Co-Written with stormypup
Disclaimer: All places and characters belong to JK Rowling and the WB and various publishers. We just take good care of their characters in the mean time. No money is being made off this piece of fiction.
A/N: Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope even those trapped in snow are having a nice day. I know I am!
I'd like to thank my beta-reader/best friend Arenas for being wonderfully mean and teasing me about comma usage. That's what I get for rooming with her.
The card was tacky and red. That was the first problem with it and that was why it was so perfect. He signed his name to the bottom with a flourish and carefully put the card into its lurid pink envelope. Snape would hate it and that's why Harry was giving it to him. Memories of his second Valentine's Day at Hogwarts flitted through his mind, conjuring up images of distasteful decorations and Dumbledore sitting amongst them, in the most disturbing outfit of all. He had been happy; everyone had been happy. He smiled, thinking about how joyful everyone was now. It was only fitting that he got into the festivities as well.
Hedwig was perched on his knee, the old bird looking at him inquisitively as he leaned forward and kissed her plumage. "Not today, old girl," he murmured affectionately. "You're too recognizable. I want this to be a surprise."
The aging owl let out a knowledgeable hoot and flew back up into the rafters; and, almost as if knowing he'd summon it, a plain looking barn owl swooped down beside him. Harry handed the owl the card, ignoring the bird's contempt for it.
"Take that to Professor Snape," he instructed firmly, overlooking the disdainful look the owl gave him. The owl's wing knocked off Harry's glasses when it took flight. "Ruddy bird."
Snape truly loathed Valentine's day; and it wasn't hard to guess why when he saw the simpering students with raging hormones, and the unending parade of owls. With a scowl upon his face, he stormed up the stairs from the dungeon just as a school owl swooped in through a window, and dropped an envelope on his head before flying off.
He looked irritably at the garish envelope that had fallen to the ground.
And so it
With a look of disgust, Snape incinerated the offending note, not giving it a second thought.
The Great Hall was crowded that morning: birds were flying in every which direction, upsetting more food and drinks than normal. Harry slipped into his seat beside Snape and squeezed his thigh, earning a scowl as he began to scoop eggs onto his plate.
"Pumpkin juice, Professor?" Harry asked with a teasing smile.
"I think not," Snape answered, grabbing the orange juice and filling his glass before turning his attention to the room at large. If the covert looks flying across the area were anything to go by, this year had more than its share of inter-house romances brewing.
He reached for the toast, and turned to Harry, who was looking at him expectantly. "What?"
Harry shook his head, bemused, hand slipping off Snape's thigh. "Nothing, your eggs are getting cold."
Snape nodded and began to eat, all the while keeping a sharp eye on the student body. "Remind me to add the south dungeon corridor to my patrol tonight," he said, wiping his mouth with his napkin. "I overheard Jamison and Stevens planning a midnight rendezvous. Idiotic holiday," he growled.
"I dunno, I happen to like it."
"You would," Snape snorted dismissively.
Two Ravenclaw students were being far too affectionate for Snape's taste. "If you'll excuse me, I have a morning to ruin," he said, a wicked smile on his face. He pushed back from the table and swooped upon the unsuspecting couple, ignoring the scowls from the rest of the staff.
Harry ran a hand down his face to block the smile that was threatening to erupt. Severus was in his element, not that any of the other staff seemed amused by this, save Minerva. Harry caught her eye and they shared a knowing look before returning to their breakfast.
His eyes wandered over the face of his watch and he smiled into his plate. He had charmed ten separate equally sappy and obnoxious cards to appear in various places in the dungeons, most in Snape's lab and rooms.
Harry turned around on the stairs just in time to see a student come tumbling down the stairs. He caught the girl in his arms, an annoyed expression on his face. He glanced up to see her friend racing down the stairs.
"What's going on?" he asked, helping the girl in his arms to stand up straight again. He groaned internally at the blush on her face as she smiled up at him. Katherine, Harry suddenly remembered as he looked at the girl in front of him. She was a 7th year in Hufflepuff, who was no longer in his class because she couldn't fend off Grindylows during her exams.
"We're sorry, Professor Potter."
"We didn't mean to," her friend interjected.
Harry shook his head, rubbing an eye with the back of his thumb. The barely constrained groan hung on his lips.
Snape stood at the bottom of the stairs, scowling to cover up his amusement. "Don't you have somewhere to be?" he asked, causing Katherine's eyes to widen in horror.
"Yes sir, I...that is...we're going," she said. She grabbed her friend by the hand and the two disappeared up the stairs and out of sight.
Snape looked at Harry, an evil grin on his face. "They're literally throwing themselves at you now, Potter?" he asked, amusement evident in his voice.
"Shut it, you," Harry grumbled, running a hand slowly down his face. "I'm sure she just tripped."
"It's amazing how often students, particularly the females, trip around you," Snape said, coming to stand next to Harry on the stairs. He fought the urge to run a hand through Harry's unruly locks and instead clasped his hands behind his back. He had thought the desire to touch would have diminished by now, but if anything, the longer they were together, the more he wanted to touch and be touched.
It was infuriating.
"It's a bloody epidemic, I swear." Harry sighed and grinned up at Snape, leaning back against the banister of the stairs. "Perhaps we should inform Poppy; I'm sure she has a cure."
"There is no cure for adolescent hormones," Snape snorted. "Where were you headed?"
