Harry Potter strode down the long winding staircase to the dungeons, a flat velvet case tucked securely under his arm, his dark teaching robes flaring out behind him in way that would have made even Severus proud.
Just the name of his husband made the corners of Harry's lips tug downward into a small frown as memories of the last two years echoed in his mind. To say things had been difficult between them lately would have been putting it mildly.
Infidelity on Severus' part had caused Harry to move out of the cottage they'd shared in Cornwall, abandon their flourishing business and seek refuge at Hogwarts. Believing their marriage was destroyed beyond repair, he had accepted the Headmistresses' offer to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts and set out to put his shattered relationship with Severus behind him, focusing instead on his new life.
He should have realised when dealing with Severus Snape, things would never be that simple.
Six months after their separation, Severus had closed the doors to their shop indefinitely, packed up their home and followed his estranged husband back to Hogwarts, reclaiming his former position as Potions professor believing he could win back his husband with remorse, stubborn persistence and most of all time. If Harry refused to forgive him, then he would ultimately accept Harry's decision, but at least in the interim, he would be by the man he loved as pathetic as he knew it sounded. It was his only comfort, however small.
Harry's heart had nearly stopped when he'd found Severus waiting patiently for him outside of his quarters one warm evening, convinced he was staring at a specter rather than the once strong and proud wizard he'd left behind.
Severus was far thinner than he remembered and Harry frowned as he took in the sight of Severus' usually fit woolen robes hanging loose and disheveled upon his wiry frame. Oily clumps of hair curtained his gaunt face, masking the shadows which lurked beneath the black eyes that rarely saw sleep, especially when anguished.
The most disturbing thing of all had been the air of despair that clung to him like a shroud, curling around his slumped shoulders and blanketing his eyes with obvious defeat.
Harry knew he shouldn't care. Severus had brought this on himself by lying to him about his relationship with Lucius Malfoy. The two former Death Eaters had initially begun a correspondence after renewing their friendship and had done so completely behind Harry's back. Harry had discovered the letters hidden in a charmed hole in the wall of their cottage and decided to face Malfoy first, his heart refusing to believe the worst until Malfoy confirmed it. Just as Harry suspected, it didn't take long for Lucius' ego to write Harry back, not only boasting about his relationship with Severus, but also providing evidence it had become physical as well.
After receiving Malfoy's letter, Harry had confronted Severus with the evidence and was devastated to learn it was true —
all of it. Inconsolable with anger and grief, he had packed his belongings that same night and fled, leaving behind the home they had built together, a successful business, and a ten year marriage to a man he thought he had known.
As Harry walked down the dungeon corridor that led to the final stretch of Severus' quarters, the frown he had been carrying tugged upward into a new and confidant smile.
A year had passed since Harry had found Severus at his door pleading for a second chance, and although he had initially turned down the Potions master, Severus stubbornly refused to leave Hogwarts and stayed on to teach even though it was no secret how much the older wizard despised his position. Harry decided to use the time to his advantage and truly get to know the man he still legally called his husband. Something inside Harry desperately wanted to know what had driven Severus to seek refuge with Lucius Malfoy in the first place, and it was probably this same compulsion that made him hesitant to file for divorce.
What he had discovered was a revelation, not only of the man he thought he had known, but also of Harry himself.
Patting the box under his arm, he was ready to give Severus his second chance; all the man had to do was allow himself to accept it.
As Harry stopped in front of the familiar dungeon door he was not surprised to see it open just before he reached up to knock. Black met green in silent greeting before the older wizard cleared his throat to speak.
"Harry...to what do I owe this visit?"
Harry smiled, but made sure his expression remained unreadable...for now. "Severus, if you can spare some time this evening, I'd like to speak with you."
Dark eyes flicked to the box under Harry's arm, before nodding and hesitantly stepping aside.
Making his way to the sitting room, Harry took in the scene before him; crackling fire, book laying casually over the worn armrest, teaching robes tossed on the sofa, and knew he eventually wanted to be a part of this cozy picture. Removing his own teaching robes, he laid it across Severus' and settled comfortably on the sofa, fingers stroking the velvet box on his lap.
