Fic Title: Severus' Way (3 of 3)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and its characters belong to JKR and so on. I just own the little bit of plot...
Summary: The sequel to 'Harry's Way'. Severus and Harry are together now. However, they have a bit of problem in getting Harry's friends to accept their relationship. Therefore, Severus dances his way into making them approve.
Genre: Romance, Slash, Fluff
Warnings: Slash, HP/SS, OOC, un-beta'd, post-OotP.
It was tranquil in the dark chambers that were owned by the Potions Master. The wizards were not asleep although their eyes were closed and they were not speaking to each other. They were merely lost in the other's warmth and both had similarly thought that ruining such peace was unnecessary.
Severus stroked Harry's hair tenderly as memories of the Yule Ball some two years ago flashed in his mind. A smile touched his lips as he remembered how awkward Harry had appeared then with his partner, one of the Patil twins.
"That may be a problem," Severus said aloud unconsciously.
"Hmmmm?" Harry stirred beside him and Severus' eyes flickered to watch his lover.
"You are not comfortable with dancing, are you?" Severus asked with a faint smile.
"Oh. There will be dancing, won't there?" Harry chuckled. "Yeah, you're right. If you remember, you'd caught me outside with Ron, when I was supposed to be dancing with the others..."
Coal-black eyes twinkled with mirth as their owner chuckled softly. "Well, then perhaps it would not be a bad thing if I offer to teach you," Severus said in mock-seriousness.
"Teach me what?"
"Although I'm appalled to acquire Lupin's services for the sessions," Severus continued blithely.
"Severus! Teach me what?" Harry asked, exasperated. The green-eyed Gryffindor hoisted himself up on one elbow and stared at the Potions Master fiercely.
"I am certain that you will not be an expert in dancing, not within a week anyway, but I believe I am capable of making you feel less awkward about being close to me in public-"
"Not really," Harry interjected.
"And less inclined to step on your robes or on my feet," Severus concluded.
"Severus!" Harry slapped his shoulder lightly and pouted.
"Don't do that, love. You look ridiculous," Severus said with a straight face.
"Severus!" Harry's voice went on a higher note.
"But how do I get Lupin to let me have his gramophone?" Severus frowned slightly as he pondered on the matter.
"Are you serious?"
"Are you complaining, Mister Potter?" Severus raised an eyebrow. Harry glared. "So impertinent," he muttered. "I am doing so, because I do not wish you to feel incompetent. Being yourself is one thing, but being laughed at is another."
"Since when did you become so thoughtful?" Harry grumbled.
"Since the moment I became aware that something else was precious, besides myself," Severus whispered. He leaned forward and kissed Harry briefly.
By the green light of the dungeon walls, Harry's eyes flared with an inner glow as they bored deeply into black depths.
Professor Severus Snape, the Head of Slytherin house, was seated in his chair and he was thinking of sending a message to his colleague. However, for obvious reasons, he was greatly reluctant to ask.
He sighed and his crumpled parchment burst into flames. He quickly swiped his hand across the surface of his desk and ashes of the burnt paper fell neatly into the rubbish bin. He unrolled a fresh piece of parchment and poised his quill over it.
By the prickling sensation across his neck and the strange chill traveling down his spine, Severus knew of the eyes that watched him in silence.
"Do we really need music to practice?" Harry's voice was soft. Clearly, his young lover was thinking that his reluctance was amusing.
Severus paused and listened to the footfalls behind him. They stopped behind him and a shadow draped over the desk. Warm breath tickled his ear as Harry blew into it playfully.
"You can just say, 'Remus, I need to borrow your gramophone. Harry and I need some dancing lessons.' That ought to work."
"You need the lessons. I don't," Severus corrected.
"Well, I have never seen you dance before and I don't think you are the kind of person who really enjoy those types of gatherings," Harry said with a light chuckle and looped his arms around Severus' neck.
"As always, Mister Potter, you immediately jump to conclusions," Severus said with a slight smirk.
Harry laughed and Severus smiled slightly at the sound of it.
"Why don't we try the Room of Requirement?" Harry suggested, his face coming closer to peer at Severus.
"The Room of Requirement." Severus blinked. He had not thought of that. After a moment of thought however, he shook his head. "I'm afraid we cannot use that idea."
"Why not?" Harry asked and he looked slightly baffled.
"I do not like to be interrupted by someone else who needs the room for something," Severus answered with a slight shrug.
"Okay." Harry chuckled and he kissed Severus' temple lightly.
The ebony-haired professor smiled a little and stared at the blank parchment for a moment. Harry let out an explosive sigh and gently pried the quill from Severus' fingers.
"What are you doing?" Severus asked his lover with an arched expression.
"Let's say we have a gramophone. Where are we going to practice dancing then? Surely you are not thinking of the Great Hall."
Severus found himself staring deeply into Harry's emerald eyes. "I cannot hold you in here all the time. Your friends may," Severus paused slyly, "overreact at your prolonged absence."
Harry snorted and rolled his eyes heavenward.
"We will use one of the classrooms in the Astronomy Tower," Severus said. "It will be less likely to find a great group of students loitering in that area and it will be less scandalous for you to be found somewhere public with me."
"Entangled with your limbs," Harry supplied with a broad grin. Then he chuckled softly. "It's funny how reluctant you were to show that you were..."
"That was then. This is now," Severus said with great dignity.
Harry shook his head while he laughed heartily. The younger wizard dropped the quill back on its stand and straightened. "I will go to Remus and ask him whether we can borrow his musical instrument," Harry said brightly. "I'll meet you at the second floor of the Tower then?"
