of the automatic doors. The Muggles had come up with some ingenious inventions to cope without magic, but Snape knew he'd still rather be a wizard than a Muggle. Harry helped him negotiate the ticket barrier, giggling madly when Snape got stuck in the middle of two bits of metal. The glower sent in Harry's direction soon put a stop to that quickly enough, although he had quite enjoyed Harry's smile.

Oxford Street was awash with people, there was hardly room to walk on the pavement and Snape had to restrain himself from actually reaching out and holding Harry's hand; he was that terrified they would get separated. It didn't have anything to do with the fact that he wondered how Harry's hand would feel nestled against his. No, that had no bearing on the urge at all. None. At all.

Three hours and about twenty shops later, they were laden down with bags containing Harry's new clothes. There were shirts, t-shirts, jumpers, jeans, dress trousers, shorts, socks and underwear, jackets and a host more besides. Snape could hardly wait until they could get to Diagon Alley so he could shrink the bags and boxes, there was nowhere unobtrusive to cast a spell in such a crowd.

"Do you need anything else?" asked Snape, hefting the bags from one hand to the other. Harry was carrying a few bags as well, but Snape didn't want the boy to carry too much, he looked so thin that a wisp of air could have knocked him off his feet. When had he last eaten? Snape well remembered that Harry hadn't finished his casserole last night and he didn't eat much at breakfast either. "Or shall we take a break for lunch?"

"Lunch," agreed Harry. "Then I want to look for some shoes and boots. Do you think I need any more shirts? I only got three, do you think that's enough?"

"Buy some more if you wish, Harry. It's your money."

"It is, isn't it?" said Harry, grinning, as if he'd only just realised that. "Where do you want to eat?"

"Anywhere, my feet are killing me, I just want to sit down."

"Sorry, Professor, I didn't know this was going to take so long. How about here?" Harry pushed open the door to an Italian restaurant and they waited patiently for a few moments before they were shown to their seats. Murals on the walls depicted scenes from Roman mythology and mock marble pillars seemingly held the roof up, although Snape and Harry both realised they were only there for show.

The waiter left them with plastic menus and a basket of breadsticks. Snape nibbled absently on one while he perused the menu, Harry went straight to the menu and ignored the bread completely. Harry was wearing one of his new t-shirts, plain white which showed off the boy's bronze skin to perfection. Snape found himself more interested in the boy in front of him than any lunch. Harry nibbled on his bottom lip while he tried to decide what to order, breaking the skin and Snape wanted to soothe those lips with his own. He should not be thinking this. He should not be thinking things like that about a student.

Harry reached up to scratch his nose and Snape gasped. "Harry! What happened to your arms?"

Harry jolted, looking at Snape as if he'd been caught red-handed in a cookie jar and blanched. "Sir, it's nothing."

"It doesn't look like nothing to me," said Snape. "Have you been using charms to hide these?"

Harry stared at his arms, at the uneven puckered flesh, scarred beyond anything resembling skin at all. Harry had been badly burned at some stage and it had never healed properly. "I - I forgot to renew them," he said miserably.

"Why did you hide them, Harry?"

"Not here, please don't ask me here." Harry wrung his hands together, his chest rising and falling rapidly, as if he couldn't get air in his lungs quickly enough.

Snape nodded. "Okay, Harry. We'll have lunch and finish shopping but later you and I are going to have a little talk. And you will tell me what those people did to you. Are we clear?"

"Yes sir," Harry's voice was barely more than a whisper and Snape felt a little uncomfortable that he might be forcing the boy to talk about it too soon, but he knew he needed to talk about it. It was eating Harry up inside, whatever it was and Snape for one was not going to stand by and let dead Muggles destroy the Boy Who Lived. There were enough people out there already who were prepared to do just that.

***

After lunch Harry was very subdued, he only bought one pair of shoes and a pair of boots, not bothering with any more clothes at all. Snape knew he was probably worried about what they would talk about, but Harry hadn't said he wouldn't do it. Had no-one ever asked Harry about this before? As Head of Slytherin House, Snape had come across his fair share of abused children, too many, but was that the case with Harry?

Wouldn't his relatives have doted on him, especially his aunt, as the last remaining link to her sister? What about the raggedy clothes, Harry telling him they would never spend any money on Harry? Snape didn't think he'd lied about that and the boy had almost been in tears at Snape giving him a nightshirt, such a simple gesture did not deserve such gratitude as Harry seemed to be feeling over it. There was more going on here than met the eye and Snape was determined to get to the bottom of it.

They floo'd back from the Leaky Cauldron, amid chattering crowds who were probably wondering what Harry was doing with Snape, but he ignored them as always. Harry took his purchases straight upstairs without even talking to Snape. It was two hours before he came back down again, looking as if he'd just come to his own execution. He was pale and trembling, standing nervously by the door of the kitchen.

"I'm not going to hurt you, Harry," said Snape. "I just want to talk to you, that's all, I promise."

Harry came in and sat down on a chair as far away from Snape's as he could get. "W - what do you want to know?"

"How about we start with those burns on your arms, how did you get those?"

"The scars on my left arm are from about a week when I was four. It was the first time I was allowed to cook anything, the first time I was allowed near the cooker. Uncle Vernon wanted a hard boiled egg but I could never get the timing right, it was always runny in the middle. Each time I gave him runny eggs, he poured the saucepan of hot water over my arm, so that I would learn how to boil it properly."

"He did what?" Snape roared, he could hardly believe what he was hearing. "Were you treated? Did they at least take you to a Muggle healer, what are they called, doctors?"

"No, sir, I was never at a doctor's in my life. The Dursleys didn't care if they killed me, maybe that's what they were hoping for. He burned my arm every day for a week until I was delirious with pain. They just shut me in my cupboard for days until I just couldn't scream anymore, I'd lost my voice." Harry's own voice now was a little on the shaky side and Snape knew if the Dursleys weren't already dead, he would kill them for what they'd done to this boy.

"And your right arm?" prompted Snape, now that he had Harry in a talkative mood he was going to get as much out of him as possible.

"That -that was from my Aunt Petunia. They hated magic, they hated me. I accidentally blew up Aunt Marge. When I came back after third year, my aunt held me down and burned me with her curling tongs. She was screaming at me, hysterical, how I was a freak and I should be lucky they even let me in the house, giving me their food and looking after me. Some of the other scars, I don't even remember how I got them, sir. I just knew that every night I was in that house, I was in constant pain and constant fear that it was going to happen again. I even tried to run away once when I was eight or nine, can hardly remember now, I just had to get away. I ran to the park and a man tried to abduct me in his car. Run from my abusers only to land in the hands of a paedophile, lucky, huh?"

Harry's eyes were dripping silent tears, but he didn't even seem to be aware that he was crying.

"Harry, did that man rape you?" Snape asked softly.

"No, sir, I kicked him off me and ran back to Privet Drive, where I was beaten black and blue and sent to my cupboard without dinner. That happened a lot, but it felt even more awful that night, I'd wanted them to hug me, to tell me it was all right, but they never did that, never."

"Harry, did they ever touch you sexually? Molest you?"

"Not exactly," said Harry, trailing his hands across the table top, seeming to find the woodgrain fascinating

"What do you mean?"

"They - they never touched me, but they would humiliate me, make me do things."

"What sort of things?"

"Unless they had visitors, I had do to all my chores around the house - n - n - naked and I never had any privacy. They would - they would make me play with myself, touch my - myself, down there, if I didn't, I would get Vernon's belt. All three of them watched me, I was too mortified to come, I didn't really even get hard, but they made me do it all the same, they just wanted to humiliate me. I couldn't go to the bathroom on my own, one of them was always there by the door, watching me."

"What do you mean watching you?"

"They wouldn't let me close the bathroom door, sir, one of them would hold it open and watch while I - while I -"

But it was obviously too much for Harry and he broke down in sobs, his shoulders heaving with effort. Snape did not consider that what he was about to do bordered on inappropriate or what anyone would say if they ever found out. Hadn't Harry said that all he wanted was comfort? Comfort that had been denied to him growing up.

Had Dumbledore known about this? Had he known and sent Harry back there, year after year to suffer this abuse?

Merlin, what those bastards had done to Harry was criminal, it was grotesque. They were just lucky they were already dead. Snape was across the room in two strides, wrapping his arms around the sobbing and shaking boy. "Ssh, Harry, it's all right, it's all right," he crooned over and over. Eventually Harry's sobs subsided and he wriggled, trying to get out of Snape's grasp.

Snape let him go as soon as he realised Harry wanted it, he was well aware that Harry might have problems being touched and he didn't want to be the cause of any discomfort. When had this happened? When had looking out for Harry, protecting him from certain death become this? Become wanting to comfort him, wanting to help him, wanting himself to be noticed as more than just a teacher?

"You - you must be so disgusted with me," said Harry to the floor.

"No, Harry, the only people I am disgusted with in this whole affair are the Dursleys. What they did to you was wrong, very wrong. You were a child entrusted into their care and they abused you, no I am not disgusted with you, Harry. None of it was your fault. You did nothing wrong. Why didn't you tell anyone what was happening to you? Was there no-one who could help you?"

"I told my Muggle teacher at primary school, she saw the burns on my arms one day and I told her my uncle had done it. They even had the police and the social workers in, but Vernon convinced them it was an accident and he beat me so hard that night I could hardly move. I never told anyone else again, it would only have been worse if I'd told."

Snape wondered how on earth Harry could think it could get any worse than what he'd already told Snape about. This abuse had been going on for years, he realised, even the years Harry had been at Hogwarts. Why had no-one picked up on this before? His friends, his teachers? Snape knew he had to add himself to that list of oblivious people, but then he hadn't been paying as much attention to Harry in previous years, except to look out for him as per Dumbledore's orders.

"Harry, is there anything else you want to talk about?" asked Snape gently.

"No, thank you, sir. I think - I think I'd just like to go to bed now." The boy sounded exhausted and Snape knew it must have taken a lot out of him to confide in him, to confide in anyone. Harry had been hiding for years, it was almost second nature by now.

"Would you like some more Dreamless Sleep?"

"No, but thanks. I'll just try and sleep on my own tonight."

"Okay, Harry, goodnight."

"Goodnight, sir."

It was only after Harry left that Snape realised the boy hadn't eaten any dinner again. That was something Snape was going to do his best to change.



Chapter 5: Slytherin Kisses
Part Five

Harry lay in bed that night, going over everything he'd revealed to Snape, as if once he'd spoken about it, he wanted to tell him everything now. He felt curiously lighter, as if a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders, a burden he wasn't even aware of until it was removed.

Snape hadn't judged him; he'd just listened to Harry's terrible tale and tried his best to offer comfort. Harry knew that Snape was right, it wasn't his fault. He'd been abused, starved, beaten and humiliated but there was nothing wrong with him, there was something wrong with people who would do that do a child. It wasn't Harry's fault, none of it. But somewhere, somewhere deep down inside, there was a scared little boy who wondered if it was.

***

Snape never mentioned Harry's relatives again unless Harry himself brought the subject up, and much to his surprise Harry found that he was seeking the man out more and more to talk about it. It was if the floodgates had finally opened now that he'd spoken out and he told Snape everything the Dursleys had done to him.

Feeding him on leftover scraps only ever third or fourth day. Harry never had enough food, with a cousin like Dudley there were never very many leftovers. Being locked in a cupboard for ten years, then a locked bedroom except when he was expected to do his chores, a cat-flap cut into the bedroom door where they pushed the little food they gave him. Beaten just for being alive, just for being Harry. Dudley and his gang going 'Harry Hunting', beating him up and spitting on him when they caught him. Dudley deliberately peeing in Harry's bed so that he'd get beaten for being a bed wetter.

"They never beat me for that," said Harry. "They never really needed a reason to hit me. But they would hold me down, make me lie on the wet sheets and said I had to sleep on them if I couldn't control my bladder. As soon as they left and locked the door, I had to get off the bed, I couldn't even get to the bathroom to wash myself. I wished I could use magic to get clean, but I didn't want to get expelled so I had to lie there on the floor, dirty and stinking and feeling so ashamed. I felt as if the smell would never go away, no matter how many baths, how many showers I took. I sometimes think I still reek of it, of all the nights they made me lie there."

Harry was crying softly now, leaning his head on Snape's shoulder. The two of them were sitting on the sofa in the drawing room, Snape's arm draped around him. It was the night before Harry's birthday and like every night for the past couple of weeks, Harry found himself in his usual position of cuddling up to Snape on the sofa. Whenever Harry asked if he could talk to Snape about things, Snape had always asked if Harry would like to be held, he never presumed anything and Harry loved the man for that. It was always his decision, and Harry knew that he was starting to see the man as more than a professor, more than a friend. He was just a little terrified of what that might mean.

Sometimes he'd caught Snape staring at him in an odd way, a look that Harry would describe as interested, but he wasn't sure what form that interest was taking. Did Snape think of him as a student, as a friend or was he too interested in something more? Harry was more than a little nervous and confused, but he knew now that Snape would not do anything to hurt or scare him. If, if they were ever to pursue anything more than a teacher and student relationship, Harry knew that it would be up to him to make the first move, as Snape would probably never risk such an action. The thought of that was enough to send Harry hibernating. He would never be comfortable enough to pursue someone, never mind a grown man.

"I'm so sorry," said Snape, running his hand along Harry's shoulder in a soothing motion. "I wish there was something I could say to make it better, but I know there isn't. Only you know how you feel, Harry. You were the one who went through it, but please, if you need to talk about anything, I'm here. I hope you know that."

"I do," sniffled Harry, he fetched a clean hankie from his pocket to wipe his eyes and nose. "Thank you. You don't mind, do you? That I'm telling you these awful things?"

"No, Harry. I believe it will help you in the long run if you can talk about it. Have you told anyone else?"

"No, sir. I don't think Ron and Hermione would understand, they both come from such normal homes. I think - I think maybe you can understand better what I went through, am I right? Sorry, I didn't mean to pry."

"That's quite all right, Harry. You were right, my father was never what you could call a gentle man and more than once I was the person he took his frustrations out on. I try not to dwell on it. The abuse stopped as soon as I started Hogwarts, he didn't want anyone at school wondering where my bruises came from. I'm surprised the Dursleys weren't worried about being found out when you came to Hogwarts."

"I don't think they ever really thought about it. I was so ashamed at what they'd done to me that they knew I would try and hide it, I wouldn't tell again after what happened with my primary school teacher and they knew it."

Harry looked up, straight into the Potions master's eyes and he felt his heart stutter in his chest. The grandfather clock in the hall struck midnight. "Happy birthday, Harry," said Snape as he lowered his head and before Harry even knew what was happening, the man was kissing him and moaning into his mouth. His tongue was pushing against Harry's mouth, trying to gain entrance. Snape's hands left his shoulders and trailed down his back, caressing him through the thin fabric of his t-shirt. Harry could feel Snape's erection pressing on his hip. Everything was too sudden, too fast and Harry panicked.

Harry pulled away, "Please, sir, stop," he gasped into the man's flushed face. Snape sat up, looking mortified.

"Harry. Oh, God, Harry, I'm so sorry. I should never have kissed you. It won't happen again."

Not happen again? The most wonderful kiss Harry'd ever had wouldn't happen again?

"No, it's not that. It's just - it's just, could we take things a bit slower?"

Snape's hands were shaking. "Take things? You mean - you want to pursue things with me?"

Harry flushed and nodded. "I do, I've been feeling things for you for a while now and I know you feel something for me. It's just, I'm not used to - to -" Oh, this was an embarrassing conversation he would rather not have. "I haven't done anything before and I just want to take it slow, is that all right?"

"Of course it is, Harry." Snape cupped Harry's face in his hands, stroking his cheeks. "Harry, I would like nothing better than to have a relationship with you, but we can't. You're my student, it was wrong of me to kiss you tonight, I'm sorry."

"You're - you're turning me down? You don't want me?" Harry wished his voice didn't sound so shaky. "You don't like me?"

"Oh, Harry, of course I like you, but we can't do anything about this until you've left school."

"So you're saying that you'd wait? You'd wait that long, for me?"

"It's less than a year, Harry. I don't want to do anything that would jeopardise your position in the school, you'd get expelled for having an affair with a teacher. I don't want to take advantage of you, and if we started seeing each other while you were still my student, that's what it would be. I won't do that to you."

"You'd get in trouble too, wouldn't you?" said Harry, only just realising this. If he'd get expelled, there was no way Snape could stay on, he'd be fired and would not be able to remain at Hogwarts. Not be safe. It was far too risky, Harry realised, no matter how both of them might wish it otherwise. "And you still kissed me. Why? Why did you kiss me tonight?"

"I don't know, I've been thinking about it for a while, what it would be like to kiss you, tonight it just seemed so right, a birthday kiss for the birthday boy. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable, I got a little carried away."

"You didn't, but I meant what I said, about us taking things slow. I just hadn't realised that slow would mean until I'd left school," Harry smiled at him, feeling much better. If Snape was prepared to wait, didn't that mean that what he was feeling for Harry was more than just lust?

"You don't mind the waiting?" asked Snape.

"No, it'll be better this way, won't it? Once I've left school I can do whatever I like, I can date whoever I like and no-one can say anything about it. I don't want you to get fired over me. We can still talk, though, can't we? I can visit you sometimes?" Harry had a pang in his chest at the thought that once back at school, they would have to go back to being enemies, that they wouldn't share these little chats anymore.

"I think something of that nature might be able to be arranged, you'll find out more once you're back at school."

"More about what?" asked Harry.

"You'll see. It's a surprise."

"Will I like it?"

"I hope so," smiled Snape and Harry had to fight the urge to kiss the man in gratitude. They weren't allowed to do any more kissing, but right then, all of seventeen and fifteen minutes old, Harry wanted to kiss Snape again more than anything in the world.

"Harry, before we say goodnight, there is something else I've been meaning to talk to you about."

"Oh?" Little warning bells began to ring in Harry's head and they brought a few louder friends along for company.

"Yes, about you're eating habits, mainly. I noticed you haven't been eating much since I've been here and you've skipped more meals than eaten them, it can't be healthy. Are you trying to starve yourself?"

"I just don't have a large appetite," replied Harry. "I'm not used to being able to eat whatever I want, when I want. I'm not really used to food, all right? Did you know I ate so much on my first night at Hogwarts that I spent most of the evening in the bathroom being sick? I just didn't know how much a normal person should be eating, I ate far too much and it made me ill. I never pigged out like that again, but I just can't eat a lot, I'm sorry."

"I'm just worried about you, Harry. You should be eating more than you are."

"I - I'll try and do better," said Harry. "For you."

"Don't do it for me, Harry. I want you to feel better for your sake, not mine."



Chapter 6: Slytherin Kisses
Part Six

On the first of September, Snape accompanied Harry to Kings Cross station and stayed while they waited for Ron and Hermione. Snape would be Apparating back to Hogwarts once he'd seen Harry into the hands of his friends. The other students were milling about the platform, casting worried glances in Snape's direction and Harry wondered what they were thinking. It was very unusual to see Snape and Harry in each other's company, never mind not arguing.

Harry wanted a goodbye hug from Snape, but knew that was an impossibility at the moment. They'd already said their goodbyes back at Grimmauld Place, with Harry hugging the man so tight it hurt to breathe. Now they stood, not even speaking. What could they say in front of so many witnesses that wouldn't be construed the wrong way?

"Miss Granger, Mister Weasley, Miss Weasley," said Snape and Harry looked up to see Ron, Hermione and Ginny trot along the platform with their luggage. A porter took their things onto the train, Hermione turned to Professor Snape. "Hello, sir, how was your holiday?"

"It was tolerable, Miss Granger, and yours?"

Harry tried his best not to laugh. Snape was engaging in an almost civil conversation with his friends? Maybe the man was mellowing a little after all.

"It was fine," she said. "My parents took me to Italy."

"Indeed, well, I must be off. Your friends are waiting, Mr. Potter," said Snape, looking sadly at Harry.

"Yes, sir, thank you sir," said Harry. "For everything."

"You're welcome," said Snape before he Apparated with a loud pop.

Hermione grabbed Harry's arm and dragged him into an empty carriage, quickly joined by Ron and Ginny. Ron locked the door behind him before he sat down and gave Harry a confused stare. "What was all that about, Harry? What were you doing with Snape?" demanded Hermione, from the curious looks on the two Weasleys' faces, he guessed they wanted to know too.

"We spent the summer together," said Harry, hoping he didn't sound too dreamy.

"With Snape,?" spluttered Ron. "But why? Why would anyone want to spend time with that greasy git?"

"He isn't greasy!" Harry blurted out before he could stop himself. The other three occupants of the carriage stared at him as if he'd grown two heads. That might have been more understandable than that he'd actually defended Snape. "It's all the potion fumes, that's what makes his hair greasy, but it isn't, not really."

Too much information, how the heck was he supposed to know what Snape's hair felt like?

Still no response from his friends who were doing a very good impression of stunned trout.

"Look, you know what happened at the start of summer, well Dumbledore sent Snape to look after me, he didn't want me being on my own with those Death Eaters still on the loose."

Ron laughed, "Well, why didn't you say so, Harry? That's perfectly reasonable, Snape has saved your hide before. And here you had us thinking you'd gone an fallen in love with the bloke or something!"

"Naw," said Harry. "Nothing like that." But Hermione was giving him an odd, thoughtful look.

***

Harry managed to eat a little of the numerous dishes at the start of term feast, but he wasn't really hungry. Snape had been watching him since the start and he just hoped no-one else noticed. After dessert had finished and the plates were cleared away, Professor Dumbledore stood at the lectern to give his speech.

"Welcome to Hogwarts, first years and a welcome back those of you who have returned. This year, after much deliberation between myself and the staff and I am pleased to announce the return of the Hogwarts Apprenticeship Program. This is a great honour for those seventh years chosen, your professors have taken into consideration your marks and aptitude to the subject over the past six years before deciding who they think would most benefit from being taken on as an apprentice." Dumbledore coughed before continuing.

"As well as their normal classes, the apprentices will receive extra tutoring in the chosen field to enable them to study for a Masters in that discipline. They will be spending three hours each evening after dinner and five at the weekends being mentored. Depending on their workload, the apprentices may decide to take their NEWTs first and then an extra years training before going for their Masters, or they may do both courses concurrently. Your mentor will be able to help you decide which option might be best for you." Dumbledore smiled down at the faces in the hall as if he'd just given them an extra treat.

Hermione was bound to get an Apprenticeship, Harry just knew it.

"And now, I will read out the names of those who have been offered this wonderful opportunity. Those called will remain in the Hall afterwards please where your professors will talk more to you about this. Jamie Stevens, Astronomy with Professor Sinistra." The Ravenclaw table had never been this noisy before, whooping and yelling at their housemate being offered the Apprenticeship.

"Hermione Granger, Arithmancy with Professor Vector."

Now it was the Gryffindors turn to yell and cheer.

"Ernie Macmillan, Herbology with Professor Sprout."

The Hufflepuffs clapped politely and Ernie was beaming from ear to ear. That was surprising, if Harry would have picked anyone to become a Herbology Apprentice, he would have guessed Neville, and looking at Neville's disappointed visage, he guessed Neville was thinking the same.

"Blaise Zabini, Charms with Professor Flitwick." The Slytherin table shouted so much that it sounded like they were at a Quidditch match.

"This year, Madam Pomfrey has also decided to take on a Healing Apprentice, Neville Longbottom."

Neville looked as if he'd just lost a knut and found twenty galleons. "I don't believe it," he said almost to himself. "I never get picked for things."

"Congratulations, Neville," said Harry, looking round past Ron to the round faced boy.

"Thanks, Harry. Can you imagine? Me? a Healer?"

"You'll make an excellent Healer, Neville," said Hermione and Neville flushed at the compliment. He seemed to have forgotten all about his disappointment at not being picked for Herbology after all and Harry was glad. He too thought Neville would make an excellent Healer and he wondered if Neville would specialise in helping those who'd been driven insane by magic like his parents had.

"Now, we have one more Apprenticeship to go, Harry Potter, Defence Against the Dark Arts."

"Oh, Harry! That's wonderful!" enthused Hermione. "I knew you'd get that one, of course, but who'll be your professor? I don't see anyone new up there, do you?"

"No," said Harry, unsure how he felt about having extra work in his NEWT year. It wasn't that he wasn't confident in his abilities, he was, but he didn't know if he would be able to cope with the standard required for a Masters in it. Draco Malfoy and the rest of his cronies looked absolutely livid that Harry had been offered the DADA apprenticeship. It would be worth taking it just to rub Malfoy's nose in it and Harry sent a wicked grin the blonde boy's way.

"That brings us to our new Defence teacher this year. Professor Snape has kindly agreed to take on the post of Defence teacher as well as continue to teach Potions."

The Slytherins clapped the loudest, although Harry was quite tempted to join them, but wary how that would look. He just clapped softly and politely like the rest of the school, but inside he was overjoyed. Who cared that the would have to do three extra hours of work a night? It would be spent with Snape and Harry would cope with a lot for that time alone with the man. And Snape had finally got the job he'd always wanted, Harry was so happy for him and he tried to smile in his direction without anyone else noticing.

"Sorry you didn't get picked for anything, Ron," said Hermione.

"That's okay, I get out of doing the extra work. Tough luck, Harry, all that time with Snape. He'll drive you up the wall. Never thought he would have picked you."

"Well Harry's marks have been the highest in Defence for years," explained Hermione. "He probably thinks you would be able to do the Masters if you'd just apply yourself. It's very decent of him, giving you this chance, Harry. I hope you don't waste it."

"No, Mum," smiled Harry and Hermione gave him a soft clip round the ear, but she was smiling.

The rest of the students filed out as Harry waited with the rest of the Apprentices. Each professor walked over to their Apprentices. Harry's heart was playing a wild tune on his ribs as the dark eyed professor stalked ever closer to him.

"Mr. Potter, please follow me," said Snape as he swept out of the Hall in a swirl of black robes. Harry wondered if in any of their lessons, Snape would show him how to do that. Harry gave a quick wave to Hermione before following Snape out and down to the dungeons.

They bypassed the Potions classroom completely and ended up going even further down below the castle proper. The walls here were damp and even colder, green algae growing on some of them. Snape stopped by a particularly ugly specimen and tapped the wall three times. A door appeared in the stone and swung open. "Our quarters, Mr. Potter."

