|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2007-08-08 21:59:00
|Entry tags:||coauthor: cruisedirector, hp fic admittance, hp fic draco/harry/severus|
HP fic: Admittance, ch. 10: Consultations [Draco/Snape/Harry, adult]
Chapter 10, "Consultations"
Authors: celandineb and cruisedirector
Summary: Hermione makes a suggestion to Harry, who passes it on to Draco. Snape is less easily convinced.
Later in the afternoon, Draco had suggested inviting Snape over for a most satisfying couple of hours in which Snape demonstrated once again that he was a far more effective teacher in their bedroom than he had ever been -- for Harry, at least -- back at Hogwarts. They were lying satiated and pleasantly entangled on the bed when Harry's stomach gave a loud rumble.
"Frighten children with that, do you?" Draco elbowed him and smirked..
"Hey, I'm hungry," Harry protested.
"Poor Harry," Draco mocked softly. "Don't worry, I'll get up in a minute and make us some dinner -- a fry-up or something quick like that, we never had breakfast today anyhow. Severus, would you like to stay?"
"For the meal?" Snape's breath ghosted across Harry's skin.
"Of course," Draco answered, and Harry said at the same time, "At least." Draco raised his eyebrows.
Harry went on firmly, "I think we all three need to talk. Lucius told Narcissa that I was over at your flat last night, Severus. She came over here to 'discuss the matter' with Draco this morning, and Draco told her that in fact we'd both been with you. She didn't take it very well."
Snape raised his eyebrows. "Malfoy, are you deliberately trying to make my life difficult? You do realize that now I will have both of your parents pressuring me to elicit your solicitation? That you've given them both cause and information with which to threaten me?"
"You aren't afraid of my father," Draco scoffed. "I know he's your old friend, but don't tell me some nonsense about how he tosses work your way. You could be the most famous potion-maker in Europe if you wanted to be, and without his help. You don't owe him anything."
Wide-eyed, Harry stared at Draco as he felt Snape slowly sit up. "What precisely are you suggesting?"
"I think you know. I may very well have to make a choice between what my parents want and everything else I want. But you do too, Severus. You can't sit on the fence here. If you care about what happens to me, you know you're going to have to stand up to my father. I guess you're trying to figure out whether I'm worth the trouble."
"It's not just you," said Snape, his voice quiet.
"No." Draco glanced at Harry. "Of course not."
Snape sighed. "Before you owled, I spent several hours today considering the situation. You don't quite realize the extent of my... ties... to your father, which are neither simple nor superficial, and which I am not prepared to discuss with you now in any case. I am concerned about what will happen to you, as you should know. You've grown to become someone to be proud of -- as a former student, a Slytherin, and a wizard. You are, as you put it, 'worth the trouble.'"
Harry watched Draco flush at the words; Snape rarely gave such compliments. "Thank you," Draco muttered thickly.
"However, I cannot break outright with your father without grave consequences. If he becomes angry with me, there will no chance I can continue to influence him in your favor -- and I have been doing that to the best of my ability, if not always with as much success as I would like."
"Severus, he's not listening to you. He's never going to listen to you, and you know why. No matter how close you and he once were, or what he might have promised you... you must realize by now that he's not just trying to protect the family fortune and position, he actually believes that purebloods are better than everyone else. It doesn't matter if you're smarter and Harry's more powerful than he'll ever be. He'll always find reasons to tell himself you're not as good as he is."
Harry could have applauded. He had never been sure that Draco saw his father clearly -- Draco loved Lucius too much -- but obviously Draco wasn't blind to the beliefs that had led Lucius into the Death Eaters, and Severus after him. The only thing that stopped Harry from beaming and thanking Draco for understanding that was the look on Snape's face.
"Draco's right," he said to Snape, sitting up next to him. "Whatever you might have owed Lucius, you don't anymore. And whatever information he may have to hold over your head, you have plenty on him as well." He didn't want to bring up Abraxas now, but he hoped Snape would understand what he meant.
"I have..." Snape began, then he stopped and shook his head, a look of bemusement painting his face. "I've been living too much in the past. Whatever debts I had to Lucius, of gratitude or otherwise, have long since been repaid."
"Yes," Harry nodded vigorously, again feeling an urge to cheer.
"You taught me -- by example, rather than by lecturing -- that it really doesn't matter if someone is pureblood or not." Draco looked thoughtful. "What you do matters far more than who your parents were."
"And why you do it," Harry added. He wanted to say that something done with love meant more -- that was what Dumbledore had tried to do, even if he hadn't always succeeded -- but the late Headmaster was still a sensitive topic for both Snape and Draco, so he stayed quiet.
"All of which may be scant consolation once your father realizes that neither of us intends to obey his wishes," said Snape to Draco. "He will, at the very least, cut us both out of his circle of acquaintances, which is very wide." His eyes dropped to the floor. "It is not impossible that he will try to have charges brought against me. He would not need to be involved, personally; if any teacher at Hogwarts who resented me, or any student who resented you, were convinced that we were sexually intimate while you were a student..."
"I'll deny it, and there won't be a case." Draco shrugged. "It isn't like you're still teaching there and could get fired for it." Then his brow creased slightly. "You didn't mess around with any other students, did you?"