"Minerva's office. She invited me up for tea."
"Better you than me," Snape said with a smirk. "I'll speak with you later, unlike some of you; I have actual work to do today."
"Just because I get Wednesdays off, is no reason for you to complain."
"I don't need a reason," Snape said over his shoulder as he walked away. He had just enough time to stop by his office before class began.
When he entered his office, there was another obscenely large, pink envelope dancing atop his desk. It had just begun to sing when it suddenly vanished in a puff of smoke thanks to Snape's wand. "Bloody holiday."
Harry took to the stairs again, making sure to keep an eye out for another assault on his person. He ducked into Minerva's office relatively unscathed.
"Did you know that Amelia Brockton has an excellent singing voice?" he asked conversationally as he sat down in the seat before her desk.
Harry nodded slowly. "She decided to serenade me this morning as I left the Great Hall."
Minerva shook her head, tsking. "And I thought it was bad the year Gilderoy Lockhart was in residence," she said, pouring tea for the two of them. "It's to be expected of course, as you are not much older than the seventh years themselves. I take it you haven't been encouraging the behavior?" she asked, her eyes sparkling with amusement.
Harry shook his head furiously. "Can you imagine what would happen if I did? It's bad enough my desk is covered in letters, but now girls are throwing themselves at me on the stairs. Would it be horribly rude of me if I begged off lunch today and holed myself up in my room until this day ends?"
"And deprive the staff of our amusement," Minerva asked, fighting a smile. "How is Severus handling the day?"
"Like he always does, finding about a million ways to make everyone miserable." Harry rolled his eyes, pulling his feet up onto the chair. He bit the cuff at his sleeve thoughtfully. "Although, I must say, he's going about it with a much better attitude than normal."
"I wasn't aware that Severus had a good attitude," Minerva replied, sipping her tea.
Harry grinned. "Course he does. His just isn't good for everyone else, is all."
"I must admit, he has been much happier, or I should say less ornery, since the two of you began dating. It's been good for all of us," she added, smiling at Harry. "Do the two of you have any plans for this evening?"
"Minerva, honestly, this is still Severus Snape we're talking about. He doesn't make plans for this holiday."
"So, he'll be prowling about giving detentions," Minerva said, grinning.
"Perhaps," Harry said a small smirk forming on his lips.
It was only lunchtime, and Snape had already destroyed six of the ridiculous cards. The students were certainly persistent this year, and it was beginning to grate on his nerves. Luckily, nothing had shown up while he was attempting to teach the distracted masses. Thus far, they had only shown up in his rooms and the lab, for which he was grateful. At least the idiots knew better than to embarrass him in public.
He took his seat at the head table next to Harry, irritably shaking his napkin out on his lap.
"You okay?" Harry asked, reaching for an apple in the bowl before them.
"Peachy," Snape said through clenched teeth, his eyes searching the hall for the likely perpetrator of this year's plethora of cards.
"And I'm Dumbledore, so how are you really?"
"Irritable," Snape groused, wondering if Nelson from Gryffindor was watching him any more than usual. It would be just like him to think sending Snape cards was amusing.
"Aw, and here I thought you were beginning to enjoy this holiday."
Snape snorted, his attention on a group of his Slytherins who were looking far too pleased with themselves. He doubted they were responsible for the cards, but they were definitely up to something if their surreptitious looks at the Gryffindors were any indication.
"Any idea what my little snakes are up to?" he asked Harry as he sipped his tea.
"You mean I'm supposed to be sniffing out crime while dodging swooning girls in the corridors, at bathroom entrances, on stairwells, outside my rooms...?"
Snape arched his brow at Harry, smirking. "You can hardly be surprised; even without the stupid holiday, they throw themselves at you at every opportunity. Take points, give detentions," Snape said, waving a hand in dismissal.
"And ruin all your fun? I think not." He popped a strawberry into his mouth and smiled happily.
"Cheeky," Snape said, finally devoting his complete attention to Harry. He realized Harry's grin was very similar to that of the students in his house. "Your Slytherin side is showing, Potter. What are you up to?" he asked suspiciously.
Harry swallowed the fruit and shrugged. "Me? Up to something? Whatever do you mean, Professor?"
Snape eyed him warily. "I hope you don't plan on waiting for me in my quarters with nothing but a red bow on in celebration of the holiday," he said, his voice low. "I can do without the bow. Or the holiday for that matter."
Harry chuckled, plucking another strawberry out of the bowl. "As if I'd do something that predictable."
"Hmmm," was Snape's response, trying not to be distracted by Harry's mouth on the strawberry.
"I'm glad I convinced you," Harry said around the fruit. Dropping his voice, he continued on without even looking back at the students, "and Douglas Thompson just hurled a piece of turkey at Phineas."
Snape blinked, tearing his eyes from Harry's mouth. "You do that on purpose," Snape groused, scowling at the offending students who had the good grace to look sheepish.
"Do what?" Harry asked innocently, trying valiantly not to laugh.
Snape's scowled deepened. "As I said, cheeky."
"Pomona, I really can't thank you enough for this."
The Herbology professor blushed hotly and shook her head. "It's all right, Harry."
"No, really, I know you only have so many of these and-"
"Pfft," she waved him off, bits of dirt flying off the tips of her fingers. "Go, shoo. I have a class coming in shortly."
