Title: The New-Minted Coin of the Soul
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Violence, sex, flangst, a complete disregarding of the epilogue.
Summary: Harry rescues Snape and Malfoy from a cave-in that seems like a deliberate assassination attempt. He saves people all the time. But Malfoy and Snape don't get saved all the time…and debts, to a Slytherin, always need repayment.
Author's Note: I'm writing this fic for eelegantlyeevil, who made a very generous donation for helpsomalia and asked for a threesome fic. Despite what the summary may look like, this is actually a pretty light and humorous story in the end. EE, I hope you enjoy.
The New-Minted Coin of the Soul
Harry rounded the corner at a speed that made the buildings around him flash in front of his eyes, chanting under his breath, "Adminiculor, adminiculor, adminiculor," until the sound of the incantation blurred in his ears to join the blurring buildings in his sight. He leaped over a broken block of rubble, dodged around what had been the wall of a small shop at the far end of Diagon Alley until a moment ago, and bumped—
Straight into an unyielding row of Auror backs, as it turned out. Infuriatingly, most of them were taller than he was. Harry reached up and rapped on the nearest, and when the man stirred to look at him, snapped, "I'm trying to get through here. If you're not going to help, move aside."
The man stared at him, and then a few other Aurors turned to look at him. Harry smiled when he recognized the one on the left, Auror Stacey Inchbeck. "If you can lend your strength to mine, Auror Inchbeck," he began, "then I think we can keep the building from falling inwards, and that will mean we're all the more likely to spare the Potions masters' lives—"
"Do you know how unstable that building is?" Inchbeck asked, not bothering to smile back or do anything to show that she was glad to see him.
"I have some idea, yes," Harry said, and elbowed her in the ribs where he happened to know that she'd taken a particularly bad injury in a training session the other day. As she groaned and slumped faintly to the side, he shook his head and rushed past. "Considering that I've been chanting spells halfway up the street so that it would stay in place," he added over his shoulder, and whirled to study the collapsed building again so he could find the best way in.
This time, it was Deputy Head Auror Barran who moved forwards to confront him. Harry rolled his eyes. Barran was the one who kept seeing assassination plots to get rid of the Chosen One (and why did they still use that name? Didn't they realize who had made it up in the first place?) in every shadow. And Harry knew they weren't. Not in every shadow. There had only been two in the last month, not five as Barran had insisted. And Harry had escaped one and foiled the other before the Aurors assigned to the case could even start their investigation. When it came to taking care of himself, Harry was an expert.
"You can't go in there, sir," Barran said.
Harry ground his teeth. You're the one who merits a "sir," he wanted to say. I don't have any rank compared to you. I'm one of the younger Aurors, the crazy risk-taker, the one who's such a liability to a partner's safety in the field that you have me behind a desk most of the time.
"Why not?" he asked, and then saw a piece of what might have been the first floor shifting to fall on the rest. "Adminiculor," he whispered again, flicking his wand out, and the sliding piece froze in place as the magic conjured an invisible support beneath it. Harry relaxed a fraction. Something had struck the base of the building, which meant it had first collapsed and then started sliding, and he thought his spells had preserved pockets of air and safety beneath. But he wouldn't know for sure until he got in there. He started to pick his way forwards, avoiding powdery white grit that had been stones until a few minutes ago.
Barran seized his shoulder. Harry swung around and kicked him in the groin, then blinked as he realized the man was now lying on the ground. He shrugged.
"Don't grab someone you helped train defensive instincts into," he told Barran, and then picked his way further forwards. Someone shouted behind him, and someone else cast a Stunner, followed by a Body-Bind, but they slammed against the Shield Charm that Harry'd had the foresight to wrap around himself. He wondered why everyone in the Aurors didn't learn to cast Protego nonverbally. It would save tremendous amounts of time, and save him feeling quite so much like a freak every time he had to use it.
He knew why they wanted to keep him out of it, of course. It wouldn't look good if Harry Potter died in there.
And neither would it be good if Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy died because someone blew up their Potions shop. But Harry was the only one in the immediate vicinity who held that opinion. Most people thought Snape had already cheated death once, carrying that bezoar around in his pocket the way he did, and that both of them had cheated Azkaban. Their lives weren't a priority.
That's too fucking bad, Harry thought, and bent down so that he could slide determinedly forwards through the clutching bits of stone on the edges of what had been the door. Because they are to me.
Beyond the door, there was a huge mass of rubble that Harry had to pause and study. His support spells were propping some of it, but other pieces lay where they had fallen.
Yes, it had been a curse that hit the ground floor. It came in through the door—no, a window, Harry thought, a vulnerable place that had been completely destroyed. Too much of the door still stood for it to have been the point of entry. And then the curse had reverberated up as well as down, which was one reason that Snape and Malfoy might still be alive. The curse had burned and shook as it rose, which meant there was less shop and flats above it, less to fall on the two men.
Harry gritted his teeth. They might be dead. You should at least find out before you try to go further.
He nodded as he leaned down and traced his wand across the floor in front of him, creating a looping pattern like half a Celtic knot. He was smart about things like this, unlike what his superiors believed, and he wouldn't risk his own life unnecessarily. The problem was that they thought no one should risk their lives at all, as if Snape and Malfoy had chosen to be in danger and despised by more than half the wizarding world after their trials, and Harry disagreed with them.
He had the power to make his disagreement a problem for the Ministry. Not a whole lot of people did, but that wouldn't stop Harry from doing what he could.
The pattern glowered where he traced it, and when Harry quietly spoke the incantation, it glowed blue for a moment. Then two traces shot away from it. They returned quietly, and made the knot glow again before it faded.
Harry closed his eyes. Those tracers meant that there were people in the building still alive. Thank God, he thought, and his eyes and throat burned for a moment with emotions he would have found it difficult to acknowledge out loud.
He stood and made his way with quick smoothness around the edge of that massive mound of rubble, using another support spell when it creaked above him. The tracers had darted straight into the mound, which meant Snape and Malfoy were probably under it. Too bad that Harry wasn't made of pure light and power like the spell, to be able to get to where they would need him.
Then he paused, and smiled. Or it would be too bad, if I didn't have something that made me able to pass through it.
He clasped a fist to his heart and began to whisper the spell, ignoring it when the building behind him shuddered a little. That would be the Aurors gradually coming in, but their own safety procedures would force them to wait for a time, to tread carefully, and their reluctance to save the lives of two accused Death Eaters would hold them back for long enough that he could do the spell without being disturbed.
It wasn't that the spell was illegal, exactly, and it wasn't Dark Arts. But it was risky, and experimental, and the spellcrafters who had come up with it had told Harry not to use it unless he absolutely had to.
Well, now he had to.
The world around him seemed to shudder as though it was a giant bell and someone had struck it, and then Harry's body was melting, dissipating, shuddering and spreading out. He found that he had eyes everywhere, and he could see up and down and to the side, behind him where the Aurors were, in front of him in small cracks between the rubble. He saw Snape leaning against what looked like the remnants of a stable wall, the rock sagging and shifting above him, while Malfoy crouched near him, one hand on his shoulder. Both their mouths and eyes were shut. They might have given up already, Harry thought in mild indignation, as if rescue was never coming.
Then he thought of the Aurors, and sighed. They couldn't know rescue was coming, which meant he couldn't blame them for their reaction.
Too bad. Blaming them for their reactions used to be so much fun.
He melted and flashed and flowed forwards, becoming the air, becoming the light, and estimated the space in the little pocket where Snape and Malfoy crouched. He didn't know if he could manifest right next to them. But there was another little pocket on the other side of the wall from them, where his support spells had kept the debris from raining down, and where a man like him could form if he was crouched down.
He blew into it, formed back into himself, took a moment to recover his breath, cast another spell that would keep the air circulating through the tiny cracks in the mound and mean that Snape and Malfoy would have enough to breathe, and then cast a Sonorus Charm on his voice. "Hello?" he called.
He could hear the sudden hiss, and then the equally sudden calm, that came from the little pocket next door. Malfoy had probably recognized his voice, and then tried to conserve the precious air. Harry smiled. He opened his mouth to tell them that they were fine as far as that went, but Malfoy spoke before he could, his voice trembling.
"Potter? You—you're here?"
"Yes," Harry said. "The rubble created another air pocket next to you, and I got into it. I've used a few spells to support the rubble above you, and you're going to have all the air you can use thanks to another one. You're going to be alive and fine. I'll cast some more support spells, and then I'll use another that'll tell people where we are. They ought to bring some powerful Unspeakable artifact that can lift this off us."
"Why did you," Malfoy said, and swallowed.
Harry understood the question. "They might not have come in after you until the building finally collapsed," he said, and let his anger color his voice. It probably wouldn't matter to Snape and Malfoy what he thought of them, but if it did, let them know that there was one Auror who thought this was unjust. "But they'll have no choice about rescuing Harry Potter."
Silence, except for a brief shifting noise that might have been Malfoy playing with a bit of wood. "Thank you," he said at last. His voice was stiff and strained and unfamiliar.
Harry laughed. "No need to say it, if it bothers you that much," he said, and began to chant the support spell again, visualizing the pile as he had seen it in the moments when he was air and spread all through it. Shift a window there, adjust a group of stones into an unconventional pillar here, add a column of solidified air on this side…
"Is Snape all right?" he added when he was done with that portion of the work. "I haven't heard him say anything yet."
"He's—going to be fine," Malfoy said, and his voice seemed to tilt downwards, all the emphasis on the "going." "But ever since he was in the cells, he doesn't like closed-in spaces." Another shifting noise.
And I'd bet you don't, either, but you can't admit it, Harry thought. Well, that was fine. He wasn't all that fond of small spaces himself, after spending half his childhood in a cupboard.
"Did I ever tell you about the time that I turned around and punched my Dramatic Dueling instructor in the nose?" he asked conversationally.
There was a noise, this time, that might have been someone choking on air. "Of course not," Malfoy said, in an attempt to be on his dignity. "We didn't have contact by the time that you went into Auror training."
"I did," Harry said, disregarding that last. He cast the spell that would tell everyone where they were, a steady yellow glow that encompassed both their "rooms" and then crept out of the pile. Standard Ministry distress spell, and with any luck, they would have a few Aurors among the idiots out there who weren't too stupid to know what it meant. "He had crept up behind me, after he'd Disarmed my partner. That was Dramatic Dueling, you know, we were meant to 'act' in pairs. Someone who came up that name overestimated their sense of humor. They thought they had one."
