Title: Pledges 1/?
Author: Amireal (amireal@abac.com)
Rating: Gosh.... I dunno if I'm up to a sex scene this week... let's say R for adult themes...
Disclaimer: Waddaya mean they're not mine?
Summary: Well... at FIRST it was a challenge response.... it has now turned into a reason to avoid
all responsibility...
Author's notes: First... I tip my hat to all the authors who have similar premises. I probably
borrowed from you guys unconsciously... thank you thank you thank you. Second.. I know I
know... punctuation.. Hey... its 6:30 am here and I haven't been to bed yet... Third... it's a bit
bare bones... I'll fix it on the rewrite... now encourage me!
Archive: Uh sure... just lemme know where...
Feedback: Feed the author... a happy author makes for no WIPs.


"No one will believe that we're lovers." Harry declared with a sigh.

"You should have thought of that before you opened your mouth." Snape shot back.
Harry played with the hem of robes. "Is it my fault that I can't walk down the street without being
assaulted?"

"Yes."

"You sound pretty sure of yourself."

The potions master waved his hand indistinctly. "That's because I am."

"How is it my fault?" Harry demanded, sounding precariously close to whining.

"You exist, is that not reason enough?"

Harry opened his mouth to protest but was cut off with a snarl. "If your tone of voice gets any
higher pitched I will personally remove your tongue and hand it to the 3rd years for their next
potion."

Harry closed his mouth abruptly.

"Smart boy." Snape tossed over his shoulder as he opened a hinged box that had been sitting on
his shelf. After rummaging for a few moments, he produced two pieces of jewelry. Rings.
Platinum rings. Expensive looking platinum rings. Not that simple bands of the stuff would have
been cheep. But these. These had intricate carvings. And they looked old.

"Rings?" Harry squeaked.

"No, broaches."

Silence.

"Of course they're rings Potter. Imbecile." He closed the box carefully and placed it back into its
original position between the small jade statue of a young boy and his favorite potions book.

"Was that a joke?"

"No, it was an insult to your intelligence. Really sometimes I wonder how you ever pass any of
your classes." He walked slowly around the room, adjusting things as he went.

"Why rings?"

Snape just raised an eyebrow.

"I still say no one is going to believe it." Harry looked him in the eye for a moment, but quickly
turned away.

Snape sighed and stopped pacing for a moment. His expression did not change, but a flash of
defeat went through him "They don't have to believe it for the spell to work." He responded
tiredly. "We are well and truly without recourse, other than the obvious that is."

"Would you believe me if I said it was an accident?"

He resumed his circuit around the room. "I can hardly believe you would do this on purpose."

Harry began explaining. "I was walking down the street minding my own business when this girl
just-"

"Please spare me the anecdotes from the Potter fan club."

"I was reading." Harry persevered. "You know. Studying. When this girl just- " He seemed at a
loss for words momentarily, "attacked me."

Snape was examining his bookshelf carefully as he responded. "Let me see if I fully comprehend
the situation, Potter. You were walking down Diagon Alley and it suddenly occurs to you that it
would be the perfect time to begin that new study regimen that Miss Granger has, without a
doubt, been attempting to shove down your throat. Really Potter, did it not occur to you that it
was one of the more stupid, irresponsible, rash, thoughtless, immature-"

"Alright! I get it."

"- and what on earth possessed you to fiddle with your wand at the same time?"

"I wasn't thinking." He answered lamely.

Still not looking at Harry. "Obviously."

"You're not helping."

"That was never my intent. But if you really want my help- "

"Not really." Harry muttered.

"-NEVER read a spell out loud for the first time, ESPECIALLY if you're holding your wand."

"Thank for that first year refresher course!"

Finally turning around. "You obviously needed it."

"Look, I'm just as excited about this as you are!" Harry finally snapped.

"I hardly doubt that." His voice held little emotion. Harry looked at him curiously, but Snape just
shook his head. "Come let's find the headmaster. As intractable as this situation is, I wouldn't
want to miss the look on his face for all the gold in Gringotts."

"That's scary."

"Please, Mr. Potter enlighten me. There are so many things about this situation that could be
deemed scary, I'd like to know which one has caught your fancy"

"The look on his face. I just imagined it. Him trying not to look horrified as he offers us a lemon
drop."

Snape's lips twitched. "If I time it just right, I may be able to get him to drop the whole damned
tin on the floor."

As Snape swept forward he could hear a familiar muffled chuckle. He'd heard it often enough in
class. "Really Potter, who would have thought you had such a malicious sense of humor."

"Look who's talking."

"Touche."

Part 2


The walk to the headmaster's office was filled with a tense silence. Snape kept his eyes forward,
not even making an attempt to acknowledge Harry. At the large gargoyle he stopped and closed
his eyes briefly. "Peppermint schnapps." He whispered quietly.

"Peppermint Schnapps?"

"On the holidays the Headmaster like to... let his sense of humor out." Snape's voice was dry and
uneven.

"I didn't know his sense of humor could get anymore... out."

"Consider yourself lucky."

The Headmaster appeared in front of the, now open, door. "Now Severus, what sort of rumor are
you spreading about me?"

A glare. "Not spreading any rumor Headmaster."

The headmaster 'tut tutted' and motioned for both of them to enter.

They both shuffled in and silently took seats. On opposite sides of the room.

Dumbledore studied the tableau in front of him for a moment and then said, "I must say, this is a
welcome surprise. Unexpected but welcome."

They sat in silence for a few more moments. Both Snape and Harry avoiding eye contact with the
Headmaster.

"Well, lemon drop?"

"We've been Pledged." Snape ground out. The sound of several small objects hitting the floor
made him smile. A small choke from the other side of the room took both older mens attentions.
Turning they saw Harry, red faced and bitting his hand. There were tears streaming down his face.

"Harry, are you crying?" Dumbledore sounded concerned.

He shook his head frantically.

"Then what's the matter?" This time it was Snape who asked.

Harry just threw his head back and let out a loud peal of laughter. "I'm s-sorry." He choked out
between spasms. "I just- the lemon drops- and," he hiccuped again and a fresh wave of giggles
threatened to erupt. "I just pictured Ron and Hermione- Ron finding out and-" deep breath, "and
tripping and sprawling on the floor a-and Hermione, lecturing me... on safe- s-safe spell practices-
" He lost it once more and didn't try to recover. He just leaned back in the chair clutching his
sides as they twitched irregularly.

The Headmaster gazed worriedly at Harry. "Severus, stay here while I take Harry to Poppy, I
think he could benefit from something relaxing."

Snape just nodded absently. He gaze had resumed studying the carpet. When he was finally alone,
he slumped forward and buried his face in his hands. Slow deep breaths. The tension strummed
through his body and he began to shake. In. Out. In. Out. Breathing. If he kept breathing maybe
he wouldn't pass out. A tentative hand rested on his shoulder. "Back already?" He asked without
looking up.

"Its been more than 15 minutes, Severus."

He grunted in response.

"Severus. Why don't you tell me what happened?"

"How is he?"

"Resting comfortably. I think it was too much all at once."

"Why ever would you think that Albus? What did you tell Poppy?"

"That it was Voldemort related."

Grunt.

"Severus, tell me what happened."

"There isn't much to tell, other than, I told you so."

"Severus, now is not the time."

"No Albus. Now is the perfect time. I always said that boy's inattentiveness would get him in
trouble some day." A small snort. "I just wish I'd known it was going to get me into trouble as
well. I'd have learned to duck."

"Please Severus. Just tell me so that I might figure out what I can do to help."

He sighed and quietly began. "As I said before. There really isn't much to tell."

**********************************************

He was walking towards the apothecary. One last stop and he could return to his dungeons. Away
from these people and their inability to keep to their own personal space. He was about to make
turn into the shop when a shove from behind sent him stumbling forward. He whirled around and
found Harry Potter falling in his direction. "Mr. Potter!" He yelled.

Harry landed heavily against him. Looking up, his eyes wide with surprise, "Professor Snape?"

Snape opened his mouth to offer a scathing retort and demand an explanation when the feeling hit
him.

Perfection.

Completion

Peace.

Soft hair.

His hands had involuntarily come up to hold the boy steady.

Green eyes.

Beautiful green eyes. Deep. With emotion. Great gobs of indefinable emotion.

He'd never felt like this. Not even after solving a particularly difficult bit of research.

This was extraordinary. This was perfect.

Strong hands on his arms. Strong body next to his. Hot breath on his neck.

Breath? Oh yes. They were moving closer. Bodies relaxing against each other.

"Severus?"

The voice cut through some of the fog. But he couldn't bring himself to do much more that turn
his head.

"Severus? It *was* you. In The Pledge, that is."

Snape finally focused on the person talking to him and found himself face to face with Jonas
Kirby, a low level death eater.

Part 3

"So there was a Witness?" Dumbledore leaned back in his seat.

"Yes Albus!" He snarled. "There was a damned Witness!"

Sighing. "Then there really isn't much we can do."

Sitting up strait. "Thank you for stating the utterly obvious."

"The Witness, did he..." Dumbledore trailed off.

"See the scar?" Snape asked. "I don't know. I nodded and gathered up Potter and his things and
got out of there as soon as possible." A pause and then a sigh. "I supposed we'll find out soon
enough."

Dumbledore nodded. "All we can do is wait then."

"Yes. Wait." He snorted lightly. "Have I ever told you that it's a joy to be me?"

"Now Severus..."

"No Albus!" He slammed his fist on the desk on front of him. A few more lemon drops fell to the
floor. He stood up and leaned forward heavily. "Don't 'Now Severus' me! You are not the one
having the incredibly dismaying day." Turning abruptly, he began to pace the room.

"Does Harry know?" The question was asked quietly.

He stopped in front of a particular set of books he'd always liked. Not that he was actually
looking at them. "He knows some. How much... I couldn't bring myself to talk about it. Albus...
I..."

Kindly. "Yes, Severus?"

"It doesn't matter." Dismissive.

"It does to me."

Still not looking at him. "Well it shouldn't"

"Why?"

"Because its not real! You know that Albus!" His back was taught. Knuckles white and stretched
as they clenched and unclenched compulsively.

"Its real enough, at the moment," Dumbledore persisted, "and it will do you some good to talk
about it."

He whirled, tension emanating from everything that he did. Stalking up to the desk again, he
fumbled in his robes a moment and produced the rings. He slapped them down and said, "Just
charm the blasted rings and tell me when they're ready." With a swish of robes and a low growl.
He was gone.

Albus Dumbledore sat back in his chair and watched the retreating figure with a heavy heart.
"Severus my child, for what its worth... I'm so sorry." He said to his empty office, then got up
and began his way to the library where he could look up the correct charms.
__________________________________________________________________________

Step. Step. Turn. Step. Step. Turn. Step.

He stopped. It was ridiculous. Go or stay. He should go. Go far away. To the dungeons. His
dungeons.

He crept into the infirmary.

There he was. In the first bed. Glowing in the moonlight. His legs nearly gave out.

Unsteadily, he moved forward, his eyes never leaving the pale figure asleep in the bed. Arriving
next to the bed, his knees finally buckled. Sinking slowly to the floor he ran a hand through his
hair moving it out of his face, offering himself an unobstructed view.

Torture. Excruciating torture.

Slowly his hand came up and hovered over the dark mop of hair that rested haphazardly on the
pillow.

A tremor. Resist it. Just once. He'd have this small thing. Once.

The hand descended and caught a few silky strands in its fingers. Such a simple thing. So
complex. So inviting.

So perfect.

The feeling was surfacing again.

He wanted to sink into it. Sink into him.

"Oh god." He whispered hoarsely.

He should leave. Leave now. Don't look back. Don't think. Don't... touch.

His fingers were moving now. Down tracing the cheek. Then the chin.

He had to stop.

Another hand tangled in his. Sleepy eyes looked up at him.

He pulled back, made to leave.

"No." The plea sounded wrenched from the boy's mouth. The other's fingers tightened on his
own. "Don't go."

"I shouldn't be here."

"Please. Don't go. Don't stop." Harry choked on the last word.

His fingers hadn't stopped. They were still touching that magnificent, silky skin.

"I shouldn't-"

"Please." An entreaty. Dragged out against the boys will. Then the other hand was at him arm.
Unbuttoning the cuff. Shaking hands fought with the bottons, but eventually won.

Oh.

He was touching him.

Potter. Harry. Was touching him. Long, slow, languid strokes.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

Nothing should feel this good. Just touching. Hand on cheek. Hand on arm. Skin on skin.
Entranced. Nothing ever felt like this.

It was wrong. So wrong.

Not real. Not right.

"Stop." The word took so much effort to utter. Not like the stroking. That was easy. "We have to
stop." He couldn't make his fingers move. "This isn't real." He closed his eyes. Don't look. "This
isn't real Harr- Potter." With more force. "We must stop!" He wrenched his fingers away.

Loss. Complete loss.

"I'm sorry." He said. "Albus will explain, but you must understand. Its not real."

The hand was still on his arm. Stroking. Oh god. If he didn't leave soon. He wouldn't be able to.

A deep breath then. Adrift. Alone. He'd gotten his arm back. But he had to leave. Quickly.

He stood. Back away. "I'm sorry." He whispered again to those eyes. They followed him.
Confused but understanding. Once outside he turned and fled.

Part 4

Harry woke up in layers. Whatever Madame Pomfrey had given him last certainly had a calming
affect, but he'd still had a fitful sleep. Now his head felt like stuffed cotton. He muzzily sifted
through the memories of the day before.

Walking down the street muttering to himself, idly twirling his wand. Which, in hindsight, he
admitted probably wasn't the best idea in the world. Not that he's ever admit that to Snape.

Snape.

There was a whole set of feelings he didn't want to examine too closely.

Just the memory of being pressed against him for those few moments made his 16 year old body
stand up and take notice. Never mind last night.

Last night.

Strong calloused fingers caressing him. So softly. It was gentleness he'd never even guessed the
potions master had in him. At least not with another human being. If he'd been a potion-

No. Don't think that. Potions led to drinking. Drinking led to lips. Lips led to tongues and oh-

No. Crabbe. Goyle. Crabbe AND Goyle. There. Better.

"Harry?" A kind voice asked.

"Headmaster?" He managed to mutter.

"That's it. Time to wake up." A gentle hand was placed on his arm.

"No. Sleep."

"You haven't been asleep for a good while now." Dumbledore knowingly answered.

Harry reluctantly rolled over and faced the headmaster with bleary eyes. "Haven't exactly been
awake either."

"Come on Harry. There are things we need to talk about. Before classes resume and your friends
get back from their holiday breaks."

He let out an unintelligible groan.

"Harry?"

"My friends. I'm just picturing their reaction. Except this time Hermione faints and Ron turns a
alarming shade of purple."

"Let's start there then. There's no reason they need to know."

"I think they'd notice my... my..." His what? Inability to keep his hands and mind off Snape?

"After we complete the ceremony you'll find the... compulsion... more manageable."

"Ceremony?" He panicked. "You mean I have to-"

"Not marriage Harry."

His shoulders slumped in relief and maybe a little disappointment. But he wasn't going to think
about that. "Then what's the ceremony?"

"Just a completion of what you started yesterday."

"And I'll feel less out of control when its done?" Maybe there was hope.

"In theory."

That wasn't very reassuring. "How soon can we do it then?"

"I need to do a bit of research first. There are a few charms that need be placed on the rings."

"The rings?" Harry remembered them from yesterday. "How do you expect me to keep this a
secret if we go around wearing identical platinum rings?"

"I'm working on that Harry. Don't worry."

"I can't help but worry. This is so- so... Why would anyone use this charm anyway?"

"It was typically used in arranged marriages."

"Arranged marriages?"

"How do you think purebloods remained purebloods for a hundred generations." Came a voice
from the doorway.

Harry looked up and caught dark eyes, he stared for a moment and then jerked his head away.
"So what does this spell have to do with arranged marriages?" He asked shakily.

"For one, it pretty much guaranteed an heir."

He chuckled nervously.

"For another, it tended to discourage running away with the children."

Turning to Dumbledore, Harry looked worried. "But I thought you said it was only temporary."

"Harry my boy. Even the memory of such intense emotion can do a lot to soften a relationship.
Remember, traditionally this spell was done between to people who were to be married. There
was no reason to resist."

"Also the two parts of the spell are usually performed within minutes of each other. As part of the
wedding ceremony itself." Snape added.

"So how soon can we do the second part?" Soon. Please. Or he may have to be locked in a room.

"It will take me about a day. Learning charms from a book is much more difficult than from
another person. Especially if you want to make modifications."

"Modifications?" Snape looked worried.

"Severus you must know that despite the control the rings offer there are still certain-"

"Yes." Snape cut him off with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Certain. I trust you are working on
an alternative then?"

"An alternative to what?" Harry had lost the thread of conversation some where. He was probably
too busy watching that hand.

"Sex." Snape's voice was low. Rumbling.

A shiver went down Harry's spine. "Oh." He looked at Snape for only the second time since he's
entered the conversation. Their eyes met again. They held until Snape looked down and grabbed
his arm in a hiss of pain. He was out of bed and at his side before he could think about his actions.
"What's the matter?" Harry placed his left hand over Snape's.

Snape looked at their hands for a moment and then answered. "It seems that Mr. Kirby has let
someone know what he saw yesterday."

Harry brought his right hand up to massage the tense muscle just above the other man's elbow.

"Severus. Do you know what you're going to say?" Dumbledore asked.

"I've thought about it all night. I believe I've come up with something fairly plausible."

All night? Harry noticed the deep circles under the dark eyes. The man had probably gotten even
less sleep than he had. Then it occurred to Harry. Snape had been called. "What are you going to
tell him?" He asked quietly.

A long pause. In which their fingers seemed to have gotten tangled up again. "I have a number of
possibilities. I won't know exactly what story I'll tell him until I am actually in his presence and I
can... judge his reactions."

"Oh."

"Yes. Quite." Snape's thumb started to trace small circles against the back of his hand. "I should
go." It was said more to Harry than to the headmaster.

Snape's thumb was causing sparks. Sparks shooting from his hand strait down to his- No! He was
not thinking about that. His hand was gently untangled and the other carefully pulled away.

Still holding his hand. "Mr. Potter. While I'm gone. Please refrain from doing something else that
I will find incredibly annoying."

Harry could only nod dumbly as the last of the contact was removed.

Snape turned to Dumbledore. "Albus. I don't know what would happen if... if he doesn't believe
my story. He should not be left alone."

Harry, for once, completely understood the unsaid implications of the conversation. Who knew
what Harry would do. If Voldemort killed Snape.

"Of course Severus. Go and be careful."

With a nod and a last look at Harry, he was gone.


Part 5

The first thing he saw after he'd apparated was Lucius Malfoy's snide face. An auspicious
beginning, if anything else.

"Welcome Severus. You're arrival has been greatly... anticipated." Malicious glee rang from
every pore of the blonde man's body.

"Lucius, an honor," sneer, "as always."

"Follow me Severus, the meeting has already started."

That was never a good sign. If you were late. You were noticed. Also, Lucius had been waiting
for him. Missing being his usual sycophant self and keeping his lips as close to The Dark Lord's
ass as possible in favor of meeting him meant one of two things. Either Lucius was willing to
forgo some of his obsessive sucking up to get a better seat for the whole proceeding or...
Voldemort had sent him. Neither of the prospects made Snape feel very joyful.

The room they entered was full. A large meeting. Coincidence? Or very bad sign?

Jonas Kirby was standing in the front, where Lucius usually stood.

Bad sign.

"Se-ev-er-u-us." Voldemort hissed out his name.

Bowing down on one knee. Not looking up, he answered. "My Lord."

"You've been a busy boy, Se-ev-er-u-us."

"My Lord?"

"Jonas had a very interesting story to share with us."

"It seems Se-ev-er-u-us, Jonas was lucky enough to witness a Pledging today. A very unusual
thing to witness these days, is it not?"

Ah. The Socratic method. Trust the human psyche to feel its most intimidated when faced with an
angry teacher. Of course, the scaly skin, glowing eyes and marked penchant for cruelty certainly
helped.

"Yes." He agreed casually. "Very unusual."

"Tell me Se-ev-er-u-us, what possessed you to do such a thing."

"Sex." Simple. Base. Easy for him to understand.

"As reasons go. That's not a bad one." A finger under his chin raised his eyes to meet
Voldemort's, "But tell me Se-ev-er-u-us Why. Harry. Potter."

Anger. A lot of it. He had to appease him.

"After I was... done... I thought it would be... easier to deliver him to you."

Thoughtful silence, for a moment. "An interesting plan. Not without it's merit. Why not just tell
me?"

This was going to hurt. "I was taking the initiative."

"How very thoughtful. Next time however, Se-ev-er-u-us, Come. To. Me. First." *CRUCIO!*

_________

Harry's nerveless fingers dropped the glass of pumpkin juice on the table. His eyes went wide and
he paled.

Dumbledore was out of his seat and at Harry's side in an instant.

The rest of the teachers and students in the room, which weren't many, looked confused.

"Poppy!" He yelled, urgently.
_________

"You should know better Se-ev-er-u-us."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm sure you are." *CRUCIO!*
_________

Harry gasped and tightened his fingers around Dumbledore's arm.

"Help me get him to the hospital wing."

Dimly he could feel two sets of arms go around him.
_________

"Lucius!"

"Yes My Lord?"

"Have your fun."

"Yes, My Lord."
_________

"Oh god."

"Harry, what's wrong?"

Gasp. "Was.... curse... now-" His eyes were closed, skin clammy, "...something... oh god...
sharp."

"Albus, what's going on?"
_________

He could feel the blood dripping down his stomach.

Cut. Wait. Cut. Cut. Wait. Cut. Cut. Cut. Wait. Wait.

Never know when the next one comes. One consolation was that Lucius knew what he was
doing. Maximum pain, minimum damage.

He wouldn't die. No. Voldemort looked was entirely too happy with his plan.
_________

He couldn't get enough air. Every breath hurt.

A flurry of robes ran into the room. "Albus!"

"Minerva." He acknowledged.

Harry moaned and clutched his stomach.

"What's happening, Albus?"

He distantly thought that she sounded so sad.
_________

Thwap!

The sound of flesh hitting flesh. No more knives then.

Fists. Feet. Elbows. Knees.

"Next time I hope you remember to confide in me Se-ev-er-u-us."

"Yes..." He managed to croak out.
_________

Another choked moan. The pain had changed.

"How much longer Albus?"

"I wish I knew."
_________

SNAP!
_________

A scream.
_________

SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!
_________

Sobbing.

"Oh, Harry..."

Curl up in a ball. Don't think.

Quiet. Nothing.

It was over. Oh god it was over.

"Harry?"

"No more... Done..."

"Sleep Harry. I'll wake you when he's back."


Part 6

"...Hagrid found him at the edge of the forest..."

...

"...they're shallow cuts... so many..."

...

"...how many broken bones..."

...

Everything hurt.

As an idle thought, Harry tried to count the number of muscles in his stomach simply based on the
aches.

Attempting to roll over ripped a moan from his hoarse throat.

"Awake then?" The Headmaster.

"No." He wasn't up to having any more uncomfortable conversations.

A small chuckle. "We have to stop meeting like this, young man."

"Believe me headmaster, no one would like that more than me." Remembering why he hurt so
much in the first place, he asked, "Is he alright?"

"He's better." Dumbledore sounded so tired.

"How long was I... asleep?" More like passed out cold.

"You've missed breakfast."

His head jerked up in surprise. "But I was just at lunch!"

"That was yesterday." The Headmaster had this way of presenting obvious information as if they
were completely new facts. It could be very annoying.

Trying not to sound like he was begging. "Can I see him?"

Worried eyes focused on him. "Is that wise Harry?"

"I don't know." He sighed. "I don't know if it's the Pledge or because I felt everything that he
went through. I just know that I need to see him."

A slow nod. "All right Harry. I just wanted to make sure you knew your own mind."

"That's knowing my own mind?"

Dumbledore graced him with a smile. "Its close enough."

The Headmaster led him to the other side of the ward. To a bed that was surrounded by a drawn
curtain. Silently Dumbledore parted the curtain for him.

Harry looked at the pale, prone figure unconscious on the hospital bed. Suddenly Severus Snape
was frail and human. That scared Harry more than anything else.

"I have some things I need to attend Harry. I'll be back in a little while."

Harry nodded absently as the Headmaster left.

There was a chair next to the bed. Harry slowly sat down in it.

This was ridiculous. He needed... he needed...

His hand went out and gathered up a pale slender companion.

Good.

The others fingers flexed slightly and mingled with his.

Better.

But this was awkward. His back ached. His arm ached. His head ached.

His bed was so very far away.

And Snape looked so alone.

Slowly. Carefully. He slid in next to the other man. Making sure that his arm and hand were the
only things putting any pressure on anything, he closed his eyes. Then promptly, fell soundly
asleep.
_________

The first thing he was aware of was a warm weight settled comfortably across his stomach. Next,
a soft puff of air against his neck and a shifting, deeply breathing body next to his.

Summoning some strength he cracked an eyelid open-

-and was greeted with a mop of messy dark hair. He shifted an arm minutely so that his fingers
could come into contact with the wild strands.

"You will be the death of me one day, Mr. Potter." he murmured and took the opportunity to
breathe in the younger man.

