Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.
Note: Thanks so much for the reviews. Sorry for the delays but I recently moved to Australia because of my internship. So I don't have that much time to update as I would have liked. But I won't bore you with any of that, let's begin.
"It is such a great pleasure to finally meet the legendary Professor Snape." The voice that greeted him was elegant and with a hint of an Italian accent when he entered the Headmistress' office. The man that greeted him was tall, just a few inches shorter than he was. His dark brown hair was long enough to be curly and his brown eyes were friendly. His smile was wide and kind. The man wore navy blue robes that complimented his olive skin and he inclined his head as he extended his hand.
Severus accepted as he said. "I am sure the pleasure would be mine if only I had known your name."
"Of course, do forgive me. My name is Potions Master Ritalio, Neve Ritalio."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Master Ritalio." He could feel the faint vibrations of the other man's magic as they clasped hands.
"Oh please call me Neve, Professor. I would be honoured if you would." Severus preceded the other Potions Master towards the Headmistress' desk. Minerva was pouring the tea.
"If you would call me Severus, Neve." Severus took his seat. He was slightly taken aback when the other man smiled at the offer. He seemed genuinely pleased with that. Severus cleared his throat and poured them both teas as he asked.
"Minerva said that you would have news for us from the Guild."
He asked the question politely as he took a sip of his tea. Neve accepted a biscuit from the plate that Minerva passed around. Severus declined. He found himself drawn to the elegant man that was sitting opposite him. Neve seemed friendly enough, something that put Severus on edge because nobody had ever been friendly to him without an ulterior motive. But he would go along with it.
He was free, he had nothing to lose and he could therefore pursue a relationship. Perhaps it would not lead to anything but it would be nice to share a conversation with somebody that had the same background as him. His colleagues were his peers but all except for Horace nobody had a background in Potions and therefore most of the conversations were about students or the teaching work. After nearly 20 years of the same kind of conversations Severus was getting bored with it. He had never been a man of many words but this would be different.
"Yes, I have come with news. But I suppose that it is more than news, it is an offer if you would like. I will be frank with you, Severus. The Guild does not encounter many of these cases and this is a rare one. Certainly there are disabled apprentices or accidents that happen and we even have the odd Potions students that are blind but to have an apprentice that has to learn to adapt to being blind and learn Potions, this one is very tricky. I have some experience in these circumstances because my master was blind but he was born blind and had never had learned to adapt because he was so used to it. But he had a very unique way of teaching his skills to his apprentices. He would make us use blindfolds and even spells to have us experience things like a blind man would. Those are valuable lessons I would be keen to pass onto you and your apprentice. Sadly my master is no longer able to teach his craft." Neve paused to take a sip of his tea before he continued.
"The Guild has secured a place for you in the office at Rome to teach you and your apprentice, should you desire it. You shall be under my tutelage and have access to all of the resources the Guild has to offer."
"You would like Harry and I to come to Rome?" The question was phased carefully. It had been a long treasured dream to one day walk into the Guild Halls in Rome and study amongst his peers. It had sustained him for longer than he had dared to admit. It was a secret desire to be fulfilled once the war was over. But Severus had assumed it would be years in the future and not this soon. To buy himself time he glanced at Minerva. She looked as shocked as he was but at his look she gave him a small smile.
"I always knew that you were destined for great things, Severus, things that one day would take you away from Hogwarts. I would be sad to see you go but it may be the best for you and Harry both but perhaps it is too soon. Harry still needs to heal and he has been through a lot. To separate him from his friends may prove disastrous. But I know how much you long for a fresh start; Severus and I would not begrudge you it should you decide to take it."
"Our intention is not to move Mr Potter right this instant. This is the reason I have come to Hogwarts. The Guild has sent me to make certain that Mr Potter is healing well and offer Professor Snape any assistance. The Guild has many qualified Healers but we would not do anything to jeopardize Mr Potter's healing. No, we would rather discuss this with your Mediwitch and of course Professor Snape and Mr Potter himself before making any decisions. But just know that the offer is there."
