Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: A loving (slightly tongue-in-cheek) tribute to all Mpreg, creature, bonding and bottom!Snape fics.
Summary: "There was a potions accident during detention—isn't there always?— involving one Boy-Who-Lived, one Potions Master, a partially completed transformative draft, a fully completed aphrodisiacal potion, three drops of dragon's blood and a pinch of powdered phoenix egg shell."
A/N: I haven't written any new HP in a long time, so I was rather surprised when this little gem of a plot came to me. It really started with the first line of the story and grew from there. It really doesn't have any spoilers for any of the books. (There may be mention of the heir of Slytherin from Chamber of Secrets, but I'd think that if you're reading this then you've probably already read that one or at least seen the movie.) I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it! Jules
There was a potions accident during detention—isn't there always?— involving one Boy-Who-Lived, one Potions Master, a partially completed transformative draft, a fully completed aphrodisiacal potion, three drops of dragon's blood and a pinch of powdered phoenix egg shell. When the aphrodisiac kicked in and swept them away in its powerful grip, there followed an evening of passion that was NEVER to be repeated or mentioned ever again (at least according to the elder of the two participants). Finally, the very next morning, there was the final battle against Voldemort wherein Harry Potter was at last able to obliterate the Dark Lord with a power unseen before in the young wizard.
All of this happened in the last weeks of Harry's sixth year and, for once, he was happy to return to Privet Drive for a few weeks of the summer holidays. At least he was safe from reporters and the fanatics who had taken to stalking him around Hogwarts and Hogsmeade in the final days of the school year. Instead, he spent several quiet weeks avoiding his family by walking around Little Whinging and planning his future, now that he was sure he had one to plan.
His seventeenth birthday came and Harry left Privet Drive for the Burrow and the welcoming arms of his adopted family. He spent time playing Quidditch with Ron and his brothers, but he also took the opportunity to have long private talks with Molly Weasley about what he wanted from life and how to go about getting it. She picked up several books from Diagon Alley for him and together they spent time exploring Harry's career options and what he would need to do to reach his goals, even taking a couple of trips to make the right contacts. By the time September 1st came back around and the teen wizard was on his way back to Hogwarts for his seventh and final year, he had a clear plan for his life and the determination to make it work.
Ron had been a bit annoyed when he saw Harry studying over the summer, but a few sharp words—and a swift smack to the head—from his mother had set him straight. Hermione, on the other hand, was thrilled to see her friend finally taking his education seriously and, once back at school, the two settled into a regimented routine of homework and revising every evening and most weekends. Harry's grades improved in every subject as a consequence of his newfound studiousness, much to the delight of his teachers. All but one teacher praised his improved academic habits, but that one teacher would never praise anything Harry did. Of course, that same teacher's usual vitriolic harangues had been conspicuously absent.
Yes, Harry Potter had changed quite a bit over the summer, but since they were all changes for the better, no one thought to question them. And certainly no one thought to connect them back to the little mishap in Potions detention in June…
Severus Snape carefully scrutinized the seventh year Gryffindors: from his seat at the head table in the Great Hall, from the lectern in his class, from the shadows of the halls. He spent more time watching Harry Potter this year than in all the previous years combined despite the fact that his behavior had improved and there was no longer any danger from the Dark Lord.
Albus, interfering old coot that he was, asked Severus about his new obsession. Severus had no answer for him. Oh, he made a show of indignation and blustered his way out of the headmaster's office easily enough, but the truth was that even he didn't understand why he was watching the brat. He only knew that he was waiting for something to happen, and when it did, he would know what it was.
"Ron, have you seen my cashmere scarf? I thought I left it here," Hermione asked as she looked around the common room, moving pillows and ducking under the study tables.
"I've not seen it," Ron said, "but you aren't the only one missing something. Lavender reported that she's missing a chenille blanket, and Ginny's lost a sweater. Me and Neville have each lost a sweater, not that I mind much, since it was one of the maroon sweaters mum made. That McDermott kid in third year is missing a scarf, a hat and a blanket. And that's not to mention the food that's turned up missing."
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, finally giving up her search and settling her full attention on her boyfriend. "You think someone has been stealing these things? Why would they do that?"
"I'm not really sure, but it's been happening for a couple of weeks now," Ron shrugged.
"And why didn't you tell me?" Hermione asked with annoyance. "We could have been working to figure this out. I am a prefect you know."
