Chapter 8

The rest of the holiday had passed in a fairly uneventful manner up until now. The students were due back tomorrow and Severus found himself standing, shivering in the snow. He had let Harry drag him into a teacher-on-student snowball fight thanks to a stupid argument the Wizarding Savior had gotten into with a Fifth Year named Jackson, and things had gotten quickly out of hand when everyone remembered that they were wizards. He glared at his companion, who looked back sheepishly.

"At least we know we've taught them well," The Defense Instructor granted nervously.

Severus looked around at the dozen or so students from different houses that had cornered them, seeing their shield begin to falter under the onslaught of snowballs. "True, but if I remember correctly, we taught them how not to fight fair." He raised an eyebrow at his colleague who smiled devilishly.

"I love your mind, Severus. What are you thinking?"

Severus smirked at his students, who all backed away slightly and paused in their onslaught. "I think it's time for reinforcements. Would you like to do the honors?"

Harry grinned and raised his wand. "Don't mind if I do." He shot his arm into the air, sending green and silver sparks high into the air. "Let's hope Albus keeps up his end of the bargain." Suddenly, a great wave of snow came from nowhere, sweeping the legs of the combatants outside of the shield out from under them, all of the children screaming with laughter as they crashed into the snow.

Severus drew his own wand and shared a look with his companion before they cast simultaneously, lifting large piles of snow to hover above the assembled students. "Do you concede?"

The laughing students all nodded from where they still lay on the powdered ground. "We give, you win!" Jackson, shouted, laughing. "Professor Potter was right, teachers can be cool when they want to be. I will never doubt that truth again." There were collective, breathless agreements from the other students.

Severus shared another look with his colleague. "Fair enough." They both cancelled their levitation charms, causing even more raucous laughter from their students as they were half-buried, and left the group to dig themselves out as the two professors began to make their way back to the castle.

"Told you it'd be fun, Severus," The Boy-Who-Lived claimed happily.

Severus looked at him with an exasperated smile. "You have a bad habit of getting me into trouble, Potter. Poppy will blame us if any of those students catch cold."

Harry shrugged. "Yeah, but you love my bad habits."

"Oh yes. Having Minerva angry with me for smoking again, the time I attended my classes so hung over I almost threw up into one my student's cauldron, having Albus angry enough to actually lecture us for convincing the House Elves serve our favorite ice cream for a dessert for an entire week, the amount of times I've had to save you," Severus growled, watching his friend's face fall with each memory. He smiled softly as he nudged their shoulders. "I wouldn't trade a minute of it, Harry." His smile widened as the grin returned full force.

"Come on, we should hurry if we want to get one last mock-duel in before dinner." Harry said, jogging ahead. Severus watched him go, admiring the way the younger wizard's long hair ruffled in the icy wind. That had been his Christmas present, a potion that had let him choose the length of his hair, as well as the eye correction potion he'd been needing to fly again. In return, Harry had given him a set of several black robes that accented his Muggle clothing and physique, saying he missed seeing the Potions Master in them, as well as a beautifully tailored cloak with silver embroidering. If Severus were honest, and he had been when he thanked his colleague, it was the best present he'd received, having begun to miss his robes as well (though not enough to ever dig out his old, stodgy robes). The Potions Master quickened his pace as he followed his friend back to the castle and Room of Requirement, where they'd set up their sparring ring.

When they had arrived at the RoR, Severus immediately removed his new cloak, setting it near the fire where Harry's already sat innocently. When they had considered the design, they'd decided that removing to either person's rooms immediately following a duel would be exhausting, and had set up temporary rooms just in case. He entered through the archway that led to the sparring area and immediately began removing his shirt and shoes. It had quickly been discovered that this was simpler than the numerous spells required to remove dried blood from their white shirts.

"I think we've got unarmed combat down," Harry spoke, hanging his own shirt on a hook at his side of the room. "Do you think today we could add our wands into the mix?"

"That would be best, as we've become adept enough to draw nearly every time, even when we introduced weapons into our duels," Severus told the younger wizard. He turned and rolled his shoulders loosely. From the outside, one would never have guessed what would happen in the next second, considering the casual, relaxed manner of both men, but in the space of a heartbeat they had begun fighting in earnest, often getting close to fight hand-to-hand, shooting off spells as a means of distraction or to force retreat. Several long minutes passed and the duel grew more heated, their spells growing more offensive as their close combat became more violent, neither wizard landing a single blow.

Time seemed to slow as Harry performed a backflip to avoid a burning spell aimed at his feet, using a foot to press against Severus' chest as leverage. The Potions Master felt a drop of cold sweat roll down his spine as he watched the younger wizard stop exactly in the path of yet another, more disastrous spell. Severus could only stare in horror as the spell, intended only to damage a limb, cut a path straight towards the Defense Master's heart. At the last, heart-stopping second, Harry dove forward into a roll, the spell missing him by a hairs breadth, and realized too late that Severus was not going to move out of his way. They toppled together onto the floor in a graceless heap, causing both men to groan.

Severus looked down at the body tangled with his own. "That was incredibly graceful, Mister Potter," He muttered sarcastically. The two struggled for a moment to get their feet untangled, then stood, only inches apart.

"It was working until I ran into you," Harry excused lightly.

Given their near-constant flirtatious banter the last several months, Severus thought nothing of it as he pulled the shorter wizard flush against him. "I don't mind," He whispered huskily, smirking. He expected Harry to respond just as playfully, and so stood frozen when cool lips pressed against his own in a desperate kiss. After only a moment, the boy pulled away, mortified.

"I-" Severus watched the adam's apple bob as Harry swallowed thickly. "I'm so sorry, Severus. Don't kill me, I don't know what-"

The Potions Master cut off the mangled apology with a swift kiss, pulling the smaller body tightly against his own as he poured seven months of frustration into their dueling tongues. Their lips, teeth, and tongues fought for dominance even as each man tried to pull the other closer, nails clawing at each other's hips and back. Without even realizing they had moved, Severus felt his arm and Harry's body collide with one of the padded walls of the sparring ring, and took the opportunity to pull away. Green and black bored silently into one another, each seeking something in the hidden depths.

"I guess we can't blame the mistletoe," Harry murmured quietly.

Severus frowned. "If you'd prefer we pretend as though this never happened…" He trailed off, unsure of how to finish the painful thought.

"No! I…I want this, Severus, I do…I'm not sure when my playful flirting became more than just playful, but for the last couple of months I…" The Defense Master paused. "I'm just not sure that you want this."

Severus rolled his eyes. "Merlin you're dense, Potter." He swooped in for another, less heated kiss, cutting off the indignant protest. "I've wanted this ever since I discovered that you share all of my bad habits." He let the truth shine in his eyes as Harry searched them uncertainly.

Finally, the younger wizard grinned and snaked an arm up around Severus' back. "Does that make me yet another bad habit?" He asked playfully, tugging at a few strands of hair that lay against the Potions Master's back.

Severus growled, closing most of the already small distance between them to whisper against the pink, swollen lips. "The worst kind, and one I have no intention of quitting." The palpable tension vanished as they dissolved into another bout of kissing, this time slower, with all of the potential for love poured into each brush of lips and swipe of tongue.

A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed this. It's been months since I first started it, years in fact, and I'm sure the ending seems a little abrupt, but I could think of nowhere else to go with it. As a preemptive strike, I am letting you all know now, I don't write E.R.'s, so there won't be a sequel except perhaps a small one-shot should the mood strike me.