Neve turned back to Severus and nodded. "You would require Harry's consent?"
The brown eyes held Severus' dark ones as Neve answered his question. "Of course. While you are his master we recognize that Mr Potter's condition may make it harder for him to move. Considering everything that has happened in the past years it is understandable should he wish to remain at Hogwarts for the near future. The reason I was send here was to appraise the situation and offer any assistance required. I have some experience with things like this. Perhaps I can even offer assistance in the Potions that could aid Mr Potter with his healing."
"At this moment we are unsure if he will ever fully heal. His throat, airway and lungs were damaged during the blast when he inhaled the fumes and the only Potions available are experimental at best. I will not offer those to Harry when we do not know if they will have a long term affect or if they can cure him." Severus' voice was sharper but he didn't care. Harry's safety and wellbeing were his main concern. Harry was his apprentice and therefore it was his duty as the boy's master to look after him. If there was any other reason beyond that, he was firmly ignoring those.
"Then perhaps we can research other options. But we can discuss that another time…."
"I take it that the accommodations have been arranged then. If I knew Minerva then she would have a hand in this." Severus raised an eyebrow at the Headmistress and she met him smirk for smirk. Neve wore a similar smirk, and Severus had to admit that the other man wore it well.
"Of course, Professor. We knew that you would not accept the assistance otherwise had I not made the necessary arrangements with the Headmistress that would have secured my stay at Hogwarts. She has graciously found rooms for me in one of the towers and has even offered me a class to teach should I get bored during my time here. The Guild has agreed to give me a two month leave and we shall take it from there."
Severus nodded. It sounded good enough for him. He should have known that Minerva would have arranged everything behind his back. He would probably not have accepted otherwise.
"Now that we are done with the pleasantries, perhaps it is time that Neve met Harry. What do you think, Severus?" And as Severus nodded and rose to lead the way, he wondered what his apprentice would think of Neve?
Severus was not much of a talker. He assumed that most people knew that about him. He did not point out the great details of the portraits on the wall or the beautiful architecture that was Hogwarts. His visitors had eyes and he was a member of the faculty, not a tour guide. He had lived at Hogwarts too long to notice the grand beauty that was the Great Hall or the Grand Staircase. Normally he would have kept a quick pace to his office or his quarters but not he found himself adjusting his pace to accompany Neve.
The man paused, not often but often enough to appreciate the beauty that was before him. It gave Severus all the time in the world to appreciate Neve.
The third time he caught himself looking he looked away immediately. Do not be silly. He's a fellow Potions Master and I am sure that he's here for important affairs and not for a one night stand or even an affair. His job is to help you and not in such a way.
"Ah, I would have come sooner if I had only known the beauty that was Hogwarts. It could rival the Guild, Severus. Have you ever been to Rome?"
"Only once, when I was young and before my tenure as a Hogwart's Professor. While the Guild is certainly beautiful I must say that my heart firmly belongs to Hogwarts. To me this is home." He answered honestly, allowing a small smile to come to his lips.
"I cannot blame you, my friend. If I had come here before I had gone to the Guild then I would have agreed with you. But sadly my first love remains the Guild and one cannot forget their first love."
"No, indeed one cannot." But the painful memories had no place here and Severus shoved them away firmly. He caught Neve's eye as the other man said.
"But sometimes one can be very lucky to find another love, even if it is only for a short while that the love is shared it is the memories that the heart fondly remembers." Neve gave him another smile before he gestured towards Severus. "Lead the way, my friend. Sometimes I find myself lingering to appreciate the view."
And as Neve's eyes passed over his body, Severus was unsure for a moment of which view the Italian meant. Surely he cannot be flirting with me. He just has an eye for beauty, which is not surprising considering Hogwarts.
He turned on his heel and said over his shoulder. "My private chambers are this way. I will show you to your own quarters soon but I have to make certain that Harry is alright." And my chambers are in one piece.