"And so am I," Ron huffed in return. "They reported the disappearances to me. I reported them to McGonagall. It is on the agenda for the next prefects meeting. Anyway, you've been spending so much time with your new study-buddy that I haven't seen you in days."
"That's not true!" Hermione defended hotly, but cooled almost immediately when she realized how much time she really had been spending with Harry instead of her boyfriend. "Okay, maybe you have a point. I'm sorry."
Ron shook his head. "It's fine. Really. I'm not jealous, I just miss you. Both of you."
"You could join us, you know," Hermione hinted. She had given up pressuring Ron to study when it became obvious that it was causing stress in their relationship and wasn't going to change Ron anyway. The occasional nudge, however, reminded him that she still cared.
Ron just laughed. "Willingly spend more time in the library than is absolutely necessary? Don't you know me better than that by now? No, like I said. It's fine. Just make some time for me every once in a while, huh?"
"You got it," Hermione smiled. "Now, about this thief problem…"
"We have a thief?" Harry asked as he came down the stairs from the dorm. "What's he taking?"
"Apparently soft fabrics and food," Hermione said with a wry smile.
"Rather peculiar thief," Harry shrugged as he led his friends to the portrait hole and on through. "He seems more like an annoyance than anything else. Good luck catching him."
"You aren't going to help us investigate?" Ron asked, slightly disappointed. He had gotten Hermione to remember he was alive, now he needed Harry to remember as well. "I thought it might be fun for us to solve a mystery without a mass murdering lunatic trying to kill us."
"Thanks, but no thanks," Harry said. "I've wasted too much time solving mysteries. If I want to pass my NEWTs and pass the apprenticeship assessment, then I've got to work my arse off to catch up."
"You still haven't told us about this apprenticeship," Hermione said.
"And I'm not going to," Harry replied with a grin to soften the refusal. "Listen, I trust you both, but this is something I want to do completely on my own. I'll tell you once I know one way or the other."
"When is the apprenticeship assessment?" Ron asked.
"In January, right after the holidays," Harry told him. "I'll be able to use all that free time studying for them. I'll go to the Burrow for Christmas day, but come right back after that."
"You'd better come home for Christmas," Ron snorted. "Mum would have both our heads if you didn't."
The three laughed as they reached the Great Hall and talk turned back to the everyday trivialities which make up the bulk of everyone's day. Soon they were on their way to classes and the mysterious scarf thief was relegated to the back of Hermione's mind, but it would surface again.
A week later, the prefects met and they found that all of the houses had experienced a similar phenomenon. The only difference being that their things did not turn up missing from their common rooms, but from other places in the school. A silk shirt was left in the Quidditch changing rooms and disappeared. A pashmina wrap was laid aside in the library and was gone when the owner went to retrieve it. It was always something soft.
"I don't get it," Ron muttered as they walked back to Gryffindor Tower after the meeting ended. "It has to be someone from Gryffindor, but why would someone do something like this?"
"There's something vaguely bestial about the whole thing," Hermione said, almost to herself.
"What do you mean?" Ron asked.
"Hmmm," Hermione paused to formulate her answer. "Have you ever watched a squirrel get ready for winter? It will go about looking for things to build up his nest, to make it warm and comfortable. It will also gather nuts to last through the cold months. Birds do the same in the spring when they are building their nests."
"Yeah," Ron nodded. "I get it. Charlie said that dragons do something similar when they are about to lay eggs. The mated pair finds a cave somewhere, and starts making it homey—or as homey as it can be for a dragon—using feathers and fur and such. Charlie said that some have even been known to pilfer clothes from the handlers' clothes lines to line their nests. They kill extra prey to hoard in their cave and they eat loads of food to store up fat for when they can't leave the eggs. Charlie calls it nesting."
"Exactly," Hermione said. "It's like this thief is stealing things to make a nest of sorts. Does that make any sense?"
"Well, if he or she is a magical creature it would," Ron said. "But there's almost always some outward indication that a person has a creature heritage, like wings or ears, or something. Even Veela have white hair in human form."
"Well, there must be an explanation," Hermione said with determination. "And we are going to discover what it is."
It was almost midnight and Severus waited in the shadows outside the Gryffindor portrait hole. Harry Potter would be coming soon. He knew this like he knew his own name. Not just because the younger wizard had come through the portrait every night for the past three weeks; he knew because his instincts told him so.
