A/N: My first foray into the world of Snarry. One of my first into the HP fandom itself, actually. If you like my writing, feel free to review and let me know, and I will continue to post my HP work :)
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue. All belongs to Queen JK.
It was cold and damp in the dungeons, as always. Every time Harry came down here, he had the feeling he had to get back in the sun lest he start to mold and decay. The dungeons, unlike the rest of the castle, gave off an air of loneliness and bitterness, one that was overwhelming and only served to deepen Harry's resentment towards Snape. Even the stone walls resembled the person they sheltered; cold, unforgiving, rough and harsh.
Snape was never reasonable, but a detention for talking was excessive, even for him. That was what found Harry in the dungeons on a Tuesday evening, instead of finishing his sorely lacking Transfiguration essay or playing a game of Wizard's chess with Ron. Quietly, shivering, he pushed the door open, ready to get his detention chore and escape the cold, dark stone.
Instead of the normal chilliness and feeling of eyes piercing his soul, Harry was hit by a burst of welcoming heat. He stepped in to the Potions room, surprised but uncomplaining.
The heat wave was the only difference in the room, however; it was still dim and lonely. Snape was sitting at his desk, muttering to himself as one finger traced words from a book. Even sitting down, engrossed in his book, Snape looked imposing. His hands were pale against the background of his robes.
"I'm here, sir." Harry hazarded. Snape didn't look up, just waved him in.
"Shut the door, Potter, it's cold in the hallway." He said shortly.
Harry did so, and walked to a spot just in front of Snape's desk before stopping.
"You'll be in here with me tonight, Potter." Snape told him, finally looking up. His long, thin hands folded together in front of his face; it glowed in the candlelight, his eyes black and unending. The jars behind him were unlit, and the contents were just dark lumps that Harry thankfully couldn't make out.
The teen gritted his teeth, but nodded; he didn't want to sit in here with only Snape for company, but he'd rather it be one detention than the week's worth he'd get if he made a snide comment.
"Professor Dumbledore seems to think a little private lesson may help your abysmal potion-making skills. Frankly, I disagree, but it is not my choice to make." the words were standard Snape-sneer, but they didn't have the usual bite to them, as if the barbs were only half-heartedly meant.
Still, Harry couldn't help but bristle. It took most of his self-control to grit out a 'yes, sir,' but Snape took it without comment and pointed him to a table.
"We'll be working on a Draining Drought tonight, Potter. It's a fourth year potion, so I daresay it's about your level." Another automatic, slightly distracted slight; Snape was again pouring over his potions book. Clearly whatever he was looking at was important, if it took precedence over belittling Harry.
The instructions were chalked on the board. Harry set up his cauldron and prodded the wood under it into flame with his wand as he studied them. It seemed simple enough, just a standard by-the-book potion. He thought something looked wrong with the fourth line though… hadn't he been told that essence of Mogwort had to stew for at least 15 minutes before he increased the temperature any? Maybe he was confusing it with chopped Mogwort roots…
Snape was now doing the same on another table, though his flame lit with only a wave, and his cauldron was made of much finer pewter than Harry's.
"I've got a very delicate potion to brew, Potter, so try not to mess this potion up too badly. I'll check on your progress periodically."
Harry simply ignored him, too wrapped up in getting his water at the right temperature. Maybe if Snape left him alone for a while, he could produce a decent potion.
Harry couldn't help but watch Snape as he worked his own potion though; as much as he berated other students for their potion making, Harry had never seen him actually make a potion.
It did seem to be a very difficult one, though; Snape was adding ingredients gently and timing to the second, and most of the ingredients were either unrecognizable or something Harry wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole for various reasons.
Snape looked up and caught Harry's glance. Harry looked away quickly, but Snape seemed to take it as a chance to check Harry's potion and glided over.
He tipped Harry's cauldron cautiously and peered into it, as if he was afraid whatever was in it would jump out and bite. He studied it and quickly looked up at the directions.
"Line two, just after you add the beetle eyes?" he questioned. Harry nodded cautiously. It was the right colour and consistency, there was nothing Snape should have been able to find wrong with it.
Indeed, Snape sniffed once and turned back to his own potion without any criticism. Harry mentally sighed in relief; two lines down, five more to go.
They continued their separate brewings in silence. It was infinitely easier to brew a potion with Snape engrossed in his own, and Harry found the time almost pleasant, or at least the best he'd had with Snape since meeting the man.
It wasn't until something splashed on his hand and started burning that he realized his beautiful green Draining Drought had turned a murky brown and was sloshing over the sides, hissing angrily.
Harry panicked and pulled out his wand, trapping the top of the cauldron in a bubble to keep the acidic substance from spilling all over the floor.
Snape looked up and paled; he rushed over and beg an to examine the potion as he hissed to Harry: "What happened, Potter?!"
"All I did was add the essence of Mogwort and raise the temperature." He hissed back. Snape looked past him to the directions, mouthing them wordlessly.
It was then that Harry noticed Snape's cauldron behind Snape, which happened to be shaking violently and pulsing.
Without a thought, Harry leaped over his table and caught Snape by the shoulders, pulling him to a spot between the potions on his back, cursing.
He yelled "Protego," and the world exploded on one side.
A dark red liquid and bits of the pewter cauldron slammed against the transparent shield, while Harry's brown substance waited patiently at the other side to eat away at their shoes, having been released from the cauldron.
It seemed to go on forever, though it couldn't have been more than a few seconds. Harry's self strained from the weight of holding the shield up for so long.
