Chapter 20: No Worries … Maybe

Thursday, 26th September 1996. Early morning.

Harry had woken up early that morning and had gone off to wash without waking any of his dorm-mates. There was a slight tingle in the air when he came back from the bathroom and it seemed to be coming from the common room. They're probably trying to fix the Fat Lady's portrait, the emerald-eyed teenager thought to himself. And cursing Sirius while they're at it.

He tiptoed silently across the bedroom. Harry didn't want his friends to get too curious as to where he was going. He dressed warmly – the morning air had a definite bite to it. As a last minute decision, he took off his black turtleneck and put on a dark emerald one instead. He didn't want anyone to think that he was going skulking or sneaking about the castle.

He walked over to the window and surveyed the landscape outside. It was a tranquil but bleary morning and it was a pity he couldn't ask Severus to take a stroll by the lake with him. What a shame, he sighed. He turned and nearly yelled his lungs out when he saw that Ron was looking at him in displeasure.

"Are you going off to sneak about or something?" Ron demanded in a hushed tone.

"Of course not! I'm going to drop by the Slytherin common room and say 'hi' to Alhena," Harry replied before grinning at his friend's shocked expression. "I'm joking. I'm going to see …" the emerald-eyed Gryffindor let his sentence trail off and comprehension dawned on Weasley's freckled face.

"Did you say anything to … that you're going to see…?" his red-haired friend asked, carefully omitting the Potions Master's name and any other references.

"No, I'm giving that special person a surprise," Harry answered as he walked off, waving at his friend cheerfully.

"Don't get killed!" Ron called after him. Harry chuckled softly and descended the spiral staircase to the common room.

"Good morning, Harry!" the Creevey brothers greeted him.

"Guess what! We swung by the Great Hall and Dumbledore was there. He said that we can go to Hogsmeade this Saturday!" Colin said excitedly.

"Don't pay attention to him," Ginny said teasingly. "He's just anxious to develop those Muggle photographs we took Sunday night and transform them into Wizarding pictures."

"Hello, Ginny. You're up early," Harry spoke to the red-haired witch.

"Couldn't sleep. I think I've slept too much these last few days," the girl replied with a shrug.

"Have you had breakfast?"

"Yes, although I'm going down for a second breakfast with Hermione. Rita Skeeter is here by the way. You might want to make sure you don't run across her," Ginny informed him.

"Thanks for the tip." Harry flashed her a smile.

"No problems," the girl said.

Harry approached the portrait hole and thought he heard voices from behind the wall. "Uhmmm … hello? Can I come out?"

"Yes, you may," a familiar deep voice boomed. The portrait swung open and Harry climbed out to find Alhena's father, Kailen and Professor Flitwick scrutinizing the way the portrait moved. The raven-haired Gryffindor gave a slight nod of his head in greeting but the three wizards scarcely noticed him as they all began talking at the same time, suggesting what had to be done for the portrait. The young teenager heard someone sniffling behind him and turned to see the Fat Lady daintily dabbing her eyes while muttering about the cruelties of Professor Wulfe.

He smiled at her apologetically and began walking at a leisurely pace. It felt as though it was a holiday and he was the only student in the castle. Harry enjoyed just walking through the corridors with no one but him and the weak sunlight passing through Hogwarts's many windows. The image was shattered when a group of lively Ravenclaws started to make their way to the library.

The rest of the trip down to the Entrance Hall was uneventful but Rita Skeeter saw him as soon as he appeared on the ground floor. She and her assistant started toward him when Fawkes and a few cats chose to cross their path. The reporter gave a curse and yelled his name but he just smiled.

"Ah, Miss Skeeter." Dumbledore's voice was a godsent miracle. Harry used the diversion to get to the sub-levels as quickly as he could. He knew that Severus had been up and had probably eaten his breakfast hours ago, but thought it wouldn't hurt his dark-eyed lover to indulge in a second breakfast. He headed for the kitchens and upon entering, was surprised to find Draco sitting quietly in one corner.