He couldn't deny that this was the most comfortable he'd been... ever.

It had been far too long since he'd felt another body laying next to his.

It felt far too good.

Far. Too. Good.

And the feeling was back.

He couldn't really bring himself to care.

Looking down, dark eyes met green once more.

"What is this, Professor?"

Distance. He needed distance. "A magically induced hormonal reaction, Mr. Potter."

"This doesn't feel hormonal."

Look away, fool. "It's all hormonal, Potter."

"Mush ball." A small smile.

Oh god. That mouth. "Are you attempting to be more annoying than usual?"

"Well you asked me not to do something that would annoy you while you were gone, I have
about 18 hours to make up for."

"So you decided to crawl, uninvited into bed with me?" Oh. Don't think that. His fingers buried
themselves deeper into Harry's hair.

"No, that was because I was tired and that chair was not made for sleeping in."

He was tired? Didn't he have his own bed? "Why are you here anyway? Other than the obvious
annoyances."

"The Headmaster woke me up and I asked to see you."

"Why?"

The green eyes looked away and softly Potter explained. "I only had to feel what happened. You
had to do so much more."

Fingers tightened involuntarily. "You... felt... it?"

A nod. "Did you scream? My throat feels like I screamed for hours."

"Oh Harry." He gave up and pulled the younger body closer to his. Sliding his arms around the
slender waist, he discovered an even better feeling than before. Belonging.

"I'm sorry." Came a muffled voice from somewhere near his chest.

"For what?" He started rubbing circles into the warm back he was holding.

"This is my fault."

Arms tightened around him. "I thought we'd established that earlier."

"Does this bother you?"

"This? I'm afraid you're going to have to be more specific than that." Legs began to tangle.

"Not being in control."

"It might. It did. I'm just too tired to care right now."

"Me too."

A soft brush of lips where hair met skin. "Then go to sleep." Please.

Eventually, soft snoring lulled him to sleep.

Part 7

The smell of something wonderful tickled his nose.

"Severus." A persistent voice echoed in his head.

He chose to ignore it. He was comfortable. Very comfortable.

"Severus, you need to eat." The voice spoke again.

He pulled the pliable body closer to him.

"So does Harry."

Harry?

Potter!

His eyes shot open.

A smiling Headmaster's face swam before him.

"There we go. Was that so hard?"

He chose to respond with a glare.

"I'm going to go talk to Poppy. Please take the time to wake Harry up and... disentangle
yourselves. There are things we must discuss."

Before he could answer, Albus had left.

He allowed himself a small sigh and a brief tightening of arms.

Then, "Harry, wake up."

He got a mumble and a nuzzle for his efforts.

Warm skin insinuating itself closer.

He was starting to tingle.

"Harry." A slight shake.

Soft lips found his neck.

"Potter!" Desperate now.

"Mmm..wha?... whazzit?"

"Get up now, before I throw you off the bed."

The boy stretched, arching his back and letting out a low moan.

It took every ounce of self control he had left, not to simply flip them both over and get
reacquainted with the wonders of friction.

"Food, Mr. Potter."

"Mmmkay."

"Please get up before the Headmaster returns. I don't know if I can deal with another of his all
knowing smiles."

His head shot up a startled look spread across his face. "The Headmaster? Was here?"

"Brilliant deduction."

"Thank you."

Eye roll. "That wasn't a compliment."

"Could have fooled me." An impish grin mocked him.

"Annoying boy! Get up and start eating." He pointed to the tray sitting next to the bed piled with
food.

Slowly Harry shifted. First the legs disappeared, then the warm, supple-

No. The body. The body moved away.

Then the arms. The arms that had been wrapped around him all night. They weren't unwrapping.
They were sliding. Sliding across his torso as Harry moved back.

Oh god. Please just go away.

Go away and leave an old man and his desperation in peace.

He'd stopped.

Why had he stopped?

Oh.

His arms were still locked tightly around the boy.

Another act of will and he let go.

They were separate.

Alone.

God, where was Albus' annoyingly cheerful face when he needed it?

They sat there and stared morosely into space.

He watched Harry make a half hearted attempt at eating some chicken.

Then he watched Harry throw the food down in disgust. "This isn't working."

He arched an eyebrow. "Again, Mr. Potter. You're going to have to clarify your statement. I
think I'm beginning to see root of your problems in essay writing."

"This." Harry waved his arms in and all encompassing gesture. "This sitting in the same room.
Being together but not... touching. I think its getting worse."

"What makes you think that?" Don't say it. Let him be weak. Let him want.

"Before I could.. I could make myself concentrate on something else. Now... all I can think is..."

"Needing..." The word tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop it.

"Yes." A low, breathy agreement. Then an explosion. "I hate this! This is my life! My body!"

"Yes it is."

Harry shook his fist and leaned forward. "Damn it! Get angry! DO something!"

"I am doing something Mr. Potter. I'm sitting here." He dared to meet those eyes again. "Doing.
Nothing."

"Oh I see. I get angry. You get even less human."

Oh. That. Infuriating. Boy. "Human, Mr. Potter?" A deadly whisper. "Tell me, what is more
human?" Straining towards Harry. "Sitting here?" He gestured to himself. "Or," deep breath,
"dragging you bodily back into this bed and-" Stop. He had to stop.

"What?" Harry sounded breathless.

They stared at each other taking ragged gasps.

He sat back. "Nothing. Mr. Potter. Absolutely nothing."

They stared at each other some more.

"Eat something." He ordered tersely.

"I can't. It takes too much attention away from..."

"Right. Here." He offered a hand. Harry just stared at him dumbly. "Take my hand Mr. Potter."

"Oh." He did.

Yes. Oh. Much better. He could breathe again. "Hand me a plate."

They sat and chewed in silence until the Headmaster returned.

Dumbledore observed their hands and asked, "Having problems?"

Dryly. "That's an understatement."

Harry rolled his eyes and said, "We can't seem to separate."

Bushy eyebrows rose. "Literally?"

"Not quite."

"I'm afraid you're going to have to be more specific Severus."

A snort came from Harry's general direction. The scathing glare he threw at the little twit only
made him laugh harder.

Through clenched teeth, he explained, "If. We're. Not... Touching. We. Can't. Do. Anything.
Else." Then, as an afterthought. "I think I understand why the two parts of the ceremony were
don so closely together."

"I'm afraid I do too. I lost some time last night and consequently the charms are not done. I'll go
finish them now. I'll come back and collect both of you tonight." He got up to leave.

"Headmaster?"

He turned back. "Yes, Harry?"

"Ron and Hermione come back in 2 days. Is this... problem... going to be solved by then?"

"It should be."

But then there will be an entire load of other problems, won't there Albus.

"I've told Poppy and Minerva. I was asked to give you each one of these," he showed them two
small, blue bottles, "after you were done eating. Don't look at me like that Severus. Its just a
sleeping drought. You both need to rest. You two won't be disturbed until I return."

With a wave and a smile Dumbledore left them in peace.

Still glaring at the space the Headmaster had occupied moments before. "Why can't that man ever
say exactly what he means?"

"Personally? I think he likes to annoy you."

Observant bugger. "One day Mr. Potter, you may turn out to be more than an annoying boy."

"One day you may learn how to give a compliment."

"That was a compliment."

"Uh huh." Gesturing with his hands. "Drink your potion and shove over."

Grumbling. "I would remind you that I'm still your teacher." He moved over.

Harry climbed in next to him. "And I would like to get some sleep that's actually restful."

Strong arms, quidditch conditioned, wrapped around him. His allowed his hands to slide up and
caress supple back muscles. Harry was nearly on top of him. Relaxing against him.

This was getting more and more complicated and he didn't like it at all.

Harry burrowed deeper. Entangling them further.

Didn't like it. No matter how wonderful it felt.

Part 8

He felt ridiculous. Walking through the hallways. Holding hands.

With Harry Potter.

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Never mind the fact that the wall was looking like a more and more appealing place to throw the
boy against and-

He was doing it again.

Whatever Albus had planned had better work.

For some reason he didn't have faith in Albus's 'don't-worry-Severus-just-trust-me-and-
everything's-going-to-be-alright' smile.

They'd stopped walking.

At his rooms? Why on earth where they here?

It better not be because - "Albus. You told me you found a way around the... urge."

"I did, my dear boy. I just thought you'd be more comfortable here."

"Why can't you just tell me what you did." He was perilously close to whining. Too much time
with the boy.

The headmaster turned his twinkling eyes on him. "What would be the fun in that?"

Meddling old coot. Damned, manipulative, annoying, know-it-all-

"Severus, are you going to let us in?"

Wordlessly he walked up to the portrait and touched it in several places.

It swung open noiselessly.

"Now what, Headmaster?"

"Why, we go in, of course."

"Brilliant." Must learn not ask questions like that.

He swept in, forgetting that his hand was still hopelessly entwined with another's. That is, he
forgot, until he stepped forward , sharply tugging the aforementioned hand, which caused the boy,
whom he was studiously not thinking about, to stumble forward and shove him into the wall.

Oh. Well. This was nice too.

"Come children." A chiding voice sad. "None of that."

Some days he really wished he could set fire to people using just his eyes.

They managed to make it inside and sitting without anymore... incidents.

"Now to get down to business."

"Finally." This better work.

"First. Practical matters. The rings. I've completed all but one of the charms."

"I thought everything was ready." Harry spoke up.

"It is. I just needed both of you for the last bit." The Headmaster revealed the two rings and
handed one to each of them. "Place them in your left hands please. Good. Now close your hands
and hold them out to me." Dumbledore took hold of each of them and muttered a few words.

A flash of power went through him, then nothing.

"That should be it. Hand each other your rings. They have to go on the same fingers. I suggest the
ring finger, seeing as how that's where these rings were charmed to go in the first place."

"Sir?"

"Certain rings," He began, not willing to wait for the roundabout explanation the Headmaster
would undoubtedly use, "usually ones intended to be passed down from generation to generation
can have a charm put on them that... adjusts to the new wearer. Now please, put the damned thing
on."

"Oh." Harry fumbled a bit, but managed.

He slid the ring on...

...and something unclenched inside him.

Harry looked similarly relieved.

"Now for the rest."

"NOW?" They said it at the same time. That probably wasn't good.

"Calm down. Its just a few house keeping bits. Nothing serious."

He raised an eyebrow. "According to whom?"

The Headmaster apparently chose to ignore that question, because he continued on as if he hadn't
heard. "First , no one will see the rings if they don't know that they're there."

"Obscurus." He nodded approvingly. "Good choice."

"Thank you Severus. I thought so as well. Secondly the... attraction."

Harry let loose an exasperated sound and jumped up. "Oh for gods sake. Just call it what it is!
What did you do to fix the fact that we want to screw like minxes!"

"Ah. Thank you, Mr. Potter, for ah, clarifying the situation."

"I'm sorry, I'm just frustrated." Harry turned away and continued in a lower voice, "In more ways
than one."

He wasn't the only one.

Dumbledore continued. "I've repressed, or rather, sublimated the charm. I couldn't get rid of it,
its embedded too deeply into the spell as a whole, but you'll be able to appease it in other ways."

"Other ways?" What did the old man do now?

"Ah. Hand holding. Erm. Sitting together. Mostly what you've already been doing."

If it weren't for the other atrocities involved in the current situation, he'd almost enjoy Albus's
discomfort.

"Once a day, for a portion of time should do it." Turning to Harry. "Between me, you, Severus,
Professor McGonagall, and Madame Pomfrey, there should be ample opportunity to remove you
from your friends for an hour or two every day."

"How long?" He had to know when he'd get his life back.

"How long what, Severus?"

"How long each night? How long into the future will we need this?" How long will he yearn?

"Each night? An hour. Perhaps 2, especially in the beginning. As for the other... It depends on a
great many things. The strength of the castor, the whimsy of the spell and probably the length of
time that went by between the beginning of the casting and the end."

"In other words, wait and see."

"Yes."

"How very reassuring."

"For now, however, I suggest that Harry stay here. None of his roommates stayed for the
holidays. You need to show up for meals in the Great Hall, but other than that, your time is your
own. I'll have the house elves send down some of Harry's things."

Before he could say anything, the blasted man was gone.

And they were alone.

And they weren't touching.

Well it was a start. He could think.

Not well. Because foremost on his mind was the compulsion to gather the boy up in his arms. But
he could think about other things as well.

"I suppose this means you're going to give me even MORE detentions."

A malicious sneer was his only answer. "I hope you're tired."

"I'm impressed I'm still standing."

He got up and headed towards the bedroom. "Then follow me."

He watched Harry hungrily take in the room. "Don't tell me you were expecting something
ridiculous like silver and green decor?"

"No." Harry crawled under the covers. "Just chains."

Shiver. God he needed to get laid.

It would be so easy to-

No. It. Wouldn't.

Sighing he climbed into bed. With Harry Potter. Again.

Somewhere, someone was laughing, very hard.

He was in the middle of creating a very gruesome death when an arm snaked across his chest.

And he thought he'd been relaxed before.

With a mental sigh, he took the hand in his own and settled down to sleep.


Part 9

Oooh.

Niiiice.

Very, very nice.

He rolled his hips forward again.

Extraordinary.

Beautiful even.

Arms tightened around him and-

ARMS?

Shit!

He rolled away, scooped up his robe and ran for the bathroom.

Well that probably ruined his image forever.

15 minutes later he returned to the bedroom and was greeted by the sight of Harry semi-conscious
in his bed.

"Wake up, Harry."

"Why?"

Annoying boy. "Because otherwise you will miss breakfast completely."

"Mmkay." He didn't move.

"Mr. Potter!"

This time he sprang up. "What? I'm up! I'm up!"

"I am going to the Great Hall. Do get dressed and do the same."

"Right. Morning. Food."

"I hope you're not expecting some sort of reward for that stunning display of intelligence. Now
get dressed and go to breakfast. You haven't been seen in the Great Hall for nearly a day. You're
more likely to be missed than I am."

He waited just long enough so see Harry climb out of bed before turning to leave.

As an after thought he called over his shoulder, "I'll spell the door so that you can get back in.
Just touch the upper left corner, the upper right corner and then the nose."
_________

Breakfast had been... interesting.

The first time they had been in the same room for a prolonged amount of time without the
freedom to touch.

While not exactly torture. It wasn't heaven either.

Playing with the ring helped.

He'd returned to his rooms as soon as possible. They needed to get used to this. Needed to
understand what they would be dealing with.

He'd gotten through nearly a months worth of lesson plans before the crawling of skin overtook
his concentration.

Throwing down his quill in disgust, he buried his face in his hands.

A squeak. The door.

Harry.

He left his desk.

Harry stood in front of the door looking as uncomfortable as he felt.

Their eyes met and Snape gave a brief nod of acquiescence.

That was all Harry needed. He was across the room and in his arms so quickly they nearly
toppled.

Though any annoyance he may have felt dissipated as quickly as the crawling of his skin had.

"How long was that?" Came a muffled voice.

He repositioned his head so that it lay gently on top of Harry's. "About two hours. Maybe more."

"I'm think I'm very glad the Headmaster has me staying here. Is it going to be like this
tomorrow?"

Slow strokes down his back. "I don't know. Perhaps it just needs time."
_________

Lunch and dinner passed without similar experiments. Neither wanted to repeat them.

Evening found them laying on the couch.

"Professor, how are the rings supposed to help?"

He glanced longingly at his book, but he couldn't begrudge the boy the right to know anything
about this situation.

"Did you feel the surge of power when the Headmaster did the charm?"

A nod. "Yes."

"That charm infused the rings with our, for lack of a better word, aura. In essence we're carrying
around a piece of each other."

Harry looked at him for a moment then snorted lightly. "That's a ridiculously romantic notion."

Especially in relation to them. "Believe me, no one more than I, is aware of that."
_________

They were in bed. Much to his chagrin, the novelty was starting to wear off.

"I think class is going to be hard."

He raised an eyebrow. "There you go with those amazing leaps of logic, Potter."

"I'm serious."

"Good for you. Go to sleep." He tightened the embrace and closed his eyes.

"No." Damn the boy. "We need a plan."

Dryly. "There's a phrase that could strike terror into the hearts of even the strongest men."

Harry's head turned to glare directly at him. "You're really annoying."

"Watch it Potter. You're lucky I haven't taken house points from you already."

He rolled his eyes. "Fine deduct points. 10 points from Gryffindor for annoying a professor in bed.
Now please listen to me."

Giving up. "Fine. Potions class. A plan. What did you have in mind?"

Harry shrugged. "Nothing specific. Just, we do things unconsciously and it's the last class of the
day. We won't have had a chance to do... anything."

"I'll think of something. Now will you go to sleep?"

"What about tomorrow?"

"I'm sure an opportunity will present itself."

"But-"

"Look! I don't know how *you* recover from several hours of torture, but I for one would like
to get some rest!"

Harry had gotten incredibly still.

"I'm sorry." Whispered so quietly, he barely heard it.

"Its not- Its just-" He sighed. "The house elves will return your things in the morning. The
Headmaster will doubtlessly be able to find some excuse to bring you to his office. Rumors about
your stay in the infirmary will have most likely made it to you friends already. Attribute both the
visit to the hospital wing and Albus's office to Voldemort, its true enough anyway. I'll meet you
in there."

"I didn't mean..."

"I'm just very tired Harry. I imagine you are too."

Harry's hand snaked up and carefully brushed his cheek. "I wouldn't wish that on anyone."

"Then don't." A careful brush of lips across fingers. "Now sleep."

Part 10

He supposed, in hindsight, he was surprised it hadn't happened earlier. But then, he'd probably
been too tired to do anything *but* sleep... and molest sleeping children.

It began slowly. One sense at a time.

Hearing.

A laugh. Low and evil. Snakelike.

Smell.

Sweat. Blood.

Taste.

Something coppery.

Sight.

Glowing eyes.

Touch.

Pain. Wave after wave.

He didn't remember when he'd started. But he was screaming. Begging. Pleading... Crying...

Then.

Hands. Arms. Being held. Someone stroking his back.

Whispering in his ear. Rocking back and forth.

"...shhh... take it easy... just a nightmare... you're not there.... shhh...."

He grabbed onto that comfort. Held for dear life.

"Professor? Are you ok?"

He was vaguely aware that they had become more tangled than they ever had before. Both of
them were sitting up, legs crossing each others at right angles. He had his head buried in Harry's
neck and his arms wrapped tightly around Harry's waist. Harry was in a similarly wrapped around
him.

A few deep breaths. "I'm sorry," he croaked out.

Arms tightened around him. "Don't be."

"What time is it?"

"About time to wake up."

"Oh good." They didn't move. Which was perfectly fine for him. He was very comfortable.

"Is it as strange for you as it is for me?"

"Waking up from a nightmare?"

"No...uh.. Being.... attracted... to.. Uh... men..."

"Oh." That's a question he should have anticipated.

"I don't mean to pry but... I can't really talk to anyone else about it... I mean, Professor
McGonagall and Madame Pomfrey aren't guys and just thinking about Headmaster Dumbledore
and sex in the same sentence makes me itchy. Its not like anyone would believe me if I tried to
win the pool anyway."

"The POOL?!" WHAT?

"Joking."

That intolerable boy. "Not the best way to open the conversation."

"Yeah well. I'm tense. When I'm tense, I joke. When you're tense, you go on long tirades about
the inherently stupid nature of existence. We all have ways of dealing."

"Thank you for that terribly simple psychoanalysis."

"You're welcome. So.. Is it?"

"Strange? Am I having a mid-life crisis?" He wasn't awake enough to have this conversation.

"I suppose."

"Are you?" Avoid. Avoid.

"Having a mid-life crisis? No. But I wouldn't rule out shear unadulterated terror."

"Terror?"

"I was.. Just beginning to know... me... my place in the universe and then WHAM! Suddenly
you're there with your eyes and your hands and your skin and you yank the carpet out from under
me. Then you confuse me more by not making this as unpleasant as possible. I just... its very
confusing. The proof of that would be the ridiculous confession that I just made."

"Yes." Silence. "I'm not sure what to say, what you need me to say."

"I don't know, either." The fingers in his hair dug in further.

"We should probably get up. Go to breakfast. You should get ready to meet your friends."

"Yeah."

They untangled themselves. On his way to the bathroom, he turned around.

"Harry." The boy looked up from the piece of bedclothes he'd been thoroughly examining.
"Hands are hands. Mouths are mouths. People are people. Love is love. They just have many
different forms." That was best he could do.
_________

Waiting at the table for his friends to come in felt like sitting in the same room as Snape and not
being able to touch him. Oh wait. He was doing that too.

That disturbing thought aside. He was looking forward to seeing them again. He was not,
however, looking forward to classes and lying to them, being separated from Snape.

Again with the disturbing thoughts.

"Harry!"

He'd know that chorus of voices anywhere. "Ron! Hermione! How were your vacations?"

"Terrific!" Hermione

"Amazing!" Ron..

They sounded terribly loud. His thumb went to caress the ring sitting on his finger.

"Are you done Harry? Mum fed us before we got on the train. Let's go to common room to talk."
On any other day it would have been a terrific idea.

The common room meant leaving the Great Hall. Meant leaving Snape.

He nodded.

He had to get used to it after all. Its wasn't like he could sleep with the man anymore.

Oh. There was another one of those thoughts that made his head spin. For a number of reasons.
Most of them disturbing.

Just before they left the Great Hall, Harry turned his head frantically searching. Thankfully Snape
had been aware of his imminent exit. Their eyes met briefly. A quick nod. He understood. Good.

He hurried to catch up with his friends before they'd realized he'd lagged behind.
_________

Ron had somehow coerced him into playing chess. On a normal day he would have gotten the
pants beaten off him. Today, however, he was being strung up by his thumbs.

And bit by bit his concentration was eroding.

Keeping up a chess game, no matter how pathetic, and his end of the conversation, all at once,
was quickly becoming too much. His only hope was that Snape felt similarly and was doing
something about it.

He was about to give up and call it a night when the portrait swung open and the Headmaster
peeked in.

"Harry?"

"Headmaster." He must have sounded ridiculously relieved.

"Ah there you are. Madame Pomfrey's been looking for you. Why don't you come with me."

"Of course Headmaster."

"Madame Pomfrey?" Hermione asked.

"Oh. Its nothing, I'll tell you about it when I get back."

They were gone before anyone could say anymore.
_________

He was escorted to Dumbledore's office and left at the door with a password and a smile.

"Sugarquills"

Door the door opened and...

Oh.

Just looking felt good.

"Come inside." Snape's voice sounded a little ragged.

He was inside and holding the other man almost as fast as the last time. "How long?"

"Nearly 7 hours." Arms closed around him.

Secure.

Safe.

"Well. Maybe classes won't be so difficult."

Snort. "So says the person who doesn't feel the need to actually concentrate on his studies."

"Can is ask a personal question?"

"Another in your long line of intrusive inquiries Potter? However could I resist?"

"Why did you join the Death Eaters?"

"I don't know. Why did you become a Quidditch player?"

"What does one have to do with the other?"

"Would you have become seeker if all of your friends hadn't thought it was a wonderful idea. If
the people you looked up to hadn't set you on that path in the first place? If your father hadn't
been one as well?"

"I don't know."

"Our ideas about the world are shaped by those around us. Sometime we're not lucky enough to
be surrounded by the better half. Sometimes you have to claw your way into the light instead of
just standing there and letting it shine."

He could have been a poet. "I... I'm sorry."

"You keep saying that like its going to make a difference."

He looked up, for the first time, deliberately meeting those dark eyes. "Sometimes you have look
around to make sure you're not already in the light. Sometimes, its just nice to hear someone say
it."

Part 11

Ron and Hermione were waiting for him when he got back 3 hours later.

"Where were you?" An accusation from Ron.

"The hospital wing." And so the lying began.

"For three hours?" Hermione charged.

"I went to the Headmaster's office after." Truth. He liked the truth.

"To do what?" Ron again. Did they practice this?

"Talk." This omission thing wasn't that bad.

"Why didn't you tell us what happened?" Hermione looked more hurt than angry.

"You're going to have to be more specific." Bugger. Starting to sound like him.

"You. The Great Hall. Screaming like a madman. Spending a day in the infirmary." Ron really had
this habit of overreacting.

"Oh." Don't admit anything.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Well that explains everything."

"Oh good. Then I'll just be going to bed."

Both at once. "Stop right there!"

So close.

"What's going on, Harry?" Ah. The sincerity of friendship. Women sure knew how to use
emotions.

"Nothing. Really! I just didn't want to worry you." Or take the risk of them trying to get him
committed.

Hermione walked up to him and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. It was all he could do not to
shake her off. "I'd feel better if you'd just tell us what happened."

Shrugging lightly. "It not as big a deal as you're probably making it. Voldemort was being
especially cruel. That's all."

Ron's looked at him earnestly. "Is he planning something?"

"Isn't he always?"

"Harry." Hermione had this annoying habit of sounding like McGonagall.

"I know. I know. I've been talking to the Headmaster. Don't worry. Please. I'm fine. I swear."

She sighed and hugged him. "We were just worried."

"So what happened?" Ron asked.

He pulled out of the hug as quickly as possible. "I... I'd really rather not talk about it."

"If you ever feel ready, we're always willing to listen."

