CHAPTER 41

I still remember that Special Night we spent at Grimmauld Place. Happiness and grief meeting at the same time.

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Remus and Tonks made it back to their room only with difficulty, torn as they were between embarrassment, bursts of laughter and arousal. Once they did manage to stumble inside their room, the last sentiment took over again, Remus sliding his hand underneath his partner's robes, feeling the sweet moisture from their interrupted coitus. Preparing himself again to avoid the conception of Severus's Metamorphlupus, Remus resumed their lovemaking, his movements tender and caring; and the passion in Tonks's eyes matched his own. When she came, she held him tightly her arms, kissing his neck, urging him to follow her into that strange all-consuming pleasure.

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Fred and George, who were testing a fresh batch of Extendable Eyes, hastily yanked back the magical extensions.

"They're at it again," Fred whispered to his brother.

"What a bore," George yawned. "And Hermione won't let Ron into her room even though he keeps trying to sneak inside at night. Let's see what's up with Harry and Snape when they get back to their room."

"Nothing, I bet," Fred said mournfully. "Haven't you noticed how they're kind of dancing around each other? It's absurd!"

"Listen, bro, Snape is not the kind you just…you know…jump."

"I wouldn't like to be in Harry's shoes for a billion Galleons. Rotten childhood, Voldemort after him, forced into marriage with Snape...You've got to admire the guy, he's only seventeen and he's such a fighter."

"He's family. He's our youngest brother, is Harry. You know, Fred, I wish there was something we could do to make them see sense. The two of them are mooning over each other against all rhyme and reason-"

"I'm not sure about the rhyme and reason part, bro. Methinks that crazy codger of a Headmaster knew exactly what he was doing when he got them married. But he can't plan when the two of them jump each other, right?"

"Right. So to return to my original question: what shall we do to help them?"

"Just leave them alone, they'll figure out stuff themselves, they've been doing quite well so far," a bright voice came from in front of their door. Horror-struck, Fred bounded to his feet and threw open the door to find Ginny loitering on the threshold, one hand in the pocket of her jeans, the other holding an Extendable Ear.

"From where did you get that? I thought Mom had confiscated all of them!" George exclaimed.

"I'm your sister. That should be quite sufficient as an answer," Ginny snorted, settling herself on one of the twins' bed. "And you really shouldn't be spying on other people when they have sex."

"Oy! The Extendable Ears and Eyes can't predict what they're going to come across. If they happen to catch Remus and Tonks, er, enjoying each other, then that's not our fault."

"R-i-i-i-ight," Ginny drawled.

"Anyway, you were saying that we should not help Harry?"

"Harry's doing fine on his own. Any help, especially from you two, would be considered interference," Ginny said soberly. "This is something we've got to stay out of. Haven't you noticed how special their bond is? It's like they're destined for each other. Like it had been recorded in another Prophecy or something. It's so insane that it's actually logical. Does that make sense?"

"Logic never makes sense to us, sis," Fred said.

"You sound like Dumbles," George added.

"Anyway, this dance they're both doing is their type of foreplay, you see," Ginny clarified. Fred guffawed and George looked impressed.

"How come you're so certain about that?" he wanted to know.

"Harry has told me a few things about his relationship with Snape, and that's all I'm saying. It's their business."

"We can make it our business," George remarked pensively, holding up an Extendable Ear.

"I don't know why you're so obsessed with using those things to spy on people, especially when they're in bed. I'm wondering if it's because you want to do what Remus and Tonks are doing," Ginny complained.

"Got something to hide, sis?" Fred snickered.

"It would seem that you have tons to hide in the attic back home and over here," Ginny smirked. The twins stopped grinning at once.

"Honestly, guys. The attic. Couldn't you have chosen a more original place?"

"After what we were told about your breaking into the broom shed since you were a kid?" George asked incredulously.

"Sweet?" Fred said, holding out a purple pastille.

"Certainly not. What does it do?"

"Oh, nothing special."

Ginny sniffed scornfully. "Yeah. Right."

"Oh, fine. It turns your body hair purple," George admitted happily. Ginny rolled her eyes.

"I thought as much."

"Gobstones, sis?"