Harry grinned and ducked out of the green house holding the black rose held delicately between two fingers. He saluted a couple of the passing students as he sprinted back into the castle. He only had twenty minutes before Severus's class let out, plenty of time to plant the flower on his desk.
Free was the word of the day. Aside from the card he had found in the pocket of his work robes, the afternoon had been relatively holiday free. His class of Slytherins and Hufflepuffs had been disaster free; and, as it was his last lesson of the day, and he too would be free. The two detentions Snape had given would be served with Filch, who seemed to hate the holiday even more than he did.
He entered his office with a satisfied smirk on his face that fell when he saw the object on his desk. A black rose? He frowned, running a quick check for charms or jinxes before poking it with his wand. Sprout was going to be furious when she realized someone had taken one of her precious black roses, though he couldn't figure out the joke.
He had no doubt the cards had been full of insults and pithy rhymes meant to anger him, but this made no sense. Snape sat behind his desk, tapping a finger against his chin as he tried to reason it out.
"Severus, you busy?"
Snape looked up from the rose to find Harry leaning against his door frame. "No, not at all," he said, still frowning. He considered banishing the rose, but he couldn't seem to bring himself to do it. If nothing else, he would give it back to Sprout.
Harry's eyes briefly flickered to the rose, but that was the only indication that he saw it. He entered the room and shut the door behind him before sauntering over to the desk and perching himself on the edge.
"I see that no one blew up the classroom this afternoon."
Snape leaned back in his chair. "Make yourself at home," he said, voice laced with sarcasm. "And no, no major accidents. Even O'Reilly managed to keep from causing any major harm."
"That's good. I imagine you'd be less inclined to accept my invitation to dine out tonight if it had gone otherwise."
"Ah, so you're not above the Valentine's Day hype after all," Snape said, folding his arms across his chest and smirking.
"Just who do you think you've been dating?" Harry laughed. "Course I'm not, just because you're manly enough to be above it, doesn't mean I am."
Snape rolled his eyes, though he felt a small pang of guilt. He probably should have thought to buy Harry something, and wondered if he had time to get something before dinner. "So what did you have in mind?"
Harry grinned. "Now that's a secret."
Snape studied him for a moment before nodding. "As you wish. Am I at least allowed to know the time of this date?"
"No, I'm going to whisk you away unannounced," Harry paused. "Reservations are for six."
"Would you like to meet back here at a quarter of?"
"Yes, sir." Harry leaned forward and pressed a swift kiss to Snape's lips before hopping off the desk and exiting the office.
"I asked you not to do that!" Snape yelled at Harry's back, but he knew it was no use. Harry couldn't seem to help his physical displays of affection; and though Snape would rather they had no contact outside of their quarters, Potter always had to touch: to make some kind of contact, particularly when he was saying goodbye.
"Idiot boy," he murmured, irritated that he was actually beginning to enjoy those touches, to expect them.
Pushing Harry from his mind, Snape glared at the black rose, intent on speaking with Sprout before dinner.
Harry was practically whistling as he wandered the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Things were going according to plan, and if the rest of the day went as smoothly, he'd get to spend the rest of the night with Severus.
He spun a 5th year Hufflepuff in a fast circle when she "stumbled" into him, earning Harry a most interesting reaction. The girl's face went from pale to red and a pleased smile split her face as she raced off—probably to tell her friends. For the first time that day Harry just didn't care.
He bowed deeply to a group of Slytherin girls as he passed by them, before grinning rakishly at them and waltzing off.
Harry turned around, his smile not diminishing in the slightest.
"What can I do for you, Malfoy?"
The blond stared at him oddly, as if he wasn't sure what he was seeing. It was probably because Harry rarely smiled anywhere near his direction.
"Minerva wants to talk to you."
"Again?" Harry rolled his eyes. "Thanks for the message, Malfoy. I think you'll find a group of petrified Slytherins near the girl's bathroom."
Malfoy's eyes narrowed before he turned on his heel and stalked off. Harry shrugged and changed his destination to McGonagall's office. Honestly, how many times in one day could the old cat offer him tea anyway?
Harry knocked on the door and waited for Minerva's call to enter.
"Come in, Harry."
He pulled open the door and stepped inside. "Afternoon, Minerva, what do you want me to do now?"
"Now, now Harry, I don't always invite you up here to ask favors from you."
Harry laughed and plopped down in his customary seat. "True, but we already had tea this morning so I can only assume..."
"Professor Malfoy has a family engagement that will leave him unable to chaperone the next Hogsmeade visit, and Professor Snape chaperoned the last trip," she said primly, and causing Harry to laugh.
"So is this your roundabout way of telling me you want me to chaperone?" Harry asked, grinning.
"Of course," she answered, pushing a bunch of papers together in an official looking way. "I'm sure you're more than capable."
"Please, Minerva, you don't have to butter me up." He laughed and held up his hands to prevent her from saying something else. "I'll do it."
"Good," the elderly woman peered at him shrewdly. "Did he say yes?"
Harry rolled his eyes and nodded. "As if he could say no."
"Did you tell him where you are going?"
"No, told him it was a surprise."
Minerva hummed. "Did you at least tell him how to dress?"
"Shi-" Harry blushed at the narrowed look and he quickly corrected himself. "No, I haven't."
"You of all people should know that Severus does not like surprises, nor will he take kindly to being embarrassed in public," she warned, her lips pressed together in a tight line.
