Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling and her publishers; no money is being made.
"Severus!" Percy abruptly stopped in the kitchen doorway. "What are you doing?"
The other man refused to look at him, instead going on fumbling with the teapot and teabags with trembling hands.
"I was thirsty, which is why I'm making tea."
Inwardly steeling himself for yet another discussion, Percy entered and approached Severus to help.
"The Healer told you to stay in bed for two weeks, except for bathroom trips. During the last day and a half, you got up once to answer a firecall, twice to answer the door, three times to get books, and now for tea!"
Percy was at his wit's end. He had known when they'd moved in together three months ago that it wouldn't be easy living with Severus – nothing was ever easy with him – but although they had been lovers for almost a year now, he'd never have imagined how incredibly stubborn the man could be. So far, no amount of talking to him had helped.
"Is it so hard to let me do those things?"
Just in the second he was finished speaking, there was a crash, the teapot clattering on the chequered tiles of the kitchen floor, cold water spilling out over both their feet. Moments later, Percy found himself holding up Severus's limp, shaking body, barely preventing him from slumping to the ground.
"Damn, Severus, this is why you're not supposed to get up! Now do you get it? You could have hurt yourself!"
"It's nothing," Severus protested weakly. "Just let me sit down for a moment."
Percy shook his head. "It's enough. This is ridiculous!"
Determined, he tightened his hold on the other man, steering him into the direction of the door.
"I'll bring you to bed now, and you'll stay there. You will not get up again. If you need something, you will call me. That's an order, and I don't want any discussion about it!"
Even while he was saying it, he knew that it was a mistake. Severus surely wasn't the man who'd let himself be ordered around by his lover, who was also sixteen years his junior. But instead of the angry reply he'd expected, there was only awkward silence that lasted until they had reached the bedroom and he had made Severus lie down and pulled the heavy duvet over him.
Sighing, Percy touched Severus's sweaty forehead.
"You're burning", he said, now in a softer tone. "Getting up only made it worse. Now I'll make some tea, and you stay here, understood?"
Severus only nodded, closing his eyes. His face was as white as the pillow, and Percy once more was astonished at the fact that he'd even made it as far as the kitchen. There was a reason why he was supposed to be on bed rest!
"All right, I'll be back in no time."
When he returned with the tea, Severus drank quietly, and then, much to Percy's relief – and surprise – obediently stayed in bed for the rest of the day, as well as the next day.
When he needed something, he would call Percy to get it for him, and although the word "please" did not exist in his otherwise vast vocabulary, and his requests were delivered in a tone of – albeit quiet – resentment that would have most people tell him to get what he wanted the fuck himself, Percy much preferred this over having him stumble around in the flat in his nightshirt, barely strong enough to stand. It wasn't as though he had fallen in love with Severus for his gentle manners.
Two nights later, Percy found it hard to fall asleep. Thankfully, Severus had been sleeping for several hours now, but while his usual quiet breathing was, in Percy's opinion, a soothing sound, the wheezing noises now coming from his side of the bed did nothing to help Percy's condition.
It wasn't that he was not tired – trying to manage a sick Severus was more exhausting than a busy day at the Ministry, even when you were used to his moods while he was healthy. The thing that wouldn't let Percy's mind get a rest was his outburst of temper towards Severus, and the reaction it had caused.
It had been the first of its kind. If he were only half as irascible as for example Ron, Ginny, or his mother, he would not be able to bear Severus's prolonged presence, never even talking about maintaining a successful relationship. No, Percy was very grateful that in this regard, he came after his father. In fact, as he had often thought over the last months with no small amusement, he and Severus sometimes reminded him of his parents, with Severus taking the role of Molly, especially when he was annoyed – which was often. Of course, he had never dared to utter it aloud.
But this... Percy turned from his left to his right side, in vain trying to box the pillow into a comfortable shape. He wouldn't have taken Severus for a man who would let somebody else shut him up like this. After Percy had snapped at him, he'd been meek, almost subdued, for the remaining afternoon and evening, and the day to follow. Percy would never have suspected such a reaction; he'd been prepared for a heated argument instead.
Finally realising that he was unlikely to fall asleep, Percy left for the kitchen to make himself some warm milk with honey. An hour later, after he'd had the milk and read the Prophet from beginning to end – something he hadn't had the time to do during daytime – he arrived back in the bedroom to find Severus spread diagonally over the bed, wrapped around the duvet in an impossible-looking manner. How was he supposed to get him back on his side of the bed without waking him up?
