The Last Dance

Part III

By Sushi


Funeral preparations were hasty, lavish, and excluded Severus entirely. He wasn't as upset as he could have been; he was in enough of a state without breaking down in front of Sirius Black. He stayed more or less in his dungeons, making potion after useless potion to occupy his time.

It was in the middle of Friday night, when he caught himself leaving a skin of fascia on a poison dart frog's liver - the same detail and the same potion that had killed his father - that he finally neutralised the sludge in his cauldron and put it away.


The knock at the door was rapid and urgent, but not so urgent as the voice that followed it. "Harry? Harry, are you in there? Snape, let my godson out of there right now, you son of a bitch!"

Severus bristled. Without even looking up from his book, he shouted, "Harry is having a shower at the moment. If you can be civil, you're welcome to wait in the corridor."

There was a pause. "Why in god's name is he having a shower in your room?" A bit lower, Snape heard him mutter, "What's going on here, Albus?"

"As I told you, it was through Severus' actions that Harry was raised from the dead."

"That doesn't give him the right to bugger my godson."

"Oh, yes, it does," Severus called. He smirked, relishing first the stunned pause from the corridor, then the deranged scrabbling at his door and the string of swearing and curses.

"Sirius, calm down, everything will be lucid soon enough," Albus said calmly.


"Sirius, settle down!" The scrabbling stopped, probably through force rather than reason, and Albus called, "Severus, would you bring Harry to my office when you both are ready?"

"Yes, Headmaster."

"I'll kill you, Snape!"

"Sirius! I assure you, the situation is not what you are thinking..." Albus trailed off. Footsteps echoed down the corridor.

A few minutes later, Harry stepped out of the bathroom, frowning and rubbing his hair with a towel. He wore his green dress robe again, and presumably all else along with it. "Did I just hear Sirius?"

"I'm afraid you did. He seems to have latched onto the notion that I'm in here taking advantage of your innocence."

Harry snorted. "Innocence, my arse." He looked down at his wrinkled robe. "Don't suppose he brought back my clothes?"

"I haven't the foggiest idea. Professor Dumbledore wanted me to bring you to his office. I assume you're decent?"

"I think so."

"Do you feel any better?"

"Yeah, thanks. I feel alive again." He frowned apologetically, crookedly, and shifted from foot to foot. "Sirius is going to kill you, you know."

"I gathered. Hopefully, Professor Dumbledore will have the decency to restrain him until I've done the deed for which I'll be executed." Severus' eyes darted towards the fire. Out the corner of them, he saw Harry's scrubbed face go pinkish.

"You sound like he did before you showed up at the Shrieking Shack," Harry muttered.

Severus arched an eyebrow.

"Killing Pettigrew."


Severus dropped his book on the table. A strip of leather held its place. He pushed himself to his feet, held out a hand, and asked, "Shall we?"

"One second." Harry moved close enough for their bodies to all but brush. He went up on his toes, put his hands on Severus' shoulders, and pressed their lips together. Severus returned the kiss. Once again, it was chaste, gentle, ever so slightly hesitant; it sent a steady trickle of heat running down his throat, his spine, pooling in his chest and stomach and elsewhere. Harry must have felt it, too, because a shudder ran through his body. He broke away, eyelids heavy and breath slightly ragged. "God, that's still better than sex."

"Indeed." Severus lifted one hand from the small of Harry's back where they'd fallen. He touched a long finger to the underside of his pale, freshly-shaven chin and kissed him again. As if requesting permission, he parted his lips a little.

Harry eagerly did the same. The very tip of a soft tongue touched Severus'. He barely stifled a whimper. Eyes closed, Severus held steady, nudging Harry's tongue ever so gently with his own, hand moving from the brat's chin to weave its way into his impossible hair. Harry slid an arm around to wrap around Severus' back, gripping his shoulder from behind. The other slid smoothly down his chest. It ran over Severus' breastbone, traced his delicate ribcage, came around back to cup his hip just above his arse. Only fingertips and the heel of his hand touched the heavy cotton of Snape's summer robe.

They broke apart gradually, lips pulling at each other, then brushing, then hovering oh-so-close together while they took in air in heavy, desperate lungfuls. Harry's eyes fluttered open and set on Severus', painfully black within a sliver of green. "My god, I want you," he said in a low, husky voice.

Severus crushed his mouth against Harry's again, hard, needy, battling with wet sounds and tiny whimpers. He pulled back sharply, pressed his forehead against Harry's. "We are going upstairs, getting whatever swotty business Albus has for us taken care of, and we are coming down here and finding out how far a little knowledge of anatomy can go." As he spoke, he rained tiny kisses around Harry's heated face, his soft mouth, breathing him in and being breathed in with every short, sharp intake of air Harry managed.

Harry moaned softly, almost a whine. "Can't they wait?"

"They'll come back. I'd rather not be disturbed."

"Lock the door, then."

Severus touched their mouths together once more. He spoke against Harry's lips, "Do you really want to face the headmaster and your godfather just after you've had sex in the Potions master's bed?"

Harry started to open his mouth. A sharp shudder coursed up his spine and he pulled back. "Dammit. Could you just throw cold water on me next time? It'd be nicer."

Severus smirked. His breathing was still ragged, but tolerable. "With a bit of luck, there shan't be a next time."

"God, I hope not." Harry leaned up for one last kiss, this one brief and chaste but still subversive in its impact. "Fancy giving me another dancing lesson later?"

"We shall see."