A deeper noise this time, one that might be someone with a hooked nose clearing his throat. Harry grinned and sat back against the sturdiest wall of his pocket, one that was made of what looked like mostly collapsed flooring, with here and there a fleck of what was probably shattered glass in the middle of it.
"I didn't know exactly what had happened to my partner. This was all taking place in the middle of a dark room, where they train the Aurors with illusions to make us think we're in the middle of a battlefield at the time. I reckon real battlefields cost too much." This time, what was probably a snort from Malfoy. "He thought he'd put his wand to my back and I would surrender, the way I was supposed to when I felt something there.
"But it was dark, and I was already keyed-up." And old memories of being bullied by Dudley and his gang on Privet Drive after nightfall had come crowding to the forefront of his mind, but he knew there was a limit to how much about his personal life Snape and Malfoy would be interested in. "When I felt the wand touch the middle of my back, no way was I going to put up with that shit. I whirled around and lashed out, and got him square in the middle of his nose. He yelled, and I recognized his voice, and knew who it was. I Disarmed him and won the game. He was too busy cradling his broken nose to object, really."
Some more rustles, and then Snape said, voice like a rusty hinge, "A most amusing story, Potter. But I can hear the creaking of the building settling. How do you intend to keep the ceiling from falling on top of us?"
"Oh, that," Harry said, with a glance upwards. He knew that the ceiling wouldn't care about his annoyance, but he showed it anyway, because it was hard to avoid it. "I'd thought my support spells would have taken care of that—"
"Obviously not." Snape's voice had a breathiness to it that worried Harry. He could hear Malfoy shifting around, probably to quietly touch Snape and hopefully keep him sane, but he couldn't count on that.
"Well, give me a moment," Harry said, and then concentrated hard enough that he could feel his heartbeat slow with the force of the attention his body was giving to other things. "Cellae fortes!"
The world around him seemed to tremble, and Harry slumped over, glad he was already sitting down, as the magic ran out of him. This many spells in one day took a lot out of him, though not as much as it would have for one of his many competitors among the Aurors. There were times that it was good to be this powerful.
The walls around him softened and bulged inwards, and he heard Malfoy give a half-scream. Harry smiled, and reminded himself not to tease the git about that later. He had assumed they would recognize the spell, but it was a rather specialized one, and if they spent all their time with potions, probably not.
"It's all right," he said, as the floor beneath him turned to smooth wood, as the crumbling walls became sturdy stone ones, as the air above him vanished into a neat plasterwork ceiling. "I'm creating a pair of rooms that will hold up against the weight. But people can break into them from the outside, so they'll see us when they dig into the pile. And there are windows," he added, as flashes of green and blue and pink from a sunset bloomed in the walls. "I hope that might help with the claustrophobia."
Silence this time. Harry got comfortable on the wooden floor, and wished for a moment that he had thought to conjure chairs. But he couldn't afford the expenditure of magical energy right now, and he would not waste any on a Cushioning Charm, either. He leaned his forehead on his knees and closed his eyes.
Harry popped an eye open again. Snape. Of course it was. He would interrupt just when Harry was trying to nap. "Yeah."
Snape's disdain for his diction coated the words he spoke next even if he didn't say anything directly about it. "You will have to know—this is not enough. Even with the windows," he added, in what he probably imagined was a humorous, joking tone. Harry had never heard anything more out of place, even with the former Death Eaters that the Ministry sometimes invited to their functions to celebrate the defeat of Voldemort.
"All right," Harry said, and chose the first funny story that he could feel bobbing at the surface of his mind. "You ought to appreciate this. Did you know Ron and Hermione are married and having kids now?"
Malfoy gagged. Harry grinned. He thought it interesting he could tell their voices apart even when they weren't speaking words, and when he hadn't heard them in years.
"Yes, imagine it all you like," he said. "But the kids are a lot cuter than you would imagine. Red hair and freckles and clever little hands, into everything. Well, George sometimes dates these really unsuitable girls, you know, because he's always looking for someone with a sense of humor, after—well, after Fred. But sometimes the sense of humor is nasty, and he doesn't see that as long as they're nice to him. Well, he brought one over to Ron and Hermione's house one time just after Rose had turned two.
"Let's call this girl—Peony. That's not in any way her real name," Harry added, thickening his voice, and heard Snape snort this time. It sounded like a snort of amusement, even. Harry smiled, leaned against a wall, and closed his eyes, the better to envision the scene in his story. "And her real surname isn't Parkinson. Not in any way, or shape, or form. Not even close to it in the Floo directory."
Silence, except for breathing. Harry reckoned that was as good as he would get for right now, and plunged on. "Peony—not her real name, remember— kept saying over and over again how much she loved children, so George thought the visit would be a good idea. He didn't count on her only having been around properly-brought-up, as she would say, pure-blood children. So they stepped into Ron and Hermione's house, and found screaming chaos, because Hugo had a cold and Rose was running around and getting into everything, and Hermione was at work, and Ron had been injured recently and couldn't help with the kids as much as he usually did."
"It seems," Malfoy said, sounding exactly like one of the "helpful" witnesses Harry sometimes got who wanted to correct what they saw as inconsistencies in other people's testimony, "that Weasel—Weasley would have called on his mother for help."
"Ron's proud that way," Harry said, rolling his eyes even though they were closed and no one was there to see it. If you didn't roll your eyes like that, sometimes, he had discovered, you were letting your standards slip, and soon you would be polite and discerning in public and everything. "He doesn't want to let on that he can't handle a problem. But he really can't handle Rose and Hugo sometimes, and it would have been smarter for him to admit that instead of insist it isn't a problem. I think Mrs. Weasley likes it, though," he added. "Revenge for all those days she was trying to cope with seven kids."
Not seven, now. Only six. But the grief for Fred was an old grief, and Harry shook himself out of it when Snape said, "The story, Potter."
"Oh, right," Harry said. "So George and Peony came in the door, and Ron promptly recruited them to catch Rose while he tried to make Hugo feel better. Peony walked over to Rose with her hand out, saying all these simpering sugary things—well, George didn't describe them that way when he told me the story, but I know what they must have been. 'Put the toy down and come back here, sweetheart. Don't you want to be a little lady?' That would have been about the best of it."
His words fell into what at least seemed like a listening silence, so Harry went ahead and continued with the story. "Well, Rose told Peony she didn't want to be a little lady and hit Peony on the hand with her doll. That broke one of Peony's nails. She pulled back with a sob and left George to catch Rose.
"George was scolding Rose all the time, you know, asking how she felt about hitting her future aunt, and what she would do if one of her cousins hit her mum. Rose said she'd hit them back, and I think you could feel the arctic wind that swept in and made Peony's face freeze. She wasn't thinking seriously about marrying George, I don't think, but that assumption he made that of course they would have children—children who played with Rose—knocked her away from any thought of it.
"So George tried to get Rose settled with some biscuits, and Peony cast a spell that made the biscuits vanish from her hand the moment she opened her mouth."
"Pansy's cousin always was a little bitch," Malfoy muttered.
Harry hummed in agreement. He had only met Peony once, and she had been charming enough to him, since he was the beloved and all-powerful Harry Potter, but he had felt the falseness in her and never particularly wanted to see her again. "Well. George didn't see anything wrong; he just thought Rose was eating all the biscuits too fast and wanting more. He refused to give her any, no matter how much she cried. But Rose knew what Peony had really done—I think Peony was stupid enough to tell her, too—and she was plotting revenge.
"I don't know if she used accidental magic or just her hands, but the next time George changed Hugo's nappy, Rose got hold of the used one and draped it across Peony's face."
There was silence, and Harry frowned. He thought that story was hilarious, himself, or at least he had the first time he had heard it. And he still had to conceal snickers when he was around Ron or Hermione and one of them decided to be humiliated that Rose had done such a thing. What—
Then he heard the quiet, rasping laughter from the other room, as though someone had taught a raven the meaning of humor, and relaxed.
"And the child was not punished for this?" Snape asked, when the laughter had died and Harry thought he could feel their tension rising again like a bubble, pressing against the walls and floors around them.
Harry snorted. "Not when everyone was more concerned with Peony and the shit dripping down her face." Malfoy gave a little gasp, as though he had never imagined that Harry would actually say the word "shit," and Harry rolled his eyes. There's a lot more where that came from, Malfoy. "Then they figured out what had happened, and while Peony didn't admit she'd been taking the biscuits away from Rose, it was easy enough to cast Priori Incantatem on her wand and find the spell. George decided he didn't want to marry her after that, and we were saved from such an embarrassment as a sister-in-law who would take sweets away from children to make her point."
"Too bad that they could not save themselves from the embarrassment of a son-in-law such as you," Malfoy muttered.
"Oh, I quite agree," Harry said cheerfully. "Ginny ended up marrying Michael Corner, and he has the same sense of humor I do and he's an Auror, too. So she really didn't trade up when she left me."
There was some more silence, and Snape said, "Another story, perhaps."
Harry nodded. His voice would get hoarse, but he thought he could risk a small charm that would moisten it, at least for long enough to keep speaking. "All right, then I'll tell you about the time the Head Auror left me alone in his office for five minutes and I managed to trash the place…"
Five minutes into Harry's eleventh or twelfth story, the roof above him creaked. He could feel Snape's flinch through the wall, and said calmly, looking up, "No ordinary magic could make the walls creak that way, and they're stable against the rubble, I told you. I think our rescue party has arrived."
The ceiling of his artificial room creaked again, then split open in the next instant. Harry stood up and waved. He heard someone curse, and grinned, recognizing Ron's voice. "Down here!" he called. "Snape and Malfoy are in the next room over. You'll need more seats than that," he added, spotting a single chair being lowered down on the end of a rope of spidersilk.
"What?" Ron asked, his voice breathless. Harry didn't think all that came from the amount of magic it was taking to lower the chair and keep the rope from tangling around stones and shattered pieces of wood. "They're alive?"
"Your lack of faith in me is flattering," Harry drawled. "Yes, of course. I performed the stabilization spells before I entered the building." He reached up and yanked on the rope, then nodded. "And you ought to send this over to their room first, not mine," he added, turning the rope so that the chair aimed at the wall of debris between their two pockets. "Add more rope onto the top. I'll direct it in. Potions master Snape—" it was hard to remember, sometimes, that that was the proper address, rather than Professor "—needs to get out of here before the rest of us. Unless you're wounded, Potions master Malfoy?" he added, raising his voice. Of course they hadn't said anything, but they were unlikely to when they were speaking to a Gryffindor Auror, were they?