"Of course not!" Snape looked aghast at the suggestion. "My interest in you was, shall we say, unique. Your father had made an appeal to me to take care of your education personally in every aspect. I believe he had some..." Snape lifted a hand and pressed between his eyebrows. "...some notion that boys should be educated in the manner of the ancient Greeks, with an erotic component underscoring the intellectual bond." Well, thought Harry, that explained a lot -- it was probably how Lucius had approached Severus himself when they were younger. "You are not, however, an extension of your father. As you are now proving."
"Of course I'm not." Draco's tone was slightly offended.
"There's no 'of course' about it," Snape said. "You always reminded me of him a great deal until just recently." Which suggested to Harry another motive for Snape's acquiescence to Lucius' request regarding Draco's education -- it would have given him the opportunity to have a younger, perhaps more pliable version of Lucius in his control. Though Snape had not, it would seem, abused that position as another man might have done. From what Draco had told Harry it had been he who had first approached Snape sexually, rather than the other way around, regardless of Lucius' instructions. Not until after the two of them had fled from the school, in fact; so Snape ought to have nothing to worry about.
"It sounds as if Lucius probably wouldn't get far if he tried to have a case filed against you, Severus." Harry's stomach rumbled again, more loudly than before. "I'm sorry," he apologized when both the others looked at him. "Maybe we could keep talking while we eat?"
"Then you go and find us something to eat. I want to talk to Draco about what he said to his mother." Harry started to object, then remembered what he had said to Snape about how they were always sending Draco to get the food. Snape hadn't been there when Harry had told Lucius Malfoy that he'd had to cook for Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia; he was only making a reasonable request. Shrugging, Harry slid off the bed and went to get a robe -- if he had to cook, he didn't want any of his more sensitive parts exposed.
Draco used magic to cook -- he was a menace with a Muggle stove -- but on the occasions when Harry did it, he stuck to the way he knew, which was the way he had cooked at number four, Privet Drive. While he was scrambling the eggs, he smiled to think about how Draco and Snape both seemed determined to resist Lucius. For themselves... and for Harry. He felt very warm and happy.
Eggs, sausages, tomatoes, beans, toast, tea -- far too much, Harry decided, to eat cross-legged on the bed. Not to mention the high potential for toast crumbs in the sheets, and Draco's complaints about those later. He set the plates on the dining table.
"Draco! Severus!" They came into the room with Snape's arm over Draco's shoulder. Snape was wearing Draco's fancy robe again, but Draco had just pulled on a loose tracksuit.
"Thanks, Harry," said Draco, sitting down and shoving a forkful of egg into his mouth. Snape pulled out a chair and sat too, reaching for the butter, nodding his thanks as he took a sip of tea.
"You're welcome." In watching them Harry almost forgot to eat his own food, despite his hunger. It seemed so right, the three of them here like this. Together they would work out a way to persevere against all Draco's father's manipulations... and stay together. He hoped. "I was thinking," he said after he'd had a few bites. "We're all close..."
"You might say that," Draco interrupted, snickering.
Harry threw a piece of toast at him, which Draco caught easily and bit into. "Git. We're all too close to what's going on, I mean. I think maybe another perspective would be helpful and I thought I'd see if Hermione might have any advice."
"She was one of the more level-headed students in your year, and more discreet than most." Harry felt warmed through at Snape's approving nod.
"As long as you're the one who's going to talk to her," said Draco.
"Of course," Harry replied, already mentally composing a note to Hermione. He'd ask her to have lunch with him before explaining.
That decision proved wise, as Harry's explanation of the situation did not result in quite the reaction he intended.
"I don't believe this!"
Harry winced as Hermione's glass slipped between her fingers, hit the edge of the table and shattered on the floor.
"Reparo," she said absently and picked it up, casting a Drought Charm that dried up the widening puddle of mineral water. It was a good thing that they were in a wizarding restaurant, although Hermione was always careful about using magic in Muggle places. "I really don't believe it."
"Which part don't you believe?"
"Any of it, really. I'm not sure which I find a more bizarre notion -- that you think Lucius Malfoy," she looked around and lowered her voice, "might have killed his father, or that you're shagging Snape. Willingly. Enthusiastically, from what you say. I suppose the second actually seems more preposterous. You've always hated Snape." Hermione cocked her head at him and stabbed at a piece of tomato. "I cannot believe this. I go off to India for a few weeks to negotiate about improving local conditions for house-elves, and you...! I need a drink."
She waved down their waiter and ordered a whisky, neat, not asking if Harry wanted anything too. Her tone was slightly suspicious as she added, "He doesn't have you under the Imperius Curse, does he?"
"I doubt it, since it was Draco's idea in the first place." Harry smiled, and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Well, maybe Draco cursed you, then. Does he know about this theory of yours that Lucius is both a murderer and an illegitimate child?"
"No. It was hard enough for him to accept that his father might have resorted to a Docility Draught to get him to marry a pureblood and produce an heir. I don't want to bring up the family history unless Lu..." The woman at the next table glanced over at them, and Harry coughed. "Unless that pompous bastard gives me no choice."
