Content/Warning(s): romance, smut, mention of non-graphic mpreg, fluff
Notes: Thank you MyFirstistheFourth and badgerlady for the awesome betaing! *hugs* This was written for prompt #33 by lilyseyes for Secret Snarry Swap 2015 on LiveJournal.
Summary: On Christmas Eve, he's always given the same gift, but this year, the meddling elves of Hogwarts will see to it that he receives so much more. A modern Hogwarts fairy tale.
How to Woo Your Perfect Man & Other Advice to Find Your Happily Ever After
It was supposed to have been a quick stop. Leave his memorial gifts; then join everybody at the Burrow for Christmas Eve. And that would have been the case…if the floor beneath him hadn't suddenly given way.
The books held in Harry's gloved hands, one old and one new, flew from his grasp. He inhaled sharply, feeling stale air whoosh up around his body. His holiday offerings landed on a pile of tattered upholstery with consecutive, muffled thumps, as his outstretched arms thudded hard against the floor.
Dust billowed into the dim room, lit only by the hovering lantern he had brought along. Holding back a cough, he scrambled for better purchase, leaving desperate trails in the caked-on grime.
Harry grunted with strain and climbed free from the jagged hole, righting his glasses once he was solidly back on his feet. Checking his body for injury, he sensed nothing but minor aches and a few small cuts. Sighing in relief, he wiped his brow clear of sweat with a now blackened sleeve, leaving a large smudge.
Before taking another step, Harry repaired and reinforced the hardwood floor. He then bent down and retrieved the two fallen tomes. Tenderly brushing his hands over one hardback cover, he smiled. It was Severus Snape's copy of Advanced Potion-Making, which he had come across and nabbed directly before the Fiendfyre debacle: an event with irreparable consequences and one he'd rather forget.
Shaking his head, the Auror-in-training couldn't believe that more than half a year had already passed since then.
Harry placed Snape's worn book under the other and made sure his recent purchase hadn't sustained any major damage. A corner of this year's edition of Best Bubbling Brews, an annual compilation of the most ground-breaking potions from around the world, appeared to have been dented slightly but otherwise looked fine. He lifted its cover and glimpsed inside.
For: Severus Snape
From: Harry Potter
Slowly shutting the book, he stared into the darker side of the room. With his light source dutifully following behind, Harry walked further into the front room of the Shrieking Shack.
Really, the building was just a mundane cottage—and a very dilapidated one at that—but to Harry, it was more than just brick and mortar; it was where Potions master, former headmaster, and double-agent Severus Snape had died. He was a true hero of the Second Wizarding War, and the man Harry had come to honour for his, dare he think it…Gryffindor-like courage. Harry smiled broadly, imagining what the snarky, older wizard's sardonic reply would have been.
Reaching a stone fireplace, he dusted the surface of its half-broken mantel and set down the texts.
Removing a glove, Harry placed his hand on top of the books and softly said, "Professor…it's hard knowing what to say to you since I didn't know you very well… After having some time to reflect on all that's happened, I do know that I don't hate you anymore and would hope, if you were still alive, not that I'm rubbing it in or anything that you're not, but if you were still alive, I'd hope you'd feel the same way about me."
Harry nervously tapped his index finger and said, "You're probably wondering why I'm here, to begin with… Since you don't have a gravesite to visit, this was the only other place I could think of…
"I'm here because…I just wanted to thank you again for what you did and to wish you a Happy Christmas."
"These," he patted the topmost book, "are for you. I thought you might like some reading material. Consider it…a peace offering of sorts. Happy Christmas, Professor."
With a soft, lopsided grin, Harry turned away while simultaneously replacing his glove.
He faced the opened front door, which had been barred up until Harry had broken the ward and removed the large panel of wood. With a shiver, he decided it would be better to fix his appearance while inside, rather than in the snowy, subzero weather beyond.
After Harry had cleaned and mended both himself and his clothes, he scanned the room and, on a whim, likewise vanished its dirt and debris. Feeling the need for more illumination, he went on to banish the boards from all the windows.
Daylight streamed into the barren space, revealing peeling wallpaper and stained floors, gouged with a multitude of claw marks.
"Could use a bit of holiday cheer," Harry mumbled to himself.
From his belt loop, Harry untied a small red bag filled with shrunken presents and homemade treats. After enlarging the velour sack and unknotting its gold drawstring, he found the rose bouquet he would be giving to Mrs Weasley. From it, he pulled out a single stem, then strode towards a large window, laying it down on the floor.
Green sparks flashed from his wand, and the fragrant blossom transformed into a large, heavily scented evergreen. Next, he rifled through the mass of gifts until he spotted a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. One by one, Harry transfigured and hung ornaments on the tree's branches.
Keeping Snape in mind, he created delicate silver snakes, glass bottles and vials in a myriad of bright colours, and gold lilies in remembrance of his mother.
Once the Christmas tree was bursting with various decorations, Harry stepped back, admiring how it gleamed. Wanting to complete the scene, he hefted his gift bag over his shoulder and returned to the fireplace. Resting the sack on the floor, Harry flicked his wand and a smokeless, warm fire burst into existence within the hearth. The heat from the magical flames caused his flesh, especially the areas around his red nose, cheeks, and ears, to tingle and burn. How long have I been here?
Harry moved the sleeves of his coat and festive jumper from over his watch to see the time.
"Merlin's hairy puffskeins!" he exclaimed; more than two hours had already passed!
As he hurriedly scrounged around in the vermillion bag, Harry's entire upper body disappeared into it until he emerged with a shout of success and a round tin in his hands. Inside the Christmas-themed container were chocolate oaties, jammy biscuits, and candied fruit Florentines that he had baked the evening before. Knowing Mrs Weasley had probably made more than enough sweets herself and was, by now, likely in a tizzy, he decided to leave the entire container next to Snape's books.
As he raced towards the exit, Harry shrank and retied the bag to his side.
With a fond glance, he smiled and once more wished Snape a Happy Christmas, before shutting and warding the door.
Twenty-one Christmas Eves later...
Rubbing his long beard in thought, Harry nodded in satisfaction.
The marble fireplace blazed with a comforting heat, snow fell from above to disappear amid floating silver and gold fairy lights, and nearly every surface was tastefully decked for the season. It was a lot of decorating to do by himself on the day before Christmas, but it had become a tradition of sorts.
