Disclaimer: I'm *just* playing with someone else's toys. May I be forgiven in my next incarnation...
Archive: Here, snape_slash_improv, ff.net, noiresensus.
Notes: I really would like to thank gnatalie, my glorious beta- reader! I took out of its box one plot bunny I have already used and recycled it (can I be sued for abusing the poor beast ?)...


By Any Other Name

By Drusilla Dax

       

Many thought that Severus Snape was a creature of the night... There were many rumours...

And Snape had heard them all.

Amidst the weird entities the Hogwarts students believed him to be, his favourite theory was the vampire one. It was the one that allowed him to have some fun without too much effort...

The "But certainly he must be able to turn into a bat, otherwise how do you explain his near omnipresence all over the castle" was a good one as well... The terror on those young faces when he practically popped out of thin air in front of those who were planning some silly jokes... that seldom failed to brighten his day. Snape easily confessed that he had taken to torturing the younger Hufflepuffs... The others, even the Gryffindors, he merely stimulated, hoping they would work on their strategies, and improve, and be stronger in the future...

Even if Voldemort was history now, they still needed to be strong, and cunning, to survive the jungle known as "real life" outside the walls of overprotective Hogwarts.

But no one saw that Snape was demanding for their own good. To everyone, he was only an old, greasy bastard.

He was none of that!

He was not a bastard. He might be bitter at times, like when Dumbledore provided Black with an escape thanks to Potter, and made him, Snape, look like an idiot in front of Ministry Officials! But he was not a bastard...

He was not greasy. Potions fumes were just so dreadful that even a daily care was not enough... Not that anyone was interested in that. Not that anyone had come near him for reasons other than professional... in an awful long time.

He was not old. Not by wizarding standards! Look at Dumbledore!... The old weasel was still a bloody philanderer, *and* an expert in Memory Charms (after all, he had been making McGonagall and Hooch fall for him on a weekly basis for decades now! And making them forget what he'd done to them! Snape knew, from having witnessed the whole show once, by accident, and, since then, it was one of his treats to spot the side effects of the charms).

Yet, for those young students so much in contact with the Muggle world, he *was* old.

A greasy old bastard.

A fortnight before the graduation of the students who were known as the "Potter Year", Snape had decided to use one of his favourite tricks to make sure that the children were not roaming the school past curfew: he was using astral projection.

If Severus Snape *was* a Potions master, he was the king of astral projection. He had initially practised that in Azkaban, and had developed his technique since. When, in his astral form, he spotted students in a place where they should not be, he went back in his body and used all the secrets of Hogwarts to take shortcuts, and leap out of the shadows, frightening the culprits.

That night, Snape was happy that he was still physically in the dungeons, because the late Spring was awfully hot and he was wondering how anyone could be sleeping in such an oven. He also thought that those early dog days would give dirty ideas to some boys and girls...

Snape had seldom had decent night's sleep since his Death Eater days. There was guilt, a hint of personal failure, a bitter taste of betrayal, and an emptiness of some sort; that brilliant cocktail had made him an insomniac. Since they (himself, the Order and Potter) had brought an end to the Dark Lord, instead of feeling free and relieved, he felt even more useless and he had increased the frenquency and duration of his night patrols.

That night, Snape was drawn to a Gryffindor dormitory.

He was wondering why his instinct was dragging him there, but he had learnt to trust that small voice in his head. He finally reflected that there might be a couple of students about to... Snape floated faster.

He found himself in one of the boys' dormitories. All the windows were open, the bedcurtains as well so that the cool of the night would soothe the inhabitants of the room. Snape looked at the surroundings, and he felt his eyes grow to house-elf proportions: Ron Weasley was fast asleep, but obviously having a *very* erotic dream. After having reflected that Granger *was* lucky, if the boy had any skill with what nature had given him, Snape decided to stay and enjoy the show. It was not exactly that he was a voyeur, but in the last years, watching was all he'd had. It was neither a shameful taste, nor an acquired need, it was merely a crumb of something he had come to enjoy when it occurred in his life. Weasley was extremely handsome, bathed in the moonlight, aroused, and beaming. Merlin! It must be one hell of a dream. Unconsciously, when the contact with the sheets and the pillow that had slipped to a very convenient location was no longer enough, one of the hands of the young man came to his rescue, and he started to moan.