"So eager to start your lesson, Mister Potter?" Severus asked mildly.
"Heh." Harry made a face and blew a kiss at him. "I'll see you later, Professor."
Severus turned in his chair and stared at Harry as the wizard moved away. He laughed softly under his breath at his lover's subtle - or maybe not so subtle - attempt to emulate his strides.
"I look silly, don't I?" Harry asked.
"No need to shout, Harry. The dungeons are built to carry over whispers."
"I hope the sounds are confined to your chambers, love," Harry said in response, and he stopped trying to imitate Severus.
"If you know how ... graceful you are," Severus said softly.
The Potions Master stared off dreamily. He knew the exact moment when Harry left his chambers and he sighed. His quarters felt somewhat empty without the jovial presence of his lover. He caught himself and shook his head in annoyance.
"I am being silly," he muttered to himself and rose to his feet. He sighed and smoothed his robes before treading the path that Harry had taken only moments earlier.
Severus stared blankly at a portrait of a milkmaid - who looked back at him with equal indifference - and waited for Harry to appear. Bright, cheerful voices suddenly shattered the peaceful silence of the gallery and to the Potions Master's chagrin, he found Lupin and some of his Slytherin students trailing after his lover.
By the time Harry was within hearing distance, Severus' was frowning heavily.
"What...?" Severus did not bother to be articulate. He stared at the group as though he wanted to incinerate them.
Lupin - Severus wanted to strangle the werewolf - managed to look as calm as he always did. Even his voice sounded composed and mild. "Well, you see, Severus, your students approached me for the same reasons Harry sought me out," Lupin said.
"Professor, I don't really have any training but I don't want to disappoint Draco," Alvis Lillington said quickly.
Severus wanted to snap at them but he curbed his tongue.
"We can all practice together." Lupin squinted at one of the unused classrooms. "I think that one has enough room for all partners."
Black-beetle eyes continued to glare menacingly.
"Calm down, Severus. I am instructing them. You can concentrate on Harry," Lupin said with some exasperation.
"Why isn't your partner with you?" Harry asked suddenly and Severus frowned at his lover. Harry was staring avidly at Alvis. "He is quite ... possessive about you. If words are to spread, won't his arse be on fire?" Harry looked curiously at Blaise Zabini.
"Draco trusts him," Alvis answered with a slight shrug. "I feel safer with him than the two Draco has for eternal bodyguards."
"Oh?" Harry looked piqued.
"I'm gay, Potter," Zabini grated suddenly.
"Oh." Harry blushed and he quickly moved into the classroom. Severus entered and watched as his lover set the musical instrument down on a table. The older wizard helped to remove the rest of the furniture in the room with a quick wave of his wand. Lupin and the group of students quickly went to open the windows.
"Dobby," Severus called softly. A second later, the house-elf appeared. "Do you have any idea of the musical band the Headmaster has requested to perform for the ball?"
"Dobby can't answer for certain, sir. Dobby doesn't really if Dobby remembers the name, sir," the creature replied with tearful golden eyes.
"Try," Severus said brusquely.
"Dobby thinks ... they are called ... Ill-mentally Sounds?"
"Elemental Sounds," the Potions Master corrected. "Excellent. I won't be attacked by out-of-tune voices."
"The Weird Sisters aren't that bad!" Harry protested. Severus sighed upon hearing his lover's indignant tone.
"It is a matter of personal taste, Mister Potter," Severus said tiredly. "I do not like most music - instrumental music is the only kind of music that I do not find offensive."
"Oh." Harry looked at him thoughtfully for a second, but mercurially, his expression turned mischievous. "I believe I am learning about you more often these days, Professor."
"Merlin's beard ... are the two of you still at that?" Lupin asked incredulously.
Severus gave his colleague a dark look. "It's my pet name for him, Lupin, so mind your own business," he growled.
Lupin's eyes went wide with surprise and Severus rolled his eyes.
The greasy-haired wizard pretended not to hear the inquiry and turned back to Dobby. "Find me their records," he ordered. The little creature that stood before him smiled widely and vanished but he returned with a stack of music records.
Severus chose one randomly and placed it on the gramophone. A careless wave of his wand started the instrument and he pulled Harry toward the back of the classroom.
He took a deep, calming breath before facing the green-eyed Gryffindor. Harry appeared slightly anxious and Severus noticed that his eyes kept flitting back to the group at the other side of the classroom. Soft, dreamy music filled the air.
"I believe we shall start our first lesson, Mister Potter," Severus began and stepped closer to Harry. He had a purpose for calling Harry that but it did not mean that it was not a pet name. He wanted Harry to think that this was like his other lessons, and to acknowledge Severus as the instructor.
"Okay," Harry said nervously.
"Lesson one: making yourself comfortable with the environment."
"Somehow I knew that you were going to say that, Professor," Harry spoke in a resigned tone. "So ... breathing exercises?"
"Yes, and while you're at it..." And Severus proceeded to position one of Harry's hands on his shoulder. "You will also learn to be comfortable with me," he murmured.
Several minutes passed and the first song finished, but Harry remained self-conscious. Severus sighed and with a finger, he lifted Harry's chin.
"I'm sorry but I can't ... for some reason." Harry stared up at him with an apologetic expression.
"Mister Potter," Severus began in a soft tone. His eyes flickered over to the top of Harry's head and looked at the others. He had nothing to fear however, as Lupin had their undivided attention. "You just need to think that we are alone. Do not be distracted by their presence."
Harry smiled sheepishly at him and gave a small nod.
By the time Severus decided to end the lesson, Harry managed to sway on his feet without being jerky about it.
