Author's Note: This story is non HBP-compliant. Please review - concrit is welcome :)

Anti-Litigation Charm: It all belongs to J.K. Rowling; I am only playing for non-profit amusement.

An … Enjoyable Night?

by Silver Birch

"On your knees, Potter."

Potter's face, which had been as studied a mask of indifference as a Gryffindor could make it, clouded with confusion, but he apparently realized the situation he was in; despite his incomprehension, he did as he was told and uttered not a word, eyes trained studiously on the ground. This was a far cry from his usual insolent questions and commentary.

Severus came to stand right in front of the dark-haired boy, casting a dark shadow over the kneeling form.

"Well, Potter," he demanded sardonically, "what are you waiting for? You don't want me to think you're less adept than Malfoy, now do you?"

This snapped the green eyes up to Severus's face, and the older man was surprised to note the delight and hope that had suddenly appeared in those brilliant depths.

"You mean I get to touch you again?" Potter asked somewhat breathlessly.

Although Severus let none of his feelings show on his face, he was internally puzzled by this reaction. If it was disingenuous, it was far better dissimulation than Potter usually managed; if it was genuine … he would not allow himself to contemplate such a possibility. But the last time someone had looked on touching him with such enthusiasm was … never. He gave himself a mental shake: a foolish thought to even consider for a second. The boy obviously thought he was making the best of a bad situation. Perhaps he even thought that feigned enthusiasm would make Severus go easy on him. i Idiot boy /i , Severus thought savagely.

"What other good are you, Potter?" he demanded with a sneer.

He had known the boy for seven years, had turned insulting him into an art form, and would have wagered galleons on his ability to get a rise out of him. Granted, Potter had learnt to control his temper a little as the years progressed, but how could the proud Gryffindor Golden Boy not take umbrage at the suggestion that he was good for nothing other than a blow job?

And yet the look Potter gave him contained not a hint of anger. In fact, if Severus had to classify the expression, he would probably be forced to call it shy, which made no sense at all. Of course, in the context of the surreal and screwed up last couple of days, perhaps it should really come as no surprise at all.

"I thought you might like to do something else," Potter suggested after a moment of apparently struggling to find his voice.

Anger sluiced through Severus and he knew furious spots of colour were rising to his cheeks as he bit out an unconsidered but honest reply.

"You're so like your father you make me sick, Potter! Just as arrogant, just as presumptuous: how dare you assume that I would enjoy a repeat performance of yesterday? Great and glorious Potters are always on top, aren't they?" he sneered. "Whether their victims are willing or not?"

Potter's face had gone crimson at these words, but Severus could have sworn it was mortification rather than anger that so tinged the Boy Wonder's face.

"I didn't, I thought …" His mouth opened and closed several times with no words emerging, until he finally managed, "Malfoy said the potion relaxed inhibitions – I never would have … if I'd thought you didn't …"

The sneer deepened on Severus's face. "So this is all Mr. Malfoy's fault, is it?"

Potter shook his head. "No, I should have better researched what we were doing, or refused to take part if I was unclear. I went ahead with it and that's my responsibility."

A showing of maturity from the leader of the thoughtless Gryffindors? It was unthinkable. Potter wasn't finished, either, although his next words were addressed to Severus's shoes.

"I don't know anything about—nor do I particularly want to consider—my father's preferences as relate to sexual … erm, positions, but if what you say is true then I guess I want to … er, break with tradition. I obviously made a mess of yesterday, and I know Malfoy must be better than me at … you know," Potter faltered for a moment but then soldiered on, "I thought I couldn't possibly go wrong on the … er, bottom, because I wouldn't really be doing much of anything, right? It's only fair that you take anything you want from me, and that's what I was trying to say, and I'm sorry if it came out wrong and I upset you."

It was a good thing the boy didn't look up, as he would have caught sight of Severus gaping at him. "It's only fair" was not an expression he had ever thought to hear a Potter say to him, especially in conjunction with "take anything you want from me". The idea that Potter was offering of his own free will to bottom for the Greasy Git of the Dungeons was simply ludicrous. Obviously, it was all part of a ploy to humiliate him. Get him to accept and then laugh in his face.