"Our quarters?" gasped Harry.

"Yes, Harry. All the Apprentices will board with their professors rather than the dorms until they complete their Masters. That has always been the tradition. This will be your home too, Harry," Snape added softly. "You will always be welcome here."

Harry followed Snape inside, straight into the living room. It was a cosy room, a small leather sofa, wrinkled from much use and two battered armchairs on each side of the fireplace. There were two desks pushed up against one of the bookcases which lined the wall and a small coffee table in front of the sofa. Harry loved it.

Snape turned and handed Harry a black, old fashioned key. "The key for your room, Harry. You may have privacy whenever you wish it."

Harry hugged Snape, tears dripping beneath his glasses. "Thank you, sir. Thank you."



Chapter 7: Slytherin Kisses
Part Seven

"You didn't eat much at the feast, Harry," said Snape, waving Harry to sit down. Harry took one of the armchairs by the fireplace. "We have a small kitchen, the house-elves keep it well stocked, please feel free to make yourself a snack at any time. I don't want my apprentice fainting from hunger." Snape smiled at him, but he was serious. If Harry didn't start eating more and soon, Harry fainting was a more than likely prospect.

"Sorry, sir. I just wasn't very hungry. I'll try and eat more at breakfast, I promise. Do you - do you really think I'm good enough take a Masters in Defence, professor?"

"I do, Harry. I would not have offered you this apprenticeship otherwise, it would only have been a waste of both our times. Your marks in Defence have been gradually getting better over your school career and you've already surpassed most of your classmates, even taught some of them in fifth year. I'm impressed, quite Slytherin of you to form the DA right under Umbridge's nose. Vile woman."

"Yes," agreed Harry and Snape saw him absently run his fingers over his right hand. Snape could sense the glamour, but why would Harry need a glamour when he was wearing long sleeves? He couldn't remember seeing any burns on Harry's hands, but then Snape hadn't really been looking at his hands before.

"Harry, please remove your glamour a moment."

"Why?" Harry bit his bottom lip, a nervous glance darting about the room, as though seeking an escape route.

"Because I am concerned, what are you trying to hide from me?"

Harry nodded and removed his glamour, holding out both hands for Snape to see. On the back of Harry's right hand were faded scars, letters etched deeply into the skin. I must not tell lies.

"Harry, did your relatives do that to you?"

"No, sir. They're from my detentions with Umbridge, she had a magic quill that used my blood. She didn't believe me about Voldemort being back and I kept losing my temper with her about it. I couldn't believe she was being so stupid."

Snape stood up and marched over to Harry's chair. He took Harry's hand in his and perused the scars there. "Do they still hurt?" he asked softly, stroking the skin. Harry shivered, but he didn't remove his hand from Snape's. Snape was quite happy to let them stay like that indefinitely, but knew it probably wasn't being fair on either of them.

"No, but they stung like blazes when it happened. Do you know in fifth year it was a toss-up between you and Umbridge who I hated the most?" Harry grinned, and Snape knew he was trying to make light of the situation, but Snape could almost feel the boy's distress from the way Harry tensed up.

"Who won?"

"Oh, I hated Umbridge much more than you, sir."

"Severus, Harry. While we are in private, you may call me Severus." Snape released Harry's hand, went back to the sofa and tried not to miss the warmth from Harry's hands. "Your new robes are in your room, Harry as well as all the books you will be studying this year. The apprentices will eat and attend classes as usual with your House, as well as continue to qualify for the Quidditch teams, if you still wish to play."

"You don't mind, sir? Severus," Harry amended quickly.

"As long as it doesn't interfere with your work. Make no mistake Harry, there will be a lot of work for you this year but I am convinced that you are more than capable to cope with it. It is probably a good thing if you keep up with your Quidditch as something to release tension. Physical exercise is a good distraction." Merlin knew they both needed distracting. It was going to be a bit awkward with them sharing the same quarters but Snape was not prepared to march up to Dumbledore and ask that Harry be housed elsewhere because he was feeling things that were not appropriate for a teacher to feel about a student.

Harry blushed a delightful shade of pink and Snape wondered what else might make him blush. "But now, it's late and we both should get some rest. You may use the bathroom first, Harry." Snape waved his wand and the bathroom door swung wide open.

"Thank you, Severus," said Harry, before wandering over to the sofa, bending down and giving Snape a small peck on the cheek.

Snape's hand flew to his cheek as Harry closed the bathroom door. He stared at it for a long time.

***

Sometimes Snape hated the fact that he was at heart an honourable man. They'd been back at school a month, a month spent trying not to moon after a boy who was young enough to be his son, a month spent teaching the boy everything he knew about duelling, Occlumency and plenty more topics besides. Harry took to the course easily and he had plenty of time for Quidditch as well as his studies. Snape didn't tell Harry, but he'd gone to every match Harry played in and even some of the Gryffindor practices if his other commitments allowed it.

Harry looked edible in his apprentice robes of royal blue, with a crest of black and white crossed quills embroidered on the left side. All the apprentices wore blue, but each crest was different, depending on their chosen discipline. But Snape thought only Harry could carry the colour well. He was so proud of Harry and he was sure it showed, even though he tried to be as tough on Harry in Potions and normal Defence lessons as people would expect him to be.

Their evenings were spent on theory and essays, with the weekends for any practical lessons. Harry was an excellent duellist and had bested Snape more than once, but was totally mortified afterwards, afraid that he'd gone to far and hurt his professor.

Snape enjoyed their evening study sessions much more than the practical lessons, for it was then that he could stare at Harry, note the way Harry nibbled on his quill when he was thinking of answers for his essays, the way his eyes would suddenly seem to light up as he grasped a concept that might have eluded him before. Take in how Harry's skin would glow in the light from the fire and torches.

Sometimes Harry would look up from his work and catch Snape staring, their eyes meeting for an eternity, before each flushed and went back to their own work. It was getting more and more difficult to ignore his body's aching demands.

It was wrong to think of a student like this, but Snape so wanted what he'd denied them both. He wanted to spend time kissing Harry, licking Harry, tasting his sweat and wondering if it would taste as sweet as he imagined it. Harry often looked longingly at him too and a couple of times he'd been tempted to just throw caution to the wind and kiss the boy senseless. The memory of their one shared kiss fuelled his need every night, when his hand crushed his length almost violently and he spilled himself on the sheets of his empty bed, crying out Harry's name as he came.

He wanted. He wanted Harry.

***

Harry was having a problem, a very big problem. His libido had decided that now was as good a time as any to suddenly make an appearance, after being virtually non-existent before he'd moved in with Snape. Snape permeated everything in their quarters and Harry was in a state of almost constant arousal whenever he was near the man.

They spent quite a bit of time alone while Snape tutored him in Defence, but that was all they did. But if he was honest, Harry knew that he wanted to spend some of that time doing something more than just talking. Every time he caught Snape's dark gaze on him at meals or in class, Harry was hard and aching, he'd never felt like this before and he really, really wanted to do things with Snape. God, would they be able to last out a year?

He knew they couldn't do anything yet, Harry didn't want to get Snape into trouble, he didn't care if they expelled him, but if Snape got fired, then he would no longer be protected by the Hogwarts wards. Having an affair with Snape was more than wrong, it could end up killing Snape and that was something Harry was not prepared to risk, no matter how much sexual tension there was between them.

As usual, thinking of Snape had blood flowing south to his groin and Harry was glad he'd already gone to bed. Snape was only a thin wall away from him and Harry cast a silencing charm. He had to do something before he exploded. He guessed Snape probably knew that he masturbated, but he couldn't relax if he was worrying that Snape might be able to hear him. His memories of the Dursleys forcing him to do it in front of them were too vivid to risk anyone else knowing what he was doing.

Harry pulled down his pyjama bottoms (a new pair, that fit him well) and began slowly rubbing his prick, he was half hard already, just thinking of what he and Snape might do together, although Harry wasn't entirely sure what that might be. He stroked lazily up and down the length, enjoying the slow build up of sensation as he coaxed himself to full hardness, imagining it was Snape's hands on him. His breathing was getting heavier and Harry could feel himself starting to sweat. He licked his fingers, making them slick before rubbing again, thrusting his hips in a ragged rhythm as he sought the peak. Harry was squeezing his prick frantically now, precome mixing with his saliva, his hips were almost completely off the bed as he pulled and pulled. He felt the orgasm start low down in his belly at the base of his cock and he closed his eyes; seeing Snape's smouldering gaze on him had him shooting like a fountain and he screamed wordlessly as he spilled himself on his fingers and stomach.

Harry held his prick lightly through the aftershocks, he was very sensitive there after he'd started coming, but he didn't want to let go just yet, and eventually his come stopped flowing.

Sweat was dripping into his eyes, he was exhausted, he was a sticky mess, but Harry smiled to himself. If he came like that with just a fantasy of Snape, imagine what it would be like to actually be with him. Harry took out the calendar he'd hidden under his mattress and crossed out that day's date, 1st October. The 26th of June of the next year had been ringed in red. The day Harry would be leaving Hogwarts and the day he would no longer be Professor Snape's student.

Harry cast a cleansing charm over himself and the sheets, grinning as he fell asleep, hoping he would dream of the Potions master. For his dreams were getting very inventive of late.




Chapter 8: Slytherin Kisses
Part Eight

It was Halloween when the world around them started to crumble. Harry should have realised, he should never have let himself get so content. Happiness never lasted.

***

"Mr. Malfoy, what colour is your potion?" Snape paused by Malfoy's desk, his eyebrows arched in a frown. All the class were staring at them both, even Harry, although he still tried to concentrate on his own work. There were only eight students in the NEWTs class, two from each house and they all worked alone.

"Purple sir," said Malfoy, giving his Head of House an equal glare. Oh, Harry was enjoying this, there was no doubt about it. Not only had he beaten Malfoy to gain the DADA Apprenticeship, but it seemed that now the war was over and Snape's true allegiances had been revealed, he delighted in tormenting Lucius Malfoy's son whenever he got the chance. After Malfoy's escape from Azkaban in sixth year, it was due to Snape's testimony that he was back in prison. Draco hadn't taken the Dark Mark, but there was no doubt in Harry's mind whose side the younger Malfoy had been on, no matter what he'd said to the Wizengamot.

"Read the last line of instructions if you would, Mr. Malfoy," Snape turned and pointed his wand at the blackboard.

"If the sedative draught has been brewed correctly it should now be a pale yellow colour."

"Pale yellow, Malfoy, not purple." With that, Snape cast a spell and removed the contents of Malfoy's cauldron. "You will start again."

Malfoy looked livid, his pale face flushed with anger but he didn't talk back.

Once Snape had moved away, Harry glanced over at Malfoy's table and whispered, "What's wrong Malfoy, not the teacher's pet any more, are you?"

"Oh, you'd know all about that, wouldn't you, Potter? Do you think I don't know the reason he picked you for that stupid apprenticeship?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just that no-one thinks it's only quarters you two are sharing." Malfoy smirked and turned to his potion. "That's how you got the apprenticeship, Potter, wasn't it? You took it up the arse. I heard you did it for your uncle too. Quite the little whore, aren't you, Potter?"

"Take that back," hissed Harry.

"Make me," challenged Malfoy. Harry didn't know why he did it, or how he suddenly found himself next to Malfoy's worktable, his hands bunched into fists as he slammed his hand again and again into Malfoy's ugly, smirking face. Blood was flying everywhere and Harry thought he might have broken the other boy's nose, there was a crunch as his knuckles connected with it.

Hermione and Jamie Stevens were pulling him away from Malfoy, pinning his arms by his sides as Harry struggled to get out of their gasp. His hands hurt but he barely felt it, he just wanted another go at Malfoy. How dare he - how dare he insinuate that Snape would - that Snape would ever use his position like that!

"Potter!" roared Snape and Harry turned to face the burning countenance of his professor. "What is the meaning of this? Attacking a fellow student in my class? Fifty points from Gryffindor and you Mr. Potter will have detention every night this night this week with Argus Filch! How dare you cause such a display! I am ashamed to call you my apprentice. As of now all your privileges are revoked until further notice. No Hogsmeade visits, no access to the Restricted section of the library, no attendance at the Halloween feast and no Quidditch!"

"Yes, sir," said Harry in a small voice. He knew he deserved the punishments, he wasn't going to argue about that.

Oh, God, Snape's face was an unbecoming shade of purple and Harry felt his heart sink to somewhere near his shoes. He'd really gone and done it this time, Snape was so disappointed in him and Harry was disappointed in himself. He shouldn't have let Malfoy provoke him, but that was like asking the sun not to set. He and Malfoy provoked each other just by breathing.

"Mr. Zabini, please escort Mr. Malfoy to the hospital wing."

"Yes, sir. Right away, sir," said Blaise, taking Malfoy's elbow.

"Just you wait, Potter," sneered Malfoy from the door. blood still dripping from his nose. "You'll get yours, you and him both!"

Snape turned back to the class. "Class dismissed, you may have an early lunch. Potter, stay behind."

"Yes, sir," said Harry, feeling about as small as an insect and he did have a horrible lurching feeling in his tummy that Snape was going to crush him under his boot. He shouldn't have hit Malfoy, he knew he shouldn't no matter what the other boy had said. Harry had just been so angry he wasn't even thinking straight, he hadn't even thought of magic to hurt Malfoy, he wanted to physically hurt him with his bare hands, the same way he'd killed Voldemort. Harry was trembling like a leaf in the wind by the time Snape had warded and locked the classroom door. Oh, God, what if he'd ended up killing Malfoy? Was that all he was after all, a murderer?"

Snape knelt down by Harry's desk, his eyes looking dull. Harry couldn't bear to see, so he closed his own eyes.

"I can still see you, Harry," said Snape. "Now are you going to tell me what that was all about?"

"I'm sorry, sir." Harry was holding back tears.

"That doesn't answer my question, Harry."

"Malfoy said some things."

"I know that, Harry. What sort of things?"

"About - about me and you. That I'd - that I'd only got the apprenticeship because I let you - because I let you - you know, with me. He said I was a whore."

"Did he now?" growled Snape. "That boy doesn't have the brains he was born with. You should not have let him provoke you, Harry. He's only looking to get you expelled and me fired. He sees it as our fault that his father is in prison, ignore him next time."

"I didn't want him to say things like that about you. You would never do that, never take advantage of someone like that." Harry paused and opened his eyes. "Even if that someone wanted you to."

Snape's breath hitched and his eyes suddenly brightened. "Harry," he said softly. "You know we can't."

"I know sir, but I just wanted you to know that one day when we can, I do want to with you. I really am sorry, I know it was wrong of me to attack Malfoy like that. I'll have to let the team know that I won't be able to play this afternoon."

"You had a match today? I didn't know about that one." Did Snape know about his others then?

"Yes, against Hufflepuff. It was meant to be just before the Halloween feast tonight."

"Harry, you know I have to punish you, but I think you can play in this one match. It wouldn't be fair on your teammates if they have to try and find someone to fill in for you at such short notice. But after this, no more Quidditch until I decide otherwise, are we clear? I still have to punish you."

"Yes, sir, thank you sir." That was more generosity that Harry would have expected.

"By the way, Harry, you didn't happen to see my hairbrush anywhere about in our rooms? I seem to have misplaced it. Haven't seen it for about a month, I had to conjure a new one, but it just isn't the same."

"No, professor, I haven't. Sorry."

"Very well, Harry, you may go."

Harry left, feeling a little better. Okay, so he still had detention and no Hogsmeade visits, but at least today he would get to play in the match. He was a little disappointed that he wouldn't be at the feast afterwards, he would have enjoyed spending some time with his friends, but he knew he deserved it. As Harry walked towards the Quidditch changing rooms, his prick decided to make itself felt and Harry tried to stifle a groan. Trying to ride a broom while his prick was trying to drill a hole through the wood was so painful that half the time, he just wanted the game over and didn't really care who won.

Thankfully, his erection eased off by the time he'd changed into his robes and hauled his Firebolt out onto the pitch. It seemed the whole school had come out to see the match, but there were so many faces in the crowd that Harry couldn't make them out as individuals, only as one large entity. He knew Hermione would probably be there, supporting both he and Ron and he smiled at his friend as they flew onto the pitch.

The match was over in half an hour, and he hadn't had to suffer it by being plagued with an erection. Thank heavens for small mercies. Harry was clapped on the back by his team mates as the players made their way back to the showers. There was something black on the edge of Harry's vision, beneath the stands.

Snape. His heart fluttered against his ribs. Had Snape come to the match to see him? Normally Snape would only attend the Slytherin matches. Harry waved his team mates on and walked over to where Snape was standing.

"Very impressive, Mr. Potter. You are a natural on a broom."

"Thanks, professor. You were watching, then?" Harry toyed with the handle of his Firebolt, noting how Snape's eyes blazed when he did it. He stopped, not sure how much he could tease the man after the mood he was in today.

"I find my interest in Quidditch quite renewed this season. I expect to see you in our quarters shortly, Mr. Potter, not at the feast."

"You're not going?"

"I thought it best to keep an eye on you, no guessing what you might get up to left to your own devices."

"No," agreed Harry, trying his best not to smile. His punishment was turning out to be anything but. Spend the time alone with Snape? How could that be considered a punishment?

Harry almost skipped to the changing rooms. Snape had come to see him play, had been coming to see him play, maybe even since the start of the year. The changing rooms were empty when he reached them, all of his teammates must have been and gone already.

Harry disrobed and walked naked to one of the shower stalls. He much preferred it like this, when things were quiet and he could take his time. The water was still warm and Harry stood under the spray, letting the water pound down against his neck, easing away the tension of the past day. God, he still couldn't believe he'd punched Malfoy like that. He closed his eyes and sighed.

"Well, well, what have we here? Little Potty all alone," came a voice that made Harry's skin crawl.

Harry's eyes snapped open. Malfoy was standing by the edge of a cubicle with a wand in his hand. Harry's wand.

Oh shit! Hadn't Snape taught him time and time again to have his wand within reach at all times? And here Harry had gone and left sitting on the bench with his clothes while he showered. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

"Is the door locked and warded?" asked Malfoy, as he turned to someone Harry couldn't see.

Malfoy stepped into the shower, Harry tried to duck out, but Malfoy caught him in a surprisingly strong grip.

"You're not going anywhere, Potter. Didn't I tell you you'd pay for what you did to me and my family?"

Malfoy jerked Harry's head by the hair and he leaned forward to whisper in Harry's ear. "You're going to pay, Potter and you're going to scream." Malfoy called out a spell Harry had never heard before and he found himself face down on the floor of the shower stall, his arms tied behind his back and a gag stuffed into his mouth.

"Blaise, have you got the potion?" asked Malfoy and Harry strained his neck to see what Draco was doing. The grey potion looked familiar and a few moments later, Harry realised it was Polyjuice. Draco Malfoy's face shortened and thickened, his hair turned darker and his uniform ripped as his new body became fully formed, it was bigger than Malfoy's own body.

Harry tried to crawl away in horror, but a booted foot on his back kept him in place.

"Now, now, just where do you think you're going, Potter?" Harry wanted to shut his ears, shut out the voice, but it was impossible. Harry couldn't even beg for it to stop due to the gag. He struggled in his bonds, but that only made Draco's foot press down harder against his back.

"We're going to have a little fun with you, Potter. Me and all of the Slytherins, you have quite a little fan club you know, Potter. They're all just dying to get a taste of that arse, skinny though it is, but I'm going to be first."

Somehow Malfoy knew, and Harry's dream of the Potions master was twisted into something vile and perverted in the hands of Draco Malfoy.

For the Polyjuice potion had turned him into Severus Snape.



Chapter 9: Slytherin Kisses
Part Nine

Neville never knew why he walked that day back towards the Quidditch pitch, he wasn't often to be found there, as his lack of prowess on a broom was well known to the school at large and he never took the opportunity to fly like the others did. He just knew that there was an indescribable something in the pit of his belly that made him leave the Halloween feast early.

His Gran would have called it foolish nonsense, her side of the family never had these funny turns as she was often wont to point out to Neville. Neville didn't think he was particularly gifted at Divination, but things did sometimes happen that he had no concrete explanation for. Sometimes his dreams came true, or he sensed when something was wrong. Madam Pomfrey said he had a natural gift for healing, he could almost tell just by looking at a patient what was wrong with them

Harry hadn't been at the feast and Hermione had told him all about Harry's punishments from Snape, including being banned from the feast and from Quidditch until further notice. Neville thought Snape was being a bit harsh on Harry, even if he had punched Malfoy, but then Neville had always thought that Snape was hard on anyone who wasn't a Slytherin. It was one instance Neville wished he'd still been a Potions student, he would have loved to have seen Malfoy taken down a peg or two.

Neville walked past the changing rooms deep in thought, someone pushed past him, almost knocking him to the ground, but he could not see who it was in the dark. Four more people brushed into him, in a hurry, coming out of the changing rooms. Neville could smell blood. "Hey, are you hurt?" he called to their retreating backs, but the quintet hurried off in a flutter of robes.

Had they hurt someone in the changing rooms? Is that why they were running away from Neville? Neville drew his wand and entered the room. A Gryffindor Quidditch uniform was hanging over one of the benches, with Seeker embroidered on the back. "Harry?" he called out. No answer.

Neville hurried over to the shower cubicles and what he saw had him using his wand to cast a quick first aid spell to keep Harry stable until he could get them both to the infirmary. Neville cast all the scanning charms he knew, knowing Madam Pomfrey would expect an update on Harry's condition as soon as he got them both back to the infirmary.

Harry was face down in one of the shower cubicles, his hands tied behind his back. Blood was pouring from a gash on his head and also from between his legs. His legs had been broken, as had his ribs, collarbone and some of his ribs. Massive internal injuries, ruptured spleen, anal and rectal tears. There was bruising all over his body as well as footprints on his back, arms and legs. Thee gag that had been stuffed in Harry's mouth was covered in blood and vomit. Neville quickly removed it, Harry was unconscious but breathing. Concussion.

"God, Harry, what happened to you?" asked Neville, even though he knew his classmate was in no condition to answer him. Neville wanted to clean Harry up, the shower was right there, but he knew that Madam Pomfrey would want to collect evidence, so he left the boy as he was, shuddering at what Harry had gone through. Were the five who'd fled, were they the ones who had raped Harry and left him for dead? Who were they?

Neville removed the pendant he wore around his neck and looped it round both of their necks. Madam Pomfrey had one like it, it was charmed to allow the wearers to bypass the anti-Apparation wards when medical treatment was of the essence.

Just before they winked out of existence, Neville saw the bloodied handle of Harry's Firebolt lying on the ground.

Those fucking bastards had also raped Harry with his own broom.

***

Neville helped Madam Pomfrey to collect the evidence from Harry's unconscious body. She'd placed Harry in a healing sleep, but hadn't tended his injuries yet until she was sure there would be a record of them. They scraped beneath his fingernails, took samples of semen from anus, blood samples too, combed his whole body, took photographs of his injuries before Madam Pomfrey was satisfied that they had done all they could. It would be up to Magical Law Enforcement office now.

There was no way Madam Pomfrey was going to allow this to remain just a school matter. The attack had been vicious and Harry was lucky to be alive. She mended the worst of Harry's injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding, but there was nothing to be done for the concussion. The healing sleep would help, but she would have to keep a close eye on him to make sure he didn't vomit in his sleep and choke.

"Neville, can you go and fetch the headmaster and Professor Snape? The headmaster should still be at the feast, I believe Professor Snape might be in his rooms."

"Professor S - Snape?" asked Neville in a shaky voice.

"Yes, Neville. Harry is his apprentice, his responsibility. He ought to know."

"Yes ma'am," said Neville and hurried off, his face paler than she'd ever seen it.

Poppy could do nothing more now than wait and hope the MLE would be able to find out who had done this to Harry.

***

Poppy didn't know she was going to have two patients that night, she had to sedate Severus in the end. He'd taken the news rather badly and just would not calm down, ranting and screaming that he would kill whoever had done this to his Harry. Poppy wondered if the headmaster had caught that little slip. The headmaster may have been old, but he was certainly far from senile.

She'd been a friend to Severus Snape for many years and she knew him well. Although Severus had never said anything to her, she knew he was in love with Harry Potter. She also knew that Severus would never do anything that smacked of impropriety. How must it have felt to Severus, to know that the person he loved had been violently raped?

The MLE were even now in the castle, taking DNA samples from every male, from first to seventh years, the staff too. Poppy didn't think any first year would have been so vicious, but the MLE were prepared to leave no stone unturned in their quest for the culprits. This was Harry Potter after all. Examining the evidence, they'd discovered at least five different contributions.

Poppy checked on both her patients, Harry was still no closer to regaining consciousness. Severus was resting calmly, but he would wake in an hour or so. She better make sure she had another dose ready for him. It was going to be a long night.

"Have you checked Harry for spells and curses, Poppy?" asked he headmaster. He looked grey and seemed every inch an old man tonight. He hadn't left Harry's side since he'd arrived.

"I have, headmaster. He's been hit with the Cruciatus and an attempted Avada Kedavra. They wanted to kill him Albus, there's no doubt about it."

"This is a very sad day for Hogwarts," sighed Albus and Poppy glared at him. "A school is only as good as its reputation, Poppy. I wish you hadn't sent for the MLE without my knowledge. We could have handled this privately, within the school."

"You're worried about the school?" she exclaimed. "What about Harry? Or doesn't he matter to you anymore now that he's killed Voldemort?" Poppy was so angry that sparks were flying from the tip of her wand. "The boy was raped and almost killed and you want to have it handled privately? No, Albus, this cannot be swept under the carpet. This is not about the school, it's about Harry and I don't care if the whole world knows what happened."

"You are right, Poppy. Forgive me, I am distraught. I never thought such things would happen here, with our own students."

They sat silently for almost an hour, when the Aurors from the MLE returned. Auror Johnson asked if they could have use of her lab as they sorted through the evidence they'd gathered. Poppy nodded and just hoped they would be able to find the perpetrators.

Kingsley Shacklebolt took the other chair by Harry's bed and talked quietly with the headmaster. A few minutes later, Johnson came back from the lab and gave them the news.

"Harry Potter was raped by students of the names, Draco Malfoy, Gregory Goyle, Vincent Crabbe, Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini."

Poppy thought she might faint. Students. Five students had gang raped Harry and left him for dead. This could not be happening.

"And one member of staff," continued Johnson. Staff? No. No. No.