"Although all I think I did was hug you for hours," Harry murmured as they left the classroom before the others.
"It does look something like that," Severus admitted. "However, I did get you to be more comfortable with me, and with eyes on us."
"You said nobody was looking!" Harry complained.
The older, black-haired wizard sighed. "Harry, can you honestly tell me that you have never been looked at whenever you are around other people?" His lover winced.
"You have a point," Harry conceded.
They walked out of the Astronomy Tower in companionable silence and lingered on the narrow bridge to enjoy the view of the clear, blue sky.
"Next lesson, we will learn how to move according to the music's rhythm," Severus said and absently plucked a dead leaf from Harry's hair.
"Fancy footwork?" Harry did not sound enthusiastic.
"Not yet." Severus smiled.
"Professor." The serious tone of Harry's voice compelled the older man to look at his lover in the face. "I need you to teach me, and I need you to get me to improve. I don't want to hear anyone saying that I'm doing all of those just to get my hands on you."
"I assure you, Mister Potter, that you will not be hugging me much during the lessons," Severus answered dryly. "We can take care of that after school hours."
Harry stared at him blankly for several moments before bursting into laughter. Severus smiled crookedly and looked on ahead. He raised his hand and released the dried leaf from his fingers, and he watched, as the wind caught it and it danced erratically in the air.
"Come. Let's take a bath and I'll check on your scars again."
As days passed, Harry's confidence increased and his lover's improvement cheered the Slytherin teacher immensely. Strange how a simple dance with Harry had made it felt like something extraordinary. Severus was surprised with himself to know that he had actually enjoyed swaying with Harry, chuckling at his lover's faltering movements, and tolerating the uncontrollable laughter.
Severus had also discovered that while Harry was somewhat clumsy during slow dances, it could not be said during fast, merry jigs. The Gryffindor had a knack for it.
"You're beautiful," he whispered into his lover's ear as soon as the music died down.
Harry looked magnificent indeed with cheeks flushed with exertion and eyes that flashed brilliantly with happiness. The breathless laughter that escaped was music unrivaled in Severus' ears.
"Merlin, Professor, I didn't know you could move that fast," Harry said excitedly. "Watching you move ... bloody hell." He shook his head. "You have me feeling so excited!"
"I should hope that what they're playing tomorrow will be as merry as that song," Lupin's voice interrupted. "That ... dance lesson was magical."
Severus looked in the direction of the voice and raised his eyebrows. Lupin and his charges were not practicing at all, for they had been watching Harry and Severus. The greasy-haired wizard turned back to Harry, who still looked wild and stimulated. "I think you need a warm bath."
"Gods, Professor. You were brilliant," Harry said fiercely.
"Mister Potter, love, keep your voice down," Severus murmured after two of his students glanced at him curiously.
"Sorry," Harry mumbled his apology.
"I think that's all for tonight," Lupin announced in a voice loud enough to be heard by Severus. "Get plenty of sleep and I wish you all luck with your preparations before the ball."
"What time will it start?" someone inquired.
"I believe it will be starting at five o'clock," Lupin answered. "Is that right, Severus?"
The Potions Master nodded and laced his fingers with Harry's.
"I think I'm getting used to that." Severus heard a girl speak as he and Harry left the classroom.
"I agree. They look good with each other actually," another girl said.
"You girls are a lot more tolerant with their kind of pairing. I think it's disgusting."
"Watch your mouth, Hufflepuff!"
Severus chuckled at Zabini's indignant response.
"Now, now, boys. Get back to your dormitories. You will need your rest. Be sure to put on some of the salve that Professor Snape gave you earlier. It'll make sure that you won't suffer from any muscle aches tomorrow." Lupin sounded placid.
Any forms of response from the group with Lupin went unheard by Harry and Severus, as they descended the staircase and headed out to the bridge that linked the Astronomy Tower to the main part of the castle.
"I need a cold shower," Harry spoke suddenly.
"That's not good for your chest or aching muscles," Severus pointed out.
"I know, but I'm really excited," Harry muttered.
That surprised Severus so much that he stopped in the middle of the bridge. Harry then let out an exasperated sigh.
"Severus, surely you don't expect me to remain unaffected after those challenging looks, the incredible rightness of your movements, the sensation of your hands on my body," Harry said with a slight pout.
"Stop that," Severus replied automatically and brushed his thumb across Harry's lips to straighten the pout.
"I don't want to push you in a position where you might break your own promise, love, but I'm really horny," Harry said with a gloomy expression. Then the Gryffindor shook himself slightly and took Severus's hand. They continued on their walk. "Severus, I'm sorry."
"Why do you apologize?" Severus asked quietly.
"For ... being impatient, I guess," Harry mumbled.
Before Severus could reply however, they were distracted by a loud series of giggles and then the bridge was beginning to shake rather violently.
Harry started to swear vehemently and Severus grabbed hold of the rope and his lover. He held on until the group of Slytherin girls and a lone Hufflepuff boy ran past.
"Come back here, you lily!" Zabini shouted from a window in the Astronomy Tower. The Slytherin disappeared from view but soon, he came storming out into the open and he quickly overtook the couple.
Severus and Harry merely stared at Zabini's mini-skirt.
"You really look sexy in that leather skirt, Zabini!" the Hufflepuff boy shouted and howled with laughter. It was cut short when he crashed into a Ravenclaw boy.
"That's Goldstein, isn't it?" Harry whispered his inquiry. Severus nodded absently. He was too busy looking at Zabini who was now standing still on the walkway.
"Blaise, what are you doing with a skirt?" Anthony Goldstein asked in an awed voice.
