Title: Split Sole
Author: faynia and stormypups
Pairing: Severus Snape/Harry Potter
Word Count: approx. 15,000
Warning: Non-magical AU, THIS PIECE OF FICTION CONTAINS SLASH M/M PAIRING
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Severus Snape belong to JK Rowling, her publishers and the WB. No profit is being made from this piece of fiction.
Summary: Harry's technique was perfect. All he needed was passion.
A/N: Beta'd by lesyeuxverts, joanwilder and rakina, three of the most beautiful women on earth.
Harry's lips pulled into a snarl as he glared at his name on the sheet of paper tacked to the theatre door. He wanted to rip it off and shred it, but he knew better. There was one thing Pierre Lavesoir hated more than bad dancers, and that was dancers who threw tantrums. Harry thought he was made of stronger stuff, but the temptation overwhelmed his normally rational thought. Casting a furtive glance around him, he tore off a corner of the long list. It made him feel marginally better.
His aunt would throw a fit if she knew what he was up to, but then, she rarely did anything but throw a fit when Harry went around visiting her. At least recently the visits had begun to affect him less, more of a mild irritant and source of amusement on an otherwise dreary Friday.
It didn't hurt that he never saw his uncle any longer and his cousin moved out years ago to live with Piers. It left Harry the chance to attempt to know his aunt, but it was as easy as pulling a crocodile's tooth and ten times less fun.
Pulling out his lighter, Harry torched the small corner of the paper and watched as it curled into ash and floated upwards towards the greying sky.
"If you've quite finished with the dramatics, get away from the door," a cool voice said as someone stepped from the shadows, startling Harry.
Bloody perfect. "Look, I haven't got any cash on me, so just bugger off, will you?"
"You think I'm here to rob you?" the man scoffed. "Thinking rather highly of yourself this evening, aren't you? I'm afraid your tights wouldn't fit, and by the looks of you, that's all you have worth taking. Run along, boy, I have business to attend to."
With a petulant frown Harry turned to face the man. "I'm not a boy." He'd leave when he was ready to leave, and he was definitely not ready to leave yet. "And just who do you think you are? The owner?"
The man had the audacity to look Harry up and down, his eyes lingering on a spot a bit lower than his waist. "No, not a boy. And if I were the owner?"
"I'd say I was well and truly fucked," Harry drawled, flicking the thumb wheel of the lighter at his side, drawing a flame every few seconds. It wasn't the first time someone had insinuated something about his masculinity, and he doubted it would be the last.
The door opened and Lavesoir stepped out into the street. "Ah, Severus, there you are."
Harry stiffened. Sickening dread curled in his stomach as he looked between the two men before him. "Shit."
Bend over, Snape mouthed to Harry before turning his attention to Lavesoir. "Pierre, I see you've posted your list," he said, walking past Harry to read the names on the door. He scanned the list and nodded. "Well done, good choices."
"Naturally." Lavesoir tightened the scarf around his neck before turning his unaffected gaze onto Harry. "Potter? I would have thought you'd have gone home by now."
"I was just..." Harry trailed off while gesturing weakly at the list of names.
"Potter, is it?" Snape said archly, running his finger down the list. Rather far down the list.
Snape smirked. "I see."
Harry scowled. "At least I'm on the ruddy list," he grumbled, fumbling with the zip of his jacket. Icy air blasted at his cheeks as a cruel wind picked up, swirling the misty rain around him.
"Shall we go inside, Severus? It's too bloody cold out here," Lavesoir said, dismissing Harry with a glance.
Snape nodded with an amused smirk firmly in place. "Let's."
As soon as the two men had their backs to him, Harry sneered and gave them both a two-fingered salute.
"I saw that, Potter," Snape said smugly, not bothering to turn around.
Harry gaped at the door long after the men entered the building. Soon his cheeks and nose began to burn and he headed back toward his flat. Rehearsal started the next day, and Harry wasn't sure he'd survive it.