"What? Who?" demanded Dumbledore. Johnson rustled through the pages in his hands until he came to what he sought.

"Severus Snape."

The ground looked very hard as it rushed up to meet her.


Chapter 10: Slytherin Kisses
Part Ten

Snape could not believe this. He was sitting in Dumbledore’s office, under guard by two Aurors he didn't know, along with Kingsley Shacklebolt, who he did and being interrogated under Veritaserum ( a poor substitute for his own brew) about the rape and assault on Harry. Dumbledore was there too, along with Eleanor Weston, spokeswitch for the school governors who sat stiffly in her chair, scrawling little notes on a clipboard.

"How many times do I have to tell you? I did not rape Harry Potter!" As if he would ever... Merlin, his head throbbed. He wanted to go to Harry, to comfort Harry, but once Snape had come round from his enforced sleep courtesy of Poppy's sedative, he'd been marched under guard straight to Dumbledore's office. "Albus, you know I would never do that!"

The Aurors looked confused, checked the Veritaserum, and then turned to him again. Johnson nodded. "The Veritaserum is fine, he must be telling the truth."

"Did you rape Harry Potter?" asked Shacklebolt, he at least seemed to be considering that something might have gone wrong somewhere.

"No," repeated Snape.

"Where were you when everyone else was at the feast?"

"I was in my quarters."

"Alone?"

"Yes, but I was waiting for Harry."

"See?" persisted Johnson. "So you admit that Harry Potter was alone in your quarters with you?"

"No, he never turned up."

"Harry was attacked in the Quidditch changing rooms," said Shacklebolt. "But we have evidence, Severus, evidence of your DNA on Harry's body."

"What?" That was impossible. Snape never touched Harry, not like that, and then it all began to make a sick sort of sense. His missing hairbrush. Hair for a Polyjuice potion. Oh dear God, did that mean that Harry thought Snape had actually raped him? Snape was shivering as he tried to fight the nausea that threatened to engulf him. He needed to see Harry. The boy had still been unconscious when Snape had been dragged from the infirmary, but Poppy had hoped he would wake soon.

"Test for Polyjuice potion," snapped Snape. "I believe that someone used it to look like me to rape him."

"Why?" demanded Johnson. "Why would someone go to those lengths?"

"To get me fired. Intimate relations between staff and students are forbidden at Hogwarts."

Shacklebolt turned to the third Auror, Snape didn't remember his name, and sent him out of the room to do the tests. Snape knew better than to think that his ordeal was over. Eleanor Weston stood up, an elderly witch with grey hair tied back in a bun so severe he was sure she must suffer terrible headaches.

"You say you were waiting in your quarters for Harry Potter. Why was he seeing you in your quarters?"

"They are our quarters, we share them."

"What?" gasped the witch.

"Harry Potter is Professor Snape's Apprentice," said Dumbledore smoothly. "It has always been traditional for the students to stay with their mentors. Harry has his own room, there is nothing else going on between Harry Potter and Severus Snape. They are Master and Apprentice, teacher and student, nothing more."

Snape was just glad Dumbledore hadn't phrased that as a question or he would have been compelled to answer it.

"I'll be the judge of that, Dumbledore," said the witch turning back to Snape. Just as she was about to ask another question, the unnamed Auror returned and nodded.

"Polyjuice was involved, Draco Malfoy used it. He's just confessed under Veritaserum."

"Thank goodness that's cleared up," said Shacklebolt. "Severus, you're free to go. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding."

"If you'll excuse me," said Snape. "I wish to go and see how my apprentice is doing."

"Not so fast, Professor Snape," said the witch again. "I am not entirely satisfied with things as they stand."

"Draco Malfoy confessed, Snape had nothing to do with Harry's rape," protested Shacklebolt.

"It's not about the rape, no," agreed the witch. "I don't believe he raped the boy, but I feel there may have been other inappropriate actions. Professor Snape, have you ever made advances towards Harry Potter?"

"Advances?"

"Advances of a sexual nature?"

Snape struggled against the truth serum coursing through his blood, but he knew he had to answer the question. He wanted to lie, he tried to lie, but the truth fell from his lips anyway, almost without his consent. "I kissed him."

Dumbledore gasped and looked as if Snape had just committed murder rather than kissed a student.

The witch turned to Dumbledore. "The governors will expect to see Professor Snape's resignation on our desks no later than Monday evening. Henceforth he is banned for life from teaching or taking employment where there are children. No-one else will be corrupted due to his influence."

"I am sorry," said Dumbledore. "But I will not accept this. A kiss is hardly a hanging offence. I do not believe that anything improper took place. When did this kiss happen, Severus?"

"On Harry's seventeenth birthday, at Grimmauld Place. It was a birthday kiss."

"There you see?" said Dumbledore, triumphant. "A birthday kiss, nothing untoward about that."

"I am afraid the governors and the wizarding world at large would disagree, Dumbledore. The edict will stand. Snape, you will remove yourself from Hogwarts before the week's end or you will be arrested."

"You may as well arrest me now, I'll be dead if I leave Hogwarts. I will not leave it of my own volition."

"You heard the man, Shacklebolt," said the witch. "Arrest him!"

"The governors have no authority to order arrests," sighed Shacklebolt. "Only the minister can do that."

Eleanor Weston visibly bristled at being denied what she so wished. "Very well, I will contact the minister tonight and he gives his permission, that man will be arrested and sent to Azkaban!"

"On what charge?" interrupted Dumbledore calmly. "Severus has done nothing wrong. The kiss took place out of school, and even if anything had happened, the Ministry had no say so on the internal affairs of Hogwarts. It would be up to the discretion of the principal of the school if any action were to be taken. The only way the Ministry might get involved would be if the student were underage. This is not the case here. The ministry cannot arrest someone who had committed no crime."

"He was a Death Eater!" blustered the governor. Ah, so now it came down to the truth in the end. Snape knew the Ministry would not care whether or not he had an affair with a student, they were just looking for any excuse to imprison him. There were plenty who did not entirely believe that he had been working for the side of the Light as a spy and would love nothing better than to see him incarcerated, or failing that, killed. Snape had no illusions on that score. He owed his life and his freedom to Albus Dumbledore, even though that same freedom meant that he was almost a prisoner in Hogwarts. That prison however, was one of his own choosing.

"Severus Snape is not a Death Eater," said Dumbledore, standing up and regarding everyone in the room with a steady gaze. "This matter is closed. Severus Snape had nothing to do with the assault on Harry and I forbid you to hound him any further, Eleanor. Now, can everyone except Severus and Kingsley please clear my office? I wish to speak with them in private."

"You haven't heard the last of this, Dumbledore. You'll be sorry you crossed the governors on this. Just you wait."

Dumbledore moved round from his desk and placed a hand on Eleanor's back. "The door is this way, Eleanor," he said, steering her towards it, the other two Aurors following close behind. Dumbledore locked and warded the door, casting silencing charms before he turned back to Snape and Shacklebolt. He waved a hand at them both to sit down and conjured a tea tray.

Wordlessly, Shacklebolt handed the Veritaserum antidote to Snape, who drank it and wiped his mouth. He rejected the headmaster's offer of tea, but Shacklebolt picked up one of the delicate china cups and sipped it.

"What will happen to the culprits?" asked Dumbledore. "They will be expelled of course, but will charges be brought?"

"You're not going to let them get away with it!" protested Snape, his hands clenching into fists.

"Of course not, Severus," placated Shacklebolt. "They are all of age, they knew what they were doing. Not only did they rape and assault him physically, they used the Unforgivables on him, that alone would be enough to send them to Azkaban. No, they will be tried and sentenced within the week. The Wizengamot has already been called."

"Where are they now?" asked Snape, appalled that members of his own House could have done such a thing. He knew he if he saw any one of the five, he would not be responsible for his actions.

"They are in the holding cells at the Ministry, they will stay there until the trial."

Dumbledore sat back and sipped his tea. Snape did not know how the man could be so calm. Snape wanted to smash something, break something. Something like Draco Malfoy's skull. He could almost see the blood dripping down that pale pointed face as Snape would bang his head against the dungeon walls again and again.

"Now, Severus, you are among friends here," began Dumbledore. "Can you tell us what's really going on between you and Harry Potter?"

"What? You don't really believe that there is something improper going on between myself and Harry?"

"I didn't say it was improper, Severus. I merely said there was something. So, would you care to enlighten me?"

Snape would rather have his intestines ripped out with rusty nails, but he found himself confiding in the headmaster all the same. He wished Shacklebolt wasn't here. He wished Harry had never been attacked. He wished he would be allowed to comfort Harry. He wished he'd never heard of the Dursleys or Voldemort.

"Harry and I have come to an ... understanding," he said at last.

"An understanding?" queried Shacklebolt.

"We have - we have developed feelings for each other. Feelings of a - shall we say, romantic nature?"

He refused to use the word sexual, for Snape knew it was more than that, but that's all anyone else would see. That he was lusting after a student under his care.

"And have either of you acted on these feelings?" Dumbledore's eyes were no longer twinkling and Snape knew he had disappointed the man after he'd stood up for him with the governor.

"Apart from the birthday kiss, no, Albus. We both promised that we would not take things further until Harry had left school, not matter how we might feel about each other."

"Are you in love with him?" demanded Dumbledore.

"Yes," amazing how easy the answer came to him now, when he hadn't even been aware of it before. He was in love with Harry and that brought a whole new set of problems to the fore. How would Harry react around him now, when it was his body who'd raped him?

"I know you would never seduce a student under your care, Severus, no matter how you felt about the person involved. This is just in another long line of excuses that the governors are plying me with in order to fire you. They are not happy about your past allegiances."

Well, Snape wasn't too happy with some of his past either, he could hardly blame them for that.

"Not to worry, Severus. As long as I am headmaster, you will not be leaving Hogwarts. You are not going anywhere except to the hospital wing. Harry needs you now."

Snape wanted nothing more than to be able to just that, but how could he? "Albus, I can't. Harry will be scared of me, thinking I was one of those who raped him. I can't see him, I can't!"

"You can and you will, Severus. Harry is a lot more resilient than we give him credit for. He knows you, he knows how you feel about him. Do you think he would really think you would commit such an act against him? Please, Severus. Go and see how he is. I think you need to, for both your sake's."

Snape stood and headed for the door, he paused by the jamb and looked back at the two of them.

"I wish now I had acted, that we'd both acted on our feelings," he said to their shocked faces. Silent tears were dripping down his cheeks, but he made no move to wipe them away.

"Why? Why would you wish such a thing?" asked Dumbledore.

"Because then his first time would never have been rape."


Chapter 11: Slytherin Kisses
Part Eleven

Harry struggled to move, he could still feel the ropes binding his hands behind his back, but as he slowly returned to consciousness, he realised he'd been dreaming of the attack and that his hands were tangled up in the bedclothes covering him. He took a deep breath and slowly opened his eyes. Everywhere on his body hurt, he tried not to dwell on the fact of why that was.

He didn't have amnesia, he knew exactly what had happened to him, but he did not want to think about it. Not yet. Maybe not ever. The antiseptic smell of the infirmary was making him nauseous and he struggled to hoist himself up, the bed creaking as he did so. He heard rushing footsteps as the urge to vomit overwhelmed him and he threw up over the side of the bed, some of it landing on Madam Pomfrey's shoes as she reached him.

"I'm sorry!" he sobbed. "I'm sorry!"

"Hush, Harry, it's all right. Everything's all right now." She cast a cleaning charm on the floor, but she wiped Harry's mouth with a soft, damp, cloth and hugged him to her chest. The matron rubbed Harry's back and he allowed it, leaning in closer to her touch and weeping as if his heart had broken. She didn't ask him any questions about what had happened, just rocked and soothed him as she would a child.

Harry didn't know how long they sat there like that in the dimness of the infirmary. He was glad it was dark out, he didn't know how he would feel about showing such weakness in daylight. It felt different at night, that he was allowed to seek comfort at night.

"Harry," the medi-witch began slowly and even before she finished the sentence, Harry had tensed up and was almost willing himself to pass out again. "Professor Snape is here. He'd like to see you, to talk to you. To make sure you're all right."

"He's here?" panted Harry, feeling terror constrict his chest and throat, although where else would he expect the man to be? Harry knew how the Potions master felt about him, but was he really up to facing him? His eyes squeezed shut, as if that could prevent the memory of Snape's body piercing his again and again, despite Harry's screams, muffled through the gag. Oh, he knew it was Draco Malfoy pretending to be Snape, but Harry wasn't feeling particularly logical right now. He was feeling as if he wanted to flee in terror.

"If you'll stay too," whispered Harry. "I don't think I can face him alone."

"Of course I will, Harry. Now, drink this and lie back down for me." She handed him a small glass of clear potion.

"What is it?"

"Just a painkilling potion, Harry. That's all."

Harry nodded, drank it and then lay back down while the witch went to fetch Snape. The potion slowly worked its magic and he felt the aches and pains easing.

The curtain was pulled back and the medi-witch smiled confidently at him and turned to the man by her side. Snape was in shadow, but Harry could still make out the hooked nose the nose pressing against his neck as Draco thrusted viciously into him. Harry's heart was beating so hard he thought it might explode right out of his chest, shattering his ribs and sternum as it went. How could he have thought he was ready for this?

"Harry," said Snape and the voice, the voice so like the one that whispered foul disgusting things in his ear as he was ripped apart had Harry hyperventilating. He sucked in air, but it didn't help, he was too panicked and he clawed at his face, maybe he was screaming something, he wasn't sure.

"Severus, go!" he heard Madam Pomfrey shout before he fell back onto the pillows. "He's too upset to see you tonight, just go!"

Harry didn't look, he'd closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to see that face, see it as it hovered above him, see the sneer of pleasure as he raped Harry again and again, but he heard the man's footsteps retreating down the room.

Madam Pomfrey was holding his head, trying to get him to drink something. He obeyed instinctively, but all too soon he felt the pull of the Dreamless Sleep tugging him down into slumber. He fought it, trying to push her away. Harry didn't want to sleep. He had to stay awake. Had to...

***

Ron and Hermione came to visit him after breakfast the next day. Said breakfast consisting of a bowl of porridge, two sliced of toast, a glass of orange juice, all of it rounded off with another dose of painkillers and a sedative. Harry knew the poor woman was worried he was going to freak out again and he promised himself he would do his best not to.

Hermione sat on the chair nearest to Harry, Ron sat on the chair next to her, taking her hand in his. None of them seemed to know what to say to each other. Did the two of them even know what had happened? For Harry could not face telling them, he could not imagine saying it out loud. That would mean he would have to deal with it.

"Oh, Harry, we're so sorry," said Hermione at last. "If there's anything we can do, you know you only have to ask, right?"

"Yeah, right," said Ron, nodding frantically, but looking anywhere but at Harry.

God, it was draining, trying to appear normal to these two, when that was the last thing he felt. He wanted to curl up in a little ball somewhere and hide, cry until he had no tears left. "Does - does everyone know what happened?" Harry asked at last.

"Yes, Harry. It was in the Daily Prophet today," said Hermione, reaching up to hold his hand. Harry jerked away from her as though her touch had burned him and cursed himself for the reaction. This was Hermione, his friend, he knew she would never do anything to hurt him, yet the response had happened automatically. Is this how he was going to be from now on? Scared of a touch, any touch?

"I'm sorry," said Harry, feeling tears gather at the corners of his eyes.

"No, I am," said Hermione. "I shouldn't have startled you."

"What happened to - to them?" Harry asked in a whisper. "They're not still here, are they?" He didn't think he could face walking down the corridors if he knew he might run into his attackers at any moment.

"They're gone, Harry, they won't be able to hurt you again," said Ron. "They haven't arrested Professor Snape yet, but he'll be gone soon, don't worry, Harry."

"What? He didn't do anything wrong!" protested Harry.

"Harry, you do realise that he was one of the ones who... attacked you?" Hermione pointed out delicately.

"He didn't, it was Draco Malfoy, he used Polyjuice to turn into Snape."

"Why would he do that?" asked Ron. "That's daft!"

"But it's the truth. Please, I don't want to talk about this anymore." Harry turned away from them, resting his head on the pillows and breathing heavily. He heard the welcome tread of Madam Pomfrey's comfortable shoes near his bed.

"Out, out," she commanded his visitors. "I won't have you upsetting my patient."

"Okay, okay," muttered Ron. "We'll see you tonight, Harry, after dinner."

Harry wasn't sure if that was supposed to be a promise or a threat.

***

Snape paced up and down the living room, stopping every few minutes to check the oven, where a steak and kidney pie was the main course in Harry's welcome home dinner. He'd been in the infirmary for just over a week. Poppy had kept him updated on Harry's condition, but recommended that Snape not visit him again just in case.

But now Harry was coming home, how would he cope? Knowing that he would be in Snape's company most evenings when they resumed their lessons? Would Harry want to go back to his dormitory rather than stay here? Ought Snape to suggest it, or let Harry decide for himself?

Poppy had given Snape and Harry some books on pamphlets on coping with rape and post traumatic stress, as well as recommended that Harry should see a counsellor. Harry, however, was being stubborn, insisting that he was fine, Poppy had said, and would Snape be able to persuade him otherwise? Snape doubted his persuasive skills in this instance, but he'd promised Poppy that he would try.

A few minutes before seven, there was a soft knock at the door to the chambers and Snape quashed a pang of regret at that sound. Harry didn't see this as his home anymore, otherwise he would never have knocked. Snape opened the door and the two of them stared at each other in awkward silence for a few moments.

The bruises on Harry's face had faded to a pale yellow, with just a hint of purple now. There were dark shadows under his eyes and he was as thin as a wraith, had an otherworldly air about him too, as if he wasn't quite there. Hadn't Poppy been feeding him? Or more than likely, Harry had just refused the food.

"Welcome home, Harry," he said at last, smiling and holding the door open so Harry could enter.

"Thank you, sir," said Harry, back to formality and he did not return the smile. Snape wondered if he would ever get to see him smile again.

"Dinner will be ready in a moment," said Snape, indicating the set table with a wave of his hand. He was careful not to touch, not to get too close, but Harry had still flinched when he'd moved his hand. "I didn't think you'd want to face the Great Hall on your first day back."

"Thank you, professor," said Harry, making no move towards the table. "But I'm not really hungry. I think I'll just go to bed."

Snape neglected to mention how early it was, nor did he argue with Harry over skipping a meal, something he knew he would have done before. He just didn't have the heart to upset Harry any more tonight. He could only guess how uncomfortable Harry must be feeling, being here with a man who looked like one of his rapists.

"As you wish," said Snape and when Harry reached his bedroom, Snape went to the kitchen, where he proceeded to smash every plate, every dish, every glass, every cup he owned. He repaired them and then broke them again and again until he felt hollow inside. He took the pie out of the oven and scraped it into the bin, he could not face eating it now.

When he returned to the living room, he saw that Harry's door was ajar and Harry was peeping out between the jamb and the door itself, his eyes wide and frightened. Harry must have heard the racket he'd been making in the kitchen. "Sorry, Harry I didn't mean to startle you," he said. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, sir," whispered Harry and ducked back inside the room. Snape sank to the sofa and hung his head in his hands. This was going to be more difficult than he'd expected. Dimly he heard a sound that he had never heard before in all the time Harry had lived there.

The key turning in the lock on Harry's bedroom door.



Chapter 12: Slytherin Kisses
Part Twelve

By Christmas week, the scandal had died down somewhat, but whispers still followed Harry wherever he went. He felt like he was a particularly juicy specimen at a zoo for freaks. Conversations would cease when he walked into a room, or would suddenly become unnaturally loud.

At least people had stopped asking him every five minutes if he was all right. He was spending quite a bit of time away from Snape when he could and a couple of times he'd skipped lessons with the man altogether. Snape never punished him for it, but sometimes Harry wished he would. Harry wanted to feel normal again, and normal to him was receiving punishments when he did things wrong, not the teachers ignoring it.

He was fed up being treated as though he was a fragile piece of glass about to shatter at any moment. Harry knew that it would take some time to get over his fear of Snape, or rather the fear of what Snape represented, for he knew that Snape had nothing to do with his rape and attack at all. But whenever Harry was around him, his body went into fight or flight mode, dry mouth, rapid breathing, clammy hands and a frantically beating heart, so Harry more often than not chose to flee, whether it be to the Gryffindor common room or his bedroom.

Harry was still suffering from nightmares and flashbacks of the attacks, he had told no-one, but he knew that bottling everything up like this was not healthy and he knew one of these days he was just going to snap. He didn't feel he could confide in anyone, he well remembered the pitying looks every time what had happened to him came up in conversations (though thankfully that seemed to be happening less and less now) and even worse, the disgusted horror on their faces. No-one wanted to hear about it. As far as everyone else was concerned, it was in the past and really, shouldn't Harry have gotten over it by now?

The problem was, he wasn't over it. He knew it every time he flinched when someone got too close, when he spent hours in the bathroom washing himself, thinking that he'd never feel clean again. He knew it every time he played Quidditch and could not venture into the changing rooms; he changed in his quarters and wore his uniform to the pitch and didn't shower straight after the game, waiting until he could get back to his and Snape's rooms. He knew it every time he woke up with a scream on his lips, the dreams feeling so real.

He might ask Madam Pomfrey to arrange a meeting with a counsellor for him after all, for Harry knew he could not go on like this. He resolved to make it his New Year's resolution.

Harry bent once again to his packing, a few clothes and plenty of Christmas presents for the Weasleys. He'd been invited to spend Christmas with them as he had been every year, but now that Voldemort was gone, the headmaster had finally given him permission to go, after extensive wards had been placed around the building and surrounds. They were still taking no chances after what had happened to Harry's Muggle relatives.

For the first time, Harry would get to experience a normal family Christmas, something he had not been privy to growing up. He felt a pang underneath his breastbone remembering the only Christmas he had ever shared with his godfather at Grimmauld Place. The Weasleys had been there too, but things had been tense with worry over Mr. Weasley. Harry wished he'd had plenty more Christmases to share with Sirius.

Snape had also been invited to the Burrow, but had declined the invitation, citing that he had the winter exams to mark. With the speed at which Snape normally marked essays, Harry knew the exams would not take him the whole of the holiday to complete, but he didn't bother saying anything.

He had a feeling that Snape was trying to give him some space, letting them each have some time alone this holiday. Maybe it would be for the best, but Harry promised himself that he would try and do better when he returned.

He missed talking with Snape, he missed the chats they used to have, they never spoke of anything personal now, just schoolwork and his apprenticeship. Harry realised that he wanted to get to know Snape as a friend again and maybe, one day, they might be able to see where it led. He knew he was nowhere ready for an intimate relationship with anyone yet, but he did not want to discount the possibility either.

It would be difficult, with Harry's memories of the rape, but Harry was determined to try. He would not let Malfoy and his cronies destroy what he thought he and Snape might have one day. He would not let them win.

Harry took Snape's Christmas present from his bedside table and took it into the living room. He placed it on the coffee table and just hoped the man would like it. Snape was a difficult man to buy presents for, Harry wondered if he ever received anything except from the headmaster.

Harry returned to his room, shrunk his trunk and then joined Ron and Ginny in the foyer. Professor Dumbledore was there waiting for them with an old shoe, a Portkey to take them to the Burrow.

"Have a lovely time," said Dumbledore, handing the shoe to Ron.

"Thank you, sir. And you," replied Ginny. She and Harry both reached out to touch the shoe and a few seconds later, Harry felt the familiar tug behind his navel and suddenly the school around them disappeared in a blur of colours.

Dizzy and disorientated he landed face first on the Weasleys' kitchen floor. Molly Weasley smiled down at him and helped him up, wrapping him in a warm hug. "So good to see you, Harry dear," she said.

"What are we?" groused Ron. "House elves?"

"Ron!" gasped his mother. "Of course it's lovely to see all of you."

Harry wriggled out of the woman's grasp, he could see Fred and George sitting side by side at the table, looking entirely too innocent. Bill was there too, along with Charlie and Arthur, but no sign of Percy. Harry wondered if they'd ever settled their differences, but he didn't like to pry so he didn't mention it.

"You'll be sharing with Ron as usual, Harry," said Molly. "Is that all right?"

"Of course," Harry replied, wondering why they were making such a fuss over it. It wasn't as if he'd never shared a room with Ron before. Ah, realisation dawned, it was the first time he'd be sharing a room after what had happened to him. It didn't bother him, Harry knew Ron would never do anything like that.

He, Ron and Ginny, took their luggage upstairs and Ron flopped down on his bed, looking intently at Harry. Ron was almost twitching with the need to tell Harry something, Harry knew his friend too well. Harry began unpacking his trunk until Ron finally blurted out, "Harry, will you stop a minute?"

Harry glanced up at his friend. Ron's ears and face were red and blotchy. "I - I have something to tell you."

"Oh? What?" Harry arched an eyebrow.

"It's about me and Hermione."

"Hermione and I," Harry corrected automatically, oh dear, he was starting to even sound like Snape. He giggled a little.

"Whatever," said Ron. "The thing is - well - we - we're sort of seeing each other."

"Sort of seeing each other? You either are or you aren't, Ron." This was hardly news to Harry, it was pretty obvious to him how they felt about each other.

"Well we are then," Ron said. "You're not upset, are you?"

"Why would I be upset? My two best friends have finally gotten together, I'm fine Ron."

"Well, for a while there I thought you know - you had a thing for Hermione."

"Ron, I can assure you that I never had or never will have a thing for Hermione, we're friends, that's all. That's all we'll ever be."

"Maybe if you start dating Ginny, we can go on double dates to Hogsmeade or something."

Oh. It suddenly occurred to Harry that Ron didn't know, how could he when Harry had never told anyone? He thought Hermione had guessed, it seemed that girls picked up more easily on this sort of thing.

"Ron, I won't be dating Ginny, I won't be dating any girls. Ever."

"You probably just need some more time after - after you know. You'll be ready to date in no time."

"Ron, I won't be dating any girls. I'm gay," Harry finally admitted.

"What? You can't be gay, Harry! You just can't!"

Ron was taking this harder than Harry had anticipated, he thought at least his friends would be supportive.

"Ron? What's wrong with me being gay?" Harry's knuckles clenched around the t-shirt he was holding.

"How can you be gay, Harry? After what they did to you? Five of them raped you for Merlin's sake, how can you be gay?"