Over the past twenty-some-odd years, the Shrieking Shack had steadfastly been improved and magically enlarged. Now called "Heroes Cottage" or simply "the Cottage," it had portraits of lost loved ones, who had contributed to the war, covering its walls. Personal accounts—including his—and defence books—many of which were written by him—filled floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
Last year, as a "fun side project," Hermione had begun cataloguing every volume in Hogwarts' vast collection, starting with the ones housed at the Cottage. Irma had thrown a fit but, Harry being Hermione's close friend and the headmaster, there was nothing the ornery librarian could do about it. It also gave Hermione the opportunity to visit with Rose and Hugo during the school year. Harry grinned at his friend's opportunistic behaviour, now of the mind that everyone had a bit of Slytherin in them.
The thought of his own children flickered through his head, but he forced himself to refocus on the task at hand.
"Just need the last two finishing touches," he muttered, lifting his gaze from the popping fire to the polished mantel above. From his robes, Harry removed this year's edition of Best Bubbling Brews, and from a nearby coffee table, he summoned a platter of biscuits he had made that morning in the Hogwarts kitchens.
During the previous two years, the small army of house-elves had watched him in both amazement and appraisal as he had baked his meagre three dozen treats.
Thankfully, this year, they had been too excited to scrutinize him.
A few minutes after midnight today, Eagie, the first free elf to be born in hundreds of years, had entered the world.
Soon after her birth, each Hogwarts elf had cut a piece from their clothes as a gift. Harry had also snipped a square from his favourite robes for little Eagie. Her energetic mother, already fully recovered from taking a healing restorative, patched all the fragments into a sweet swaddling blanket.
When he had held the wrapped, tiny elf in his arms, he had felt a pang from his heart, missing when he had been able to hold each of his own three children in the same way. Now, they were all attending Hogwarts—even Lily, who had started just this year.
Sighing, Harry nabbed one of each kind of biscuit before heading towards the loveseat situated nearest to the fire. As he sat down with a contented moan, a silver tray holding a tea service, appeared on the coffee table before him. He placed all but one of his treats in an open spot on the reflective surface.
Inhaling a deep, cinnamon-scented breath, Harry hungrily ate the sugary whirl in two bites. The ringing clink of a lump of sugar striking the inside of his teacup filled the room, and he went on to pour himself some steaming peppermint tea, relaxing into the comfy cushions of the sofa.
"Harry," a smooth, familiar voice mused, "I must ask again; why do you feel the need to leave me biscuits and a book? I can no longer consume real food nor practice the art of true potion-crafting."
He looked up and to his left, seeing Severus in a gilded frame, Snuffles, Sirius' alter ego, biting and pawing at his black, billowy robes.
"Good evening, Severus," he smiled, a soft flush colouring his cheeks. "Happy Christmas."
Since Harry had taken up the position of headmaster, Severus and he had gotten to know each other quite well, especially over these recent, difficult months. Although the portrait was only a reproduction of the man, Harry considered him a friend—one he was now very fond of…
"I… It's a holiday tradition," Harry stumbled to answer.
Without turning away, Severus threw the stick that was in his hand and the mangy mutt ran to fetch it, "And a pointless one, at that. It's like my trying to keep this foul beast away from me."
Lips twitching into a smile, Harry replied, "I don't know, Severus. Who's to say where the gifts have disappeared off to all these years," and he chose another biscuit, nibbling at its edges.
On the first Boxing Day after the war, Harry had returned to the Shrieking Shack. He had been irked to find the books and biscuits he had left in remembrance of Snape stolen.
The following year, he had placed trigger wards to notify him if a wizard or witch—even an insect—entered the building. They were never set off, but again the gifts for Severus were gone.
Harry knew Snape was dead. He had seen the man's lifeless body in the makeshift infirmary when Madam Pomfrey had confirmed his identity, his lack of brain activity, and that no active potions were in his system. He had watched when the matron had closed his eyes and pulled the sheet over his head.
But every year, Harry would still leave the departed wizard gifts.
"What protections have you placed this year," the tall man droned, striding into another painting, which contained a Chesterfield-style leather chair, and sitting down, "in your futile mission to catch the culprit?"
"None?" Severus arched an eyebrow.
"Since I don't need to leave this year, I'm staying put."
There was a moment of silence before Severus probed, "As the former Head Auror, weren't you issued an International Floo Network License by the Ministry?"
Harry grimaced, "I was…but it's fairer this way. I've been able to see the children all term. It's only right that Ginny should get to spend most of the holiday with them.
"When we spoke earlier today, she said the Prophet needed her to cover a game this evening; then she'll meet up with them in Australia to celebrate Christmas with the Weasleys and Grangers."
"Did you have…a falling out?" Severus tentatively asked. "Were you uninvited?"
Chuckling, Harry took a swallow of his tea. "Of course not. I know it's hard for you to believe, but our divorce was amicable. We're still friends, but…it's still all fairly new, us living separate lives.
"After discussing it further, she and I thought it best to ease everyone into the new family dynamic. Ginny will need to work in Germany on Boxing Day, so I'll join everyone then for a second Christmas.
"Then the kids will accompany her while she works throughout the continent." Harry chortled, "Ron doesn't know it yet, but he'll be travelling with them."
"I remember Mr Weasley being quite enamoured with the…hubbub that is Quidditch," Severus remarked snidely, unable to call it a sport, even though he knew every nuance of the rule book by heart.
Snickering, Harry nodded his head in agreement. "Oh, he is. He'll be ecstatic…until realizes he'll have to be the sole chaperon when Ginny's working. I can only hope James goes easy on him."
"For New Year's Eve, the entire family will reunite at the Burrow, myself included."
Harry watched in amusement as Snuffles climbed onto Severus' lap and curled into a ball.
With an exasperated expression, Severus scratched the pooch on the head. "It must be said: a wizard can't always choose his company."
Harry smiled warmly. "I'm very much enjoying your company. I always do…"
Both men locked eyes.
"You know; you've become more than just a colleague," Harry said softly. I wish you were able to sit next to me… I wish I could touch you, and that you—
As he was finishing his thought, a soft pop sounded next to him—but it wasn't from the crackling fire as he had assumed.
Harry startled when he felt the light pressure of a hand on his arm. At the same time his gasp was cut short, his vision went dark, and the sensation of being Apparated yanked at his chest and gut.
