Beta: Thank you to snow, Torina and Quill Lumos for prying me, kicking and screaming, from my mistakes.
A/N: This story was written for Calanor as part of the Severus Sighs Secret Santa. I tried to get in as many of your wants as I could but, really, Severus and Lucius put up so much of a fight that I had to yield on the fluffy ones. Sorry, Calanor. Also, Severus locked himself in the bathroom when I suggested he allow Harry to top and wouldn't budge an inch until I rescinded on that plus a promise that no food would be thrown in his direction. He also vetoed Harry fumbling awkwardly anywhere near his bits. Lastly, we compromised with a yes to the 'can't wait to get their clothes off sex' in exchange for a resounding no on the 'bestiality/animagus sex'. I should also confess that there is a distinct lack of humour, though I maintain that's because Sirius is an arse.
Disclaimer: If these characters belong to me you can cover me in custard, slap me with a kipper and call me JK Rowling. Until then, I take no credit or money from what follows below.
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"Well, well, well," Lucius drawled, shaking the heavy snow from his wool-caped shoulders before closing the door behind them. "This is a meeting of friends indeed. What do you say, Severus?"
Severus' brain snagged and started, selecting several things he might say, but none typified the chimerical madness, the utter astonishment and disbelief he felt. So he just stood there and concentrated on functioning. The sound of the blizzard outside was raging parallel to the white-out in his mind and his vision pricked at the outer edges; little stars that told him that he wasn't breathing with quite his usual success. He closed his eyes; easier that way. Harry here, he thought. He wanted to laugh, he really did. Happy Christmas, Severus!
Actually, that was an excellent response to Lucius' question.
Opening his eyes, Severus catalogued the tableau. Oh, yes, Harry was definitely here, standing, open-mouthed, in front of him. He inhaled slowly, kick-starting his heart back into rhythm. That was good.
"What the hell are you two doing here?" Black growled at the two newcomers, tugging on Harry's arm to arrest the boy's jerky forward movement.
"Gracious, no banners, no welcome mat, Cousin Sirius?" Lucius sauntered towards the inn's reception desk and drew off his gloves, a metaphorical message spoken twofold. Or perhaps threefold, if the grace with which he moved was an insult. And Severus knew it was.
Black tugged harder on Harry's arm, trying to tuck him into the protection of his body. And Harry was still open-mouthed, gaping at Severus. Then he faltered, Severus could see his Adam's apple bob, and a flare of pain flicker in his eyes, spread and then wash over his face. Severus reached out a hand towards him, only to be growled at again.
He could breathe.
He retrieved his arm, but kept it close to his side. His pride wouldn't allow another sign that he in any way felt at a disadvantage, not with Black here. Mercifully he was confident that none of the anguish he was feeling showed on his face or in his demeanour, so he drank down the ache, the sweet torture.
He breathed again.
He fixed his eyes on Harry, a Harry that was definitely looking as uncomfortable as Severus felt. None of the strength and courage of the Boy Who Lived Again was visible in this illusion. He looked diluted and threadlike in comparison to the Harry he remembered. Inexplicably, that thought, painful though it was, gave him cause to harness his own nerve.
"Harry. Well met, I hope?" he asked, smoothly and, thankfully, with little inflection. Well, none that the dog would detect. He kept his eyes on the young man, drinking again.
"Get lost, Snape!"
"As ever, Black, conversationally I find you lacking," he spat. How dare that hound butt in between him and Harry?
Harry shook off the restraining hand and took a step towards Severus and away from his godfather, who immediately followed him. He waved at him impatiently, and pushed him away, not once taking his eyes from Severus. "Sirius. Stop…" He coughed to clear his voice of its hoarseness. "It's… Good to see you, Severus." He glanced then to Lucius, and back. "You're s—staying here?"
"We had plans, yes," Severus said, and then his temper reared at the unending injustice as he saw the pain in the green eyes deepen. "And you?" he asked through clenched teeth. What the fuck has happened to him? he thought.
Black opened his mouth, but a calm voice from the stairs on the right interrupted what was, no doubt, the delivery of another fine riposte. Sweet Merlin, this farce just gets better and better.
"Sirius, Harry and I have reservations for the week, yes." Remus Lupin descended the stairs and walked over to stand with Black and Harry, but his eyes were on Lucius. Lucius who, midway through signing the register, was frozen into an ice form, one holding a quill and his ability to speak.
Lupin, Severus saw, looked ill, even more pale and thin than usual. And if he had noticed this, he was damned certain his friend had.
"Hello Severus. Lucius." Lupin's voice was firm, amazing Severus, as he thought there should be a crack in it. In fact, he was incensed there wasn't.
Severus ignored the pleasantries and went straight for the throat. "Lupin, how good it is to see you – and Harry – in the bosom of your friend." He found it gratifying to see him flinch at that and ripped at the jugular. "Are you both unbound or well-leashed still?"
