Holding The Fort

Friday, 17 April

By Sushi


A soft hand pushed the hair out of his face. Weakly, Severus settled into it. He had a dim recollection of being carried home, bathed thoroughly, and tucked into bed. How he got there, he couldn't say - certainly not through Apparation. A familiar, sweet, disconcerting smell teased him. Something warm lay across his face. Sunlight. Hospital wing. He opened his eyes, expecting Poppy and wanting Harry.

"Good morning, sweetie."

He was too weak to jump. "What am I doing here, 'Cissa?"

"Sleeping." She smiled; it was a cold smile, and matched well the look of lingering disgust in her eyes. "You're not very good company."

"Where's Lucius?"

"Out with Draco."

His intestines lurched. Snape realised he was in one of the last places he ever wanted to be again: a bed, naked, with Narcissa Malfoy. Lucius would have been an improvement, and that thought was enough to turn his blood to acid. "I need to go."

"Later, sweetie. You took a bad Cruciatus. It's your own fault - you really should have mentioned sooner that Potter is the Heir."

"I didn't think."

Her soft laugh, like water, didn't surprise him. "No shock there." Narcissa leaned in as if to kiss him. He jerked away. She laughed again. "As if I'd put my mouth on a whore like you."

Severus rolled over, yanking the sheet so he had enough to swaddle himself from the waist down. Air ran hard and fast through his nose, cycled in his lungs, fed the bellows of his rage. "Leave me alone."

"Whatever you say." She crawled over him. He felt the deliberate brush of her small breasts against his hip. His guts withered. "Should I have the house-elves bring you breakfast?"

"No. Thank you." He waited, tight-lipped and silent, while she tied a moonlight blue kimono the colour of her eyes tightly around her waist. Everything in the room was blue, or white, or grim pale green. It felt like drowning in the Wash on a sunny day.

"Your rags are in the closet." She brushed out. Severus stared at the door and wondered what he'd ever seen in her. He closed his eyes and, despite the sunlight burning a swathe across his naked back, wasn't able to hold off the last fleeting exhaustion of the Curse.


... He wondered where the absurd tradition of giving toy bears came from as he shifted from foot to foot. The warm pink walls danced with nauseating pictures of animals he supposed were meant to be "cute". Bloody frightening, if you ask me. A painted bear, much like the one he carried, batted its eyelids at him and he snarled. It fled.

"Go right on through, Mister Snape. Room 308, fourth door to your right." The desk nurse's broad smile withered at his frown.

He'd only been alone with Lucius twice since Eversor's death. They were short meetings, thankfully, a bit tense but for the most part successful. They were still blood, perhaps not as close as they'd once been (although he grudgingly had to thank that Auror bitch for giving him an excuse), and Lucius was more than happy that his "baby cousin" was still "one of us". Narcissa... 'Cissa may have been a Death Eater, but she'd welcome him back with warm smiles and honeysuckle and a lap to hide his face in.

The door to room 308 said, "Draco Gaius' family". He knocked, and fidgeted with the brown teddy bear in the crook of his arm until it opened. Lucius beamed. "You made it, baby cousin."

"Of course I did. I want to see my baby cousin." He forced a smile - much colder and more cynical since his seven weeks in a Ministry holding cell - and allowed himself to be hugged. Narcissa was sitting up in bed, covered with blankets the colour of Dumbledore's eyes.

He mentally shook off the connection - Severus' employer was in his thoughts far too often of late. For the last several months, if he was honest. Severus had the sneaking suspicion he would have trusted the man with his life. Then, considering the things he'd gradually told Albus over the past months, trusting him with his life would be a step backwards.

Lucius leaned into his ear during the hug. "Don't say anything about brothers or sisters. There were... complications." A note of pain hung in Malfoy's voice. Guilt nearly buckled Snape's legs; he still didn't know the side effects of that potion, six years later or not. Lucius let him go and guided him to the bed. 'Cissa looked up at him. Her eyes were unusually hard.

"Hello, Severus."

"Hello, 'Cissa. Congratulations." She didn't quite return his smile. A lump of blue blankets sat in her arms. He set down the teddy bear. "Hello, Draco Gaius."

"He can't answer, you know. He's only a day old."

Severus frowned. This wasn't his 'Cissa. "I know that. I'm not completely ignorant about children. I do work with them now, after all."

"We already know, sweetie. I suppose you want to hold him." She sounded a bit more protective than she should have. Understandable, he supposed, after what Lucius had said.

