CHAPTER 43

A/N: Dear all, as always, thank you so much for your patience, for reading this story, which is more than four years old, and for your wonderful comments!

Together, you have given me the unique pleasure of receiving 2222 reviews as of 2nd July 2013. Special thanks goes to charm13insomnia for the 2222nd review; and to you, RussianWolf7, I offer my apologies for hijacking your sleeping hours ;-D I hope you were able to catch up on your sleep, and I would like to thank all of you again for always encouraging me. This story has only a few more chapters to go, so let's get this show on the road!

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After spending the kind of night I did with you, I was pleasantly surprised by our daytime activities. And I know that you were not left unaffected either, Severus.

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Severus was taciturn during breakfast, while Harry talked with Ron and Hermione, once glancing at Severus when the Potions Master deliberately attempted to eavesdrop on Harry's utterances by nudging his husband's Occlumentic shields. He nodded curt approval when Harry paused, frowned at him and resumed his conversation.

"Does he have to do that?" Ron whispered to Harry.

Harry rolled his eyes and turned to his fried bacon. In the meantime, the twins, unbeknownst to everyone else with the exception of Ginny, had unleashed an Extendable Eye, masked with an Invisibility Spell, underneath the table. Because of said spell, the Eye possessed limited properties and had to be in direct proximity with its target.

Like Muggle video cameras, the Extendable Eyes could record what they saw and stored the information in a small pouch attached to the hand-held string which controlled their movements. Ginny glowered at the twins, but whether it was because she disapproved of their tactics or because the twins had managed to locate two of the Extendable Eyes their mother had confiscated was unknown.

Fred twitched the string, and the Eye moved towards Severus, settling between his feet to gaze up, right up, all the way up into his robes. Horrified, Fred hastily yanked back the Eye, which bounced back and, as he had planned, brushed Harry's leg. The youth looked up and gave Severus a glowing look. Severus, surprised, returned the searching gaze; then, with shock, felt something brush up against his ankle. Fred and George, suppressing twin smirks, withdrew the Extendable Eye, and the latter stuffed the device discreetly into his pocket.

Puzzled at what Severus was sure was blatant flirtatiousness written all over Harry's face, the Potions Master felt his cheeks warm up in the most embarrassing manner…And was Harry nudging his foot? Hermione grinned into her cornflakes and Ron's ears turned pink when the spouses locked gazes for a good sizzling ten seconds or so. Remus smiled to himself while Tonks discussed Ministry politics with Arthur and Molly Weasley.

After breakfast, Harry made sure to accidentally brush his hand against his husband's. Severus's first instinct as a spy was to snap back his hand – but this instinct was overridden by those green eyes, and he let their fingers linger. Why withdraw his hand when the slightest contact with Harry's skin felt so good? As soon as they were in their room, Harry leant against the door, breathing deeply.

/Severus Snape,/ he said finally, /you've been driving me mad throughout breakfast./

"Mr Potter, you were flirting most shamelessly with me in public," Severus remarked, standing awkwardly in the middle of the room. Harry boldly marched up to him and placed his hands on Severus's hips. The Potions Master's eyes flashed once, twice, thrice; he swiftly wrapped a lithe arm around Harry's waist and inserted his sharp knee between the youth's thighs.

Wow! Finally!

Severus began to rock his knee slowly, carefully imprisoning Harry's wrist in his long fingers when Harry tried to return the gesture.

"The pleasure is all mine," he whispered into his husband's ear, his breath making the fine downy hair on the young neck flutter.

And all mine, too!

Severus skilfully varied the rhythm, switching from painfully slow to breathtakingly fast until Harry was sweating and breathing hard. Halfway through their impromptu session of frottage, Severus removed Harry's spectacles and sent them to his bed with a silent spell, briefly interrupting his knee movements to trail his index finger down Harry's cheek, throat and collarbone.

Oh Merlin!