However upon opening the door to his private rooms he didn't find them in as much disarray as he assumed he would. No, Granger was seated on the couch, holding a book. She glanced up when they approached and Severus glanced around for the other culprit. Weasley could not have gotten far. The wards around his rooms had been undisturbed so he must be around. Probably snooping.
"Hello, Professor. Ron is with Harry in his bedroom. I don't know what they are talking about or what they are doing but Harry was very tired when you left." She closed the book and glanced down at it when Severus raised an eyebrow. "I am sorry, Professor but I needed something to occupy my time with. I will put it back, I promise."
"There is no need to apologize for reading, Miss Granger. Especially such a fine book as that one. Should you wish to borrow it, you need only ask." Severus told himself that there was no reason he was doing this, certainly not to please a Gryffindor. And neither is it to please Harry. Though I must say that life is easier if Gryffindors are happy and out of my way.
No, he was a teacher and it did make his life easier if Granger was occupied. If he made her happy simply by letting her borrow his book then he was quite sure that this news would travel back to Minerva and Granger would be inclined to do things for Severus as well. Such as helping him teach his classes. She would need all the knowledge that she could get.
Neve stepped into the room behind Severus and Granger's eyes widened. Severus stepped aside and said. "Miss Granger, meet Potions Master Neve Ritalio. Master Ritalio is from the Guild and he has come to lend his support for Harry and to work on a solution regarding the apprenticeship. Neve, this is Hermione Granger, she is a seventh year from Gryffindor and one of our brightest students. She is also one of Harry's closest friends."
Granger nodded and smiled, a bit tentatively but smiled none the less. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Master Ritalio."
"It is always a great pleasure to meet the next generation of wizards and witches. Are you perchance interested in Potions, Miss Granger?"
"I find them interesting but it is not the field I would like to specialize in. My interests lie in the field of Transfigurations or even in the working for the Ministry as liaison who specializes in Muggle legislation and other things. But I would only bore you with everything I want to achieve in my life." Granger's smile was shy as she put the book away and said.
"Ron's in Harry's room, Professor, like I said earlier. Shall I go and see if Harry's awake?"
"No, I will go. And you are certain that they are in Harry's room?" He would not put it beyond Potter to try and get a nap in Severus' bed again. He firmly ignored the part of himself that seemed to be a bit sad at Harry leaving his bed. It was only logical to have his apprentice so close during the night. Otherwise he would be required to get up during the night to check upon Harry. But it was only for the better if Harry got used to sleeping on his own again. And it is better for me as well. Better get used to an empty bed now than when he leaves. And who knows, the bed might not stay empty for long.
Granger caught his emphasis and she smiled as she nodded. "Yes, Harry seemed rather keen on sleeping in his own room in your absence, Professor." There was a twinkle in her eyes that reminded him too much of Minerva or Albus. He put it down as a Gryffindor trait and decided to ignore it.
"I will go and fetch my apprentice. I shall be right back."
"Please do not hurry on my account, Severus. If he is sleeping peacefully then I would rather that he slept than be forced to meet me. There is plenty of time for that."
"I doubt he will be asleep." Severus also ignored the feeling of pride that he got at the thought that his apprentice only seemed to prefer sleep whenever he was around Severus.
Harry took a deep breath as he stirred slightly. Somebody was shaking him but he was so nice and warm and his bed was so comfy. "Don't want to get up." He managed to wheeze out.
"I think that you will find that you do not have much of a choice, Mr Potter. There is somebody here to see you and he has travelled a very long way to do so. You can at least show him the proper respect by being awake for the duration of the visit. It will not take long, I assure you." The silky tones woke him up faster than he thought possible and Harry tried to ignore the flip of his stomach at Snape's voice.
He struggled to sit up, trying to throw the blankets off at the same time. A strong hand pushed him into a seated position as another pulled the blankets away. Harry glanced up at where he suspected Snape to be as he asked.
"Is he from the Guild?"
"If you get dressed then you can find out for yourself." Snape's tone was gruff and Harry frowned. He caught Snape's sleeve as the Potions Master would have brushed past him and he said.