"Mister Potter, sir," Winky appeared by his elbow. "Mister Potter has come for breakfast, yes?" At Harry's nod, a horde of other house-elves rushed at him, all holding trays full of breakfast dishes. The emerald-eyed Gryffindor quickly took a tray containing pancakes and softly requested a cup of coffee before heading toward an unoccupied table.

"Hello Harry," Alhena greeted cheerfully, nearly startling him out of his skin. "Want some?" She held out a huge bowl of chocolate chip biscuits but did not wait for him to answer as she placed some of them on one side of his plate.

"Thanks." Harry met her lively bronze eyes and smiled. He scrutinized her from head to toe, unable to equate the sight of her in an apron with the girl he knew from class.

"I can't look that bad, right?" Alhena said, exasperated.

"You look kind of motherly," the Gryffindor observed and heard Draco snort in amusement.

"Thanks, Harry," the witch replied in a flat voice.

The raven-haired teenager ate his meal in complete silence, his face and eyes growing slightly pensive as the time passed. It wasn't long before his plate was empty and he finished his cup of coffee. Winky, no longer blubbering with drunkenness or guilt, reappeared by his side and inquired if he wanted more to eat.

"No thank you, Winky … but I'm going to meet someone and I wonder if you could fill up a basket with fruits or something," Harry said hopefully.

"Winky can do it," the house-elf replied gaily and disappeared with a faint pop, only to reappear in the farther end of the kitchen. It took her only a few minutes before she came back with a basket laden with bread, croissants, cakes, and fruits.

"Is he going for a picnic or what?" Draco asked almost unconsciously. The Slytherin had spoken in a tone that he had meant to be discrete, but the kitchen had strange acoustics and Harry had caught every word.

"Mind your own business, Icy," Alhena said in a bored manner.

"You know, sometimes I think you're keeping secrets from me," her boyfriend said plaintively.

"So does everyone else, laddie. Eat your pancake before it gets cold."

"What about you? You're not eating anything."

"I don't have that much of an appetite in the morning. I think I'll copy Harry's idea and we'll have a picnic by the lake at lunch. Wanna come?" The emerald-eyed Gryffindor saw the witch bat her eyelashes flirtatiously at the Slytherin prefect.

"Like I would resist an invitation like that."

"Resist me, you mean."

"Whatever, Alhena. Please eat something."

Harry shuddered slightly and quickly got out of the kitchen before he could be subjected to the couple's cloying discussion. However, as soon as the kitchen entrance closed, he could hear his Potions partner laughing quite clearly from behind the rough stone wall.

"Merlin!" he heard the witch gasp. "You're so cruel!"

"Glad that it amused you," Harry heard Draco answer in a disparaging manner.

"But why do you do it? He'll only think that you're being excruciatingly saccharine and out of character," Alhena said curiously.

"So what? I don't care what he thinks about me and I certainly don't need any reason for why I have done something. He certainly doesn't care that he's gay and going after someone that will likely…."

Harry reentered the kitchen on the pretense of getting a flask of coffee as well. The Gryffindor smiled serenely at the Slytherin witch, who merely shrugged, not even pretending that she hadn't been talking about him in the first place. Once a house-elf gave him what he wanted, Harry casually strode over to the table where the two Slytherins were lounging and then he stared penetratingly at the girl.

"I never told him anything," the witch said promptly. Harry looked at her archly.

"The two of you have been very obvious, but not in front of the entire school. He was looking at you in a peculiar manner while you were busy being an invalid," Draco told him in a flippant tone.

Harry stared at his archenemy blankly. Well, does Severus know about this? I think I'll have to talk to him a little. Emerald eyes looked into light brown ones. "Can you make sure that he keeps his mouth shut, at least for several more years?"

"I'll try. Me and my family can always blackmail him, and you might try enlisting the Weasley twins' help," Alhena replied with a predatory smile. Draco looked at her in discontent. "Now why don't you get on your way? You're wasting precious time."