"Thanks. Really. I just want to sleep." He went to his room, throwing a goodnight over his
shoulder.
_________

Sleeping was strange. He'd gotten used to wrapping himself around another person. The strangest
moment came when he realized his pillow smelled wrong. Rather, when he realized *why* his
pillow smelled wrong. Of course that was a precursor to an all out panic attack over *what* he'd
been using as a pillow for the last three days. That was followed by the near stroke at the
realization that he missed his... pillow.

He was only slightly uncomfortable during breakfast, but his next bit of free time was looking very
far away.

Under the pretense of drinking, he let his eyes wander to the head table.

Looking helped.

Snape seemed to have a similar opinion.

No. Wait. He was trying to tell him something.

He watched Snape slowly and deliberately stand up and leave, using the back entrance.

"Uh, Ron. Hermione. I forgot something in my room. I'll meet you in charms."

"Ok Harry." Hermione didn't even look up from her book.

"Sure." Ron didn't look up from his food.

Once in the corridor her wasn't sure what to do. The potions master was no where to be found.

A hand on his shoulder. "This way."

He jumped. "AH! Don't *do* that!"

A raised eyebrow was the only response he got.

He followed Snape to the Charms corridor.

"Walking me to class? They say romance is dead."

"Watch it, Potter. I just thought it'd be better, if you were observed, to be running through the
charms corridor rather than from the direction of the dungeons."

"Oh."

"Quite." Snape gestured at the wall. "Through here, Mr. Potter."

All he saw was an archway embedded in the wall. "Through where?"

"Have faith, Mr. Potter."

Snape stepped behind him and pushed forward into the wall and-

Pop!

They were in a small corridor. He could see the main hallway, but he was fairly certain that the
opposite was not true.

"How?"

There was a faintly amused look on his face. "The Headmaster has insured the castle's
cooperation."

"Ah." That explained absolutely... nothing.

Snape extended a hand and barely grazed his cheek. "We have limited time. I suggest we make
use of it."

Harry leaned into the touch but stayed where he was. "Practical as always." He would not fling
himself at the man this time.

Snape stepped forward.

Thank god.

And stopped. Opened his arms wide and asked, with as much innocence as that man could
possibly have. "Didn't you miss me?"

Glare. Oh for the... He gave up.

Much better.

As far as bodies went Snape wasn't -

NO.

They savored the contact for a few moments. "How much time is left?"

Snape murmured. "A few minutes."

Sigh. "We're going to have to do this again."

"Probably."

"I have Quidditch practice."

"I know. After then."

"Sounds good."

"I'll make sure the Headmaster needs a word with you."

"I should go to charms." He held on tighter.

"Probably."

"You should go rescue your classroom."

The body under his hands stiffened and removed itself from his embrace. "Go to class Mr. Potter.
I shall see you later."

He was gone.
_________

The snitch. The snitch. He had to find the snitch.

Heeeeere snitchy snitchy snitchy.

There! He swooped down.

Weave left. Right. Up.

Twist.

This wasn't bad. He could ignore the itch.

He never saw the bludger coming.

Part 12

He felt like an idiot.

Arranging secret rendezvouses with Harry Potter.

To top it all off, he'd never been more aware of another human being in his entire life. Despite the
help the rings provided him, spending hours wrapped around the boy didn't do much for his self
control.

He checked the potion that was simmering in front of him. Perfect, the Headmaster should be
taking Harry in for a private conversation just at is was done.

He was returning some ingredients to the cabinet when something hit him in the stomach. He fell
to his knees with a loud, "Oomf!"

"What was-" His speculation was cut off by an even more intense pain that exploded through his
ribs, ankle and wrist.

The world spiraled.

Black spots dance across his eyes and he struggled to remain conscious.

He didn't succeed.

The next thing he saw was the Headmaster's face hovering over him. Again.

"Severus?"

"Mmm."

"That's it, Severus. Let's get you to the Hospital Wing."

He leaned on Albus, attempting to get up. "What happened?"

"It seems young Harry has had a slight accident."

He'd managed his knees. Now for the rest of the way. "And I..."

"Felt it. Yes Severus. You always were quick."

He was standing, barely. He offered a muted glare. "And you call that slight?"

Albus smiled. "Come Severus, to the infirmary."

It must have looked strange. The two of them walking through the hallways.

Him leaning heavily on Albus's shoulders. Probably looking like he'd been run over by a heard of
angry students.

As they approached the door, he could see Poppy shooing away two students.

"Now, Mr. Weasley, Ms. Granger. He'll be fine. He just needs rest. You'll see him tomorrow at
breakfast." The medi-witch caught sight of them approaching. "Oh Severus! What happened?"

He found himself facing one pair of startled eyes and two sets of gawking onlookers.

"...slight accident..." He managed. The walk there hadn't done him any good.

She took him from the Headmaster's arms. "Inside right away."

He was brought directly to Harry's bed.

He looked at Poppy, "You knew?"

"Deary, do I look stupid? Don't answer that. Suffice it to say that those two young, inquisitive
minds now have a suitably ambiguous rumor to spread."

"What house where you sorted into when you were in school."

"That's none of your business young man. Now get into bed."

Pushy.

He gratefully sank down into the bed. Immediately, he felt hands reach for him.

Surprised, he asked, "You're awake?"

"I haven't taken my potion yet."

"Ah."

"Lay down please. She's taken care of most of the bruises."

He removed his boots and slid under the covers.

The amount of comfort he received by simply wrapping his arms around Harry was mildly
disconcerting.

The boy sighed. "I think I missed this."

Curious. "This?"

"Don't ask me to get more specific. I don't think I can."

"Recognizing your limitations is the first step."

Harry merely snorted and burrowed deeper.

A thought occurred to him. "Is that what it was like?"

"What?"

"When you felt... me."

A tense moment, then. "A bludger to the stomach versus several hours of torture is hardly the
same thing, Professor."

"I'm sorry." He really was.

Harry shrugged. "Not really your fault."

Something inside felt incredibly light. "Thank you."

"For what?" Confusion.

"No one's ever actually said that."

"That its not your fault?"

"Yes." Was this what forgiveness felt like? Strange.

Earnest eyes looked up at him. "Well, it's not."

His fingers came up to caress soft hair. Then slid down and brushed against a smooth neck.

Harry leaned into his touch.

"Thank you." He couldn't keep the roughness out of his voice.

"You're welcome." Not more than a shaky whisper.

A tentative hand wound its way up his body leaving a trail of sensation behind it.

"Harry..." God, was he trembling. His voice had taken on a husky timber.

That hand found its way to his face and started slowly tracing the outline of his lips.

Harry began to whisper. "Its so strange... This feeling I have when you're in the room... or when I
crawl into your arms..."

"Please stop..." A weak plea wrenched itself from his lips.

"...I know that there's more... and I can't help but wonder... but we're not supposed to... but even
the thought... of touching someone else makes me queasy..." All delivered in the same soft,
wondrous voice.

"Harry, listen to yourself. We can't. When this wears off, you'd be horrified." Listen to him.
Please god, listen to him.

"I don't think I would be. A few days ago... maybe... But not now." Before he could react, Harry
darted forward.

Oh. Lips.

Soft. Malleable.

Sweet. So sweet.

He resisted.

A wet, lithe tongue darted out and tasted him.

He gasped.

The tongue, apparently recognizing a tactical advantage and plunged inside.

He groaned and crushed Harry against him.

Returning the kiss with a fervor that he'd never known before.

Hands clutched at him. Legs tangled and found purchase.

And oh god. This felt so good.

This kiss went on. Harsh panting and wet smacking, a strange accompaniment.

The boy was writhing against him. Causing great rippling sensations.

So good.

Oh god. So good.

"NO!" He rolled off the bed and sprawled on the floor.

Gasping for breath. "We can't, Harry. We have to remember. It's not real."

Harry was taking deep, gulping breaths. "Right. The urge to jump you and swallow you whole.
Not real. Got it."

Oh. That.

He closed his eyes tightly.

That was almost as good as touching.

He wordlessly offered the potion.

Something passed through those green eyes. But the potion was swallowed without protest.

"Sleep, Harry. Just sleep."

Only after the boy's breathing had evened out did he climb back into the bed.

Part 13

He woke up several hours later, curled around Harry.

He took a few moments of peace before slowly unfurling himself.

He slipped his boots on and shuffled out of the hospital wing in silence.

It was still several hours before breakfast and the corridors were dark and empty.

"Severus."

Almost. "Albus."

"You should be in bed." Chiding.

"If you'll let me return to my chambers," Please let him go. "I'd be more than happy to return to
bed."

"Why not just go back to the bed you were very comfortably occupying a few minutes ago."

He cursed the inventor of the reasonable suggestion.

"Because even my self control has its limits."

Albus looked worried. "The rings..."

"Help. Some."

"Perhaps you should try to spend-"

"I know where he is all the time now." He interrupted. "All I have to do is close my eyes and
think about him. Its like knowing where my feet are, even when I can't see them."

"Are you alright?" More serious now.

"No, Albus." He closed his eyes and leaned heavily against the wall. "I am not alright."

"I'll do more research tomorrow. See if I can sublimate it any further."

"I feel like a monster."

"That is one thing you are not." The voice was stern. The usual humor gone.

He looked up into very serious blue eyes. "I'm tired Albus. I... itch... all the time."

The Headmaster gathered him into a hug. Despite the immediate compulsion to push him away, it
was immensely comforting.

"I *will* find something for you, Severus. I promise."

"Thank you, Albus."

"Come, let me walk you to your rooms."
_________

Ron stood in the corridor watching them go.

So the git had a conscious, eh?

Who would have thought? Not him certainly.

Though, he had looked fairly unhappy through most of the conversation. Not that, that was
something very new. Most of the conversation hadn't made much sense to him anyway. Rings,
phantom limbs and self-control, he stored it all away to share with Harry and Hermione later.

Harry.

It was probably a stupid thing to do. Take Harry's cloak and sneak through the halls to see him.
But something had felt wrong with the way Madame Pomfrey had dismissed them earlier.

Usually, they would have been able to sit with Harry until dinner. Maybe even later. This time,
they'd been shooed out withing 10 minutes. He was worried that there was something she wasn't
telling them.

When he walked into the ward he noticed that all the beds were empty. Where is he?

A private bed? Unusual.

They were bigger. Usually used for the long term.

That worried him even more.

Harry was curled up on one side of the bed asleep. Something looked wrong.

The bed.

It looked... slept in.

That was ludicrous. Of course it looked slept in.

Harry was sleeping in it.

But still. Something about the dent in the other pillow irked him.
He watched Harry whimper in his sleep and roll over restlessly. He grabbed at the other pillow
and clutched it closely. A few more seconds and he was settled down again.

He didn't look bad.

Maybe Madame Pomfrey was being cautious because Harry had just gotten out of the infirmary a
few days ago.

He watched Harry for a few more minutes then returned to his dorm room.
_________

He left Dumbledore at the entrance to his rooms with a goodnight.

Trudging through the main room he snatched two bottles and proceeded to the bedroom.

He undressed down to his boxers, sat on the edge of the bed, placed the bottles on a small table
and stared at them.

The same two bottles he stared at every other night he'd slept alone since this idiotic situation er...
arose.

One, lubricant. The other, a mood killer. Both would relax him enough to sleep.

He'd been half hard since he'd gotten Potter to drink the damned potion.

Since the stupid, willful, insolent, obnoxious, impudent, brazen, brat of a boy had-

had...

...seriously tested his self-control.

Albus had faith in him.

He didn't deserve it.

With shaking hands he picked up the lubricant. Studied it.

And threw it against the wall.

The crash it made was surprisingly satisfying.

He took the other potion and climbed into bed.
_________

"Hermione!" He whispered urgently.

"What?" She turned a suspicious eye in Ron's general direction. She couldn't see him because he
was still wearing the cloak.

He was glad she was used to this sort of thing.

"Meet me in the common room."

She huffed a little but answered, "Fine."
_________

"Why did you wake me up?" She didn't look very happy.

"I'm not sure. I was going to wait until morning, but something just won't let it rest."

"Fine." She had on her 'go ahead tell me so that I can go back to sleep' face.

"I snuck out to check on Harry-"

"Ron!"

"Just listen. I overheard a conversation between Dumbledore and Snape." He proceeded to relay
as much of the conversation as he remembered.

"Well, that does sound strange Ron, but I don't know if we should worry. Whatever it is, it's
obvious that the Headmaster knows about it."

"Yeah... its just... there was something." He closed his eyes and replayed the scene in his mind.

Snape sneaking through the corridor.

Dumbledore sneaking up behind him.

Telling Snape he should be in bed.

Something about self-control and rings.

Snape being able to feel someone.

Something catching his eye as Snape braced himself against the wall.

Something... catching... his eye...

On Snape's hand.

"A ring!"

"You said that already, Ron."

"No! He was *wearing* a ring."

"Where?" Now she looked intrigued.

"On his ring finger, his..." He closed his eyes and pictured it again. "His left ring finger."

"He's MARRIED?"

His lips twisted in disgust. "That's a creepy thought."

"Wait." Hermione looked confused. "Why haven't we noticed this ring before?"

"Maybe its new?"

"Maybe its being concealed?"

"Maybe both?"

"Maybe," she looked thoughtful, "you should go over everything you heard again. Don't leave
anything out this time."

Part 14

He wasn't very happy when he walked into the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning.

It was probably a combination of waking up alone, a fitful night's sleep and the ever persistent
crawling of his skin.

He absently rubbed the ring as he sat down opposite Ron and Hermione, who were already in
deep discussion.

"Morning." He mumbled distractedly, reaching for some food.

"Harry! You're feeling better?" Hermione looked very happy to see him.

"Yeah. Madame Pomfrey is amazing sometimes."

"Harry, I've got to tell you what I overheard last night!"

Harry gave Hermione a pleading look. It was too early in the morning for this.

She shook her head. "You should listen to him, there's something strange going on."

"Go ahead then."

"I was sneaking down to see you."

His head shot up. "Why?"

"I was worried. S'not important. Anyway. I overheard a conversation between Snape and
Dumbledore."

Oh. This can't be good.

"From what I heard. We think Snape's under some sort of spell!"

Never should have encouraged him in first year. "What kind of spell?"

"Not sure. But we think it may be related to Voldemort."

Now that was interesting. "Why?"

"Well. There were several things, he was referring to another person, said he could always tell
where this mysterious 'he' was. Just close his eyes, like thinking about his hands or something."

He could?

He thought about Snape and suddenly knew he was about to...

...walk in the Great Hall... wow...

"Harry, are you listening?" Ron asked.

"Yeah. Go on."

"Then he talked about feeling like a monster."

A monster? He wasn't a... God, if that's what Snape thought of himself... that might explain a lot.

"That's when I heard Dumbledore mention something about rings. I didn't see them at the time,
but thinking back, I *know* I saw him wearing a ring, on his LEFT ring finger."

Shit. Deflect attention. "So, maybe he's married?"

Ron looked at him.

"Ok. Maybe not."

In her best lecture voice. "What caught my attention is that no one's noticed the ring before, in
fact Ron didn't even notice it when he was there. I think there's some sort of concealment spell
on it." Hermione finished with a look of triumph.

"And this led you to Voldemort?" He let disbelief lace his voice.

Ron looked perplexed. "Just something about it. Snape didn't sound too happy and Dumbledore
looked awful worried. What else could it be?"

He shrugged. If they wanted to pursue that line, he wasn't going to stop them. Better they go off
in the wrong direction than he try to stop them cold.

He absently toyed with the ring again and glanced at the head table. Snape was getting ready to
leave.

"Ron. Hermione. I haven't had a chance to get back to my room and change my books. I'll meet
you in Divination."

"Sure."

This time he didn't stop just outside the doors. Instead he headed towards the classroom.

About halfway there, he noticed an archway he didn't ever remember seeing before.

Just before stepping through he stopped. With careful deliberation he closed his eyes and thought
about Snape and Knew. Knew that he was right behind the non-existent wall.

This could almost be useful.

Before he could continue forward a hand appeared from nowhere a pulled.

Pop!

He found himself chest to chest with Snape.

"Don't waste time, Potter." Snape growled.

The vibrations from Snape's chest tumbled through him with a fury.

Last night had been such a stupid mistake.

An amazing, wonderful, glorious mistake.

One he might like to repeat.

He burrowed deeper into the embrace. "Why did you leave last night?"

"I thought it might be best if I returned to my own rooms."

"How long did you stay?"

"Long enough."

"Did you and the Headmaster have a conversation in hallway last night?"

The body beneath him went tense. "Yes."

"I'm going to tell you something and you're not going to use it against anyone."

An eyebrow go raised. "Anything else, sir?" Damn sarcasm.

"No. That's all for now." Ha. Two can play that game.

A long suffering sigh, then. "Fine. Tell me. But I make no promises."

"Ron overheard the conversation."

"That's... very... annoying... I trust he shared it with you and Ms. Granger?"

He nodded.

"And what were their conclusions?"

"That you're under some sort of spell. Something to do with Voldemort."

Snort. "Creative little minds aren't they? What did you tell them?"

"Not much. Just doubted them some. Couldn't do much more without suspicion."

"I don't supposed you're willing to tell me what Mr. Weasley was doing in that hallway, anyway?
Or why it is I did not see him?"

He gave Snape and incredulous look. "Not on your life."

"Insolent. I am still your teacher."

Seriously. "Not right now, you're not."

"May I remind you that in a few hours we will both have to stand in a classroom."

"That's in a few hours. This is now."

"As usual Mr. Potter, you have an alarming ability to bend reality to your liking."

"Thank you."

"That wasn't a compliment."

"We should probably try this again. Before class, that is."

"I have a full day. Look for me at lunch. We'll see what we can do."

"Ok." He looked deliberately into the potion master's eyes and traced a stern cheek with his
fingers. "I don't think you're a monster."

With that, he left.
_________

As it turned out. He spent most of his lunch dealing with a problem in the Slytherin common
room.

So when he stormed into his 6th year potions class, the itch increased exponentially.

"Today you will working on a dreamless sleeping drought. Page 424."

The class sat there looking up at him.

"Well? What are you waiting for? The ingredients you'll need are set up in the back. GO!"

They scattered.

He allowed himself a small satisfied smile.

Most of the class followed its usual pattern.

He stalked around the classroom making a general nuisance of himself.

Approximately two-thirds of the way in the itch was almost unbearable.

Potter looked completely out of it.

Well. Might as well have a bit of fun.

"MR. POTTER!"

He jumped about a foot in the air.

"Would you care to tell me what is so interesting that it has taken all of your attention away from
the precariously boiling cauldron in front of you?"

"Ah, nothing sir." Potter began to haphazardly stir.

"After six years, one would think you'd know how to stir a potion Potter." He stalked over and
placed his hand over the boys and proceeded to stir the potion.

A grateful look spilled out of Potter's eyes before the more appropriate annoyance took over.

They couldn't stay like that for too long. Hopefully the thirty or so seconds would be enough.

"Since you're obvious inattentiveness has ruined your potion, you can come to detention tonight
and try it again."

"Yes, sir." Came a slightly petulant response.

"Good. Since its ruined-"

"No! Neville!" Ms. Granger's frantic cry interrupted him.

He turned just in time to see the cauldron begin to smoke.

"Ms. Granger! What did he do?"

"The wormtails before the ginger root!"

Oh god! The stupid- where's the freeroot?- forgetful boy.

Ms. Granger already had it in her hands. He snatched it and pushed her out of the possible blast
range.

"Move back!" He roared emptying the contents of the jar over the simmering brew.

It was too late. He didn't get nearly enough in before the reaction started.

It exploded.

The class had already moved out of the way and he took the brunt of the flying cauldron.
_________

Harry saw it coming and braced.

Hot white pain lanced through his stomach.

His grip on the table tightened. His jaw clenched.

He distantly heard Draco yell, "I'll get Madame Pomfrey!"

Oh god. It hurt.

"Harry?" Hermione had turned around and saw him clutching his stomach. "Are you ok?"

"Fine." He gritted out. Unconsciously his thumb went to the ring. It helped. A bit.

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "No. You're not."

Breathe. In. Out.

"You're in pain."

"Never could fool you."

"Why are you in pain?"

"Quidditch? Yesterday? Took a bludger in the stomach. Fell off my broom?"

"If it hurt that much, Madame Pomfrey would never have let you out." She put a hand on his
shoulder. "What's going on, Harry?"

He jerked away. "Nothing." Right. That was believable. His right hand joined his thumb's
fondling of the ring.

She looked down at his hands. Her eyes widened. "Harry, why are you... you... " She cast a quick
look at Snape to wave away a student. Using his left hand. "Harry!"

"Not here!" He hissed. "I need you to help me get to the hospital wing, without anyone else
noticing.

"But-"

"Please."

"Ok." She didn't look happy.

He didn't imagine that, that would change anytime soon.

Part 15

Madame Pomfrey had given him a significant look before she left with Snape.

Right before leaving, she turned to him. "Don't forget about your checkup, Mr. Potter."

Bless you Madame Pomfrey.

He turned to Ron, who had returned to his side after the commotion died down. "Go on. I've got
to pack my things up, then I'm going to head down to the hospital wing. Get it over with."

Ron nodded. "I'll see you at dinner then?"

"Sure. Hermione. Could you come with me? I have an arithmancy question."

"Sure, Harry."

"Have fun you two, I'm off!" Ron was out of the room quickly. The mention of Arithmancy must
have scared him away.

When the door closed on the final students, he collapsed to his knees, clutching his stomach. "Oh,
that's not something I wanted to do again."

"Again?"

"It's a long story. Could we wait until I don't feel like I'm going to throw my entire stomach up
whole?"

"Well, between the rings and the pain, I have bits and pieces. I suppose I can wait for the rest."

"Thank you. Now please. Help me up."
_________

The walk to the infirmary was made in a tense silence.

Madame Pomfrey greeted them at the door. "Excellent timing Harry. I just got Professor Snape
settled down." She eyed Hermione. "You don't need to stick around for his check up, dear. He'll
be along soon."

He shook is head tiredly. "Its ok, Madame Pomfrey. Could you just get the Headmaster?"

The medi-witch looked at him intensely for a moment, then nodded. "He's in your usual suite. Go
ahead in."

Oh good. At least someone was having a good time.
Hermione stood there looking confused. "Your usual suite?"

"The teachers in this place have a twisted sense of humor. Come on. I'll explain in a minute." He
led her into the back of the ward, to curtained bed that was obviously occupied.

She looked a bit put out when he pulled the curtains apart without a warning to the person behind
them.

Of course that was nothing compared to the look she gave him when she realized that is was none
other than Professor Snape who occupied the bed.

Honestly. For such an intelligent person. She could be very dense.

Tired, dark eyes looked up at him in question.

He shrugged. "Was a pretty public place to get hit with an exploding cauldron."

Comprehension. "I see."

"I don't" Hermione added. Obviously a little impatient at being left in the dark.

He began to take off his shoes. "In a few moments, I'm going to trust you not to scream."

Once he was shoeless, he gracelessly climbed in beside Snape.

He shifted a bit, so that he could face Hermione, and settled with his back against Snape's front.
A hand snaked around his waist. He took it in his own.

Hermione hadn't screamed.

Though how much longer she was going to stay upright could have been up for debate.

"Uh... Harry?" Tentative.

"Yes, Hermione."

"Are you feeling alright?"

"Not particularly, no."

A snort from behind.

"Why did you just crawl into bed with..." She paused, as if completing the sentence would cause
physical harm. "With Professor Snape."

"Because, if we're going to have this conversation I needed to be able to concentrate."

Another snort sounded from behind. He contemplated kicking the source. It might be worth the
pain.

"Concentrate?" Hermione didn't make the connection.

Harry sighed and started at the beginning.
_________

"What on earth were you doing with that charm?" Another in a long line of detailed, invasive and
vaguely embarrassing questions.

"It was in a book called, 'Charms A - Z', I saw it and thought it might be useful. You know, pick
up something to get ahead."

"And you were reading the charm before you read *about* the charm." Where did she learn that
impression of McGonagall, anyway?"

"Not my best moment, I know." Hadn't he had this conversation?

"AND you were waving your wand?"

"Not waving precisely... sort of... fiddling."

"Oh. Because *that's* completely safe." Oh no. He'd reduced Hermione Granger to sarcasm.

"Believe me, I've been thoroughly lectured on the subject." He rolled his eyes and gestured
behind him.

Her demeanor changed immediately. "Oh Harry. Has it been horrible?" She was obviously
referring to being forced to share close quarters with Snape.

"Despite" A voice interrupted before he could answer, "what most people would have you believe
Ms. Granger, I have it from reliable sources, that I am not a monster."

She looked at him accusingly. "I thought you were asleep."

"With you two nattering on like that?"

"Oh! I'm sorry. You must be exhausted."

"Miss Granger, I believe your reaction, and I don't doubt that there will eventually be others, was
the best of the lot. It was a pleasure to listen to someone who will look at this on an intellectual
level and not completely over react."

She turned to him. "Was that a compliment?"

"For him? Yeah."

"Now please." Snape continued. "I'd like to get some sleep so that I can get through what will
undoubtedly be another trying day. The Headmaster has been listening to this conversation for a
good amount of time now. He can answer anymore questions you might have."

A beared face appeared from behind the curtains. "Thank you, Severus."

"Anything to get you out of my hair, Albus."