But as Percy sat down, still contemplating this question, Severus disentangled himself and turned onto his back to meet Percy's eyes. There was a damp spot on the pillow where his head had been, and in the flickering candlelight he was looking feverish in a way that made Percy think of his mother's vinegar compresses – maybe it was time to have a look at the parchment roll with home remedies she'd given him when he had moved out, and at which he had never looked in the years before.
"How are you feeling?"
"Hot." It was no more than a hoarse croak, and while he appeared to want to say something else, Severus was cut off by a coughing fit. For Percy, that sealed the matter.
Ten minutes later, Severus's legs and chest were wrapped in wet towels, the whole room smelling strongly of vinegar.
"Any better yet?"
Severus closed his eyes with a sigh. "Not as hot anymore, just absolutely ridiculous. Like a giant pickle."
Percy couldn't help chuckling. "That's what the twins always said when Mum wrapped them up like this."
"Is that comparison between your terrible brothers and me supposed to comfort me? If so, I must tell you that you're failing quite miserably."
Despite Severus's protests, Percy could see that the compresses had the desired effect – the other man looked less tense, and less flushed already. Besides, he couldn't deny that he was glad to hear Severus regain some of his usual temper. The last two days had been more than slightly disconcerting.
"Severus? May I ask you something?" He wouldn't find peace until he'd addressed the matter.
"Yesterday in the kitchen, after you nearly fell...I didn't mean to snap at you like that."
Severus shook his head. "It's all right. It's not the end of the world."
"Maybe not, but..." Damn it! How should he approach this without sounding silly? "You were quite different afterwards. Quieter. And you actually listened and stayed in bed, while you wouldn't do it when I'd only asked you to please think of what the Healer said."
For a while, Severus said nothing, but in the end, he sighed, rolling over to his side, his back facing Percy.
"It's...easier," he murmured. "To follow orders, I mean. And I'm used to it."
"Merlin! I'm sorry!"
Percy moved his hand over to Severus, touching a bony shoulder, while inwardly berating himself for being an idiot. They hadn't talked much about Severus's past – just enough so that Percy had understood how unpleasant it had been, and why Severus preferred to not make it a subject of conversation if at all possible. But it seemed only logical that, after years of being ordered about like a possession by the likes of You-Know-Who and Dumbledore, Severus would react in this fashion.
"It won't happen again, I promise."
Severus went stiff under the touch. "You don't understand."
"Then make me." Percy scooted closer, not pulling back his hand. "Please, Severus. I don't want to do things that might hurt you, but for that, you have to tell me how you feel. I can't always just stumble around in the dark and hope to not make mistakes."
Unfortunately, that was how it had been until now, most of the time. They both weren't very good at talking about personal matters. When they did talk about such things, it was uncomfortable for both of them, although it always proved to be a relief and enrichment to know yet a little more.
It didn't seem like Severus would answer anymore, and Percy already thought he had fallen asleep again.
"It's not that I find it easy to obey orders now because I had to do it for so long." Percy had to strain to understand what Severus was saying. "It's the other way round. I..."
He was interrupted by another hacking cough, and Percy started rubbing his back gently. Severus didn't protest.
"I like orders," he finally whispered once his lungs had calmed down. "They're...helpful, they make things so much clearer. I like knowing what to do." Sighing softly, he slowly relaxed under Percy's touch. "I don't always know what's best for me – just take yesterday. I'd never have given in if you had only asked me nicely. I think...sometimes I need orders."
It took some moments for Percy to wrap his mind around what he had heard, but once he'd understood, he didn't know what to answer. Instead, he kept running his hand over Severus's back where it wasn't covered with the vinegar-soaked towel. It made the silence less awkward, for which he – and probably also Severus – was grateful.
"Now will you unpack me so that I can go back to sleep?" Severus demanded some minutes later, and Percy complied, relieved that Severus didn't insist on speaking about the matter any further.
He himself, however, didn't find sleep that night for a long time.
Two months later, Percy was facing an entirely different dilemma: the question what on earth he could give Severus for Christmas. He'd so far experienced one Christmas and one birthday with him, and on both occasions, the other man had not exactly liked the gifts Percy had chosen. It might have been because Severus was chronically discontent, or it might have been because Percy, as his family had assured him on various occasions, was atrocious at picking gifts.