"Why don't you ask that bloody Hufflepuff in your arms?" Zabini growled and crossed his hands.
Harry started to chuckle when Goldstein quickly pushed the stray Hufflepuff away. "Let's go, Severus. We don't really need to know what happens next."
"I agree. Lupin." Severus turned his head slightly. "I don't have time to waste. You take care of the boys, in case things get out of hand."
"Thank you for allowing me to handle all the interesting things, Severus," Lupin replied in a voice thick with sarcasm.
Severus quickly led Harry away from the bridge and entered the small courtyard. "What did I want to say to you?" the Potions Master mused.
"I was going to say something before I was distracted by the stampede."
"Distracted by the stampede or distracted by Zabini's skirt?"
The older wizard snorted derisively. "Unlikely." After several minutes of hard concentration, it came back to him. "Ah. You do not have to apologize for your hormones, Harry. It is only natural, at your age." He gave his lover a sidelong glance and saw Harry looking down at the ground with a sheepish expression. "And I should hope that the music scene tomorrow will be more laid back," Severus continued with a faint smile. "I do not think my body is suited for an all-night jig."
"You're fitter than you look," Harry mumbled.
"You're merely trying to make me feel better about myself." Severus raked his fingers affectionately through Harry's black hair. "No, Harry. I am no longer a man who has the stamina of someone who is twenty years of age. I am afraid my body tires easily nowadays."
"But you don't show it." Harry looked at him inquiringly.
"No, I don't, but that does not mean my body does not ache however," Severus said with a light hint.
Harry grinned broadly. "So ... do you want a massage?"
"I will return the favor," Severus promised.
Several hours later, Severus did carry out his promise, after Harry had massaged him quite satisfactorily. With a somewhat professional flair, he had stripped his lover bare and had rubbed aromatic oils onto the smooth skin of Harry's back before beginning his work.
"That is so good," Harry mumbled sleepily as Severus kneaded the flesh in between his shoulder blades. "Have you ever done this to anyone, Severus?"
Severus sighed. "I was bored during the summers of my life," he started. "I can't quite remember how I ended up in a massage parlor, much less being a trainee." He did not stop rubbing Harry's back although he was quite tense. He did not really want to Harry to know that he had rubbed a Death Eater's foot, just once, a long time ago.
"I see. Ah..." Harry let out a soft sigh as Severus pressed his thumb against a spot and moved it around in a circular motion. "You have the most wonderful pair of hands," the Gryffindor declared.
"Harry. Relax," Severus said with amusement.
The older wizard chuckled and continued to massage the attractive body. His arms felt good with the strain of applying pressure and he idly thought about making this into a habit.
"Can I sleep here tonight, Severus?" Harry asked softly.
"Why? I thought you wanted to be with your friends." His hands moved down and he carefully massaged Harry's bottom.
"I really want to - Ouch! I didn't know I hurt over there!" Harry exclaimed suddenly. "It feels as though I've been hit by Bludgers."
With a slight frown, Severus prodded the area and Harry winced again. Severus paused and reached out to take a small white jar from the end table. It contained a salve with cooling properties and he scooped up a generous amount with his fingertips. He poked at Harry's other cheek, and again, Harry winced.
"You ought to be more aware of the pain your body is experiencing, Harry," Severus said in a preoccupied tone.
"Sorry, love. I just didn't realize it until you had given it a poke," the emerald-eyed wizard answered apologetically. "So, can I stay with you tonight?"
Severus smiled. "I'm not sure if I want you to leave, Harry," he said softly.
Harry tensed slightly and slowly, the younger man turned. Severus let out a soft yelp and averted his eyes quickly from his lover's groin. His cheeks reddened with embarrassment and the pair of green ones below trapped his black eyes.
"So, I will stay with you," Harry said softly with an odd expression encompassed on his face.
The Potions Master wondered again why he offered no resistance after Harry gave him that special look. That look that said, "Kiss me now." Severus knew that he did not want to put up a fight in the beginning after kissing the soft, supple and gentle lips.
"You have me tightly wrapped around your finger now, haven't you?" Severus asked a few minutes later.
"Well," Harry's eyes gleamed with mischief, "not exactly. You have me wrapped tightly around your body."
Severus looked deeply into Harry's eyes and tried to seek out an answer. He wanted to know if Harry felt disappointed due to his determination not to make love while still in school. He found none ... just happiness.
"I am willing to wait, Severus," Harry said and stroked the right side of his face lovingly. "Don't worry too much about my body." Then Harry grinned broadly. "Of course, by the time you're ready, you'll have a wild thing to handle."
Black eyes rolled upward and Severus carefully laid his body gently on top of his lover.
"I love you."
"Love you too, Severus."
The next morning, Severus did not wake early, as sleeping with Harry was the most comfortable and relaxing thing he had ever done in his life.
A tickling sensation just behind his ear jolted him out of his sleep. Slowly, his brain acknowledged the chuckles behind him. Severus grumbled softly and pulled Harry's arm to his chest. A second later, his lover spooned up behind him.
"What time is it?" Severus asked in a raspy voice.
"It's nearly ten." Harry nuzzled his neck and Severus' eyes fluttered shut at the pleasant sensation.
"Ten? I have overslept. Badly," he murmured sleepily.
"Hmmmm. No one's going to care. It's Saturday anyway."
"I'd like to wake up with you every morning, Severus."
Severus raised his eyebrow at the random statement and turned his head slightly. Harry was smiling faintly.
"And why is that?" he asked.