Harry stared at his nemesis for several seconds longer before letting his feet carry him off in the direction of the dungeons. Should I stop by his office or should I go down to his chambers? His pace slowed.

:Try his chambers. It's a lazy day and Severus likes to spend a bit of time reading when he's not up chasing and scaring students or brewing potions,: Fawkes the phoenix suggested.

:All right. Thanks for the tip. And Fawkes, I'm not trying to offend you but would you mind not drifting into our thoughts?: Harry asked.

:Fine, fine, I'll keep out of your heads for today,: the phoenix grumbled.

The sound of sleepy voices alerted the teenager and Harry looked about for an alcove and quickly dashed into one. He stilled his breathing and waited for the students – Slytherins no doubt – to pass.

"Merlin, it was horrible!" Pansy Parkinson's shrill voice reached his ears.

"It's just a nightmare, Pansy. Don't think about it any further," her friend, Millicent Bulstrode said rather tiredly.

"But it felt so real … I could feel the snake crawling underneath my skin," Pansy told her friend.

"I had a dream like that once," Gregory Goyle spoke up. "And it … I think we should talk to Professor Snape. He'd know what to do."

"Might as well go one step further and talk to Dumbledore instead," Millicent told her friends as their voices grew fainter.

The Gryffindor stepped out of the dark retreat and marched quickly to Severus's chambers. He had to struggle briefly with his basket and flask to lay the flat of his right palm on the surface of the false wall. To his horror, incandescent tendrils appeared, snaking along his fingers and quickly fastening themselves onto his wrist in a thick band.

:Sev!: his mind shrieked out for help. The young wizard watched in alarm as the band grew hot. There was an audible snap as the tendrils from the wall broke off and coiled around his wrist. Green eyes stared at the black metallic bracelet in astonishment. He looked up to see his dark-eyed lover watching him with a faint smile.

The Potions Master took several steps forward to take the items Harry was carrying and charmed them absently so that the basket and flask could float to the table by themselves. That done, Severus took Harry's hands and pulled him gently into the warmth of the dungeon as the door closed.

Harry was struck speechless and his gaze alternated between his lover's pale face and the armlet. He sank onto the edge of the bed and stared unblinkingly at the bracelet until his eyes grew tired and he was seeing spots. When he was no longer overwhelmed, the teenager brought his hand up to examine the trinket. There were vines running along the bracelet and he noted that his and Severus's names were engraved on it. He smiled and turned his hand over.

He drew a sharp breath and wondered why he felt warm all of a sudden. He saw the sun, with its rays touching a holly tree. A gentle swaying caught his eye and he willed his vision to focus on the top of the tree. There, swaying as if it was dancing in the wind, was a snake. Its crowned head was stretched above the tree, fully basking in the glory of the sun.

"Severus?" Harry called out to his older lover uncertainly.

There was a wicked smile on the Slytherin's lips, as though he was enjoying watching the flustered emerald-eyed Gryffindor. "Do you like it, lover?" Severus asked huskily as he joined the teenager on the bed, one arm circling Harry's waist with familiarity.

"Yes … but why?" Harry searched the Potions Master's face but the latter just shrugged. "Thank you," the teenager said softly.

"It's my pleasure, Harry."

The Gryffindor trembled slightly at the sound of his name. Harry was galled to admit it but Severus's voice was capable of making him dance to his tune. And right now, it dawned on the teenager that his lover wasn't thinking of food.

:How perceptive of you,: Severus purred into his mind and Harry's stomach fluttered at the sensation. The Gryffindor was terribly aware of the fingers trailing gently and rhythmically over his thigh.

:Why a bracelet, Sev?: Harry asked, trying to stall.

:A necklace wouldn't look good on you,: his lover answered as he drew the bespectacled wizard in for a kiss.

All other thoughts vanished when Severus covered Harry's body with his own and resumed their passionate kiss. There was no hurrying in their movements or their lovemaking. Harry couldn't stop purring through it all. Severus's breath was warm on his neck and Harry stroked his lover's pale back in a soothing gesture.