"Please tell me so I know how to behave myself around him. I am your apprentice and my behaviour reflects on you. I would hate to make you look foolish in front of your peer when I act without thinking." He was out of breath by the end of the sentence.
"Are you certain you did not sustain brain damage in the explosion? I have never known you not to act without thinking about any possible consequences." Snape's voice was sharp and Harry flinched away. He was trying very hard to be more mature and to impress Snape. He was an apprentice and his behaviour did reflect on Snape but the moment he tried to do the right and mature thing Snape smacked him back down.
Snape must have noticed because a slender hand gently brushed Harry's sleep tousled hair away from his forehead. Snape's fingers touched Harry's scar and his master's tone gentled. "I am sorry, that was uncalled for. You have been uncharacteristically mature these past few days, even to the point of concern. I keep expecting you to act out and find my chambers destroyed to the point where I cannot recognize them anymore."
"I thought one lab would do for now." Harry coughed his way through the sentence. "But if it makes you feel better I can come up with something."
"I'd rather you focussed all your attention on getting well. And the lab wasn't mine. If it had been, you would not be feeling so lucky that you survived."
I'm hardly feeling lucky. I can't see a thing and I can't form a complete sentence without coughing or wheezing. I need help with everything. This wasn't what I had envisioned when I would be sharing another man's quarters.
Snape seemed to sense his mood and said. "Come, Mr Potter, let's get you dressed. I would rather not scandalize Master Ritalio with the likes of you dressed as you are. If you decide to go out in this fashion then I must be forced to keep you detained in my quarters…"
If that was all it took for him to keep me detained then I will gladly wear a shirt and a pair of boxers for the rest of my life. If only he can keep me detained in his bed and by using his hands.
Harry fought his blush as he occupied himself by getting dressed. He just hoped Snape put the flush in his cheeks down to a lingering fever than the direction Harry's thoughts had taken him. Because his thoughts were giving him plenty of hot images to maul over.
Harry managed to school his features into something resembling normalcy when he entered the living room accompanied by Snape. Ron had slipped out before and had muttered something along the lines of giving Harry and Snape some much needed privacy, Harry had decided to ignore that comment.
"Neve, meet Harry Potter." Harry straightened to his full length. To be honest he had no idea where the man was cause he could only see grey spots and blurred images. Out of instinct he sent out his magic in a wave, seeking where Master Ritalio was.
He heard a gasp at the moment his magic encountered a subtle magic. He immediately pulled it back into himself. "I'm sorry…" He stammered.
"Don't be sorry, Mr Potter, that was very impressive." The voice was soft and the accent unfamiliar. But the Master's voice was pleasing to the ear and a hand touched Harry's hand carefully as Master Ritalio said. "My name is Master Neve Ritalio. I am a Potions Master and the Guild has sent me to aid Master Snape with your apprenticeship. Would you mind if I assessed your injuries for myself?"
Mutely Harry shook his head. He expected magic but much to his surprise there were gentle fingers laid on his cheeks and somebody peered into his eyes. "Your eyes were damaged, were they not?"
Harry nodded. "I am surprised that, instead of relying on your other senses you immediately and instinctively used magic as a sense. This is promising." The Master turned away and said, directing his next words at Snape.
"You have done a magnificent job with him, my friend. Well done. There is hardly any use for me here." His voice was warmer than when he had spoken to Harry.
"Oh, I'm sure that we can find something to occupy your time with." And why the hell was Snape replying to Ritalio like that. Harry tried to ignore the jealousy that shot through him but it was hard. His master's voice sounded warm and almost friendly. It was a tone of voice that Harry wanted directed only at him. He shook his head firmly.
This doesn't make any sense. Why would I be jealous of Snape and Ritalio? For all I know they are old friends? Besides, Snape deserves and needs somebody who looks after him.
To be honest, Harry was worried about his master. He could see the weariness in Snape and knew that the older wizard was far from recovered from his injuries. And then he had to deal with Harry being injured as well. It couldn't be easy for the man.