There was only one week left, and he still did not have the slightest idea. Something about potions was out of the question – Severus possessed most rare ingredients, and even the most outlandish books. Percy would only embarrass himself in trying to find something Severus didn't know already.
Of course, it could be a more generic gift – a pretty tea set instead of the old, cracked cups and saucers, or a new winter cloak – but the idea didn't satisfy him. It should be something more personal.
It was on the 19th of December when Percy finally found a solution. He had been surfing the internet – Harry had convinced him that a Muggle computer would be a great help at researching each and any subject he could think of, and while Severus hated the contraption, and Percy himself had needed some time and help to figure out how to handle it, he had found that Harry had been right. He'd learnt a lot more about Muggle society by reading internet boards than his father could ever have dreamt of.
There were still some things he was struggling with – at the moment, it was popup windows. He'd firecalled Harry three days ago, who had promised to stop by and install something he had called "popup-blocker" after Christmas, but for now, Percy simply had to close all the annoying little windows with advertisements for ridiculous things he couldn't imagine anybody could ever need for anything.
As he browsed a website that dealt with mediaeval Herbology, in vain hoping to maybe find something he had not seen in Severus's potions shop when he'd secretly taken stock a week ago while Severus had been sleeping at home, his view on the desired content was once again hindered by a popup. With an annoyed grunt, Percy moved the cursor to the little "x" in the window's upper right corner – only to stop in mid-movement and stare at the ad open-mouthed for he didn't know how long.
It depicted a man, but not just any man. This bloke was tanned, muscular, with a well-rounded biceps, flashing white teeth, and wheat-blond hair – the opposite of what Percy had learnt to appreciate and find attractive himself. He was also, however, quite naked, and, as Percy noticed, almost ridiculously well-hung. Still, that was not what had made the sudden fireworks in his mind go off. No, what had him intrigued was the fact that this man was – besides naked and obviously hard enough for Percy to assume that he must have taken one of those Muggle virility pills the popups had advertised to him quite regularly – blindfolded and chained to a bed.
SUBMISSIVE WONDER BOYS WAITING FOR YOU! garish pink letters proclaimed. CALL 555 88 555!
Percy had no intention of wasting his money on nonsense like this - besides, they did not even own a telephone. The image had, however, given him an idea. Seconds later, he closed both the popup and the Herbology site, instead opening a browser window with his favourite search engine. Slowly, his fingers wandered over the keyboard, and the words "submissive" and "sex" appeared in the search filed. Percy pressed "Enter" – and was rewarded immediately. He had no idea about any of this – his only experience before Severus had been with Penelope – and he knew that he had been the first for Severus. There was so much to read, and so little time. Percy drew his wand, magically made the key turn in the lock of the office door, and began reading.
Christmas was a quiet affair this year, and Severus was glad about it. They had refused the obligatory invitation to the Weasley Christmas Dinner on the 25th, claiming that they had spent so much time working during the last weeks that they needed the entire holidays to themselves. It wasn't even a lie, but it had as much to do with Severus's dislike for large gatherings as it had with them lacking time for each other.
The Weasleys alone would have been more than enough, but on top of the eight red-heads, he would have had to endure four significant others, one of them Granger, and the other Potter. He didn't feel up to that after suffering through it the year before. It had been easier back then, because he hadn't known what would await him. Now that he had a clearer idea, he had no desire to repeat the experience, at least this year. It might prove inevitable the following year, as he did not want to disgruntle Percy's parents – especially Molly – irrevocably.
Another thing he was glad about was that they had agreed on not exchanging gifts. It had been Percy's idea, and while Severus would have known what to pick to coax the younger man into a very un-Percy-like excitement, he had agreed immediately. He knew that for his lover, gifts were an almost insurmountable obstacle, and he also knew himself well enough to realise that he would never be able to fake happiness over something he would have thrown into the fireplace had it come from anybody other than Percy.
Christmas Eve had gone by quietly, as had Christmas Day. They had slept in – a rare treasure – had prepared Christmas Dinner together, had had a small lunch, an extensive walk, and some hours of reading, before once more busying themselves in the kitchen. After eating, they'd watched a silly Christmas movie on the TV Percy had insisted they got three months ago, so that he could follow a show about which he had apparently learnt on the internet. Severus had forgotten the title; all that he knew was that whenever he passed the living room on his way from the office to the kitchen, he would hear a strange metallic voice utter the word "Exterminate!" over and over again.