Dizzy, he soon appeared before one of Hogwarts' many doorways, which proceeded to immediately burst open, as if the castle herself had been eagerly awaiting his arrival. Before he could get his bearings, he was pushed from behind. Stumbling past the threshold, Harry was wrenched through space once more.
Having watched a fellow elf whisk Harry away, Kreacher grumbled at his mate's antics, "Master will be most displeased," then gently repositioning his newborn daughter on his shoulder, he patted her back.
"Winky is following all the directions," a high-pitched voice asserted. She snapped her fingers, and a tattered paperback plopped into her hands. How to Woo Your Perfect Man & Other Advice to Find Your Happily Ever After was printed in large, pink letters. Opening the Muggle self-help book, Winky riffled through the pages of the first chapter before she began reciting aloud:
"To snag your perfect man, you must dress in a way that shows off your assets, all the while remaining classy. Only allude to what's beneath, but don't be afraid to show a little skin, especially if it's your best feature."
After banishing the book, the diminutive house-elf batted her eyelashes and grinned. "And book worked for Winky."
The tiniest of smiles crept its way onto Kreacher's face, but he only harrumphed.
Harry found himself deep within a shadowy chamber.
His dark surroundings looked blurry as if they were beyond a rain-slicked window, and he realized that his glasses must have somehow fallen off his face.
As he'd done thousands of times before, Harry wordlessly and wandlessly performed a Summoning Charm.
But nothing happened.
Frowning, Harry reached for his wand and discovered that it, too, was missing. He glanced down and his disbelieving, loud yell was quickly eaten up by the expansive room.
"My beard!" he shouted, touching his face and feeling only stubble. "My. Beard." Harry closed his eyes and moaned as if he was in physical pain. "It took me years to get it like that!"
Harry's perturbed regard returned to his body and spotted another noticeable alteration; he was no longer wearing his maroon robes but a Muggle outfit, and for some reason, his shoes and socks were missing. What in Merlin's trousers is going on!
All the while Harry was lamenting his current situation, a lone figure stalked closer behind him.
It had been over twenty years since the hidden man had seen another human being, so long he could hardly remember what human touch felt like, yet his nature forced him to be cautious.
Most men would be insane by now, being forced into solitary confinement for two decades, but he wasn't like most men. He had to admit, Potter's annual charity—he couldn't help but think with derision—had given him something to look forward to, had kept him from the brink.
Yet, loneliness hadn't left him unscathed. As the years continued to pass, he began fantasizing about his only link to the outside world.
At first, he imagined what a conversation would be like if they were able to remain congenial towards one another, then what it would be like to be good friends, and finally more… However, he refused to ever touch himself, to find release. He couldn't surrender to the fantasy, afraid that if he did, he wouldn't want to return to reality.
Studying the outline of the intruder's body, he first noted he was looking at a man, a man who was of average height but stood tall with an air of authority. He had a strong build, likely from a strenuous, daily exercise regime, similar to his own, and his hand movements were practised and sure. This couldn't be Harry; he had always been the smallest boy in his year and was known for his clumsiness when not on a broom.
Only a few strides away, the unseen wizard heard the shorter man grumble about setting a new record for deducting points, and his heart leapt. A professor!
As Harry carefully bent down to the stone floor, using his sense of touch in the hopes of finding his lost items, the other wizard slinked closer, concentrating on his desire for more light.
Wax candles in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours appeared high above, softly illuminating Harry's hunched-over physique.
Less than an arm's length away, the undetected man's eyes widened at the sight of his revealed visitor. A strong back flexed in a form-fitting, grey t-shirt, and a taut arse swayed invitingly from side to side in tight black trousers, tantalizing bare feet peeking out from below.
Mouth parting with a soft inhalation, the standing wizard clenched his hands.
After Harry noticed the candlelight, he raised his head and strained to see his surroundings, perceiving a mountainous pile of indistinct objects. The hairs on his arms rose when he heard a barely audible gasp behind him. Leaping to his feet, he twisted around—and then stared in complete wonder.
Harry leaned forward and breathed out in a near whisper, "Severus?"
Snape's eyes widened with recognition and fear.
Severus appeared to have simply walked straight out of his portrait. His lank, ink-black hair surrounded his sharply angled face, his tall, lithe frame loomed, and his fathomless eyes still had a way of making Harry's stomach flip, but there was one very glaring difference—he was wearing nothing but a loincloth.
Harry could only gape and make incoherent noises, amazed that Severus Snape was standing before him nearly naked, no longer trapped on canvas.
"Severus…it's me, Harry."
Without even a moment's hesitation, Harry pulled his friend into his arms. At once, Harry noticed Severus' skin was freezing cold, so cold he expected him to feel as hard as stone, but no, when he smashed their mouths together, the man's lips were soft and pliable.
Initially stiff with shock, Severus soon groaned from the intense heat radiating off Harry. He closed his eyes, letting the warmth seep into his being. As deft fingers threaded through his dark locks, he opened his mouth, desperate for more, tasting Christmas, sweet peppermint and cinnamon. However, when he felt his member begin to swell, he snapped out of the pleasure-filled daze and yanked himself away.
Concentrating on regulating his pulse, Severus backed away. Not real. He's not real. Focus!
"I'm sorry, Severus. I thought—" Harry fretted, suddenly mortified by his inappropriate and rash behaviour.
"Don't. Speak," the tall wizard ordered in a hiss. "I have lasted this long. I will not allow my mind to fracture. I will not give in. Even to you," he ended with a whisper.
"Severus…are you alright?" Harry asked worriedly, not expecting his atypical behaviour.
Snape gave Harry a glare he hadn't seen in years, and he knew—this wasn't his Severus.
"Am I alright?" Snape dryly said, folding his arms across his chest, emphasizing their definition. In a monotone, he repined, "Since my painful death, I've been stuck in this giant landfill. I'm neither dead nor alive but some pathetic state in between. And it seems my mental fortitude has finally reached its limit."
Swallowing hard, Harry wrapped his mind around what he had just heard, coming to only one unbelievable conclusion—this man wasn't his Severus but the Severus."
"But I saw your dead body," Harry said aloud. "How are you here? Where is here? Oh, Merlin, am I dead?"
"My mind is even more macabre than I imagined," Snape snorted, "but unexpectedly creative."
