Thank you girls!
29. On fire (Part 1)
You're on fire
When he's near you
You're on fire
When he speaks
You're on fire
Burning at these mysteries*
"Good luck, Harry!" Hagrid said as he "benevolently" slapped him on the back making the boy sag and almost fall on Hermione.
"Thanks," he muttered, when he finally caught his breath.
"Give them a hard time, won't you, Ron?" Hagrid smiled broadly and raised his hand to pat the boy, but the redhead quickly pulled out of his reach and sent him a nervous smile.
Harry had already lost count of how many people wished them good luck since he came out of the dormitory and headed toward the Great Hall. The game would start right after breakfast. Everybody realized that if Gryffindor won, they would be only one tiny step away from the Cup. Without their best players - Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle - Slytherin, that Gryffindor had to play against in spring, was so weak that no one had any doubt about who would win this fight. That was why today's match was the most important, and they all knew it.
When Harry crossed the threshold of the room, he immediately spotted a huge, golden-red mass. Almost all the students were dressed in the colors of Gryffindor. The walls were covered with banners and there was such a buzz that people had to shout right into each other's ear to be able to communicate. At that moment everyone had forgotten about the war, or internal animosities, disagreements and divisions. Quidditch united them all into one big family. And that was its strength.
Harry smiled to himself; Seamus and Dean's faces were painted in red and gold stripes, and were brandishing flags with the emblem of Gryffindor. Luna was wearing her huge hat in the shape of a lion's head and handing out balloons. Harry looked closer at the balloons and saw his own grinning face with the caption: "Harry Potter is our idol!"
Only the Slytherins didn't participate in this joyous celebration, although it seemed as though Zabini and Nott were having fun by shooting spells that burst those awful balloons. Harry was grateful for that.
He looked over toward the crowd at the teachers' table. McGonagall (with a balloon in her hand!) waved at him. The Headmaster smiled and raised his cup to him then leant over to speak to a black clad figure. The blackness stood out distinctively against the fairy-like spectacle of colors. Harry's heart sped up momentarily, and his legs buckled. Snape was sitting, erect, in his usual place, listening to Dumbledore's joyful comments and looked as though he had just drank a poisonous brew and needed an antidote immediately. He was like a dark, cynical anchor in the wavering sea of colorful happines and carelessness. He drew Harry's gaze like a magnet, making him forget about everything; about where he was and what he had to do. He felt as though there was a fire burning inside him. A fire that warmed him and sent pleasant currents all over his body, making him want to laugh, because everything seemed so... beautiful.
"Dude, move. Did someone stupefy you?" Ron grabbed his arm and pulled him into the laughing crowd. Harry was surrounded by excited faces, clapping from a thousand hands, and voices that all mingled with each other. But it was as though he was somewhere else, behind an invisible wall that suppressed all sounds from coming Harry's way. In his head there was only a warm haze, and before his eyes he only saw a dark silhouette. He still remembered the extraordinary tenderness that Severus had given him yesterday, and the slightest memory of it was doing something strange to his stomach – it was as if thousands of ants had started a tap dance contest. He still remembered the desire that he'd seen in those incredible, dark eyes. And even when Snape had given him the ointment, to help him avoid having any problems sitting on a broom today, seemed so... magical. Since last night , Harry felt as though alcohol circuled around his veins. He couldn't get rid of his excellent mood, or the smile that spread on his face every time he thought of Severus. He felt everything was exactly the way it should be. As though he'd achieved everything. As though nothing could spoil this now.
Harry was only vaguely aware of being lead to a table and sat down. For a while he still felt people patting him, but didn't pay any attention. With the absent smile on his face, he stared at a dot on the wall and allowed memories of last night, and his plans for the future, fill his head.
Loud noises pulled Harry from his numbness. Gryffindors, holding cups and utensils, began to strike a rhythm on the wooden table. Lee Jordan stood on a bench and started shouting out a song that fitted the rhythm:
"We-will-win! 'Why?' you'd ask!"
"Because Harry-is-with-us!" Gryffindors answered in chorus.
"You-will-lose! 'Why?' you'd ask!" he repeated, pointing toward the Ravenclaws.
Harry wanted to hide under the table. He was ashamed in front of Cho and the rest of Ravenclaws. He felt a huge blush creep across his face and take possession of it. Hermione looked at him with a mixture of amusement and pity, and Ron slapped him on the back, grinning.
"With you there is no chance that we'll lose," he said carelessly.
"Uhm," muttered Harry, feeling his stomach turn over.
