月下珠 发表于 2009-7-24 15:11:09

The Ghost of Dursley Hall (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: Written for the Snarry Games/Team Phoenix Genre(s): Alternate Reality, Romance Prompt(s): Sleeplessness Rating/Warnings/Kinks: Under 18, angst, child abuse. Summary: Dursley Hall is rumoured to be haunted, but when Severus Snape becomes a tutor for Dudley Dursley, the truth is much more unexpected than that... A/N: Beta’d by Rakina, thanks so much! Thanks also to Team Phoenix for help with the ideas within :) My Snarry take on a Gothic Romance ;) Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the Potterverse, I just play in it from time to time.
Characters: Harry/Severus
Genres: Angst/Tragedy, Romance, Drama, Mystery/Suspense, Alternate Universe, First Time, Hurt/Comfort
Rating: M+
Warnings: Violence, Adult Language, Sexual Situations, OOC-ness, Under 18, Contains Slash Sex





Chapter 1: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part One

Severus had been expecting the summons ever since his young charge had caught him and the stable boy amidst the straw late one night. The fact that young Draco should have been abed at that hour was irrelevant. What Severus had done, what both of them had done, was illegal; there was no getting around that fact. Lord Malfoy would have been well within his rights to send for the constabulary, but in the past two weeks, no policemen had come calling. Severus lived in dread every day and when the knock on his door came; he opened it with a heavy heart. Hard labour or transportation to the colonies if he was lucky; the hangman's noose if he was not.

But the man standing at the door was not a policeman; it was Pettigrew, Lord Malfoy's butler.

"The master wants to see you in his study," said Pettigrew, his words indistinct through his overly prominent front teeth. "He only ever sees people in his study when he gives them their marching orders."

Severus didn't reply, in all truth the man was probably right. He followed the rat-like man down the winding staff staircases; staff weren't allowed to use the sweeping marble stairs that led up from the ground floor to each wing of the manor. The staff stairs were narrow and dark, with nary a window on any of the small landings. By the time they reached the back hall Severus was accepting of his fate. It would be hard to get another position without a good reference, but it could be done. He was still alive and looked to be that way for the foreseeable future.

Pettigrew led him out into another hallway, this one panelled in oak that had darkened over the years, with former Malfoy ancestors glancing down their noses at everyone who passed beneath their gilded picture frames. Pettigrew stopped at a heavy oak door and tapped on it twice with a white-gloved hand.

"Enter," came the imperious voice of Lord Malfoy.

Severus turned the handle and prepared to meet his doom.

Lord Lucius Malfoy was one of the most handsome men Severus had ever seen. His face was as pale as the marble statues that inhabited his formal garden and his hair was an ashy blond, almost silver in certain lights. He wore it long, tied back with a black ribbon, but no one looking at him could ever mistake him for a woman. Malfoy's jaw was wide and angular, his eyes grey and calculating. They raked over Severus now and Severus had to stop himself from reacting to the scrutiny. Severus' weakness had always been beautiful men and if Lord Malfoy hadn't been his employer, Severus knew he would have tried to become better acquainted with the man. Severus knew his place though, knew that the likes of Lucius Malfoy were not for him.

"Ah, Snape," said Lucius, putting down his quill and shaking sand over his letter. "You know that I will have to dismiss you, don't you?"

"As you wish, sir."

"It is not what I wish at all, but my son must be protected. What he saw that night he should never have seen. He is an innocent in such matters; I'm not even sure he knows exactly what it is he saw."

Severus tried not to laugh. Draco Malfoy an innocent in the ways of the flesh? He decided it was best not to tell his soon to be former employer the many times Draco had missed his lessons in order to spend time down in the village with any girl who would spread her legs for him. Rumours had already reached the manor that the boy had left behind more than his money and honeyed promises.

"I have secured you another place," Lucius was continuing. "I only met the man once at some function or other, but he did say he was looking for a tutor for his son. Dursley, the fellow is. New money." Lucius shuddered at the thought. "Something to do with the railway, I believe. He has some Gothic monstrosity complete with a bell tower! I think it used to be a monastery or some such. Apparently they cannot keep staff for any length of time. The place is supposed to be haunted, probably in such bad repair it's the house trying to fall down around them."

Lucius handed Severus the letter he'd been writing. "Your reference."

"Thank you, my lord. This is most generous of you." Severus hadn't expected a reference, never mind a place already secured for him.

"The train leaves for Surrey in an hour. I've advised Weasley to take you to the station in the carriage."

Severus' stomach jolted as his mind went to his stable companion. Lucius smirked. "The elder Mr. Weasley. Young William has other duties around here."

Severus wondered why he should be dismissed but William wasn't; after all they were both caught in flagrante as it were, but he decided to cut his losses and forget about it. It wasn’t as if they would ever have become anything more permanent. A few fumbles in the stable hardly constituted a great romance and long term lovers were not for the likes of men like them.

"Thank you, my Lord."

Lucius dismissed him with a wave of his hand, as if now that he had said what he needed to, Severus no longer existed.

***

Dursley Hall was a few miles away from the train station, the train only stopped once a week in the small village of Little Whinging. There were no hansom cabs for hire such as might be found in London, so Severus prepared to make the walk himself. At least he'd save money on the fare, if not in shoe leather.

A few moments after he started his walk, a farmer stopped his cart beside him.

"Do you need a lift somewhere, sir?" The farmer was dressed in shabby clothes, his brown hair liberally peppered with grey, although he looked quite young.

"I'm expected at Dursley Hall."

"Oh, aye? You must be the new tutor. Hop in; it's on my way home."

"Thank you," Severus lifted his suitcase into the cart bed amid bales of straw and hay before climbing onto the bench beside the man. "Severus Snape."

"Remus Lupin." The man took up the reins again and they were soon trotting off down the country lanes.

"How did you know I was the new tutor?"

Remus Lupin shrugged his shoulders. "It's a small place. Word gets around."

"I see." They spent the rest of the journey in silence until Lupin brought the cart to a stop outside a wrought iron gate.

"This is the place. You be careful, now. There's strange things happen in that house," Lupin warned ominously.

Severus hoisted his small suitcase back down. "I don't believe in ghosts."

"That don't matter. Not when they believe in you."

With those parting words of wisdom, the farmer drove off and left Severus staring at the gate. It was bounded on both sides by a tall brick wall, with large trees in the grounds behind it effectively obscuring the view of the house. The gate was warm to the touch – the late August sunshine had been warming it all morning – as Severus pushed it open and made his way between the avenues of trees. The path seemed never ending, first winding one way, then the other, so he felt as if he was walking in circles. Birds fluttered from branch to branch overhead, calling to each other and his feet crunched along the gravel.

Suddenly, the trees cleared and he found himself in an open area at the front of the house. There were three stories to the main house, all with Gothic arched windows and even some gargoyles adorning the roof. To the left hand side there was indeed a bell tower, but the bell had long gone. It seemed it served as a roost for pigeons or doves now, for Severus was sure he caught movement up there out of the corner of his eye.

He ascended the steps and pulled on the door bell. Amid great creaking and clanking, the door was pulled open and he was greeted with an older man whose clothes looked in even worse repair than those of the farmer he'd just left. This man was dressed in a dirty brown leather coat that reached his shins; underneath it his shirt was filthy with sweat and tobacco stains. A brown and black tabby cat was trailing around his feet and mewling frantically.

"Hush, Mrs. Norris! He's expected! Snape, is it?"

"Yes," replied Severus.

"This way, the master wants to see you first."

As the man led Severus deeper into the house, he caught a brief glimpse of a black and white chequered floor with numerous vases of flowers in little alcoves, but even with the flowers the house did not feel at all homely. There was a melancholy air about the place... and then Severus chastised himself for even thinking such notions! There was nothing wrong with it; it was just and strange and new. That was all. He'd been at Malfoy Manor for over five years; any change was bound to be upsetting at first.

The filthy man pushed open a door in a white frame, leaving a greasy smudge on the painted wood and Severus shuddered, resisting the urge to wipe it off with his jacket sleeve. Inside the room were a large fat man standing by the fireplace; a thin, bony woman sitting on the settee and a younger girl seated beside her. Both the women had been doing embroidery before Severus entered the room, but once he was in they set their work aside and glanced at him with ill-disguised curiosity. The thin woman was dressed in an afternoon gown of dark blue velvet while her companion was in a plainer dress of green serge.

"Filch, take Mr. Snape's case to his room. The blue bedroom."

"The blue bedroom. Right you are, sir."

The woman, who Severus could only assume to be Dursley's wife – although he could scarcely have imagined two such disparate beings conjoined in matrimony – clasped her hands together and seemed about to make some comment. Her husband quelled the impulse with a stern frown in her direction and she slumped back against the settee.

Severus relinquished his case reluctantly to Filch, wondering if the man would rummage through his things. He seemed the type to do just that.

Severus removed his hat and bowed to the women, who both blushed.

"This is my wife, Petunia," Dursley pointed out the bony woman. "And her companion, Miss Granger."

"How do you do?" Severus asked politely and they nodded their heads at him.

"Ladies, if you would leave us for a moment, I have some things to discuss with Mr. Snape."

Petunia Dursley looked as if she was about to protest, but turned to her companion instead. "Come along, Hermione."

"Yes, madam." The two women gathered up their embroidery and left them alone.

"Now Snape, Lord Malfoy has recommended you quite highly. He's also told me of your unnaturalness." Dursley shuddered at the thought, his three chins wobbling on very little neck.

Severus could feel himself paling. Dursley held Severus' life in his hands now he knew that secret about him.

"However, I know you're a Cambridge man, that you graduated with honours and that Lord Malfoy's boy will be getting into Oxford, in large part due to your tuition. If you're good enough for a Lord's son, you're good enough for mine. I want Dudley ready to take the entrance exam for Cambridge next year; you're to prepare him for that. But if I hear even an inkling of anything unnatural going on in my house, I'll have you arrested. I want no scandal attached to my household. Are we clear?"

"Perfectly, sir."

"Good. I'm glad we understand each other."

"What age is your son?" Severus asked, really just for something to break the uncomfortable silence.

"He just turned seventeen this summer. And he's off limits," Dursley added with a fierce glare.

"I see. I understand you've had some trouble keeping tutors for your son?"

"There's nothing wrong with my Dudley!" exclaimed Dursley, puffing out his chest in indignation. "It was them! Couldn't handle the work; that's what did it!"

There was no mention of any ghost.

"Well, Mr. Dursley, I am not afraid of hard work and I will do my best for your son."

"Your best had better be good enough to get him into Cambridge!"

TBC



Chapter 2: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Two

It soon became apparent that Severus' best was not going to be good enough for Dudley Dursley. For the first three days he skipped his lessons entirely and on the fourth he stumbled into the room, his hair an unkempt mess and his attire in such a state of dishabille that it looked liked he'd spent the night in a ditch somewhere. The boy was as rotund as his father, with little neck to speak of and three chins that wobbled every time he moved. The buttons on his waistcoat stretched over his fat chest and belly, his legs were so fat that they bulged over the top of his boots. Desire was the last thing on Severus' mind as he stared at the disgusting whelp.

"Master Dursley, it would behove you to arrive punctually for my classes in future. I am not here to waste my time."

"You can't tell me what to do! You're just a servant!"

"I am your school master. Now, where are your textbooks?"

"Don't have none," pouted Dudley, glancing out the window at some horses in one of the fields adjoining the estate. Severus hoped for the sake of the animals' health that Dudley Dursley was not a rider.

"You don't have any? Surely you must have had some books from your previous tutors."

Dursley Hall did not have a school room as such, so they were using the library as a classroom. Apparently, the Dursleys had inherited the library along with the house but the books looked almost untouched, covered with a layer of dust. It seemed safe to assume that the Dursleys weren't great readers. Severus perused the shelves to see what might help him with Dudley's education, although the boy seemed disinterested in lessons of any kind.

Severus found some tomes on Natural Sciences, Greek History, Greek and Latin languages as well as classical poetry and epics; but there wasn't anything on Geography, except for an atlas over one hundred years out of date. He picked out a few random novels but there was nothing on Mathematics either. As he reached the last bookcase; he paused in surprise. There, in amongst the dry tomes, was something he had not expected to see in a gentleman's library. He'd heard of the book, but had never seen a copy. He placed one of the novels in front of it and resolved to investigate it further when everyone else was abed.

Severus returned to the desk he was using and set all the books down on it. "Well, Master Dursley. Let's start with some Latin, shall we?"

***

Severus had never suffered from insomnia before. Most nights, he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillows, but for every night he’d spent at Dursley Hall, sleep eluded him. There were strange noises, creaks and groans that he tried to convince himself were just an old house settling down for the night. There were no such things as ghosts! It was just the darkness and being in a strange house that disturbed him so, that was all. He tossed and turned, punching his pillows this way and that, but he just could not get comfortable. Severus grunted in frustration, knowing that this night was going to be no different; he needed to get to sleep but had no idea how to get the rest that so eluded him. His mind wandered to the book he'd seen in the library; perhaps some reading might make him sleepy? Or at least give him something else to think about besides his lack of sleep.