Severus walked around Harry, studying him. "Of course my psyche would ask itself questions it's uncertain of."
In a lecturing tone, Snape humoured himself. "I'm not exactly sure how I came to be here, but I do know somehow the magic of Hogwarts is sustaining my spirit, giving me a corporeal form; however, I do not age nor even emit any body heat."
While Snape spoke and circled his supposed imaginary companion, he surprisingly noted fine wrinkles on this Harry's face, especially around his eyes, and a smattering of grey, which dusted the temples of his neatly trimmed hair, making him look like a distinguished gentleman. Severus' past fantasies never had such details.
"As to where we are, I've surmised we are on the seventh floor of Hogwarts, but passersby seem unable to see the entrance."
"Seventh floor…" Harry mumbled to himself and then his face became animated with excitement. "The Room of Requirement!"
"The Room of Requirement?" Severus' dark brows rose. "I do recall Draco mentioning such a room, but he never divulged its location."
"I don't believe it!" Harry exclaimed. "It was assumed destroyed since no one has been able to call it since the war ended.
"More specifically, we're in the Room of Hidden Things." Amazed glee shone from Harry's face. "Now it makes sense why I couldn't summon anything earlier." He regarded Severus. "I'm…guessing you don't need to eat since the room is unable to conjure food."
Severus slowly blinked, giving a shake of his head, "Am I developing masochist tendencies?" With a glower, he continued, "I don't need to eat, but unfortunately, because magic has provided me with a human body, I must still endure all of its…hungers. The exception being when you send me holiday biscuits."
With that, a bright spot of light formed, highlighting an area in the distance, and both wizards narrowed their eyes at it and then each other before heading in its direction.
Once you have your prospective perfect man within sight, you must aid him in understanding what an exceptional catch you are. Choose a romantic activity, such as an intimate dinner, and use your time together to ask pertinent questions, gleaning important information about him, but also honestly showcasing your own talents and achievements.
At the end of your date, you mustn't be easy, but be sure to let him know you're interested. Allowing a kiss, but no more, will be sure to leave him eager to see you again.
- How to Woo Your Perfect Man & Other Advice to Find Your Happily Ever After
The soothing pinging of a harp grew louder as Severus and Harry rounded a huddled group of longcase-clocks with ominously swinging pendulums and entered a narrow path.
After walking further along the aisle in silence, Snape stopped short between the two towering walls of precarious odds-and-ends, nearly causing Harry to bump into him.
Glimpsing what lay ahead, Harry gawked at the sight.
A bright Persian rug covered the centre of a small circular clearing, and an assortment of lanterns bobbed above, creating dazzling patterns of soft light and shadow. On the far side of the space, the harp that soothed Fluffy to sleep played a lilting song. Fabric and ribbons in different patterns and colours swathed the perimeter, twinkling with objects ranging from a broken doorknob to precious jewels.
In the middle of the space sat a round table with a cream tablecloth and two mismatching chairs. Actually, nothing matched. One plate was silver and the other gold. On one side sat an intricately crafted goblet and, on the other, a simple water glass. No two pieces of silverware originated from the same set.
Once they entered the charming space, Harry asked, "Why is everything…different?"
"The room…can only provide what is already here," Severus slowly replied, frowning at having to answer such a banal question. "It seems, just as I am frozen, so is it." His hands motioned gracefully at his pale, trim body, "Why else would I wear nothing but a snip of fabric?
"When I searched for attire, all I could ever find were nauseatingly cheerful robes."
Harry snorted and laughed, "Merlin forbid, finding Severus Snape in anything but black." His eyes wandered up and down Snape's unclothed form. "But you won't hear me complaining…sir."
Severus swallowed hard, holding back the flush that wanted to suffuse his cheeks. His Harry never made such forward insinuations… However, the sound of fingers snapping interrupted his growing unease.
Both men took a reflexive step back when covered dishes appeared on the table.
Still a Gryffindor to the core, Harry marched forward to inspect. As he neared the table, appetizing scents began wafting up into his nostrils, causing his belly growl.
"What do you think you are doing?" Snape growled, his own stomach cramping with hunger.
"If I'm a part of your mind, shouldn't you already know?" Harry cheekily answered.
Lifting a lid, he groaned in delight: roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, his favourite. Harry raised another, smaller, lid to find a treacle tart. In quick succession, he revealed the other dishes.
Severus' knees almost gave out when the smell of shepherd's pie and rhubarb crumble assaulted his olfactory nerves.
As Harry took a seat, Snape griped, "Grand, now my subconscious is rehashing my mother issues."
Harry unfolded a cloth napkin and laid it on his lap. "No, it's not."
"Yes, it is. Shepherd's pie and rhubarb crumble was my favourite meal cooked by her."
Harry huffed, cutting off a piece of meat and dipping it in the provided horseradish sauce. Once he slipped the forkful into his mouth, his eyes closed in bliss. After swallowing, he discovered Severus looking at him with rapt attention. "Just sit down and eat, Severus. You are not losing your mind—although, it wouldn't hurt for you to talk with a mind healer at a later date."
"Never." Snape's lip curled.
"There you go." Harry took a sip of water from his glass. "I recommended something your mind would never consider even if you were two batwings away from a batch of barmy potion."
Severus' face twitched.
"What?" Harry knowingly sniggered, "You don't appreciate a little potioning humour."
"The science of potion-crafting is never a laughing matter."
"I don't know…" Harry licked his lips, drawing Snape's gaze. "When you told me the main ingredient in anti-wrinkle potion was unicorn dung, I thought it was hilarious." At Snape's nonplussed face, he further explained, "Well, not you, exactly but your portrait."
Severus opened his mouth to speak, but Harry, using his headmaster-voice, forcefully encouraged, "Sit down and eat. I'm sure you're curious about what's happened during the past two decades."
Finally, Snape acquiesced, taking the available seat and unfolding his napkin with a sharp flick of his wrist. Once he'd finished drinking some water, Severus raised his utensils and poked at his food.
"For Merlin's sake," Harry sighed, "here." He took his fork, scooped some of the cottage pie, and plopped it in his mouth. Humming in appreciation, he nodded. "Good."
Waiting a few seconds, Harry announced, "See, nothing happened." He took another forkful and offered it to his companion.