"I don't know." Harry looked away and it gave Severus the impression that the Gryffindor felt abashed. "It's sort of nice to be the first person the other person sees in the morning."
"You're a sentimentalist, Mister Potter."
"Only when it concerns you, Professor."
They stared into each other's eyes for a long moment before bursting into laughter.
"I'm afraid this is going to turn into a kink in the future, love," Harry said brightly.
"A kink indeed," Severus said sardonically.
Harry's laughter filled his ears once more. It was not such a bad thing to wake up with Harry beside him. Severus turned fully on his side and gathered the young man close.
"So ... what?" Harry inquired curiously.
"When do you wish me to pick you up?" Severus blushed slightly at his own question.
"What? Severus, you don't have to do that! I mean - you really don't! Although it's nice but ... well..." Harry stopped speaking when Severus laid a finger across his lips.
"It's something that I wish to do, Harry," he said softly.
Harry's cheeks turned pink. "All right. If you're sure. Damn it, Severus. You're quite surprising."
Severus laughed softly.
"Four-fifty. Wait for me beside the portrait."
"Don't be late."
"I won't. Severus?" Harry's eyes appeared somewhat anxious.
"Yes?" the Potions Master asked in a very mild tone.
"Don't give me any flowers."
"Not flowers, Harry. I'll give you a rose."
"A single rose means 'Only you'," Severus whispered and smiled mischievously as he leaned forward.
Harry had left the Potions Master's chambers an hour before noon, although it had been done with great reluctance. Severus had asked why and the young wizard had said that his friend, Hermione had a couple of ideas to experiment.
"And you volunteered?" Severus had inquired with an arched eyebrow.
"Volunteered? With Hermione, it's never voluntary. She appointed me," Harry had answered with a strained smile. "That's why I have to go and get ready early so there'll be time to undone anything that needs to be undone."
"Shouldn't she be worrying about her own make up and Weasley?"
"Not to mention Ginny and the other girls who want help," Harry had muttered. "Well, I promise I won't be late." And Harry had kissed his forehead and lips before leaving.
Severus shook his head lightly and rose from his chair. "No time to get lonely," he muttered to himself. He had several things to check upon before getting ready for the school event.
The Potions Master left his chambers and entered his office to check if he had work to do. He had already taken care of most of his students' essays. Madam Pomfrey however, needed several potions to reduce boils - Severus growled in annoyance when he read that several of the students needed it immediately.
It was not so surprising for the Slytherins who were lurking in the corridors to find him storming into his empty classroom with several bottles of ingredients and with a very irritated expression. However, Severus knew better than to let his vexation affect his work so before he began, he calmed down.
He managed to brew the cure within an hour and his sour mood returned as he climbed the staircase to head up to the hospital wing. He scowled darkly at the students in the ward, who groaned continuously in pain because of their stupidity.
Madam Pomfrey approached him calmly but seemed to brace herself once she took the tray of potions from his hands.
"I will not be persuaded to brew any more potions due to their foolish attempts to make themselves beautiful," Severus hissed.
"I agree, Severus. I am tempted to let them remain as they are," Madam Pomfrey replied and sniffed as she walked away.
Severus stalked away from the hospital wing and absently ran his fingers through his greasy hair. The reason why he had said so to the nurse was that he had no wish to get his hair greasy again once he had given it a proper wash. After all, there was a reason why his hair had been always kept greasy and Harry had been the first to know his secret.
When the professor returned to his domain, the place was surprisingly free of students. He snorted softly and entered his chambers. He paused when he scented food. He had not asked Dobby for food yet. Still, he walked into the sitting room and stopped again when he saw his lunch on the table.
"Dobby," Severus muttered but the house-elf did not reply. He approached the table cautiously and saw the small piece of black paper. Severus reached out and took it.
You shouldn't miss your meal, Severus, so I told Dobby to get you something. I had a bit of turkey sandwich and some scones. Right now, well ... I've been ordered by Hermione to get ready. I can't wait to be with you again.
Severus chuckled lightly and sat down. He ate without lingering on his meal too much; it felt uncomfortable eating alone in the room. Severus had become so used to the sounds Harry had made with his utensils. It was also quite weird to find himself thinking that Harry was seated across him, and was therefore shocked when his brain registered that there was no one seated opposite him.
He had really expected to see his lover when his eyes had flickered upward to stare at a serene face.
"The things you have done to me," Severus muttered with a soft sigh and studied the wall.
The black-haired wizard stood up and a house-elf - not Dobby - appeared to take away his tray.
"Wait," Severus told the house-elf. He quickly summoned a roll of parchment and a magical quill. He tore off a bit of paper and hurriedly scribbled on it.
I have eaten a meal much more substantial than air. Thank Dobby for me. I'll be getting ready myself - I need to wash my hair, so you'll have the pleasure of toying with it in public. I hope you'll appreciate it, Mister Potter, because you will be the only one who can touch it. By the way, I find it rather strange when I see a stark, gray wall instead of your bespectacled face.
"Give this to Harry Potter," Severus said to the creature.
He waited until the house-elf disappeared before moving into his inner sanctuary and promptly disrobed. He folded his garments neatly before stashing them into the laundry basket and placed his black boots on the shoe rack. As he went into the bathroom to begin his task of washing, he tried not to think about how people would react when he wore the robes of Harry's choice. He got rid of the dirt, grime and grease from his hair and body. He had even made sure that his nails were short and clean.
The wizard went back into his bedroom and stood in front of a mirror as he dried his hair thoroughly. He stopped and wrapped the towel around his waist before giving his hair a quick brush. There were often rumors that had said he was a person who did not care for hygiene, but Severus could not stand messiness.