Silence, and then Malfoy said, "No. Both of us have only bruises and minor cuts. And, Potter."
He said nothing, and Harry waited a second, then asked, "What?"
"Thank you." It was a whisper, but Harry heard it because he was listening for it. He shook his head. Don't want to admit their wounds and don't want to say thanks. Such Slytherins. At least I got over the first problem a while ago and never had the second. Maybe that's how I convinced the Hat.
"You're welcome," he said. "Now, stand back. I'm going to have to shift the wall the separates us, and I don't want it to fall down on you."
"You cannot do such a thing," Snape said. His voice sounded more normal than it had so far, but it still had that sneer Harry knew so well and had to grin at hearing again. "The mound will fall down when you move it."
"No, it won't," Harry said patiently. "Because I'm going to do something that I couldn't do beforehand without prepared Aurors around, and which I can do now. All you have to do is stand back."
A muffled breath of a snort, but they moved. Harry stepped back in turn and called up the rope to Ron, "Do you have more chairs ready? Have you added more spidersilk to the top of this rope?"
"Yes and yes," Ron called. His voice had acquired a slight tremor. "Harry, you better not—"
"How many Aurors do you have with you?" Harry interrupted. "Any trainees?"
"Twenty." Harry snorted into his hand. Of course, twenty for the famous Harry Potter. Then again, he had counted on that when he jumped in here. "And no trainees. Harry, we discussed this when that Muggle bank collapsed, you can't—"
"Ron?" Harry asked, grinning madly into the darkness.
"Yes?" Ron sounded like he had the faintest shadow of a hint of a hope that he might persuade Harry not to do anything reckless.
"Catch!" Harry yelled, and then swung around to face the wall and held his wand up. "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The illusion he had created of the two rooms shuddered, but held—all except the wall that faced him, the illusory wooden wall that in reality concealed a partition of stone, glass, and worse things. It heaved, and then began to rise. Harry channeled more magic through his wand, remembering, as his lungs shuddered and his vision began to black out, the instructions that Professor Flitwick had squeaked at them in class.
Swish and flick. Swish and flick. He did it, again and again.
The illusion faded completely—although enough of it would remain in the small pocket where Snape and Malfoy were trapped that they could still feel they were looking through windows into the open air—and Harry saw the rubble began to flow towards him. He stepped back, waving his wand, and heard his own breathing as if from a distance, desperate, exhausted, panicked breaths. He shrugged a little. That couldn't be helped, could it? He was accomplishing this, and he would do it if it killed him.
He didn't think it would kill him. But it was hard for anyone to be completely sure, of course.
The rubble shuddered and flowed, and then flowed backwards. Harry nodded. Good. That was the way he had meant it to go in the first place. The rubble was now pressing against the pile that lay over the top of the pocket where Snape and Malfoy were trapped, wanting to rise, but held down by the collapsed floors above it.
Not for long.
Then it happened, just as Harry had to grab the chair on the end of the rope for fear of passing out. The enormous part of the pile that had been above Snape and Malfoy's air pocket lifted completely, rotating in the air like a floating island. Harry blew out his breath, but didn't dare relax his control for a moment, blinking as he was in the sudden flow of light through the hole he'd created in the wall between them. He waited, and spun it, and wavered an inch from collapse, until he felt the Aurors' support spells move in and catch the mound of rubble, fifteen or sixteen Aurors taking the burden from him. More rubble flowed away and down, and he could see the street.
Then he ran forwards and out through the new rent in the whole pile, out from under the debris that remained behind him, and past the startled faces of Snape and Malfoy, pulling at their arms when they wouldn't move fast enough. He sprawled in the street outside, swearing and feeling his magic ready to drain out of him like blood from a wound.
"Harry," Ron wailed from some distant place. "You implied that they'd be taking the chair up!"
"Yeah, well, I came up with a better plan," Harry yelled back, and then rolled over, stood up, and steadied himself against the side of one of the still-standing shops, while the Aurors levitating the huge mass of rubble floated it back to the rest of the pile and set about Vanishing things now that they knew no one living was left inside. Harry nodded to Snape and Malfoy. "I'm sorry about your shop."
They both looked at him without responding. Malfoy was still the shorter of the two, Harry noted, but not by much; it looked as though all the energy he'd had to tamp down during the two years when he was living under Voldemort's rule had gone into growth. Both of them wore Potions masters' robes, dark green or blue—Harry found it hard to tell which when he was still blinking from the sunlight—with black borders. Their hands were immaculately neat. Harry knew it was because they didn't want dirt to come into contact with the potions.
Snape never seemed to care about that when he was at Hogwarts. But then, he'd probably used Cleaning Charms on his hands when he had to and not cared the rest of the time. He hadn't cared about a lot, Harry thought, surrounded by students he hated and doing a job he despised just to stay alive.
Snape turned his head now and stared back at the ruined shop. Malfoy leaned a hand on his shoulder and then leaned against him. Harry had the feeling he was witnessing something he shouldn't have. He looked away slightly as he said, "Do you have a place you can go that will take you in? Do you need help finding a place to stay?"
"This was—our home," Malfoy said, his voice limp, on the edge of the moment Harry had decided they weren't going to answer. "I assume the Ministry will permit us to leave when they finish questioning us?"
Harry nodded. It was no use pretending the interrogations wouldn't happen, although Snape and Malfoy would have less than no reason to destroy their own shop and home. But he wasn't interested in that right now. "I meant, can I help you find a place to stay?"
"Of course not, Potter," Snape said, and his voice was still that harsh blast Harry had heard when they were trapped. "How can you help? How can you possibly know what we require?"
"I know that you required me to speak to you when you were trapped," Harry replied, and met his eyes this time. They were still venomous, still dark, but Harry had looked into plenty of pairs of eyes that were harder to meet, now. "I know you require sunlight and open spaces. It's not much, but you might be able to find what you need in one of my houses."
Malfoy took a single step forwards, one hand fluttering up. Harry wondered if he intended to touch Snape's arm. If he did, he pulled his hand back before it connected, and looked at Harry with mute, pleading eyes.
Harry nodded against his will. "Follow me," he said, taking the decision away from Snape because he knew what Malfoy feared, that Snape would never make it, and turned his back, walking up the street towards the Ministry's nearest entrance as if he never doubted they would obey.
He heard the rustling sounds of argument for a moment, and then a single pair of boots scuttling along. It seemed to take half a small eternity before the next pair followed them.
Harry huffed out a breath and shook his head. Snape and Malfoy had lost their shop, their home, their livelihood. They needed more than he could give, in terms of recovering their pride, but what little Harry could offer was theirs, because they needed it and because he had the ability to offer it. Maybe there was something else he could give them too, though. Solitude, once they were settled in the small house at Godric's Hollow. The Ministry would insist he stay with them, keep them under custody, but Harry saw no problem with moving his case files and a few clothes into one of the bedrooms and letting them have the rest of the house. Space. Room. Quiet. Neatness. There was a cellar Harry would never use, filled with dust and air, that they could take over and turn into a potions lab.
The visions shone in front of his eyes the way his visions through the windows of the illusory rooms had. Harry smiled, and managed to keep the smile when he met Barran, who had questions, and demands, and orders, and other things that Harry normally had no time for. But Barran would make trouble for Snape and Malfoy if Harry didn't go along with him, so he did.
Then there was Ron, but Harry kept his monologue short by reciting it along with him, down to the folded arms and the yelling about how Harry was an adult and not a schoolboy now, with real responsibilities, a phrase Ron had picked up from Hermione. Ron quit while he still had some normal color left in his face, and Harry and Malfoy and Snape and all the rest of them went to the Ministry.
Harry sighed as he stepped into the small house and spent a moment rolling his shoulders back and down, ignoring the way Snape and Malfoy paused behind him as if they thought he would spread wings that would take up the remaining space in the entrance hall. Three interrogations, one request for interviews, and seven rows later, he had permission to give two innocent men shelter in one of his own homes. The Ministry, in the person of Deputy Head Auror Barran, had delivered that permission looking down its nose, in an austere tone, but Harry knew it was sincere. He'd fought hard enough for it.
"Where do we sleep?" Malfoy was standing between Harry and Snape when Harry glanced back at him, one hand outstretched as if he thought he would have to keep Snape from charging. Harry nodded in recognition. Malfoy was in exactly the same position Harry had sometimes found himself when Ron and Hermione argued, ambassador between two hostile countries. Harry considered conjuring a white flag to wave, but he knew that would irritate Snape, because nothing existed that didn't irritate Snape.
"There are bedrooms upstairs," Harry said. "Do you want one, or two?"
Malfoy stared at him. Behind him, Snape did the same thing, except Harry wasn't accustomed to applying a mundane word like "stare" to the drawing, quartering, flaying, and dissecting that Snape was trying to do with his gaze.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Not being able to count to two must be a handicap when you're brewing any potion more complicated than a Boil Cure," he said.
Snape surged forwards one step, and Malfoy stepped along in front of him, so that Harry had to retreat into the drawing room. Snape coughed, and the cough was the kind that told Harry he could indeed count, in this case every one of the half-moldy cobwebs that draped along the walls and door and clung to the wainscoting.
Harry cast a Cleaning Charm that banished most of the dust, and then a small beam of sunlight that fried the cobwebs. "Choose which rooms you like," he said, and then turned and ducked into the kitchen. His owl, Spartacus, emphatically black and young and male and not like Hedwig in any other way, either, hopped up and down on his perch and hooted. Harry sat down and started writing out a long owl-order.
"What size clothes do you wear?" he yelled back at Snape and Malfoy, once he had written down orders for bread, milk, eggs, cheese, butter, scones, and several Muggle meals that could keep without a fridge.
Heavy footsteps made Harry turn around, prepared this time to encounter Snape without the buffer state of Malfoy in between. But it was Malfoy, who leaned on the doorframe and stared at Harry. Harry stared back, then crossed his eyes.
It had the effect he wanted, of making Malfoy curl his lip and then speak. "Why are you doing this, Potter? You've given us enough already. Our lives, a place to stay—"
"Both of them more trouble than clothes," Harry pointed out. "And whatever perverted habits you may have got up to in that flat of yours, I don't want you prancing around the house naked. Some of my neighbors have children."
