Title: Full of Grace
Word Count: 6,723
Warnings: None, really – unless you count sex outdoors as note worthy or you haven't read Deathly Hallows.
Summary: The Forest of Dean is a dreadful place, and Ronald is dreadfully late. It's no wonder that Severus must step in, again, to make sure the boy doesn't get himself killed.
A/N: As this takes place during DH, specifically in December of that year, every character participating in sexual activity is seventeen and of legal age in that region. Just thought I'd clear that up.
Full of Grace
The Forest of Dean was a dreadful place, full of dreadful things that make dreadful noises and Harry didn't like it one bit. The wind made strange noises and the ground felt restless under his feet, like writhing snakes that could snap at his ankles at any moment and, of course, it was bloody freezing in these ruddy woods and he wanted nothing more than to get this whole business over with so that he could go somewhere warm with steaming food on the stove and laughter all around him.
It felt like ages since Harry heard laughter, what with Ron gone off and Hermione crying herself to sleep each night, and he couldn't help but feel that their little tent and, by extension, these woods, was a dreadfully depressing place. But, Harry was accustomed to dreadful things since he dealt with them so frequently that he really wouldn't know a peaceful moment if it came right up to him, riding on a unicorn, which meant that he was holding up a fair share better than Hermione in these trying times.
Harry takes most of the night watches, since he is the only one out of the two of them that can run on pathetic snatches of sleep without keeling over with exhaustion and although it was his idea to let Hermione sleep, he can't help but feel slightly unappreciated, which is absurd considering the conditions that they are forced into by this dreadful war. But, without fail, he sits outside the tent every night and watches the stars glow out at him from the floor of Heaven and wish that he had someone to help him cope, if even for a little while.
To add insult to injury, the wind was particularly fierce that night, whipping and slapping across his face as though it were a live thing and Harry wanted so much just to curl up in bed and pull the covers over his head until Voldemort was killed by some other wizard, but Harry made a promise to several people and he wanted them to know, wherever they were, that he's doing his best to make everything right again. The fact that he was a seventeen year old boy, and by all rights has no business fighting a war for an entire world in which there must be someone much more qualified to deal with these sorts of things, has nothing at all to do with the fact the he is stuck searching the far reaches of the United Kingdom and beyond for severed pieces of a Dark Wizard's soul so that he can destroy them. Which, incidentally, he wasn't doing nearly as efficiently as some people might have hoped, despite his best efforts.
Twice, he thought he heard the sound of a cloak whispering over dead leaves but when he held his breath and waited for another sound, nothing happened. Harry told himself firmly that this was just a muggle forest and not magical at all like the Dark Forest, and it must have been just some kind of animal. He tried to calm the panic that had bubbled up in his chest, and moments later, when a silver mist curled and gathered outside a break in the trees, Harry thought he was hallucinating. Furthermore, the fact that the mist shivered and morphed into a breathtaking silver doe didn't exactly convince him that he hadn't fallen asleep after all.
The silver doe gazed at him mournfully, tilting her head and trying to coax Harry into coming with her, and since this entire thing was just a product of his over-exhausted mind, he couldn't actually think of any particular reason why he shouldn't do whatever the resplendent creature wanted him to. Which is why, after brief consideration, Harry got to his feet and wandered over to the glowing figure just outside the wards surrounding the tent.
As he picked his way carefully over the frozen ground, he couldn't keep himself from staring at the doe, not because of any amount of strangeness associated with her presence, but because of the overwhelming familiarity. He knew that she had come for him, that he was just waiting in the suffocating darkness for her to come and illuminate his way for him, and that he should have expected her and had simply forgotten until this very moment that they were supposed to meet. His impulse to shout for Hermione, which had been so strong at first, evaporated completely from his mind and since he was simply dreaming this up, there was no reason to shout to a person who would never hear him because it was his dream and he realized that the doe had come for him alone.
They gazed at each other intently for several moments before she turned and started walking away.