With a sigh of exasperation, Hermione asked, "And you learned all of this from Snape? Suddenly you've decided not only that you can trust him, but that... what, you're attracted to him? And Draco thought it would be a good idea to encourage this. Why on earth?"
Hearing it put that way made Harry feel embarrassed. "I know it doesn't sound very proper, but all three of us have been happy. Draco's been attached to Snape for a long time -- longer than I've been with him. And I guess I never thought about..." He stopped. He couldn't tell Hermione that it had never occurred to him that Snape might have a really nice prick.
She raised her eyebrows. "Thought about what?"
"Thought that maybe he wasn't so bad after all," Harry said lamely. "He did help defeat Voldemort."
"That was years ago, and you've only just changed your mind this past month." Hermione eyed him skeptically and took a healthy swallow of her drink, visibly deciding not to ask any further on that point for the moment. "So you're not breaking up with Draco, then -- the three of you are together?"
"Well, yeah." Harry fiddled with a piece of bread, tearing the crust into bits. "But look, that wasn't what I need advice on. That was just context. The thing is, if his father does start putting public pressure on any of us, I would like to have something more concrete than just these suspicions and rumors to block him with. I thought maybe you might have some suggestions."
"Well, I should think it's obvious. Powerful people always make enemies. You said yourself that you got the idea about the dragon pox from Slughorn -- he might be a good place to start. I hear that since he retired, he holds court a couple of days a week with former Slug Club members, and I'm sure that the Chosen One would always be welcome. If you could get him to tell the truth about Tom Riddle..."
"Muffliato," interrupted Harry quickly, which earned him a glare from Hermione. "What? It's one of Snape's! I'm allowed to use it nowadays."
"Fine," she replied, still looking suspicious of the spell Harry had first discovered in the Half-Blood Prince's Potions textbook. "As I was saying, if you persuaded Slughorn to give you that memory, I'm sure getting him to talk about Lucius won't be all that difficult. Find out exactly what he knows."
"The thing is, as you know, Slughorn has a tendency to brag," Harry sighed, popping a chip in his mouth and chewing while he thought. "If I visit him, he'll tell people, and if it gets around that I've been asking questions about Lucius, it'll just cause more trouble. Maybe a more dangerous kind of trouble."
"Mm. There is that." Hermione tapped a finger against her mouth thoughtfully. "Perhaps another angle would be better. You said that Snape thinks that Abraxas Malfoy might have changed his will, right?"
Harry nodded. "He was pretty sure that must have been the case or Lucius wouldn't have married Narcissa."
"I see. We'd have to look into it, but it's possible that there is still a copy of an earlier will on file at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, as well as the one that was actually proved and executed at Abraxas' death. It's quite appalling, the lack of organization in their records," she said in a disapproving voice. "But it might work to your advantage in this case. The difficulty would be in checking it out discreetly."
"So that Lucius doesn't hear that I'm nosing about in the old records and try to intervene. I agree. Maybe you could look at it? Lucius wouldn't think anything if you were in there, but he would if I were. I think he's having me followed."
"Just how do you expect someone from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to explain that she needs access to those records?" Hermione demanded.
"I don't know -- you're the clever one! Can't you tell them you're studying inheritance law for werewolves or something? Lupin would back you up." Guiltily Harry realized that he hadn't spoken to Remus in weeks. Of course, Remus had been very busy since he, Bill, and Charlie had started that program to distribute Wolfsbane to werewolves who couldn't afford it -- Charlie was in charge of distribution, Bill was handling the financial end, but Remus had taken on the task of assuring werewolves convinced that all wizards wanted to kill them that it was in their best interests to take the potion, and that was requiring a lot of travel.
Hermione shook her head. "I'll try. But as you know, I don't have a lot of free time."
"I know," said Harry, feeling guilty. "I really do appreciate it, Hermione."
She sighed and smiled and reached across the table to squeeze his hand. "I've been helping you out of your sticky situations for so long... what else are friends for?"
"If there's anything I can ever do for you or Ron, you know, you just have to ask. How is Ron? I haven't seen him in weeks. We were supposed to meet up at the Leaky a week last Thursday, and he owled and canceled on me."
"He's fine. They had a crisis at St. Mungo's -- there's a scrofungulus epidemic, you must have read about it in the Daily Prophet? Anyhow, all the personnel who were qualified to cope with it were called up, and Ron ended up temporarily in charge of two entire wards." Hermione smiled proudly. "He managed rather well, apparently, and says that they're talking about promoting him."
Again Harry felt slightly ashamed. He didn't talk to Ron nearly as often as he used to, in part because Ron and Draco still had trouble being civil to one another; they'd once nearly had a fistfight over a dispute about the Wimbourne Wasps' chances of winning on a particular weekend. Harry usually saw his own friends when Draco was with Crabbe or Zabini, neither of whom was ever going to be one of Harry's favorite people; he didn't mind Nott so much. But lately when Draco had been busy with his friends, Harry had been with... well, Snape.
"That's great," he said. "Mrs. Weasley must be very proud."