Severus was a little surprised to find that his hair had grown longer over the year - he had a curtain of black, silky strands that stopped halfway down his back. Obsidian eyes blinked with astonishment.
"Did I use a straightening shampoo?" he asked himself but he stopped worrying about it after a while.
He donned his trousers but left his shirt and outer robe alone for the time being. There was no point getting all sweaty after his bath. He still needed to brush his hair until it gave off a natural shine, and he wanted some time to decide if he should accentuate his eyes with mascara and eyeliner.
"I'll worry about that later," he muttered under his breath. The man started to run his brush over his long hair carefully.
"Why don't you trim your hair just a little?" the mirror suggested.
"Layer that hair. You'll look charming."
"It is already layered," Severus muttered. However, when he parted his hair from the middle, it appeared that he needed a trim. The hair on the right side of his face was longer than the one on the left side. He sighed. Before he could summon a house-elf, Dobby appeared.
"Can Dobby help Professor Snape?"
"Trim my hair. The usual style."
"Yes, sir! Dobby is glad to be of help. Dobby will brush hair for Professor Snape as well."
Two hours later, Severus Snape stood before his mirror for a last, critical look of himself. His hair, freshly trimmed and shiny, framed his pale face nicely, and provided an appreciative contrast on his white-and-silver robes.
"You look like a prince, my dear," the mirror gushed.
"I am not your dear," Severus answered absently. "As for your remark that I look like a prince, I will not go about deluding myself."
"But Dobby thinks Professor Snape does look like a prince. Very nice for Mister Harry Potter," the house-elf piped up. Then Dobby quickly disappeared.
Severus snorted and then yelped in surprise when something long and ... thorny landed on his head. He swore but collected himself when he recognized the flower on the floor. A soft trill reached his ears and he saw Fawkes perched on the end table for several seconds. A ghostly cry lingered in the bedroom after the phoenix disappeared.
He picked the flower up from the floor and carefully removed its thorns from the thick stalk. He glanced at his clock and he felt nervous all of a sudden. He needed to move now.
"You will be fine, my dear. Now, off you go," the mirror said cheerfully.
The thirty-eight years old wizard took a deep breath and calmed himself. He walked over to his shoe rack and retrieved a pair of white boots that matched his attire. Within minutes, Severus was out of his labyrinth and was heading up to the Gryffindor Tower at a lazy walk.
He passed a couple of Slytherins and Hufflepuffs on the way up to the Entrance Hall and grimaced at their puzzled, astonished - and on some, horrified - expressions. Upon passing a group of Ravenclaws as they came down from the magical staircase, Severus toyed with his red rose almost tauntingly at them.
Several minutes later, he heard someone exclaim, "Bloody hell! That was Snape?"
"Dragon's eye! What - why was he holding a rose?"
"That's really sick, isn't it?"
"That was Snape?" a girl squealed. "What did he do to his hair?"
"Calm down, Helen. Anyway, he is Harry's so he is out of your league."
Although it was only natural if he were to continue to sneer, for some reason, in his nervousness, his face was expressionless by the time he reached the Gryffindor Tower.
Severus stared at the Fat Lady as her eyes focused on him.
"Nice suit," she said.
He ignored her observation and stood to one side. He moved his hand behind him and let it rest against the base of his spine, effectively hiding the rose from immediate view. The portrait creaked slightly as it opened several minutes, and Neville stumbled out. Severus stared at Longbottom in silence and watched as the Gryffindor's face turned red.
"Er ... Professor..." Neville looked at him uncertainly. He seemed to be thinking about something and then the teenager grabbed the edge of the portrait before it closed. "Harry!"
A thick, black eyebrow rose elegantly and Severus moved away slightly so that he could peer into the common room.
"What?" Harry's voice shouted back.
"Snape!" Then Neville gasped and looked around guiltily. At Severus' gaze, the young wizard started to shake. "Er ... I mean, Professor Snape! He's - he's here!"
"Okay! Professor!" Harry yelled loudly. "I'll be right out in a second! Can I go now, Hermione?"
"Don't shout at me, silly. Okay, okay. Go. Out." Granger's response was softer. "If he likes it, remind him to thank me."
"Do you want to get yourself killed, Hermione?"
Severus waited for Harry to come out, and he unconsciously held his breath. He dimly realized that Neville held the portrait door open and someone in pale robes climbed out of the hole gracefully. His eyes widened at the sight and he nearly dropped the rose in his amazement. Severus blinked, and he gave his lover the once-over. Harry stepped closer to him and they moved away from the entrance of the Gryffindor common so that people could get out - or in - easily. The emerald-eyed wizard smiled shyly and he looked up at Severus expectantly.
For what must be the first time, Severus was stumped. He did not really know what to say. Severus revealed the rose in his hand. "Here is the promised rose," he said softly and transferred the flower into Harry's grip.
He drank in the blush that spread on Harry's cheeks. He admired the thick, black hair that had been miraculously lengthened, and cut in a fashion similar to his. Gorgeous, ebony strands gave way to pale cream fabric with gold embroidery. Long, elegant robes gave way to the tunic with its overflowing sleeves, which gave way to slim legs. However, a hint of green drew Severus' eyes to Harry's face again.
The affection was so clear in his lover's eyes and Severus could not stop his heart from racing in his chest. Harry reached out to caress his face tenderly before stroking his hair.
"Dobby cut my hair," Harry said softly. "Is it okay?"
"You look astounding," Severus murmured and captured Harry's hand. He slowly brought it to his lips and nuzzled it gently.
"And you look like a prince," Harry said with a happy smile.