"No," Harry said, voice cracking from lack of use. "Come back!"
She continued to step deliberately through the trees, and soon the brightness was striped by their thick black trunks. For one trembling second he hesitated. Caution murmured that it could be a trick, a lure, a trap. But instinct, overwhelming instinct, told him that this was not Dark Magic and he set off in pursuit.
The ground crunched beneath his feet, but the doe made no noise as she passed through the trees, for she was nothing but light. Deeper and deeper into the forest she led him, and Harry walked quickly, sure that when she stopped, she would allow him to approach her properly. And then she would speak and the voice would tell him what he needed to know.
At last she came to a halt. She turned her beautiful head toward him once more, and he broke into a run, a question burning in him, but as he opened his lips to ask it, she vanished. His eyes stung, burning with frustrated tears and the sudden darkness. He swiped angrily at his face, disappointed in himself for letting a silly dream effect him this way.
The darkness closed in around him suddenly and just as suddenly he began to feel the fear that had been simmering just under his skin. The doe was gone, and she had meant safety. He was on his own in the dark forest, without anyone to guide him.
"Lumos," he whispered and the wand tip ignited.
The imprint of the doe faded away with every blink of his eyes as he stood there, listening to the sounds of the forest, to distant crackles of twigs, soft swishes of falling snow. Was he about to be attacked? Had she enticed him into an ambush? Was he imagining that somebody stood beyond the reach of the wandlight, watching him?
He held the wand higher, searching the wall of trees for intruders but nobody ran out at him, no flash of green light burst from behind a tree. Why, then, had she led him to this spot?
Something gleamed in the light of the wand, and Harry spun about, but all that was there was a small, frozen pool, its black, cracked surface glittering as he raised his wand higher to examine it.
He approached it cautiously, hoping that his tattered trainers didn't make too much racket in the tangible silence. The ice reflected his disheveled reflection in the gray light of Hermione's wand but deep below the surface something glistened at him. A great silver cross…
His heart immediately started hammering his chest, trying to escape from the confines of his ribcage. He dropped to his knees beside the pool, inasmuch out of shock as to guide the wandlight as deep as it could reach, and something red sparkled out at him. Red rubies in a silver hilt; the sword of Gryffindor was lying at the bottom of this forest pond.
In a strange moment of knowing, which happened so rarely to him these days, he understood that the doe was the Patronus of some benevolent person who deposited the sword exactly where Harry and Hermione were camping simply because it was Harry who was supposed to have it. They were obviously nervous of their reception, or else they would have just come up to Harry and handed him the sword. So, logically, the person was someone who Harry would have hexed on sight – probably someone who Harry believed to be either neutral or a Death Eater. Someone playing both sides.
By the same line of logic, Harry knew that the only way to retrieve the sword from the bottom of the pool was to dive in after it. After all, the thing that defines a Gryffindor from the rest of the houses is their massive serving of raw nerve.
Harry pointed Hermione's wand at the ice again, whispered Diffindo, and watched as the ice cracked into several small chunks. Despite the fact that the water was certainly freezing and he had no idea how he was going to get warm again after this, he started methodically stripping his clothes from his body. At least this way he had something remotely warm to climb into once he got out of the ice water.
As far as Harry could judge, the water wasn't terribly deep, but to get the sword, he'd have to submerge himself completely. He wished he had some gillyweed about so that he wouldn't feel the cold as much, but he couldn't remember if it would work better in salt or fresh water. Not that it mattered anyway, considering that there was none available to him now, and he really was just dithering. Sitting here and contemplating the task wouldn't make it easier or the water warmer, so without preamble, he placed Hermione's wand on the edge of the pool and jumped into the water.
The cold attacked his entire body like a wild fire, freezing every single part of him to the point of agony. The very air in his lungs seemed to solidify into a horrific block of ice in his chest and he huffed and shivered, shoulder deep in the small pond. His feet were numb, but he felt around with them for the hilt of the sword, only wanting to have to dive for it once.
