split tongue spirit
Harry followed Snape down the corridor and past the curious stares of various Slytherins, hurrying in the wake of Snape’s billowing robes. The nearer they became to the dungeons, the more uneasy Harry became. He didn’t think he deserved the detention Snape had given him for sloppy homework, and had become even more suspicious when Snape had said Harry would be serving the detention somewhere other than the classroom.
Finally, they arrived at a door further into the dungeons than Harry had ever been, and Snape let them into a set of rooms that couldn’t have been anything but Snape’s personal chambers. It was a bit odd, but he took advantage of the situation, taking everything in from the furniture to the décor, his thoughts a jumble of morbid curiosity and fascination. Somewhere in that fascination was a tremor of fear, but Harry pushed it away and focused instead on the fact that Snape was shrugging off his robes and hanging them on a hook just like any other person. Weird, that.
“Quit your ogling and follow me,” Snape said, then picked up his papers once again and stalked toward a closed door that was warded more heavily than the door to his chambers. Once inside, Harry could understand why.
“Wow!” he blurted when he saw the large glass enclosure that housed some of the rarest snakes he’d ever seen in a flawless replication of their natural environment. “That’s brilliant.” The room was warm and bright, and Snape closed the door behind them before unbuttoning his shirt cuffs and rolling up his sleeves.
“You will clean their cages without magic,” Snape said lightly. “And keep their environment to specifications.”
“What…” Harry sputtered. “I’m supposed to know how to do all that?” It wasn’t as though they’d had any classes on snakes, not even in the Care of Magical Creatures. Snape had always expected the impossible, from Harry’s first day of school, but this was beyond unfair.
“Do you not?” Snape asked, in a tone that dared Harry to tell a lie. “Do you carry around books of rare snakes for the sake of intimidating your fellow students?”
“I-“ Harry paused. “No,” he said helplessly, his forehead wrinkled with confusion. He’d always done his best to hide his interest in snakes; had even gone so far as to cast a charm on the books to make it seem as though he were reading up on some school-related topic. “But how did you…”
“I have been teaching since before you were born, Mr. Potter. I make it a practice to do reveal spells on anyone who seems to be doing an…uncharacteristic…amount of reading.”
“I just wanted-“
“Hush,” Snape interrupted, and raised his hand between them. “This is neither an attack on your motives nor your methods. I am simply letting you know that I am full aware of your knowledge of these snakes.”
Harry peered down at the reptiles, which were hissing curiously from underneath their branches. “Concrepo Vipers,” he said, trying to keep the awe from his voice.
“That is correct,” Snape said, and admired the fine creatures along with Harry. “Aptly named. They will gladly strike the hand that feeds them-- or anything else for that matter-- without warning. You are familiar with the species?”
Harry nodded. It was a pleasant change from potions class, where his mind worked frantically to keep up, and didn’t always succeed. “Yes. Their eggs have magical properties. So does the venom of their young.”
“And these?” Snape turned toward the larger containment area and waited for Harry’s answer.
“Drymarchon melanurus,” Harry recited. “They have magical properties, too. Their molted skins are valuable in, uh. A lot of potions,” he finished vaguely. He was more interested in the snakes themselves.
Despite his correct answers, the look Snape cast in his direction still managed to make Harry flush hotly, as though he were caught without his homework assignment. “As you may or may not know, I do not allow house elves in my personal chambers. I cannot leave these creatures in my office, as they would be far too great a temptation for foolishness. Which leaves me to care for them, and now, you.”
“So this isn’t detention at all,” Harry blurted. “You’re just using me as- as a servant!”
“Oh, it is detention, Mr. Potter,” Snape replied. He handed Harry a book filled with crisp, fresh parchment. “I am simply using it to my best advantage.”
“Enough,” Snape commanded. “And you needn’t look so shocked every time you perceive yourself as having been wronged,” he added snidely. “If your life thus far has not been enough to thicken your skin, then there may be no hope for the great Harry Potter at all.”
“What am I supposed to do with this?” Harry asked. He raised the book, nearly choking on the effort to not call Snape all the filthy, ugly names that he rightfully deserved. He had never asked to be singled out and brought down to Snape’s private chambers, especially not to do something that would make people more suspicious of him than they already were.
“When you have finished attending to the creatures, you will observe their activity and make a record accordingly.” Snape sat down at a desk in the corner and dipped his quill into an ink well, indicating that the conversation was over.
“But please, sir,” Harry said carefully, and tried to sound as respectful as his tight throat would allow. “Will you keep it a secret? I mean, you won’t tell people what I’m doing down here, right?”
At this, Snape looked up from his papers and narrowed his eyes on Harry, as though he had just said something scandalously inappropriate.
“Please?” Harry asked again.
Finally, Snape nodded, his black eyes unreadable as always. “Very well,” he said, and went back to ignoring Harry.
Harry sat down with the log book and paged through to where he had last left off. The vipers weren’t doing very much at the moment, so he glanced over at the larger holding area, where the Drymarchon melanurus were, as usual, darting around nervously, disturbed by his very presence. It was quiet down in Snape’s chambers, and once he’d settled in, Harry actually kind of enjoyed the peace. It was definitely the most relaxed he’d felt all day, and even Umbridge couldn’t touch him here. At the thought of Umbridge, Harry’s fingers went to the back of his hand where he stroked absently over the raw, ravaged patch of skin. The healing spells weren’t working anymore, but that didn’t even matter when far bigger things were happening. Dreadful things.
Harry abandoned that train of thought and turned his attention back to the snakes. There was no point in dwelling on those things, and so long as he had detentions with Snape, he couldn’t have them with Umbridge. It was, in a way, the fulfillment of Harry’s one simple wish, which was to have a safe, quiet place away from the madness that had broken out all over the wizarding world. Strange how Snape was the one who had offered it to him.
It was hardly the most strenuous work he’d ever done. After he took care of the serpents’ basic needs, there was little left to do but sit down and observe. The Concrepo Vipers were fun to watch, and it was the one time when being a parselmouth was a gift rather than a curse.
Snape was at his usual spot at his desk, writing with quick, precise movements of hand and wrist. After a few minutes, he put down his quill and cleared his throat. “What are your observations today?” he asked. “They appear more active than usual.”
Harry nodded. “Yes,” he said, then paused. “They, er. Dimit-I mean, the male Concrepo Viper wants to mate.”
“Splendid,” Snape said approvingly. “Am I to take it by your slip of tongue that you have named the creatures?”
