Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine; hardly anything of this is mine. They all belong to JKR, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros and probably lots of other people who all aren't me. Oh, and I'm not making any money out of this either. Unfortunately.
Warnings | Fanfic | Email | Recs | Livejournal | Guest Authors

Albus was away the morning the Shrieking Shack went up in flames.

With a new Dark Lord on the rise, the Ministry had been quick to ask for his help. He had gone to London for a fortnight to meet with a number of Aurors and high Ministry officials, and left the school in Minerva McGonagall's capable hands. Minerva fire-called him early Tuesday evening with the news that the Shrieking Shack had burned to the ground that morning in a mysterious fire. She assured him that Remus Lupin was unharmed; there had been a full moon the previous night, but apparently Mr Lupin's friends, James Potter and Sirius Black, had gone to the Shack early in the morning to retrieve their friend. They had only just been able to rescue him from the flames. She told him Poppy had met them at the Whomping Willow and treated the three of them for light burns and smoke-inhalation.

While the loss of such a perfect place for Remus Lupin's monthly transformations was most unfortunate, he and Minerva both agreed that, with a month before the next full moon, they would be able to make some alternative arrangements. It was fortunate that Remus had such good friends; Albus was still pleased when he remembered how the young werewolf had told him that his friends had discovered his secret and did not hate him for it. He made a mental note to find a way to covertly award Gryffindor some extra points when he returned.

Minerva said she and Filius had not found anything out of the ordinary that might have caused the fire, and they guessed that it must have been a bit of stray magic, or perhaps a side-effect of Mr Lupin's condition. Spontaneous fires were uncommon, but they were known to happen. Albus agreed that they would have to take precautions in case it did indeed have something to do with Remus' lycanthropy.

Because nobody had been seriously hurt, and there was thus no need for the headmaster to return, he remained in London with Alastor and the other Aurors to discuss the threat from Voldemort.

Thursday morning, Marcus Maynard - the Head of Slytherin House - fire-called Albus to inform him that one of the Slytherins had gone missing: sixth year Severus Snape. Marcus was adamant that it wasn't a boyish prank or something similar. Snape was truly missing, and most likely had been for at least two days. Albus took his leave from the newly named Order of the Phoenix, and return to Hogwarts immediately.

Apparently Snape had last been seen early Monday evening as he left the Slytherin common room. His absence from class was noticed on Tuesday, but merely resulted in a loss of points for truancy. His fellow Slytherins had grumbled, and been ready to talk to Snape about House responsibility as soon as he showed himself. However, when he remained absent from classes on Wednesday (and the loss of points was beginning to affect Slytherin's chances in the race for the House Cup), a Slytherin prefect finally brought the fact that Snape's bed had not been slept in since Sunday to the attention of her Head of House.

The staff had questioned the students and done a search of the castle and the grounds. Hagrid had gone into the Forbidden Forest to look for the missing student and asked the centaurs whether they had seen him, but this had revealed nothing more than that Snape had last been seen slipping out of the castle at ten o'clock Monday evening. Minerva and Marcus had decided to give Snape one more night to return before they bothered the headmaster, as they both knew the importance of his visit to London. When Snape was still missing Thursday morning, Marcus had called him.

More than a week had passed since then, and still there was no trace of the missing Slytherin. Albus had contacted Snape's father to tell him of his son's disappearance, but the elder Snape had seemed neither worried nor distressed. Albus knew Ignatius Snape's reputation - the Order suspected that he was a follower of Voldemort. Although he feared that Snape had somehow been caught in the Dark Lord's net, something about that just did not ring true. It was not Riddle's style, and why would he be interested in a sixth year student? Albus sighed, and hoped that they would not one day find the boy behind a white mask.

And now he was standing in the remains of the Shrieking Shack. The fire had been intense, and only a lot of ash and a few charred beams remained. There was a trace of magic in the air, but it was too faint to determine its nature exactly: too much time had passed. This had been Albus' first opportunity to come out here and check the ruins.

He had of course questioned Remus Lupin, James Potter and Sirius Black on whether they might have seen Snape. A fire and a disappearance all in the same night, it was too much of a coincidence not to follow up. However, James and Sirius had both sworn they had not seen the Slytherin, and Remus had been too unwell to notice anything he had said.

The ashes smudged his boots and the hem of his bright red robes. Albus gave his surroundings one last searching look. He was wasting his time here. Snape had run off to join the Dark Lord, or - if they and the boy were lucky - to seek his fortune elsewhere. Wherever he was, he was not here.

As Albus stepped forward to leave the charred ruin, his foot hit something, sending it skidding away. He paused and bent down to pick the object up. A long and thin piece of wood. One end was jagged, as if it had been snapped in two, and it was burnt beyond recognition.

Albus turned the stick around in his fingers, closing his eyes for a moment. His hand tightened around the wood, and he suddenly needed to get away from the suffocating stench of ash and fire. He decided against his original plan to walk back to the castle. The weather was fine and perfect for a stroll, but he did not have the time for it. Instead, he apparated easily through Hogwarts' wards straight into his chambers and dropped the piece of wood onto his desk. He would think about it later. For now, he needed a change of clothes. There was a staff meeting in a few hours that he needed to prepare for.

It started with a whisper: a soft susurration just below Albus' hearing. He would wake up in the middle of the night positive that he had heard someone speaking. However, his rooms were empty, and when he checked his wards they had not been breached. It started with a whisper, and at first Albus paid it no heed.

Voldemort kept him preoccupied. The Dark Lord was steadily gaining followers, and the Order had so far been unable to infiltrate the Death Eater ranks.

Then there was Sirius, James and Remus' strange behaviour. Albus could not help noticing that Remus Lupin had taken to avoiding his friends and spending an inordinate amount of time in the library. He was quieter than before, and it was obvious that he was having trouble sleeping. Albus found himself sadly waiting for the day Remus came to him to ask to be relieved of his prefect duties. Sirius and James were closer than ever, and were trying to break through Lupin's self-imposed isolation. Albus watched them close ranks, excluding, Peter, the fourth Gryffindor in their year, who seemed at a loss to understand what had occurred between his friends.

Marcus Maynard helped Minerva and Albus with the preparations for Remus' monthly transformation. They set up a room in the dungeons with a hidden corridor so that the boy would not risk running into any Slytherins or other students. After his first transformation since the Shrieking Shack burnt down, Poppy reported that Remus' wounds afterward had been more severe, more savage, than after previous moons.

Another month - and another moon - passed, and still there was no word of the missing Severus Snape. The consensus among the students was that, although no body had been found, Snape had sneaked out into the Forbidden Forest and fallen victim to one of the wild creatures there. Albus was quite sure this was untrue, and tried not to think about yet another of his Slytherins in Death Eater garb, but did nothing to discourage the rumour. Albus hoped that it would make students think twice before breaking the rule about entering the Forest unsupervised. By the end of the school year, it was as if Severus Snape had never attended Hogwarts.

Albus was busy with the Order and often away, leaving Minerva to run the school with the other Heads of House, so at first he hardly noticed the nightly disturbance in his quarters. However, as the term drew to a close, he was back at Hogwarts and busy with the preparations for the taking and marking of OWLS and NEWTS. By then the whispering had increased, and Albus once again checked his wards for any breaches, finding none. His private rooms were devoid of portraits, so that could not be the cause. He had also long ago set up special wards to prevent any ghosts from entering his rooms and disturbing his privacy. The whispering was annoying, but hardly seemed dangerous, and Albus continued to ignore it, chalking it up as just another of the castle's little quirks.

On the night before the Leaving Feast, however, the cause of the whispering finally revealed itself. Albus was sleeping soundly in his bed, with Fawkes on his perch near the window, when a piercing shriek shocked the headmaster awake. Heart pounding, he shot up in bed, wand pointing at the source of the disturbance and a curse ready. The hex died on his lips when he saw Severus Snape standing at the foot of his bed.

The Slytherin was screaming and trying to fight off some invisible attacker. His student robes were torn open, ghostly silver blood splattering the floor and Albus' duvet as Snape was torn apart before his eyes.

"No! No! Help me! Somebody help me! Merlin, I'm going to die! Help me!"

The boy shrieked as something latched onto his arm and mauled the flesh. His screams ended in a horrific gurgle when invisible teeth sank into his throat and ripped it out. For a moment, the boy stood silently in front of Albus, staring down at his mutilated body in horror. His eyes rose to meet Albus', and he opened his mouth to speak. Then the vision faded, and with it, the blood and gore that had sprayed across the room and even splattered Albus' beard.

Heart still pounding from fright, Albus raked his hands through his beard in a nervous gesture he had not been guilty of in years. Well, that explained the whispering. Not to mention what had happened to the unfortunate Slytherin.

Albus buried his head in his hands, fighting down the bitter laugh that was trying to claw its way up his throat; people would have been astounded to see the headmaster so off balance. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, concentrating on calming his rapid heartbeat.

All the implications of what he had just witnessed churned in Albus' mind, but he put off looking at the ugly truth, and instead, wondered how the young ghost had managed to get past his wards and into his rooms. Then he remembered the stick - which he now realised was a wand - he had found in the ruins of the Shrieking Shack. With a quick 'Lumos' Albus got out of bed and walked over to his desk. Underneath a pile of paperwork, forgotten because of his preoccupation with the school and Voldemort, lay the charred remains of Severus Snape's wand. He picked it up, but he felt it burning his fingers and he dropped it quickly with a hiss, blisters already forming on his fingers. The late Slytherin apparently resented the headmaster touching his wand. Albus slumped into a chair and levitated the broken wand onto his desk.

How could he have been so blind? Albus rubbed tiredly at his eyes. No. He had not been blind. He had ignored the truth, had deceived himself and looked past the hints and the clues and the evidence. He had not wanted to believe it, but now that the truth of what had really happened to Snape was clear. And if he were honest with himself, he was not very much surprised. At some level, he had known all along. Albus closed his eyes again. Please let it have been an accident, he thought to himself with little hope.

There was a flutter of wings, and Fawkes landed on the chair's armrest. Albus met the red and golden bird's worried gaze with a small smile and fondly patted his familiar. He sighed. Until morning there was little he could do. There was no point in rousing the three Gryffindors from their beds and attracting Minerva's attention. He wanted to speak to them alone first, before he decided what he was going to do.

His thoughts wandered to the ghost. It took time for a spirit to gather enough strength to appear. Oftentimes, it was years before they became more than a cold breeze in a room or a prickling sensation at the back of your neck. He assumed that the apparition's strength was in part due to its violent death, and the fact that its killers had so far gone free. Nevertheless, it was still remarkable that Snape had managed to manifest himself so quickly. Albus wondered what they had lost with Severus Snape's death.

Whatever the case, unless he did something about it, the ghost was going to return, for longer and stronger each time, without doubt also drawing on the power of its own wand. It was not unusual that a spirit became bound to an inanimate object, using it as an anchor to stay within the world of the living, but this was the first time Albus had heard of a wand - such a personal magical object - serving as an anchor. His ever inquisitive mind was already wondering what kind of consequences this would have for the spirit's powers: would it be able to use magic?

A decisive shake of his head brought Albus back to the present. He was tired, and thinking about the problem now would not be productive. The ghost had obviously used up all its energy and would not be appearing again tonight, nor any time in the near future. Albus would decide what to do in the morning, after he confronted Lupin, Black and Potter.

Albus went to breakfast early the next morning. He sat at the head table and chatted with Filius and Iris, who were both early risers. Surreptiously he kept an eye on the Gryffindor table, and as expected Remus Lupin was one of the first to arrive.