"All right. I get it! I'll tell him how to dress." He stood up and brushed a piece of imaginary lint off his trousers. "Until tomorrow then?"
"Enjoy your evening, Professor Potter," Minerva said, her eyes sparkling mischievously.
Harry was lucky, well, luckier than normal. "Severus!" he called, ignoring the terrified first year, who scooted around him as if he had cursed aloud. He jogged the last few paces, his face flushed from the run. "You got a second?"
"Yes," Snape replied, looking around and scowling at the students who were obviously trying to eavesdrop. "What I can do for you, Professor Potter?"
Harry grinned and pulled the man backwards into one of the alcoves and cast a silencing charm.
"Potter, what are you doing?"
"Imparting valuable information that you may or may not have wanted the entire school to know later?"
"Oh I think pulling me into a darkened corner will give them enough to talk about already," Snape answered, glaring over Harry's shoulder until the two lingering Ravenclaws made themselves scarce.
Harry grinned impishly. "Your reputation could use a little shake up."
"What was so important you had to practically molest me in front of the students?" Snape asked irritably.
"Your dress is all wrong for tonight. You need to dress in muggle formal. No black robes for you tonight."
Snape leaned his head against the stone wall, and stared up at the ceiling.
He pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. "And you're just telling me this now?"
"Pretty much, yes."
Snape shoved him away. "Fine, I'll meet you in my office in an hour."
Harry arched a brow as Snape stepped out of the alcove moodily. "All right then."
Snape stormed to his room, knowing he was overreacting, but still irritated at the situation. He wasn't a fan of muggle restaurants, and even less of muggle attire. He threw open the door to his closet and began rummaging through the clothes hanging there, muttering under his breath the whole time.
Harry frowned as he pulled out his typical clothing. This wasn't good enough. Especially since both Severus and Mark had seen him in it and while Severus would never comment on his redundant wardrobe, Mark would, and it was Mark who was letting them in to the restaurant.
There was really nothing for it, he thought sadly, shutting his wardrobe. This had been his idea in the first place and there was no way he was going to embarrass himself, not in public anyways. Harry prided himself on many things, and one of those was his connections he had formed over the years.
"Malfoy's room, Hogwarts!" Harry shouted into his fireplace, closing his eyes at the sickening feeling of his head spinning through the floo system.
"Potter, what an unpleasant surprise," Malfoy sneered, looking at the fireplace from his armchair. "What can I help you with now?"
Harry grit his teeth. "I need fashion advice."
Malfoy rolled his eyes and tossed the novel he was reading onto the coffee table and stood. "From me? I'm in awe."
"Stuff it, Malfoy," Harry snapped, jaw hardening in frustration. "Will you help me or not?"
"Let me think about this for a moment. The chance to help out a fellow colleague and give him superb advice or the opportunity to tell you to piss off and let you out of the castle looking like an urchin." Malfoy stared at the mantel as if in deep thought, before he looked down into Harry's angry face and smirked. "Oh, for the love of Merlin, Potter. Get your ugly mug out of my fireplace and get your scrawny arse in here. I haven't got all day."
Harry's eyes widened in surprise and he pulled his head back and stood up hurriedly. One look at his clock told him he should have plenty of time. Should, if he were dressing himself. But he was willingly subjecting himself to Malfoy, and letting himself become the blonde's doll to play with. He was doomed.
He took a handful of floo powder and threw it into the flames turning them a deep emerald.
Malfoy was waiting beside the fireplace when Harry came tumbling out. One hand was on his hip the other was holding his wand loosely. Harry stared at him distrustfully and before he could even stand up Malfoy said a spell and Harry found himself disturbingly cold.
"What the hell did you do, you ponce!?" he cried, hugging his bare chest, trying to stop the blush that was creeping up his cheeks when he remembered what his choice in underwear had been that morning.
"Merlin, Potter, even your boxers." The blond tutted and shook his head exasperatedly. An evil gleam sparked in the cold gray eyes and Harry squirmed.
"You remove the shorts, you die," he warned.
Malfoy smirked, tossing his wand carelessly onto his chair. "Honestly, Potter, if I wanted in your knickers, I would have bound and gagged you before stripping you."
Harry gaped at him for a long second, the extreme cold of the room forgotten in his horror.
"Potter, stop gaping at me," Malfoy snapped. "Seeing what you ate for lunch is highly unattractive, not to mention completely repulsive. Didn't Granger teach you how to floss properly?"
"I know how to floss," Harry grumbled, standing.
"No need to pout over it, Potter." Malfoy stared at him with an amused grin. Harry shifted nervously, what had possessed him to seek out the blond brat's help anyways. Bloody hell, he needed psychological help obviously. Why else would he still be standing here getting lectured on the use of dental floss when he should be getting ready? It was Valentine's Day for pity's sake. "I'm certain you had so much more to worry about than your dental hygiene today."
"Yeah, I did actually. Like my date with Severus in—" Harry looked at the clock in the room. "—an hour."
"An hour?!" Malfoy looked truly scandalized by that statement.
Harry looked at Malfoy, uncertain if he was supposed to answer that question or not.
"Potter, no one gets ready for a date in an hour!"
"I'm a boy remember!" Harry shouted. "Not some prissy little trollop."