Harry flashed him a smile and stepped away a little unsteadily. He leaned against Severus' chair for a moment until his knees stopped trembling. "Good." He panted softly, chest rising and falling hard. "Let's get this over with. Otherwise, I'm going to rip your robes off and do unspeakable things to your person."

Severus closed his eyes a moment. "If you don't refrain from comments like that, your godfather may see more of either of us than he ever cared to." He held out a hand again and motioned his head towards the door. "Upstairs, Potter."

"Yes, Professor," Harry said in uppity singsong. Severus swatted him on the flank.

"None of that."

"Yes, dear."

Severus swatted him again, an incredulous smile threatening to break his mouth. "It's Severus, and don't you forget it." He took Harry's hand. "After all, you'll be screaming it later." He just made it out of Harry's reach before he could be swatted himself.


The night before the funeral, Severus woke himself up screaming Harry's name. Settling back into the bedclothes, sodden with sweat and panting viciously, he realised he couldn't remember if he'd been screaming it in loss, or in passion, or possibly in some twisted combination of the two. He pulled the pine green bedspread over his head and curled up in a ball, whimpering softly, creeping back into sleep even as his hand crept towards the evidence of unfulfillable, unrequited desire.


Snape hissed when Black literally wrenched Harry out of his hand. For the second time in as many days he was forced to watch as those spiteful dark eyes filled with heavy tears. Black clutched Harry to his chest, one arm around his shoulders and the other angled to tangle callused fingers in his hair. "Oh, god," he choked. "Oh, my god, Harry. You've no idea... you've no Earthly idea..."

"'Lo, Sirius," Harry said, words muffled against Black's wide chest. He'd put his arms around his godfather, if not with the same degree of desperation.

Black sniffled and wheezed, planting heavy, harsh kisses all over the top of Harry's damp head. "I don't know how, and I don't know why, but you're back and I'm not letting you go ever again." He pushed his godson out at arm's length. His mouth twitched, and he shook his head, and suddenly he broke out in a sobbing grin. "It really is you!"

Harry nodded. "M'sorry I died, won't happen again," he said sheepishly, dropping his head a little. Black shook his adamantly.

"No, no, Harry, never be sorry. You came back, and that's all that matters." He dragged Harry into another crushing hug. Severus winced at the impact of it.

Albus watched from behind his desk. Mutely, he nodded to the three chairs - one more than usual - facing him. Severus nodded in agreement and took the one on the left, touching Harry's shoulder gently as he passed.

Harry carefully pulled out of his godfather's arms. He moved towards the middle chair, but Black got there ahead of him, glaring venom at Snape. Severus glared back.

"Keep your filthy hands off my godson," Black snarled.

"I believe I shall leave to Harry the decision of whose filthy hands are on him."

"Sirius..." Harry murmured.

"What did you do? Put him under the Imperius Curse?"

"Nothing of the sort."


"Sirius, I believe Harry is trying to speak to you."

"Shut up, Albus," Black snapped. He pointed a single finger at Snape. "If I find that you've used him for your perverted little fantasies, I'll string you up by your bollocks and leave you for the scav--"

"That's enough, Mister Black." Albus leaned against his desk. His face was impassive, but his eyes held a glassy hardness. "Am I going to have to separate the two of you?"

Severus smirked. Black growled under his breath. Harry tugged at his sleeve.

"I'll be okay there," he said softly. He motioned to the chair on the right. "Go on."

"Harry, you can't honestly want to sit next to--"

"I do. And I want to sit next to you, too, so budge up."

Black reached up and took Harry's face in one hand. Before Harry could protest, he'd tugged down each of Harry's lower eyelids, peering intently into his eyes. "Snape, whatever you did to him--"

"Mister Black, I'm afraid I'm going to have to separate you," Albus' low, firm voice said. "Pity, I'd rather hoped you'd grown beyond the range of a vengeful schoolboy."

Every exposed bit of Black's skin turned currant red. He glanced at Albus, and let go of Harry's face with a murmured apology to the both of them. Quietly, he moved to the other chair.

Severus smirked to himself as Harry sat down and took his hand. The smirk twitched and threaten to fade when the brat did the same with his godfather. Albus glanced at the three of them, his hands folded innocuously on his chest, leaning back slightly in his chair. The corner of his mouth jerked suddenly and he gave a low chuckle. "A portrait of familial bliss."

Severus stiffened. Harry squeezed his hand. Black shouted, "Oi!"

Severus sighed softly. "So that's where you get it from," he muttered from the corner of his mouth.


"I rest my case."

"Snape, if you don't let go of my godson this instant--"

"You'll do what? Hex me?"

"I'm not the one notorious for the Dark Arts while he was still at school!"

"If I recall, those rumours hadn't even begun until you and your pack of thieves attempted to steal my Transfigurations homework and turned yourselves into tin soldiers!"

"That was not our fault! If you hadn't cursed your bag--"

"If the four of you had stayed out of my things like you ought to it never would have happened."

Sirius opened his mouth. Nothing came out, so he closed it with rather the obvious flush. "Greasy git," he muttered under his breath. "Why don't you go wash your hair?"

"I did this morning, and last night, and the morning before that as I have every day for the last thirty years. Had you done any work in Potions, you would understand why."

"I don't need to hear about your personal life!"

"Then I suggest you stop telling me what to do with it."

"Boys," Albus said, holding up his hands and smiling just the faintest guilty bit, "enough of that. We have other issues at hand right now than a stroll down Memory Lane."