"And remember, everyone, watch your pitch areas and the player who has your position in the opposing team. Harry, you've got to focus exclusively on the Snitch. We will all pass the ball to Ginny - she'll complete the attcak. Jimmy, Ritchie, look after her with your lives," Angelina was giving her last instructions in the locker room, but Harry almost didn't hear her. He was listening to the roar in the stands. He couldn't say that he wasn't nervous. He could feel such a pressure that he had difficulties breathing. Although Ron looked even more scared.
Automatically, he reached into his pocket and pressed his fingers around the cold stone. Harry felt relief. He closed his eyes. He couldn't help it.
"Wish me luck ," he sent, and immediately realized that had been stupid. Snape would just laugh at him when he read the message. He took a deep breath.
He was wondering if he had come...
"Line up! It's time! "Angelina screamed as she opened the door. The roaring noise hit Harry's ears, and the cold air of the coming winter blew through his hair. He got on his broom and flew upward, letting the others go on ahead so he could look at the undulating sea of heads and search for a black silhouette.
He didn't spot it.
It was weird, but he felt relief. He suspected that if Severus had come, his chances of catching the Snitch would have been close to zero, since he would have only been able to think of the black eyes following him.
When the players of the opposing team began to fly out of the locker room, all the Gryffindors started singing a song specially arranged for this match:
In a moment it'll flame -
A great, fantastic, super-game.
A game where Gryffindor'll prevail,
And the enemy will go away!
Potter, Weasley, Bell and Johnson,
Weasley, Peaks, and Coote - they'll beam!
Gryffindors are all united,
That is why they'll always win!
Harry waved to Hermione, Luna and Tonks, and then looked at Cho who was right in front of him. It as if years had passed since he had kissed her, and he wondered why he'd done it, what he'd even seen in her. Now, when he looked at her, he saw nothing interesting. She seemed so... common to him. She didn't have black eyes that pierced his soul, or a wrinkle between her eyebrows that told the world that she could could make you walk on your knees after her with just a blink. She didn't have that hidden power that manifested itself in a look and proud posture, she couldn't smile in such a cynical way that made your legs buckle... Harry had the feeling that when he thought he'd liked her, he'd just been looking for something different, anything to escape from what was hidden deep within himself, because his subconscious didn't want, or maybe couldn't allow, the voice of his true desires. Not to mention being unable to accept it.
He only came to his senses when Mrs. Hooch threw the Quaffle into the air and the game began. For the first fifteen minutes, Harry just circled over the pitch looking for a flash of gold. Ginny, after several successful attacks, had scored three goals; Angelina had scored one, and Ravenclaws two, despite Ron's fervent attempts to defend the loops. Harry could hear another part of Gryffindors' song:
Against Gryffindor no one can score a goal,
Ron Weasley is watching every hole!
Always guarded, always protected -
No one can ever be that collected!
Harry smiled, seeing how his flushed friend waved to the crowd. He heard the whistle and faltered, and a Bludger bolted passed his head. Cho was following him closely all the time, which was really fucking annoying, so Harry dived a little lower pretending that he could see the Snitch. As expected, she followed him. Above his head flew Angelina, chased by two Ravenclaws. The song became louder:
Three of us are in the midfield:
Angelina, Katie, Ginny!
They create a perfect shield
And another goal - really!
Angelina managed to get rid of her pursuers, and then passed the ball to Ginny, who sent in right into the loop, just under the arm of a defensive player. The audience heard a roar of joy. Jordan's voice was disappearing amid the shouts and songs sung by all of Gryffindor supporters:
Our enemies all fume -
They all will fall off their broom!
Ritchie shoots, Jimmie does the same
And opponents are running away!
Harry flew up and dived again to get Cho confused, but she seemed to be glued to him with a Permanent Sticking Charm.
After another twenty minutes Gryffindor had scored seventy points to Ravenclaws fifty. They were only playing with six players at the moment, since Katie's hand had been hit by a Bludger, and Madam Pomfrey was fixing it quickly. Harry glanced at her and looked towards the loop, where Ron was circling. Suddenly his eyes went back to Katie. A few meters from her a golden ball hung in the air. Quickly turning his head away, pretending to look in the opposite direction to confuse Cho once again, Harry rapidly flew up. The girl followed him, but then Harry made a sudden one hundred and eighty degrees turn and dived. Euphoria erupted in the stands. The next lines of the song reached his ears:
Everyone now, go away -
Our hero comes into play
Harry'll always catch the Snitch
He'll of course take care of it!