Severus's voice dropped to its most dangerous, silk-covered-steel level. "So you're saying that if I bent you over my desk and took you right here and now that would be only fair?"

The shorter frame below him trembled slightly, but Potter nodded his head. Severus was getting very mixed signals here: the boy was offering, but he was nervous…. Had he been coerced? If Malfoy had forced him in any way, the Slytherin was going to–

"Look at me, Potter." It was a command, but it somehow came out far less harshly than Severus had intended. The boy continued to stare intently at the floor. Inexplicably, rather than yelling at him, Severus found himself slipping two long, white fingers under the boy's chin and raising his head. Potter's eyes were huge, the pupils obscuring almost all of the green iris to Severus's searching gaze.

"Would it not be fair?" he asked again, this time in a velvety purr.

"I-I agreed it would," Potter stuttered slightly.

Severus's eyes narrowed. He dealt with that sort of double-speak in his sleep.

"You agreed it would but you don't really think so?" he proposed, fingers tightening on Potter's chin.

Potter's eyes clouded, only Severus's grip preventing him from looking away, but he nearly managed a tone of defiance as he said, "That's not what I said. It would be very fair, especially if yesterday was … unpleasant for you." A hint of desperation now. "Can we get this over with, please?"

Severus considered the boy with a frown. In the space of several minutes he had been transformed from eager at the thought of touching Severus to desperate to finish an action which he evidently dreaded. Even if it was feigned (it had been feigned well, after all), Severus preferred the former emotion. He ran over the words again. It would be very fair, especially if yesterday was unpleasant for you. Implication, then, that what would make it fair was the fact that today's encounter would be unpleasant for Potter. Severus's lips tightened. He should have grabbed Potter's enthusiasm and run with it. Bloody hell. Not even to pay back the arrogant Marauders would he scar the boy like that. He relinquished his grip.

"Unlike some, Potter, I prefer my partners willing. Get back to your dorm."

Potter just stared at him.

"Did you not hear me, boy? Get out!"

A puzzled frown was growing on the boy's face (an expression Severus recognized well from Potions class), resulting finally in: "But I'm not unwilling."

Pushed to his limit, Severus hauled Potter to his feet and shoved him towards the door. "Out!" he snapped. "Don't you dare patronize me."

Recovering his balance, Potter held his ground. In fact, he looked almost as though he were going to stamp his foot in frustration.

"But I'm not unwilling!" he repeated.

Severus covered the space between them in one hasty stride. Looming over the shorter man, he growled, "I've given you an out, Potter; make use of it."

"But I don't want out," he repeated stubbornly.

"Then what do you want?" Severus demanded, allowing a fair bit of his frustration to leach into his voice.

"I want–I want–"

Potter could not seemed to properly articulate what he wanted, and Severus thought they'd finally reached the end of their game. Praise Merlin - he could retire to his quarters for a very large glass of firewhisky. Suddenly, Potter closed the distance between them, coiled his arms around Severus's neck, and brought his lips to the older man's. And since being kissed by Potter was on the short (and very private) list of things which Severus could not resist, he gave in and kissed the boy back, his hands clutching the slender hips and holding Potter in place.

When it became necessary to breathe, they drew apart several centimetres, but Severus did not release his grasp. Potter, chest rising and falling rapidly, was now beaming.

"See?" he said cheerfully. "I'm not unwilling."

Severus had to struggle for a moment to achieve coherent thought and adequate voice control. "I will concede," he allowed smoothly, "your willingness to kiss me, Potter, but do not try to tell me that you've been all sunshine and smiles throughout our encounter; I am not quite in my dotage yet and my memory is not that bad."

Potter scowled at him. "You most certainly are not in your dotage!"

Severus regarded him with amusement. "Thank you for flying to my defence."

A delicate and rather becoming flush darkened Potter's cheeks at his words.

"What I am more interested in discussing, however, is your earlier behaviour. Let us map it, shall we? You professed yourself eager enough to touch me, as I recall, but then proposed I take my pleasure in you. However, you greeted my proposal as to how this was to be done with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Therein lies the problem, I take it?"

Potter's eyes crinkled as he smiled at Severus and noted wryly, "You glossed over the part where you slung insults at myself and my father."

Severus cleared his throat. "Did that impact your behaviour?"

