It wasn't an easy night for Snape, and therefore, not for Harry either. That was only the first of many nightmares that night. Harry snoozed lightly and woke Snape whenever he saw Snape expressing signs of distress. Snape always woke with a start, blearily thanked Harry, and fell asleep again quickly. Finally, it was early in the morning, and Snape seemed to have given up going back to sleep, because he got out of bed and undid Harry's leash wordlessly.
"How are you?" Harry asked, his eyes searching Snape's person for any clues. All he saw was exhaustion.
"Tired," Snape admitted with a shrug. He wandered to the bathroom and knocked back a potion. Harry saw that it was another pepper-up potion.
"Why are you still taking those?" Harry asked. "You said you couldn't take those and dreamless sleep, so just stop taking them." Snape snorted.
"I will not risk falling asleep at an unscheduled time again," he vowed. "I will give myself a heart attack on these things before I do that."
"No, please," Harry begged, "just take some dreamless sleep tonight instead. I'll just be really careful to make sure that if you fall asleep I'll tie myself up. Or you can take a nap and just tie me up then."
"Risky," Snape observed, but he didn't rule out the suggestion, which Harry took as a good sign. "Well, I'm awake now, so we might as well start the day."
They settled down at the breakfast table as some oatmeal, bacon, and apple juice appeared before them. Snape hadn't said anything more about the previous day.
"Sir?" Harry asked nervously, clearing his throat a little.
"Yes?" Snape replied calmly as he continued to eat, his eyes darting to Harry's face.
"Do you feel like - " Harry began, then started over. "I mean, would you - will you - explain more about your past? I don't mean to pry but..."
"I've never spoken of my time with Black to anyone, Harry," Snape began, a little coldly. "Why do you think I will speak of it now?"
"I've never spoken of my time with Black to anyone, Harry," Severus said, perhaps a little more coldly than he had intended. But it was a sensitive subject, so he excused himself. "Why do you think I will speak of it now?"
"I don't know," Harry shrugged. "Sorry."
"I don't think I will be speaking of it to you or anyone else," Severus said. " I don't need to relive those days."
"Your nightmares are scary," Harry admitted quietly.
"My apologies," Severus said, quite sincerely. "I'm sure it wasn't child-friendly." Harry shrugged. Although curious what Harry had overheard, Severus wasn't about to ask.
"I didn't mind," Harry said. "What do you know of my nightmares?"
"Only what I hear," Severus evaded. Child-psychology was not his forte.
"And what is that?" Harry prompted.
"You begging for people to stop, I'm assuming your uncle to stop beating you, and assurances that you will be good," Severus replied, his voice tight. It was much the same as the words he had heard from Harry that night he had to beat the boy. It plagued him.
"Yeah," Harry said, "you're right." Severus yawned. He was tired despite the pepper-up potion, but he would pull through. He rose from the table, heading towards the door.
"I'll be in the lab," Severus said. "It might be a good idea to study for a bit while I'm away."
"Alright," Harry said. And Severus left.
As soon as Snape left, Harry grabbed his books, and fled into the bedroom. He set his things on the bed, and then leashed himself. He sat on the edge and began to flip through his books, but his mind was elsewhere.
Snape was clearly very tired, despite the pepper-up potion. Harry would only imagine that after taking so much of it, it was losing its potency with Snape. He had the distinct feeling that sooner rather than later, perhaps even today, Snape would fall asleep again, despite his best efforts. And while Harry didn't blame Snape in the slightest for this, he also didn't want to receive another beating.
Harry's dreams had been troubled the night before as well. It was a lot of information to take in. Harry couldn't imagine what Snape's enslavement must have been like. It made Harry all the more grateful for how Snape was treating him. It impressed upon Harry that Snape really was doing the best he could by him.
Even though Harry had never experienced anything like that himself, it wasn't beyond his imagination. He was always afraid that Dudley and his gang might do something to him, but they never had. The fear of it might not be enough to truly understand what Snape had gone through but it was enough for Harry to understand how it could warp a person's mind.
Snape had undergone some personality changes since Harry had first gotten to know him. The man was genuinely nicer now. Maybe nice wasn't a word that he would use to describe Snape, but he wasn't genuinely unpleasant anymore. Harry could see the efforts he was making to be a good person and deal with the bond in the best ways possible. It could be so much worse for Harry, and it wasn't. In fact, it was even better than he had had it at the Dursleys.
For a moment the previous night, Harry had even felt loved. The hugs from Snape, and then being playfully tossed into bed had melted a corner of Harry's heart in regards to his professor. It was the first time in his memory that an adult had done something caring, like a parent, for him. He dare not bring it up to Snape, or he was sure the man would feel it a blight on his dark and foreboding persona.
Amid these thoughts, Harry fell asleep.
Severus started. He glanced around the lab, panicking. Despite the pepper-up potion, he had fallen asleep over his lesson planning for the beginning of term. He rushed back to his chambers. Glancing around quickly, he couldn't see Harry right away.
"Harry?" he called, the worry apparent in his voice. "Potter?" There was no answer. Severus might have feared the boy was dead except that he knew the bond wouldn't allow it. He rushed into the bedroom, and saw Harry sleeping, leashed, on the bed.