Malfoy stared at him again, as if the burning quality of silence in the kitchen could stifle Harry. Harry had had really impressive stiflers try to do that to him in the past, though, and he didn't make it easy. He waited Malfoy out, and Malfoy finally looked away from him and mumbled sizes and colors and fabrics.
"Thank you," Harry said, and started writing them down. "The rooms are furnished already, so you don't have to worry about that. As for potions ingredients, I don't trust myself to get you half of what you need. I'll leave you parchment tomorrow, and those Galleons I took out of your Gringotts account, and you can decide what you need."
"What Gringotts account?" Malfoy's voice lashed out like a whip. "You think we have one? As if the goblins would open an account for a former Death Eater."
"Goblins don't care much about human politics unless it concerns the Sword of Gryffindor," Harry said, and added a final flourish to the letter, before sealing it and holding it out to Spartacus. He bobbed his head three times before soaring out the window. Harry shook his head. He found Spartacus tiring enough to get along with. He couldn't imagine what it would be like if he had Pig. "And they'll open an account there if I ask them to. Which I did. Which I then put Galleons into, and took Galleons out of. Which Galleons are sitting in a back room in a cloth sack."
"You did that in the midst of the interrogations." Snape didn't deign to move into the kitchen, but that didn't keep his voice from reaching Harry.
"They didn't prevent me from writing," Harry said, leaning back and grinning at Malfoy and the space that held an invisible Snape. "Not my fault if they thought I was taking notes."
Malfoy was still for a moment, and Harry wondered if Snape had prodded him in the back. Then Malfoy said, "Will your inattention cause problems for us?"
"I hope not," Harry said, blinking. That it could have had not occurred to him. "After all, if I forget to order something for you or give you something that you want, then you only have to tell me. And my superiors never pay attention to the notes I take or the little things I do unless it interferes with me giving them results."
Snape made a single, harshly suppressed noise. Harry thought of offering to buy him a crow so he could practice what was obviously his native language, but refrained.
"I still wish to know," Malfoy said, "why you arranged a Gringotts account for us, if it is all your own money in the first place."
"And I bet Snape does, too," Harry said, raising his voice and leaning sideways. That didn't let him catch a glimpse of Snape, but he hadn't hoped for one so much as the expression on Malfoy's face, which said he had no notion why Harry was doing something so stupid. Harry leaned back in his chair and grinned at Malfoy. "I want you to have money that you can consider your own, which won't draw from my main account. Spend it as you need to. You should only need to talk to me about it if it's not enough."
Malfoy shook his head. "We do not want your charity."
"But you need it," Harry said quietly. "And I don't want to humiliate you. This way, if you have your own money and you can do what you want with it instead of having to apply to me for it, then you can preserve at least some of your independence. I know it's a pretense, but if you can obtain the ingredients you need and start brewing potions again, it won't be a pretense for very long."
Malfoy closed his eyes and bowed his head. "We do not deserve this," he whispered. "What did we do that you would want to accomplish something like this for us?"
"What didn't you do?" Harry asked, shaking his head. "Both of you saved my life during the war, and made my victory possible. And I happen to have liked defeating You-Know-Who and living after that, thank you." He grinned at Malfoy. "Allow me to return a tiny portion of the joy that informs my every day in this world, please."
"You did not speak his name," said the hidden Snape.
"I don't want to watch you flinch," Harry said.
Malfoy, incredibly, flinched anyway, bowing his head further so that his hair shielded his face completely. Harry held back a sigh. Malfoy was more sensitive than he had thought, and God knew what a sigh would do to him.
"All right," he said, when a few minutes had passed and neither Malfoy nor his imaginary friend seemed compelled to say anything. "The owl-orders should come in soon. In the meantime, do you mind if I make us some toast and eggs? Do you want tea? The food I have here is rather basic." He turned around and began to remove the Preservation Charms from the cabinets along the walls of the kitchen.
Harry nearly tripped over the chair turning back around. Snape had moved into sight and stood watching him with eyes that, yes, were as patient as a crow's. Harry felt the high catch of his breath in his throat, and told himself not to be stupid. It was Snape, yes, but it was the Snape who had saved his life, and who had survived after all, and who hadn't gone to Azkaban, and—
It was Snape.
For a few moments, he thought an invisible string stretched across the room, taut and vibrating hard enough that it could snap and sting someone. Then Snape sighed and brought his head up, and his mouth had an expression that was not quite a smile, but some distant ancestor of one that might have left fossils behind in Snape's skin.
"Thank you," Snape said.
The owls started coming in before their simple meal was finished, along with owls from the Ministry. Harry rolled his eyes and took the three Howlers—one from Barran, one from the Head Auror, one from Hermione—upstairs so that they wouldn't disturb Snape and Malfoy as they ate.
Barran's was the shortest, just telling him that he was very disappointed with Harry for placing himself in danger. Harry rolled his eyes, put his fingers in his ears, and chanted, "Blah, blah, blah," back at it until it blew up.
The Head Auror went on solemnly about consequences and how he couldn't promise that Harry would always have a job in the Auror Department. Harry started reciting the long list of rescues, fundraising events, cases, interviews, sessions for the new trainees, and Ministry functions he'd been key to for the past year at it, and he thought the Howler ended early in the sheer rush to be away from him.
Hermione's Howler was the worst, but also predictable. Harry sighed as he listened to her lecture him about what good would it do if he got himself buried in the building and killed along with Malfoy and Snape, did he realize that someone had to fight for the rights of Slytherins in the Ministry?, he couldn't have known they were still alive, using the spell that turned him into air had been stupid and dangerous, and don't bother denying it, she knew that was what he had done, based on Ron's description.
When the Howler wound down, Harry shook his head and reached for ink and parchment. His bedroom here was spare, but functional, with a desk, a chair, a fully-made bed, and a wardrobe with a few sets of Auror uniforms. He had to write back, but he paused to think about the right words.
"They are likely to make political trouble for you?"
Harry started and turned towards the door. Snape stood there, watching him. Malfoy was nowhere to be seen, but Harry thought he might be hovering on the stairs, out of sight. He refrained from rolling his eyes. Someday, he would get to see and talk to both of them at once, but he knew better than to press it right now.
"Not Hermione," he said. "And the others know how valuable I am. They just have to scold me to make themselves feel better, really."
Snape shifted his weight and then let it fall against the doorway again as if he didn't know what to do with it. "There remains the matter of whoever cast the curse against our shop in the first place."
Harry nodded. "Had you had any recent quarrels? I know they asked you that in the interrogations, but you had every reason to conceal the truth there," he added, when Snape's stare sharpened. "They were acting like berks."
Snape paused, then tilted his head. "No. We told the truth, because the political consequences for us would be graver if we lied." Harry nodded acknowledgment of the point, and Snape continued. "Vengeance from the war, perhaps. That is always the motive, is it not, when someone destroys someone else's life years later?"
His voice was a worn-down, bitter thing. Harry wished he could hear him laugh again the way he had in the rubble pile. He stood up and moved forwards. "Are the beds going to work?" he asked. "I know they're dusty, but the Cleaning Charms ought to remedy that."
"You interceded for us to have our wands," Snape said, showing no interest in moving and letting him out of the bedroom.
"Well, of course I did," Harry said, a little irritated that he could see the corridor over Snape's shoulder but couldn't get there. He stared towards it, wondering if he could see Malfoy there and make him into an ally by secret signals with his eyebrows, but it didn't seem likely. "You think I want to do everything around the house for you? I'll have to be gone a large part of the day anyway, and it would be tiresome if you couldn't clean up or fetch things down from shelves or move heavy cauldrons around without firecalling me."
Snape blinked. Perhaps he had expected to hear that Harry had done it out of the pure goodness of his heart and had no ulterior motive, Harry thought. People usually did, when they looked at Harry that way.
"You would trust us not to cast a curse at your back," Snape said, when some moments had passed and apparently his astonishment hadn't. Harry tried edging a step forwards under the hope that sheer, pure revulsion on Snape's part would allow Harry to get by, but this was his day to decide to imitate a pillar. "There are few Aurors who can say that."
"There are few Aurors who got saved by you again and again when they were kids, and saved by Malfoy during the war," Harry answered.
Something in the back of Snape's expression eased one way, tightened another. Harry was starting to think he would never understand him. "So," Snape said, when a beat of silence had passed and Harry was about to resort to waving his hand up and down in front of his eyes. "This is about life-debts? You trust us because we owe you?" He paused again, then added, "But you also saved Draco's life during the war, canceling that debt. And one could argue that you have already repaid me tenfold in testifying during my trial and winning my freedom."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm all for praise," he said. "Natural praise, good praise, everyone likes to be told how well they've done. But I don't like being praised for something I didn't do. You know it was Dumbledore's memories that really convinced the Wizengamot to give you a chance, not me."
Snape gave him another long look that Harry didn't understand, so calculating that he wondered he didn't see actual numbers dancing in his eyes, and then moved backwards a step. "So there is no debt between us as you understand it," he murmured as Harry brushed past him.
"No," Harry said, smiling at him, relieved to find that he grasped it. "Exactly. There's no reason to have a debt when you've done so many things for me and I've done so many things for you."
"Then why rescue us?" Snape asked softly. "Why invite us to live here? Why give us our wands?"
"I understand that this might be a little foreign to you," Harry said, putting his hand on the railing at the top of the stairs, "but some people do things just because they want to."
Snape's expression closed. Harry felt a twinge. Snape might be thinking of all the things he'd wanted to do and never got to, thanks to his lack of choices.
But if he was, he probably wouldn't thank Harry for noticing that, either. Harry turned and went down the stairs, Snape's eyes on his back as heavy as a yoke.
"You could have waited."
Harry smiled at Hermione and put his cup of tea down on the table between them. They were meeting at a small shop established just inside Muggle London, which sold tea and magical and Muggle books with impunity. As long as no Muggle actually saw a book with moving pictures or titles that referenced specific wizarding historical events, the Ministry didn't interfere.
"I know," he said. "But there were Aurors there already, enough that they could have helped me with the support spells and the other things I needed to do. They didn't. They wanted to stand around and wait for someone more official to arrive."
"That's Ministry procedure," Hermione pointed out, folding her arms. "That's what you really should have done, no matter how badly you wanted to rescue Snape and Malfoy." Her voice had a wary, baffled edge to it. She couldn't figure out why he had risked his life for them, Harry knew.
"It might insult you to know it, but you think about debts like a Slytherin," Harry told her, and sipped at his tea again. "That was the same sort of thing Snape told me yesterday. That I must have felt I owed them from the war or something, and that was the only reason for me to charge in there."