The Snitch glides and flies away,
Harry turns and dives - hooray!
He will always be ahead.
He always keeps a cool head!
Look, just look, he's close already,
Snitch, you'd better start getting ready!
In any game, anytime, anyday
Harry will catch you - hooray!
In fact, the Snitch was only a few meters away from him. With the corner of his eye Harry saw Cho's shadow behind him. She had no chance to overtake him in a straight line, he just had to... extend a hand... and catch...
A chorus of moans in the stands mingled with Harry's frustrated scream. The Snitch trembled and began to flee in the opposite direction. The Gryffindor grabbed the shaft of his broom and almost broke it, pulling it up. Cho arched. Her broom couldn't stand such an overload.
"Come on, come on! You have to! You must!" "Harry's mind screamed while he flew higher and higher, not paying attention to icy gusts of wind bruising his skin. And then again, the Snitch made a sharp turn and dived, passing so close that it almost touched his cheek. Harry yelled in frustration and pulled the handle again, doing a somersault and diving for the fleeing ball. The shaft set almost vertically to the ground, Harry looked at the golden ball and his eyes widened.
He was heading straight toward Cho, who was flying up at him. The Snitch was between them. A thousand options passed through his head in a split second, but none seemed to be a good solution.
Harry couldn't fly ahead, because they would crash. He couldn't count on Cho's tutning away first, because she wanted the victory as much as he did. He couldn't turn away, because the Snitch would fall straight into the girl's outstretched hand.
He frowned and squeezed the shaft tighter. Sometimes to win, you must take a risk. He had learnt that from Severus. Being nice, hesitation, or avoidance of a confrontation wouldn't bring him victory. Sometimes you needed to use... Dark Magic.
He reached out and accelerated.
A year ago he would have done anything to not expose Cho to danger. Even at the cost of losing. But now... now everything was different.
Harry attacked at full speed. Cho's eyes widened, she cried out in fright and deflected aside at the last moment. Harry's fingers curled around the golden ball, and at the same time he felt an explosion of heat, happiness and triumph. In the distance he heard the roar of Gryffindor fans, and Ravenclaw's groans. Cho had lost control of her broom, and was spinning. Her scream broke through the roar of joy bombering Harry's ears.
With a blur before his eyes, Harry looked around, and saw Cho's black hair fluttering in the wind. She was clinging to her broom, and falling to the ground in circles. Harry slowed down, hid the Snitch in his pocket, and dived. When he got close enough, he leveled his broom, grabbed the girl around the waist, and with a jerk, pulled her onto his broom.
The applause and shouts had intensified. The Ravenclaw grabbed on to him tightly, and, trembling, looked down at her broom, as it hit the ground and broke. Harry knew he should feel regret, or remorse for what he'd done, for how he'd exposed her to danger, but the only thing he felt was the warming glow of triumph.
Slowly flying toward the ground, he heard the last line being sung by the Gryffindors:
Yes, we won, the enemies bristle!
Madam Hooch has taken her whistle!
Raise your hands to honor this,
Let's sing with us the bliss:
Harry Potter is our idol!
Harry Potter is our leader!
Harry Potter is the best!
With him, you won't have time to rest!
In the Common Room the triumphant atmosphere prevailed. Shortly after the match Harry had been carried along by the Gryffindors and brought here. At this moment, everyone was chanting alternately:
Gryffindor's team is the best
It puts arguments to the rest
It always wins, in every match
Very soon we'll have the Cup to catch!
And then the new, unofficial anthem of the House:
Harry Potter is our idol!
Harry Potter is our leader!
Harry Potter is the best!
With him, you won't have time to rest!
Now that the adrenaline had finally dissolved, and everyone had finally stopped congratulating him on his victory, Harry could breathe again, but he just sat in a corner, because his legs were refusing to obey him. He reached into his pocket and took out the golden ball. It no longer struggled - just lay quietly, resigned to its fate. Just as he was about to put it back in his pocket he felt a heat radiating from his other pocket. He instantly forgot all about the Snitch and reached for the green stone. His eyes sparkled when he saw it glowing in the middle. The Snitch ceased to exist for him as he drew the jewel closer to his eyes and read:
How could I not congratulate The Golden Boy on having won again? You're probably basking in your glory.
Harry frowned and quickly sent:
I'm not basking in anything. I'm just... missing you.
And it was the truth. He was tired of all the turmoil around him. He just wanted to find a place where he wouldn't have a role to play... where he could just be himself. He only ever felt like that when he was with Severus. He missed him. Really missed him.
