Black Coffee, No Sugar

Author: merry1978
Category: slash (m/m)
Characters: SS/HP, mentioned DM/PP, RW/HG
Genre: romance, humour
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Seven years after Voldemort's final fall. Snape and Potter wake up in the same bed and do not know how they both had got there. The story was written for Russian Humour Snarry Fest 2005.
Series: Bar Series (1st story)
Warnings: this is slash story, so if you don't like homosexuality, don't read it. And it was written before HBP, so it's definitely AU now.
Disclaimer: HARRY POTTER, characters, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros. © 2007 and J.K. Rowling.
Archiving: please do not post this story anywhere on the net without getting the explicit permission from the author first.

ss 1 ss

Harry turned over to his other side, eyes still closed, and was startled as he felt a warm body next to him. The body stirred a bit and mumbled something unintelligible. It reeked of alcohol and was sweaty, so one could guess that last night party had gone well. Unfortunately, Harry could not really manage guessing anything right as he had a monstrous headache and was not able to think at all. Therefore, he just fumbled under his pillow to find his glasses and put them on. Then, attempting not to move his head, he opened his eyes and tried to see who he was in bed with.

The first thing he saw was a rather haired chest, definitely masculine. Harry raised his head very slowly, hoping to recognize the person before he could embarrass himself; it would not do not to know with whom you had just spent the night, after all...

Everything went black before his eyes for a moment, and then a very familiar long hooked nose appeared from the darkness. Dishevelled dark hair was spread across the pillow.

"I should stop getting pissed," Harry thought gloomily. "I'm seeing Snapes now."

Despite his headache, he closed his eyes tightly and then opened them again, hoping the vision would disappear. Far from it.

"Potter," the vision said with repugnance, "what are you doing here?"

"The same as you are," Harry snapped and drew back a bit. Obviously, it was a mistake, because everything went blurry again, and the blood began hammering in his temples even more. "I'm lying in a bed."

"There is no need to shout", angrily whispered Snape, then winced and rubbed the back of his head, clearly aching. "I do hear you perfectly, thank you very much."

"Sorry," Harry said placatingly as he did not have enough strength to fight right at the moment. "As this is obviously your house, maybe you could spare some hangover potion?"

Whatever they might have been doing the night before, they obviously were drinking much. In all probability, also mixing something that did not go together well.

"And why have you concluded that it is my house?" Snape appeared to be sincerely puzzled. After a few seconds of trying, he managed to sit up, leaned back against the head of the bed and glanced over the room. His eyes looked slightly fogged.

"That may be because it is not mine," Harry answered and sat too. They were in a spacious green-furnished bedroom. Sunshine got in between the curtains, and Harry thought it had to be at least midday, if not later. The light was too bright. He grimaced and averted his eyes from the window. Their garments were scattered everywhere on the carpet, on the chairs and even at the footboard of the bed. It was not too difficult to guess that somebody had been fairly... active here the night before. "Maybe even too active," Harry thought. He shuddered as he saw one of his own shoes hanging on the fireguard. "And impatient."

He cast a sidelong glance at Snape. It seemed that the Potions Master had come to the same conclusions as his hollow unshaven cheeks turned beet-red.

"Are you thinking along the same lines as I am, Potter?" he asked with a pained expression.

"I don't know," Harry said honestly, wincing as his own voice resounded in his head. "I can't think at all because of the bloody headache. Where are we?"

The place appeared familiar, but Harry just could not put the finger on it. In addition to the headache, he felt a bit sick.

"Malfoy Manor, Green guest suite," Snape answered and carefully got out of bed.

Harry hastily turned away. He was not sure he wanted to see his former professor nude and even more doubted Snape wanted to be looked at. Harry was aware that it was rather stupid of him, especially after the night spent together, but he just could not help it. He heard Snape going barefoot to the bathroom and turning on the water. Five minutes later Snape came back wrapped in a big bath towel. His hair was wet, and he was in suspiciously good spirits.

"Drink this, Potter." He held out a small vial. "Draco considers it prudent to keep a few vials of hangover potion in guest bathrooms."

"Thanks." Harry downed the vial at one draught. His headache worsened for a moment, and then it was gone. He instantly felt much better, and even breathing no more seemed to be a problem. "Draco makes good stuff. But yours is better."

"And how do you know this?" Snape frowned, pulling on his pants and trousers.

Harry felt himself blushing.

"Well... Once during our seventh year Ron, Draco, Blaise, and I got terribly pissed..."

"Just once?" Snape asked sarcastically, while finishing getting dressed.