"Go on. He's a bit wiggly, but you get used to it." Lucius patted him on the back. He sounded happier than Severus had ever heard him, and equally crushed.

"If you're sure..."

Tentatively, he held out his arms. 'Cissa seemed a little reluctant to hand over the bundle. In a moment, though, a small, squirming package lay against his chest, resting on his elbow. Carefully, he pushed aside a bit of cloth to see red skin, and hair the colour of sunlight. Draco's utter lack of pigment made a long-twisted knot in Snape's heart relax. He couldn't have gotten that second gene from me. "He's beautiful."

"Isn't he?" Lucius leaned carefully against Severus' shoulder. He reached around to tickle one soft, small cheek. Draco mewled and turned his face towards Severus' chest. He opened his eyes for a moment, and they were the same silver as Lucius'. Purely on instinct, Severus shifted him so Draco lay upright against his chest. An odd warmth spread through him.

"I think he likes you, baby cousin. Maybe you're better suited to this teaching lark than I thought."

"It was a job, it gives us access to Hogwarts, I took it." He felt a little ashamed for lying so thoroughly in front of Draco. There was a rocking chair by the window. It looked out over the early January snow. Careful not to disturb the tiny boy, he sat down. Narcissa made a small noise, but when he looked over she was inspecting her fingernails.

Lucius cleared his throat. "'Cissa, honey, d'you mind if I leave you three alone for a minute? I've got to... y'know..."

"Go ahead, Luc. It'll give Severus and I time to catch up."

Lucius sighed in relief, kissed her quickly, and scurried out the door. Severus was quiet, just enjoying the soft, warm weight against his sternum.

"I suppose you'll do to baby-sit."

"Eh?" He glanced over at Narcissa, puzzled by her sharp tone.

"Well, that's all you're really good for, isn't it? Service? From whoring to motherhood, I suppose."

"What on Earth are you talking about, 'Cissa?"

"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about, sweetie. I knew you'd shag just about anyone, but a Squib? Your own brother at that." She glared at him, her nose wrinkled like she'd smelled something bad. "Really, it's bad enough to fuck your cousin, not to mention his wife. We must have been pretty tame after all that 'brotherly love'."

Severus' chest caved in and he stared in shock. "'Cissa--"

"You're sick, Severus."

"'Cissa!" He trembled. Draco squirmed against him and squeaked. "That wasn't my fault! Eversor--"

"Was a Squib. You're a wizard. He couldn't have touched you unless you wanted it."

A hot tear blossomed and broke and slid to drip from his chin. It landed in the soft blue blanket. Another quickly followed. "It was your idea, wasn't it?"

"And what are you going to do if it was? Kill me too? Better yet, kill Draco? It's not as if there'll be any more. Give him back, you're getting him wet. I'm not going to let a whore like you make my only son catch his death." Her stare was ice.

Severus clutched the little boy for as many moments as he dared. His brain was a mess of hurt and hideous confusion. Somewhere, though, a thought came clear: No matter what happens, Draco Gaius, I will protect you. I will never let you turn into your parents. Only, don't turn into me. As quickly as he could he handed the boy back and fidgeted by the door, trying to hide his tears, until Lucius returned and he could run...

Sleep dropped him in a puddle of sunlight. Sage green sheets bound him to the Malfoy bed. Severus drew his knees up to his chest and hugged them. He'd failed Draco. He'd lost himself in more ways than he wanted to acknowledge. And, more than anything else, at that moment he wanted his Harry.


Draco had, indeed, grown into rather a fetching young lad. He was slumped on the brocade couch with his homework on his stomach. He was easily as tall as his father. Too tall for a Seeker - he should have stopped playing four inches ago. There was a sunburn on his nose; not a great surprise, but nothing Severus could condone. There were plenty of potions to prevent that sort of thing.

"Come on, Professor, just tell me."

"No. I finished my homework before you were born."


It was painfully tempting to take points from his own House. "How do you expect to learn anything if I hand you the answers?"

Fetching, but looks were a shell, a temporary one at that. Draco glanced at him sullenly before delving back into his book. A half-finished essay on the development of antidotes for various classes of poisons (intentional and unintentional) lay half-rolled on the low mahogany table. It went far beyond the similar essay he gave the fourth year classes; Snape wasn't terribly shocked that Draco wanted help.

"Wasn't that a riot about Quernus?" Lucius grinned wickedly. He had one arm draped over the back of the couch; he could have leaned over and caught Draco by the shoulder.

