TCRegan and Sophie Richard's Fiction ([info]srtcfics) wrote,
@ 2003-12-02 13:10:00
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An Unconventional Relationship - Part 1
TITLE: An Unconventional Relationship
RATING: NC-17
PAIRING: Harry/Snape
SUMMARY: Harry's time at the Dursley's has left him with some rather odd quirks that only Snape can help him work out.

"And I want this room clean," the silky voice intoned as the Potions lesson ended.

Harry, not wanting to lose any more points for Gryffindor, quickly began wiping up his work table, making sure it was spotless. His classmates did a hasty clearing up, but Harry could still see remains of nettle and snake fang on their tables, as well as the drops of solution that Neville had spattered everywhere clinging to a few surfaces. "Sir?" he asked, as the classroom cleared out, "Will - that is, what you said earlier... Is the room clean enough?"

Snape sneered at the feeble question, and glanced quickly around the room. "As usual with all students, the clearing up is as poor as the potions they brew." He turned away, and began clearing up his own things, deciding that he'd just take away points from Gryffindor for the substandard cleaning.

Harry frowned, packed his bag, and took up a sponge. Without hesitation, he began scrubbing away at the tables. He didn't want either house to lose points, even if Slytherin deserved it. Somehow, he thought Snape would excuse their mess, though. He was just finishing his first work table when he heard a rather exasperated, "Potter, what are you doing?"

Harry looked up quickly, like a scolded spaniel. "Sir, earlier you said if the room wasn't clean, you'd take points from everyone. I don't want to lose any house points, so I thought I would finish cleaning up." He moved on to the next table, and began wiping it up as well.

Snape's face took on a cruel smirk. "Gryffindor nobility. How charming. So you intend to clean up every area in the room until it is acceptable?" He settled down at his desk and watched. He wondered how long this nobility would hold out before the boy decided it was too much trouble and started clearing out like the rest of them. Not long, he was sure. It would be too much to expect a son of James Potter to display any sort of patience.

"Yes, sir," Harry replied easily, moving to the back of the room to rinse out the sponge. If the potions were all right, he thought he might never have boils on his hands ever again. Keeping this somewhat amusing thought in his head, he continued to clean off the tables, something that was infinitely easier, in his opinion, than washing the Dursleys' dinner dishes, which were usually encrusted with food he never even got to taste.

Pushing thoughts of his unhappy home life from his mind, Harry whistled tunelessly as he continued, and abruptly stopped, glancing up to see Snape looking at him incredulously. He finished the last few tables quickly, without a sound. "Is this satisfactory, Professor?" Harry asked hopefully. Although not wanting to lose house points, he wasn't eager to stay in the presence of a man who, he thought, hated him.

Snape stalked around the room, inspecting every table closely. Finding nothing to criticize in the cleaning, he decided to return to the attack. He'd see how easy the boy was to provoke. He'd seen a slight flare of temper earlier, perhaps he could increase it. "Think this will win you friends, boy? I suppose you'll go on to your next class and tell them how you saved them from losing points? No one likes a martyr, Potter."

Harry brushed back his hair. "I wasn't really planning on bringing it up," he said quietly. "Is the room clean enough, and if so, may I please go?"

Snape inwardly bristled at the seemingly unconscious move. He remembered James purposefully messing up his hair, though the boy before him did it without any arrogance. "I find it very hard to believe, Potter," he said, ignoring the question, "that you cleaned the entire room, and don't expect any praise whatsoever." He was, after all, the Boy Who Lived. Snape was sure that Potter was used to having people fawn all over him, treat him like an icon, just because of this. He, however, would not be a part of all that. Potter was nothing more than a boy. A rather annoying one at that.

"Obviously, sir," Harry said, trying to keep his temper in check, "I won't receive it whether I expect it or not." He really didn't know what Snape wanted from him, to be honest. All right, so he apparently didn't need a reason to dislike Harry, but there didn't seem to be any need for this level of interrogation. He had cleaned up. He'd been cleaning up for years, ever since he was old enough to wield a sponge. Why didn't Snape interrogate the others about why they HADN'T cleaned up? It would make more sense.