"No. But that time Draco had run out of his own concoction and gave us yours one. Said it was his emergency stock or something like that."

"I see," Snape said a bit indifferently, seeming at the moment rather interested in Harry's shoe on the fireguard. "Tell me, Potter... are you always that... ahem... enthusiastic, or yesterday night was an exclusion?"

Harry blushed even more.

"I don't know."

"How could you not know? And aren't you going to get up?"

"I don't know because I don't remember anything!" snapped Harry. "How can I compare? And I'll get up after you are out of here. Then I'll be able to tidy myself up and to get dressed."

"What an original idea." Snape folded his hands and leaned against the door, his posture more relaxed. "Are you suffering from maiden modesty in the mornings? Or is it just an exacerbation of your hereditary cretinism? You have spent the night with me, for Merlin's sake! Are you really embarrassed to dress yourself in front of me?

It wasn't a question Harry could answer without making an idiot of himself. Hell, had he really slept with Snape? And why didn't he remember even a small bit of it? He sighed and got out from under the blanket. Trying not to look at Snape, he began to seek for his pants and undershirt. Naturally, both were found under the bed, and in order to retrieve them he had to get on his hands and knees. Harry tried hard not to think just how he had to be looking at the moment. At last he stood up and met Snape's eyes. The Potions Master was scrutinizing him with a strange expression, something between approval and bewilderment.

"Tell me, Potter," Snape began in that soft and condescending tone which is used while talking to children and madmen. "Where is your wand?"

Harry wished the earth could swallow him up. "Bloody Merlin! What an idiot I am!" he thought groaning softly, then sat down on a bed and covered his face with his hands.

"Have you finished making a fool of yourself?" Snape snorted. "I have already seen you from all possible angles. Now please try to make yourself presentable and let's go to the sitting room. As you also don't seem to remember anything, I can only hope that Draco will be able to clear the situation.

Harry put his clothes on hurriedly and ran after Snape to the ground flour of the Manor, still unwashed and dishevelled. In the sitting room Draco, Pansy and Blaise greeted them both cheerfully. They were drinking coffee.

"Ah, I see our lover-birds finally got up," Draco smirked. "How are you this morning?"

Snape turned menacingly crimson. Harry wondered for a moment if he should hide behind the professor's firm back or just Apparate home before the Potions Master resolved to get rid of all the witnesses. However, Snape apparently decided not to kill anybody as he got his wand and wordlessly levitated Draco from his armchair and dropped him on the sofa, next to Pansy. Then he silently settled in that armchair himself.

"I am fine now, thank you very much, Draco," he said sarcastically. "Would you be so kind to explain what happened here yesterday night?"

"What happened here? Nothing, Severus!" Draco batted his eyelashes as he unsuccessfully tried not to smirk. "At the Autumn Ministry Ball, however..."

Harry groaned as he sank down on a chair and closed his face with his hands again. Snape cast him a disapproving look.

"Oh don't kill yourself yet, Harry!" Pansy patted his shoulder in sympathy. "You maybe did a jig with Weasley on a table but who wouldn't? Would you like some coffee?"

Harry nodded miserably as he imagined comments and snickers of his colleagues and subordinates next Monday. He would agree to drink a water-hemlock extract right now!

"You have your coffee plain, right, professor?" Pansy gave Snape his cup.

"Thank you, Pansy. So, what will this Ball be famous for, besides some Gryffindor amateur performances?" the Potions Master asked carefully and took a sip of his coffee.

Blaise began to snicker but immediately sobered after a severe glare from his former Head of House.

"Well, the jig was just a last trick. But before that you..." he stammered.

"What. Did. I. Do?" Snape asked in a deadly voice.

"You and Potter..." Blaise paled and felt a lump in his throat. "You waltzed."

"What?!" It seemed that the professor's eyes were going to pop out of their sockets.

"You waltzed," Blaise repeated and moved away from Snape, just to be on the safe side.

"I. Waltzed. With Potter. At the Ministry Ball," Snape muttered, apparently trying to digest the information.

Harry felt an irresistible desire to hide under the table and just wait there until the Judgment Day.

"You probably should also know that it was a ladies' choice dance," told Pansy giving Harry a saucer with some biscuits.

"And who... asked whom?" inquired Harry in a small voice. It took all his concentration not to drop the saucer.

"Well, it was Severus..."

"... who asked you," answered Draco and Pansy together.

Snape made some strange sound, something between a growl and a moan. Harry felt a bit better, but unfortunately, it did not last long.