Harry put off the moment of total submersion from second to second, gasping and shaking, until he told himself that it must be done, gathered all his courage, and dived. The cold was so much worse once his head and neck were under, and it felt like icy tongues were trying to slice him up into little ribbons, but he pushed ahead despite the screaming protestations of his body and felt the frigid metal hilt slide into him palm.
He grabbed it, pulling the sword upwards with him but before he could breach the surface, something strong and determined clutched at his neck. At first he grabbed around with his free hand, trying to disentangle wayward water weeds, and when he encountered none, grappled at his neck. He felt the Horcrux chain squeezing tight, cutting off the blood supply to his brain and he knew that unless some guardian angel swooped down from heaven, he was going to die. He could see the headlines now: The Boy-Who-Lived-Only-To-Drown-In-A-Pond. Glorious.
Thrashing and struggling as best he could, Harry waited for death to finally take him. The chain was locked around him, and his numb fingers could not loosen it one bit. Figuring that these were his last moments, and since no one was around to witness his epic defeat by jewelry anyway, he stopped struggling altogether and let himself drift on the endorphin rush that was flooding his bloodstream. And then he felt it.
Twin bands, thin but strong, wrapped suddenly around his torso and yanked him out of the icy pool and deposited him roughly on the ledge. Coughing and retching, Harry looked around wildly, but the glasses on his face were fogged and water stained and all he could make out was a dark shape illuminated by Hermione's still lit wand hovering about two feet to the left of him. And he felt comforted somehow, saved.
"You are the stupidest boy I have ever had the displeasure to know," the figure panted, doubled over and breathing rapidly as though it had just gotten over quite a fright.
The voice was roughened by anger and panic, but its familiar deep drawl was unmistakable. Snape had rescued Harry Potter for the umpteenth time and Harry couldn't even manage to dredge up his normal indignant mantra. The man had just saved his life again, and probably planted the sword in the pool in the first place, and really it just summed up how desperate he was for any sort of help that he wasn't launching himself at the murdering bastard at the first chance he got.
As Harry slowly got his breath back, he realized two things. One, that Severus Snape wasn't even holding his wand and two, Harry still had the sword clutched in his hands like a lifeline.
"You absolute pillock. Why the bloody hell would you put the sword in there, of all places? Couldn't you have just put it up a tree or something?" Harry gasped, getting to his feet slowly as to not alarm his tortured body any further.
"I had to be sure that only someone as dimwitted as you would actually go after it. The sword wouldn't do anybody any good in the hands of a hapless Muggle. Not that I expect you to think of these types of things," Snape sneered, looking rather sour.
"Well, I'm terribly sorry that I've been busy thinking about killing off little pieces of a maniac's soul and didn't exactly have time to ponder the best place to hide a sword," Harry spat, and immediately regretted it. How could he be so stupid? How could he give away the secret so easily to a man who he knew worked for Voldemort?
Clamping his hands over his mouth, Harry stared, aghast, at Snape, waiting in terror for the patronizing chuckle and the ominous crack of apparition that would mean Snape had gone to tell his master all about stupid Harry Potter and his 'top secret' plan. None came.
"Oh well done, Potter, lets absolutely shout confidential information at the top of our lungs in the wilderness without any privacy charms in place, where anyone could hear. Although I don't think the people in Egypt could hear you," Snape griped, rolling his eyes and dramatically throwing his hands in the air.
"Who in Merlin's name would be out in the middle of the forest, in the dead of winter, listening to us yelling at each other?" Harry barked, feeling the edge of hysteria creeping up inside him. He was dripping wet, bare-arsed and shouting at Snape in the middle of the Forest of Dean while desperately trying to work out why Snape hadn't just let him drown.
"Don't you understand anything, you idiot boy? Do you have any idea what I've risked to come here tonight? I'm watched constantly and nothing would please The Dark Lord more than to discover Harry Potter and a traitor in one fell swoop!" Snape growled, stomping around and muttering to himself about inconsiderate Gryffindors.