Black snarled furiously and snapped his wand in an arc, aiming at Severus. With a loud pop and a rush of air a house-elf materialized between them, while simultaneously, Lupin leapt forwards, clenching down on Black's arm with one hand and the other held out warningly towards Severus. "No!"
Severus, his own wand aimed and a curse already on his lips, paused.
"The blizzard!" Lupin rasped. "Severus, it's a Stormbound, a Tempestāte Dētentus.1 We cannot risk our magic."
Severus inhaled and looked over to Lucius, who had obviously been thawed as his stance was one of check too, merely glaring his hatred – and probably a crucio or three – at Black.
He loosened his grip on his wand, peeling his anger from it. "You are certain of that?" Severus snarled. Although the question was addressed to Lupin, his eyes included the small, trembling figure of the house-elf. Its hands clutched at the neat tea towel wrapped toga-style about its tiny frame.
They both nodded: one decidedly and the other as though his neck was a loose spring.
Lupin released Black and nodded again. "Yes. Harry was unpacking when the blizzard heightened, he cast an unpacking spell and it whipped him fully across the room."
Severus narrowed his eyes at Harry. "Were you harmed?!" he demanded, his gaze raking an inspection from head to foot for signs of injury. Control, he chided himself.
"No. No, I wasn't hurt. Just shaken." Harry's voice was stronger now, the mêlée seemingly snapping him out of his atypical stuttering. He smiled jerkily at Severus. "I'm alright. Really," he added when the frown on Severus' brow didn't immediately disappear.
The house-elf backed away, retreating to the safety of the reception area. His ears, eyes and nose peering from behind the desk, hands gripping the edges either side, reminded Severus of the fashion in the graffiti of his youth, and his lips quirked involuntarily. That ridiculous image settled him and he sheathed his wand.
Releasing a long breath, he looked at each of the players in this humourless comedy. "This situation," – he waved a hand to encompass the two groups – "I think you will agree, merits a discussion accompanied by less chaos and more decorum… And brandy."
Lupin smiled at him gratefully and led the way into the lounge. Black grunted, but followed, packing his two charges into one dark leather Chesterfield, leaving the other, at the opposite side of the fireplace, for Severus and Lucius. The house-elf scuttled in to serve five glasses from a decanter and Severus employed the time by taking a surreptitious inventory of Harry.
It disturbed him to note the changes since the last time he'd seen him this close, almost a year ago now. Greyish-purple shadows under dimmed eyes, slightly sunken cheekbones and wrists leaner than he remembered. His clothes hung from too-thin shoulders and his hands were in a constant frenzy of small movements; his nails clicking at the buttons of his robes.
Severus grimaced inwardly at these signs of… What, exactly? It had been Harry who had left him. Left without any argument or explanation, just a simple, heartless note of thanks and goodbye found on his bedroom dresser. By all that is equal he should be the personification of contentment. In the three years they had been together as lovers, plus the couple before that as friends, Severus had never known Harry to decline in such a way. He'd steered himself, with Severus' help, through a short miasma of post-battle malaise, emerging the other side a joyful, responsive partner; the perfect foil for his own rigid control. That he'd obviously been abseiling the emotional cliffs ignited a rash, white hot anger in his chest. It seared his heart and rendered him breathless for a moment.
He knew then that his previous loathing of Black, that misbegotten arsehole of a dog, was mere playtime compared to this burning hatred. Black had done this. He had rent Harry into this veneer of the man Severus loved. For his own selfish, self-seeking reasons, Black was destroying his Harry.
He gripped his glass of brandy and focused on the hot amber, reining himself in. To release his anger here, now, in front of Black, would only serve against him. Better to maintain his temper, not give the dog further ammunition. But inside, he seethed. He ran through the few neutering potions he knew for later, which managed to calm him somewhat. Oh yes, revenge was a dish with 'Fido' on it.
Lupin, obviously suffering his own torments, hadn't taken his eyes from Lucius since they had sat down. He cleared his throat. "So, Lucius. You're looking well."
Lucius, moving his glass in smooth circles so that the viscous liquid swirled and lapped at the crystal, met the enquiry head on. "Oh, tol-lol, as they say." He smirked, adding, "And you, my erstwhile friend, have you new games afoot?"
Lupin winced and jerked up from the sofa to go and stand at the window. Harry shot a look at Severus, but if he'd meant to pass on any message with it, he failed.
Black followed Lupin with his eyes and then glared at Lucius, "You're the ones playing all the games, Malfoy, and we know it," he snarled. Lucius raised his glass in salute. As answers went, it was perfect.
From the window, Lupin interrupted the sally. "The elves tell us the blizzard will very soon make the roads impassable. And of course apparation is out of the equation in the vacuum of the Tempestāte Dētentus." He turned to the room, as much avoiding Lucius' hard stare as he had before been devouring it. "So, here we all stay." His smile was bitter as he returned to the dubious comforts of the fireplace.