Around him Harry could hear singing, shouting, laughing, but he felt detached from it, that it was all happening somewhere else or behind a thick glass wall. He leaned against the wall, closed his eyes and sank in his memories. He remembered a gentle touch, which, like a spider, moved lightly over his body. Severus' hot breath caressing his neck and shoulder, warm lips touching his skin, bringing both pain and joy. Pain, because Harry'd had to wait for so long for this moment, and joy, because finally, it was happening. Everything was so different. Smooth and... warm. Every time he thought of this, his heart started dancing, his head became surprisingly light, and his lips curved in a smile. Just like now.
"Harry!" a voice broke into his daydreams, interrupting them. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and he opened his eyes. Ginny was standing next to him. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," the boy said, and he knew right then that he had to go make his dream reality, and that no one could stop him. "I have to go," he said, jumping up from his place.
Ron appeared beside Ginny.
"You aren't going anywhere, mate. They are going to sing a song in our honor," he grinned. "And we all want to see and kiss the Snitch."
Harry remembered that he'd had it a moment before, but what had he done with it?
It didn't matter. All this was unimportant. The main thing now was...
"But I really have to go!" he tried to walk past Ron. He had to see Severus. Right now! Nothing was more important!
But the friend grabbed his arm and pulled him into the crowd. He realised that now he had no chance to get away and do what he desired the most.
To be with him.
Harry spent half of Sunday in the library, learning about how to extend the duration of invisibility potions, and the other half, looking out the window, smiling and dreaming. Fortunately, the victory of Saturday's game fully explained his buttery smile and constant good humor, because otherwise Hermione would start asking questions. Anyone who looked at him thought that he was happy with the match results. His good mood didn't leave him even in the library - even Severus' absence couldn't ruin it for him. After breakfast, where Snape hadn't shown up, Harry decided to go visit him because each hour of separation felt like torture. But, unfortunately, Severus was neither in his office, nor anywhere in the castle.
Harry checked the Marauder's Map, thinking that Snape could be working in his lab again, but after staring at the parchment for half an hour, Harry concluded he wasn't there. A little disappointed, he started studying. He wanted to show off his knowledge on the issues that Snape had mentioned recently, giving him a clue that he'd like to discuss them with Harry. The boy was so eager he felt that he could easily learn the material from the sixth and seventh year, just to please Severus. Even Hermione, who came to the library in the afternoon to study for tomorrows Potions lesson - just in case Snape surprised them with unannounced test - was anxiously looking at the stacks of books in front of Harry and at his broad smile and enthusiasm.
Severus didn't show up at breakfast on Monday either, and Harry began to worry. He was eagerly waiting for the Potions class to begin, and now, sitting in the classroom, he stared the door - waiting. Ron was muttereing under his breath, swearing that he would do anything if only he could survive this lesson, and Neville dropped his ink on his desk as he was putting his scorched cauldron in place. Lavender scolded at him, because he had ruined her new bag that was decorated with shells and flowers.
Harry stared at the door with such intensity that his eyes almost started to water. Then suddenly the door opened, and a darkness entered the class. He felt so relieved that he almost slid from his chair to the floor. Almost unconsciously, he reached his hand into his pocket and, clenching his fingers on the stone, he thought:
It's good that you came, Severus. I was so worried about you...
Snape stopped at his desk and glanced down at something he took out of his robe. When he read the message, he raised one eyebrow and looked at Harry as if the boy had suddenly begun to speak in another language. As though he never believed that someone would ever worry about him.
Harry suddenly looked down, feeling like an idiot. After a moment he heard the low voice that set his every nerve on fire every time he heard it. At the same time, he felt a chill. He hadn't heard it since Friday, and it felt as though centuries had passed since then, not just three days.
"Put away all your books and other supplies. Today I have... a little surprise for you," said Snape, smiling unpleasantly, as he waved his wand at his desk. Clean sheets of parchment imediately began to fly out.
Ron moaned, and Hermione beamed. Harry looked at the sheet which landed in front of him and read the title:
Describe the method of preparation of the most popular Invisibility potions, and suggest ways to extend their duration.
Harry felt a sweet satisfaction bloom inside him. It was probably the first test in life that he was sure he had no chance of failing. Ron, who was sitting next to him, swore softly and whispered something to Hermione. The girl glanced at the teacher to make sure he wasn't looking, and then told Ron something, in a mere whisper. At the same time the shrill voice of Pansy could be heard:
"Professor, Granger and Weasley are consulting. I think that prompting is wrong. It's unacceptable!"