"I know he's closing shop. How is that a riot?" Severus replied, cautiously.

Lucius snorted. "Oh, you haven't heard! This is too funny. Remember those seventeenth century plates he's been going on about since time began?"

Snape nodded. He was going to smash the damned things over Mulciber's head if he ever mentioned them again.

"They were fakes. The lot of 'em. Some witch down in Plymouth's been making a fortune off idiot collectors. Completely wiped him out. He's humiliated, has to close shop because no one'll take him seriously anymore."

Severus forced a hoarse laugh; it was a weak shadow compared to Lucius' loud, deep peal. His blonde head was thrown back, silver eyes glinting, teeth white and perfect and shining. Fetching, just like his son, but it was still a shell. The veins of corruption running through him were all too visible to Snape.

"Perhaps he'll stop boring the rest of us now." Severus smirked; it hurt to do so.

"I hope so. I don't think I could handle another lecture on the history of porcelain."

"Quite." Severus cleared his throat softly. "I hate to spoil the afternoon, but I really must go." It was at least the fifth time he'd mentioned it.

"Are you sure you have to leave so soon?" Lucius looked genuinely disheartened. For the life of him, Snape couldn't understand why.

"I'm afraid so. Professor Dumbledore has been getting more and more suspicious. Since that Mark showed up over London he's been asking a lot of questions."

"Oh, that." Lucius waved a lazy hand. "Wait until tomorrow. You'll see."

Severus warily narrowed his eyes. "What did you do, Lucius?"

A thin smile sent shudders down his spine. "Not me."

"Then who?"

Pale eyelashes fluttered. "It was 'Cissa's idea."

Snape couldn't suppress a shudder. They really were a perfect match, Lucius and Narcissa. "Nothing that might reveal us, I hope?"

Lucius shook his head. He steepled his hands and slumped like Draco. "Just your run-of-the-mill terrorism. It's a bit dull as her ideas go, but it should scare the Mudbloods a treat. Don't worry, nothing's traceable." He smiled innocently. "I wish you'd been here, Severus. You'd have enjoyed putting it together with us."

"You didn't let me help? When do I get to have fun?" Draco looked annoyed.

"When you've left school. Finish your homework. I won't have that Mudblood top of the year again. Sometimes I wonder why they made you Head Boy."

Draco scowled but muttered, "Yes, Father." It didn't matter that Granger was Head Girl, and cleverer than her counterpart by furloughs. You never could tolerate second best, could you, Lucius? A stunning, twisted wife, a brilliant cousin, nobody stayed under the Malfoy roof without paying with a part of his soul.

Severus pulled out his watch. It was getting on for four - bad enough he'd slept past noon. "I really should be going, Lucius. The old coot's probably setting up a search party."

"Pity he's too spineless to come looking himself. It'd make our job a lot easier."

Severus forced a thin smile. Secretly, he wondered how difficult it would be to banish the fireplace poker through his cousin and Disapparate before Draco realised what had happened. "I know exactly what you mean." He sat quietly in the emerald leather armchair he'd years ago claimed at "his", thinking how much easier his job would be were Voldemort to suddenly keel over. Once again, his order from the night before encroached upon his brain. He shoved it aside. Best not to think about that until he was safely back at Hogwarts. "Where are my...?"

"Where do you think? You can't have forgotten already."

Severus shook his head. "Of course. I'm sorry, I'm still not quite myself."

"Time's catching up with you, baby cousin."

Snape shot a sour glower at Lucius' self-satisfied smirk. He repressed the desire to pull his wand. Not in front of Draco. It was no great surprise to him that the years showed on his face and body much more readily than on Malfoy's. What am I going to look like at forty-seven? If I live that long.

"'Baby cousin'?" Draco grinned wickedly. "He still calls you 'baby cousin'?"

"I have been known to take a point in my time, Mister Malfoy. Don't make me apply this to my own House." He stared stonily at Draco until the whelp swallowed and went back to his homework. Lucius only smirked. Snape stood and stretched. "Enjoy your holiday, Draco. I shall see you again next week."

The little twit grunted.

"You're absolutely sure you can't just stay for supper?" Lucius asked as he walked Severus to the cloakroom.

"Completely." Snape pulled on his everyday cloak and prodded the back wall with his wand until the secret compartment opened. His mask and cloak hung on their old hook. With concealed nausea he bundled them up and hid them. The fabric draping his long body was warm, comforting in its own subtle way. It smelled warm and earthy, and like Quidditch practise in the rain. He felt much safer with the worn wool wrapped tight like a beetle's chitin.