Severus chuckled. Black sputtered and sank back into his chair. "I only want to know how that paedophile has gotten away with molesting my godson for god-knows-how-long," he growled.

"He's never laid a finger on me," Harry said firmly.

"I want to hear it from him--"

"I assure you, as far as I am involved, your godson is virtually untouched."

"--Under Veritaserum--what the Hell do you mean 'virtually'?" Black rose halfway out of his chair. Harry tugged him back.

"I kissed him," he admonished.

Black stared at him. His upper lip curled in a sneer. "Harry, that's disgusting." He covered his face with his hand and shook his head.

"Actually, I liked it."

Black paled. "We'll get you help. There has to be--Albus, could you please check for curses? Anything?"

"Harry has been neither cursed nor coerced, Sirius. Otherwise, he would still be in a coffin somewhere below the dungeons."

Black's mouth pinched and his eyes narrowed. "Still doesn't explain why that fucking pansy's got his hands all over Harry."

"If I recall correctly, Black, you were the one with your lips all over Peter Pettigrew behind the Quidditch shed."

"Shut up, Snape!"

"And I do mean all over."

"Albus, will you tell him to put a sock in it?" Black muttered, quite pallid and giving Harry and Severus sidelong looks.

Harry wrinkled his nose at his godfather. "Pettigrew?"

"Boys," Albus said calmly.

Black shrugged defiantly. "You'd have liked him when he was still in school."

"Not that much, I reckon."

"Boys," Albus repeated a bit more firmly.

Severus shifted in his chair and focused his attention on Dumbledore. He neatly lay his free hand in his lap. On the other hand, he made no attempts to dissuade the squabbling between his nemesis and his interest.

"And Peter was still cuts above that big-nosed bag of grease you've got all over you like a fungus."

"Oh, right, at least he tried to stop my mum and dad from being killed."

"If James knew he'd be rolling in his--"


Harry and Black both jumped. Severus gave a self-satisfied little smile. Albus' eyes were cool - not angry, but definitely not to be reckoned with. He glanced back and forth between the two of them, now sitting in stunned silence. "That's better."

He folded his hands on the desk and leaned forward. "Now, I expect the three of you - yes, I mean all three of you, Severus - to act like rational human beings. This includes restraining yourselves from verbally vivisecting each other's lives, past, present, or future. Harry is in a rare position, and his mere presence is proof that he and Severus care very deeply for each other."

Black snorted. "I'll believe it when I hear it under Veritaserum."

Quietly, Severus reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny vial of clear liquid. Harry's eyes bugged. "Do you carry that with you everywhere?"

Severus blinked. "Yes."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Oh, my god. What else have you got in your robes?"

"I rather expect you'll find out later."



"I was referring to my potions, Albus."

"You were not! You slimy, greasy, ugly, stringbean son of a--"

Dumbledore sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Do I need to give detentions?"

"Will he be there?" Black spat.

"He'll be supervising."

Severus and Black both paled. Silently, uncomfortably, Severus shifted in his chair. From his sidelong glance, he saw Black do much the same. In charge or not, a full detention with Sirius Black would likely result in Azkaban for one or both. Harry, insolent little whelp that he was, sniggered.

"At least the classroom's already clean," he said.

Black shuddered openly. "Can we get on with this?" he muttered. "I think I'm going to be ill."

Albus gave them a few moments to make sure they were going to be quiet. "Well. The situation is one I would not have expected, especially given the parties involved. However, Severus has accidentally stumbled onto the art of necromancy. The technique he used requires not only powerful, powerful mutual feeling - in this case, love, and very much of the romantic variety - but great skill and will and, at the time of casting, significant effort and display."

"Meaning?" Sirius asked with a curl to his lip.

Albus shrugged. "Devotion. Tenderness. Care. Lovemaking is possible, but not so effective. I don't know what Severus did, and I feel it's private so I haven't asked."

"Well, I want to know." Black's dark eyes locked on Severus. "What the fuck did you do to him, you pervert?"

"Nothing untoward, and that's all you're getting."

Black glanced at the bottle still in Severus' hand. "Assuming that is Veritaserum, I want to hear it after you've had that."

"It is, and I don't feel it's necessary." Snape arched a cold eyebrow at Black, lacing his fingers with Harry's and slipping the vial back into his pocket.

"Then as Harry's legal guardian, I'm going to have to ask that he be released to my custody. I can stay in the castle." Black folded his arms and glared.

"You can't do that."

"I'm afraid he can, Severus. Harry is still a minor." Albus gave him an apologetic look.

With a low, sub-vocal growl, Severus fished out the bottle again. "Very well. Albus? Would you care to verify this?" He held it out. Harry tensed.

"Are you going to be okay?" he asked unsteadily.

"Perfectly. The effects wear off in an hour, and I imagine Albus will only administer the requisite three drops. However," and his eyes slid to his right, "I want that mongrel to suffer the same humiliation."

"I refuse." Black folded his arms.

Albus gently took the vial. "In this situation, Sirius, I must insist. Your behaviour has been most disappointing, and I'd like to make certain your words are not being influenced by your emotions."

Sirius puckered his mouth. "This is illegal."

"So is becoming an Animagus without properly registering with the Ministry of Magic," Severus murmured. "I think we're more even than you'll admit when it comes to illegal activities."

"Technically, I could go to Azkaban for killing Voldemort," Harry offered a little sheepishly. "If it makes you feel any better."

Black stared at him incredulously. "No," he said in a high-pitched voice, shaking his head, "it really doesn't."

