In my effort to get back into writing, I'm am going over and fixing all my old fics. This is a rewrite of 'Home on the Range' but it's basically the same story it was before. I love this story. It's old and out of character, but it's my baby. It's my little contribution to one of my favorite pairings. So, here it is with a new shiny coat. I hope I got most, if not all, the mistakes. Hope you enjoy!
Title: "Home on the Range."
Warnings: Slight Language, OOCiness (for plot purposes)
Disclaimer: All Harry potter and characters places and things associated are owned by JK Rowling and anyone who she sold it to. I own only the plot, and Kassic, and I make no money off this.
Note- thought are 'text' This story goes back and forth from Snape and Harry's thoughts occasionally. Thoughts are in italics.
The door chimed as it was slammed open and a tall, dark figure entered the small shop. Looking around he noticed all the unusual horse shoes hanging on the walls, from plain, to gold and gem encrusted. 'It just figures. Why wouldn't he be just as extravagant as always? I doubt the man could live if he wasn't absolutely surrounded by absolutely idiotic things.'
There were paintings of horses all around, and bridles, of all types, sitting in cases with riding whips and a few fancy saddles, none of which looked like they had been used in years, if ever. There were even a few trophies with gold gilded horses on top. The man rolled his dark eyes derisively. 'Wonderful. Just fantastic.'
The smell of rose and cherry incense filled the room, unlike the outside of the shop, which, of course, smelled like a farm. The floor was marble, very nicely placed, with odd patterns that put you in the mind of Western America. A man sat in the corner, dark head bent down over the jumble or papers and sketches spilling out over his desk. It seemed as if he hadn't even heard the door close, or that horrible clanging noise that was obviously designed to make customers give up any hope right there at the door.
His hand sped back and forth over a large sheet of yellow drawing paper, making, what looked to Professor Snape to be a detailed sketch of some type of horse. The professor stalked angrily yet gracefully over to the desk, striding as he always did with his black robes billowing out behind him in high form. He placed a thin fingered hand across the darkened wood. He sneered to himself and at the bent head over the desk. 'After all those years of training, I could have attacked him at any time, been any sort of lunatic, and he would've never looked up from that trice-damned sketch!'
Snape cleared his throat, irritated. He said, in his best intimidating teacher voice, "Excuse me, Mr. Potter, I have some-"
"Buying or selling?" Harry answered before Snape could finish his sentence, having heard it all before, hundreds of times. He dearly loved his job, but it had been a slow day, and when he finally decided to work on a drawing or two, then someone decides to come in and pester him. He didn't even feel like looking up.
"Selling." Snape growled low in his throat. The boy was paying him no mind!
There was a sigh. "Please fill out these forms with all the correct information." Harry handed Professor Snape a pink document, about five pages thick, and went back to his sketch. Snape almost retorted, the decided against it. 'I wonder how long it will take this idiot to realize who I am. Insolent little jackass.' The raven eyed man walked to the nearest couch- 'Merlin's balls, it's purple!' -and sat, filling out the required papers.
'Name: Severus T. Snape. Occupation: Resident Potions Master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Birth date: January 5th, 1959. Age: 46. Favorite color: What? This is ridiculous. Pine Green. Favorite food: What do they need this- oh, well... Cheesecake. Blood type: O negative. Height: 6'6" Weight: ... 'He was getting a little irritated by the seemingly unending useless questions, 'One would think this was a survey for the Ministry!' After a long, tedious while, he finished the forms and stalked back up to the desk.
"Here," he said, thrusting the papers under the man's nose. Harry distractedly took them and skimmed them, He looked as if he was going to put them down before his eyes snapped back to them, as if surprised. He looked up and gasped.
"Professor? Professor Snape?"
"I believe that is my name." Snape said sarcastically. Harry just stared dumbly for a moment before breaking into a wide, genuine smile. He held out his hand and Snape took it, if a bit disdainfully.