"And after the dance you knelt before him and asked him to marry you," finished Blaise.

Harry choked and covered the carpet with biscuit crumbs in a fit of coughing. Pansy helpfully clapped him on the back.

"And did he... say yes?" Harry asked, mortified. He goggled and blinked alternately, looking just like an owlet that had been abruptly brought into the light from a tree hollow.

"Alas, he was forced to reject you," Draco answered tragically. He was obviously taking pleasure in listening to himself. "The problem is that Wizarding Britain has yet to legalise same-sex marriage. You can always ask your beloved Granger... sorry, Weasley now, for the details. It is she who struggles for the rights of all the insulted and the injured...

"Ahem!" Snape said indignantly. Draco fell silent trying his best to look remorseful. He was not really successful though.

"In brief, you tried to drown your misery in firewhisky," Blaise told. "And then you and Weasley decided to make a show of yourselves."

"But Severus thought you had already had enough," Pansy cut in. "So as soon as you finished your inflammatory dance, he insisted on taking you home immediately. As it was too late to go to Hogwarts, we just came here altogether."

"And what did Ron do?" Harry asked dully. It was quite a task to try to digest all the news simultaneously.

"And how does that matter?" Blaise was puzzled. "Weasley was taken home by Granger... I mean Weasley... I mean his wife took him. And then Severus and you both came here to... sleep.

"Oh," was all Harry could manage. He desperately regretted now that Voldemort had not shared with him his grave almost eight years before. It could be a good place to hide.

"Stop wallowing in self-pity, Potter," Snape said contemptuously and got to his feet. "I assure you, nothing could possibly harm your stainless reputation. Thank you for your hospitality, Draco, Pansy. Good day."

He strode swiftly to the fireplace, threw in some Flooing Powder, then called, "The Three Broomsticks", and disappeared into the flames without even turning around.

ss 2 ss

"Oh, yes... oh, please... oh, Severus!"

Harry sat up in his bed with a strangled cry, struggling out from just another erotic nightmare. It did not mean that the dream was really awful. However, as a lonely twenty-five-years-old gay, Harry considered any erotic dream being a true nightmare. Especially if such a dream was quite vivid.

He sighed, reached for his wand and muttered a cleansing spell. A glance at his clock told him it was half past five. From his experience of last few days, he knew already that there was no point in trying to go to sleep again. Therefore, he got up, slipped his bathrobe on and, yawning, stumbled to the kitchen to make himself some coffee. At last, he settled down with a big steaming mug and began guessing how much the Snape from his dreams resembled the real one; that was his favourite pastime all the last week. He still could not remember anything of The Night, and the fact was confusing him greatly. He remembered the official part of the Ball quite distinctly. He remembered drinking punch with Ron and distractedly listening Hermione's news of her last project. He recollected laughing with Draco and Blaise and telling jokes of Snape, Voldemort and Death Eaters. But he surely didn't remember Snape himself.

ss ss ss ss

"I should stop drinking," muttered Harry on his way to Ministry every morning this week. At work, he was met with his subordinates' whispers and Draco's ineradicable optimism.

It had been two years since Harry became the Head of the Scotland Division of MLE, and Draco Malfoy was lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) enough to work as his deputy. The blond Slytherin skilfully scared away impudent applicants and lickspittles, craftily disposed of immense amounts of mail, was able to find anything and anybody in shortest time possible and could easily hit with Avada Kedavra a marked corner of an ace of diamonds hidden under the pillow. The main purpose in Draco's life, though, was caring of his chief's mental health. As Draco liked to repeat, a nervous and unhappy Harry Potter is fraught with social catastrophes, Dark Lord's murders and all the three Unforgivables.

However, this week Malfoy outdid himself.

"Have you eaten a lemon lately, Harry?" he smirked, sitting down on Harry's desk and rocking slightly his feet in narrow dragon-skin boots. "I've just heard a new joke. By the way, it's about you. Once Potter comes to the Ministry... Oh, you don't like it, I see. There's also one about Snape. Once a drunk Snape flies to a Death Eaters' meeting on his broom..."

Harry sincerely tried to cheer up – without any result, though. Worst of all, the more he tried the more he felt depressed. On Wednesday, one of the probationers forgot to enclose some insignificant document while closing a case, and Harry, to his own shame, absolutely lost his temper. An omnipresent Draco selflessly saved a scared to death boy from their aggravated boss and immediately became the hero of the day. On Thursday, the Aurors began to hide from Harry in their cubicles. On Friday, Draco's patience gave away.