Harry shrugged. "Only thought it might, that's all."

Dumbledore set the little vial on his desk and muttered incantations over it. Squinting, he read something before announcing, "This is without a doubt pure, high-grade Veritaserum. Shall I administer, or shall I let you discuss this like mature adults?"

"Administer away," Black growled. Albus quirked an eyebrow at him. Black ignored it, instead looking at Harry with a trace of mourning in his eyes. "I should have brought Moony. Moony could have talked some sense into you."

"He'd have listened to me, at least. This is your idea, remember."

"Harry, you're only seventeen--"

"And I've been expected to be a full-fledged wizard since I was a year old, thanks. I think I ought to be treated like an adult if I'm going to have to be one." He glared coolly at Black. "Professor Lupin would agree with me."

Black snorted. "What does he know?" he muttered under his breath.

Albus cleared his throat and got to his feet. Removing the stopper from the vial, he said, "Tip your head back and open your mouth, Sirius."

"Why do I have to do it first?"

"Because you're the one who insisted upon it."

Black sighed and opened his mouth. Rather than tilting his head back properly, he stuck out his tongue in a glisteningly disgusting display. Severus shuddered as Albus shook the clear liquid over its pink, slug-like surface. Black blinked rapidly. Somewhere in the middle of the series his pupils dilated.

"I'd forgotten what this stuff feels like," he said distantly.

"Did they make you take it when you were arrested?" Harry asked with a sad little frown.

"No, your dad made a batch up in seventh year so we could play Super Truth or Dare with the girls." Black immediately slapped a hand over his mouth. His eyes went round. "So it's working, then."

Albus smirked wryly, a cool, amused look in his twinkling eyes. "Indeed it is." With a very Mona Lisa air about him, he moved closer to Severus. "Severus?"

Snape obediently tipped his head back and opened his mouth. The liquid tasted like water and melted into his tongue rapidly. A few seconds later he felt like he'd been wrapped in an enormous fluffy blanket, or perhaps Hagrid's coat, and that the fuzziness had seeped through his skull into his brain. He sighed softly. And then his stomach gave a hefty lurch, stopping what felt like three feet to his left.

"Are you okay?" Harry asked, squeezing his hand.

"I fear you'll have to give me a moment to decide. The last time I took Veritaserum I suffered some side effects."

Harry whimpered. "Are you going to be okay?"

"Only if you consider being unable to palate anything but apples and pumpkin juice for three days 'okay'." Severus winced as his stomach took another decided turn. He pressed a hand to his belly, grimacing. "I hope the house-elves have a good supply of apples in."

Albus frowned, his brow furrowed. "I'm sorry, Severus. If I'd known I wouldn't have done this."

"No need, Headmaster. I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to be with Harry." He blinked. "For one of the only times I can actively remember, I must agree specifically with Black," he said with a touch of stunned awe. "It does seem to be working."

Albus nodded while Harry rubbed Severus' hand with his thumb, and squeezed Black's. He sat down behind his desk. "I hope now that we can--"

"Did you fuck my godson?"

Albus sighed and rubbed his eyes. "I suppose it was too much to hope for."

"No," Severus said firmly. "I did not fuck your godson."

"Is that true, Harry?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Of course it's true. He's taken Veritaserum!"

"I only wanted to hear it from you, too."

Harry snorted. "Are you sure you're older than I am?"


"It was a rhetorical question."

"Give me a bit of slack here, Harry, I'm under a truth serum. There's no such thing as a rhetorical question."

"So tell me, Black," Severus said, unable to resist the temptation, "how old were you when you lost your virginity?"

"Sixteen. What about you, Snape?" he sneered.

"Fourteen." Severus smirked with self-satisfaction as Black's jaw fell.

"How?" he asked incredulously.

"My partner and I removed our clothes and I--"

"I don't think we need to get into that sort of questioning," Dumbledore said quickly. He gave the two of them a look that made Severus wonder if they really were going to have detention together. "Severus, you agreed to this for a specific goal. If you are simply going to turn it into a ploy for one-upmanship I'm going to have to end the experiment."

"I'm sorry, Albus," Severus said, giving Black a chilly look. Black mumbled something that might have been an apology and might have been a slight.

"Sirius, do please ask your questions?"

"Yes, sir." He licked his lips. "Er..." he mumbled something.

"I can't answer your questions if I don't know what they are." Severus gave an irritated little shake of his head.

"Are you in love with my godson?" Black turned vivid red and looked away.

Severus squeezed Harry's hand and looked into his eyes. "Yes," he said softly. "Yes, I am."

"Severus..." Harry leaned over and kissed him. Black made a gagging sound. They lingered until Albus cleared his throat softly.

"As much as it pleases me to see two young people who obviously adore one another, I fear business must come before pleasure."

Harry pulled back, flushed. He adjusted his glasses. "Sorry, sir."

"Quite all right, Harry, and perfectly understandable given the circumstances."

"Why are you in love with him?" Black looked significantly upset at the display of affection, and his voice was sharp and edgy.

"Because he is intelligent, inquisitive, loyal, courageous, a bloody good kisser, he makes me comfortable simply with his presence, he will take my venom and spit it back at me without a second thought and without adding fangs to the situation, he is far more cynical than he would ever admit, and he's adorable when he tries to dance."

"Oi! 'Tries' to dance?"

"He also can't do more than a mediocre waltz to save his life, but his enthusiasm makes up for his lack of skill."

"Oh, gee, thanks a lot, Sev. You stepped on my foot first."