"Ron, whether or not I was raped has no bearing on my orientation whatsoever. I'm still gay." God, now he was getting a headache, not how he wanted to spend his Christmas holiday, debating his lifestyle with one of his best friends.

"That's sick, Harry," said Ron angrily. "How can you still want to do that with men after what they did? Or is it that you wanted them all to do that to you? Is that it? You enjoyed it?"

Harry didn't say a word, he took all the presents out of his trunk, threw them onto the camp bed, flung his clothes back in and shrunk it, running down the stairs with his trunk back in his pocket. Only Molly was in the kitchen now.

Harry's heart was pounding like surf in his ears, he was feeling sick and dizzy. He had to get away. He couldn't stay here.

"Mrs. Weasley, I'm sorry, but I can't stay. I have to get back to Hogwarts." Back to Snape, the one person he knew would never judge him as Ron had.

"Harry? Why? What's wrong?" Molly wiped her hands on her apron, looking at him in concern.

Ron appeared at the foot of the stairs. "Well, aren't you going to tell her? Aren't you going to tell my family what a sick freak you are?" sneered Ron and Harry thought he might faint. He never thought Ron would be like this.

"Ronald Weasley! Apologise to Harry at once!"

"No, I meant every word." With that, Ron turned on his heel and stormed back upstairs.

"Harry, no matter what is going on with you and Ron at the moment, please know that you are always welcome here. Will you remember that if you ever need somewhere to go?"

"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley," said Harry through his tears. "But I have to get back, I really do."

Molly nodded and handed him a pinch of Floo powder from the jar on the mantel. Harry gave her a quick hug before he threw the powder in the flames and called out "Hogwarts".

He was going home.



Chapter 13: Slytherin Kisses
Part Thirteen

Snape was suffering from a migraine again, the cause of this one he was almost sure were the flamboyant robes Dumbledore had been wearing at the pre-Christmas staff party. They were lime green (a grave fashion mistake for anyone with Dumbledore's complexion) and were embroidered with miniature Santas who frolicked about and sang a tinny rendition of Jingle Bells every time the headmaster moved. Which was often.

Snape was just glad the ordeal was over for another year and he quickened his steps, eager to get back to his dungeons on the promise of relief from one of his headache potions. Sometimes it was good to be a Potions master. Just as he pushed open the door to the living room, he saw Harry standing looking lost in the middle of the room.

His face was soot and tear stained and as soon as he saw Snape, Harry ran to him, burying his face among Snape's robes and wrapping his arms around his waist. Snape sucked in a breath; it was the first time Harry had touched him since the rape and Snape did not want to do anything that might upset the boy any more than he already was. Slowly and carefully, he rested his hands on Harry's back, making sure that every move was deliberate so as not to remind Harry of other touches that hadn't been so delicate.

"Harry, what is it? What's wrong?"

"Oh, Severus!" Harry wailed and sobbed some more. "R- Ron - Ron - I can't stay there! I can't!" He gasped out, but then couldn't seem to be able to talk any more, he was crying too hard. Snape knew if Harry kept this up much longer, he would probably end up making himself sick. Snape thought for a few minutes, before scooping Harry up in his arms and walking with his burden to the sofa. Harry wrapped his arms around Snape's neck and leaned his head against Snape's, crying and breathing heavily into his ear.

Snape sat down on the sofa, settling Harry in his lap, relieved when Harry clung to him and did not try to move away. Harry was shuddering with the force of his weeping and Snape's heart seemed to crack somewhere down the middle. He rocked Harry gently in his arms, humming a lullaby that he thought he'd long since forgotten. Snape knew Harry needed and maybe even wanted comfort and he thought words were not what Harry needed now, so he continued to rock Harry against him. Harry felt so thin, he could feel his ribs even through his clothes, and Harry's hipbones were digging uncomfortably into Snape's abdomen. He ignored it.

Slowly Harry's sobbing subsided, turning to a few hiccups, but even they finished after a while.

"Harry, do you want to talk about it?" Snape asked, wary that he might be pushing things too far, but surely it would be better if Harry could talk about what was bothering him. Something to do with Ron Weasley, he presumed, but even Snape was not prepared for what Harry would tell him next.

Harry glanced up at him, his tears dried to slivery tracks through the soot on his face.

"It was Ron. I came out to him, told him that I was gay today. He didn't take it well. He said - he said - he said that if I was gay that I must have wanted what they did to me. That I wanted to be raped. I didn't, Severus! I didn't!" The tears flowed anew and Snape wrapped his arms even tighter around the boy in his lap.

"Hush, Harry, of course you didn't." Merlin, wait until he got his hands on Weasley. What an appalling thing to say to a rape victim, to someone who was supposed to be his friend.

"Oh, God," sobbed Harry. "Was it me? Was it my fault? That they did that to me?"

"No, Harry, no! Don't think that, ever! You did nothing wrong, you weren't to blame for this, Harry. Please, please don't blame yourself for this. Please." Snape rocked him, tucking Harry's head beneath his chin and feeling such heartbreak for the young man in his arms.

"S- Severus," Harry said, his voice cracking on the word. "Can we go somewhere for Christmas? Just the two of us. I - I need to get away from here. Please."

How could Snape refuse the boy anything after what he'd been through?

"Of course we can, Harry. I just have to clear it with the headmaster first." Snape moved, trying to put Harry down so that he could get up from the sofa, but Harry clung onto him like a limpet.

"Don't leave me alone," he begged, his tears dampening the neck of Snape's robes.

"Harry, I have to see the headmaster about this. Believe me I want to stay right here with you, but the sooner I talk to the headmaster, the sooner we can go."

"Okay," Harry relented and slid off Snape's lap. He looked thoroughly dejected, his shoulders hunched so much that he was almost able to touch the floor with his nose. Snape tilted Harry's chin up and gazed deep into his eyes.

"I won't be long, Harry, I promise." He gave Harry a chaste kiss on the forehead and headed off to arrange things with Dumbledore.

***

"What is this place?" asked Harry, looking round the room.

"It's a magical retreat, it belongs to the school. All the staff have access to it whenever they need it, it takes the appearance of whatever the occupants want or need."

The two of them perused the wooded cabin. One whole wall was taken up by a red brick fireplace, a large fire ablaze in the heart. Red and white checked gingham curtains hung at a window that overlooked a blank wall. There was a wooden settle, straightbacked and uncomfortable looking, but there was a tartan cushion on the seat. Snape didn't think it looked particularly comfortable, he missed his own sofa already.

Two bunk beds with quilts the same design as the curtains were pushed back against the back wall and two doors led somewhere else.

"Please tell me one of those leads to a room with indoor plumbing," said Harry with a small grin.

"I highly doubt it," said Snape. "The last people to visit here were Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall. They were into rustic charm, very rustic."

"So why is it still how they liked it?"

"We have to say a spell and then the retreat will become whatever we wish it to be, or whatever the retreat things we might need. Sometimes the two don't always go hand in hand." Snape removed his wand from an inner robe pocket. "Domus novo," said Snape as red sparks flew from the tip of his wand.

The air around them shimmered, seemed to flow and melt away, as did the contents of the room. A few moments later everything settled back into place. What had once been a wooded cabin, was now an almost exact replica of his dungeons, with a few modifications. A large pine tree sat in one corner, draped in baubles, tinsel and flickering lights. A veritable mountain of presents cascaded from underneath it, all brightly wrapped in silver and gold papers. The whole room was decorated in tinsel, holly wreaths and paper chains, the scent of pine lingering in the air.

A well worn brown leather sofa sat facing the fireplace, and in front of that was a cream sheepskin rug. Harry stared at everything in the room, his face unable to hide his delight. Snape felt his heart lift a little. There was a bottle of wine and two crystal goblets sitting on the mantelpiece.

"I didn't wish for wine," said Harry.

"Nor, I," agreed Snape and went to investigate. As he approached the mantel, a small card dropped into his hand. "The wine was a gift from our dear headmaster. Would you like to try some?"

"No, thanks," said Harry. "Um, will this place have bedrooms do you think, or do we sleep on the couch and the floor?"

"No-one will be sleeping on the floor, Harry," Snape said softly and opened each of the doors in turn. "There is a bedroom and a bathroom, you'll be pleased to know. I will take the sofa, Harry. You may have the bed."

"I can take the sofa," protested Harry. "I'm shorter than you, you'll never fit on it lying down."

"I'm sure it will be fine, Harry." Snape gaped at the enormous Christmas tree. "Your idea?"

"Yes, I wanted to know what it would feel like to have a normal Christmas for once. I didn't wish for presents though."

"No, that was mine. I wanted you to give you everything you ever wanted."

"They're not all for me?" gasped Harry. "Severus, you can't give me all of those!"

"I'm not, the retreat decided you needed them or that I needed to give them to you." An unseen clock chimed midnight and Snape grinned at him. "Right, you can open them now."

He was almost as excited as Harry to wonder what was in all of those parcels.

"Severus, I only got you one," protested Harry. "I'm sorry."

"Ssh, Harry. I don't care how many gifts you got for me, I'm just glad you're here with me. That's all the present I need."

***

Harry goggled at all the gifts, he'd never seen so many presents in one place before in his life, and considering how spoiled Dudley had been, that was saying something. He hugged Snape again, before looking up and smiling.

"You're going to have to help me to open these you know, otherwise we'll be here all night."

Snape returned the smile and they both knelt down beside the mountain of gifts. Harry didn't know which parcel to unwrap first, Snape handed him a few and he tore the wrapper off as eagerly as any child, wondering what was inside. Tears welled up in his yes, it was a train set. In fact a particular train set, the same one Dudley had received for his eighth birthday and Harry had eyed with envious glances. Dudley hated that train set, he knew Harry loved it, but he stomped on it until it broke before handing the mangled mess to Harry. Harry had always wanted one.

He unwrapped a few more presents, they were just the same, all those toys he'd wanted as a child, the ones Dudley had been given but Harry hadn't, they were all there. The bright red fire engine, buckets of Lego, board games, footballs, a cricket set and last of all a blue bicycle. But this one was no toy, not child sized in the least. It was just the right size for Harry now. He'd never even thought of a bicycle ever since he discovered he could fly on a broom, but obviously the retreat thought it was somewhere in the back of his mind to conjure it for him.

As he watched, another bicycle joined it, this one just the right height for Snape.

"Do you think it's trying to tell us something?" said Harry.

"Actually, the bicycles were from me," admitted Snape. "I thought it might be something we could do together."

"Severus! They're great!" yelled Harry and almost knocked the man over as he gave him an enthusiastic hug. In fact Harry was touching Snape more and more today and he did not feel any of the old fear. It was a little disconcerting. "Severus, does the retreat do other things?" he asked curiously.

"Other things?" Snape stroked Harry's back absently.

"Yes, I - I don't feel scared to be held today."

"I held you long before we came here, Harry. Maybe you just felt ready."

"Maybe," agreed Harry and let himself be soothed. He yawned and snuggled deeper into Snape's arms, he found he didn't want to leave them. Harry felt warm and protected, not scared at all. "Can you - can you sleep in the bed with me tonight?" Harry asked at last. "Not to do anything, just to sleep. I like being wrapped up in your arms."

"If you want me to, Harry. If you're uncomfortable about anything, just let me know, okay?"

Harry nodded and was pleased when Snape stood up with him still in his arms and took them both to the bedroom, where he lay Harry down on the bed, kissing him on the cheek and standing up to get undressed for bed. Harry looked away while Snape disrobed, taking the time to divest himself of his own clothes. Harry kept on a t-shirt and his boxers, his pyjamas were still in his trunk but he was too content now to go hunting for them. He scooted under the covers and waited patiently for Snape to join him.

Snape didn't have a t-shirt, he climbed into the bed bare chested and his undershorts were so long that they almost reached his knees, they seemed very old fashioned to Harry and he wondered if they were what most wizards wore. Snape opened his arms and Harry quickly scuttled over and settled himself on Snape's chest, wrapping one of his legs between Snape's and his arm across the man's chest. Harry could feel the material of Snape's shorts rubbing against his leg, they seemed to be some sort of flannel material and felt warm on his skin. Warm and cosy.

"So, we can go cycling tomorrow?" asked Harry. "And I have to give you your present too."

"We'll see what the weather is like," Snape said, pressing a soft kiss in Harry's hair.

He sighed contentedly against Snape's skin and all too soon he felt himself drift off. He would have liked to have remembered the sensation of being held in Snape's arms for longer.

It was a sensation he was determined to get used to.



Chapter 14: Slytherin Kisses
Part Fourteen

Snape lay awake a long time after Harry had fallen asleep. It felt so good knowing that Harry had wanted this, that he requested it. If Harry could let go of his fear enough to allow them to get close like this, maybe one day he would be well enough to allow more between them. Snape knew it would be difficult, he didn't think Harry was suddenly going to get over his fear of intimacy between them just because they'd spent a night in each other's arms. It would take time, time that Snape was prepared to take. He didn't want to rush this, didn't want to do anything that would have Harry running in the other direction; away from him.

Eventually he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer and he drifted off to sleep.

***

The cycling would have to wait for another day. Snape was relieved, it was years since he'd been on a bicycle and he wasn't sure he remembered how to ride one. It had snowed in the night and the door to their retreat was blocked by a foot of snow. They could go out in it, but the it wasn't really suitable weather for cycling.

"We have to make a snowman and have snowball fights," said Harry, wrapped up in his royal blue apprentice cloak and blue and white striped scarf.

"After breakfast," Snape agreed. He was determined that this time he would get Harry to eat something. "Playing in the snow is better after a full stomach."

"Do we even have a kitchen?"

"No, but I'm sure the retreat will arrange something for us," even as he spoke, a small table appeared in front of the fire set for two and laden with a small feast. Porridge, platters of fruit, cold meats and cheeses, various types of bread and toast, Danish pastries, croissants, jams and marmalade, cereal, fruit juice, coffee and a large jug of milk.

"We'll never eat all that!" protested Harry, but he made his way over to the table and sat down, picking up a croissant from the basket and nibbling it dry. Snape didn't comment, he would normally have put jam or marmalade on a croissant, but he was just glad that Harry had eaten something off his own bat.

He sat down and poured himself a coffee, it was just how he liked it, strong and bitter and dipped his spoon in the porridge. Harry still nibbled at his pastry, it reminded Snape somewhat of a squirrel and he grinned at the imagery, causing Harry to glare at him and set the pastry down on a side plate. He didn't lift anything else to eat, but poured himself an orange juice.

"Harry, you need to eat more than that," said Snape.

"I'm not hungry."

"You'll eat more than that or I'm taking you straight back to Hogwarts right now."

"Blackmail, Severus?"

"Yes, have you forgotten I'm a Slytherin? Now, eat," Snape pushed a plate of toast in Harry's direction.

The boy took it, grumbling under his breath, but he spread butter on it and did manage to eat two slices. When Harry then ate two slices of melon without any further prodding from Snape, he decided to leave things as they were. If Harry hadn't been eating properly for a while and Snape knew he hadn't, then it was going to take a bit of time.

Harry drained the last of his orange juice, set the glass down and asked, "Can I give you your present now?"

"You can," said Snape, smiling. Harry dashed off, rummaging in his trunk and returned with two square boxes. "I thought you said you only got me one present, Harry?"

"Well, they're a set, so it is really only one." Harry handed him the boxes.

Snape opened the first one and gaped at Harry. "Harry, where did you get these?" Inside the boxes were silver serpent bracelets, each with one red eye and one green. Snape made no move to put either of them on.

"They were in my vault at Gringotts, I didn't know what to get you, but they just seemed ideal. Don't you like them?" Harry sounded close to tears again.

"Harry, they are beautiful, but I can't wear them, either of them. You don't know what they are, do you?"

"Bracelets?" asked Harry, glancing warily at the boxes.

"In the Muggle world I believe there is a custom of giving rings when one becomes betrothed to another. In the wizarding world, that custom is to give a bracelet to your intended. These are betrothal bracelets, Harry, in fact I think they were your parents' betrothal bracelets. Unless you had intended to ask me to bond with you today, I cannot wear either of these."

Harry's face fell and he turned away, as if unwilling to let Snape see how much his rejection of Harry's gifts had upset him. Merlin, he could be such an idiot sometimes.

"Harry, talk to me, please," he pleaded with the boy's back.

"So, so, are you saying you wouldn't want to ever marry me?" Harry asked through his tears.

"You'd thought about marriage, Harry? With me?" Now there was a surprise.

Harry turned and nodded. "I have, I love you Severus, I want to be with you. I know that sometimes I still get scared, but I want to be with you forever, if you'll have me."

Well, that sounded like a proposal to Snape. He removed one of the bracelets from the box and placed it reverently on Harry's wrist, kissing the skin there as Harry gasped and stared at him. "I accept," said Snape and Harry flung his arms around him, sobbing desperately on his shoulder.

"Oh, Severus," he gasped. "You don't know how happy you've made me." Snape held him for a few moment more before Harry pulled away and took the other bracelet from its box. Harry placed the bracelet on Snape's wrist and as the clasp fell into place, he felt his magic reach out and join Harry's. All four eyes glowed for a minute or two, then settled down again. Harry wobbled a little, he obviously hadn't realised what would happen one both of them wore the charmed bracelets.

"What was that?" asked Harry in a dazed voice.

"Our magic seeking its mate. That was just a taster, when we bond, our magic will join and no-one will be able to separate us. Magical marriages are for life, Harry. There is no concept of divorce in the wizarding world, that's why engagements tend to be long."

"How long?" asked Harry.

"I think it's probably for the best if we wait until you've at least finished school, don't you?" Snape grinned at him, feeling the urge to lean in and kiss those luscious lips, but he held back. Just because they were now betrothed was not an excuse for him to take liberties, no matter how much he might wish it.

Harry was quiet again. Too quiet.

"Harry, what is it?"

"It's just - when we get married, does that mean we have to - you know - have sex?" Harry flushed and looked at the floor.

"No, Harry. There is no rush, whether or not we're married. I would never do anything to force you or make you uncomfortable, you do know that?"

"I know, Severus. I want to marry you, I do, I'm just not sure that I'm ready to make love yet. What if - what if I'm never ready?" He whispered at the end.

"Then I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. Whether our marriage will be as friends or lovers, Harry, I still want to marry you. When we bond, our magic will be joined and we will be able to protect each other, look out for each other. I can't imagine my life without you in it, not now. I can't say that I am not hopeful that one day you'll be able to see me as more than a friend, but I am a patient man, Harry. I don't want to lose you."

"You won't," said Harry forcefully, hugging Snape and grinning up at him. “Snowball fight with my fiancé?" Snape grabbed his hand and together they made their way outside to play in the snow.

***

What followed was the most perfect week of Snape's life. During daylight hours, they spent time in the snow, having snowball fights, building snowmen and Harry was delighted when Snape used magic to animate them and they wandered about, the snowmen having snowball fights of their own. Snape saw Harry laugh and smile as he hadn't seen him do for a while. This holiday had been the best thing for him.

In the evenings, they would play board games in front of the fire, sipping hot chocolate and smiling at each other over the rim of their mugs. Harry introduced him to marshmallows, but he didn't like the way they melted in the chocolate, he much preferred to eat them as they were and not adulterate his hot chocolate with them.

After their board games finished, they would settle on the couch, Snape holding Harry in his lap as they talked and talked about everything. Harry spoke more about his childhood with the terrible Muggles, Snape spoke about his, feeling the need to share everything with Harry as soon they would be sharing their lives.

They both wondered how everyone would take their news, but there were no rules against a teacher and student becoming betrothed, as long as nothing improper was taking place. Snape did not intend to tell anyone that while in the retreat the two of them had been sharing a bed. Nothing improper had taken place, but Snape knew that wouldn't really matter to most people, the fact that they shared a bed would be seen as enough. It didn't matter what they actually got up to in it.

All too soon it was time to return to Hogwarts, Harry cried when the Christmas tree disappeared and the retreat began to dissolve back to how it was when they'd arrived. Their last night Harry had a nightmare, Snape held him and rocked him through it, but Harry was unwilling to talk about what it was about.

Snape Apparated them both back to the edge of the wards surrounding Hogwarts and Harry held on to him a little longer, almost as if he never wanted to let the man go. Snape knew the feeling. They both made their way back to the school with a heavy heart, maintaining their distance in case anyone was watching from the windows.

It wasn't the windows they needed to worry about. As they climbed at the school steps and went into the entrance hall, they were met by an unweclome party. All of the school governors, Cornelius Fudge and six Aurors, along with the headmaster, Madam Pomfrey and all of the other teachers. Harry exchanged an alarmed glance with him. "What's she doing here?" Harry whispered frantically as Eleanor Weston detached herself from the main body of people.

"I warned you, Snape, didn't I? You've nothing to hide behind now. Nothing." Eleanor Weston smiled the smug smile of one who had suddenly been vindicated.

Snape didn't like to think what that might mean for he and Harry. It couldn't be good.




Chapter 15: Slytherin Kisses
Part 15

Harry could almost feel the blood draining from his face as he and Snape stood there, not touching, but aware of each other all the same. The betrothal bracelet on his hand felt like a lead weight. They should have waited, they should have waited until he'd left school, but there was no way they were going to separate he and Severus. Not now. Not after all they'd been through.

"Severus," said the headmaster, gliding down the steps to them. "Governor Weston has made some allegations concerning your relationship with Harry. Why don't we adjourn to my office to discuss this?"

"No, you don't, Dumbledore. I want everyone here to hear this, to hear how this man abused a student's trust, there will be no hiding away in your office and letting him get away with it again!" Eleanor glared at Snape, her cheeks bright pink with the effort of her shouting.

"I thought it was all cleared up?" said Harry. "Professor Snape never did anything to me." He desperately wanted to hold Snape's hand, to let him know that it was going to be okay.

"This does not concern anything from the past," said Eleanor. "This is a new allegation. With a witness."

"Please, Eleanor, let us continue this in my office," Dumbledore tried again to persuade her not to make this whole thing a public spectacle. Harry was just glad that none of the other students had arrived back yet after the Christmas break, he didn't relish the thought of having even more of an audience for this scene. Eleanor was having none of it.

"The Minister is here to authorise your arrest," smirked Eleanor, almost hopping from foot to foot in her excitement. Harry wished they were still back at the retreat.

"What allegations?" demanded Snape. "We haven't done anything."

"No? So you consider it perfectly proper to share a bed with a student in your care?" Her eyes glittered wildly with her triumph. How had she known? How had anyone known? He and Snape had been the only two at the retreat, hadn't they? "You were seen. For the past week you were seen sharing a bed with Harry Potter and we have evidence, photographic evidence," she gloated, handing a battered leather folder to Dumbledore.

He took out the contents and perused the pictures inside. Harry's heart was beating a frantic tune against his ribs and he wanted to grab Snape's hand and curl up in the man's embrace, but it was something they couldn't do. Dumbledore glanced sadly at them, his eyes dimmed instead of the usual twinkle. Where did they get the photographs from? Who had taken them and how come he and Snape hadn't noticed?

"I have to say I'm very disappointed in you both, especially you, Severus. After the promises you made to me that nothing improper was going on between you and Harry."

"It wasn't like that!" protested Harry. "Headmaster, we didn't do anything! I swear!"

Dumbledore shook his head. "It's out of my hands now, Harry."

"Do you honestly expect us to believe that the two of you shared a bed and that man didn't take advantage of you?" Fudge asked. "We're not that stupid, Harry. Aurors, arrest that man. I've seen enough."

Two Aurors moved to intercept Snape but Harry stood in front of him, wrapping his arms back around Snape's waist and using himself like a human shield.

"NO! You're not taking him!" Harry planted his feet firmly in the ground. "I won't let you!"

"Harry, come away, dear, please," begged Madam Pomfrey, edging ever nearer to him. "Professor Snape will just be taken to the Ministry for questioning, that's all. He's not going straight to Azkaban or something, is he, Minister?"

"He should be," mumbled Eleanor, but Fudge looked uncertain.

"There will be a trial, of course, but until then Professor Snape will be staying in Ministry custody. That's the law." Even Fudge couldn't circumvent the law even though he might want to.

"Harry, I'll be fine. Don't worry," said Snape, turning Harry round and hugging him hard in front of everyone.

"Did you see that?" gasped Eleanor Weston. "You're all witnesses!"

"All I see is someone giving comfort to a distraught student," said Madam Pomfrey. "Any of us would have done the same. Harry, come with me," Madam Pomfrey held out a hand to him. Harry didn't want to move. He didn't want to leave Snape's arms. Oh, God, he felt sick and shaky and he could hardly believe how happy they'd been only twenty four hours ago.

"Harry, please go with Madam Pomfrey. She'll look after you until I can."

"Promise me you'll come back!" pleaded Harry. "Promise me!"

"You have my word," said Snape and then the Aurors were dragging him away, towards the front doors and Harry felt as if his heart had just been yanked out of his chest and was going with him. "Severus!" he screamed. "Severus! Severus!"

He tried to run screaming to the door, but the someone was holding him back and he struggled, kicking, yelling, sobbing as if his world had collapsed around him. And it had. Snape was his world now and he was gone.

"Poppy, can't you give him something?" asked Professor McGonagall as she tried without success to calm him down.

"Severus! Severus!" Harry screamed over and over again until he dimly heard the matron's voice over his own din.

"Sorry, Harry," she said before he felt the pin prick in his arm and felt the floor tilt at a crazy angle. He was out long before he hit the floor.

***

Harry's throat ached, his eyes were dry and gritty and he was furious with the medi-witch for giving him the sedative when all he wanted to do was go after Snape. He was lying in the infirmary again but he'd been bound to the bed with leather straps on his wrists and ankles. His wand was nowhere in sight, he'd tried Accio on it, but either he was still too weak or his magic wasn't working very well, for his wand remained stubbornly absent.

He struggled against his bonds, arching off the bed and yelling. Madam Pomfrey hurried over to his bed, but made no effort to remove the restraints. "Get these fucking things off me!" he shrieked, not even caring that he was using swear words in front of her. He was just so angry and although most of his anger was directed quite rightly at that moron of a school governor, Weston, he would not so easily forgive the matron for dosing him with tranquillisers and tying him to a bed.

"Not until you've calmed down, Harry. You were suffering from shock, this is all for your own good. What will you do once I release you? Do you think I don't know that you'll be heading straight for the Ministry of Magic on some foolhardy rescue mission?"