Hermione blushed to the tips of her hair, and Ron sent the Slytherin his most murderous look.
"Good point, Miss Parkinson," Snape calmly replied. "Ten points to Slytherin for your extra perceptiveness. And fifteen points from Gryffindor. Miss Granger, I am forced to split up your great threesome. Go take a seat at the last table."
Hermione, red as a beet, took her inkwell and parchment and quickly moved to the other end of class. Ron followed her with desperate eyes, then threw a furious look toward Pansy. The Slytherin sniffed and smiled mockingly. Zabini hissed at him:
"So what, Weasley? Are you gonna cry now that your Mudblood girlfriend won't help you? Maybe if you bought a decent book, and not this rubbish, you would have a chance to get a Poor at least. Oh, I forgot, your family is too poor for that..."
The Slytherins started to giggle, and Ron nearly jumped up, muttering something about killing him. Harry grabbed his friend's arm at the last moment and held him back, forcing him to sit down.
"Calm yourself, Weasley, or I'll throw you out of class," Snape snapped, throwing him a warning look. "Because of you, Gryffindor has just lost another ten points."
Harry made Ron - who was cursing under his breath and trembling with anger - sit down, and then, even though he already felt the first sparkles of anger at Snape for being so damn unfair to them again (though he told himself that it was only a game and Snape had to be like that because a lot of students in the class had Death Eaters as parents), tried to reassure him:
"Leave it, Ron. He is pathetic. Don't sink to his level."
"You're the one who's pathetic, Potter," Zabini said. He had apparently heard everything. "You and all your pathetic family. Oh, I forgot, they're all dead. Because of you!" he hissed venomously. Pansy started giggling, like he had just told her a funny joke.
Harry felt as though he had just been slapped. Slapped with such strength that for a moment, he forgot where he was. A sharp pain pierced his insides, reaching his heart. Everything in him boiled, his stomach turned, and his lungs constricted. He felt the icy fire of rage. For a moment he wanted to jump and shove those words back down Zabini's slimy throat, but...
Control. He promised Severus. He promised that he would control himself. That he would never be provoked and wouldn't lose his mind. Harry took a deep breath and slowly turned his back to the Slytherin, struggling with red flooding his eyes. He took his pen in his trembling hand, put it to the parchment and began to write, even though the letters were blurring.
He didn't realize that black eyes were following his every move with curiosity.
"I knew it was true," continued Zabini, irritated by the complete lack of response from the Gryffindor. "I know that..."
"Enough!" Snape interrupted him sharply. "Mr Zabini, please get writing. I do not want these kind of arguments taking place during my lesson. If anyone says a word, they will be thrown out of class immediately, and their house will lose thirty points. Is that clear?"
The students nodded and went to work, although some of them kept throwing occasional curious glances at Zabini, Ron and Harry.
Harry felt a sense of peace overtake him. When Severus sat at his desk, looking menacingly at the class, he dared to raise his head and smile at him with gratitude. He didn't care if anyone saw it. There was only a flash which he saw in the dark eyes, but it told him everything he needed. Harry smiled and returned to writing, feeling a small, smoldering warmth in his heart.
Harry was so impatient waiting for the evening detention that he could hardly refrain from running. If someone saw him rushing towards the dungeons like a bat out of hell, they'd look at him with surprise, to say the least. So he tried to control himself and went to Snape's door in measured steps. His heart was beating so hard that he could almost hear it in his ears. It'd been a long time since he'd last felt like this. Each meeting with Snape made him nervous and anxious, but since Friday, when he and Severus... made love - Harry couldn't call it anything else - he felt his… crush, was even stronger. Now, regardless of what was happening, the bright, warm fire constantly burned inside him, causing his cheeks to flush, his temperature to rise, and a misty haze fill his head, keeping him in a state of unending euphoria.
Harry took several deep breaths and touched the wooden surface, but - nothing happened. He frowned and knocked lightly. The door opened. He sighed and crossed the threshold, then stopped abruptly and opened his eyes wide. Severus was sitting in his office, at his desk, scratching something on a piece of parchment. For the first time he wasn't waiting for Harry in his chambers, but was apparently working. He didn't even lift his head when the Gryffindor came in, but it didn't bother Harry. The most important thing was that he was finally here. With him.
"Good evening, Severus," he said idly. The man just looked at him. When the narrowed black eyes rested on him, Harry felt his knees soften, and his lips stretched in a smile involuntarily.