"Alright Snape, that's enough! Just – just shut up for two seconds so I can think," Harry shrieked, almost pulling out his hair with frustration. He knew that if he could just think about this for a moment that the truth could be discovered, but standing around catching cold and shouting at each other wasn't going to solve anything.
Right before he jumped into the pond, he was sure that the person who put the sword there for him to find was on his side, he was absolutely sure of it. He hadn't counted on Snape being the one to have put it there, nor did he count on the insanely inappropriate gratitude he felt for being pulled out of the freezing water before he drowned. Which brought to light yet another problem: the Horcrux. Harry knew that he needed to destroy it but he had no way of knowing if Snape would try to stop him.
"Right, the way I see it, you're here for one of two reasons," Harry stated, sounding much calmer than he actually felt. "One, you're a murdering Death Eater and you're just waiting for the right opportunity to summon your Master here to kill me, or Two, somehow you're really trying to help me in which case we need to work together to destroy the locket so we can get you safely back to Hogwarts before anyone notices you're gone."
"Assuming that you have some brain activity, which I have yet to see any proof of, it would be completely obvious which situation is accurate. If you recall correctly, you were drowning moments ago and I pulled you and an absurdly powerful magical object out of the water. If I wanted you dead, there was no better opportunity," Snape replied testily, glaring at Harry fiercely.
Harry, having had so many surprises tonight that he felt rather like the butt of a bad joke, sighed deeply and perched himself of a tree stump near the edge of the water. Instead of wallowing in the misery of being apparently wrong about Snape yet again, he decided there and then that he would start acting like an adult. Nothing was ever accomplished by crying or throwing a tantrum, after all.
"Ok, so you're like a triple agent – or would it be a quadruple agent? Well, no matter. You're not a loyal Death Eater and I owe you my thanks, again, for helping me out back there. I was a goner for sure," Harry said softly, almost not believing the words that were coming out of his mouth but knowing that they were the right ones to say.
Snape relaxed his rigid posture a fraction, took a step toward Harry and breathed a small sigh. "Don't mention it," he snarled, looking almost awkward.
Suddenly remembering that he was stark naked, Harry sprang into action. He ripped the Horcrux from his neck and flung it on the tree stump he was slouching on moments ago, and started pulling his clothing on as fast as humanly possible. If there was one thing Harry hated, besides this entire war, it was feeling vulnerable around Snape.
"Finally remembered that you aren't a nudist, have we?" The taller man sniped, recovering from his momentary discomfiture.
"Shut it, you great git. I'm having an inner crisis over here," Harry bit back, grabbing Hermione's wand from the water's ledge at last and stowing it in his back pocket.
"That's terribly melodramatic, Potter," Snape said, frowning at Harry from beneath the raven waterfall of hair hanging in his sunken face.
Harry almost did a double take; Snape looked awful. There were deep purple rings under his eyes and his sallow face looked almost skeletal in the shadows. He had never seen the dour man look more exhausted than he did now and Harry couldn't help the stab of sympathy he felt for Snape's situation. It couldn't be easy being the only man to ever fool Voldemort so completely, run a school and still have time to rescue Harry.
"Sorry," Harry said, truly meaning it. "I know you probably don't have a lot of time."
"For once the boy talks sense," Snape muttered, and then locked eyes with Harry for the first time that night. His eyes were a deep, glittering onyx and it took some amount of will power for Harry to keep himself from getting lost in them. "Tell me how far along you are on your mission."
Harry gulped, knowing he would have to disclose his abysmal failure to a man who already had so much ammunition to mock him with. "We managed to get Slytherin's locket from Umbridge but we've reached a stalemate."
"Umbridge had Salazar Slytherin's locket?" Snape exclaimed, but calmed himself almost instantly. "No matter. I take it that you are referring to the piece of demonic jewelry that was attempting to strangle you in the pool?"