"Of course you aren't Potter, and if you honestly expect me to make you look fantastic, you had best keep your mouth shut and do exactly as I say."
Harry leered; strangely, he didn't feel as afraid by the fact as he thought he should be. "And here I thought you didn't want into my knickers."
"Potter," Malfoy growled, folding his arms across his chest impatiently.
"Fine, whatever, Malfoy."
The Slytherin's cool facade morphed into a triumphant smirk. "I knew you'd see it my way."
Severus paced around his office, glancing at his pocket watch and snapping it closed in irritation. It was now ten to six, and Harry hadn't shown up yet, and he knew how much Severus valued punctuality. Unfortunately, he had yet to find a way to take points from his lover, not that it would have mattered much.
Restless, he pulled at the cuffs of his shirt and straightened his tie, wishing he were wearing dress robes instead of this muggle suit. Despite the fact his skin was just as covered as it would be in robes, he at times felt naked without the heavy weight on him. Despite the fact that it couldn't be any more than a minute later than when he had last checked his watch, he flipped it open again and looked at the time. He began wondering if he was going to have to track the man down.
"Malfoy! Get away from me with that brush!"
"But…" Malfoy pouted, his lower lips sticking out dramatically. "Your hair is horrible!"
"And I'm late!" Harry shouted, panicked beyond comprehension. "L-A-T-E! I'm sure you remember who it is I have a date with: Mr. Punctuality himself! I swear to all the gods, Malfoy, if you don't let me go now…" he trailed off staring at the blond plaintively.
Malfoy sniffed disdainfully and waved a hand in dismissal, a small smirk creeping at the edges of his mouth.
"You fucking prat!" Harry growled, marching towards Malfoy's door.
"Have a nice date, Potty."
"Fuck off, Malfoy!"
And with that parting, he left Malfoy's rooms content in the knowledge that he wouldn't have to put up with Malfoy anymore. This was all for Severus—he had to keep telling himself that—even as he kept checking his watch. For Severus "Why aren't you ever on time, Potter?" Snape.
Harry worried his lower lip as he neared Snape's office. He adjusted his silk tie one last time before pushing open the heavy door and entering.
At the sound of the door opening, Severus turned on his heel and snapped, "You're late!" He was going to continue his diatribe, but he found himself speechless at the sight before him. He stood there, staring openly in appreciation.
Harry flushed and shifted in his place. He caught Snape's eyes and felt his mouth run dry. "Wh-what? What are you looking at?"
In answer, Snape walked toward Harry, surveying him up and down as he walked in a circle around him. "You let Malfoy dress you, correct?" he asked, amused despite himself.
Harry seemed to be exuding embarrassment as he mumbled the affirmative.
"You look quite stunning," Snape said, his voice like silk. "But we're late," he added. "Where are we going?"
Harry perked up at that. "You'll love it. I swear."
He pulled a dingy wallet from his back pocket and held it out for Snape to grab onto as well. "We're going to portkey into an alley two blocks away and then walk over."
"You didn't make this yourself did you?" Snape asked, eying the port-key warily. "I'd rather not end up in Egypt," he added, taking hold of the wallet.
Harry squawked indignantly, looking up at Snape with false hurt. "You wound me. You know I haven't accidentally sent anyone to Egypt in months! Siberia, yes, but not Egypt."
Snape grinned despite himself. "If we end up in Siberia, I'm trading you for a warm coat," he warned, dark eyes sparkling.
Harry chuckled, holding out the wallet again. "So, are you coming or not?"
Snape smirked and took hold of the wallet. "Of course."
Harry leaned forward and pushed himself up on the balls of his feet to press a gentle kiss to the corner of Snape's mouth, just as the portkey activated with its familiar tug.
The portkey dropped them in a darkened alley. Snape looked around and quirked a brow at Harry. "Lead on, Mister Potter."
Harry took his hand and dragged him out of the alley onto a crowded London street. He uncupped his hand and laced his fingers through Snape's before slowing down to a walk.
"I hope you're hungry," Harry said with a grin as they rounded a street corner.
"Starved, actually," Snape agreed, eying the streets and searching the faces out of habit. "I take it from our attire that you're not dragging me to another one of those pizza places I so love," he asked, not bothering to hide the sarcasm in his voice.
Harry snorted. "You love those places," he teased, leaning into Snape's arm smiling up at him. "But, you're right. We aren't going to a pizza place."
Snape actually had a soft spot for a good Hawaiian style pizza, but he would never admit it to anyone. "I must admit, you have me curious," he said, squeezing Harry's hand tightly for a moment. "It must be good if you allowed Draco to help you dress for the occasion."
"It's the best. Just opened this year." Harry paused as he saw the line to get in the restaurant. When it looked like Snape was about to get into the queue, Harry tugged him around the hopeful customers and brought him to the front of the line and in through the doors. He strolled past the waiting patrons, ignoring their scowls.
"Hello Jennifer," Harry said with a cheerful smile. The mousy brown haired girl behind the hostess counter beamed broadly and came around the podium and engulfed him in a hug.
"Harry!" she exclaimed, kissing both his cheeks before pulling back. "Where have you been?"
Harry chuckled. "I've been working, Jen."
Snape was pleasantly surprised when Harry had led them straight into the restaurant; however, his pleasure dimmed minutely when Harry was set upon by a woman who felt the need to not only hug him, but kiss him. Twice.