Hermione rolled her eyes a bit. "She's still after us to get married. She told Ron that we were setting a bad example for Ginny, can you believe that? Ron is terrified that she'll expect him to wear those same awful robes from Bill and Fleur's wedding. And you know she won't be happy until Ron gives her a grandchild. You'd think Bill's noisy little boys would be enough."
"It's funny to think that Molly Weasley and Lucius Malfoy have something in common," grinned Harry.
"That's probably the only thing they have in common. But Draco's father only has one chance at grandchildren, unlike Molly. So do mine, for that matter." Hermione laughed. "Now that would peeve Mister Malfoy no end, wouldn't it, if he thought he had anything at all in common with a Muggle. Far worse than with a Weasley, even."
"Are you and Ron thinking about having children?" Harry asked curiously. "Whether or not you get married?"
"We've talked about it a few times." Hermione flipped her hand in a dismissive gesture. "We're all still quite young. There's no rush... and I wouldn't be able to do my present job, not with all the travel it requires. Someday, I expect. But I'm not going to try to equal Ron's mother. One, perhaps two, is all I'd want." She looked at him. "How about you?" Her voice was serious again. "It sounds like Draco is pretty adamant about not wanting to get married as his father wishes... but there might be ways to have children anyway. Muggles use artificial insemination and host mothers, and there's always adoption, although I can't imagine that adoption would satisfy Lucius Malfoy. Or maybe you're quite happy just as you are?"
"I don't know," Harry groaned. He felt much younger than he had a few months ago, when things had seemed so routine with Draco that perhaps they were in danger of becoming... boring. "Before all this with Snape, I thought I'd figured out what I wanted -- to be with Draco. But now everything's completely unpredictable, and I'm definitely not ready to even think about children, however acquired, under these circumstances."
The waiter stopped by the table to hand them dessert menus and Harry and Hermione both paused to peruse them, though Hermione quickly put hers down. "As good as all these look, I don't think I can manage another bite. Harry, are you happy at work?"
"I guess." It wasn't something to which Harry had given much thought. Work was work -- you did it until it was time to leave and enjoy your real life.
"You haven't seemed really excited about it. For awhile I thought it was taking you some time to settle in, and then I thought maybe it was difficult for you to be on the bottom rung after everything... don't look at me like that, you were never good at putting up with teachers you were smarter than, either. Have you thought at all about making a change?"
"A change?" said Harry blankly. "Like what? I mean, working for the Department of Mysteries is something I'm at least qualified to do. There's no way I'd want to work somewhere more public -- I've been in the spotlight more than enough for one lifetime." He glanced over the list of desserts and shook his head at the waiter. "Nothing, thanks."
"Well, teaching might be a possibility." Hermione rummaged through her handbag and started counting out Sickles. "I ran into Professor McGonagall yesterday -- she was at the Ministry for a meeting of the Wizengamot, I think -- and she mentioned that Madam Hooch had been offered a managing position with the Holyhead Harpies and was inclined to take it. You've always loved Quidditch -- my first thought was that you might really enjoy teaching it at Hogwarts."
Such a thing had never occurred to Harry. He had done rather well at teaching his friends in the D.A., and even enjoyed that, and teaching Quidditch... it was something to think about. But there was Draco to consider. Most of his friends lived in wizarding London, his family was close, and Harry had never had the impression that Draco was particularly attached to Hogwarts. He'd bragged more than once about almost having gone to Durmstrang.
And what about Snape? Harry had heard that McGonagall had asked him to return to Hogwarts shortly after the war but Snape had refused. At the time he had thought Snape wanted to avoid being the center of controversy -- there were many students at the school who had been there when Dumbledore was Headmaster, who had hated Snape for his death -- but years had passed since then. Maybe it was simply too painful for Snape to consider being at Hogwarts. As miserable as both Snape and Draco had made his life when he was a student, he could not imagine being back at Hogwarts now without them.
"I'd have to talk it over with Draco." And Snape too, he didn't bother adding. "But it would be more fun to teach flying, and coach Quidditch, than working on the Veil and some of the other things I've been doing lately... it's not that I hate it, but I can't really discuss much of what I do in any detail with anyone outside the department, which gets irritating after a while."
"Owl Professor McGonagall," Hermione advised, snapping her bag closed. Hastily Harry fished out his own money and tossed some on the table. "I think she'd be delighted to be able to lure you back to Hogwarts. Who knows? Maybe there'd be something for Draco too. Or, well, you'd probably have to live on the grounds, but he could always Floo in to London if he wanted to keep working for Gringotts." She glanced at her watch. "I must dash, I've a meeting in twenty minutes. But now that things are calmed down for Ron, we're talking about having a party of some sort -- with a lot of people there, I think both he and Draco would be able to ignore each other as much as they wished." They shared a resigned smile at the foibles of their partners.
"That would be great," Harry said. "Let me know. And thanks again for being willing to try to find Abraxas' will."
"I'll owl you if there's anything to be found," she smiled, rising and leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. "Don't be a stranger, all right?"