Though it was a rare occasion that Snape found himself dumbstruck, it had never been because of a student. For a long time, he stared at Harry, trying to collect himself, and Lily Evans' green eyes stared back at him. Finally, in a clipped tone, he said, "Very well, Potter. You've made your point. Get out."

Grateful, Harry shouldered his bag and hurried from the room. The smell of cleaner was still on his hands, but he didn't dare stop until he was several floors away, slipping into a bathroom to wash up. When that was taken care of, he climbed the steps up to the common room to meet Ron and drop off his things.

"What took you so long?" Ron asked, as they crossed the grounds to Hagrid's hut.

Harry shrugged. "I had to clean up."

"Snape made you stay after? That git!"

Remembering what Snape had said about no one liking a martyr, Harry didn't bother to correct him.

*****

At the end of the next lesson, Harry watched helplessly as the classroom quickly emptied itself, with no one making more than a desultory attempt at cleaning. He looked around at the tables, each covered with powdered lacewings and shrivelfig parts. He looked at Snape, rather helplessly, and found the cold black eyes staring at him mercilessly. With an inward sigh, he picked up a sponge and began cleaning. He wondered if he'd be doing this for seven years. He'd thought Snape might have said something to make the others clear up, but obviously he thought it was more fun to watch Harry do it.

Snape pretended to grade essays at his desk while Potter scrubbed off the tables. 'Why does he insist on taking care of everyone else's messes?' It was an enigma that Snape was quite determined to figure out. He winced as the slightly cheerful whistling started up again, but decided to ignore it.

Harry was in his realm. He knew how to clean, especially the Muggle way, and was quite efficient. Letting his mind wander while he did little chores often helped pass the time. Whether it be picking up after Dudley or heavy duty scrubbing, he was able to transport himself to another place entirely. As long as it wasn't something that required utmost concentration, such as waxing Uncle Vernon's car, he could pretend he was somewhere else. Now, as he scrubbed off the last table top, Harry was thinking about flying.

When he had finished, he looked at Snape. Part of him was tempted to just leave without speaking, but if he had missed something, then his effort would have been for nothing. "Professor Snape, is the room clean enough now?"

Snape stood up quickly, as if he'd been waiting for the moment when Harry would speak to pounce. "Potter, I will only ask you this once, so I suggest you think long and hard about your answer. Are you doing this to provoke me? Do you think to change my opinion of you? Do you think I will begin to believe that you are anything more than a nasty little boy who is too important to pay attention to his schoolwork?"

Harry fumed silently. All he had asked was if the room was clean enough, and now he was getting a lecture. And he hadn't even done anything wrong! "No, sir," he said quietly. "I just don't want to lose any more house points." He paused, wondering if he should say something else, and decided against it. No reason to prolong the time spent with Snape.

Snape held back a frustrated sigh. "Why, Potter, do you care so much, when it's quite obvious your housemates don't? If their fleeing the room as soon as they're dismissed is any indication, that is."

Harry dropped his eyes. There was no good answer to that question, so he just told the truth. "I lost points on the first day. So I wanted to make up for it. And... I think they would care if they understood that you were serious about the points." He hoped that maybe Snape would get the hint, and mention it again during the next class, though that was probably hoping for too much. Snape didn't say anything and so, against his better judgment, hefv ssss continued. "I know how important keeping things clean is." Keeping things clean kept you from getting a clout on the side of the head, or from being denied supper, or being locked in your cupboard.

Snape was somewhat surprised at the intelligence that shone through in the last statement. Chalking it up to dumb luck, as Potter seemed to possess a lot of that, he folded his arms and leaned against his desk. "While your obsessive complusive cleanliness and heartfelt Gryffindor nobilty might be somewhat advantageous to myself and my classroom, I do not enjoy babysitting you while you scrub tabletops. I'd like to prepare for my next class, if it's not too much trouble to ask of the famous Harry Potter."