Severus reluctantly opened his mouth, accepting the savoury bite. His nostrils flared and a long moan rumbled in his chest as he slowly chewed. His taste buds came alive, appreciating the perfectly seasoned sweet lamb and creamy potato crust.
After another sip of water, Snape cleared his throat. "Fine. I'm not raving mad."
"What changed your mind?" Harry inquired.
"It's better than my mother's."
"So…Mr. Potter," Snape began, feeling uneasy at his lack of dress, "The Dark Lord—"
As Harry explained the events of the final battle, Severus' shoulders began to relax.
"I presume Minerva is still headmistress," Snape said, taking a bite of his dessert, barely keeping his eyes from rolling back into his head.
Mirth glinted in Harry's eyes. "No, she retired once I agreed to accept the position."
"You're the headmaster?"
"Yes," Harry grinned. "This will be my third year."
"You're the headmaster?" Snape repeated with scepticism. "But—"
"Severus, you do realize that since you haven't aged, I'm now technically a year older than you are."
A deep line appeared between Snape's eyes as he came to terms with what Harry had just said.
"I've already had one career serving in the Auror Office, rising to the level of Head. I married Ginny Weasley." Seeing Severus' alarmed expression, he quickly inserted, "We're now divorced."
Relief and then a moment of lust flashed within Snape's eyes as Harry continued.
"I have three children, James, Sev, and Lily."
"Sev?" Snape's eyebrows rose into his long fringe.
Laughing with embarrassment, Harry explained, "His full name is Albus Severus Potter. When I first started, I felt the best way to encourage solidarity would be to have students wait a year before being sorted. My idea was soon approved by the Board of Governors.
"Until Sev was sorted, everyone had called him "Al" but once he was placed in Slytherin, he asked to be called Sev."
"You have a son," Snape paused for emphasis, "named after me," another pause, "who was sorted into Slytherin."
Harry smiled brightly, "Yes, exactly. His best friend's Draco's boy, Scorpius."
"If this food wasn't so bloody delicious, I'd think I was losing my sanity again."
Chuckling and licking the last bit of treacle tart off his fork, Harry asked, "Do you ever see yourself getting married…having children."
Severus, mesmerized by Harry's lapping tongue, felt himself getting erect and shut his eyes for a second, trying to wrangle his desire. This is the real Harry Potter. He won't appreciate me suddenly grabbing him, slamming him on the table, and having my perverse way with him.
He took a deep breath before saying, "I've had plenty of time for such musings… If I were to find the right person, I wouldn't be opposed."
Leaning forward, Harry softly asked, "What type of person would you consider right?"
Also bending forward until their heads almost touched, Severus silkily responded, "He would need to have ambition…acumen…and," he forced himself to say, "love me back."
Eyes dilating, Harry sank into Severus' magnetic stare. He wanted to grab his former professor, slam him on the table, and have his perverse way with the nearly naked man.
Jerking back, his fingernails biting into his thigh, Severus changed the subject. "What else has happened while I've been absent?"
Harry and Severus proceeded to converse for hours.
Snape was surprised at how comfortable it felt speaking with this adult Harry. The headmaster—still an odd thought—and he could have carried on until dawn, but after both men yawned, Harry said he should leave to get ready for his trip to Australia.
"Since whatever magic forbidding entry is gone, I'll be sure a house-elf brings up food, although it seems likely they already know…"
Both wizards heard a scurrying sound and grinned.
"I'll walk you to the exit," Severus stated, but there was a hint of uncertainty to it.
Harry smiled, "I'd like that."
As the two men strolled, the tension between them increased. The brush of their bare arms against one another caused gooseflesh. When Harry saw Snape's hardened nipples, it took all his self-control not to stop and taste them.
Once they reached the entryway, the muffled ringing of clocks announced Christmas day had arrived.
Pulling open the door, Harry glimpsed the comical tapestry of trolls attempting to pirouette.
Harry turned back around and met Severus' eyes, which were reflecting points of light and twinkled like a starry sky. "Are you sure you can't leave?"
Snape gave a firm shake of his head. "Currently, I'm technically only a spirit; if I leave this room, I'll be forced across the veil."
A breeze stirred above them, and they stretched their necks to glance up. Delicate tendrils of mistletoe swayed over their heads, making Harry grin and Severus glower.
Severus' eyes minutely widened and his Adam's apple trembled when Harry brought his fingertips up to caress his smooth cheek. Little by little, Harry drew closer, raising his other hand and lightly touching the back of Severus' neck, before burrowing his fingers into Snape's thick hair.
Finally, Harry shut his eyes, sealing their lips, and Severus' control broke. The taller wizard twisted them around, shoving him against the wall next to the exit. Forcefully angling Harry's head with a large hand on either side of his face, Snape delved into Harry's mouth, eliciting a deep moan from him. Harry's arms encircled Severus' waist, and he shivered from the feel of Snape's icy skin as well as his intense passion.
Severus' stiff member, so easily accessible, tempted Harry. He began sliding his hand down Snape's lean body, but before he could enfold Severus' cock in his hot fist, the room blinked out.
Harry found himself looking at a blank wall in the seventh-floor corridor, all his missing items, including his full-moon glasses and deep-red robes, having been returned to him—except for his beard—that was still gone.
Harry's sudden departure bereaved Severus of his heat, of his mouth, of his hands lowering to—
In frustration, Snape, still panting, growled and faced the ajar door. He could clearly see Harry, but the other wizard could not see him.
"Severus!" Harry shouted, placing his palms flat on the surface of the cool sandstone wall. "If you can hear me, I swear I'll return."
Desperate, Severus shoved a fist past the threshold. Instantaneously, it turned ghost-like, and a tearing pull gripped him. Gritting his teeth at the pain and his foolery, he wrested himself free, collapsing onto the floor.
Once Harry left his field of vision, Severus exhaled a long breath and closed his eyes. A second later, his newest edition of Best Bubbling Brews landed in his hands. With a resigned, yet hopeful, grin, he began to read.
A thoughtful gift goes a long way to wooing a heart. Take everything you've learned about your man thus far to aid you in choosing the perfect gift.
- How to Woo Your Perfect Man & Other Advice to Find Your Happily Ever After
"Severus, I thought you might be here," Harry hollered, tramping into the Cottage and towards the portrait of the Slytherin sitting down. Sinking into his usual spot, he didn't bother brushing off the newly fallen snow glittering on his robes.