The way Harry glowed with happiness evoked something inside Severus and he quickly pulled his lover into a fierce hug. A soft chuckle escaped from somewhere behind Harry and Severus lifted his head to see Hermione giggling at them. Severus inclined his head slightly as a gesture of thanks and the Muggle-born witch waved her hand. She continued to chuckle even as she tugged at a hand. Ronald Weasley stepped out of the portrait hole and he watched Severus with a pained expression.
Then Harry shifted and pulled away, and Severus paid full attention to him. The dark-eyed wizard was so intent on staring into the pools of emerald below that he was not aware that Harry was raising himself slightly. When his lips were brushed gently by something warm and soft, he had not comprehended that he was being kissed.
Harry chuckled again and the action tickled Severus' lips. The sound of it distracted Severus. He parted his lips to ask Harry a question but he forgot his inquiry when a tongue slipped into his mouth. It curled around his and silenced him. When Severus realized that it was a kiss, he closed his eyes immediately and relaxed into Harry's embrace.
There was an explosion of some sorts but Severus was not in a hurry to investigate. He distantly heard a high-pitched, exasperated voice tell someone that it was allowed. What was allowed, Severus had no idea.
Minutes later, they parted, and Harry looked slightly ashamed. Severus smiled faintly and brushed his thumb across his lover's red, wet lips.
"What?" he asked Harry.
"Nothing ... well ... kissing is allowed tonight, right?"
Severus recalled the Headmaster's words and nodded. Harry's eyes lit up.
"Shall we go down, Severus?"
Severus and Harry stood on the far end of the Great Hall, and they watched as couples began to dance to the slow tune played by the musicians. He sensed the uneasiness in his lover and Severus draped his arm over Harry's shoulder.
"Gods, Severus. How am I supposed to relax when they're looking at us endlessly?" Harry asked gloomily under his breath.
The Potions Master looked across the Great Hall where some reporters stood aloof and watched them with unblinking eyes. Severus frowned slightly at their presence.
An unlikely source of help arrived in the way of the Creevey brothers, who started taking pictures of the reporters. As the flashes of light dazed the group, Severus steered Harry toward the dais and pointed his chin at the vase when his lover gave him a quizzical look.
"Oh." Harry smiled briefly and placed his rose among the lilies and carnations.
"Shall we dance?" Severus asked in a soft voice. He followed as Harry's emerald eyes flickered over to watch the dancing couples. "Harry, come." Severus rubbed his thumb soothingly on Harry's hand as they wove their way into the dancing crowd and found an ideal spot.
Then in a way that felt natural, Severus slid his arm around Harry's waist while he took Harry's hand with his free hand. "Are you ready?"
"Is my performance going to be graded?"
"If you want me to, I will, Mister Potter."
"I wasn't serious, Professor," Harry said quickly.
Severus smiled a little. "Why don't you give me a practical demonstration to show me that you are applying what you had learnt?"
Harry grinned. "I'll try, Professor."
The couple started to sway with the rhythm of the music, but after several minutes, Severus figured that Harry still felt awkward. It reminded him of their first dancing lesson and he sighed. Harry's movements were not actually jerky and stiff, but they were lacking the fluidity and grace when one was relaxed. For some reason, Harry was holding back.
"Why are you uncomfortable?" Severus pressed his body lightly against the younger man and rubbed his cheek against the thick, raven hair with great familiarity. He sensed Harry relaxing slightly. "That's it," he whispered encouragingly. "That's right. Right and left."
"Front and back," Harry said and sighed softly. "You feel so good."
Severus was glad that his hair was long enough to cover his flaming cheeks.
"Harry, you have to sway. Or it'd look like you're just hugging me in the middle of the Great Hall," Severus whispered into his lover's ear and blew into it playfully.
Harry laughed and swayed just a bit.
The soft music went on. Severus' eyes were closed and his face was tranquil. Enraptured by the sensation of being entangled with his lover, the flash of light as someone took a picture of them went unnoticed.
Three songs later, the musicians took a brief break, and McGonagall and Flitwick surprised the entire school by coming onto the makeshift stage. Each held a violin, and then Hagrid - who looked quite reluctant - joined them. He had a flute in his hand.
"That's intriguing," Harry said in a dreamy voice. Severus handed him a small cup of pumpkin juice and he too, looked at the stage.
The three Hogwarts professors began to play an instrumental version of the hit single 'He's My Werewolf' by The Weird Sisters.
Severus snorted derisively. "What were they thinking?"
"Well ... it's a hit, you know. But ... I bet Remus is embarrassed about it," Harry said thoughtfully. True enough, when Severus finally found the werewolf, it looked as though Lupin was trying to disappear into castle wall.
When the professors finished their piece, most of the students in the hall clapped enthusiastically. McGonagall, Flitwick and Hagrid moved away from the stage and the musicians from Elemental Sounds returned. This time, everyone had to waltz.
"Oh no." Harry looked a little dismayed.
"You are worrying about nothing, my Harry," Severus said with a soft sigh. Then he promptly pulled Harry into the crowd. Like the lessons they had, Severus tolerated Harry's nervous chuckles with uncharacteristic patience. "Stop worrying about stepping on my feet."
"Sorry, Severus," Harry answered after he managed to swallow his quiet laughter. "I just ... I can't help it." Apologetic green eyes gazed up at Severus.
Severus halted without warning and he immediately hated his action for Harry's eyes widened with despair. "Mister Potter," he began in a serious tone. "It is my wish that I teach you, and continue to teach you until the end of my days, on how to be yourself and not something you are not." Severus paused and studied Harry's expression contemplatively. Did Harry understand his words?