"Oh, good," Severus sighed, leaning against the doorframe. Relief washed over him. Harry stirred.
"Oh, hello, sir," Harry mumbled through sleep.
"Harry, you leashed yourself?" Severus asked.
"Yes, sir," Harry confirmed, sounding a little more awake. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes," Severus replied, still clearly relieved. "Yes, everything is fine."
"What happened?" Harry asked.
"You were right," Severus conceded. "I fell asleep despite the potion. How did you know to leash yourself though?"
"I didn't," Harry admitted. "I just saw you were tired and thought it was better just in case." Severus sat on the bed next to Harry.
"Thank you," he said, giving the boy a quick hug. It spoke to how he felt that such a demonstration was initiated by him. It saved both of them another beating. He quickly ended the contact though.
"Sir?" Harry began. "Can I just stay tied up? Unless I need to eat or go to the bathroom or something?" Severus gave him a blank look.
"You're that afraid I'll fall asleep?" he asked incredulously.
"I don't want to have another beating, sir," Harry mumbled, turning a little red. "I don't mind. Really, sir."
"I'll just take a double dose of the potion and then everything will be fine."
"Are you sure, sir?" Harry pressed. "Please don't hurt yourself."
"I won't," Severus assured him. He felt a deep pang of guilt, that he couldn't be a better master to Harry. He was hurt that the boy felt he needed to be leashed at all times to avoid a beating, but Harry's wisdom had proved better than his own, as this incident had shown.
Sirius paced all night. He kept replaying memories of his time with Snivellous, imagining all those things now happening to Harry. Sirius remembered making Snivellous do all sorts of depraved things for his entertainment. He regularly made his slave strip slowly and suggestively, teasing him. Sirius recalled one time where he made his toy wear a dress and heels. It had made Snivellous feel even more vulnerable, with no clothing protecting him and unbalanced besides. He remembered tying his slave down to various pieces of furniture, in every position imaginable, as he made his victim scream his name and enjoy it. One of Sirius' favorite games to play with his toy was to suck Snivellous off. The look of guilt on his nemisis' face as he came never failed to get a rise out of Sirius. And there was nothing the law could do to touch him for it. Even now, if it became public knowledge, no legal authority would touch him. He had been within his legal rights to do what he did.
But now, he couldn't imagine Harry having to go through the same ordeal. As long as he was on the master's end of the bargain, Sirius was fine with how he had behaved. It was different with Snivellous. In Sirius' mind, though, this wasn't about what he had done to his property. It was only about Snivellous doing those things to Harry. His only regret was for Harry's sake.
"What is it, Sirius?" Albus said, as Sirius paced in his office the next morning.
"Albus," Sirius began, clearly stressed to the point of tears. "Albus, you have to do something about Snape and Harry."
"I can't, you know that," Albus said sadly.
"No, you have to," Sirius said. "You don't understand. Do you know what Snape is doing to my little boy?"
"What?" Albus asked, curious, the twinkle dimming a little bit. "What is he doing?"
"Albus, he's hurting Harry," Sirius sobbed, sitting in a chair. "He's using Harry to pleasure himself. It's awful. He told me the details. I can't get the thoughts out of my mind. He makes Harry suck him off. He holds Harry down and uses the bond to make him enjoy it. Every night."
"I have a difficult time believing that," Albus said, skeptical. He knew Severus to be a better man than that. "Severus doesn't seem the type to be a pedophile."
"Have you known him to be interested in anything else?" Sirius challenged, hands still covering his face.
"I can't say I've ever been very involved in the sex-lives of my employees." But perhaps Albus had misjudged him. He wouldn't dismiss the accusations out of hand.
"You should be involved with this one," Sirius insisted. "You need to take Harry away from him."
"Sirius," Albus said, and Sirius looked up, his eyes tear-stained. There was a moment of silence. The twinkle in Albus' eyes went out. "Even if Severus is treating Harry that way, there is nothing I can do. I cannot take Harry away from him."
"Kill Snape," Sirius demanded. "That will end this forever."
"Do you believe death is an appropriate punishment for this offense?" Albus asked mildly. But his thoughts were anything but mild.
"Anything to save Harry," Sirius begged. "Please, help him."
"I will have a talk with Severus," Albus agreed. "But I will not kill him." Sirius, on the other hand, Albus thought darkly, might not be so lucky.
There was a knock on the door, and Severus went to answer it. Harry was still tied to the bed. He didn't want to leave the security of the leash in case Severus fell asleep again that day.
"Hello, Headmaster," Severus said, upon opening the door. "Won't you come in?"
"Hello, Severus," Albus replied. "How are you?"
"Fine," Severus lied. He was sure he didn't look fine. "Have a seat," he continued, gesturing to the dinner table. "Tea?"
"No, thank you," Albus said politely, taking the seat offered him. "I'm here on a matter of business."
"Oh?" Severus prompted, taking a seat opposite Albus. "What seems to be the trouble?"
"Is Harry here?" Albus asked.
"Indeed," Severus replied, gesturing to the bedroom.