"Not particularly, no." Potter gave him an arch look. "I'm rather inured to it at this point."

"A healthy life choice, I'm sure," Severus said dismissively. "Are you going to continue to avoid my question?"

"I'm not–" Potter began to protest, but stopped at Severus's raised eyebrow. He let out a loud sigh, as though he were much put upon, and admitted finally: "I want to do anything that will please you, but," the last came out in a rush, "I'd be happiest if it pleased me as well."

"That's very logical," Severus conceded, willing to humour him now that he seemed to be nearing an answer. "May I remind you, however, that it was you who suggested my touching you? If that does not please you, it would have been simpler not to mention it."

"But that's why I mentioned it. I thought you would enjoy it, and I wanted … I wanted to feel you inside me."

As most of the blood in his body headed south at these words, Severus struggled for an even tone. "What's the problem, then?"

Potter's eyes once again left Severus's face. "If it's what you want, then I'll do it. I'm sorry I made such a fuss."

"What I want, Potter, is a direct answer. I can still toss you out, you know," he pointed out with a silky threat.

This snapped Potter's gaze back to meet Severus's eyes with alacrity. "You wouldn't." Uncertainty clear despite the words.

Severus was certain that it wasn't just him; the boy was either bipolar or not making sense this evening. If he responded to a threat, however, then that was all to the good.

"Do you really want to test me, Potter?"

As Potter's gaze drifted down to about chin-level, Severus wished he'd specified eye contact. As the boy opened his mouth, he figured he'd better not push his luck.

"It sounded rather quick and … and rough … and I thought," he swallowed convulsively, "I thought it would probably hurt."

Well, bloody hell. Not something Severus would be volunteering to do anytime soon.

"And yet, if I understand you correctly, you just volunteered again to do it?"

"If it's what you want."

This was said in a small voice, but firmly, and Severus was rather staggered by the notion.

"So you want to please me even if it is at the price of your own pleasure?" Severus stumbled over the words, and cursed himself for sounding as though it were so alien a concept.

Potter didn't seem to notice his professor's gaucheness, however, simply nodding and mumbling, "I had no idea yesterday was so awful for you. I'm sorry."

Oh, for the love of–

"Potter," he said shortly, "I don't like to lose control of myself, but the experience itself wasn't that bad."

Potter evidently found himself able to meet Severus's gaze again, his relief clear to see. "Really?" he asked hopefully.

Without realizing he intended such a gesture, Severus found that his hand had moved to caress Potter's cheek. He found himself wondering if he would have lied to the boy if it had been necessary in order to achieve this expression.

"Really," he confirmed.

Potter smiled at him again, a suspicious brightness in his eyes. "I'm so glad."

And what could Severus possibly say to that? The evident concern was foreign, and he had no idea how to handle it, no idea what to say that could possibly express how it made him feel. Instead, he pulled Potter to him and kissed him soundly, his tongue slipping into the eager mouth.

This time, when the kiss ended, Severus rested his forehead against Potter's, reluctant to sever all physical contact with him.

"Do you think that I will find pleasure while hurting you?" he asked softly.

From this angle, Potter's impossibly long lashes obscured his eyes from Severus's view. "I didn't mean I thought you'd get off from hurting me; I certainly hope that's not the case," he said, voice threaded with amusement. Severus was very glad indeed that Harry dismissed the possibility so readily despite their rather rocky history. Potter cleared his throat and continued awkwardly, "From what I understand, I will need a certain amount of preparation and uh … consideration, and it didn't sound like you wanted to be particularly … gentle with me."

Severus's lips curved into a genuine smile. "So long as I'm gentle, I may have my dastardly way with you happy, then?"

He felt Potter's nod. "Yes, please."

Blood was beginning to pound loudly in Severus's ears. "That seems very fair, Potter." He pressed a kiss into the smooth skin of Potter's forehead, and then began to nuzzle along his hairline.

Potter tilted his head to give him better access and asked hesitantly, "Do you think you could call me Harry?"

Severus reached his ear and licked it before breathing, "Harry."

Potter – Harry – made an inarticulate but pleased noise in his throat that sent a jolt of awareness straight to Severus's groin. Severus licked and nipped and kissed his way down Harry's jawline and back to his mouth, his hands sliding down to grasp Harry's firm arse and grind their two bodies together.