“No!” Harry protested. He wouldn’t do that, although most people did name their pets. Snape wasn’t most people, though, and probably thought of them as ingredients, not living creatures. “I didn’t have to name them because they already have names. Dimitri and Imranda.”
“Very well,” Snape drawled. “And do you know how long it might be before they actually copulate?”
“Um.” Harry could feel the blush creeping over his cheeks and he hated it, but talking about this with Snape! He ducked his head and wiped his palms on his robes. “It would be right now, if Dimitri had his way,” he admitted. “But Imranda keeps putting him off.”
At this, Snape actually snorted. “Isn’t that always the way,” he said dryly. Harry gaped. Was that humor? “You will let me know when it has been done,” Snape instructed, and returned to his writing.
Harry fumbled around for a suitable response, but everything he came up with would no doubt sound foolish to Snape, and after a few seconds it was too late for any kind of response at all. He removed his outer robe and followed Snape’s lead in rolling up his shirt sleeves because it might have been a good room for snakes, but Harry was sweating under so many layers. He made too much noise in finding a suitable place to hang his robes, and shrugged apologetically when Snape shot him an annoyed glare.
“Too hot,” he said.
“Yes.” Snape rose and came out from behind his desk, taking the book from the small table where Harry had set it. “And it seems a bit more humid, is it not?”
“Yes.” Harry reached for the book, but Snape snatched it out of reach.
“Not so fast, Mr. Potter,” he snapped, and paged through the book until he found what he was looking for. “It says right here in your own hand that you have increased the humidity in their enclosure,” Snape said, and jabbed his finger at the page. “How did you come to the conclusion that the air was too dry?”
“I…” Harry stuffed his hands into his pockets and shrugged. Snape wasn’t going to trick him into admitting anything.
“I suppose you might have just been guessing, as you are so fond of doing in your potions lessons,” Snape said thoughtfully, and moved closer. Harry ventured a slight nod; enough to hopefully appease Snape but not so much that it was an outright lie. He stared at the shiny toes of Snape’s boots and waited, feeling the full weight of Snape’s hard scrutiny.
“I see,” Snape said finally, in a low voice. Sighing in a long-suffering manner, he gripped Harry’s chin in a grip that didn’t hurt but still made Harry wince at the touch. He didn’t speak again until Harry met his eyes. “As likely as that seems, I find it far more likely that you overheard the snakes complaining about their environment. You are a parselmouth, are you not?”
“I am,” Harry said, and yanked his face out of Snape’s grasp. “But I’m not- I don’t…”
“Yes,” Snape hissed, his lip curling in distaste. “You don’t. You are a parselmouth who will not speak to snakes. Most interesting, how you accept the rewards of that wretched scar, and yet deny a useful, coveted gift.”
It wasn’t like that at all, and something hot and reckless surged up inside Harry at the idea that Snape of all people would think that Harry enjoyed any aspect of his scar. “I don’t!” he shouted, and pushed Snape away. “There isn’t any reward! People looking at me all the time isn’t a reward, and neither is the way it feels when Voldemort…” Harry trailed off, his face burning, unwilling to open himself up for another punishment. People didn’t like it when he talked about Voldemort, and they didn’t like it when he spoke Parseltongue. He knew better, by now, than to do both. “And I do speak to them,” he added quietly. “When you’re not in the room.”
Snape stared down at him for another long moment, while Harry shook with frustration. He had just yelled at a teacher and admitted to talking to snakes, something that had only gotten him in trouble in the past. “Mr. Potter,” Snape said, finally. “That is one of the most foolish things I have ever heard you say.” He paused, as if restraining himself from further insulting Harry, and then continued. “If you would use your no doubt atrophied brain, you would realize that I have deliberately sought you out to assist me with these extremely costly and sensitive animals. You would also realize that the reason you have been chosen is because of your gift and the fact that you have, in perhaps a solitary act of good judgment, chosen to independently pursue the interest.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked cautiously.
“I mean that not only are you permitted to speak Parseltongue in my chambers, you are strongly encouraged to do so.”
Harry eyed Snape suspiciously for a moment or two before deciding that what had just passed between them was a positive development. He was tired of holding his tongue when there were so many questions he wanted to ask the creatures, and his notes would be far better if he were allowed to interact with them.
Once Snape had gone back to his own work, Harry leaned close and hissed out a greeting to the animals, darting cautious glances over at Snape every so often. Snape seemed engrossed in his work, so Harry slowly brought away the hand he had been using to cover his mouth.
Dimitri stayed to the far side of his enclosure, restlessly slithering from one side to the other, preoccupied with his desire to mate, while Imranda was fascinated by Harry. She raised her sleek black head to look him up and down and her tongue flickered curiously in his direction as she questioned him at first suspiciously, then with curiosity.
“Welcome,” she hissed out.
Harry smiled. He pressed his hand to the glass and enjoyed the short respite from the alternating smitten and suspicious public that hounded him the other twenty-two hours a day.
“Why do you not speak Parseltongue before others?” Snape asked a few days later. From his desk, he had been watching Harry for nearly an hour.
Harry looked up from his notes and sighed. “It makes them afraid of me,” he admitted, even though he had initially meant to lie. It seemed that with Snape there was no reason to lie, since he was usually cross with Harry regardless of what Harry did or said. And the intensity that he’d been watching Harry with lately, he wouldn’t have been surprised if Snape had been practicing Legilimens on him the entire time.
“I see.” Snape nodded and paused, his pale, graceful hands motionless on the stack of parchment. “Then let me assure you,” he said in a strange, mild tone. “In the house of Slytherin you will find many who envy your gift, but none who fear it.”
A sudden burst of pride welled up inside Harry’s chest when he realized what Snape was saying. Snape had never paid him a compliment--even an implied compliment like this one-- and Harry was so taken aback that he didn’t realize until much later that when remarking about his house’s envy, Snape might have also been including himself.
Harry took the stairs down to the dungeons two at a time, blatantly running but willing to take the risk of getting caught. Around the next corner he nearly bumped into Professor Snape, who was happily berating a first year Slytherin. Outwardly he gave no indication of being happy, but Harry could tell by the liveliness of Snape’s tirade that he was in his element.
“I’ve figured out why Imranda won’t mate,” Harry panted, in between attempts at catching his breath. Snape had been ready with a scowl, but his face went tellingly neutral at Harry’s news.
“Go,” he dismissed the Slytherin at his side. “Potter, come with me.” They walked together toward Snape’s chambers and once they were inside, Snape said, “Speak.”
