Chapter Eighteen – Three's Company
"Welcome to the first Potions class of your seventh and final year."
Professor Snape leant back in his chair, studying them all over steepled fingertips.
"I shall begin," he said, "by expressing my begrudging congratulations and considerable surprise that every member of the class managed to pass their sixth year examinations. A number of grades achieved were, in fact, exemplary. If any of you plan to take this as permission to slack off, and think you might just 'coast' your final year, then clearly six years of my existence have been wasted."
Their professor was looking much better than he usually did in September – the returning tide of students normally sunk his eyes another inch into his face, and turned his hair to rat-tails. He appeared groomed this year, smartened, at ease. His hair was drawn into a neat ponytail, his eyes void of dark circles, his cheeks not quite so sallow. The burns from his accident last year had healed so well as to be visible only to those who knew what they were looking for.
Later, as the class discussed first lessons with their friends, more than one person would remark that Professor Snape seemed to have had a very pleasant summer.
"I gather a number of my colleagues intend to 'ease' you back into your studies," Snape said, idly. "Naturally, I find this attitude laughable. I trust you have all been engrossed in private study over summer, preferably of something other than alcohol, rock and roll music, or somebody else's genitals, and so there is no need to coax you tenderly back into this tricky concept of using your brains."
He raised an eyebrow.
"There will be no allowances made for the break in your taught studies. As a result, open your textbooks to chapter twelve and locate the section on acidity. Choose a draft you have not yet been assessed on, and begin."
There was a lot of scraping of chairs and scrambling as people ran towards the store cupboard for ingredients. Soon, the room was filled with smoke and the crackle of fires, cauldrons bubbling, heads bent over lists of instructions as everyone tried to remember how to read. It had been a long summer. Snape circulated amongst the group, sending waspish remarks towards anyone dawdling or lagging behind.
Harry was chopping up mint leaves, halfway to finished by the time the professor reached their table.
"Keep an eye on that seaweed, Miss Granger. I advise you not to let it over-pickle."
"I should adjust your heat, as well, before the salt is added. The whole thing seems to be progressing well. Good work."
Harry, engrossed in chopping, didn't notice at first when a hand slid across his lower back. He did notice it splay at his arse, then slip down to his thigh. He grinned as Severus stepped into the warmth of his body, rested his chin on Harry's shoulder and murmured,
"You will marmalise those mint leaves, Mr Potter. Such shoddy chopping."
Harry bit his lip, his chest bubbling as enthusiastically as his cauldron. "Wow, Professor. You're right. Perhaps a demonstration would assist my learning."
"Perhaps indeed." Severus's hands moved down Harry's arms, curling around his fingers and easing the rhythm of his chopping. "Little strokes," he murmured. "Ease them apart. Persuade them."
The rest of the class were oblivious. Even the students at the next table didn't bat an eyelid, didn't notice anything amiss as their professor planted a kiss on the neck of his prize student. Draco, across the room, smirked and eyed them fondly. Hermione, their Secret-Keeper, grinned into her salt solution.
The rest of the class, and indeed the rest of the world, could stare directly in Harry and Severus's direction and perceive nothing of interest whatsoever. They could see Harry's bed go empty six nights in a week out of seven, and yet notice nothing. They could look out of a window to where Harry and Draco and Severus walked by the lake, arm-in-arm, often pausing to kiss in the moonlight; and see only empty grounds.
Only Hermione knew, and only Hermione would ever know.
"Whose marks were exemplary?" Harry asked, as he leant back into Severus's chest and let his lover chop for him.
Severus smirked against the side of his neck. "You know very well whose."
"Do I?" Harry tilted his head. "Just clarify for me... for the record..."
"Yours were," Severus said, and kissed at his earlobe. "Beast. On account of you putting some effort in, growing a brain and paying attention to me for once. Now buck up this chopping, and stop distracting me."
He slapped Harry playfully on the arse as he drew away, and moved across the classroom to check on Draco.
"By the way," he called. "Castle steps, at eight... perhaps you might like to wear a smart shirt. The choice is yours."
Harry grinned, blushing to his hairline – he tried not to hear Hermione's giggles next to him.