"So, Harry, if my desk doesn't suit you, where exactly did you want to do this?" Severus asked with a polite formality at variance with their current activity.

"Desk is fine," Harry gasped, squirming under Severus's ministrations.

"Now, now," Severus chided, "there you go doubting my memory again. I recall serious objections to the desk on your part."

"Sod my objections," Harry managed, trying and failing to tug Severus in the correct direction. He moaned. "Fine. No desk. Counter? Wall? Floor?"

"The counter and, I need hardly add, the wall, will not be conducive to your requirements, Harry. And while you may be a randy seventeen year old, I am not about to shag anyone on the cold stones of the dungeon floor."

"Then, then," Harry was starting to sound frantic, much to Severus's amusement (and delight, as no one had ever been that anxious to shag him before), "you choose!"

"As you wish. Follow me."

At this point, of course, there seemed to be little worry that Harry wouldn't go with him anywhere whether he asked or not; the boy simply moulded as much of himself as possible to the moving Severus, his mouth latching on to Severus's neck, and went along with him for the ride.

When they arrived at Severus's quarters, Harry didn't seem to notice. He simply took advantage of the fact that Severus was no longer walking in order to wrap around the front of him and plunder his mouth.

"Come to bed," Severus ordered amidst quickened breathing.

"Bed," Harry whispered, nodding his approval without seeming to have noticed the room change required for such a furniture selection. "Good choice."

Accordingly, Severus pulled the boy into his bedroom, and moments later experienced the feeling of covering the warm, naked body with his own for the first time. From there, it was all eager hands and eager lips, and the excitement of shed clothing and growing expanses of bare skin.

Harry was all smooth flesh and taut muscle, his body exquisitely defined and totally perfect as far as Severus could see. The only blemish, so-called, was the curse scar, and it was so much a part of the boy that it could hardly be called a defect.

Severus, on the other hand, had a body that was four decades old and scarred by over two decades of war – and he hadn't been attractive to begin with. Fortunately, someone seemed to have forgotten to inform Harry of this fact. Just as it was occurring to the lust-fogged Severus to feel self-conscious about himself, he realized that Harry was gently mapping every scar with inquisitive fingers, and hungrily kissing every inch of flesh, including the branded left arm; it was hard for even someone with so much practice to feel ugly when being devoured in such a way.

Severus's questing hands brought him again to Harry's marvellous arse, and now that it was clothes-free, he was able to slip his fingers between the cheeks. And Harry, eager as he might be, was not able to forestall the hitch in his breath and his slight stiffening. Everything finally clicked into place, and Severus understood why Harry had wanted so badly for a gentle experience. Severus froze.

He blurted out without thought: "Gods, you've never done this before, have you?"

Harry sat up, face crimson, trying valiantly but unsuccessfully to hide a look of hurt. Severus leaned in and kissed him before he could bolt. Severus was not shy to say what he thought with little regard for other's feelings; even he recognized, however, what should, and should not, be said in bed.

"That came out more accusatorially than I intended; I was surprised. Why in Merlin's name would you want your first time to be with me?"

Harry tilted his head and now regarded Severus with a look of confusion. "Whom else would I want it to be with?"

Snape spluttered. "I don't know. Someone special!"

Harry's lip hitched up. "You are someone special; why do you think I'm here?"

There didn't really seem to be a correct answer to that question, since any reason Severus had assumed until ten seconds ago would now sound crude or shallow. Instead of answering in words, therefore, Severus pulled Harry to him and kissed him to within an inch of his life. Harry seemed to have no objection to this, participating wholeheartedly, and Severus took care to proceed with the utmost gentleness and consideration; no one had ever before exhibited such desire for him, or placed such implicit faith in him, and Severus was determined not to betray that trust.

Severus woke to the unfamiliar feeling of a warm body snuggled against him. Harry's head rested in the hollow of Severus's shoulder, an arm was thrown across his chest, and a leg scissored across Severus's legs, as though to ensure the older man wouldn't get away from him in the middle of the night. The boy was sleeping soundly, long lashes dark against his cheek, face innocent and vulnerable in the utter relaxation of undisturbed slumber.