As the closing credits began running, Percy grabbed the remote and switched the telly off. They were sitting next to each other, but without touching – the concept of "cuddling" was still something that alienated Severus more often than it delighted him. Now, however, Percy leant in for a kiss, and Severus complied gladly. It wasn't that he outright disliked touching or sex – if there was one thing he'd learnt to appreciate over the last few months, it was a good shag – but he still felt uncomfortable before and after.
"Bedroom?" Percy asked when they parted again. Severus nodded.
A minute later, they were standing in front of the bed, taking off their clothes. Watching Severus peel off the thick, black robes, Percy drew a deep breath. If he wanted to put his plan into action, he had to do it now.
Usually, after undressing, Percy would shag Severus with little to no foreplay – just the way Severus preferred, or so he'd said on various occasions. He didn't want Percy to touch him more than necessary, kiss him while they were at it, or do anything that resembled any measure of gentleness or care. Percy had complied until now because of the fierceness with which Severus had asserted his wishes, but during the last few days, he'd got a different idea. Now he would find out if he'd been right, or if he was no more than a fool with an overactive imagination.
They were both naked by now, and at any other time, Percy would have reached for the small pot of lube in the drawer of the bedside table, while Severus would position himself face-down on the bed.
Already, Severus made to lie down, but Percy grabbed his arm, holding him back.
"What is it?"
Severus frowned, and for a second, Percy was about to let the matter drop. But he realised that he might not dare to try again, and so, instead, he grabbed Severus by the shoulders, pulling him close so that they were face to face, no more than an inch left between them.
"We're going to do things a bit differently today. You'll lie down on your back and do as I say!"
"Are you crazy? What do you think you're doing?" Severus hissed. He looked more than only a little irritated, and it cost Percy all his willpower to not crumble.
"I'm giving you orders."
Severus stared at him mutely, now stunned rather than annoyed, and Percy used his surprise to gently, but firmly push him backward until Severus first sat, and then lay down on the bed, his head on the pillows, Percy situated between lean, pale thighs.
"Now spread your arms and legs!"
Still looking at him like he were an apparition, Severus slowly obeyed. Percy smiled and pulled back for some seconds to take his wand from the bedside table, before leaning in close once more so he could whisper into Severus's ear.
"If you want me to stop this, just tell me so at any point, and I will. Immediately. Do you understand?"
"Yes." Severus's voice was shaking slightly, and Percy couldn't deny that it excited him. Until now, Severus had been calm and controlled, even during sex. Maybe this would change now, especially since it seemed that the older man was willing to go along, at least for now.
It took only seconds to say an incantation that produced silken ropes, which then wrapped around Severus's wrists and ankles, binding him to the bedposts. There was a small gasp from Severus, but he didn't protest.
"Now lie still and don't talk!"
Percy put away the wand again, observing his work. Severus was flat on his back, thin torso and long limbs spread out for Percy to look at and touch in a way he never had been able to before. They'd started being intimate with each other just a few months ago, and Percy had got the impression that Severus disliked being naked, or rather, being looked at while naked, which was why he would always lock the bathroom door behind him, and dress again immediately after sex.
"You're beautiful." It slipped without him intending to say it, but although Severus rolled his eyes, he kept silent.
"I mean it." Percy leant down to kiss the other man, running both hands through slightly greasy hair. To his delight, Severus reciprocated quite greedily, and for a little while, they were busy kissing, tongues stroking, Percy's body pressed down on Severus, who, for once, couldn't slip away from the prolonged close contact.
After some time, Percy pulled away a little, now beginning to trail kisses down Severus's neck, and then up his right arm, while gently caressing the white skin under his fingers. Severus went tense at first, but then, very slowly, relaxed again. His eyes were closed by now, thin lips slightly parted, a hint of a flush on his cheeks. It was then that Percy knew that he had been right.
Ever since two months ago, Percy had been thinking about what Severus had said when he'd been down with Wizard flu – and he had added his own observations to it. It had seemed to him that whenever Severus needed something the most, those were the times that he would protest against it the most.