"Wow, how long has it been? Two, no, three years? Since the last Order meeting, right? You're still teaching right? I haven't been back to Hogwarts for about two years now." He looked down at the forms at Snape's occupation and saw that he had guessed correctly, "Yep, can't imagine you not teaching at Hogwarts. How's Albus?" He stared at Snape oddly for a moment. "I thought your voice was familiar, but when I get to drawing it's like I'm sucked in to another world, you know? Of course you do, you're the same way with potions, I bet-"
"Yes, yes, Potter, Dumbledore is fine. You're lucky I wasn't some raving escaped Death Eater out to get you, with the reaction time you have! What happened to all that training? You'd think you've never even heard of vigilance." Snape sneered down at him. Even after three years absence from his life (except for occasional visits to Hogwarts and Albus, during which Snape mostly hid in the dungeons) Harry still looked exactly the same as he did when he graduated. 'Appalling.' Snape sneered inwardly.
"Yes, well, my wards would have warned me if anyone with dangerous intent came in, and plus," He stuck out a finger and tapped an invisible, elastic bubble surrounding him, "I always have my shield up. I can choose at will what gets in or out. I certainly wouldn't let an Unforgivable through." He smiled at Snape again, "So what brings you to Evans' Equine Emporium? Surely, it's not a social call." Harry had noticed that Snape was being a little more civil than he ever remembered, and to keep it that way, he tried to keep the mood as light as possible. "Unless, of course, you've come to visit your favorite former student." Harry smirked.
Snape made a sarcastic snorting growl -as close to real amusement as he ever heard coming from his Professor -and raised a delicate eyebrow. "Indeed. If you would have paid more than a flying glance at those stupendous forms you forced upon me, you would notice I have two rare, magical horses up for negotiation. I would have taken them elsewhere, but my sources tell me that this is one of the most respectable places in England. As idiosyncratic as it may seem, I want to give them a reputable home. I certainly am unable to care for the hideous creatures."
"Well, let's have a look shall we?" Harry came from around the desk, still peering intensely at the tall form of his old Potions Master as he lead them both to his truck and horse carriage. Harry had the distinct feeling that horses weren't the only reason Snape had come, but couldn't quite place his finger on the other reasons. 'The man is so hard to read one moment, but so easy the next, especially when angry. Even with all my Occulemancy training, I've never been quite able to get past his many defenses.'
Evan's Equine Emporium was a huge, thousand-acre facility in the middle of the British countryside. A few miles down the road, was a completely muggle section. It had only normal horses and ponies. But just because the horses were non-magical, didn't mean there were any less of them. They had everything from the smallest colt of a pony to the biggest draft horses you've ever seen.
They had a large stock of Shetland ponies, Welsh ponies, Ponies of the Americas, and a few mixed breeds, all in a large range of colors and sizes. Some of the light horses they had included; American Saddle Horses, Arabian, Appaloosa, Morgan, Palomino, Pinto, Quarter Horses, Standardbred, Tennessee Walking Horses, and many fine Thoroughbreds. All of these fine horses came in all colors, sizes, temperaments and backgrounds, all more fascinating than the next.
Of all his standard Muggle horses, Harry loved the huge Draft Horses most of all. There was something about their beautiful, large, gracefulness that just enthralled him. Some types that they had were Belgian, Clydsdales, and, the biggest, the Percherons, from France. They had so many different types of horses from all over the world, Harry could not even list them all himself. He had a Muggle manager, and many caretakers, working over in the normal stables, but he would check on them often, making sure everything was going well.
They even had a small petting zoo with different types of animals for the little ones.
They stopped short at the truck, and Harry noticed that there was no driver. "You can drive? I didn't know that. Though, I can't very well imagine you on a broom either..." Harry noticed Snape's scowl and stopped talking. 'Just like old times.' Harry thought dryly, trying not to laugh, knowing it would only annoy the man further.
"There are many things you do not know about me, Mr. Potter. How else do you suppose I cart two beasts that are as extensive as horses half way across the country? Surely, not even you can be so idiotic? But, then again..." Snape started searching in a small bag and came up with a large, ornate silver key, which he started to unlock the doors of the carriage with. Snape turned to him, and told him to stand back.