"Listen to me, you, National Hero!" Draco exclaimed, snatching the quarterly report out of Harry's hands. "If you don't find your way out of here right now, we will get mass personnel flow-out in few days! Go to the Diagon Alley and buy yourself a dinner. And have a good night's rest at last! You've got such shadows under your eyes that people would think I am a bloody slave driver."

"You're terribly funny today," Harry muttered but got to his feet obediently. Stretching with pleasure, he thought that escaping work a bit earlier was not such a bad idea.

"You should take a day-off," Draco suggested, sitting down unceremoniously into Harry's own chair. Shameless show-off as he was, he calmly put his feet onto Harry's table and pretended to be interested in some Auror's report. "Just go and get some fresh air. Maybe visiting Hogwarts will do you some good?"

"What are you, my bloody mum?" Harry grumbled mostly just due to his wish to contradict.

"That's it, boss, I've had enough!" Draco said in a low voice and took out his wand. The door opened invitingly, and the moment later Harry felt an invisible hand taking him by the collar and dragging him out of the office. The door closed shut behind his back; he leaned against it and laughed with relief. Despite the family arrogance (mostly feigned) and the constant need to show off, Draco was a good colleague. Maybe even a good friend...

ss ss ss ss

Harry finished his coffee and sighed. The day before he attempted to follow Draco's advice and strolled for quite some time through London streets, reacquainting himself with cold November weather. Then he had dinner at the Tengu's Teapot, a new Japanese restaurant in Diagon Alley, and went to bed at ten o'clock.

Alas, it did not really help, as it did not stop the damned dreams, and he woke up feeling weary, not to mention at a ridiculous hour. He glanced at the clock: five minutes to six. Just what can a sensible man do on Saturday at six o'clock in the bloody morning?

Then he remembered Draco's words again. "Just go and get some fresh air. Maybe visiting Hogwarts will do you some good..."

"Well, that's an idea," Harry told himself lazily. "I could Apparate to Hogsmeade, then walk to the castle and have breakfast with Albus..."

"And maybe wake up Snape," a little voice from the back of his mind cut in.

"Well, that's the IDEA!" Harry agreed. "Considering it's really impossible to make a greater fool of myself than I have already done..."

He washed up his mug absentmindedly, put it back onto the shelf and went to the bathroom. He needed to take a shower and get a shave.

ss 3 ss

That Saturday Severus Snape let himself blissfully sleep until eleven o'clock in the morning.

ss ss ss ss

All the week he suffered from quite nonsensical and at the same time rather arousing dreams concerning Harry Potter. Moreover, some images from those dreams tended to reappear in his consciousness at the most inconvenient moments. Giving out detentions and taking points from Gryffindor did not help the matter whatsoever. A desperate attempt to complete an article on some side effects of the latest version of Wolfsbane could not distract him either. As a result, while grading students' essays, he regularly flinched upon such innocent words as "seed", "blow" and "prick". Every time he had to remind himself that the essays concerned vegetable ingredients and not someone's bedroom activity. At dinner on Friday he was aggravated enough for Dumbledore to ask if something had happened and if his dear Severus was feeling unwell. "Dear Severus" stopped pushing pieces of roast beef around his plate, stood up abruptly, tossed his fork aside and strode to his dungeons, followed by the frightened students' gazes.

Once in his apartments, he thoroughly warded the door, proceeded to his private lab and retrieved from a special locked cabinet his own version of the Dreamless Sleep Draught. He designed it himself during the First Rise of Voldemort, unable to sleep without nightmares after Death Eaters' meetings.

Severus took the vial to the bedroom, left it on the bedside-table and went to the bathroom. An hour later, after a rather pleasant herbs-flavoured bath he went back to his bed, put out the lights, drunk the potion and fell asleep with a happy smile that could make some sensitive Hufflepuff first-year loose consciousness.

ss ss ss ss

Severus woke up and almost immediately sensed that something was not right. After a moment of concentration, he understood that somebody had broken through the wards on the door to his quarters. Any normal student should have enough brains to stay away from the Potions Master's apartments, but once or twice a year some talented Gryffindor came to an idea that there could not be a feat more heroic than breaking into Snape's rooms. Sometimes the idiotic children even dared to leave incriminating signs of their presence, like a rather betraying inscription "Jamie was here" or something else of the kind. Usually Severus would simply react in a most well-tried way and just fly into a rage. This morning, though, he was in an extraordinary good mood after a very satisfactory night sleep and thus decided not to spoil the day and postpone the hunting down the scoundrel until later.