He rose from the bed and wrapped a dressing gown over his nightshirt, before lighting a candle and making his way downstairs. He met no one on his way down to the library; he guessed everyone else was already abed and from the snores coming from one of the rooms they were fast asleep as well. The house felt different in the dark, the only light came from his flickering candle. Wallpaper designs that were so innocuous during the day took on strange shapes and shadows as he passed; his heart was in his mouth as he tried to tell himself that ghosts and spirits did not exist and that nothing would suddenly sprout hands and attack him through the wall.

Severus hurried his pace, wanting the reach the library and get back to his room as quickly as possible. After a fruitless search of the library shelves he realised the book was no longer there and neither was the novel he'd placed in front of it. Perhaps Vernon Dursley had discovered it and had removed it so that his son wouldn't see it; for the book was certainly not one that any child should read. Severus took a few other novels instead. Mr. Dursley had already told him that Severus may make as much use of the library as he wished. Dursley himself did not seem enamoured of books or learning, but seemed to want the cachet of having his son attend a university.

With the candle holder in one hand and a pair of books thrust under his other arm; it was a short trip back to his bedroom; shorter because he ran most of the way and bolted the door behind him. His room was sparsely furnished and looked even gloomier in the glow of the candlelight. There was a single iron bedstead with a blue bedspread that looked grey in the dark; a wash stand with a pitcher and basin, both cracked down one side so that the water slowly leaked out of both and if he wasn't fast enough with his wash or shave, he ended up with neither. There was no wardrobe, just a few pegs on the wall to hang his clothes and beside his bed there was a cabinet to hold the candle and assorted oddments. Severus set down the novels and realised there were two books already there.

The novel he'd put in front of the Marquis de Sade's book and the one from the Marquis himself. Severus shook his head; had he gone to the library earlier and put the books there? His mind wandered back. No, for he distinctly remembered lighting the candle and there had been no other books on the cabinet then. A tree scraped against the window, making him start, his heart hammering at the unexpected noise. He chided himself for a fool. Of course a ghost hadn't put the books there; for a ghost was supposed to be insubstantial and wouldn't have been able to lift a book. Then he chided himself some more at even thinking about such things.

There were no such things as ghosts!

***

By his second week at Dursley Hall, Severus was beginning to rethink that belief. Books went missing from the library with alarming regularity, but only those books Severus had touched. Sometimes they turned up in his bedroom when he knew for a fact he hadn't put them there; sometimes they turned up in the kitchen and the cook, Mrs. McGonagall, had no idea how they got there either as she wasn't a reader.

Severus went through all the staff as suspects in this little charade; he guessed they were trying to get him to leave just as they'd got the previous tutors to leave. But the how or the why of how they did it he could never figure out. There was Filch, who seemed to have taken an instant dislike to Severus – and vice versa – on their first meeting. He knew where Severus' bedroom was, being the very man to show it to him on his first night at the Hall.

Then there was Cedric Diggory, who seemed to do double duty as the boot boy and a kitchen hand as well as helping out the gardener's boy, Neville Longbottom. Frank Longbottom, the gardener, was a dour man who didn't seem the type to play practical jokes, and his son was so frightened of any adult that he stammered and cowered whenever Severus asked him even an innocent question. Severus had no luck with asking any of them either; they denied all knowledge of any books turning up in odd places.

It could be Dudley Dursley, but Severus knew that he couldn't even ask the son of the master of the house anything about it, or he would be out on the streets faster than he could say 'Cambridge'. Not to mention the threats of arrest for his perversions. If it was Dudley, there was nothing to be done. He would just have to put up with the practical jokes and hope that eventually Dudley would tire of the game, for Severus had no intention of running from his post. He was at Dursley Hall to stay.

***

By the third week at Dursley Hall Severus was wondering if staying was worth it. His sleep was so disturbed that he wasn’t sure he would be able to give his work his full attention, although the Dursley boy hardly seemed to notice Severus’ inattention. The noises were getting more and more frequent every night and sometimes he was sure he’d heard crying. None of the Dursleys seemed the type to weep into their pillows, so he guessed it must have been Miss Granger; he wondered what could have upset her so.

Then came the night he heard loud screams coming from the young master's bedroom, a few doors down from his own. Severus knew better than to barge in, but he crept to his own doorway, opening it a crack and watched as Mrs. Dursley rushed into her son's room, a white nightgown fluttering behind her, an oil lamp held none too steadily in her hand.

"Mama! Mama! It's in my room! It's looking at me!"

"Don't look at it, Dudley! It isn't real! It doesn't exist! Close your eyes and it will go away! Close your eyes, darling! Vernon! Vernon!" she bellowed.

Severus bent down to the keyhole and watched as Vernon Dursley came charging along the corridor, a length of rope in his hands. There were more indistinct screams from Dudley's bedroom but one of them sent such a chill up Severus' spine that he jolted back from the door and locked it. That scream had hardly sounded human. For the first time since he'd left the nursery himself, Severus left the candle burning until he fell into a fitful sleep.

His dreams that night were terrible, visions of death and destruction that woke him late in the night, the bedclothes a sweaty tangle around him. Severus took a few deep breaths to calm himself down and knew there was no way he was going to get back to sleep. His candle had burned down to a stub in the night and, as Dursley didn’t believe in letting the staff keep spares, he had no light with which to read by.

His heart was thundering in his ears, both from the remembered nightmares and the screams from earlier that night. Who had screamed like that? That final scream hadn’t been from Dudley or his parents. Was it true? Was the house really haunted? Had he heard a ghost or was he just being fanciful? Severus had always prided himself on being a man who believed in science and ghosts just didn’t fit with that. But if it wasn’t a ghost, who or what was it?

Severus got out of bed and paced the room, the bare floorboards cold on his feet, his mind frantically going over everything he’d heard. None of it made much sense. Both Petunia Dursley and her son had sounded genuinely frightened, as if they had seen something supernatural, but why would Vernon then run into the room with a hank of rope? Ghosts couldn’t be confined like that, could they?

When the first slivers of dawn light filtered through the gap in his curtains, Severus headed downstairs to the kitchen, wondering if he would get any answers from the rest of the staff, for he knew he could not risk asking the Dursleys themselves.

Most of the staff were in the kitchen for breakfast as usual. The Longbottoms; Filch and Mrs. McGonagall were all there, but Cedric Diggory was nowhere in evidence. All the rest of them had hooded and shadowed eyes, as if they hadn’t got much sleep the might before either.

"Where's the Diggory boy?" Severus asked of no one in particular.

"Left, ain't he?" said Filch, speaking through a mouthful of bacon, greasy gobs of it falling from his mouth and splattering the table. Severus suddenly wasn’t feeling hungry any more.

"Just like the others," added Frank Longbottom; it was the longest sentence Severus had ever heard him say. "He couldn't handle seeing–"

"Shut your mouth!" snarled Filch, spitting out more bits of half-chewed bacon all over the table. "No one speaks of what goes on in this house! No one. Not if you want to keep your place."

Mrs. McGonagall added some more devilled kidneys to their plates, effectively ending the conversation, but Severus’ curiosity was aroused.

What was going on in this house?


TBC


Chapter 3: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Three

Two nights later Severus awoke from a light slumber to see a white-draped wraith at the foot of his bed. If Severus Snape had given much thought to how he would react upon seeing a spirit, he never guessed that curiosity would be the emotion uppermost in his mind.

The ghost had jet black hair and jade green eyes in a face that might have been considered beautiful if it hadn't been for the multitude of bruises marring the skin. Wearing a long white nightgown, it was hard to determine whether the apparition was male or female. It was flat chested, but that might have been because it was a child. Severus couldn't have guessed the age of the spirit, but the ghost was over a foot shorter than Severus himself and the gown seemed to hang off a very thin frame. With the bruising, Severus guessed that the person had met some sort of violent death, and wasn't that the prerequisite for someone to stay tied to the earthly plane? Some sort of unfinished business? Or at least that was what he'd heard.

"What do you want of me?" Severus asked.

In an all too human gesture the ghost cocked its head toward the books sitting in a stack on Severus' bedside table.

"I want you to teach me to read."

And then Severus Snape did something he had never done in all his thirty-five years of life before. He fainted.

***

The ghost sometimes wondered why he had been sent to Hell after he died. He thought he'd been a good boy. He always went to church with his parents and he went to Sunday school every week too. He'd never told a lie; he'd never stolen; he'd honoured his father and mother and showed respect to his elders.

But after the day they'd all died in the carriage he'd never seen his parents again. He supposed they'd gone on to Heaven but he was in Hell. Nothing else could explain the pain he was in and the constant hunger. He didn't know you could feel hungry after you'd died, but he supposed being hungry with nothing to eat was as good an everlasting torment as any. There had been no fiery pits and the devil had been a very fat man with a moustache and no horns or tail that he could see.

Sometimes the devil whipped the ghost when the ghost got so scared that he cried out in his sleep. He hadn't known ghosts needed to sleep and to eat before he'd become one.

The ghost could see other people sometimes, but they never seemed to see him.

The ghost was very lonely locked up in the tower. Every day the devil tied him up to one of the wooden supports, but somehow every night the ghost was able to get free and sneak around the house that was in Hell. It seemed like his old house, but the ghost saw things and knew that it was an evil house now, for how could it not be with the fat devil in charge? He ate leftovers from the kitchen whenever he found any, for the devil never fed him.

Then the strangers came and he thought they would be able to help him, for they didn't seem to be in league with the devil. But every time he approached them, they got scared and ran away. The ghost didn't mean to scare people, he just wanted them to help him.

And now he'd gone and done it again! The new stranger had lasted longer than he others, but now he had passed out from fright and the ghost would never learn to read, never know what all those strange markings on the pages meant. He sensed that if he could read, he would somehow be able to escape the devil and Hell.

The ghost had never tried touching anyone before; he knew he could eat food and the devil could touch him, but would he be able to touch normal people? Alive people?

His hand trembled as he reached out towards the man on the bed. The stranger's face was so pale. If the ghost didn't know better, he would think the stranger was the ghost and not he, for how could anyone alive be so pale? The ghost traced his index finger along the stranger's pale cheek. The man moaned and his eyelids fluttered as he struggled to open them. As soon as they did, the man reached out and grabbed his wrist.

The ghost struggled, but he couldn't get free. He opened his mouth to scream, but another hand was clamped over it and he smelled ink and parchment on the man's fingers.

"Ssh, don't scream. Don't be scared, I won't harm you."

The ghost's eyes widened in surprise. The man was scared of frightening him? He nodded though, to show that he wouldn't scream. His mouth was released, as was his wrist.

"You're not a ghost," said the man in wonder. "You're real."

"No. I am a ghost," he said. "I'm in Hell and I have to be able to read before I can get to Heaven and see my parents again."

"Do ghosts have names?" asked the man, sitting up and resting against his pillows. The ghost vaguely remembered pillows and beds, when his mother or father would tuck him in and read him bedtime stories. But he'd never learned to read them himself and he'd never had pillows or beds since he'd been in Hell.

"I don't remember my name. What's yours?"

"Severus. Severus Snape."

"S- S- Severus," his tongue struggled with the word. "It's a nice name. What did you do?"

"Pardon?"

"Why are you in Hell as well?"

"I'm not in Hell, although that might be debatable. I'm very much alive, and so are you. This is Dursley Hall and I am the tutor to the young master here."

"I don't understand." This wasn't Hell? Then why had he been in such pain and despair? Why did the fat devil torment him so?

The ghost turned and fled Severus' bedroom, knowing he had to get back to his tower before the devil found him again.

"Wait!" Severus called after him, but he didn’t turn back.

***

For the next few days, Severus wondered if he'd had hallucinations brought on by lack of sleep. The ghost, or whoever the boy was, had disappeared from his room despite the door being locked from the inside. He had not returned to Severus’ bedroom and Severus kept wondering if he'd dreamed the whole thing. Deep down he knew he hadn't, he could still feel the boy's flesh in his hand. The boy’s skin had been warm to the touch and he remembered the boy's breath over his hand as he tried to stop him from screaming. Who was he? And why did he think he was a ghost? Severus knew he would get no answers either from the Dursleys or their staff, who had all been frightened into not talking.

So he would just have to do some digging on his own. After Dudley's lessons, Severus took to haunting the bottom of the bell tower for he suspected some answers would be found up there. Filch caught him a few times and gave him dirty looks, but since Severus was really doing nothing but walking around the grounds, there wasn't a lot the man could do. There was no law or rule restricting him from walking in the grounds.

One day Severus took a walk in the formal garden and decided to risk a wander around the maze. The hedges were just a few inches above his head and he wasn't really thinking of anything in particular when he caught a flash of green up ahead. He headed in that direction and saw a piece of paper fluttering to the ground, but no sign of the person who had dropped it. Severus lifted it up and read. The King's Head. Five of the clock.