Severus sat himself opposite, trying to keep his eyes off Harry's distracting fingers, focusing instead on the emerald eyes that have haunted his existence for almost two decades. Severus' heart clenched painfully in his chest as he reminded himself that it was his own stupidity which had caused him to lose Harry to begin with. Only time and patience could win back the man who owned his heart.
"Tea, or would you prefer something stronger?"
Harry's eyes did not waver as he stared straight into the black with piercing confidence. I prefer"you."
Severus felt his heart falter as his brain frantically worked to process what his estranged husband had just said. "I...beg your pardon?" He asked cautiously.
"You heard me Severus, but first," Harry purred as he continued to stroke the box with a slow, sure rhythm. "I do have…conditions."
"C…conditions?" Severus asked hoarsely knowing he would do anything, even sell the soul he believed not to own, if only to have his husband back.
Harry nodded slowly, never breaking eye contact. "It took me a while Severus, but I finally understand what went wrong in our marriage, including the reasons which forced you to seek comfort in that of another."
Severus felt the air leave his chest as he fought to inhale. "Harry…"
"At first I was furious that you didn't trust me enough to tell me what you wanted…what you needed…"
"No, it was not like that…" Panic swept through Severus, his veins turning to ice.
"I couldn't believe how blind I had been. I should have seen it from the beginning," Harry shook his head sadly, as if disappointed with his own lack of understanding "Why, Severus... why didn't you just tell me?"
Severus' voice was now barely above a whisper. "Harry, please listen to me…I…I.."
Green eyes bore into Severus' black, unrelenting and refusing to let go. If Harry showed any weakness now, he would never be able to establish the boundaries he knew they both needed. Harry's gaze anchored Severus to the spot, making it difficult for Severus to blink let alone think. "Why didn't you tell me you were a submissive Severus?"
Severus couldn't move — couldn't breathe as shame exploded into his consciousness and filled every corner of his mind. He finally wrenched his eyes away from Harry's in defeat, unable to meet the emerald that always seemed to pierce his very soul. He struggled to speak — to say anything that would circumvent this hopeless situation, but the words refused to come.
Perhaps there were simply none to be said.
Severus had fought and lost this battle his entire life and could not change what he was— what he needed.
Not even for Harry Potter.
Tears fell from the dark pools of his eyes and splashed onto his stained hands that were trembling on his lap. It was only when he felt stubby fingers brush his temples that he dared to look up. The eyes that greeted his were not full of hate or disgust, but something he had never expected to see again.
Harry stood before Severus brushing back the man's dark locks, and tucking them gently behind his ears in a simple display of affection. When he finally spoke, his words came out with a reassuring warmth and command that wrapped around the Potions master and curled into his very soul.
"There is no shame in being a submissive Severus; in fact it takes more strength to submit to another person than it does to take the very control you are surrendering."
Harry's gentle fingers continued their ministrations and stroked the dark hair knowing how much this simple act soothed Severus' nerves. They had lain together many nights, Severus' dark head pillowed on his chest while his fingers sliced through the ebony strands in a repetitiveness that was comforting to both men. Harry smiled at the memory and knew he should have realised even then what his role should have been.
He needed to be Severus' source of strength and guidance thus granting them both the freedom they deserved.
"You want to submit and empty yourself of your own overbearing agenda and lay yourself completely open to the will of a Dominant. You want to be used for his pleasure, thereby receiving your own pleasure as well. Doing this will ease the painful burden of decision in a life that so desperately craves order, love and affection. You want to be the blank parchment upon which a Dominant, in whom you have complete trust, will write scenes in which you may spend times of fulfillment and contentment. In a life that has had so little, you want to feel protected, loved and most importantly…" Harry raised Severus' chin and locked their gazes together,"safe."
The tears fell hard now, and a sob wrenched from Severus' throat as he felt joy blaze through the darkness which had engulfed his world since Regulus' death. He had been the only other person who ever understood Severus' need to submit and allow someone else to carry the decisions, in bed and out. He had taught Severus that he could actually love another and in return have it reciprocated, without which he knew he would never have been able to allow Harry into his life.