Drawing in his breath with an audible hiss, Severus resumed their activity, moving his knee with increasing speed until-

I screamed. I could not utter any words, but I could scream like a Mandrake.

Harry's head was thrown back, eyes closed, jaw clenched, caught between tension and its imminent escape.

Severus, who was aching with desire, held him until he was able to regain his balance, watching the blissful expression yield to caution and uncertainty. Their eyes locked, then Harry's right hand reached out to increase his ache, torturing him in the most audacious manner. Their gaze continued, unwavering.

When it was all over, Severus, battling for his composure after enjoying himself most thoroughly, tentatively suggested a sai lesson. Harry understood his husband's awkwardness and interpreted it as Severus's own version of pillow talk: a method to show Harry that he was not pushing him away after exchanging physical intimacy and wished to remain in his company. However, not all the understanding in the world could prevent him from a quick visit to the bathroom to clean up, while Severus quite unabashedly pulled out his wand to solve the matter. Harry's cleaning spells tended to be rather vigorous and, as Severus had warned him, would encourage folliculitis if used on such a delicate area.

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Harry was promptly cornered by Ron in the bathroom.

"So, have you done the deed with Sn – I mean, your husband? Gone all the way?" he asked, unable to suppress his curiosity when he saw Harry's flushed face.

/Come on, Ron. Sex doesn't have to be about penetration,/ Harry observed, at the same time avoiding his friend's question.

"True mate, but the act is defined as having, er, a piece of your body right inside someone else's body."

/ You can achieve the same with a French kiss. Tongues, you know. Or fingers./

"Oh come on, it's not quite the same thing as, you know, using genitalia."

Harry grinned. /I hear you, but the, er, penetration aspect doesn't have to be the most important thing. You can use your nether regions for tons more. And not only your nether regions. And there are other things. Feelings, you know./

Ron coughed. "Why do I have the impression that you know exactly what you're talking about, mate?"

/Because I do know what I'm talking about./

"Uhm. Ew. Er, wow."

Harry laughed. Ron looked torn between horror and curiosity. "So…What's it like with him? I mean…You know…"

/He can be a very sensual man, and while he's still conflicted about the whole thing, we're, uhm, enjoying each other and that's all I'm going to say./

"Do you…well…love the git?"

/Let's just say that 'love' is not enough to describe what we feel for each other,/ Harry smiled, his green eyes sparkling. /It's too complex./

"Right, mate. That I can believe!" Ron snorted.

/So how are things going between Hermione and you?/

Ron went red and grinned.

"We're taking things slowly. The thing is…" his grin faded, "with the war creeping up on us, it feels like we have to rush. Like every second is precious in a way it never was before."

/Time is precious even without war,/ Harry remarked thoughtfully.

"Yeah, true. But the pressure is really on now. Fortunately, life still goes on. Apparition exams and stuff. Left a bit of my…er…you know…nether hair behind during the last practice session. Tonks noticed because my hair landed just nearby."

Harry leant against the wall and laughed himself silly, glad that he and Ron had met in the train compartment all those years ago and become like brothers.

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Severus watched the sai whirl one after the other through the air and stick into the hay, which had been conjured for the purpose of serving as a target. Harry retrieved the blades and threw them simultaneously. Another retrieval later, Harry added a fire spell to his throw, much to Severus's pride. The hay burst into flames when the blades hit, and Harry's Aguamenti charm followed barely a split second later.

"Impressive," he commented. Harry turned around calmly and smiled; he was used to Severus's silence when the man approved of his spellwork; but actual verbal praise was as rare and precious as a phoenix egg. Severus Summoned the weapons and handed them back to his husband, who was tempted to steal a kiss from Severus but wisely refrained from doing so. Severus, however, caught the scorching green glance; he had the distinct feeling that their next night was going to be…interesting. The next day, too, promised to be of major significance: the new formula of the Wolfsbane potion was scheduled to be the subject of much discussion during the Order's conference.

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