"Don't be such a stranger, Severus. We all love you, you know that." Lucius shrank at the glare he received.

"Don't push me, Lucius," Snape hissed.

The promise-breaking bastard kept his mouth shut.

Severus Apparated deep in the Forbidden Forest. He imagined he could see the castle in the distance. It felt several thousand miles away. Slowly, he dragged himself through the sea of trunks and underbrush. It would be getting dark too soon - this deep, it would be dangerous to be caught unawares. Not that it was ever really daytime here. Sticks cracked under his feet. Every once in a while his shoes sank into marshy earth. He kept his thoughts focused: get home, talk to Albus, get to work, wait for Harry. Get home, talk to Albus, get to work, wait for Harry.

After a very long time, when the sky to the east was steel and to the west held the promise of rich flames, he finally came out by Hagrid's hut. A huge black shape bounded out of from behind it and, before Severus could react, tackled him hard into the mud. It squelched. "Urgh! HAGRID!"

"Fang! Get off th' professor! Sorry, Professor Snape. He's jus' bein' friendly, like. Fang! Off!" Hagrid pulled the slobbering furball back by the collar. Snape lay in the muck for a moment, reminding himself that killing his colleagues' pets, no matter how large, wet, or infuriating, would peeve Albus to no end. Fang whined pitifully. Severus pushed himself up on his elbows and sneered at no one.

"I expect, once I come out of the forest, not to have to deal with any more drooling monsters, Hagrid." He felt a little better (but no drier) when Hagrid dropped his enormous head and tapped his fingers together nervously.

"Sorry, sir. Really, he's on'y sayin' he likes yeh."

Snape dragged himself to his feet. Being just shy of six-and-a-half feet gave him a unique perspective on the world, usually down his nose; despite Hagrid's red tinge he suspected the effect was somewhat lessened looking up. "I dread to think of what else he likes." He stuffed his hand in his pocket and stalked towards the castle, waving his wand and muttering until the mud and drool vanished. Unfortunately, it couldn't eliminate the phantom stench of Malfoy ingrained in every cell.

A cluster of figures swooped over the Quidditch pitch. It was getting a bit late for them to be out - it must be close to supper. More out of curiosity than anything else Severus went near enough to see their red robes through his squint. There were only six. Odd. He wondered if Harry had been that seriously injured the night before. One of the Chasers - Toby Gill - spotted him and shouted to the others. They landed en masse, glowering in unison.

"Potter's not here," Natalie MacDonald snapped.

"Where is he?"

"Why do you want to know?" John Avon, whose older brother Beat for Slytherin, clenched his bat until his knuckles turned white.

"Ten points from Gryffindor, Avon. It'll be more unless you put down that bat right now." He folded his arms. Avon dropped the bat with a hint of a snarl. "Potter is supposed to report to my office for detention at eight sharp," he lied. "The fact that he's found something more interesting than this imbecilic game leaves me to wonder if he'll have the sense to show."

"He's in the hospital wing. Thanks to you."

"Explain this, MacDonald?"

She shifted uncomfortably. Her narrowed brown eyes never left him, though. "You didn't see him collapse at dinner, Professor? He told us what you made him do. Like scrub the whole floor with a toothbrush?"

That was his idea! And he didn't even finish. "Thus ensuring he'll never upset my shelves again. It's not your place to question."

"It is if it loses us the cup! Just 'cause you want Slytherin to win--"

"Twenty points, Gill. Would anyone else like to speak up?"

A small collective hiss went up as they breathed.

"No? Very well." He stalked towards them; they parted. It wasn't strictly necessary in order to get to the castle (and, in fact, forced him to take the back entrance), but it was another small way to assert his position.

He didn't even stop to leave the reviled implements of his former misguidance where they couldn't be found before marching to the stone gargoyle. "Cherry cordial," he snapped bitterly. Crossing his arms and tapping his foot, he waited restlessly for the staircase to deposit him at the top. Why it couldn't just let people run the steps he'd never understand.

Albus looked a bit seedy, with his ringed eyes and hard mouth. "Between you and Mister Potter, I'm going to need another holiday just to start the term." He tried to force a smile, but it got stuck halfway between a smirk and a sad crooked frown.

Snape shifted uncomfortably. The allusion that something dreadfully wrong had indeed happened to Harry broke a hole in his heart, and Albus' stress filled it with broken glass. He swept in as quickly as he could and shut the door. "I've been given orders to protect Potter and prevent him from preparing for battle with Voldemort."