There had been the episode when he'd been sick, or when Percy had tried convincing him to claim monthly war benefits from the Ministry, so that he was free to open his shop only half of the day, and do research and experiments the rest of the time, like he wished he could do. He'd argued against it for weeks, and had only given in when Percy had finally given up trying to talk and had simply brought the forms home from work and put them on the kitchen table for Severus to see. They hadn't spoken about it, but the next morning, they had been filled out and signed, and Percy had taken them back to the Ministry again.
When he'd seen the internet ad some days ago, it had been as if something had clicked in his head. Maybe Severus didn't truly dislike being touched, and especially being touched gently. Maybe it was only that he needed Percy to help him overcome his insecurity. Maybe, Percy had thought, remembering what Severus had said that night, all that he needed to make things easier for him were the right orders.
Severus didn't know what to think, and the longer this went on, the longer he was touched, kissed, and caressed all over his body, the more confused and less able to actually think he became. He'd never experienced anything like this – oh, he'd dreamt of it as a boy, when Lily Evans had still seemed all he could ever wish for. Later, after her death, he had tried to brush all thoughts of it aside completely, and when, after the war, he had found himself attracted to, and then, inexplicably, in love with Percy Weasley, he hadn't even been able to imagine it any more.
Percy had tried in the beginning, but it had been too alien and awkward, and it had been the easiest way to claim that it didn't appeal to him at all. After that, the younger man had always complied with his wishes – until now. He'd been irritated in the beginning, but equally intrigued, and by now, all he could think was that he had been an idiot for not wanting this before.
Percy had arrived with his attentions at Severus's legs by now, making Severus shudder as warm breath and soft lips brushed over the insides of his thighs. It felt good, but still strange, and Severus knew he might very well stop this and simply push Percy away if he were physically able to.
There was a kiss next to his balls, on the sensitive skin where his legs and groin met, and Severus couldn't suppress a whimper. The kissing stopped, and then his cheek was cupped in a warm hand.
"Do you want me to stop?"
He opened his eyes to find Percy staring down at him, looking flushed and worried at once. It made something inside his stomach flutter and clench at the same time.
Severus swallowed hard. "No...don't stop!"
There were lips on his, then, a tongue pushing into his mouth fiercely, and Severus groaned into the kiss in frustration, because he couldn't move, couldn't wrap his arms around Percy and hold him close to himself like he'd never felt the urge to do before.
Then the mouth was gone again, instead focussing on one of his nipples, licking and nibbling, skilled fingers stroking and pinching the other one. It seemed to go on for forever, and just when Severus thought he wouldn't be able to take it any longer, Percy bit down hard. Severus yelped, his cock twitched almost painfully, and moments later, Percy was sucking it hard and fast – something Severus had never before allowed him to do. His head was swimming, and vaguely, he registered that there were noises – moaning and gasping – but it took him some time to realise that they were coming from him, and that he was tensing against his restraints, pulling at them with arms and legs to try and arch closer into the incredible suction and warmth that was Percy's mouth.
It didn't take Severus long to come, and although he'd never done this before, Percy managed to swallow without gagging. He lifted himself to look at Severus, who was still panting, eyes closed, back arched, head pressed back into the pillows.
Smiling, Percy took his wand and spelled the ropes away, causing Severus to almost immediately roll over and curl up on his side. Percy put the wand away and scooted closer, his stomach pressed against Severus's back. In this position, he could feel that Severus was still trembling, and for a while, he didn't do anything but hold the other man close to himself.
Finally, they were both lying still, and Percy shifted a bit, placing a kiss on Severus's cheek.
"Good?" he asked softly.
Severus nodded, eyes still closed.
"Thank you. It was..." He took a shaky breath. "I wouldn't have been able to..."
"I know." Another kiss, this time on Severus's neck. "It's why I did this. I thought about what you said about orders, and it seemed like this was such a situation where you could need them."
"You were right." Severus opened his eyes, finally turning his head to look at Percy. "I'm very lucky."
"So am I."
"I'm not in the mood to argue over it. Let's go to sleep."
Percy pulled the blanket over both of them, then wrapped his arms back around Severus.
"Do you want to repeat it?"
Long fingers closed around his own, squeezing firmly.
"If you give the right orders, I very well might."
Percy smiled. "I think I could get used to doing that."
A while later, slowly drifting to sleep, still tightly wrapped around Severus, he had to think of the internet ad that had inspired all of this. They could gladly keep all their tanned beauties – Percy had his own submissive wonder boy now. He'd just have to be careful to never say it aloud, or he might be hexed after all.