"I'm not the one who's always off to India and Africa and who-knows-where," Harry grinned. He watched her dash out, taking his time getting up and heading out himself. Teaching Quidditch... the more he thought about it, the more it sounded like a dream. He'd be able to go flying whenever he wanted on the Thunderbolt, over the lochs, far away from cities where precautions had to be taken to ensure that no Muggles would see. And if Draco did agree to come to Hogwarts, they would both be far away physically from his parents. Getting Howlers objecting to Draco's behavior was quite different from having them turn up to talk to him. Plus it would be much harder for them to try to manipulate him with potions or anything else.
Now that it wasn't necessary for survival, Harry didn't particularly want to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, but he bet Draco would be very good at it; that had always been one of his best subjects, and he also knew enough now about the insidious ways Dark wizards worked, he could talk about things that no previous teacher had been willing to share, not even Snape. But what about Snape? Harry discovered that his feet had turned in the direction of the older man's flat without any conscious thought on his part, even though he was due back at work in a few minutes.
Even years after Voldemort's defeat, there were still certain advantages to being Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived; as long as he didn't abuse it, he could generally get away with being late once in a while. Today there was nothing urgent to be done and probably no one would even notice if his lunch hour extended to two. If Snape was at home, rather than out buying ingredients or meeting with a client elsewhere... Harry hurried along, nearly knocking into a wizard muffled up in a drab olive cloak as he turned into Dorse Alley and rang the bell of number eight. "Please be in, Severus," he muttered, and pressed the button a second time.
After waiting several minutes, it seemed clear that he was out of luck. He was walking dejectedly back along Knockturn Alley when he looked up and saw Snape coming out of a tiny shop. Harry darted over.
"Mister Potter." Snape's expression was wary. "Did we have an appointment?" His eyes darted over Harry's shoulder and he gave an almost imperceptible nod.
"Not until later this afternoon, but I really need to consult you about a Mandrake Draught," Harry said loudly. "It's urgent. I need those ingredients now."
"And I suppose you expected me to be carrying Mandrake roots screaming through the streets," said Snape in his haughtiest voice. "You'll have to come to my flat." Without waiting for Harry he swept down the street, and after a moment Harry made a show of shrugging irritably and following.
Once through his doorway, Snape dropped the disgusted demeanor though he still frowned. "What has happened? Is there a problem with the Malfoys?"
"Nothing like that. I had lunch with Hermione, and she told me something interesting -- she said that Hogwarts might be looking for a Quidditch instructor."
"What of it?" Snape put his parcel down on the table.
"I thought... I've never really enjoyed working for the Department of Mysteries," said Harry in a rush. "It's been all right, but if I had to do it for the rest of my life? You know I've always loved Quidditch. I couldn't have played it professionally, there was no way I was going to put myself that much in the public eye any more, and you can't really coach the professionals if you haven't played at that level, but if I could teach it at Hogwarts... I can't think of anything I'd like more."
"So why consult me? Surely it is Draco to whom you should speak, if you are thinking of changing jobs."
Harry stepped over to Snape and grabbed him above the elbows. "Come on, Severus. You know better than that. Of course I'll talk to Draco, but what you think matters to me as well. You must realize that I'd hope for both of you to be willing to go there. At that distance, what Lucius Malfoy could do would be a lot more limited, and that would be better for all of us. But you've actually taught at Hogwarts yourself; you could tell me if there's some reason I shouldn't even consider it."
Snape glanced at his package and Harry wondered exactly what he had interrupted him in the midst of doing. Did he work in that shop he had been leaving, or was he making a delivery, or a trade? He'd half-hoped that Snape would grab him back and they'd be distracted from talking for awhile, but Snape still looked serious. "I suppose it depends on whether you enjoy working with children and how much patience you have with uncooperative students. I understand that you taught rather advanced magic to your little group of followers the year we were afflicted with Dolores Umbridge as an instructor, so I suppose you have some aptitude for it. However, you would be surprised at how much influence Lucius Malfoy can wield even at a distance -- surely you remember that he had Dumbledore removed as Headmaster, briefly, before the Board of Governors rebelled? And... I had my reasons for not returning."
The black eyes were eyes were inscrutable; Harry could not read any memories there and was not certain he dared even ask. "Does that mean you wouldn't even visit?" he asked in a low voice. "I don't want to bring it up with Draco if there'd be no chance to see you."
That, at least, provoked a visible reaction from Snape. "Do you mean to tell me that you would decline to pursue a desirable opportunity merely because it would limit our proximity? I did manage to escape from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade and London while I taught there, as you certainly know. It isn't as if..."
"Severus. If you can't stand the idea of visiting the place, you aren't going to want to come see me there, or watch Quidditch matches, or listen to me talk about the students. I need to know. Is it something you would think about?"
Sighing, Snape stepped away, turning to look out the window. "I wouldn't dismiss the possibility out of hand, but I must confess that it would not be my first inclination. However, I repeat that you should not make any decisions based on mine. If you don't enjoy what you are doing, in terms of your career, you should change. It would be a shame simply to work at something because you felt you ought to, disliking it more and more as time went on."
That was evidently as far as Snape was likely to go in supporting the idea just now, Harry realized. Perhaps it was more than he had any right to expect, but it was a little disappointing. "Do you like what you're doing?"