For Snape, it was one more observation of human nature. It reminded him of his own days as a Hogwarts student... It reminded him that, as a teacher, he didn't *really* have the opportunity to acknowledge the passing of time, as if he were trapped in a timeless bubble... The only sign that hit him one day was the children of his own schoolmates starting to come to be taught in their turn, and, in the secrecy of his thoughts, he could admit that it hurt like hell... sometimes.

Weasley was whispering in his sleep now. He was calling the Granger girl... Well, *that* made Snape almost chuckle, because Weasley's nickname for his girlfriend "Min" was used by Albus with McGonagall, and visualizing the improbable pair Weasley/McGonagall was simply hilarious...

That was when Snape finally noticed that he was not the only one enjoying the "scenery": Potter was very much awake too. Yet, when Weasley let out one last moan, Potter issued a sob. The green-eyed young man got up, stark naked, took his Invisibility Cloak in his trunk, and went out with tears in his eyes. Snape's astral projection felt, more than he reflected, that he should follow the young wizard who had been the reason of some of his nightmares over the past years; crying was not a logical reaction when a fellow was providing such a show... There was something weird. All the more since Snape did not believe that Potter was an exhibitionist and that the boy... well, young man... was wearing *nothing* but his cloak. Somehow, it was a good thing that the projected Snape could sense the young wizard under his cloak, otherwise he might have spent hours looking for Potter.

At three in the morning, a naked Harry Potter, tailed by the projection of his Potions master ended up in the Astronomy Tower. Potter walked to one of the windows and opened it. He put down his hood and looked towards the Forbidden Forest. There were still tears rolling down his cheeks. For once, Snape was not sure of what his next action should be: he was fearing that if he went back to his corporeal form Potter would do something silly. There was nothing Snape could do in his present state, but he'd rather stay around and make sure that that particular student made it in one piece to his dormitory; besides, he could always intercept the young man when he'd be on his way back to Gryffindor Tower...

Snape saw Potter spell-lock the door using wandless magic before he let his cloak fall. Snape was wondering what Potter had in mind when the latter started to masturbate.

If Weasley had been beaming, even in his sleep, Potter was still crying, and his eyes... If Snape had been hiding under an Invisibility Cloak, Potter would have heard him gasp. Potter's eyes were sadder than... sadder than... the saddest he had ever seen.

A few strokes was all it took, and Snape clearly heard him whisper, "Oh, Sarina." Then Potter collapsed and wept. Snape's mind raced. There was no `Sarina' at Hogwarts. Come to think of it, he had not even heard the name that often. It must be some Muggle Potter had met, and she had obviously broken his heart. Snape felt like comforting the boy... young man... Yes, now that brat was a gorgeous young man, and in two weeks, he would be a warranted, genuine wizard (as if any piece of parchment would prove anything more! Potter had always been a wizard, a natural and gifted one. Passing his final exams would only please the civil servants!). In two weeks, Potter would be out of Hogwarts. And out of Snape's life. And in no time, Snape would be teaching potions to the next generation of Potters...

The astral projection of Snape had been musing, and he hadn't noticed that Potter had put on his Invisibility Cloak and had unlocked the door. When Potter started running, he had no time to move and he passed through him.

Potter felt nothing.

But Severus Snape experienced for one second Potter's turmoils. He felt the void in the young man's heart, his sadness, his unrequited love. Snape felt that there was some awful secret about that `Sarina'... One second had not been enough for him to fully understand what was going on in Potter's life, but he felt some sympathy for the young man.