As the boy silently picked at his breakfast one of the school owls flew in through the open doors and landed on the table next to him, extending its leg for the Gryffindor to untie the letter. Lupin paused, then took the letter and opened it. All the blood seemed to drain from his face as he read the short missive; his eyes shot up to meet the headmaster's. Albus returned the boy's gaze calmly. A pained look crossed Lupin's face, and he stuffed the letter in one of the pockets of his robe. He stood up and left the Hall, his breakfast mostly untouched, and not long thereafter Albus' wards alerted him that Lupin had made his way to his office.

Soon after that, Potter and Black entered the Great Hall, Pettigrew trailing behind them. Shortly after they had seated themselves and started on a large breakfast, another two school owls flew into the Great Hall and landed next to them, carrying an identical missive to the one that Lupin had received. Pettigrew tried to read over Potter's shoulder and to his surprise was violently shoved away. The two boys made a point of not looking in the headmaster's direction, although Albus caught Potter's glance as they left a confused Pettigrew at the Gryffindor table and hurried out of the Hall, to Albus' office.

Albus calmly finished his tea and conversation. The Hall was filling up with students now, and more owls swept through the air, carrying notes and parcels. He took his leave of the Charms and Herbology professors and left through the staff entrance. Nobody noticed his departure any more than that of the three Gryffindors a few minutes earlier.

He used the private staircase to his own rooms, and paused at the door to his office. Potter and Black were arguing with Lupin.

"He doesn't know, Remus; he can't know. Don't say anything and everything will be fine. I promise," Black said.

"Just shut up, Sirius. Shut up! It's not going to be all right. Snape is dead and -"

Albus chose that moment to open the door and walk into his office. The three Gryffindors immediately fell silent, each avoiding the headmaster's gaze. Lupin stood near the fireplace with his back to the other two, hugging his chest as if for warmth; Potter and Black stood next to one another in front of his desk, looking at everything but each other or the headmaster. Albus took the burnt and broken wand from the pocket of his robe, and laid it on the table.

"Do any of you happen to recognize this?" he asked. Potter and Black paled. Lupin refused to look, hugging himself as he continued to stare into the empty, cold fireplace.

"I found it in the ruins of the Shrieking Shack."

The three Gryffindors remained silent, not moving and not meeting Albus' eyes.

"It is a wand; or the remains of one anyway." He paused again, but still there was no response. "Would you care to tell me whose?"

"It's Snape's." Lupin whispered into the silence.

"Remus -"

"Don't -"

Lupin spun around, his face contorted in a grimace of rage, or grief, or some other violent emotion.

"It's over, Sirius! No more lies, no more silence. Snape is dead and I killed him, I - oh, Merlin, I - I murdered him, I ate him, I -" Lupin fell to his knees, arms around his stomach as he started to retch and throw up what little breakfast he had eaten.

Black and Potter took a step toward him, but froze at the look on Albus' face. Albus hurried around his desk to the crying and retching Gryffindor; he knelt next to Lupin and rested a hand on his shoulder. Shivers racked through the boy's body and he looked up at Albus.

"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," he mumbled miserably.

"It wasn't Remus' fault," Potter and Black protested, but Albus ignored them.

He took Lupin's chin in his hand and forced the boy to look at him. His skill at legilimency was such that he did not even need to speak the spell, and he easily slipped into Lupin's mind.

It did not take much to find the memory. It was at the very front of the boy's mind, overshadowing practically everything else.

Waking up sated. Full and content and sticky. Red. In his mouth and everywhere he looked, and the horror as he realised the monster had killed; he had killed someone.

Remus, are you all right? Who was it? Who was it? Snape. But how - It doesn't matter - Sirius - We have to get him out of here - Don't worry - It wasn't your fault - I'm sorry, Moony. He didn't mean it. We have to burn the - Oh, Merlin I killed him, I killed Snape, I killed him - Did you get rid of the blood? Get him into the passage, James, I'll - Snape, I killed Snape, I killed him, I killed him, I killed him.

Albus broke the connection and pulled Remus into his arms, pressing the boy's face to his shoulder as he quickly and deftly wove a calming spell over the boy's mind. Slowly the sobs subsided enough for Albus to gently help Remus up and into a nearby chair. Absentmindedly, he waved his wand to clean up the mess on his carpet and his robes; then he grabbed some Floo powder from the jar beside the fireplace and threw it onto the grate as he called out for the Infirmary. The fire lit and Poppy Pomfrey's head appeared in the flames a few moments later.

"What is it, Albus?"

"I need you to come over here."

He didn't need to say anything else; the school nurse was already stepping into his office, her sharp eyes taking in her surroundings in search of the patient. "What is the matter?"

"Mr Lupin has become unwell. Could you take him to the Infirmary? Give him a calming draught and put him to bed; I will join you as soon as I can."

She glanced at the other two Gryffindors, but didn't ask any questions, instead helping a groggy and compliant Remus Lupin to his feet and then through the fireplace. Albus watched them go, and extinguished the flames after they'd left. He stood in front of the empty fireplace for a moment, his back to the remaining two students.

"Is - Is Remus going to be all right?" Potter stuttered.

Albus turned around very slowly. If they had had any doubt that the jovial old headmaster with the twinkling blue eyes was gone, it was dispelled that very moment. Here stood the wizard who had defeated Grindelwald only thirty years ago, who was rumoured to be the most powerful wizard of their age. Potter and Black stepped back, away from him. Black's eyes were fixed solidly on his feet and away from Albus', while Potter's gaze darted around the room.

"I am going to give you two one chance, and one chance only," Albus said in a quiet and menacing whisper. He pointed at the ruined wand on his desk. "Explain to me: why Severus Snape went to the Shrieking Shack? How did he know how to get past the Whomping Willow in the first place?"

"I don't know -" Black began to say, eyes now screwed tightly shut.


"He must have overheard Sirius and I talking, but we didn't realise until it was too late. I saw him walking across the grounds, so we went after him. I could hear them. He was screaming and Remus..." Potter gulped. "But it was an accident. We didn't mean it, right, Sirius?"

Black nodded, but Albus ignored him for the moment. Potter was sweating, and he looked up at the headmaster pleadingly.

You did what? We have to stop him, Padfoot! Moony will kill him, what were you thinking? Oh Merlin - Hurry! Please don't let it be too late, please don't let it be too late, please don't let it be too late - What are we going to do? Look at what you did! Let me - Of course he doesn't want to talk to us, Sirius - What were you thinking?

Albus looked away, and Potter stumbled, grasping the back of a chair for support. Albus glanced aside to Black, and the decision was made.

Potter's terrified gasp made Sirius look up, and they both jumped back when they saw Albus reach into his robes and take out his wand. Both boys' eyes widened in terror, but before they could speak or move Albus pointed it at Potter.


Potter blinked and looked around the room in confusion. Albus smiled genially, walking up to the boy and resting a hand on his shoulder as he ushered him toward the stairs.

"Your friend Mr Lupin is going to be just fine, James. Your concern is commendable, and I thank you for bringing this to my attention. Go easy on Mr Lupin tonight and tomorrow; these past few months have been trying for him, but I'm sure a summer at home will do him the world of good. Now run along, I believe the Gryffindor Quidditch team was going to have one final game for the year today, and as captain and Chaser you really should not be late. I am sure you will be able to find a suitable replacement for Mr Black. I just need to talk to him in private for a moment."

He waited until the gargoyle had closed the entrance to the staircase again before turning around to face Black. The boy had retreated to the wall and, even as he stared at Albus in terror, he made sure not to meet the headmaster's gaze. When Albus turned around, he was no longer smiling.

"Look at me, Sirius."

Black shook his head, his eyes once more screwed tightly shut.

"Look at me!"

"No. It was an accident, I swear!"

In two strides, he had Black pressed against the bookcase, his left hand gripping Black's jaw so hard it left bruises and his right hand pressing the tip of his wand to the boy's temple.


It was so simple; it was so easy. He had cornered Snape after Potions; the other Slytherins didn't care about him anyway. So you want to know about Remus, do you, Snivellus? Go to the Whomping Willow - There's a knothole - Use a long stick and the branches will stop and you'll find a passageway. Tonight, if you dare - Prongs, guess what I did. The best prank of the century, Snivellus is going to wet his pants!

Screams and Moony howling. Something hits the trapdoor with force and there's blood seeping through! This wasn't supposed to - Nobody can find out; we have to keep it a secret - Get rid of the blood - Clean Remus up and I'll take care of Snivellus - Run! Run, the fire -

Albus' lips twisted in disgust, and he released the boy, stepping away. Black slumped to the floor, nursing his jaw.

"It was an accident; I didn't mean it to happen. Just a prank," he muttered, and then looked up at Albus in desperation. "I had to do it. He was always sniffing around us, around Remus, trying to get us into trouble. The snivelling bastard. I just meant to scare him, teach him a lesson so that he would leave us, leave Remus alone. That's all. I didn't mean him to die, just scare the git enough to keep his oversized nose out of our business. It was supposed to be funny!"

Albus reached down and pulled the wretch up, practically throwing him into a nearby chair.

"Your prank cost a fellow student's life and endangered the life of another. According to Ministry Law Mr Lupin has to be put down: he has killed another wizard. The Ministry won't care that it wasn't his fault, that he had been locked away securely where he and the other students should have been safe, that it never would have happened if one of his friends hadn't decided it would be funny to lure another student there."

"You're not - You won't let them harm Remus, will you? Sir?"

Albus ignored him. "And didn't you even think of yourself? You knowingly and willingly led a boy to a place you knew a werewolf would be waiting for him. You would be lucky not to get the Kiss. Even if somehow you managed to avoid that, you would still be looking at a lifetime sentence with the Dementors in Azkaban. All because of some prank." He spat out the last word, and leaned down to whisper menacingly in the boy's ear.

"If the Ministry were to find out, there would be nothing I could do to save you or your friend."

Sirius looked aside, and understanding dawned.

"You're not going to tell them. That's why you Obliviated James." The relief in Sirius' voice was palpable. Albus nodded.

"I am, indeed, not going to tell the Ministry what happened. As far as they are concerned, Mr Snape ran away two months ago, never to be seen again. Rest assured: Mr Lupin will be safe. I promised his parents he would be able to attend school safely here, and he will."

A watery smile reached Sirius' lips, but disappeared when Albus clamped a hand around his arm, squeezing hard enough to leave bruises.

"Yes, Mr Lupin will be safe. I will cover up your crime, Sirius Black. However, do not think you will get away with it. You owe me, boy, and I will collect."

"Have you ever heard of the term Life Debt? If it were not for me, your friend - your boyfriend - would have had his head on the Ministry chopping block before lunchtime. If it were not for me, you would be enjoying the company of Dementors before nightfall. Your life is mine to dispose of now, Sirius Black. Don't you dare forget."

He roughly pulled the boy out of his chair and half threw him toward the door.

"Now get out of my sight! I will call you when I have a need for you. Before then I do not want to see you here, or even hear one word about you from your teachers. Do you understand me, boy?"

Sirius nodded, his face deadly pale.

"Well, get out!"

The Gryffindor turned on his heel and fled down the stairs. Albus caught the door before it slammed against the wall. He carefully closed it and sat down behind his desk. A tired sigh escaped him, and he wondered what to do with Remus Lupin. He could Obliviate the boy as he had Potter, but no… It was already clear that the wolf had been affected by its taste of human flesh, and the boy needed to be aware of that. He could trust Remus to keep quiet. He wasn't suicidal, and any word of what had happened would invariably end up with his head on the Ministry's chopping block.

In the meantime, Sirius Black owed him a Life Debt. The Blacks were influential, pureblood, and steeped in dark magic. There had been quite an uproar when young Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor. Albus laughed bitterly. He had had such high hopes for that boy.