Dumbledore nodded. "All things told, that doesn't come as a great shock. Voldemort has ample reason to be afraid."

"The prophecy?"

The headmaster nodded gravely.

"Prophecies have a habit of being wrong, Headmaster." As soon as he spoke, he regretted it. "As we both know, they are often misinterpreted," he said surprisingly clearly around the pressure in his larynx.

"So they are." Albus settled in his chair, staring distantly through the mesh of his steepled fingers. "I placed warder spells on him last night. They should filter out the worst of Voldemort's wrath."

"I don't suppose I could have some, too, sir?" Warm relief cushioned his chest when Dumbledore smiled faintly. "How is--?"

"I expect Poppy will let him go any time now. Speaking of which...?"

"I had the extreme dual pleasure of another taste of torture, and waking up in the House of Bad Faith." Snape smirked bitterly to himself. "At my age, twice in one week is a bit excessive. As Lucius was so kind to remind me."

"Twice in one week is excessive at any age, old friend." Dumbledore motioned to one of the chairs in front of his desk. Severus took it, although he would rather have gone back to his office to think.

Far too much weighed on his mind; among the mess, tickling and insistent, was a cold annoyance with anyone who dared imply Harry's only value in this situation was as a tool. Doesn't anyone else realise that even before he was 'the boy who lived' he was just an obnoxious brat? Really, break one immutable law of magic and suddenly the whole damned wizarding world puts him on a ped--he caught himself. Severus wasn't sure what worried him more: the fact that he'd thought it, or the fact that he did so of his own volition. Don't do this, Severus. Do you want to damn him? It was futile. The brat, with his warm lips and tender hands and infuriating stubbornness, had enmeshed himself in Snape's cold bones.

"Have you made any sort of progress with him?"

"No, sir." Nothing you would want to hear.

Albus fiddled with a small packet of Peppermint Toads. "If I ask you, will you keep trying?"

"You can ask."

"Will you please keep trying, Severus, for all our sakes?"

Snape took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I don't think I could stop myself if I tried, Albus. I'm sorry. "Yes, sir." But, unlike the world at large, I'm not going to treat him as anything but what he is: the most hateful, horrible little wretch ever to walk the Earth. For god's sake, someone's got to give a rat's arse about him.

"Thank you." Tension Snape hadn't noticed before drained from the headmaster's skin. He wondered vaguely if it had always been there. "Did you learn anything else?"

"Yes, Headmaster. The Dark Mark spotted over London?"

Albus nodded. "Yes?"

"Apparently it's part of some 'run-of-the-mill terrorism' on the Death Eaters' parts. It should come to fruition tomorrow night."

Albus nodded. "Do you know who was involved?"

"Lucius Malfoy, and that it was Narcissa Malfoy's idea."

"Ah." Albus' jaw clenched, as did his laced hands. "I'll warn Yves they should be on their guard."

Severus shifted in his chair. It was testament to Dumbledore's trust in him that Narcissa could warrant such caution. As far as Albus knew, the only other specific incident that she'd masterminded was the night Eversor died. Nobody deserved that. Not even the Destroyer. Snape would be hard pressed to come up with a handful of her ideas, her brainchildren that Lucius brought to term in his insatiable lust for the unspeakable. As few as they were, though, and as difficult to believe in light of her human side, their simple ingenuity could give a Death Eater nightmares. "May I go, sir? I'd like to get back to work."

Albus nodded slowly. "Of course, old friend." Something in the blue eyes made Severus feel like his headstone had already been carved. It wasn't anything to do with him, personally; rather, it was a permeating grief and a longing for the whole horrific conflict to be over. He'd long ago resigned himself to the possibility of death in the line of penance. I never expected the Heir of bloody Gryffindor to be worth more than a symbol, though.

Severus quickly got to his feet, gave his brusque farewell with a look, and set through the Floo. The fireplace in his office was charmed to recognize his presence - and his alone - and come to life. For the second time it struck him that he'd assumed he'd given Potter access to a private part of his life. This is getting dangerous, Severus. This sort of openness could get you both killed.

Or, the annoyingly tiny, annoyingly right voice amended, keep you both alive.

He settled behind his desk. As soon as he did, two things happened: he realised he didn't have the day's paper, and someone knocked at the door. Knock, knock knock, knock, knock knock knock knock. It wasn't Minerva's precise pattern of four; it wasn't Emily; in fact, it was a new one. He'd heard it before, but he'd not yet filed the pattern with a name. "What do you want?" he snarled.