Harry frowned. Obviously Snape was trying to provoke him, and he wasn't quite sure how to feel about that. He didn't want to fight with his teacher, he barely even knew the man. "Yes, sir," he said, dropping his sponge on the sink in the back of the room as he left.

*****

It became a ritual. Everyone would leave, and Harry would stay after and clean up. It was a lot like breakfasts with the Dursleys, actually. Harry would then ask if the room was clean enough, and Snape would roundly abuse him before sending him off. Over time, though, Snape seemed to give up insulting him, merely checking the room over before excusing Harry. It actually gave Harry a nice sense of normality, and he found himself... not enjoying it, but feeling relaxed and peaceful as he worked to make the classroom spotless. Snape's silent presence didn't disturb him anymore, and he felt comfortably private and busy during those times.

Nearing the end of the year, as Harry grew more and more frustrated with the Sorceror's Stone and the pain in his forehead, his cleanings helped him work things out. This, of course, was despite the fact that he suspected Snape as the one who was going to try and steal it. He found that staying after class allowed him to keep an eye on the sneaky professor, and it calmed him slightly knowing that, at least for a half hour every Friday, he wasn't plotting.

The fiasco with the stone went by quickly, the leaving feast following immediately after. Harry managed to catch Snape's eye, and gave him a slightly apologetic look, to make up for accusing him, to which Snape sneered and glanced away. With a bit of a shrug, Harry went up to his dormitory for a last night of peace before returning to Privet Drive.

*****

At the end of his first Potions lesson of the second year, Harry was filled with dread. He watched as everyone filed out of the classroom. Bitterly, he wondered why once, just once, they couldn't ask why he always stayed after. He was aware of Snape's steady gaze on him, and knew that the silent truce of last year would be gone. If he stayed, there would be abuse, and plenty of it. And if he left? He looked at the door wistfully. If he left, he would not only be losing Gryffindor points, he would be giving up his one constant routine, the one thing that made him feel normal when things went wrong. He wouldn't have chosen it, but he suddenly found himself loathe to lose it. He hesitated too long, and jumped as Snape spoke.

"Potter! Why are you hovering about?" Snape narrowed his eyes critically.

"I was looking for the sponge, sir," Harry responded dully, picking up the brown sponge and setting to work on the tables. He flinched as a tall shadow fell over the area he was cleaning, and looked up into dark, beetle black eyes. "Sir?" he dared.

"I see your obsessive compulsive cleaning has not left you. Quite unfortunate, as I've no desire to have you interrupt my spare time. I have things to do."

"Then do them, sir," Harry said, keeping the bitterness from his tone. He wasn't expecting gratitude from him, but was it really too much to ask to just be left alone? The Dursleys at least gave him that much. "I won't interrupt you."

"You won't interrupt me, no, you'll just produce that infernally toneless whistling and drive me to distraction with your very presence." Snape's tone was sharp. He had begun to think that possibly, just possibly, Harry wasn't quite as bad as he had thought. And then what did he do? Came parading into school in a flying car. Just like James might have done.

Harry set the sponge down, and looked at Snape fiercely. "Tell me to leave, then." Why did the man have to turn everything into a contest of wills? He just wanted some peace and quiet to clean.

Snape stared a moment longer, trying to unnerve the strong gaze, but it held. Resignedly, he finally crossed his arms. "As you're going to do whatever you want anyway, you might as well start cleaning. Since the school train is too good for Harry Potter, I see no reason why a direct order from a teacher would have any affect whatsoever." He stalked back to his desk and sat down, organizing some files before starting to grade papers.

Harry bit his lip and picked up the sponge. He WOULD have left if Snape had told him to. He began scrubbing one of the desks, and somehow, he began talking. "I couldn't get onto the platform," he said quietly. "I didn't... I just wanted to get to school."

Snape looked up at him coldly. "I see. You are now not content to blight my afternoons with your presence, there must be conversation as well. Very well, Potter. Would you like me to praise your most laudable dedication to your education, or would you like me to pretend that I believe your pitiful excuses?" He watched as Harry knelt down to catch a bit of shrivelfig that had fallen to the floor.