Harry opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again. That was exactly his plan. It still was, but maybe he'd have to bide his time for a few days. Let them all thing he had accepted the fact that Snape was locked up and then when they were least expecting it, he would run from school and rescue Snape. He wasn't going to leave him there. He wasn't.

"They can't lock him up for something he didn't do!" cried Harry. "They can't!"

"So was it true what you said, Harry? That nothing had happened between you?"

"We did share a bed," admitted Harry. "But not like that, we did just sleep. Severus is too honourable, he promised he wouldn't pursue me until after I'd left school. I asked him to share the bed with me, I wanted to be held, I wanted comfort and he gave it. Was that so wrong?"

"No, Harry, it wasn't, but think how it will look to the governors and the parents. A teacher sharing a bed with a student. It was inappropriate, but I don't think it constitutes a prison term. I'm sure the Wizengamot will be lenient when the truth comes out at the trial. This seems to be some sort of vendetta on Eleanor Weston's part, I don't know what she'd got against Severus, but I'm sure everyone else will see sense." Madam Pomfrey paused and looked down at Harry. "Would you like to write to him?"

"Professor Snape? Will it even get to him?"

"Yes, if we send it care of Kingsley Shacklebolt, he'll make sure Severus will receive it. I'll just go and fetch some parchment and ink for you." She patted Harry's bed and hurried off. Harry's mind and heart were racing, she'd have to undo his restraints for him to be able to write a letter, wouldn't she? When she heard her footsteps approaching the bed again, he schooled his face into a mask of calm composure, even if he was feeling anything but calm.

Madam Pomfrey waved her wand, so that the straps binding his hands to the bed lengthened, but she did not remove them completely. "Right, I'll just let you write your letter. Call me if you need anything, Harry," she smiled down at him. Harry didn't return it. Why were they both being treated like prisoners when they hadn't done anything wrong?

When Madam Pomfrey returned to her office, Harry tried to reach down to undo the straps at his ankles, but any move he made not related to writing his letter, had the straps on his wrist shorten again, but he tried about ten times anyway, just getting more and more frustrated with his useless escape attempts.

He dipped the quill in the ink and began to write.

Dear Severus,

I don't know how long it's been since they took you away, I was screaming and crying and Madam Pomfrey injected me with something so that I've been unconscious for I don't how long. It seems weird to wake up and know that I won't be seeing you today. I hate that woman for taking you away from me. You shouldn't be there. You should be here scaring all the students who've forgotten their homework and giving out detentions. You should be here with me. God, Severus, I love you so much, I can hardly believe it, but it's true. My heart left with you today, please look after it as I will look after yours. I miss you so much. Please hurry home.

Love, Harry.

He didn't know what else to say in a letter, even as he re-read it, it sounded a bit mushy, but he didn't change a thing. It came straight from his heart and he knew that's what Snape needed from him right now, they didn't need polite questions of each other. His soul felt scrubbed bare as he put down the quill, but in a good way.

Almost as if she knew when he would be finished, Madam Pomfrey returned with an envelope for his letter. She didn't read it, sealed the envelope and wrote Shacklebolt's address on it in an elegant hand. Harry reached up to scratch his nose, as he did so his serpent bracelet rattled against the buckle of the restraining strap.

"Harry!" she gasped. "Is that a betrothal bracelet?"

Oh, no, were they now in even more trouble because of that? Harry nodded. "We're getting married after I leave school."

"Oh, Harry, this is wonderful news, just wonderful!" She bent down and wrapped him in a hug. "Eleanor Weston won't have a leg to stand on! You're a betrothed couple, a few steps away from being a full magically bonded couple. Did your magic accept each other's?"

"I think so," said Harry. "Our bracelets glowed and I got a bit dizzy when we both wore the bracelets."

"That's it then, that's the defence Professor Snape will have. Cheer up, Harry. I have a feeling Professor Snape will be released before the week is out!" She was grinning from ear to ear and her good humour was infectious and Harry found himself grinning back.

"You really think so, Madam Pomfrey?"

"I do, Harry. I do. There is no wizarding law that can separate a betrothed or bonded couple, not for being intimate with each other in any way. The laws governing their betrothal or bonding relationship take precedence over any other relationship, such as teacher and student. By wearing these bracelets, both of you are showing your commitment to each other and no-one can then say that is an unequal partnership, that either of you are taking advantage of one another."

"You said about being intimate," began Harry. "Does that mean we can, if we want to?"

"As a betrothed couple, it is certainly allowed, Harry, but I think it would probably best if you both waited until your schooling is finished, don't you?"

"I do and so does he. Um, Madam Pomfrey, can I ask you to arrange an appointment for me with the counsellor you mentioned? I think - I think I do need to talk to someone about things."

"Of course I can, Harry. I'm so glad you've decided to see her. I'll let you know when she can fit you in. Would you prefer to have her come her or would you like to go to St. Mungo's?"

"Can she come here, please?" Harry didn't fancy everyone at St. Mungo's knowing his business and if he had to travel up to the London hospital all the time, he guessed it wouldn't be long before the information somehow leaked out and was splashed across the pages of the Daily Prophet.

"That's fine, Harry. Now, do you promise not to go haring off to London if I unbuckle you?"

Considering what she'd just told him, Harry realised that maybe he didn't actually need to go on a rescue mission after all. He nodded and smiled.

"I promise."


Chapter 16: Slytherin Kisses
Part 16

It took less than a week, once it was discovered that Harry and Snape were actually betrothed, Snape was home after three days. Harry attended his classes, ate meals in the Great Hall, ignored Ron and was ignored in return while inside he was wishing Snape was back home with him. He knew it would only be a matter of time, but still it was very lonely in the dungeons without Snape there. Harry was just glad that he wasn't still in the Gryffindor dorms, he didn't know how long it would be before he hexed Ron into oblivion. Ron was probably ecstatic that Snape had been arrested.

"Why are you two fighting?" Hermione asked of Harry at breakfast that morning.

"Ask Ron," said Harry, stabbing his fork into his scrambled eggs, but he made no move to eat them. He refused to repeat what Ron had said, it was bad enough that Ron had said it once. Ron was on the other side of Hermione and she now turned to him.

"Well, Ron? What's going on?"

"Ask him," said Ron and stuffed his face with a slice of toast so that he wouldn't have to speak anymore.

The other Gryffindors were staring avidly at the trio, wondering what was going on. Harry continued to mutilate his eggs, just willing the bell to ring so that he could get out of here and away from Ron. There was a gradual whisper, sounding like the surf washing ashore, increasing in intensity, it was a while before Harry noticed the reason for the commotion.

"Harry, he's back," whispered Hermione in his ear and Harry glanced up. Gliding elegantly through the doors, Professor Snape had his head held high and his stance was almost enough to discourage anyone for bringing up the reason why he had not been at school for the past few days. Of course, since it was plastered across the front page of the Daily Prophet for those same few days (along with a photograph), everyone knew the reasons behind it.

He paused by the Gryffindor table and nodded silently to Harry before walking up to the top table.

"Welcome back, sir," Harry whispered almost to himself, but he was sure the man heard him even so.

Harry's hands were sweaty, he set down his fork and wiped them on his robes before rising from the bench and standing next to Snape the top table. No-one here knew about the letters they'd been sending to each other for the short time Snape had been incarcerated at the Ministry holding cells, but they'd both decided what they were now going to ask of Dumbledore would be for the best. They wouldn't risk being separated again.

Dumbledore looked down at both of them, smiling indulgently as if they were wayward children who had just returned to the fold.

"Welcome back, my boy. We missed you."

"Thank you, headmaster," replied Snape, turning and pinning Harry with that intense gaze, his eyes dark and glittering from the reflected candles alight in the Great Hall. "Harry and I would beg a boon of you."

Harry nodded to Snape, although they'd both agreed beforehand that this was the way they wanted to do it. This way, everyone was a witness and no-one could have any doubt as to what their relationship actually was. There was nothing forced or coerced, nothing abusive.

"You only have to ask, Severus," said the headmaster.

"Very well, as everyone here is no doubt aware due the Daily Prophet articles, Harry and I are betrothed. I wish to ask that you perform a bonding ceremony, right now, right here so that there is no way Harry or I will ever be taken from one another ever again. We will not go through this again, headmaster."

"Harry, is this something you also wish?" Dumbledore stared at him.

"Yes, sir. It is. We have both agreed to this. I know it is unusual with me still being a student, but I am of age and I can agree to marry whomever I wish. I wish it to be Severus."

"Very well," agreed Dumbledore. "You both seem to know your own minds in this matter." Dumbledore waved his hands and the Great Hall was decorated with garlands of white flowers draped around the windows, as well as multicoloured centrepieces on each of the tables. Tumblers of orange and pumpkin juice were transfigured into crystal goblets (still with juice, except for the adults, whose glasses suddenly held champagne) and Harry and Snape were no longer in their student and teacher robes.

They both were wearing a long robe of white linen, the sleeves so long on Harry's that his hands weren't visible. Snape's was a bit short at the hem and as Harry glanced down, he saw a flash of a bony ankle, they were both barefooted now as well. Snape glared at the headmaster but didn't comment on their new attire or the hall's new decor.

"I call everyone here present to witness the bonding of Severus Aloysius Snape and Harry James Potter. If anyone here knows a reason why this bonding cannot take place, speak now or be forever silent."

There was a pause, Harry waited with bated breath, wondering if Ron might say something. He didn't, but he was looking anywhere but at the two waiting grooms. No-one objected, but everyone was looking a bit gobsmacked. Here they were just having breakfast, getting ready for class and suddenly they were in the middle of a wizarding wedding. Harry supposed it was a bit of a surprise, but he would not lose Snape again. Being bonded no-one would be able to separate them, not even if they did share the same bed.

"Headmaster, we have prepared our own vows, if that is acceptable?" asked Snape.

"It is, Severus. Please continue."

"Harry, you may go first," Snape smiled at him and Harry felt as if he'd seen the sun after a long winter.

"I Harry Potter, do take you, Severus Snape for my husband. You cannot possess me for I belong to myself , but while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give. You cannot command me, for I am a free person, But I shall serve you in those ways you require and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand. I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night and the eyes into which I smile in the morning. I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine I shall not slander you, nor you me I shall honour you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in private and tell no strangers our grievances. This is my wedding vow to you. This is the marriage of equals."

There was an impromptu round of applause from the Gryffindor table as Harry finished his speech, quickly quelled when the headmaster raised his hand for silence. "And now you, Severus," he said.

"I Severus Snape, do hereby take you Harry, to be my partner, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the man you will become, and falling in love a little more every day. I promise to love and cherish you through whatever life may bring us. Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you, for where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried. There will never be another to share my heart nor my bed. And may the Fates do with me what they will if anything but death parts you from me."

As Severus finished his vows, Harry could not stop the tears from falling no more than he could stop the sun from rising and setting. They'd done it. They were married. No-one could tear them apart now. Never.

"I now present to you, Severus Snape and Harry Snape. This bonding has been witnessed in accordance with our laws. They are bound in magic, body and spirit and cannot now be unbound. There are united in their love for one another and their love will never waver. And now a traditional blessing for the happy couple," Dumbledore raised his glass, as did everyone else in the hall.

"May you be poor in misfortune, Rich in blessings, May you know nothing but happiness From this day forward. May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home. And may the hand of a friend always be near. May green be the grass you walk on, May blue be the skies above you, May pure be the joys that surround you, May true be the hearts that love you."

The applause that followed Dumbledore’s blessing was deafening. He raised his hand for silence once again and smiled at Snape and Harry. "Severus, you may kiss him now."

Snape stared around the hall full of goggled eyed and tearful staff and students, before turning his attention back to Harry. Harry felt as if he couldn't breathe and suddenly he didn't want their first kiss as a married couple to be in the middle of the Great Hall. Snape bent down and gave Harry a quick peck on the cheek, Harry was vaguely disappointed and was determined to get a real kiss from him once they were back in their quarters.

"Congratulations, Severus, Harry," Dumbledore stepped down from the dais and shook both their hands. "Now, just the paperwork for you to sign." A scroll dropped from mid-air, Dumbledore caught it and laid it out on the teachers' table. "Minerva, Poppy, would you like to be the two official witnesses to sign the marriage certificate?"

"We'd be honoured, Harry and Severus," Madam Pomfrey was dabbing delicately at her eyes with a lace edged handkerchief, Professor McGonagall was blowing her nose on a tartan one and nodded, too overcome to speak.

Snape signed first, then Harry, loving the way that once he'd signed his own name, their signatures moved about the parchment and twined round one another, their names joined for eternity in black ink.

Then it was Madam Pomfrey's and McGonagall's turn to sign, after that Dumbledore added his own signature. The scroll disappeared and as it did so, Harry felt a weight on his ring finger. A small gold band now sat there, its mate on Snape's finger. Harry could hardly stop smiling, his jaw ached. He felt a strange tingling in his body and wondered if that was their magic trying to join.

"Now, I'm sure no-one will object that their classes today will start a little later than usual," twinkled Dumbledore. "I will ask you once again to raise your glasses in a toast to Harry and Severus!"

"Harry and Severus!!!!" was echoed round the room. Harry noticed that even Ron had raised his glass, but he hadn't spoken the toast.

"And now, our little celebration must end and school resume again." Dumbledore changed everything back to how it was. Harry stared at his new husband. It felt almost like a dream. He and Snape were suddenly inundated with students who wanted to wish them well and it took over an hour before they could finally leave the hall.

"At least you can't take points from me for being late," giggled Harry as both of them made their way to the Potions classroom. "You're late too."

"You seem happy about this, Harry. Are you?"

"I am, Severus. I am." Harry squeezed Snape's hand as they both entered the classroom and were suddenly awash in a shower of conjured confetti.


Chapter 17: Slytherin Kisses
Part 17

Three days after his wedding to Severus, Harry had his first Divination class since their bonding, one lesson he wasn't looking forward to at all. So far he'd managed to avoid Ron, but once in the heavily perfumed room he knew he was going to have to face his former friend. They'd been sharing the same table in Divination since their third year and as Harry emerged from the trapdoor, he saw that all the seats were taken save the one next to Ron. He had no choice unless he wanted to stand for the whole lesson.

Harry's chest ached and his feet felt like two lumps of lead rather than flesh and bone as he made his way over. Ron didn't greet him, just opened his textbook and pretended to be engrossed in it. Harry knew that Ron had as much interest in Divination as he had in Percy's cauldron bottom reports.

Professor Trelawney glided about the room, draped in gauzy scarves that fluttered like banners behind her as she moved. "Now, children, I hope you have all completed your Natal charts for this lesson. Please exchange your chart with your partner who will divine your destiny for you. Use the guide on page 94 if you get stuck."

In silence, Ron and Harry slid their charts towards each other, not looking at each other either. Harry wasn't too worried about his destiny these days, he'd killed Voldemort according to the prophecy and as far as he knew there weren't any more prophecies concerning him.

From what Harry could make out in amongst the waffle of Angela Starling on page 94, Ron was either going to get bitten by a hippogriff or come into some money, or maybe the hippogriff would come into some money, he wasn't entirely sure.

Harry scrawled down his dubious predictions for Ron on a piece of parchment, curious as to what Ron's might be for him, but Ron wasn't writing anything down. Harry almost threw his parchment at Ron. Ron had yet to meet his eyes and Harry was feeling angrier by the minute. Was Ron really that shallow? How could he have said what he did? Weren't they supposed to be friends? He knew Molly and Arthur Weasley would never have harboured such thoughts, never mind act on them, where did Ron get it from?

"Professor, there's something wrong with Harry's chart. There are two dates and times of birth."

"Let me see, Mr. Weasley," Trelawney held out her hand for the chart, bangles jangling on her wrists as she did so. "Mr. Potter, would you care to explain, why do you have two birthdays two years apart?"

The Natal charts filled in the date and times of birth magically once a student had entered their names. Harry just thought it had been a mistake. "I don't know, professor. They just appeared like that when I filled in my name."

"I see," she sighed, then she waved her hands over the parchment, her face turning as pale as the moon. "Oh, my. Oh my. Mr. Potter, I advise you to look out your family records. Within you will find the truths you seek." Her eyes lost focus, but no other cryptic messages were forthcoming. What records? What truths?

"Merlin, she's battier than ever," grinned Ron.

"Yeah," agreed Harry, grinning back but then they both flushed and looked away, realising they weren't supposed to be talking to one another. A few minutes later, Ron spoke again.

"Harry, mate, I'm sorry, okay? Can we talk?"

"It isn't okay, Ron. But if you want, you can sit with me for lunch."

Harry didn't know if he could just forgive Ron just like that. It hurt, what Ron had said to him, but he knew he missed his friend too. Shouldn't he at least give Ron the chance to explain?

***

The enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall mimicked the weather outside, grey clouds heavily laden with snow. A few flakes drifted down but dissolved long before they reached any of the tables. Lunch was almost over, most tables had gaps in the benches, like rows of missing teeth. Ron and Harry were the only ones left on their end of the table, Hermione had gone to the library again. Now that it was the other side of the Christmas holidays, Hermione's pre-NEWTs jitters had started in earnest.

"Harry, I really am sorry," said Ron. "I was a complete jerk."

"Yes you were," agreed Harry. "Do you have any idea how awful it was, what you did? To say to someone who'd been raped that they wanted it? How would you feel if it had been Hermione or Ginny that it had happened to, would you have blamed them? If it had happened to you?"

"I freaked out. I thought - I thought that if it had happened to me there was no way I could have gone for men, I couldn't understand it, Harry. How could you still like blokes after what they did to you?"

"You're not gay, are you Ron?"

"No, but you being gay doesn't bother me," said Ron. "It was trying to understand how you could still be gay after what they'd done. Wouldn't it have put you off?"

"Why didn't you just ask me this before, Ron? Instead of saying that I was sick and wanted them to do that to me. I never wanted to be held down in the middle of the Quidditch showers and be raped by Malfoy and his cronies. It was nothing to do with sex, Ron. They just wanted to hurt and humiliate me in the worst way possible. Malfoy took what I felt and turned it into something perverted. They may have made me scared of sex, Ron, but I am still gay. It didn't change my orientation."

"God, Malfoy was one sick fuck," said Ron.

"Yes, he was," Harry replied softly, remembering anew the pain and terror of that night. He thought he was going to die there, right there on the floor of the shower stall, his blood washing down the drain. Survive the Dursleys and Voldemort only to fall prey to five Slytherins who hadn't even made the grade as Death Eaters.

"So - um - Harry, about you and Snape..."

"You had better not ask me anything of what goes on in our bedroom, Ron. It's no-one else's business." Not that there was anything to tell yet, they weren't even sharing a bedroom, never mind a bed. Snape was still keen on waiting until Harry had left school and it helped Harry to know that nothing was expected of him until he felt ready. He had his first session with the counsellor next week and he was a little worried about what they would talk about.

"No, I wasn't going to. I just wanted to say congratulations, Harry. About you being married and everything."

Harry gaped at him. "You mean that?"

"I do. Okay, it was a bit much to get my head around at first, you and Snape? Didn't you hate each other? All those times he belittled you, but then all those times he saved you as well. When I saw the both of you together, it reminded me of Mum and Dad. He's in love with you, Harry, any fool can see that, even me."

"You are a fool, Ron Weasley," said Harry. "And I'm in love with him too."

"So, are we friends again?" Ron asked hesitantly.

"Maybe, but you have to promise me one thing."

"Anything, Harry, anything."

"The next time we have Divination, never under any circumstances draw that woman's attention to our work, even if I have twenty birth dates on my charts!"

"It's a deal!" Ron beamed and wrapped him in a hug.

"I do hope that is an extremely platonic embrace my husband is currently engaged in, Mr. Weasley," came the voice of Severus behind them. Ron let go of Harry so quickly that he almost toppled off the seat. Harry smiled at his husband, he hadn't seen him since breakfast and he didn't have Potions or DADA today.

"The pass to the Restricted section, Mr. Potter. You will need these books for your study session this evening. Your privileges have been restored."

"Thank you, sir," said Harry as he took the pass from his husband's hands. When Severus made his way to the top table, Ron gaped at both of them. "What?"

"You still call him sir and he calls you Potter."

"We always do when it's to do with school, he is still my teacher," said Harry. "It helps, imagine how everyone would react if I suddenly called him Severus or Bunnykins when we were in class!"

"You don't really call him Bunnykins, do you?" Ron's face turned almost as red as his hair.

"That's for me to know and you to find out." Harry smiled enigmatically.



Chapter 18: Slytherin Kisses
Part 18

Snape watched with some trepidation as Harry's hand curled around the snitch and ended the match to thunderous applause from the Gryffindor stands and a polite smattering from the Hufflepuff end. He was so glad the match was, over, if he was this anxious, how on earth must Harry be feeling? In little over an hour, Harry would have his first counselling session and Snape knew that Harry was not looking forward to it. It was two weeks after the Easter holidays and it had taken that long for the counsellor to fit Harry in, she must have been very popular.

A few students nodded to him as he made his way back to the dungeons to wait for Harry. He paced the room, marked some essays, avoided the temptation to drink some firewhiskey. When Harry returned, he was determined to be sober, Harry might need him.

Severus twisted the bonding ring on his finger, he was quite used to it now, even though he had never worn any sort of ring before this. Harry's session was taking a long time. He wondered what they talked about, he was curious, and wondered if Harry would think him terrible if he asked.

He pushed open the door to Harry's bedroom, Harry's spare apprentice robes were hanging on the outside of the wardrobe. The bed was made, the covers smooth and the corners tucked in as neatly as any of Poppy's hospital beds. On a small table, Harry's books were ordered in neat piles, stacks of parchments bound with leather thongs, quills laid out with military precision, three ink bottles lined up in a row. The room was neat. Too neat.

During Severus' own youth, his bedroom had looked as though a whirlwind had just gone through it, books and clothes discarded haphazardly on the floor, plates he'd forgotten about stuffed under the bed so that they grew mould. Harry was still a teenager, but his room did not reflect that at all. Snape never known someone who was so tidy and obsessive about it. Yet another thing Snape was sure the Dursleys were to blame for.

Sometimes he had a hankering to know some of those dark, dark spells that people used to accuse him of, specifically those involved with raising the dead. It would be worth it just to bring the Dursleys back and kill them again. He shuddered as he remembered what had been done to Harry by people who were supposed to care for him.

Severus closed the door and sat down on the sofa, watching the clock as the hands seemed to hover on the one time for an hour. Just as he was about to get up and go to the infirmary himself to see what was keeping Harry, Poppy's head appeared in the fire.

"Severus, it's Harry." Poppy removed herself from the fire so that Severus could Floo to the hospital wing. He was there in moments, the medi-witch wringing her hands as he emerged from the infirmary fireplace.

"Poppy, what is it? Did something happen at Harry's counselling session?"

"He didn't have the counselling session, Severus."

"He didn't turn up?"

"Severus, were you at the Quidditch match earlier?" she asked as she led him to the far end of the room, a curtain pulled around the bed's occupant.

"Yes, but Harry wasn't injured, was he?"

"Not then, maybe you hadn't seen, but the Gryffindor team put Harry on their shoulders and took him straight to the changing rooms."

"Shit!" exclaimed Severus, Harry had never been back there since the rape, he knew Harry would not have been at all prepared to face the site of his violation and near death.

"Quite. It wasn't their fault, Severus. They didn't know that Harry would still be upset about it. The captain brought Harry to me afterwards. I think it was a flashback, Harry freaked out and started attacking his team mates, perhaps thinking they were the rapists of his vision. Anyway, they used magic to subdue him, he hurt his head when he fell from one too many stupefies."

"I'll have every one of those idiots in detention!" roared Snape. "How could they have brought him in there? Hadn't they noticed he never went in there?" Gods, if anything happened to Harry, he would not be responsible for his actions.

"Calm down, Severus, they weren't to know. They're only children. Harry's fine, no concussion but it was a nasty bump. I've placed him in a healing sleep after giving him a calming potion. He refused to talk to the counsellor, she was here waiting when Harry was brought in. He told me he no longer wants the counselling."

"Does he need it?" They'd both arrived at the bed, Poppy drew back the curtain.

"It's not the head injury I'm concerned about, Severus." He felt all the breath whoosh out of his chest as if he'd been hit by a bludger. Harry was dressed in one of the flimsy hospital gowns and it was only now that he was seeing what he'd missed all these months, when Harry was wrapped up in his winter robes and cloaks.

Harry's arms were like two pale sticks, Snape was sure he could snap his wrists like a twig with the smallest amount of pressure. Even with the gown on, he could see the outline of Harry's ribs, the thin legs beneath the blankets. Now that he knew what to look for, he saw that even Harry's face was much thinner than it used to be, dark purple circles around his eyes, his eye sockets themselves over pronounced. There was hardly an inch of spare flesh on him, the boy was emaciated.

"Dear God, Poppy, how could I not have seen? How could I not have noticed? I thought he was eating, I really thought he was."

"He needs to talk to someone, Severus," sighed Poppy. "And if he won't see the counsellor, I think it might need to be you. You need to get him to eat, for he won't listen to me. He keeps denying it, refuses to even admit that there is a problem. I don't know how long this has been going on for, but he needs to start eating and soon. He's slowly starving himself to death, Severus and if none of us can get through to him, you know what's going to happen."

"St. Mungo's. The closed ward," said Snape, knowing how much Harry would hate that. "I'll get him to eat, Poppy. I promise."

"Good, Severus," said Poppy. "He should wake in a while, I'll have some soup ready for him, I don't think he'll be able to eat anything too heavy for a bit."

"Thanks, Poppy."

She gave Snape's arm a reassuring squeeze as she left him alone with Harry. He sat down in the chair by the bed, unable to do anything but stare and wonder where it had all gone wrong.

***

Harry threw the soup at the matron, only missing her by a scant few inches. Severus was appalled, he had never seen Harry act so wilful before, he bucked and kicked in their grasp, almost clawing Snape's eyes out in the process. He didn't seem to know who they were, or who he was, just someone who was in pain and thought that he and Poppy were trying to inflict more. And the screams, Severus had never heard such horrified screams come from a human mouth before. Severus managed to pin him to the bed while Poppy injected him with a tranquilliser again, there was no way they would be able to get a potion of any sort down his throat at the moment.

Harry's struggles eased and he collapsed limply back against the bed. His hair was plastered to his head with sweat and his breathing was still a bit ragged, but his body was still now. There were marks on Harry's arms where Snape had held him down, there would be bruises. Bruises Snape had inflicted. He felt bile rise in his gullet. After he said he would never hurt Harry and now look.