Harry grinned up at his professor, who would no sooner show enthusiasm for anything than he would show affection. Still, for Snape, Harry recognized the brightness of his eyes and lack of scowl for what it was. “She isn’t supposed to eat for two more weeks,” Harry explained. “But she can’t eat while she’s pregnant; her body can’t handle the stress. She needs the strength if she’s going to carry the eggs.”
Snape nodded. “Of course,” he mused. “She will carry the eggs in her body, will she not?”
Harry shrugged. “She might. She could lay them, but she doesn’t really trust you not to do something to them.” He laughed at this last bit of information and the affronted way that Snape reacted and glared in the direction of the snake room.
“I see. And is that a dead rat in your pocket or are you just happy…to be away from the rest of your idiotic house?” Snape asked sulkily. His hands went to his robe unfastened the long, heavy garments while Harry kept smiling. He couldn’t seem to stop.
“A rat, sir.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the rodent. “Do you mind?”
“Do as you like,” Snape said.
Harry let himself into the snake room while Snape made himself busy in his chambers. It was strange to hear the sounds of Snape running water, opening drawers and other normal-person type things, but he was almost used to it by now. Sometimes, when he was done caring for the snakes, Snape would give him tea and biscuits in front of the fire; other times they would just discuss his findings until it was time for Harry to leave.
He wondered, sometimes, if Snape even remembered that these were supposed to be detentions, but Harry had figured out weeks ago that he and Snape were both benefiting from their arrangement. It was as though his work with the snakes earned him a reprieve from Umbridge, which meant that Harry also spent a great deal of time wondering if Snape somehow knew.
That was a little harder to believe, but not entirely impossible.
Imranda and Dimitri mated the next day. Much to Harry’s mortification, Snape insisted that he watch and record the more significant details, whatever that was supposed to mean. The snakes didn’t seem to care, but Harry had never blushed harder in his life; and he got so flustered that he ended up replying to Snape with Parseltongue twice before he realized what he was doing. The only reason he even noticed was that Snape stopped talking and took a breath too long to look away, the same speculative expression he always wore when Harry spoke to the snakes.
Harry scribbled “The male Concrepo Viper has two penises,” then crossed it out and wrote, “penii,” then made a line through the entire thing and wrote, “The male Concrepo Viper has two reproductive organs.” Harry nibbled at the neck of his quill and considered this information. Although it was impressive, he didn’t envy the animal. As it was, he could barely control his one unruly organ at times, much less two.
He knew it should have been less of a problem at Hogwarts than in a Muggle school; after all, the students were kept covered from neck to toe, all the way down to wrist and ankle, but in a way that constant modesty only made these thoughts more likely.
For example; Snape, Harry thought idly, twirling his quill and waiting for Dimitri to just finish already. His gaze slid over to where Snape sat writing with his usual quick style, and then focused in on the bare skin of Snape’s forearms. Under normal circumstances someone’s wrist would never be sexy, but Snape had been buttoned up for years, and the shock of bare skin, of shifting, flexing flesh was something Harry found fascinating.
It was just wrong enough of a thought for Harry to keep dwelling on it, his mind on the unbuttoned length of Snape’s collar instead of where it ought to be. Snape only shed his robes in his chambers, but Harry was willing to bet that there were instances when he was even more undressed than this. The thought was morbid and exciting all at once, and Harry kept returning to it over and over again.
In that moment, Harry changed his mind. Maybe it was because of that small, pale expanse of skin or because his first and only real wish had already been sated. Now that Harry had his safe, quiet place, he wanted one thing more: a fantasy. He’d had fantasies in the past, but they had involved the slaying Voldemort and hundreds of Quidditch victories. Although just as unlikely, this one was hotly thrilling, and the demanding knot of tension in his belly took him so suddenly that he had to stop thinking about it altogether.
“Why are you letting me do this?” Harry asked one evening when the end of the school year was drawing near. Dumbledore was still out of power, Harry was still plagued by disturbing dreams, but he was still being provided his safe, quiet place nearly every evening with Professor Snape’s snakes.
They belonged to Snape, but Harry spent so much time with them that he thought of them as his own, much like Hedwig…or Sirius. At that thought, Harry almost laughed.
“I dislike doing things the muggle way,” Snape said shortly. “Since the use of magic in their care would alter their properties, someone must do the menial labor. You seem to be well-taught in muggle work, and have the added gift of knowing their needs and wants. There was never a question of whether or not you were going to assist me.”
Harry nodded and stretched out on Snape’s rug, warming his feet at the fire. They were taking a break, even though it was well past when he ought to be getting back to Gryffindor tower. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “But was there any other reason?”
Snape closed his book with a thump and sighed loudly before turning to stare into the flames. “Such as?”
Bringing his knees up to his chin, Harry wrapped his arms around his legs and shrugged. “Such as…did you know about Umbridge?” he asked. “Is that why you stopped my detentions?”
“I did nothing of the sort,” Snape huffed. He jerked his head in annoyance, and when the long, dark tendrils fell away from his face, Harry saw the lie.
“All right,” he said agreeably. “I was just curious.”
“Gryffindor,” Snape muttered darkly. “Always wanting to know what’s in the pot, right up until the moment they tumble in headfirst.”
“Sometimes I fall feet first,” Harry retorted, and was rewarded with an almost-smirk.
“Go to bed,” Snape said. Harry did as he was told, and took his fantasy with him.
“You look terrible,” Snape said when Harry walked into his chambers. This would be the last time Harry saw both Snape and the snakes until the next school year, and he was heavy with loss.
“I feel terrible.” It had been two days since Sirius had fallen, and not even the relief of the headmaster being reinstated could change that. There was a distance between him and Snape; he could feel it now even as they stood stiffly in Snape’s chambers, waiting for his dismissal.
“Does Imranda know that you will be away?” Snape asked.
Harry nodded miserably. He didn’t want to leave her, not in this condition, but there was no helping it. By the time he returned to Hogwarts, the babies would have already hatched. “She’s not happy,” he admitted, “but I told her to behave for you. I told them all, but…” Dimitri and the other snakes weren’t very friendly, and rarely spoke to Harry.
When Harry was younger, he used to have this same dread over being separated from Ron and Hermione for an entire summer. It was an anxious, helpless worry that people he loved would forget about him while he was locked in his stifling bedroom on Privet Drive.
“I have all of your notes,” Snape said. “We will manage in your absence.”
“I know. But she-“ Harry turned to leave when his voice broke. It wasn’t just Imranda; it was Sirius, his one chance at a family, and the prospect of another long summer with the Dursleys.