"Where are we going?" he asked, over the noise of the class's cauldrons.
"I don't recall saying we were going anywhere." Severus greeted Draco with a kiss, to which the blonde's bench partner was oblivious. "Miss Granger, don't wait up."
Harry and Draco were huddled together on the castle steps by eight o' clock. Draco had come in a shirt of dove-grey silk, and no coat, which meant they were having to share Harry's. Harry suspected this had in fact been Draco's plan, but he wasn't complaining. The blonde shivered against him, head tucked under Harry's chin and his eyes on the black September sky.
"Snow by morning," he murmured.
"I didn't know you took Divination."
Draco laughed, the sound coming in warm little puffs against Harry's neck. "N-No. My veela senses are tingling. Snow by morning."
"Your - ... you do not have a built-in weather sensor. You've got a lot of things, but not that. Stop making things up."
"You're right, I don't. I saw it in the Evening Prophet."
Harry grinned and tutted, hugging Draco tighter. "You're terrible... I almost fell for that."
"I can sense sexual desire, though. That's much more useful than weather prediction, in my humble and authoritative opinion."
"Well, of course you can... it's there whenever Sev or I look at you. There's no sensing needed."
Draco shivered, pressing a kiss to the corner of Harry's jaw. "You're wonderful," he said, then: "I'm so glad it's you. Both of you. So glad." His arms slid around Harry's waist beneath the heat of the coat, holding tight. "I'm the luckiest half-breed in the world."
Harry smiled into the white-gold silk of Draco's hair. He heard footsteps from the entrance hall behind them and glanced round, watching as Severus ascended the staircase from the dungeons.
The older man had opted for dragon-hide boots and riding trousers snug to the thigh, a wine-coloured satin shirt, a long coat that stirred across the ground. He wore black gloves. For some reason, this detail was the one above all that made Harry's heart contract.
Draco, apparently sensing desire, looked up from beneath Harry's chin.
"Oh my," he decided.
Severus reached them, as cool as if completely unaware of the two mouths watering in his direction. There was the smallest smile on his lips. He gathered them near and they caught a tantalising flicker of aftershave, something velvety and smoky and intriguing. Draco seized upon the scent at once.
"Mm – what is that?" He inhaled deeply at Severus's neck, shivering. "Oh, that's – mmhm."
"We appreciate, do we?" He leant down, kissing Draco gently on the lips. "A bottle or something or other Minerva gave me for a birthday. I shall incorporate it into my bathing routine more often."
He turned to Harry, whose eyes flickered shut. Severus's lips nudged at his own and they kissed in greeting – tender, soft.
"Which of you decided to forego a coat?" the older man murmured against his mouth.
"Dray did." Harry was wishing he knew why the simple combination of black gloves and aftershave had turned him into a weak-kneed wreck. Severus's powers of seduction seemed like they were capable of rivalling even Draco's. "Are we going somewhere warm?"
"Mm, we are. Let's go there at speed. I don't intend spending the night nursing either of you through a heavy cold."
Harry wouldn't forget the restaurant. The place was beautiful, all potted palms and bronze and seats of pale gold velvet, and they had been given a table towards the back, away from the chill of Hogsmeade outside. They shared a platter of spiced prawns and shrimp to start, then there was a lot of tasting and sampling of each other's main courses. Severus, not possessed of a sweet tooth, passed on dessert. Harry and Draco shared a glass dish of ice cream and cherries and melted dark chocolate, taking care to feed each other as often as possible. Severus watched dark-eyed from across the table.
At last, the older man took up the third spoon their waitress had brought. He eased a cherry free from the mess, so dark with sauce and chocolate it looked almost black, and slid it into his mouth.
"As I thought," he murmured, licking his lips and chewing. "Full of liquor."
"Will you get us home safe?" Harry grinned, and opened wide for another spoonful of cream and chocolate from Draco. He sucked it from the spoon. Draco's eyes were burning with delight.
"I shan't be carrying you," Severus said. "I will happily escort you, though... ensure neither of you fall prey to anyone with lascivious intentions towards two drunken young men."
"Apart from you?" Draco murmured.
