A/N: At this point, I'm one of those rare people that pops up every now and then to throw a new chapter at you, then disappear. I'm sorry, but also, story! Yay! HAPPY VALENTINES DAY. Here's a littly fluff chapter for all your lovers-day needs. Our boys dance around the L-word and each other.
Chapter Twelve: To Tame a Single Heart
Severus Snape was brooding. Harry Potter, his Cliens, was still at supper and expected back to their quarters in several hours' time, and although he had planned to spend that time brewing, he had ended up in front of the fire, brooding. When Albus had reminded him of Lily's will at the beginning of the prior school year, he'd fought the inevitable as long and as fiercely as he could before agreeing with the headmaster that there was no alternative. Harry's fight had been similarly ineffective, but neither of them had ever imagined they'd be where they were, now. And where exactly are we? The taunting voice in his head asked.
His mental organization was suffering of late because he was not clear on his feeling towards Harry Potter, and as an occlumence, that was unacceptable. The mental truth/lie tags he'd hastily put on everything Potter-related before the last Death Eater meeting were taunting him. He was beginning the worry that the mental stew of lies, half-truths and slanted truths would become a problem at future meetings. He'd set himself up as a lecherous older man with a sadistic desire to break Harry's will, body, and mind. Everyone at the meeting, and the Dark Lord especially, had believed him—well and good. The problem was, he nearly believed it himself at times.
Most of the time, and especially when in bed with the exuberant young man, he didn't have a problem telling his truth from fiction. Certainly he desired Harry, and certainly—especially after seeing that cock ring—he'd entertained semi-sadistic fantasies that he now wasn't sure Potter would be opposed to. There was nothing lecherous about the patroni-cliens relationship, and he had no desire to break the young man who's will, body, and mind he was so captivated by.
No, his problem truly lay in the image of fiercely determined green eyes and a dark tattoo that should never have existed on that golden skin. The moment Harry had raised his arm, baring the tattoo in solidarity, was etched in his memory, and it was beginning to rub sharp corners against his mind. He had accepted the fact that he enjoyed Harry's body—for who would not?—he had even accepted the fact that he enjoyed the young man's company, however grudgingly. What he could not accept, what he had been fighting against, was something for more troubling.
Severus Snape was not a loveable person, he never had been and after years of spying, he never would be. He was ugly, cruel, and haughty. No one had ever shown interest in marrying him, and those he'd fucked had been one-time only occasions. However, Potter had taken his Dark Mark, and after the initial rage and sense of loss had gone, he was left with a very odd sense that he and Potter had been bonded. Though of course they hadn't been bonded magically, and no ceremony or words had been said, Harry bloody Potter had essentially stood next to him and said, 'your battles are my battles, now. Your burdens, my burdens. Your life, my life.' In taking the Dark Mark upon his own arm, when he could so easily have allowed Severus to die and ended this farce of a relationship, Harry had done something immeasurable. In a wholly twisted, unethical and grossly disgusting way, Harry Potter had bonded Severus Snape, and with that action, had taken his damned, cold heart as well.
The only problem was, of course, that Harry Potter had no bloody clue what he had done. And in two years, Harry would be free from the Patroni-Cliens relationship, and never want to see Severus again.
Are you so sure of that? The treacherous mental voice asked. He likes you, he said. And he clearly likes shagging you. Severus snorted. Sixteen year old boys liked shagging in general, it didn't much matter who with. And as for Harry liking him…well. He could only hope. Severus was at the boys mercy now, and he'd be damned if he let on just how much power Harry now had over him.
"…and then Severus actually laughed!" Harry finished his story with a laugh of his own, this one a mix of incredulity and pleasure. Ron laughed as well, nearly as incredulous as Harry, but Hermione had a pensive look on her face that he didn't like. The two boys looked at each other knowingly.
"Harry," she started, as he knew she would, "don't you think you're sounding a bit…a bit fond, of Severus lately?" Harry shrugged.