“Harry,” Snape said softly, far softer than Harry deserved. The horror was in knowing that if he turned around, Snape would see his tears and that if he did not, then it meant leaving without a proper goodbye. He balled up his fists and took long, shuddering breaths until he could face his professor. When he met Snape’s gaze he was surprised by the concern he saw there; concern and regret, and something undone that Harry couldn’t even begin to guess.
“I will see you in September,” Snape said, somehow holding himself even more rigidly than usual.
“See you then,” Harry said, and rushed past Snape toward the snake room for one last talk with Imranda.
The summer passed slowly; perhaps more slowly than any summer since he’d been at Hogwarts. The careless shoves and ceaseless complaining of his family meant there was no more safe place for Harry, but their cruelty was not far-reaching enough to take everything. Harry held on to his fantasy, taking it out every now and then for comfort…and pleasure.
One morning about two weeks before his birthday, Harry woke up and while he waited to be let out of his room, drew a few pictures with a pencil and plain white paper. He hoped they would let him out soon, and that Aunt Petunia would allow him to take a shower, which he hadn’t been allowed in days. In an attempt to distract himself from the uncomfortable summer heat, he sketched a picture of Imranda, and on a whim added a scowling Professor Snape to the side. The Snape in his picture was wearing loose shirtsleeves and black trousers, and Harry studied it for a second before rubbing it out with his eraser and refashioning the shirt, unbuttoned all the way down the front.
He rubbed his face with his hand and looked at his picture, liking the way he went warm all over with a guilty flush that only increased when he took the pencil and made a few delicate lines that formed a buckle for Snape’s thick, black belt.
It was so nice to look at that Harry was almost sorry when Aunt Petunia unlocked his door. There would be plenty of time for that later, so Harry put on his most polite expression and told Petunia that he was in desperate need of a shower.
She sniffed around his room in distaste. “You certainly are,” she agreed, then glanced around nervously, smoothing down her blue apron with elegant hands that had never once touched Harry with anything other than impatient resentment. “I suppose…if you hurry. Before your uncle returns from the market.”
“Yes, I promise,” he said eagerly. He hurried into the bathroom, reveling in the luxury of locking the door from the inside for once.
“And you needn’t go downstairs after,” Petunia called after him. “There isn’t any more breakfast.”
There wasn’t any lunch, either, but for dinner Aunt Petunia brought him a bit of soup and a roll. Harry ate it and then sat on his bed considering his situation. He hadn’t spoken to anyone in weeks. Rather, he hadn’t spoken to anyone who liked him in weeks. He and Dudley exchanged insults on a regular basis, but Harry paid dearly for every remark. The next day was Sunday, which meant Uncle Vernon might let him outside, even if it was only do to the yard work. His limbs were twitchy with pent up energy. When he shut his eyes, he imagined the freedom of flying.
It was always a relief when dusk rolled around. It meant another day was over, and for the next eight or nine hours he wouldn’t have to fill the time or to be reminded of his inferiority by his relatives. Dusk was a relief, but today it didn’t bring the same kind of relief. Harry was stirred by a restlessness that wouldn’t leave him alone, and even when he slid under his thin blanket, his thoughts kept turning to the sketch of Professor Snape, and how he hadn’t dared draw what he was picturing now. Not only was Snape’s shirt unbuttoned, but his trousers as well, with the belt hanging open from both sides.
Harry squirmed beneath his blanket and sighed up at the dark ceiling. He hadn’t drawn a disheveled, half-dressed Snape, but he was sketching it in his mind, the image of pale limbs and dark hair vivid against the back of his eyelids. The image of another cock appeared as his fingers skated down into his underpants. Snape’s cock, because he must have one somewhere underneath all those clothes, and surely even Snape got like this sometimes—hard, wanting to be touched—and Harry gripped himself firmly while sorting through a dozen images of what Snape might do in his own bed at night.
He did it hard and fast, feet braced against the mattress because tonight his hand wasn’t enough; his hips wanted to move up and up, toward something. Toward Snape. Just the thought of it sent a jolt of pleasure up Harry’s spine, the thought of doing this in front of Snape, those hard, calculating eyes on his swollen, wet cock-- Harry pushed his feet into the bed and came hard in his fist.
“You look terrible,” Snape said from the doorway of Harry’s bedroom. He spoke slowly, emphasizing each word as though he were spitting it from his mouth.
Caught off guard, Harry quickly pulled his t-shirt on, further mussing his hair, which was a lost cause this early in the morning. “You said that last time you saw me,” he reminded him.
“I was premature in my judgment,” Snape said, and shut the door with a flick of his wand. Immediately, Uncle Vernon’s ranting was blocked out and Harry felt more at ease. “This is where you live?” he asked haughtily, a dark scowl on his face.
Harry shrugged. He knew the room wasn’t fancy, but it was his, and it was bigger than his old cupboard.
“And the locks on the door?”
“They don’t want me wandering around the house. They think I’ll…” Harry trailed off. There was no end to the list of the many crimes the Dursleys feared Harry might commit. “Are you here for a reason, or just to insult my room?”
Snape folded his arms across his chest and glared at the bars on the window, then at Harry. “Your stubborn snake refuses to let go of the eggs without your presence.”
Harry laughed. Professor Snape looked exactly the same. Every year, he marveled at how everyone was exactly the same even though he’d expected them to change completely during his summer exile. “Can I come, then? Did you ask Professor Dumbledore-“
“-As you said, I am hardly here for the sole purpose of insulting your room,” Snape said. “Pack your things.”
Harry began shoving his belongings into his trunk as quickly as he could, nearly dizzy with the sheer joy of escape. When he turned around, he saw Snape eyeing the papers on his desk and Harry dove for them, scooping them up and out of Snape’s view. He prayed that Snape hadn’t seen the picture even though it had been right on top in plain sight. “Er…” Harry searched for something to distract Snape, but as it turned out, his professor had already been distracted.
“What happened to your face?” Snape demanded. “And your arm?”
Harry flung the trunk lid closed. “Done,” he said. “Ready to go?”
“Not until you tell me how you came to be injured.”
“I…my cousin hit me and my uncle likes to drag me about by the arm. It doesn’t hurt. It’s fine,” he assured Snape. He reached for the doorknob, but thought better of it at the last second. “Maybe you’d better go first.” He stepped aside to let Snape past.
“So you fear the people responsible for your care?” Snape said snidely.