"Then I believe we should either call a truce for the duration or select other means for enjoying this stand-off," Lucius said with a snarl. "Personally, I vote we play pin the dog's tail on the werewolf."
"I'll tell you what 'we' will do. You are going to keep yourselves to your room and leave us alone." Black draped an arm around Harry's shoulders, who was still unusually solemn, and pulled him back to rest against him.
Severus watched as Harry sank deeper. Not into the cushions, but into himself. The sight of Black holding Harry so possessively was suddenly intolerable, too painful to bear. He readied himself to leave, but stopped when Harry yanked himself out of Black's arms with a grunt.
"For Merlin's sake, Sirius, stop it will you. Back off!" He turned to Severus, his eyes pleading. "Can we just sit here for once without fighting, please?"
Shocked and, yes, hurt, Severus inhaled deeply and shoved both emotions, hard, behind a sneer. "I did not think to remind you, Harry, that it has never been my intention to clash with those who are important to you." After all, hadn't it been he, Severus, who had on numberless occasions given way to Black after the dog had returned from the veil; to not force Harry to choose between them? And now Harry was begging him not to fight. Impossible.
Black snorted. "Yes, and we all know who was really important to you. We can see now why you went to Snake Manor each time you got Harry out of the way by sending him to us." He threw a smug look at Lupin, pointing to the sofa opposite. "Can't you see now that I was right? That they were fooling the both of you?"
Lucius lurched upright and bared his teeth at Black. "You bastard! You despicable, selfish bastard! I knew it was your doing!"
Severus grabbed at the long-denied opportunity. "What did you do, Black?" he ground out.
"Everything I needed to do to protect my friends." Black yelled back.
Lupin held out a placating hand. "Please, shouting like this solves nothing. Sirius—" He tried to stop his friend from leaving the sofa, but Black grabbed onto his arm and pulled Lupin, staggering, behind him.
"Always together the moment Harry's back was turned—"
"We are friends, Black! Why wouldn't we be together?" Severus snarled.
Black snorted his contempt, "'Friends', Snape? Friends don't live in each other's pockets."
Severus felt a tangential shift in the room as he looked at the three men in front him, huddled together and looking very much like pockets. "Do you have any idea what it is you are talking about, Black? What does my friendship with Lucius have to do with you, or with Harry and Lupin?" Oh Merlin please let the dog answer that!
"Don't try and say it isn't true, Snivellus. You two have been shagging since our fifth year."
"How dare you—"
"I dare because you were hurting him!" Black yelled.
"And what is his cause now, Black? If I was hurting him so much, why is Harry a shadow of the man he was a year ago when he was with me?" Severus shot back.
A fleeting look of guilt and shame flashed across Black's face, but he rallied with one of calculation. "Harry is still suffering from being with you, from having to face that all that time you were just playing with him, laughing at him while you fucked Malfoy! What did you do, run down his technique, his size, while you shoved your cock up your real lover's perfectly groomed arse?"
Severus was momentarily speechless. This was worse than I would – could have thought possible. Horrified, he looked at Harry's ashen face. "Is that what you thought, what you truly believed?" he asked in a breath.
Harry didn't meet his eyes.
His suspicions were true, then, only much more insane. Oh, God. Hadn't he proven himself to Harry time and time again? Endlessly showing he could be trusted, proving his unmitigated loyalty. And not just as lovers. They had fought for that trust; they had earned it buried beneath the weight of Order business and in the final clash with the Dark Lord. He had once had his bounty for that trust and loyalty, paid in the coin of first Harry's friendship and then his devotion. All of that and more, while Black was still a wraith behind the Veil. And now, not two years after the dog had returned, a year after Harry left, and it was worth nothing. Formless trust is no trust at all; transient devotion, no coin worth a knut.
He had to get out of there, had to escape the red film that was scouring his eyes and the agony that was surging through every muscle and bone. He swayed, stumbling through the door into the reception.
No. Not even for Harry.
He swept up the stairs and bolted into his room, slamming the door behind him. Dizziness came down on him with a hammer blow and he breathed in the dust on the wood floor as he fell. Pictures careered, upside down and sideways images of Harry and him together. Sounds of every breath they shared roared a cacophony of memories. He clung onto the floorboards, desperately clawing at them, fighting to stay on them. Wracking sounds erupted from raw redness and he clenched his teeth to swallow them down.
A distant sound of a scratch at the door before Lucius, his own calm left somewhere to eddy in the blizzard outside, walked in. Strong arms pulled him up off the floor and helped him to the bed.
"Come, Severus. This is no manner to ensure your win." He smoothed a slender hand across his brow, tucking long raven strands away from his face.
Cold minutes passed before Severus felt the vertigo fade and he was able to breathe again.