Harry clenched the sponge tighter, and was surprised when it gave a startled squeak and tried to bit his hand. Without thinking, he apologized to it, which seemed to calm it down. Still marvelling at the object in his hand, he forgot to answer Snape.

"Well, boy?" Snape said. "Surely now that you've started a conversation, you're not going to forget about it? Or are you too good for the likes of your professor?"

Realizing that any response would be futile, Harry just shook his head. "Sorry, sir," he said through gritted teeth. Trying not to damage the sponge again, he continued scrubbing the tables. 'Just concentrate on cleaning,' he told himself.

"Sorry? What are you sorry for?" Snape inquired, in deceptively calm tones. "Are you sorry for being an exhibitionist? Are you sorry for your impertinence in not answering my question? Are you sorry that you don't have enough sense to leave the classroom when class is dismissed? Oh, and should you not deign to answer THIS question, ten points will be taken from Gryffindor." Snape sat back and smirked. He was close, very close, to making the boy lose control, he could sense it. An angry outburst and he could take off points, assign detention. Potter would be in the palm of his hand.

With each question, Harry felt his eyes well up with tears, and then Snape threatened to take points. That was his breaking point, and, thoroughly embarrassed, he began to cry. "I'm just... sorry, sir," he managed, before dropping the sponge and grabbing his bag. "I won't bother you again." With that, he ran from the room.

Snape blinked. That definitely hadn't been the reaction he was looking for. Potter was supposed to call him a greasy git, or yell at him for something inane. Then he would assign the brat detention with Filch and have done with it. While he was quite used to seeing students flee from his class in tears, this particular time made him feel... guilty? "No," he said outloud, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

He began piecing through the matter in his brain. What was it that bothered him so about seing Potter cry? Potter... The newest Potter in his life. That was it, that was what made it all so disturbing. Potter wouldn't cry. James wouldn't have cried if a teacher had reprimanded him. James would have thrown the sponge at his head. Snape sighed, and took twenty points from Gryffindor. Ten for not answering, ten for the room not being clean. That would teach the brat to run off in the middle of a job.

*****

The next Potions class rolled around, and Harry found himself at a loss near the end of it. He wanted to just leave with Ron and the others, but something in the back of his mind told him he needed stay. As was his reasoning before, despite the nasty remarks and insults, the routine was comforting. He watched everyone leave, then set his bag on his chair, as he'd done so many times before, and took up a sponge. Without looking at, or speaking to Snape, he started first with his own table.

This time, Snape was determined. This wasn't going to happen anymore. No more would his classroom be filled with that infernal Potter presence. He would break the boy properly, and make damned sure he never stayed after class again without being told. He moved to stand over Harry. "That is a pitiful excuse for scrubbing, Potter. But what can one expect, after all? I'm sure someone of your... magnitude need not worry about doing something correctly. No, make a show of effort and it will be revered by the masses. You needn't worry about accomplishing anything. It's all right to run out of my classroom and lose your house twenty points."

"I'm sorry for my behavior last class, Professor," Harry said, not looking up. He continued scrubbing, moving the sponge over the same spot, and was sure that the finish would come up off the table before Snape was happy.

"Why are you still here?" Snape asked. "I told you, it's all right to go off with your little friends. I'm sure you have important Quidditch practices to be getting to, or perhaps another Dark Lord to defeat?" Harry ignored this, and continued to clean, determined to not let Snape get to him this time.

Snape continued. There was no way Potter would escape unscathed this time. "Ah, but you like this, don't you? You like it when I'm unkind to you. After all, if I were generous, and told you to run along and play, you wouldn't have any good reason to hate me, would you? And you can't be wrong, can you, Potter? No, you must be justified in your decisions, all of them. You'll stay here and clean up gladly, because it gives you another excuse to curse me, won't you?" Harry didn't answer, and Snape's temper flared. He reached out and grabbed Harry's arm. "Answer me, boy!"