Severus stared hard at the note. The King's Head was a public house; he'd seen it on the way out of Little Whinging station. Obviously someone wanted to meet him there; would they have the answers he sought? It would be difficult leaving the house without being seen or without some sort of excuse. Dursley would jump to the vilest conclusions if it became known that Severus was meeting someone.

He took tea in the kitchen and when everyone else had left to go about their duties, he decided to sneak out the back way and across the fields. Severus hoped to be back long before dinner and that his absence would go unnoticed.

It didn't take him long to get to the village and the public house by the station. He was a few moments early and Severus' eyes scanned the crowd hoping for some sign as to who he was supposed to meet. The main bar was filled with smoke from pipes, cigarettes and cigars and he coughed a little as he made his way to the barman.

"Are you Snape?" the man asked, looking Severus up and down.

"Yes." Severus hoped he hadn't just fallen into a trap.

"Your guest is waiting in the lounge. You won't be disturbed; I'll see to it."

"Thank you," replied Severus, surprised at the man's polite manner. He pushed open the door to the lounge and stopped short in surprise. "Miss Granger!"

"Thank you for coming, Mr. Snape. I didn't know who else to turn to."

The girl was dressed in a travelling cloak and there was a carpet bag by her feet. "You're leaving?"

"I'm going back to my parents tonight. The Dursleys won't want me any longer. Not when they know..." She didn't elaborate, but placed a protective hand around her abdomen. Ah, the ruin of many an unmarried girl in these times. "I don't know how I'm going to tell them."

"And the young man? He has abandoned you?"

"No! Never! He promised me we would get married and he has never lied to me! That's why I wanted you to see you, Mr. Snape. I want you to find out what happened to Cedric Diggory. I don't think he left at all. Two nights ago he gave me this." She held out her hand, where a very small golden band glinted on her left hand. "It's just brass, I know, but he wanted me to have it until he could afford a proper one for the wedding. He'd even been to the vicar to see about dates. Does that sound like someone who wanted to abandon me?"

"No, it doesn't," Severus agreed, although he had to wonder if all of it was just an elaborate ruse on the boy's part to escape his responsibilities.

"I think something has happened to him," said Hermione Granger firmly. "I feel it. Those awful people did something to him, I'm sure of it! You haven't been there long, but don't you think there is something strange going on in that house? There's evil there, Mr. Snape, and I fear Cedric has been caught up in it."

A few days ago Severus might have been inclined to take her words as a flight of fancy from a distraught, troubled girl, but Hermione seemed far from mad. Add that to the fact that Severus himself had seen a disturbed boy who had thought he was in Hell; he realised the truth of the matter. There was evil in that house and it had the name Dursley.

"I will see what I can do, Miss Granger, although I fear I may be of little help."

"It will be enough that you tried. You can reach me here." Hermione handed him a slip of paper with her parents' address.

"I never connected the names," said Severus softly. "I've met the Earl of Wessex a few times at Malfoy Manor."

"Yes, my father often had business with Lord Malfoy, but he never really liked the man."

"If I might be so bold, why was an earl's daughter acting as a paid companion to Petunia Dursley?"

"My father thought work would build character before he settled on a husband for me. Of course, now his plans have gone awry. I hadn't meant to fall in love, even less to give into fleshly temptations, but these things happen, don't they?"

Remembering his own colourful past, Severus could only agree. "Miss Granger, forgive me for asking, but the boy... he did not force his attentions on you when they were unwanted?"

"No, Mr. Snape. I can assure you that everything happened because we both wanted it to. Cedric did not force me. I love him and I will love our child, even if I have to give it up. My train will be leaving shortly, I have to go. Please, can you keep me informed of anything you find out?"

Severus nodded, looking at her address again. "I will. Godspeed on your journey."

"Thank you. You're a good man, Mr. Snape."

Severus didn’t reply. No one had ever called him ‘good’ before.

TBC




Chapter 4: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Four

"Master Dursley, you are not paying attention!" barked Severus when the boy's attention wandered yet again. Dudley Dursley had no interest in learning and Severus was rapidly coming to the end of his tether with the young man. If he would ever fit in at Cambridge it would be a miracle! Severus wouldn't be surprised if he dropped out or was sent down even before his first term was out.

In the two months he'd been at Dursley Hall, Severus was making no progress with Dudley at all. The boy could barely read, his Mathematics was well below the levels expected of any under-graduate and he knew nothing of the Natural Sciences or Geography at all.

"This is boring!" protested Dudley, waving his arms around the library. "I hate this and I hate you!"

"That has no bearing on the matter, Master Dursley. Your father wishes me to teach you so you can attend Cambridge and that is what I am going to do. You are going to pass that entrance exam if it's the last thing I do. That will be all for today." Severus could barely bear another minute in the young man’s company.

"You said you were going to read some more of the Iliad!" Dudley protested. "I want to know what happened!"

So, Dudley found something of their lessons interesting, did he?

"Then you had better pay attention to our next reading lesson, hadn't you? That way you will be able to read it yourself and won't have to rely on others. How do you know I'm even reading the correct words? I could be making the whole thing up."

"You wouldn't dare!"

"But how can you know for sure? Tell me, what does your father expect you to do once you've left university?"

"He wants me to take over the business."

"Right, and that will involve dealing with letters from suppliers and handing out wages. How can you do all of that if you can't rely on your own reading and you need someone else to add up the figures for you? What if you had someone unscrupulous?

They could be robbing the business blind and you wouldn't know it."

Dudley's face reddened and he sat up straighter in his chair. "I won't allow that to happen! No one is going to make a fool out of me! Let me see that Mathematics book again."

***

For the next month, Dudley worked like a demon on improving his skills and not once did he talk back to Severus whenever they had lessons. His handwriting was improving too and Severus had no doubts that if he kept this up, the entrance exam would go well.

But however much Dudley was enjoying his lessons now that he could see some practical use for them, Severus never forgot Miss Granger's hints that something was terribly wrong at Dursley Hall. From what little he knew of the Diggory boy, he didn't seem the type to abandon a young lady he'd got into trouble. Severus would almost hazard a guess that Cedric Diggory didn't know she'd been an earl's daughter either. This house seemed to breed secrets the way spoiled food bred flies.

Severus hadn’t seen the ‘ghost’ during that month and he was very worried about the boy. Why were the Dursleys keeping him locked up? Who was he? And how was he going to help him if he didn’t know where he was?

One day, Severus was making his way to the library along the ground floor hallway and saw a small black and white photograph almost hidden beneath the stairwell.

There was a young man with round-framed spectacles, his arm around a young woman who in turn was holding a toddler by the hand. The child's hair was wild and messy, but it was a head of hair Severus was almost sure he'd seen before. On the so-called 'ghost'.

"Master Longbottom," Severus called, for Neville had been in the hallway watering the indoor plants. He almost dropped his watering can.

"S- sir?"

"Do you know who these people are in this photograph?"

"Th- that's the P- Potters, s- sir. Th - they used to l-live here b- before the D- Dursleys. It was P - Potter H-Hall then."

"And the Dursleys bought it from the Potters?"

"N- no, s -sir. Th- they died. M-Missus D-Dursley inherited everything. M-M-Missus P-Potter was her s-sister."

"I see. And the child, he died as well?"

"Th- they said he did."

"Who said he died?"

Neville glanced nervously around him. "Th-the D-Dursleys."

"Did you know his name?"

"Harry, sir," replied Neville, no trace of his stutter now. "He was my friend."

***

"More tea, Mr. Snape?" asked Mrs. McGonagall, the teapot already in her hand and hovering over his cup. Severus nodded and accepted the second cup, even though the tea tasted like dishwater. It gave him an excuse to linger in the kitchen once the others had left to go about their duties. Severus had very little to do in the afternoons, as Vernon Dursley took his son with him to visit his place of business and so most of their lessons took place in the mornings.

"Do you remember the Potters, Mrs. McGonagall?"

"Aye, I was their cook before the Dursleys came here. They kept us all on, I think more to do with the fact that we knew how to run the house, rather than they really wanted to. Filch was the only new one." The cook glanced around as if to make sure they were alone. "I don't think the Diggory boy left of his own free will, if you get me. And now with Miss Granger disappearing so soon after him? There's something fishy going on here, Mr. Snape, I don't mind telling you. Maybe you can see it better than the others, with you being new and all."

"You suspect foul play?"

"Well, I can't say for sure, but I do know what I've seen. The Diggory boy and Miss Granger were more than friends, if you get me. I don't think he was the type to run out on her and I know she was being ill in the mornings. Maybe she left before the Dursleys found out, or maybe they found out and did something to her. I wouldn't put it past them, I really wouldn't. Any hint of scandal and you're out, they are so afeared of what other people think of them."

"Well, I do not know anything about Cedric Diggory's fate, but I do know that Miss Granger is safe, or was the last time I saw her. She was returning to her parents and the Dursleys hadn't yet found out about her condition."



"Oh, you've set my heart at rest, that you have. I was so worried about that poor girl. Dursley is a letch; I feared he might have ill-used her. It wouldn't have been the first time; she was the Mistress' fourth companion in two years. The others were turned out when that boor… Well, you're a man of the world Mr. Snape; I don't need to go into details, do I?"

"No, I understand."

"Let's hope that Cedric Diggory had enough sense to leave too, maybe he's gone to find Hermione?"

"No, she was worried for him too. I think you are right, Mrs. McGonagall. I don't think he ever left Dursley Hall."

***

Severus lay wide awake in bed, just staring at the ceiling. He didn't feel remotely tired. So his ghost had a name now. Harry. For Severus was sure the ghost and the boy in the photograph were one and the same. He hadn't died at all; the Dursleys had locked him away so that they could claim the boy's rightful inheritance. There was only one thing to be done; Severus had to get the boy out of this house before the Dursleys could discover it. But how could he go to the authorities with Dursley's threat hanging over his head? Severus would be lucky if he survived any sort of interrogation.

If only he knew a friendly policeman... but Severus didn't know any policemen, friendly or not. Then his mind went to Miss Granger and her father, the earl. Dare Severus write to him for help? The man didn't know him except in passing at one of the Malfoys' parties. Would he even want to help?

"You're still awake," came a voice from the foot of his bed.

Severus' heart almost stuttered to a stop in his chest. He hadn't heard Harry come in at all! One minute the room was empty and the next Harry was there. Severus glanced at his door, as he remembered; it was still locked fast from the inside. How did Harry get in?

"Do you think you could knock in future?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't want to disturb you if you were still asleep."

"As you can see, I am very much awake. I don't sleep very much."

"Why?" Harry's eyes were wide with undisguised curiosity.

"You're very curious for a ghost, Harry."

"Harry? Is that my name?"

The boy's bruising had faded to yellow and light green now. Severus had to still his hands; he wanted to reach out and touch him, to make sure that he was as real and solid as Severus remembered. But how could someone solid pass through walls?

"I believe so. Who hurt you?" Severus asked softly, although he suspected he already knew the answer.

"The devil. He always hurts me," replied Harry, rubbing his cheek as if he could still feel the sting of the blows.

"What does he look like, this devil?"

"He’s fat with a moustache. He doesn't have a tail or horns though."

"Do you see other people around the house? Do you remember the boy who used to help out in the garden? Cedric was his name."

The boy paled as if he really had been a ghost. "No! Don't ask me! I can't tell! I can't tell! I’m not allowed to tell!"

So, Harry did know something of the boy's fate and from his distress Severus guessed it couldn't have been pleasant. Would Dursley stoop to murder to keep the secret of Harry Potter's continuing existence intact? The man seemed to have no qualms about beating and, judging by Harry's jutting bones, starving someone in his care.

"Very well, Harry. I won't ask you anything more about that tonight. Do you still want to learn to read?"

"Yes, sir. I want to read more than anything."

TBC



Chapter 5: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Five


The months passed and both of Severus' students were making progress. Vernon Dursley could hardly believe that Severus had lasted so long and that Dudley was actually learning for a change. Of course, Severus told no one of the progress he was making with Harry's reading, for no one in the house admitted to the boy's existence. Surely some of them had to know? Severus wanted to run away and take Harry with him, but Harry refused to go, insisting that he couldn't leave until he could read; otherwise the devil would just bring him back. Severus didn't know how to convince the young man that Vernon Dursley was all too human.

Severus suspected that some of the staff knew or at least suspected there was another young man in the house but were either in league with Dursley to hide it, like Filch, or were too scared of losing their place. More and more Severus was convinced he needed to contact the earl, perhaps get some sort of investigation underway. The fact that such an investigation might lead to his own arrest was what was stopping his hand. He wanted to help Harry, but he didn't want to end up on a transportation ship or worse.

"You're not listening to me," Harry said softly and Severus was brought out of his reverie. Harry had his book open in front of him and was staring at Severus with such intensity that he felt his breath catch. Even in the dark with little light other than that from the candle, Harry's eyes shone like emeralds.

"I'm sorry, Harry. Please continue."

Harry was sitting on a stool by the side of Severus' bed (Severus had found the stool in the attic one day), his nightgown trailing on the floor around him like a white pool. Severus had never seen him in any other clothes and wondered if he in fact possessed any. The book trembled in Harry's hand; it was a fairy tale for much younger children, but they had to start somewhere.