"I see you're back from the Commonwealth of Australia," Severus muttered, petting Snuffles behind an ear as he crossed an ankle over his knee. He purposely ignored Harry for a few seconds before asking, "Now do you have the time to explain why a house-elf felt the need to abduct you?"
"Yes…I do," Harry slowly began. Rounding up his courage and sitting up straighter, he clearly announced, "I rediscovered the Room of Requirement."
"And…" Severus' rich voice encouraged him.
"And…" Harry swallowed, "in it, I found you."
"Me?" Severus looked completely puzzled. "Please elaborate."
Explaining the turn of events and deciding to leave nothing out, he watched Severus' face morph from shock to arousal to envy.
"Severus, are you alright?" Harry cautiously asked his friend.
"I'm…fine, still trying to accept the idea of myself ever willingly wanting to wear a loincloth."
Harry cracked a smile.
Severus gave him a penetrating look. "Did you enjoy…kissing me?"
"Very much so," Harry admitted with a crooked grin, cheeks flushing.
"Ah," uttered Severus, and he paused a moment before asking, "Do you think it's possible to bring me back to full life?"
"I've already thought about it—a lot," Harry confessed. "Did a lot of research. I knew there was a chance to resurrect you since your portrait has a sliver of your soul, but the only options I found were very dark.
"Even now having your entire soul on this plane, I don't know how you can be brought back to life without using darker means."
Harry laughed at the absurdity of his next question. "Would you like to meet yourself?"
Severus gave a curt nod. His leather cushion squeaked as he stood to his feet and walked into a book-sized painting of Hogwarts in the height of summer. Easily removing the dark-stained frame from the wall, since it wasn't adhered to the wall with a Permanent Sticking Charm, Harry smiled at Severus' sour expression.
"If it too hot, you can always remove your robes," Harry teasingly suggested.
Glaring, Severus folded his arms over his chest.
The unexpected sound of glass breaking behind him caused Harry to whip around, wand already poised.
From one of the warded display shelves, which protected war mementoes and artefacts, a glass case had somehow shattered on the floor.
After warily removing large, sharp shards with his wand, Harry realized what had fallen.
"It seems the elves are still up to their scheming." Harry sighed, feeling anticipatory dread at what they might be up to.
"If he does indeed have a solid body," a hint of excitement could be heard in Severus' voice, "he would be able to perform magic with our wand…among other things," he ended in a low, sexy tone.
Harry felt his cock twitch and the muscles of his arsehole tighten as he stamped towards the exit, Severus' portrait and wand in hand.
When it's time to be intimate, set the scene and make it special. Most importantly, listen to his needs and voice your own so that you can both thoroughly enjoy it.
- How to Woo Your Perfect Man & Other Advice to Find Your Happily Ever After
The sand in the tread of Harry's boots scratched against the time-worn floors of the seventh-floor corridor. To anyone watching, it would appear as though he was only pacing in deep thought but, in reality, he was imagining a room full of hidden things, of things lost, and a man he desperately wanted to see again.
With a ripple, a plain, solid-wood door materialized, and Harry whooped in relieved glee.
Stepping inside, this time able to see with his spectacles in place, he found the usual chaos he remembered—but no Severus. After readjusting his grip on the landscape's frame to give his friend a better view, Harry placed Severus' wand on the flat of his palm. Pushing magic into his words and towards the long, black, wooden rod, he prompted, "Seek your wizard."
The wand spun and aimed itself back at Harry, or more precisely at the painting he carried.
Sighing in exasperation, he enunciated, "Your other wizard."
After the wand made the correction, Harry and his two-dimensional companion were guided through the winding paths of the seemingly endless chamber.
Once they had passed under an archway inhabited by blue, fuzzy Nettlefellows, hoarding crockery and spoons within their vines, muted shouting reached Harry's ears.
Sprinting down the way, he burst into a makeshift dwelling, comprised mostly of piled books. A trussed-up figure was covered from head to toe in a thick, black sludge, looking like a glob of melted wax.
"Release me!" Severus' voice boomed as he wiggled and hopped, a house-elf with big floppy ears clinging to his back. "As a resident of Hogwarts, I demand that you desist this. At. Once."
"But Master Snappy—" the elf cried, pronouncing the name like Snape's notorious personality trait.
"It's Snape. Snape! Not. Snappy," the Slytherin hissed. "Stop this ridiculousness and remove yourself."
"Winky!" Harry yelled in bewilderment.
With a startled squeak, the elf peeped over Snape's head, removed his bindings, and then popped away.
"What in Merlin's beard did you say to her?"
"I said nothing," Severus protested. "One moment, I was finishing my meal, and the next, a layer of grindylow ink had been poured over my person."
"How the blazing Inferi should I know," growled Snape, trying to slop off some of the tarry material.
"Well, maybe you can clean yourself off with this," Harry offered, showing him his old wand.
With awe and pure joy, the Potions master reached out, wanting to reclaim the missing piece which would allow him to brew once more but, before he could do so, his very own portrait interposed, "That's highly unlikely, Harry," saying the name like a caress. "Since the ink has had contact with air, the only way to remove it will be with warm water, infused with…oil from Humming-Momums…
Hearing his own voice and feeling apprehensive curiosity, Severus inquired, "Is that…"
"Yes," Harry grinned, lifting the painting higher. "Severus, please meet…Severus."
"A pleasure," both wizards deeply intoned at the same time, sparking tingles to slither up and down Harry's body.
Before another word could be exchanged, multiple cracks echoed throughout the room as half a dozen house-elves appeared before them. The speechless men were shooed to the side, as the middle of the room began to sink, forming into a large, two-tiered porcelain vat.
Each elf dutifully went on to perform multiple choreographed tasks.
Water bubbled up from the bottom of the hole, filling it to the brim and diffusing steam into the air. Pearlescent petals from Hicamay blossoms followed, raining down onto its pristine surface. A Wizarding wireless box, playing soothing music, darted into a corner, and white candles zoomed into the space, landing effortlessly on almost every horizontal surface.
Not even a few breaths later, every elf but Winky Disapparated.
The diminutive house-elf navigated around the candles and up to the edge of the newly created tub. Tipping a tiny ewer, she poured in a liquid the colour of pink, dragon-fruit-flavoured blowing gum, its fragrance reminiscent of jasmine.