Harry stood, looking on in anticipation as Snape creaked open the door slowly, as not to scare the animals inside. As soon as his eyes adjusted Harry gasped, and took a involuntary step back. "They're magnificent!" he turned to Snape with wide eyes, "Where'd you get them? How'd you ever get them to go into the truck?"
Snape snorted in amusement at Harry's awe. "It was difficult, to say the least. Apparently I've had a great uncle for all these years that I was heedless of. He expired a week or two ago, and I, being the only remaining Snape, or so I think, was left with his inheritance, and these two ugly things."
"They're not ugly, they're wonderful!" Harry would have usually given condolences for the passing of a person's relative, but he sensed that Snape wouldn't care for such a thing. "How- how much do you want for them?" 'And where, am I going to put them?' Harry thought excitedly.
Harry lived in a small mansion set off in the distance of a large field, in front of two big stables, which were slightly smaller than the muggle version of his facilities. There were held the magical counterparts of the horse family; Unicorns, Dark Unicorns, Mini Unicorns, Pegasus of all size and color, Hippogriffs, Bicorns, Dracorns, Kirin, Elemental Horses, Spirit horses, Yales, Hippocampi, Thestrals, giant horses, Sleipnir, and a couple other breeds. He had an all-wizarding staff working over there, day and night, feeding, cleaning, sweeping, and just generally keeping after the animals. Most of the summer, it was wizarding children looking for summer jobs.
He had a floo system set up for them, or, if they wished, a dormitory where they could spend nights. The Muggle section had the same system, but without the flooing, of course. The managers of this section were a centaur named Firenze, and a brown-colored ipotane named Kassic. A ipotane was like a human, but with horse legs, tail, and hooves instead of feet. They were both dear friends of Harry's, and he was happy to give them a job.
However, never before had he had one of these creatures before him, let alone two, although he had been trying to acquire them for years. Snape looked at him carefully, "For the both of them, I was hoping for a combined payment of $20,000. Though, I understand if that price is a little extensive, most people-"
"Done. These are easily worth double that, and we certainly have enough." He tore his eyes away from the wondrous creatures, fast asleep in the back of the carriage. "Thank you so much for bringing them here, you have no idea how long I've searched." Snape locked the truck, and they headed back inside to talk over the little details; how the creatures were to be kept (Harry was going to magically make them a separate room), what they ate, how the money would be paid (Harry would have it forwarded to Snape's Gringott's account), and who would be caring for them.
"Is he a stud? Can she bear foals?" He asked excitedly, thinking of producing more of the animals.
"Yes, and feel free to breed them all you care to. Though, I must say, why anyone would want more of those things walking around the place is beyond me." He snapped, dripping sarcasm and disinterest with every word, but Harry could see that he would be generally happy if the two creatures started a family. Harry was momentarily shocked. 'When did I start being able to know what he really means? He used to be such a mystery to me. It used to be that whenever he said ANYTHING it came across as derogative and scathing.' Now he could pick up little things: Little things in the way his eyes moved, or the way his words sounded, and he could tell when the man was joking, being serious, teasing, or truly was angry.
Amazingly enough, Snape seemed to actually care what happened to his 'hideous beasts' and said he might even come visit them. "The male's name is Nebachunezzer, and the female is Artemis. She is slightly more docile that Neb, but they are both rather... unfriendly. That coming from me is something to be said, as you can imagine."
"I'm sure." Harry was anxious to get to know his new wards, so he called Firenze to lead them out of the truck and into temporary stables until the new ones could be built. He was soon saying goodbye to the Professor and distractedly watching him drive off in his truck. 'Wow, who'd have thought it would be Severus Snape, Bane of Gryffindor, to bring me something I have been searching for years?' He was watching Firenze walk off with the two creatures, black smoke-like aura's enveloping the two, pale, pupil-less eyes of each creature. These would be red only when the moon rose, turning in their sockets. They had rock hard, blood splattered hooves crunching the dirt to dust under their immense weight. Their manes and tails whipped as if caught in a gale-storm, when in fact, there was no wind at all.
