It seemed impossible to look away. There was a hot weight in his stomach.

I have faced death, Harry grandiosely told some part of himself that wanted to make a run for the door; and there was room for that - Snape had left him room. Calculated, all of it.

"Maybe," he whispered. Not going to run, the stupid Gryffindor bit mentally added. He gave Snape, he hoped, the heated look that certain other bits of him were insisting he could do. He let himself look like maybe that was what he wanted. "Maybe."

He blinked slowly, picturing to himself as explicitly as possible behind his eyelids what it would be like to be allowed, to be asked, and oh yes to be told to put his hands on Severus Snape. "But I don't have to get it."

Snape was far too quickly away and at the door, opening it. "Get out Mr Potter."

Harry took a couple of steps in his direction. "It's our best chance."

"50 points from Gryffindor for rank disobedience. Get out now before I make it 100."

Harry walked right up to him. "It'll protect both of us - for god's sake, it's obvious. You'll get. . ."

The door slammed and Harry was shoved against it hard, with a glaring Snape gripping the back of his neck and, god, right against him. He was caught between Snape's hand and his angry mouth, only inches above Harry's.

"I get what, Mr Potter?" Harry ran his tongue over suddenly dry lips, and Snape looked coolly down at him. His other long hand ran firmly down the fitted line of Harry's robe, across his chest and. . . he hardened to a painful jumping ache when Snape grasped his hip through the cloth and then slid right across to press roughly against his cock through the fine cloth. "This?"

Harry made a noise he didn't know existed.

"Boy?" Snape said soft and hard right above his face.

Harry moved. Against Snape's hand, with a tingling rush that turned it into a hard thrust. Against Snape's chest, with a splayed hand that seemed to suck heat from the body in front of him. Against Snape's face, with three tentative fingers that hummed at the contact. Against Snape's mouth, with tentative pressure, afraid he'd be pushed away but utterly unable not to. Not to kiss him.

Snape's mouth drew over his in a rough slide and there was a warm wet sweep of tongue that Harry drew in as hard as he could. It was clumsy and he knew he could do better in the part of his brain not screaming at him to move. Again he pushed forward into Snape's almost painful grip. Again, and Snape kissed him and he was hot all over. Again, and the hand at the back of his neck slid fingers up into the nape of his hair. Again, and Harry broke away for breath, his face sliding along Snape's neck in a damp gasp, and it was all about to completely disappear. There was a flash of dark and light as he came.

He blinked at the heat stinging his eyes, ducking his head past Snape's appalled expression. Both the man's hands were somehow at his shoulders, but it took him a moment to realise he was being pushed out the door.

"Go now, Potter," Snape said roughly, "and stop making a fool of yourself."

There was no way. . . he looked up furiously as he stumbled near the door. He froze at the sight of Snape's mouth, wet from his. It was shockingly strange and entirely right. Harry was calm, angry, thrilled, alone and. . . sticky - but Snape was shutting the door and he had to say quickly, before the opening closed - "It'll work. We've got two hours."

It shut with a clunk and click.

Harry stood in the corridor.

I kissed Snape, he thought. Disorientation, and possibly fear, came back in a rush. Snape had his hand on my cock. Merlin, I. . . He leant shakily on the wall.

* * *

Ron leant shakily against the wall. In his head he ran through several possibilities: her parents need to think I'm the right choice; I want her not to regret it (sheesh, not that one); I. . . From inside there was a sound like glass shattering far away.

He took a deep breath and turned to Snape's office door and knocked, loudly.

In an instant the door was thrown open and a furious Snape loomed out over him.

"What in. . ? I will not have my rooms constantly invaded by out of control hormonal adolescents!"

Ron said, "Ah."

"How enlightening. Out of my sight, Mr Weasley."

He almost left. "Professor Snape. That night, when we were talking, you said. . ."

Snape seemed to draw up further, and Ron was finally about to take the survivor's way out when the Professor snapped out "8pm on Fridays. You will meet me in the Potions classroom. You will not be late. You will not tell anyone what you are doing or with whom including, in fact especially not, Harry Potter. Are we clear?"

"And you will. . ? Actually. . ."