"I'm sorry, Uncle Vernon!" Harry shouted before he knew what he was doing. The hand on his arm relaxed, and he shied away, expecting the blow that didn't come. Trembling slightly, he looked up, and realized what he'd said. "I mean, Professor," he said weakly, feeling very sick. "I'll leave if you want me to."

"What did you call me?" Snape asked, masking his surprise with a very angry tone.

"Nothing, sir," Harry mumbled, moving to take his bag.

"Leave this room without being excused, and it will be another twenty points, Potter." Whatever had just happened, he was not going to let the boy get off that easily. What had made him do that, look at him so fearfully? What was in his mind? Snape was beginning to realize that there was something more to Potter than he quite realized, and he was going to find out what it was if it killed him. He waited until Harry stopped, then continued. "You will finish cleaning this rooom, and you will answer every question I put to you truthfully, is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," Harry said tonelessly. He took up the sponge again, feeling no relief this time at its warm weight. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Snape retreat to his desk, and continued his cleaning.

It took a lot longer than usual for Harry to clean off all the table tops, as he was trying to delay the inevitable question and answer session. As he scrubbed the last one, he cursed himself for being so careless. Snape wasn't Vernon, wasn't like him... mostly. Sure they were both bullies, but that really was where their similarities ended. It was just the way Snape had grabbed his arm and ordered him to speak; it reminded him so forcefully of his treatment at Privet Drive that he was mentally transported back to that horrid place. Shaking off these thoughts, Harry dropped the sponge in the sink, washed his hands, then sat down at his desk. "I'm finished, sir," he said quietly.

Snape opened his mouth, and was visited with another attack of... it couldn't be conscience. Prying at the boy's secrets, who was he to do that, he who knew better than anyone the pain that could come from these things. He pushed the thought down and said, "Now, I believe we will revisit my initial question. What did you call me?"

Harry stared down at his desk. He didn't want to answer. Wasn't it bad enough that he had slipped like that, did he have to revisit it? Snape made an impatient noise, and Harry flinched involuntarily and spoke. "I called you Uncle Vernon, Professor."

"And why did you call me that?" Snape asked, in the same cool tone.

Harry paused here. How much was Snape going to ask about? Was he going to interrogate him until he found out about every beating, every punishment over simple things? This was beyond unfair, but Harry willed his voice to stay even. "Because of the way you grabbed my arm, sir." There, that would be enough for now. If Snape wanted to know more, he'd have to drag it out of him. Harry would play this stupid little question and answer game, but he wouldn't let Snape win.

Snape's eyes narrowed. If the boy wanted to play it like this, then they would. "And why did me grabbing your arm remind you of your uncle?"

"Because my uncle grabs me sometimes." Harry was staring very hard at the grain of the wood, at anything to keep his mind off of what was probably coming.

It was on the tip of Snape's tongue to ask why. He knew this was the devastating question, the one that would make Potter tell him whatever it was he was trying to conceal. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't do that to the child who sat there so defenseless against his scrutiny. "You may go," Snape said, his voice almost trembling at the battle within him.

Harry wanted to run from the room like last time, but forced himself to look up at Snape. "Thank you, sir," he said carefully, taking his bag. As confidently as he could, he left the room.

Alone now, Snape allowed his control to slip. He sighed, sitting down at his desk and looking around somewhat hopelessly. From what he could discern from the converation, Potter came from a violent home. Something just didn't tally though. Why would Dumbledore send the Boy Who Lived to stay with abusive relatives? Because Snape was quite sure that the headmaster knew everything that went on with Potter's life.

*****

For the rest of the year, after classes, Snape left Harry strictly alone. He watched surreptitiously as Harry cleaned and scrubbed, and didn't say a word. He had come to realize that for some reason, the cleaning of the classroom meant more to Harry than just saving Gryffindor from losing points. For whatever reason, Harry needed to do this, and Snape, who was no stranger to driving impulses, let him be.