Some would call them ugly, demonic creatures, but Harry had learned not to judge a horse by what it looked like. 'Who would've thought a Thestral would be so much more placid and docile then a Pegasus? Or that a flesh stripping Bicorn would be as playful as any Unicorn foal?' Surely, as he watched the pair walk serenely behind the centaur, he thought this would be the start of a beautiful relationship. "I should have known it'd be Snape who'd eventually give me Nightmares."
It had been two weeks since Professor Snape had sold the two Nightmares to Harry, and he was at his wits end. Magnificent as they were, they were a lot of work and not even Kassic dared go near them, so Harry had to take care of these two all by his lonesome. They had taken a liking to him, which only meant they wouldn't try to gut him when they were fed, brushed, or washed. They even let him take them out for walks, but only at night, and only when the moon was out.
They let no person ride them, not even Harry, and refused to mate. He looked them on WOL (wizards online) and they said they only mate every six months on the new moon. They never separated, so all Harry could hope for was that when the time came, they would feel like it and just do it! 'Well, it's a slow day, and Arty and Neb are sleep, and the ranch is running smoothly… Lets draw!'
He was just getting his paper and pencil out of the drawer when the door swung open, hitting the wall behind it with a cling and a crack! 'Damn it.'
And in came the last person he ever expected to see ever again. "Professor Snape?"
Snape only snorted and sat in the chair nearest to the desk. He wiped non-existent dust off his sleeves before turning his intense, dark eyes on Harry. "Indeed… and how are my two charges fairing?" He almost seemed to be fishing for a conversation, flustered to be here again. 'Oh, no. But Snape wouldn't do that. He prefers the quiet of his old dungeons and being by himself. Certainly he wouldn't be here without reason?' But it was summer, maybe he was getting bored alone at the castle...
Harry, of course, only knew this, because of the years spent training with the man. He had often frequented Snape's private chambers after a long round for some tea and quiet. The man's rooms were filled top to bottom with books, scrolls, and parchments; every available space covered but the chairs. He had always imagined Snape as a reader, but that had seemed too much, even for the scholarly potions master.
"Fine, I suppose," He answered after a pause, "Though they are quite a handful. May I ask why you're here, professor?" Harry didn't want to be rude, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Snape looked thoughtful for a moment, before the all too familiar scowl crossed his brow.
"Can't I come and inquire about my charges if I felt the need to? I did leave them in your care, and I HOPE they're being well cared for." Snape sneered and sat back in the chair with a raised eyebrow.
"I assure you, the animals are quite well, and for that, you know, you can simply give me a call." Harry droned in a dry tone.
"What if I wanted to come and see them?" Snape snapped.
"If you wanted to see the so badly, you wouldn't have wasted time asking me how they were, and just demanded to see them!" Harry retorted.
"How do you know I wasn't deliberately testing you? That I didn't ask you how they were, and then demand to see them, to test if you were lying?"
"Then, you would have demanded to see them without telling me all this first, and giving away your little trick!" Harry was quickly becoming annoyed by the professor's childish antics.
"Hmph! Well, what if I wanted to come down here to break the monotony of my life?" Snape even looked surprised at himself. Harry just stared. 'Well, it's true. He is lonely'. Harry looked at him now; Really looked for the first time since they met up again. Snape looked weary and in need of something, but Harry didn't know what. 'Companionship, maybe? I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it there myself…'
"I have to go..." Snape stood abruptly and made his way towards the door. Harry was in a quandary. He respected the man, but did he want to be long term friends with the sour old bastard? 'Sigh. Yes, Yes, I do. Damn Gryffindor courage.'
He jumped up and rushed over to Snape, putting a hesitant hand on his shoulder just as he was going out the door. Snape tensed and froze, then turned slowly to Harry, meeting his gaze with a curious eyebrow. Harry gulped.
"Er... I was wondering', y'know, since you're here and all... would you like some tea? And then maybe... later... we can go visit Arty and Neb, huh?" Harry was floundering. He knew it. Snape knew it. Damn, even the tea knew it, but at least he was trying. Snape was staring down at him, a completely blank mask over his features. Then he snorted.
