TITLE: Bells and Beaus

RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Belongs to J.K. Rowling, etc.

BETA: "Just plain" Gemsbok

FEEDBACK: Is the food of the Gods

NOTES: My roommate and I watched POA the other night, and I was struck by Dumbledore's beard—and the contents thereof. So…that's what inspired this little ficlet. This was written as a Christmas gift to ShadowPhoenix, as if the ten I'm sending her aren't already enough. ; )

SUMMARY: Snape found a way of knowing when the Headmaster is about. Secure in this knowledge, he feels comfortable enough to rendezvous with his lover in the middle of the night.

Bells and Beaus

Severus was stalking the halls of Hogwarts at midnight, scowl in place. He was passing one of the various closets when he noticed the door was ajar, the shadowy space within seemingly empty. His eyes narrowed. An innocent thing—a door not properly shut. He whirled, but before he could say anything, needy lips were pressed against his, the inertia of a body shoving him into the darkness, a groping hand pulling the door shut behind them.

"Potter, you must stop pouncing on me whenever you feel the urge," he chastised. "One of these days I shall injure you before your identity and intentions become clear." Harry ignored him, seemingly absorbed in chewing his ear off. He tangled a hand in the youth's wayward hair. "Brat," he added, more out of habit than anything.

Harry paused a moment, head cocked to the side. "Did you hear something? It wasn'--You don't think it was--?" They both lived in mortal fear of the Headmaster finding out about their trysts, sacking Snape, and expelling Harry.

"No, it was not," Snape said with certainty. "You never pay attention, do you? I outfitted the Headmaster with a set of bells back in your third year. They're tied in his beard. We'd be able to hear him coming."

Harry blinked. "Did you?"

"Oh, yes. He thought them quite stylish."

Harry gave him another long, deep kiss before pulling away to give a ragged laugh. "Anyway, I'm not worried about you hexing me. You haven't managed to beat me to the draw once," he pointed out. "Besides, in two weeks, I graduate. I won't have to knock you into closets in the middle of the night anymore, although I might do that anyway. In two weeks, I'm legal."

"And in two weeks, I shall give you my blessing," said Albus Dumbledore as the closet door was thrown open. He gave the guilty pair a hard glare. "Until then, I'll have to thank you, Mister Potter, to refrain from seducing your teachers, and you, Professor Snape, not to bugger your students. I'm highly shocked and outraged and amused that you've been carrying on like this behind my back. Terribly bad form, you know."

Harry's mouth was open, but nothing seemed prepared to come out, and Snape's normally sallow complexion was distinctly wan. "Er. Headmaster," was all the typically erudite Potions Master managed.

"I hope you both understand," the Headmaster replied, eyeing them over his half-moon spectacles.

"Absolutely," Harry croaked. "No more…uh…you know. Right." Snape nudged him heavily, giving him a dark look that promised a bright time later.

"Yes," Snape replied. "I apologize for my actions. If you wish to ask me for my resignation, I shall have it on your desk before morning." Harry darted a worried look at him over this, but Dumbledore merely shook his head.

"If I'd had problems with you doing this sort of thing in the past, perhaps I'd request it. As it is, I think you've both been merely…a little overeager. Discretion is the better part of valour, but I think patience may be the more worthy virtue. In any case, off to bed with you. Both of you. Separate beds."

"Yes, sir," Harry said, and gave Snape an apologetic look before hurrying off to his dorm.

Dumbledore began to leave as well, when a long-fingered hand grasped his shoulder. "Yes, Severus?"

"If you don't mind my asking; what exactly did you do with the bells that I gave you?" the man inquired, giving him a penetrating glare. "You appeared to be very taken with them."

Dumbledore sighed, shrugging. "Oh, I was, I assure you. I'm afraid, however, that Minerva did not agree. She said that they were annoying, particularly during lovemaking. She managed to get them off me and promptly performed a burning charm on them. I'm sorry, have I said something wrong?" He looked innocently at the choking, grimacing professor.

"N—not at all, I just…swallowed the wrong way. I'm going to bed. Now. Erugh. Um. I mean, goodnight, Headmaster!" Snape spun and strode away with rather more alacrity than usual.

The Headmaster gave a sunny smile to his retreating back, fingering his beard. "Sweet dreams, Severus!" he called out, before turning to make his way to his own chambers, humming merrily.