"Go on, read the rest," Severus urged him, knowing how far Harry's reading skills had come.

The candle flickered, making Harry's hair glint with russet highlights. Severus wondered at how it might feel to run his fingers through it. Harry looked up, his eyes so wide and green that Severus felt himself falling into their emerald depths. Harry was beautiful. The bruises had gone and he had started filling out. Severus gave him food every night, but he knew that Harry must have been able to sneak some food for himself as well, for he received no nourishment from the Dursleys. Severus tried to will the growing attraction away; he wanted to help the young man, not corrupt him, but hadn't beauty always been his downfall? Did he want to start Harry down that path where he was afraid for his life every day?

Considering himself so ugly, Severus had always been drawn to beauty and Harry was no exception. He was even more beautiful than Lucius Malfoy. The soft raven curls of his hair; the inky eyelashes dusted his cheeks, seeming so long for a boy; the pink rosebud mouth and peaches-and-cream complexion that any woman would envy. Harry was like beauty and temptation personified and Severus was not very good at resisting temptation.

"And the princess awoke with love's true kiss." Harry closed the book and smiled at him, the first smile Severus had ever seen on the Harry's face. "I did it! I read a book!"

"You did indeed, Harry. Well done. Did you enjoy the story?"

Harry nodded. "But some things I didn't understand."

"Oh? Like what?" Severus didn't think the book was all that difficult to grasp.

"What's a kiss?"

Dear Lord, how Severus wished the boy had asked him about the spinning wheel or anything else in the story other than that! Severus knew he was weak, but for the boy to ask so guilelessly like that, it was as if he knew all of Severus' weaknesses already.

"A kiss. It'll probably be easier if I show you." God, what was he saying! The boy should run from him as fast as he could before Severus' own perversions ruined Harry altogether.

"All right," Harry nodded, setting the book on the bedside table and settling back on his stool. "Does it hurt?"

"It shouldn't, no," replied Severus, sliding out of bed and kneeling down on the floor in front of Harry's stool. He had to look up at Harry, who was looking down at him with an air of expectation.

"A kiss is when two people who like each other very much press their lips together." With that, Severus leant up and pressed a soft kiss to Harry's lips. He pulled away quickly, before he got too caught up in the taste of them.

Harry glanced down at him, his fingers trailing along his lips. "Oh," breathed Harry. "That was so soft. So does that mean you like me? Because you kissed me?"

"I do like you, Harry. Very much."

"No one's ever said that to me before."

The green eyes were hooded with sadness and Severus wanted to do everything in his power to make Harry happy. He resolved then and there to write to the earl. Even if the investigations merited his own arrest, he couldn't allow Harry to remain locked up in the house that should have been his. No matter how he thought he might be feeling; he knew that he had to send Harry as far away from him as possible.

"I'll be able to leave soon, won't I, Severus?"

"You will, Harry. The devil will get his dues, I promise you that."

"Thank you. Are you an angel sent to save me?"

An angel? Oh, if only Harry knew how far Severus had fallen! Would he be so keen to spend time with him? Trust him?

"I'm not an angel. I think it's time we said goodnight now."

"Will you kiss me again?" Harry asked, leaning down to his mouth. Severus couldn't deny him, even though he knew he should.

He nodded and brought his head up to Harry's. This time it was Harry who initiated the first press of lips. They were as soft as eiderdown and Severus spent minutes just mapping the shape of them with his lips and tongue. Harry made a strange noise, leaning against him and wrapping his arms around Severus' neck, as if he had been born to enjoy this. Severus trailed his tongue along the seam of Harry's lips, both wanting Harry to open his mouth and wanting to be denied entry at the same time for if it happened, Severus didn't know how he would control himself. His passion was rising further with every second they spent kissing and he knew he had to stop. It was a wrench pulling his mouth away, but he had to do it. He stood, putting as much distance between himself and Harry as possible.

Harry glanced up at him, his eyes glazed over, his cheeks flushed; Severus had to stifle a groan. The boy looked delectable.

"I feel strange, Severus," sighed Harry standing up and wrapping his arms around Severus' waist. "Is that – is that meant to happen when you kiss?" Harry looked down at his groin. "Is it meant to get hard like that?"

"Sometimes it does," Severus managed to croak out somehow. Of course Harry would have questions. He'd been locked up for years, who would have told him these things? Certainly not Vernon Dursley. He had no friends to experiment with either, having never been away from Dursley Hall.

"Can we kiss some more? It feels so nice." Harry stood on tiptoes and tried to reach Severus' mouth.

"I don't think that's a good idea, Harry." Severus pulled away slightly.

"Oh. But you said you liked me. You do like me, don't you?" Harry reached out to caress his cheek and Severus was almost lost to the passion. He took a shuddering breath and pulled out of Harry's embrace.

"Harry, you must go. Please. Please." Before I hurt you. Severus closed his eyes and when he opened them again, Harry had left the locked room as silently as he had entered it. How did he do that? Harry was too solid to be a ghost, but how could he get into locked rooms and out of them again without the key?

Severus took a few calming breaths, but they did little to help his wayward body. It had been so long since he'd been with a lover that lust coursed through him at the taste and scent of the young man who'd just been in his room. Heat filled his veins, pooling in his belly and lower still, and his erection was so hard it was almost painful. He was too aroused to even make it to the bed; Severus stood by the side of it, yanking his nightshirt up around his thighs with one hand.

In his fantasy, Harry was sitting on the stool and his mouth was around Severus' cock, licking and humming contentedly as he licked and sucked as if Severus was a delicious sweet. Severus stood over the stool Harry had so recently vacated to better realise the fantasy. Used to keeping the sounds of his passion hidden in case someone found out, Severus was silent except for the odd muffled groan as desire welled up in him again and again.

With the other hand, he stroked his shaft as quickly as he could, his legs trembling with need as he sought the peak of his completion. It didn't take long, four or five strokes and he was there, spilling himself over his hand. Some seed dribbled down and collected on the seat of the stool Harry had been sitting on. Severus stared at it, gasping for breath. It had been a strangely unsatisfying climax. His own hand couldn't compare with the person he wanted.

Harry.

***

Harry made his way back to his tower prison, wondering at what had happened and how soon he could make it happen again. Kissing Severus was wonderful; he didn't know why the man had been so reluctant to continue. Severus had said he liked him and that people who liked each other kissed to show that. Harry felt a strange yearning for something, but he wasn't sure what it was for. As they'd kissed, he'd felt on the verge of something, but they had stopped before it happened. Is that why Severus had stopped? Did he know what was going to happen and was it bad? Harry didn't think anything bad could come from kissing Severus, it had felt too good to be something bad.

Harry would just have to convince Severus to kiss him some more.

As he lay down on the floor of his prison and settled down to sleep, he dreamed of Severus' kisses and of strong arms around him, stroking him.

Harry woke in the middle of the night to find his nightgown and his thighs sticky, but he didn't relate it to his dreams, not then.

When the devil saw the state of his clothes next morning, Harry knew it was not going to be a good day.

TBC



Chapter 6: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Six

Severus had written to the earl but had yet to hear anything back from him. Perhaps the earl just wasn't interested in the fate of a young man he didn't know, for Severus hadn't mentioned anything about Cedric Diggory and Hermione Granger, wanting to leave that revelation to the young lady if she wished to make it known. It was not Severus' place to discuss it.

Harry came to his room every evening for his reading lessons, but as much as he pleaded for them to kiss some more, Severus had to refuse, not trusting himself. Knowing how innocent Harry was in such matters was making it all the worse to deny him. Severus had many daydreams where he would initiate Harry into the arts of pleasure and the boy was so grateful for it that he would spend his whole life with Severus as his companion and lover. It was just a dream, for people like Severus Snape, there were no such things as long-term lovers.

One night shortly before Christmas, Harry didn't come for his reading lesson. Severus wondered if perhaps Harry was punishing him for not kissing him by not turning up at all. It was unlike Harry to be vindictive though, and Severus wondered if perhaps Vernon had hurt Harry so much this time that he was unable to move. There was nothing else for it, he was going to have to get to the bell tower and get Harry out of this house once and for all, earl's letter or no.

Severus lit a candle and opened the door of his room before peering out into the corridor. The house was silent; everyone else seemed to be in bed, which was good for him to be able to sneak around. He took his time going downstairs, creeping as quietly as possible. He headed straight to the scullery and the rubber boot that stood by the back door where he'd seen Mrs. McGonagall placing the key, for he knew the front door was always locked and bolted every night by Filch. The key scraped in the lock and Severus held his breath, wondering if the noise would bring someone running. After a few minutes, he realised it was only his own panic that made it seem as if every slight noise was one of the household out to catch him. Once outside, Severus ran across the grass around to the side of the house where the bell tower was situated.

The tower was at least seven stories tall, dwarfing the house it stood next to. Severus tried the handle and grunted in frustration when he discovered it was locked. He had no idea where the keys to the tower were kept. If Vernon Dursley was so keen to keep his nephew's existence a secret, Severus wouldn't be surprised if the man kept the key on his person at all times. It would be one sure-fire way to keep his secret: that he'd kept his very much alive nephew locked up in a tower. Severus tried shouldering the door a couple of times, but he knew it was futile. The wood had been reinforced with metal studs and plates and there was no way he was strong enough to batter it in like that. How was he supposed to rescue Harry when he couldn't even get in?

After locking the back door behind him again, Severus made his way back to his bedroom and sat on the stool, thinking. If Harry had been able to get into this room from the tower, then surely Severus should be able to do the reverse? He didn't bother with the door, knowing Harry had never used it. Severus began by lightly tapping along all the walls, hoping no one else could hear him. The wall closest to the window sounded different: hollow. Was there some sort of secret passage behind the walls? Old houses were rife with those. Malfoy Manor had a few secret passages; young Mr. Malfoy had frequently used them to escape the house and his lessons.

But how to get into this one? There was no convenient switch or bookcase; in fact that wall seemed as smooth as the rest of them. Severus ran his hands up and down, but it felt as seamless as the rest too. He cursed when his finger caught on a nail about half way down, but as it did the wall slid aside with a 'whoosh' and he was faced with a set of stairs. Although he had anticipated finding such a passage, he was still slightly shocked when faced with the evidence of its existence. Where did those stairs go?

As soon as Severus stepped inside; the wall slid back into place and he was pitched into darkness; he'd left the candle flickering away in his bedroom. He took a deep breath and groped his way along the stairs, his footsteps muffled by dust. Cobwebs caught at his face, making him shudder, but soon he could see a light up ahead and feel wind on his face. Severus climbed up a narrow staircase open to the air, the wind buffeting his hair around his face as he climbed higher and higher. By the time he reached the top, he was out of breath and feeling a bit light headed. He emerged onto the top of the bell tower; there were railings around all four sides of it. The full moon made it bright enough to make out things quite clearly. Frost glittered on the wooden floor and on all the surrounding struts and railings.

And there, tied to one of the wooden struts of the railings was Harry, hanging limply from the rope. Even from this distance Severus could see that the back of Harry's nightshirt was stained crimson. The boy was moaning and whimpering softly, as if he didn't want anyone to hear. One of his arms was at a strange angle, almost bent backwards at the elbow. Severus rushed over to untie the ropes binding him.

Harry screamed, unaware of who was behind him. "Please! No! I'll be good! I'll be good!" He was sobbing and shaking as Severus did his best to untie him, a task made more difficult as Harry struggled against his bonds.

"Ssh, Harry. It's Severus. I'm going to get you out of here."

"S-Severus?" Harry tried to turn his head, but even that seemed too much of an effort and it slumped forward onto his chest, softer whimpers still escaping him.

The knots took a while to undo and when Severus finally did manage to free Harry's hands, the boy winced and cradled his left arm with his right. Severus suspected it might have been sprained. As Harry turned, he saw that there were more bruises marring his face and his left eye was almost swollen shut. His lip was cut and split at the left corner as well.

"Can you walk?" Severus asked, helping him up from the floor.

"I think so," Harry mumbled through his split lip.

Severus supported him all the way back to his room before setting Harry down on the bed. He then began hunting through his clothes for something for Harry to wear. None of Severus' clothes would fit properly, Harry being that much smaller than him, but they'd have to make do. With Harry's sore arm, there was no way he was going to be able to dress or undress himself and Severus knew he was going to have to help him.

"I'll have to take off your nightgown, Harry. Is that all right?"

Severus had never imagined that he might see Harry bare-chested in such circumstances. This was no fantasy, but a reality too reminiscent of a nightmare.

Harry nodded. The unbruised parts of his face were almost as pale as the garment he wore. Severus first gently pulled the nightshirt away from Harry's back, the material had been sticking to the wounds and Harry grimaced, but didn't make any other sign of his distress.

Severus was not at all sure how to deal with the wounds he discovered marring the young man's back. There seemed to be so many. "What did he use?" he asked instead.

"A whip. He likes to whip me," Harry said breathlessly.