Having made the decision, he got up, threw on his old dark-green dressing gown, as much liked as it was worn, and went to the small kitchen intending to make himself some coffee.

Severus entered the kitchen and stopped dead.

First, there beside his lovely little kitchen table was sitting Harry Potter. Second, the insolent boy was drinking Severus's tea and reading his fresh copy of the Daily Prophet. Third, on the table there was a pot of orange jam, made by Severus himself, and Potter was eating the aforementioned jam with a tablespoon. Right from the pot.

Having heard someone coming, Harry stopped reading.

"Hello, Severus," he said with a blinding smile.

Snape opened his mouth to say something harsh, but decided against it and just sat across his unexpected guest.

"Hello,Harry," he answered. After having overcome the first shock, he became curious what this idiot boy could be up to. The Dark Lord was dead for sure, and therefore Potter's escapades became more or less harmless and inoffensive. Or as harmless and inoffensive as they could be.

Harry stood up and got the second cup from the shelf.

"Tea, Severus?" he asked.

"Coffee," the Potions Master countered, just to see what Potter would do next.

Harry looked over the kitchen and somehow accurately detected the cabinet where coffee and sugar were stored. It took him just a few more seconds to find an old-fashioned brass coffee mill and a cezve (Severus preferred Turkish coffee), then to boil the water in the kettle with a single wave of his wand.

"How would you like it?" he asked while putting coffee beans into the mill.

"Adequate," Snape smirked. He discovered that he liked this little game of wills more and more.

Harry put the fresh-grounded coffee into the cezve, poured there already boiled water and put the pot onto a small burner.

"Two knuts for your thoughts," he offered standing with his back to Snape. The coffee began to simmer, and Harry lifted the cezve for a minute and waited a bit, then put it on the burner again.

Severus just snorted instead of answering.

"You're wondering why I was abysmal in Potions if I love cooking so much," Harry put a cup of coffee in front of his host and sat down again. "You should have it with cane sugar. It's lots better that way."

"You are wrong, just as always, Potter," smirked Severus. "I am wondering what for Hades' sake you are doing here. And I prefer my coffee plain and black, thank you very much."

"And also do I. As to what I'm doing here..." Harry became serious. "Tell me Severus, haven't you had any dreams lately that can be called... er... dubious?"

"I wouldn't name them dubious." The Potions Master smirked again. "Well, maybe you are right. Anything where you are involved should certainly be considered dubious and not quite proper."

Harry smiled wryly.

"Well, I've got the same problem, Severus. And I don't believe in coincidences."

Severus finished his coffee and carefully put his cup on the saucer with a small clinking noise.

"So you suppose that we have been cursed," he drawled, with all his posture distinctly expressing his doubts.

"I'm positive. I couldn't remember what happened last Saturday at all... and I don't like it."

"I do not like it as well. And you are suggesting...?" Snape inquired in a cold business voice. Harry immediately remembered numerous Order meetings that took place a couple of years after Voldemort's fall when they had to hunt down Death Eaters all over Britain.

"I guess you know well that most ordinary sex curses can be countered in a quite simple and pleasant way." Harry smiled slyly. "I think it would be enough. And it's certainly easier than trying to find an exact counter-curse."

"And why should I concede to it?" asked Snape, raising an eyebrow theatrically.

"Aren't you curious?" asked Harry. "You don't remember it also, you admitted it yourself."

"That may be true. But it does not have to mean anything."

Harry began to get agitated. He already regretted that he had come to Snape, and wondered just when the situation had got out of hand.

"No, it doesn't. I guess I should go. Thanks for being understanding," he added sarcastically and stood up.

"You are welcome," Snape retorted and stood up too. Harry tried to leave, but Snape blocked his way.

"What have I done to deserve you?" Severus sighed. "Don't answer; that was a rhetorical question. Well," he folded his arms and leaned against the doorpost. "I do consent to your little experiment, but on my own conditions."

"And that would be?" Harry asked suspiciously.

"Firstly, I'm not going to have sex anywhere except my own rooms. You could just stay here tonight if you wish."


"Secondly, you do owe me a dinner in a decent restaurant. I can not possibly allow anyone break into my home and steal my jam without consequences."

Harry was shameful enough to blush a bit.

"It's my pleasure," he said lowering his eyes. "Any time. Sorry for not asking you before..."

"And thirdly," Snape interrupted him, "I top."