Harry turned a glassy green gaze on him, looking so forlorn that Severus just wanted to wrap him in a blanket and take him away somewhere, somewhere where he'd never be hurt again.

"Did you know?" Harry whispered, his throat must have been hoarse from all that screaming. Severus edged closer to the bed. It seemed that for the moment at least, Harry was lucid.

"Know what, Harry?"

"About what Professor Trelawney had said, about my chart?"

"Did you find the records?" asked Severus, curious despite himself. Harry had gone up to London last week to visit his vault at Gringotts, see if there was anything there that might cast light on the matter, but Harry hadn't told him what he'd found and Severus hadn't pried.

"I did. I found my birth certificate," said Harry, a little louder this time. His hand sought out Snape's and he was only to glad to clasp his husband's hand in his. Severus stroked the back of Harry's hand, hoping to soothe him a little. "I feel weird," sighed Harry. "What did Madam Pomfrey give me?"

"A tranquilliser," said Severus. "We needed to calm you down. Do you feel sick? Are you having a reaction?"

"No, I feel - floaty, like I'm not really here. Am I here, Severus, or is this all a dream?"

"You're here, Harry." Severus pushed Harry's damp hair away from his temple and smoothed his hand across it. "And so am I. You mentioned you found your birth certificate in the vaults? The Potters were your parents?"

"Oh, yes," sighed Harry, sounding very out of it. "But there were two certificates for Harry James Potter. Two birth certificates, two Harrys born two years apart. Born on the same day, but different years."

"Two Harrys?" Severus queried. How much of a dose had Poppy given him? "How can there have been two Harrys?"

"Look in my room, Severus, it's all there." Harry's eyes dropped shut.

"Your room, Harry, what's in your room?" But Harry was already fast asleep. Severus told Poppy to look after him while he returned to his quarters and Harry's room. The trouble was, he had no idea what he was searching for, there was also the uncomfortable nagging feeling in the back of his mind that what he was doing was a gross violation of Harry's privacy, never mind that Harry had asked it. His husband was drugged to the back teeth, and Severus should not be doing this.

But he was. He was searching everything in Harry's bedroom, the drawers in his desk, on the dressing table, inside the wardrobe, under the bed. Harry's trunk. It was in Harry's trunk that he found what he'd been looking for. Two copies of the birth certificates like Harry had said and newspaper clippings from two years before Harry was born. Snape had been out of the country then at his parents' property in France, where Voldemort had been the guest of honour and Snape had finally received his Dark Mark. He shook his head, no point in dwelling on that.

He hadn't known of the news contained within the yellowed and brittle pages of the Daily Prophet, and until recently he thought neither had Harry. The Potters had a baby boy called Harry James Potter, born on the 31st July two years to the day before Harry, who had also died that same day. Murdered by the midwife. Harry had had an older brother who'd lived less than a day. An older brother with the same name and the same birthdate. Severus shivered.

The story of the trial was splashed across the pages. The midwife admitted being an agent of the Dark Lord, although unmarked. She'd heard of the prophecy concerning a boy child born on the 31st July who would be able to defeat the Dark Lord and so she took matters into her own hands and killed the child before he could become a danger to Voldemort. The articles gave her name as Martha Atkins, but there was a photograph of her on the last page.

Severus felt the world tilt at a crazy angle.

Martha was smirking at him, a smirk he'd seen somewhere before. The exact same smirk he'd received from Eleanor Weston.



Chapter 19: Slytherin Kisses
Part 19

"I'm telling you, Albus, it's the same woman!" Snape waved the yellowed photograph in Dumbledore's face.

"Lemon drop?" asked Albus, as if he had not a care in the world.

"No, I do not want any of your bloody confectionery! Will you just look at the photo?"

Dumbledore took the page from Snape's shaking fingers and perused it at length. "Oh, my. So you think that this Martha Atkins is the same person as Eleanor Weston?"

"I do. What happened at the trial? Was she convicted?"

"Yes, by the full Wizengamot. She was sentenced to twenty years in Azkaban."

"They let her out? She was released? And Eleanor Weston just happened to become a school governor this year? Am I right, headmaster?"

"I'm afraid you are, Severus. I will contact the Magical Law Enforcement office at once. We'll find out what she was trying to do."

"Isn't it obvious? All that effort in trying to get me away from Harry? She wanted his protector gone, she wants him dead, Albus and if that woman sets one foot inside this school again, you'd better be prepared to hold me back, for I know I will not be able to restrain myself."

"Now, Severus, there's no need for anything so drastic. She will be given Veritaserum and the Aurors will find out what is going on. I have a feeling she might be sent to Azkaban again."

"I can't believe they let her out in the first place!" snarled Snape. A supporter of the Dark Lord, a child killer. Why did they let her out? "Did you know, Albus? Did you know about Harry's brother?"

"I think everyone in the country knew at the time, Severus."

"And no-one thought to inform Harry of this? He had a right to know, Albus. Everyone's been keeping secrets from him for so long, I don't know how much more of this he can take. Don't you think it was a bit morbid?"

"What was?"

"Naming him after his dead brother? It just seems morbid to me."

"Plenty of families name their children after dead relatives, Severus. It's not that unusual."

"I know, but a brother with the same birthdate as well? It just seems weird."

"Harry's birthday was deliberate," said Albus, unwrapping a lemon drop and popping it in his mouth. He sucked for a minute or two before swallowing the sweet whole. "It was a magical pregnancy."

"What do you mean?" Severus was liking this conversation less and less.

"When Harry's brother was killed, due to the prophecy made by Sybill, James and Lily deliberately conceived another child, a child who would be born on the same day. The day that was in the prophecy so that Harry would become that child of prophecy, rather than his brother."

"Oh, dear God, he was a replacement?"

"For want of a better word, yes."

Severus felt ill. He knew he shouldn't have even had this talk with the headmaster. He stood up on shaky legs and smoothed down his crease free robes. "I have to get back to Harry."

"Please, Severus, he doesn't need to know about this."

Know about it? Severus had no intention of telling his husband any of this. Harry had enough to cope with, he couldn't add more to the burden.

***

Harry was still in the infirmary, Poppy was refusing to let him leave until his weight was a little better. Needless to say, the news was unweclome to Harry. He'd begged Severus to take him home and Severus was very tempted to do just that, despite Poppy's protests, but he knew the infirmary was the best place for him at the moment.

When he returned to the infirmary, Severus couldn't believe how worse Harry had gotten in just a few days. Sweat trickled down Harry's face, he looked as though he'd just been out in a rainstorm. Severus felt Harry's head and almost burned his hand. Despite Harry's high temperature, he was shivering uncontrollably on the bed.

"We can't fit it in today, come back tomorrow." A faint blue glow surrounded his body.

"What was that, Harry?"

"It's the fever," said Madam Pomfrey. "He's been delirious for about an hour or so. I'm running some tests, I don't think this is an eating disorder at all, at least not only that."

"We can sandpaper the elephant tomorrow," mumbled Harry against his pillow. "Two sickles."

Severus tried to lay his hand on Harry again, but Harry whimpered and struggled away as though the touch pained him. "I'll be back in a moment, Severus, I just want to check to see if my results of those tests are finished."

Severus was left alone with a sick Harry and no idea how to help or comfort him. He sat down on the edge of Harry's bed, not touching him, but hoping against hope that his presence near Harry would somehow help the sick boy on the bed.

But when had his presence ever soothed anyone? He'd been a torturer, an executioner. He didn't bring comfort, he brought terror and despair. Madam Pomfrey took a long while, but Harry had another visitor in the meantime. Ron Weasley hovered by the edge of the bed.

"Get out, Weasley," Snape sneered. Harry may have forgiven the brat, but Snape's memory was long and he knew how to hold a grudge.

"I just wanted to see how Harry was doing, sir."

"Get out, Weasley. I want you nowhere near my husband. Is that clear enough for you?"

"You can't pick Harry's friends!" the redhead protested and Snape almost wished that teachers were allowed to cast hexes on students instead of handing out detentions or lines.

"I can when it's thanks to those same friends that he's like this. Do you have any idea what you did to him with your thoughtless remarks, Weasley? Does your mother know what you did? No, I didn't think so. Get out!"

But Ron stood his ground.

"Mr. Weasley, out, out," ordered Madam Pomfrey when she returned. "I do not wish to be disturbed while I examine Harry."

"Is he staying?" groused Ron.

"As Harry's husband, he has every right to. You as a student do not, now out."

Ron glared at both of them but left.

Poppy waved her wand over Harry, blue light flaring from the tip. "Severus, when was the last time you touched Harry? Any sort of touch, holding hands, hugging, kissing? Besides just now when you felt his forehead."

Severus thought back, he couldn't really remember, but it did seem longer than a month ago. "He seemed very distant after he found out about his brother last week, but I didn't know that's what might have been causing it. Harry would normally accept a hug from me, but this past week, he hasn't touched me and I haven't tried to touch him."

"I think that the eating disorder may have increased the rate at which the curse is working. Severus, Harry is suffering from Veneficus Excrucio. You know there is only one way to counter it."

"Poppy, are you sure? That spell is darker than Dark. Who would have cast it?"

"At a guess, Draco Malfoy. It had to be cast during a sexual act. A violent sexual act."

Veneficus Excrucio, a spell that caused the wizard's or witch's magic to turn inwards like a poison. Harry's own magic was poisoning him. The only way to counter the curse was to perform a loving sexual act. An act that Harry was terrified of due to his abuse and rape.

"You must do this, Severus and do it quickly!"

"Poppy, we can't! Harry's ill, he's barely coherent!"

"He'll be a lot more than ill if you don't! He's dying, Severus. The curse is killing him. He doesn't have days, he has hours! Because he's so thin, the curse is progressing faster than it would have normally."

Severus gaped at her and then to the shivering boy on the bed. If he took Harry like this, barely conscious of his surroundings, how could it be loving? How could Harry give his consent? It would be little more than another rape.

Poppy handed him a small blue phial. "This will help keep the fear down and help Harry remain lucid for a few hours. You must make love with him, Severus, it's the only way."

Severus felt sick, not in the least romantically minded and wondered how on earth he was supposed to plan a seduction when Harry hadn't even wanted a hug in the past few days. "Does it matter how we do this?" Maybe Harry wouldn't be so terrified if there was no penetration, oral or manual might work as long as they were loving.

"Harry will have to be penetrated since the spell was first cast during a rape. You both need to orgasm as well."

Great, nothing like a bit of performance anxiety to set the mood. "And Harry will be better afterwards?"

"He will no longer be suffering from the curse, but I can't honestly say he will be better straightaway, Severus. He has a lot to work through. But he will no longer be in immediate danger of dying from his own magic."

Severus could not believe he was having a conversation with Poppy about his and Harry's future love life, if there was a future. This day could not get any more surreal. Or maybe it could.

He had a scant few hours in which he had to seduce Harry and he wasn't entirely sure he was up to the task.



Chapter 20: Slytherin Kisses
Part 20

When Harry next awoke, he was no longer lying in the familiar infirmary bed of the past few days, nor was he on his own bed. He could see black and sliver drapes around the bed and on a chair next to the bed, his husband was dozing lightly. Harry could only guess that he was in Severus' bed, what had happened? What was he doing here? The last thing he remembered was an argument with Madam Pomfrey about his eating habits, or lack therof.

Instead of one of the hospital gowns, he was wearing a pair of black pyjamas which were definitely not his, they were too large and were of something a lot finer than cotton, Harry thought it might be silk. He was lying on top of the covers, but a thin white blanket was draped over his bottom half.

He shifted a little on the bed and Severus' eyes snapped open, softening when he saw that Harry was awake.

"Harry? How are you feeling?"

"I don't know, what am I doing in your bedroom? I don't remember getting here."

"I carried you," said Severus. "Harry, have you heard of the Venificus Excrucio?"

"Yes, isn't that the spell where a person's own magic poisons them?"

"And you know when it has to be cast for it to be effective?"

Harry's heart faltered in his chest, he'd forgotten, but he remembered now, remembered the words hissed in his ear as Draco Malfoy thrust inside him. "Malfoy," Harry whispered. "I know the cure too. Severus, I'm not ready, I'm not ready for this."

"I know, Harry, but we don't have much choice. You're dying, the spell is working faster because you're so thin now. Harry, we don't have days and weeks to spare until you think you might be ready. We have to do this now. Today."

"Oh, God," Harry struggled to get up from the bed, he knew he was going to throw up, he only wondered whether he could make it to the bathroom on time or would he end up staining the floor. The floor won, he sank to his knees as Snape vanished the vomit. Snape knelt down beside him, but didn't try to touch him. "I'm scared, Severus," he admitted. "I can't stop thinking of what they did to me. Please don't make me do this." His breath hitched on a sob. He wasn't ready for this, he was nowhere near ready. Harry had imagined their first time as something that just happened on the spur of the minute, maybe after they'd both caught each other's eye during one of his study sessions. Or perhaps after a duelling session when they were both hot and out of breath and Snape would swoop down and kiss him. He never imagined that they would have to do it in order to save his life.

"Harry, I don't want to make you do anything, you have to want it. It has to be an act of love, not fear or pain."

"You wouldn't force me? Even if it meant I died?"

"No, Harry. Not even then. Forcing you wouldn't counter the curse. So not only would I lose you, I would lose your trust in me."

Harry rubbed at his eyes, wiping them free of tears. He wasn't wearing his glasses and his vision was even blurrier now with teardrops in the way.

"Do you want to die, Harry?" Severus asked softly.

Harry shook his head. "No. Can you - can you give me something?"

"Anything to make it easier on you, calming potion or an aphrodisiac, what would you like?"

"Can I have both?" For even now he could feel a panic attack coming on, the telltale tingles in his arms and legs. He needed to be calm and with an aphrodisiac, maybe it would be over that much sooner. There was no point in pretending that this was something he was looking forward to, Severus would know it was a lie.

"Of course you can, Harry. Why don't you get back into bed, make yourself comfortable. I'll just go and fetch them."

Harry climbed back onto the bed, settling once more on top of the covers. Make himself comfortable. How could he do that when he was a nervous wreck? He tried to take a few deep breaths, but that only made him want to gag. He got up again and padded to the bathroom to brush his teeth and rinse his mouth out with a mint mouthwash potion, he was sure Severus wouldn't want to kiss him if he still tasted of vomit and sour spit. Harry hoped there'd be some kissing, that they wouldn't go right to doing that.

He could still hear Severus rattling about with his potion vials, so Harry took the opportunity to give himself a quick shower, he may as well go to his doom clean at least. It probably took him longer than strictly necessary but he knew he was just avoiding the inevitable and it was probably half an hour later when he returned to Severus' bedroom, hair falling in damp waves across the back of his neck.

Severus had undressed in his absence, wearing nothing more than a silvery grey dressing gown and pair of blue boxer shorts. The dressing gown was open, the belt trailing loose along the floor and Harry found himself staring at the expanse of chest, almost as smooth as his own, but with a smattering of hairs around Snape's nipples. The man held two glasses in his hands, proffering them to Harry.

Harry took the first one, he recognised it as a calming potion immediately, he'd been given so many of them by Madam Pomfrey over the years, and he swallowed it all. He set the glass down and reached for the aphrodisiac potion wishing that he didn't need it, that he could do this with the man he loved without fear, but he knew that wasn't an option. Harry sipped at the potion, it burned his throat and all the way down to his stomach, wondering briefly what the ingredients were, then realising that he didn't really want to know.

A few minutes later, Harry felt as if all his insides had turned to foam. He stumbled a little, Severus was there, holding him up. Severus scooped Harry up in his arms, carrying him to bed. Harry clung to Severus' neck as the older man lay him down on top of the covers. He wondered how soon the aphrodisiac would kick in. Already he felt his muscles tingling, but not like a panic attack. This was different. He was breathing heavily too, but not unpleasantly.

"May I kiss you, Harry?"

He nodded, his tongue felt too thick in his mouth to form words, still with his arms wrapped around his husband's neck, Harry pulled Severus forward so that he landed in the gap between Harry's legs. Severus groaned as his body came into contact with Harry's and there was such need, such want in that voice, that Harry felt his own groin stirring in response, his heart beating frantically against his ribcage.

"Severus!" he moaned, arching up to the man above him and then Severus' lips were pressing down hard on his. It wasn't just a kiss, it was an affirmation of all that they'd been through, an affirmation of what they meant to each other. Harry was being claimed, Severus was claiming Harry as his and he so wanted that. Severus teased his lips, nipping and biting with sharp teeth, Harry bucked wildly beneath him. He was hard. He had an erection for the first time since his rape. Was it the aphrodisiac or what Severus was doing to him? At the moment, Harry didn't care. He wanted more of this, more of the pressure of a warm, hard body above him, more of the man's kisses. Harry thrust himself blatantly against the man above him, anything to get more friction.

It felt as if his skin was singing with a song he didn't know, he could feel the blood pounding through his veins, feel every heartbeat in his chest and hear it in his ears. His skin was too hot, the pyjamas were suddenly too constricting and he needed to be naked. They both needed to be naked, he needed to feel skin against skin.

He pulled away and pulled ineffectually at his buttons. "Off!" he gasped. "Oh, please! Off!"

Severus took his hands away, kissing each finger in turn and proceeded to undo Harry's buttons. He didn't stop there, he pulled the pyjama bottoms down as well, freeing Harry's hard and leaking erection. Harry moaned and fisted his hands in the bedclothes. "Please! Please! Oh Please!"

Severus quickly stripped off his dressing gown and his boxer shorts, before taking pity on him and began a slow stroke along Harry's length. Harry's hips just couldn't keep still, he bucked up into those hands, long slender hands, stained over the years by so many potions, but at that moment, Harry thought he'd never seen a more beautiful sight than those hands closed around him. He thrashed his head on the pillow wanting nothing more than for this moment to go on forever.

***

Severus had been aroused ever since he first saw Harry emerge from the bathroom, the pyjamas clinging to his wet form like a second skin, that damp messy hair still dripping droplets of water down the boy's face. He thought he might have needed an aphrodisiac in order to get through this, but he hadn't. Harry was enough. Just to know that he would finally make love with his husband, the young man he loved more than anything was enough for him.

How many times had he imagined this moment? Harry, writhing and begging beneath him? There was no doubt the boy was feeling desire, whether artificially or not. Harry's eyes were almost black with arousal, only a thin rim of green round the edges of his pupils. As Severus continued to stroke Harry's prick, Harry moaned and thrashed his head on the pillows.

Severus' own erection was achingly hard and leaking. Merlin, he wanted to be inside Harry so much, but he would make sure that Harry was indeed ready for that as much as possible. He summoned a jar of lubricant into his hand. Harry's eyes widened, but Severus didn't think it was from fear.

Severus coated his index finger and brought it between Harry's thighs, rubbing teasing circles on his flanks (too thin, his mind informed him, but he had to forget about that for the moment) and round the puckered entrance. Harry wailed and bucked his hips. "More!" he begged. "More!"

Severus was only too happy to oblige, he pressed his finger inside that tight rings of muscles, gasping at the sensation of tight heat, imagining that same sensation on his cock. He moaned and leaned down to kiss Harry again, mashing their mouths together with the urgency he felt. Severus didn't think he could last long once inside his husband. Already, he could feel that delicious ache low down in the base of his cock and balls, he squeezed himself, cutting of his impending orgasm for now. He had to penetrate Harry for the counter spell to work and he was no longer a young man.

He pushed another finger inside Harry, his kisses claiming Harry's moans of pleasure, then added a third, this time making sure that he found Harry's prostate. Harry pulled his mouth away and shrieked like a banshee, his nails clawing at Severus' back. "OH GOD! OH GOD!" screamed Harry, his voice little more than a hoarse whisper. "Severus, inside me, I need you inside me."

Severus didn't need a second invitation. He coated his cock with the lubricant, adding a bit more to Harry first with his fingers, there was no reason this should be painful for Harry if he was prepared properly. Harry lay on his back, his legs falling open in blatant want. Severus almost came undone at the sight of Harry displayed so wantonly before him. Harry wanted this. Harry needed this. And Severus was going to give it to him.

Severus took another pillow and placed it just so beneath Harry's hips, just to raise him off the bed that little bit further. He pushed Harry's thighs towards his chest and pressed himself forward, eager for that first grip of Harry around his cock. He was inside in a matter of moments, everything made easy with the slickness of the lubricant.

Harry was so hot, so tight and Severus had to stop himself from thrusting into that welcoming channel like a man possessed. Nothing could have prepared him for how it felt to finally be one with Harry after so long imagining it, fantasising about it. It was bliss, it was despair and Severus knew nothing would ever be the same again.

***

When Severus first pushed his cock inside him, Harry tensed a little, expecting it to hurt. But it hadn't, he just felt strangely full and stretched. Severus was staring at him with such wonder, such awe as he slid inside Harry's body that Harry felt tears of joy drip down his cheeks. Severus kissed them away and steadied himself, not moving.

Harry needed him to move, he was aching for something to happen. His cock twitched against his belly, leaving a damp trail of precome on his skin. The scent of sex was heavy in the air and Harry groaned, arching up and clamping his anal muscles around Snape's prick and much to his relief, Severus started moving, thrusting in and out of him.

"Harder," groaned Harry. "Faster! Oh, please!"

Severus speeded up his thrusts, the headboard rattled against the wall due to his efforts. He gripped Harry's hips and kept tugging Harry towards him, as if afraid he might run away. "Oh, fuck!" Severus screamed. "Harry!" He grabbed hold of Harry's cock and began stroking it in the same rhythm as he was pounding Harry. Sweat from Severus’ brow was dripping onto Harry's face and he licked the drops eagerly, wanting to do something with his mouth, but was too far away from Severus' face to kiss him.

The man's face arched back in a rictus of pleasure or pain, it was hard to tell which. "Harry! Its too good, I have to come!"

"Yes!" Harry bucked his hips, feeling his own climax only moments away. He screamed when the orgasm tore through him, splattering his chest and Severus' hand in ropes of pearl. Severus' tightened his grip on Harry's hips, thrusting frantically but without any coherent rhythm. He howled as he came, pushing Harry down onto the mattress and pinning him there, kissing him desperately on the lips, then the neck as Harry felt his husband's seed spill hot inside him.

"I love you! I love you!" Severus whispered over and over again. Harry returned it through the little tremors which still wracked his body.

It was strange how bliss and despair could feel almost the same.

As Harry's shudders subsided, he felt something else, a surge of power within his body, even stronger than when he'd finally defeated Voldemort and Harry knew that it was his magic realigning itself to his body, no longer poisoning him, no longer killing him, and it was all thanks to the man on top of him. Harry surged forward and claimed his husband's mouth in a searing kiss.

A few moments later Snape pulled out of him, and pulled his mouth away. Harry could feel some semen trickling down his thighs as Severus turned over and lay on his side. "Harry? Are you all right?"

Harry cuddled up to him, wrapping himself around the other man. "I'm fine, Severus. You didn't hurt me." He leaned up to kiss him, enjoying the battle of tongues that ensued. He was feeling so languid, he knew he could probably become aroused again with just the kissing, but he wasn't sure that he was up to anything else yet.

"I didn't feel scared," said Harry, amazed at how calm he was still feeling. That draught had certainly done the trick, but he didn't want to keep relying on potions all the time, he wanted to be able to make love with Severus without needing any outside help.

"Good," said Snape, stroking his hair. "Your fever seems to have gone too. We'd better get you back to Madam Pomfrey so that she can check you over."

"Now?" gasped Harry, flushing, unwilling to see the medi-witch just yet after what they'd just been doing. "I feel fine, really."

"How about in the morning then?" Severus continued stroking him. If he'd been a cat, Harry would have purred.

"Okay," agreed Harry. "Severus - would it be all right if I stayed here tonight? In your bed?"

"Do you want to?"

"Yes, please. I want to be with you."

"If you want to, Harry. You're always welcome here. I love you, Harry," Severus kissed his forehead. "Harry I'm sorry it had to be this way."

"Don't be, Severus. You did what you had to do. You did nothing wrong and I wanted it as much as you, I promise."

Severus kissed him long and deep, before settling down and was asleep almost instantly.

Harry lay awake for a little while longer. Severus hadn't mentioned it, but Harry knew that just because they'd made love (his cock twitched a little at the vivid memory) didn't mean that he wouldn't want to discuss Harry's weight or why he'd refused to see the counsellor. It wasn't something he was particularly looking forward to, but Harry knew they would have to talk eventually.

He just hoped that he would be able to come away from their talks with his sanity intact.



Chapter 21: Slytherin Kisses
Part 21

Severus woke up the next morning with aches in places that hadn't seen action in years and an empty bed. He sighed, he should have known it was too good to be true that one night with him was enough to help Harry over his fears. He stretched out, his hand brushing against a piece of parchment on the pillow next to his head. A few raven hairs still lingered there from the boy who'd lain there last night. The cream parchment was folded in half and his name was neatly written on the front of it in Harry's unmistakable hand.

Severus opened it and read the short message contained therein. He was smiling when he'd finished it.

Dear Severus,

Please don't panic. I've only gone to see Madam Pomfrey for my check-up. I know you're probably thinking that you did something terrible to me and I've run away, but you didn't. You did what needed to be done, Severus and I can't tell you how much it meant to me.

I know I'm not over things yet, but last night let me realise that I can be. Thanks to you.

I'll be back soon and we can have breakfast together. And, um, maybe you can have some painkilling potion handy too?

Love,

Harry.

Severus could almost imagine the blush as Harry had written the last line. There was a bottle in the bathroom cabinet, Severus would have given it to Harry sooner if he'd still been there when Severus had woken up, Harry was bound to be sore after their activities last night, no matter how careful they'd been.

He took a quick shower and prepared a light breakfast for both of them while he waited for Harry to return from the infirmary. When he did, Severus saw that Harry was dressed in his uniform and apprentice robes.

"Harry, you're not thinking of going to class today, are you?"

"I am, Severus. I need to do this. I need to get back to doing normal things, classes are just one of them. Madam Pomfrey said I was fine, my magic is back to normal, it's no longer turning against me."

"Are you sure you're up to facing classes again?" Severus wouldn't stop him, but he would have preferred Harry to have at least a few more days to recuperate. "Do you remember what happened after Quidditch? How you came to be there in the first place?"