"What is he doing in there?" Albus questioned, his voice wavering just the tiniest bit.
"We've been having some trouble with my narcolepsy," Severus admitted with a shrug. "He wishes to be leashed at all times in case I fall asleep. I've been trying to take pepper-up potions, but even just this morning I fell asleep despite them."
"Well, I doubt you will fall asleep while I am here," Albus dismissed. "Perhaps he can go make arrangements for this term with Minerva while we talk?" Severus shrugged, and went to the other room. He unleashed Harry and brought him into the room with Albus.
"Hello, sir," Harry greeted him. He looked a little scared.
"Hello, Harry," Albus replied. "Do you think you would be able to go to Professor McGonagall's office for a little bit while I speak with Professor Snape? I'm sure there are things you need to arrange for the semester, like moving your things from the domatory down here."
"Yes, sir," Harry said.
"You may have whatever she offers you to eat or drink," Severus interrupted.
"Thank you, sir," Harry said. Severus saw him to the door, and Harry left.
"So what's going on?" Severus inquired as he sat down across from Albus at the table.
"Sirius seems to be under the impression that you are hurting Harry," Albus began. "Is this true?"
"No!" Severus said emphatically, bringing a fist onto the table. "I told him that to torture his conscience. I haven't hurt Harry, not willingly. You have to believe me," Severus continued, almost pleading. "I haven't hurt him. I couldn't. I promised I would be better than James. Please believe me."
"I do, Severus," Albus said. "Don't worry about that. But why did you tell Sirius you were hurting him? He was quite specific about details."
"Personal reasons," Severus evaded. He didn't want to explain to anyone, Harry or Albus. "Not really of your concern. I'll tell the mutt that I'm not doing anything to Harry, and Harry will tell him the same thing. Then you can stop being bothered by our quarrels."
"No, Severus," Albus said quietly. "I don't think that will simply stop everything. Sirius won't entirely believe you, you know. You could have ordered Harry to tell him you aren't hurting him."
"And? I don't care what he thinks. It serves him right if he has to be haunted by those thoughts."
"It does," Albus said calmly.
If Severus had been walking, the equivalent of his reaction would have been to trip. But since he was just sitting there, what he did instead was to blink stupidly and tip his head to the side slightly with a puzzled look. He hadn't dropped any occlumency shields, he was sure.
"I glanced through Sirius' mind," Albus admitted. "Everything you told him was something he had done to you first." Severus stood up suddenly, and the chair shrieked loudly.
"That's not how it happened!" he shouted. "You must have misinterpreted it. You're getting senile; everyone knows that."
"Severus..." Albus said kindly.
"Nothing happened to me," Severus continued. "Maybe what you saw was what Black was wishing he had done since I misled him. Childish revenge."
"It's okay, Severus."
"I'll take back what I said. Black will forget eventually, and everything will be fine."
"Severus, Severus, Severus," Albus shushed. "It's okay. I know. You can stop denying it now." Albus stood up and gently took his employee by the shoulders. "I won't tell anyone." Severus stopped his tirade and looked at Albus a moment. He knew the old man spoke truly.
"You had no right!" he hissed, wrenching himself from the older man's grasp. "That was my secret! Black didn't tell you and I didn't want you to know! Keep your own mental nose in its own head next time. You're an old busybody."
"Severus," Albus said, very kindly, "please sit down."
"Sit down?" Severus snorted. "I think not." He began to pace. "I thought better of you, Headmaster." Albus caught Severus by the shoulders again. Although he looked daggers at the old man, Albus didn't back down.
"You're kept this to yourself long enough," Albus said. "Do you have anyone to talk to?"
"No," Severus said sternly.
"Have you ever considered talk to Harry about it?" Albus suggested.
"He's a child," Severus sneered. "You expect me to talk about my pornographic past with a child?"
"He may be a child," Albus agreed, "but he already knows some, doesn't he?"
"Yes," Severus admitted.
"Then don't you think he deserves to know what you've been through? The two of you are bound for life. I'm sure he would be eager to help you."
"I suppose I've already ruined his relationship with the mutt," Severus grumbled.
"Yes, you have," Albus confirmed, "but that is as it should be."
"I need to protect him from those sorts of things," Severus argued. "I won't do them to him, and no one else can without my permission. There's no reason why he has to know about it."
"Not telling him doesn't protect him," Albus pointed out. "Ignorance only begets fear and violence. When he understands you, he will trust you."
"Is there anything else you need, Headmaster?" Severus asked, eager to end the conversation.
"No," Albus said, "not really." Severus motioned to show Albus to the door. As he was about to show the old man out, Albus added, "I would greatly appreciate it if you didn't bother to mention to Sirius that you misled him." Severus gave the beginnings of a mischievous smile. "Talk to Harry, yes?"
"Alright," Severus sighed. Albus had thrown him the bone of extending his revenge, so in return he would have to talk to Harry.
"Good," Albus said, the twinkle back in his eyes. "See you later." And he left.
Hello, and greetings after my long absence. Big news. I'm getting married next month. Mandancie is going to be there. Thanks to her for beta-ing.