Harry looked at him unblinkingly. Severus got them moving once more.
"Just be yourself. I do not care about how many times you step on my feet by accident. Just ... be yourself."
Then Harry stopped and Severus had to swallow his yelp of surprise when his lover pulled him down roughly for a kiss. Severus was dimly aware of catcalls and whistles, and outraged shrieks. However, the music suddenly became louder and drowned all other sounds. They broke away from the kiss and they both glanced at the stage. The musicians were on their feet and they were stamping in rhythm of their song.
His dancing partner chortled gleefully and Severus restrained a groan. He would need Harry to massage his calves after the ball.
"This is more like it," Harry cheered.
"And I would never guess from where you gained this natural talent," Severus muttered. He smiled widely however, and his enthusiastic response set the mood for his lover to dance.
Throughout the jig, Harry laughed and it distracted Severus a couple of times. He did not even give Colin Creevey a scowl when the teenager took several pictures of them. He was too engrossed memorizing every detail, every smile, every strand of hair that was moving with Harry's movement, and the expression in his lover's eye.
All too soon, the song reached its end, and Harry and Severus hugged each other as they tried to catch their breaths. Severus had barely regained his wind when someone pulled Harry out of his grasp.
"Weasley!" Severus snarled and hurried after the two Gryffindors. Ronald Weasley was pulling Harry out of the Great Hall and he had pushed his friend into the antechamber. "You..." He seethed with anger, but the sheepish expression on the teenager's face stopped him from exploding immediately.
"Professor ... Harry," Ron swallowed visibly, "I still think both of you are mental." He let go of Harry's hand and backed away slightly. Severus waited for the red-haired teenager to continue. "But ... I saw."
"Saw what?" Harry looked slightly perplexed. Ron swatted his shoulder lightly.
"You laughed," Ron said as though it was a strange thing to have happened. "You looked so ... happy together," the Gryffindor finished with a frustrated tone.
"Oh." Harry adjusted his glasses and blinked.
Severus snorted and muttered, "It took you long enough to realize it."
"I'm sorry, Professor Snape. I am a naturally thick individual," Ron said in a very deceptive, polite tone.
"Love, don't start," Harry interrupted before Severus could start taking points from Gryffindor.
"Love?" Ron choked and his eyes bulged comically.
"Should I call him Professor then?" Harry smirked.
"No, don't," Ron said quickly. "It just doesn't sound the same anymore when you call him that."
"Hmphf." Severus glared at both of the younger wizards.
"All right. If you'll listen to me, Snape," Ron started and gave the Potions Master a sudden, fierce look, "I can accept that you can make Harry happy. I can even accept that Harry loves you, and you love him ... in time. But I swear ... I swear that if you ever hurt him in any way, I'll rip off your guts."
Severus glared at the red-haired wizard. It was rather odd for him to feel uncomfortable because of a threat that had come from someone who had not yet gain real expertise for magic.
"Swear on it, Snape."
"Shut up, Harry. This is for your own good. Swear that you will never break his heart."
The frown faded from Severus' face and he replaced it with a blank mask. As calmly and controlled as possible, he answered, "I swear I will never break his heart."
"Good," Ron said solemnly and nodded. Then he turned to Harry and mercurially asked, "How in the hell did you ever learn to dance like that? He couldn't have possibly taught you! Did you that you had stepped on his toes a couple of times? But that was only during the waltzes!"
Harry winced and Severus rolled his eyes. "It was not that drastic, Mister Potter."
"I think you need to work harder to convince me, Professor."
"Merlin's beard! I'm going back!" Ron exclaimed and quickly walked away. "You two are the sappiest couple I've ever known!"
"Oi!" Harry yelled in protest.
"Sappiest indeed," Severus snorted. He moved to stand behind Harry and wrapped his arms loosely around his lover's body. Resting his head gently on Harry's shoulder, he asked, "What do you want to do now? Shall we go back to dancing? Or do you want to eat?"
"Well..." Harry turned his head and kissed Severus' lips briefly. "Let's eat something, take a small walk, and let's dance. No fast ones anymore. I don't think it'll be wise of us to move around that fast after we eat."
"All right. We'll have a bite and we'll have a leisurely stroll to the lake."
"That's a good idea." Harry squirmed and turned around to face him.
"What?" Severus inquired as he ran his fingers into Harry's hair that felt somewhat softer than it normally did.
"Do you mean what you said?" Harry asked in a hushed tone.
"What? That I will never break your heart?"
"No. Not that. You said that you would teach me, until the end of your days." Harry buried his face in Severus' chest. "Do you mean that?" queried the muffled voice.
Severus blinked a couple of times before answering. "Yes. I do mean that," he said softly. Harry embraced him tightly at his response and he squeezed back.
"Thank you," Harry whispered. "Thank you, Severus."
"Silly brat." Severus half-growled and half-chuckled. "Why are you crying?"
"I love you, Severus," Harry choked and pressed his face against Severus' chest once more. "I love you."
Severus' heart gave a painful squeeze, as the memory of when he had found Harry, bloodied and barely alive, flashed in his mind. "Enough," he said harshly. "I am here with you, as you are with me. And I love you as well, Harry. Do not forget that."
He heard Harry give a sniff. When his lover finally met his gaze, a loving smile curved the beautiful lips. "You're an amazing person, Professor Severus Snape. Do you know that?" Harry's voice was soft and affectionate, as were the caresses that were bestowed on Severus' face.
"No. I never knew," Severus said softly.
"Then let me show you." And Harry proceeded to kiss him passionately.