He heard a resigned sigh, contradictory to the words spoken earlier and Severus gazed at his friend. So much hurt, so much pain and so, so very much failure. What it had cost Lucius few aside from Severus knew. Narcissa, before she absented herself from the company of his shame, and perhaps Draco? No, probably not; just Severus, then.
"Talk to me, Severus. Please," Lucius' melodious voice encouraged.
Severus reached over and took Lucius' hand, stroking its elegant lines. "It was easier to bear when it was merely supposition, intangible in the absence of confirmation. Now, however, I feel violated and ripped by the unfairness of it." He let his head fall back into the pillows and took a moment or two before carrying on. "While I only suspected, I could lavish Harry's departure with the dressings of my own fault. I could wallow in misery in the sure knowledge that I did not deserve him. But now… Now I am adrift and my only raft is to lay the blame with Harry. And I find to do that hurts more than him walking out of my life. It means that I did not know him."
"Then don't lay the blame with Harry. Fix it where it belongs, on Black." Lucius twisted his hand in Severus' and crushed them together. "We were right all along, Severus. Black turned Harry against you, took him away from you just like he persuaded Remus against me."
Severus laughed humourlessly. "Oh, yes, Black is as his name, but Harry should have trusted me, trusted in the truth of what we had together. That he didn't when he had had two years with me as evidence otherwise, makes him just as culpable. Indeed more." He stroked his thumb across the soft skin of the palm held in his. "Remus, too. He should have followed his heart to your arms and yet he did not. He relinquished all claim to you when Black returned because he was scared to admit to him that he wanted you; you, Lucius, whose own actions were inexorably linked to Black's supposed demise. Lupin has always been too weak to stand against Black and you did not stand a chance."
Lucius shrugged backwards onto the bed, resting his head against the boards. "Oh yes, I know well his weaknesses, but I thought myself strong enough to withstand history for us both."
They were quiet for a while, both blocked by doors sealed against them.
"Strange, I cannot quite recall where we started, he and I. Was it the grimoire research or was it loneliness, or was it that the two of us just got dragged into it by our relative association with you and Harry?"
Another sigh from Lucius. One so deep that Severus felt somehow immersed by it. He delved into his mind amid the still careering images of Harry and fished for some purpose. "So, my dear friend, where do we go from here? Do we let Black win or do we at least attempt to salvage Lupin?"
Lucius turned to gaze at Severus. "You won't try to win Harry back?" he asked.
"No. I think that if Harry had any trust in me – in us – he would not have stayed at Black's side this last year," Severus replied.
"Even though it is clear he is miserable? – in fact I would say he is a pitiful replica of his former self," Lucius said. At Severus' look of enquiry, he went on, "Yes, I did notice. He looks like a scarecrow, Severus. You really need to take him back if only to reunite him with his wardrobe."
"Perhaps. He would need to seek me out, however, and if he has not done so in the space of a year, it is doubtful he ever will."
They lapsed into another, longer, stretch of silence.
Severus snapped his eyes up to the doorway to see Harry's head about to disappear through it. "Shit and fuck!" He tried to snatch his hand from Lucius' grasp, but he was held firm.
"Harry!" Lucius' sharp tone effectively stopped the retreating figure. "Come in here. Now!"
As Harry turned and entered the room Severus once again attempted to wrench his hand free, but Lucius' answer was to hold it tighter still. "Lucius!" he snarled.
"I didn't mean to intrude, but obviously I am so just say what you want to say, Lucius, and I'll leave," Harry said.
Severus noticed that though his green eyes were more fortified now they still leaked pain like a faulty cauldron.
"Don't be such an idiot, Potter. Take a good look at us, a close look, and tell me, what do you see?" Lucius' tone was fraught with exasperation and, not waiting for an answer, he forged on, "You see two friends, much like you and Weasley, who have known each other since school, I would wager. No more, no less, than that." Finally Lucius released Severus' hand, slid his legs slowly from the bed to stand at its side, and arched into a cat-like stretch. All the while his grey eyes never left Harry's face.
Severus watched as Harry looked about the room, but not to take in the furniture or the décor. His eyes sped first to Severus' valise, his brushes and salves laid out on the dresser, and finally to his nightshirt, which lay folded on the ottoman.
"Look all you wish, Harry, you will find none of Lucius' things here. You will need to look in his own room for them," he sneered and was happy, and yet not, to see him wince.
"Severus, may we talk?" Harry glanced at Lucius, who merely raised an eyebrow in question. "Alone, please."
Severus nodded and Lucius left the room, closing the door quietly behind him. He took a moment to collect himself and to further savour the bitter-sweet sight of his guest.
"Be seated, my Harry," he said, indicating the chair set before the small fire at the bottom of the four-poster. The start caused by the old endearment was only just visible, but Severus knew where to look. To the right shoulder that quirked ever so slightly and the corresponding tilt of the head.