He cleared his throat, eying the woman warily.
Harry ducked his head and smiled ruefully. "Jen, this is Severus Snape, my date this evening."
Her brown eyes grew wide as she took in the imposing figure beside Harry. Seeming to remember herself she quickly extended a hand. "Pleasure to meet you, sir. Harry's spoken of you before. It's a pleasure to finally put a face to the name."
Snape briefly took her hand, nodding in acknowledgment with a wan smile upon his face. "I'm afraid I cannot say the same," he said in an underhanded dig. "How do the two of you know each other?" he asked, stepping closer to Harry.
Harry grinned sheepishly. "We went to Uni together," he explained. "Her grandmother is a witch," he added in an undertone.
Jen nodded with a friendly smile. "Harry literally tripped over himself when we met. I was studying outside and he stumbled in hole, twisted his ankle and fell on me, the klutz."
Harry nudged her gently. "Shush you."
"Right," Jen flushed slightly, straightening out her appearance. "Your usual table is free Harry. Do you need me to lead you there? It's been so long, you might get lost."
Harry laughed. "Didn't I tell you to shut it!"
Snape watched the exchange in thoughtful silence, trying to gauge just how close their relationship had been. At the mention of Harry's usual table, he looked at Harry and quirked an eyebrow. "The usual, is it?" he asked curiously.
How often did Harry come here, and who were his usual dates? Snape was beginning to wonder if he were nothing more than one of Potter's liaisons.
"I used to come here once a week to visit Jen and Mark." Harry shrugged. "Mark works in the kitchens," he explained. "We'd usually study for an hour before their shift started."
"I see," Snape said, allowing Harry to lead him his usual table, which was set back in a corner, away from the door. "It pays to have friends in the right places," he remarked, sitting in the chair across from Harry.
Harry grinned and nodded. "I'm so glad Jen is working tonight. It's been a long time since I've seen her."
Snape nodded to their waiter when he arrived and listened patiently to the specials. When the man finally left, he looked at Harry. "What you would suggest, as this is your usual place?" he asked, ignoring the way his stomach clenched at the thought of being just another in Potter's no doubt long list of paramours.
Harry placed his menu down on the table again with a pensive expression. "The scallops are to die for." He rubbed the back of his neck, his thoughtful look never diminishing. "And what's with the emphasis on 'usual'?"
"Nothing," Snape said, expression blank as he scanned the menu, "merely deferring to your obvious experience in the quality of food at this particular establishment."
Harry eyed him shrewdly. "You are not. Liar."
Snape smiled tightly. "I assume you also have a usual wine you ply your dates with?"
Harry's mouth opened in shock. "I most certainly do not! Just how many people do you think I've brought here? If you must know you're the first."
Snape opened his mouth to reply but found he had nothing to say that wouldn't make him look like an even bigger fool. "Are you saying you don't want wine?" he asked instead.
"You're going to make me dislocate my jaw if you keep switching topics like that," he grumbled, picking at the edge of his menu. "I've never been one for wine."
"We wouldn't want that," Snape said, tilting his head slightly, his eyes going to Harry mouth. "I may have use for that jaw later," he said silkily.
"Oh you might?" Harry said, raising an eyebrow.
Snape hummed. "You'll have to buy me dinner to find out," he said, casually glancing at the menu. "Have you tried the oysters?"
"No, I normally didn't eat here. It'd be too expensive to do so."
Snape looked at him curiously, but made no comment on it. When the waiter returned, Snape ordered the scallops and a glass of white wine and waited while Harry placed his order. When they were once again alone, Snape reached a hand across the table and held it out for Harry. Harry took it without question.
He ran his thumb across the back of Harry's hand. "Thank you," he said quietly.
Harry cocked his head to the side and offered him an easy, if not confused, smile. "For what?"
Snape tried to cover up his embarrassment with a smirk. "You won't get specifics out of me, just say 'you're welcome', and we'll move past it," he said, his eyes shifting away from Harry's.
"You're welcome," he parroted obediently.
Snape smile turned smug. "So tell me, what were you spending so much time studying here? I wasn't aware you were capable to studying, let alone for great amounts of time," he added teasingly.
"You'll laugh at me if I told you."
"The odds are good I'll laugh at you regardless."
"Hey!" he cried. "That's not fair!"
"And no less true," Snape replied, a genuine smile on his face.
"Chemistry," Harry answered unable to stop the smile that answered the one on Snape's face. "I was studying chemistry. I didn't get it, and I doubt I ever will."
It was truly a struggle not to laugh out loud at the revelation. "Chemistry? Why on earth would you take that, of all things?" he asked, amused.
"They forced me to." He smiled ruefully. "If I had a choice, I wouldn't have. I was complete trash at Potions, it really shouldn't have surprised me."
"For Merlin's sake, Harry, you're a wizard! Next time, alter a few memories, a bit of paperwork," he said dismissively. "Don't waste your time on such muggle nonsense."
"But I wanted to do it the proper way. Prove to myself that I was capable of handling myself without magic," he protested, glancing around at the surrounding tables. Many were empty, which amused him. He wondered when the owners would actually allow the restaurant to be full to capacity and not just claim it was every night of the year.
"Noble," Snape said, smirking. "But you've handled more without magic than most wizards have with it," he pointed out. "You have nothing to prove."