"Yeah, it's a spot cranky," Harry grumbled, scuffing his foot on the uneven ground.
"So I gather. Where else were you told to look?" Snape asked, scowl falling from his face and a look of genuine interest taking its place.
"I wasn't told to look anywhere! We're out here on our own with no idea where we're supposed to go from here. Up until a few weeks ago, we didn't even know of anything that could actually destroy a Horcrux," Harry cried, his face crumpling into a grimace and grabbing the roots of his hair so hard that he almost winced.
"For Merlin's sake, boy! Isn't there anything, any crumb of information that you have to work with? Maybe something you can't quite figure out?" Snape growled, starting to pace with agitation.
"No, nothing. We're lucky we even got this far," Harry replied, sighing gloomily and averting his eyes from the condemning glower of his former professor.
"Of all the absurd, unbelievable, completely outrageous things, this takes the cake. I cannot fathom why on earth you are drifting from campsite to campsite without any sort of direction or plan – gormlessly floating about the country side with two equally ignorant seventeen year olds," Snape barked, gesticulating wildly and generally working himself into a full blown thundercloud.
"I'm sorry," Harry whispered to the ground, feeling so terribly upset that Snape was so disappointed in his progress that he didn't dare mention that Ron had gone off over a month ago and now it was just two gormless teenagers trying to save the world.
"Well, of course it's not entirely your fault! You've done the best you can under the extreme circumstances," Snape exclaims heatedly, totally absorbed in his indignant mutterings that he must not have been aware of the fact that he had just given Harry the closest thing to a compliment, ever.
Harry felt a sort of glow light inside him and he closed his eyes in relief. Snape didn't think he was completely useless, he just told Harry that he did well with what he was given. It was wonderful to have an adult to talk to, a worldly man like Snape, a man who knew so many different types of magic that he couldn't even count them, tell him that he wasn't a complete disappointment to the war effort. Even if Snape was a complete git most of the time.
"Thanks," Harry muttered softly, not really trying to interrupt Snape's ramblings but just to say something productive and get out of his own head.
Harry thought he heard something about insane old men and dying before anyone knew anything, but he really couldn't be certain. The sheer amount of vitriol alone made it terribly difficult to follow very much of what the man was saying, not to mention trying to decipher any of it. Having years of being on the wrong end of Snape's wrath, Harry knew that he would just continue to rage unless someone stopped him and since there wasn't anyone else around to do the job, Harry walked right up to his ex-professor and grabbed his arm.
Snape stopped short, blinking incredulously at Harry's hand on his person. It took all of Harry's determination not to just release the man and let him resume his mad ramblings, but something made him hang on and meet Snape's eyes.
"Stop. Nothing can be done about it now – we just have to carry on as best we can," Harry said, feeling very mature all of a sudden.
A dark eyebrow shot up into Snape's hairline, but he stopped raving immediately and simply sniffed disdainfully.
"I need to destroy the Horcrux," Harry hedged, hoping that he really was wrong about Snape and he wouldn't try to stop Harry.
"Well, I gave you the bloody sword! Do you need an engraved invitation?" Snape snarled, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Yeah, I do. I really don't want to get hexed sideways after all this," Harry snapped back, standing entirely too close to Snape for his own comfort – so close that he could feel the other man's breath on his face and the warmth seeping from his robes. It really was quite cold out in the woods and Harry had a brief thought of curling himself into the man's heat and staying there until he thawed out.
"For Merlin's sake boy! Of course I won't hex you – I just saved you! Learn to think before you speak," Snape ground out, fists clenching at his sides.
"Yes, Sir. My apologies, I guess I'm just not accustomed to you running in to save the day," Harry growled, wanting desperately to want to step back from Snape's breath and warmth and scathing words but refusing to back down from the likes of Severus Snape. Stepping back would be weak, and Harry refused to be weak in front of anyone, and that's not even mentioning the fact that he really didn't want to step away from Snape at all… in fact, he actually wanted to get so close to the man that he could climb inside him and never feel cold or weak or lonely again. But, of course, he had to be Harry Potter and save the world. There can be time enough for weakness when innocent lives don't depend on his strength.