He thought it might be a drawback to remain reclining on the bed while Harry was seated, but then he saw the yearning in Harry's eyes and changed his mind. If he wanted to have any potency in this tête-à-tête – and he did – he was better off where he was. He crossed his long legs at the ankles and lay back against the headboard, his head cushioned by his hands. He waited for Harry to begin, desperately wanting him to be brave enough to rouse the accusations levied, spoken and implied, downstairs.
"Severus…" More twitching at the robes with his fingers, pleating and fussing at the fabric. "Do I owe you an apology?"
There were several ways in which Severus could answer that question and, for a moment, he was lost to decide which was more important to him. Mm, déjà vu. So he settled on the simplest. "Yes." He was pleased to hear, for his own protection, that his tone was equivocal.
Harry closed his eyes and let his hands rest on the arms of the chair, their ceaseless twittering in remission. It took all his willpower for Severus not to take Harry into his arms, to stroke away the remaining shards of this brittle genus. But this was a matter of self-preservation; a wrong assumption now would wreak havoc with his scaffold of emotions. So, he waited while Harry pulled himself together.
"Have you ever… slept with Lucius?"
"Yes." Again, he opted for the simplest of the possible answers.
"Ah. While we were together?"
"No. And before you ask, not even after you left me."
Harry looked up at that. "But Sirius said—"
Severus sat up abruptly, propelled by a rage born of unfairness, of hurt. It filled him and threatened to drown him. "Do not dare to quote that dog to me! After what he said earlier I have no doubt of the edifying and yet wholly fabricated things he has told you!" He eyed his former lover. "I thought you knew me, Harry, loved me, and yet you allowed that animal to sully what was precious. Leaving me just one month before our bonding ceremony, for Merlin's sake!"
"I know! I know!" Harry's knuckles were white where they gripped the chair.
Taking a deep breath, Severus fought for calm. "Why ask the questions now, Harry, when you were so, so pitiably silent when the barbs were first fired?" Okay, not quite calm enough.
Harry let his head rest against the back of the chair and studied the ceiling for a moment, his face a moue of stress. "Because I thought he was the same man who had fallen through the veil. I believed him because anything else was to be faced with an illusion, a man made only of my dreams and a twisted version of my memories. I wasn't ready for that. It would have been like I was sending him back to the veil." He glanced at Severus, but quickly turned back to the ceiling.
He was not quick enough, however, and Severus saw how much it was upsetting Harry to admit all this. He softened his voice.
"So instead, you sacrificed me. Rather than face the fact that your godfather is an emotional child, has always been, and a selfish fuckwit to boot, you discarded me. You believed him because you wanted a last chance of having a father, and you couldn't have us both. Your paradigm of paternity wouldn't allow it." He moved to the end of the bed, just a foot or two from Harry's face and trapped him in his stare. "You turned a blind eye to his well-woven guile, his campaign of lies and vilification, and you washed me and our future away in the filth without a second's thought."
Harry's face distorted into a grimace of agony. "Severus," he whispered.
His name, spoken just like that was all it took for the clenching of his heart to yield, for the anger and bitterness to ease just enough for Severus to lurch forward and gather Harry in an embrace. "Hey now, I'm here." He pulled the younger man onto the bed beside him, enfolding him in his arms like the lovers they used to be, and raining kisses onto his head. The touch and smell of him, the familiar way in which he leant in against him was devastatingly wonderful. "Shush, my Harry."
He felt Harry's hands on him, feeding themselves on his back, on his chest and neck as though starved. His mouth licked and kissed his throat and Severus felt an immediate coil of desire flood his groin.
"Harry. Harry, stop this." He plied the hands from around his neck and chest, and gently pushed the mouth away from his throat.
Harry lifted his hands to brace either side of Severus' face. "But I'm sorry, so sorry, Severus," he murmured, sweeping soft touches along his jaw with his thumbs. "Is it too late?"
"We need to talk first. I need to know why you didn't come to me –"
"But I just told—"
Severus pressed a finger to Harry's lips for silence. "Do not rattle my ears with tokens regarding your desperate need for man's best friend. I want to know why you thought the value of his friendship to be far higher than that of the truth. I want to know if you knew what he was doing to you. To me." His voice just a whisper at the end.
Harry pulled himself farther onto the bed and wrapped his arms around himself. He was silent for a while, but Severus was willing to give him time to gather his thoughts together.
"At first he just told me stories of when you were all at school, running you down all the time, going on and on about all the dark spells and potions you knew." He snorted. "Of course, having touched Horcruxes, shot out a dark curse or two myself, and killed a Dark Lord, that didn't have the effect he wanted. But when he started telling me stories about you and Lucius shagging when you were at school… Well, that hit me dead centre. Hit all my insecurities."