"If you're so desperate for company, Potter, all you need do is ask. No need to attack me on the way out." He swept back to his chair in front of Harry's desk and raised that eyebrow again, "Where's my tea, Potter? Honestly."
"-and she shat on a tea kettle! Can you believe it?" Harry was telling a story about a crazy old witch he had met a few days ago, who had come to buy a Thestral for her granddaughter. Snape looked amused, but was not one for big shows of emotion. They had been talking for a few hours now, and Harry couldn't exactly say he wasn't enjoying himself.
"You certainly seem to meet some odd... characters… for being out in the middle of nowhere. Though, I must say, they are not even close to what some of those children get up to back at Hogwarts. Just three weeks ago, at the end of the year feast, some child got the horrendous idea to bring a toilet seat to the table, light it on fire, and fly it about the room, before landing it on Dumbledore. Of course, the old fool just chuckled and put out his beard. If it was me, that brat would've been dead."
"I don't doubt that." Snape seemed to be getting more and more relaxed as the hours went by. He was much more amiable at any rate. The only insults he had gotten for a while now had been in jest, and Snape had actually begun to participate in the conversation. 'Someone call up Guinness. This has got to be a record. Snape, civil with Harry Potter in the room for more than two minutes.'
Snape sipped his third cup of tea and looked over Harry's shoulder towards the clock. He was surprised how fast the time flew by when he was with the boy. He sighed. "I really should be going Potter, I have a few things to do in the morning. It was... nice, speaking to you, again, Potter." He started towards the door.
Snape stopped and turned. "Excuse me?"
"I think its safe enough saying you should call me Harry now. It is my name, Potter reminds me too much of potions, and I am not my father." Harry said this with as much conviction as he could manage, hoping for a good reaction at his attempt at friendliness. Snape stared at Harry for a moment, a small look of distrust on his face, before it dissolved and he shot Harry a small smile.
'Oh lord, he just smiled at me! Not a smirk, or a grin, or even a scowl, but a real, albeit small, smile! Hell just froze! Or I've died and gone to some surreal world.' Harry smiled back and waved slightly as Severus walked towards the door. "Professor, would you like to have tea with me again sometimes? It really does get quite lonely out here by myself... I would love to have your company." Snape paused.
"I would like that too...Harry. I will see you again." Snape continued slowly towards the door, "And Harry?"
"My name is Severus." and with that he was gone into the night, leaving a lightly bewildered, slightly happy Harry Potter behind.
And so it went on like that. Harry and Snape would have tea at least twice a week, since it was summer and neither had anything really pressing to do. Snape would show up, say something about Arty and Neb and sit down for tea. They would talk for hours, getting more and more comfortable with each other, until someone noticed the clock. Then Severus would stand, and say he should leave, and Harry would invite him for more.
Every once in a while, they would actually go out and see the two Nightmares. They actually seemed happy to see the cranky man, nuzzling him fondly. Though he put on a big show, you could tell he had missed them a bit. Snape had reluctantly told them in the week the horses had spent with him, they had become considerably more close.
Nebachunezzer whinnied and trotted over to Snape as they entered the stables this evening. His big, rotting head gently nuzzled Snape's shoulder and licked him on the nose. Snape jumped back and patted the horse irately, though if you looked close enough, you could see Snape was happy he still remembered him. Harry, of course, was very amused at all this, and was trying his best to hold in his laughter.
Kassic saved him by walking in that very moment, "Sir? Ah, and nice to see ya 'gain, Mr. Snape." He nodded in the Professor's direction, who inclined his head in agreement. Turning back to Harry he said, "Ah, Sir. If I may have a momen'?"
"Sure." Harry and Kassic walked over to a slightly more secluded section of the stables. Snape was too involved to notice anyway. "What is it? Do you need something?"