With her free hand, Winky adjusted her blue hat and slyly said, "Headmaster will need to be helping Master Snappy wash," causing Harry and both Severuses to freeze in place.
Before any of the wizards could mutter a sound, Harry's hands were stripped of Severus' portrait, which she settled against a table leg near the edge of the warm pool.
And with that, she vanished from view.
Severus glowered. "I am fully capable of tending to myself, P—" But then, glancing at the stunned Gryffindor, he remembered Harry was no longer just a teen boy and used his proper title.
Harry hesitated; however, not wanting to wound the prickly wizard's pride further, he nodded.
Coated in the quickly hardening muck, Snape could only totter forwards, but he managed to step onto the ankle-deep, top level of the large bathtub. However, the iron-like grindylow ink solidified before he could wade deeper.
Snape knew that if he could only just submerge his body, he would be able to regain enough mobility to wash. He strained, rocking the weight of his body back and forth, trying to build enough momentum to topple over.
After a few torturous minutes, the portrait of Severus finally rolled his eyes and rebuked him, "Just admit defeat. Harry, would you be so kind and help my woeful counterpart."
The immobile Potions master could only glare frostily since the substance had set over his mouth.
Worrying his bottom lip, Harry nodded. "Alright."
The Severuses watched with rapt attention as Harry bent down to unlace his boots and slide off his socks, wiggling his toes once he was finished. Pulling off his floor-length outer robes, he let them ripple to the floor.
One of the Severuses' breaths hitched when Harry reached for his belt, and he grinned, reducing the speed of his movements. With excruciating slowness, he unbuttoned his long-sleeved shirt, starting with the cuffs.
Both Severuses were growing painfully aroused, one quite literally, watching his provocative show.
Harry unfastened his trousers and let them slip down to join his other garments, leaving him in only his white-cotton pants and vest, his muscled thighs, fit torso, and stiffening cock clearly outlined.
The portrait rubbed his erection through his thick, starchy robes, and the other Severus focused on repressing groans of longing and acute discomfort.
Nervousness and anticipation warring in his gut, Harry joined him in the water.
The water felt…smoother than normal, and not oily as Harry had expected. Sloshing a foot around, he felt as if liquid velvet was touching his skin.
Bending down to scoop up some water with his hands, he then poured it onto Severus' face, turning the ink into the consistency of thick mud. Harry gazed into Snape's blown pupils and, starting with his forehead, he wiped his face free of the gunk.
Once Severus could talk, he gritted out, "Pressure," and motioned down with his eyes.
"Pressure?" Harry's eyes trailed down and his eyebrows shot up. "Oh!" With seriousness, Harry asked, "Are you sure you want me to clean you off."
"Yes," Snape whispered, searing need overwhelming him.
Harry knelt down and wetted Severus' groin area. He gently removed the sludge, allowing Snape's sore shaft to tent behind his loincloth.
Severus groaned as Harry touched and rubbed his sensitive cock, cleaning him gingerly. A closed-mouth moan also came from the painting as the portrait fondled himself, watching Harry tend to his spitting image.
Cupping water in his hands, he wetted Snape's calves, shins, and knees, massaging them clean. With long firm strokes of his palms and deep circular movements of his thumbs, Harry washed Snape, amazed at how easy the water made it for his skin to glide against the other man's.
Eyes closed in bliss, Snape moaned and sighed from Harry's ministrations.
"Severus," Harry softly called. "Let me help you get deeper into the water."
Steadying Severus, he guided him further down.
The water now up to their knees, Harry proceeded to moisten Severus' thighs, swirling his hands around and between them, being sure not to accidentally touch Snape's heavy bollocks. When his tantalizing fingers journeyed up and over the divide between upper thigh and buttock, Severus gasped and his cock jumped.
Harry increased the amount of pressure he used, methodically rubbing circles with the pads of his fingers, higher and higher across the firm expanse of Snape's delicious arse. Gliding his index finger along the centre of Severus' bum, he lightly teased the crevice, making both cheeks twitch.
As his throat vibrated in enjoyment, Severus' knees almost buckled when his tailbone was expertly rubbed, sending lovely shockwaves down his legs and up his spine.
"Alright, sit down and I'll do your upper body," Harry kindly urged.
Severus complied, biting the inside of a cheek as the relaxingly warm water eased around his cold body.
With the water reaching just over his nipples, the petals tickling his skin, Harry moved backwards until the wall provided support. A leg on either side of Snape, he encouraged him to scoot closer. Trickling water down Severus' back, Harry continued washing his skin and kneading his muscles soothingly.
After twirling his thumbs around each of Severus' vertebrae, Harry lightly tugged on his head, directing him to recline. Combing his fingers through Snape's hair, he smiled when he saw his eyes shut and mouth parted.
As the portrait spied on the two wizards, pre-come soaked through his pants and trousers. Unable to take it anymore, he undid his zip and pulled out his glossy cock.
Harry glanced up at the painting and gasped when he saw the portrait leisurely pumping his member into his fist.
When he felt Harry's sudden inhalation, Severus opened his eyes, seeing an expression of unadulterated sexual hunger. Able to now easily move, he followed Harry's line of sight. Knowing what spurred his lust, Severus flipped himself over, gaining Harry's attention.
Unexpectedly, he grabbed Harry's foot, bringing it up to his mouth, sucking on his big toe.
Harry's head lolled back, and a drawn-out moan erupted from his mouth, a surge of pleasant heat rushing to his leaking cock.
Sprinkling kisses up Harry's foot and around his sensitive ankle, Severus admired Harry's straining cock, the patch of dark hair surrounding it easily visible under the sopping fabric of his pants.
"Please, Severus," Harry panted, gyrating his hips. "I've wanted you for so long; I don't want to wait anymore."
Shock and desire consumed Snape, but he restrained himself. "Are you…sure? It's been so long for me; I, too, have wanted this but—"
"I'm sure," Harry stated firmly. "I want to feel you in me…please," he begged again.
Severus swiftly climbed up his frame and, with impatient tugs, they both managed to remove the rest of Harry's underclothes. Wanting a better view of Harry's body, Severus led him to the higher part of the tub.
Lying down and keeping his head out of the water by resting his weight on the back of his forearms, Harry spread his legs.
Both Severuses moaned at the sight of Harry's puckered hole, clearly visible through the shallow water.