The routine continued the next year as well, and Snape found it oddly comforting to see Potter staying after class to clean up. There was something in the quiet, careful way that room was cleaned, and soon, a pattern emerged. Class would end, Snape would sit at his desk, and Potter would get the sponge. Systematically, each table would be cleared off, then scrubbed down. Potter would ask him if everything was all right, and it usually was, and he dismissed him. However, things started to change around January, with Potter rushing through his cleaning to hurry off. One day, perturbed by this unusual change in behavior, Snape did not dismiss him as usual.

With his usual patterns of indirection, he started in on the boy. "Potter, you seem rather agitated. Have you suddenly remembered that you should have added the beetle eyes before the snake skin? Because it's rather late for that, and I can assure your sudden comprehension will not lift your marks at all."

Harry swallowed. So it was back to insults, was it? "No, sir. I just have to go see Professor Lupin, and I don't want to keep him waiting." Lupin's lessons, his kindness, were like a lifeline, and Harry's eyes shone as he thought about how much Lupin was doing for him.

Snape's eyes narrowed. "I was under the impression that you were actually passing Defense Against the Dark Arts. Which is a miracle within itself."

Harry knew that Snape was trying to get him to admit what kinds of lessons they were, but unless he asked directly, he wouldn't give the answer. "Yes, sir. I'm doing quite well in Defense."

There was a pause, and then Snape asked, "So why the need for extra lessons?" He was quite unsettled to find himself... jealous? Pushing that thought away, he raised an eyebrow.

"I -" Harry really didn't want to discuss this with Snape, but he'd learned some time ago that not answering questions usually carried a heavy penalty. "Professor Lupin is helping me learn to do the Patronus charm. So that I won't have... problems when I have to face the dementors." He gave a little squirm. He hadn't liked something about the way Snape was questioning him, it was like there was an undercurrent in the conversation that he couldn't sense. "May I please go?" he said, hopefully.

Snape gave a disgusted snort. "I can tell I won't be getting any type of satisfactory cleaning out of you anytime soon. You might as well not stay after at all, Potter."

Harry frowned. "But-"

"Just go, Potter." Snape watched a somewhat confused Potter leave the room. Just as confused, he looked around. The room really wasn't up to the standards that seemed to have been set, but it still was quite a satisfactory job. He checked the time, realizing that he had ten more minutes in his usual routine before starting in on his other work. And what was that feeling of jealousy? It, of course, wouldn't be the first time he was jealous of Lupin, but over Potter? He decided to stamp on the feelings by brewing more wolfsbane potion. Complicated as it was, it wouldn't leave room for stray thoughts.

*****

The next lesson, after class was dismissed, Snape immediately began going through stacks of parchment. Potter would run off with his little friends, go to Lupin and be coddled and admired. Just like his father, knew how to pick a circle of sycophants. A timid voice interrupted him. He looked up. Potter was standing in front of his desk. "Yes, Potter? Have you decided on a new tactic for distracting me?"

Harry was uncomfortable again. Why was there so much bitterness in Snape's voice? "May I clean the classroom, sir?" he muttered. He wasn't sure if Snape's comment from before meant that he had to leave after class, or not. It was humiliating to have to ask, but it was better than being thrown out on his ear and having points taken for disobedience.

Snape looked at him disbelievingly. Instead of answering, he set down his quill. "Take a seat, Potter." He waited until the order was complied with. "Why in Merlin's name do you bother me after every lesson with your presence? And don't give me the 'keeping things clean is important' line. I'm not stupid."

Harry worried his lower lips slightly. How could he possibly explain to Snape that he needed this routine? Cleaning had been a large part of his life since he was little, and it kept him sane. In his other classes, there was no real mess to clean up, and he was sure that the professor would bother him about it anyway. Normally, Snape would keep quiet. "I don't have an answer for that, sir." 'I do, but it's nothing I want to tell you,' he thought savagely.

"Well, then, Potter, you will be sitting here for a very long time. Quite long enough for you to formulate an answer, I imagine." Snape returned to the stack of parchment, reading through the essays, grading them with savage strokes of his quill. Minutes passed. Snape broke a quill on a hapless first year's essay. A quarter of an hour. Half an hour.