A sigh escaped Severus's lips as he barely resisting the urge to stroke Harry's tousled hair. More than he desired touching the hair, he desired the boy to continue peacefully sleeping, so this exquisite scene would not be destroyed. If he had possessed a shred of self-control, he would have sent Harry –Potter, he reminded himself sourly – away earlier that night, not allowed him to fall asleep in his arms, but it was too late for that now.

Actions that made sense the night before were consistently revealed as less than rational in the harsh morning light. And Severus did not want to be there when Harry – Potter! – realized that he was in bed with the Greasy Git, that he'd spent the night shagging the Great Bat of the Dungeons. He might have managed to forget in the dead of night, when the alternative was cleaning rat brains out of cauldrons, but reality would return with the sun, and Severus dreaded seeing Ha–Potter's disgust despite telling himself that he didn't care, that it was an amazing night of sex, nothing more.

Severus chastised himself – of course it wasn't anything more, what was he thinking? … And that was when he noticed that his hand was stroking Harry's silky hair. Bloody hell – traitorous body! It was too late to pull away, too, because the body next to his was beginning to stir, eyelashes flickering on rosy cheeks. Severus froze and wondered, wildly, if he should feign sleep. And then Harry's lips curved into a satisfied smile, and he pressed his lips to Severus's skin before mumbling sleepily, "That feels good; don't stop."

Severus's body once again bypassed his shocked brain, and obeyed the request to continue caressing Harry's hair. The boy made a contented sound and cuddled closer. When Severus's tongue finally unglued, he felt compelled to say something, if only in an attempt to confirm that this wasn't a very long dream (or perhaps to confirm that Harry actually knew whom he was in bed with).

Urbane and witty failed him, however, and the best he could manage was a slightly throaty: "Good morning, Harry."

"G'morning, Severus." He made a guttural noise in the back of his throat. "Is it time to go? Am I s'pposed to call you 'professor' now?"

Severus smiled involuntarily. "When you are in my bed, Harry, you may dispense with the formality. And," he leaned up to peer at the clock on the wall, "it's shy of five, so you need not leave yet if you do not wish to do so."

"Oh, good."

He didn't leave. Severus was left feeling certain that something monumental had happened, but he was unable to label exactly what it was. Either the harsh light of morning hadn't properly kicked in yet, or Harry needed an examination by St. Mungo's professionals. Was it his duty to report that the wizarding world's Golden Boy had gone unhinged? Severus smiled to himself. Not bloody likely.

Several more minutes passed in silence, Severus continuing his rhythmic caresses, and then Harry's voice reached him.

"I'm not sleepy anymore."

Severus's stomach lurched. His earlier relief allayed by accident only because the boy was a few cards short when he woke up? Dammit. So caught up was he in figuring out the exact degree of cutting comment necessary to extricate himself from the situation with a minimum of hurt that it took him a moment to realize that the limbs pressed in intimate contact with his own were not withdrawing. Instead, they were – oh! The breath left his lungs in a "whoosh" of expelled air. Harry raised his head, his green eyes sparkling devilishly.

"Were you anxious to sleep, then?"

"Insolent child," Severus snarled, and a moment later he had rolled Harry beneath him, and was looking down a the flushed, delighted face. They kissed hungrily, limbs entangled, skin slick on skin.

They stayed awake despite the afterglow this time, Harry languorously dancing his fingers up and down Severus's arm and side and hip. One of Severus's hands was in Harry's hair again, Harry making clear just how much he enjoyed it.

"People don't touch me much," he admitted, relaxing back against Severus's chest. "Hermione's an only child, so she's not been particularly touchy feely from the beginning. Ron's got lots of family, of course, but he's not the 'cuddling' sort, not with a bloke, anyway. And the Dursley's preference was not to come near me with a ten foot pole, unless they were smacking me around, of course."

"What about Malfoy?" Severus asked reluctantly, not wanting to know but needing an answer at the same time.

"What about him?" Harry asked with manifest confusion, twisting his torso and neck around to look up at Severus's face.

Severus's lips compressed into a thin line as he struggled for a neutral tone. "Does he not touch you?"

"Why would Malfoy touch me?"

Severus rolled his eyes. "In my experience, it's rather difficult not to touch."