“It’s not fear; it’s self-preservation,” Harry snapped, raising his chin in defiance. “I can’t use my magic here! They outnumber me and outweigh me. They don’t have to let me live here, you know. I doubt Professor Dumbledore would appreciate having to find me a new safe place to live…if there even is such a thing,” he spat. If he was bitter, he was entitled to it.
“I see,” Snape said thoughtfully, but Harry didn’t think he saw at all. Without another word, Snape shrunk Harry’s trunk down to size and Apparated them both out of his bedroom.
Imranda was thick and heavy with eggs, and she let them drop almost as soon as Harry came into the room. She wouldn’t rest until Harry promised that he wouldn’t let Snape do anything to the eggs. Even Dimitri seemed happy to see Harry, and Harry sat with them for hours before finally retreating to Snape’s sitting room for a break.
“I trust she has let them go?” Snape asked when Harry flopped down next to him on the mahogany and velvet sofa.
“Yes. You’re not going to do anything to the babies, are you?”
“Of course not. It’s the eggs themselves that I’m most interested in. The snakes’ venom is precious, and dead they are most valuable for ingredients…though I see no reason to hurry that along.”
“Good to know,” Harry said cautiously. Snape had such a morbid sense of humor it was sometimes hard to know when he was serious.
“How many eggs?”
“Three,” Harry said. “Three males. Imranda told me. I think she’s been talking to them through the eggs, but I can barely hear them.”
“I didn’t know they could do that,” Snape said.
“Me neither.” Harry curled his legs beneath him and to face his professor. “I was thinking, I’ve got loads of information that’s not in books. Some of it could be useful for breeders and even for potion masters like you.”
“You want to write your own book?” Snape asked. His eyebrow arched with interest. Harry nodded, wishing he didn’t get so flustered under Snape’s full attention. It was just so rare; the only other time Snape looked at him this way was when Harry spoke Parseltongue.
“And I think I don’t think I’ll publish under my own name,” Harry added.
Snape nodded and gave a small hum of approval. “I think that a very wise idea,” he said.
“Would you buy my book?” Harry teased. He stretched one leg out onto the floor, the other still tucked under his body, and noticed that Snape followed the movement with his eyes before glancing briefly at the point where one leg met the other and quickly looking away.
“I might,” Snape replied dryly. “Provided you have a very hardworking editor, which you will undoubtedly need if your potion essays are anything to go by.”
“They are,” Harry agreed. “Maybe Hermione would do it for me.”
“She would suffice.”
They fell into silence after that, and Snape went back to his reading while Harry went to monitor the eggs.
When Harry returned, his stomach full, two of the babies had already torn their way out of their eggs. Imranda and Dimitri were circling them proudly. Imranda refused to rest until the final baby had ripped through its leathery pouch; only then did she slither into a shady corner where she remained, deflated with exhaustion.
Harry removed the discarded eggs and stored them according to Snape’s instructions. Snape had been gone when Harry got back from the kitchens, and even though it was nearly bedtime, he still had not returned. In spite of having his first decent meal in weeks, Harry felt weak, and fell asleep on Snape’s sofa, vaguely aware of the ache in his forehead but too sleepy to determine its significance.
Harry woke with a start and only flailed for a second before he realized where he was. At the door, Professor Snape was chanting out powerful warding spells. He paced the circumference of the room, and then every room in his chambers, his wand pouring out light for a full thirty minutes until he returned, sweating and out of breath, back to where Harry sat.
“I feel him,” Harry said. “Is he here?”
“No. But he is moving,” Snape said. “Albus suggested that I be more cautious than usual with the illustrious Boy Who Lived as my houseguest.”
“Houseguest?” Harry rubbed at his forehead and sat back down. It wasn’t just the pain that made it so awful; it was the undiluted evil; the pleasure in inflicting hurt that made Harry dizzy with nausea.
“You are my responsibility until school resumes; you will-“ Snape stopped abruptly, his face darkening with concern. “Tell me what it is,” he said. “Don’t leave anything out.”
“It’s just Voldemort,” Harry gasped, and dropped his head down between his knees. “It’s nothing new.”
“He always affects you like this?” Snape asked incredulously.
Harry shook his head and moaned into his knees. “Not unless he’s really excited.” A few tears escaped; he couldn’t help it. It hurt so much, and it was still frightening even after all this time.
“Do you want Madame Pomfrey? Or…the Headmaster is not at Hogwarts, but I can call for him if you wish
“No. Not them,” Harry gasped. “Just you. Please.” He reached out his arms, trembling with Voldemort’s wrath and his own desperate hope. He had never asked for this before, not from anyone. He had learned as a child that kisses and warm embraces were only for other boys. It was still a shock each time Mrs. Weasley or Hermione gathered him into their arms, but he had never asked for it. He was asking now.
He needed it. He didn’t care that it made Snape hesitate with misgivings, nor did he care that Snape’s arms were at first stiff and awkward when he put them around Harry. Snape’s robes were cool and soothing against Harry’s fevered face, and he pressed into Snape’s chest, clutching Snape until he was being held just as tightly.
“Please, put me to sleep, anything,” Harry begged. It was hopelessly muffled, but after a few minutes, Snape disentangled himself from Harry and went to a locked cabinet and waving a light unlocking spell, took out a white iridescent bottle. “Get up,” he ordered gently. “It’s best to take this from a reclined position.”
Not thrilled about losing the warm contact, Harry stumbled after Snape into the cavernous bedroom where he was boosted up onto the high four-poster bed. A strong hand clamped onto his jaw and a cool, tingling liquid poured down his throat. It was the last thing he remembered.
The pain was gone when Harry came to, and he felt wonderful. His body was cradled by a firm, cushiony mattress and the covers were luxuriant against his skin. It was an effort to force himself up and out of bed, and when he wandered into the snake room he found Snape at his desk.
“I feel much better,” Harry said. “Thank you.”
“You are quite welcome. It was nothing more than a sleeping potion.” Snape dismissed his gratitude with a wave of his hand.
“I’m not talking about the potion.”
Snape paused. “I see.”
“Is your bed charmed?”
A snort. “No,” Snape said haughtily, “you are merely unused to sleeping on a mattress that’s not fit for the rubbish bin.”
“Oh.” Harry couldn’t muster a good argument for that particular topic, so he let it drop and instead approached the snakes’ enclosure. The babies were happily exploring their surroundings, but Imranda was still in the spot where she had fallen to rest yesterday.