Kassic scraped a hoof in embarrassment. "Well, ya see, sir. I was wondering. If maybe... I could have a few days off startin' tomorrow. It's only tha' my wife, well, you see, she's just had a new colt. I know she'll be needin' a few things around the ol' house, and there's no one but me ta help. Only for a few days, y'see." Kassic was very rustic. He'd always reminded Harry of Sam Gamgee from the muggle novel Lord of the Rings he had read a few years back.
He and his wife lived out in a small country home, with wards in it to make any non-magical creatures think they were the same as the muggles around them. Even right up on them, you couldn't tell they were half horse, unless you already knew that they were. They raised their own food, and even cared for a few farm animals. All in all they were a good family, and Harry was honored to have him working with him. He was also a top authority on horses, no surprise there.
"Of course you can. Take as long off as you want, we have enough replacements around at the moment, and if I really need anything, I can always call. Tell the misses I said congratulations, and good luck, you sly dog you!" Harry grinned.
Kassic blushed and grinned right back at him, "Looks like I'm nah the only one who's been havin' a happily ev'r after here, if I do say so mehself!" Kassic poked him lightly and grinned some more. Harry was confused. Kassic sent a few glances Snape's way and whispered conspiratorially, "Ah, dun be trin' to deny it, sir. I may be simple like, but I do have eyes! That man there's been visitin' ev'ry week, sometimes twice! I know a courtin' call when I see it!"
Harry ogled the creature, "Surely you don't mean Snape!" The professor shot him a curious glance and Harry lowered his voice, "We're just friends. Really. He's lonely and he visits for tea. Hell, I'm lonely too. But that's it. Friendly friendship." Harry couldn't believe his ears. 'Did Kassic actually think we are- we were- DATING!'
Kassic looked unimpressed, "I'm sure, sir. Well thankee fer the time off, I'll see ya soon." He put his straw hat on and clomped his left hoof, "But don't ya try ta fool me, sir. I think yer the one that needs the convincin'!" And with that, he clomped off to his truck and drove down the road towards home. Harry just stood there and stared for a minute.
Harry walked over to Snape still in shock. 'Did he really see all that in me? No. It's preposterous!' Harry looked at , Severus. He had said he would call him that, but still hadn't gotten the hang of it. 'Severus. Sev-er-us. Sever-us. Sev'rus. Sev.' There, he liked that. Sev. He would call him Sev and see what would happen. 'Maybe Kassic sees that Snape is in love with me? Maybe he's catching on to that, and doesn't see that I don't return the feelings…'
Severus paused. He brought his hand down from where he was patting Artemis and turned around, one cool eyebrow arched.
"'Sev'? Since when am I ever 'Sev'? I don't recall anyone ever calling me Sev, and I'm not sure I want to." He looked at Harry with a scowl, but he could see the amusement hidden there.
"Yeh, well, like it or not, you've been officially dubbed Sev in my book." Harry smiled and walked over to Neb, patting him delightedly.
Snape sighed and rolled his eyes. "Very well." He said with a smirk, and without much fight, and they continued to pet and brush the two Nightmares, before heading to Harry's office for tea. 'He didn't seem to mind the silly nickname at all. Maybe there is something going on with him after all.'
Severus took one step into the shop, before he stopped, spotting a raven haired man, face down, besides the couch. He rushed over and gently flipped him over, relieved to see that Harry's eyes were open, and looking angry, instead of dead.
"Are you alright?" Sev picked him up easily and placed him on the couch.
"Yes, Sev. Unfortunately, those two beasts decided I was brushing them wrong, and Neb paralyzed my limbs with a bite! Damn creatures! My mouth is the only thing I can move at the moment... well and my eyes. Shit. I was on my way here to grab my saddle, when it kicked in." Harry glared at Severus, who, to his amazement, was starting to snicker.
"So this is funny? This is what makes the great potions monster laugh, huh?" Harry pretended to be angry, but was secretly ecstatic that the man was smiling.
"Ah, the grace of youth. How I miss it so. How long before it wears off?"
"An hour or two." Harry sighed. "I'm stuck here like this and I'm starving."