       

Potter went back to his bed, Snape back to his body, and the Potions master hoped that he could forget that night patrol.

Alas, the gods had planned to have some fun...

When everybody noticed that Potter grew more and more serious as graduation was approaching, they all thought the green-eyed wizard was stressed, maybe afraid, and exhausted. All, but Snape, who then saw in the emerald irises the shadow of the void he'd felt in Potter in the Astronomy Tower.

Snape witnessed Potter's efforts to hide his heartache to his closest friends, who were all cheerful.

Realization finally dawned and Snape understood why he had taken to watching Potter so intently: that something in the young man's eyes was close to what Snape could see in his own mirror when he was certain that no one was around. Pain and loneliness.

At first, Snape thought that Potter was too young to be "there" already. Then he thought of the life the boy had had. Snape thought he could tell Dumbledore, then he thought that he would not believe him, as usual, so he decided to make sure Potter would be all right. That was an occupation like any other... Or so he thought...

After graduation, the seventh year students who had survived the War all went to theThree Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. Potter went, sandwiched between Granger and Weasley. Snape went as well, allegedly to chaperone them all.

When Weasley and Granger had announced their engagement, Potter seemed on the verge of crying, again, and Snape was considering the eventuality of the young wizard having a nervous breakdown after all he had lived, in not even eighteen years...

The happy graduates walked back to Hogwarts in packs.

Potter stayed behind. So did Snape.

The young wizard was sitting in a booth in a corner of the pub. There was a bottle of whiskey on the table, and he was staring at the glass full of liquor that was sitting untouched in front of him. Snape decided to check on him.

"Meditating, Potter ?" He inquired.

The young wizard looked at him; the tears were back. Snape thought, `Sweet Merlin! What am I to do ?'

"No, sir... I was just wondering if I could cast the Imperius Curse on myself and make myself drink that drink..."

Snape leant on the table, and asked, "Why don't you simply open your mouth and swallow the stuff ?"

"Because I have some twisted security level in me and I could not swallow another drop, however badly I wanted it!"

"Why would you like to be drunk, Potter ?"

"To forget the failure that is my life!" The words were spat with bitterness.

As he sat next to the young wizard, Snape thought, `What am I doing ?' and `Oh! What the hell!' almost simultaneously. And before he even had a chance to say a word, Potter went on, "Professor, I do hope *you* will spare me the line on my defeating Voldie, saving the world in spite of a dreadful Muggle upbringing, and being a Hogwarts graduate! I feel like a Christmas tree decoration: my season is over, I can be put back in a box. I don't know what I want to do with my life, because no one took the time to consider my utility beyond my fight against the Dark Lord... My life sucks, and I cannot even get drunk!"

"Dumbledore didn't advise you ? No one from the Ministry contacted you ?" Snape asked.

"Christmas is over, sir." Harry quietly said.

Snape shook his head: those people were ungrateful bastards. Potter took his glass, tried to drink it, and failed miserably.

"Maybe there's someone waiting for you out there. *That* could be a start..." Snape said, thinking `I'm overworked! I'm chatting with Potter!!!'

The young wizard laughed softly, and whispered in a sad voice, "No." "You cannot know, boy!" Snape exclaimed.

Those words instantly brought back the tears to Potter's eyes, and he let them roll down his cheeks. Harry Potter stood up, and tried to leave, but Snape caught his wrist.

"Please, sir, let me go while I still have some dignity left in me!" "No. I don't let people just walk away from me when they appear to be breaking down." Snape answered.

"Please, sir!" The young man whimpered, but his wrist was not freed. He started to cry. Instinctively, Snape pulled him in his arms and held him till the young man was almost quiet.

"So... What's wrong exactly ?" Snape asked.

Potter tried to escape once more, but his former teacher prevented it again.