"Sure. But we're using my set."

The twins looked alarmed.

"Unless you're eager about everyone knowing where you keep your joke stash?" Ginny said slyly. The twins admitted defeat.

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Harry and Severus went to bed early after supper. Both were exhausted as a result of their exigent training routine, but Severus was pleased with Harry's progress. A brief nod, a murmured "Mh" and a quick touch on Harry's shoulder or arm were enough to convey his approval.

Severus fell asleep quickly, but sleep was cruel again, pushing him into the bleak abyss of yet another nightmare.

Harry was in a dirty cell lying on a grim small bed, stripped and naked, bleeding from scratches and bites all over his body, his face bruised. Lucius Malfoy was leaning against the bed, whistling melodiously, also naked but perfectly uninjured, his Death Eater mask on, long blond hair falling sleekly over his shoulders, his buttocks sensually rounded and almost silvery-white in the gloom. Severus himself was chained to the wall, robes ragged, wand goodness knows where, trying to free himself and get to Harry. Lucius, still whistling, climbed gracefully onto the bed and pushed Harry over onto his stomach. Harry flopped over without resistance. Lucius looked over his shoulder at Severus.

"You should try this out once, Severus. Fucking a dead body is irresistible."

Severus began to shout curses and powerful spells at Lucius, who, unharmed, shrugged and spat into his palm, smearing his pale erection with saliva. His pubic hair was ash-blond. Suddenly a powerful white light illuminated the filthy cell. Harry Potter was standing next to Severus, tapping the rings and locks with his wand, removing the chains from his wrists and feet.

Severus stared, utterly confused, from the comatose or dead Harry on the bed to the glowing figure freeing him from the chains of his past. Lucius was frozen, the icy blue eyes astonished behind the Death Eater Mask; and as Severus watched, Lucius, the bed and the first Harry suddenly dissolved, and the second Harry stretched out his arm.

"Please take my hand, Severus." The words were uttered tenderly, and the green eyes were filled with understanding. Severus overcame his hesitation and grasped Harry's hand.

He opened his eyes to a familiar globe of light hovering above the bed and Harry's fingers gripping his cold ones.

/Severus, you're with me, you're awake now./

"I dreamt again," Severus muttered, sitting up and taking a deep sip of water from the glass on his nightstand.

/Yes. I…/ Harry took a deep breath. /I hope you won't be mad at me. I used our mind bond to access your nightmare and end it./

Severus stared at him – not with anger, but with admiration. "You used a Dream Bridge?"

/Er, yes. Uhm, I didn't know that it's called a Dream Bridge. I'm sorry. But I could not stand seeing you struggle and ward away enemies in your sleep./ He shifted closer to Severus and put his arms around him. Severus reciprocated, closing his burning eyes as he felt Harry's breath warm up his neck.

"Dream Bridges are rare, Harry. Both Legilimency and Occlumency require absolute control over emotions to ward off external penetration…"

/But when people sleep, they give up control – unless they have been trained so thoroughly in Occlumency that it becomes part of their identity and they are able to ward off the invasion in their sleep. But some things are not external. They are internal. The memories of your past, for example…They come from somewhere inside of you…a place only you know about./

"You sound like the Headmaster," Severus observed stiffly, uncomfortable with Harry's keen insight into his personality.

/When we share a bed and you have a nightmare, I can hear you call me. In my mind. You called my name tonight. Then I woke up./

"It takes an extraordinarily gifted sorcerer to slip into the sleeping mind and actually guide the narrative path of a dream," Severus remarked, choosing to ignore the implications of his subconscious calling out to Harry in his sleep.

Harry shifted the way he always did when he was bashful about something.

/I'm not gifted. But I do have a very competent teacher, albeit a rather irascible one,/ he stated.

"You refused to make a serious effort in your fifth year. When you lost the ability to speak aloud, it became an absolute necessity. You were forced to succeed."

/Weren't we both?/

"Indeed."

/Severus…What you dreamt about tonight-/

"I don't want to talk about it!" Severus flared, rising abruptly on his elbows.