Severus mopped up some of the blood with Harry's nightgown, knowing they wouldn't be using it again. He tore off the sleeves and made makeshift bandages out of them, wrapping them around Harry's torso in order to stop the worst of the bleeding and prevent the blood seeping through onto the new clothes. Severus wasn't a doctor, he had no medical training whatsoever; he didn't know if he would in fact be making things worse. He had some laudanum which he used to help him sleep sometimes and he offered some to Harry; it was the only thing he could think of to do.

Harry took a sip and thanked him.

"You can't stay here any longer. We're leaving, now. Tonight."

Severus had no idea where they were going to go but he could not allow Harry to spend another second in this house with that awful man. One day, Vernon Dursley would end up killing him, Severus could almost guarantee that.

"I can't leave," Harry said softly. "He's always hurt me more when I've tried to run away."

"We'll go somewhere where he can never find you," Severus swore. "He will not touch you again."

"You promise he won't be able to find me? That he won't hurt me again?"

"I promise with all my heart." Severus dressed quickly and helped Harry dress in one of his shirts and a pair of his trousers, for they couldn't very well travel anywhere with Harry dressed in nothing but a nightgown. Severus' clothes were too big for Harry, but they made do by rolling up the sleeves of the shirt and the bottoms of the trousers so at least he wouldn't trip over. Shoes or boots were another matter; there was no way Severus' shoes were going to fit him. "Wait here," said Severus. "Don't make a sound."

Harry nodded and watched with frightened eyes as Severus left the room to go downstairs.

Severus went quickly this time, knowing they had to leave as soon as possible. Neville Longbottom was around Harry's height and size and Severus remembered that he and his father always left their boots in the scullery each night; so Severus headed straight there and found a pair of Neville's boots. It was another rush back up the stairs with the boots in his hands. He found Harry anxiously pacing the room awaiting his return.

"They might still be a bit large for you," said Severus. "But we can stuff the front with socks to help."

"Thank you, Severus. For everything."

"Thank me when we're far away from here." Severus knew they weren't out of the woods yet.

Harry sat down on the bed as Severus knelt in front of it and placed the boots on Harry's feet; the socks did help, but they weren't an exact fit. If Severus managed to stay out of prison, he wanted to make sure that Harry got to a tailor and a cobbler and had clothes and shoes that fitted him perfectly. Harry deserved the best of everything.

"I'm scared, Severus," Harry admitted, looking down at him.

"I am too, but I won't allow anything to happen to you. I swear it." Severus reached up and caressed Harry's undamaged cheek, not wanting to hurt him further.

"When my face heals, you're going to have to kiss me again," said Harry firmly. "That's the only promise I want from you."

"Harry, you don't know what you're asking."

"I do. I know what I want. I want you to kiss me again. I'm not leaving this room until you promise me that."

"I can be stubborn too, you know. I can also lift you like a sack of potatoes and carry you out of here if you won't go."

"You wouldn't dare!" protested Harry.

"I would dare anything to get you away from here."

"Please, Severus. I can't stop thinking about it, how you kissed me. How much I liked it. I want you to kiss me again."

"Very well. When you're healed, I promise to kiss you again."

Harry smiled through his pain. "There, that wasn't so hard, was it?"

"You'll be the death of me," Severus muttered under his breath, knowing it could well come true. "Are you ready to go?"

Severus stood and opened his bedroom door, glancing back at Harry as he stepped out into the corridor.

Harry nodded and followed Severus out the door. Severus' heart was thudding so hard against his ribs that he thought it would give them both away so that Vernon or some of the household would come running and demand to know where they were going. But it seemed all the household was still abed and no one stopped their descent down the stairs. Severus led the way unerringly to the scullery, Harry a few steps behind him.

Severus rummaged in the boot again to fetch the key; their freedom was only a few moments away. He lifted out the large brass key and fit it into the lock.

"Severus!" Harry shrieked in alarm behind him.

They'd taken too long, or else they had been spied upon all along. Severus turned to see Harry pulled taut against Vernon's bulk, both of Vernon's arms clamping tightly around Harry's chest. The young man was struggling for breath, as well he might. Filch was standing by the door leading into the kitchen, holding aloft an oil lamp like a trophy.

"Let him go!" protested Severus, feeling his own breath falter at Harry's ragged gasps.

"Allow my nephew to fall into the hands of a sodomite? I don't think so, Snape! The constable will be most interested in this, don't you think? How my poor nephew, presumed dead for all this time, lost his mind while being vilely assaulted for years by his kidnapper, Severus Snape."

Severus couldn't believe this was happening; they had been so close to escape!

"You're one to talk about assault, Dursley! With the boy standing there with the bruises you inflicted on him! You whipped him and left him for dead!"

"Oh no, not me. You were the one who did this to him, weren't you? Isn't that right, Mr. Filch? You saw the whole thing."

"Indeed I did, Mr. Dursley. An animal, Snape is. Attacking your nephew and leaving you for dead."

"What? What are you talking abo–"

But Vernon never got to finish his question as Filch smashed the lamp against his head. Glass shattered everywhere as Vernon made a strangled grunt and fell to the floor with a loud thump. As soon as Vernon's arms released their grip, Harry was out of them and ran to Severus, wrapping his arms around Severus' chest. Vernon was mumbling incoherently; the man must have the constitution of an elephant to come round so quickly from such a blow.

"Run!" Filch snarled at Severus and Harry as Vernon groaned again. "Get as far away from here as you can! Run!"

"Why are you helping us?" Severus asked, even as he ran from Harry and turned the key in the lock, his heart pounding in his ears.

"I saw him. I saw what he did to that Diggory boy and I can't let him do it again. Run, for all that's holy, man, run!"

TBC



Chapter 7: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Seven

"Harry, we're here," said Severus, caressing his head.

Harry had been lying down with his head on Severus' lap, but he hadn't been fully asleep. His back was far too painful for sleeping through it. He enjoyed the comfort of Severus' hands carding through his hair and he sighed, unwilling to give it up just yet. They'd spent the night in The King's Head before catching the train to London earlier that day and then took a hansom cab to a four-storey townhouse in a grand square; Harry could see it out the window as he lifted his head from Severus' lap. Small flurries of snow still fell sporadically, but it didn't feel as cold in the centre of town as it normally was in the tower.

Severus opened the cab door and helped Harry down onto the street before paying the driver. The snow on the ground had turned to slush from all the carriage and foot traffic and Harry stumbled on the slippery surface. Severus' arms were suddenly around him to catch him before he fell. Harry bit back a scream as the embrace made his back hurt even worse than ever. His teeth chattered and he started shivering uncontrollably even with Severus hugging him. Harry wondered if there would be a time when he would ever feel warm again.

"I'm sorry," said Severus as he helped Harry up a set of steps to the white-painted house in front of them.

Harry breathed shallowly as Severus rang the doorbell. Harry felt dizzy and didn't know how much longer he was going to be able to keep his feet. A girl around Harry's age, dressed in a black dress with a white apron and cap over her curly hair, stood looking at them.

"May I help you?"

"I'm here to see the Earl of Wessex," said Severus, his arm still supporting Harry.

"I'm very sorry, sir, but the earl is not at home. Good day." The maid was about to shut the door in their face when another voice was heard from deep within the house.

"Who is it, Katie?"

"Someone wanting to see the Master, Miss."

The door was flung wide and another girl stood there, this one dressed in blue velvet.

"Mr. Snape! My goodness! Come in, come in!"

Severus ushered Harry through the open doorway. "Harry needs a doctor, he's been attacked," said Severus. "Dursley."

"Katie, go and fetch Doctor Pomfrey straightaway!" said this girl, who Harry guessed was no maid. "Hurry!"

"Yes, Miss," said the maid and hurried down the steps, holding her skirts in her hand as she ran down the street. She hadn't even stopped to get a cloak or a coat.

"Harry, this is Lady Hermione Granger, the earl's daughter."

"How do you do?" asked Harry, even as he swayed on his feet.

The world around him tilted sideways and he saw the flowery rug coming up to meet him.

***

Severus paced the bedroom anxiously awaiting the doctor's arrival. After Harry had fainted they were unable to rouse him at all; Miss Granger's smelling salts had no effect, nor did splashing him with water. What if Dursley had damaged him more than was apparent? Harry was sweating now too, tossing and turning in the bed, moaning and babbling incoherently.

"The doctor shouldn't be long," said Miss Granger, trying to put him at ease. "Her house is only a few streets away."

"A female doctor?" asked Severus in surprise. He'd heard of such things but never thought he'd actually meet one.

"We are almost in the twentieth century, Mr. Snape," she smiled at him. "She's also very good at what she does. Harry will be fine, I am sure of it."

Severus wished he could be so sure. Miss Granger turned from the window. "Ah, here's her carriage now. I'll go and fetch her."

"Thank you, Miss Granger. For everything."

She turned back from the door handle. "It's the least I can do."

A few moments later Miss Granger returned with the doctor in tow. The doctor was a tall woman, almost as tall as Severus; her brown hair was pulled back into a severe bun with not a wisp out of place. Her outfit was plain: a black skirt, white blouse and black jacket, but all of good quality. On spying Severus, she strode over to him, set down her medical bag on the bed and shook his hand with a grip as firm as any man's.

"Poppy Pomfrey."

"Severus Snape."

"This is our patient?" Poppy Pomfrey removed a stethoscope from her bag and listened to Harry's chest.

"Yes, Harry Potter."

"Do you know what happened to him?"

Severus glanced at Hermione, unsure what he could talk about in the young woman's presence. Some things were not for delicate ears.

"Hermione, why don't you arrange for some hot water and clean cloths?" asked Poppy.

"Yes, doctor."

Once she was gone, the doctor turned once again to Severus.

"He was attacked by his uncle. Whipped and beaten, and Lord knows what else. I fear – I fear he may have been ill-used," Severus admitted.

"Sexual assault? Are you sure?"

Her brisk manner was a surprise. Severus had never even used the word in front of a woman before. "I'm not sure, no. It's just my suspicion."

"Very well, I'll examine him. Are you his guardian?"

From there, Severus told her everything he knew. Of his term as tutor at Dursley Hall, of Harry's imprisonment and how they escaped, and finally of his suspicions that Cedric Diggory had been murdered.

"These are very serious allegations," said the doctor, as she pulled down the sheets and undressed Harry's prone form with the dexterity of someone to whom none of this was new. "Do you have any proof?"

"Only what Harry has told me. I haven't seen Dursley strike the boy, but I did see him almost choke him before we managed to get away."

Severus looked away when Poppy reached Harry's trousers and underwear, not wanting to invade his privacy even if he was unconscious. She made some tutting sounds and out of the corner of his eye Severus saw her tug the sheet back up to Harry's chest.

"There is no sign of sexual assault, but the physical abuse is very severe. He is also very malnourished; he hasn't been eating properly for quite some time. The whip marks on his back are also infected. Someone put dirty cloths on the wounds, the very worst thing that could have been done."

Severus felt the guilt crushing his chest. "That was me. I'm sorry; I thought I was doing the right thing."

"I imagine you were only trying to stop the bleeding, but the cloth was dirty. Germs, Mr. Snape. Germs like dirt. We will clean the wounds and then apply a poultice to help draw out the infection. The dressings will need to be changed every day until the wounds heal. Cleanliness isn't just next to Godliness, Mr. Snape, it is vital to health."

"Will he be all right?" Severus couldn't bear the thought that in the attempt to rescue Harry he might have ended up killing him, something Dursley hadn't managed to do in the past ten years.

"He's not out of the woods yet, Mr. Snape, but I will do my best for him. That's all I can guarantee."

"Thank you, doctor." Severus knew it was the best he could hope for.

***

After the doctor had put the poultices in place and wrapped Harry's wounds again Severus remained in the room with him. He couldn't bear to leave Harry alone – what if he woke and found himself in a strange house? It didn't matter that he was unconscious, Severus wasn't going anywhere. Harry needed him.

Around sunset, Hermione popped her head around the door after knocking softly. "Mr. Snape, my father is home; he'd like to speak with you."

"Oh. Of course." Severus glanced longingly at Harry.

"I can stay with him for a while if you'd like."

"Thank you, I didn't want to leave him on his own."

"Father's study is the third door on the right down the hall. The ground floor," she said, moving over to Harry's bedside and smoothing his hair away from his forehead. It was a tender gesture and it made Severus feel inexplicably jealous that she had done it. Hiding the emotion, he made his way to the earl's study and knocked on the door. He was uncomfortably reminded of the day he had received his marching orders from Lucius Malfoy. Since he wasn't part of the earl's retinue or staff, he knew that wasn't what Earl Granger wanted to see him about.

"Come in."

Severus pushed open the door and stared around at the well-lit room. There were gas lamps on the walls as well as oil lamps scattered among the numerous tables and shelves. The study was lined with bookshelves and although there was a large desk in the room, the earl was sitting instead on a dark green leather sofa with a buttoned back. He waved Severus into the wingback chair facing him and dismissed the servant who had been pouring out two large measures of brandy on a side table next to the sofa.