Severus placed a hand on Harry's leg, brushing it of imaginary dirt. But Harry would know it for what it was. "Go on," he urged.
"Well, then he started going on about how close the two of you were, how whenever I visited Ron and Hermione, or him and Remus, you would always go to Lucius. He kept making me admit that you were encouraging me to go, and made it seem suspicious." He positioned his hand to cover Severus' and squeezed it slightly. "And then he would always link your two names together – 'the two chess pieces', he would call you, how you were moon and night together, looked so perfect together." – Harry was breathless now, as the torrent of words continued to flow – "And it hurt so much because I could see that he was right! I would look at Lucius and see he was flawless, and I just couldn't figure out why you would want me when you could have him."
Severus turned his hand in Harry's and grasped it tightly. "He and I were together for a time when we were at school, yes, but it was no more than a fling; one that did not last past the first awkward nod to incompatibility. My feelings for Lucius are strong, but no stronger than, or unlike, your feelings for Ron, George, Hermione, Remus, and the numerous others of your associates. The only difference being that he is my only friend, Harry. I have no other."
Harry sighed but Severus was heartened to note that he kept his eyes on his.
"Sirius picked at me, though. All the time and not just about Lucius – although mainly him. He went on and on about the fact you never told me you loved me. He said that if you really did you would have told me, said the words. And it hurt that you never said—"
"I did tell you, Harry, every single damn day! You just didn't hear me!"
Harry sighed again and dragged his free hand through his hair. He looked a mess, Severus thought, but also saw there was now light in his eyes, a sparkle that had been missing earlier.
Harry leant forwards, almost touching Severus and his voice took on a focused, earnest tone. "I was wrong – very wrong – not to come to you and ask about it all," Harry said. "When I finally kicked myself in the backside for being a class-A idiot I tried to pluck up the courage to go to you, but was too chicken. And I just couldn't let go of those suspicions, kept picturing the two of you together. I couldn't decide which would be more terrible: for you to admit that Sirius was right or to discover that I'd royally screwed up. Either way I was terrified of your reaction."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "I suppose I am not exactly prime material for doling out clemency," he said wryly. Harry face brightened and Severus thrilled in welcoming his Harry back.
"Sainthood still not in the post, huh?" Harry laughed. "Pope stubbornly saying that a man in an escalator with only down buttons isn't right for white wings and a halo?" Then his voice was serious again. "So, do you want me on my knees in abject remorse, shall I flagellate myself twice each day before breakfast for two years? What can I do to make you accept me back?"
Severus leant in to drink from Harry's scent, his smile, from the nearness of him. "I need to know that when we walk out of this room you will not permit Black's cant to take you away from me again. I need to know that you are giving us back to me. I need your promise of that, Harry."
Harry closed his eyes and met Severus half way to brush his lips against his. "Yes, Severus, I promise."
Severus pulled back and grasped Harry's shoulders. "Tell me what you are promising!" he demanded.
"I promise that I will never let Sirius interfere between us again; I will never allow him to insult you or to prevent me from being with you." He tried to capture Severus' lips once more in a kiss, but the hands on his shoulders effectually held him back.
"More!" Severus growled.
Harry hesitated for a brief moment, looking hard into the black eyes, Then, as though in them he knew exactly what Severus was demanding, he whispered, "I promise that I shall never again doubt you or your love for me. I will always trust that you are loyal to me and that we will ialways/i be together."
Oh, sweet heavens.
Severus pulled Harry to him in a crushing embrace, lips and tongue devouring, teeth biting on soft, wet skin. He held him tight, stroking incisive touches on Harry's back and neck and sides and arms, while his heart hammered the confines of his chest and myriad thoughts fled in the consuming tornado of feeling. Every touch, every brush was a delightful greeting and salutation of return, and Severus whirled in every miniscule sensation until his lungs burned with the need for breath.
Oh, sweet merciful heavens.
He shoved against Harry's shoulders, pushing him away, but only a few inches so he would know he was not rejecting him. "We need – I need – to take things easier. Slower."
"I don't think I can do that, Severus." His green eyes never leaving the black, he brought his fingers to the jet buttons on Severus' robes and started to undo them. "I think you need this."
His fingers slowly worked the buttons, peeling the rich black velvet robes away from the white cotton shirt to pool on the bed behind. Still not looking away, he undid the fastenings on his own robes, faster this time, and set it aside, followed quickly by his roll-neck.
Severus gazed, transfixed, as Harry reached for him. He tilted forwards, almost landing in Harry's lap, and brought his hands to the muscled, dark-furred chest; stroking each curve and plane of it with reverence. He felt rather than heard Harry's chuckle and he drew it in as a memory to be savoured later. Harry felt good, so good.