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Indeed," he said.
They finished their dessert; Severus paid, leaving a generous tip, and they headed back out into the cold. Harry felt as if his insides had turned to hot cherries and chocolate. He felt cosy and rich and more than a little affectionate, and as he walked between the two of them, he was so aware of their hands – Severus's hand, wrapped about his waist; Draco's hands on his chest. The touches smouldered against his skin, stirring his nerves to life. The night was nowhere near its end.
It began to snow just as they reached the castle doors, heavy flakes tumbling from the liquid black of the sky, dusting their hair and shoulders. They slipped down into the dungeons. Severus kindled a fire in the bedroom grate and hung their clothes up to dry, as the boys got ready for bed.
Harry was finished first; Draco's personal grooming regime was a delicate and lengthy process, but more than worth the wait. Harry made himself comfortable beneath the cool covers, naked, enjoying the scent of vanilla and sleep and home.
He looked up as a glass of wine was placed on the bedside cabinet next to him.
"Drink up," Severus murmured, settling in the chair by the bed. Harry had been fucked over that particular chair countless times now; he was surprised it could still bear weight. Severus had yet to change out of his riding boots and shirt. He had a glass of wine himself, the contents of which were somewhat darker than Harry's.
Harry stirred onto his elbows, reaching for the wine. It was fruity and dark and pooled low in his stomach, with a tell-tale aftertaste.
"I'll end up addicted to the stuff," he said, half-playful, as he licked the last drop from the rim of the glass.
Severus smiled slightly, taking a sip. "I perfected my own version of the recipe... none of the ingredients pose the slightest chance of dependence. Even if there was risk, the pair of us would be beyond hope by now - nearly a year of consistent dosage. So have no fear. It is completely un-addictive."
He ran a hand down Harry's bare arm.
"Plentiful sex with a veela, however..."
Harry grinned into the pillows. "A little of what you fancy does you good," he said. He eyed Severus's much darker glass. "Do you take a higher dose?"
"I need to take a higher dose, I assure you. Without it, the pair of you would have killed me long ago."
"Whatever keeps you going." Harry closed his eyes, content, enjoying the stroke of fingertips up and down his arm. "I can't imagine Draco being satisfied with one performance a night."
Severus murmured, smiling. "It would be abuse of his rights..." He drained his glass, relegated it to the bedside table and then leant over Harry. He nuzzled into the Gryffindor's hair. "Roll over, sweet... keep your eyes closed."
Harry, grinning and keeping his eyes shut, turned slowly onto his back. Severus's lips grazed across his mouth. He responded softly, barely touching, barely kissing, as the covers were coaxed down. Fire-warmed air touched his bare skin, making him shiver. Severus's hands laid on his body.
"You are so beautiful," the older man breathed against his lips, and the caresses began – up his chest, brushing his nipples and over his collarbones, then down over his stomach and gently stroking his pubic hair. Harry bit his lip, feeling a fine tremor beginning already in his muscles. Severus's whispers tickled at his lips. "I could spend my life making love to you... inside you. Listening to you. Feeling you writhe on me."
Harry swallowed, his eyes fluttering open. "God, Severus..." He rocked his hips towards the teasing touch, the slender fingertips petting just below his navel.
"Mm?" Severus curled a finger under his chin. "Something you want?"
"I..." Harry didn't know if he dared ask; he hoped this wasn't another kink coming to the fore. Being bitten, being tied, being dirty-talked. There was a worrying pattern starting to emerge, and he wasn't sure if it was a path they should follow too far.
He saw Severus's eyes follow his train of thought, and darken with amusement.
"I thought a little of what one fancies does one good..."
Harry flushed. "It's a long road downhill to being ball-gagged and whipped and having pegs stuck on my nipples." It definitely didn't appeal; nor did his next thought. "And I don't think you'd suit a studded leather basque."
"You cheeky little creature. I'm offended by the very thought of donning such a garment." Severus nipped at Harry's lower lip in reprimand, earning a tight moan. "There are different degrees of bondage and domination, sweet... it's not a case of 'in for a knut, in for a galleon'. A little, gentle bondage play and dirty-talk is blissfully normal."