Hermione paused, tilting her head to the side. "Then you don't feel that way?"
Harry snorted, and ended up getting some tea in his nose. He put the cup down and mopped his face with a napkin, shaking his head. "No. Of course not. We all did so much for each other, the debts between us are tangled. Keeping track of them is like trying to keep track of Ron's freckles."
"I know how many freckles Ron has," Hermione murmured smugly.
Harry bowed to her. "Just like Snape probably knows all the complexities of the debts between us. And I bow to your specialist knowledge, and his, in this case. But that's not the kind of knowledge I can live my life by. Besides, Deputy Head Auror Barran was there. They had all the official support and approval they needed. If Barran had approved of them going into that mess to rescue two former Death Eaters."
Hermione bit her lip. "So you think he deliberately left them there?"
"I don't know about that," Harry said, shrugging. So much of what he had seen and fought against since he came into the Ministry was like that, he thought in some disgust, ambiguous and barely-there and deniable. But it didn't mean he had to agree with them. "Thoughtless. He doesn't care. He was going to wait until the Head Auror or the Minister showed up and ordered him to rescue them, I think. And then, well, if it was too late and they were dead, that was too bad, right?"
Hermione gave a little shiver and spent a moment staring at the table. Harry knew the feeling. There was a real temptation to concentrate on what they couldn't do instead of what they had done so far, and then declare that no matter what they had done, it wasn't enough.
But Harry could shake himself out of such moods fairly easily when they occurred now, because he did extra work that he wanted to handle, like making sure Snape and Malfoy were safe. He smiled at Hermione and added, "So you can understand why I ran in like that? No one else was going to, and in the meantime, Snape and Malfoy might have died."
Hermione nodded slowly. "But what about living with them? Are you sure you're going to be able to handle that? I mean—Harry, I know you've changed and grown since the war, and you're generous and brave and loving and all the rest of it, but they might be the same."
Harry shook his head. "They were quiet yesterday. Barely sneered at all. Maybe that's just the shock of having their shop collapse on their heads, I don't know. But I really don't think they'll be much trouble."
Hermione gave him another disturbed glance. "If you're sure."
"Yes, thank you." Harry reached out and squeezed her hand. "But never stop caring. It's good to know you do."
She smiled at him, and they spent the rest of their lunch talking about more cheerful things, before they parted, Harry to go back to filing paperwork on his latest case, Hermione to a political meeting of some kind where she was going to speak on house-elf rights.
Harry stepped into the house at Godric's Hollow and smiled when he heard voices coming up from the cellar. They had taken that over as a potions lab, then. Good.
He glanced down at the bundle in his arms and cocked his head ruefully. The gift had seemed like such a good idea when he bought it, but they were rebuilding their lab from the ground up, and they might need simple things more than fancy ones. Trouble was, he didn't know what simple things for Potions masters were, and the fancy one would at least look nice even if they couldn't use it right away. He turned towards the steps that led down to the cellar.
"We can't let him think that." Snape's voice was low, and charged, and something in the tone made Harry pause at the top of the stairs, out of sight and sound, listening the way he would have listened if he overheard Snape and another teacher talking at Hogwarts.
"Why not?" There was a snap that was probably Malfoy's robe swishing behind him as he turned, and yes, that was the thump of his footsteps on the floor of the lab. "He's obviously prepared to give us what we need, and demand nothing in return. Severus, we have nothing to give. We can't give him—what you're suggesting. We need our time and energy for ourselves. We have to rebuild." His voice dropped so suddenly on the last words that Harry closed his eyes to listen better. "You can't think that doing what you want to do will be possible, not when it will demand more patience and understanding than I have, whatever your own stores may be."
Harry nodded in agreement, not that anyone was paying attention to him. They did need to keep their energy for themselves, he thought. If Snape was suggesting moving out or buying an expensive gift for Harry in thanks or something, then he should drop it and concentrate on what they most needed to do for now.
"I am not the man to leave such an obligation unanswered," Snape said. "Nor are you, Draco. When we find what he needs, what he wants, we will give it to him."
Harry sighed. Yes, Snape probably thought he had to repay all the debts after all. That was like him. Harry thought about trying to talk him out of it, but decided that it wouldn't work. And better to let him do it, after all, if he wanted to. Harry would certainly accept whatever they came up with to give him, even if he never used it.
Malfoy gave a sound that could be called a sigh if you really wanted to stretch the word. "All right. But, Severus…it's so hard. I wish there was some way—some way we could repay the debts without getting ourselves more entangled with him."
Harry raised his eyebrows, trying to make out the meaning of that, and then nodded in enlightenment. Of course. Malfoy probably thought that, because they would use Harry's money to buy the gift, whatever it was, they would still be in debt to him. Harry might not be able to stop them paying back what they thought they owed him in the first place, but he was going to argue if Malfoy said that it had cost them their freedom. They were free to go the instant they saved up enough money to buy another shop.
Harry wished they wouldn't. But his wishes were beside the point. He wanted them to do what they wanted.
"It need not be immediately," Snape said, and his voice had softened. "We may take our time to recover our strength."
I'm glad they both have some sense, Harry thought, and then cleared his throat loudly and started down the steps. He heard a startled stillness that burst into motion a moment later. Malfoy came to the entrance of the cellar with his wand drawn, and took the first step up before he saw Harry and froze, blinking.
"Potter," he said, and fell back a step, as though he assumed he needed to apologize for his presence in Harry's cellar to Harry. "We—had forgotten you would be home soon." He touched his hair and then his robe collar, and exchanged something fleeting and burning in the glance with Snape.
I'd like to understand someone as well as they understand each other, Harry thought wistfully as he stepped into the makeshift lab. Ron and Hermione don't really count, not when they have their own exclusive bond.
"Wow, you've made a lot of progress with this," he said, turning in a slow circle so that he could see the work they'd put into the lab. There were already tables in the center, and the walls, an uninspiring ash-grey the last time Harry had been down here, had been painted or charmed white. The floor was made of clean, scrubbed tile. Harry wondered if it was a glamour or not, and almost bent down to see, but Snape interrupted him.
"What is that?"
Harry grinned and looked up. Snape's gaze was fixed on the cauldron in his arms. Harry turned it back and forth, as if to admire the glitter of it himself. "Isn't it pretty? A golden cauldron. And it's for you." He set it down in the middle of one of the tables.
They stared at him. Well, Snape stared at the cauldron and Malfoy stared at him. Harry wondered if Malfoy had seen more golden cauldrons than Snape had, or whether Snape had a greater devotion to Potions paraphernalia than Malfoy did. Or maybe Snape just trusted him more. Malfoy had a weird, twisted expression on his face, as if he thought this gift would mean Harry would try to kill them in their beds.
"You are trying to buy us," he said at last.
"Draco." Snape's voice cut like a lash, and he had finally looked away from the cauldron. Harry saw Malfoy flinch back, but the next moment he shook his head and firmed his jaw, taking a step forwards so that he could stand in front of the table.
"No, Severus. You know this gift is too extravagant." He reached out, but kept himself from touching the cauldron, as if he feared the rim would contaminate or poison him. Harry felt the impulse to assure him it hadn't been washed in the blood of a hundred Muggleborns, but managed to keep the words to himself. "What motive could Potter have for giving it to us, other than to buy us?"
"The dastardly cretin trying to buy you is standing right there," Harry said mildly. "You could try asking me the truth before assuming things about my motives."
Malfoy tilted him a single glance that smoldered like banked lightning. "You'd lie."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Make up your minds. Why would I lie about a golden cauldron but not about giving you a Potions lab and a place to live? That seems to be the bigger gift to me, but you accepted it and trusted it."
Malfoy whirled to face him. "Accepted it, but didn't trust it," he said, and his voice cut away the years that lay between them, making Harry feel as if he stood in a corridor at Hogwarts again. He felt his fists clench despite himself. Malfoy noticed and smiled at him, a dreadful pursing of his lips Harry could have lived without seeing again. "Yes, Potter, that's right. You've gone out of your way in the past to mock and humiliate us. And now this? You expect us to think that you gave this to us out of the goodness of your heart?"
Snape was watching, Harry noticed, seeing the way Snape stood with his arms folded and his gaze fixed on Harry. He wouldn't try to stop the confrontation unless it got violent, most likely.
Which meant he wanted to know the answer, too.
Harry sighed. "You'll probably disbelieve me no matter what I say, which means I might as well tell the truth. I like giving people things. I like making people happy, for the same reason I like rescuing them. After the war—I want joy in the world, Draco." Malfoy visibly strove to keep himself from blinking. "I can't do everything about every piece of mindless and needless suffering, but I can fight it when it's in my power."
"Giving joy to people like us cannot be fulfilling for you," Malfoy whispered harshly.
Harry cocked his head. "Why not? If you attribute bad motives to me, wouldn't making you happy, against your will, be understandable?"
Snape hid a smile. Harry didn't know when he'd learned to read the man as doing that, rather than just sitting there with a straight face, but he saw it, and he knew it, and he smiled back. Snape blinked, once again tile-faced.
"I—it doesn't work that way," Malfoy said, and wiped his hand over his face. "Potter, someday you're going to demand an accounting of this, I know. I just want to know what you want. Name your price, and I can pay it now, or as soon as possible. That way, I won't be surprised by it later."
"You won't be surprised," Harry said. "I don't think you ever forget a debt."
Malfoy just stared. Harry sighed, and leaned forwards. "You really want to know what I want?" he whispered. "You want to know what I've done all this for, what I'd appreciate in return, what you can give me?"
Malfoy swayed towards him a little. Harry blinked, because he hadn't thought his personal odor of sweat was that strong—he'd spent most of today behind a desk—but then realized how close they stood. And how Malfoy was looking into his eyes.
Huh. Maybe Snape and Malfoy hadn't had time for sex lately or something.
"Yes," Malfoy whispered. His voice cracked, but he licked his lips, and it steadied a moment later. "Yes, I need that. I—I want that."
Harry nodded. "I want a free supply of healing potions. Whenever I need them. Saves having to run to the apothecary or haul half the supply of St. Mungo's home with me when I'm injured and the Healers are having a collective apoplectic fit in their certainty that I won't survive the night."
Malfoy blinked. "You invited us into your house to be your own personal brewers, at a moment's notice?"
"Yes," Harry said. "That's why."