There was no way this episode would not impact on the dynamics of the four Gryffindors: it was already clear that Remus wanted nothing to do with the others any more, and now that James had been obliviated, he and Pettigrew would be at a loss as to what had happened. Black was going to become at least somewhat estranged from his friends and an obvious target... It was widely known that Voldemort was recruiting from the young pureblood families; he would no doubt approach Sirius Black as well. And Sirius would accept the Dark Mark. Albus would make sure of that.

Albus sighed again, and then stood up. He had managed to glean at least some good from this awful situation, even if it meant that no true justice would be done for Snape. Taking some Floo powder from the jar, he lit a fire. He would consider what to do with Snape tomorrow when the students returned home. Now he needed to speak to Poppy and Remus, and then take care of the last little things for tonight's Leaving Feast.

Saturday afternoon, after the students boarded the train to London and as most of the staff started to do their own packing, Albus sat down in his room to contemplate his unexpected guest. There had been no manifestations the previous night - no whispering just below his hearing - but Albus could feel an ominous weight in the air. He knew it would not be long before Snape put in a second appearance. He sat in his comfortable chair, Snape's scarred and charred wand on the table in front of him. As the high summer sun shone through the window, Albus sipped his tea and stared at the slim piece of wood. Fawkes was perched on one of the chair's arms, and every now and then Albus would stroke the firebird's bright red and orange plumage.

What to do? He could destroy the wand, which would leave the spirit without a focus, and most likely without a means of staying within the world of the living. However, it was not unheard of that a spirit that was strong enough would be able to find its own back, and thus continue to haunt Albus and Hogwarts. If that happened he would no longer be bound to an anchor, and much harder to control. There were of course spells to prevent that: spells to ensure Severus Snape would be banished from the world of the living, and banished for good. Albus found that he was reluctant to do such a thing.

He knew he had wronged the boy, wronged one of his students, a child entrusted to his care. He did not regret his choice the previous day, and would do the same if given another chance. He could not let Remus Lupin suffer for Sirius Black's crime, even if it meant Snape's true killer was not punished as he should have been. Albus had only done what was necessary, and tried to make the best of a bad situation. He felt no remorse for his decision even as he regretted that it had been necessary. He did, however, feel for this unfortunate Slytherin.

Albus sighed. Would it not be better to set the spirit free? There were ways to force a spirit past the veil and away from the living. It would probably be best for the boy, not to mention the fact that keeping a trophy of the crime was not a clever thing to do. If anyone discovered Severus Snape's ghost… Well, Albus would be lucky if they only fired him. Covering up murder might even land him in Azkaban; it would definitely discredit him and cripple the fight against Voldemort.

Thus Albus spent the afternoon weighing his options, trying to decide on the right course of action. All rational arguments pleaded in favour of destroying the wand and banishing the spirit, but Albus was not always a rational man. He had once been a Gryffindor, and even though over the years he had grown to understand and appreciate the Slytherin mindset more and more, there was still a spark left of the predilection of his youth. In truth, he had wronged Severus Snape, and he should not wrong the boy's spirit a second time.

Decision made, Albus cast a spell to bind the spirit to its focus, making sure it could not escape. Then he redid his wards to prevent ghosts from not only entering but also leaving his rooms. He would allow Severus Snape to haunt him, but he was not about to take any chances of somebody discovering this particular skeleton in his closet. He levitated the wand onto one of the shelves of his bookcase and rested it next to his personal copy of 'The Thirteen Uses of Dragon's Blood.' The wards surrounding that tome would prevent any intruder - should they ever manage to make it past his wards - from noticing either manuscript or wand.

Afterwards, Albus scratched Fawkes behind his crest, and left his chambers to speak to the Heads of House and rest of the staff about what would have to be done over the summer months in preparation of the next school year. That night, when Severus Snape woke him from his sleep and relived his death at the foot of Albus' bed, the headmaster watched the boy, accepted that this burden was his penance.

The spirit's strength impressed Albus. By the beginning of the new school year, Snape would appear at least twice a week, and often during the daytime as well. After reliving its death, the ghost would stay manifested for longer and longer periods of time, at first only staring at the headmaster in confusion, and then later in anger and hatred. Albus bore the disturbance of his sleep with equanimity, although Fawkes did complain a bit. However, as Fawkes spent most of his days napping, Albus disregarded it.

He did not try reasoning with the ghost. After all, so far it had hardly been coherent for more than a few minutes, and that short time it spent cursing Albus. The disruption of his sleep did affect him for a while, and Minerva even remarked that he was looking particularly tired. However, after two months, Albus was able to just turn over and sleep through most of Snape's shrieking.

Nevertheless, there were certain limits to what Albus was prepared to suffer as penance for his actions. When he returned to his rooms one November afternoon to find them trashed, he did not hesitate to throw the somehow smug-looking wand into a drawer, and lock it and the spirit in there with the most secure of charms. Let Snape haunt the top drawer of his desk for a while.

Cleaning up his room, repairing the ripped duvet and restoring the books that had been thrown around, Albus could not help once more being impressed by the spirit's power and cunning. The ghost had not shown any signs of telekinesis before, or any indication that it might be able to manifest itself physically. Again, it was not unheard of that a ghost could do such a thing, but usually only after having haunted a place for, at the very least, a century or four. Furthermore, the ghost must have spent quite some time practising in anticipation of this attack on his rooms. Which meant that Snape had planned this, which in turn meant the ghost was regaining more of its consciousness, and not just reliving its death again and again.

Albus looked at Fawkes reproachfully for not stopping Snape from destroying his bedroom, or warning him about what the ghost was up to. However, the fickle phoenix ignored him, preening the feathers of his wings. Albus suspected he was going to have to watch out for the two of them. Fawkes could be quite mischievous when he set his mind to it, and if he and the ghost ever joined forces, Albus would never get any rest.

Almost a month passed and the Christmas holidays had arrived before Albus remembered to free Snape from his confinement. In his defence, he had been busy for the Order and away most of the time. But it had taught Snape a lesson, and that was what counted. When the ghost appeared that night, it merely manifested itself at the foot of Albus' bed, relived its death somewhat half-heartedly before disappearing with a glare. This time Albus wasn't so sure the ghost had really gone. He had a feeling Snape was still hanging about the room, invisible and observing him. Well, as long as the dead Slytherin did not destroy anything or disturb him, Albus would let him be.

The months passed, and on the eve of that year's Leaving Feast, Albus summoned Sirius Black to his office.

The Gryffindor had indeed kept a low profile for the past year, although his cockiness had been returning over the past few months. Any friendship with Remus Lupin, however, had been destroyed. The werewolf had secluded himself from his housemates, and spent most of his time hiding in the library. Potter had been disturbed by this development, but he and Black had stayed close. Albus had already heard of Black's plans to leave his family and find refuge with Potter.

However, that was not going to happen if Albus had anything to say about it.

Black was nervous, that much was obvious, but he also seemed rather confident. The lack of any other repercussions or punishment for his prank had no doubt served to lull him into a sense of security. Albus was about to burst that little bubble.

He made the boy sit in one of the chairs in front of his desk, but remained standing himself.

"You have completed your education here at Hogwarts, Mr Black. Congratulations."

"Thank you, sir," the boy said somewhat smugly.

He had done as Albus had demanded, kept his head down and even applied himself to his studies. Ever since Snape's disappearance, his grades had steadily gone up.

Albus allowed a small smile to play on his face.

"I am sure you remember the last time you were here, and what I said then?"

The boy nodded, warily.

"Good. Good. You see, Mr Black, Sirius, there is something I would like from you. Something I want you to do."

Albus paused for a moment and scratched Fawkes' head. The firebird leaned into the caress, and Albus noticed that it was paying attention to the conversation. Normally the phoenix would ignore Albus' business. Unusual.

"You will be returning to your family after tomorrow night?"

Black shook his head in denial. "No. Um. James has offered to let me stay with him."

Albus smiled genially, but his voice was like steel. "Oh, I apologize. Did I phrase that as a question? You will be returning to Grimmauld Place tomorrow night, Sirius."

"Sir?" There was alarm on the boy's face, and he watched the headmaster's every move as Albus left Fawkes and walked up to him.

Albus rested his hands on the arms of Sirius' chair and leaned forward. He brought his face down to Black's level, making the boy back away and press himself into the cushions.

"You belong to me, Sirius Black.

"You are responsible for the death of one of my students, and you recklessly endangered the life of another. You have not been punished, but do not think that means you will not pay. You will return to your parent's house, and you will live up to your family name, Mr Black.

"Yes, I know all about your family, Sirius. I know what will be waiting for you. Who will be waiting for you."

Sirius had become deathly pale, and was shaking his head in denial. "You don't understand, Headmaster .They'll want me to join You-Know-Who! They want me to become a Death Eater!"

"That's what I'm counting on, boy," Albus hissed. He gripped Black's left arm and shoved the boy's sleeve back, baring the pristine skin of his forearm. "You will return to me before the summer's end, and you will return to me with the Dark Mark burnt into your flesh.

"You owe me a Life Debt, Sirius Black, and I am ordering you to join Voldemort. You will pledge your allegiance to him, and then you will come to me, stealthily, and tell me all you learn. You will ingratiate yourself with Voldemort; you will win his trust and the trust of his closest servants. You will become one of his closest servants, and you will report everything you discover to me."

"No!" Sirius tried to pull his arm free from the headmaster's grip, but Albus merely grabbed his other hand and forced it onto the armrest as well. He caught the boy's legs between his own and held them tight, preventing Black from kicking him. Like most pureblood wizards, Black was not used to being physically restrained without the aid of magic, and Albus was well aware of the distress this caused. It also served to emphasize his own strength and remind the boy that, while Albus might be a very old man, he was not a wizard to be trifled with.

"I won't! You can't make me!"

Black was struggling to get free. His wand remained useless in one of the pockets of his robes, and Albus just tightened his hold on the boy's arms, leaving bruises.

"Can't I, Mr Black?" Albus held the boy's gaze, keeping the Gryffindor trapped in the chair with his body, and the power of his presence and magic.

"If you tell anybody about Remus, they'll know you covered it up! You'd be punished too!" the boy tried desperately, and Albus nearly laughed at this pitiful attempt at blackmail.

"Oh, you need not worry about your friend, Sirius. Or myself, for that matter. What happened in the Shrieking Shack last year will remain known only to the three of us. Where is your proof? And would you so willingly testify if it means that Remus is beheaded, or that you are imprisoned? No matter what my enemies might promise you, your confession will not keep you safe, not from the Ministry, and certainly not from me.

"You owe me a Life Debt, Sirius Black, and are thus bound to do what I say. I would not worry about Azkaban or Dementors, or even Voldemort, boy. I am a far more dangerous foe than any of them." He brought his mouth to Black's ear, his voice quieting to a whisper as his hands left finger print bruises around the boy's wrists, bruises in the still unmarked skin. "I expect you to do anything and everything necessary to gain Voldemort's favour and trust. You will return to me and reveal his plans. If you do not join the Death Eaters, I guarantee you will not live to see the end of summer. Try and double-cross me, and I guarantee you will wish you were dead. Do not try me."

Albus released the boy, and stepped back. Black was deathly pale and stared at him in horror, making no move to escape.

"In exchange for your … co-operation, I will protect you from the Aurors and see that you go free when Voldemort is defeated. You will have paid the Life Debt when Voldemort has been destroyed permanently."

There was a greenish tinge to Black's pallor, and it looked as if he wanted to throw up. However, the boy knew better than to anger the headmaster further.

"Do you understand?"

A slight nod of Black's head.

"I said: do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir. Crystal clear," Black answered hoarsely, and he averted his eyes again.

"I expect you to report to me no later than August 31st. Good luck, Mr Black."

The boy gave him a sickly smile and stood up, shakily making his way to the door. "Thank you, Headmaster."