Severus listened half-heartedly as Pierre went over his decisions for the show. Opening night would happen on schedule, which was all he really cared about. After all, he'd hired Pierre to take care of these details for him so that he could sit back and enjoy the end product. He merely nodded occasionally as the man talked while his mind went over other things.
"You should be happy that the English National Ballet company has pushed their production a week later this year," Pierre commented, leaning back in his chair, "giving us the early season advantage."
"Mmm," Severus agreed, his mind going back to his encounter in the alleyway. He'd never got involved with anyone in the company, and he had no intention of doing so now, though Potter was pleasant to think about. It wouldn't be remiss of him to use a comb perhaps, but otherwise he was attractive to look at, all things considered.
He was fit with a dancer's build, all lean muscle and controlled movement. Well, not so controlled when he was throwing a tantrum; that was merely amusing. There was nothing effeminate about Potter, which was also in his favor. Severus enjoyed the feel of stubble against his skin, not that he had any intention of being in any sort of position to find out how it felt with Potter.
Pierre snorted. "You're thinking about him, aren't you?"
"I'm sorry?" Severus asked, turning his attention fully to Pierre.
"The Potter boy," Pierre said with a knowing smirk. He waved his teaspoon around, before pointing it between Severus' eyes. "You can do much better than that."
"Don't be absurd," Severus said dismissively. "I have no interest in the boy, I assure you."
"Regardless, it is none of your business," Severus warned archly.
"It is if you intend to bugger one of my dancers," Pierre pointed out. "It'd go straight to their heads."
Severus snorted. "Have I ever interfered with one of your dancers? I don't need the headache of dealing with some prima donna who's trying to sleep his way to a better part in a production. Potter obviously can't control his temper and no doubt feels slighted that he is merely a bit player. Why would I want that?"
Pierre twisted his wedding band and shook his head. "Potter never was good at controlling his emotions. What did he do this time? He didn't upturn a dustbin, did he?"
"No, but I interrupted his tantrum before he could do any real damage. Does he have any real talent or is he honestly just a place filler?"
"He has the talent," Pierre admitted with a rueful smile. "Has it in spades really, but his stage presence is lacking."
"Shame. Ah well, enough about the talent. What is the rehearsal schedule?"
"Perhaps you should be asking when we're not rehearsing."
"I need to bring someone in to go over the lighting system before we open. I'll not have a repeat of last year's disaster."
"You won't," Pierre said shortly. "I've already taken the liberty and hired a new technician to look over the wiring and lighting panel. And the last few days of rehearsal shall have the lights fully functional."
Severus arched his brow at Pierre. "Encroaching into my domain, Pierre? You worry about your dancers, I'll take care of the theatre."
"I am worried about my dancers," he said. "I'm worried about them looking like fools."
"It's your job to ensure that doesn't happen. If there's nothing else, I'm going home. It's been a tiring day and I'm ready to see the end of it."
Pierre's shoulders rose and fell in an elegant shrug. "Edith is probably ready to strangle me as well. I wish I'd had the foresight to marry her in the spring, alas..."
"I'm surprised she married you at all," Severus said, rising to his feet. "Give her my regards."
A genuine smile broke across Pierre's face. "I always do whether you tell me to or not."
Severus snorted. "Goodnight, Pierre."
"Goodnight, Severus. Don't forget to purchase a new loaf of bread on your way home. I won't have you stealing my lunches anymore."
"Why do you think Edith gives you two sandwiches every day?" Severus asked over his shoulder as he walked out the door.
Pierre waved a dismissive hand at him and headed in the opposite direction.
Severus shoved his hands into his pockets as he walked along the alley way and into the street. It was on a walk such at this that Severus and Pierre had met, more years ago than Severus cared to remember. They had bickered and bantered for a good hour before Pierre suggested they go out for a drink. Soon they were talking about the dance company Pierre wanted to put together, and where he wanted his primary theatre to be.