Sure enough, just as the clock tower gonged its twelfth gong, Harry Potter exited the portrait hole with a bundle under his arm, just as he had every other night Severus had watched. Harry paused for a moment to look in Severus' direction, their eyes meeting and holding through the gloom, before nodding at his professor and continuing on his way.
Severus said nothing; he simply followed the teen through the halls of Hogwarts to the third floor corridor near the north tower. Severus took up his usual spot in the shadows between a column and a tapestry and observed Harry opening the door to a large suite of rooms that had been out of use for longer than either man had been alive.
Unlike other nights, this time Harry paused in the doorway to look at Severus again and left the door open. Severus carefully followed him inside. The rooms had obviously been scrubbed meticulously without magic; Severus could still smell the lingering fresh pine scent of his preferred scouring potion. The once empty sitting room was filled with sturdy and comfortable furnishings that the boy must have scrounged from storage rooms all over the castle. The stone walls were hidden behind a façade of rich cream silk panels and lined with empty bookshelves just waiting to be filled. The sofa and arm chairs, upholstered in warm brown velvet and cool blue satin respectively, had clean lines and were grouped casually around the pristine fireplace and looked comfortable and inviting. In one corner there was a modern dining suite in dark mahogany complete with a buffet—which would suit as a liquor cabinet later—and a china hutch filled with simple but elegant china.
Harry had continued on through another door, but Severus was not ready to follow him yet. He went instead through the archway to the kitchen. The boy had been hard at work in this room as well. The cold cupboard had recently had its charms renewed and was stocked with fresh juices, milk, fruits and vegetables, and a host of other healthy snacks. There was fresh fruit in a bowl on the scrubbed table. In the other cupboards, Severus found his favorite tea, tins of biscuits, crisps, and an assortment of chocolates. There wasn't much in the way of balanced meals, but there was no need when the house elves could provide for them with a simple snap of the fingers.
When Severus returned to the sitting room he walked to the two closed doors to his right. Behind the first door he found an empty room with windows overlooking the Quidditch pitch. The second door led to a well appointed office space with more bookshelves and two large hand-crafted desks facing each other from opposite sides of the room. He also found a magical portal leading to his private potions lab and his classroom. The boy had to have spent a great deal of time figuring out the spells to make a portal that traveled through half of the castle. Severus nodded in satisfaction.
Back in the sitting room, Harry was now waiting for Severus. When the older man returned, the teen slowly approached the older wizard, took his hand and led him through the door to the bedroom. Again, Harry had found the best furnishings possible and had taken Severus' preferences into account, selecting furniture with clean lines and sturdy designs. The bed was larger than the one in Severus' dungeon rooms and was draped in rich linens of cream, brown and green velvet and damask. There were two wardrobes and two bedside tables in rich mahogany to match the bed.
The floor was covered in a plush rug that matched the bed linens. And for the first time, Severus realized that the boy had covered the stone floor in the room, and presumably the entire residence, with hardwood floors and area rugs.
Severus followed the boy through another door to the en suite bathroom. It was the nicest bathroom that Severus could ever remember seeing. There were two sinks and a huge soaking tub made of slate reinforced with spells to stabilize the normally fragile stone, and a large separate shower tiled with more slate, all brand new and recently installed. The cream colored towels were plush and pristine on their warming racks. Again Severus nodded his approval.
Back in the bedroom, Harry took Severus' hand once more and led him to the far side of the bed. There, in the corner, Severus saw the nest that Harry had made from the bundles of pilfered fabrics. Severus let go of Harry's hand and walked over to the nest to examine it closely. At the bottom of the nest were several mats that Severus recognized from the old dueling room. They were firm enough to give support but cushioned enough to act as a comfortable futon. Over those, Harry had draped several soft blankets before piling the various items around, creating a circle of warmth and comfort. There was another layer of super-fine linens and more soft blankets and the final touch was a super soft blanket of merino wool.
"Is it good?" Harry asked, finally breaking the silence.
"It is good," Severus nodded.
Harry smiled and rushed over to join Severus beside the nest. Without any more words, he began to strip his mate, carefully opening every button on Severus' robes and waistcoat before sliding the garments off and neatly folding them on the bed. He continued this way with each garment until Severus was completely naked, and then he quickly disrobed himself. Taking Severus' hand once again, Harry guided him to lay back into the nest before the younger man joined him, coving the older wizard's body with his own. They shared a gentle kiss, a mere meeting of the lips before they both began to move.