Harry felt himself blushing even more. He still could not get used to the fact that while the Wizarding World was conservative in many everyday questions, the sex there was quite a common topic. It seemed that the whole idea of doing things not-Muggle-way got some spectacular results in the Victorian Age. For example, same-sex couples, despite not being really encouraged because of need to have pureblood heirs, were considered quite common nonetheless. When Harry visited the Burrow during his last school year, he was almost shocked by the free and casual manner with which his friends discussed some rather intimate topics with their parents. Now Snape's blunt annunciation of his sex preferences made the young man feel unsettled.


He collected himself and nodded, not wanting to raise his eyes. He stared at the stone flour and hated feeling as if he was a sixteen-years-old boy again.

"Well, that's settled. Let's seal the deal?" Severus smirked and without waiting for the reply stepped forward. He lifted Harry's chin with a forefinger and made the younger man look into his eyes, then tilted his head a bit and kissed Harry. The kiss was slow and leisure, and Harry felt as though Snape was savouring him, like a good liquor. The Potions Master was just as thorough in this as he was in everything else.

"Orange jam and coffee taste funny together," Harry thought distractedly. He was just beginning to get aroused when Severus broke the kiss and stepped away in the same unhurried manner. Harry whimpered in protest, and Snape smirked again.

"Unlike some idle officers from the Ministry, I have my responsibilities. There is a staff meeting at two o'clock, and then at four o'clock my Slytherins have their last Quidditch training before the tomorrow's match with Gryffindors. At half past six, I expect to be fully at your service, but until then please go bother somebody else. As soon as the staff meeting is over, Albus, Minerva and your beloved Lupin will be happy to see you, I am sure.

With this words Severus turned away and simply went to his office. Harry had no choice but leave the Potions Master's quarters.

ss 4 ss

The fire burning in the fireplace warmly lighted the dark bedroom. The lonely candle on the mantelpiece flickered slightly.

"I wonder who cursed us," Harry said lazily, staring at the beautiful tapestry where Salazar Slytherin played chess with Rowena Ravenclaw. Judging by the chessmen's positions on the board, Salazar was close to the victory. "I wish I knew what really had happened at that bloody Ball!"

Severus, who had just begun to doze off, rose a bit on his elbow.

"What?" He seemed astonished. "Are you serious?"

"What do you mean?" Harry was puzzled.

Severus groaned slightly and sat up.

"Merlin's beard! I was positively sure you are tricking me. Haven't it occurred to you to simply make inquiries? To ask somebody who was there?"

Harry shook his head, feeling more and more stupid with every passing moment.

"I would better bring something strong enough to drink, I suppose. Would you like some cognac?" Severus stood up and, without bothering to put even a dressing gown on, went to the sitting room. Harry, as though spellbound, followed his naked lover's arse with his eyes. Severus returned carrying a tray, on which there was a bottle of Hennessy with two snifters. He calmly put the tray on the bedside-table, poured the liquor out, then gave Harry his snifter and sat on the bed. He made a sip or two of his cognac and began explaining.

"Last week after waking up in the same bed with you I was so shocked, I have to admit, that I swallowed all the nonsense Draco had made up. While I walked from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts however, I came back to normal and then went straight to Albus. The night of the Ball, he stayed at the Ministry until the early hours and quite readily lent me his Pensieve with his memories.

"And?" Harry could not help himself.

"What do you think?" Severus smirked. "The Ball was as boring as ever; no waltzes, no jigs on the table for you. If I remember correctly, we did not even exchange a few words. Still, you and Weasley Junior drank punch, and a rather strong one, I must say, all evening long. As to me, Draco brought me brandy quite a few times; it is easy enough to imagine, we both became pleasantly intoxicated at last. Albus saw Weasley handing you to Draco at some point, and then we left the Ministry with Malfoys and Blaise.

Harry cursed quietly; Severus smiled.

"As you must understand, the very first dream of you was enough for me to get interested in earnest and take action. In the evening, I brewed the Object Memory Reading Potion and amused myself greatly with viewing the memories of my dress robes, shoes and other garments. First, we both fell asleep in Draco's sitting room. It is quite possible that my charming godson had also drugged us with the Sleeping Draught or something like that, but it is not important. After moving us to bed, Draco and Blaise spent a lot of time artistically placing our clothes all over the room. The final touch was your shoe on the fireguard; that was, naturally, Draco's idea.

"So we didn't do anything? And what about these dreams?"

"Of course we didn't. As to the dreams, their cause is definitely a love potion. Could you guess when your friends slipped it to us?"

Harry thought for a minute.

"The next morning," he answered. "I do not remember anybody pouring out the coffee. Pansy brought us our cups already full."