Over the years they had become friends, and Pierre's wife had practically adopted Severus into their family. She was forever fussing over him, and despite all of his protests, Severus found he rather enjoyed it. They had helped each other get through some horrid times, times he'd like to forget. Pierre was as close to a brotheras he'd ever had and no matter how much they bickered, it was how they communicated all of the important things to one another.
It was a system that worked well for both of them.
Harry sat on the polished wooden stage, only half listening to what Lavesoir had to say. It was the second time in two minutes they had been stopped, and Harry knew that it was going to be a very long day. His head hurt to think about it. The first week of rehearsal always went that way though. He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to it.
"Yes, sir?" Harry jerked his head up to meet the director's eyes, trying to keep the dull flush off his face. Off to his side a few of the other dancers were smirking in his direction, and he wanted to do nothing more than slap that look off their faces. As if none of them had ever been called out before.
"The costume fitter needs to see you again."
Joleen groaned beside him. This was the second time in two days that he'd been pulled for fittings. It wasn't like he was in that many numbers. He was beginning to suspect the costumier just liked a chance to see him stripped down until he was wearing nothing but tights. It didn't help that they seemed to think his costumes needed to be the most frivolous, ugly things he'd ever seen. It had taken a lot of persuasion to keep his Christmas party costume humble enough that he didn't overshadow the principle dancers.
Harry got to his feet, brushing the dust off the back of his tights as he walked to the fitting room. Raking his fingers through his hair, he didn't see the person coming down the hall from the opposite direction until he crashed into him.
"Sorry," he muttered, moving around the person without a second look.
"It's a wonder you manage not to fall on your arse every time you take the stage."
Harry turned in frustration to face the man causing it. Ever since that night on the back step, Harry swore he was seeing Snape everywhere. It was maddening. He couldn't tell anyone this either; they would think he'd gone mental on them. "What are you doing here?"
Snape shrugged. "It is my theatre. What are you doing here besides bumbling about on stage and taking up space?"
"The costume department needs to see me...again," Harry added unnecessarily. He didn't know why he was telling Severus Snape this in the first place. The man had better things to do than listen to him whinge on about the idiocy of the costumiers.
Snape scowled in the direction of the fitting rooms. "Wasting my bloody money more like."
Harry couldn't stop the snigger from passing his lips. "I have to agree, sir." At least he wasn't the only one getting fed up with them. There were only so many times they needed to measure his waistline and inside leg. Yes, it was necessary to the first scene of the ballet, but that was only one bloody pair of loose-fitting tan trousers.
"Your costume fit perfectly fine yesterday, what more can they do to a pair of pants?" Snape asked irritably.
"I know, I--" Harry stopped speaking and stared at Snape, dumbfounded. "How'd you know what part of my costume is giving the stupid sods grief?"
Snape's expression changed for the briefest of moments before his features assumed their normal mask of indifference. "If I don't pay attention to detail, I lose money. Why, did you think I'd been ogling you?" Snape asked with derisive amusement.
"Nooo," Harry said, drawing out the 'o', "but I haven't dismissed stalking yet."
"You're thinking too highly of yourself again, Mr. Potter. I have better things to do with my time than follow your every move."
Harry rolled his eyes, consciously aware of the fact that he was only in a tank top and a pair of dark tights. "You know something, I'm already missing more practice than I'd like, so I'm going to go."
"God knows you need it," Snape replied, beginning to walk away. "By the way," he said, turning to look at Harry. "Do tell the costumiers that I am keeping track of their materials, and their costs," he said, smirking before walking away.
It took Harry a few seconds to pick his jaw back up off the floor and move ahead. Damn. Snape was going to kill him. He just knew it.
Throughout rehearsal that afternoon and the days that followed, Harry kept catching glimpses of Snape, either in the shadows of the theatre, high in the balconies or standing in the wings, silently watching practice, his face an inscrutable mask. More than once, he was certain that the man was watching him in particular, but knew if he asked him, Snape would merely accuse him of being egotistical.