He bent down and pulled off Harry's boots and socks, gracing each foot with a touch and a sweep of his lips. He kicked off his own and then moved up the bed, Harry shuffling up with him, until stopped by the pillows. Severus straddled the jean-clad legs, running his hands either side of Harry's thighs and across to the dips formed by his hip bones. He curled his hands, looping his fingers into the gap between belt and skin, relishing the groan he incited. The fingers of his right hand brushed against the head of Harry's cock, already half-hard, and the hips jerked upwards.
"God! Severus!" Harry moaned.
Severus smirked and brushed it again, eliciting another deep-throated sound. He undid the buckle and zip, and Harry's cock bobbed free as he carefully pulled off both jeans and boxers. He sat back on his heels and just looked. Black eyes blinked in recognition of each detail; from the yards of silky smooth skin on the arms and flanks, to the T-shaped smattering of hair running down the centre from neck to groin. He took in the broad chest, the trim waist and the firm, shapely thighs and, one last blink, the thick cock, blunt-headed and dark-veined.
"You are mine, Harry. Mine!" he said, manoeuvring into pressing down on each hip bone for emphasis and staring intently into Harry's face. "Mine!" he repeated with a snarl and another push down.
"Yours," Harry gasped, his cock twitching with each move of the body above him.
Reassured by the lust and love filling the green eyes, he undid his trousers and shucked them off onto the floor. He tucked his longer, leaner body into Harry's and kissed him softly. He licked the soft skin and swept into the warm mouth, tasting remorse and forgiveness as their tongues caressed each other. He pulled him tighter, his long, thick cock rubbed against Harry's hip, already weeping. Harry mewled and tried to turn into him, but he held him fast, almost lying on top of him, and deepened the kiss. Heady and almost overwhelmed by need, he released Harry with a groan.
Harry whimpered, kissing throat, jaw and cheek, while raking his nails along Severus' shoulders and back. "Fuck me, Severus. Please," he begged.
With a growl, Severus propped himself up on an elbow and glared at the tousled Harry. "It has been a long time since I habitually carried lubricant in my back pocket, and I will not risk hurting you with just spit and good fortune."
Harry whimpered again, a sound of raw need tail-ending it brought Severus' lips to meet his in another deep kiss. With a moan and a curse, he broke off and sat up again.
"Bath oil!" he snarled, then lurched forward to clap a hand over Harry's mouth before he could finish the accio. "While you may not mind being flung through several walls to land naked at the feet of our friends, I do. Remember, we are stormbound."
He leapt off the bed and headed into the bathroom, returning seconds later with a light blue bottle.
"Might have been a useful opener for the conversation we'll soon be having with Sirius," Harry said, grinning impishly.
"Certainly, however my preference would be my hands on his throat to negate any thoughts he might have of a two-way dialogue," Severus retorted.
Sliding back onto the bed, he dropped the bottle onto the mattress and leaned in to once more capture Harry in a kiss. Trailing one hand down to caress his chest and hips, he cupped Harry's head in the other, threading his fingers in the soft strands. Harry thrust his hips upwards, growling, and Severus laughed softly into his lover's mouth. He swept a hand to circle Harry's cock, just a breath of a touch here and there to tantalize. Harry soon had had enough of the teasing, and he bit Severus' lip.
"Impatient, my Harry?"
All the same, he moved down to cover Harry's chest with kisses and licks, pressing down and dragging his cock to rub against the coarse hairs of his thighs. He sucked a nipple into his mouth and nipped gently, delighting in the writhing and low grunts from the chest beneath him. At another jerk of the hips and a push on his head, he moved on down to hover over Harry's extremely hard cock, weeping pre-come onto his stomach.
He looked up from beneath his curtain of hair and watched Harry watch him as he took his cock in one hand and lowered his mouth. Swallowing, he took it in deep until it touched the back of his throat. So beautiful, my Harry, he thought as he observed the green eyes roll back and his mouth form a rictus of pleasure.
Ensuring Harry's hips were firmly held, he hummed and swiped his tongue along the thick vein on the shaft of his cock. Waiting a moment for the moans to abate before drawing his lips into a tight 'o', he moved up and down the shaft, skimming the edge of the head with his teeth. With the other hand, he took hold of Harry's balls, rolling them in his fingers. When he felt them tighten, he twisted them slightly to stem the orgasm, causing Harry to yelp. Severus laughed quietly and used both hands to part Harry's cheeks. He trailed his tongue around his balls and, harder, over his perineum to the dark hole below. He licked and laved at the crinkled skin, circling it and pushing at the centre with his tongue.
Above him, Harry grabbed handfuls of the blankets, rocking his head side to side in the pillows, streams of wordless noise issuing from his open mouth. He continued lavishing attention on Harry's hole until the noises became sobs of pleading.
"Now! Fuck me now!"