Hermione looked back and forth between Snape and Dumbledore not sure what to make of the
banter. She went for grateful student. "Thank you, Professor. Headmaster."

Just as she was leaving. "Hermione."

"Yes, Harry?"

"Thank you... for not... for understanding..."

"I'm your friend, Harry. What else could I do?"

"Just the same, don't tell Ron."

She studied him for a moment then nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow, Harry." She was gone.

Harry took the opportunity to turn around and assume their usual nap positions.

Oh. Wow. Another on of those disturbing thoughts.

"That went remarkably well." Snape commented.

He chuckled lightly. "Wait until she puts together that conversation Ron overheard with what I
told her today."

"What could you have possibly left out?"

"I know where you are all the time. The same for you."

"True."

"There's also..." He hesitated a moment. "I don't know how much of what Ron told me was true
or his usual trimmings but... something about self-control..."

"Ah yes... he would have heard that. Look, Potter, you needn't wor-"

"It's the same for me." He interrupted.

"What?"

"Everyday gets a little harder." Oh good. Nice time for the double entendres.

A hand caressed his hair. "The Headmaster has promised me he'd look into the matter. Also,
knowing Ms. Granger, she'll be hip deep in this as well."

They lay there for a few moments in a comfortable silence.

"I'm worried." He said suddenly.

Surprised. "About what?"

"A lot of things. Tonight. Tomorrow. Me. You."

"Me?" More surprise.

"When that cauldron exploded. I knew it'd hurt. But that's not really what I was thinking about."

"You shouldn't concern yourself with nonsense."

"Nonsense?"

"These feelings that we have."

"Nonsense?"

"Focusing on them will only make it worse."

"Nonsense?! Well its bloody well hard to focus on anything else!"

"You're stating the glaringly obvious."

He sat up. "Look! YOU may understand these feelings! May know what to do with them!
Understand them! Know how to compartmentalize! But *I* don't! I've never felt this way before!
Don't know if I ever will again! So please forgive me if I feel the need fully comprehend them!"
He ended with his voice ragged.

"Harry."

"No!" Deep breath. Calm. "Not now. I'll see you in detention."

He grabbed his shoes and left.

Part 16

He stalked into his empty classroom. He had 10 minutes before Harry was supposed to show up.

Sitting down with a pile of essays, he spent those minutes doing absolutely nothing.

But he did have a good glare.

A squeak of the door signaled Harry's arrival.

"You're late." He bit out tersely.

Indignant outrage colored Harry's reply. "No, I'm not."

"You are, if I say you are." He was the teacher. What he says, goes.

"That's not fair."

He answered with the air of someone who, most certainly knew better. "Life isn't fair." They
stood there and stared at each other for a bit. Finally, he could take the tense silence no more.
"Are you feeling better?" Good lord, why on earth ask that?

"You don't care." That child certainly knew how to be petulant.

Then again, so did he. "If I didn't care, I wouldn't ask."

More staring, then finally, Harry asked, "How can this not affect you?"

"I never said that it didn't."

Harry began to pace back and forth restlessly. Finally, in a fit of frustration he threw his hands up
in disgust. "I hate this!" He yelled.

"This?" That's right. Be coy. That'll really help now.

"This. This constant... want." Harry raised a hand to dismiss anything he might have said. "Don't
you dare try to tell me its all hormones. I'm 16 years old. I *know* hormones. This isn't it. It may
not be *real*, but its there." He punctuated it with a curled fist thumping against his chest. The
tirade was delivered with anger and frustration and had left him panting.

Beautiful.

Eyes aflame with passion.

Pale skin flushed and gleaming in the candlelight.

One long, delicious throb went through his entire body.

He resisted for a moment, but he was so tired of resisting.

"You think I don't hate it as well? I... ache for you, Potter." He had to stop. Turn away.

Step.

"Every second..." This shouldn't go on.

Step.

"...of every minute..." Send the boy away.

Step.

"...of every hour..." Oh god. Don't let this happen.

Step.

"...of every DAY." He was breathing as if he'd just run a marathon.

They were inches apart.

"I. Ache. For. You."

He ran a finger from temple to nape. "To touch your cheek."

A foray into soft locks. "To stroke your hair."

A firm grasp on each arm. "To take you in my arms and offer comfort."

A quick tug. "To crush you against me."

Harry let out a soft gasp. Instinctively hooking his arms up and around strong shoulders.

Softly cupping a cheek. "To know you." Murmured so softly.

Leaning forward. Lips barely touching lips. "Inside. And. Out."

"If you stop now," Harry choked out in a harsh whisper, "I'll hex you."

"I'm damned already." He closed the space between them.

He captured those soft lips that had been taunting him for days. Worried one gently between is
teeth before abandoning it for the hot, wet depth behind it.

Chests heaving, their lips broke apart.

He gently nipped the skin under Harry's ear. Then licked it. Tasted it. Soft, wonderful, clean skin.
Better than he imagined. And he HAD imagined it. Despite vehement mental lectures.

They were suddenly jarred by something.

Oh, they'd been moving. They're run into a desk.

What was Harry-

Oh. On the desk.

He settled between two strong legs, which instantly wrapped themselves around him.

Full body contact.

Closer than they'd ever been before.

Just leaning in to capture those wonderful lips again caused sensations that nearly undid him.

Oh god. They were moving. Swaying. Grinding.

Completely in time.

Lips and tongues and hands and arms all found purchase and added to the spiraling, dizzying,
amazing feelings coursing through his body.

Small gasping sounds filled the room.

Belatedly, he realized that some of them were coming from him.

But he didn't care.

This was too perfect.

So good.

So close.

So close. Yes. Oh yes. Oh yessss. Yes. Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes. Oh don't stop. Please. Don't
stop.

Too perfect. So completely, utterly-

Bells?

He stopped. Harry gave a frustrated whimper.

BELLS!

"Bells!" They yelled in unison.

Warning bells.

Attack bells.

Shit.

They ran.
_________

The Headmaster's office was already filled with teachers.

"We've been given warning. But we still have very little time." The Headmaster stated.

"What happened, Albus?" A teacher asked.

"I think, in the end," Albus looked at him, "our little lie wasn't as believed as we thought it was."

Everyone turned to him.

Flitwick spoke up. "Harry. You should be in your rooms."

"Harry is staying exactly where he is." Albus answered.

No one questioned them any more.

"Minerva. You, Severus, Harry and I will strengthen the wards. Poppy, prepare the hospital wing.
Take any seventh years you think can help. Madame Hooch get the best school brooms and
distribute them to the best Quidditch players. Everyone else. Take defensive positions around the
castle. We'll be down as soon as we're done with the wards."

With that, they all filed out.

With grim determination, the four people left in the room began with the wards.

Part 17

It began so quickly, Harry didn't even have the chance to blink.

One moment it was silent. The next, the swishing sounds of brooms permeated the air.

They were like a dark malicious cloud on the horizon.

He turned to Snape, who was standing closely next to him. "We might not survive this."

"That's right, Potter. Look on the bright side."

"One of us has to."

They were getting closer now.

Snape offered a hand. "Take it."

"Why?" He asked, but did as he was asked anyway.

Snape gave him a look that implied exactly how stupid he thought Harry was. "I would like to be
able to concentrate for as long as possible."

"Ah. Makes sense." It did.

A small twitch of lips. "I often do." Snape turned his attention back to the sky.

He shook his head. "Not to us mere mortals."

"I see you finally understand your place in the universe."

He said nothing, just pointed to the sky and pulled his cloak tightly around him. "They're here."

The battle had begun.
_________

Snape flung curse after curse, at broom after broom.

His job? Make sure Snape stayed alive. Everyone was working in pairs. One guarded the castle.
The other, guarded them. It was a system that appeared to be working.

After the first horrifying flash of green light, he no longer hesitated to use the most awful of
curses. He'd said it so many times now, he didn't think he'd ever feel clean again.

Ducking. Run. Keep as close as possible.

He be damned if he let anything happen to Snape.

During a slight lull, they took the opportunity to rest fully against each other.

"How are you fairing?" Snape's voice was rough. He'd been yelling for a long time.

"Tired. Very tired." Was all he could think to say. Something moved in the corner of his eye.

He whirled.

There. In the distance, a deatheater headed directly for them.

Without thinking, he raised his wand and cursed the errant rider.

Snape was the first to realize what he'd actually done. "Potter. How far away was that man?"

"I don't know. I could barely... see... him... Oh my god..."

"Precisely. How long have you been able to do that?"

"I don't think I've ever been able to do that."

Snape fired a shot at another attacker. One almost as far away as the first. "Neither have I."

"The pledge?"

"It's the only reason I can think of."

He took Snape's hand and stepped away. "Then let's try to stay as close as possible."

The deatheaters were coming in heavy numnbers again.

They began again.

It went on and on.

Pain became a permanent part of the landscape.

Snape's robes were singed and torn in various places. Small lines of blood trickled slowly down.

They were getting too close. Already he had seen Snape blast more than one death eater moments
before entering the castle.

Even taking out brooms with pinpoint accuracy didn't seem to help. More kept coming.

He was taking aim for the hundredth time that hour when Snape was suddenly ripped away from
him. Pulled from his hands.

He could see the floating head of Lucius Malfoy just above the taller man's right shoulder.

Looks like he wasn't the only one with an invisibility cloak.

"I know there's someone here." The blonde man hissed. "Show yourself." Malfoy ran a
threatening wand across Snape's chest.

How dare he.

How DARE he.

Taking his... his... HIS.

"Mine." He whispered to himself.

Malfoy's head snapped up, listening for the unseen voice.

He looked in Snape's eyes. The bastard looked right back at him. Then nodded.

Harry took a deep breath and circled around.

And charged.

Hitting Malfoy square in the back sent both men sprawling. But Snape had been ready for it. He'd
sprung forward as much as he'd been able to.

It had been enough. Malfoy was now alone.

He lowered his hood and raised his wand.

This one would be face to face.

Swish and fli-

The green glow came from above.

He looked up.

Draco Malfoy sat shakily on his broom looking down. "The Aurors are here." Was all he said
before flying off.

Well. That had been unexpected.

He ran to Snape who was crawling towards their original hiding place.

"Did you hear him?"

Snape nodded tersely. He arranged himself leaning against an especially large rock. "Come here.
The Aurors are performing up their usual standards. I think we can take a few minutes rest."

Harry crawled forward and positioned himself between Snape's outstretched legs. Back leaned
against stomach and relaxed.

Long, lean arms came around to cradle him.

Easing into the embrace, he sighed. "This could have been worse."

*CRUCIO!*

Ok. Between large cramping pains, he admitted it. This was his fault. Though, crawling back to a
hiding place where they'd already been found once was probably not smart either. But he should
really have know better than to tempt fate with strait lines like the one he'd uttered.

The arms around him spasmed tightly.

Their heads had been thrown back in unison.

He gasped for air as his body refused to obey any but perhaps the most primitive of commands.

"Se-ev-er-u-us..." A voice hissed. "Se-ev-er-u-us, my loyal follower." It spat. It was obvious
Voldemort knew exactly where Snape's allegiances lay. "A gift? For me? That's so sweet, Se-ev-
er-u-us."

"You've lost, you know." Harry gasped between breathes. That's right. Taunt him. That will
make this so much more fun.

"I know. But if you think I'll let either of you live, even in my defeat, then you are sadly
mistaken."

*CRUCIO!*

More pain.

Wave after wave.

Just kill them already.

Something metallic was biting into his skin. The ring.

A harsh whisper rang in his ear. "Together... resist..."

Slowly, painfully, their hands moved until they were interlocked. Ring touching ring.

Resist.

He felt a swell of power from within... them?

They let it rise. Grow, until it encompassed both of them.

It was electric. A strange mingling of who they both were. For one moment, they were both,
Severus Snape and Harry Potter. And more. More than the sum of their parts.

Then, they resisted.

"No!" Shouted as one.

They shoved. Voldemort flew backwards.

Rising together, they approached the sprawled body.

Together. "Aveda Kedavra." Not yelled. Not shouted. But said calmly. As a statement of fact.

Green light.

Intense, powerful green energy hit the twisted, parody of a man who called himself 'The Dark
Lord'.

It fought and it won.

They'd won.

Then the power was gone. Or rather. It had gone back to where it belonged withing each of them.

He was so tired. Snape looked similarly exhausted.

He took a step and missed the ground completely. "Oh... I think... I'll stay here..."

Snape sank to his knees beside him. "Best idea you've had in ages."

As the world spiraled down into darkness, he realized, belatedly, that they'd never even drawn
their wands.

Part 18

Severus Snape awoke to the sounds of many people milling around and talking in muffled voices.
Even the annoyance of being woken up by anything other than his own will was muted by the fact
that he was alive at all.

He stretched a little, testing out his muscles. Everything seemed to still be there. Though he was
sore in several places. A few more moments of careful consideration went by before he opened his
eyes.

White. He was surrounded by white. The Hospital Wing then. He'd survived AND they'd won. It
could almost qualify as a good day.

Something wasn't quite right though. He scratched his chest idly trying to figure out what it was.
The glint of his ring caught his eye. Suddenly his entire body... itched. Then he realized, he was
alone.

Where's Harry?

He swung his legs off the bed and met a cold marbled floor. His boots where no where to be
found, he grunted in minor annoyance, but continued on.

Shuffling out from behind the curtain surrounding the bed, his eyes came upon controlled chaos.

Almost all of the beds were filled. Poppy and several others were walking back and forth checking
on patients.

He scanned each bed carefully, searched each face. Harry was not among them.

Then a mind numbing though flashed through his head.

But no. He'd know. Wouldn't he?

He absentmindedly caressed the ring.

Stupid. Of course. He closed his eyes and thought of Harry.

Ah. One of the private rooms. He started to head in the proper direction when a voice called to
him from across the room.

"Severus!"

He turned carefully to great the Headmaster. He was a bit dizzy and the itching wasn't helping
"Albus."

"Severus, my boy! How are you feeling?" He sounded almost joyful.

"I am... well. I was wondering where Mr. Potter was residing." He carefully phrased the sentence
for the many ears in the room. What he'd really meant was, 'Why the hell hadn't he been there
when I'd woken up?'

He watched Albus's face shift for a moment before answering. "He's in a private room in the
back."

"Albus, you can't keep giving him special treatment." In other words, 'Why wasn't I there too?'.

"It was insisted upon, I'm afraid."

"Insisted? By whom?" It couldn't have been Poppy. She had been far too accommodating in the
past few days to suddenly get shy about it now.

"Sirius."

Damn. Never should have made that verituserium for him. "I would like to see him, Albus. To...
thank him for saving my life."

The bearded face nodded. He understood. Of course, understanding is often very far from
accomplishment.

He led him into the back, where the private rooms resided.

Poppy was just exiting from the first door on the left. "Severus!" She smiled at him warmly. "I'm
glad you're awake."

"How is he?" No time for niceties.

"He hasn't woken up yet. He's fine. Just not awake. I think its because..." She trailed off and
looked at him meaningfully.

Because they hadn't spent nearly enough time together in the last day.

Damn Black! Damn Sirius 'I'm meddling because I know better, even if you do hold more
degrees than I do, in what we're talking about' Black!

He was almost enough to make him get a new wardrobe just to distance himself from that man's
name.

Albus nodded. "I thought as much. Well, we're going to try and correct that now."

"Try not to give him a heart attack, Severus. I'll be busy enough as it is."

He simply raised an eyebrow. His feelings on the subject of Sirius Black were well known.

Poppy shook her head and walked off.

"Onward, unto the breach, Albus." He walked inside.

Not two feet in he got a snarl. "What are you doing here?" A record.

"I'm here to see Mr. Potter."

"Why?" Another snarl. Doing a fare imitation of him.

Don't argue. Just get him out of the way. "He did save my life." He moved towards the bed.

Black stepped in front of him. "And you think that entitles you to some sort of rights?"

"I am here to see how he's doing, Black. Not that its any business of yours."

"What I don't understand is, why didn't the Aurors take you away with the rest of the trash."

He walked around him. "Don't be ridiculous, Black."

"All I know is they found you unconscious next to my godson, who has yet to wake up."

Oh for gods sake. "You're being irrational."

"Sirius," Albus called from the doorway, "Come, let him have his peace."

Bless you, Albus. He stepped next to the bed. Harry looked exhausted, even in sleep. Dark circles
marred his youthful face. He longed to wrap his arms around him in comfort.

"I'm not leaving Harry alone with him." Black persisted.

He ignored the comment, carefully sat down and took Harry's hand in his own.

Even that much helped. Already the itching was down to a tolerable level. Even the remaining
aches faded to the background.

In the back of his mind he noted that, while Albus had not gotten Black out of the room, he was
defiantly distracting him.

Hoping Albus could keep it up for a little longer, he lifted his other hand and carefully moved the
boys hair out of his face.

Harry moaned lightly. Was this really enough?

"Don't you dare hurt him!" Black roared in his direction. He must have heard the soft sound also.

"I have done nothing of the sort."

"Then why are you touching him?"

"I'm offering comfort, you imbecile."

"You wouldn't know a kind touch if it backhanded you across the face."

"...sirius..." The voice was so small, so fragile.

Something inside him didn't like that Sirius was asked for first. Though, there was no reason why
he should expect much else.

"I'm here Harry. What is it?"

"...back off..."

"You heard him Snape, back off!"

"No." the voice was getting stronger. "You. Back off." The boy defiantly had some redeeming
qualities.

"Harry?"

"The Professor hasn't done anything wrong."

"I'm just trying to look out for you..."

"I know... I just... ugh... I can't think... Headmaster I need to think could you..." His eyes pleaded
with Albus.

The Headmaster nodded and stepped forward placing one hand on Black's shoulder.

So that was it, huh? Brave boy. Though, considering he was about to go through with any plan
Harry was going to offer...

Those green eyes turned to him, asking him if he was willing. He nodded his ascent.

Harry shifted over in the bed to accommodate him.

He got up and slid in beside him.

"What the HELL do you think you're doing, you greasy bastard!"

Albus's firm hand kept Black restrained.

"He's doing exactly what I want him to do." Harry answered while wrapping securely around
him.

Yes, this was much better.

"WHAT?!?" Black was beginning to turn a lovely shade of purple. "Albus! Are you just going to
let him do this?"

"My dear boy, if you would just listen to them, you will find, not all is as it seems."

"Fine. I'll listen. To Harry." Stubborn git.

"Well Sirius." Harry began. "We seem to be suffering from an arranged marriage."

He looked down at Harry incredulously. "How long have you been waiting to say that?"

"Days."

"You! You did this to him." More accusations from Black. What a surprise.

"Actually Sirius," Harry corrected, "technically, he's under *my* spell."

He snorted. "Do I even dare ask about that one?"

"Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to." Smart advice. He's obviously been
spending time with the right people recently.

"Spell? Explain, now." Black demanded.

So they did.
_________

When all was said, that could be said, Black just shook his head in disbelief. "I just don't
understand how you could want to be around that greasy git."

"You say that like there's much of a choice." Harry paused a moment and added. "And he's not
greasy." That also sounded like he'd been waiting for days to say. Interesting.

"I don't like it. I don't trust him-"

"*He's* still in the room."

"I don't like him" Black continued without a pause, "and I STILL say he had something to do
with it."

"Sirius. I love you, you know that. I think the world of you and I never want anything to happen
to you."

The look on Black's face softened a bit. "I didn't, but thank you for telling me."

"I just wanted to say it first. I wanted to say it before I told you." Tell him what? Oh please, Harry
don't say anything stupid.

"Told me what?" Black looked confused.

"To grow the FUCK up!"

He blinked. Well that was most satisfying.

"Harry?!"

"Go away. Don't come back until you can talk about this reasonably. I'm too tired to get into
stupid arguments about old grudges and things that don't mean anything. Professor Snape has
saved my life more times that I care to count, done more to prove himself than anyone should
*ever* have to and been a hell of a lot more decent about this than you have!"

"Harry..."

He closed his eyes and snuggled down further. "Go away Sirius. Go away and let me recover in
peace. Get some therapy. Work through your issues. Come back and tell me you love me no
matter what. Because I love you, even now."

Albus gently tugged on Black. "Come Sirius. Harry needs his rest."

For once. Black did what he was told.

Once the door was safely shut, Harry turned to him. "I bet you enjoyed that."

"I did. Greatly. Though I do wish that you weren't the one that had to do that."

"Stop that."

"Stop what?"

"Being nice. It creeps me out."

"Be quiet you, insolent boy, I'm trying to sleep."

"Much better." Was the sleepy reply. Soon Harry was reduced to soft snores.

He lazily stroked the supple back before him and sighed contentedly before joining his companion
in sleep.

Part 19

Snape woke feeling incredibly rested.

He checked the time, it had been nearly twelve hours since the last time he'd woken.

Taking a moment, he savored the comfortable lump laying on top of him.

Opening his eyes, he discovered they were alone.

Thank Merlin, for small favors.

He sat up in the bed, trying not to dislodge the person using him as a pillow. "Harry." He gently
shook the first shoulder he could get a hand on. "Harry, wake up."

"Mmmfffshlp."

It was a wonder the boy ever got to class on time.

"Harry." A bit louder this time. "Come on. Wake up."

Bleary eyes looked up at him. "What?"

"I said, wake up."

"Why?" A sleep roughened voice questioned.

"Because, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to discuss some things."

"Fine. You talk, I'll listen. I swear. Don't mind the snoring."

"Harry."

"Fine, fine. I'm up. What?" Harry made a big show of opening his eyes and trying to look
attentive.

"You're quite annoying, does it take much effort?"

"I don't know, you tell me." The green eyes rolled in exasperation. "Is this what you wanted to
talk about? Because I'm sure it'd be even more annoying if I went back to sleep."

He chose to ignore him. "How much of the battle do you remember?"

Pain lanced across Harry's face. "Too much."

"I agree. But I meant, when we killed..." He trailed off, for the first time, not even wanting to say
his name.

"The arrogant bastard?" Harry supplied. "Yeah, I remember."

"We didn't use our wands, did we?"

"You don't remember? Getting old?"

He frowned."Don't be obnoxious. I just wanted to be sure."

"Sorry." Harry sounded far more tired than any 16 year old should. "I just... there's a lot going on
in my head right now. Well... there was a lot going on before. Now there's so much, I can't
decide what problem to start with."

"So you decided it would be easier to simply grate on my nerves?"

An impish smile appeared. "Basically. I figured if I got you angry enough you'd either drop the
subject or..."

"Or what?"

Harry looked away. "You'd solve one of my problems for me."

Really? "And how would I do that?"

"You'd kiss me again and you wouldn't stop."

"Oh." He should have been expecting that. Really.

Sitting up a little more, Harry raised a hand and let his fingers lightly trace a cheekbone. The soft
caress continued for long moments.

Finally, Snape raised his own hand and captured Harry's. "We really shouldn't."

"I really don't care."

Dryly. "I noticed." He pressed the hand gently to his lips. "This is an incredibly bad idea. The
spell-"

"- can sod off for all I care. I admired and respected you before the bloody thing ever happened."

"Admiration and respect are completely different from-"

Once again, Harry interrupted. "Not from here. I feel the same I always did. There's just... more."

"More?"

"More. So much more. That's what has me so confused. Part of me doesn't feel any different. But
another part... Another part feels... alive... when you're around."

"There *are* other reasons that this isn't a good idea."

Harry sighed impatiently. "Fine. For right now. We're soldiers. We're survivors. We're two
people who need a little comfort. A little love. I've given enough to the bloody world. I want
something to myself."

Snape took the hand he was holding and gently twined their fingers. His other hand came up and
lightly trailed a path across a smooth cheek. Magic allowed for amazingly close and long lasting
shaves. He let his thumb dip and run gently over yielding lips.

Harry's eyes closed in obvious pleasure. He leaned into the simple touch. Soaking up as much as
possible.

"Harry..." His voice was husky, "Say no and I'll get up and walk out of here. But say yes and I
may drown."

Green eyes opened and met his. "I'll save you."

A soft whisper. "Then say yes."

Harry ran his free hand up a strong, lean chest, letting glide up and find a place on the back of
Snape's neck. "Oh... yesss." He groaned out. "Please god, yes."

This time, they met in the middle.

This kiss was not the hungry animal of the first two. It was slow, languid. Sweet and oh so
sensual.

Their clasped hands let go so they could explore more freely. Harry gently pushed him down on
the bed and moved to cover him completely. Strong hands stroked up and down his sides.
Tangled in his hair. Cupped his cheek as the kiss went on and on.

Tongues braved out into hot, moist caverns. Learned their paths well and revisited often.

Snape ran his hands down the lithe body on top of him, enjoying the smooth play of muscled
under skin. They cupped a firm ass and gently kneading. Harry gasped and plunged forward.

He encouraged legs to straddle him and-

Oh god.

They rocked back and forth, moaning with each gentle thrust.

Harry began to work at his neck. An agile mouth licked and sucked in time with their movements.

He pulled Harry up for another deep, consuming kiss.

Sensation was beginning to build.

He wanted more. Wanted to explore everything. Touch, taste, feel it all.

But it was too much.

They'd been circling each other for days. Foreplay had begun the moment the spell had started.

Hips began to move faster.

Jolts of energy started at the tips of his toes and traveled deliciously up his back.

Oh yes. Finally.

So good. God. Don't stop, please don't stop. Oh. Please. Oh yes.