Harry bowed deeply, one leg pointed out straight down to his toes. He took Joleen's hands, one behind her back and one against her stomach, before leading her in a tight circle. "Isn't that Severus Snape?" she asked when he dipped her low, her pin-straight brown hair almost brushing the floor. Harry's eyes flickered out across the audience and he gave her a tight smile.
"Yeah," he said, pulling her upright. "That's him all right."
"He's never come to rehearsals before," Joleen said, looking over Harry's shoulder as she rose high on her toes. "What do you suppose he wants?" she whispered as she twirled around once.
Harry flashed Lavesoir a blinding smile as he walked between them, adjusting elbows and legs as he went. "To watch me fall on my face," he answered, releasing her when Lavesoir clapped his hands together loudly to gain attention.
Joleen looked at Harry in question, but Lavesoir was demanding their attention. "Later," Harry mouthed to her before turning toward their impatient director.
"Gentlemen," Lavesoir began, eyes sweeping the large huddle of people. "Those of you not in the dance number itself should not be slouching in the corner. You are supposed to be constantly at attention during rehearsal or performance; you know better than this. I made you better than this. If you are not old, you do not slouch. Do I make myself clear? Good," he paused as if mentally recalling every horrible thing in the scene. Harry suspected the list was enormous and he was culling it for the worst of it. "Ladies. This is a Christmas celebration; try to keep in mind that this show was written in a time period when Christmas was a joyous celebration. People were happy. They smiled and enjoyed themselves. If you are not smiling when on stage, then I will find a way to make you smile, and I promise it will not be pleasant. Joleen, this goes double for you. Your character is on the cusp of adulthood, yet still very much a child, try to recall what it felt like during the holidays when you were small.
Joleen nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Very good, I will be watching you for this. And Potter?"
"Yes, sir?" Harry's palms began to sweat at the aggravated scowl Lavesoir aimed in his direction. He hadn't been doing that horribly, had he? No worse than any of the other male dancers at the very least. Of course, Lavesoir hated him, so the fact that he wasn't worse than any of the other men meant nothing.
"Whatever it is that is putting you in a sour mood, work it out," instructed Lavesoir. "Your dancing has been sloppy for the past week now. Fix it somehow, or I will replace you."
Harry swallowed thickly. "Y-yes, sir."
"There is one last thing you all need to know before we break for lunch. The rest of the children will be entering our rehearsal today, so please be mindful of your blocking. Do not, I repeat, do not elbow one of these children in the eye or step on one of their precious little toes. I will not have a lawsuit on our hands, people. Not this early in the production."
Someone sniggered in the back of the crowd, but one fierce look from Lavesoir silenced him.
After rehearsal that night, Harry waited outside the back door to the theatre, his coat pulled closely around him. He felt like he'd been standing out there for hours whole waiting for Snape to leave, and his temper was rising with each passing minute.
When the door finally opened and Snape stepped out, Harry moved immediately to block his way. "Why are you watching me all the time?" he asked before Snape could get his key out of the lock. The man didn't so much as flinch, but merely continued locking up before turning to face Harry.
"You have spent how long in the cold, waiting for me to depart?" he asked, eying Harry with sharp black eyes. "If anyone is being stalked, Potter, it is I."
Harry's jaw clenched tightly together as he took a menacing step towards Snape.
"I am once again astounded by your ego," Snape sneered, pulling on his leather gloves. "All the world is not here to worship the very ground that you walk on, Potter. I have heard that you actually have talent, though I've yet to see it manifest, particularly considering the way you bumble about on the stage with all the grace of an elephant."
"You've never come to watch practices before," Harry insisted, sticking his hands under his armpits.
"Allow me to shatter your delusions. I have been to any number of practices on numerous occasions before you deigned to grace my stage, or have you forgotten that I own this building and finance the productions therein, which gives me a vested interest in what goes on here?" Snape answered, his voice like silk.
Harry bristled, but he couldn't let it go. "Yes, but not consistently day after day!"