"You want to go back and convince 17-year-old me of that, go right ahead!" Harry laughed.
Snape scoffed. "17-year-old you was an idiot," he pointed out. "It's amazing you've turned out as well as you have." He was actually being honest; he did admire the man Harry had grown in to.
Harry ducked his head to hide the tell-tale flush of pleasure at those words. "Yeah, well, that lovely young lady at the front podium? Thank her for that."
Harry nodded sagely. "She just happened to help me realize how much of a dolt I had been. It helped that she knew enough about the wizarding world to understand what I had to say, but didn't know a lot about me to pass judgment. She was the one who forced me to consider returning to Hogwarts."
Snape frowned. "You'll have to be more specific as to what you were being a dolt about. Leaving it open ended that way leaves me far too many options."
"Pick one, we've got time. The food here is spectacular, but it takes a while to prepare."
Snape sat back in his chair and thought for a moment. "Let's begin with the obvious. When you left Hogwarts, I was under the impression you were most decidedly straight."
"Hey would you look at that, so did I," Harry said cheerfully. If Snape wanted information he better ask more pointed questions.
"And did your female friend have anything to do with your revelation?"
Harry shook his head, then stopped, a small grin forming on his lips. "In part, yeah, she did. I suppose I should thank her and not just Mark."
Snape folded his arms across his chest and tapped a finger against his chin. "Ah yes, Mark. Did he come on to you?"
"He did a bit more than come onto me," Harry muttered, blushing furiously. Here and now was not the place for this conversation. "Any other questions?"
Snape leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. "Did the two of you have sex?" he asked, his voice pitched low.
Harry leaned forward as well, casting a quick glance around the restaurant to make sure Mark wasn't a busing tables tonight and was in the kitchen like he promised. He locked eyes with Snape and nodded. "We did and it was a real eye opener."
"Is that why you picked this place tonight?" he asked, feeling irritable once again. "If you wished to make him jealous, you'll have to do much better than me I'm afraid."
"For the love of God, Severus, what kind of person do you think I am? I took you here because I thought you'd enjoy the food, not some twisted reason like that. As a matter of fact, Mark knows I'm here, and he's purposefully staying away so you don't think that. We split after a few months, we're friends, just like me and Ron and I don't particularly want to shag him so..."
Snape finished off the wine in his glass and set it on the table, watching Harry intently. "I see," he said, wishing he had never gone down this road of questioning, but unable to stop himself now that he had. "How many have there been since?"
"You would ask that question," Harry grumbled good-naturedly as he took a sip of water. "Counting Mark? There have been three before you. Only one of which involved sex."
"I'm happy to know I'm not dating a trollop," Snape said, and was going to continue, but the waiter appeared with their soup. Once he had gone, he returned his attention to Harry.
"So, what else were you being a dolt about?" he asked, blowing carefully on a spoonful of broth.
"Just life in general. I was feeling pretty useless once the war ended, which was the reason I disappeared into the muggle world to begin with." Harry shrugged, taking a spoonful of soup and blowing gently to cool it off.
Beyond the murmurs of appreciation, they ate their soup in relative silence, each lost in their own thoughts. When they had both emptied their bowls, Snape dabbed the corners of his mouth with his napkin and replaced it on his lap.
Under the table, he slid his foot forward until he found Harry's, and then moved his foot up and down Harry's ankle while he formed his next question. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the woman, Jen, watching them with a daft grin on her face.
"Your friend is grinning like the cat who ate the cream," he drawled lazily, curious how Harry would react.
Harry groaned, face as bright as a tomato. "She would be."
Snape smiled, bemused. "Care to tell me why?"
"She's like the Hermione Granger of the muggles." He shot Jen an irritated glare. "She likes to be right about everything as well."
Snape leaned forward. "What in particular is she gloating about now?"
"Us," he mumbled, trying to hide the smile in his glass of water.
Snape's eyes narrowed. "Us?" he asked, quite interested now. "Why are we so gloat-worthy?"
"She sorta had a bet going with Mark about who I'd be bringing with me tonight. She said you...I don't know who he said." Harry gnawed his lower lip. "I made these reservations almost a year ago, before we got together and before you get suspicious once again, no I haven't been dating you so I could help a friend win a bet."
Snape frowned, confused. "A year ago? Why on earth would she pick me, of all people?" he asked, searching the room for the woman, but she was no longer watching them.
"More than likely because I talked about you, constantly. Much like I do now actually," Harry added with a blinding smiling.
Snape felt stunned, that being the last answer he expected. "But that was a year ago. We haven't been dating for more than a couple of months," he said, trying to understand what he was missing.
Harry laughed. "Doesn't mean I didn't talk about you before then."
"Glad you're finding this amusing," Snape groused as their main course arrived, interrupting the opportunity for further questioning.
Harry quickly busied himself with his food before he could screw this date up even more. He just couldn't win that night. Perhaps it had been a bad idea to go out, maybe he should have just stayed in and let Snape go off and do his rounds like he had wanted to.
Snape recognized Harry's look of defeat, and knew that he was responsible. Once again, he had let his own paranoia get to him. Truth be told, he still found it unfathomable that Potter was attracted to him, let alone dating him, even after all these months.
Now the man had tried to take him somewhere nice, where the food was undeniably delicious, and he had done nothing but throw veiled accusations at him. Was it any wonder he'd never had a successful relationship in his entire life?