Harry was staring at him like he was making no sense, and then suddenly an appalled look crossed his face.

"Oy!" he exclaimed. "Malfoy and I aren't … I mean, he's pretty but I wouldn't … Where'd you get a mental idea like that?"

Severus frowned and said acidly: "Two nights ago ring a bell?"

Harry's head tilted to the side and his answer was stiff. "I do recall two nights ago, as it happens, Severus. Perhaps it is you who don't grasp exactly what occurred at that time? Not a lot of Malfoy touching me in my recollection."

"You're telling me, then, that two … ex-enemy-acquaintances decided one night to seduce me?"

Harry's brow furrowed and he conceded, "Well, I'm not entirely certain in what relation Malfoy and I stand, but we certainly didn't get together and make plans with regard to you. Malfoy stopped me on the way down and pointed out that the only way we were going to survive detention together was if we lay aside hostilities for a time. I agreed, and when we got to the classroom … that just sort of happened … I'm not actually sure how."

"I see," Severus said, and began to. "Tell me: when Malfoy spilled the potion, what happened?"

"You were there – why are we going over this?" Harry demanded impatiently.

Coolness permeated Severus's voice. "You are in my bed; that does not mean you may be disrespectful. The potion: where did it spill?"

"On you, the workbench, the floor, I don't know." Harry sounded exasperated.

Severus's fingers tightened in Harry's hair. "Harry," he said warningly.

In response, Harry pouted, looking up at him with huge eyes. Severus's lips twitched in response and he leaned down and kissed the boy, paying special attention to that prominent lower lip. Harry's hands snaked into Severus's hair and his body melted against the older man's. When Harry seemed sufficiently pliant, Severus drew back.

"Now be a good boy and utilize that brain that I know is somewhere in there and tell me what I want to know."

"Sneaky Slytherin." But this sounded more affectionate than condemnatory, and he closed his eyes and considered. "Um … Malfoy told you we were done, you came to stand across the counter and looked at the potion … Malfoy hit the cauldron, it spilled across the counter onto you, dripped onto the floor."

"And the potion on the counter?" Severus prompted gently, since Harry was playing along.

Harry's eyes flickered beneath the lids. "Um … I was watching what was happening to you.…"

"Look at me, then."

Harry opened his eyes, staring directly into Severus's dark eyes. There was no resistance; the older man drew the scene to the forefront of Harry's mind easily. They saw the "accident" unfold, the potion spraying across the counter, all over Severus … and over Harry's hands and robes, which he failed to notice because he was gaping in horror at Severus, who was now blinking hazily at the two students.

Malfoy, potion-free, circled round the counter and wrapped his arms around Severus. In his own memory, Severus was a little overwhelmed by feeling at this point. In Harry's memory, Severus could note that Harry was trembling, and staring, Severus now knew, only at his professor with lust-clouded eyes.

Malfoy leaned up and whispered in Severus's ear – Harry, it appeared, did not hear Malfoy's invitation; what he solely responded to was Severus's reaching out his hand. It was not until then that Harry made any move towards Severus. Once he took the proffered hand, however, he leaned in to touch Severus eagerly.

Catching himself, Severus broke contact with Harry's mind, blinking away the boy's vision of what had occurred. He cleared his throat.

"It looks as though you weren't in full possession of your faculties at the time either."

Harry straddled Severus's legs.

"I'm in my right mind now, Severus, as, I hope, are you."

Severus's hips lifted, bringing their bodies into very intimate contact and making Harry gasp. Severus captured the boy's lips and kissed him deeply. Then he asked: "So, Boy Who Lived, explain to me how you came to gaze so lustily at your hated Potions master?"

Harry flushed becomingly. He kissed Severus tenderly at the corner of the mouth. "Thank you."

"For what, exactly?"

"For not taking an answer from my mind, as you could so easily have done. I have not hated you for some time – I had a well-developed sense of self-preservation, however; as you realized, it took a potion to make me take such a risk as letting any of my feelings show."

Severus wondered if he had intended to reveal so much in saying that. Of course, all night Harry had been intimating that this meant far more than simply sex to him. It meant more to Severus as well, but he'd been much more Slytherin in his attempt to hide it. He noticed Harry did not ask when he had stopped hating his most-hated student. Severus appreciated this reprieve, as he did not yet know what he was willing or able to risk. This had been only one night, after all, no matter how pleasurable, and there was no need to get ahead of themselves, right?