"I remember," said Harry softly. "I don't want to talk about it. Can we just have breakfast and then tonight I promise I'll talk to you, okay? Madam Pomfrey said it was either you or the counsellor and I can't talk to her, I just can't."

Harry swallowed audibly, as if he was fighting back tears, Severus wanted to hug him, hold him, tell him everything was going to be all right. But he was afraid. Afraid that Harry would turn away from him if he even attempted to touch him. So he fisted his hands by his sides instead and spoke. "I've put some painkilling potion in your juice."

"Oh. Thanks," said Harry, flushing pink. He sat down at their table a little gingerly, but he was grinning up at Severus. "Is it always like that?" Harry asked.

"Like what?" Severus sat down and poured himself a coffee. Harry he noticed was even buttering a slice of toast and began to nibble it, leaving tiny imprints of his teeth.

"So -so intense?" Harry sipped his orange juice. "I thought I would faint or something."

"It can be, especially if you're not used to it. Being a wizard multiplies any feelings you would have had as well."

"Severus," Harry said with an earnest expression on his face. "I hope - I hope sometime we can do that again."

***

Harry caught up with Ron and Hermione just as they were making their way to Transfiguration. They were standing very close to one another, but not touching. It seemed as if they wanted to, but were not prepared to risk the ridicule of their classmates to do so. Harry was beyond caring what anyone thought of him these days, what was the point?

Lies or truth ended up in the Daily Prophet eventually, he was just resolved to do what he thought was right and sod popular opinion. He'd never wanted people's regard anyway. Hermione glanced round just as they entered McGonagall's classroom. "Harry! What are you doing out of the infirmary? Weren't you unconscious?"

"Just for a little while, it wasn't concussion, so here I am."

"Sorry, Harry. We never thought about..."

"Forget it, Ron. Just don't do it again, okay? I'm not ready to face those particular demons just yet."

"Sure, Harry," said Ron as they all took their seats. There was an air of palpable excitement in the room today and it took Harry a few moments to realise why. Today was the day Professor McGonagall was going to test them on any latent Animagus abilities they had. It wasn't on the NEWTs, but those who possessed any ability could train and become registered Animagi.

Harry had thought about it sometimes, wondering what animal he might turn into if he had any talent in that direction. Knowing his luck he'd probably turn into a snake and terrify the rest of the students, maybe even try to eat them. Whispers grew louder and louder, McGonagall had to tap her wand against the desk a few times before they even noticed.

"Settle down, settle down now everyone. Today, as you know we are going to be testing you using the Mutatio spell. This will turn you into your potential Animagus form. What does that mean for you? Well, it means that if you were to continue training and studying, you would become that particular creature. Some of you will not transform at all, don't be disappointed, this just means that your magical talents lie in another direction. Not everyone can be or wants to be an Animagus, but Hogwarts has always performed this test to allow those with the potential to train further if they wish it. Right, who'd like to go first? Miss Brown, how about you? Up to the front of the room, please."

Lavender Brown left her seat and walked to stand next to McGonagall and her desk, Harry could see that she was trembling slightly as the professor lifted her wand and cast the spell. Nothing happened for a few moments, then there was a flash of white light and when it disappeared, Lavender was nowhere in sight, but a hamster was sitting on the floor by McGonagall's feet. The class broke out into interested chatter until the spell was reversed. "Very good, Miss Brown. You would become a hamster. You may retake your seat."

"A hamster?" Lavender squeaked to Parvati as she sat back down again. Harry didn't think she was impressed with her potential form.

"Mr. Weasley next," said McGonagall. Much to Harry's surprise, Ron changed into a spider, the one creature that he was terrified of, what were the odds on that one? He sat back down, his face so pale that his freckles had all but disappeared. "A spider? How could I be a spider?" Ron mumbled, almost to himself.

"Mr. Potter," called McGonagall and Harry marched up to the front of the classroom. "Are you well enough, Harry? I won't get in trouble with Madam Pomfrey for casting this spell on you today?"

"No, ma'am, I'm ready to be back at school."

"Very well, Mutatio!" As the spell hit him, Harry felt the weirdest sensation, as if all his bones and innards were moving, shifting about, but it wasn't at all painful. Was almost ticklish in a way. His nose itched and he lifted a hand to scratch it, only he no longer had a hand, it was - was that a claw? A scaly green claw with sharp talons. Just as he was beginning to wonder what creature he might be, the spell was reversed and he swayed dizzily on his feet.

"A dragon, Mr. Potter," smiled McGonagall. "A Welsh Green if I'm not mistaken, although I think that we have another professor who might be better equipped than I with dragons?"

Harry smiled and took his seat. Ron patted him on the back, "Fantastic, Harry! I don't think anyone's ever turned into a magical creature before! You must be really talented!"

"Thanks, Ron." Harry was desperate for the lesson to be over. He could hardly wait to share his news with Snape.

A dragon! A dragon!

***

"A dragon? Are you sure?" Lessons over, dinner eaten without complaint, Harry was once again back in their quarters with Severus. He'd hoped to avoid their talk by regaling Severus with news of his transformation.

"So Professor McGonagall said, everyone else seemed to think so too. Why, don't you believe me?"

"Of course I do, Harry. I'm just surprised, that's all. It is unusual for Animagi to transform into a magical creature. There is only one other Animagus I know of who could turn into a dragon."

"Tom Riddle?" Harry asked nervously. Great, another thing that he thought was his own, only to find out that he shared it with Voldemort.

"Merlin, no! He had no interest in Transfiguration like that, too Light for his tastes. No, Harry, the other Animagus is me. My form is a dragon."

"Wow! So we have the same Animagus form, then?"

"It would appear so."

"Can I see it?"

"Not right now, Harry. I prefer not to terrorise the students any more than necessary and a Hungarian Horntail causing the dungeons to cave in will not put me in a good mood."

"A Hungarian Horntail!" exclaimed Harry, awed beyond measure. He'd fought one of those during the Triwizard Tournament and knew they were large and vicious.

"Yes, quite. Now I do seem to remember that we were supposed to have a little chat this evening, don't you?"

"Erm, yes, I'd hoped you'd forgotten about that." Harry had hoped his talk of dragons would be enough to dissuade his husband from discussing anything else, but he realised that ploy would probably only work on Hagrid. Still, it was a difficult position to be in. How could he talk about all of this without coming across as weird or crazy? Would Severus send him away? Would they lock him up in St. Mungo's like Lockhart and Neville's parents?

"Harry, I know this is difficult for you, but I promise you that anything you talk to me about will be entirely confidential. I'm not here to judge your or label you, I'm just here to listen to anything you have to say. You can talk to me about Voldemort, the Muggles, what happened to you. If you'd rather talk to the counsellor, we can arrange that, but Harry, you need to talk about things to someone. You've been bottling things up and it isn't healthy. You're trying to cope on your own, as if you're afraid to ask for help, or as if you think it would be denied you. I want to help you, Harry, so does Madam Pomfrey, but you have to be able to want it."

"I do, Severus, I want to get better." Harry watched as Severus sat down on the sofa and patted the space beside him. Harry wandered over and stood beside him, but he did not sit down. "May I - may I sit in your lap, Severus?" he asked, willing himself not to blush, but he felt the heat suffuse his face anyway.

"If that would make you more comfortable," said Snape and held out his arms.

"It would, I like being held. I like it when you hold me," Harry said shyly as he settled himself across his husband's knees. He wrapped his arms around Severus' neck and rested his head on the man's shoulder, feeling protected and safe. Nothing could hurt him here.

Not even memories.


Chapter 22: Slytherin Kisses
Part 22

Harry lay silently on Severus' lap for a while, just enjoying being held. He didn't really know what to say and Severus seemed to be letting him take the lead for now, he wasn't being pestered by questions he didn't know how to answer. He thought back to the Quidditch match, the first one since his rape, the first time he'd ridden his repaired Firebolt since then. It took an enormous amount of effort on his part to actually climb up there, but he thought he could handle it, that he could handle all of it. Considering what had happened in the changing rooms, Harry realised that was not the case.

"What should I talk about?" Harry asked at last, unable to bear the silence any longer.

"Whatever you want to, Harry. How about letting me know why you couldn't see the counsellor?"

"I - it's because she was a woman," admitted Harry. "I couldn't imagine talking to her about what they did to me, I thought she would be disgusted and I just couldn't face it."

"They're trained to be objective, Harry. Selena March is a very experienced rape counsellor, she's dealt with both male and female patients, nothing you say would be a surprise to her, I'm sure. What about if we could arrange for a male counsellor, would you do that?"

"No! No, I'm sorry, I just wouldn't be comfortable with that. I'm still scared. I panic when boys get too close to me. That's what happened in the showers after Quidditch, I was terrified it was going to happen again. They were crowding me and I couldn't get away, they wouldn't put me down even though I was screaming at them to stop. Why does no-one listen to me?" Harry shuddered, tightening his grip on Severus' neck.

"I'm listening," said Severus. There was a long pause. "How long have you not been eating properly?"

"A while."

"Since the rape?"

Harry shook his head. "No, before that, but afterwards just made it that much worse. I have a love hate relationship with food. The Dursleys starved me for years, I got used to little food and when I got here and could eat as much as I wanted, I overdid it and ended up being sick afterwards. That happened a lot."

"Did you make yourself sick?" Severus stroked his back. He didn't sound judgemental, just interested.

"No, I just ate too much and it came back up anyway. I hated it, I hated being sick so I just kept eating less and less and eventually stopped altogether for days. I was used to it from the Dursleys."

"Didn't anyone notice?"

"I was always thin, what was there to notice? Madam Pomfrey gave me nutrition potions every time I ended up in the infirmary, but I don't think anyone else noticed how underweight I was. I would make sure to eat something every few days or so, otherwise I might end up fainting and falling off my broom or something. Someone would be bound to notice that."

"You said it got worse after your rape, Harry, may I ask why?"

"I wanted to disappear. I thought that if I stopped eating, eventually I would get so thin that no-one would notice me. I didn't want to be noticed, I didn't want to appear attractive to anyone. It was something I was doing, I was in control of my body, not them. God, Severus, it was so awful!" Harry sobbed and buried his head on Severus' neck.

He could still smell his own blood, feel the pain as they each took their turn with him, hear his own ragged screams in his ears, echoing off the tiles in the shower cubicle, even though he'd been gagged. Water had still been flowing from the shower head and he saw his blood swirl pink as it went down the drain. And the five of them had laughed, laughed as they raped, him as they violated him again and again. They'd kicked him, punched him, cast Cruciatus on him again and again and still they laughed. He would hear them laughing at his humiliation and pain until the day he died.

"H- hold me, Severus," Harry sobbed. He couldn't feel his husband, his hands and legs were numb.

"I am holding you, Harry," said Severus. His voice sounded a long way off.

"I can't feel you! I can't feel you!" Harry wept.

"Ssh, Harry, it's all right. I'm here. I'm here," Severus crooned from somewhere far away. Why was he so far away? Why was he no longer holding Harry?

Why do you think, Harry?

He's disgusted with you.

What you let them do to you.

But I didn't let them!

Didn't you? You're a powerful wizard and you just lay there and took it, didn't you? You enjoyed it, didn't you? Didn't you?

"NO!!" Harry screamed, clawing at his head. "NO! I didn't enjoy it, I didn't! They made me, they made me!"

"Ssh, Harry, it's all right, it's all right. You're safe now."

Suddenly Harry could feel the weight of Severus' arms wrapped around him and he flopped bonelessly against his husband's chest. "W- why did you go away?" asked Harry, feeling tears dripping down his cheeks. "You stopped holding me," he accused.

"I didn't, Harry. I was holding you the whole time, but I think you went away somewhere, didn't you? Inside your head?"

"No - I - " but what had happened? He could sense a memory, something just that little bit out of reach, but he didn't want to know what it was. He was hiding it from himself. Harry didn't want to know anything more. He was shaking, crying on Snape's shoulder and he wished he didn't feel so wrung out. He hadn't realised how difficult it would be to talk about. "I'm sorry, Severus. I'm sorry I let them do that to me." His voice was a whisper. He felt the man tense beneath him.

"Harry, you didn't let them, as you put it. They raped you, they took you against your will, that's what it means. You were not at fault, Harry, please don't think that. They were to blame and they are in Azkaban because of it, they've been tried and found guilty, they were the ones at fault, Harry, not you."

"Then why - why did I - " Oh, God, he remembered, he remembered what they'd done. "They made me come."

Harry struggled to get out of the man's lap, he couldn't bear to see the hatred, the disgust in his eyes when he realised what a slut Harry had been. But Severus was not relinquishing his hold on Harry.

"Harry, look at me," he commanded. "Look at me."

Harry turned his face, tears still slipping down from beneath his glasses and blinked a few times to clear his vision. Severus cupped his face and stared at him so intently that Harry had to look away. Severus tilted his chin up so that he had to face him again. Harry could hardly breathe, it hurt too much to see the love in the man's eyes, love that Harry had betrayed when the orgasm had been torn from him at the hands of his rapists.

"Harry, it wasn't your fault. Just because you came, did not mean that you wanted to be raped. It was a reaction to stimulus, nothing more. It didn't mean that you enjoyed it, that you enjoyed being raped. Have you been worrying about this, all this time?"

"I - I didn't really remember it until today," said Harry. "But I think it was always there in the back of my mind, that I'd done something terrible, that you'd hate me for."

"Harry, I could never hate you. I love you." Severus kissed his forehead, Harry couldn't stop the flinch at the contact.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he cried.

"It's okay, Harry. You've been dealing with a lot of memories today and they were bound to be upsetting."

"I don't think I can talk anymore about this tonight," said Harry. "I'm sorry."

"It's fine, Harry. I think you did really well. Things will get easier now, I'm sure."

"I hope so," replied Harry. "I think I'll just have a shower before bed."

Harry stood up, this time Severus allowed it and didn't try to kiss or touch him. He spent over an hour in the shower with the water as hot as he could stand it. Harry scrubbed himself raw, as if by washing himself so viciously, he could get rid of the memories. But they were still there and he knew that unless he was Obliviated they would still be there. Would Severus do it if he asked him? Or Madam Pomfrey?

Harry sighed as he shut off the water, he realised he didn't actually want to be Obliviated. His memories were part of what made him Harry and he did not want to lose any part of himself, even a part that had hurt him. As he dried himself off, he realised that he felt a bit lighter too, he thought his talk with Severus might have helped. He no longer felt that had to cope with things on his own.

Harry pulled on a clean t-shirt and fresh boxer shorts and made his way to Severus' bedroom. He was still awake, reading by the light of a candle perched on his bedside table. Severus put his book down on his lap.

"Harry? Is everything okay?"

Harry shook his head. "Not really," he admitted. "Severus, I think - I think I might need to see the counsellor after all. I'm sorry for messing everyone about."

"You haven't, Harry. It's not something you could do unless you felt comfortable enough with it. I'm sure Healer March will understand. I'll get Madam Pomfrey to arrange another session for you. All right, now?" Severus opened his arms. Harry almost ran into them, inhaling the familiar scent of Potions and the chocolate cake the man had had for dessert earlier.

"No, not yet," said Harry muffled against the man's neck. "But I think I will be. I will be."




Chapter 23: Slytherin Kisses
Part 23

Harry didn't think he would enjoy his therapy, but he knew it was something he had to do if he was ever to feel better about himself and intimacy that he and Severus might share in the future. He didn't want to be terrified all the time, or feel shame about it.

But from the first moment he met Selena March, he really liked her. She reminded him of Madam Pomfrey, with her brisk no-nonsense attitude and she would not let him be until he'd answered her questions satisfactorily. At first he'd riled against this, complaining both to Severus and Madam Pomfrey that she was making him face up to things he wasn't ready to face yet. After a while though, he realised that it became easier to talk to her and eventually she didn't even need to prod, Harry could just ramble on about whatever was bothering him that particular day.

Sometimes they discussed his relatives and what they had done, sometimes it was about Draco and the others. It was easy to talk to her and after their first session he'd stopped worrying that she would find whatever he had to say shocking or too terrible to listen to.

It was at their eighth session that she brought up the fact that she thought it might be time for Severus to join them in their sessions, time for them to work through some sexuality issues. Harry and Severus had been sharing a bed for a few months now, but other than the time Severus had to counter the Venificus Excrucio spell, they hadn't done more than shared a kiss or two and definitely nothing below the waist. Harry knew that Severus was waiting for Harry to come to him when he was ready.

"I don't know if that's such a good idea," said Harry.

"Would it make you uncomfortable if Severus was here with you?" asked Selena. She never took notes, didn't have a clipboard perched on her lap like Umbridge or Eleanor Weston had, one of the first things that Harry liked about her.

"No, it's not that. He knows all about it, but I just don't think he would want to do therapy. There's nothing wrong with him."

"There's nothing wrong with you either, Harry. You're a fine young man and I just thought he might like to be here while I discuss some options with the both of you."

"I can ask him," said Harry. "But I don't think he'll want to do it."

Selena just smiled and told him she'd see him in a few days.


***

Harry knew something was wrong as soon as he walked into the Great Hall that Friday lunchtime after his counselling session. The hushed whispers were back, along with the stares as he took his place next to Ron and Hermione. Snape was not at the teachers' table, nor was Dumbledore. Severus hadn't mentioned anything to Harry that morning about not being here for lunch.

Hermione glanced up at him, glassy eyed. "I'm sorry to hear about your brother, Harry."

"What? What do you mean?" How did she know about that? The he saw the Daily Prophet lying on the table beside her plate. A scowling Eleanor Weston was on the front page, flanked by two Aurors, her hands bound in front of her. What was going on? Why had the governor been arrested? He scanned the page quickly, the words becoming a blur as the article sank in.

Eleanor Weston had been Martha Atkins? She was the one who had murdered his brother? Because of her, he had never even met his brother, had never even known about him. Would his brother have been the boy of the prophecy if he'd lived? What did that make Harry then? His replacement? He suddenly wasn't hungry for lunch anymore.

Severus and Dumbledore entered the Great Hall through the side door behind the teachers' table. Dumbledore rattled a spoon against a goblet to call for order. "All classes for this afternoon have been cancelled. Everyone please adjourn to the lawns by the Whomping Willow and await further instructions from your Head of House." Dumbledore stepped down from the dais and walked over to the Gryffindor table, Severus trailing in his wake. "Harry, please come with us," said the headmaster and Harry felt his stomach lurch as if he'd fallen twenty floors in a broken lift.

He got up form his seat and followed both of them in a daze, surprised when they did not head to the headmaster's office, but went outside and took the path leading to Hagrid's hut and the Forbidden Forest. Quite a few of the students were already heading down to the Whomping Willow and stared openly as Harry and the two professors wandered away in the other direction. Neither of them spoke to Harry and he was getting considerably more nervous the closer to the Forest they were getting. Why had classes been cancelled? What was going on?

Dumbledore knocked on Hagrid's stout wooden door and the half-giant swung the door open immediately, as if he'd been expecting them. "Come in, come in," he hissed urgently, waving his hands about. The three of them entered the cottage and Hagrid locked and bolted the door behind him, Dumbledore and Severus adding their own warding charms to it.

"What's going on? Has this anything to do with Eleanor Weston?" Harry demanded once it was clear that no-one was going to be forthcoming with any other information. "I read Hermione's Daily Prophet."

"Then you will know that she was convicted and sent to Azkaban today," said Dumbledore, "but not before imparting some very worrying news."

"What news?"

"She was trying to kill you, Harry. That's why she was trying so hard to get you and Severus separated, she thought her task would be made easier with Severus out of the way."

"But she's in Azkaban, she can't hurt me now!" protested Harry.

"One would think so," said Severus. "Harry, she has someone in this school working for her, working against you. One of the students but she could not reveal who it was even under Veritaserum as her accomplice is under the Fidelus charm. What she did tell us however was that if she was convicted, which she was today, then that student would put their plan into action."

"What plan?" asked Harry, feeling a little unsteady on his feet.

"They have hidden a device in the school, an explosive device," said the headmaster gravely.

"A bomb? Oh my God," gasped Harry and sank onto Hagrid's large bed. "They'd kill all the other students, all the other teachers just to get to me? Do we know when it's supposed to detonate?"

"No, nor do we know where it's hidden. The other teachers are scouring the castle now as are some Aurors. But they can find no magical signature anywhere. The best we can hope for is to evacuate the children and contain the blast as much as we can. You are to remain here with Hagrid. If the bomb fails, we do not need them to see you and know that you have survived," said Dumbledore.

Harry was angry, more than angry that they wanted to keep him hidden away here while others were in danger, but he could see the logic to it. He would be putting everyone in danger again just by being visible.

"Professor, what if it isn't a magical device? What if it was Muggle? You wouldn't find it by searching for a magical signature. The Muggles have police and soldiers, bomb squads who deal with this sort of threat, maybe you could ask for their help? I think they have dogs who sniff out the chemicals or something."

Severus and Dumbledore exchanged glances with each other. "Perhaps that might be done. Severus, join me in a moment."

"I'll see you out, headmaster," said Hagrid and left the two of them alone. Harry realised it was so they could say goodbye in private. The thought was not comforting. Almost as if they expected not to return.

Harry flung himself in Severus' arms. "It's never going to end, is it? There's always going to be someone after me, I'm always going to be running."

"No, Harry," said Severus. "We're going to be running. Do you think I would let you face this alone? That I would let you face anything alone ever again? We will never be parted, Harry. We both vowed it."

"I know, Severus, I know." Harry stood on tiptoes and kissed his husband long and deep on the lips. Severus' hands tightened around his waist. Neither of them wanted to let go, but eventually they had to pull away.

"Be safe," Harry whispered as Severus left the cottage. He wasn't sure whether or not he'd been heard.

***

They were the longest three hours of Harry's life. Three hours of pacing Hagrid's cabin, refusing his offers of tea and talk. He couldn't talk, his throat was too tight. What if they never found the bomb in time? What if the castle exploded with the teachers still inside? With Severus still inside? Harry felt as if someone was squeezing his heart through his ribs.

Fang whimpered by the front door, as if he too was waiting for someone to return. Hagrid stroked the hound and sipped at a large flagon of brandy. Harry had already refused the alcohol, but wondered if it might not help his nerves. He was so cold, he didn't seem to be able to stop shivering no matter how close to the fire he stood or how many patchwork blankets Hagrid tried to wrap him in.

When the boom came, they both rushed to the window, unwilling to admit to the sight which greeted them.

Harry yanked the door open, his power no match for Severus' or Dumbledore's warding spells. They'd tried to keep him in but Harry could no be contained. He ran, ran as fast as his adrenaline fuelled body could carry him.

Hogwarts was no more. The castle was nothing more than a pile of rubble.

Harry felt hands on his body, he was being dragged back into the forest, by someone or something invisible. They were squeezing the breath out of him, he could not find breath enough to speak or scream.

Once in the trees he heard a welcome voice. "Harry, ssh, it's me."

"Severus! Oh, God, Severus! I thought you'd - I thought you -"

Severus flung off Harry's invisibility cloak. "It's an illusion charm, Harry. The school is still there, no-one was hurt, the Muggles found the bomb in time and performed a controlled detonation, that's what you probably heard. But we are going to say that you died in the blast in order to flush out Eleanor's accomplice."

"The one who looks happy that I'm gone? What about all of your Slytherins? I'm sure they wouldn't be that bothered."

"You'd be surprised, Harry. They are not all of Draco Malfoy's ilk."

"I know, I'm sorry, Severus. I'm just so relieved to see you, I'm not thinking straight. So what do we do now?"

"Now we wait. I'm supposed to be away from everyone, in mourning for you, so we will be availing ourselves again of Hagrid's hospitality. Emergency tents will be set up for the students tonight. Really if the school had been destroyed, they would have been sent home. Hopefully none of them will realise that yet. Dumbledore will be watching them and has cast a general Legilimency spell on the whole student body."

"What? He's going to do that without their permission?"

"He's not going to actively access their memories, Harry. Just that his mind will be open to certain thoughts they may be having, about hurting you. No-one's privacy will be violated, I can assure you. I worked on the spell myself."

"So tomorrow we should know who it was?"

"I hope so, Harry. I hope so."



Chapter 24: Slytherin Kisses
Part 24

Over the next few weeks, it seemed as if the whole school was in shock. Even the castle itself was subdued, the staircases no longer moved and the portraits were eerily silent. The Whomping Willow was as still as if someone had cast an immobilising spell on it.

They could hardly believe it. Eleanor Weston's accomplice, the student who'd planted the bomb, was Justin Finch-Fetchley. Of course, everyone assumed that he'd been placed under Imperius to do it, but when the trial came, it emerged that he wasn't being compelled, there wasn't a convenient spell to lay the blame on. Justin had did it knowing exactly what he was doing. A Hufflepuff had been quite willing to commit murder.

During the trial, every student was avidly following the progress in the Daily Prophet, anticipating that soon a reason for Justin's behaviour would be revealed. They were disappointed. Under Veritaserum Justin was asked why he had tried to murder Harry Potter. The only answer he gave was, "Because I wanted to." There was no reason, nothing about a difficult childhood or how he'd been forced into it by someone else or how he'd always hated Harry. It was just senseless.

Severus kept a close eye on Harry over the coming weeks, for once he could understand why Harry found eating so difficult, Severus' own appetite had fled since that day too. He was so worried that he might have lost Harry. His heart hurt every time he thought about it. He could not lose him. He couldn't.

Harry seemed to be getting more exhausted by the day. It was a month before the NEWTs and six weeks before Harry was due to take his Masters in DADA. There were large purple shadows under his eyes and Severus knew that Harry's sleep was restless. Harry was determined to try for his Masters this year, even though Severus told him time and time again that there would be no shame in him doing a two year apprenticeship rather than one.

Harry had been studying all evening, he took off his glasses and pinched his nose. "That's enough for tonight, Harry," said Severus, wondering if this time Harry would listen. Harry closed his book with a snap and nodded. He stayed by his desk as Severus continued marking the third year essays. It didn't take him long, none of them were too complex and he sat down on the sofa, waiting for Harry to join him on his lap.

Harry seemed to love being held on Severus' lap and he certainly had no objections as Harry settled against him, placing a soft kiss on his cheek. Harry tensed a little tonight as Severus stroked his back. That was certainly not his usual reaction. He normally arched into the touch like a kitten seeking being petted.