"Let me in. I'm not talking to you through a door."

He didn't even remember opening it. Potter was just suddenly in front of him, more than a little pallid, with heavy dark hollows in his cheeks. His scar had scabbed over - it looked like a lightning-shaped pustule had burst. He looked up sullenly. "You look like utter shit."

"Twenty points for language, Mister Potter."

The brat rolled his sunken eyes and slinked in. Snape shut and locked the door behind him. Harry's shoulders were drawn. "I just wanted to tell you that I won't be in tonight." Severus' stomach collapsed. "I feel like I spent about an hour under Cruciatus. Madam Pomfrey just let me go. Are you going to get pissy with me now?"

"On the contrary, as someone who spent a significant portion of the last twenty-four hours suffering the consequences of that particular curse, I'd have to declare you brain-dead if you were to do anything tonight but rest."

Harry furrowed his brow. "What happened? You're okay, right?"

Severus arched an eyebrow and took his chair again. "The Dark Lord's unpredictable and rather childish temper happened, and I expect the experience hasn't shortened my lifespan nearly as much as some might like." He only tensed slightly when Harry's chin settled on his head, and an arm draped over his shoulder.


"Why should you be sorry? Unless you've got Lord Voldemort under an Imperius Curse and are forcing him to torment me out of vengeance over your last exam."

"Hush." Harry's other arm dropped over the back of the chair. It, in turn, dropped a roll of parchment in Snape's lap. "Made you something."

Severus' insides filled with jelly. "You've missed Valentine's Day by two months, Potter." It took far more effort than he liked to pick up the scroll without trembling. As he did, he felt a rapidly buzzing tickle against the top of his head. His eyes flew wide. A sharp keen escaped his stiffened lips. Snape turned to glare at Harry in disbelief. Potter giggled. Severus' annoyance unexpectedly melted.

"Why would I give you a valentine? Greasy pervy bastard. The hospital wing's pretty dull, so I went through the paper and marked some stuff I thought you'd want."

"Why would I not be able to do that myself?"

Harry shrugged. "Don't know. Only... thought you might appreciate it." A crooked, apologetic smile took his pallid lips. "Sorry."

Snape stared. The oddest feeling blanketed his tired skin. It was warm, grateful but tinted with something he'd felt scant few times before: worth. His brain sent the dimly panicked signal before his mind could stop it and he quickly understood that he was kissing Potter. Warm hands tangled in his stubborn hair, holding him to the soft darting touch of tongues, the heat of lips, the rapid, shallow breaths that made his nose burn almost as much as the line running from skull to coccyx. Harry was still novice, but he tried his best to mimic Severus' actions.

He's mine, Voldemort. No matter what you do, or what you say, he's MINE. If you want him, you'll have to go through me - through my eternal action. The thought burst through hatred and passion and the knowledge that nothing was eternal. "You," he growled through feverish contact, "are insolent," kiss, "presumptuous," kiss, "arrogant," kiss, "and wholly," kiss, "obnoxious."

An arm wrapped over Severus' shoulder and hung down his back. Fingers stroked; what they lacked in practise they made up for in enthusiasm. Harry opened his mouth a little more to retort. He didn't get the chance. A hand on the back of his neck, and another dragging knuckles lightly from his throat to just below his navel broke it to a moan. Severus thought he felt a faint "greasy bastard" muttered against his tongue.

"Obnoxious brat." Breathing hard, he stood up and didn't fight when Harry entrenched both arms around his neck. The warmth and weight of his body, pressed close and precariously balanced on tiptoe, was exactly what needed to be there. An insistent and increasing bulge dug into Severus' thigh; it did nothing to stop him from forming his own. That was secondary, though. Right then, most things were.

One of the hands on Harry's lower back crept down. It paused for a moment in his smooth lumbar dip. Potter wriggled his hips and whined softly. Letting the last slim crack between his eyelids be swallowed by darkness, Severus let it slip beneath and cup a taut rise of muscle. His fingertips rest against the crux made by the division of thigh from thigh and leg from lean body. The brat whimpered desperately. "Please..."

Snape broke the kiss gently and pulled back enough to look at Harry. Black pupil had nearly devoured green iris; smooth skin was flushed and starting to shimmer with the first thin glaze of sweat. Potter wore an expression of need and aroused panic. His glasses were crooked. Severus gently removed them, running the side of his hand over distantly moist, perpetually unruly hair. "Please what?"