"Do you even hear what you're saying? I have worked tirelessly to keep you alive since the day you stepped off the Hogwarts Express and have continued to do so every time you got some ridiculous notion in that empty head of yours. So it really shouldn't surprise you to learn that I am, once again, here to help you – as I have always done," Snape bellowed.
Snape's face turned pallid, and his breath came even nearer to Harry's skin and it made part of him feel jumpy, like a scared rabbit about to run away, but the other, much bigger part of him really wanted Snape to come even closer because if he could get Snape's arms around him that would mean that Harry would be so warm that he might never feel the cold again. But Harry had work to do and promises to keep, and no matter how much Harry wanted Snape to keep him warm, he knew that the mission must come first. Besides, Snape was rather angry with him at the moment, and not at all inclined to embrace him.
"I know you have, I'm sorry. You've already given so much," Harry said softly, placing his hands gently on the black clad chest in front of him, soothing Snape as though he were back in Care of Magical Creatures and needed to calm a wild animal. Snape was like a wild animal sometimes, with his snarling and snapping at everyone around him and Harry wondered what it would be like to be around him when he was calm.
"You know nothing," Snape hissed, clenching his teeth and growing even paler than Harry thought possible. "You know absolutely nothing about what I have had to do, all that I have had to sacrifice for you to continue breathing. You don't know anything,"
"You're wrong. I know that if you are here, helping me, that you have been forced into a horrifying role that will ruin the rest of your life. I know that despite your personal feelings for me, you have always protected me to the best of your abilities and… and I'm grateful for you and everything you've done," Harry exclaimed, gripping the stiff material of Snape's robes almost painfully in his fists. He didn't know why he suddenly felt the need to say these things, but knew that he needed Snape to stay and help him – if only for a little while. It was juvenile and desperate but maybe it was alright to be weak for just a moment if it meant that Snape would stay with him. People never stay with him for long.
Snape made a noise high in his throat, almost a whine, before mastering himself and taking a deep breath. "I have always helped you, and will continue to do so, until my heart stops beating."
Harry's breath hitched violently and he made himself look up into the glinting obsidian eyes that were burning with some indescribable emotion that made him sway on his feet. Snape gripped his biceps hard, attempting to steady him but his legs had turned to jelly and he just couldn't force himself to pull back from the warm, firm chest he was leaning against.
Harry whimpered pathetically, clutching at the dark eyed man before him and swore to himself that he would not let go until he was forced off. But Snape didn't move a muscle, simply looked down at him with the same unreadable heat burning in his eyes.
"Snape," Harry whispered. A question and a plea expressed through one word, a man's name, a man who he thought he knew and just now realized that he hadn't known at all. And quite suddenly, Snape transformed from the greasy bat of Hogwarts into The Half-Blood Prince, his Prince, and Harry was lost.
Loosening his grip on Snape's robes, Harry ran his hands up from the firm chest to the man's lank hair and entwined his fingers in the strands surrounding Snape's face. The hair was soft and washed, slipping through his fingers like fine silk and he used his hold to bring the man's forehead to his.
"Potter -, " Snape started, only to be interrupted by Harry's index finger pressing his lips into silence.
"It's Harry. My name is Harry," he whispered, taking care to make his lips graze Snape's with each word in hopes of enticing him into making the first move because it had been a long while since he'd had to think about anything like kisses.
"Harry," Snape breathed, curling one elegant hand into the back Harry's unruly hair and searching his face for signs of hesitance. Harry was sure that no matter what other emotions were reflected on his face, there was no reluctance or fear of any kind. Harry wanted this, wanted Snape, and no matter how sudden the realization came to him or the circumstances surrounding it, Harry was going to make sure that Snape knew that someone, somewhere cared about what happened to him. He couldn't have many, what with being known as the man who killed Albus Dumbledore.