Malfoy stepped back from him and put his hand on the table that supported the golden cauldron. "And you bought this cauldron for us so that we could brew you the very best and most sophisticated healing potions?" he clarified.
Gravely, Harry nodded again.
Malfoy gaped at him. Then he narrowed his eyes and straightened with a snap. "You're joking," he snapped.
"Thank God," Harry said dryly. "I was starting to worry for a moment there." And again he saw Snape stifling a smile. He wondered if that was a record, to get two in the same day.
"You brought us here," Malfoy said. "You brought us gifts. You let us have our wands." The words were spoken with a quietude that might have made them a curse or a prayer; Harry was betting on the former. "Why would you do something like that? I want to know the real reason."
"I've told it to you," Harry repeated patiently. "And since I doubt you have any intention of leaving any time soon, because your practicality is stronger than your pride, then you might as well accept it and leave it at that." He turned his back to climb the stairs again, ignoring Malfoy's wordless spluttering. He had tried.
Because it was Snape, and he sounded halfway willing to speak to Harry like a serious adult, Harry turned around again. "Yes, sir?"
Snape stood tall in the middle of the lab, staring at him. Harry resisted the temptation to pull back his shoulders and suck his stomach in the way he did when the Head Auror was coming for an inspection of the Department. He had done as much as he could right now; he had explained it as best he knew how. There was really nothing Snape could say to make him change his mind about that, either.
"You should know," Snape said at last, after a long and leisurely inspection of Harry from boots to robe collar, "that I appreciate the cauldron." Harry didn't know if the slight emphasis on the personal pronoun he heard was real, but he thought so.
"You're welcome, sir," he said, and smiled, and started to turn around again.
"And you should know," Snape went on in a low voice, "that a Slytherin always pays his debts."
Harry shot a smile over his shoulder. Malfoy was practically buzzing in place, like a very large and very pale firework, and Harry thought he should get out of the way so the lovers could talk over their beliefs and the divisions his visit may have caused in private. "That's fine, sir. Someday, when you have your own shop again and the Galleons to do it, then you can pay me back. Knowing you always do it means I won't get upset if it takes years."
Somehow, it was harder to joke when he was meeting those dark eyes. Harry shrugged the sensation off and climbed.
Strangely, he didn't hear their voices resume immediately behind him, but, well, they may have wanted to wait until he was out of the way before that started. Or maybe they'd set up a Silencing Charm.
He made a peaceful, if silent, dinner of sliced fruit and cereal for himself, since he hadn't had a proper breakfast this morning, and then went up to read in his study and sleep. He couldn't deny that he kept his ears cocked for a snippet of sound from below, but, well, if they didn't want to share it with him, they didn't have to. Merlin knew they had been forced to share too many other things.
Harry's first clue that the assassin might be a bit peeved at him for saving Snape and Malfoy came when the same kind of curse as the one that had destroyed their shop struck his office door.
Harry reacted as he'd been trained, diving behind his desk to use it as cover while he set up a Shield Charm in front of himself and watched the buckling door. This spell was obviously a lot weaker than the one the bastard had used on Snape and Malfoy's shop, or a good portion of the Ministry would have collapsed by now. But it was making his door, and the ceiling and walls near it, fall apart in the same way.
Harry paused, and then reacted in the way that his training didn't approve. He cast a Lightening Charm on himself, and then murmured, "Alae, alae, alae."
A pair of large blue wings, made of light and fire sketched in with the glitter of stars, spread out from his back. Harry beat them once, and lifted from the floor, just a moment before another spell came blasting in from under the door and hit his desk, smashing it into a pile of kindling.
Harry nodded wisely and skimmed towards the door, moaning and groaning all the while as though he'd been seriously hurt. He thought he heard a maniacal cackle from the corridor, and rolled his eyes. Not even Voldemort had cackled.
He waited one beat, two, and three, and then raised a Shield Charm in front of himself and cast a Stunner under it, towards the door, at the same time.
There was an indignant gasp, and then the next curse hit the Shield Charm and nearly cracked it. But Harry was the best in the Department at defensive magic, and he threw will into the charm and held it. Then he swam towards the door on his wings of air, cast a few support spells of the kind that he'd used to hold up the pile of rubble in Snape and Malfoy's shop, and pried some of the cracked wood apart.
A man Harry didn't know lay senseless in the corridor, staring at the ceiling and surrounded by Aurors. Harry snorted as he landed on the floor next to them and banished the wings. He didn't know the man, but he recognized that shape of jaw and the big, mad dark eyes.
"Another mental Lestrange cousin?" he asked the Auror beside him, Inchbeck.
She nodded, and rolled her eyes. "You'd think at some point, we would find that bloody family tapestry and become able to locate all of them," she murmured, bending down and using several conjured ropes to bind Lestrange's hands behind his back. "Or else that they would realize Rodolphus and his brother were no loss to the family."
Harry shook his head. "That day will never come," he said. "Pure-blood family loyalty, what can I say."
Inchbeck cleared her throat and looked at him pointedly.
"Sorry," Harry said. "Crazy, Voldemort-following, not-at-all-like-other-pure-bloods pure-blood family loyalty, what can I say."
Inchbeck nodded majestically to him and started escorting Lestrange away, just as Ron came around the corner with two cups of tea in his hands. He pivoted in place to watch Lestrange being hauled off, then pivoted back and handed one cuppa to Harry in silence. Harry swallowed half of it, then coughed and choked. He always did that with alcohol, too. Those quick gestures that looked neat in Muggle movies Hermione made them watch weren't so easy in reality.
"You have the weirdest life, mate," Ron said, and gave him a look of intense sympathy. The reporters would descend in a few minutes, and then would come Hermione, and the Head Auror, and Barran, and the small group of fans that went mad every time Harry was in danger, as though that was something that should be prevented by national legislation.
"I do," Harry said placidly. "But at least that's likely the same person who decided to take a shot at Snape and Malfoy—and we even have a motive, if it turns out that he feels cheated that they're free instead of in prison."
He went back to his office and wrote out a quick owl to Snape and Malfoy, telling them he would stay late tonight and they'd probably caught the man who had damaged their shop. Then he settled in for the beginning of the circus, which involved a simultaneous firecall from the Prophet and the profuse apologies of two other Aurors in the Department who had seen Lestrange walk past and hadn't stopped him.
Yes, the weird life I lead. Harry sipped from his cup again. At least there's tea.
"How much danger were you in?"
Harry blinked and let the door fall shut behind him. That certainly wasn't the first question he had expected to be ambushed with when he was coming home to his own house. He had thought Snape and Malfoy would greet him with questions about Lestrange himself and whether anything usable had been recovered from their shop, or complaints about dinner being cold and late.
"Not much," he said cautiously, and looked from one to the other. Snape stood behind Malfoy with his arms folded, but he was always doing that, so it didn't provide a great clue to his mood. Malfoy was the one who leaned forwards, balanced on the edge of his heels as though he was going to strike out and Harry had better be out of the way when the blow landed. In the interests of being out of the way, Harry edged sideways and hung his cloak up on the peg next to the door. "I recognized the attack right away, and it only took a minute or so to defeat him."
"Why did he come after you?" Malfoy asked, spacing out each word so that there was room for half a dozen invisible accusations between them.
"Because he was a Lestrange," Harry said. "And he blamed me for getting you out of the rubble, I reckon."
Malfoy fell back a step, and looked up at Snape. Telepathy passed between them like wind, unseen but felt. Harry shook his head to get the envy out of the back corners of his mind. He shouldn't envy what they had been through. Yes, they had a close bond, but Harry wouldn't have wanted to endure what he was sure they'd had to to build it.
"We should have thought of that," Snape said, voice deep and—cultured? Harry hadn't thought that about his voice before, but he could hear it now. If there was such a thing as thick elegance, it was there in Snape's tone. "I do not know why we did not."
Harry shrugged. "You had wards on your shop that would hold up against almost any attack, and we keep thinking we've caught all the Lestrange cousins. Someday, we'll be right." He started to walk past them towards the kitchen. It was almost nine, and he was looking forwards to a quick Muggle pizza and then bed.
Snape put a hand on one of his shoulders, Malfoy a hand on the other. Harry glanced back and forth between them, feeling oddly as though he was about to be kidnapped.
Snape certainly bent down close enough to do it, his eyes aflame. "That is another debt we owe you," he said. "For our lives, for the place to live, for our wands, for the cauldron, for this. Do you see why it concerns us, that we may not be able to pay you back?"
"Look," Harry said, after a long, patient moment in which he thought longingly of slapping their hands off his shoulders and screaming at them, "I've told you what I think of that. I don't count them all as separate debts. I don't count most of them as debts at all. If you want to, you can pay me back later."
"But at this rate, we won't be able to pay you back," Malfoy said, and his voice was low, as though he anticipated some objection from Harry that Harry didn't intend to make. It was hard to make an objection when Malfoy was this close, close enough for Harry to make out flecks of slate-grey and bright blue in the corners of his eyes, and see his eyelashes shining like separate flakes of snow. "That's our objection. That's the trouble."
Harry blinked and tore his glance from Malfoy's eyes to look up at Snape's—not that they were much less deep, or intense. "Well, I'm not going to lower the wards on the house and let anyone who wants to have a chance kill you," he snapped. "You'll just have to put up with me saving your lives."
Snape stepped back. Perhaps the vehemence was too much for him, Harry thought. He struck Harry as a more controlled person most of the time, who would like his partners to have cool expressions on their faces and close their eyes when they came.
Yes, and you're speculating on things you have no business speculating on.
He turned back to Malfoy, who had stepped back as well, but had a more thoughtful expression on his face than the one Snape wore at the moment. "Well," he said slowly. "I wouldn't expect you to do that, Potter."
Harry nodded. That was good to know, at least, that there were limits to how far they were willing to go to pay the debt. He faced Snape. "And you, sir?"
Snape surveyed him for a few minutes in the way that made him feel like his soul was being studied instead of his body. Then he said, "It is nearly a decade since I taught you, Potter, and you have attained status that surpasses my own in this corrupt world. I would appreciate you addressing me without a title."
Harry blinked. Then he said, "Even if I want to show respect?"
"You aren't calling me that," Malfoy pointed out. "Does that mean you don't respect me?"
"No," Harry said, flicking him a glance, and a smile at the same time, to show the teasing. "But you're less likely to rip me apart and stick my dissected organs in bottles somewhere, where no one will ever find me again."