The black-clad shoulders in front of him shrugged. "It supports me. Unlike yourself or Draco, I'm wholly dependent on my own efforts to make a living, and my options for employment are limited. My services as a potion-maker are sufficiently in demand that I have some choice of whom to accommodate, at least."
"I know McGonagall would take you back." Snape stiffened, but Harry continued. "That ex-Auror she has teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts wasn't even involved during the war -- he's not a trained teacher and he doesn't know half as much about the subject as you or even me. And that kid teaching Potions was Slughorn's recommendation when he left; I don't think he was ever meant to stay for long. She'd give you either post for the asking, I know it."
"What makes you think I have any wish to teach?" Snape asked sharply, turning to glare. "Did I ever seem particularly enthusiastic to you about the position of Potions Master?"
"Actually, yes. The first day, when you were talking about all the things potions could do if you made them right." Snape looked startled. "How they could ensnare the mind and bewitch the senses and all that. Maybe McGonagall would let you split the position with someone else -- you could teach only upper-level Potions and Defense. Or..."
"There is little point in continuing this hypothetical discussion until you have, at the very least, spoken to Draco about his own interests and inclinations."
Snape was trying to put an end to the subject, Harry understood, perhaps hoping that Draco would render it moot one way or another. "But would you come to stay with us, at least? Or think about relocating to Hogsmeade?"
"If you were to go to Hogwarts, I would visit." Snape's voice sounded uncompromising. "If you asked me to. Occasionally, at least. But right now I don't have time to discuss this any further. I have a potion to finish for a client by this evening."
"Oh." Harry looked down. "All right. I'm sorry to have interrupted you, Severus."
"I'm flattered that you wished to consult me." Snape touched Harry rather awkwardly on the shoulder. "I should give you something to take away with you, even if it's not actually a Mandrake Draught... you realize that we are both being watched, now?"
Harry hadn't been certain of that, but if Snape thought it was the case, it probably was. "Lucius?"
"I imagine so. Just a moment." Snape hurried out of the room, coming back shortly with a small jar, wrapping a piece of cloth around it. "Take this."
"What is it?" Harry asked, reaching out.
"It doesn't matter," said Snape brusquely. "It will serve to show that you were here on legitimate business."
"Will you be in tonight? If Draco and I need to talk with you?" Harry had his suspicions about just what might be in that jar.
"After I have delivered the potion, yes. However, if both of you wish to speak with me, I suggest that you let me come to you."
"All right," agreed Harry, still unnerved by the matter-of-fact way that Snape had said that he was being watched. He had assumed that he would be able to tell if someone was following him. "I don't have to be anywhere tonight and I'll ask Draco to stay in."
"Then I will speak to you later." Snape's voice was brusque. Again Harry wondered if it was because Snape was busy or if he had upset him with the talk of Hogwarts.
He arrived home before Draco and took a minute to examine the potion Snape had given him. Why had he concealed it? Sniffing, Harry recognized anise and eucalyptus, and he wrinkled his nose. But both of those were used to keep a clear head... often in antidotes to potions meant to muddle the drinker. Was Snape trying to warn him, or had Lucius moved forward with his plan to use such a potion on Draco?
While Harry was considering this, the door banged open. "Work is shite," Draco announced irritably. "If you can believe it, they asked me to... what in Merlin's name is that awful smell?" Coming over, he glanced into the jar. "Have you and Severus been playing with Susceptibility Serum? Not very safe. I didn't think he had to give you a potion to get you to obey his orders, anyway." Grinning, Draco added, "And the antidote doesn't always work."
"I think he intended it for you." Harry let out a deep breath. "In case your father tries to take more direct action and have something slipped into your drink. In fact... maybe he already has? Maybe that's why you went off with that girl, last week?"
Draco's eyes widened. "Did Snape say that?"
"No, he didn't. I only spoke with him for a few minutes, after I had lunch with Hermione; he had to finish something for a client. But Hermione had an intriguing piece of news."
"Oh yes? She convinced the house-elves of India to unionize?" Draco went into the kitchen and called back, "Want some beer? I think we can be sure these are safe. I bought them at a Muggle shop after my father's last visit."
"Yes, please." Harry took a long swig when Draco returned. "Nothing about elves. Hermione told me that Professor McGonagall had mentioned that Hogwarts might need a new Quidditch instructor -- I guess Madam Hooch is thinking of taking a position coaching the Harpies. So Hermione suggested that maybe I'd be interested. And I think I might be. Work hasn't been that wonderful lately."
"You'd go off to Hogwarts without me?" Draco looked stunned.
"No, of course not! I was thinking maybe McGonagall might hire us both. The current Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor is practically worthless -- better than Umbridge, I suppose, but that's not saying much. You'd be far better than he is -- you actually have experience from the war," said Harry eagerly. "Or maybe you could teach Potions. I've heard that Slughorn only recommended Fitzsimmons on a temporary basis."
"McGonagall? Hire me?" Draco snorted softly. "Even if I had been one of her favorite students, which I most decidedly was not, there's the small matter of my having been mixed up with the Death Eaters while I was a student there. If I hadn't run away, I'd have been expelled for sure. You know what I did to Katie, and to..."