Potter swallowed. He averted his eyes shyly. "What you did last week."

"No." Don't let him turn himself into a receptacle for your pleasure.

"No?" Harry's voice was high and slightly strangled. He looked terrified.

Severus started to gather the shapeless student robe in one hand. "Sit down."

Potter did. With a little help and a fair bit of shifting, Snape managed to get the fabric bunched at his waist. The plain white Y-fronts were distorted and bulging. He knelt and, keeping his gaze locked with Harry's, was able to get them down short, toned legs. Gently, he pressed his lips against one pale, slightly parted thigh. "You'll have to forgive me. It's been rather a long time since I've done this."

"You're going to...?" The look of terror shifted to one of shock and wonder.

"Be quiet and find out." Severus leaned up just long enough to take one final, soft kiss. He wouldn't get any more. It was a bit of an effort not to close his eyes again and leave them closed; looking up could tell him what was right and what was wrong and how much he'd forgotten in eighteen years. For an instant, his chest tightened, leaving him overwhelmed and lost and very, very much fifteen.

Warm hips trembled slightly under his hands. He bent his head, and the first touch of feverish skin against his lips was alien. His heart rate doubled in panic. Harry made a soft noise; it drove out some of the crushing uncertainty. The last had been Octavian, the night before Severus turned twenty-one. But this isn't Octavian Travers. This is Harry Potter. Oh, my dear Merlin, this is Harry Potter. He almost jerked away. The annoying voice stopped him. That's right, Severus. This is your Harry.

Only as long as he agrees, he reminded himself as he parted his lips. "Oh, my god," Harry moaned as Severus took the hot, hard head into his mouth. It rested against his tongue, which cradled it and buffered sharp, jagged lower teeth. Those ugly teeth were just another reason the impossible whelp needed to come to his senses. Nobody, nobody, wanted Severus Snape as anything more than a means to an end. He was a tool, a toy, a boy who'd replaced one segment of Hell with another. If it could keep the bo--man who sat before him so trustingly from suffering a similar fate, though, he'd gladly forfeit himself.

Very slowly, so as not to overwhelm Harry, he let the rest of the shaft slide deep until it touched just short of gagging. The tip of his nose tickled with coarse hair; a sultry, rich musk, much stronger than Harry's normal smell, filled his sinuses and lungs and made his brain bob in a sea of endorphins. Long fingers traced the bottom of Harry's ribcage. A series of small whimpers, like a guinea pig getting ready to squeal, sent a pleasant shiver down his back. He eased off, then let the solid member run back into place. Harry moaned.

Gradually, he settled into a pattern. Out, sucking gently; in, allowing moist skin to run between his lips like heavy silk. A hand grasped his wiry hair tightly. The other slipped through the heavy black curtain and cupped the base of his neck. He glanced up. Harry's eyes were closed, his chest rising and falling rapidly, head leaning against the back of the chair, mouth half-open and emitting soft, low moans with each dip and rise of Severus' head. His legs parted more and he urged Severus to move a little closer.

"Don't stop." The words were a frantic, pleading whisper. "Please, Severus, don't stop." The sound pushed him, half out of desire and half out of inadequate fear, to keep moving, keep moving, keep discovering the delicate texture of young skin and the bittersweet taste of defiant innocence. "Oh, my god, Sev-erus... Sev... my Sev..." a sharp cry halted Severus' astonishment for a beautiful moment. The diminutive sounded like the name of God on Harry's flushed and swollen lips. Clear drops made a musty saline layer on his tongue.

Mi Harry, nunquam deser me. A slow tear trickled down his nose at his own futility. It landed in the coarse black mess of hair. He increased his speed, dropping and rising and sliding and feeling more like a balloon was inflating around his heart with every growing sound. The short fingers tightened on his hair. Harry's hips spasmed, again, again. His head rolled onto his chest. Strong moans felt like music. Weak, trembling hands didn't quite let go.

"Please," Harry groaned. "Sev, please... oh, god--" he bucked, arms jerking, head grinding into the back of the chair, hips pushed hard against Severus' mouth. Severus sucked as hard as he dared. Harry gave a choked cry, stiffened, and drove a wash of harsh, brackish, bittersweet liquid into the willing chamber of Severus' mouth. His tongue prickled. Smaller bursts followed. Severus stayed there, gently drawing the last of the semen until he was afraid of hurting his Harry. Softly, drawing back, he kissed his softening tip.