He was higher than he'd ever been before.

Power was channeling through them. Taking them soaring.

Don't stop. Don'tstopdon'tstopdon'tstop.

Muscled tightened in sweet anticipation.

Oh god. Soft skin everywhere. Lips opening and plunging deep inside. In. Out. In. Out.

Soft gasps and moans punctuating each movement.

Yes. Oh god yes. Yes yes yes.

So close. So close.

A little more.

Hands grabbed hips for leverage.

Thrust. Oh.. More..

Thrust. Just a little more.

Thrust. The energy pooled.

THRUST. Ecstacy.

It exploded over them in large blissful, euphoric waves.

Swell after swell washed through them.

Rippling slowly to an end.

They were gasping for breathe.

Harry was the first to recover. "Wow... that was..." He seemed at a loss.

"...well coordinated." He offered.

Harry smiled. "That too."

He pulled the blankets over them and muttered and cleaning spell. "Now, you can sleep."

"Remind me not complain next time you wake me up."

"Sleep." He brushed a soft kiss against Harry's forehead.
_________

They didn't hear the soft squeaking of the door. Not that it would have mattered much.

"BLOODY HELL!"

Ron Weasley.

Shit, this was getting old.

Part 20

Elbowing him in the stomach, Harry bolted upright. "Ron!"

The red head stood in front of the open doorway, paralyzed.

Snape watched that speechless jaw move soundlessly up and down for a few moments before
saying, "Mr. Weasley, please close the door."

A few more flaps, then, "Close the door?"

Children. "Yes. Close. The. Door."

"No."

Harry spoke up. "Ron, please close the door."

Weasley shook his head. "And risk him doing to me whatever it is he did to you?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "He didn't do ANYTHING to me. He may not be a nice person most of the
time, but he's NOT evil."

His lips twitched. "Well, not in the classical sense, anyway."

Green eyes took aim at him."You're not helping."

"That was never my intention." There was something very calming about snapping at one another.
Though, Mr. Weasley didn't seem to think so. Someone should tell him that staring like that isn't
very polite.

Harry just sighed and poked him in the arm. Turning to the red headed statue, he said, "Just get
the Headmaster, you're not going to believe me unless he's here anyway."

"I'm not leaving you like this, Harry."

"Like what? The most harm that's been done is that I was woken up from a very well deserved
nap." A small, very satisfied smile crossed his lips before his face once again was a mask of
exasperation.

"Harry, something's not right here."

Another long suffering sigh. "Ron, just get the Headmaster. I promise, nothing is going to happen
in the next five minutes."

Having finally decided that getting Albus was probably the lesser of two evils, Weasley left.
Without shutting the door. He weighed the merits of taking points for the lapse.

Harry flopped back against him. "That did not go the way I wanted it to."

He took the opportunity to card through the sleep tousled hair and dryly asked, "Did you really
expect it to?"

"No. But it would have been nice." Harry answered.

"A lot of things would be nice. That does not mean we'll ever actually get them. That, by the way,
is one of those many reasons I was talking about."

"Reasons?"

He lightly traced Harry's lips with the pads of his fingers. "Reasons."

"Oh." Harry's eyes looked far away for a moment. "Wait. Ron was a reason?"

"Don't be dense. Your friends. Don't fool yourself into thinking no one else is going to find out.
I'd wager there are already interesting rumors flying about."

"What would they have to talk about?"

He began to tick off reasons on his fingers. "Neither of us are in the main ward, Black's probable
zombie like walk through the hallways and a thousand other little things that the trained,
professional, gossip mongers that this school calls students could easily pick up on."

"Oh."

"That was very articulate."

Harry threw him an irritated look. "I try."

"That" He pointed out. "was a blatant lie."

Shoulders shrugged. "Caught me. I guess that's why you're the teacher."

Teacher. Yes, he was. "Ah... Then there's... that."

"That?"

"Do try to catch on a little quicker. Conversations with you are starting to become tedious."

"You could always find ways to shut me up."

How on earth can anyone look that innocent and be that suggestive at the same time? It was
positively wrong. "Harry, if it wasn't a good idea before, it's an indescribably bad idea now."

"I wasn't suggesting now. I was just letting you know for the future."

"Ah." How the hell was he supposed to respond to that?

"Eloquent as always." Harry told him.

He hated it when people threw his words back at him. Didn't they have enough creativity to come
up with their own insults?

Thankfully, Albus chose that moment to appear with a Weasley in tow.

"Ah. I see where you might have a problem Mr. Weasley. Let me assure you that nothing
untoward has happened."

That's when the sinking feeling began in his chest. Albus had trusted him. Without a doubt, he
had violated it. In the worst way. He couldn't look the old man in the eyes.

Harry asked the Headmaster if he could explain this time. Apparently he'd had enough arguing
and question answering.

It was a slight joy to watch Weasley's face alternate between shocking red and extremely pale.

He noted that Albus's rendition managed to make the whole thing less tawdry than it was even
before... before.

When the third retelling was done, Weasley sat there in blessed silence. Then he began to laugh.

Sarcasm heavily laced his voice. "I'm glad I can be of entertainment, Mr. Weasley."

"I'm sorry," Weasley choked out. "Its just funny!"

It was. In the end, the entire situation was glaringly and disgustingly, absurd. But he wasn't going
to admit that.

Weasley turned to Albus, "Can I talk to Harry alone?"

"I believe they can be separate for a time. Now would be a perfect opportunity to discuss some
things with Professor Snape. Why don't you two head off to the room next door. Come back
when you're ready."

He'd suddenly, never been so glad that he'd learned that simple cleaning spell years ago.

As Harry slipped away, he noticed his side felt cold and bereft. A ridiculous notion. He'd simply
gotten used to having him there. A dangerous thing to have happened.

The two friends left the room and he allowed himself so fall, gracelessly back to the pillows.

Serious blue eyes peered at him from underneath bushy eyebrows. "How are you feeling,
Severus?"

He considered the question for a moment. "Better. But I am still quite tired, despite all the rest I
have gotten."

Albus nodded. "It was a long battle."

A weariness descended over him. "All battles are long."

"Quite true." There was a pause, then the Headmaster continued tentatively. "Severus? How did
you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Win." The serious look was still there. "No one has been able to figure it out."

He chose his words carefully. "At the time, I think it was instinct. Albus, we... we worked
together. Our powers, they linked. WE linked, just for a moment, but it was enough."

"Severus, we found your wands several feet away from the both of you."

"I know."

Understanding graced Albus's features. "I see."

"I don't know if we can do it again." he continued to explain. "I don't know how we did it the
first time. All I do know is, even if we figured out how, I don't think its something we could do
on a regular basis."

Albus nodded again. "Severus, how are you feeling?"

"You asked me that already."

Albus placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "I did not mean physically."

"I... I don't know how I feel."

"Would you like to talk about it?"

"I..."

"Severus. Look at me. I have had some time to do the research I told you about. I've come to the
conclusion that there is nothing more to be done. I probably should not have tried to do anything
in the first place."

"Albus, I..." What was there to say? What could be possibly say?

"Severus, over your many years here, I have come to a single conclusion. You, are an honorable
man. And I trust in you, that no matter what happens, you will be an honorable man. We as a
generation have been set into impossible situations, with impossible tasks. To judge right and
wrong at the most inopportune times. To know where the grey begins and ends. Do not think that
I don't understand these things and do not think I would condemn a man who had no choice.
Because, I know you. I know that even when you have no choice, you face it with honor and
dignity and most importantly, respect."

"Albus..."

The hand on his shoulder gave a reassuring squeeze. "All I ask is that you always remember the
meaning of the word, no."

Understanding eyes peered at him for a moment more before turning away.

"I must return to my office. Classes have been cancelled for a week, but there is still much to do.
I'll see you again tomorrow." And he was off.

Part 21

As soon as the door was closed, Ron clamped a hand onto Harry's arm and dragged him bodily
into the next room.

Ron closed the door with a slam and spit out, "Are you out of your bloody mind??"

He knew it'd been too easy. He walked over and collapsed on the neatly made bed in the center of
the room. Without looking up, he answered. "Were you listening to the same story I was listening
to?"

"Listening, yes. Believing, no."

"Ron..."

Ron walked over to him and forced their gazes to meet. "Harry, what's really going on?"

Giving in to the urge to roll his eyes. "Exactly what you were told." Don't be a moron.

Ron turned away. "I don't believe it."

Somehow. He wasn't surprised at Ron's reaction. "Why?"

"Because you're not stupid enough to fool with your wand like that." Ron finished decisively,
looking inordinately pleased with himself.

Will wonders never cease. "Actually, Ron. I am."

Shocked eyes peered at him. "What were you thinking?"

"I think it's been pretty well established that I wasn't."

Those eyes narrowed with suspicion again. "Are you absolutely sure that he didn't have
something to do with this?"

"Absolutely." Unwaveringly, unquestionably, without a doubt, all his fault. Hermione at
practically diagramed it for him.

"So, what's it been like?" Curiosity laced his friend's voice.

Harry's head shot up. "What's what been like?"

"Being stuck with Snape all the time."

Oh. That. He shrugged listlessly. "It's not as bad you think. He's in the same boat too."

Surprise and revulsion went across the red head's face. "You mean, he- eeew."

He just shook his head. Not 'eeew'. That was the problem. "Ron, I need my best friend right
now."

"I knew something was wrong."

Don't make this harder, Ron. "No. Not like that."

"Then what?" Open curiosity.

"I..." He... He what?

"What is it?" Ron crossed the room again and sat next to him on the bed.

"I'm not sure."

"Not sure of what?"

He sighed. "Everything."

"Everything?"

Harry nodded. Choosing his words carefully, he began to speak again. "This... situation... It's
made me think about things. Things, I don't know, that maybe I was thinking about before. Its all
a blur now. What I was feeling before, what I'm feeling now."

"What you're feeling now?"

This would be too easy if Ron actually understood what he was talking about. "Ron, I'm...
attracted to him... really... *really* attracted to him." There. He'd said it. The world didn't end.
Who would have thought?

Disgust swam across Ron's face. "Ugh. Harry-"

"No, Listen to me." He cut Ron off. "Let me finish. I've had a good panic attack coming on for
days. Let me have it in peace"

Ron made and over exaggerated 'after you' gesture. "Go on."

"We kissed."

"He kissed you!"

"No!" Harry quickly corrected, "I kissed him, at least I started it. I don't think, in the end, he had
much choice in resisting it."

"Ok. So you," Ron gulped, "kissed."

"It was, really good."

"Harry, you're my best friend, but we're starting to enter territory I didn't even want to know
existed let alone hear about."

"Sorry. Its just that, I asked him about it. About liking... other guys. He gave me some advice that
I thought I understood at the time. But now I think I didn't."

"What'd he say?"

"'Hands are hands. Mouths are mouths. People are people. Love is love. They just have many
different forms.'"

Ron had on his, 'that's the most confusing thing I've ever heard' face. "What is that supposed to
mean?"

"I thought," He began slowly, "that it was his way of saying, I shouldn't worry about it. I think,
he thinks that when the spell wears off, I won't have these feelings anymore."

"Well, you won't." Ron said to him decisively. "So you shouldn't worry."

Shaking his head sadly. "I don't think so. I think he was saying something else at the same time."

"What else could he possibly be saying?"

"That... that it's ok."

"That what's ok?"

Honestly, were all his friends this dense? "That its ok if the feeling doesn't... go away."

Ron shook his head. "Of course it's going to go away."

"No, Ron. I don't think it is. It feels like the first time I used floo powder. I was scared as hell to
just walk into an open flame, now... it doesn't seem like such a big deal."

Ron gulped at his words and looked at him seriously for a few moments. "You don't want to kiss
anyone else do you? You don't want to" gulp, "kiss me?"

"Actually. Yes. I'd like to kiss someone else. Compare notes. He's got this thing he does with his
tongue that I'd like to try on some hapless victim. As for you Ron, don't be a git."

"I'm not being a git."

"No. Sorry. You're not. You're being accepting and offering me wise advice. You're not
questioning me every other sentence and making this harder than that it already is."

"Hey. Point that sarcasm at someone else, will you?"

Glare.

"Alright. Sorry. I'm here and I'm being supportive, see?"

Wow. Maybe Snape had the right idea. "I just needed to talk about it."

"Harry. You can talk to me about it anytime. Just don't bring Snape into it."

Now that was a problem. Because if liking another man was confusing, liking Snape was enough
to make 'The-boy-who-lived' become 'The-boy-who-crawled-under-a-rock-and-never-came-
back-out'. Maybe he could talk to Hermione. Girls understood strange things like that. But Ron
was at least making an effort. "Thank you."

Sheepish shoulders shrugged. "S'what I'm here for."

Putting on his best, wide eyed, school boy expression, Harry asked, "Is *that* what it was?"

"Sod off." The retort held no malice. Maybe things would be alright after all.

Harry gestured at the door. "I need to be getting back." He paused for a moment. "We've been in
the habit of... saving up just in case."

"Saving up?"

Say it without scaring him. "The touching."

Ron's face twitched, but all he said was, "Oh."

"I'll just be going."

He was almost at the door when Ron spoke again. "Harry?"

"Yeah?"

"I'll always be your friend."

"Thanks."

He walked back across the hallway and into his rooms.

And came face to face with Cornelius Fudge, two Aurors and one very brassed off Professor.

Part 22

The Bastard! The useless, arrogant, self-aggrandizing, officious, interfering, sycophant,
BASTARD.

Snape curled his lips in disgust. "I am not taking that."

Cornelius Fudge looked at him with scorn. "You're not getting out of this, Snape. Take the
verituserum."

"The answer, once more, is an unquestionable, resounding, NO."

Fudge looked smug. "Then you'll have to come with us."

Fool. Should hex him into tomorrow.

"I'll do nothing of the sort."

"What's going on?" Harry asked from the doorway.

Only Snape had known when he'd come in. Everyone else was startled by the comment.

Fudge quickly dismissed him. "It's nothing that concerns you."

"I think it does." Harry stuck his head out the door, "Ron! Get the Headmaster!"

"Why did you do that?" Fudge asked obviously not comprehending how angry Harry was.

Harry glared. He was getting good at that. "I really think the question is, why wasn't he here in
the first place?"

Smart boy.

Hedging. "We couldn't find him."

"Did you try is office?" Harry asked.

"Of course he didn't, that would have been to logical thing to do." He responded before Fudge
could get in a word.

Muttered. "Be quiet, Snape."

Harry moved further into the room, coming stand at his side. "Why do you want him to take
verituserum?"

Why does he care?

Fudge trying to sound as authoritative as possible said, "That's none of your business."

Harry straitened up fractionally. "I think it is."

"Don't interfere with Ministry business."

"I will interfere with anything I want, when it includes harassing my friends."

Friends? They were friends? He supposed between the sniping and the entirely inappropriate
snogging they had come to some sort of truce. But friends?

Fudge, in his typical manner chose not to understand. "But we're not harassing anyone you care
about."

Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously. "But you are. This man saved my life and I want to know
why you're bothering him when he should be resting."

He noted, that matter how often or how hard he provoked him, that look at never been aimed in
his direction.

Who knew the boy had teeth.

"You can't be serious. You can't possibly trust him."

"With my life." The certainty that edged Harry's voice surprised him.

He really trusted him. At least, the spell really trusted him. He found himself aborting a movement
that would have landed his hand on Harry's shoulder.

Fudge looked smug. "Then taking the verituserum shouldn't be a problem."

He leveled his best sneer at Fudge. "There is no force on this earth that will make me willingly
take *any* potion you hand me."

"We just need to confirm that you were on the right side."

"And what side is that Fudge? The side that refused to believe he was back? Or the side that
actually did something about it."

He took great pleasure in watching Fudge stutter with anger and turn a lovely orange. He was
having great success at that recently.

Sputtering. "I can't believe you of all people are questioning my loyalties."

"Not your loyalties," Allowing a malicious smile, "just your competence."

Funny, he'd never noticed that vein before.

"Why you-"

"Why Cornelius, so good to see you again."

Albus really should consider changing his wardrobe to include tights and a cape.

"Dumbledore, a... pleasure as always."

Arse kisser. Bad arse kisser. Unconvincing arse kisser.

A congenial smile graced the Headmaster's face. "Now what seems to be the problem?"

Fudge is a doddering old fool. That should have been obvious.

"I was just telling Snape, that either he takes the verituserum and answer my questions or he
comes with us back to the ministry."

"Did he refuse to answer your questions?"

He's being reasonable. Brilliant defense. Except, of course, when the person you're arguing with
wouldn't know a sound argument if it ran over them with a broom.

"What?" Fudged asked.

"Did he refuse to answer your questions? Is that why you're insisting on the verituserum?" Albus
delivered the question in the same rational tone of voice he used while scolding a petulant first
year. Somehow, it fit.

"I'm insisting," Fudge persevered, "because he can't be trusted."

Albus just shook his head. "Cornelius. I'll have to insist you stop that at once."

Oh yes. *That* will work.

"You want to know what happened?" Harry spoke up with an angry snarl. "I'll tell you what
happened. Voldemort appeared. He attacked us. We killed him. The end."

"You?" Fudge looked between them confused.

"Us. So go ahead. Arrest the OTHER savior of the wizarding world. I'll be along in a minute,
first I've got an owl to write to the Daily Prophet.

Savior? Good lord. The boy certainly knew how to throw around his adjectives.

Back tracking immediately. "Now, there's no need for that."

"And there's no need for this." Harry's tone held such contempt. The vehemence in the statement
surprised him.

Harry had stepped directly between him and the miserable excuse for a paper pusher. "Professor
Snape can be trusted with my life. If that doesn't answer ALL of your questions, you need to
rethink your priorities."

"How can you trust him?"

"Simple." Harry crossed his arms and grinned all knowingly, "I'm not an idiot."

Well, well, never could accuse him tact.

Fudge looked ready to implode.

All in all, not an altogether sad state of affairs.

"Come, Cornelius," Albus said, in his most placating voice, "Let's go to my office and discuss this
and let Severus rest up some more. He's had a trying week."

Trying?

TRYING?

What an enormous, massive, practically planetary, understatement.

"Fine. It would be a good opportunity to hear the full course of events from Mr. Potter."

"I'm sorry Cornelius. Harry is not allowed to leave the infirmary yet. Poppy's orders."

Jaw clenched. "Fine." If Fudge wasn't careful, he'd break something, the way he was tense like
that, "We'll talk. Later."

They exited the room.

He turned to Harry. "I'm not your friend."

"Of course not." Obnoxious brat smiled at him.

"What," he sneered, "was that... display, anyway?"

With a look of disgust, Harry answered. "That was moron, trying to look good."

An irritated glare was thrown in the boys direction. "Not him, you."

Baleful eyes looked at him. "If you have to ask, then it hasn't been done enough."

"What hasn't been done enough?"

In a low quiet voice. "Defending you."

He found himself unable to formulate a response for that.

Part 23

Harry walked through the hallways quickly, in an effort to dissuade anyone who might think it
was a good idea to talk to him.

Talking meant lying. Lying meant thinking. Thinking meant... something. To decide what it
meant, meant thinking. Ugh. Paradox.

Must stop spending time with know-it-all potions masters who like to manipulate him for shits
and giggles.

To be fair, Snape wasn't manipulating him, he was just being stubborn. Very, VERY stubborn.

Any efforts to talk about 'the incident in question' had been met with a firm, 'No.'

After several frustrating attempts, he excused himself and said that he needed to talk to Hermione.

He found her in the common room, reading a very large and dusty tome.

"Hermione."

She looked up and blinked. "Harry! He let you out of the infirmary?"

"Who let me out?"

"Snape."

He wasn't going to think about what that implied. "Why would he have anything to do with that?"

She looked at him for a moment. He felt like a specimen in some wacky experiment. "Harry. How
much has either The Headmaster or Professor Snape told you about this?"

Was she off her rocker? "Ssssh! Don't talk about it here!"

She rolled her eyes. "The room's empty. Sit down and tell me how much you know about this
charm."

He sat down. "Pretty much what I told you."

"That's what I thought. The Headmaster gave me this book to read. He told me to read it and
then talk to you. I *know* he hasn't read it himself."

"How do you know that."

"Because when he handed it to me he said, 'There are some things that old men and headmasters
need not know.' I took that as a clue." She

"Why would he say that?"

"That's what I was wondering. Then I read the book."

He wished she would just spit it out. "And?"

She gave him a perplexed look. "Let's just say it sheds some light on the situation."

"Then why wouldn't he want to read it himself."

She looked like she wasn't sure what to say. "Ah... Because I think he knew what it was going to
say. Or at least had a pretty good idea."

She was stalling. That wasn't a good sign. If Hermione was shoving some new fact down your
throat, something was wrong. "What does it say?"

"It doesn't really go into many details about modern use of the spell. What it *does* talk about
are its roots. What it was originally intended for."

"Aaaand?" He was going to hurt her if she didn't speed this up.

"Well," she began, "have you ever heard of the term 'Shield-Brother'?"

He searched his memory. "It sounds familiar."

She nodded. "It was briefly mentioned in Muggle Studies and The History of Magic. For muggles,
its part of a larger myth about ancient Rome and Greece."

"And for wizards?"

Her face scrunched up a bit. "Well, for one thing, its not a myth."

"Not a myth?"

"No, not a myth." She stopped again. Looked even more uncomfortable and continued.
"Apparently, over a thousand years ago, there was a great war A long and horrible war. The
wizards of the time were looking for ways to improve their chances of surviving. Better fighting
techniques, offense, defense, etc. Someone took the muggle myth and created reality."

He shook his head. "I don't see how this would make you fight better, personally, its an incredible
distraction."

She smiled at him triumphantly. "That's because you weren't hit with the original version of the
spell. The original version didn't create attraction, just an extra sensory awareness."

Well, that was interesting. "So what does that tell me?"

"Well, as far as I can tell... You've been affected by a... mutated version of it."

"Mutated?" That didn't sound good. In fact, that sounded bad. Very, very bad.

She got up and began to pace. "Well, the original spell was used to bind two wizards together,
but it wasn't arbitrary. They chose it. They already had the type of relationship that could be
qualified as... close."

Close? What the hell did she mean by close? "What did it do?"

"It doesn't go into many specifics, just something about a better working relationship."

Well, that could almost describe what had happened.

She stopped in front of him and hesitated a moment. "It's just that. There was a little more, two
things actually."

This wasn't enough? "What is it Hermione?"

"Well, I don't know how much this applies to you, after all, this isn't the exact spell that was
used."

She was hedging. It was becoming very annoying. "Just tell me, Hermione!"

"Ah, well first... well... it didn't explicitly say this, as much as it implied it." She paused, gathering
herself. "Most of the people who used this... they viewed it as marriage. In fact, I think it was.
Legally binding, that is."

Erk! WHAT? "Marriage?"

"Well... from what I read... it does seem kind of... Intimate."

Gah! Another one of those scary words. "I'm almost afraid to ask what the other thing is."

"It seems..." she started again, "there also had to be intent."

"What?" WHAT!

"Intent." She said again, this time more sure of herself. "You had to want it to happen."

"But that doesn't make sense! This spell was for an arranged marriage!"

"No." She corrected him. "The spell that you originally cast was for an arranged marriage. The
spell this book talks about, wasn't."

"Ah. Anything else?" Not that his heart could take it.

"Well. The end of the book goes into how the spell was changed."

"And?" Nothing. Let it be nothing. We all lived happily ever after.

"Well, the big difference between the old and the new, besides the attraction that is, is in the
second part of the spell. The original spell was supposed to take place over the course of several
days. The new one had both parts happen almost simultaneously. They also changed certain
words..." She stopped and a blush spread over her cheeks.

"That's where the.. Er... attraction comes in." She offered him a small supportive smile and
rushed on. "It seems you used the new version for part one. Waited an amount of time that
approached the original, instead of doing both parts at the same time and then The Headmaster
used the original for part two."

He was confused. "I thought he hadn't read this book."

"He didn't." She confirmed.

He shook his head in resignation. "Only because it's The Headmaster does that make sense. That
still doesn't explain why he gave it to you to read."

She looked uncomfortable again and he began to worry. "There... ah... was one more thing."

"Just spit it out..." He was really beginning to wish he'd stayed with Snape and continued arguing.

"Ah... I don't think the... ah... compulsion... is going to go away. Actually, I'm surprised you've
resisted this long."

Oh dear. Well, chalk one up for self control. "Ah... Hermione..."

"You haven't!"

"Not... really..."

"What have you done, Harry?"

"I... that is... we... it felt inevitable, Hermione... and it was... um... a lot of things actually..."

The faint blush on her cheeks spread to the rest of her face, "What exactly did you do?"

What did they do? Oh lord, if he could put it into words... "We kissed." Understatement of the
bloody century. "And... touched... but we didn't... you know... get undressed..."

"And you..."

"Yes." Boy did he.

"Frottage then." She suddenly looked more comfortable. Probably had something to do with big
words. Pavlov would have a field day. "How do you feel?"

Feel? How did he feel? He felt out of control. He felt preposterous. He felt... no crawling. Well,
not as intense as before. "I think... I could go for hours without losing my concentration."

She nodded as if she'd been expecting that. "That's what I thought. The book never mentioned an
instance of the new version not being consummated."

Gulp. Consummated.