Snape's eyes scanned his for endless moments, their breaths mingling in the scant space between them, before tilting his mouth down and capturing his lips in the sweetest kiss Harry had ever felt. The nerve endings in his lips exploded with rapture, and Snape groaned softly, clutching at Harry like he was the answer to every question he ever had.
It was paradise, being this close to someone after being alone for so long. The feel of Snape's thick woolen robe scratching at his stomach where his shirt had ridden up, Snape's lips rubbing and stroking against his own, the strange prickle of Snape's stubble grating on his cheek, all felt like heaven; in fact, everything about the kiss made Harry's toes curl and a breathy moan erupt from his throat.
It could have been seconds or it could have been hours, but finally Snape drew back slightly to regard him with another silent assessment and clearly found what he was looking for because in the next instant, Snape had crushed his mouth against Harry's again and steered the younger man towards a nearby tree trunk. The bark was rough against Harry's back and the cold air was biting, but Snape was so warm and his lips were so soft that it didn't really matter where he was, as long as Snape didn't pull away again.
It appeared that Snape had no intention of pulling away, because within seconds of pressing Harry back against a tree, he had thrust his tongue inside Harry's mouth and thoroughly devoured the moist cavern as though he would never get another chance and pressed their bodies so tightly together that there was finally some friction on Harry's aching cock.
Crying out, Harry tore his mouth away to get a deep breath only to be hoisted right up against the blasted tree and he wrapped his legs around Snape's hips out of reflex. Snape seemed to rather like that because he moaned again and flexed his hips just right and rubbed the hot steel of his impressive erection into Harry's as a reward. Oh, and what a reward it was. Stars exploded behind his eyes, and for one instant Harry thought he might come in his trousers like a twelve year old, but managed to distract himself by nibbling on the pale expanse of Snape's neck and burrowing himself there in the scent of the man. It was intoxicating; the cloying sweetness of cloves, valerian root and something uniquely Snape surrounding him.
Every part of Harry wanted to melt inside Snape and never leave again but Snape rocked his hips again and Harry felt something inside him snap into a million pieces. He was suddenly frantic; writhing against Snape like someone possessed and tearing at the thousands of buttons down Snape's front, knocking his head back against the tree so many times that Snape finally took pity on him and cradled his head in his large, thin hand and angled back in to claim Harry's mouth again. And it felt so good to be claimed, marked, devoured that Harry was certain that he could carry on this way for the rest of his life. If sex was this amazing, he didn't know how anyone ever stopped to have a normal life if they could be doing this all the time.
Just when Harry thought he couldn't hold on any longer, Snape stopped abruptly and removed the hand that had been keeping his head from thrashing against the unforgiving bark of the tree and reached it down between their bodies to begin undoing the fastening on Harry's trousers.
Harry rather felt that he could have undone his own zip but felt very foolish when he realized that Snape was waiting for him to gather his remaining wits and tend to the other man's pants. Cheeks pinking, he dragged a hand from Snape's hair and started plucking unsuccessfully at the complicated release on the old-fashioned pants. It seemed to take ages, but finally, finally, Harry yanked the terrible pants down Snape's hips only to have them catch on his own legs.
Harry looked up at Snape, feeling lost and way too turned on to think clearly and was obviously counting on the other man to take care of these sorts of things for him since he was much too far gone to do it himself.
"Calm yourself and jump down for a moment," Snape purred, the dark velvet voice washing away the frenzied edge to Harry's movements and he was able to unwind himself from the other man long enough to push both of their pants off before latching himself around Snape again.
Chuckling faintly, Snape kissed Harry slowly, letting his tongue glide softly over Harry's but before the younger man could really get into it, he pulled back again. "Now would be the time to say something if you wish to stop," Snape panted against Harry's lips and for the life of him, Harry couldn't figure out what he'd done to lead Snape to believe that he wanted to stop.