Severus loved Harry beyond that of even Regulus Black. Regulus had been his first lover and loyal friend, but Harry was his husband and forever, and soon Harry would also be his Dominant partner as Severus knew he was always meant to be.
Severus needed this from Harry — had craved it more than anything, but had also been too deeply ashamed to ask for it. In his momentary lapse of reason, he had gone to Lucius Malfoy instead, seeking a mentor to guide his submissive nature; desperate to feel the safety of another directing his actions and taking the control he detested having. He had always wanted Harry to be his Dominant, never Lucius but in the early stages of their marriage Harry didn't understand or see him for what he was, intent on making them equals, even wanting Severus to take the control in bed. It had been too much pressure for Severus and after years of trying to conform to the man Severus thought Harry expected him to be, he had snapped and turned to the comforting and Dominant presence Lucius had been offering him throughout the years.
Now Harry was here before him not only offering him a second chance, but also wanting to provide the Dominance he so desperately needed- and it was finally coming from the man he loved and trusted beyond all thought and reason.
Severus slid from his chair and dropped to his knees in front of his husband. Taking Harry's left hand, he placed it over his own heart, bowing his head to show submission as he spoke.
"I offer you tonight Harry Potter my body and mind, to follow your orders and act in accordance with your wishes, whatever they may be. I come before you my husband and Dominant, offering myself as a submissive, to be taught and guided, to learn about myself through our relationship and to serve your needs...I trust you above all others."
Harry's blood ignited at the sight of his husband Severus Snape, a powerful wizard in his own right, on his knees before him of his own volition. He cupped the man's face, and ran his thumbs over the sallow cheeks, savoring the flush he received.
"I accept your submission Severus Snape and will make it my life's journey to love and protect you while broadening your mind to new horizons and concepts. I will show your body pleasure beyond anything you have ever known. Upon being earned I will worship your flesh and cherish the gift your submission bestows on me. I will give your body punishment when deserved, but never more than you can handle, for mistakes will be made and learning from them is part of the journey that will make us stronger as a couple. I will forgive you for them as I am doing now. All I ask is that you trust my judgment and understand your submission will be a thread that runs through all aspects of your life, in bed and out. Do you accept me as your Dominant upon hearing what I have offered?"
Eyes dark as midnight found his, a fire Harry had never seen glittering in their obsidian depths. "I understand everything and accept the rewards and consequences that come with my submission. I belong to you, and only you my husband, now and always."
With a soft smile, Harry raised his hand. "Accio box." The velvet box on the sofa glided swiftly into Harry's outstretched palm. "As you recall Severus, I spoke of conditions. The first you have already done by answering my questions truthfully and accepting me as your Dominant. The second is restitution. As much as I understand now why you betrayed me, the fact still remains that you did. I cannot allow that to go unpunished. As your Dominant, I have that right. Do you agree to this?
Severus immediately nodded his head, lowering his eyes to the floor in shame, for not only hurting Harry, but also himself.
"Say it Severus. I need to hear you say it."
Severus steeled his nerves and spoke, determination laced through every word. "I accept your just punishment, whatever it may be in repentance for the humiliation and pain I have caused our marriage. It was my fault because I did not come to you with my true wants and needs instead, turning foolishly to another. For this cowardly act of betrayal, I wish to make restitution to you; my husband, lover and Dominant."
With a kiss bestowed on the dark head, Harry waved his hand and the box opened. Inside was a silver circlet embedded with blunt metal hooks that ended with dual leather ties.
"This," said Harry as he picked up the small belt and let it drape over his hand, "is a cilice. It is used in many religious sects as 'an instrument of mortification'. It is tied around the thigh tight enough to cause discomfort, but not enough to pierce the skin or leave any bruises, although irritation will occur. You will tie it on in the morning, and wear it throughout the day so you can feel the pain your actions have caused us. At night it will be removed, and I will rub a salve onto the tender flesh to reduce the inflammation. You will do this for one week, and by the end of the seven days, I will consider your punishment fulfilled. Only then, will I allow us to once again share a life together. "
Without hesitation, Severus still on his knees before Harry, unbuttoned his trousers and shoved them down before lifting his long robes. Raising his left leg, he held out his hand for the cilice. "I do wholeheartedly agree and accept this punishment."