The young man looked at the glass of whiskey on the table, but could not bear the idea of drinking it. He might not have been drunk, but he was seriously tipsy and his brain, his thoughts and his tongue were about to betray him. Especially his tongue.

"Everything is wrong!"

"If it's work you're worried about, you should know that something will come along... You're Harry Potter... You may not start with your dream position, but, look at me: I started as a Death Eater, and finally ended in Hogwarts," Snape joked, and Harry laughed heartily.

"Gods! You have wit, you're sharp, you're cunning! I'm going to miss you!" Potter said.

"Of course, you'll miss the greasy old bastard who tortured you in Potions," Snape answered.

The tears were back in Potter's eyes.

"Oh! You meant it..." Snape added, and thought, `Well, so much for wit.'

Potter tried to go, but Snape's grip was strong.

"Why do you want so much to leave, Potter ?"

"I don't want to leave. Quite the contrary..."

Surely, Potter did not mean what Snape thought he meant. Snape grabbed the glass nonetheless and drank it, which was an awfully bad idea since it had been a long time since he'd last had a drink stronger than pumpkin juice, and that it was not a regular whiskey, but an enchanted one!

Letting Potter investigate his tonsils was not a good idea either... Correction. It was a brilliant idea. Well, if he had not been his teacher... At that exact time, the clock struck twelve: it was midnight and the school year was over and Harry Potter had a feral grin. The Potions master gulped: that gorgeous Greek statue could not possibly want *him*, could he ?

"Listen! I don't want to be an ersatz for you to get over some girl." Snape stated.

"I've *never* been in *love* with a *girl*." Potter solemnly declared. And he undertook to demonstrate where his preferences lay. When both had the other's mouth neatly charted, Potter whispered, "Bed ?"

Snape looked at the bottle of whiskey once more, he felt strange.

"It's Hermione's," Potter explained, "The potion and the spell are not supposed to be effective if you're not... um... interested. Which is *one* of the reasons why I wanted to flee: being near you was unbearable if I could not touch you... So... Bed ?"

"No, Harry..." Snape murmured.

"Why ?!" The young wizard practically shouted.

"Because it took me years... years, do you hear!... to get accustomed to being alone in my lair. Even for one night, however fantastic it might be, I'm not going backwards... It's too painful." Snape admitted.

"Don't send me away! I'll find a job in here. Or better, I'll scrub your cauldrons for fewer knuts than Dobby would ask. I felt miserable because I thought there could never be anything between us, and there was nothing in the whole world for me. Now, I can... could... be with you... near you... Don't push me back into the void that is my life, please... Severus, please..."

"It won't work!"

"We cannot know before we've tried..." Harry said.

"But... Why me ?"

"We're alike, Severus... And you should know that it's not a crush: I've been falling for you since the end of the Triwizard Tournament..."

"What will you tell your friends... and your so precious godfather ?" Severus wondered.

The choice of the mode made Harry grin: `will', not `would'. "If they don't like it, I just might start with `Sod off!', no ?" Harry suggested.

Severus looked deep into the green eyes: it was not a joke! The boy meant what he'd said... Now it was time for... what did Muggles call that again ?... a leap of faith. He could either send Harry away and make two miserable, or, for once in his life, he could have some hope...

       

How they got to one of the rooms in the pub was still a mystery for Severus when Harry locked the door, and cast a Silencing Spell, blushing.

"Loud ?" Severus inquired.

"I fear we'll have to discover that together... I put on that spell because I've heard it might be a good idea..."

It was Severus's turn to blush, but he nodded, and said, "Five points to Gryffindor."

"You're awarding points now, when they don't count!" Harry was trying to sound outraged, but his grin was a bad giveaway...

Severus smiled and started to undress Harry, but his inexperienced companion did not mean to end up being the only one naked in the room, so he attacked his lover-to-be as well. Severus used magic to take off Harry's shoes and socks, the young wizard used the same spell. Item after item they discarded their respective armour, both physical and emotional. When their naked bodies touched for the first time in a gentle embrace, it was as if the combining of their respective loneliness created something positive, something that was the contrary of their respective voids. When they looked into each other's eyes, there *was* love, and Hermione's gift had worn off by then.