"Perhaps you failed to notice the workmen in the building, redoing the lighting system," Snape said, speaking slowly as though he were talking to a daft child. "They require supervision and input during various stages of the process, and final decisions lie solely with me."
Harry laughed, running a hand down his face, wanting nothing more than to sink to the wet pavement. He was going barmy. That was all there was for it. Snape would never admit to anything and Harry was stuck running in circles, trying to figure out Snape's game and he was going to lose. He just knew it.
"Have I sufficiently explained my presence for you to understand that it is not solely for you that I am here?" Snape asked, an amused smirk causing his lips to curl slightly upwards.
"Not in the least," Harry answered, tilting his chin.
"Arrogant brat," Snape said, though there was little rancor in his voice. "Tell me, is this little obsession of yours the reason Lavesoir felt the need to call you to task? Is my presence distracting you?"
"If it was, do you honestly expect me to admit it?"
Snape shrugged. "If that is the case, there is little I can do about it. As I said, I have to be here regardless of whether you are present or not. Though I won't deny that I am curious about the answer to the question."
"Learn to live with disappointment," Harry muttered, kicking at a rock. Without waiting for an answer, he bumped into Snape on purpose before walking down the street. So much for Lavesoir's theory of dealing with his problems.
"I'll take that as a yes," Snape called, sniggering.
Harry didn't bother to turn around.
In the next week Severus took more care to stick closer to the shadows when watching rehearsals. He didn't understand the strange desire compelling him to watch Harry day after day, but he inevitably found himself standing in darkened corners unable to look away as he danced. It wasn't that he was an amazing dancer, he was decidedly average. Technically speaking, he had all the right moves, but there was something lacking in his performance. It was as though he was unable to connect with the audience, even one as small as the various workers and stagehands that were inevitably at the theatre.
It was late Wednesday afternoon and he was leaning against a wall backstage, listening to Pierre berate the cast for various and sundry flaws. Harry was looking irritable and for some odd reason, it made Severus smile.
In that moment, Harry's head turned in his direction, and though he knew the boy couldn't possibly see him standing in the dark, it felt as if he were looking right at him. It was almost unnerving. Soon the boy's gaze passed on, levelling at Pierre. Whatever his old friend was saying did not seem to sit well with Harry, who promptly turned and stormed off stage.
Severus pushed away from the wall and slipped through a doorway in the back, moving to intercept Harry before he could get very far.
"Shouldn't you be out on stage?" he asked curiously as Harry came through a door on the far side.
"Shouldn't you be counting ticket sales in your office?" Harry shot back.
Severus' brow arched as he looked down his nose at Harry. "Feeling peevish today, are we?"
"I did nothing," Harry seethed, leaning heavily against the shut door. "NOTHING to deserve that shite spewing from Lavesoir's mouth."
"What did he say?"
"I--He!" Harry's thin frame trembled in rage as he tried to piece together this truly dreadful line of words. "Why do I even bother?"
"What. Did. He. Say?"
Harry sighed, fists slowly unclenching by his sides. "It doesn't matter."
"Obviously," Severus replied, rolling his eyes.
"You know, I'm really beginning to hate you," Harry commented, deflating against the brick faced wall.
"Oh stop snivelling!" Severus said derisively. "Pierre pushes his dancers; it's what makes them great. Perhaps if you'd listen to him instead of throwing tantrums at every little criticism, you would actually learn something."
Harry's jaw clenched. "It's not that he's giving criticism. If it was just criticism I'd be fine."
"I'll only ask this one more time. What did he say?"
"Fucking bastard keeps trying to interfere with my life. I don't need his goddamned blabbing mouth to tell me that my life is screwed up, and I certainly don't need to hear about how I need to find myself some slut on the street, willing to put out for any man no matter how horrible his personality is. I just--" Harry cut himself off and Severus supposed that was for the best.
"The man is an idiot," Severus muttered.
"I know! He --"
"Oh shut up," Severus snapped, holding up a hand. "His point is valid, he's merely making a mess of getting it across."