Harry plunged on stubbornly. /You feel guilty as soon as sex enters the picture. You think it's something violent and filthy. It doesn't have to be like that./

"Oh, so you have indulged extensively in carnal collaborations," Severus bit out sarcastically.

/You know what I mean, Severus. If those involved are consensual-/

"As you know, consensual participation can be bought with money."

"Again, it doesn't have to be like that./

"It is like that, you naïve teenage schoolboy!" Severus snapped, growing increasingly incensed.

/Not everything is as black and white as it seems. That's one of the things I've found out about you. And please stop trying to desexualise me./

"Desexualise you?"

Harry's lips brushed his jawline. Severus discovered, to his growing horror, that he was aroused. Harry made the same discovery and very carefully and very deliberately slid his knee between Severus's thighs, drawing back his head to gaze piercingly into his husband's dark eyes. Severus's mouth went dry.

"Harry, you can't possibly want this."

/Shhh. I do want this. Stop telling me what I want and don't want. Have you forgotten that I find you sexy, by the way?/

"You are more insane than all the Hogwarts headmasters put together!"

/Ah, so that's one of the things you have found out about me./

Harry held him close and circled his hips in a slow sweet rhythm, that skilled knee rubbing persistently against his shaft. Severus pulled away a little and adjusted their positions to ensure that Harry could experience the same pleasure. The youth gasped softly in the dark and buried his face into the warmth of Severus's shoulder. They ground slowly against each other, hips rising and falling leisurely. Harry longed to kiss Severus, but he knew instinctively that Severus was not yet ready – he kept averting his face in such a manner that Harry's lips could not meet his. Harry, however, proceeded to nibble at Severus's ear, jaw and neck, and his hands wandered underneath Severus's pyjama shirt to play with his stomach and chest, his heart racing at his own audacity. Long fingers, warm and eager with passion, slipped across his stomach, dipped into his navel, then moved on into his pyjama bottoms. They hesitated, waiting for permission.

/Yes,/ Harry whispered, pushing back Severus's hair to enjoy better access to his earlobe. A zinging sound filled his ears as those fingers played with his genitals. He panted fast, and it was Severus's turn to shush him gently. For a long time, Severus teased and stroked him, uncannily familiar with when Harry was about to achieve orgasm, then holding back and stilling Harry's desperate motions to reach completion. Harry's body was soon slick with sweat underneath his pyjamas, his knee firmly trapped between Severus's thighs. He managed to kick off his pants and his underwear with Severus's help. Severus decided to free his own lower body, his desire spiking when Harry's bare skin pressed again him. He reached down for the young eager organ and resumed his stroking, teasing and rubbing.

Harry asked him a question with his eyes as he drew back his knee and inched his hand towards Severus's groin. Severus took the timid hand and guided him until Harry was confident enough to "go solo".

Harry's face was filled with such passion in the light of Lumos orb that Severus was irrevocably charmed.

They kept each other on edge until Severus yielded, leading Harry to completion with firm slow strokes. Harry gasped into Severus's neck, clutching him so tightly that they both toppled over sideways, the feel of Harry's fingers on his penis sending Severus over the edge with a muffled scream uttered into the hollow of Harry's damp neck. They were exhausted afterwards, lying next to each other. Severus slowly relaxed his arms and pushed Harry away, making sure that their bodies were no longer touching. Beats of silence passed between them. Harry Summoned a towel from their cupboard. With another charm, he dampened it with warm water and started to clean up their sticky bodily fluids. Severus took the towel from him without a word, mopping their hands, stomachs and genitals in a business-like manner. He also retrieved their respective pyjama bottoms and underwear before turning onto his side with his back towards Harry. How was it that he could grunt, sweat and orgasm in Harry's immediate presence while the mere thought of exchanging a kiss made him squirm with embarrassment? He longed dearly to kiss Harry. All over his face. All over his body. On that lovely fresh mouth…

Severus extinguished the globe of light above their heads and succumbed to a heavy sleep. Harry remained awake, one arm behind his head, feeling the heat and passion of what had happened between them succumb to the frost of Severus's insecurities and distrust. Shame and anger welled up in Harry. He rose silently, grabbed his Invisibility Cloak and left the bedroom to be alone with his thoughts.

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