:Like it?: Sev asked and nibbled gently on Harry's neck.

:Magnificent,: Harry answered giddily. :Love you.:

:Love you too, Harry.:

Harry smiled as they basked in the afterglow of their lovemaking. It felt good to feel Severus around and inside him. He was so lost in his contentment that he gave a loud gasp of surprise when his lover started moving again. His incredulity must have been blatantly expressed since the dark-eyed wizard chuckled as he looked down at Harry.

How in Merlin's name did he get up so fast? I thought it'd be more difficult for men his age to do it again so soon after the first time!

"I'm feeling positively hungry, lover," Severus panted as he quickened his thrusts. Harry gripped the man's shoulders as pleasure began to build in him all over again. :I'm going to make you think of nothing else but me today. I don't want you to think about Dumbledore, Fawkes, the Slytherins, reporters, your friends or the Dark Lord. I want you to think about us, together like this.:

Harry tried to breathe evenly but with his lover looking at him like that, he couldn't help moaning. :I don't think I can think about anything else … if you plan on doing this for the rest of the day….:

:Oh yes, Harry … I have plans….:

Dear Merlin. I think I'm going to burst with happiness … and lust … right here.


Later that evening.

Alhena and Draco were still sitting by the lake after the sun set and they watched as the moon rose slowly. The two had no intentions of going back to the Great Hall for dinner since they weren't hungry, having taken enough from the kitchen to last the whole day. The silvery-haired Slytherin stiffened suddenly when he had the feeling that they weren't alone. He touched his girlfriend's hand lightly and motioned for her to stay silent as he drew out his wand. Not moving from his position, he turned his head, steely eyes scanning the environment thoroughly. He stopped, his eyes fixed on a dark figure.

Draco heard something loping quietly in the figure's direction and felt his blood turn cold when he saw a wolf-like shape darting out from the darkness. The Slytherin relaxed but continued watching the two canines frolicking about the grass. The teenager's attention wandered and he stopped breathing when he realized that a pair of bright golden eyes was looking at him penetratingly. A low growl broke the silence and Draco jumped.

"Alhena, I think we should get back to the castle," Draco said softly.

"You may be right," his girlfriend agreed.

"Miss Moon! Draco!"

The familiar voice of their ill-tempered Head brought them instantly to their feet and running toward the voice. Draco was expecting a stormy glare from the professor but was amused – and alarmed – when he saw that Snape was actually smiling.

"As lovely as the night is out here, I do not need to remind you that the Dark Lord is still alive. Leave those two to their business. I'd rather have you inside where I have no need to fear about your safety. Now come," Professor Snape told them.

"Did you enjoy yourself today, Professor?" Alhena asked impishly. Draco silently cursed her impertinence but it seemed that he was fretting for nothing since the wizard just chuckled softly.

"Yes, I did. Thanks for asking."

"Glad that you're in high spirits, Sir. You deserve it, you know. And Harry will take care of you," Alhena continued. Draco found himself being pulled into a run but he managed to glance back at the Potions Master's aggravated expression.


The moon was high above the forest canopy and the two animals continued to frolic in the night air. Padfoot nudged Moony in the direction of the lake and the werewolf complied. The two sauntered off before breaking into a run, with Moony chasing Padfoot. The huge black dog let out several sharp barks of surprise when the werewolf managed to nip gently on his leg. The dog turned the tables on the werewolf and began chasing him. In the back of Sirius Black's mind, he heard a voice.

:It is not done yet. We still have a long way to go. But be happy, Sirius. You belong together.:

Even before Sirius could whisper 'James' the presence was gone. Taking his dead friend's advice, he renewed his efforts and batted at Remus's bushy wolf-like tail playfully. The werewolf gave a growl, shooting a look that clearly said, 'You haven't caught me yet'.