"Yes, and Ron may never forgive you for almost poisoning him, but McGonagall isn't like that. She testified on Snape's behalf and agreed to let you finish your last year and graduate, didn't she?"
"That's different from inviting me to teach!" Draco flopped into a chair and fiddled with the rim of his bottle. "Why would she trust me? Who'd recommend me?"
"Severus would, and she trusts him," Harry said promptly. "And it's because of what you did during the war that you'd be ideally suited to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. It's not just knowing how to banish a boggart or being able to conjure a Patronus -- which I am going to teach you as soon as we finish this conversation, so that if your father tries anything else, you can summon me or Snape. It's recognizing how Dark wizards work. How they recruit. You have a kind of credibility that no one else does -- not even me. You're the perfect person to teach it, if you want to."
"Even supposing hypothetically that I'm interested, what about Severus? Would you pack us off to Hogsmeade and forget him?"
"I, ah." Harry put down his bottle and fidgeted. "I hoped he'd think about going back as well."
"Did you ask him? Is that why you went to talk to him? How did he react?" Draco looked skeptical.
"Well, he didn't absolutely say no. He did say he would at least visit us, if we were there, although he seemed pretty unenthusiastic. But he's not the sort to get keyed up about anything, so that doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't consider the possibility... especially if we were both there. I pointed out that maybe your father would be less likely to bother all of us from that distance, too." Harry didn't mention that Snape had been less sanguine about that being the case.
"Hm." Draco tilted the bottle to his lips, then lowered it, frowning. "Want another?"
"I'll get them." Harry picked up both bottles and took them out to the kitchen, coming back with fresh drinks. "So hypothetically, would you be interested? Maybe there won't be an opening in either Defense Against the Dark Arts or Potions after all, maybe Madam Hooch isn't even really leaving, but should I owl McGonagall and inquire? You sounded pretty irritated with your job when you walked in tonight... maybe a change is what you need, too."
"All right, it's silly to discuss this any further until we know whether it's a real possibility. Go ahead and owl McGonagall if you want... though I think it might be a better idea to visit and bring it up in person. You were Gryffindor's golden boy. Tell her we're going to be in Hogsmeade, we'd like to take her to out for a drink... that is, out for tea." Harry couldn't quite wipe the smirk off his face as Draco kept talking, waving his beer as he spoke. "But I have to tell you, I don't think Snape will go back, even for you. I wrote to him from Hogwarts when I went back to finish -- invited him to Quidditch games, that sort of thing. He wanted nothing to do with the place. I don't think he's even been to Hogsmeade since we left."
"Maybe he wouldn't go back for you or for me, but he'd go back for both of us," argued Harry. "I caught him at a bad time today. I don't think he's thrilled to be at the beck and call of wealthy wizards who need difficult potions. I get that he wasn't ready to return while there were still so many students there who thought of him as a Death Eater, but a lot of time has passed. It isn't as if he ever cared about popularity."
"I think you're going to have an easier time teaching me to conjure a Patronus," Draco said skeptically. "Speaking of which. Do I get any control about this animal business? If my Patronus turns out to be a ferret or something, I am never conjuring it again."
Laughing, Harry shook his head. "No, sorry, you don't get to choose. Your Patronus takes the shape of an animal that suits something in your personality, I think. Ron's is a terrier, and Hermione's is an otter. But they do sometimes change; Tonks's did at one point. The only way to find out what it will be is to try. Want to give it a go?"
"Oh, I suppose," Draco allowed. "Explain to me again how it works?"
"The incantation is Expecto Patronum, but the real key is to have the happiest thought you can in mind while you're casting the spell. Don't worry if you don't get more than a kind of silvery mist the first few times, that's what happened to me. Try some different happy memories and see what works best."
"What, right now?"
"No time like the present." Harry reached over and took Draco's half-finished beer from his hand. "Go on, stand up and try it."
"I feel like an idiot," Draco complained, but he pulled out his wand and rose, his face screwed up in concentration. "Expecto Patronum."
The air at the tip of Draco's wand turned a bit white, but that was all that happened, and after a moment Draco's shoulders slumped. "No one is going to hire me to teach anything if I can't even..."
"I told you, happy thoughts." Harry grinned as he interrupted him. "Stop concentrating so much." He began to unbutton his shirt.
"What's that for? Does it work better naked?"
"No, but I was hoping that if I was naked, it might make you think happy thoughts." Diving forward, he tickled Draco, who started to object, then dissolved helplessly into laughter. "Now," said Harry, putting his shirt aside. "Do it again. Only happy thoughts. I know, pretend your wand's your prick."
"Oh, is that how it works! Expecto Patronum!" This time a bright light burst from the tip of Draco's wand, though it didn't coalesce into a shape.
"See? You're getting it!" Harry had paused in his undressing to watch, and now he began to unfasten his trousers. "One more time, and then I'll suck you off. Just think of..."
They were interrupted by a knock at the door. "I had better get that," Draco announced as Harry quickly ducked down the hall and into the bedroom. A moment later he heard Snape's voice, then Draco's as they came toward the room. "...giving me a lesson in how to conjure a Patronus. He seems to think getting undressed will help -- I haven't the heart to tell him that my happiest memory is beating him to the Golden Snitch in the alumni Quidditch tournament." They came through the bedroom door. "Oh, hello, Harry." Draco gave him a wide, innocent smile. "Imagine finding you here, practically naked."