"I think we must have just missed each other," said the earl once Severus had seated himself. "I was in Surrey with the constabulary."

"At Dursley Hall?"

"Indeed. I sent my man to do some investigating once I received your letter, Mr. Snape. In the woods behind Dursley Hall he discovered a body. A young man who I can only assume must be Cedric Diggory. The police are handling it for now. Dursley has been arrested for murder and the police are looking into Harry Potter's so-called death. I know you suspect the young man to be Harry Potter, but is there any proof of that?"

"What sort of proof do you need? He's the right age and he looks like his father in the photograph at the Hall."

"I see. Is there anything else? Any distinguishing marks or features?"

"Well, he does have a rather unusual scar on his forehead. It is shaped like a lightning bolt."

"Ah. Then he is indeed Harry Potter," said the earl, taking a sip of his brandy. "The Potters were friends of mine, Mr. Snape, and one day while I was visiting them at what was Potter Hall, young Harry had been climbing trees and fell. That was the day he received that unusual scar. I saw it, so if this young man does indeed bear it then we can safely assume that the Potter heir is still alive, if not very well at the moment."

"Did Dursley admit to anything?"

"What do you think? He's denied all knowledge of Cedric Diggory's death or of Harry Potter's imprisonment. His wife was distraught; I don't think she knew the boy was still alive. Vernon Dursley had convinced the rest of his family that they were seeing a ghost, not someone of flesh and blood. But I'm sure the truth will out in the end, especially since Dursley's man - Filch, is it?" Severus nodded. "– is claiming to have seen the murder. He says that Dursley pushed Diggory from the bell tower and the young man fell to his death. Would you be able to identify the body, Mr. Snape? I cannot ask Hermione to do that, I know how much she cared for the young man."

"I knew him briefly. If it will help, I can certainly do it. Thank you so much for your help, your grace."

"No need to thank me, old chap. I'm only doing what any right-minded citizen would do. And since you are Hermione's friend, I think it's about time you called me Jonathan, eh? None of this 'your grace' nonsense. It makes me feel old!"

"Very well, Jonathan. But you must call me Severus in return."

"I think we can manage that, Severus," smiled the earl.

TBC



Chapter 8: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Eight

A few moments later the earl handed Severus the other glass of brandy. Severus sat staring at the amber liquid, unsure what to say. That the earl had felt comfortable enough to allow Severus to use his given name was a surprise. Lord Malfoy had never encouraged such familiarity among the servants and neither had Vernon Dursley. Severus didn't know what to think. The silence lingered, making Severus uncomfortable. He was normally the one in control, the teacher talking to his students, but in front of Jonathan Granger he was lost for words. His collar felt tight and he ran a finger around it, while with the other hand he sipped at the brandy.

"I would like to thank you, Severus," said Jonathan at last. "Both for rescuing Harry and for being there when my daughter needed someone to confide in."

"I only did what I had to do," replied Severus softly. "Anyone would have done the same." All Severus knew was that he'd had to get Harry away from that place as soon as possible.

"I'm not so sure about that," replied the earl. "You could have walked away and left Harry to his fate."

"I could not!" Severus protested vehemently. "To leave him there with that man? No, I couldn't."

"No, you couldn't," agreed Jonathan. "But there are some people who would have felt no qualms about leaving the boy there. You, however, looked out for Harry's best interests, even at the risk of your own. I was the executor of the Potters' will, Severus; I was the one who allowed the Dursleys to claim Potter Hall as their own. Everyone, including me, thought that Harry was dead, he had disappeared around the same time as the accident and the police agreed that he most likely perished with his parents. The Potters' wishes were clear, they left everything to their son, but if he died, then their estate would go to Petunia Dursley and her family."

"But why hide him away? Why not just kill him?" Severus asked.

"As to that, it's only a theory, but this is what I believe may have happened. I think Harry was injured in the carriage accident that killed his parents; perhaps he lost his memory and turned up one day at Dursley Hall. Vernon knew that if the boy's existence came to light, their inheritance would be forfeit. There is a codicil to the will, that if Harry was mentally impaired, then the Dursleys would get the estate, but would oversee a trust fund for Harry. I think Dursley wanted to drive him mad so that if Harry was ever discovered, they still wouldn't lose out. As for why he didn't kill the boy, I don't know, for there is no doubt in my mind that he killed Cedric Diggory. But maybe that was an accident and he's not an outright murderer."

"So Harry will get his inheritance back?"

"He will, but he won't get all of it until he is twenty-one. The Potter fortune is quite considerable, Severus. There are a lot of unscrupulous people like Dursley who would be keen to get their hands on it."

"I don't care about the money!" cried Severus, his heart lurching painfully at the thought of how ill Harry was. "It's Harry I care about!"

"I know you do, Severus, which is why as executor I want to appoint you as Harry's guardian until he reaches his majority. You will oversee his trust fund and help him grow into the fine young man we all want him to be."

"Wouldn't you be better at that?"

"As executor, I can't look after Harry or his money. It would be a conflict of interests. You're the best man for the job, Severus."

"You can't be serious! Harry hardly knows me! I'm nothing to him!"

Jonathan arched his eyebrows. "Nothing to him? Come now, Severus. I know how much you care for him. That young man was like the son I never had and if things had been different, he might have become my son in truth. But Hermione has refused to marry anyone she doesn't love. Her lover is dead, but not his child, and she is determined not to marry just because she is pregnant. I will never forgive myself for what I allowed to happen to Harry. I should have insisted they search longer after the accident rather than just accept that everyone thought he was dead. I know you'll look out for his best interests."

"I won't!" Severus ground out through gritted teeth. Oh, how could the earl even think of letting Severus look after Harry? It was as if the earl could see Severus' dark desires and was quite willing to allow him free rein with them! "You know what I am! I will corrupt him!"

"Why? Because you love him?" the earl asked calmly.

"Love? Love is not for men like me! I'm an abomination! Unnatural! A freak! I don't want that for Harry! He deserves better!"

"Better than someone who loves him? This stupid law is what is an abomination, Severus. Not you. It's men like Dursley who need to be locked up, not you or men like you."

Severus could hardly believe what he was hearing. That a respectable man, an earl even, was not castigating him for his unnatural behaviour. "I don't understand what you're saying."

"Severus, I don't know Harry well enough to say whether or not he is attracted to men, attracted to you. However, if he is and the two of you decide to pursue a relationship, then what I am saying is that it will be nobody's business but between the two of you. This house is a friendly house and both of you will be welcome here, shared bedrooms and all."

"Not everyone would see it like that. They'd think I would corrupt him to my own ends."

"Would you continue to make advances to Harry if he told you they were unwelcome?"

Severus shook his head. Never in his life had he pursued a man who wasn't interested; he remembered Harry's own clumsy advances too. For whatever reason, Harry had set his sights on Severus. "Harry asked me to kiss him," Severus admitted. The earl was a man who made sharing confidences seem like the most natural thing in the world.

"So, on some level he must be attracted to you."

"Maybe, but it wouldn't be very fair of me to take advantage of that. He is very innocent, Jonathan. It's hardly surprising considering how long he was locked away from the world. Then there is also the fact of the law; I don't want to get him killed." Severus set down his brandy glass, noticing that his hands were shaking.

"But what if he's willing to take the risk?"

"I don't know, I just don't know."

"Well, why don't you get some rest and think it over? Things might be clearer after a good night's sleep."

"Thank you."

Severus took his leave of the earl. Once he entered the hallway, the maid, Katie, curtseyed and showed him upstairs to a bedroom. This room was as far from Severus' dingy bedroom at Dursley Hall as one could get. There were wide windows draped in dark blue velvet, held back with silver tassels. It was dark outside with little flurries of snow swirling against the panes. The fire had been lit to warm the room and an oil lamp was already placed on the bedside table. The bed was itself was a large four poster with curtains to match the window drapery and a thick blue bedspread with lots of pillows heaped up by the headboard. It was a room for guests, not servants.

"There's hot water for you, sir," said Katie, pointing out the wash stand and Severus saw the steam rising from the pitcher as well as a selection of cloths and towels. "Do you need anything else?"

"No, thank you."

"Well, there's a bell pull by the bed. Just ring if you need anything."

"Thank you, but I think I'll be fine."

Once the girl left, Severus sat down on the side of the bed and removed his shoes. There was a dressing gown and a nightshirt draped over a chair by the window. Unbuttoning his shirt as he went, he poured out some hot water into the bowl and washed his face and neck, trying not to think. For when he did think the only thing he could think of was Harry.

He climbed into bed and removed the warming pan which had taken the chill off the sheets, but even before he lay down he knew sleep was going to elude him once more. It wasn't the thought of ghosts or spirits which made him restless tonight, but thoughts of Harry and how ill he was. What if Harry died? How could he bear it? And if Harry didn't die, how could Severus bear living without him? Would it be selfish of him to pursue Harry when in doing so it might cause his death anyway at the hands of the courts?

He punched his pillows as if they had done him some great wrong, but Severus knew he wasn't going to get to sleep and it wasn't the pillows or the bed's fault. He got up and pulled on the dressing gown and slid his feet into a pair of slippers before making his way down the hallway to Harry's room. Much to his surprise, he found that Harry wasn't alone. An older woman, who had the same fine-boned features as Hermione was sitting in a chair, reading softly to Harry, although Harry didn't seem to be awake. Her brown hair was hanging in a braid over one shoulder and she was dressed in a nightgown and shawl.

She smiled on seeing him. "Mr. Snape, do come in. He hasn't woken, but sometimes voices can soothe. If you could stay with him for a while, I can get to bed."

"Forgive me, Countess,, I didn't mean to have so disturbed your household."

"Nonsense, it's the least we could do. To think, he's been alive all this time. We should have done more to find him."

"I should have rescued him sooner."

She laughed a little. "We can play the blame game all night, but let's just be thankful that he is away from there at last. Goodnight, Mr. Snape."

"Goodnight, Countess."

Once the woman was gone, Severus slid into the chair she had so recently vacated and lifted up the book she had placed on the bed. He smiled to himself; it was the same book of fairy tales that Harry had read to him. He turned the pages to Sleeping Beauty and began his tale, smiling at the reminiscence of Harry asking about kissing.

Looking at the frail boy on the bed, Severus hoped he would be well enough soon to allow Severus to make good on his promise. If Harry still wanted to be kissed and asked for it, Severus knew he could no longer deny him.

TBC



Chapter 9: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Nine

Harry woke up breathless, his nightclothes and sheets sticky with warm semen When it had first happened to him, he'd had no idea what was going on and every time it happened the devil whipped him even harder for being such a freak. Harry sighed. It wasn't the devil; the man had been his uncle, but Harry knew that deep down Vernon Dursley would always remain a devil to him. How could anyone human do such cruel things? Harry had almost been mad with pain and if Severus hadn't rescued him, Harry knew that he might have ended up completely insane or dead at Dursley's hands. Harry shuddered as he remembered that awful night, the screams as Cedric Diggory fell to his death. He rubbed at his head, as if by doing that he could scrub the memories away just like water would wash away dirt, but it had never worked and it didn't work now.

Dr. Pomfrey had long talks with him, getting him to go over the things that had happened to him. She seemed to think that talking about these things rather than hiding them away was better for him in the long run. At first the talks had made his nightmares worse and more frequent, but gradually as the weeks went on the nightmares were easing off. Now Harry was finding that he wasn't getting frightened by every little sound or shadow as often as he had previously. Dr. Pomfrey also insisted on telling him everything he needed to know about the facts of life and his body, for his uncle had certainly never told him anything. He knew now why his prick sometimes got hard, why he sometimes woke with sticky sheets and why Severus was so interesting to him. It wasn't just that the man had rescued him, although Harry knew he never would forget that, but that he found Severus rather attractive.

In the six weeks since he and Severus had been guests of the earl and his family, Harry's health had improved dramatically. Regular meals, proper clothes and the fact that he had people to care for him had made an enormous difference to his demeanour. The wounds on his back had healed; he would always have scars to remind him of his time in the tower, but he felt a lot better in himself. It was as if he was slowly waking up from a very strange and horrible dream.

The house was his now, but Harry wasn't so sure he ever wanted to go back there. There were too many bad memories. Besides, he wanted Severus to see him as the new, stronger Harry, not the weak and scared boy he had rescued. Severus still hadn't made good on his promise to kiss him, he kept insisting Harry wasn't well enough yet. Well, Dr. Pomfrey had given him a clean bill of health so Harry didn't know what else Severus was waiting for. Maybe Severus didn't like him in that way after all and had just kissed him before to make Harry feel better.

Tonight, Severus was taking Harry out to the theatre in the West End. Neither of them had ever been to the theatre before. After Dr. Pomfrey's talks, Harry had wondered if there was something wrong with him, for he'd never felt his body reacting to women at all. Not like when he saw Severus: his hands would become clammy, his heart would pound in his ears and his tummy felt as if it was full of butterflies. No girl made him feel like that. He liked Hermione and the maids were always friendly to him, but just as friends. None of them had made advances and he certainly hadn't felt like making advances to them either. But Severus! Oh, yes, Harry wanted to make advances. He wanted to kiss and be kissed, be held in the man's arms, he wanted to be held and stroked, petted and caressed and he shivered as renewed desire shot through him, his prick pressing against his damp nightshirt.