"And the original version well... like I said... I think it was the equivalent of marriage."

"So you're saying that now..."

"No... I don't think that what... you did... would... ah... qualify... magically, that is... And... I
don't think that... once would be enough... Because of how long the newer version of the first
part of the spell was in affect, among other things... it was supposed to last for several months
anyway."

He nodded dumbly.

"There's one more thing."

MORE? He was beginning to hate her.

"Because The Headmaster used the older version, whether intentionally or not, to complete the
spell, the fact that it worked, means, that on some level, you wanted it."

"Wanted it?"

"Both of you."

"Both of us?"

"I doesn't necessarily mean what you're thinking. Just having been affected by the first part for
that long could have influenced you." She didn't sound convinced.

"But you don't think that's what it is." It wasn't a question. But then, he'd worked enough things
out to know the answer, at least for him. Not that he was ever going to admit it.

"No." She shook her head. "I don't think the spell would be fooled by another spell."

"So," he began carefully, knowing full well he'd probably have to repeat at least some of this, "on
some level, we both wanted... something... from each other."

"In basic terms. Yes."

That was... that was.... Oh, he had no idea what that was. He wasn't sure he was ready to think
about what that was. "Hermione, if I had walked up to you few days ago and told you I preferred
guys, what would you have said?"

Without a blink she answered. "What took you so long?"

Part 24

Snape stalked through the hallways almost grateful that Poppy had finally released him. The
hospital was getting downright dangerous. Anymore annoying little intrusions in the form of
insufferable twits or hormonal excursions perpetrated by annoying brats and he'd set the place on
fire.

He just wanted to be left alone. For however long he could handle it. Apparently the universe felt
that was too much to ask. It made that abundantly clear when he nearly tripped over Draco
Malfoy on the way to his dungeons.

"Professor?"

"Yes, Mr. Malfoy, how can I help you?" Go away. Far away. Forget that he existed.

The blonde looked down at his feet. "They haven't found him."

"They haven't found who?" Like he had to ask.

Draco looked at him with a stoic face. "My father."

"They haven't found him?" He could have handled that better if he'd stood there gaping like a
fish.

"It wasn't him next to..." the boy flailed for words, "next to it."

"Who was it?"

"Some guy named Jonas Kirby."

That was very bad. On a grand scale of bad things, it was the model that all bad things aspired to.
"Thank you for telling me Mr. Malfoy, I shall take this to the Headmaster." So much for solitude.

He looked grateful. "Thank you, sir."

They began to separate. "Mr. Malfoy," he called, "in any event, you saved my life and I'm sure it
was no easy task. Thank you."

"I've heard stories of him, my father... when he was here. That's who my father was. Not
whoever I killed today."

He nodded. Now that was someone with perspective. Still, he made a mental note to keep and eye
on Draco.

He continued to the Headmaster's office with steely determination only to be deterred by one,
very angry, practically snarling, Sirius Black. As if his day hadn't been bad enough already.

"Snape!" Came the low growl.

He had a feeling he knew what this conversation was going to be about. "Black."

"I don't trust you."

Oh. What a shock. "And I think you're a mongrel. Can I go now?"

Black leaned closer. "I don't know what you did to him, but that boy who yelled at me today was
not my godson."

He blinked. "If you truly think that, then you don't know him at all."

Eyes narrowed. "And I suppose you do?"

The word 'biblically' sprang to his mind. "I've spent seven years attempting to teach him and
nearly a week in his constant presence. I'd have to be the most unobservant idiot not to glean
something from that time."

Black crossed his arms. A look of dark humor spread across his face. "Oh this should be good.
Tell me Snape, tell me about my godson."

He's a hellion of a kisser. "I don't have time for this game, Black."

Teeth were bared."You'll make time."

Controlling, egocentric git. "No. I don't think I will." A strong hand wrapped around his arm and
stilled any forward movement.

"Tell. Me."

"Fine." Stupid, annoying, little dog. "For one thing, the insolent child likes to speak his mind."

"He's not insolent!"

That comment had been the very definition of knee-jerk. "Not by your definition, no. Though I
hardly think you've spent enough time with him to make that sort of qualifying statement."

With clenched teeth, Black continued. "Just go on."

Point.

He rolled his eyes. "He has an annoying tendency to ask intrusive questions that are really none of
his business." He also likes to stick his tongue down other people's throats without asking first. If
that didn't qualify as intrusive, he didn't know what would. "He's right handed, but likes to stir a
potion and steer his broom with his left." His legs were so strong he could probably crush his rib
cage. "He likes chicken sandwiches but absolutely loves roast beef."The way he arches his back
was obscene. "And he is not, by any stretch of the definition, a morning person. Are we done?"
Please let them be done.

"How do you know he's not a morning person?"

What made him latch onto that? "If you really need me to explain it to you, you're more ignorant
that I thought."

Blacks nostrils flared. "I still don't trust you."

"You sound like a broken record. Are we done?"

"No." Of course not. "I want you to stop influencing him."

"Black. Nobody 'influences' that boy, if they tried, they'd be run over by several irate faculty
members and quite a number of angry students, not to mention, Mr. Potter himself." Black looked
sufficiently boggled again. Now if he could just get past him. "Now, I was on my way to the
headmaster's office when you so politely interrupted me. If you will remove your hand, I shall
continue."

The hand tightened. "If he comes out of this hurt-"

"Yes, yes. You'll string me up by my fingernails. Now. Let. Go."

The hand released itself. He shoved passed Black and didn't look back.
_________

His rooms. Finally. Peace and quiet.

He took a quick moment to locate Potter in the Gryffindor common room before grabbing a
bottle of brandy and the small jade statue that resided on his shelf.

He poured himself a glass and studied the figurine he held in his hands. It was of a boy. Not more
that 15 or 16. Smiling. He lightly traced the hair. He missed that boy. Before Imperius. Before
sick and twisted mind games. Before the boy-had-lived. Lucius Malfoy had been his friend.

His best friend. Confident. Lover.

They hadn't been in love.

But they'd loved each other, as much as they could.

He hadn't had anyone like that since.

When had he emptied the glass? He himself poured more of the amber liquid.

There had been no defining moment when his best friend had finally slipped away. Just one minute
there and another... not.

He absently stroked the statue.

He was getting maudlin. Damn alcohol.

Oh look. His glass was empty again. Must remedy that.

A small squeak signaled the opening of his doors. He lazily looked up to see Harry standing there
looking unsure.

"Why are you here?" No slurring. Not that far gone yet, apparently.

Harry threw him a confused look. "You can't feel it?"

He could. Feel it, that is. Like a million little bugs crawling under his skin. Working their way
deeper. "What time is it?" How long had he been sitting there getting drunk?

Harry shrugged. "After dinner."

That long? The boy looked tired and his limbs felt to heavy to move. He put the glass on the table
next to him and motioned for the boy to join him on the couch. They arranged themselves into a
comfortable position.

They shared an almost companionable silence until Harry asked, "What's with the statue?"

Indeed. What was with the statue? "It is a remnant of a forgotten life." Waxing philosophical
now. Another side affect of the brandy, no doubt.

An amused, "You're drunk." came forth.

"Not quite. But close."

Curious eyes looked up at him. "Why?"

He sighed. "This week has been one interminable, trying moment after another. The fact that I
haven't been drunk before now says something about my character."

Harry pondered that for a moment, then said, "I had an interesting conservation with Hermione.
Considering all things. I think now would be the best time to tell you about it."

Oh, that sounded foreboding. "Hold on." He refilled his glass. "Go on."

"Well," he began, "she said a lot of things. I'm not really going to repeat a most of it on the off
chance that you're not going to remember this in the morning."

Smart. "Well. Go on."

Harry took a deep breath. "Basically. We had to want it to happen."

He snorted and rolled his eyes. It figured.

"You're not mad?" Harry sounded surprised.

"Oh, there's anger. Its just drowning in the liquor." He'd get angry tomorrow. Scream and yell
and probably have an aneurism. Anything was better than admitting the boy might be right. He
snorted again at his own thoughts.

"Ah. Have anything else to say?"

He turned an unsteady head to the boy. "I'm drunk, not stupid enough to open my mouth at this
level of intoxication." He settled a hand in Harry's hairs and gently stroked himself to sleep.

Part 25

He awoke to small sparks of pleasure rolling through his body. He stretched and settled down
getting more comfortable.

It felt nice. Almost good enough to make him forget his blinding headache.

Headache? Oh. Right. He'd drunk himself into a stupor.

Maybe he should get something for the hangover. But he was comfortable where he was. He
sighed. The pleasure spiked. Oh, where was that coming from?

His breathing was becoming erratic.

Oh, that felt good.

Cracked open an eye.

And found a completely asleep and utterly relaxed Harry Potter. Harry's lips were lax and open.
Hair was strewn in every direction. His arm, which looked like the had once been haphazardly
thrown around him but had now slid down and was cradled in his lap.

Oh, his lap.

With every breath each of them took, that hand brushed passed him.

An electric shock went through him. Oh. It was getting better with each pass.

He needed to move. Stand up. Which was a problem because his legs had become a jelly-like
substance. Plus the need to breath was becoming a necessity.

"Relax." Came a hushed voice from below.

God, he was awake.

"I'll relax when you move." His voice held a slight tremor.

He felt Harry smile against his chest. "Ok."

The touch became firmer and much more deliberate.

He gasped and shut his eyes tightly. Because looking was just too much. "Stop." The tremor was
getting worse.

"Hermione told me something. She said she was surprised we'd held out as long as we had.
Honestly, so was I."

No thanks to him.

Harry shifted a bit and pressed himself more firmly against his side, keeping up the maddening
touching. "She doesn't think we're going to be able to hold off forever." He swung a leg over his
lap and straddled his thigh.

Slowly, Harry's left hand, palm flat and fingers spread, traced its way upward. He was wearing
only his shirt and the heat that seared through it almost wrought another gasp from him. And the
other hand...

Oh god... the other hand.

"We," he started, it came out a trembling rasp, "we really shouldn't be doing this. Harry... this is...
there are so many things wrong with this."

The hand had reached his neck and tangled with his hair. Harry leaned in, a hot hardness made
itself known on his thigh, and whispered, "Can you stop? Because I'm not sure if I can."

Stop? He could do little more than sit there and do nothing. He was afraid that if he moved it
would be to wrap his arms around Harry and pull him in for a brutal kiss.

Nimble fingers began to undo the buttons at his color. "In order for the spell to work. We had to
want something from each other." The voice was again whispering in his ear. "If I wanted to, I
think I could walk away."

With a monumental effort he grabbed the hand that was unbuttoning his shirt and stopped it.
"Then please, do so."

"But I don't want to." Harry leaned in and gently nibbled just below his ear.

He gasped again and his hips involuntarily thrust forward into that maddening hand.

Harry worked his hand loose and resumed his task with the buttons. "I know what I want," lick
"and I know what I'm doing." bite "I'm fully capable of saying the word no." suckle.

'All I ask is that you always remember the meaning of the word, no.' Albus' voice echoed in his
head.

A thought suddenly whipped through his head. "How... ah oh... how did Hermione," gasp "...
figure this out..." It was getting harder and harder to think.

Harry continued to nuzzle the side of his neck as he answered, "Headmaster gave her a book." A
quick nibble. "Said there were things he didn't need to know."

"That manip- ah..."panting "manipulative bastard." His shirt was completely open.

Harry began trailing wet, sucking kisses down his chest.

Just because Albus, in his own roundabout way had given tacit permission did not mean he was
going to give up any moral values he had, just because it was easier. "What... ah... what makes
you think I ah... want to do this?"

The hands and mouth stopped. He was that close to thrusting his hips to regain the friction.

Serious green eyes looked at him. "You're right. Do you want this?"

Damn him! He hadn't actually expected the little brat to actually ask. He opened his mouth to say
the words, to send him away.

No sound would come out of his mouth.

Harry waited for a few moments then said, "It feels like the decision's been taken out of our
hands and I don't like it. But maybe... Hermione made an interesting point."

Catching his breath. "Do feel free to enlighten me."

The eyes shifted away. "The spell that was used, in the second part, was an older form of the one
I used in the first. The only way this particular spell would have worked was if we wanted it."
They looked back up, meeting his lidded gaze, "We had to want something from each other."

The look made his breath catch. "And what makes you think this was it?" Talk him down, change
the subject.

Ignore that hand that hadn't moved.

"She didn't say it. But she didn't have to. The nature of the spell itself. It wouldn't have worked
for just any old want." Harry briefly stroked him.

Shudder.

"And the spell," his voice was low and rasping, "what would it want?"

"I don't know specifically, but I do know it was as binding as marriage."

Marriage.

There was a hell of a lot of intent behind that.

Very specific intent.

Shit.

Green eyes implored him. "I'll walk away if you want." Shoulders slumped and he started to slide
off his lap. "I'll go back to my common room." Harry stood up shakily and took a moment to
compose himself. Then he turned and started to walk out.

Oh god how he ached.

"Harry." He called. His voice just barely above a rough whisper.

He stopped. Feet from the door.

He could see the tension in Harry's shoulders.

"This isn't just about sex. For that spell to have worked. It couldn't have been just about sex."

Harry nodded.

"I need to be sure you know what you're saying yes to."

Harry slowly turned to face him. "There are a lot of things she told me, that made my head spin.
The only thing that made it stop was being here, with you."

"You really know how to lay out the drek, don't you?"

Harry began to stalk back to him. "One of us has to." He was once again insinuated in his lap,
hands poised and ready to resume.

He couldn't be the one to give in. "Say yes." Please don't. "Tell me this is what you want." Walk
away. Don't leave.

"This," stroke "is," stroke "what," stroke "I," stroke "want."

His hips jerked with each pass.

Harry leaned in, lips grazing his, "Yes."

That was it. He brought his arms up and around that warm, tempting body and crushed it to him.
Their lips connected in a quick, sharp movement.

Oh they were better than he remembered. Soft, malleable wetness greeted him, enticed him.

They broke apart panting. Harry resumed his wet trail down his chest. He caught a nipple between
his teeth.

Oh god. Sparks were shooting everywhere. So good. Gasp. So good.

Surprisingly nimble fingers found the fastenings on his trousers and opened them with alarming
dexterity.

Warm, strong fingers wrapped around him and started to move.

Amazing. Oh sogood. Oh yes.

He pulled Harry in for another dizzying kiss.

He stretched out shaking fingers, looking for similar clasps on Harry's pants. Once past those, he
reached in and encountered hot, firm flesh. Harry's gasp made him shiver.

Pulling Harry close once again, he shifted his hand to encompass both of them. He buried his face
in the hollow of Harry's neck and began to move.

Gasp. Shudder.

Ohgod. Oh oh oh.

So good.

Harry was sucking on his neck.

Oh. Oh god. Don't stop. Can't stop.

Harry was making small huffing sound.

Yes. That's it. Closer.

He shifted his head just enough to capture those amazing lips.

More. Need more.

His hand began to move faster.

Oh that's it.

Hips began to thrust. More friction.

Oh, keep going. Yes. Yesyes.

Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod.

Harry bit down on his neck.

Yes. Oh yes. Yesyesyeysyesyesyes!

Stroke. Once more.

A frisson of power started at the base of his spine and sparked outwards. Every nerve tingled.

And he knew. He knew Harry was on the same edge that he was.

He knew what it would take.

Sucking on a patch of skin right under Harry's ear, he gave two more firm strokes and-

Pleasure exploded over them, in wonderful euphoric waves.

He kept his hand moving until there was nothing left in either of them.

Harry was lying, limp on top of him. Slowly catching his breath.

He mumbled the beloved cleaning spell and gently coaxed Harry to stand.

Silently he led them into his bedroom.

Once they were laying down, Harry murmured, "See, feel better already."

"Go to sleep." He did feel better. Marginally.

Part 26

The first thing he noticed upon waking, was that the headache was still there. The second was that
he wasn't alone. Third, he was ridiculously relaxed. Considering he was waiting for several angry
people to storm into his rooms and demand to know what he was doing, he should not be that
relaxed.

The warms lump resting partially on his chest stirred a bit before settling down again.

"Mr. Potter."

The lump twitched.

"Mr. Potter, do wake up. It's morning and far past time for you to return to the dormitories."

Harry just buried his face in his neck and mumbled. "Hermione knew where I was going. L'be
fine."

He really should encourage Albus to have a talk with the Head girl. Covering for people like that
was a bad precedent.

He shook the boy again. "Never the less, you should probably return."

Bleary eyes opened and regarded him. "Why do you call me that?"

"Call you what?"

"Mr. Potter."

Because he needed distance. "Because its your name."

He felt shoulders shrug. "Just seems strange. That's all. I mean we're in bed together. And
we've..." Harry started to hyperventilate. "We've... oh god... we've..."

This was the panic attack he'd been expecting long before now.

He slowly stroked circles on the heaving back. "Mr. Potter... Harry... You have to calm down.
It'll only get worse." He sighed reproachfully. "This is why I told you it was a bad idea."

"Not... not the problem." Harry hiccuped.

"Then please enlighten me."

"Its just... I... you're... a guy..."

"A fact that has hardly been hidden from you." Understatement of the bloody year.

Harry made an impatient huffing sound. "Would you shut up! I can't... this isn't something... I
mean... I thought maybe... I've gotten to the point where... where thinking about it doesn't make
me want to run screaming. But this is a whole hell of a lot further than thinking."

Yes. Much more than thinking. This was digging a whole. "You weren't thinking this last night?"

"The only thing I was thinking last night was that I needed you. Needed you so badly I couldn't
think strait."

"You were certainly thinking well enough for certain endeavors." Not that he'd been thinking at
all.

Harry just clenched his fists and closed his eyes.

"Harry, stop. Take a deep breath. You'll make yourself sick" a snarling image of Black appeared
in his mind, "and I'll no doubt be blamed."

He watched Harry make a concerted effort to bring his breathing under control. "You don't
understand. This is all so strange and confusing."

"Believe it or not, you are not the first person to ever wake up and be appalled by who was
sleeping next to them."

"That's not... that's not the problem." Once more Harry closed his eyes. "I asked Hermione, what
she would say to me, if I told her... I told her I liked... guys."

"And she said?"

"What took me so long?"

Observant girl.

"Its just, that there's this part of me that I barely knew about. But she knew. The spell knew. But
I didn't." Pleading eyes turned to him. "How can I not know that about myself?"

He struggled with words for a few moments. "The human mind is a strange and dangerous
minefield. One never knows what thought they will step on next."

Silence.

"I can't deny that last night was amazing." Harry started. "But it was nothing like what I thought
it would be."

IT? Good god. The boy was...

He couldn't even think it. He suddenly felt like a dirty old man.

"You've had a paradigm shift." He said.

Confused. "A what?"

"A shift," he explained, "in the perceptions of how you see yourself and the world. It can often
be... disconcerting."

"Did you ever have a... paradigm shift?"

No. Never. Not even the first time he found his way into bed with Lucius. "Yes." Damn. He
hadn't meant to say that. "Once or twice."

"What happened?"

He woke up next to his best friend. "I realized I didn't want to be a death eater."

"What happened?"

He watched Lucius lose himself. "I realized that life wasn't what I thought it was." He realized
that he didn't have to do what had been expected of him his entire life. "Albus was surprisingly
understanding."

"He has this habit of already knowing your decision before you've even made it. Do you find it as
annoying as I do?"

Dryly. "More so, I would imagine."

Harry tightened his arms and ingratiated himself further in the embrace. "This really isn't all about
sex is it." It was a statement more than a question.

It was also a topic of conversation he wished to avoid. Like the plague. "I thought we'd
established that. Pay attention."

"Stop redirecting."

Damn. The boy had figured it out. Giving up. Slightly. "No. This is probably not all about sex."

Suddenly. "I've always wanted to be married."

Speaking of minefields. "Why would that be an aspiration of yours? Surely your goals are more
career oriented."

Shrugging again. "Marriage means family."

Such a simple statement.

One that cut him to the core. "Is that all it is to you?"

"Of course not. Just... before now, I've never experienced anything else that could be put under
'reasons for marriage'..." Harry trailed off.

Ignoring any implications that may have been in that statement he said, "You really should return
to the dormitories before you give the vultures any more fodder for gossip."

Harry nodded and began to untangle himself.

He also began to rise from the bed. He followed Harry into the main room. "You may return after
dinner, as long as you've already established an... alibi." That sounded incredibly bad.

Harry nodded and turned to leave. Then quickly, obviously on impulse, he darted back, wrapped
his arms around his neck and pulled him down for a tingling, searching kiss. It lasted for several
moments.

Finally, he pulled Harry gently away. "Go."

And he left.

He wandered back to his desk, doubting his sanity.

This was getting ludicrous.

Bloody intent.

Don't think about it. Deal with it later.

There was a letter on his desk.

The envelope was blank, except for his name. But the scrawl was all too familiar.

Lucius.

With what he could almost call trepidation he opened it.

~~~~~~~
Dear Severus,

I'm writing this on the off chance that you'll actually read it after recognizing the handwriting. My
old friend, I find there is much to atone for. You've probably already figured out that the body
you recovered, was not mine. There was a plan involved in it. What exactly, I don't know. He
didn't trust anyone in the end, not even me. But I think I am involved, after all, the polyjuice
potion was made to look like me. Why else keep me out of that final battle?

I find myself remembering our school days. I miss you. I recall our more carefree days with great
affection and much wistfulness. I write to you in hopes that you'll remember what we were. That
you'll believe me when I say that his death has thrown off the Imperius curse that I have long
labored under. Much of the last 20 years is not more than a haze of forced actions and pain. I
know that I have hurt you and I am greatly sorry for it.

I need your help. And I hope you can find it in yourself to give it.

My owl will return in two days.

I await your answer.

Yours,
Lucius
~~~~~~~~

Well if that just didn't make his week.


Part 27

Harry quickly wound his way up from the dungeons to the Gryffindor common room. It was
becoming a well known path. He checked the time, if he changed quickly, he could still make it to
breakfast. With classes cancelled, meal times had been extended to add leniency to the day.

He gave the password to the fat lady and walked in. Hermione, Ron, Parvati and Lavender were
all sitting there. Ron and Hermione looked unhappy. Parvati and Lavender looked... smug.

Oh no.

He waved to them while walking past, in an effort to maintain normalcy.

"Good morning, Harry." Parvati called after him. "Nice to see you."

He turned and gave his best smile, "Good morning, Parvati."

"Late night?" She asked.

Feign confusion. "What?"

"Well," She smiled, " you didn't come back to the dorms last night."

Lie. Lie fast and lie well. "I went to the library to look something up, I must have been more tired
than I thought, because the next thing I knew it was the middle of the night. The hospital was
closer so I just went there. Madame Pomfrey wanted to check on me this morning anyway."
Wow. That was convincing. Falling asleep in the library.

Parvati turned wide eyes to her friend. "Lavender, has the castle been redesigned since the last
time we went to the library?"

"I don't think so, Parvati." Lavender had the same annoying tone of voice.

"Well then," More face sincerity, "how could Harry get to the Library by way of the dungeons."

Fuck.

"I don't know." Lavender answered.

"You know Lavender," Parvati began in a conversational tone, "I don't think Harry went to the
Library at all."

Intrigued. "Really?"

Parvati continued with a conspiratorial wink. "I think he spent the night in the Dungeons."

More fake intrigue. "Why would he do that?"

"I don't know." Parvati turned to him. "Harry?"

Double fuck.

Try reluctant honesty. Maybe that will work.

He sighed, letting his shoulders slump slightly. "All right. The truth? I went to visit Professor
Snape. I wanted to thank him for saving my life."

Lavender. "And that took all night?"

He hated logic.

"We talked for a while and I fell asleep. I really was more tired than I thought." Right. They'll
believe that. He took a moment to realize that the sarcasm in his head was probably a bad thing.

"That's nice Harry, if a bit strange." Parvati began.

"And if you didn't have that hickey, we might even believe it." Lavender concluded.

So fucked.

Automatically his hand went to the exact spot he knew they were talking about. He shivered at
the memory even as he frantically searched for something to say instead of simply staring dumbly
at the two girls.

He felt a slim hand slide around him and soft lips pressed to his cheek.

"That was me." Hermione.

Wow. Good friend. Must buy chocolate. Or a book. She'd like a book.

The twin gaping looks that were being directed at him were almost enough to make him
remember that he wasn't supposed to rip himself out of her embrace. As it was, he couldn't help
tensing a little.

"Sorry," Her voice was soft, a timbre he'd never heard before. "I didn't realize I'd left a mark."
She let a single finger trace it softly.

He needed to do something. Something to complete the picture. Not just stand there like a
moron. "It's ok." He leaned in and whispered something in her ear. When he pulled back he was
rewarded with a glassy eyed Hermione. She looked at him for a few seconds before swooping in
and claiming his lips.

It wasn't a bad kiss. But it didn't compare. Not even in the same league.

It ended leaving both of them slightly breathless. They turned to face three pairs of wide eyes.

Ron. Right. He made a note to have a talk with him.

"See you at breakfast?" He asked.

"Sure." She nodded.

With that, he headed up to his room.

He was going through his trunk looking for clean clothes when Ron came in.

"Harry?"

Not looking up. "Yeah, Ron?"

"Where'd you get the hickey?"

He sighed and sat back. "You shouldn't ask questions that you don't want answers to."