Harry was becoming desperate. Snape really didn't mean to let him go until he answered. "I always cleaned at home, sir," he offered, hoping it would be enough.

Distracted by his marking, Snape thought he heard wrong. "Repeat yourself," he ordered.

Harry took a deep breath. "At home, sir, I always clean."

"I'm not sure I understand you, Potter," Snape said, trying to make his tone sharp.

So it wouldn't be enough. "At my aunt and uncle's, sir, I always cleaned. You know, dishes and... stuff," he finished lamely. Dishes were the easy thing. It was cleaning Dudley's bedroom that was horrible.

This made no sense. "Very well, I suppose the other students have all performed chores on occasion. They, on the other hand, do not cling to them as if they were a joyous event. Why do you?"

"It's the only thing that's the same," Harry said, rather desperately. "It lets me think. At home I was always cleaning something, and when I was, it meant that things were all right, that no one would-" He stopped short, realizing he'd been about to let out far too much.
Snape raised an eyebrow, then gestured with his hand. "Do continue." While his tone implied otherwise, he was quite curious to find out what exactly was going on.

Harry blushed bright red. Damn that man, he was going to make him admit to something he didn't want to. "When I clean here, sir, it ensures that Gryffindor won't lose points," he started slowly, "and when I clean at home, it ensures that I get to eat." He closed his eyes, turning away from that calculating stare. A minute passed. "May I go now?" he whispered.

Snape blinked. So he had been right about Potter's family. There was no comfort in that, quite the reverse. He might not like Potter, but he wouldn't wish that kind of childhood on anyone. And there was another emotion, so faint that he almost missed it. A stirring of protective anger. He tamped it down ruthlessly. "You may go." Snape watched as Potter, defeated, gathered up his things. "You may also stay and clear up the disgusting mess left by the housemates of whom you are so considerate."

Harry fought against the slight smile that wanted to form. "Thank you, sir," he said, and quickly retrieved the sponge to start cleaning.

Snape watched, fascinated, as Potter, looking very relieved indeed, began scrubbing down his classroom. After nearly a half hour of this, he was done, and looking to Snape for approval. Taking a look around, Snape nodded, then said something he'd never said before. "Well done, Potter."

Harry looked shocked, and managed to stammer out thanks before fleeing the room. What had happened? Had Snape actually praised him for something? And why? Because he felt sorry for him, he supposed. Pity. And wasn't that almost worse than the open hostility? Harry, depressed by the thought, vowed to never again answer a question like that, even if it meant sitting in the classroom all night.

*****

The rest of the cleanings passed in silence, until the end of the year. Then, of course, the Sirius Black problem happened. Try as he might, Harry couldn't convince Snape that Sirius was innocent. For some reason, this bothered him more than the fact that Pettigrew had gotten away.

Surviving the summer was a bit easier this time around, due to the Quidditch World Cup. Harry enjoyed his time spent at the Burrow, but was increasingly worried about the pain in his scar, and the visions he'd been having. He found himself craving the dark dungeon classroom and the routine cleaning, and was pleased that when he asked if he could clean up after his first lesson, Snape agreed without argument.

Harry went over the room more thoroughly than ever, scrubbing down every table roughly. He had missed this, more than he liked to think about. The worst part was that somehow, Snape was a part of it. If Snape weren't here, quiet, not paying attention, Harry couldn't have the sense of security and privacy that he did. Finally, he rinsed out his sponge. "Sir? Is the classroom satisfactory?"

Snape looked up from his papers. "Sit down, Potter." He felt a rush of adrenaline. He'd always been able to control Potter during these little chats, and this time, nothing less than a full confession would do.

With a slight sigh and a lot of trepidation, Harry sat down at the front desk. He didn't like these little chats with Snape, but somewhere in the back of his mind he realized that there was no getting out of them. In a way, Snape was doing him a favor, letting him clean the classroom, and so, in return, Harry put up with the questioning. That didn't mean he liked it, however. More often than not, they ended in his total embarrassment, and fleeing of the room. Resignedly, he looked up at Snape, waiting.