Finally, the exploding cauldron sputtered to a halt and Harry let down the shield. Snape quickly scrambled to his feet and vanished both potions, looking shaken.
They stood in silence for a moment, before Snape looked at Harry, his face unreadable.
"While you may not be able to successfully brew even the simplest of potions – " Harry began to bristle – "at least you are quick to respond lest their be a… mistake."
Harry opened his mouth, shut it, anger draining away. The statement had been a compliment, an admittance of fault, and an apology all at once. Or, at least, as close to any of those as Snape ever got. A great weight lifted off Harry's chest. He turned away quickly to clean his cauldron and wash his hands, viewing the acid burn with a feeling of victory and yet unwilling to let Snape know he had caused the feeling.
"I'll see you Thursday Potter. Same time." Snape called to him as he reassembled his pewter cauldron from the pieces strewn across the floor. "And I'd like a verbal report on what went wro-"
"You have to give essence of Mogwort time to stew before you increase the temperature, sir." Harry interjected.
He thought he saw the ghost of a smile flash across Snape's face as he turned to leave.
Thursday evening saw him again in the dungeons, though with a much lighter heart this time. Snape had ignored him all week in Potions, and even kept his mouth shut when one of Harry's potions came out red instead of clear.
Again, when he entered the room, there was a merry fire crackling in the fireplace across from the gargoyle fountain. Snape was grading papers this time; there was a streak of red across the outside of his hand.
"I thought perhaps grading papers in your presence would be less dangerous to my health." He said by way of greeting, "though I'm afraid if you manage to destroy this stack of papers like you did my cauldron I'll have to fail their owners."
Harry thought it may have been a joke, but he couldn't tell and he didn't particularly want to risk his grade on it.
"Instructions on the board."
Harry sighed to himself. He was fine with Snape ignoring him in class, but he had been hoping for a little recognition now. He knew it was likely too much to ask, and even the lack of snide comments to and about him was a blessing.
Maybe if he initiated conversation…
"Professor? Why is there a fire now?" he asked quietly.
Snape gave him a look that suggested he had very few brain cells.
"Because it is cold in here, Potter. Thus, I build a fire, which is warm." He said slowly. Harry rolled his eyes as Snape looked down again.
"What I meant was, why is there a fire now, when you don't have one during classes? It's always cold in here."
Snape didn't look up again.
"Because, Potter, keeping this room warm would desecrate the Forbidden Forest of trees in roughly two months, and wasting what little wood I have on students seems like rather a stupid idea. Any other questions you can't figure out logically for yourself?"
Harry's shoulders slumped. Apparently whatever progress he had thought they made at the last detention was either gone or imaginary. He patted himself on the back for trying and settled in for another round of 'ignore the arse.'
"Do you always stir your potions with your wand, Potter?" Snape asked suddenly. Harry looked up in surprise to see that the man was looking at him levelly, quill posed in mid-stroke.
Harry nodded suspiciously. So did everyone else; was there a problem?
"No wonder you have trouble. There is a bin of stirrers in the corner there, Potter. Use them." He looked back down at his paper and began marking again.
Harry looked at his wand, then set it down and crossed to the basket of stirrers. They were ornate, but tarnished and very old.
And heavy, too, as Harry found when he picked one up and carried back to his table. He set it carefully in the cauldron and continued his stirring, counting them carefully.
"You stir like a three year-old, Potter. Turn your hand over and use your wrist." When Harry failed to understand his directions, he sighed and got up.
"Like this." He held the stirrer just below Harry's hand, moving only close enough to show him what to do and backing away.
Harry finished and went to smash some Gurdyroots, rubbing his arm where Snape's wrist had brushed it. Were his hands always that cold? How did he stand it?
"Don't just dump those in, Potter. A little at a time." Snape chided, crossing his arms over his chest. Harry did as he was told, scraping the roots off in portions, wondering how it made any difference. Snape seemed satisfied, though, and returned to his desk.
They continued in silence for a while. Harry was just beginning to wonder if Snape even remembered he was there when the sound of crumpling paper caught his attention.
Snape was balling a piece of parchment, a look of disgust on his face.
"Mr. Potter, please inform your friend George Weasley that if he plans to pass his Potions class, he will turn into me an essay on the properties of the Sackson plant, not the 'Sexy plant.' "
Harry looked at him, unable to comprehend whether Snape had actually just uttered a sentence containing the word 'sexy' or not.
"And please tell him also that I highly recommend he not use it for any sort of sexual purpose, as it leaves a nasty rash on skin."
The teen could feel his cheeks going red, and he attempted half-heartedly to stifle his laughing. Still, he couldn't hide it for very long; finally, he gave it up, and let it echo across the room.
Snape looked slightly alarmed that someone was laughing at something he had said, and gave Harry a look that suggested he might have some sort of mental disability. After a moment, though, his cheeks turned a little pink and the corners of his mouth turned slightly upwards, though he tried to hide it by folding his hands together in front of his face.
Something about the thought of Snape smiling made the extra ten minutes trying to fix his neglected potion worth it.
It was worth it even more when he pretended to have trouble stirring again and Snape came to show him how to do it, staying a little longer and standing a little closer.
The next Tuesday, Harry didn't knock. He walked in, crossed the room, slid around Snape's desk, and pulled his Potions professor into a kiss.
Snape pushed him away, looked at him, pulled him back.
Harry could feel him smiling against his lips, and he slid his hand into Snape's, tan against pale, warm against cold, youth against age.
Heartbeat against heartbeat.
Love against love.
A/N: Cheesy ending, ey?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, ya'll.