Blinking myopically at Snape, Harry shook his head and curled his arms around the taller man's neck and gazed intently at his ex-professor. It must have been enough because Snape lifted him up slowly and braced his back against the tree again and when he kissed him, it was softly and with a reverence Harry didn't know anyone could show while rutting against a tree.
His lips, face and throat were worshiped gently, while Snape's hips ground relentlessly against his aching prick and it felt so much better without any bothersome trousers to get in the way of their skin. Snape was grinding against him so slowly that he wanted to cry; his release was there, just there, and he couldn't seem to be able to fall into it without something more and he just didn't know how to ask for it.
"Please," Harry begged, panting and sweating despite the frigid air around him. "I need – ."
"Hush now. I know what you need," Snape cooed, increasing the pressure of his thrusts and taking Harry's mouth again in a savage kiss.
"Yes," Harry hissed, almost slipping into parseltongue, wrenching his mouth from Snape's, catching the dark gaze and clutching desperately at his shoulders, trembling against the Potions Master as he erupted against their stomachs. In the blinding white of his orgasm, he still managed to feel another flood of fiery warmth spill across his skin and hear his name mixed into the primal groan that the other man made as he came violently against his body.
Shuddering together, they both calmed slowly. The air was still frigid, and the forest still groaned under the wind's onslaught but Harry didn't mind so much anymore. He was warm and felt surprisingly safe cradled in Snape's arms like a lover and life was strangely more bearable than it was a mere hour ago.
"Harry," a voice roared, the unexpectedness of someone else screaming Harry's name in the middle of this thrice-damned forest stilled his breathing and he looked up at Snape in horror.
The churning onyx eyes were rounded with alarm, and Snape put him firmly back on his feet and kissed Harry's forehead briefly as he reached for his discarded pants. Snape looked awkward and weirdly remorseful and Harry caught his hand tightly.
"Don't take this from me," Harry whispered as the other man snapped his eyes to Harry's in surprise. In a flutter of movement, Snape sheathed his wand back up his sleeve, and although Harry didn't even notice that the man had drawn it, he felt a swell of relief with the ebony wand tucked safely away. Snape nodded.
"I have to go, your friend is getting closer," Snape said with an unusual air of regret. It was Harry's turn to nod mutely, squeezing the taller man's hand once more before releasing it with a deep regret of his own.
Coat buttoned, cloak righted and pants buttoned securely, Snape took a moment to kiss Harry hard, and the possessiveness of it took Harry's breath away. He kissed back with everything he had in him, trying to force the man to understand that Harry didn't want him to go but knew that he had to if they had any hope of surviving the coming months, and that Harry was going to make damned sure that when all this dreadful business was over with, Harry would come for Snape.
"Thank you," Harry said firmly, righting his own clothes quickly. A corner of Snape's mouth quirked up briefly and he nodded at Harry.
"This conversation is far from over. I'll find you, Harry," Snape purred darkly, and it almost sounded like a threat but for the snapping obsidian eyes locked on Harry's own.
Harry smiled. "I can't wait," he replied, desperately trying to show Snape, in the few moments they had left together, that Harry was sincere. Snape seemed to understand because he gathered his cloak closer around him and started to walk into the deep forest.
As he neared the tree line, Snape tossed over his shoulder, "By the way, I'd recommend a day trip to the Lestrange's vault. It could prove to be very… fruitful."
Harry laughed delightedly and waved at Snape's retreating form and shockingly, Snape waved back before Disapparating on the spot.
"Harry!" Ron shouted again, much closer this time and Harry, taking a precursory glance at his rumpled, damp clothing, called back to his wayward friend.
As he waited for Ron to jog up to him, Harry couldn't help but smile goofily at the change in their position. Now, they had a chance. Now, Harry could carry on, knowing that somewhere deep inside Hogwarts, Snape was waiting for him.
A/N: PLEASE REVIEW! I'M DESPERATE FOR THEM. I NEED THEM TO BREATHE, WRITE AND OTHERWISE EXIST. PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN, REVIEW!