"You are quite right. Moreover, this potion was not some common thing. I did a blood test myself, and now I am positive that it was some new invention of Draco. A rather funny concoction, I must say. Firstly, the victims must have a certain inclination to each other." Severus winked, and Harry blushed again. "I do not think you could dream of Draco, for example. Secondly, it is absolutely harmless. It should stop working after a week or two. That is why I decided not to try to find an antidote; it was not worth my time. The Friday night though I felt a bit tired and drank the Dreamless Sleep in order to have a full night's rest. I was sure that as soon as you began seeing the same dreams, you would talk to Draco and he would either send you to me or give you the antidote himself. When this morning you told me your theories of some unknown pranksters, I simply decided that you hadn't devised a more convincing story to get into my pants."

"No, Severus, I'm really as much an idiot as I look like," Harry sighed and turned away, putting his empty snifter on the floor near the bed. His cheeks were burning red from embarrassment; he could not make himself look into Severus's eyes, so he just lied there, staring at the tapestry.

Then he felt Severus's hand on his shoulder.

"You know," Severus began, "as strange as it may seem coming from me, but you should trust people more. Those who are close to you, at the very least. I have long ago understood that your Gryffindorish openness is nothing more than a mask, but this is plain stupid. Even I have got friends to whom I am able to speak openly almost about everything, and it is unlikely that you could be more misanthropic than me."

Harry muttered something unintelligible into his pillow and refused to move. Then Severus took him by his shoulder without any ceremonies and turned him on his back. Harry just kept his eyes tightly closed despite the clear understanding that he was being childish.

"Stop wallowing in self-pity, Harry. Look at me immediately, or I'll just bite your nose off, and Lupin will be proud of me, I swear."

Harry could not help giggling and opened his eyes. Severus was looking down at him and, to the young man's immense surprise, smiling contentedly. As slowly as earlier in the kitchen, the Potions Master bowed his head and kissed Harry, calmly and unhurriedly. Then he took his wand, extinguished the candle with a muttered spell and wrapped himself in his blanket.

"Goodnight, Harry."

"Goodnight," Harry answered and smiled in the darkness.

ss 5 ss

The nest morning Harry woke up alone. There were no windows in the bedroom, but his time sense suggested that it should be somewhere around midday. A beautiful green jasper clock on the mantelpiece confirmed his guess.

Harry stretched himself contentedly, got out of the bed and made his way the bathroom, where he found a big fresh bath towel, obviously laid out for him. He smiled; it seemed to be a trifle, but this little sign of consideration was definitely pleasant. Harry took a shower, dried himself and went back to the bedroom. Almost automatically, he cleaned and freshened up his clothes before getting dressed; he got used to it while he had been an ordinary Auror. During the years he spent working together with Draco he learned quite a lot of helpful spells or charms that somehow had been completely missed at school.

"Even three of days in a gutter are not a reason to look like a tattered pauper!" Draco usually exclaimed and then taught him something like a manicuring charm or a spell for delicate wool cleaning.

While dressing, Harry remembered all the details of the last night and considered what he should do now. Was not it ironical, that the one person he felt not only good, but... well... comfortable with, was Snape? Harry smiled sadly. Snape was right; Harry's friends could be counted on the fingers of one hand, and even though he trusted them, he was not really open with them. Needless to say, with such an attitude his sex life was almost nonexistent; several one-night stands, and that's all. Nothing worth remembering. For the first time in years, he wanted to stay, not to run away. Harry sighed and told himself his wishes meant nothing, as Snape surely would not want to continue this affair between them. There was not any sense in desiring something you could not get.

ss ss ss ss

It turned out that Severus was in the kitchen; he was drinking coffee and reading the last number of the Alchemical Bulletin. It seemed he had already had breakfast; there was a dirty plate on the table.

"There's porridge, eggs and toasts." Without stopping his reading, Severus pointed at some covered dishes, obviously under heating charms.

"Thanks," Harry said and began eating. Once or twice he tried to start a conversation, but Snape answered monosyllabically and rather reluctantly, so Harry gave up and finished his breakfast in silence. Then he took both plates, put them into the sink and began washing. It seemed that the sound of running water and clinking broke through Snape's reverie, as he put aside his journal and stared at Harry, looking quite astonished.

"There are house elves at Hogwarts, you know. And why are you doing it this way? Wouldn't it be easier to use magic?" Suddenly he frowned. "Or should I take it as an endeavour to hint that I am a bad host as I do not try to entertain you?"