Snape just sat there for a moment, thinking, and then sighed himself. "If I must, I will feed you. Insolent, useless brat." He muttered this in indignation, but it didn't have much heat behind it. He walked over to the side kitchen and stuck his head inside the refrigerator. "You seem to have some type of beef here, and rice with vegetables. Erm, I believe strawberry ice cream, too. Everything else is uncooked. Shall I heat this up for you?" He looked back over his shoulder at Harry.
Harry was floored. 'Sev wants to FEED me my dinner.'
"Erm, sure, why not?" Harry heard Severus place the food into the microwave and cut it on. 'Harry had taught him how to use most of the mechanical things a few weeks ago.' After a few minutes, there was a loud DING and the sound of the oven being opened and the plate taken out. Harry heard footsteps and Sev rounded the corner, and sat down on the couch next to him.
They just looked at each other. For a long time. A very long time.
"Well, your food is getting cold," Snape lifted the fork, with a piece of beef on it, to Harry's lips. "Open wide," he said sarcastically.
Harry did just that. Harry couldn't believe himself, sitting here, with Severus, being hand fed by the cantankerous potions master. 'This is insane…'
An hour later Harry began to be able feel his arms and legs again. He even felt he could stand, but his arms still felt a little useless, probably because that is where he was bitten. He still couldn't move well enough to be able to do much, but it was a relief to see that the end was near. Sev had helped him finish off the food and tea, and had a cup of his own. He was currently feeding Harry ice cream and telling him about the preparations for the new year at Hogwarts.
" Minerva is flying around like a great bird, snapping at people, and randomly transfiguring things. It's a mad house. I'm glad I have some place to escape to." Snape finished, dipping the spoon down into the bowl for another scoop.
"I hadn't realized you liked these little visits so much." Harry teased.
"I was speaking of my dungeons, twit."
Harry only laughed, but then he started to look uncomfortable. He hadn't thought about what all that tea would do to him... Snape started to put the spoon to his lips again, but Harry pulled his head away.
"No. I think I'm done." Harry grimaced.
Severus placed the almost empty bowl on the coffee table and looked at him curiously. "Are you all right, Harry?" It still amazed Harry how the man could look so caring, for even just an instant, when his face was so used to wearing that cold mask. Snape leant over to peer more closely at his face.
"Yeah, it's just that..." Harry flushed in embarrassment, "Well, I have to go to the loo." He closed his eyes, waiting for the laughter that would surely follow. 'He'll probably tell me to stop whining and wait out my hour. Damn, but I really got to go.'
But, "Oh." was the only answer he got. He peered at Severus, whose cheeks were flushed.
'That's cute.' Harry thought, oblivious to the implications. "Right, then." Snape suddenly stood and lifted up Harry, who squeaked in surprise, by the waist and carried him to the washroom. "Can you stand?"
"Yes, I think so," Snape set him gingerly on his feet, "I just can't use my arms," he blushed again, "That's where I was bitten." 'Damn, if I blush anymore, my face is gonna explode!'
Snape was silent for a moment, and Harry almost considered forgetting the embarrassment and going in his pants. 'Anything would be better than this!'
"Lean against me," Severus said this so softly, Harry wasn't even quite sure he heard it, but he did as he was asked. There was another short pause, then Severus reached his hands around Harry's waist and begun to slowly undo the button and slide down the zipper. 'Oh, sweet Merlin,' was all Harry could think. His heart thundered in his chest, and all he could hear was Severus's breathing close to his ear.
The professor's slender fingers slid the material of his jeans away, and then did the same for his green boxers. Harry caught his breath and tried not to gasp. Those fingers then wrapped around him and pulled him out of the restraint of his jeans and pointed him in the right direction.
"Go ahead." Severus whispered close to his ear, and Harry blushed and did just that. After he finished Severus tucked him back in and fixed his clothing, carrying Harry back over to the couch. He left for a moment to wash his hands then returned. When he sat back on the couch next to Harry there was a slight uncomfortable pause.
"Thanks, Sev." Harry whispered, not sure if the man heard him.
