Part One: The Smock-Fac'd Soldier

Weary Reckoning

Harry drew close to Severus as he bent over his writing desk, leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. Not a peck, but a gentle caress. The Potions Master did not look up from his grading. Harry sighed.

"Evening," he said, casting a disgruntled glance at Severus as he passed but not letting it show in his voice. "How were they today?" he asked, tossing his bag down beside the armchair in front of the hearth before throwing himself into the chair after it. It had taken him a while, but he had eventually convinced Severus to properly furnish the sitting room.

"Brainless. Disrespectful. Inept," Severus reported in monotone. "You ask as if one day they might be otherwise," he grumped. Harry sighed again.

"Want me to take your mind off it?" he offered, waggling his eyebrows. Severus snorted.

"Later perhaps," he muttered. Then, "...Have you eaten?" he added, trying to sound nonchalant. Harry knew what he was asking.

"Oh yeah. There's a new Italian place down the street from the Ministry. Lasagna, garlic bread," he quipped. Finally Severus' quill paused and he looked up at Harry. The younger man grinned, but it wasn't as playful as he'd been aiming at. "You ask as if one day it might be otherwise," he quoted. "What do you think? I had a bloody sandwich and chips. I do know how to keep track of the days of the week, you know"

"That's a new development," Severus grumbled insincerely.

"So I take it you're hungry."

"...If you feel up to it," Severus said, slightly uncomfortably, not looking at him.

"Have I ever not?"

"That was before you started Academy."

"Severus, you bled me once a week, almost every week, through an entire fucking war. If I can handle that, I think I can handle it during Auror Training." Harry tried to mean it. But the course was pretty brutal. The war had been different. Weariness had been a way of life then. Peace made him comfortable enough to resent it now. Still, he'd never shirked in this, and he wasn't about to start.

Severus lay down his quill and regarded the younger man. "I needed it more then than I do now," he said quietly. "If you no longer wish to-"

"Severus, shut up and eat me," Harry said witheringly. Rather than responding with anger, Severus looked tenderly at Harry. He rose from his stool and swept over to kneel in front of him, bringing a hand to the young man's face, and Harry sighed into the touch. Harry missed this; Severus' tenderness. He'd seen it less and less often since death was no longer creeping around every corner. Harry wondered sometimes if the only reason the man cared about him, or had ever decided to express it, was because he had been afraid Harry would be ripped from him at any moment. Now that the biggest threat to Harry's life was inattentive bus drivers, he'd found Severus increasingly distant. And it troubled him.

"I love you, you know," Harry reminded the man. He did it often. One day, Severus might return the favour. But apparently not today.

"Do you want to make the cut? Or shall I?" he asked softly instead.

"You do it," Harry whispered, closing his eyes and sinking back into the armchair. He was always so sleepy afterwards. He heard Severus collect the knife and healing salve. Thank Merlin for the stuff, or Harry would be covered in small, neat scars by now.

"Open your mouth," Severus ordered him quietly.

Harry's eyes flew open. It had been a long while since they'd done this, and though the salve tasted awful, it was more than worth it. Without a word, Harry offered his tongue to his typically recalcitrant lover, eyes never leaving Severus' face as the man ran the razor edge of the blade across it. Harry had long ago grown accustomed to the dull, metallic pain. He waited with baited breath for Severus to lean forward and take the bleeding muscle into his own mouth; which he did slowly, almost teasingly.

It was sublime. It always was when Severus took his blood. Bittersweet and lovely. But this was always more special. Harry often swallowed as much of the stuff as Severus did, but neither of them cared when the kiss was so deep, so precious. The healing salve was forgotten as arms wrapped around bodies, as Severus lifted him carefully and effortlessly from the chair and carried him to the bedroom. Tonight would be a good night. The first in far too long.