"Are you alright, Mr Potter?" Snape's voice was curt but gentle. Harry could almost hear the underlying concern. He nodded.
"Yes, I am alright." He wondered when he had gone back to being Potter. He liked being Harry far better than being Potter. But he knew one thing and that was that he was done with begging. He would show Snape that he was an apprentice the older wizard could be proud of to call his own and perhaps even his lover. It didn't matter how long it took but for now, he would focus on getting well again, even if it meant accepting the help of somebody else. Because unless Snape told him himself that there was no chance between them, Harry wasn't going to accept no for an answer, even when it meant that somebody else was after his master.
Severus glanced at Potter. The young man was standing up through sheer will. He could almost see the thin sheen of sweat on his apprentice's face. Harry had improved slightly but it would be a long time before Harry was in any shape to travel. They would not be able to leave for Rome anytime soon.
It was a lifelong dream of Severus to go to Rome and see the Guild. When he had been younger the main reason was to escape the war and to get a new fresh start. But at this moment he had been given a fresh start. The war was over and he had an apprentice. Perhaps not one he would have picked and one that was wounded and in need of aid but he would see it through. Perhaps when Harry was strong enough he would take him to Rome one day. Harry would enjoy that.
"Perhaps we can talk over a cup of tea?" Severus hardly ever offered tea. He had not offered tea to Potter's sidekicks but in this case he would make an exception. Granger and Weasley had departed soon enough when Severus had returned after making a brief promise to Potter to come back soon. So much for his peace and serenity.
He gestured towards his sitting room. Neve gave him a smile as he said. "That would be appreciated." Potter perked up at the notion of tea. Severus nodded at Neve before turning back towards Potter.
"I'll let you drink one cup but that is all. Your throat is still healing and tea may agitate it further."
"Water is fine…" Potter croaked out and Severus frowned. Was he hearing this right? Potter was settling for water? Last night the boy and he nearly had a fight when Potter had thought he had finished all of his soup. Potter continued to baffle him sometimes.
He decided to ignore it for now as he took a step towards Potter. Perhaps his apprentice had found his stubborn streak again and the next request would be that he did not require any aid. If that was the case then Severus would nip that right in the bud. He had no desire to spar with his student, especially today of all days. He had to make an impression on Neve.
Potter seemed to sense it because the younger man held out his hand in a silent request. Severus ignored the magic that danced over his skin and seemed determined to get underneath it. He also ignored the flash of arousal. So Potter was powerful, so was Severus, that didn't mean that he allowed his magic to run amok.
He helped Potter settle on the couch, not acknowledging the softly muttered thank you, He steadily ignored the space Potter provided on the couch and instead settled in the other chair. He also ignored the crestfallen look on his apprentice's face as he ignored the brief notion of guilt in his chest. He had better things to do than worry about Potter's feelings and he turned towards Neve or so he told himself. But then again he had decades of practise of ignoring himself as well. What would be one more time?
Harry had to actually swallow away hurt when Snape decided to rather sit somewhere else than with him. He told himself he was being silly and he was supposed to be an adult. This shouldn't matter. But somehow, it did. It mattered because Snape had been there for him since the very first moment Harry had signed the apprenticeship document and Harry had come to rely on the older wizard. Snape had always been aware of Harry but now it almost seemed as though his master was ignoring him. But why would Snape do such a thing? So Harry forced himself to pay attention to Mr Ritalio.
"The Guild asked me to come here to evaluate Mr Potter's health and to see what help we can offer for the apprenticeship. The Guild does have some experience with blind Potions Masters or blind apprentices. However, I have to admit that this case is fairly unique."
Harry took a deep breath before he asked. "What… is the normal procedure?" He had to force the words out.
He wished now more than ever that he could actually see well enough to see the expression on their faces. He didn't want pity. He didn't need it.