With a somber expression, Harry moved Severus' hand away and brought the silver circlet himself to the porcelain skin of Severus' thigh. Laying down the cold metal reverently, he wrapped it around once before tightening it so the dull spikes dug into the delicate flesh, stopping only when he saw Severus wince ever so slightly. He didn't want to hurt his husband, just remind him of the pain his actions had caused both of them.
Tying off the leather straps, Harry slowly began trailing his fingertips over the skin of Severus' inner thigh, watching with burgeoning desire as his husband's eyes fluttered closed from both the pain and pleasure he was receiving, colour bleeding into the sallow cheeks as his breath visibly hitched.
"Did I say you could speak?"
Severus shook his head and bit his bottom lip as those deft fingers continued stroking upward, inching painfully slow toward his swelling erection. The dull pain from the cilice mingling with the tender stroking of Harry's fingers were unlike anything Severus had ever experienced.
"You are beautiful like this Severus," Harry whispered, feeling the stirrings of his own dark desires beginning to rise. Harry sighed and Occluded hard knowing he couldn't share this part of himself with Severus just yet. It was something his sub would have to earn, but when he did… a wicked grin spread over Harry's face as he studied his lover. "So beautiful submitting to your husband and allowing me to savor you as I should have done all along."
Harry's fingers massaged the silken skin of Severus' scrotum making sure to avoid the now fully erect penis whose tip glistened with precum. Harry felt his mouth water at the sight, but quickly tramped down his own desires knowing this moment was for his husband. Letting the sac fill his hand, he squeezed and rolled the heavy balls delighting in the beautiful sound of Severus' breathing going ragged as he fought for control.
"You are mine Severus - have always been mine. When this is over and things are settled, I am going to take you properly as your Dominant and claim you for myself in body, heart and soul."
As the last of the words left his lips, Harry's fingers finally sought their prize and slid over Severus' pulsing cock with one hard stroke causing the Potions master's eyes to roll to the back of his head in bliss.
Severus bit his lip harder to strangle back the desperate scream that had caught in his throat as Harry's hand finally made contact with his aching erection. Harry squeezed and stroked him masterfully the way only a lover sure of his partner's needs could do, letting his thumb and forefinger pinch and roll the tip at each pass, his nail grazing deep into his slit just like he preferred. Severus fought desperately to retain any shred of control, but knew it was a losing battle. Harry knew him better than he knew himself.
"Yes my pet, listen to your body and enjoy the sensations. There is a very faint line between pain and pleasure and you will come to know them both. Let your mind go and just allow yourself to feel and savor each distinct one," Harry murmured, as he increased the pressure on Severus' shaft stroking him firmly from root to tip using his precum as lubrication. "Let go Severus. I will catch you when you fall...always.
Severus balled his hand into a fist and bit down hard enough to draw blood to keep from crying out as the deepening pain on his thigh heightened the ecstasy rapidly pooling in his balls. He bucked and ground his throbbing cock unashamed into Harry's hand, desperate for more friction, each thrust becoming more erratic as his body screamed for release.
"Yes, so beautiful my love. Come for me Severus…SPEAK."
Severus' orgasm slammed into him hard at Harry's command and he shattered into a million pieces, the pain from the cilice intensifying the sensations until stars blossomed behind his eyes making them cross in absolute pleasure.
Just as his body crumpled from the exhaustion of such a powerful release, Severus felt strong arms wrap around him protectively and lift him up like a child, cradling him close. Feeling safe and truly free for the first time since Regulus' death, Severus buried his head against Harry's chest inhaling the man's unique scent, and let go, entrusting himself to his husband's care.
Holding Severus close, a feeling of sheer possessiveness guiding his actions, Harry carried his husband into his bedroom and using wandless magic, Summoned a dressing gown while turning down the coverlets of the large four poster bed.
Setting Severus down on the cool sheets he proceeded with careful swiftness to undress the tired Potions master, making sure to cast a cleaning charm over the cock that was once again stirring under Harry's gentle ministrations. Harry couldn't help but give a soft chuckle.