He lowered his voice, letting his dark and almost honeyed tones drip into Harry's ear.
"Being bitten and bound and fucked and loving every minute of it does not make you a monster, Harry. Worry not."
Harry's cheeks blazed; his body seared with delight, his cock throbbing in eager response. He clutched the older man's upper arms.
"Severus – " He swallowed. "If you say much more like that, I'm going to come before Draco's even finished moisturising."
Draco's voice came impetuously from beyond the bathroom door. "If you want me to be soft, I have to moisturise! You'd complain if I stopped!"
Severus's lips curved. At last, and without warning, his hand coiled around Harry's stiffening cock and Harry jerked.
"I'm sure Draco won't resent us a practice run," the older man whispered, beginning to fist lazily up and down as his Gryffindor moaned in response. He nosed at Harry's temple. "I do love your first climaxes of the night... claiming them myself. Selfish, perhaps. But I so adore hearing you sob for me."
Harry's mouth fell open. "God – please..."
Severus licked his lower lip. "Lift your hands... hold the headboard."
Harry complied at once, trembling with anticipation. His thighs fell open as Severus continued to fist his rigid cock, the older man's tongue now lazily exploring the junction of Harry's collarbones.
"Bindus," Severus whispered against the damp skin, tender as I love you. Harry felt cords snake from the wall, twine between slats in the headboard and secure themselves gently around his wrists. His whole body began to shudder. "Your ankles as well, sweet?"
"N-No – " Harry wet his dry lips. Not tonight, not now. "Just... your voice – "
"Mmhm. Good boy." Severus kissed his left nipple, the gentlest press of lips; then his hand left Harry's cock. Harry whined at the loss, bucking his hips to no avail. "No, sweet... I don't want you to come yet."
"But – "
"Not yet." Severus settled back in the bedside chair, barely a metre from Harry but so out of reach. Harry ached, desperate for contact. This was unspeakably cruel.
As he saw Severus reach for the fastenings of the riding trousers, Harry changed his mind. This wasn't cruel. This was nothing short of diabolical.
"Oh my God – Severus, don't you dare – "
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Mm?" He snapped open the catch, coaxing the zip down slowly. "Something the matter?"
Harry tugged fruitlessly at his bonds. "I – you c-can't – "
Severus made himself comfortable, and slid a hand inside his black boxers. He shivered and mmed in the back of his throat, freeing his heavy cock. He swallowed.
"Close your eyes, if you can't bear it," he whispered; he began to stroke himself, watching Harry, his eyes relaxing with idle enjoyment. "Don't fret, sweet. You'll have my prick soon enough."
Harry whimpered; he wanted to cry. Surely this counted as abuse. Never in his life had he wanted use of his hands so badly, and never had he been this hard. "You're – y-you're evil – you're actually evil – "
"Must I hush you?"
Severus's eyes blazed, soft with arousal.
"If I knelt over your chest – fed you my cock, filled that pretty mouth of yours and held your head – would you still be protesting? Choking around me?"
Harry's head fell back into the pillows. "Oh God." The movements of Severus's hand were so slow, too slow, just stirring his cock into thickness. He wouldn't come; he would just drive Harry to insanity and back.
"Or if I spread your legs apart..." The older man stirred, smiling. "Spread you open and oiled your hot little hole until you were begging, crying... stuffed you with my prick... would you shut up then? If I fucked you until you were shaking. Fucked you until you ached and you thought you'd die."
"Oh – o-oh God – "
"No, you wouldn't be quiet... you'd be weeping for me. Crying out. Pleading with me to fuck you harder. Wouldn't you?"
"Y-Yes – oh please – "
"My little slut... my sweet." Severus shivered, swallowing, his head falling back as the movements of his hand sped a little. "If I gagged you, perhaps... mm? Silenced you with my shirt and pounded into your body, fucking you. Hauled you up and drove into you from behind hard. On all-fours for me. Legs spread. Your muffled cries. Sinking my teeth in your neck..."
Harry keened, gasping with desperation. "Shit – oh Sev, oh shit – "
At the very edge of his consciousness, he heard the bathroom door open and light spilt into the dark bedroom. Severus lifted his head. Draco stood framed by the light, naked, the tips of his hair tousled lightly about his shoulders.