"The normal procedure, Mr Potter, would be to offer help. We do not prefer to allow another Potions Master to take over the apprenticeship unless no other solution was found. We find that the bond between apprentice and master can be very tight and it can be hard for an apprentice to form that bond with another master. But once again this depends on the situation and the bond between the master and apprentice."
"And in the case between Potter and I? You must have seen that there is no such bond between us." The words hurt and Harry forced himself to take a deep breath. They had only started the apprenticeship and there were years of hatred and distrust between them so naturally it would take time for such a bond to form between him and Snape, if it ever did. And it had only been days ago that Harry had admitted to himself that he would welcome such a bond between them.
"I have but as you know very well, Severus, that such a bond takes time. I have however corresponded with your Headmistress and your Mediwitch and both of them said that the beginning of such a bond is present. This certainly is a unique situation that an apprenticeship is offered between a Professor and a student that have never been particularly close. But then again it is a conscious decision to deepen such a bond and there are masters or apprentices who do not desire such a deep bond. It is not for everybody. But you do share an apprenticeship bond with your apprentice, Severus and that is a bond in itself." Harry wondered if Severus nodded. If he did then he couldn't see it.
He once again found himself longing for his bracelet. It would at least let him know what his master was thinking and it soothed him deep down. He barely managed to keep himself from reaching out with his magic. The last few weeks Snape's magic had been a constant by his side and he found himself missing it.
"Yes, there is that." Snape finally answered. He sounded almost pensive and Harry fidgeted in his seat. He had never been particularly good at sitting still. The soft sputter of a tea mug being filled distracted him and it made his mouth water. The next moment a mug was placed in his hand and Snape's soft voice said. "It is watered down sweet tea. It is hot so be careful. I do not need you to burn your lips on top of all your other injuries."
Harry flushed but he fought his temper. He muttered a soft thank you and instead took a sip. The tea was just as he liked it, no matter how watered down it was and it settled something deep inside of him that Snape knew him well enough to prepare his favourite tea.
"That is a lovely bracelet you have there, Severus. I particularly like the design of the green bands interwoven in the leather."
"Oh you mean this? Potter has a matching one. I created them as means of communicating between Potter and myself. However the green bands are Potter's design." Harry could almost hear the eye roll in Snape's voice.
"It is absolutely stunning. And he did that simply by impressing his magic upon the band?" Neve sounded impressed.
"Yes and he claims he didn't mean to do this."
"No matter if he meant it or not but the green bands break the leather very nicely. It is a simply stunning design."
"Yes, I have to admit it was a surprise when Potter created it and to this day they have withstood any attempt to be forced into another shape or form. I have decided to leave them as they are. I suppose you could say that the design has grown on me. I find myself impressed by Harry's magic. It is very complex. He is certainly powerful enough even if this was unintended."
Harry almost choked on his tea and he coughed to try and clear his windpipe from the liquid. Did Snape just pay him a compliment? Hands pounded him on the back and Harry took a deep breath. Snape was a warm presence beside him as his master snarled.
"Trust in a Potter to expire after I paid him a compliment. We took care to keep you alive so please do not reward us by dying over a cup of tea after the lengths I have gone to keep you healthy." Harry had to hide a grin as he leaned against Snape. He wasn't sure if he was welcome, especially with master Ritalio so close by but Snape wrapped an arm around his shoulders, pressing him close. It must be an unconscious act but Harry relaxed into it. It would take time but he would show Snape that he was a good apprentice and that he wanted such a deep bond between them even if it took all year. Harry was nothing if not stubborn.
"I am sure that Mr Potter will not reward your attempts with death on his part, Severus." Severus glanced up at Neve. The other man was watching him. Severus kept his arm wrapped around Potter to make certain that the younger man would not relapse into another coughing fit. He ignored how well his apprentice fit into his arms.
"I wouldn't be so sure. I wouldn't put it beyond Mr Potter to do just that, just to spite me." Severus took a sip of his tea.
"Just want you to apply mouth to mouth."