"Not tonight Severus, perhaps not even again until after we lay down the foundations of our relationship. What happened tonight was just a simple reminder that you are indeed loved Severus Snape, and you have a wizard who wants to care for you, if you'll allow it."
Severus long fingers cupped Harry's face, his calloused thumbs stroking the cheeks of his boy wonder. "It is all I have ever wanted. Do with me what you will, for all that I have — all that I am — is yours Harry Potter."
Harry's eyes burned with a dark energy Severus had never seen and it reminded him that this was the man who had defeated the Dark Lord and mastered The Elder Wand. Severus knew Harry was a powerful wizard, but didn't quite understand the full depth of that untapped power. The very idea that he belonged to such a powerful man made Severus' cock twitch again and he bowed his head in embarrassment. What was he, some errant third year?
Severus once again heard Harry's soft chuckle and lightness filled his heart taking pleasure in the fact that it was he, Severus Snape, who could elicit such a sweet sound from the often somber man.
That in itself was a powerful tool.
His black eyes met Harry's green and he graced the younger wizard with a rare smile. He may be a submissive, but he now understood behind that lay true power. Harry's need to possess and protect was just as great as Severus' need to be owned and feel safe. They were perfectly matched, so in that sense, Harry had achieved what he had wanted; they were equals, both submissive and Dominant dependent on each other for their respective happiness and fulfillment.
Harry felt Severus' small smile radiate outward like the sun; one that Harry unabashedly basked in with bliss. It wasn't often that Severus smiled, so when he did, it was like the sun coming out. He touched the thin lips, tracing the bow where they curved upward and gave his own tiny smile of understanding. They were finally in the roles they were comfortable with. It would take trial and error relearning each other, but the journey would be worth it.
Harry had just settled Severus down onto his pillow and was lifting his pale leg to undo the straps of the cilice, when he felt Severus' hand still over his.
"Leave it please...just for tonight. The pain is minimal and as you can see,it is not even prickling the skin. I want to savor it a little longer, because doing so will make me feel as if you are close by me, and I...I need that right now Harry."
Harry listened carefully to Severus' words, and even though he didn't like the idea of Severus using the cilice more than necessary, perhaps tonight he would make an exception. Severus had asked his permission and was for the first time, vocalizing his own needs to Harry. Making his decision, Harry eased Severus' leg back onto the bed, and covered the man with the dark blue duvet they had once shared at their cottage in Cornwall.
Perhaps one day, they would again.
"Very well then Severus, but it comes off first thing in the morning. Make sure you apply a salve and let the skin rest for at least two hours before strapping it back on, and not excessively tight. Am I in any way unclear?"
Severus gave a small shake of his head. "Crystal. I will comply without fail. Thank you, not only for this but for…understanding." he hesitated before adding tentatively, "I love you Harry."
Severus lowered his eyes shyly; unsure of whether his spoken declaration would be accepted until familiar fingers lifted his chin. The love he saw in Harry's eyes took his breath away.
"And I love you Severus Snape. That much has never changed. This is a new beginning for us with an unfamiliar road to tread, but I don't have any fear because we will walk it side by side. Do you trust me Severus?"
There was no hesitation when he answered this time, his dark eyes meeting Harry's with a confidence he had not felt in many years. "Implicitly."
Harry's smile reached his green eyes, and it was the only reassurance Severus needed. Warm lips brushed Severus' forehead and he sighed in contentment.
"Sleep now pet. Tomorrow is not far away, and you still have classes to teach. Perhaps if you're not too tired, we can take a walk around the lake in the evening and talk. Would you like that?"
Severus nodded even as long denied sleep finally found his exhausted mind and settled in.
Bestowing a final kiss upon the dark head that was now deep in untroubled slumber, Harry Summoned his teaching robes and let himself out, warding the doors as he left.
Harry walked back to his quarters with a spring in his step that matched the feeling in his chest. Hope now blossomed in a place he thought had died that dreadful night almost two years ago.
Their road would not be an easy one, but they would walk it together as partners, equal in their own respective ways.
All was well.