"Given what I can reasonably expect a mediocre student to absorb," he sneered. "I repeat, are we clear?"

Ron nodded quickly. "Yes, Sir."

Snape paused with one hand on the door he was about to close. Just as Ron would have thanked him he barked, "Then remove yourself from my door. And, for the record, the next teenager who knocks on it I will feed to Hagrid's dog by hand."

Ron was already at the stairs.

* * *

//Dear Father,

I received your last letter this morning. I always appreciate your advice. Of course I regret disappointing you in any way, but I assure you I do have Malfoy interests at heart.

I know you will be pleased to hear that I have, tonight, been selected to assist the new Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts for the remainder of my 7th year. As he is a close confidant of the Headmaster I am sure that this will greatly increase my importance here at Hogwarts. If you have any advice for me in this matter you know I am always your dutiful son.

Please give my regards to Mother and assure her I am perfectly well, as she seems to have been worried for some reason.

Sincerely yours,


Draco scrolled, shrank and secured the letter, and let his eagle-owl out into the night. It was certainly not his most convincing performance. He watched till he couldn't see the bird anymore, and could concede that he felt. . . unhappy about this separation from his father. He had always been Lucius' son. Never Narcissa's.

For so long he had lived for moments when his father looked at him with pride and satisfaction. That time he summoned the raven - he was only nine - his father had put a hand on his head, smoothed his hair back away from his face, and smiled, "My dragon."

"Draco." He turned to see Remus Lupin in the room behind him. "Perhaps you should shut the window; it's colder tonight."

As he did so, Lupin moved to the sideboard and opened a drawer. Draco had thought he was asleep - which was careless.

"I can't sleep either," the werewolf said. Draco looked out again at the very new moon; I'm sharing quarters with a werewolf, he thought with some amusement. Narcissa would be appalled.

"Do you play chess?" Lupin asked. Draco gave him a wolfish smile.

* * *

Dragging himself back through the dormitory, through their door, Ron threw himself in a heap on the bed - clothes, shoes and all.

He opened one eye towards Harry, who hadn't said a thing when he entered.

"I am absolutely fagged," Ron said.

"But good?"

"Yeah," he grinned.

Harry went back to his letter and Ron drifted off into something exhausted but pleasant.

* * *

//Mr Potter

Our interaction will be strictly guided by the Rite's requirements. My habits will render any pretence at a more interested relationship than we already have unnecessary.

You will not explain or elaborate on this declaration in any way to anyone. You will not come to my rooms. Your responses will be timely and succinct.

We will employ only private modes of correspondence. My owl Thetis is the only one to be used in this matter. Therefore, please find enclosed the requisite document. You should know that this, along with any immediate reply could, if the wizard is sufficiently skilled, be retrieved from the Hall of Record.

Professor S. Snape//

//Dear Harry Potter,

I write, as tradition allows, declaring my interest in negotiating a personal contract with you under the Rite of Engagement. As we are already well acquainted I shall forgo references and simply submit that our shared interests ensure our more than sufficient compatibility and mutual benefit.

There is a great deal I can teach you and share with you.

I warmly anticipate your reply.

etiamnum declaro

Severus Snape //

* * *


I scroll the pages back together again one more time.

I spell open the chest in which I keep personal items. After a moment I spell concealing and securing charms onto the scroll. I'm not sure if "figo" works for this though, so I add another variation. I lock the chest, and consider a password charm.

Over my shoulder I hear Ron cough. He's half undressed - which I'm sort of relieved to note doesn't bother or interest me at all - and watching me curiously.

Minutes later, with the lights out and the warm covers around me I'm not more inclined to sleep. My mind keeps. . .

Was that sex, does it count? He didn't. . . and we didn't even. . . How embarrassing, I just. . . he must think I'm such a child.

But there was a moment, when he pulled away, and I know his hand was shaking. I play it over again in my head. And then again, because it's fun (and I shift awkwardly in my bed wondering if Ron is asleep yet). He was shaking.

Etiamnum declaro. The letter had flared warm and bright in my hand as I read the words. I glance at the chest and wonder if it would be safer somewhere else.

"So Harry?" Ron whispers loudly.


"Are you going to tell me what it is?"

Harry smiled.

"A love letter."