He heard the maids bustling about in the corridor outside and knew he wouldn't have time to make himself spill his seed again, even though he felt like he might want to. Harry tucked the covers up to his chin when he heard the knock on his door. "Come in," he called and Katie entered his bedroom with hot water and towels for his wash. Once she was gone, Harry got out of bed and stripped off his nightshirt before sponging his sticky thighs and groin. There wasn't a lot he could do about the sheets, but he was always embarrassed, wondering what the laundry maids thought when they changed his bed. Did women even know what happened to men? Or did Dr. Pomfrey only know because she was a doctor?

He finished washing and dried himself off before dressing in another set of new clothes. As his guardian, Severus had taken Harry to so many tailors that he'd lost count. Every item of clothing was fitted to him and Harry revelled in the soft feel of the materials that he tried on. He pulled on a pair of dark green trousers and a cream shirt. It made him feel quite grown up and later tonight he hoped Severus could see that as well: that he was grown up and wanted grown up things.

Harry made his way to the dining room for breakfast. Breakfast was the most informal meal in the earl's household: there was no set time. All the food was set out on warming plates on the sideboard and people could come and go as they pleased. Harry was pleased to see Severus already there, along with Hermione and her father. It was lonely if he was the last one down and had to eat by himself. He'd had enough of being alone.

"Good morning, everyone," said Harry as Severus pulled out the chair next to his for Harry to sit in.

"Good morning, Harry," said Severus. "Did you sleep well?"

Harry blushed, remembering his dreams of the man that meant he had woken up to sticky sheets. Again. "Yes, thank you."

The table was set already with plates, cutlery, glasses and cups along with jugs of juice, pots of tea and hot chocolate. Harry poured himself a glass of orange juice before lifting his plate and taking it over to the sideboard where all the covered dishes were waiting. Harry opened every lid, hoping to tempt himself with something, but like every other morning since he'd recovered he took only two slices of toast and strawberry preserve. He left the bacon, eggs, devilled kidneys and black pudding under their domes and made his way back to the table. The others glanced at each other, trying to make it seem as if they weren't worried about him. His appetite still wasn't as strong as theirs, but Harry knew that he could eat what he wanted whenever he wanted, with no punishments for doing so. No one mentioned how little he ate at meals still, but Harry knew they were probably thinking it.

Harry ate his toast and took a drink of his juice before making his announcement. The truth was he'd been thinking about it for a while but wasn't quite sure how to broach the subject. He decided just to come out with it.

"I think it's time I looked for a house of my own," Harry said. Hermione's fork dropped to her plate with a clatter; Severus arched his eyebrows and the earl just smiled a little sadly. "I can't live on your hospitality forever."

"Harry, you and Severus are welcome to stay here for as long as you wish," said Jonathan.

"I know, and you've been most generous. I just think it's time." Harry knew that the longer he stayed, the more difficult it was going to be to leave. It was wonderful being part of a family and he had felt like part of the family here, but he knew that he had to stand on his own two feet sometime. "Is that all right, Severus?"

Harry didn't really know how much things cost; but as guardian of Harry's money as well as his person, Severus had taken care of everything so far. But Harry knew that some day he was going to have to be responsible for his own finances and he hoped Severus would teach him about that.

"The money is not an issue," said Severus. "But are you sure you feel up to living on your own yet? Not to mention managing a household. It's a big step."

"I won't be living on my own," said Harry. "You'll be living with me, won't you? As my guardian?"

"I - I -" But Severus seemed lost for words.

"Hermione, you have finished, have you not?" said the earl pointedly. "Let us leave Harry and Severus to their discussions."

"Oh. Oh, yes, of course." Hermione dabbed her mouth with her napkin before following her father out of the dining room. She turned at the doorway and gave Harry a 'good luck' smile.

Once they were alone, Severus poured himself another cup of hot chocolate and sat staring at Harry as he sipped it. Harry drank some more juice, even though he was far from thirsty. "You don't want to live with me?" Harry asked at last, unable to bear the silence any longer.

"It's not what I want that counts, Harry. Is this what you want?"

"Then yes, I want you to live with me," said Harry firmly. Harry fluttered his eyelashes as he'd seen Katie do to one of the footmen. "I want you,Severus."

Severus choked on his chocolate and set the cup down, coughing and spluttering. "Harry, do you even know what you're asking for?"

"I'm not an innocent, Severus. At least, not anymore."

"What? Has someone hurt you? Touched you?" Severus asked angrily.

"No, no, nothing like that. I just had some very interesting talks with Dr. Pomfrey. She doesn't believe in keeping her patients in the dark. About anything." Harry quirked his eyebrow on the last word, making Severus chuckle.

"I see. And did Dr. Pomfrey also explain that anything that happens between two men also happens to be illegal?"

"She did," said Harry. "So you'd be unwilling to take the risk in order to be with me? You don't think I'm worth it?" Harry was appalled to find himself so close to tears. He'd promised himself that he would never cry in front of Severus ever again and yet here he was blubbing like a child.

"Oh, Harry, no," said Severus softly. He leaned over the table and stroked Harry's hand. "You would be worth it and more. But I don't want to be responsible for your death. What if you were arrested because of me? I couldn't bear it."

"We would just have to be discreet," said Harry. "Very discreet."

"We would," Severus agreed. "Very. But it's very difficult to be discreet in a house full of servants."

Harry nodded. "I heard some of the servants talking; there are places. Places where men can go to be together. We could go there, couldn't we?"

Severus spluttered again and set his cup down with a thump. "Harry, no! I don't want to take you to a place like that. It's too risky. Some of the owners have been known to blackmail the people who attend their clubs. We will have to think of something else."

"So what are you saying? Are you saying you do want to be with me?" Harry hardly dared hope.

Severus leaned closer and pressed a soft kiss to Harry's cheek. "I do, Harry. I do."

"What if I had a small house? So small that we didn't need servants?"

"Can you cook?"

"No," Harry admitted. "Can you?"

"No, but if you bought a small apartment in London along with a country residence, no one would think it at all odd if you didn't have a large staff in London. You could hire daily maids; a lot of people are doing that now. So in the evening you could be alone."

"We could be alone," said Harry, smiling broadly. "Severus, you're a genius! No one would think it odd that my guardian would stay with me in town, would they?"

"No, in fact they'd probably expect it."

"So, Severus, do you fancy doing some house hunting tomorrow?"

"I'd be delighted, Harry."

Severus leaned towards him, as if he might dare a kiss, but just then the door to the dining room opened and Katie came in, armed with some more coal for the fire. Both of them jumped apart as if they'd been scalded, but their eyes never left each other's faces. Harry knew the sooner they found a place of their own, the better. The tension in the room was almost palpable, but at least now Harry knew that Severus felt the same way.

They would soon find time to be alone. Harry would make sure of it.

TBC



Chapter 10: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Ten

"Oh, Harry! You look so dashing!" exclaimed Hermione as Harry modelled his new outfit for her. With his dinner jacket and bow tie, he felt as if he was just playing at dressing up as he'd never worn such fine things before, at least not that he could remember. He supposed he might have done when his parents had still been alive.

"Is my tie straight?" Harry asked her, not used to tying ties either.

"It's perfect. What play are you both going to see?"

"I think it's called 'Oliver Twist'." Harry studied his reflection in the looking glass again so he hadn't at first seen Hermione's expression. When he turned back round, she quickly plastered a smile on her face but he'd already seen the worried frown marring her brow. "Hermione? What's wrong?"

"Well, it is just ... That play, it might bring back some bad memories for you. I'm surprised Severus chose such a thing. It's about an orphan who is terribly abused."

"Oh. Oh, I see," said Harry softly. It did seem a rather strange play for Severus to choose then, for he'd been almost fanatical in his trying not to remind Harry of anything that had gone on at that awful house. At least now he would be a bit more prepared. "Tell me, does it end badly?"

"Well, no. It does have a happy ending."

"That's something at least," said Harry, giving her a peck on the cheek. He and Hermione had become as close as brothers and sisters, or how he imagined brothers and sisters would be like and Hermione had confided in him about her imminent motherhood. It didn't bother Harry that she was unmarried; he had been away from the world too long to know much about what was considered acceptable behaviour. One day after Hermione broke down in tears about her fall from grace Harry had just hugged her and told her that a child was a wondrous thing, no matter how it came about. She'd dried her eyes and looked at him, as if she had only just realised that.

"I hope I don't make a fool of myself," said Harry coming back to the present. His only other trips out in public had been with Severus to visit numerous tailors, but an evening at the theatre might be more fraught with difficulties. There would be lots of people who didn't know him but knew of him, as his return from the dead and Vernon Dursley's murder trial had been in all the papers for the past few weeks. Getting accosted by strangers was not something Harry looked forward to. He smiled when he realised he wouldn't have to do it alone, for Severus would be there with him.

"You will be fine, Harry. You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for."

"Thank you."

"You are very welcome. Now, be off with you before Severus thinks you're not coming."

Harry grinned at her before making his way downstairs with Hermione closely following on his heels. Severus was already waiting at the foot of the stairs, deep in conversation with Hermione's father. It was Jonathan Granger who saw him first; he tapped Severus on the shoulder, who turned around and stared open-mouthed at Harry who was hovering halfway down the staircase. Harry felt as if all the breath had left his body in a rush the way Severus was gaping at him. It was as if Severus had suddenly seen an angel. Severus closed his mouth but continued to stare at Harry for a few minutes more, as if he couldn't bear to tear his eyes away from the vision in front of him. Harry felt his face heat at the renewed hunger in the stare. He'd seen that look on Severus' face before, like the first time he'd kissed Harry. By now Harry knew that Severus wanted to do a lot more than just kiss him.

Harry's legs trembled a little as he made his way to the ground floor, wondering that he could still manage to walk at all.

"Thank you for the use of your carriage, Jonathan," said Severus as Harry reached them.

"Not at all. My pleasure. You both have a good evening, now."

"Thank you," said Harry with a smile. "I'm sure we will."

***

Severus helped Harry into the carriage after the play was over. A few people had tried to accost them about the stories in the paper, but Severus had held the worst of it at bay. Severus had been looking at Harry a little strangely, both during the play and afterwards. Harry felt his breath catch as he caught that same look on Severus' face in the lamp lit carriage. Severus placed a hand on Harry's knee and squeezed it before poking his head out the window to speak to the driver.

"A few turns around the park, please," said Severus.

"Very good, sir," said the driver and the carriage wheels rattled along the cobbles as they set off.

Harry swayed and found himself falling against Severus, who didn't seem to mind and gripped Harry firmly by the shoulders. Green eyes gazed into black and Harry felt himself falling into their depths. Severus lowered his head, Harry raised his. This time he closed his eyes and opened his mouth in anticipation of the kiss. It was as wonderful as he remembered. Severus' mouth, although looking quite severe at times, was soft to kiss and Harry relished in the taste of him at last.

Severus' tongue teased his lips, lapping at him like a kitten at a bowl of cream. Harry moaned, desire swelling in him as they kissed and kissed. When Severus pushed his tongue into Harry's open mouth, he moaned again, his whole body jolting with the unexpected sensation and his prick pressed against the placket of his trousers. Severus pulled his mouth away, making Harry whimper.

"Oh, God!" Severus groaned, leaning his head against Harry's shoulder. "I cannot wait any longer. Let me touch you, Harry. Please!"

Much as though he wanted that too, Harry was worried about their audience. "What about the driver?" Harry asked. "What if he tells?"

"He will not," Severus said assuredly. "He was chosen personally tonight. He is like us, Harry. He would not betray us."

Harry nodded to show he understood. "I want it too, Severus. I want to feel you."

Severus cupped Harry's face in his hands. "Only what you will allow, Harry. What permissions will you grant me?"

Harry flushed to the roots of his hair. "I – I don't really know, Severus. Can we kiss some more and just see what happens? You can do what you want."

"You will stop me if I go too far."

It wasn't a question, more like an order. Harry knew how much of a principled man Severus was, even if he did want to enjoy the company of men. Harry knew Severus would never push him into anything he didn't really want, but Severus needed to make sure that Harry would stop him if he became too lost in his passions.

"I will, Severus. Kiss me," Harry said with a smile.

"Sit on my lap, Harry," suggested Severus. "Astride me."

Harry was only too happy to oblige and he settled across Severus' lap. "You're hard too," Harry whispered in awe.

"You excite me terribly," Severus admitted before lifting his head up so they could kiss some more. Harry found it an interesting sensation, leaning down to kiss Severus. The man was so much taller than him that if they'd been standing up Harry was sure he would have had backache leaning up to kiss him. It was wonderful to have so much hard flesh to press against as his breath was stolen with fervent kisses. Severus gripped his hips and held Harry in place over his groin, as if he too was finding it pleasurable to have weight against his prick. This was much better than when he fondled himself with his hand.