Snape knew he had to fix this before he pushed it to the point of breaking completely.
"Thank you for the recommendation, these scallops are delicious," he said, smiling awkwardly as Harry looked up at him. "Would you like to try them?" he asked, lifting a forkful of scallops toward Harry.
Harry smiled and leaned forward, opening his mouth in invitation.
Snape guided the fork to Harry's mouth, watched as his lips closed around the metal and smiled at his hum of satisfaction. "You did well," Snape said, taking another bite of seafood. "Thank you for thinking of it."
"Think of what? The scallops?"
"The scallops, the restaurant, all of it," Snape replied, waving a hand at the place at large.
Harry grinned beatifically. "I'm glad. I was worried you wouldn't enjoy it, especially the cards and the rose."
Seeing Harry's bright smile, the knot of apprehension that had been building in Snape's chest eased, and he returned the smile with a grin of his own. "Perhaps we can take a walk before returning to Hogwarts?" he asked.
"If you want, but first we need to eat dessert," he declared.
"I'm in no hurry," Snape assured him, continuing his meal. "There's a place I wish to show you before we return."
"And you accuse me of keeping secrets," Harry teased, picking up a bite of his food and popping it in his mouth.
Snape chuckled, smirked, and then winked at Harry.
Harry nearly choked on his food. "Did you just...wink at me?"
"I'm sure you imagined it," Snape said, smiling into his water glass.
"Bloody hell," he muttered, taking a shaky sip of his water. Snape had flirted with him. Not that he hadn't before in his own way, but that was blatant flirting that anyone could have picked up on. It shouldn't have shocked him as much as it did, it really shouldn't have.
Snape acted as if nothing was wrong, his eyes roving the restaurant as he chewed. Harry's friend had been joined by a young man; and, the way they were grinning, Snape assumed him to be Mark. He examined the other man's profile from the corner of his eye. He was tall, slim, his dark hair held back in a pony tail.
If he'd had an absurdly large nose, Snape would have been worried.
As Mark tugged Jen away, Snape returned his attention to Harry, looking at him thoughtfully.
"What?" Harry grumbled, flushing that horrible red again.
Snape ran a finger around the rim of his water glass, as he sat back in his chair. "What would you recommend for dessert?"
"The apple and caramel trifle is absolutely mouth watering," Harry said, not even picking up the dessert menu.
"You have yet to lead me wrong this evening," Snape said, his finger still traveling the rim of his glass as he looked at Harry.
"So you really are enjoying yourself?"
Snape considered the question before answering. "I am. And you?"
Harry smiled, relief flooding through him as he slumped back in his chair. "Course."
"Good," Snape replied, as their waiter arrived for their dessert order.
A half hour later they were outside the restaurant, making their way past the massive line, and back to the alley that had masked their arrival.
"Do you trust me to Apparate us both?" Snape asked, using his grip on Harry's hand to pull him against his chest.
Harry nodded, looking at him curiously. "Good," Snape murmured, kissing Harry quite thoroughly and Disapparating the two of them away.
Harry pulled back when he felt solid earth beneath his feet again. He looked around curiously, wondering just where Severus had brought him—it was too dark to tell. The sound of insects chirping followed them as the meandered through the ancient trees and lulled Harry into a state of calm. Looking up, he couldn't even tell where the trees ended and the night sky began.
"Where are we?" Harry asked, slipping his fingers between Snape's and locking them together.
Severus looked around and saw the familiar landmarks and nodded in satisfaction. Giving Harry's hand a squeeze, they began to walk. "This is the place I go when I'm in need of peace," he said, not looking at Harry. "You're the first person I've ever brought here," he continued, his voice dropping to match the quiet. "Dumbledore knew I came here, but he never intruded on my own private sanctuary, as it were."
Harry looked up at him curiously. "Severus..." he trailed off and scratched the back of his head with his free hand. "Why'd you bring me here? Not that I mind or anything, but..."
Snape stared straight ahead, unable to look at Harry as he spoke. "Because it felt right to do so," he said simply. A hand settled on his arm and he was forced to look down at Harry.
Harry grinned crookedly, and stood up on tiptoes, kissing the man on his cheek. "Thank you."
Snape felt the color rising in his face and was glad of the darkness to mask it. He cleared his throat and continued walking, hoping to get past the moment that was making him progressively uncomfortable. "Perhaps next week I can take you out for the abysmal pizza you enjoy so much," he said instead, changing the subject.
"Oi! What did I say about that earlier?!" He gave him a playful nudge in the ribs, before laughing.
Snape grinned into the darkness and pulled Harry closer. "The sacrifices I'm willing to make for you," he said in mock exasperation.
"Don't deny it, the thought of Hawaiian pizza warms you," he teased, resting his head against Snape's shoulder.
"If by 'warms,' you mean the mere idea gives me indigestion, then yes," Snape agreed. He took out his wand and transfigured a small bunch of leaves into a blanket. He sat down, his back to a tree before pulling Harry down to settle between his legs.
Harry's head bowed forward as he scooted backwards and lounged back. "This is nice," he murmured, pulling some grass out of the ground.
Snape wrapped his arms around Harry's waist, interlocking his fingers and resting them on Harry's stomach. "Happy Valentines Day, Harry," he whispered. He leaned forward far enough to plant a kiss on his cheek, and then leaned his head back against the tree, content.