Not fair! You have more stamina than I do! Padfoot's ears came to lie flat on his head when Moony suddenly sprinted, easily removing himself from striking range. Oh damn! Moony! Get back here! However, Sirius knew that shouting in his mind was useless. He had to catch his lover or he'd have to be bottom for the whole month of October.

Padfoot ran past the windows of the Great Hall, pausing a little to listen to his godson's hearty laughter. The dog blinked his eyes in amusement. Harry Potter had not ceased laughing since he'd finally appeared in the Great Hall with Ginny and Dean. Of course, being the dog that he was, he knew that his godson had been totally and perfectly debauched by the greasy-haired Severus Snape. Absently, he sniffed the air for Moony's scent. The huge, shaggy black dog ran toward the Quidditch Pitch. His lover was hiding out under one of the Ravenclaw stands. His tongue lolled in a grin and he barked again, unable to contain the bubble of joy inside him.


Harry slept and dreamed. None of it made much sense to him. Suddenly, he saw his lover lying motionless on a stone boulder. Something was wrong – his lover looked too young and was certainly thinner than he was now. Then he heard incantations, all dark and unholy. It made his skin crawl. Without warning, his hearing became muffled by something. Movement to his left caught his attention and he saw that it was Voldemort. His dream suddenly vanished and he found himself inside an unnatural abyss.

"The Protean Charm was used but the spell for the Dark Mark is complicated," a hollow feminine voice spoke in his ear. "It's a combination of polymorphism, death, blood, power, control and pain. But it can be broken."

Harry sat up in his bed suddenly. He grabbed his glasses and wand, then summoned a light. He sat hastily on his chair and took out his notebook. Polymorphism, death, blood, power, control, pain. The Gryffindor scribbled quickly.

He sat back in his chair and mulled over the words. His mind replayed his dream. The first part, he concluded, was of Severus's initiation. The second, he realized with a shudder, was of the abyss behind The Veil. I guess I will have a talk with Sirius first before I go to Dumbledore. He sighed pensively. So much for trying to convince myself not to worry. He smiled wryly. Well, at least I did the worrying on my own time. Moonlight reflected off his wrist and he looked carefully at the bracelet. A strange sort of calmness seeped through him and he grinned. Trust Sev to come up something like this. I'll have to remember to thank him again in the morning.

Harry doused the light and climbed into his bed, taking his glasses off and placing them on the table next to his wand. He pulled the covers up and stared at the ceiling, letting the play of moonlight lull him back into slumber. The Boy Who Lived dreamed again, but not of the troubles of the Wizarding World. Someone, he realized, was teaching him the meaning of the Holly tree. It didn't surprise him to see that it was Sev.

In the middle of the Potions Master's lecture, the emerald-eyed Gryffindor interrupted him and said three words: "I love you."

Severus glared at him for several moments before sighing plaintively. "Yes, Harry. I know. You have told me at least twenty-seven times since I saw you this morning. Now, pay attention." Harry grinned and listened to his lover about the significance of his bracelet while he slept.

To Be Continued


Firesword:

I would like to thank my two beta readers: HH and Allexandrya, for their time and effort making 'Unpredictable Life' readable to most readers, whose English are terrific. I knew that the time for me to write 20 chapters was definitely shorter than three months. But I guess working with betas have a lot of advantages. Also, I'm really grateful to those who had spent some time reading and following this fic. It feels rather nice that there are people who appreciate what I'm doing.

I may be repeating myself but there will be a companion (how Draco ended up spending summer together with Alhena) and a sequel (the Veil business) to 'Unpredictable Life'. But right now, I'm currently pursuing other delectable plot bunnies. The next HP fanfic soon to be 'published' here in will be slash: HP/DM.

Have a good read! Thank you!

PS: To the reviewer who thinks that I'm using too much 'raven-haired, green-eyed', etc, and that I'm predictable, thank you for saying/writing it. I think I'll be unpredictable from now on, since it works on my tutees.

Damn, I'm getting a sense of deja vu when I wrote the acknowledgments.