The rocking of the carriage meant that in effect they were rocking against each other too and Harry felt as if he had somehow left his body for how could a mere human contain so much pleasure? Bliss like this couldn't last; it was too intense and Harry pulled back from the kiss, gasping for breath.

"Wait! Wait! It's too much," Harry croaked against the hollow of Severus' throat.

Severus let his hand trail up to caress the back of Harry's neck. "I'm sorry. You were just so delicious. We can stop if you wish."

Stop? That wasn't what Harry had meant at all! "I don't want to stop, Severus. It feels good. Too good. I was afraid of getting my clothes messy."

Severus stared at him. "You were so close? Already?"

Harry blushed and hung his head. "You make me feel so good, Severus," he admitted with a blissful groan, wriggling a bit on Severus' lap. The tingles started up again and he knew he really wanted to come, messy clothes or not. He felt perched on the edge of a precipice and any minute now he was going to fall off the edge.

Severus somehow managed to get his hand between them and began to unbutton Harry's trousers and his own. "Is this all right?"

Harry nodded, unable to speak as Severus' hand lifted out his prick and caressed it from root to tip, then pressed both of them against each other. The sensation of all that hardness against him was almost too much. Harry bucked his hips, unable to keep still with the onslaught of sensation. His whole body was shuddering as Severus stroked them both in a steady rhythm. Liquid was already dripping down his shaft and onto Severus' hands. He used it so that his hands glided easily over their cocks, taunting and teasing, making Harry mewl with arousal. "I'm going to make a mess of your hand!" Harry cried out as wonderful tingles shot through his lower belly and lower still.

"Yes, Harry, yes," said Severus hoarsely. "I want you to make a mess of me. Come on my hands, Harry. Come for me!"

The words and the hand were enough to send him hurtling over the edge. "Ahh! Ahh! Oh, Severus!" Harry shrieked as his prick pulsed and warm seed shot out and over Severus' hands, some of it even landed on Severus' jacket, it had arched so high. Severus thrust against him and spilled himself over their hands and bellies, both of them panting harshly. Harry had never felt anything like it. He looked down and saw the mess he had made of Severus' clothes.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I got your clothes dirty!" Harry was appalled to find himself almost close to tears and he had to look away before Severus saw. He was always punished before when he made his night clothes messy back at that awful house.

"Ssh, Harry, ssh. It's all right. A wipe with a handkerchief and it will be gone. Don't upset yourself so."

Severus wrapped his arms around him and hugged him tight, making Harry cry even more. To be embraced like this, to be offered comfort was such an unusual occurrence for him.

"It – it excited you?" Harry asked in wonder, tracing his hand along Severus' cheek. "Touching me?"

"It did indeed, Harry. Very much so."

"When we get our own house, we can be naked and not have to worry about making a mess," Harry said as he cuddled up to Severus, the rocking of the carriage and Severus' arms around him, soothing him and making him sleepy.

"That would be wonderful, Harry. I can hardly wait to get naked with you."

TBC




Chapter 11: The Ghost of Dursley Hall
Part Eleven
Epilogue
Five Years Later

Harry smiled as he woke; Severus was tasting his neck with soft laps of tongue before moving down his spine, removing the sheet as he went. Both of them rarely wore anything to bed these days and Harry relished the freedom of being naked with his lover. He arched backwards; yielding to the touches Severus was bestowing upon him and groaned his pleasure.

"Good morning," Severus said against the skin of Harry's back and Harry could almost imagine the man's smile. "I was wondering how soon you would wake."

"Not long when you're kissing me like that," replied Harry, turning his head to look down at Severus. Severus slid up the bed and pulled Harry around to face him. Their kiss was long and languid, a kiss born of long intimacy. Their passion might not be as quick to flame as the first few times they had been together, but somehow Harry found it more satisfying to know they could take their time and enjoy each other as much as possible.

As they kissed, Harry felt his arousal build; Severus' erection had been pressing against him for quite some time already.

"Someone is feeling excited this morning." Harry smiled as he pulled away from their kiss, but he didn't go too far, unwilling to leave Severus' arms just yet.

"Lying next to you all night, how could I not be?" Severus kissed his nose and then let his hand wander down between them, caressing Harry's cock in warm hands. "It's not as though you're disinterested either."

"True," Harry giggled and pressed his head against Severus' shoulder. "Let's just say we're both excited then. Do we have time?"

"There's always time for you," said Severus, leaning over to claim Harry's mouth in a heated kiss once more. Harry lay back, tugging Severus on top of him and continued their frenzied kissing. He loved the weight of Severus on top but he'd been reading some of Severus' books and had seen something he wanted to try, but was unsure if Severus would want to try it. Severus left off kissing Harry's lips in favour of licking his neck and jaw and gradually making his way down Harry's chest. Harry felt a jolt of desire tear through him as Severus sucked and licked on each nipple in turn. They had both discovered how sensitive Harry's nipples were shortly after they started their relationship and Severus always made sure to give them as much attention as he bestowed upon Harry's cock and arse.

Harry lay back and let the pleasure wash over him in waves; Severus always knew how to make him feel boneless and he wondered if he could come just from Severus suckling his nipples like a baby nursing. With every suck, every lick, Harry's cock jerked in ecstasy and he could no more stop his moans of want than he could stop the sun from rising and setting. "Severus!" He moaned and arched his hips, feeling his cock leaking onto Severus' body above him.

"I want you," Severus growled, lifting his head so that Harry was lost in that dark gaze. "I want to be inside you."

"Yes," Harry breathed, thrusting again and letting his legs fall open. "Please."

Severus sat up so that he could retrieve the oil sitting on their bedside cabinet and lay down on top of Harry again, kissing him deeply. Harry closed his eyes and revelled in the desire and the love coming from his partner but he pulled back when Severus circled a finger around his entrance. "Wait," Harry said, toppling Severus over so that he was underneath Harry. Harry was sitting astride him, his hips on either side of Severus', their cocks pressed against each other.

"You want to top?" Severus asked with a grin, widening his legs.

Harry thought he might want to one day, but that wasn't what he had in mind now. "Not quite, but I want to be on top." He leaned down to kiss Severus. "I want to ride you."

Severus flushed with arousal, his eyes darkening even further as he grabbed hold of Harry's hips, pressing him firmly against his cock. "Yes, God, yes!"

Harry handed Severus the oil and grinned. "Prepare me."

"You're a very pushy bottom, you know," said Severus, but there was no censure in his voice, just warmth and affection.

"You love it," Harry accused.

"I love you, all of you," replied Severus as he dipped his fingers in the oil and reached behind Harry.

Harry lifted up on his knees so that Severus could reach him more easily. He gasped when the first finger breached him; the oil had been cold but it soon warmed up. It wasn't long before Severus added two fingers, then three and Harry was impaling himself up and down on those same fingers. The angle was different and as Severus crooked his fingers just so, Harry cried out in ecstasy, thinking at first that he'd come unexpectedly, but no, he was still hard and aching.

"Oh God, what was that?" Harry had never felt anything like it and he wriggled his hips trying to get it to happen again.

"Something Dr. Pomfrey didn't tell you?" Severus asked with a smirk.

"Why didn't that happen before?"

"I think we needed to get the angle just right. Just imagine how it will feel with my cock touching it."

"OH! OH!" Harry groaned at that thought and ground himself on Severus' fingers. He couldn't wait any more. "In me, please, Severus! I want you in me!"

"See? Very pushy," said Severus, pulling him down for a kiss as he removed his fingers.

Harry fumbled between them, aiming Severus' cock at his entrance and sliding down onto it. He took his time, being able to control the depth was amazing and he kept going, despite a bit of a burning stretch at first, until Severus was fully sheathed inside him. Severus was looking at him again with that hungry look that Harry couldn't get enough of.

"You feel amazing, Harry. So tight around me."

Harry could hardly speak; the pleasure was just so intense. Neither of them had moved much yet and Harry was sure that if he just stayed here, with Severus' cock embedded in him, he could come just from this, from the fullness he could feel inside him. He twitched his buttocks and gasped at the intensity of the fullness.

"Move for me, Harry. Ride me."

Severus encouraged him by taking hold of Harry's hips and rocking him. Oh God, Harry wouldn't have believed he could feel even better. His cock was throbbing, rubbing between them as Harry leaned forward and pressed his upper body flush with Severus’..

Severus hit that strange spot again and Harry speeded up his thrusts. He was wild with passion; sweat dripping down him as he bucked and jerked his hips faster and faster wanting release so badly. His balls felt so full and heavy, filled to the brim with seed that just wanted to be spilled. He was close, so close. "Severus!"

"Touch your cock, Harry. I want to see you come."

Harry didn't need telling twice. He lifted himself up again, then reached down and tugged at his aching prick, one tug, two, and then he was spilling himself over his hands; pulse after pulse as Severus touched that magic spot inside him again and again. It was as if his whole body was coming. His insides clenched as the climax overtook him and his belly fluttered as if he'd fallen down a flight of stairs.

"Oh God! Oh God!" Harry's head was spinning; he had to put both arms on the headboard to stop himself from falling over. Even before the last pulse had left his cock and dribbled onto Severus' chest; Harry felt himself filled with wet warmth as Severus found his own release inside him, his hands gripping even tighter on Harry's hips.

Harry leaned over to kiss him, his cock and arse still twitching with little aftershocks. His body suddenly gave way; he collapsed on top of Severus in an undignified heap. Severus gently pulled him up and off his cock; Harry felt strangely empty after he did so. "We have to try that again," he said.

"Indeed, but not right now. We have a train to catch."

***

Harry had been very subdued both on the train journey and the carriage ride back to what had once been Dursley Hall, Severus could hardly blame him. He didn't want to remember too much about that awful house either. It was the first time they had been back since Harry's escape. The staff had stayed on, per Harry's request, but the house had been sold now and the new owners didn't want the older staff. Harry was determined to find them all places and had felt it would be better if he told them all himself, rather than just rely on a letter or a telegram. Severus thought he'd never met a braver man than Harry Potter in his life. If the things that had happened to Harry had happened to him, Severus wasn't so sure that he would have wanted to go back at all.

As the carriage pulled up to the front of the house, Severus saw again the bell tower that had been Harry's prison for so many years.

"Harry, how did you survive it? Out in the cold all that time?" For the top floor where Harry had been held was open to the elements. How had Harry survived that?

"I wasn't on the top floor all the time, Severus. Most of the time he tied me up and left me on one of the lower levels. At night a boy used to come in and untie me and bring me blankets. He took them away again before Dursley came back in the morning."

"A boy? What boy?"

"I don't remember his name, but he had a stutter sometimes."

"Oh, that must have been Neville. He’s the gardener's boy. He said you used to be friends when you'd lived here before."

So Neville had known about Harry's incarceration all along; he'd certainly kept that quiet! At least he had done something to help.

Severus got out of the carriage and helped Harry down the step. Mrs. McGonagall, Frank Longbottom and Argus Filch were all lined up by the front steps. The men bowed and Mrs. McGonagall bobbed a curtsey in Harry's direction.

"Is your son not here, Mr. Longbottom?" asked Severus.

"My son? What do you know about my son?" demanded Longbottom.

"It's just that Harry has arranged a place for you and your son as gardeners for the Earl of Wessex's estate."

"If that is a joke, Mr. Snape, it is in very poor taste," said Mrs. McGonagall.

"I'm sorry, we meant no offence," said Harry. "I also wanted to thank Neville for helping me."

"Neville can't have helped you," said Frank Longbottom. "He died when he was fifteen."



THE END

水色临风 发表于 2010-6-14 15:17:43

Sure enough, the classic text like the sand, like diamonds, but also rare and hard to find.
o(︶︿︶)o 唉,都没什么吸引我的,可能本人心中教授的形象太高大了。。大部分写的教授都不满意。
辛苦楼主了。

sophiasuen 发表于 2010-6-14 21:38:07

我很喜歡這篇文章的題目。。。

太蒼涼了。。。

dorris 发表于 2010-6-16 10:38:57

教授的形象啊。。。。好多外国饭写的同人文里教授的形象都与我国人民的不同,难道是因为东西方文化差异?
不过还是要感谢月大搬文!!

芝士海绵 发表于 2013-6-14 23:46:06

我刚看了个开头.所以这样的设定还是第一次见啊!

eosy 发表于 2013-8-26 20:17:07

咦,我是不是在哪里看到过这篇文来着……………………不过应该是没看完啦……

xding78 发表于 2014-3-5 22:31:51

这篇文是非魔法的AU设置, OOC肯定会有点的。个人觉得这个设定非常新颖,特别是最后。

傲立寒霜1998 发表于 2014-3-12 12:28:27

最喜欢这种文了, 可惜好多地方没有
谢谢篓子哈 好人啊

丿乛舫卿 发表于 2014-7-16 21:13:09

好长。。看了一半就默默放弃了,英语果然是硬伤啊

leiyifulishi 发表于 2014-9-11 21:49:07

看大家的评论文很好可惜英语是硬伤,只好放弃去找翻译来看了。
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