Albus smiled, and held the door open for the boy.

"You're welcome. Let me accompany you to the Great Hall. It is dinner time, I believe."

When Albus returned to his quarters later that evening, he found Fawkes on his perch and Snape's ghost standing silently in front of the window. The spirit just looked at him, for once silent and not hurling abuse or reliving his death in gruesome detail. Albus raised an eyebrow in query, but when no reply was forthcoming, he ignored Snape as he usually did, and got ready for bed.

"Is that why you didn't punish him? You planned to use Black as a spy?" It was a menacing, accusing hiss.

Albus looked back in surprise from the open doors of his wardrobe. This was the first time Snape had actually spoken to him. Until now, the spirit had only cursed the headmaster. Now it was obviously waiting for an answer.

"I did not punish Mr Black then because it would have revealed Remus Lupin's condition to the Ministry, and the poor boy would have been put down."

"As he should have been!" Snape shrieked, and Albus could see the ghost forcefully trying to remain calm. Slashes on the back of his robes opened, and silver blood sprayed the windowpane, but nothing else happened.

"Remus Lupin knew nothing of what Mr Black planned to do; he is just as innocent as you were."

Snape laughed bitterly. "Always protecting your precious Gryffindors, aren't you? Who cares about the Slytherins, about greasy Snivellus Snape? You certainly didn't, Headmaster!"

"I merely tried to make the best of a very bad situation, Severus. I could do nothing to save you, but I could save Remus. That I cannot regret doing. As for Sirius Black, he might not be in Azkaban, but he is paying for his crime."

The ghost snorted. "For justice to be done it must be seen." Then he disappeared, although Albus knew he had not left.

With a tired sigh, Albus got into bed and tried to get some sleep. When Snape woke him for the third time that night with his shrieking and screaming, Albus put up a general silencing charm before burrowing deeper into the blankets.

The fear of Albus Dumbledore proved to make Sirius Black an excellent spy. Albus did not doubt that when Black ranted about him to the Dark Lord, he was entirely sincere. The information he provided was invaluable; they had discovered the identity of more important Death Eaters and un-Marked spies over the course of one year than in the previous five. Albus did not know what Sirius did to ingratiate himself to Voldemort, and frankly, he did not care. He saw the haunted look in the young man's eyes, noted the stiffness with which he often moved, but the information was always good, and that was all that mattered.

It was fortunate that they had finally managed to infiltrate the Death Eater ranks with a spy. Especially now the Dark Lord had intensified his senseless campaign against Muggles and all non-pureblood wizards. Although pureblood families like the Weasleys and Potters were not safe either because they openly defied Voldemort. Albus did what he could at Hogwarts to prevent more students from joining the Dark Lord, but Voldemort was a master at luring the young and foolish away. The headmaster sadly saw nearly all his Slytherins choosing the wrong side.

Most of the time busy with the Order, Albus left the bulk of his school duties to Minerva, and he was extremely grateful for the deputy-headmistress' untiring work. While she saw to the details of running Hogwarts, Albus could work with Alastor and the other Order members as they tried to turn the tide in the war against Voldemort. Although Alastor protested, Albus often accompanied the Auror on reconnaissance missions. He was old, but not too old, thank you very much.

However, even with Sirius' intelligence, things were not looking well. The papers were filled nearly daily with reports of another Death Eater attack; another family of non-pureblood wizards and witches murdered, another senseless slaughter of unsuspecting Muggles. The Dark Mark seemed ever-present in the sky. Times were stressful, and Albus was starting to feel the strain.

Snape was now a permanent addition to his rooms, visible or not. Most of the time, the ghost just silently watched the headmaster. He had not spoken to Albus since that first time. Although there were no more incidents of vandalism, Albus did begin to notice that things would go missing and turn up in unexpected places. It was a morning ritual to wake up and not find his glasses on the bedside table. Albus would grumble as he searched the room for them, but in a way, he enjoyed the distraction from more worrisome issues.

The ghost was obviously testing his boundaries, testing Albus' limits and patience. Snape learnt not to bother the headmaster on nights that things were going particularly badly; on nights that Albus wished he could just drink an entire bottle of his brother's fire whisky and forget. A week in a desk drawer proved to be a most effective deterrent.

Although Snape did not talk to him, Albus found himself speaking to the ghost. Small things at first: details of his day, student pranks and teachers' gossip. Nothing he had not once shared with Fawkes. Unlike the phoenix - who was a decidedly bad listener most of the time - Snape listened and watched Albus with those dark eyes that were usually filled with anger and resentment, but more and more with curiosity and interest as well.

The headmaster began talking about the Order and the war against Voldemort - began sharing his thoughts - in the secure knowledge that Snape would never be able to reveal them to anybody else. Snape listened, and that was enough. Once, Albus asked whether the Slytherin had been approached by the Dark Lord, whether he had been planning to become a Death Eater. Snape had laughed, making the headmaster look up in surprise. It was extremely rare for the ghost to react to anything he said, let alone answer any question Albus might pose.

"I wasn't popular enough to be asked in school; Lucius made that clear in fourth year. But yes, if I had lived, I would have joined in a heartbeat had they approached me. Anything to see you dead, Headmaster."

Albus was well aware of Snape's hatred of him, but it still stung slightly to hear the sentiment spoken aloud, even if he did not show it. Instead, he just smiled genially, eyes twinkling. "Well then, I guess it is just as well you didn't. Survive that is."

Snape's eyes widened in surprise, then narrowed in rage, and he shrieked at the injustice, treating Albus to the full, detailed experience of his untimely demise. Albus just returned his attention to the paperwork in front of him with a smirk.

Times were stressful, and Albus found he was grateful to have Snape as an unwilling roommate, as an unwilling and unexpected confidant. He refused to be bothered by the ghost's small pranks and tricks, and bore them with equanimity, although he was quick to lock Snape in his drawer when the ghost crossed the line.

Tonight, however, Albus' patience and tolerance were particularly low. One ghostly foot out of line would see Snape confined to that drawer quicker than he could open his mouth to shriek.

Alastor had disappeared two days earlier. His house had been destroyed, and the Dark Mark hovering above the ruins left no doubt as to the identity of his abductors. Albus had spent the last forty-eight hours with the other Order members, desperately searching for his friend and cursing Sirius for not warning him about this attack. A few hours earlier, the missing Auror had finally been found; or rather, deposited, on the doorstep of St. Mungo's.

Finally, safe in the sanctuary of his rooms, Albus was unable to stop his hands from shaking as he remembered the state of his dear friend. Monsters. The headmaster's face contorted in grief, and he ran shaking hands through his beard and long, silvery hair. They had mutilated Alastor, had amputated his left leg with - according to the doctors - a hacksaw. Most likely while Alastor was conscious. They had gouged out his right eye, and disfigured his face with what could only have been an iron brand. He had been whipped and cut and raped, and the doctors had said they were unsure he would awake from the shock-induced coma. But Albus knew Alastor, knew his friend would survive and outlive them all. And when he awoke, Albus would be there to help make those bastards pay.

In the meantime, Albus grieved for his friend, while at the same time he felt elation and relief that Alastor was alive and safe. There was regret and self-recrimination as well that he had been unable to prevent this, that he had been unable to protect one of his oldest and dearest friends from this horrible fate. Albus needed an outlet for all his emotions and frustration. He needed to do something to calm down, to regain control of his emotions so that he would be able to catch Alastor's torturers and see them wishing they were dead.

Albus gracelessly dropped down onto the edge of his bed, pulling up his robes. He fumbled with the buttons of his trousers and freed himself.

There was a measure of peace to be found in physical release, even if Albus had not sought it for a long time. As the years passed, he had simply lost interest in such things; it had not been a conscious choice or development, but simply something he had one day realised he did not find as interesting or appealing as he used to. Nevertheless, it could still serve a purpose; he knew the power of sex on the mind and the psyche, how a purely physical action could calm the spirit and - at least for a while - ease the grief. And so Albus closed one hand around his cock and started pumping his member, slowly coaxing his old flesh to hardness. His eyes were closed as he lay back on the bedding. Switching hands for a moment, he searched the bedside table for the jar of moisturiser he usually used for his hands, and scooped out a liberal amount. He slathered the slick cream onto his prick, and groaned as the dry friction muted into pleasure even as tears sprang to his eyes.

The fingers of his left hand started tracing patterns on his ball sac, then caressed the globes within as his jerking picked up slightly in speed. Albus turned his head to the side, as if unable to watch what he was doing, and he kept his eyes closed tightly. He tasted salt in his mouth as tears wet his beard. Groaning, the headmaster concentrated on the feel of impending orgasm in his body. He forgot everything but the physical sensation, and humped into his tight fist. So close. So good.

A soft sound made Albus open his eyes, and he looked toward Fawkes' perch. The phoenix had turned his back to give him some privacy, but next to him stood Snape's ghost, watching Albus with glittering black eyes.

"Jerking off to the memory of your Auror-lover, Albus?" the boy hissed maliciously.

"Not now, Severus." There was a note of finality in the headmaster's voice. Snape heeded the warning and stayed silent.

Albus looked away again, concentrating on the movement of his hands. He rubbed circles over his cock-head with the pad of his thumb, teasing the slit, and thrust into his fist, until with a cry he came. Semen spilled over his hand onto his belly, his robes, and the sheets. Albus ignored the mess, stroking himself through orgasm until it became too painful to keep touching himself. Then he released his flaccid member and stared up at the ceiling as his breathing slowly returned to normal.

A movement from the corner of his eye made Albus look aside and he watched Snape gliding through the air toward him, boldly staring. Albus felt too tired, too exhausted - mentally and physically - to do anything but return the ghost's stare. He was not ashamed of himself, and these were his rooms. Therefore, he made no move to clean up or tuck himself away.

Snape reached the edge of the bed and hovered in the air, slowly moving up Albus' body. He let his eyes wander over the headmaster's naked, spent flesh, a sneer curling his lips. The ghost's proximity made Albus' skin tingle and break out in goosebumps, and Albus shivered. Still he said nothing, just lay there instead, letting Snape look at him.

Albus realised the spirit was probably just testing the limits of his patience and tolerance, trying to take advantage of the fact that he had caught Albus in this rare unguarded moment. He should put a stop to this right now, but then Snape somehow managed to materialise sufficiently to press his lips to Albus'.

He was not prepared for the dizzy rush this caused. The way his lips became numb, and he opened his mouth to gasp for air, pulling it from - through - Snape. It was hard to think with his limbs and his mind still heavy from orgasm. Albus found himself swiping his tongue across Snape's still closed lips and then between them and into the ghost's mouth. They stared at each other as their tongues met and fought. Snape's touch was cold, but not unpleasant. Every now and then, the ghost became insubstantial as it lost its focus and physical presence for a moment. The kiss sent pleasant shivers through Albus' body that seemed to concentrate in his cock, miraculously making it twitch and show an interest in the proceedings.

Albus' reaction must have frustrated the ghost for Snape's kiss became more savage, and he bit at Albus' lips and tongue. Without thinking, Albus grasped Snape's shoulder in retaliation, using his magic to ensure the ghost materialized there as well, and he flipped the two of them over, pinning the boy beneath him. Snape gave a startled cry and disappeared, reappearing next to Fawkes who had turned around to watch the two of them in amusement. The ghost stared at Albus with wide eyes, apprehensive and skittish.

Albus was panting and confused. He felt out of his depth, and ran a shaky hand through his beard, grimacing at the way his semen had made it stick together. He looked away from Snape, and reached for his wand in order to cast a quick cleaning charm before putting his robes in order. When it could no longer be put off, he looked back up at the ghost.