"I'm not finished yet," Snape said. "Go do something useful. You can classify alphabetically a list of cards with the names of potions and individual components. Maybe this way something will stick in your head," the man waved his wand and transfigured a robe hanger that was standing in the corner into a small table, and then levitated a chair from his own desk for him. A box full of little black notes landed on it.
"No problem, Severus," Harry replied, and without any resistance sat down, but in such a way that he could look straight at the man.
Initially, he tried to do some work, but more often he found himself raising his head and watching Severus, without any embarrassment. His mind began to create the images along with memories. He recalled his first time with Severus. He remembered how the man took him on the desk. He even remembered the rustle of parchment beneath him, as it fell on the floor. It all seemed so distant and yet so close. At an arm's length. Why couldn't Severus do it again? Why couldn't he take him on that big, black desk, just like then? Right this moment. Right now.
He laughed softly, feeling the gentle tickle of excitement and acceleration of pulse.
Severus glanced at him from above the parchment and frowned.
"What's so funny, Potter?"
"Oh, nothing," Harry said quickly, waving his hand. "I just imagined how you took me on a desk in the classroom and how much I want you to do it again..."
Man's eyes flashed.
"A very interesting offer, Potter..."
Harry immediately picked up on it, smiled flirtatiously and continued:
"We could do it on this desk," he examined the piece of furniture with his eyes and licked his lips. "It's perfect."
Snape raised an eyebrow.
"Would you kindly explain to me what's so perfect about my desk, Potter?" he asked mockingly.
"It's so... big." Seeing the man's face, Harry blushed and immediately corrected himself. "I mean... it's bigger than the desk in the classroom. And it's black. Like your bed, Severus," Harry's eyes flashed.
In fact, he also wanted to do it in Severus' bedroom. They could start in the office, and then somehow move into the bed. Hmm... but that could lead to some difficulties...
Harry laughed again at the image in his mind.
"Are you drunk, Potter?" Snape looked at him with a mixture of anxiety and interest.
"No, I'm not. It's just..." Harry waved his hand vaguely, pointing at the wall and ceiling, "...everything is so beautiful."
Snape looked at the dark, dusty jars covering the entire shelf, at the threadbare carpet and dark ceiling, and raised his eyebrows, shifting his gaze towards Harry who was smiling carelessly, looking at him as if he was a captivating picture. Snape's expression changed instantly, like at last something occurred to him - something that had been staring him in the face all this time, but he couldn't, or hadn't wanted to believe it. And after a while his features sharpened, the darkness in his eyes deepened, and his lips curved in a smirk.
Harry blinked, unable to look away from this sight. He wanted to be near Severus. After all, that's why he'd come here. Why couldn't he even touch him? Considering everything had changed now...
As if hypnotized, Harry rose and slowly approached the man whose face still held that mysterious smile. He stopped beside him and held out his hand to remove the pen from the pale hand.
"I have not finished, Potter," Severus replied dryly, but allowed Harry to take his pen and put it down.
"It doesn't matter," the Gryffindor mumbled. "It doesn't matter at all." He moved closer and forced the man to pull back from his desk.
"And what does matter?" Severus asked, carefully observing every Harry's move.
The boy sat down on man's knees, facing him, and without taking his eyes off his face, took Snape;s slender hand and placed it over his own heart.
"This," he said.
Closing his eyes, Harry saw yet another warm flash in the deep dark eyes, but a moment later he could see only burning red desire under his eyelids. He could feel the cold fingers of the slender hand, which still rested over his heart, calming its crazy rhythm, as if stroking and holding it in its grip. Slowly, the hand moved up, gently maneuvering over the boy's chest, touching his warm skin. Harry threw his head back, letting the cold fingers stray across his hot neck, and move in slow, smooth circles to his face.
He heard his own heavy breathing, generated by the slightest touch of the man's fingers, and had the feeling he was drowning in a warm darkness, and the whole world, all the sounds, colors and smells ceased to exist... There was just this touch on his inflamed skin. He couldn't see anything - absolutely nothing except a fiery red color. He could only hear the crazy beating of his heart, and feel the rough fingers caressing his face. It drove him almost to the point where he lost all of his senses. He surrendered completely to this feeling of losing control and letting Severus' hand wander over his face. It brushed against his forehead, tangled in his hair, slid down, past his nose and chin, to his half open mouth. He then pushed two long fingers inside, and Harry, trembling, tightened his lips around them, and began to caress them with his tongue. They had a slightly salty taste, and smelled like ink and something sweet. Harry's tongue started exploring the shallow furrows and bumps, enjoying the taste, the structure, and that something that he couldn't define, but he knew it was part of Severus.