"Of course." Severus nodded and smiled at him. They continued to sip their tea for a while after, until Harry started to feel he could move again. He had been looking at Severus the whole time they had been sitting there. 'Maybe Kassic s right. Maybe I do... like him. Maybe I just couldn't see it before. Maybe I'm a idiot for even thinking this.' Harry sighed and looked into the deep obsidian eyes that stared affectionately at him. Yes, that was the expression in those dark orbs that Harry could never place: Love. He had just realized it now. 'Well, only one way to know for sure.'
Harry leaned over and struggled to cup Sev's chin with his weakened hand and pulled his face closer. Softly whispering his name, Harry placed his lips softly on his and kissed him gently. Snape was tense for a moment, but then started to caress Harry's lips, just as gently and passionately. Harry responded well, sucking on Severus's lower lip and gently asking for entrance with is tongue. Severus moaned and allowed it. The kiss went on for hours, seconds, moments, days, neither of them knew, neither of them cared.
They pulled away, gasping for air. Harry had a huge grin on his face and Severus didn't look unhappy about it, either.
"Harry, I-" Snape started.
"I know, really."
"I've wanted to- all this time I've been trying to- to say I'm sorry." Severus sighed, "I've never hated you. Not since- not for a long time. I just- I'm not good at this. Damn. Every time I came over for tea, I wanted to say, to do, something. Anything! I guess I just didn't have the courage. That's why I came here. It really... touched me, that you would want this grumpy old man's company, even though I was horrible to you."
"I know, Sev, I know. I never really thought you hated me, nor did I ever really hate you. I'm glad you came to me. I was oblivious to how lonely I was until you came... I'm really glad you're here with me."
"No, don't. We can talk about it later." Harry wrapped his arms around Severus's shoulders. "All I want to do is be with you, right now." Harry kissed him again, this time the kisses lasted deep into the night.
Harry and Severus had talked, kissed, and caressed long into the night. They had covered almost all the bases, getting out a few things they had wanted to say, and resolving a few misunderstandings. They had also decided to go slow. So in the early morning Severus said his goodbyes and left with a soft, passionate, wonderful kiss to Harry's lips.
A few days later Snapee came back and they were sitting in the office, looking at a picture. It was a beautiful drawing of a horse, moving like a wizard's painting, and it was running around the fields of Hogwarts. Severus was amazed that all the 'damned sketching' had turned into something so beautiful.
"It took me forever to finish this; I thought I never would!" Harry beamed, proud of his accomplishment.
Snape was about to comment, when Kassic burst through the door, his small colt in a harness on his back, "Sir! Ya won' believe it! Ya have to come! Yer too, Mr. Snape!" Kassic was obviously very excited, but about what, neither of them knew.
"What is it?" Harry asked, standing, Snape not far behind.
Kassic just turned on his heel and went back out. "It's a surprise! Wait 'til ya see!" And with that he was running like lightning towards the stables. For a moment, as he was running towards the Nightmare stables, Harry was worried that something bad had happened. But then he remembered the happy face that Kassic had shown up with and calmed.
He reached the stables a minute before Severus, and paused, catching his breath. When Severus caught up, they entered together and gasped.
"Oh!" was all Harry could manage. Kassic was beaming. Artemis was lying on a bed of straw, a small black baby Nightmare softly suckling off her. Harry was in shock. 'I didn't think I'd ever get them to mate!' He and Severus walked over slowly and when Neb and Arty didn't react, they both slowly placed their hands on the small one, petting it.
"I came in here to change the water, an' there he was," said Kassic. He looked at Neb and Arty, "Nev'r seen these two lookin' so happy, neither."
"Oh, wow, Sev! I didn't think they would do it! Look at him, he's beautiful." Even Severus had to admit he was cute, for a creature with dead eyes, black aura, and rotting skin. "What shall we name him?"
Snape thought about it, and then smiled slowly. "How about 'Sketch'?" Snape suggested, looking into Harry's deep emerald eyes. He leant over and pulled Harry into a kiss. Harry pulled back and grinned wide.