Sounding outraged. "Harry!"

"Ron, I... Have you talked to Hermione? About what she read?"

"No." Ron's voice sounded flat.

Oh goody, because that would make this so much easier. "There's a lot going on here. More than
what I told you yesterday." Ron looked like he was about to object. "No, I didn't keep anything
from you, I just didn't know about it when we talked."

"What's going on Harry?" There was genuine worry in Ron's voice.

His shoulders slumped. "We... I... a lot. Not much of it I understand, yet. The spell, I don't think
it created, I think it just... enhanced something that was there before."

"Harry, what are you talking about?"

"Part of the spell."He said, "The second part. It wouldn't have worked if we both hadn't wanted
something from it."

"Something?" Ron asked. "What was this something?"

"I don't know."

"Well I bet I know what Snape wanted."

"No," He said with a certainty. "Ron. It couldn't. The spell doesn't work like that. It was meant
to build... trust... between two people who already have... a relationship... not perfect strangers."

"That doesn't explain the hickey." Ron was getting angry again.

"I know." His shoulders slumped further. "Can we hold off on the explanation until I know for
myself?"

"But, it was Snape?"

"Yes." Finally. A question he could answer.

"He didn't make you?" Uncertainty edged Ron's voice.

He snorted. "I practically made him."

Ron visibly restrained himself from comment for a moment. "Ok... One more question."

"Yes?"

"How did you make Hermione do that?"

He grinned and resumed searching through his trunk. Smiling triumphantly when he found his
quarry, he pulled out a small book and handed it to Ron.

Ron examined it. "This is a dictionary."

"I know. Look up some choice big words, use them at appropriate times. You'd be surprised."

Ron blinked. A slow, wicked smile spread across his face. "Brilliant!"

"Isn't it though?"

Ron paged through the book with a new appreciation. "I knew there was a reason I liked you."

Feigning upset. "Not just for my looks?"

"Prat. I'll see you at breakfast." Ron waved and left.

He continued to smile as he pulled out clean clothing to wear. He'd enjoy planning a very public,
very loud break up with Hermione. If they did it right, they might even be able to make some
money off of it.
_________
He walked into the Great Hall feeling lighter than ever. Practically whistling by the time he'd sat
down at the table.

He hadn't noticed almost every eye turn to him. Or both Ron and Hermione's tense posture.

"Harry." Hermione she gestured that he should sit next to her.

He sat and she immediately took his hand.

Something in her tight grip made him take a closer look at his surroundings. Carefully leaning in,
he whispered in her ear, "What's going on?"

She whispered back, "Parvati and Lavender have already spread the rumors."

"They can't unspread them?"

"They started to, but then Snape came in."

Harry surreptitiously turned his gaze to the Head table. Snape was sitting there. Glaring at his
food. The Headmaster leaned over to ask him a question and Snape turned his head and-

Shit.

Plain as day, high enough so that not even his high collar could conceal it. Where neck met jaw.

A bite mark.

His.

Part 28

He carefully folded the letter and placed it gently on his desk. He ran shaking hands through his
hair before getting up to retrieve a clean robe.

He needed to talk to Albus. But not before putting in an appearance at breakfast. It would do the
Slytherins good to see him.

He wouldn't be able to get some time alone with Albus until afterwards anyway.

A quick glance in the mirror confirmed that he looked presentable, if a bit bedraggled. He longed
for a shower, but there just wasn't time at the moment.

He swept through the corridors with his usual grace and aplomb.

The Great Hall was mostly filled when he made his appearance. The only seat available at the
head table was next to Poppy. Thankfully she was deeply engrossed in conversation with Minerva.

He took his seat and began to serve himself.

"Oh, that poor boy." He heard Minerva say.

Poppy nodded her head vigorously and answered. "Imagine how Hermione feels."

Gossip. An annoying fact of life at Hogwarts.

One that was making his life increasingly difficult.

"She seems to be taking it well, but girls that age always put on a face." Minerva added.

"And imagine Mr. Potter. Being separated from his girlfriend like that."

That caught his attention.

Poppy turned her gaze to him. "Severus, I do hope you have been accommodating."

His jaw clenched tightly. Without returning her regard, he ground out an answer. "For one, I
cannot believe that you lack the simple common sense that should tell you that discussing this in
public is the height of foolishness. Second, he has not asked for time, so there have been no
allowances to make. I assure you, if he wanted something he would have had no qualms in asking
for it."

Or taking it without permission.

He had learned that the hard way.

He was in the middle of pointedly not thinking about Harry and his... girlfriend when the
Headmaster called his name.

"Severus, so good to see you this morning."

He turned his head to acknowledge the Headmaster. "Good morning Albus. I was hoping to have
a word with you after breakfast."

Whatever answer that might've been given was lost in gasp from his right.

Several actually.

"Severus." Minerva was looking at him with wide eyes.

Irritation was beginning to set it. The old bat was starting to get on his nerves.

"You're neck..."

In a flash of sensation he remembered strong teeth clamping down and sucking.

He dropped his fork, it made a loud clattering sound hitting his plate.

Too loud.

The room had become hushed whispers. He dared a glance at the children.

And was assaulted with more than a hundred sets of stunned eyes.

Shit. This was going to be worse than yesterday. By leaps and bounds.

He returned each and every one of those stares with a scathing glare. Daring them to say
anything.

They eventually returned to their breakfasts.

He returned to his. But his appetite was lost.

He settled for glaring at the offending pieces of food. They annoyed him. Looking happy and
carefree the way they did.

Good lord.

He was going insane.

Worse. Harry had appeared.

"Severus." Albus was calling him again.

He debated the merits of ignoring him and just stalking out of the room.

"Severus." The voice called again.

He gave in and looked at the Headmaster again. "Yes?"

"I believe now would be a good time to have that talk."

A master of the understatement as always.

He allowed a few minuted between the Headmasters exit and his own. The pretext must be kept
after all.

What a joke.
_________

When he arrived, Albus was sitting calmly behind his desk.

Arrogant old man.

"Severus, please have a seat."

He remained standing. "I originally had a specific topic of conversation in mind. But after my
bumbling display of ineptitude this morning, I have a feeling you wish to discuss something else."

Albus nodded. "I do."

They faced each other in silence.

Finally he broke. "Well? No scathing lecture? No shaking head? No damnable all knowing
answers?"

"There's time for all of that. I'm more interested in why you wanted to talk to me."

Why HE wanted to talk? Why the old-

"Albus, I love you dearly, but there are some days you come perilously close to a long and painful
death."

A congenial smile. "That's nice Severus."

He gave up. He just didn't have the strength today.

Sitting down, he pulled the letter from his robes and placed it in front of Albus. "Its from Lucius."

Albus looked at the parchment for a long moment before asking him. "What does it say?"

Good question. "A lot... and very little."

"Severus?"

"He... he's asking me for help."

Leaning forward, Albus asked, "What kind of help?"

Common courtesy. A chance to be heard. To be forgiven. "The same kind he asked for 20 years
ago."

"Ah."

Sage man.

He continued. "He asked for a response in two days."

"What are you going to say?"

"I don't know."

There was a tense silence.

"Severus, talk to me."

He opened his hands in supplication. "What would you have me say?"

Tired blue eyes entreated him. "Something. Anything. You've been entirely too silent recently."

He slumped forward, hands on his knees. "I miss my life. I miss being in control. I miss knowing
what I was doing. I miss making the easy decisions. I miss my best friend. But worst of all, I miss
being in denial." He felt drained even saying that much.

"Denial?"

He looked Albus in the eyes. "For once, play against character and tell me you had no idea what
you where doing."

"How could I? I hadn't read the book."

"Damn it, Albus! Stop! Just once! Stop..." He was shaking. Why was he shaking.

His eyes burned.

No.

Severus Snape Did. Not. Cry.

He blinked and willed them away.

Albus got up and circled around his desk and gently gathered him into a hug, the crawl that had
become a permanent fixture momentarily increased. "Severus, I know this is hard, I only have to
look at your face to know that. Now, let's take this one thing at a time and see what we can do."

It sounded so simple when said like that.

Albus released him from the embrace and took the chair next to him. "Now, let's start with
Lucius."

"Lucius. Yes. He says that with Voldemort's death, he's thrown off Imperius."

"That's an... interesting theory. Do you believe him?"

"I don't know. I want to."

"Don't let what happened in the past, dictate your actions now, Severus."

Easier said than done. "That does not tell me what sort of answer I should give."

"What answer would you like to give?"

He wanted to give him a chance. The same chance he had gotten so many years ago. "I want to
hear what he has to say."

Albus nodded thoughtfully. "Tell him to come here."

"Are you crazy?"

"What better place to defend ourselves? Invite him here in three days time, we will be prepared."

Either the man was brilliant.

Or off his rocker. It really was tough to tell sometimes.

"Now for the... gossip."

How very delicate of him. "Yes. The gossip."

Albus smiled. "Its not as bad as you think. It can be dismissed as a strange coincidence for the
moment."

He shook his head. "That will only work for so long."

"I know." That smile was back. He didn't like that smile. "I have something in mind for the longer
term."

"Are you going to enlighten-"

A loud knocking interrupted him.

"ALBUS! I KNOW HE'S IN THERE!"

Black.

So much for discretion.

Part 29

Before the Headmaster could open the door, the banging resumed.

"LET ME IN!"

Albus stepped up to the door, leaned against it and appeared to listen for something. After a few
moments he smiled and calmly opened the door.

He watched Black fall flat on his face.

Albus really did love him.

Before Black could move, Albus sat on him.

He allowed Black to struggle for a bit before saying, "Stop that my dear boy, I would really rather
I did not have to pull my wand on you."

Eventually the struggles subsided. Black settled for glaring menacingly in his direction.

Albus patted Black gently on the head and he found himself suppressing a snicker. "Now Sirius,
to what do I owe the honor of this visit?"

"I want to know what ths greasy bastard did to Harry!" Black snarled.

Albus just smiled warmly. "An interesting question Sirius, but one I think should wait until Harry
is here as well."

More snarling. Perhaps he'd start drooling next. "I don't want Harry anywhere near him!"

He looked at the overgrown child in front of him and sneered. "Black, could you please use some
common sense for once in your miserable excuse for a life?"

"Don't you dare speak to me! You slimy miserable no good excuse for a human being."

"At least he listens." Harry said from the doorway.

He did?

He knew Harry had been there long enough to hear the last exchange.

Albus still had that insufferable smile on his face. "Ah, good. Come in Harry and close the door
behind you."

Harry quickly closed the door and sat down in the chair that was closest to him.

Sides were, apparently, already being taken. For once, he approved.

Albus continued, "Now Harry, has Severus done anything that you don't approve of?"

Harry let a small smile dance across his lips. "Not one thing."

"I've heard the rumors, Harry! You can't possibly tell me that you wanted him too... too..."

Harry leaned in and with a serious look, asked, "What rumors did you hear exactly?"

"That you spent the night in the dungeons!" Black spat the words out.

Being reasonable. "I've done that before, you knew that."

"Yes, but then you both show it with those.. Those.. Ugh, I can't even say it."

Both?

He examined Harry's neck.

Oh. Well, they'd both been enthusiastic in the end.

"I still maintain that nothing happened that I disapproved of. I'd also like to add, that despite the
circumstantial evidence, you still haven't proven anything."

He blinked. Well that was interesting way to go.

Black looked serious. "Harry, I'm not stupid."

He couldn't help it. Really. "Could have fooled me."

Black's head whipped around to look at him. The chords on his neck were standing out. "You
stay out of this!"

Sometimes, Black made it too easy. "I would, but you insist on dragging me into it."

"Albus, would you please let me up!"

"I would, my boy, but I'm very comfortable at the moment."

Black was going to start to looking like a temperamental toddler if he continued to waves his
arms around like that.

Scratch that. Make that, MORE of a temperamental toddler.

Albus began again, "Now Harry, is there anything else you would like to say?"

Harry nodded. "Sirius. Thank you for caring about me. It means a lot, really. But, you need to
understand that I'm not 11 anymore. I don't even feel 17 most of the time. I can take care of
myself. I can make my own decisions and face the consequences of my actions."

"But Harry, it's Snape!"

This had to be good for him. "You're powers of observation astound me, Black."

"Harry, what about Hermione?" Black was obviously trying a different tactic. Guilt. Too bad the
boy was master himself.

Without hesitation Harry answered. "I'm sure, her and Ron will be very happy."

Black was incredulous. "That's callous."

With crossed arms. "It would be, if I were actually seeing her."

Obviously at a loss for words, Black sputtered. "But... I thought..."

Once more, he couldn't stop himself. "Obviously you didn't."

Harry glared at him. He was getting good at that. "You, stop helping. You, stop getting your
information from Parvati."

"How did you know?"

Shrugging. "Because she likes to cause trouble."

Before anyone could say anything else there was another loud banging at the door.

"DUMBLEDORE, LET ME IN!"

Fudge.

Well, this just got a lot more interesting.

"Harry, if you would." Albus gestured to the door.

Opening it revealed Cornelius Fudge and two Aurors.

"Cornelius, twice in two days. This is a pleasure."

"You can't protect him this time, Dumbledore!"

"What do you mean, Cornelius?"

"A parent contacted me this morning, it seems Snape has been having... relations," he rolled the
word in his mouth, making a grimace, "with a student." He pointed to Harry. "That one, to be
exact."

"Cornelius. I know that I do not work for the Ministry, but I would think that I would recall if the
law about accidental magic had been repealed."

Brilliant. Use the law Albus. The man won't know what hit him.

Fudge was starting to turn colors again. "Surely this case does not apply!"

Harry spoke up. "It does. I accidently Pledged us."

"Accident?"

Albus nodded, "Yes, an accident. One compounded my me, I'm afraid."

"By you?"

Was gaping like a fish catching?

Albus put on his best regretful face. He must practice it in a mirror. "It seems, purely by accident
of course, in an effort to give them some control, I may have bonded them more closely than I
intended to."

"Bonded?"

One word questions were quite becoming on Fudge.

"Yes. It seems, technically, they're married."

"MARRIED?!?"

Who knew four people could be so synchronized in indignation?

"Only technically. When the spell that we used became obsolete, it was determined that the spell
alone could no longer be legal and binding. The correct term for them would be engaged."

"ENGAGED?!?"

Really, one would think the four of them had orchestrated it.

"My godson is not engaged to THAT man!"

This was getting ridiculous. "Oh, do shut up, Black."

Fudge was still spluttering incoherently. "What are you suggestion Dumbledore?"

"Simply, that anything that may or may not have happened, is completely covered under the
bylaws of the school."

"Bylaws."

Yes, he could definitely get used to one word answers from the man. Though, he almost sounded
intelligent, that could be dangerous.

Albus nodded once again. "Yes, the school bylaws have a section on engagements and an even
smaller section on marriages. Put plainly, anything that happens between the couple in question, is
none of the school's business unless it directly interferes with the welfare of either of the
participants or the school itself."

"That pertains to arranged marriages." Fudge looked smug.

Albus shook his head. "Technically." He corrected. "That's what this is."

That slow painful death was starting to sound more and more delightful.

Part 30

"But he's a teacher." Black objected.

He snorted. "Another brilliant deduction be the resident geniuses."

Albus shook his head. "The bylaws don't make any distinction between teachers and students."

Fudge looked outraged. "But surely they weren't meant for this type of situation!"

Albus looked at him seriously. "I think they were. I think, that is why there is no mention of
teachers or students in the entire section. In any event, the law clearly states that any one who has
been inflicted with a magical spell that causes behavior not normally associated with legal lines,
are cleared of any responsibility, if the casting was done without their knowledge or consent. You
have two witnesses that will testify to that fact Cornelius."

Fudge crossed his arms. "Fine." Said through clenched teeth. "He didn't do it on purpose."
Pointing to Harry. "What about him?"

Harry's eyes widened. "It was an accident. I wasn't looking where I was going and I didn't
think..."

It was catching.

Fudge turned to Harry. "Do you have proof?"

Not looking happy. "Other than my word? Do you really need more?"

Before another argument could erupt, Albus interrupted. "Harry, please get the bottle that is
sitting on my desk. Severus, I believe you know how to administer it."

Harry handed him the bottle.

Verituserum.

He motioned for Harry to come closer.

Harry opened his mouth and-

Visions of last night assailed him, warm skin, lithe tongues, gasps of pleasure.

With shaking hands he placed three drops squarely on that tongue.

"How do I know that's the real thing?" Fudge argued.

A smile graced the Headmaster's face. "Harry, what do you think of me?"

Harry obviously struggled for a few moments before responding. "I think you're a kind, gentle
man. You're smart and cunning and sometimes I wonder if you really were a Gryffindor. All that
planning and manipulating. I know you need to do things that aren't all together honest to run this
place, but its starting to get annoying when you repeatedly pull the carpet out from under me. Not
to mention your habit of answering questions that I haven't even asked yet."

It was close enough to his own assessment that he began to doubt his sanity.

"Thank you, Harry." Albus turned to Fudge. "Is that enough proof?"

"For now."

"Now Harry, did you cast The Pledge on purpose?"

"No." Said with absolute certainty.

Not that it had ever been in doubt in the first place.

"Harry, did Snape do something to you?" Black asked before anyone could stop him.

Stupid, annoying, shortsighted moron!

Never ask such a vague question to someone under the influence of verituserum!

He watched Harry's eyes begin to roll up into his head and hands grip the arms of his chair tightly.

Quickly, he grasped the closest hand and said, "Harry! Look at me!"

"Don't touch him!" Black roared.

"Shut up, Black! Harry, look at me! He didn't finish the question. The question was, 'have I done
anything to you in the last 30 seconds?' Do you hear me? The last 30 seconds."

Harry closed his eyes tightly and nodded. Slowly muscles relaxed. Taking deep breaths, he
answered. "Yes. You talked to me, you touched me. Made the crawling go away. Feel safe."

"See! He deliberately stopped Harry from answering!"

"For once in your life would you look past your own nose! You nearly killed him! Even he,"
pointing to Fudge, "knows not to ask an open ended question to someone under the influence of
verituserum!"

"Sirius," Albus explained, "Harry would have been impelled to answer the question you asked
with as many specifics as possible. Asking the question the way that you did, would have forced
Harry to tell you about everything Severus has ever done to him, ever."

"Oh." Oh look, who knew Black could sound contrite?

Without looking away, he offered a snide remark. "Brilliant as always Black." He then checked
Harry's pulse.

A bit fast.

"Open your eyes." Slightly dilated. But they had been closed for a while. He began to trace slow
relaxing circles on Harry's hand. "Take deep breaths. Don't hyperventilate."

Harry visibly slowed his breathing. Muscles relaxed further.

"How is he?" Black asked, obviously concerned.

"Fine, no thanks to you." He didn't remove his hand.

"Cornelius,"Albus redirected, "do you need anymore proof that this was an accident?"

Grudgingly. "No. Tell me Dumbledore, how do you intend to solve this... problem?"

Hands raised in submission, Albus answered. "There really isn't much more to do but leave them
to their own devices."

"Leave them to their own devices?" This from Black who was starting to look very angry again.

Shrugging. "I cannot break the spell. There is no way that I can think of that would not drive both
of them insane."

A comforting thought.

"Are you saying, that they're engaged? Permanently?" Black was beginning to growl again.

"Well no,"Albus answered, "if they chose to get married or the ministry reenacts the law,
retroactively, that makes the spell a legal marriage, then they will not be engaged anymore."

Black looked devastated. "God, Harry, I'm so sorry."

So was he.

"Don't say that." Harry snapped.

"Harry?" Black sounded confused.

He wasn't the only one.

"Don't be sorry for me. Its not such a horrible thing, to always have someone."

"But HIM?"

"Sirius. Its... I... Forget it. You'll never be able to understand. Something inside me makes me
doubt you'll even try." Harry looked defeated and very tired.

He continued to hold his hand.

Having heart to heart talks while doused with verituserum were not a good idea.

"That's all well and good," Fudge started again, "but I simply cannot have a student and a teacher
carrying on."

Indignantly Harry responded. "We're not carrying on."

Fudge just shook his head. "Call it whatever you like, but I know what that spell does and I won't
have it happening in this school."

"What would you suggest Cornelius?" Albus was obviously trying to mediate.

Of course, that required two reasonable minds.

Fudge looked triumphant. "Either remove one of them from this school or marry them."

"WHAT?" He was not getting married. Correction, he was not being forced into marriage.

"That way if any of the parents ask, I have the full backing of the school's laws as well as the
ministry's."

Damn the man. He was making sense. Of all the times for that to happen.

Albus simply nodded. "I trust you will use discretion in answering questions of that nature?"

Anger. "Don't tell me how to do my job."

"I'm not. I would simply like to make sure that their privacy is respected for as long as possible."

"Fine." Fudge paused. "I expect proof to come across my desk in a matter of days, Dumbledore."

Albus nodded once more. "Of course, Cornelius."

Fudge and his goons left.

"Albus, you can't be serious!"

Black was once again proving his inability to follow a simple conversation.

He never thought he'd envy him.

Albus looked genuinely sorry. "I don't see much of a choice."

Black turned to Harry. "Harry, tell him you don't want to do this!"

Shaking his head. "I can't Sirius."

"See Albus he- WHAT?"

He WHAT?

He had to stop agreeing with Black.

Harry shrugged. "It solves a lot of problems at the moment and it keeps the Professor out of
trouble."

"That's hardly a reason to get married." Black stated.

Yes, hardly a reason.

Harry shrugged again. "Then in six months, when the school year is done, we can reevaluated the
situation."

Black looked at Harry carefully, or as carefully he could from his place on the floor. "You really
want this?"

"Yes." Certainty.

Yes?

Fuck. The verituserum. He meant it. Every word. Black must have realized it too because be
began to back down.

"Severus, Harry, why don't the two of you go back to whatever you were going to do for the
day. I have several arrangements to make. I'll find you later."

With that, they were dismissed.

Part 31

They stood in silence outside of the Headmaster's office.

Harry looked at him, "You probably shouldn't wait around here for Sirius to come out."

He nodded dumbly, at a loss for words.

Married?

His life was spiraling out of control.

Harry spoke again. "We should probably...uh... talk about this, but..."

"You can't be seen following me back to the Dungeons." He thought for a few moments. "As we
said earlier, tonight. Try not to be followed."

"I'll wear the my cloak."

He nodded, "Don't bother knocking."

"Ok."

They stared at each other awkwardly.

Harry's eyes darted around the room. He seemed to make a decision of some sort because those
green eyes settled back on him.

Quickly, Harry darted forward and kissed him soundly before pulling away and walking down the
hallway.

Oh, this was going to be interesting.

In an act of self-preservation, he too walked away from the door and down to the dungeons.
_________

Harry returned to his common room only to be faced with nearly a dozen curious stares.

Ah. The hospital must have just let more people out today.

Ok, it wasn't a dozen. It was seven and out of those seven there were only two he really needed
to worry about.

Though he didn't want to worry about any of them. He wanted to go back to bed and forget
about things for a little while. Then, maybe try to understand the implications of everything
without an audience.

"Hello Harry." Fred? No George.

"Where've you been?" George? No, Fred.

Oh, his head was already beginning to spin.

"Headmaster's office." Well, the truth was better than nothing.

"Why?" This from Lavender who had that gleam in her eye again.

"Fudge wanted to talk to me." He looked her in the eye. "Apparently there are some vicious
rumors going around."

She had the grace to blush.

"I thought you were my friends. I can't believe you would DO something like that. Risk a
Professor's JOB for a crude, malicious joke."

"His job?" Parvati had the look of someone who hadn't thought that far ahead.

"Yes!" He answered vehemently. "His job. That rumor is the type of thing that gets teachers fired
and students EXPELLED."

Lavender looked appalled. About damn time. "Harry, you didn't-"

"No." He interrupted. "I didn't. Very nearly did, though. Seems Fudge got a number of Owls
from very irate parents." He noticed it was getting easier to stay mad. Maybe he had it coming.
"Oh, and Professor Snape still has his job, not that any of you care." Where had that bit of anger
come from?

"If you would just tell us what happened..." Parvati began.

He shook his head. "Since when is m life an open book? Don't I get some privacy? Why do I have
to report to you," he waved his arms around to indicate the whole of Gryffindor, "about my
PRIVATE affairs. No, that does not mean the rumor is true." He quelled the questioning looks. "I
have appointments with the Headmaster, appointments with Madame Pomfrey and even
appointments with Professor Snape. Not that its any of your business."

"You have to admit that it looked-"

"I don't CARE what it looked like! It was none of your GODDAMNED business. If you were
really that worried you should have gone to a teacher, like our head of house. I don't see how any
sort of rational thought process could have led you to the conclusion that spreading a rumor was
the best way to go."

It felt ridiculously good to let that out. To let something out. Catharsis, thy name is anger.

He really had been spending too much time with Snape.

"Harry, why do you have all those appointments?" It was Dean who asked this time.

"What part of, none of your business, do you not understand? All you need to know is that the
Headmaster found nothing wrong. Because there was NOTHING TO FIND!"

Oh. Skirting the edge on that one.

Silence reigned for a few moments, then Ron spoke up for the first time. "Harry, Hermione, lets
go up stairs."

He gave one last glare to everyone in the room and then nodded.