"Severus, I am sorry, I -"

Snape was glaring at him now, but there was a hint of triumph on his face. Triumph and satisfaction that he had managed to unnerve Albus so. However, he made no move to approach Albus again and seemed ready to disappear the moment Albus made any sudden movements.

With a sigh, Albus stood up. What a mess. He would deal with it later. First, he had to locate Sirius Black. His spy had some explaining to do.

Now that the boundary of physical intimacy had been crossed, Snape seemed determined to unnerve and torment Albus in this way. Albus was at a loss to know what to do. Any protestation from his side would only encourage the ghost into thinking it had found a weakness to exploit, and he found himself reluctant to confine Snape to his desk drawer again. Besides, he was unsure whether that approach would work this time. Perhaps if he ignored the ghost's advances Snape would lose interest and stop.

However, Albus doubted whether his intentions were that honest or pure. The war against Voldemort was not going well. In a way, it was relaxing to be able to forget about it all when he entered his rooms, and instead concentrate on this game of chicken Snape was determined to play. It was proving to be a distraction Albus was only too glad to accept.

After the decades of celibacy, Albus discovered that his libido had returned with a vengeance. He had lived like some kind of monk for nearly a lifetime, but apparently he had been fooling himself about that as well. He had not lost interest in the physical, only suppressed it. And now that he was offered this chance at intimacy and physical companionship, he was loath not to take it. Even if that companion was the ghost of a former student whom he kept prisoner in his rooms.

Allowing Snape to do this, doing this to Snape, it was wrong. He should not even be thinking about it, should never have let it get this far.

However, more and more students were returning to the school with a skull and snake tattoo. More and more Muggleborn students did not return at all, the Dark Mark hanging above the remains of their homes. The Ministry was falling into chaos as more and more people spoke up urging the Ministry to give into Voldemort's demands, to do anything, give anything to stop the near daily attacks. The days of Grindelwald - days that Albus had thought and foolishly hoped long gone - had returned, and they were fighting a losing battle. Everything was wrong, and Albus found he could not stop himself from indulging, from allowing himself this one vice.

So again, he lied to himself. Snape had made the first move. If he had still been alive, he would have been eighteen and no longer his student. If this was what the ghost wanted then who was Albus to deny him this? As long as Snape was willing...

It started with cold touches that woke him from his sleep. A ghostly hand ran down his back unhindered by his nightwear, raising goosebumps all along his spine. To Snape's frustration, Albus just turned onto his other side and ignored it. After that, it did not take long for the ghost's touches to become bolder, moving to his front and rubbing his nipples. This, too, Albus ignored, until finally one night Snape's hands began to stray downward.

Albus awoke to the feel of cold, ghostly hands caressing his cock, sending shivers up and down his spine. He opened his eyes, and saw Severus hovering above him, staring at him with that dark gaze. His hands disappeared into the sheets, only manifesting on Albus' cock beneath his nightshirt. Albus shifted into the touch with a sigh. Snape frowned.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you? Pervert!" he bit out and his grip tightened, making Albus wince. However, Albus made no move to escape those cruel fingers. Instead he reached up and - using his magic to make Snape manifest entirely - grabbed the ghost's shoulder and rolled them over, trapping the ghost beneath him. This time he did not let Snape escape, did not let the ghost become incorporeal again, and for a moment they stayed locked in stalemate. Snape released his tight grip on Albus' cock. With a smile, Albus released the magical hold preventing the ghost from escaping.

"Afraid to finish what you've started, Severus?" Albus said as the ghost made to disappear. Snape, who had already moved from under Albus and was retreating from the bed, stopped and glared. Albus pretended to ignore him as he cast a quick 'Lumos' and then sat up against the headboard.

Snape hesitated, but returned to the bed - and Albus - cautiously. This time Albus made no move to touch the ghost, no move to force him to manifest, no move to restrain him. With a look of distaste on his face, Snape moved his hand through the covers and Albus' nightshirt, closing his fingers around Albus' rapidly awakening erection again. Albus let his eyes drift shut and enjoyed the inexpert stroking. It had been such a long time since he had felt the touch of another on his flesh, and he had never before attempted something like this with a ghost.

"Not so high and mighty are you now, Albus?" Snape hissed, and Albus looked up. The ghost's face was close to his, dark eyes filled with fire.

Albus just closed his eyes again as he arched into the fist around his hard cock. Snape's touch was cold and made his flesh tingle. Every now and then Snape would lose his focus, becoming ephemeral again. The sensation of thrusting into Snape's hand was unlike anything Albus had ever experienced. He moaned 'more' and 'harder', as he enjoyed the ghost's touch, which was rapidly becoming more confident. He made no effort to hide his enjoyment or arousal, and Snape was so preoccupied with what he was doing that he didn't notice Albus watching him. Albus watched the gleeful look of triumph on the ghost's face at his apparent power over Albus' body.

When Albus finally came, Snape quickly retreated to the edge of the bed and out of Albus' reach. There he remained hovering in the air with a smug look on his face as he watched Albus slowly recover from orgasm. Albus waved a slightly shaky hand through the air, casting a quick cleaning charm, and then met the ghost's eyes without flinching.

"You actually want me, don't you, old man?" Severus sneered, but Albus ignored the ghost's hateful words. He smiled, leaned forward, and reached out a hand to cup Snape's cheek. The ghost watched Albus warily, but allowed the touch, focussing enough to give Albus' fingers some resistance and the cool feel of smooth skin.

"What's not to want, Severus?" Albus said, and carefully kissed him. Again Snape allowed it, keeping his eyes open and watching Albus' every move. Albus pressed his tongue between Snape's lips, startling the ghost and making him retreat hastily to the corner that held Fawkes' perch. The phoenix had woken up, and was watching the two of them with unconcealed amusement. With a smile that turned into a smirk when he turned his back to the ghost, Albus pulled the blankets up, and went back to sleep, feeling more content and relaxed than he had in a very long time.

Despite Snape's skittishness, the ghost's smug triumph at having 'power' over Albus was evident. Albus did nothing to dissuade Snape from this belief. He accepted the ghost's touch eagerly, hungrily, and slowly worked at pushing Snape's limits while Snape was convinced he was pushing Albus'. It was a worthy challenge - one that Albus was more than up to - and a very welcome distraction from the reality outside his private chambers.

He did some research to find out the possible side-effects to having sex with a ghost, and was not surprised to find quite a number of books on the subject. His suspicions that Snape was unusually powerful for a ghost were confirmed, and he had no doubt that it was in part due to the fact Snape's anchor was his own wand. His violent death, the fact his killers had not seen justice and Snape's potential as a wizard when he'd been alive had definitely contributed to the ghost's power as well.

During his readings, Albus stumbled upon an ancient text that indicated that if a ghost 'took into himself life's essence' he would effectively be able to drain another wizard of some of his power, hence the origin of myths of creatures such as succubi and vampires. Albus brought this book back with him to his rooms, and he casually left it open - at the page in question - on his desk.

That night, Snape kissed and touched him with such passion and dedication that, by the time the Slytherin began sucking his cock, Albus would have found it near impossible to resist if he had actually wanted to. Albus was not worried about Snape stealing his magic so he became weaker. He was a powerful wizard, and the bonds he had forged between himself and the ghost over the past few years would make it impossible for Snape to harm him. Besides, the drain on his magic should be slight and temporary, easily recovered from. The only real benefit Snape would gain from it, as far as Albus could tell, would be the ability to manifest himself physically for a longer period of time and more easily, which would only be to Albus' advantage. Although Albus doubted the ghost realised this.

The smug look on Snape's face after Albus had come made him smile with fond amusement. When he reached out to the Slytherin, Snape readily floated into his arms to kiss.

It was easy to ignore Snape's gloating and taunting that he was a 'pervert' and a 'dirty old man'. Albus let the ghost have his triumph, let him come to believe he now held the headmaster in his thrall. And after two months, Albus deemed the time finally ripe to encourage Snape to take their relationship one step further.

There had been a lull in the Death Eater attacks, but Albus knew it was just the calm before the storm. He had spoken to the Potters earlier that day, attempting to convince them to go into hiding. James, however, was being difficult, insisting that Sirius be their Secret-Keeper. How Black had managed to stay friends with Potter and still appease the Dark Lord, Albus did not know. However, he trusted Sirius to be able to convince Potter to choose somebody else, somebody trustworthy. Whatever the case, Albus retired to his quarters that evening with a great sense of relief, glad to escape the outside world and instead concentrate on completing Snape's seduction.

When he entered his rooms, he found Snape sitting on the windowsill, stroking Fawkes' feathers. Over the years, the phoenix and the ghost had become close and appeared to have formed some kind of friendship. Albus was certain Fawkes communicated things occurring outside the headmaster's bedroom to the ghost, and he supposed Fawkes was no doubt grateful for the ghost's companionship as well: between the school and Voldemort, Albus did not have nearly half as much time to spend with his familiar as he had in the past.

Albus closed his doors, putting up the additional night wards, and then started to undress.

"An early night, Headmaster?"

Albus smiled as he pulled a nightshirt over his naked body before getting into bed. "It has been a long day, Severus," he replied, turning off the lights with a wave of his hand. He settled into bed on his side, and waited patiently. As he had expected, he soon felt the telltale cool tingle of Snape's presence as the ghost rested on the bed behind him.

"Do you really want to sleep, Dumbledore?" Snape whispered in his ear.

"I am tired, Severus."

The ghost ignored this, and moved roaming hands over Albus' shoulders and down his chest, touching Albus' skin through the nightshirt. Albus sighed and turned onto his back; Snape lowered his mouth so they could kiss. Tangling his hands in Snape's black hair, the ghostly strands twining around and sometimes through his fingers, Albus let his other hand move over Snape's back. By now, Snape had enough skill and strength to materialise completely and maintain sufficient focus for extended periods of time. However, it was still rare that Snape would allow Albus to touch him, and he could feel the ghost still in his arms. He broke the kiss, and stopped Snape's hand that had moved to grasp his erection.

"Let me see you, Severus."

The ghost hesitated, and the wary look had returned to his eyes.


"I want to do something for you." As he spoke, Albus sent a tendril of his magic into the ghost, and Snape shivered in surprised pleasure. He swallowed nervously, and with the blink of an eye, the ghost's student robes had vanished. Albus kept a hand on Snape's shoulder, using his own magic to make sure the Slytherin remained tangible.

It was the first time Albus had been granted a look at his former student's naked body, and he admired the sharp angles and long limbs. There were faint silvery lines criss-crossing the ghost's entire body, and only now did Albus notice the lines on Snape's face as well. It took him a moment to recognise them as an intricate pattern of scars: the faded signs of Snape's violent death at the werewolf's jaws and claws. Before Snape could notice Albus' distraction - Albus did not want to remind Snape of the injustice done to him - he cast a quick spell to remove his own clothing. Another first, until now Snape had pleasured Albus through his clothes. Snape pressed a hand against Albus' chest, pushing him onto his back again.

"What would your precious Gryffindors say if they saw you now, Headmaster? Lusting for me, a ghost, a Slytherin, a student!"

Albus just smiled and pulled Snape down for another kiss, silencing the spiteful words.

"Oh yes, I want you, Severus," he whispered against the ghost's lips, trailing the tips of his fingers over the ghost's erection and then down behind his balls. Snape stilled beneath his touch, but made no move to escape. "I want to be in you, feel you around me. Will you let me?"

There was definite alarm on Snape's face now, and Albus sent another tendril of his magic into the ghost as he pretended to be oblivious to the doubt and bliss warring within Snape.

"Please," he pushed a finger into Snape's tight hole, surprised by the warmth as opposed to the ghost's otherwise cold touch. He gently turned them over, manoeuvring Snape onto his back and beneath him.