“Iyst shhiytra Imranda,” he hissed to her, and tapped his fingers on the glass. She lifted her head and gave a weak reply before tucking herself back into a loose coil. She looked unwell.
Harry stepped back and frowned, then walked around the enclosure to get a look at her from another angle. “I think Imranda needs to eat,” he said, and found Snape already watching him with a contemplative eye.
“There are mice in the store room; Hagrid brought them down while you were asleep.”
“Thanks.” Harry found the mice and while Dimitri gulped his down, Imranda just flicked her tongue in the mouse’s general direction. She refused to eat no matter how much Harry cajoled her, so he let her alone for the time being.
“I’m worried about Imranda,” he confessed to Snape over dinner. “Snakes need to regain their strength after giving birth, but she won’t eat.”
“Perhaps she just needs some rest,” Snape suggested. “Does it not take a while?”
Harry shrugged and moved the contents of his plate around with his fork. “She just doesn’t look very good.”
“Neither do you,” Snape replied. “Perhaps you ought to take your own advice and eat what is before you.”
Harry complied, but that didn’t stop him from worrying. Something was wrong, and he knew it.
Three days later, Imranda had still not eaten, nor moved from her corner. Harry searched his books for advice on what to do, but nothing seemed to help. He was at Snape’s work table, carefully removing the fur and bones from a dead mouse--a last-ditch effort to coax Imranda into eating--when Snape returned from an Order meeting and stood over his shoulder.
“For Imranda,” Harry explained.
“I am not an idiot, Potter,” Snape said dryly. “Is there any improvement?”
Harry took a deep breath, calming himself even though the panic was lodged in his chest, just waiting to be jolted loose. “No,” he said carefully. “She needs a healing spell or a potion. I found a spell that should restore all her lost nutrients.”
“Unfortunate,” Snape remarked. “You know that to use magic on the creature would completely destroy all her useful properties.”
“But she’ll die if we don’t help her!” Harry gripped his knife tightly and pressed it into the tabletop.
“If she dies, she will still be useful to me.”
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this!” Harry burst out. “She’s not just a…”
Snape gave him a hard look. “A snake?”
Harry shook his head. Tears pricked his eyes but he blinked at them; he would not let them fall. Not in front of Snape, who Harry had wrongly been allowing himself to think of as someone he trusted. Except…Imranda belonged to Snape and he had paid a great deal more for her than he could probably afford.
“It’s not as though I can just go down to Diagon Alley and buy another one, Potter.”
“How much did she cost?” Harry asked.
“A year’s salary.”
Harry buried his hands in his hair, sick with desperation. By now he ought to have been used to the feeling of not being able to save people, and yet here it was again, the helpless misery swallowing him whole.
“I had been making inquiries for three years before these two were made available to me,” Snape added. “It is not just the money.”
“Oh.” Harry paused. “But, if you-“
“-It is completely out of the question. Perhaps it if were the male, but the females are precious. For my work, Potter. This brings me no personal gain, I assure you.”
It was more of an explanation than Snape would have given anyone else, Harry knew. Snape did not take kindly to being questioned or doubted, and yet Harry could not stop himself. “Tomorrow is my birthday,” he said. “As a present, to me-“
“-Enough!” Snape shouted, and brought his hand down on the scarred, stained table. His jaw clenched tightly, and his face was drawn into a terrible scowl. Harry looked away. “It is completely out of the question.”
Harry spent his birthday with Hagrid. Hagrid was extraordinarily interested in the snakes, and wanted Harry to tell him everything, particularly the story about Dimitri’s repeated attempts to strike Harry during feeding time. It was probably something he could relate to, and Harry added a few embellishments just to hear Hagrid’s delighted laugh.
He stayed as long as he could, unable to bear the thought of staying where he could watch Imranda fade away, but eventually Hagrid sent him back to Snape’s chambers. Harry let himself in the way Snape had taught him, and found Snape curled on the sofa, looking as though he’d just run a course of Crutiatus. Not only was he soaked with sweat, his face was even paler than usual and he was clutching his arm as though he would remove it from his body if it were his choice. Harry rushed to him and only at the last moment remembered that they weren’t exactly on the best terms. He stopped short and searched for a properly detached tone.
“Is it him? The mark?”
“NO!” Snape roared. “It is that supposedly helpless snake, who has bitten and poisoned me, and I should wring her bloody NECK!”
“Imranda?” Harry stepped back and then gaped at Snape with dawning comprehension. “How could she bite you? Trying to prematurely harvest her organs? Did you think she looked weak enough that you could chop her into PIECES without her knowing?” It served Snape right to be bitten. He was just lucky that one of the babies hadn’t tried to save their mother. The babies’ venom was fatal, but of course Snape knew that, and would have only gone after the weakest creature. “How could you?” he seethed.
“She is mine, and I may do with her as I wish!” Snape snarled, then doubled over in pain. “Leave me, Potter. I ought to have known that bringing you further into my life would only lead to misery.”
Furious, Harry stomped away. At least his anger outweighed his fear about Imranda, which helped him to go inside and confront whatever Snape had done.
Imranda was stretched out in her usual spot.
“Iyst shhiytra,” Harry inquired, barely able to keep the tremble from his hand as he placed it on the glass.
Imranda twitched, then lazily lifted her head and replied to him. She was well, she said, because of the professor man and the sweet potion he had forced into her nearly lifeless mouth. Her slim shape was interrupted by a lump near the middle, which meant she had improved enough to feed.
Sweet potion. Harry reeled at the implications. “Hisala sethyshaa,” he choked; a reprimand for striking out at a helping hand.
Imranda hissed out an apology, but from what she said, as soon as the potion took effect he she had become ravenous, and the professor’s hand had looked like the most tender morsel she’d ever seen. Understandable, but oh Merlin, Harry had just accused Snape of something terrible when he had actually taken the risk of doing something kind. He had wanted to give Harry his birthday present.
The grown Concrepo Viper’s venom torments for approximately six hours, so Snape appeared whole and healthy the next morning. He flagrantly ignored Harry for the first half of the day, sweeping about as though he were the busiest man on earth and daring anyone to interrupt him. When he disappeared into his laboratory, Harry lurked in the doorway for a good thirty minutes before gathering up the nerve to approach him from behind. Trying to remain silent, he watched Snape preparing the egg shells for storage, slicing and rolling with deft motions that left no room for error.
“I owe you an apology,” he said, and was met with silence.
“You’re probably pretty angry with me,” Harry tried again. “Because I acted like a right jackass, don’t you think? But I was afraid. That’s why I accused you of those things. I didn’t want to lose her, but I don’t want to lose you, either.”