"Only because you left it where you oughtn't have."

"Why in Hell were you dancing with my godson?"

"He asked me to teach him before the Yule Ball, and again several months later."

"Why did he ask you again?" Black folded his arms, his eyes hooded and dark.

"I don't you. You'll have to ask him. Although the three-hundred Galleon brandy I gave him might have had something to do with it."

"You got him drunk," Black snarled, halfway pushing himself out of his chair. "You were going to get him so pissed he couldn't think and then take adva--"

"I had only intended to prevent him dying of pneumonia. It was unusually cold in the dungeons and the silly boy had left his cloak in his dormitory."

"It was nearly thirty degrees that afternoon!" Harry said.

"And nearly ten below zero that night. Blue lips are not attractive, Mister Potter."

"Fucking Hell," Black muttered. "So you have been lusting after him all this time."

"No. That became obvious significantly more recently."

"How recently?"

"Since he died."

Black shuddered. "You're a sick, sick bastard, Snape. Necrophilia and paedophilia all in one go."

"Harry is neither dead nor, in my estimation, a child. Whatever the law says about his age was written with others in mind. As he said, he has been expected to be a fully-fledged wizard nearly all his life, and it would be insulting to treat him as anything else."

Black snorted. "Goddammit. I can't even argue with this cack in my system."

Severus smiled wickedly. "That is perhaps the most pleasing thing I have ever heard you say, Black."

"Oh, shut up."

"Given the potion we share at this time, that is far easier said than done."

"I hate you."

"Why do you hate me?"

A long shudder went through Black's body. "You bastard. Because you were an ugly, smart-mouthed kid who wouldn't blindly believe anything I told you. And you were a Slytherin. After everything my parents told me about Slytherins, how was I supposed to not hate you?" He hunched. "And because you're cleverer than me, dammit. I was supposed to be the cleverest one in the school and you had me beaten by spades. Only made it worse that you didn't flaunt it."

"So my intelligence automatically gave you the right to torment me however you saw fit?"

"You have no idea how much I hate you, Snape. No, it didn't, but I couldn't handle having my ego deflated so I chose to pick on you, and my friends followed my lead."

Severus snorted. "You sad little man. I would apologise for being more intelligent than you, but I frankly don't like you enough to give you that quarter."

"And you stole Eloise Abernathy out from under me in fifth year. That didn't help."

Severus turned to grin at him. "Unless your birthday is several months earlier than I know it to be, you never had her under you at all."

"Severus..." Albus warned.

Snape sat back in his chair. "Forgive me, Albus. Veritaserum hasn't gained its reputation for nothing."

"Nor have you. If anyone could execute self-control in this situation, it would be you."

He couldn't argue. "I'm sorry, sir."

Albus nodded. He turned to Black. "Is there anything else you'd like to ask, Sirius?"

"What are his intentions towards Harry?"

Severus lifted his eyebrows thoughtfully. "If you mean in the long-term overall plan, I wish for him to be happy and to have a fuller life than he has, until now, been allowed. If you mean what my intentions towards him are for today, as soon as we leave this office I plan to take him down to my rooms so that we can figure out what it is two men can do with each other."

"Thanks a lot, Severus," Harry muttered through his teeth. He'd gone far too red to be good for him, and his hand was burning.

"Oh, my god," Black said in a strained voice. "Harry, you can't... you wouldn't..."

"I would and I will and I want to and there's nothing you can do to change my mind." Harry was still red and growling through his teeth, but his words were firm and his voice willful.

"Bloody... I didn't even know you fancied blokes!"

"Neither did I. Neither did Severus."

"I have to say that this is a deviance for me as well," Severus said, eyes focused on the edge of Dumbledore's desk.

"So what you're saying is you're going to use him for your twisted curiosity and then drop him for the first woman to catch your eye."

Severus sighed. "Are you that thick, Black, or simply that opposed to the possibility that I might be telling the truth while under Veritaserum?"

"Goddammit. I'm opposed to the possibility. Would you stop that?"


Black growled. "You lecherous arsehole. Are you trying to tell me you're going to stay with him in a little white house surrounded by hedgerows forever and ever?" Black said sarcastically. "Ugh. I need to rinse my mouth out after that."

"Harry and I shall see when the time comes. For now, I have no intentions of leaving him for any reason. Including you." Snape's eyes narrowed.

"And I want to stay with him," Harry added firmly.

"But I'm still your legal guardian," Black said. "If I say no, then it stands."

"Sirius," Dumbledore asked softly, "do you have any reasons beyond personal spite to demand that Harry and Severus be separated?"

"He's still legally a child."

"In any other case I would agree with you. Given that he has not only done everything expected of him and more - things that would have turned most grown wizards to jelly - but been to the grave and back, I am willing to make an exception. He's earned the right to make his own decisions."

Black frowned. Hanging his head, he mumbled, "I don't want to see my only godson get hurt."

"Nor do I," Severus said.

"If I get hurt, it's my own decision," Harry snapped. "You say I've earned the right to make them, and that's what I've decided."

Black blinked. "You honestly want this son of a bitch to hurt you."

"I want to be with him. If I get hurt, I get hurt."

"And I suppose when that happens you'll come crawling back to me."

Harry shrugged.

"There's no possible way I'm going to change your mind before you've been tossed out like a melted cauldron."

Hiding between his shoulders, Harry shook his head rapidly. Severus squeezed his hand.