"Harry? Is something wrong?" He'd had another counselling session yesterday, maybe Harry was still upset over something they'd discussed in it.

"I don't know how to ask you, Severus." Harry rested his forehead against Severus'.

"Ask me what, Harry? You know you can talk to me about anything."

"Healer March - Selena, thinks it might be time for you to join in our sessions. To talk about things. Sex things."

"Oh, I see. Is this her idea, Harry? I won't do this if it means that you would be uncomfortable."

"You mean you'd do it if I was okay with it?" Harry's smile then was blinding.

"You want me there, Harry? You'll be okay discussing things with me there?"

"Of course! I want you there, Severus. I want us to work through this together. Me being scared of sex doesn't just affect me, it affects both of us."

"Harry, you know I would never push you."

"I know, Severus, but maybe Selena can help both of us with a little push in the right direction?"

Severus laughed and kissed Harry on the tip of his nose. "You may be right."

***

It was a few days later that Severus accompanied Harry to Madam Pomfrey's office where Selena March was already waiting for them. She smiled at both of them, offering her hand to Severus to shake. "Wonderful to finally meet you, Professor Snape. Harry's told me a lot about you."

Severus glared at his husband who just grinned back, unrepentant. "It was all good," he whispered. Severus had never been to a therapy session before and he was unsure as to which of them was the more nervous today, himself or Harry. "You too, Healer March," as he took her hand.

"Please, call me Selena." Three chairs sat in a semi-circle in front of Madam Pomfrey's desk, Selena waved for both of them to sit down. Severus took a seat, his heart swelling when Harry took the seat next to him and squeezed his hand, as if he wanted to reassure him.

"Do you mind if I call you Severus?" asked Selena.

"You may." He wasn't really worried about what she might call him, but what she might say. What if she said that it wasn't a good idea for he and Harry to share a bed anymore? That it might be putting his recovery back? Severus wasn't sure how he would feel if he had to make that sacrifice. He was so used to that body wrapped around him every night and every morning. Yes, he sometimes woke up aroused, but he had never done anything about it, had never tried to press his luck with Harry, only kisses, when that's all Harry seemed comfortable with at the moment.

"Now, Harry, we talked about Justin last time, is there anything else you'd like to discuss about that?" Selena pressed her hands steeple like under her chin. Harry fidgeted in the seat beside Severus.

"I couldn't believe it was him, you know? How could he have wanted to do that? He wasn't a Death Eater, but yet he still agreed to that woman's plan. I don't understand it. Why did he want to kill me? We weren't really that friendly, but I didn't think he hated me or anything. It was just such a shock."

"Sometimes there are no explanations for things, Harry, but it can be frustrating when the human mind really needs to know, to try and understand it. Sometimes we just can't. How do you feel about him being sent to St. Mungo's?"

"I feel a bit sorry for him, to be honest, but I'm glad he's locked up too. That he won't be able to hurt anyone again."

"You seem to be taking it very well, Harry," said Severus, wondering if he was breaking some patient/therapist taboo by interrupting the session.

"Well, I'm used to crazy people who want me dead," said Harry. "It's all old hat to me now."

Selena grinned. "Well, Harry, I think we can move on, don't you?"

"Um, yes," said Harry blushing bright pink and twisting his hands.

"Severus, first of all I would like to thank you for coming with Harry today, I'm sure you know it means a lot to him."

He nodded and she continued. "Now, I know you have been married for a few months now, but apart from one instance due to a spell, you have not been sexually intimate with each other?"

"Yes, that is correct."

"But you still share a bed? Might I ask why?"

Why? What sort of question was that? But it did make him think. Why did he share a bed with Harry if it wasn't because of the sex?

"We wanted to. It's comforting for Harry, he likes to be held," he looked warily at Harry, wondering if Harry was upset with him for revealing too much, but Harry was smiling at him now. He guessed Harry had already discussed this with her.

"And do you find it comforting to hold him, Severus? You feel as if you're protecting him?"

"Yes - I wasn't able to protect him before."

"From the rape? Do you blame yourself, Severus?"

"Yes," he admitted. "I should have been there, I should have been able to stop it."

"You couldn't have known about it, Severus," said Harry, squeezing his hand again.

"Severus, are you afraid to touch Harry in a sexual way?"

"What?"

"Harry told me that one of the rapists used Polyjuice to transform into you. Do you think you are frightened to touch Harry intimately because of that, because of what you think Harry might be remembering? Have either of you talked about this aspect at all?"

They both shook their heads, they hadn't talked about it but Severus had surely thought about it.

"I think that's about it for today, but I have some homework for both of you before our next session. You will be returning, Severus?"

"Yes, if you think it will help Harry."

"It will help both of you," she said. "Now, some time between now and our next session, I would like for both of you to give each other a massage. There are some ground rules however, you can massage backs, arms and legs, but no chests, no genitals and no buttocks. I think it will help Harry realise that touching doesn't have to mean sex, nor does it have to mean pain. Do you think you can both manage to do this?"

"Y- yes," stammered Harry as Severus nodded.

"Harry, if this makes you uncomfortable at any point, just say so and I will stop," Severus assured him. He didn't want Harry to be frightened of him, that he would try and push things too far.

"Thanks, Severus. I know you will. See you next week, Selena." Harry stood up and gave the woman a peck on the cheek. Severus couldn't help the spark of jealousy which flared in his chest at the sight, but he knew it was probably unfounded and he hurried out the door, leading Harry by the arm.

"It wasn't too bad, was it Severus?" Harry asked him, biting his bottom lip.

"No, she is very competent. Very insightful as well." He wondered if she used spells in order to get people to open up to her, for she had certainly seen his fears clearly.

"That's the first time she's given me homework," said Harry, his eyes gleaming.

"Indeed?" Severus' eyebrow arched up. "And do you think you'll be able to find time in your busy schedule to do this homework?"

"Well, I think I might be free after dinner tonight. That is if my teacher lets me stop studying early."

"Hmm, I think I might be able to have a word with him about that." Severus leant down and kissed him.

Harry pulled back, breathless. "I think I might enjoy this homework!"




Chapter 25: Slytherin Kisses
Part 25

Harry's hands trembled as he uncorked the vial of oil and poured the concoction over his fingers. The scent of lavender and camomile wafted up to greet him as he spread the oil over his fingers and rubbed it into his hands, palms and fingers. The oil was slick, gliding easily over his skin, as his hands would soon be gliding over his husband's.

Severus was lying face down on the bed, his head turned sideways on the pillow, hair falling like a dark curtain over the side of his neck. He was breathing heavily, it sounded loud in the quiet room. Severus was nude, but there was a white towel draped over his lower back, effectively covering him from waist to thigh. It only served to remind Harry how very naked the rest of him was.

Severus' back was covered in faded pink scars, like a map of the man's life as he'd told it to Harry one day. There, that one by his shoulder blade, that was the first time he'd been whipped by his father, although not the last. The ones lower down, gifts from Voldemort and other Death Eaters. Harry's hand tightened on the vial. He would never let this man be hurt again.

There were three moles just above Severus' left hip, the three of them like points on a triangle. Harry bent down and kissed them softly. Severus' hands curled around the pillows and he let out a soft sigh.

Trembling, Harry knelt by the bottom of the bed, ready to start with Severus' feet. They were elegant like the man himself, long and slender, almost translucent. Harry could see pale blue veins through the skin, he pressed his hand to an ankle and could feel the pulse, fast and steady. He began stroking the feet softly, then kneading with a bit more pressure. Harry's own feet were very ticklish and he could not imagine what he was doing to Severus' feet would be anywhere near pleasurable. Severus didn't object and from the muffled sounds coming from his pillows, Harry guessed he was enjoying it.

Harry moved his hands upwards, stroking the calf muscles. Severus' was tense here, the muscles tense and knotted like a hard ball under the skin. Harry worked the kinks out and could actually feel them loosen under his hands.

As Harry's hands moved higher, up to the thighs, a loud groan erupted from Severus. Harry continued to move his hands further and further up the skin, loving the way his hands slid over his husband’s body. He stopped short of the towel, but Harry's hands were itching to go higher, to caress what the towel now hid. Harry blushed and continued his ministrations, alternating with deep presses and soft strokes along the man's thighs with his fingertips.

Severus moaned and his hips widened, opening his legs in what almost seemed an invitation. He shifted beneath Harry's hands and Harry could see the man's hands, knuckle white as he gripped the pillows by his head. Harry stopped his massage, scooting up the bed to lean over Severus' back and whisper in his ear. "Is this arousing you, Severus?"

The thought that Harry could arouse the man by his fumbling touches sent a jolt of pleasure through Harry. Not an arousal, he hadn't an erection since they'd used the aphrodisiac to counter the spell, but a warm glow settled somewhere about his middle that he could make the man he was married to feel desire.

"I'm sorry, Harry," mumbled Severus. "I know this wasn't supposed to be about sex. We can stop if you want."

"No," said Harry, placing a kiss between Severus' shoulder blades. "I want to touch you."

"No complaints here," sighed Severus, wriggling beneath him. "You have magic hands."

"You don't understand," said Harry, dipping his hand below the towel and trailing a finger along the cleft there. Severus shuddered beneath him and groaned. "But we're not supposed to," Harry sighed, Severus probably wouldn't want to do it anyway.

Severus turned his head round to stare up at Harry perched on his back. "What do you want, Harry? Do you want to top? Is that it?"

"No - I - I " Harry was nowhere near hard and he didn't think he would want to top anyway, he had never felt that desire, even before the rape. Maybe he was a natural bottom? He just wanted to do something, anything to give Severus pleasure without having to worry about whether he was hard or could come himself. "I just wanted to touch you, with my hands. Maybe - maybe put a finger inside. But Selena said -"

"Harry," Severus cut him off. "Is this something you want?"

"Yes," said Harry, surprised at how firm his voice sounded. "God, Severus, I want to touch you so much!"

Severus shifted, dislodging Harry from his back, then tugging Harry towards him and plundering Harry's mouth with his own. Their kisses were frantic and messy, spit dribbling down their chins, teeth clacking together and lips bruised and bitten. They only pulled apart when the need for more oxygen seemed more of a priority. Harry was a little lightheaded, he swayed on the bed and Severus lay back down, flat on his back, his knees bent, exposing himself to Harry's hungry gaze.

Harry felt his breath hitch in this throat as he stared at his husband. His eyes were drawn almost magnetically to the man's leaking prick and the shadowed, secret place below it. Harry knelt between Severus' legs and poured some more oil on his fingers. He drew circles on Severus' inner thighs, avidly watching the muscles there twitch, along with his prick. Severus moaned and arched his hips off the bed, as if he was eager for Harry to touch him in his most secret place. Harry gently pressed his finger forward to the man's puckered opening, the ring of muscles resisting his attempts at penetration.

"Harder, Harry, you have to push harder," Severus gasped.

"I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't. Go on, it'll go in if you press harder."

Harry obeyed and he felt the give as his finger was welcomed inside, almost to the first knuckle. It was a weird sensation, to feel such tightness around his finger. He wriggled his finger about a bit, when he stroked a little nub inside, Severus almost arched completely off the bed and yelped. Harry did it again and Severus' cock was soon leaking, dripping a few clear drops that slid down the shaft and settled on his abdomen and on the curly nest of hairs at his groin. Harry licked his lips, suddenly eager for a taste of his husband.

Severus seemed to sense his intent, he lifted his head a little off the pillow. "Harry, you don't have to do that."

"I know, but I want to," said Harry as he lowered his head. His eyes fluttered closed as he neared his goal, the heady scent of his husband's arousal the only thing he could smell now, the earthy, musky scent making the smell of oil like a distant memory. Harry began by licking the precome off the man's abdomen and sucking it from the hairs and around the base of the man's prick. Severus grunted and his hips pumped the air. Harry smiled to himself, the man was no longer making any objections as to what Harry was about to do.

Harry trailed his tongue up the length of the shaft, from root to tip, noticing all the different textures, little differences in the skin, a prominent vein on one side, some parts smoother than others. It was like licking velvet covered steel, so soft and hard at the same time. Severus was making the most delightful noises, breathing hard, pants and gasps.

Harry felt a heady sense of power at the thought that it was him doing this to Severus. He was causing all those sensations in the man.

"Please! Harry!" The man was begging now. Harry had Severus Snape begging him. "God! Please!"

Harry opened his eyes to see Severus' hands fisting in the bedclothes as he tried desperately not to move his hips. His knuckles were white but his face and chest were flushed with arousal. Severus' own eyes opened and he stared straight at Harry, his dark eyes smouldering with need and desire.

Harry took pity on him and licked the tip of Severus’ cock, enjoying the salty tang. Severus yowled like a tomcat and could not seem to control his hips. Harry removed his finger from the man's arse and used both hands to keep Severus' hips steady. He opened his mouth and bent down, swallowing the head about an inch. His tongue felt a bit awkward and what was he supposed to do with his teeth? Harry didn't think Severus would thank him for biting his tender parts.

Harry licked and sucked at the cock in his mouth, not quite sure he was doing it right, but from the excited noises coming from Severus, he guessed the man was enjoying it. He wondered how it would feel for Severus to suck his cock and much to Harry's astonishment, he felt his own groin stirring at the thought, felt his cock twitching and hardening as Harry eagerly sucked his husband, the familiar tingle in his sac. He was getting hard. He was having the first natural arousal since his rape.

The feelings spurred Harry on to even more desperate suction. He wanted to make Severus come. He wanted to feel it, to taste it in his throat. His teeth almost ached with the want of it. Harry groaned around the cock in his mouth at just the imagining of it, his cock throbbing in his boxers. Severus tried to tug his head away, but Harry was having none of that and batted Severus' hands away from his head.

He scooted lower, straddling Severus' thigh, the pressure a relief on his aching cock. Severus was close, Harry could feel it. Severus' prick seemed to expand in his mouth, filling every part of him, wet, hard and pulsing. Severus was moaning almost continually now. "Fuck! Oh fuck! Harry!" he wailed as he came, filling Harry's mouth with pulse after pulse of his seed. Harry swallowed eagerly, rutting against his husband's thigh even as he sucked the final few drops from Severus.

The sensations was almost unbearable, Harry shuddered against Severus, spilling himself in a rush of wet heat on Severus' thigh, his hands gripping the man's hips so tight, Harry was sure there'd be bruises. As the aftershocks died down, Harry was still suckling on Severus’ cock on his mouth, unwilling to let it go just yet. It began to soften a little and Severus stroked Harry's hair, pulling him away gently.

"Harry? Are you all right?"

Harry wondered what had prompted the question before he realised that his face was wet with tears, he hadn't even noticed he'd been crying. "I'm fine, Severus," Harry smiled and bounded up the bed so that he could kiss his husband. Severus licked eagerly inside Harry's mouth, tasting himself and that knowledge sent a shiver of desire up Harry's spine. Harry pulled away, panting slightly. "I came! I came!"

"I noticed," grinned Severus. "You sound surprised."

"I was," agreed Harry. "Except for that time due to the spell, this is the first time I've had an erection since - since -"

"What? Merlin, Harry! Why didn't you tell me? I would never have pushed you into this if I thought you weren't ready."

"I was ready, Severus. I told you, I wanted to touch you. Things just sort of happened from there, but I'm glad they did. I - I got carried away. I liked it," he said shyly, hiding his head on Severus' neck, feeling the heartbeat fast and steady beneath his ear. "Did I - did I do it all right?"

Severus laughed, the sound vibrating in Harry's chest. "You did fine, Harry. More than fine for a beginner."

"But not great? Maybe I'll need more practice," he suggesting, lifting his head to grin at the man beneath him.

"Maybe you do," agreed Severus. "We just have one little problem."

"Oh? What's that?"

"What are we going to tell Selena March when she asks how our homework went?"

Harry giggled, feeling happier than he'd been in a while. "We tell her that we gave each other top marks!"



Chapter 26: Slytherin Kisses
Part 26

Severus woke up shivering in the middle of the night. Harry's side of the bed was empty and from the chillness of the sheets, it had been for some time. Guilt crushed his chest and stole the breath from his body. Had he been wrong? Should they have waited? Harry had seemed so keen though.

A sliver of light shone through underneath the bedroom door. Severus wrapped a dressing gown around his naked form and padded out to the living room. His breath caught in his throat. Harry was curled up on one of the armchairs, dressed in one of Severus' nightshirts, still too large for him. Harry's head was resting against the back of the chair and he was snoring softly. Severus couldn't help the small smile of pleasure from forming as he knelt down and just watched Harry sleep.

He would deny it of course, that he found such a simple thing so endearing. Harry's glasses slipped down his face, Severus reached out to remove them, being careful not to touch Harry's skin, but he woke up anyway. "Sev'rus?" he mumbled, his voice thick with sleep. Wide green eyes blinked down at him. Harry's mouth quirked into a soft smile. "I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd study for a while."

Severus glanced at the book in Harry's lap. Animagi: Modern Theories and Practice. Oh.

"Harry, that book isn't on your syllabus."

"No, I know. Hermione recommended it."

"And was it interesting?" Severus wished his voice didn't sound quite so shaky. He had meant to tell Harry, but the right time never seemed to present itself. Harry laughed.

"Very interesting, Severus. Don't panic, I know why my Animagus form would be a dragon, it doesn't matter."

"I thought you'd be upset that I hadn't told you."

"I was upset at first, but not because you hadn't told me. It was because I thought that I had finally something that was truly mine, you know? Not because of Voldemort like the Parseltongue was. I thought the dragon form was mine, but it isn't, it's yours. I could only turn into dragon because we'd made love, I wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise."

"It's still your ability, Harry. You are still an Animagus. If you had no talent in that direction then you wouldn't have been able to transform at all, no matter how much power we shared."

"So do all wizards share this power when they make love?"

"Yes, wizards and witches too, every time they are intimate with another they will transfer power between them."

"What about - what about rape?"

"No, Harry. Only when both partners are willing, you didn't give any of your power to them."

"What about with you? Did I share power with you?"

"Yesss, Harry, " Severus replied in Parseltongue. Harry's eyes widened even more and he flushed. Severus could see a tell tale stirring in Harry's lap.

"I think it's time we went back to bed, Severusss," Harry said in the sibilant language and Severus felt his own cock responding to the words dripping sinfully from Harry's mouth. He wasn't aware how they managed to get from the living room to the bedroom, but suddenly he found himself pressed flush against Harry, crushing their mouths together as if they couldn't survive one more minute without those kisses.

Severus was naked, but Harry was still wearing the nightshirt. "Why are you wearing my nightshirt?" gasped Severus as he trailed kisses along Harry's jaw and throat. The boy bucked underneath him. "It smells of - of you," panted Harry, opening his legs so that Severus could settle between them. Severus shifted, bringing their erections together and Harry almost squealed. "Oh, God!" Harry arched his hips, rubbing equally as frantically as Severus. Severus enjoyed the friction of his naked cock against the silk of the nightshirt, but it wasn't enough. He wanted skin on skin.

He tugged the nightshirt up, bunching it at Harry's waist, too impatient to wait until Harry disrobed completely and wrapped his hand round both of their erections. Severus knew it wouldn't take long for either of them, already he had that familiar ache low down in his belly and balls as he rubbed their cocks harder and faster, his hands slick with both their precome. Harry came first, almost silently as if the orgasm had surprised him, spilling over their hands and bellies. The warm wetness seeping across his skin was enough to push Severus over the edge, his cock throbbing and jerking as he emptied himself in ecstatic pulses over both of them.

"God," said Harry breathlessly, reaching his arm behind Severus' head and tugging him down for a kiss. "We've got to try Parseltongue more often!"

"Hmm, maybe," agreed Severus, his eyelids feeling heavier by the moment. Harry cuddled close to him, wrapping his arms around Severus’ chest and soon the only sound were Harry's deep breaths as he drifted off to sleep.

"Goodnight, Harry," Severus whispered, even though he knew the young man couldn't hear him.

***

The waiting room in the Ministry of Magic had pea green walls and a dark blue carpet. It had no windows, not even illusions of them. Three walls were given over to rows of plastic orange chairs, a vile Muggle invention that Severus would not sully his posterior with. He did what he'd done since he'd arrived, he paced the room like a caged animal, ignoring the fourth wall and its tempting array of pastries, cakes, sandwiches, urns of tea and coffee and jugs of iced pumpkin juice on a long table.

Napkins in the shape of fans were laid out at intervals along the table and the table itself was draped with a white damask tablecloth, embroidered with hundred of intertwined Ms as if without it no-one would realise that it belonged to the Ministry of Magic.

There were three other occupants sharing his confinement, two witches and another wizard he did not recognise, nor had any wish to. He never spoke to them and they never spoke to him, but they were keen to gabble like geese amongst each other and Severus wished he could just cast Silencio on them all. He hated idle chatter.

For the fourth time in as many minutes, he stared at the hourglass on the other end of the table. The sand did not seem to be moving at all. Surely it wouldn't take that long? Every time the door opened, his eyes flew to it automatically, but usually, it was someone bringing more food or drinks for the table. He was getting used to the disappointment by now.

When he was sure that four or more hours had passed, Arthur Weasley came in, closely followed by three young wizards in the royal blue apprentice robes. The wizards were embraced by Severus' companions and he could hear all of them crying over their disappointment. They hadn't passed their Masters this time.

"Still here, Severus?" asked Arthur. "I thought sure Harry would be finished by now."

The three young wizards were ushered out and Severus glanced back at Arthur. "Were any of them here for the Defence Masters?"

"No, only Harry was taking Defence this year. Should I go and check on them? The exams don't usually last this long-"

"Harry!" Severus' voice cut the man off as he ran to the door. Harry looked as if he'd come off worst with a mountain troll. His nose was bleeding and it looked crooked, it might be broken. Scrapes and cuts covered his face and hands, his robes singed and torn in places. He was limping slightly too, favouring his left leg.

"I'll get healer," said Arthur as he hurried out. Despite his haggard appearance, Harry was smiling broadly and waved a piece of bloodied parchment at Severus. "I passed! I passed!" He thrust the parchment into Severus' hand just before his eyes rolled back in his head.

Severus managed to get to him and prevent him from slumping to the ground. He managed to drag Harry over to a chair just as Arthur returned with Neville Longbottom. Severus' eyebrows shot up, but then he remembered that Neville had attainted his Masters a few weeks previously and was now working at St. Mungo's as a fully fledged Healer. Madam Pomfrey was an excellent teacher.

"He fainted," said Severus and moved away to let Neville do his work, but he still hovered close by. A few spells later, Harry's wounds were healed and he was conscious again. Arthur had poured out a glass of pumpkin juice and held it out to Harry. Harry took the glass, but Harry's eyes never left Severus' as he smiled.

It was as if they were the only two people in the room and Severus felt himself harden under that green eyed scrutiny.

"So you're a Master of Defence now, Harry?" asked Arthur, bending down to shake his hand. "Congratulations! We'll have to have a party tonight to celebrate, of course. Molly will be so pleased!"

"Thanks," said Harry, but Severus could detect the hint of sadness in the tone, the other two didn't seem to notice.

"Well, I have to get back to work, I just wanted to see how you'd done. It's great, Harry, just great! See you later," he called as he left.

"I suppose I should be going too," smiled Neville. "Make sure he gets some rest today, sir. Those duels can take a lot out of you," said Neville to Severus.

"I will, thank you Healer Longbottom," said Severus as he led his former student to the door.

Harry was staring at a spot on the floor when Severus returned and he could sense his husband's mood as some people could sense the tides. "Harry? What's wrong?"

"I didn't want to have a party, Severus. I hate them. I just wanted our celebration to be just that, just us. I don't want to share you."

"My dear, Harry, I have no intention of sharing you, now or ever. We can go to the Weasleys' party, stay for a while, make our excuses and leave. I believe Healer Longbottom intended for you to rest?" Severus grinned. "What sort of celebration had you planned for us later?"

"You have a one track mind you know," chuckled Harry.

"Yes," agreed Severus, unrepentant. "That one track, it's called Harry."

"Hmm, I wasn't quite sure what I'd planned but I think this might be involved somewhere." Harry stood up, bringing himself to his full height and standing on tip toes so that he could reach Severus' mouth to kiss, long and deep. They were both panting for breath when he pulled away. "I want lots more of those Slytherin kisses, Severus," sighed Harry. "Lots more."

"Oh, I think that can be arranged," replied Snape, reaching for his husband's hand and Apparating them both to the gates of Hogwarts. Home.

The End

Ediffer 发表于 2016-1-1 21:59:43

还没有看完...网页的自动翻译看得我也会醉醉的...不过后面好甜呀,教授棒棒哒!

陌上花開 发表于 2016-1-3 12:29:23

第一次看全英文同人(吃力
喜歡>w< 甜甜的~
不過得說XD因為想看文的內容所以去找翻譯去記去背.......真的對練習英文超有幫助XD

AYa 发表于 2016-2-27 18:49:04

Snape was a perfect lover for Harry.He could understand Harry,and he had enought patient to comfort Harry.Harry suffer so many bad things.He need an elderly man to take care of him.
The reactionRon of Ron make me angry.He should not treat Harry like that.

可怜的小哈,让教授好好照顾你吧

Sesha 发表于 2016-4-16 19:20:00

第一次看全英文同人……不得不说一边看一边查不懂的词有点费劲(这时候特别痛恨自己为什么不多背单词书),不过文章写的挺好的!一块小甜饼(我已经吃够了玻璃渣),以及这个作者看上去很高产啊。

晓城烟雨 发表于 2016-5-4 18:28:16

我的天哪居然这么长...初中生表示无比崩溃但还是看下来了【。】写的好棒!就要这样一直甜甜甜吗XD

CharlotteMo 发表于 2016-6-9 17:52:29

天哪好长,用翻译都用了好久,不过好甜,跟这个题目给我的第一印象一样233

凯瑟琳啾 发表于 2016-8-16 02:21:10

当初是因为标题才进的这篇,Slytherin Kisses听起来就很亚撒西
后来发现标签里有rape,心情激荡。。。
总而言之, 这算是我最喜欢的E大的一篇文
看斯哈看E大的永远不会错的

穿白衬衫的狐狸 发表于 2016-10-22 20:47:07

边写英语边看这篇的,感觉要炸了,不过很好看呀

穿白衬衫的狐狸 发表于 2016-10-22 20:48:37

边写英语边看这篇的,感觉要炸了,不过很好看呀
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