Snape paused for a moment, deciding where to begin driving in the wedge. "Did you have a pleasant summer, Potter?" There. Completely innocuous. And a beginning.

"Yes, sir." Harry wasn't fooled. Snape didn't give a damn how his summer was, this was just the preliminary dance.

"Yes, I'm sure it would be. After all, I'm sure the events have last term must have been quite exalting for you. You managed, after all, to endanger yourself and your fellow students, knock me unconscious, and free a dangerous criminal. That's very satisfactory for a night's work, isn't it?" He watched Harry closely, waiting for the boy to try and lie, to deny what he had done.

Harry didn't bother protesting, to say that Sirius was innocent. Snape wouldn't listen, anyway. "I'm sorry we had to knock you out, sir." Even to his own ears, that statement sounded funny. Though not in the amusing way. Snape would have ruined everything, that is, if Pettigrew hadn't done it first. Harry still cursed himself for letting that rat get away, even the second time. He should've done *something*. With a sigh, he looked away from Snape. It was his own fault that Sirius was still on the run, and not a free man.

"That you HAD to knock me out? Really. So there was some pressing reason that forced you to do it? Never mind, Potter. I'm sure Black was quite pleased with your actions. Probably told you you were just like your father. And so you are. Arrogant, thoughtless, with absolutely no regard for the rules. Don't tell me Black didn't praise you for that. Of course, perhaps there wasn't time that night. Perhaps he couldn't tell you until you went home for the summer?" He knew, just knew that Harry was communication with Black. He had to be.

Harry swallowed nervously. "No, sir. I don't know what happened to him." He was proud of himself for keeping his voice calm, even though it was an outright lie. Snape would probably believe him if he told the truth, but that would mean incriminating a lot of people, including Hermione, who had promised not to use the time turner for anything but classes.

"Indeed." Snape's tone was that of disbelief.

"It's true!" Harry protested, worried now. What if Snape didn't believe him, and made him stop cleaning?

"It is not," Snape said simply, his eyes boring into Harry's. "It is not true. You are telling me a deliberate untruth. I do not appreciate that. You are excused." Damn it, why couldn't Potter just admit what he'd done? It wasn't as if anyone would punish him for it. Albus would probably dandle the boy on his knee and give him sweets. And he began to doubt that Potter had ever told him the truth. Who knew how much of his conversations had been invented. For some reason, Snape didn't like that thought at all.

To Be Continued...


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[info]psycho_tabby
2004-01-20 07:58 am UTC (link)
Is there going to be more?
where can I get my hands on it ?
this is really well written
Thank you

(Reply to this)


[info]caliadragon
2004-11-19 01:21 am UTC (link)
More soon, please? I loved this fic and I really look forward to the next few years.


Thanks


Calia

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[info]silentbreathing
2005-02-22 02:49 am UTC (link)
Go here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/srtcfics/2003/12/
On the 2nd. 7 parts and the epilogue of "An Unconventional Relationship" is posted there.

(Reply to this) (Parent)


[info]fuuka_faery
2005-08-22 04:18 am UTC (link)
Ohh... its really good so far. I cant wait to finish it!

(Reply to this)


[info]fishf00d
2006-04-03 06:19 pm UTC (link)
Very good! :) Definitely continuing to read this.

(Reply to this)


[info]almostlifesized
2007-01-20 08:01 pm UTC (link)
Nice story! It's well written, but sometimes you add in things that are unnecessary, like when Harry thinks to himself that he doesn't like being forced into telling. No one does, so you don't really need to mention it. Also, both Harry and Snape's inner conversations repeat themselves. Perhaps you could show how the relationship builds with actions instead of inner conversations? Generally, try not to repeat yourself, and remember that the readers can read between the lines.

Otherwise, this is a great take on it, I really liked it when Snape said "well done", and that Harry cleans to calm himself. I'm sorry to sound like a picky bitch. I'm going to read the rest of this now, because the plot fascinates me. I hope you won't take this the wrong way, as I am only trying to help. Good Luck! ^^

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