"I - I don't -"

So cocky only moments ago, Snape was wriggling uncomfortably now, eyes wide open and staring at Albus apprehensively. Albus' magic kept him solid, although the headmaster made certain not to tie the ghost to the physical realm. Snape could disappear and escape, if he wanted to. The ghost had to want this too, had to be willing.

Albus kissed Snape again as he added a second finger into the boy's arse. Snape's ghostly flesh tightened around them; he was so warm and soft inside. Albus ached to bury himself inside the ghost.

"I want to spend myself inside you, Severus," he whispered in Snape's ear, a seemingly innocuous reminder of the side effects, the benefits Snape could reap if he allowed this. "Please."

Snape bit his lip and then nodded, spreading his legs and accepting a third digit as he closed his eyes to hide the wild look in them. Albus could not stop the brief triumph from showing on his face, but fortunately Snape missed it.

He reached for the jar of lotion on the bedside table. Snape was watching him again with eyes wide as Albus coated his aching erection with the viscous substance, wriggling on the fingers that impaled him. Albus made sure to keep a hand on the ghost, using his own magic to ensure Snape remained physically manifested. He freed his fingers and urged Snape to turn over and get up on his hands and knees. That pale back - criss-crossed with silvery lines - and those smooth buttocks were the most enticing sight Albus had seen in a long time. He let his eyes roam Snape's forever youthful body as he positioned his cock against Snape's twitching hole.

Snape gripped the sheets and hung his head down, averting his face from Albus' gaze and otherwise obscuring it beneath a curtain of black hair. Albus spared a moment to wonder whether a ghost could still experience pain, but then he was pressing steadily and slowly into the surprising warmth of Snape's body. It was unlike anything Albus had ever experienced or expected, and by the time Albus was seated balls deep within the ghost he was already panting. Shivers racked his body, gooseflesh breaking out on his skin everywhere he was touching the ghost. He pressed a kiss to the nape of Snape's neck, and tried to place the unique smell - the unique taste of magic - that was just Severus.

"Sweet Severus," he whispered, and carefully pulled out of the shaking body beneath him. He sheathed himself a second time with slightly more force, and Snape gasped, bracing himself against the headboard now. Albus set up a slow rhythm. He stared at his shaking hand in surprise when he reached out to push Snape's black hair aside. The ghost looked back over his shoulder, eyes still wide, but there was a flash of satisfaction nonetheless when he saw how this was affecting the old wizard. When Albus leaned in to kiss his lips, Snape breathed in, stealing his breath from him.

Sooner than he expected, Albus found himself losing control, breathing raggedly and thrusting wildly into Snape. And this time, unlike all the times Snape had sucked him off, this time he could feel the drain on his magic, on his power. It was a noticeable strain, a tugging link that made him dizzy, and his vision black out for a moment. For the first time since he had decided to embark on this seduction, Albus wondered whether this had been such a good idea after all. His heart was pounding, and exhausted, Albus collapsed to his side, pulling Snape with him. He kept his arms around the ghost, grateful that Snape made no move to disappear.

Mind racing with contingency plans, Albus reached down to caress Snape's swollen prick. Until now, the ghost had pleasured him and shied away from letting Albus touch him. It said something about Snape's state of mind that he silently arched into Albus' hand. Snape's skin was soft and cold. When he came, the only indication was the look of rapture on his face and his arse tightening around Albus' limp cock, which was still nestled inside the ghost, squeezing just a little more magic and life from him.

They were silent for a long time. Albus closed his eyes as he finally slipped free. He felt tired and drained, filled with a lethargic exhaustion, and his hammering heart was finally returning to a more sedate pace. He did not doubt it would take him more than just a few hours to recover from this little escapade. In hindsight, this had not been a good idea at all, and he pondered ways to avert Snape's suspicions, ways to prevent the ghost from realising Albus' mistake. Just as he was about to speak, however, Snape abruptly pulled away, dressing himself in his robes with the blink of an eye.

"You've been playing me for a fool!" Snape was obviously too distracted by this insight to realise the lack of effort it took to retain his physical form. "You made me think you couldn't resist me, and I fell right for it!" There was a bitter edge to Snape's voice, and he glared hatefully at Albus. "And now you've manipulated me into giving you this!" Snape's voice broke and silver blood began to seep through the tears in his robes, darkening the bedcovers. Albus quickly took the boy's hand and pulled him back into his arms, ignoring the ghostly feel of blood as he tried to prevent Snape from losing control and reliving his death again.

"I do care for you, Severus. And I do want you; I thought that would be obvious," he kissed Snape's thin lips, and pulled the blankets over both of them. "Next time - if you still want to that is - you can top."

Snape's frown lessened, but he still looked at Albus suspiciously. Albus tucked the boy's head against his chest, beneath his chin, and stroked the silky black hair. He was tired, but felt sated as well. A good night's rest and an easy day tomorrow, should see him recovered. Snape was too angry to realise the true revelation of their coupling, and would undoubtedly be sufficiently distracted and mollified by the prospect of fucking Albus Dumbledore. Albus had to confess the idea held appeal. He glanced aside at his ghostly lover and saw that Snape had fallen asleep. The magic and energy he had gained kept him from losing his physical form, and should dissipate by morning. In the meantime, Albus' bed and arms would not be empty throughout the night. He pressed his lips to Snape's cheek, and then settled in to sleep as well.

Snape seemed resigned to the fact this approach had backfired and he would not succeed in tormenting Albus this way. To Albus' relief he did appear interested in maintaining this new aspect of their relationship nonetheless, and he allowed himself to think that Snape had become fond of him as well. Whether or not he had, it did not stop the ghost from continuing to test the limits of Albus' patience and indulgence, and he soon resorted to other methods in an attempt to unnerve and upset Albus.

His growing power as a ghost - in part due to the simple passage of time and in part due to their continued sexual relationship - allowed him to change his appearance at will. The first time Snape did his 'Oh-Merlin-I'm-Dying' routine while they were having sex, Albus was slightly startled, but after having lived for so long and seen a Dark Lord rise and fall, it would take more than the sight of Snape going down on him with his throat torn out to unnerve Albus Dumbledore. Appearing as a decaying corpse was just as unsuccessful. Snape finally gave up this line of attack when morphing into a maimed Alastor Moody only made Albus smile and kiss him with even more passion.

After that, Snape returned to hiding Albus' glasses every morning, dog-earing the wrong pages in whatever book Albus was reading, and other minor pranks. Albus indulged the ghost and made sure to mutter complaints as he searched for his glasses when a simple 'Accio' would have sufficed. He suspected Snape was aware that Albus was indulging him, but the ghost seemed content enough with the situation, and if that was all it took to keep Snape eager in his bed, well…

The war against Voldemort raged, and Albus was always grateful and relieved when he could retire to his rooms and Snape's company, in and out of his bed.

It was with a great sense of relief that Albus closed the door to his rooms.

"Voldemort is dead. For the moment at least," he told Severus, who was hovering next to Fawkes.

"Congratulations," was the disinterested reply, and the ghost continued to watch the phoenix preen his feathers.

"He found the Potters, and killed James and Lily."

At this, Severus did look up with interest. Albus ignored the brief flash of glee on the ghost's face.

"For some reason the killing curse rebounded when he attempted to kill young Harry. I have placed the baby with his relatives. It is best to let the boy grow up without the fame, and the ties of blood will provide the best protection from any Death Eaters who may want revenge."

"At least you're not giving the child to Black. Isn't he the boy's Godfather? Potter always was thick, but even I can't believe he never realised his best friend was a Death Eater."

Albus snorted. "I would never leave a child in Sirius Black's care, let alone the Boy-Who-Lived. Besides, Sirius is in Azkaban at the moment. Aurors found him at Godric's Hollow, and well, with the Dark Mark on his arm…"

"Black's in Azkaban?" Severus interrupted abruptly, excitement clear on his face.

Albus passed a tired hand over his face and dropped into the comfortable chair next to the fire. "Yes. I will have to get him out tomorrow, of course. Voldemort has only been temporarily defeated. He will return; I can feel it. When he does, I will need my spy again.

"I think I will give Black the Potions position. Marcus is retiring in a few months anyway, and it will be the easiest way to keep an eye on him."

The sudden and complete silence from the other side of the room, made Albus look up. Severus was staring at him in wide-eyed disbelief, already trembling with rage.

"You're going to free Black? When he's finally where he belongs! Make him Potions professor?! He was the worst student in professor Maynard's class. Sirius Black can't brew a simple wart-removing potion to save his life!"

Severus' voice went up in pitch, and Albus saw that the slashes in the back of his robes were already widening. This was not what he had planned to come home to, and he did not want to have to deal with the ghost's histrionics for the foreseeable future. So he stood up and walked to Severus, placing his hand on the boy's shoulder. However, Severus refused to materialise, and Albus' hand passed right through him.

"You must understand: Black is too valuable as a spy and leaving him in Azkaban would destroy him."

"Good! He deserves to rot!" Severus shouted, and disappeared, indicating that as far as he was concerned this conversation was over.

Albus looked to Fawkes for support, but the phoenix just continued to preen his wing feathers, pretending to ignore Albus. He glanced around the room in an attempt to locate the ghost, but Severus had become increasingly skilled at evading Albus' notice. Albus sighed.

"Come on, Severus. Don't be like this."


"What if I leave him in Azkaban for a month?" he asked the empty room.

"A year at the very least!" Severus snapped from beside the bookcase, near his wand.

"Two months."


Albus sat on the side of the bed. "Sirius would not be able to stand more than two months with the Dementors. I need him sane." He paused, but Severus remained invisible. "I'll top tonight," he added in a last ditch effort to appease the ghost.

Severus appeared, still translucent.


He had belatedly realised the effects of having Albus fuck him, and been trying hard to seduce him into doing it again. Albus had steadfastly refused: with Voldemort at large and wreaking havoc, he could not afford such a drain on his powers. However, for the moment, that threat was gone. Albus could afford to be generous; he could afford to indulge them both. It was the weekend, and it seemed he did not need to go into the Ministry tomorrow after all.

"Yes. Really."

Severus floated toward him, gliding onto Albus' lap and then manifesting himself physically. "And you will leave Black in Azkaban for at least two months?"

Albus nodded and kissed him.

Afterwards, he lay panting on the bed, dizzy and sated. Severus positively crackled with energy, but sat there playing with Albus' beard. Albus reached up and laid a possessive hand on Severus' shoulder, pulling him down and against him.

"You will be the death of me yet, Severus Snape," he said with a tired laugh as he pressed a kiss to Severus' forehead.

Severus settled into his embrace easily, resting his head on Albus' chest.

"That's the idea," he muttered, which only made Albus smile and tighten his hold on his lover.

Albus slammed the door to his rooms and started pacing. He had rarely ever been this angry. If he faced the infuriating man in this condition, well, Albus would not be held responsible for his actions. His fingers flexed and his hands itched for his wand, itched to hex the bastard.

"What's wrong?"

Severus had appeared in the middle of the bed, amidst the rumpled bedclothes, looking delicious as always. However, Albus was too damned angry to think about that right now.


Albus spat out his Potions professor's name with all the frustration of having been stuck with the man for years, and likely many more to come. Severus' expression became carefully neutral, although Albus could see the always-burning flame of pure hatred in those dark, dark eyes.

"What has your precious Gryffindor done this time?"

Albus ignored the ghost's mocking tone; he did not want to get into that old fight with Severus again. Now all he wanted to do was vent. Albus stopped pacing and took a deep breath, his lips contorting into a bitter smile, more of a grimace really.

"Sirius Black has been sleeping with one of his students, one of the seventh year Gryffindor girls." Albus raised a hand to prevent Severus from interrupting. "And it gets even better. Not only did he been seduce the poor girl: he got her pregnant! She started having abdominal pains in class today, and Minerva sent her to Poppy who discovered the cause and called me.