The tea went flying as Severus turned to Harry. He was certain that he had not heard that correctly. But when he glanced down Potter's flush told him enough. Severus had to look away. His mind was supplying him with memories of the last time he had done that. His cock hardened at the thought and Severus was glad for his robe. He shifted slightly in his seat and Potter tensed. When Severus didn't push him away his apprentice relaxed again.
Neve sat forward and asked, focussing his attention on Potter, leaving Severus to his own thoughts. "Have you found yourself improving at all?"
Severus had to force himself to focus. His thoughts were taking him into places where he would rather not have them go. His mind supplied him with memories of Potter's soft lips and the kiss they had shared before. His cocked hardened even harder and Severus' hands itched to pull Potter closer and crush his apprentice underneath him, to show him the true meaning of pleasure and wanting. The mentioning of his name had him focussing again.
"Excuse me?" He cleared his throat and glanced down at Harry. The green eyes stared back at him and Severus wondered when, and not for the first time if Potter's eyes showed any of what had happened to the younger man. At the moment they still appeared as beautiful as they always had, not that Severus spent a lot of time staring into Harry's eyes or thinking that they were beautiful, because he did not.
"Mr Potter explained that he has been improving a little and that you are trying to wean him off of Dreamless Sleep but he has not yet been outside a room where the air is not constantly purified. Am I saying this right?" Neve took over from Harry, who seemed to take the time to catch his breath.
"Yes, that is correct. Harry has only been in my chambers for two days. We purify the air constantly. Madam Pomfrey, our Mediwitch, will deem it appropriate when we can stop doing this. Most likely his airways will always remain sensitive but I do hope that his airway and lungs will heal enough that he does not require constant air purification."
"Have you tried some of the new potions that are on the market? I have heard of a few that are quite successful." It didn't surprise Severus that Neve knew about those. Most likely some of the Potions Masters of the Guild had helped create them.
"They are still in trial version and require life trials to get the best results. I will not subject Harry to such potions." He ignored the hopeful look on his apprentice's face but did note when it turned crestfallen. He made his tone brisk as he continued. "It is not because I do not want you to heal, Potter, because I do, more than anything but if these potions prove harmful then they can do more damage than good. I would rather have you heal as much as you can before we begin experimenting with potions."
"Who offered the potions?" Harry's voice was wheezy but it was beginning to settle into hoarseness. Severus wondered if Harry's vocal cords had been damaged as well. He was firmly ignoring what the hoarse voice was doing to his cock or his fantasies. Harry certainly didn't see him that way and Severus was an adult man, he could ignore his bodily needs, even when his mind kept supplying him with delicious images of what he could do with Harry.
"He is a Potions Master as well, is he not?" Neve poured all of them more tea. Severus reached forward to take it, keeping his other arm around Harry.
"Yes he is. But it was on his watch that the attack on Harry happened." It was a short story to tell and he tried to keep to the facts. He could feel Harry trembling faintly, unsure if it was because of the fact that his apprentice had never heard the story or even knew who was responsible. He had not named Harry's attacker and he was quite sure that neither Minerva nor Poppy had said anything. But his apprentice deserved to know. "Dennis Creevey was his student and he was the one who orchestrated the attack on Harry."
"Dennis attacked me?" Harry's voice never rose but Severus could almost taste the anger and shock in it. "Why would he do such a thing?"
"He believed you responsible for his brother's death." Severus did not dance around the subject. It wouldn't do Potter any good to sugar-coat the truth and to hide it from him. The moment that Creevey's trial was going to take place, and it would Severus was sure of that, Harry would learn of it. Better to tell him now than to have him read about it in the papers.
"And this individual has been captured?" Neve leaned forward and Severus glanced up. He took another sip of his tea before he nodded.
"Yes, it is a crime to attack another student. One I intend to see punished. Creevey will spend the rest of his life in Azkaban for what he has done…" He paused when somebody took the teacup out of his hands. He glanced down to see Harry was busy taking a sip before placing it back in his hands. He raised an eyebrow when his apprentice met his gaze and said.
"I was thirsty."