Once up stairs and behind closed doors, Harry collapsed onto his bed, hands covering his face.

"You ok, Harry?" Ron asked.

"I don't know, ask me again in six months."

"Harry?" He opened his eyes. Hermione was looking at him curiously. "What really happened in
Dumbledore's office?"

"What didn't?" Oooh. MORE Sarcasm.

"Harry?" Ron again. They really must practice this in their off time. It was getting scary.

"I know, I know. I just. Lots of things ok. Give me a minute."

They nodded in unison. He shivered a bit. Very scary.

A few deep breaths. " I'm..." It wouldn't come out. Another deep breath. "I'm... I'm getting..."
Don't hyperventilate. "I'm getting married."

Synchronized eye blinks greeted that statement. He wished they'd stop that.

"I'm not kidding."

"You're getting married." Ron looked... confused.

"Yes."

"Why?" Hermione had the same look of determination she got when she was studying. He
preferred it when they were reading each other's minds.

"Fudge is making us." It disturbed him that, that was the most normal answer of the bunch.

"Making you?" Ron at least wasn't exploding... yet.

"He said, he didn't care how many loop holes we'd managed to create, he won't have a student
and teacher... carrying on." He shrugged. "So he wants us to create one more."

"The Prat is probably enjoying putting you through hell." Ron decided.

Dryly. "You couldn't tell from the color his face turned during the conversation."

"So when's the big day?" Hermione asked.

"According to Fudge, as soon as- wait. You're being very... accepting. Both of you." He eyed
them suspiciously.

They both blushed furiously.

Oh. Not a good sign.

They remained obstinately silent. He was getting a VERY bad feeling.

"Well?" He prompted feeling for all the world like a scowling school teacher. Bad habits definitely
rub off.

"Erm." Hermione began very articulately. "We.. Er.. Well, that is... Last night... we were
talking..."

"You were talking... and?"

Ron spoke up. "I was trying to understand... You know. What you're going through..."

"Uh huh..." He urged them on. Oh this could be very interesting.

"See... the thing is," Ron started again, "it wasn't just us talking. We were visiting Draco."

Draco?

"We've been friends this year." Hermione answered his unspoken question. "He's been helping
Ron in transfiguration and I was paired with him for my Arithmancy project..."

"Uh huh... Go on."

Ron picked up the train again. "I know he's... you know... kind of like you, I guess... So I talked
to him about it."

"Ron!" Couldn't ANYONE keep a secret.

Ron shook his head violently. "Nothing specific. He's not going to spread rumors anymore. He
didn't even try to guess who. Though he probably knew."

"Uh huh." This was getting better and better.

Ron went on. "An hour or so into it... he offered to... kiss me..."

"Uh huh..."

"And I accepted..."

"Uh huh..." He looked over at Hermione who was slightly flushed. The glazed look was back in
her eyes.

Blink.

His eyes narrowed. "You were there for this weren't you." He accused.

She let out a big breath. "Oooh yeah."

He looked at her, thoughtfully. "So that explains this morning... what I whispered... wasn't just
the big words was it?"

She nodded her head.

Interesting. "So why is that making you more.. Agreeable today?"

They both blushed scarlet. It was nice being on the other side of this conversation.

Ron mumbled something.

"What?"

He repeated it. "Didn't stop with kissing."

Blink. Well.

He resisted the urge to laugh out loud. "Ok then, where does your newfound tolerance fit in?"

Ron shrugged. "I just... I understand circumstances overwhelming you, that's all. Plus, I'm finally
able to admit to myself that Snape has great hands."

Understatement of the bloody year.

Part 32

Despite the sheer ridiculousness of the situation, Harry couldn't help but wonder what had
happened between their awkward conversation where Ron was worried he wanted to kiss him and
today's sentiments of understanding.

"Ron. You're my best friend, so I don't want you to take this the wrong way but..."

"What, Harry?" Ron looked anxious.

"You..." he began, "you hypocritical, sexual deviant you!" Despite the accusation and some
feelings of hurt, he couldn't repress the smile on his face.

"Hey!" Ron could do indignant with the best of them. "Speaking of hypocrites."

He shook his head. "Sorry, its just... Is it me or does the irony in this place seem to have its own
personality?"

Dryly Hermione answered him. "Its not just you."

"I feel like a horrible friend." He felt dejected. What happened to knowing everything about each
other.

A confused expression crossed Ron's face. "Why?"

He shrugged. "I had no idea that was anywhere near happening."

Ron snorted. "You weren't the only one."

Harry continued. "I knew Draco wasn't that obnoxious little boy from first year, or even third
year, but I didn't know you were friends." He didn't know they talked outside of class. He didn't
know they talked inside of class.

Hermione spoke up. "The time we spend with him is time that you're not around." She shrugged.
"You're not in advanced Arithmancy with me and why would you be anywhere near Ron's
tutoring sessions?"

He continued on. "You'd think I would have noticed, though. I mean. I know you guys talk about
him. I feel like I haven't been paying attention."

Hermione offered a comforting hand, he again noted that the touch felt uncomfortable, but he
didn't shrug it off. "You're a busy person and you have a lot of things to worry about. I'm not
upset."

"Neither am I." Ron added.

"You should be." He contradicted.

"Ok." Hermione agreed. "Maybe we should be, maybe we are, give my body a few more hours to
recover from last night and I might have the energy to get upset."

"RECOVER?!"

Ron blushed again. "Long night." Was all he offered.

"Yes," eyes narrowed, "speaking of that night. I think I deserve some details."

Ron looked at him like he was nuts. Hermione, on the other hand... Hermione just gave him a
knowing smile.

"Ok Harry," she said, "you can have details."

So, she began.
_________

Hermione was sitting in the common room reading the book that Dumbledore had given her when
a disruptive rocking of the couch she was sitting on brought her out of her fog. She looked up to
see Ron grinning innocently from the other cushion.

She gave him a disinterested stare. "Can I help you, Ron?"

"Come with me." He smiled again.

She knew this was going to be a bad idea. "Why?"

"Because."

"That's a very compelling reason. Let me stop everything I'm doing and follow you on your
whim."

"I knew you'd see it my way."

She sighed, a little melodramatically, but a girl deserved one of those now and then. "Why am I
following you Ron?"

Ron's face sobered for a minute. "I want to go visit Draco."

Worried now. "I thought he wasn't in the hospital wing."

Ron shook his head. "He's not. I... I heard a rumor."

"A rumor?"

"I overheard two professors talking. They say... they say he killed his own father."

"Overheard?" She knew him better than that.

He flushed. "Ok, eavesdropped. Anyway, I have bottle of something special and I thought we
could go share it with him."

Teasing. "Something special?"

His eyes narrowed. "You know what I mean."

She smiled at him. "Ok. Lets go."

"That easy?"

"I doubt our prime wanderer of the Slytherin hallways is out tonight."

Ron blink and shuddered a bit. "Right. Thank you for reminding me."

She shook her head. "Grow up, Ron."
_________

They hesitantly knocked on the portrait in front of them. After a few tense moments it opened to
reveal a tired, disheveled Draco Malfoy.

"Weasley, Granger." He greeted them.

"Cut the last name stuff, will you." Ron showed off his prize. "We come bearing gifts. Let's take
advantage of the fact that you're Head boy and get pissed in privacy, eh?"

Draco looked at them carefully for a moment before nodding sharply and walking away from the
open doorway.

As close to an invitation as they were going to get, apparently.

They entered and the portrait closed behind them. Draco had already gotten out three glasses.

"You have the strangest things in this place."

"I do?"

"Tumblers?"

"Family heirloo-" The voice wavered, "heirlooms. They were a birthday gift."

Without a word, Ron poured them each a glass. He raised one and waited for the others to do the
same. "A toast then. To-"

"Finally getting my way." Draco interrupted.

She and Ron both looked at him for a moment.

He looked right back and asked. "What? I'm not allowed to have layers?"

Deadpan. Draco's most formidable weapon.

"Layers, yes." Hermione answered. "Hints of a nervous breakdown? No."

Draco smirked. "Why not, I think I deserve some inappropriate humor right about now."

Hermione raised her glass again, "Let the inappropriate humor out after a few belts, for now, let's
drink to, endings."

Draco gave her a calculating stare before nodding, "To endings."

They threw their heads back in unison.

They also coughed in unison.

Draco looked at Ron in disgust. "Where did you get this swill?"

Ron quirked his head. "The twins."

Draco shrugged. "Another?"

Why not?
_________

The bottle was nearly empty. They were sprawled, in varying degrees, all over the couch.

"You know," Ron began, "I'm very relaxed."

Draco snorted a bit. "I'm glad this made you feel better."

Hermione looked concerned. "You mean it didn't make you feel better."

Draco shrugged. "A bit. But..."

"But what?" Ron asked.

"I could really go for a good shag."

Ron looked at Draco strangely. "Got anyone in mind?"

Draco let his head fall back and roll listlessly. "I don't know. Hmmm No one specific. But I think.
A guy. Definitely a guy."

Ron narrowed his eyes a bit. "Could you explain that?"

"Explain what?"

"The guy thing."

"Why?" Draco leered. "You interested?"

Ron whapped him on the shoulder. "Don't be a git."

"I'm not being a git, I'm propositioning you. There's a difference."

Hermione watched the conversation with interest. It was starting to look interesting. She was
suddenly very happy she was a quiet drunk.

Ron shook his head. "Stop that. Really. A friend of mine just, I think anyway, the conversation
was very confusing, decided he likes blokes."

Draco leveled a calculating stare at both of them.

Even drunk, she noted, he was quick.

But Draco didn't say anything other than, "You don't just *decide* you like blokes."

"Then what do you do?"

Draco paused, obviously trying to find the right word. "You... realize it."

"How?"

She made a note to remember how nosy Ron got when he was drunk.

Well. Nosier.

Draco eyes unfocused for a moment. Then he shook his head and those eyes clearly stated that he
had come to a decision.

Uh oh.

"There are lots of ways." Draco started. "An ill timed erection. Strange dreams. Lusty thoughts."
Clear blue eyes looked through shuttered eyelashes. A deeper, huskier voice continued. "Someone
throwing you against a wall and shoving their tongue down your throat."
She shivered. Just a bit.

"What's it like?" Another question from Ron.

"Kissing?" Draco again paused to search for the right words. "Same as with a girl, just different
things to hold onto."

Ron sat up a bit straighter. "Liar."

Draco somehow managed to swagger while sitting down. "I'll prove it."

She leaned a bit. In the name of science, of course.

"Prove it?" Ron was starting to lose his cool.

"Let me kiss you." Draco's offer was met with silence. He persisted. "Come on. It won't do
anything more than prove that kissing is nothing more than two sets of lips mashed together."

Right. That's all it would be. "Go on, Ron. Let the little ferret," Draco pinched her leg for that,
but she ignored him, "have his way with you. It'll help you understand."

Ron stared at her for a moment and then sighed. "Fine. Kiss me."

Yes. Kiss him.

Draco slowly moved from his position in the corner and slid down to the floor where Ron was
leaning on the couch.

Ron's eyes had gone wide.

Draco threw a leg over Ron and settled comfortably on his lap.

"Hey!" Ron protested. "I thought this was just a kiss."

"It is." Draco threaded fingers into bright read hair. "But I wouldn't feel right if I didn't do this
properly." He leaned in.

Oh wow. That. Was. Hot.

Draco obviously knew what he was doing. Ron's hands were clutching at slim shoulders.

Not pushing away. Clutching desperately.

Draco tilted his head slightly and sucked in a lush bottom lip.

Ron gasped.

She watched Draco expertly delve his tongue in.

And out.

And in.

And out.

Well, if it felt like this just watching.

The kiss was coming to an end. Draco was slowly pulling away, sucking on that lower lip for as
long as possible.

She watched them stare at each other for several seconds before making a decision. She drained
what was left in her glass and slid to the floor to join them.

With more dexterity than she ever thought possible she snaked into the nonexistent space between
the two boys and claimed Ron's mouth for herself.

She could feel Ron's surprise but he didn't hold out for long. Soon she was crushed against him
involved in a dizzying kiss.

She felt another body mold itself to her from behind. Careful lips sucked behind her ear.

A warm flush spread through her entire body.

An especially strong suck, followed by a nip turned the warmth into a low, aching throb.

Arms from behind snaked past her and gathered both her and Ron into a tight embrace.

They finally ended their kiss. Ron looked dazed. She was panting like a race horse.

A husky voice came from Draco, "Leave now if this isn't what you want." She got the feeling that
he wasn't talking to her.

Ron had a strangely intense look on his face. "Bloody hell." He whispered and reached for the
remained liquor. After downing it in one gulp he said, "Why not. I can think of worse ways to
spend an evening."

Draco's arm snaked up to Ron's head and pulled him forward into another deep kiss. Then
whispered, "This is equal opportunity, Ron."

Ron nodded and slowly, tentatively ran a hand down the strong back.

She arched her back, letting them know that she was still there. Draco obligingly caresser an
aching breast.

"Oh." Her voice was a breathy moan.

Lips found their way to hers again and caught them in another embrace.

Buttons were beginning to open. Shirts slide off.

The first press of skin to skin was extraordin-
_________

"STOP!" Harry sounded desperate. "I get the picture." In color. With sound. And special affects.

He checked the time. Hours to go before he could go back to the dungeons.

He looked at his friends. "He's that good a friend?"

Ron and Hermione shared a look. "Yes." They answered at the same time.

Spooky.

Part 33

Severus Snape was once again debating the merits of getting drunk. The bottle in front of him
offered respite, but at what cost?

With a sigh he put the bottle back in its place and went to get some tea. Harry would undoubtedly
be showing up and it might be a more intelligent idea to be sober this time around.

Though, not the more appealing one.

There was a knock at his door. Obviously not Harry, as the boy seemed to have appropriated his
rooms for his own.

He debated not answering. That lasted as long as it took for the Headmaster to poke his head in.

Damn the man!

It was one thing to know that his wards were a joke to him, it was another to have it thrown in his
face at every opportunity.

"Albus," he scowled, "you have the manners of a first year."

A congenial smile. "Thank you, Severus."

"Fuck you, Albus."

Shaking his head. "Under other circumstances... but I'm afraid your card is undeniably full."
Albus came to stand directly before him. "I trust you don't use that language around the children.
Otherwise I might not be so forgiving."

There was an idea. "Maybe I should. Then I wouldn't have to have this sham of a marriage."

Scruffy eyebrows lifted. "Sham, Severus?"

That's right you old coot. Sham. "Why are you here?"

Albus looked at him calmly. "I've made some arrangements that I thought I would inform you of.
They do, after all, involve you."

"Oh yes, god forbid I know what's going to happen to me *before* the fact."

"Now Severus..."

"Just tell me." Tell him so he can go back to his misery in peace.

"First, Lucius. Have you written to him yet?"

Had he? It was less writing and more blood letting. "Yes, I wrote to him. I need only wait for his
owl to return, the day after tomorrow, to send it. Assuming he receives it and has taken leave of
all of his senses, he will walk through the main gate, the morning after."

Albus nodded. "I have arranged for several Aurors as well as some of the faculty to be here for
the meeting."

"So it will be party, then."

The all too familiar sound of tsking was reaching his ears.

Ah Albus' disapproval. Whatever would he do?

He supposed it would matter more, if cared at the moment. A thought suddenly occurred to him.

Why not?

"Albus, I think, perhaps Draco should be allowed to watch. I do not think he will appreciate being
told, after the fact." He directed a glare at the older man. "I know I don't."

Albus just twinkled his eyes at him. "I think that is a good idea, I have a feeling that Harry will be
there as well. I will leave it you, however to explain the situation to them."

To HIM?

That meddling, interfering, intrusive, officious, downright ANNOYING, old man.

Of course, he'd rather have the painful, emotionally fraught conversation with Draco, than the
painful, emotionally fraught conversation with Harry.

He was sure he had several good reasons too. But, for his own sanity, he did not try to name
them.

Instead of answering the Headmaster he simply said, "I assume you had another reason for
coming down here and working on my ulcer?"

"Ah, yes. The marriage." Albus offered a comforting look.

Joy.

He continued. "I have the paperwork, it simply needs signatures and witnesses. And of course the
erm.. Traditional vows."

There was something to be said for tradition. In this case, it meant short.

Albus went on. "All that is needed now, are for the two of you to find your witnesses. Two for
each."

"I know how this works Albus."

"Just making sure. Do you know who you will ask?"

He glowered. "There aren't many choices. I'm assuming we're still going to keep this a secret. Its
always fun to engage in an exercise of futility."

"Severus, you may ask whomever you want. I will not object."

The measure of kindness was... disconcerting.

He nodded and considered carefully. "Then I will ask Minerva and... Draco."

Albus smiled. "Intriguing choices."

"Intrigue had nothing to do with it. It simply makes explaining things to Draco much more
agreeable." To himself. "It also avoids *another* annoying conversation."

"If you say so, Severus."

"I do." He did.

Albus gave him a knowing smile.

He glared.

Did. Did. Did.

He received a chuckle for his efforts and once again reminded himself that the damned man could
*not* read minds.

He watched Albus moved to the entrance of his chambers. "Tomorrow, after lunch, should be
soon enough for the minister. Is that enough time for you?"

Time for what? To dig a deeper hole? Throw himself out of the astronomy tower and leave the
mantel of responsibility to another unsuspecting victim.

And probably kill Harry in the process.

A sharp nod. "Yes. Enough time. I suppose you want me to tell Harry that as well."

"Thank you, Severus."

Before he could say another word, Albus was gone.

How did he *do* that?

That bottle of brandy was beckoning him.

Unfortunately, it was an even worse idea now.

He was about to waste time reading his the remaining pieces of drivel he had yet to grade, when
he knew.

Harry was on his way down.

He once again contemplated the brandy.

The decision was taken out of his hands when the door to his chambers opened.

As Harry walked into the room, he absently noted that it was getting worse.

He wordlessly gestured to the couch. Harry nodded and changed direction to it.

They arranged themselves comfortably and only then did they relax.

"How was your day?" Harry asked him.

He looked down tiredly. "Must you start with the inane questions already?"

"Is it so hard to believe I asked because I want to know?"

"Yes."

"Fine. I don't care. I'm just being polite. How was your day?"

Sighing. "It was slightly more intolerable than normal? How was yours?"

Harry started to answer, but paused and seemed to think something over. "It was... very... very
strange. On the brighter side, I think I've gotten a handle on the rumors."

"Oh really? Dare I ask how?"

Harry looked at him and raised an eyebrow in an uncanny impression. "I yelled at them."

That sounded nice. "Was it as enjoyable as I imagine?"

"It was almost as enjoyable as..." Harry trailed off.

He nearly made the mistake of asking what, but he stopped himself on time. He needed to talk to
the boy before... he got distracted.

"Albus paid me a visit."

"I'm sure you had fun too. What did he say?"

"We spoke on several matters." More than he was probably aware of. If the conversation was par
for course. "He asked me to relate some of them to you."

"Politely too, I imagine."

"The way he asked... is beyond words. That is not the point."

Silence.

"Well?" Harry prompted.

"He spoke to me of our upcoming nuptials."

"Oh. Do you always use big words when you're uncomfortable?" Harry smirked. "Never mind.
That would mean you're uncomfortable all the time."

A raised eyebrow. "He informed me that everything has been arranged. All that is left is to decide
on the Witnesses."

Harry nodded and swallowed thickly. "I'll talk to Ron and Hermione in the morning." He
hesitated a moment. "Who are you asking?"

"Minerva and Draco." There was a pregnant pause. When it became apparent that Harry wasn't
going to comment, he continued. "No objections?" He sneered.

"No... uh... Draco... Somehow I think he'll take it in stride."

"The boy does that have that habit."

Harry snorted. "Boy does he."

He became aware of a soft stroking on his chest. He captured the hand. "There is one other
matter we need to discuss." He said seriously.

Harry gave him a serious look. "You sound ominous."

"I always sound ominous."

"True." Harry agreed. "Well go on. Ruin my day further."

"This morning. I received a letter. From Lucius."

The lax body next to him became tense. He stroked the soft hair beneath his fingertips.

"And?" Harry asked.

"He wants... a second chance."

Harry was looking at him with an uncomfortable intensity. "Why do we care?"

WE? "He was... my friend once. A long time ago. I watched him... disappear."

Harry blinked and looked at him for a moment. "Wait. I thought Draco killed him."

"Apparently there was a liberal use of polyjuice potion."

"Ah." Understanding. "Its probably a trap, you know."

"I'm not an idiot."

"You're meeting him anyway."

Not a question, he noted.

Maybe he was an idiot.

"Yes. I have spoken to Albus, it has been arranged, two mornings from now, Lucius Malfoy will
apparate at the edge of the forbidden forest and walk into Hogwarts."

Harry shook his head in disbelief "That's insane."

Very. "Yes. I know. There will be several teachers and a number of Aurors waiting. We will see
what he wants and... let the scene play out."

Harry sat up straighter. and looked at him intently. "What aren't you telling me?"

Enough to fill a book. "What are you talking about."

"There's something you're not telling me."

He sighed. "Can I not have something for myself?"

Harry leaned into him and gently stroked a cheek. "Tell me." he whispered.

He looked into those eyes for a moment before turning away and closing his own. "I loved him."
He murmured.

Oh, that hurt.

"What happened?" barely a whisper.

He almost missed the soft request. "I don't know." Hoarse. "I wish I knew. But I don't." Gaining
momentum. "One day he was there, the next I looked up and... gone."

Harry inclined his head and took him into an enticing, warming kiss. Agile lips sucked and pulled.
Danced across his in an incredibly arousing way.

They broke apart and Harry looked into his eyes. "You want to give him a second chance."

Again. Not a question. A statement.

He nodded dumbly, "If I deserved one. So does he."

Harry nodded, "I'm going to be there too."

"You are not."

"If you get killed, I'm going to be very pissed." Harry swept in for another kiss.

"You'll be a distraction."

"I'll be more distracting on the other side of the castle."

Damn the boy for making sense.

"Fine. Have your way. Why should today be different from any other day?"

Harry looked at him in an exasperated fashion. "Just... shut up and kiss me." An impish smile.
"I've always wanted to say that."

He looked at the creature sitting practically on his lap. "We are getting married." He'd said it. The
castle was still standing, will miracles never cease? "Can I keep what is left of my propriety for
another evening?"

Shaking hands touched his neck. "Then I'm going to have to leave. I can't..." the husky voice
trailed off.

He trailed trembling fingers across a soft cheek. For only the second time, he truly initiated the
situation.

Soft lips parted for him and the moist cavern behind them was heaven.

They drew apart panting. "That is not what I meant."

"Oh." An articulate response left Harry's lips.

"I meant, that we should keep to the boundaries that we have previously kept."

"Oh."

They were kissing again. Harsh, wet, demanding kisses that drugged him and made him loose all
sense.

He undid the clasp on Harry's robe, then attacked the buttons underneath. Strong ropey muscles
greeted his questing hands. He caressed every patch of skin he could find, working his way up to
two peaked nipples. At the first touch, Harry gasped.

Keeping a slow circle around one tight bud, he moved his lips to the darkened bruise on the side
of Harry's neck.

Another gasp. Followed by a breathy moan. "I don't... don't think... this... is going to be enough."

He worried the flesh beneath his teeth for a few moments before responding. "I know." Another
lick. "I have an idea."

He slowly wound a trail of nips and kisses down the strong chest. Around the belly button he slid
to the floor. And continued his descent.

Once he was eye level with the noticeable bulge, he allowed his nimble fingers to undo the clasp at
that held the trousers closed.

He heard an, "Oh god." from above.

Once opened, he delved into the convenient opening and wrapped his long slim fingers around a
pulsing hardness.

Another moan came from parted lips. Whose it was, he had no idea.

Didn't really care anymore.

Harry spread his legs, giving him better access.

He allowed himself an experimental stroke or two. Hips twitched forward.

"Oooh. Don't stop."

He noted that when the mouth was not otherwise occupied, it said delightful things.

He listed forward and gently licked.

Harry's breath hitched.

Perfect. Keeping a firm grip on the base, he gently placed the head in his mouth.

"Oh god."

And sucked.

"OH GOD."

Up.

Down.

In.

Out.

Harry was panting and moaning with each movement. "Yes. Yes. Oh god. That is.. Oh god."

He pulsed in time with the hardness in his mouth.

He hummed.

Another gasp. "Wait!"

He stopped. But didn't remove himself.

Harry struggled to move his legs, he felt something clawing at his sides.

Oh, he was removing his shoes.

The legs settled down again. Knees wide and feet...

...in his lap.

Oh.

He resumed.

The feet rubbed.

Oh.

Creativity should be rewarded. He swallowed and strengthened the suction.

The feet skipped a beat, but continued.

Soon. It had to be soon.

His right hand went down to guide one foot while his other sought out that place right... behind...
there!

Harry bucked into his mouth.

Oh. Now they were getting somewhere.

Oh. Yes.

Good. Very good.

Something electric was starting at the base of his spine and working its way upward.

So good.

Oh god.

Don't stop. Don't stop.

Harry was close. So close.

They were so close.

He increased their pace.

Oh yeeeees. Yes. Yesyesyesyes.

Muscles tightened.

Sweet anticipation.

On a precipice. The edge.

Sensation swamped every sense.

There! There!

Then, it doubled.

And they fell.