A silent groan escaped boy's throat when Snape's fingers gently but firmly left his mouth and for a moment and rested on his moist lips. He kissed them. And then let the man's hand slip a little lower, passed his neck and chest, and only stopping where his desire burned the strongest. At his heart.
A feeling of calm flowed over him. All fear and anxiety scattered, as if Severus' hand took all the worries and misunderstandings away, and instead brought relief. One breathy word, full of relief and confidence, left Harry's lips:
He felt like he was enchanted with Imperius - all thoughts sailed away, along with concerns, leaving a vague sense of happiness. He felt wonderfully relaxed, with the difference that this time he didn't want to fight it.
A loud, nervous knock violently burst into his mind and brought him back to earth, shattering this wonderful moment into pieces. Harry raised his eyes and when they caught Snape's gaze, he held his breath. In the wide, twinkling eyes, he saw a strange delight. Severus looked at him as if he was seeing him for the first time, as if he had just witnessed a remarkable spectacle and still couldn't come to terms with the fact that it was now over.
The knock sounded again and the Potions Master's eyes changed diametrically. Eyebrows pulled together angrily, a furious gleam flashed in the dark eyes and he looked at the door as if he wanted to turn it to ash.
Harry looked around, somewhat confused. Snape stood up, forcing the boy to leave his lap. Harry quickly stepped back to the wall, pretending to look at the shelves of bottles. Snape went to the door and opened it with a bang.
"What is it?" he barked in a harsh, unpleasant voice.
Harry smiled to himself.
"Your students, Professor, made quite a mess up there," he heard the irate croaking voice of Filch. Harry would recognize it anywhere. "If you don't call them to order, I will have to inform the Headmaster. They don't respect my work at all! They think that everything gets done by itself..."
"Enough!" Snape interrupted him sharply. "I'll take care of them, Filch. Wait there." After these words, he slammed the door in Filch's face and turned to Harry.
"Wait here for me, Potter. But don't dare touch anything!"
Harry nodded, smiling cheerfully. In this "wait for me" he heard an interesting promise...
Severus gave him a long look, which caused a tremor to spread in Harry's lower abdomen and it solidified his speculation, then he turned and left.
When the door shut with a bang, Harry felt strange. It was the second time he had been all alone in Snape's chambers. Although he was only in the office, not in his private quarters, but it still mattered that Severus trusted him to stay here.
The fire, which a moment before had been consuming him, slowly started to die down. But Harry was still excited. He looked around the room. All the walls were covered with shelves, and each of them held a whole lot of bottles, vials and jars filled with many strange... things. Harry was able to recognize some of them - fingers and wings of Fire Fairies, scales from Tritons' tails, and even... eyeballs of unknown origins. But fortunately, not human, because it they had a red color.
Harry had never paid any attention to all those exotic ingredients - he was always too absorbed with the upcoming encounter with Snape, so he passed them with indifference, not even glancing at them. But now he was here. And he was alone. And he didn't know how much he would have to wait before Severus was back. And he was bored...
He started to walk along the shelves. Severus probably wouldn't get angry - after all, Harry just wanted to look at everything, not steal anything. And besides, it might help him learn. And he just had to do something, because if he had to wait much longer - he'd explode with impatience and excitement. He should calm down a little. So, calm down... by looking at pieces of dead animals - it was the best way.
From time to time Harry stopped to look closer at interesting specimens. Griffins claws immersed in a muggy green liquid almost made him sick. He hoped that they were cut out when the creautures were already dead. Red, bloodshot eyes that he'd seen earlier belonged to viperbirds, and in the next jar there were their tongues.
Oh, Severus would return shortly and they'd... no, no, he had to focus on looking.
They had never used such ingredients during lessons, even though they did make a lot of different potions, some very powerful. The strangest ingredient was ibis' excrements. And all of these things were probably used to produce experimental potions, or ones so complex and complicated that only masters such as Snape could brew them. Or maybe... they were used in Dark Magic potions.