"Passion, Potter! His point is passion!" Severus poked him in the forehead. "You think too much! You know all the moves, every step, every bend, but you have no passion! There is nothing behind it. Technically, it's perfect, but there is no connection, no emotion, and until there is, you will never be anything more than a second-rate dancer."
"So what?" Harry demanded, twin splotches of red appearing on his cheeks. "You think I need to let some bloke stick it up my back end as well?"
"Of course not."
"Then what?" Harry challenged. "What would you have me do, then?"
Severus grabbed Harry's hand, tugging him against his chest. "Let yourself go," Snape growled.
Harry's eyes widened in shock. "What--"
With deadly accuracy, Severus captured Harry's parted lips in a hard kiss, tugging at the younger man's hair roughly, before shoving him away.
Harry stood blinking dumbly at him. With a scowl of irritation, Severus turned and stalked away, muttering something about foolish, arrogant children.
"Potter! Pay attention to where your clumsy feet are leading you!" Lavesoir snapped, halting the recording once more. "You are happy! Hap-PY!"
Harry tensed, but a hand on his arm stopped him from snapping back at Lavesoir. "Harry, just relax," Joleen murmured. "We'll try it again, all right?"
"I don't know why he doesn't just drop me from the whole performance," Harry grumbled.
"Because when you're focused, you do fine," Joleen whispered as Lavesoir turned his attention elsewhere.
Harry sighed, idly kissing her cheek on his way back into the line of dancers situated on the side of the stage. He straightened his spine, throwing back his shoulders and tipping up his chin. Out of the sixteen male dancers in this scene, he'd been the only one called forward every time. He knew he wasn't the only one messing up. Jerard was out of time each time they went over the scene, and Lavesoir had only told him off for it once. And it hadn't been fixed!
Harry took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment to focus. As the music started, he opened them again, waiting for his cue. A flash of movement from the corner of his eye distracted him, and as he glanced to the side, he saw Snape move to the center of the front row and sit down. Harry nearly missed his cue when Snape's eyes landed on him and he ended up stumbling across the stage.
"Oh for the love of--Stop!" Lavesoir hollered, just in time for Harry to land on his arse.
Harry was uncertain whom to glare at, Lavesoir or Snape. "Potter, what the hell are you doing?"
"I slipped, sir," Harry ground out through clenched teeth.
"On what? A strand of hair? Get off the ground and get back into position, all of you!" Lavesoir ordered, rubbing the crease between his eyebrows.
Harry got to his feet, ignoring the irritated murmuring of the dancers around him. He chanced a glance at Snape, only to find the man smirking in amusement. His fists clenched at his side and his eyes narrowed.
"Hate," Harry mouthed in an exaggerated motion before repositioning his feet into fifth position once more.
Snape wanted something from him, he wanted emotion, and Harry would give it to him in spades. Even if it killed him. And the glare he was earning from many of his fellow dancers promised it, swiftly, if he messed up again.
"Places," Lavesoir called, lifting the needle of the old record player. "Chins up." His eyes scanned the rows of young men. "Impress me."
The needle was lowered slowly to the revolving record, and music boomed through the empty theatre.
Lavesoir wanted happy, but Harry had nothing but irritation and anger to draw upon, though he managed to make it work for him. He focused completely on the music, letting it wash over him, losing himself in the sound as he danced. He didn't even notice the music winding down until Jerard fell off step again and bumped into him, sending him to the floor. Harry groaned, staring up at the catwalk above the stage. He gave the stagehand an exasperated wave when the guy smiled down at him.
"Jerard! You imbecile! Again, this time keep up!" Lavesoir gave Harry a slight nod, then turned away to restart the music. Harry scrambled to his feet and cast a quick look out into the audience, but Snape was gone. He shoved aside the irrational disappointment he felt from this and reclaimed his spot in the line, wondering just how many times they would do this scene until the women took the stage from them once again.