He smiled, surveying the scene.
"Mm... tied, desperate Harry," Draco murmured. He came closer, kneeling on the bed and crawling across to them. "My favourite kind. Love, would it ruin your fun if I fucked him?"
Severus's eyes glittered. "Not in the least."
Harry could only pant. "Dray – D-Dray, please – " He twisted against his bonds, spreading his legs and pulling his knees back. "Please do it – "
Draco hummed, as if with interest, easing across the mattress to kneel between Harry's parted thighs. He ran his fingertips along them. Harry nearly fainted at the lightness of his touch, the contact he so badly needed.
"Please – "
Draco knelt down, wetting his lips. He sucked Harry's cock slowly into his mouth, without a moment of hesitance, and Harry dug his head back into the pillows to stop from coming on the spot.
"N-No – " he gasped, desperate. "N-Not this way – I-I want – "
Draco's fingers closed tight around the base of his cock, forming a snug ring. The other hand was nowhere to be felt; Harry didn't want to think about it. He thought he'd come if he did. Instead, he forced his brain to run through every single detention he'd ever served with Filch, his eyes screwed tight shut. He knew Severus was still watching but he didn't think about that either.
At last, Draco's other hand made itself known – his fingertips circled Harry's hole slowly, spreading slickness that had come from Draco himself. Harry nearly bit through his lip. The initial burn helped to cool some of his raging arousal, but the gentle motions of Draco's mouth kept him at the brink. He pulled at his bonds, white-knuckled, begging for mercy.
Severus, thank God, could be a merciful man when he was needed. He stood from the bedside chair at last, still in his shirt and trousers and those wretched riding boots, and eased onto the bed. Harry wet his lips, shaking with desperation.
"Please – " he whimpered. "Please – please let me – "
Severus knelt across his chest, gently. He guided the heavy prick to Harry's lips.
"Shhh," the older man whispered as Harry sucked it in, shuddering with relief. The thickness in his mouth preoccupied him from the wet heat around his cock, the feel of Draco's second finger cosying its way inside. Severus cupped his cheek, stroked his brow with a thumb. "You won't come, sweet... not until we want. Don't worry."
Harry's eyes flickered shut, mumbling his acquiescence around a mouthful of Severus's cock. He stopped fighting and relaxed in his bonds. Slowly he sucked, the way he'd been taught, the way he knew would win him praise. Draco's fingers began to scissor inside him.
The third was uncomfortable; he jerked a little and gagged about Severus's cock, twitching with discomfort. Severus slid from his mouth at once. Gripping at his bonds, shaking, Harry bit out, "F-Feels – "
"I know, sweet." Severus moved off his chest, leaning down, kissing him. He cradled Harry's cheeks. "I know... relax, mm? Relax for us... you're safe..."
Harry's chest heaved, drinking in the older man's comfort. "L-Love you – "
"I love you, too. We both love you. We love you desperately and you're doing beautifully for us..." Severus paused, kissing gently at his lips. "Would you like to come, mm?"
"N-No – " Harry bit into his lip as Draco's finger buried to the hilt; the blonde was watching him carefully from between his open legs, eyes soft, full of concern. Harry stirred. "W-Want – keep going – "
Severus hummed his promise, nuzzling between Harry's eyes, and turned to Draco. "Don't tease him, love... all the way..."
Draco bent to kiss the inside of Harry's knee. "Almost there, sweet... not long. I promise." The three fingers buried in Harry began to move, pushing gently, sliding in and out of his oiled entrance. "Love you, Harry... you're everything..."
By the time Draco's cock was stretching its way inside, piercing Harry to the core, the discomfort had ebbed – there was only pleasure, and so much of it that Harry was once more trying to relive happy memories of Filch. Draco, flushed in the cheeks and quivering, began to thrust at once. Harry tightened and gasped, whining, tugging at his bonds for more. He always forgot how much he loved this.
Severus watched them fuck for some time, not touching, not involving himself – content to observe them at play. He then stood from the side of the bed, moved round to the end and loosened his trousers, kneeling on the mattress behind Draco. He pressed between Draco's shoulder blades.