Black's mouth pursed. He chewed his lip, hard. Leaning across the arm of his chair, he pointed a blunt finger at Snape, eyes narrowed and skin taut and grey. "The moment I find you've laid a single finger on him, I'm going to make sure you suffer ten times what he's suffered, and I'm going to enjoy doing it."

Severus blinked at the finger hovering inches from his nose. "Does that mean you're offering him alternate sanctuary?"

Black shuddered. "Of course it does, you heartless bastard. Do you honestly think I'd leave my own godson to fend for himself?"


Black growled. "We Gryffindors protect our own."

Severus placed his chin atop his fingertips. Very quietly, he said, "Peter Pettigrew."

"Was only in Gryffindor because he begged the Sorting Hat not to put him in Slytherin. His parents would have killed him."

Harry shrank oddly at that statement. Dumbledore glanced at him with an edge of worry before raising an un-amused eyebrow at Black. "This is neither the time nor the place to snipe about House loyalties. Severus was in Slytherin, and I would trust him with my life before most, possibly any, members of any other House."

Black opened his mouth as if to snarl at him. The stern blue gaze stopped him. Pursing his mouth he glanced sidelong at Snape again. "I promise you, if you hurt him, I'll make sure it comes out of your flesh."

"Given that Harry is one of the most powerful wizards currently living, I don't think I'd have the chance to hurt him. However, I give you my word that I shan't raise a finger to him without sufficient cause."

Black started to get up from his chair.

"Sirius, sit down, please." Albus spoke softly but sharply. "I believe you'd better understand Severus' reasons for giving such a clause if you heard them from me."

"Albus, the moment Harry accidentally knocked over one of his precious potions he could--"

"I would not hurt him for something as trivial as a potion. Any potion." To punctuate, Severus lifted Harry's hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it softly. "I can think of very little that would cause me to intentionally harm him."

Harry slumped back in his seat, frowning crookedly. "I want my own life, Sirius."

Black took a deep breath and let it out his nose in one hard go. "Your parents would be disappointed, Harry."

Harry blinked. He turned his head a few degrees towards Black. "I don't think they would. They might not be happy, but I don't think they'd be disappointed. I think they'd have let me decide for myself what I do about it."

Black ran a hand through his short black hair. It was starting to turn steely at the temples, only a few strands but enough to betray his years of unjust confinement. Severus' own nine days in Azkaban had been enough to embitter him beyond recognition; he shuddered at the thought that he and Black shared some sickening common experience. Or two, mind - they'd both lost Harry as well.

"Get out of here, Harry," Black said, low and defeated. "I'll have the house-elves send your things to your room." He snorted. "I hadn't even unpacked... kept hoping for a miracle... looks like you found one." He sneered weakly. His mouth closed and sealed; he leaned back in his chair and didn't move.

Harry squeezed Severus' hand and shook free from his grasp. Silently, he got up, leaned forward, and wrapped his arms around his godfather. Black returned it, patting him between the shoulder blades.

"Going to stay for a few days?" Harry asked.

Black nodded. He didn't speak.

Harry kissed him on the forehead. "I'm going to go with Severus now, but I promise I'll be okay."

"You'd better. I don't think I could stand to go to your funeral a second time."

Harry snorted softly. "I don't think it'll come up."

Black looked at him questioningly, but Albus spoke up. "Go on, you two. Sirius and I have things we need to discuss."

Harry gave his godfather a last squeeze and straightened up. He held out a hand to Severus, who took it and allowed himself to be pulled from the chair.

The ride down the staircase was unusually silent, and devoid of affection save a steady, clinging embrace.


Severus remained in his dungeons, alone and silent, until four in the afternoon. There came a soft knocking on the door and Albus' voice calling, "It's time."

He pushed himself out of his chair, made certain his hair covered his face enough to hide the greyish marks left by uppity, unstoppable tears, and Severus went to face what felt like the end of his world.


"He's still in Professor Dumbledore's office." Harry was stretched out on the hearthrug, wearing fresh robes. His chin rested on one balled fist, an old and detailed parchment map of the school in his outstretched hand. He absently kicked at the air.

"Hmm." Severus ignored the book in his hands to watch his miracle. His brain was still a bit fuzzy, but the majority of Veritaserum effects had worn off.

"D'you reckon he'll come down here once he leaves?" Harry rolled over and looked up at Severus, arms splayed on the rug above his head. His brow was furrowed pensively, and the fire made his wild hair come alive with dancing autumn colours.

"I strongly doubt it. From his behaviour, I think your godfather wishes to remain as far from whatever we may be doing as possible."

Harry snorted. "Wasn't very happy, was he?"

"No more than I imagine your friends would be."

Harry frowned. He shrugged noncommittally and held the map over his face. He sighed. "They'll get used to it."

"Will they?"

Harry opened his mouth. Nothing came out and he closed it again. After a long moment, he muttered, "Hope so."

"Hmm. Much the way I feel about my colleagues."

Harry blinked and dropped the map. "I hadn't thought of that," he said softly. The cartilaginous lump in his throat jumped as he swallowed. "You're not going to have too many friends left, either, are you?"

"Enough. Filch spends enough time leering at anyone who meets his eye to know better than to judge me. I imagine Hagrid couldn't hate anyone you cared for. Professor Flitwick is a soppy-eyed romantic whom I imagine shall treat me like the dashing hero of one of his Mills and Boon novels."

"You're joking. Flitwick reads that trash?"

"With great gusto. He even coerced me to give it a go once."

Harry stared at him, one eye squinted and his mouth hanging open, leaning up on his elbows. "Who are you, and what have you done with Severus Snape?"