"He's the Potions professor, for Merlin's sake! Couldn't he have made the girl a simple Prophylactus?"

Albus ignored the disdainful snort from Severus, and collapsed into the armchair by the window. "Thank Merlin for Poppy. She called me as soon as she had determined the paternity."

Ghostly fingers carded through his silvery hair and beard, and Albus closed his eyes as he leaned into the cool but gentle touch.

"What will happen to the girl? Is she keeping the child?"

Albus sighed, and covered his closed eyes with one hand. "That, thank Merlin, is no longer an issue. She miscarried. It was probably just as well. She is only a child herself, and will get over with it. I would not have been able to conceal a student's pregnancy, nor the involvement of a member of staff. This way at least I can prevent anyone else from finding out."

The hand stopped stroking for a moment before resuming its movements. Albus sighed contentedly.

"Why am I not surprised?"

The headmaster opened his eyes to stare at the ghost hovering above him.

"I am only doing what is necessary, Severus, what has to be done. If it were to come out I would have to dismiss Black and I cannot do that. However much I wish I could." All Albus' frustration returned and he stood up again to pace the room. Severus settled himself in Albus' chair, legs pulled up beneath his robes although Albus got a glimpse of deliciously pale and naked feet.

"Merlin, I wish I could fire him. I would gladly hand him over to the Ministry for sleeping with one of his students, but I can't. He has to stay here where I can watch him, where he will be ready when Voldemort returns."

"So what are you going to do?"

Albus dropped onto the bed this time, and lay on his back staring at the ceiling. It was on days like these he really felt the years.

"I talked to the girl: she's completely infatuated with Black. She says Sirius promised to marry her as soon as she finishes school. I wouldn't be surprised if he had planned to. However, there is fortunately no chance of that happening anymore. She had had Potions the class before, and I mentioned that the fumes might well have caused the miscarriage. Black knew about the pregnancy; he should never have allowed her to attend those classes."

"Was that the cause?"

Albus shrugged. "Who knows? It is not impossible.

"Merlin, I'm tired. Whatever did I do to deserve this?" He looked aside to Severus who was still sitting in his chair. "And I do not want to hear a single 'I told you so' out of you."

Severus raised an eyebrow and widened his eyes in mock innocence.

"Why would I ever say such a thing? It's not as if I've ever warned you that Sirius Black is a lying, murderous bastard piece of shit, who should have been put down years ago like the mongrel he is."

Albus sighed again and closed his eyes. What was he going to do? It was bad enough that Black was the worst Potions professor in the entire history of Hogwarts - and Hogwarts had seen some appalling Potions professors - now the man had had to add sleeping with a student to gross incompetence! Albus should have realised something was wrong. Black had been too well behaved, too happy lately. A mirthless laugh escaped the headmaster. He would indeed not be surprised in the least if Sirius had meant to marry the girl, whether she was pregnant or not. Well, not if Albus had anything to say about it.

How to punish Black suitably? Losing his child was a good first step. A few subtle remarks and the girl already blamed her lover for the loss of her child. A grandfatherly talk tomorrow, a little comfort, the promise she would never have to see Black again, and that Albus would make sure nobody ever found out her shame. No, she would break things off with Black; that relationship was finished. However, it was not enough. Albus wanted to hex the man, wanted to knock some sense into that thick skull. The boy never learned, did he?

Then a thought crossed Albus' mind, and the pure genius, the beauty, of it took his breath away. Oh. Oh. Perfect.

Albus turned onto his side to face Severus again. The ghost had drifted back to Fawkes' perch and was scratching the phoenix between his wings, to Fawkes' obvious pleasure.


Something in his voice must have tipped the spirit off, because Severus looked at him warily.


"I have a favour to ask. Would you do something for me?"

Severus narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "What?"

"Only if you are willing…"

"Just spit it out, Headmaster."

"No need for crude language, Severus."


He glanced away coyly before catching the ghost's eyes. "Haunt Black for me."

Severus' eyes widened in sudden surprise and avarice; he rushed to the bed, abandoning Fawkes.

"Haunt Black? Really? For how long? What can I do? You're not joking, are you? Don't you dare mock me about this! I'd make you regret it. You know I can!"

Albus laughed, and shook his head. "No, I am not joking. You can haunt him for a week, and I don't care what you do. Make sure he never touches a student again. Teach him a lesson. Just don't drive him completely insane. I will require his services in a few years when Voldemort returns."

Severus nodded distractedly, his dark eyes glittering with unsuppressed malice and anticipation. "Don't worry, Albus. I'll make him regret he was born. He'll never want to have sex with anybody ever again by the time I'm done with him."

Albus smiled. He knew he could trust Severus to teach Black a sorely needed lesson, one that the Potions professor would find impossible to forget. Speaking of Black, Albus' wards alerted him to the fact the wizard in question had just given the gargoyle the password to his office. Albus picked up Severus' wand from its place on the shelf next to his dragon's blood manuscript, and modified the charms to allow the ghost to leave his chambers for the first time in fourteen years. The wand vibrated gently in his hands, sending shivers up Albus' arms that concentrated on his nipples and seemed to shoot straight to his cock.

"Thank you, Albus, thank you."

Albus smiled at the ghost; he could not remember Severus ever looking this young and excited. "Think nothing of it, my dear boy. Thank ou."

Severus disappeared, and Albus left the bedroom. In his office, the headmaster settled himself behind his desk and waited for Professor Black to enter.

It took a week for Sirius to break down and ask Albus for help, just as the headmaster had expected.

Albus had spoken to and consoled the distraught Gryffindor girl, and then offered to arrange for her to complete the school year at Beauxbatons under the guise of an exchange program because of her excellent Potions grades. The headmaster added fraudulently changing grades to the long list of Sirius Black's offences. He had promised her he would make sure nobody found out the real reason for her sudden departure, least of all her conservative, pureblood parents, or her strict Head of House. Albus was once again grateful that Poppy was the Hogwarts school nurse. She had agreed to accompany the poor girl to France and make sure she settled in. The headmaster did not know what he would have done without Poppy.

In the meantime, Black had started to patrol the school at night, seemingly reluctant to enter his dungeon chambers any more. The dark rings beneath his eyes soon garnered attention and concern from the rest of the staff. They all told him to get some rest, and invariably sent him back to his rooms when they encountered him during his midnight wanderings. Albus watched from a distance as he patiently waited for Sirius to break and finally approach him for help.

Albus sat behind his desk, silently watching the younger wizard fidget. He did not offer tea, and the sweets dish stayed firmly on Albus' side of the desk.

"Sirius," he said in a cold tone. Albus was not going to make this any easier than necessary.

"Headmaster, I - I can't take it anymore, I need your help. Please." It came out in a jumble of words, and Albus merely raised an eyebrow in query.

"I can't sleep, and it won't leave me alone. I think I'm losing my mind."

"Calm down, Sirius. What exactly is the problem? What won't leave you alone?"

"I think I'm being haunted."

"Whatever makes you think that?"

"Things have gone missing, or been destroyed. I return to my rooms, and there's writing on the walls, and no matter how often I remove it, it always returns."

"Perhaps a prank? Or maybe Peeves?"

Sirius shook his head desperately. "No prank, and it's not Peeves. I've asked the ghosts and they assure me it's not them. I don't know who or what it is, but it's evil and spiteful and hurtful and it knows things! It knows things nobody could. The writing -" Sirius' voice broke. "The things it says, it can't be any of the children."

"Very well then, Sirius, I will have a look."

"Thank you, Headmaster, thank you so much!"

It was clear Black was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, not surprising when Albus viewed the state of the Potions professor's dungeon rooms.

Books were strewn about, their spines broken and pages ripped out. Carved into the upholstery of the couch and into the seat of every chair were the words 'traitor' and 'murderer'. The walls were splashed with bright red paint, and just above floor level - at child's height - children's handprints spelled out Daddy. Through the open door Albus caught a glimpse of Black's bedroom. Scrawled messily over the sheets and on every other surface in the room was the phrase 'Death Eater Whore'.

Sirius collapsed into one of the chairs, and buried his face in his hands.

"I can't take it anymore. I'm sorry, Headmaster; please help me. I clean the place up and repair the damage, I try to sleep, but the nightmares - I can't - I'm so sorry, please help me."

"Quiet now, Sirius. I will see what I can do."

Albus took out his wand - Severus' was in one of the pockets of his robe - and he intoned an obscure spell that would ward the room against Cornish Pixies. Not that Sirius knew that, of course. In the meantime, he scanned the room for any sign of his wayward ghost. A faint shimmer near one of the walls revealed Severus' location, and Albus made a curt movement with his head to the ghost's wand. When Severus made no move to leave, Albus mouthed the word 'drawer' and put on his sternest face. The wand tingled through the fabric of his robes against his skin. Albus clapped his hands together decisively. Sirius looked up with hope-filled eyes.

"There, that's done. You really should have come to see me sooner, Sirius."

"It's gone?"

The headmaster nodded. "It would seem that you have fallen victim to one of Hogwarts' resident spirits. They are not exactly ghosts; they usually do not have enough strength to manifest themselves or do any real harm. However, it has been known to happen. If I am not mistaken, the last person to be bothered by one of them was my predecessor, Dippet, when poor Myrtle Jones was killed. They tend to pop up whenever somebody dies in the castle. Nasty little things.

"But you should be safe now. Good luck cleaning up the mess. Just as well it is the weekend tomorrow, and don't worry, I am happy to excuse you from eating in the Great Hall this weekend."

With that, Albus swept from the room. As he made his way through the corridors back to his rooms, he was no longer able to suppress the satisfied smirk, although he did manage to school his features to a more genial smile by the time he passed a group of Slytherins. As soon as he entered his quarters, he redid the wards preventing Severus from leaving, but the ghost had already appeared, and was too busy practically bouncing around the room in glee to notice, let alone care.

"Oh, you should have seen his face, Albus! You should have seen him! I started fucking him as Remus and then turned into James." Severus' appearance morphed into that of the late James Potter. "How could you recommend Peter, Sirius? You promised to look after Harry!" Potter's face decayed into a grim skull, and then Severus stood before Albus again.

"He freaked out, and he cried. It was glorious. I would let him fall asleep and then appear as myself or as Remus or the Potters or Lucius. Ah, his memories, Death Eater whore indeed! You needn't worry about Black, Albus; he will never touch a student again. It was glorious, thank you, thank you!"

Albus smiled in satisfaction and sat down on the foot of his bed. "I knew I could trust you, Severus." He smoothed an imaginary wrinkle in his bright blue and yellow robes, gazing directly at the ghost. "And if you are really that grateful, well, I can think of one or two ways for you to show your thanks."

Severus glided through the air toward the headmaster, his black eyes glittering. "Oh? Something like this, perhaps?" He straddled Albus' lap, resting one hand on Albus' shoulder as he twined the other in Albus' beard.

Albus caught Severus' lips and they kissed. He lay back with Severus on top of him. It was such a strange feeling: the absence of weight and the resistance of flesh. When he turned them over, trapping Severus beneath him, he ground his cock into the ghost's groin, but missed the mischievous glint in Severus' eyes. They had long ago established an understanding that Albus would not keep Severus trapped in his corporeal state, although he did allow the ghost to draw from his powers to remain physical, and so Severus was able to abruptly disappear causing Albus to drop heavily onto the bed. With a grunt, Albus pushed himself up and reached out to grab the ghost, but his hand passed through the transparent form. Severus sat cross-legged next to him, stretching his arms and then covering his mouth as he yawned.

"You know, haunting Black really took a lot of concentration. I'm feeling rather tired to be honest."

"Severus -"

Severus yawned again and he flickered in and out of sight. "Can hardly manifest myself..."