"Of course not!" Harry was sincerely surprised. "It's just a habit, that's all. I always try to do the dishes right after the meal; otherwise, it is a sure way to an ecological disaster. And I have indeed forgotten about the elves."

"As you wish," Severus turned to his journal again. "I apologize, but I have to finish reading this nonsense. The editors will be waiting for my review today, and at three o'clock my Slytherins have a match that I must attend..."

The dishes washed up, Harry lingered a bit, but Snape was engrossed in his article. The young man felt perplexed. On the one hand, Snape had ignored him all the morning, and on the other, did not show him the door. Or should this lack of attention be taken as a sign that he wasn't wanted here?

"Well, I'll just go, I guess..." he said, pouting a bit.

Severus looked at him intently and shrugged.

"I suppose there's no need to see you out. Especially taking into account the way you had got in here," he smirked.

"Good day then."

Snape nodded and resumed his reading. Harry left the kitchen. Everything went exactly as he had imagined before, didn't it? Nothing new, no surprises here. He came to the exit from Snape's apartments and was going to open the door, but suddenly stopped. "What the hell!" he thought. Harry turned abruptly and went back to the kitchen. In the doorway, he paused; Snape raised his head and looked at him inquiringly.

"I just wanted to ask you a question." Harry said, forcing a careless smile. "What are you doing next Saturday?"

"Nothing particularly interesting yet," answered Snape calmly. "Do you have any suggestions?"

Harry felt trapped. He had been waiting for a rejection or even a mockery and because of that had not really thought of anything in particular. Therefore, he decided to improvise. He came up to Severus, closed his eyes (just in case) and kissed the older man firmly to the mouth. Snape froze for a moment, then stood up without breaking the kiss and pulled Harry to himself, putting one hand on young man's lower back and slipping the other into Harry's already messed hair. The journal fell on the floor forgotten. At last Severus draw back a bit, and Harry opened his eyes.

"And what could such behaviour of yours possibly mean?" Snape asked archly, without letting Harry go though.

Harry understood that implied hints would not get him anywhere.

"Severus," he inhaled deeply, "what do you think about... going out with me?"

"Perhaps it could be worth a try," Snape answered thoughtfully. "Tell me honestly, you haven't really got any plans for next Saturday, have you?"

Harry shook his head.

"I have guessed that much," Severus chuckled. "When you think of something, send me an owl. And don't forget to tell Draco I'm sending my regards."

ss 6 ss

The rest of the weekend Harry spent happily remembering the night with Severus and inventing the proper revenge for Draco. Well, in all sincerity, he was grateful to the blond Slytherin and even decided to thank him... but later.

Monday morning he was late for work. He had just had his first full night rest in a week, for one thing, and the Plan required the victim to arrive before him, for the other.

As black as a thunder and scowling, he swept through the corridors and burst into their office. Draco was sitting at his table, looking concentrated, studying some documents.

"Thanks Merlin you're here!" he said without looking at Harry. "We've got a corpse, and quite a bad one. The whole matter just stinks, pardon me the bad pun..." he fell silent as he saw his boss's wand set against his forehead. "What is that for? Have you gone barking mad?"

"What have you done to me, you git?" Harry snarled through clenched teeth, enjoying himself very much. "What have you drugged me with?"

"Harry! What are you talking about?" Draco tried to wiggle out, but there definitely was a shadow of worry in his eyes.

"I am asking you why I dream of bloody Snape every bloody night! Every sodding night since you-well-know-who treated me a coffee at the Malfoy Manor!" Harry leaned over the table, impending over Draco menacingly. Draco tried to draw back, but the wall behind him blocked his movement.

"For the sake of Morgan Le Fay, Harry, settle down. I'll expla..." He abruptly fell silent again. There was a brief flicker of confusion in his face, and then he suddenly grinned. "Don't ever scare me like that again, Harry! I really believed you here for a moment..."

Harry snorted, walked around the table, sat on the edge of it and began dangling his legs like a teenager.

"What a pity," he smirked. "And here I was going to tell you many interesting things of yourself! How did you guess?"

"You were very convincing. But there was just one tiny little detail off..." Draco grinned. "Harry, you've got quite an expressive hickey on your neck. More than one, I would say."

Harry blushed and hastily fastened the upper button of his shirt.

"Much better," Draco nodded approvingly. "Would it be safe to suppose you are both all right?"

"More than all right," Harry grinned. "By the way, Severus sends his regards."

Draco winced.

"Harry," he said, "let's better discuss that corpse."

The End

March - April, 2005