"Lean forward, love... spread for me..."
Draco shuddered, leaning over Harry and eagerly pushing his legs apart, panting. The rhythm of his thrusts slowed to a stop. Harry watched, his whole body pounding, as Severus shifted tight to Draco's body and hooked an arm around the blonde's waist, holding him in place. Draco's pupils swelled as he was penetrated, then the silver eyes flickered shut entirely. He groaned thickly in the back of his throat, head falling forwards. Harry kissed at his cheeks and around his lips, shaking.
"Fucking hell, Severus," Draco whispered. He swallowed, then pushed back against the older man, his cock withdrawing briefly from Harry's stretched arse. "Do it. D-Do it. Fuck me."
Severus shuddered, teeth gritted as he sheathed himself as deep as he could in Draco's body. He pulled Draco's torso up, his grip firm and his hands shaking. Harry couldn't help but moan in protest at the length of time he'd been empty – he needed to be fucked. He couldn't articulate it.
Luckily, Draco got the message. He shoved back inside – almost too hard, almost rough – and Harry let out a cry. The blonde then pushed back onto Severus's cock, and Severus flexed forwards. They began.
It took some minutes before the rhythm was just right. When it was, Harry felt his eyes roll back into his head – Draco was making the most desperate of sounds, moaning as he rocked forward into Harry then whimpering as Severus thrust in turn. Harry could only gaze at both of them, lost. It felt as if he were being fucked by both, both at once. He felt both of their presence inside of him. He couldn't breathe; he couldn't hold on, couldn't last.
He tried to whimper in warning but what left his lips was a hitched cry, then a howl. His body sizzled; the pleasure seared inside him, burning him, and he sobbed with desperation as he came. Halfway through, somewhere in the haze, he felt Draco shove forward and wetness flooded his insides, and he could hear Severus moaning with ecstasy.
As the pounding subsided, Harry was surprised to find himself still alive. His chest was heaving and his skin shone with sweat. He was still hard, his stomach spattered in own his come.
Draco, whose wine sat untouched on the cabinet, withdrew carefully and tumbled to the side, gasping, spent – for now.
Severus slid between Harry's spread legs, resuming Draco's place. His clothing was ruffled and crumpled into a state of disarray – somehow still aristocratic, still powerful, a wild touch to his finery. His face was flushed, and his eyes glittering with almost reverent desire. His still-rigid erection nuzzled at Harry's wet entrance.
"First to come loses," he whispered against the inside of Harry's knee, sealing it with a kiss and then skewering Harry in a single stroke. Harry quivered. He could feel the pulse of his older lover's cock inside him, and he loved it. "Last to come wins. Round one goes to me."
"You're on," Harry said.
Hermione was reading. It was an article for Charms, rather interesting so far, and she moved only to highlight a line of text or jot a note to herself in the margins. Ron sat beside her on the sofa with a comic. It was nearly ten.
"Harry's out late tonight," Ron said, waking Hermione from nearly twenty minutes of solid concentration. She blinked.
"Mm? Oh – he's in the library, I think... he's got a lot to do this year. Professor Snape has put him forward for the special Potions Extension Examination. If Harry applies to university, it'll really – "
"Hermione." Ron's face twisted in a half-smile. "I'm not thick. I know."
Hermione said nothing, though her blood ran slightly cold. Nobody could know. The only way anyone in the world could find out would be through Hermione's own decision to tell someone, and she certainly hadn't told a soul – Ron, especially. She stared at the red-head, waiting, her heart thumping in her chest.
Ron lowered his voice, leaning closer.
"I know he's with Draco," he said. "He told me last year, right before Snape got himself blown up in that accident. It's alright. When he's with Draco, just say... you don't have to lie to me."
Hermione relaxed; she smiled. "Oh... okay. I didn't know you knew."
Ron grinned, rather proud. "Well, there you go... I've known for ages, thanks very much. I am the best friend, after all." He returned to his comic book. "Harry and I don't keep secrets anymore."
"And you're alright with him and Draco, are you?"