Rising, he pushed Harry's legs to bend at the knees and opened them wide. He reached for the bottle of bath oil and liberally coated both fingers and cock. Sliding between Harry's legs, he ran a finger round the loosened hole and pressed in. Taking a moment to wait for the muscles to relax, he moved his finger in and out, pressing against the inner walls to stretch them. He added another finger and repeated the process, moving them in a scissoring action. His cock was almost painful in its impatience as he watched his fingers disappear into Harry's body, feeling the heat press against them. A second twist, this time his own balls, luckily prevented embarrassment. Working his fingers just twice more, he pushed Harry's legs further back until they were pressed against his chest.
"Thank fuck!" Harry cried, when Severus' cock nudged at his entrance. "In me. Now."
Severus took a deep breath and pushed slowly into Harry. Immersing himself in that familiar warmth and tightness after so long was awe-inspiring and filled him with exquisite anguish almost too pleasurable to bear. Clenching his teeth to steady himself, he pushed deeper until his cock was buried to the hilt.
Harry's erection had lessened slightly to just half-hard. He wrapped his fingers around it and leaned forward for a lingering kiss, giving them both time to adjust. But Harry whimpered and thrust his hips, demanding that Severus move. He drew out slowly and then back in, matching the speed to his strokes and touches to Harry's cock. The heat in his groin intensified and he sped up, slamming into Harry's arse harder and harder. Harry met him thrust for thrust, moaning loudly, and, too soon, Severus felt his orgasm approach.
He tried to slow his strokes down but Harry enveloped him with his legs and bucked his hips hard. Severus felt his groin tighten and he worked Harry's cock faster, sweeping his thumb over the head on every other up-stroke. Harry bucked again, yelling as he came over Severus' hand, splattering warm come on both their stomachs. The clenching of Harry's arse brought Severus' own orgasm crashing in on him and he gasped as it divested him of all the hurt, all the pain of the last year, leaving him whole again.
He fell onto Harry, barely able to prevent himself from crushing him.
"Mine," he growled. "And yours."
"Mine. Yours," Harry echoed, as he covered Severus' face with quick, tender kisses.
"Get off me! You sack of shit!"
Both Severus and Harry jerked up as the bedroom door flew open and Black stumbled into the room, the momentum dragging in Lucius and Remus, who both had hands on various parts of his body. Harry went to jump off the bed, but Severus stopped him, pulling them both back down against the pillows and scrabbling at the blankets until their lower bodies were covered.
The room's three extra guests froze at the sight of the two naked men on the bed, the smell of sex redolent in the air sent their noses twitching. Lucius, first to recover, attempted to haul Black back into the hallway, but was thwarted when Black grabbed hold of one of the bedposts.
"Harry! What the hell have you done?" Black yelled.
Remus tried to edge between the bed and his friend, speaking in a soft timbre, "Sirius, come away. Harry has made his choice and" – he looked over his shoulder to meet Severus' hard gaze – "it is the right choice."
Black, however, was not so easily diverted and he reached out a hand towards Harry. "Come here, Harry, let's leave," he entreated.
Severus felt a spasm of deep dread and his heart plummeted as he watched Harry's expression switch from its initial shock to something warm and forgiving. Nonetheless, he refused to close his eyes, prepared to witness as the hope bred from this blizzard-provoked, yet serendipitous encounter was shattered. But Harry surprised him.
"Sirius, you know I love you dearly and that you mean a lot to me. But Severus means more – in a different way. Without him I'm not complete, I am exactly half of what I should be… of what I am when I am with him," Harry explained softly.
"But I don't understand, haven't I told you what the bastard is like?" Black's voice was whiney and scratchy, as though he realised he was going to lose.
"Yes you have, many times, and I stupidly listened to you. But no more, Sirius, I won't allow it. If you continue to act like a spoiled child who doesn't share toys," he shrugged his shoulders, "then we part here and now."
Severus felt his heart soar as swift as a moment ago it plunged. He took a moment to regret the implications of the abashed look Black was currently sporting, but he brushed that concern aside. White wings and halos? Just waiting for the final fitting, he thought. He could share Harry, even with the dog.
He looked at Lucius, picking up on the steel-grey pointed message he sent to Remus. They nodded to each other; barely a shift of the head so it wasn't surprising that the dog missed it. Severus was pleased for Lucius and, if he had to admit it, for Remus too. It augured well for their future if they were connecting again – albeit not on the same level as before Black's unsolicited return from the not-so dead.
Black maintained a stunned gawk as the other two men took advantage of his bewilderment and carried him from the room.
Alone again, Severus turned to Harry and whispered, "Thank you."
They slid beneath the blankets and for a long while said nothing, satisfied with soft caresses and softer kissfes. They stayed like that, happy to just watch awhile until Harry's eyes started to droop, and his breathing evened. Severus tightened his hold and simply drank in the moment Harry fell asleep in his arms.
Many minutes later he whispered into the darkness, as had been his wont countless nights, "I love you, Harry."
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1. Tempestāte Dētentus: Latin. Stormbound