“There is nothing to lose,” Snape said sharply, without looking up from his work. “You are acting ridiculous, Mr. Potter. Not to say that I am surprised by your endless displays of Gryffindor emotion, but I assure you, they are utterly pointless.”
“You care about me,” Harry insisted. “It’s a little late to pretend otherwise.”
“I care about my snake keeper,” Snape corrected him. “All the serpents in the world will do me no good if I have no one to care for them. I felt that a compromise was in order.”
Harry didn’t believe it. His mouth dropped open until he remembered what Snape was constantly telling him about being too open about what he was feeling. Quickly, he snapped it shut. “If you say so,” he said skeptically. “But it feels an awful lot like a birthday present.”
“All right,” Harry said cheerfully. “But if it’s all the same to you, I’m going to pretend that it is.”
The owls came at breakfast. Harry carried his presents back to Snape’s chambers and found Snape packing a small suitcase.
“Are you taking a trip?” he asked. He knew that he had made Snape angry, but was pretty sure that Dumbledore would never allow him to leave Harry behind.
“You will accompany me,” he said, and slid the clasps into place. “We will be gone for several days. Do not bring muggle clothes, do not bring anything in Gryffindor colors, and wear a cloak with a hood.”
“I don’t have any wizard clothes that aren’t in my house colors,” Harry said. “Is it that big of a deal?”
Snape sneered at him before going to a tall armoir and opening it. “As impossible as it might sound to your blind house loyalty, you’ll find that there are situations in which being a Gryffindor does not work to your advantage.”
“Why? Where are we going?” Harry had so rarely ventured into the wizarding world that anywhere sounded wonderful, especially if it meant Snape was talking to him again.
“Shalmonere. We will stay at a wizard’s Inn and meet with a contact that may be able to sell us a replacement for Imranda.” Snape pulled a few plain black garments from the armoir and shoved them at Harry.
“But I thought it cost-“
“-as I said before, Potter, some things are more than just money. Now if you don’t mind, we will Apparate as soon as you’re ready.”
They Apparated to an alley in a heavily populated city. They were near the sea; Harry could tell by the air, but it was hard to see with the oversized hood that Snape had insisted he keep over his head.
“Keep your head down and do not speak to anyone,” Snape said lowly, then led Harry down the street and into an expensive-looking hotel. The man at the front desk was finely dressed, but Harry immediately recognized the same sort of haughty superiority that Lucius Malfoy carried about him. He fawned all over Snape with a combination of respect and fear, then finally turned his attention to Harry.
“I see you have brought a young guest,” he remarked. His tone prickled the hair on the back of Harry’s neck and he froze, pressed into Snape’s side, waiting for a reaction.
“Yes. You are very astute,” Snape said snidely. “We will not wish to be disturbed.”
“Of course, of course.” Peeking from underneath his hood, Harry saw the man place a key in the palm of Snape’s hand. “Please enjoy your stay, Mr. Snape,” he said, and gave a little bow with his head. With that, Snape put his hand on the back of Harry’s neck and led him to the stairs.
Their room was upstairs, and as soon as they got inside, Harry flipped the hood backwards and threw off the cloak. “Do I have to wear that thing everywhere?” he complained. “And was he a Death Eater?”
“I believe it will suffice to say that there are a great many who would be rather scandalized about your presence at this particular establishment.”
Harry brightened. That sounded brilliant. Snape had brought him somewhere dangerous and exciting even though others—and he could guess who—would never have allowed it. “Would they object to me being here or to my company?”
“Both,” Snape said flatly, but Harry could sense the pleasure he took in defying the wishes of those people.
“So, what do we do?”
“I will meet with my contact in thirty minutes, and then return to wait here. It may be one or two days before he can procure the creature for me. Do not answer the door.”
Snape returned at nightfall. He seemed pleased with what he’d accomplished, and Harry tried to ask as few questions as possible even though he was dying to know everything about the place they were staying. Snape answered some of them and evaded others, which just confirmed Harry’s suspicion that they were knee-deep in Death Eaters. They sat on the bed and talked for an hour or so; no robes or wands, just two wizards with some free time and more in common than they had ever been willing to admit.
Harry tried to keep his mind on their conversation, but it was difficult. Snape was right next to him, and in the position he had taken- knees pulled up to his chest- he didn’t seem half as intimidating as he always appeared in the classroom. His voice rolled through Harry like warm velvet as he explained how the snakes’ venom might be used in various potions. It was as soothing as it was arousing, and Harry stifled a yawn before he could help himself.
“Boring you, am I?” Snape pressed his mouth into a thin line.
“No, not bored,” Harry assured him. “Although, my muggle cousin wouldn’t know what to do in a room like this. No television.”
“Television,” Snape scoffed.
“Although,” Harry said, his pulse fluttering in his throat. “I suppose that most people don’t come here to watch television.”
Snape flinched, then narrowed his eyes on Harry, who forced a small smile. “What do you mean?” he demanded, as though Harry had just been caught out in the hall after hours and was about to be in serious trouble.
“I mean, that Death Eater downstairs thought you brought me here so that we could…” He felt his face flush with heat, and dropped his gaze to the bedspread.
“My, my; where would you get that idea?” Snape said dryly. “You do realize, Potter, that what you are suggesting says more about your own state of mind than it does about the hotel staff.”
For a long time, there was just the sound of their breathing as neither of them admitted to anything, but denied nothing as well. “But, you want to,” Harry ventured. “Don’t you? You always watch me when I’m talking to the snakes, and you always look at me that way,” he added.
“What way,” Snape bit out, and Harry knew he had guessed correctly. He’d felt that way often enough himself; the unwanted longing that ran so deep it tore at all the important things like pride and resolve. Snape had turned away at the question, and Harry studied his profile for a moment; the sharp angles and too-prominent nose. The firelight flickered around them, shadow and light shifting on Snape’s face like magic, and Harry couldn’t let it go.
“Hithaasstra sstissah,” Harry hissed softly, raising goosebumps on his own arms with the sound.
“Stop it,” Snape snapped, but his eyes were glittering black, locked onto Harry’s; trapped. It had only taken that one small thing to capture Snape’s attention completely.
“Hithaasstra sstissahss,” Harry repeated, barely able to make more than a whisper around the lump of fear that was choking him. He’d heard the phrase repeated often enough by a frustrated, lovesick Dimitri. Let me have you. Let me have you.