"You could ask for a cup of tea or a sip instead of just having the audacity to simply take it." Harry grinned up at him and answered. "I think you happen to like my audacity, Professor."
"Severus." The correction came out without any thought and Severus felt his eyes grow wide. Harry's smile widened and Severus could swear that there was something positively Slytherin about that smile as Harry said. "If you call me Harry."
"I am already calling you Harry."
"No, you called me Potter today. I haven't done anything that warrants a Potter." Harry broke into another coughing fit. Severus rolled his eyes as he waited it out and said.
"If you keep this up, I am going to count this as Potter calling moments. You know to preserve your breaths. Though I suppose I should be glad that you are improving enough to form full sentences again without hacking your lungs back up. Pity that I was just beginning to enjoy my silence. But I will defer to calling you Harry again unless the situation warrants a Potter if you keep up improving your strength."
He really should know better than to negotiate with a Gryffindor but it seemed that Harry was satisfied as he smiled and nodded. His apprentice even went as far as to hold out his hand and said. "Done."
Feeling somewhat ruffled Severus shook Harry's hand. There was something too Slytherin about this situation and Potter appeared too satisfied, Severus was worried. It always proved bad for him if a Gryffindor was satisfied.
Harry yawned and snuggled deeper into his side, shuffling onto the couch until the messy head was resting on Severus' thigh. Severus couldn't help but card his fingers through the soft hair.
"Now as I was saying…" He turned back to Neve, trying not to enjoy having Harry so close. It soothed something inside him and the apprenticeship bond was silent. Harry was well at the moment. "Creevey will be punished but I refuse to have Horace Slughorn near my apprentice. He should have had control of his class. Accidents may happen in Potions but this was not an accident but a well thought out attack and Harry is paying the price for it."
Neve's face was grim as the other Potions Master said, all warmth gone from his voice. "I shall have a chat with Master Slughorn. As a representative of the Guild it is important to keep an eye out on your students, especially if those students are higher years. Perhaps that was one of the classes that Professor McGonagall was speaking about when she said she would like me to teach a class."
Severus shrugged. "I would not know if she intends to allow Slughorn to remain teaching. The man was in hiding for many years from Voldemort for no reason other than his own personal concerns."
"And because of personal knowledge…" Harry murmured, sounding tired.
"Perhaps she meant that we should give a demonstration and show the students how Potions Masters in Rome teach classes. It would be a nice opportunity to engage young students in our field and I would welcome the chance to work closely with you, Severus." Neve smiled at him again and unless he was very much mistaken he was being flirted with.
"I would like that as well. It is always nice to learn something new from a Potions Master. "Perhaps we can also do a demonstration for some of the students I have asked to take over my classes from Defence." If Severus had a glass of wine he would have toasted Neve. The man's smile was enough for now.
"With that promise in mind I shall adjourn to my own quarters." Neve rose to his feet. Gently pushing Harry away from his lap he rose to his feet. His apprentice was fast asleep. He opened the door for Neve and softly said.
"I would like to thank you for your assistance. It is very much appreciated."
"You are most welcome, my friend." Neve's smile was as warm and friendly as ever. The Italian wizard stepped out into the hallway before turning around and said. "I look forward to working closely together with you."
The next moment he stepped closer and pressed a quick kiss against Severus' lips. Neve stepped away before Severus could act and after a soft goodnight walked away.
Yes, it would be good to work closely together with him. I think we would make a good match.
And somehow that very thought filled him with hope.
I hope you liked it. This is it for now. I hope it was worth the wait but please review. For those interested my internship is going well and I am absolutely loving Australia. Sadly I do not have the time to write as much as I would have liked, especially with so much to explore. But I am glad that you are all sticking around.
In the next chapter: Neve and Severus begin working closely together but can Severus control his desire around the Italian Potions Master? And how will Harry react to find his master and Neve suddenly much closer? Will he be able to show his master that he would make a good lover or not? And Severus has to make certain that the students he had picked to teach over his classes will do a good job but can be contain his temper? That and more in: Desires