"Sure I am! Progressive, liberal sort of bloke, me."
"That's great, Ron. I'm really pleased." Hermione smiled, wondering, watching Ron over her Charms article. "It doesn't freak you out at all, then?"
"Nah. When I've got a house, him and Malfoy can come to dinner anytime they want. Nothing Harry does could freak me out."
He made a noise of amusement behind his comic book, as something occurred to him.
"So long as he doesn't two-time Malfoy with... with Snape, or something. Or – or if they just kept him, and they all lived together with ornaments on the mantelpiece and stuff – and Snape cooking in a flowery apron! Could you imagine that?"
Hermione grinned. She'd just decided what to get Severus for Christmas.
"Crazy," she agreed.
Harry woke next morning to find soft black eyes watching him sleep. They regarded each other across the short inches of space, saying nothing for quite some time. Severus took to stroking Harry's cheek. Draco was still asleep, nestled close, his breath soft and steady on the curve of Harry's neck.
"So... what now?" Harry whispered, his voice dry after a long night. Severus brushed back his fringe.
"Well... now, the future... things to come..." Harry laid his hands on Severus's chest. "What happens now?"
Severus's fingers continued to stroke through his hair, gently messing each sleep-shaped tuft into further disarray. "When are you eighteen?"
"July, next year..."
"Mm. And you intend to do what, after that?"
Harry said nothing, running his hands over Severus's pectorals and onto his shoulders, squeezing. Severus put a quiet kiss on the top of his head.
"You're doing something with your life," the older man warned, soft and stern at once, as only Severus could be. "Rid yourself of any contrary thoughts right now."
"Alright, alright... maybe university, something like that. I'm thinking about it. I promise."
"Good. I'm content to be a part of your life – you know that. But not your entire life. The same applies to Draco."
He began to trace circles on the back of Harry's neck, down between his shoulders.
"You have your seventh year to concentrate on," Severus murmured. "Examinations. A future to set in motion for yourself. When you're eighteen, we'll make decisions about 'us'. Not until then."
Harry said nothing, downcast. He'd thought that if Severus had learnt anything over the past year, it was that Harry was grown-up now – an adult now. He didn't see what difference eighteen made. He faced Severus's chest and neck rather than his eyes, letting the quiet lengthen, wondering what he'd done wrong.
Severus, noticing the silence, leant near. He nuzzled for Harry's lips, catching them, kissing them gently until Harry found it difficult to stay resentful. He responded, giving in – but Severus's lips closed to him at once.
"Please," he mumbled, pecking hopefully.
"You are adorable."
The unexpected compliment made him stop. "Hrm?" he said, surprised, and his eyes opened. "What?"
"Your pessimism – I find it adorable. You haven't quite learnt to read me yet, have you?"
"I – I don't understand, what – "
"Harry..." Severus spoke against his lips, in dark and honeyed tones that flipped Harry's stomach inside out. "When I tell you to concentrate on your exams this year, and consider university this year, and leave 'us' until next year... it is because, adorable dolt of mine, you could well have the rest of your life to think about 'us'..."
One dark eyebrow arched.
Harry's heart was leaping. "That's – okay." A grin broke over his face before he could stop it. "I guess I can wait until next year to talk."
"Can you two shut up?" came the sleepy protest from Draco, half-muffled against Harry's shoulder. "It's early. Leave silly serious talks until daylight. Sleep time now."
"I quite agree." Severus reached for the covers, drawing them higher. "No more talking, until breakfast at the very least. We all need our rest."
Harry was very happy to accept this decision. As Severus nestled tighter, Harry stirred to accommodate the older man and felt arms go around their waists, limbs tangling neatly, shifting and getting comfortable as a three until there was finally stillness. Harry felt his focus fade within moments.
He could sense Draco's heart beating contentedly against his back, and Severus's pulse against his chest, both of them breathing in rhythm with him now. He didn't know if he could ever sleep alone again. It would be like missing two of his hearts, eight of his limbs. He'd made his choice in life; he would see it through to the end, come what may.
As peace came at last, Harry drew a sigh of pure contentment. Vanilla filled his lungs.
It lulled him to sleep.