Snape snorted. "He described it as a 'militant historical epic'. I believe I got two pages into the thing before I cursed it to leap up and bite his nose the moment I gave it back. Took Poppy twenty minutes to pry the thing loose."

"Now that's just cruel. How could you do that to poor little Professor Flitwick?"

"The same way he affixed rabbit ears to my head over the whole of Easter holiday the first three years I came to teach. Turn your back on the man for a moment and he'll cast some practical joke to turn the Weasley twins green. In fact," he said thoughtfully with a hint of a smile, "I believe he did just that their second year."

"Are you serious?"

"No. He restricts his hijinks to the staff."

Harry let go a breath. "God, wake up from the dead and the next thing I know Flitwick's as bad as Fred and George and I know all about McGonagall's underpants."

"Would you care to hear the rest of the interesting details about your former teachers?"

"No! Well..." Harry grinned sheepishly. "Trelawney, maybe?"

"Besides being an insufferable hoax artist with a taste for bad incense?"

"Yeah, I knew that already."

Severus opened his mouth with a small, moist sound. "If she ever tries to invite you up to reminisce on old times and foresee new ones, run as fast as you can the other direction. My second year teaching, I barely escaped with my robes or my life."

"She tried to...?"

"Like a queen in heat."

Harry shuddered. "Thanks. I'll remember that." He lay back on the floor. His student robes draped him loosely, outlining his small, slight body. After years of heavy Hogwarts food he still looked like he'd been half-starved for most of his life and had never quite recovered. In the arrhythmic light of the hearth he seemed young, vulnerable, as if he needed to be protected, not at all like the saviour of the wizarding world. Blinking sadly, Severus dropped his unread book on the table next to him and fell to his knees beside Harry. Harry's eyes followed him, wide with surprise, but he said nothing.

Severus gently traced the outline of his waist, his hip, back up to his ribcage. "Would you care to dance?" he murmured.

Harry nodded eagerly. He re-folded that damnable map and stuck it in his pocket before pushing himself to a sitting position. Severus' hand was still on his side. Harry almost gingerly wrapped it in his fingers - rough with Quidditch calluses and oddly tapered - and parted his lips with a low sound. His tongue darted out and moistened the pink surfaces. Severus leaned forward and gently pressed his own against them, the slightly sticky flesh clinging to his when he pulled away.

Harry rested his head on Severus' shoulder for a moment. "I'll push the chairs away," he murmured as he started to get up. A hand on his knee stopped him.

"I think we'll have enough room. I didn't intend for this to be a lesson."

Green eyes studied him quizzically before crinkling in a smile. "All right."

They more or less pulled each other to their feet. Harry staggered slightly and very nearly tripped into the hearth. Severus caught him by the robe. "Do you think, given the opportunity, you might keep your balance long enough for me to turn on the wireless? I understand it's very difficult for you to do so this close to the ground, but I fear I've never perfected the art of dancing on broomsticks."

Harry held up two fingers and sneered mockingly. "Ha, ha, so funny I think I'm going to break something."

"Yes, your skull, at this rate. I do have to wonder what sort of damage it would do to an immortal creature." Severus sniggered and sidestepped as Harry smacked his flank. It impacted, but he ignored it in favour of powering up the old cathedral-style wireless on the mantel. Its yellow lights slowly awoke, and a brief hiss of static made way for a refined, deep voice announcing some interview or other coming next. Frowning, he fiddled with the knob until he reached the WWN. Low violin strains played, sweet and lilting and wrenchingly familiar.

"I've heard this before," Harry said. "What's it called?"

"'Unchained Melody', the Arborus Keddle version I think. Horribly melodramatic song, but it will do."

"I like it."

Severus smirked softly and kissed Harry atop the head. "I've no problems with the melody, but the lyrics are... you'll see." He put a hand on Harry's waist, the other behind his shoulder, and felt a little thrill of contentment run through him when Harry draped both arms around his neck.

The haunting music urged him into a slow, easy sway. Harry's cheek came to rest against his shoulder. Severus found himself dropping his own cheek in Harry's hair. Something felt strange, unfamiliar, yet nagged at his brain from the past. He slid his hands down to the small of Harry's back, folding them there. Living warmth saturated him, the sweet scent beneath the rest of the smells that were his Harry's filling his nose, his mouth, his body, filling voids he hadn't known were there. The suddenness of it all smacked his brain and with a silent mental cry of triumph he realised that he felt complete.




For the first time in more than twenty years.

Behind him, the violins reached a mellifluous crescendo and settled, making way for a masculine voice, low and tender and aching. The words settled into his brain at some level, but the power there, the sense of loss and longing, sent a shiver through his limbs and caused small tears to well up at the corners of his eyes. He turned his face to hide it in Harry's hair. The feeling of that rumpled hair, the heat and the coarse softness of it, the sensation of hands around his neck anchored him in light of the memories that came unbidden to his brain.

"What are you thinking about?" Harry asked softly.

Severus swallowed. He hadn't realised that his nose had swollen with his tears until he croaked, "My sister, what she'd be doing if she hadn't... if I'd rai... if she were still alive. And my mother. And you," he finished in a wet whisper.

The arms tightened around him, all but knotting around his neck. "Are they why you left the Death Eaters?"

"One, yes. They were certainly what finally caused me to abandon that particular path."

Harry gave a sudden shudder. "What's wrong?" Severus whispered into his hair.

Harry shook his head. "You'll get upset with me."

"I won't."