Snape said nothing. He was, Harry knew, the kind of man who would always say no but never said yes. Yes was in his silence, and Harry touched the firm set of his shoulder, finding it unyielding in spite of his silent assent. Harry let his hand drift down to Snape’s knees and as slowly as he would move around a jumpy serpent, Harry pushed until they parted so that he could crawl between them. He knelt between Snape’s legs and one last time, leaned forward and pressed his mouth into the lank, black hair until he found Snape’s ear. “Hithaasstra sstissahss,” he repeated one last time, a bare whisper, and gasped when Snape shuddered against him.
His mouth was on Snape. Just touching, barely, but against Harry’s lips he could feel the smooth contour of Snape’s ear, so he kissed it, a soft purse of lips followed by a completely involuntary swipe of tongue. The tendrils of hair were soft wisps that danced across Harry’s face, and that somehow felt more intimate than the kiss, than his plea, than the fact that Snape had already brought his hands up around Harry’s waist.
“This only proves that you are even more foolish than I had originally thought,” Snape growled, but it was a different kind of growl, one that put Harry on edge and made him long to scrape his teeth against the pale column of Snape’s neck. He wanted a real kiss, but putting his mouth on Snape’s seemed like a sure way to get himself hexed, or worse. Instead, he kissed Snape’s neck and slid his hands down the parted thighs, thrilled with their position because it meant his fingers could pet the inside of Snape’s thighs down to where his trousers were pulled tight against his balls. Panting, his face buried in Snape’s neck, Harry stroked over that bulge with his fingers and felt the vibrations of Snape’s low moan against his lips.
Snape’s hands tightened on his waist. “I saw the drawing on your desk,” he rasped out. “When I came to fetch you. Tell me about the drawing, Potter.”
“I wanked to it,” Harry gasped. “The night before you arrived.” As though in reward, Snape’s fingers slid beneath Harry’s waistband, just a centimeter or so. It was the most intimately anyone had ever touched him.
“What were you thinking about?” Snape purred, before taking Harry’s mouth in a wet, searing, but all too brief kiss. His tongue swept deeply into Harry’s mouth and then it was over, and Harry could barely remember the question.
“About…opening your trousers,” he said clumsily. He hadn’t realized until now what a sorry fantasy it was. Snape had probably done every filthy thing in the world; he probably expected a much more titillating fantasy than Harry opening his trousers. Harry searched Snape’s face for any sign of disappointment, but his professor appeared far from let down. He wore a pink flush high on his cheeks and his eyes were heavy-lidded, fixed on Harry as though he were the most fascinating thing in the world.
“Then why don’t you do it,” Snape invited.
“You mean…” Harry looked down between them at Snape’s lap, at the way Snape straightened his legs and let them fall further apart to allow Harry access.
“What else did you think about?” Snape asked as Harry unfastened his belt and then unzipped the trousers. “Just this?”
“No,” Harry said, his face burning. The dark hair he’d seen in his mind’s eye had been accurate, and he dipped his hand into the soft tangle of it, letting his palm brush the stiff erection that lay to the side, still mostly covered. “I thought about wanking…while you watched me.” He didn’t have to tell the truth, but it was exciting to confess these secret things here from between Snape’s legs.
Snape huffed out a laugh of disbelief. “Are you telling me, Mr. Potter, that your tossing off fantasies consist solely of tossing off?”
Harry shifted uncomfortably. His heart wouldn’t slow down, just kept pumping blood to his cock, which was aching with the need to rub against something. “Yes,” he admitted, and licked his lips, licked across Snape’s mouth until he opened with maddening reluctance.
“Perhaps it is more risqué than it sounds,” Snape said thoughtfully, and had Harry’s trousers and underpants down around his thighs in a matter of seconds. “Go ahead,” he hissed. “Show me.”
Harry’s hand was drawn to his naked cock. When he gripped tightly, Snape’s long, elegant fingers reached out and spread the liquid around as it emerged from the tip of his cock. Harry cried out; that was more than he was used to, and he trembled with the pent up lust and excitement, almost afraid to start stroking himself. Shocks of arousal rippled through him as he slowly began, each pump of his fist nearly sparking an orgasm, but not quite.
“And tell me, was I doing anything aside from watching your performance?” Snape closed his fingers around his cock and lazily stroked at the length of it. Harry could almost see the slow wave of pleasure that rolled through Snape’s body.
“That,” he gasped. “You were doing that. Oh, Merlin. Snape.” His eyes were stinging, trying to drift shut but Snape was touching himself, and Harry was about to come. “I can’t,” he said, and then his thighs tensed and trembled helplessly as he climaxed in sharp bursts of pleasure, all over Snape’s trousers and crotch. Harry moaned, still coming, while Snape slicked his hand through the mess, his cock suddenly glistening wet in his hand. It was the dirtiest, hottest thing Harry had ever seen and he surged forward, shaking, taking Snape’s mouth in a clumsy kiss and finding himself flat on his back in the next breath.
It was as though his body didn’t know it was over; Harry’s hips kept moving while Snape ground down against him with urgency. Harry’s head spun; he couldn’t get enough of Snape’s deep kisses that savaged his mouth with teeth and soothed it with smooth, wet tongue. “Please,” Harry gasped, so full of need he could hardly speak. He braced himself for it, and when Snape went off between them, hot breath on Harry’s ear, the pleasure was as sharp as any orgasm Harry had ever had.
It was not as Harry had thought it might be afterward. He was fifty percent certain that Snape would berate him for coming on to him so shamelessly, and fifty percent certain that Snape would berate himself for allowing it to happen. But when Snape rolled away from Harry, it was only to undress and coax Harry beneath the covers. Harry couldn’t get enough of Snape’s hands on his body. He seemed particularly fond of wandering from the small of Harry’s back down to the curve of flesh below, returning time and time again while they wordlessly explored one another.
“You like my arse,” Harry smiled. Snape squeezed in response and Harry squirmed against him.
“If I do, it is only because the famous Harry Potter wills it so.”
Harry snorted. “If that were the case, then I’d have had you…” he trailed off.
“Yes? Do tell, Mr. Potter. What would you have me do?” There was a hint of warning in Snape’s words.
Harry frowned. He’d wanted a quick retort, but the truth was that Snape had already done everything for him that he had wished. There was nothing left; no wishes, no fantasies, nothing at all. Snape would probably be horrified if he knew how completely satisfied he had left Harry, so Harry sighed heavily. “Never mind,” he said, and moved closer to Snape’s warmth. “I’ll let you know when the time comes.”