He kissed the boy. "It's getting late; perhaps you had better return to your dorm."

Harry sat up fully, withdrawing from Severus's body. "As you say."

He hadn't said the word, but a "sir" hung in the air, in the tone of his voice.

"Harry," Severus growled.

By this point, the boy had climbed off him entirely and was half way out of the other side of the bed. He reached the floor and stood looking back at the reclining older man.

"Yes, professor?" His voice was carefully emotionless.

Severus flung back the covers and climbed out of bed as well.

"Trust a Gryffindor to be so bloody literal," he snarled, reaching for a dressing gown. "I said 'perhaps you had better return to your dorm', Harry, not 'begone and never darken my doorstep again'. Much as I would like to keep you and shag you all morning, presumably your house mates would notice if you disappeared completely?"

Harry's nose wrinkled and he conceded, "I suppose they would notice eventually." He bent to retrieve his robes and other articles of clothing. "But you know, you've never given any indication that you would like to be taken any way but literally, as far as Gryffindors are concerned, at least."

"You are not just any Gryffindor, Harry, and this is hardly an average situation. I would prefer not to be your professor on such occasions, understood?"

Harry's response of "yes, sir" was muffled by his robe going over his head, but his smile when he was again visible reassured Severus that now he was teasing.

Snogging periodically, they made slow progress to the door, where they had a genuine awkward moment. Outside that door, the real world resumed, the roles that they had suspended had to be taken up again, and the transition was not an easy one. For one of the first times in his life, Severus was genuinely glad of Gryffindor boldness, for it was Harry who finally broke the silence.

"I'd like to see you again."

Severus couldn't even find it in himself to make a snarky comment about how they'd see one another in class later that day.

"That would be … acceptable."

Harry smiled, delight lighting up his face for a moment, and then he said, "Since tonight's no good, would tomorrow night work?"

Gryffindors were fucking fantastic. Severus would never have suggested another night so soon, despite the fact that it was exactly what he wanted. But–

"What's wrong with tonight?"

Oh, damn, now he sounded totally desperate. Fortunately, Harry was busy being embarrassed himself, or so Severus judged by the fact that Harry's eyes once again trained on floor level.

"You have Malfoy's detention tonight."

"Well, yes, but that hardly–" His mouth caught up with Harry's assumption and he did some hasty retrenching, inexpressibly pleased at Harry's evident discomfort at the idea. "Mr. Malfoy will be serving his detention pickling rat brains, and will be leaving promptly at ten-o-clock, when I will return to my quarters and would not be displeased if I had company waiting."

Harry's face lit up again, as though Severus hadn't made a highly oblique and ambiguous invitation.

"Anything to keep you 'not displeased'," Harry said with quirked lips.

Severus pulled the younger man flush against him and kissed him lingeringly with a great deal of questing tongue. Harry groaned and wove his hands into Severus's hair.

When he could draw breath again, he observed, "You know, I'm never going to leave if you keep on like that."

"Go, then. 'Green eyes' will admit you tonight."

Harry kissed him softly. "Goodbye, Severus."


A last smile, and the boy was gone.

The day passed with aching slowness; teaching dunderheads was never his favourite pastime, but apparently having something to look forward to made it infinitely worse. Seventh year Potions was the last of the day. Severus made sure to enter just on time as he always did, the door closing behind him with its usual bang. Harry, unusually, was seated next to Hermione at the front of the classroom.

Facing the class a few strides later, Severus also discovered that the boy was grinning like a loon. Severus faltered for a moment at this unexpected display, but recovered quickly, setting the class to brew one of the more difficult healing potions. He sat down at his desk to grade first year papers. Every time he looked up, Harry was smiling at him, and Severus preferred not to analyse why this made him feel so … happy.

Beginning to get used to this unusual expression (at least in conjunction with him), and looking up covertly to catch it again, he instead found himself looking at a very annoyed Granger. She positively rolled her eyes at him, then leaned in and whispered to Harry. The adorable smile disappeared, the green eyes trained now on the counter top and studiously not looking at the professor.