Albus moved onto his back as he closed his eyes in exasperation. Ghosts. He turned his head back to Severus and fixed the Slytherin with a glare.

Severus laughed and pounced, straddling Albus' hips as he raked his nails lightly over Albus' chest through the cloth of his robes. He leaned forward, and for a while, they kissed as Severus' hand moved through Albus' robes and started pumping his cock. Albus pushed lightly at Severus' shoulders - and the ghost quickly took his cue, breaking the kiss and moving down Albus' body. His face disappeared in the folds of Albus' robes, the glimpses of pale skin and the ghost's dark hair set off beautifully against the light blue of Albus' robes. Albus closed his eyes as he arched into the slick feel of Severus' mouth. Cold fingers moved through his robes, pressed his legs apart and followed the small crease of skin behind his balls. With a sigh, Albus came.

Severus' face was flushed - arousal and triumph and excitement - and he plucked impatiently at Albus' robes even as his own clothing vanished. "Take these off!"

While a simple spell would have sufficed to undress him, there was something about struggling to get out of his robe. The way Severus would at one moment pull at the cloth, and the next simply pass through it to press his hard cock against Albus. They were both laughing by the time Albus finally managed to drop his robes off the side of the bed. It made Albus feel young and alive, no matter that there was no way even Severus would be able to make him 'rise to the occasion' again so quickly. He still found it hard to comprehend how he had done without this for so long.

"On your knees, Professor," Severus whispered against his lips, even as one hand strayed downward again and a cold finger pressed inside of him.

Albus was shivering, his skin breaking out in gooseflesh, and he hastened to comply with the ghost's request. He could feel one of his legs passing through Severus' arm as he turned around. At the same time, Severus wriggled a second finger inside of him briefly before withdrawing both. Cold hands moved up over his back, gripping his shoulders as something that was cold and hot, real and unsubstantial, pushed inside of him.

There really was no comparison to being fucked by a ghost. The cold touch, the way Severus would lose focus every now and then, thrusting into Albus, the crackle of raw power and magic coursing through both of them. Albus closed his eyes and let Severus do as he would. He could hear the ghost chanting his name, a litany of curses and endearments, hatred and gratitude, until Severus came with a cry, losing the concentration necessary to remain corporeal. The power of the ghost's own thrust sent Severus passing through Albus, and for a moment, there was the sensation of sharing his body, of Severus seeing the world through his eyes. One heartbeat shared before Severus had moved through him completely and lay in front of Albus, shimmering in and out of sight.

Albus exhaled and dropped onto his side. He reached out and carefully rested a hand on Severus' chest, allowing the ghost to draw from his magic. With a content look, Severus moved into Albus' arms and started tugging the blankets up over them.

"Good night, Albus," the ghost mumbled into the crook of Albus' neck, and Albus smiled fondly as he extinguished the lights with a silent 'Nox'.

Four years later, Harry Potter came to Hogwarts, and Voldemort made his first reappearance.

As Albus had foreseen, the war was rekindled and it was even bloodier than before. After years of being incorporeal Tom Riddle was beyond all reason. Sirius was sent back to spy while Albus had Alastor Moody and Remus Lupin tutor Harry in Defence Against the Dark Arts.

When Severus found out that Albus had asked Remus to come to Hogwarts and had appointed the werewolf as Alastor's assistant, the ghost had been livid to say the least. Albus had wanted to tell Severus himself, but the right moment had never arrived. Then one day, he had returned to his quarters and found a disaster area. Albus suspected Fawkes had betrayed him. Locking Severus in the desk drawer was not an option; they had moved past that. They were lovers; Albus could hardly treat the ghost like some recalcitrant child. Even if he did often act like one.

Severus spent a month sulking, but tales of Black's ineffectual attempts to win back his childhood friend and get close to his godson did a lot to mollify the ghost. Albus suspected that the main reason Severus was upset was that he felt threatened by Remus' presence. Albus made sure to convince the ghost that he had no interest whatsoever in the werewolf, and that Severus was the only one he wanted in his bed and his private life.

By the end of Harry Potter's fourth year, Riddle finally regained a body and things only became worse from then on. Once again Albus was grateful for the haven his rooms provided. At the end of the day, he could close the door and forget about the war, and instead spend time with his familiar and his ghost. He could unload his troubles and find a measure of peace in Severus' arms and body.

The ghost of Severus Snape stood next to the infirmary bed, gazing down at the headmaster's still form. They were in a private room, alone, and Severus had just turned down the white sheet that had been covering Albus Dumbledore's face. Fawkes was perched on the foot of the old wizard's bed, and Severus gently stroked the firebird's feathers.

"So. You're finally dead, old man."

A hand on his shoulder startled him, and he looked aside to meet twinkling blue eyes.

"I am not dead: I'm just resting." There was humour in Albus' voice, and Severus fought to contain a smile. Instead, he raised an eyebrow sceptically and tilted his head toward where the corpse was currently laid out.

"Your body begs to differ. And all the wards in your rooms fell: that's how I was able to leave and follow Fawkes here."

Albus smiled and ruffled the phoenix' feathers. Fawkes seemed unperturbed by his master's current condition. "You didn't take the opportunity to get as far away from Hogwarts as fast as you could? Severus, I'm flattered."

The other ghost snorted, but did not meet Albus' eyes.

"I could hardly leave without making sure you were good and gone." The words were spiteful, but Severus' voice lacked all malice. Was that a blush Albus saw on his cheeks?

"Of course, my dear," he said, pressing a gentle kiss next to Severus' ear. "However, my original treatise is not entitled 'The Thirteen Uses of Dragon's Blood' for nothing." Albus moved to the bed and carefully began to lie down into his body. "So sorry to disappoint you!" he laughed, before closing his eyes and disappearing.

This time Severus did not hide his smile, and he settled onto the bed next to Albus as the headmaster's colour slowly returned. After a moment blue eyes snapped open, and Albus gasped for air as his hands clawed at the bed sheets.

Whatever he had done must have set off some alarms, or the surge of magic that had passed through the room must have alerted those outside, for only seconds later Poppy burst through the door with what seemed like half of Hogwarts on her heels. Minerva McGonagall was there, as well as Remus Lupin, Alastor Moody, and an exhausted but triumphant Harry Potter. Sirius Black stood at the back, the only one present who did not seem ecstatic that the headmaster had survived after all.

"Give me some room," Poppy commanded as she checked Albus' pulse and eyes and began casting one diagnostic spell after the other, but Albus waved her away and sat up. Harry Potter rushed forward to help him, and then grasped the headmaster's hand.

"I'm so glad you're alive; we thought you'd died!"

"It will take more than one Dark Lord to bring me down, Harry."

"I killed him, Albus. I did it! He's dead, and he's never coming back."

Albus smiled and squeezed Harry's hand. "I never doubted you would," he said softly. "Well done. You have made us all very proud."

Harry beamed and his grin only grew wider when he looked up at Remus Lupin, who had come to stand behind him and rested a hand on his shoulder.

"I think it's time we left now and let the headmaster get some rest. Although he would deny it, I am sure even he will need to recover from coming back from the dead. And you still need to have a mediwizard look at that cut on your arm." He nodded to Albus and led Harry out of the room. If he held on to the young wizard a bit too tightly, his hand rested on Harry's hip a bit too familiarly, and Harry leaned against him with too much ease, it didn't matter. Albus looked away, knowing that he need not worry about either of them anymore. He did not miss the look of envy on Black's face though, and sighed inwardly. It seemed Sirius would never learn.

"It is good to see you well again, Albus. You had us worried for a moment."

"Thank you, Minerva. How are the school and the students?"

"They are both fine. The Death Eaters did not make it into the dungeons, so the children were safe. You-Know- Riddle managed to do some damage to the Astronomy Tower, and I suspect we will not be able to use the Quidditch Pitch for quite some time, but there was nothing more substantial. I warded your rooms, so they have not been disturbed."

"Good. Thank you. I know I can trust you to get everything sorted."

The stern witch nodded and tucked a loose strand of black hair behind her ear. "If there is anything that needs your personal attention I will come to see you." With that, she smiled and left the room with Poppy.

Albus looked to Black, who was standing back against one of the walls and as far away from Alastor Moody as he could.



Silence. Albus sighed and shifted in the bed, glancing aside to Severus who was watching with a neutral face. When he met the ghost's eyes, Severus pursed his lips and frowned, then sighed and nodded, turning his attention to Fawkes instead.

"You have fulfilled the terms of our agreement, Sirius, and I release you from your Life Debt. Thank you for your services and aid in destroying Riddle; they were invaluable."

"You will keep me out of Azkaban and safe from the Aurors this time?"

"I will not break my promise. However, a word of advice: when the euphoria at Voldemort's defeat passes there will be a backlash against all those associated with him. No matter their motives or their true intentions. Not to mention the fact that there are no doubt still Death Eaters at large. They will be out for blood, Sirius, and the blood of a traitor to the cause in particular. Lie low, or leave the country. Please."

"But Remus and Harry -"

"Sirius, you are still young," Albus interrupted. "You have more than a lifetime still in front of you. Do not waste it. Leave England, take this opportunity to start anew."

Black opened his mouth to protest and then thought better of it. He nodded and turned around to leave, but Albus called out to him just as he walked through the door.

"Oh, and Sirius?"

He turned around warily.


"Just so you know: you are dismissed from the Potions position."

A wry smile worked its way onto Black's face, and he snorted in amusement. "Thank you, Dumbledore."

"Are you sure that's wise, Albus?" Alastor said once Black had left the room. He sat down in one of the chairs and his magical eye roamed around the room, resting on Severus for a moment, but he did not mention the ghost sitting on Albus' bed, holding Albus' hand. "I don't trust him."

"I gave him my word, Alastor."

Moody muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater' under his breath, but let the matter drop.

"Are you truly all right? You gave us a quite a scare back there."

"You should know me better than that, Alastor."

Alastor chuckled and nodded. "I guess I should indeed."

"What are you going to do now?"

The retired and disfigured Auror leaned back in his chair. "I think I'll stick around for a while. Lupin can take over Defence; he was doing most of the work anyway. Potter says he wants to become an Auror, and it's become a bit of a habit now, watching his back."

Albus smiled. "Thank you."

"And what about you, Albus? What are your plans now that you've seen a second so-called Dark Lord to his grave?"

"Well, to get out of the infirmary and then, I think, I might retire. I have spent enough time fighting Dark wizards to last me at least three lifetimes; I deserve a bit of a holiday. Minerva can take care of the school and the children. It's been more than a century since I've travelled, and I am an old man now," he ignored Alastor's bark of laughter, "and a change of scenery, a warmer climate, would be welcome."

Alastor shook his head, and his magical eye wandered back to the ghost on the bed for a moment before returning to meet Albus' twinkling blue eyes.

"Going to leave any skeletons in your closet for Minerva to find?"

Albus laughed and twined his fingers with Severus', raising their joined hands and pressing a kiss to the ghost's cold flesh. It made his lips tingle, and Severus looked away with an ill-concealed, smug smile.

"Ah, she doesn't deserve to be haunted by my past. I'd much rather take my skeletons with me."

the end

Loved it? Hated it? Comment and let me know!
To the Story | Fanfic | Email | Recs | Livejournal | Guest Authors

Warnings: Character Death. Dubious Consent

Archive: Ask first.

A/N: My thanks go out to Leni Jess and Jeddy for their wonderful beta's.

This fic is the companion piece to another story I've written that, incidentally, has the same title. This is the Snapledore version of 'Severus does not survive the Shrieking Shack incident'. The other Ghost is a Severus/Harry tale. They only share the same title and premise; any and all other similarities are a coincidence (well, most of them are, anyway ;).