"Yes, you will. I'm already upset with myself about it, and it doesn't affect me nearly as much."

"Harry, tell me."

Harry shook his head again, burying his face in Severus' chest. He took a hard, harsh breath. "I'm glad you were a Death Eater," he said in a strained voice.

Severus froze. "Why?" he asked edgily. A coal of anger started to burn in his stomach.

Harry swallowed hard enough for Severus to feel it. "Because if you hadn't been you might have died, too. And you also wouldn't have been there to distract Voldemort, and you'd never have been able to bring me back, and I wouldn't be here right now and I don't think I've ever been as alive as I am now, not even on the pitch." He took a shuddering breath. "And you wouldn't have tried to stop my mum and dad being killed, even if it didn't work."

The coal of anger turned to a lump of icy regret. "Harry, you're taking the most wicked thing anyone could ever do and making it a virtue. That choice... I'm not a good man, I've known that for a long time and you're trying to make me into one."

Harry sniffled and angled his head to wipe his nose on his shoulder. "I think you are. If you hadn't joined them, you couldn't have done all those good things. And I wouldn't be with you right now."

"You might be with your mother and father."

Harry gave a little shrug. "And I might not have them or you."

"For an immortal, you're awfully determined to live in the moment."

"It's what I've got right now. Might as well enjoy it."

Severus snorted softly, smirking crookedly. "Harry?"


"Kiss me."

Harry's head shifted. A moment later, he looked up at Severus, glasses foggy and nose red. Severus reached up and pulled off the glasses, letting them dangle between two fingers. Harry blinked. A scant moment later he leaned up and touched his lips to Severus'. They were hot and salty and parted easily, just enough to taste his breath. Hands crept into Severus' long hair, tangling with its heavy curtain, tugging his head closer.

Severus pressed his tongue against Harry's lower lip, begging invite. Harry's mouth parted, and he caressed the inside of Severus' with more enthusiasm than skill. Severus, with a hint of amusement, pushed the invading tongue back and gave him a demonstration of slow, worshipful laving, wetness and warmth and wonder and the sensation of hot breath skittering across his cheek. Harry whimpered and clutched tightly at his neck.

Severus wrapped his arms tightly around Harry's narrow back. It was an odd sensation, the slenderness and lithe agility. He'd never made any secret that he preferred his partners curvy, smooth and heated and classic. While the slenderness wasn't immediately appealing in itself, the person living inside that body most certainly was. He ran a hand over the plane of Harry's back, feeling the jut of a scapula and the tension of young muscle. He stopped his downward slide at the last flat plane, just before the muscle curved outward, began running it back up. Harry freed an arm, reached behind him, and pulled Severus' hand down until it cupped his backside.

The blatant invitation sent a jolt of heat up Severus' arm, through his chest, splitting to settle in his pelvis and cause a sticky layer of sweat to break out on his face. He moaned into Harry's mouth, against that soft, curious, eager tongue. His eyes hung half-open, and the world was misty through a veil of dark lashes.

Harry broke away, panting. His upper lip was beaded with sweat, and the rest of his skin shone with it. Severus brushed the beads away with his lips, inciting a little cry and a sharp shudder against him. Something rigid pressed urgently against his thigh through layers of cloth. He squeezed Harry's backside gently, triggering another cry, this one lower and almost a moan, and effectively halting via shock the subtle, unconscious motion of Harry's hips.

"I want you," Harry whimpered. His arms hung, almost limp, around Severus' neck, their bodies still swaying slightly to the wireless.

Severus kissed him softly and briefly on the lips. "Would you like to see the bedroom?"

Harry nodded. His dilated eyes were sleepy with desire. He glanced around the sitting room, eyes stopping on the bedroom door. Severus took him by the hand and led him towards it.


The casket sat, open, at the front of the Great Hall. Staff and students alike, not to mention mourners from all over the wizarding world, shuffled past it, some glancing silently and hurrying away while others lingered, many of them wracking with grief. Severus arrived late enough that only a handful of mourners fell in behind him. It gave him a great deal of time to stand and shuffle and think. Standing and shuffling were all fine and good, but thinking left him with an aching, empty, icy core; the fact that he could share it with no-one only made the chill grow worse.

The hysterical Ravenclaw in front of him took one look in the casket and started howling. A couple of his House-mates led him away. They looked slightly embarrassed, but nobody said anything. Severus paused to watch them. A part of him desperately needed that openness. Nobody would have believed him, though, and the last thing he needed was to be accused of taking the piss at his beloved's funeral.

Hands hidden in the recesses of his cloak, Severus closed his eyes and turned his face towards the casket. He let them flutter open slowly. A shiver ran unchecked through his body. Harry was still, if anything even more still than he'd been just after he'd died. His skin was waxy and his lips held a tinge of blue. It would have been such a simple matter to fetch the brandy, hold a snifter to those blue lips, urge Harry to drink until the colour returned and his eyes opened--

Severus stormed away from the casket, cloak billowing. The crowd shirked from him. A hiss went up as students whispered lies, whispered how happy Professor Snape was now that Harry Potter was cold and dead, how furious he was that he'd not gotten to kill the boy himself. He ignored them, ignored every single last one of them, lest he bellow the truth for the whole of the wizarding world to hear.

Next to the enormous oak door, he wrapped his arms around himself, hiding them beneath his black cloak. Nobody saw the tears run slowly and silently down his face behind his heavy curtain of hair. At least, he didn't think anyone did, and if they had they were too polite to mention it.

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