Annoyed, Severus stood up and took a sweeping turn around the room. This did little for his mood, however, since Harry continued to not look at him and he couldn't even find anything to insult in Granger's potion. Internally, he fumed. Ought he to have said something more to Harry, was his reticence why the boy had been so easily turned against him? Or would it only have been more embarrassing if he'd made an overture of some sort and that Granger swot had still got Harry back with a handful of whispered words?

Severus resumed his seat, feeling more and more disgruntled. Really, after all the statements Harry had made, he had no right going back to normal so bloody quickly. The damn boy was usually as fixed in his feelings as Severus was, at least as far as grudges and hatred went.

Even Slytherin lost a fair few house points in the last half of class.

When the bell rang, there was an even speedier-than-usual mass exodus, except for Potter, Granger, and a puzzled looking Weasley, who made it halfway to the door before he realized the other two weren't with him.

"I have to talk to Professor Snape," Granger told Potter. "You two go on to dinner and I'll see you shortly."

"But–" Potter began.

She shook her head. "Harry, I'll be on in a couple of minutes."

With a last look at Granger, Potter obeyed, leaving with Weasley and not looking at Severus. Once they were gone, Granger cast several privacy charms, and then stood staring at Severus with her arms crossed over her chest and a forbidding look on her face. Normally, this wouldn't have fazed Severus in the slightest. The knowledge that he'd spent the night shagging a student, her best friend, no less, was a little daunting, however; this was the goody-two-shoes know-it-all, and he didn't even have his status as a spy to shield him from the possibility of being sacked quicker than he could say "oops". Fortunately, his years of facing Voldemort at least stood him in good stead for the staring contest that ensued. He wasn't even sure what they were contesting, just that he wouldn't be the first to give in. Without any warning, she nodded curtly at him.

"If you hurt him, you will not live to regret it."

He blinked at her, trying desperately to comprehend what had just happened. A sudden smile made her look positively beautiful and a far cry from the serious student he usually saw.

"He looked happy today: thank you."

With something akin to shock, he realized that he was facing acceptance, not censure: approval, even. He found his voice.

"If it wasn't 'you're wrong and insane', what in Merlin's name did you say to him during class to make him look like that?"

Her eyes sparkled with what he could only characterize as mischievous delight.

"I said 'unless you want everyone to know who you find magically delicious, be a little more discreet, Harry: you're grinning like an idiot'."

"'Magically delicious'?" he repeated dryly.

Her smile deepened. "That's certainly what it looked like to me. Sir," she added belatedly.

He wondered how long it had been since she had been the least bit afraid of him.

"Does everyone know?" he asked resignedly.

She shook her head. "I suspect you wouldn't be asking the question if such were the case. I would suggest that that bridge would be better crossed in June?"

"Certainly. I'll speak to Harry. He's probably just sleep-deprived."

Granger muttered what sounded rather akin to "more like in love" before saying in a normal tone of voice: "You're seeing him again soon, then?"

He was just going to use the sleep-deprived excuse for himself, as well. Circe, she basically knew everything already, he was simply going to have to trust her.


Her lips twitched and he could practically see her repressing the urge to make a comment about eagerness or more sleep deprivation. It was surprisingly painless to endure this camaraderie with one of Harry's friends: he was clearly going soft.

"I'll do my best with Ron-control; the detention excuse isn't going to last forever."

"As you say," he agreed with bemusement, while acknowledging that she was definitely better as a friend than an enemy. "Thank you, Miss Granger."

She flashed him another grin as she headed for the door, disabling her charms as she went. "You're welcome, Professor Snape. Have an … enjoyable night."

Gryffindors were going to be the death of him.

Two minutes after ten-o-clock (having dismissed a disgruntled Malfoy with alacrity), he was back at his quarters. A small, mostly-unacknowledged part of him, despite the words with Granger, insisted on being nervous. Harry, however, was true to his word. Sight of the Boy Who Lived rising from the couch to fling himself into Severus's arm after a whole day of reality and virtual absence made a tight knot ease somewhere deep inside him.

"Mine," he whispered fiercely with more truth than caution as they kissed.

Harry smiled and acknowledged without question or hesitation: "Always."

It was just possible, he conceded on the way to the bedroom, that Gryffindors would be the life of him.