Severus Snape took charge of the action, leading Harry to the bed, till both were comfortably settled on the cover.

Severus put off Harry's glasses, asking, "Can you see ?"

"Yes, fairly enough... if you stay close..."

Severus wondered how he would have been supposed to be able to resist to the combination of grin and sparkling green eyes.

The Potions master started to kiss and caress Harry, his hands and lips worshipping the glorious skin of the wizard who was moaning in utter pleasure under the gentle ministrations. The stimulation of Harry's nipples and navel, under mouth and fingers, engendered a sweet symphony in Severus's ears. When Harry's shaft was tenderly licked, the young man cried, with pleasure, want, lust and happiness. When his throbbing erection was swallowed by a very eager mouth, Harry started to produce high pitched sounds, making Severus chuckle, which stimulated Harry even more.

"Severus, I'm going to..."

But Severus only relaxed his throat fully and totally swallowed Harry's sex and drank his seed. Severus never stopped caressing him and, in spite of foggy eyes and a wish to nap for one second or one year, Harry claimed Severus's mouth. The salty taste woke him up entirely and he wanted to do the same in return, but he felt that he might need some extra-tutoring in that, and Harry forgot his idea when his lover kept on directing him and started the `stage two' of their night.

Severus offered his fingers to Harry for him to lick them, then his hand went south.

"If it hurts tell me..." Severus purred, his sexy voice even hotter in bed.

"I've been drinking, I trust you, we're wizards and can heal anything... Do something, please, Severus!" Harry pleaded. The Potions master smiled, and gently inserted one finger in Harry, finding few resistence indeed.

"Oh! Seve... Ahh! Severus that feels so... Aah... Feels good!" Harry said.

What the young man didn't know was that his lover had a trick up his sleeve, well, more like a small gland under his finger. Harry wondered how he had got that high without a broom in sight! Merlin it felt better than he had even imagined. What was brilliant was that even with a lack of practise, Severus had not forgotten how to translate the moans that had become the only form of communication used by Harry.

Fingers were added, and, finally, Severus felt that even his being a well-trained Slytherin would not prevent him from coming soon if he didn't get more involved in the action. Harry moaned his loss of his lover's gifted fingers, but when Severus settled between his legs, pushing them apart, and praising his athletic flexibility, Harry knew things were going to get even better... And when Severus gently entered him, Harry stopped breathing, till Severus caressed his chest with the hand that was not taking his weight off him. They belonged there, in each other's arms.

Severus saw that Harry was about to be overwhelmed again, and he bathed his young lover with light kisses everywhere his lips could reach. Harry relaxed and Severus started moving in and out of him. Severus's free hand took care of Harry's renewed erection, and they climaxed, more or less in unison. Severus slipped out of his adored lover and spooned him. Severus was almost certain Harry was purring. For the first time in his entire adult life, Severus Snape felt like he was going to have a good night... Except that something popped into his head, the very thing which had allowed, or provoked, all that.

"I have one question..." Severus said.

"Um ?"

"Who's Sarina ?"

"I have a riddle for you... no pun intended... What do you do when you're sleeping in a boys dormitory and you don't want them to find out you're gay ?" Harry teased him, settling even closer.

Snape's house-elf eyes were back, and he said, "So... you..."

"Yes, I conditioned myself and gave a code-name to the man in my fantasy... I found it would be perfect to refer to a former double- agentwith a pseudonym..." Potter confessed.

Snape had barely enough time to utter a really pathetic "Oh!" before his lover undertook to chart his body once more...

 

Finis

 

A/N bis: The title comes from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (II, 2, 43): What's in a name ? that which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet. And there's a Lewis Carroll twisted quote somewhere in that fic...


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