Due to the unique properties of the water, Severus' forefinger effortlessly slid into Harry's arse. He searched for Harry's special spot, until the wizard's hips frantically canted, driving his finger deeper.
"Ah, fuck!" Harry cried out. "Right there."
Severus wasted no more time; he moved his loincloth aside, lined himself up, and plunged his cock into Harry's snug tunnel, hitting his prostate immediately.
A huge dribble of clear liquid leaked from the portrait's penis after he heard his friend's loud yell and pleas for more.
Slowly pulling out of Harry's arse almost entirely, Severus then rammed back in. Each time he repeated the movement, he loved the way Harry's eyes would flutter in pleasure.
Harry wrapped his legs around Snape and begged between grunts, "Severus. Please. Faster."
Raising one of Harry's legs and placing it on his own shoulder, Snape complied and quickened his pace, ploughing into Harry even deeper than before.
The portrait stroked his cock in time with the couple's wanton rhythm, sensing his own impending orgasm.
Heavy-lidded, Severus observed as Harry's beautiful green eyes widened just before strong spasms racked the Gryffindor's body, flooding it with ecstasy.
A millisecond later, the Severuses simultaneously came, their sexy, low moans extending Harry's own climax.
After Harry's throbbing channel had utterly drained the seed from his shaft, Severus kissed a path up his body and lay down beside him.
As Harry glanced from one Severus to the other, he softly proclaimed, "I…love you."
"And I you," was their dual, gentle reply, and Harry beamed with happiness.
The following Christmas Eve…
In the Cottage, Winky held out her offering, while Kreacher stood steadfastly by her side, making sure Eagie didn't toddle away too far as she played with one of her birthday presents.
Knowing the significance of her proffered gift, Harry smiled, his eyes shining, as he graciously accepted it.
Without delay, he placed the patchwork swaddling blanket over the sleeping infant in Severus' arms.
Before stepping away, he cupped Severus' cheek, luxuriating in the body heat emanating from the fully restored wizard.
Besides Humming-Momums oil, Winky had added a newly developed male-fertility potion to their bath water. When Harry had discovered he was pregnant, it had been a welcome surprise. He grinned, remembering how both Severuses had reacted after he had broken the news.
Harry had needed to bring Matron Longbottom to the Room of Hidden Things so that she could reassure them that he would be fine. After all their questions had been answered and they were alone once more, Severus had proceeded to thoroughly ravish him, his portrait avidly looking on.
On the first day of the new school term, their daughter, Sabina Snape, was born in the Room of Requirement. It had been a moment of great joy until complications arose for both Harry and Severus.
The two wizards had awakened, stunned to find themselves next to each other in matching beds at St Mungo's, an ivory bassinet between them. Severus had been especially confused when he had woken up with competing memories.
The Head Unspeakable from the Department of Mysteries had theorized that Sabina's birth, along with Harry's love and the magic of Hogwarts, must have provided enough of a link to this plane to anchor and mend Severus' soul, subsequently rejuvenating his body.
When they had returned to the castle, the added proof had been finding the portrait of Severus unmoving and devoid of magic.
Harry turned away from where Severus' portrait had once prefered to sit and glanced at Snuffles as he ran around the room, from painting to painting.
"Infernal mutt," Severus grumbled with a grin, carefully snatching a biscuit from the mantel, trying not to rouse their napping daughter. He took a seat on the small sofa near the fire and, from the coffee table, picked up the latest Best Bubbling Brews, which Harry had given to him earlier that day.
"Headmaster," the little female elf softly said, beckoning for him to come closer. He bent down, allowing her to whisper, "I is put Master Snappy's surprise in the bathroom."
Smiling broadly, Harry gave her an appreciative nod, "You and all your fellow house-elves have done so much for us. I understand they won't accept any gifts directly from me, but please let them know that they are free to use the Room of Requirement and keep anything they may find, including needles, thread, and fabric."
Her warm brown eyes grew large as saucers, "Oh, headmaster, you is most kind. Winky will let them know."
With a tiny whimper, Sabina opened her innocent eyes. Her irises were slate grey and not dark, strongly indicating that she would have either green or hazel eyes. Bringing her chubby fist to her mouth, she commenced sucking on it with vigour.
"Winky, do you think you could take Sabina and give her a bottle? Severus and I will return to the castle shortly."
"Of course, Headmaster Potter."
After thanking Kreacher and Winky for their help and giving a kiss to Eagie's and his daughter's forehead, the house-elves popped away.
Harry joined the Potions master on the loveseat, nestling into his side, "Severus?"
"Yes?" He stopped reading and arched a brow.
"There's something else I wanted to give you." Harry mischievously grinned. "Wait here."
Returning with a large green box, he waited for Severus to close his book and set it aside before handing it over to him.
"More biscuits and books?" Severus quipped.
"Not quite," Harry nervously chuckled. "Hurry, open it up."
As soon as Severus began removing the lid, a tiny, black muzzle poked out.
"You must be jesting." Severus stared at the puppy, his face expressionless.
Tongue lolling to the side, Snuffles looked down at the new edition and gave a happy bark. The little ball of fluff, tail wagging, returned the greeting with his own sweet bark.
"It seems you've already found a kindred spirit," Severus softly said, gently removing the small canine to hold in his arms.
Petting the puppy's silken head, he regarded Harry in silence for a moment, and then his mouth quirked into a smile. "Thank you."
Relieved, Harry radiated delight. "You're welcome."
Scratching the animal's neck, Severus heard a jingle. After rotating the collar to get a better look, he gasped.
On top of the puppy's tags was a thick, platinum ring, set with a large and exceedingly rare piece of alexandrite. Depending on what type of light hit the precious stone, its colour would switch between Christmas green and red.
"What's…the meaning of this," Severus slowly inquired, heart pounding.
Harry anxiously unhooked the ring and, as he sank to one knee, Severus' mouth parted slightly.
"Severus, over the past year, I've fallen even more in love with you. You're my best friend, my lover, and I'm hoping you'll also be my husband." Unable to keep his voice from cracking with emotion, Harry asked, "Will you do me the honour of marrying me?"
Dark eyes brimming with emotion, Severus nodded and, as their lips met for a kiss, all the portraits of their old friends hooted and clapped.
Remember, the most important ingredient to achieving your magical happily ever after is love.
- How to Woo Your Perfect Man & Other Advice to Find Your Happily Ever After
Thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome. :)