"Yeah, I mean, I like him, and he's great in bed, so yeah I'd say I'm fond." Ron and Hermione exchanged glances now, and Harry knew they'd been talking about him again.
"What's wrong with being…fond?" he asked, hearing the defensiveness in his own voice.
"Well, nothing is wrong with it Harry, not at all. I just wonder if you've taken my advice from the winter holidays and thought about what Sn—Severus wants out of this. If he's only just fulfilling his role as Patroni…I don't want to see you get hurt." She was clearly worried at how he would take this, and he smiled at her to reassure her even as he felt suddenly that the floor had dropped from under him.
It hadn't occurred to him that Snape was just fulfilling his role, though it clearly should have. He'd nearly forgotten their official relationship in recent weeks; the sex had been amazing and they hadn't argued once. In fact, he would even say they were getting along rather well. For some reason, he'd forgotten how it had all started in the first place, and now he was wondering how he could ever have been so stupid. What, did he think Severus loved him? He sneered at himself mentally. The other man enjoyed a good shag and had resigned himself to spending time with Harry, neither of which equaled love. And for that matter, why did that depress him? He should be happy; he had someone who enjoyed sleeping with him and seemed comfortable spending time with him, isn't that all he could as for considering how this situation began? He was thankfully rescued from prodding that particular question by Ron.
"Well, I don't know Hermione. Harry did make Snape laugh, which if you asked me a year ago would have been impossible. Maybe there's a little more to it than the relationship than just the Cliens thing." Hermione nodded her head side to side, as if conceding a point.
"That's true. I just don't want to see Harry get hurt if he…invests more into this than Professor Snape does." Harry smiled at her again, more warmly this time.
"Thanks Hermione. I'll be careful." She nodded, and the three moved on to a safer subject, leaving Harry to think on it.
Severus was still sitting in front of the fire when Harry arrived, fresh and winded from a bout of flying.
"Hello," the young man greeted him cheerfully, dropping his things and plopping down on the couch next to Snape. He leaned in for a kiss, but when the other man flinched back ever so slightly, he checked himself and his eyes filled with concern and something more complicated that Severus couldn't decipher.
"Did I do something wrong?" he asked, eyes searching.
"No," Severus replied. He wasn't about to admit that the sheer domesticity of the gesture had pained him, so he grabbed Harry and pressed their lips together instead. After a long moment, he pulled back.
"Oh good," Harry said, slightly befuddled. He sat up straight and ran a hand through his hair, propped one foot on the couch with the leg bent at the knee, and leaned against the armrest. "I meant to ask, would you mind if Ron and Hermione came over occasionally to study? It's much easier here than in the tower."
"I was under the impression that your friends were not comfortable with our…relationship." Snape responded stiffly, slightly miffed at the question.
"Nah, they've settled down about it, now that…" Harry trailed off, uncertain. He didn't want to send Severus into an angry fit, but he wasn't sure how to phrase what he meant, either. After his conversation with Hermione, he was suddenly aware of how little he knew about Severus' stance on things.
"Now that what, Harry?" Snape was looking at him intensely, almost as though Harry had answers he himself looked for.
"You know," Harry shrugged, discomforted. "Now that we haven't killed each other." He finished lamely. What should he say? Now that they've started shagging? Now that they seemed to be getting along?
"Is that what we've done?" Snape said, if possible even more stiffly. If Harry didn't know better, he'd have thought that Severus was disappointed in this assessment.
"Yes," he said. Then casually, cleverly, he added; "Hermione even said I'm starting to sound very fond of you." He was pleased to see Snape start, and turn towards him with a raised brow.
"Oh? And why ever would she accuse you of growing fond of your evil potions master?" He asked snidely, but the usual force was not in it; his heart was gripped by something complicated. Harry smiled mischievously.
"Oh, likely because I have. Grown fond, I mean." At this Severus snorted, but Harry could see a bit of a smile tucked in to the corner of his mouth.
And that, he thought towards Hermione, answers that.