"I'm a Potions master, as well," Malfoy said, and lowered his voice yet again, as if they stood in the middle of a busy street that he needed to shut out. "You have no idea what I could do to you, Potter."
Harry felt his eyes widen and a pulse beating up from his throat like a golden Snitch. He caught it in time, he thought, to keep himself from blushing, and smiled at Malfoy. "I'll keep that in mind," he murmured.
"To address the problem," Snape said suddenly. Harry thought he probably didn't appreciate seeing Harry flirt with his lover. "We wish to pay back the debts, and you don't want us to."
"I want you to when you're financially stable and you can manage something," Harry countered, wondering how it was that he stood in the middle of his own house arguing philosophy with two Slytherins, after a long day, and yet felt completely confident and alive. "Not right now."
"Other than the cauldron, what you have done for us cannot be repaid with money," Snape said. "You said that you wish to make others happy, that you saved our lives because you wished to. If we repay the debt the same way—"
"Sure, I'll be happy to let you do that," Harry interrupted. "If you save my life, that repays a life-debt, right?" He reckoned Snape had to know that, because of the life-debt that Harry's dad saving him had stuck him with.
"I meant," Snape said, with a familiar brittleness that promised a stack of dirty cauldrons for the next person who interrupted him, "making you happy."
Harry blinked. "But you already are. I'm happy you're alive. And as long as you do some of the cooking and don't mess up the house, I'm happy to have you here. I like being able to talk with someone when I come home."
"We want a more active role," Malfoy said, and crowded forwards on Harry's other side. "We've been passive long enough. It's time to remind people of what we can do."
Harry turned to ask him what he meant, and met Malfoy's mouth closing on his own.
Harry felt a moment of crystalline shock—with him?—and then the acceptance came back, just as sharp and just as welcome. Of course, why not? Especially when it feels so bloody good.
And don't pretend that you haven't thought of this since he got here. You were thinking of it just now.
He kissed back, not bringing his hands into play although Malfoy was clutching at him with greedy intensity, using his tongue to turn over Malfoy's tongue, to touch his cheeks and then stroke them backwards, to urge his head down and forwards until Malfoy was sighing urgently and crushing Harry to him with one hand on his spine. Then Harry reached out a hand for Snape, thinking he wouldn't want to be left out, unless he just intended to watch Malfoy with Harry and nothing else.
No, Snape was there, stepping up behind Harry and using his greater height to his advantage: stroking the back of his neck, lifting Harry's hair to find the hidden spots underneath it, following the path of his hands with his tongue a moment later. Harry gasped, and of course that left more room for Malfoy's tongue to play, and his hands were low on Harry's waist and his knee was riding high between Harry's legs, and Harry was glad that someone was holding him or he would sag backwards on the floor.
Snape slipped his hands beneath Harry's robes and murmured a question Harry couldn't make out over the rolling boulders of blood in his ears. But he could guess what it was, and he nodded. A moment longer, his robes were gone, and Snape's hands settled on his shirt.
He wondered for a moment why Snape just hadn't Vanished everything, but when he felt those long clever fingers begin to unbutton him, he understood why. Snape wanted to take his time. He turned his head and let his tongue flicker out and around one of Snape's nails. Snape caught his breath, and his undressing quickened.
Malfoy ducked into Harry's view as he dropped to one knee in front of him. He gave Harry a bright, daring smile, and turned his head to the side in turn, letting his cheek rest against Harry's groin. Harry panted at him, and Malfoy's laughter blazed across his face like a shooting star as he pulled first one and then another boot off.
Harry lifted his feet as best as he could to assist Malfoy getting the boots off, though he was still struggling with balance. Then Snape murmured another spell, and Harry felt himself leave the ground, floating in the air.
Snape stepped around in front of him, and the way he looked at Harry made Harry's hands, reaching for him, fall back to his side. Harry gaped back, at the same moment as he felt Malfoy pull off one of his socks and place a kiss on his ankle.
"You are glorious," Snape said in a low voice, just this side of hearing, like the voice of the earth speaking before a quake. "Do you realize how your magic shimmers around you, how it saturates the air, how it goes before you like a wave?"
"I realize that I never expected you to use a word like 'shimmers'," Harry muttered idiotically, but even that only won him a smile, although a shark-edged one.
"Having you will be a pleasure," Snape said, and Harry grinned, because he didn't think that Snape had had much pleasure in his life lately, except perhaps with Malfoy. Who he probably should start thinking of as Draco, and Snape as Severus, if he was going to do this.
He wondered for a moment if they realized that, by taking pleasure from this, they could be said to be creating another debt that they owed him. But he kept quiet. Perhaps this exchange would teach them that debts were not the only way to look at life.
Severus bent and breathed over his mouth. Harry stuck his tongue out, trying vainly to catch Severus's, but Severus kept his distance, breathing around and over and on Harry's lips until he struggled in the grip of the spell that held him, mad with desire. Only then did Severus close in on him and kiss him as Draco had done.
No, not as Draco had done. Perhaps because he was sure Harry wanted it, Severus plunged deeper and kissed him until Harry saw black spots across his vision. Then he pulled back and regarded Harry as if he had caught him for lunch.
"My turn, Severus," Draco said, rising to his feet and shaking his hair out. He had undone the tie in it, Harry saw, and his hair was longer than Harry had thought—not to the middle of his back or anything ridiculous, but sweeping his shoulders.
"You think I'm glorious?" Harry blurted out as he watched Severus step back to stand beside Draco. They looked good like that, the contrast of black and pale, Snape's skin a shade lighter than Draco's, even the potions stains that Draco bore yellow instead of deep gold. "You ought to look at yourselves."
"We do," Draco said. "Frequently. It's the one thing we've found unpleasant about living in your house so far, the lack of mirrors." He stepped forwards and bent down slightly to kiss Harry. Harry leaned boldly back and up, confident that Severus's spell would keep him hovering on the solid currents of air.
Draco made a soft and needy noise after only a moment of Harry kissing him, which meant either Harry was a much better kisser than he'd thought he was or Draco was much less experienced. Probably the first, he decided smugly, straining his neck to reach Draco as he pulled away. If Severus kissed him all the time, then he had to be used to the best.
"We think," Severus said, moving forwards and casting a spell that made the currents carrying Harry swirl and turn towards the stairs, "that we would be more comfortable in a bedroom."
"Pity," Harry said, looking around at the boring wallpaper of the entrance hall. "I was hoping that you'd fuck me against the walls here and give me a happy memory for whenever I come home in the future."
He glanced back in time to see Draco turn pale and then flush, a fascinating process of watching him acquire color. "Severus," Draco breathed.
"Walls for later," Severus said, in the same kind of authoritative voice that Harry fancied he might use in the lab to calm Draco down when he wanted to brew something dangerously experimental and not deadly enough to small helpless kittens and ducklings. "Beds for now." He paused, and studied Harry, as though he had a lot of secrets to give up now that he was naked. "Perhaps, walls for not much later," he murmured.
Harry smiled, and led the way. Sure, Severus's spell was the thing ensuring he could do so, but he was still in front, and he enjoyed the feeling of them looking at his arse all the way upstairs. Maybe later, they'd kiss it.
Not that anyone had ever asked Harry—more's the pity, since that would have been something to liven up the usual round of dull questions about his career and about the war that he got in his Daily Prophet interviews—but if someone had, he would have said that having two lovers at once wasn't that different from having one. You had a few more limbs and maybe another cock to keep track of, but surely not everyone would all want to play at the same time, and meanwhile, you could stop counting.
Perhaps he had been wrong. Or perhaps his fantasies had suffered from not including enough imaginary lovers like the real Draco and Severus.
His body certainly had.
Severus was at his head one moment, kissing him, sending his tongue so deep that Harry felt invaded and conquered and happily surrendering, all at once. He was sure of that. And Draco was somewhere down near his legs, stroking and parting them, and now and then moaning in a low voice that Harry didn't think he wanted anyone to hear, but which Harry heard anyway, of course. It was wonderful.
And then Draco was kissing him and Severus was down near his feet, doing God knew what, perhaps tying them to the headboard or taking pictures of Harry's dirty toenails to use as blackmail, and Harry didn't care because God, it was good. He threw an arm around Draco's neck and tried to flip him over and deepen the kiss that way, darting and thrusting his tongue, but Draco held still and went slowly, because he wanted to, and Harry grumbled into his mouth and got his revenge by skimming his fingers along just underneath Draco's ribs. Draco broke off the kiss, hiss-laughing, then squirmed closer.
"We'll find the spots," he said breathlessly. "The ones that make you dance on the bed, the ones that make you cry for us."
"Cry out for you, you mean," Harry said, and arched up for another kiss.
"No, I think I meant what I said," Draco said, slowly, and then Harry tilted his head back and exposed his throat for Draco to bite, which he did willingly, because Harry had just found out what Severus was doing, which was sucking his cock down a throat as hot as sunlight.
It was so good. Harry wanted to laugh aloud at how good it was, not because he wanted to make fun of Draco and Severus but just because it was so good it made him joyful, and he wanted everyone in the room to know about that.
Though, from the slow smacking noises Severus was making around his cock and the way Draco had started down his body, lingering over Harry's ribs and nipples and scars in an apparent attempt to learn his sensitive places, they probably knew already.
With a lot of effort, Harry managed to lift his head and open his eyes. Draco smiled brilliantly at him, then closed his eyes as he outlined Harry's hipbone with his tongue. He was crouched at Harry's side, his hands resting on Harry's leg as though he thought he might have to hold him down.
And Severus knelt on the bed between Harry's legs—the bed was bigger than he remembered it being, and when had that happened?—and used his tongue to travel, and trace, and tap, and suck.
Harry reached out. He wanted to touch them, somehow. He wanted to pull on their hair, both of them, and demand that they stop acting selfish and come up to the top of the bed right now so he could make them feel as good as they were making him feel.
But they were too far away, and already it was beginning, that distant train of small explosions in his chest and groin like starbursts before a supernova, and he shuddered and arched up. Severus never choked, only moved his head to the side and kept sucking, and Harry rolled his own head to the side on his pillow in response and let his mouth gape.
Draco was there, coming out of nowhere, filling Harry's mouth with his tongue and stroking deep, murmuring something that Harry didn't entirely catch, but he thought he heard a word like "surprising."