Harry's attention was attracted to something that was shining. There at the very back something was emitting a warm, almost sweet, rainbow-colored light. Fascinated, the boy reached between the jars, putting aside some black laced tentacles and a bottle of purple, rotating fluid. His eyes caught the small vial in which all the colors of the rainbow were sparkling together, especially when they come into contact - they intermingled and intertwined. Their hypnotic dancing meant Harry couldn't help but succumb to his desire to touch the vial, to experience a sense of heat, to penetrate this light. He didn't don't know why, but it seemed to him that this thing had the power to remove all his worries. He extended his hand, watching the play of colors. He was unable to tear his eyes away from it. He thought he could hear sweet singing, and that when he finally was able to touch the glass surface, he'd feel an indescribable happiness.
His fingers came into contact with the vial, and then it suddenly went dark. In the enclosed space a frightening visage appeared. Harry heard a roar. A vision of bloody, broken fangs that wanted to crush his skull flashed before his eyes.
Terrified, Harry barely managed to take his hands off the vial, and stepped back. Too rapidly. He heard two consecutive impacts - the sound of breaking glass. He shook his head to get rid of dark spots which bloomed before his eyes, then looked down. His heart was beating at a mad pace, and it accelerated even more when he saw what he'd done. He'd knocked a jar with tentacles and a bottle of purple liquid on the floor. Pieces of glass lay scattered on the stone surface. In one piece of a remnant vial there gleamed a purple potion, and in a puddle of dark liquid, there lay black, tangled... legs, or something like that. It looked a little like the tentacles of a squid.
Oh no! Snape would kill him! With his bare hands! All would be for nothing! And everything could have been so beautiful! Now what? What could he do? He knew how to magically fix something broken, but how to refill the vial? Why hadn't anyone taught them that, damn it!
With trembling hands Harry took out his wand and, throwing "Reparo", quickly repaired the first jar. He reached for the black, curled wads to get them inside the jar, but when his fingers touched the shiny, wet surface, something unexpected happened.
They came to life.
Harry screamed and jumped back, feeling sticky tentacles wrap around his arm, clutching at him like a vise. He felt a poignant pain. They were so icy that in an instant his fingers turned blue and he couldn't move them. He felt his whole hand go numb and he lost all feeling in it. Moaning from pain that engulfed his entire body, he tried to get rid of the tentacles, but they dug into his flesh.
"Diffindo!" he shouted, pointing his wand at it. Unfortunately, the spell didn't work. "Diffindo!" the boy tried again, this time louder, but the tentacles still held him, as if the spell couldn't harm them at all, as if they could heal immediately, because Harry barely noticed small cracks on them before they grew together again. Fear poured into boy's heart. He didn't know what it was, he didn't know how to fight it and he felt an icy, paralyzing cold wander over his skin, freezing the blood circulating in veins and his muscles were quivering with the effort.
Paralysis spread quickly, almost reaching his shoulder. Harry fell to the floor, feeling as though he had lost the feeling in his legs. He was so terrified that he could hardly breathe. He wanted to scream but couldn't utter a word.
What had happened? What was this stuff? What could he do?
Half-sitting, half-lying on the shelves, feeling his body getting more numb by the second, he put his other hand, which was shaking uncontrollably, into in his pocket. He now no longer cared about consequences. It was his only salvation. He clenched the stone in his already tingling fingers and sent:
Severus, I dropped something and... but I didn't mean to, I'm sorry! And it caught me. Black tentacles. I feel cold, I can't move. My whole body is paralyzed. I don't know what to do. Help me!
The cold had already reached his heart and lungs. The hand with the stone fell to the floor, but he didn't let go of it. He had to hold onto it at all costs. Harry felt more and more sleepy, but fear was stronger. He had increasing difficulties with breathing, as if his lungs were bleeding or something, and weren't allowing him to take deep, calm breaths, only fast, shallow ones- and they were getting shallower. His heart began to beat more slowly, and his other hand went completely numb as well. The numbing cold reached his neck and moved upward. In the direction of mouth, face, eyes.
Harry felt that he'd begin to suffocate at any minute now, he couldn't scream or even wink. He could only drift into the darkness moving towards him, and stare at the door and... wait.
Please come. Please, please, please...
He felt more and more dizzy, his heartbeat were already so slow that he could almost not hear or feel it.
It was still beating. He had to focus on that. On hearing. If he listened, that meant he still was alive. He couldn't pass out.
Why had he done it? Why did he always have to be such a meddler? Why had he never listened? Why?
He promised that, if only he could survive, he would never touch anything he didn't know about. He promised. If only...
He was so sleepy... he couldn't feel anything, apart from the searing cold. He didn't want to... he didn't want to leave. He didn't want to lose Severus. He didn't want...
Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
What was it? It wasn't his heart. It was coming... from the corridor.
Someone was running.
* „On fire" by Switchfoot