Black fabric made a sharp contrast to the pale pink of Harry's shining skin. He slumped, panting, limp hands falling away as Severus rose a little higher on his knees. The hollows under Harry's cheeks and eyes had faded from grey to soft purple. Severus gave him room to breathe. His job was done. He let his head droop, and stared at the floor with an odd sadness welling in his stomach. Don't be arrogant. You can't keep him. Who would want you? "You ought to go rest," he whispered.

"Nuh-uh. Wan' stay with you."

Severus glanced up and scowled. Harry leaned hard against the back of the chair. He clutched its arms weakly. Slits of green showed through his short fringe of lashes. Why on Earth would you want to stay with something like me? He didn't ask the question - he wasn't sure he wanted an answer. Limp fingers touched the side of his face. Before he could stop himself from leaning into the caress, Harry slumped forward and pressed his lips to Severus'.

Snape froze. Only 'Cissa had ever kissed him after... that. It was one of his hallmarks as whore that he would willingly kiss the few people he allowed to mouth him. This... it... Harry declared him an equal with every moment their lips touched. It... it felt like a promise. Perhaps a short-lived promise, but a promise nonetheless. Stunned, he allowed himself to be leaned against the face of his desk as Harry knelt around his leg. "I'm sorry," Potter whispered with green eyes averted, "I don't know how to..."

"I wouldn't expect you to," Severus exhaled, tense with hopeful apprehension.

"Please..." Harry found the hem of Severus' robe and worked a hand up inside. Their mouths joined again - Snape wasn't entirely sure who initiated it - and didn't break any for longer than it took to steal a shallow, desperate breath. Harry shifted so he could move the robe. His other hand petted long, wiry hair back from Snape's face. Severus gasped when Harry reached through the fly of his boxers and found the mostly-erect erection. It returned fully at his touch.

With the first slow squeeze and stroke he whimpered into Harry's mouth. Snapes didn't get this sort of happiness. He didn't get this sort of happiness. A shudder went through him as warmth broke over his body. He clutched at the young man who dared to accept so much - especially after the torment Severus had inflicted on him. Razors ran through his gut when he realised he would still make Harry's life as tearing as he could, in public anyway. Something made of a moan and a sob broke from his throat.

"Am I doing something wrong?"

Severus shook his head. He placed a light hand on the back of Harry's in encouragement. Harry pressed their foreheads together. "Greasy bastard."

"Obnoxious... brat--oh, god." A bolt of sensation ran up to his solar plexus and doubled in on itself. All of his self-control, all of his years of training as slut or spy, broke down in the face of Harry Potter stroking him with half-closed eyes and a look that could only be described as reverent. It wasn't love, it couldn't be love, but it was understanding. For all the good love had done him, he'd take understanding any day.

Severus kept a hand on Harry's back. It assured him this was real. The hand clutching his neck anchored him just as thoroughly. Faster, faster the gorgeous waves rolled up from his pelvis. He whimpered with each stroke. Curiously, he dropped his black eyes to his lap and moaned outright at the sight of his hand riding Harry's fist, his purple foreskin rapidly swallowing and disgorging red glans. Clear drops slid out with a pulse of heat. Vertigo threatened; he turned his eyes back to Harry's pink face. Harry smiled.

The pure affection in that smile triggered a swell of pride in Severus' brain. It ran hot and clean down his spine, through his jerking hips, burst forth in a hoarse cry and an arcing spatter of cathartic white. Everything went fuzzy. Somehow, he kept his head enough to stay focused on Harry. The smile never dimmed - rather, it grew, brilliant and beaming and bashful and beautiful.

Snape went limp. The twitching flesh in their hands tried valiantly to fight for more, but it was clearly in a losing war. Of perhaps a dozen incidents in his life that he counted as proper human contact, Potter held two. Somehow, the others felt rather faint, at least now. He watched quietly as Harry inspected the pearled ooze running down his hand.

"I wonder..." he murmured. Severus' eyebrow automatically arched as Harry touched it to his tongue. Snape's member tried to stir again - no mean feat at his age. Harry grimaced. "Tastes really weird."

"What did you expect?" Snape mumbled. "Decades of toxic ingredients are bound to have some effect."

Harry's eyes went wide.

Severus smirked.

Harry glared and kissed him. "Greasy bastard."



Latin Lexicon For Latin Lovers

Mi Harry, nunquam deser me: My Harry, never leave me

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