"Good," Harry gasped, the sum total of his thoughts at the moment, the sum total of the world, with pleasure melting down his spine and up his legs. He tried to think of something else. "If you're only sleeping with me to fulfill your bloody debts, then it's good it's surprising that you're having fun, you wanker—"
Draco reared back, and for a moment Harry feared that he'd chased him off. Then Draco reached out and down, and found a part of his cock that Severus hadn't swallowed, and ran his finger along it, then pinched hard.
White light, and golden from Harry clenching his eyelids shut as hard as he could, and aching in his body, and yes, there was the supernova.
And God, so good.
He let his orgasm pass, and leave him limp and dazed and sticky and happy. Then he opened his eyes and smiled at Draco and Severus, who were lying beside him, both with stares so intent that Harry felt rather like a deer with a pack of wolves surrounding it. (Yes, he was sure that someone had cast a spell to make the bed larger). He stretched his arms above his head, stretched his legs apart, and watched the way their gazes snapped down.
Harry looked down, lazily. Yes, he looked rather tempting himself, he thought, with his cock still glistening wet and his inner thighs glowing red.
"Well," he said. "I only have one mouth, but I have one arse, too. Who's going to be the first to let me return the favor?"
Severus and Draco glanced at each other, trading another one of those silent communications that Harry had envied. This one seemed to last longer than normal, though. He waited patiently, reaching down as if he was only cleaning to play with himself.
Severus turned smoothly and seized his hand, raising it to his mouth again. He let his tongue flicker out and run along Harry's finger, then back, curling in the way he had done with Harry's cock. Harry tipped his head back and moaned, then reached out and drew Severus down.
"You want my mouth, then?" he asked him in a muffled voice, before he kissed him hard enough to make Draco jump at the sound. Not far, though, Harry noted smugly. Draco was creeping towards them on hands and knees, his eyes absolutely aglow.
"Yes," Severus said, and performed some sort of complicated rolling maneuver that Harry wondered if he had learned in Death Eater orgies or something—did they have Death Eater orgies?—so that Harry was lying further down on the bed and Severus was kneeling above him. His cock dangled in front of Harry, long and darkly flushed, and Harry let his tongue run out and up and down it the way Severus had done with his finger.
Severus's eyes darkened, and he thrust forwards. Harry had already opened his mouth to accept it, and so Severus didn't make him choke, which perhaps disappointed him. Harry reached up and stroked Severus's groin, slowly, tangling his fingers in the hairs there, then went back to sucking when Severus grunted a complaint.
"That means I have your arse, then."
Harry startled a little as Draco climbed over him, dragging his cock along Harry's cock and hip and crack. But when he realized that Draco was just propping him on his side so he could reach, he laughed and spread his legs. "Yes, please," he said, taking his mouth from Severus to grin at Draco over his shoulder, and then returning it before Severus could complain.
Draco said something inaudible, but Harry chose to believe it was complimentary. He could feel his chest and his head whirling with pleasure, like a long-lasting and mental orgasm. He was happy to be here, on the bed between them, with Severus slowly starting to thrust into his mouth and Draco searching for lube with a constant running commentary of words too soft for Harry to make out.
Since he couldn't see Draco, Harry settled for watching Severus. The way the lids drooped over his dark eyes as he rocked back and forth. The way his muscles tensed and then relaxed as if he was ashamed to thrust too hard. The way he reached up with one hand and then let it drop back helplessly, as if he had intended to support his head and found it too heavy.
Harry wanted him with a fierce, fiery desire that was like shooting stars slanting through his chest, and God, he really was making lots of star comparisons in his head lately, wasn't he?
He would just have to remember to tell Severus and Draco that they took him to heaven.
He was still smirking (and sucking, and lapping) around Severus at that when Draco's first two fingers slid into him. Harry sucked in a breath—which made Severus jump in interesting ways—and flexed around Draco's fingers. Draco paused to say something, but Harry's ears were filled with the buzz of the moment, and he didn't think he would have heard or understood what Draco was saying even if he was concentrating.
"It's okay, go on, go on," he said, and tilted his head back and floated on nothing, so blissed-out, so in wonderland, that it took a touch on his cheek for him to remember Severus again and start sucking.
From then on, it was a race between distraction and attention: the attention of having Severus's cock in his mouth, the distraction of Draco starting into his arse. Harry focused as hard as he could, and still it wasn't always enough, not when Draco could flex and curl and stretch and add more fingers, and Harry was limited to one tongue and an aching jaw that he imagined couldn't be much fun for Severus.
But if it really was less fun for him, he was showing no sign of it. He labored with his head tilted back, breath coming from his chest in slow pants now. Harry recognized the signs of a long climb to his peak, and smiled. He was doing that. He was making Severus happy.
More debts, if they want to see it that way. More tangling together.
More, without end.
That was the thought which made him close his eyes and hum as hard as he could, so that Severus started, and his breath came faster, and faster, and Harry felt as though he was floating along on a rushing river, starting down from the mountains towards the ocean, filling the world with overlapping ripples of sensation and pleasure and laughter and joy.
Severus seemed to feel the same, or at least his spine was stiff and he was fucking Harry's mouth like he did. He reached out, and Harry felt a finger touch his face, tilting it up, at the same moment as Draco sank into him all the way and groaned with something that ran deeper into him than satisfaction.
Harry used a corner of his tongue to lick Severus's finger, the way Severus wanted him to, and used most of it to lick Severus some more, all around in circles, back and down and under, along the vein and along the side, until the musk was in his nostrils and the taste was in his mouth and Severus had stopped rocking, frozen with the muscles in his thighs fixed and shuddering.
"Going to come," Severus said, or Draco said. No, on second thought Harry decided it was Severus's voice, tumbling over him and covering him with a mixture of thick snow and rocks. He rolled his head back and tried to grin at them both at once, then gasped as Draco drove into him until his body quivered.
"Yes," Severus said, and Harry needed no other affirmation than that, really, although the thick taste coating his tongue was certainly pleasant enough on its own. Severus flopped forwards, over him, and lay on him with his head on Harry's shoulder and his hand playing with his hair. Harry could have used it lower, but then—
Then Draco rolled him over, so he was no longer fucking Harry from the side but up on top, Harry pinned beneath him, stomach and cock held against the blankets, Draco gripping his hips as he drove into him, his head falling back too when Harry twisted to look at him, his hair flipping around his face. His lips were swollen and red, his throat swollen and pink.
It hurt Harry's neck to keep looking that direction, and Severus was lying on him in an uncomfortable position now—at least, uncomfortable for Harry, although for all he knew Severus liked to be tangled with his lovers in this particular way—so Harry rolled his head to the side and closed his eyes, panting his own breath into the cavern between his mouth and the pillow, his hand working down towards his cock.
Severus's hand was there first, and Harry had no trouble tracking their limbs now. Draco's hands had short nails, neat but short, as if he cut them all the time, which was the last thing Harry would have expected, and they were strong, too, cutting where he placed them, bruising, crushing. Severus's fingers were delicate, and could curl in multiple directions, it seemed, when he wanted them to, winding about Harry's cock as though he was stroking a rose that would snap off from the stem. Harry had the weird vision of them working in the lab together, Draco pounding the ingredients that needed a strong hand to powder and dust while Severus worked on the more fragile ones, and stifled a hysterical giggle.
Draco came with a bellow, and Harry found himself following as Severus gave a particularly quick tug and sideways jerk on his cock. It was wonderful, the way his body shuddered and then went limp, the way his muscles rolled with pleasure like a storm, even the faint moan that worked its way out of his throat before he could muffle it.
From the way that Severus draped himself over Harry's body for a kiss, and the way Draco embraced him from behind, not pulling out yet as he licked between Harry's shoulder blades, he didn't think they minded.
He woke up in the enlarged bed with the two of them, which surprised and impressed him. Not that he thought they would really fuck him like that and then leave him alone, but you never entirely knew. Harry had known people to do some pretty strange things when it came to sex.
Besides. They still had paying their debts on their minds. Perhaps they thought those debts were done with after one night of fantastic sex and they could go elsewhere and do something else for now.
But when he opened his eyes, Draco was there with a hand on his hip, and Severus was there with his hand on Harry's chest, and both of them were looking at him with expressions better than a smile, because they were fainter and more about the light in their eyes than the way their lips curved. Harry touched one hand, and then the other, and drew them both together in the middle of his chest, over his heart, where they could feel it if they wanted.
Two days ago, a week ago, years ago, he would have been too nervous to ask the question. Now, although he felt heat in his face, he simply asked, "Will you stay with me?"
"In the house?" Severus asked, dipping his head so that his hair swept along Harry's cheek. Draco did the same thing with the other cheek, on the other side.
"In the house," Harry said, and tilted his head back so that he could feel Severus's hair on his lips, too. He caught Draco's and pulled him down close enough to kiss, though he ended up not doing it, just mouthing the words against his lips instead, on purpose, to watch his eyes darken with longing. "In the bed. With me. Will you be with me?"
"You could change your mind tomorrow, and not want us," Severus pointed out, without what sounded like accusation, more like meditation. "You don't know much about us."
"I know," Harry said. "And you don't know much about me. Although if you spent the night in the same bed as me, you'll know I snore."
Draco smiled at him, and closed his eyes, and exhaled. "We—will spend some time," he said. "How else are we going to repay our debts?"
Severus said nothing, but smoothed his hand up and down Harry's flank, stopping to pinch at a few of the sensitive spots Draco had licked.
Harry wanted to ask whether they were going to maintain the fiction of the debts for as long as they spent with him, or if it was a fiction. He could ask. He could accuse them of lots of things, and he could draw back in disgust or worry or shame or terror, and he could risk getting his heart broken.
He had lost so much of his fear, since the war. Ron and Hermione thought it made him reckless with his life alone, but it was a lot more than that. Harry knew he could go on, because he had done it since the war. And if this was only a temporary bringing of pleasure and happiness, in the end, at least it was more than would otherwise have existed.
Harry sometimes aspired to make sure that, every day when he went to bed, there was something new in the world that hadn't been there when he woke up. He was glad, and proud, that this time, it was something like this.
He could let them have the idea of the debts, and if it was real and they parted from him, he didn't think hearts would be bruised. He would still have some time before they made enough money to set up their own shop, anyway.
And if the idea of the debts wasn't real, they might have more than that.
Either way, he could let them have it without challenging them for it.
"Right," he said, and rolled over so that he could suck Draco's cock, which he hadn't done yet, while Severus bit him high on the back and Draco laughed above him at the sudden change of direction, wondrous and wordless and surprised, bright as the coin of the sun purchasing a new debt, or a new day.