"You didn't beat me to the Snitch, I was knocked off my broom by that imbecile McLaggen and he was disqualified. Now stop stalling and do the charm again," Harry said sternly. "Evening, Severus."
"Potter." Snape looked distinctly entertained.
Harry's cock gave a twitch, but he ignored it. "Come on, Draco, once more," he encouraged. "You were nearly there last time."
"Pretend my wand's my prick, right?" Draco smirked. "Expecto Patronum." He pronounced the words emphatically, and a shining silvery shape emerged from his wand, dissolving quickly into mist. "What was it?" he asked Harry and Snape. "Could you tell?"
Snape shook his head. "I wasn't sure. Something four-legged and good-sized, though." He glanced at Harry, his expression amused. "You told him to pretend his wand was his prick to conjure his Patronus?"
"It worked, didn't it? Or nearly." Harry wasn't sure why he felt defensive about it. "Isn't that what a good teacher should do, try different techniques to get a student to achieve the desired outcome?"
"You have me there," said Snape, raising his hands in acknowledgment of Harry's point. "Though I wouldn't necessarily recommend that particular method in a Hogwarts classroom."
"Anyhow I think you promised me something if I gave it another try." Draco prodded Harry's shoulder. "Could you tell what my Patronus was?"
"I think it might have been a Komodo dragon."
"What in Merlin's name is a Komodo dragon?" Draco didn't look displeased, just mystified.
"Didn't you ever see the one at the London Zoo?" But of course Draco wouldn't have visited a Muggle zoo as a child, and Harry had never taken him there; thinking about animals, even non-magical ones, made him think of Hagrid, and remembering Hagrid made him sad. "It's a huge reptile. From Asia, I think. Poisonous. And pretty fast, but a bit lazy -- the one I saw was lying around sunning itself."
Now Draco looked exceedingly pleased with himself, as if he had personally chosen the form for his Patronus. "All right -- wait," he said, holding his hand up to keep Harry and Snape at a distance. Closing his eyes, he shouted, "Expecto Patronum!"
This time there was no doubt; the large, fierce-looking creature raced across the room before disappearing into mist. "You did it!" Harry exulted.
"I did!" But Draco's smile transformed into a look of puzzlement. "How could my Patronus take the form of an animal I've never even seen? And non-magical."
"You are aware of the meaning of your first name?" asked Snape with a kind of satisfaction. "It seems appropriate to me that you should have your Patronus take the form of a dragon."
Privately Harry thought that it also seemed very Slytherin. "I think magical creatures are pretty rare for Patronuses, anyway," he said. "Though Dumbledore's was a phoenix." All the pleasure that had been on Snape's face vanished. Harry could have kicked himself. Bringing up Dumbledore was always uncertain, since Snape was understandably sensitive about that topic. "But most of us have much more ordinary animals," he added hastily. "Not always even dangerous ones, or anything. You know mine's a stag. Luna Lovegood has a hare and Professor McGonagall's is an owl of some sort, isn't it?"
Snape nodded, expressionless.
"So a Patronus doesn't take the same form as the animal you become if you're an Animagus? I was never sure about that," commented Draco.
"Only very rarely," Snape replied. "They seem to relate to different parts of the wizard's personality."
"I see." Draco sprawled on the bed. "So now that I can conjure my Patronus..."
"Although you'll want to practice a lot more," Harry interjected.
"Yes, yes." Draco waved that away. "How do you get it to carry messages for you, the way you summoned Severus that one time?"
"Wait till you can conjure it reliably first. It's a lot easier to figure out how to handle a Patronus when it's there. We can see if we can get a Boggart for you to practice on -- that's what Remus had me do, to begin with." Harry rolled closer to Draco and took his hand. "One step at a time, okay?"
"Lupin didn't tell you to think of your wand as your prick?" Draco raised his eyebrows in question, and Harry stared at him in horror until he heard Snape snort and realized that that comment had been for Snape's benefit, to entertain him, rather than anything Draco seriously thought.
"No, of course he didn't! He's never said anything of that sort to me. He's practically an uncle -- he was my godfather's best friend!" Again Snape snorted, and Harry glanced up, wondering exactly what sort of stories about Remus and Sirius had come to Snape's attention.
"I'm precisely the same age he is," Snape pointed out. "Which makes me the same age as your fath--"
"Don't get him out of the mood," Draco warned Snape, waggling his eyebrows at Harry as he reached for the zip on his trousers. "You owe me, Potter... and Severus, what are you doing standing over there with your buttons up to your chin? Get over here and find some suitable way to congratulate me."
"Just what do you consider suitable, Mister Malfoy?" Snape drawled, but his hands moved to his buttons and began undoing them.
"Harry promised to suck me off if I tried three times to conjure my Patronus." Draco wriggled out of his trousers, his cock poking stiffly from under the hem of his shirt. "I think having actually achieved it demands something more extensive, don't you?"
"That seems reasonable." Harry was quite willing to go along with whatever Draco had in mind as his reward, and hastily pulled off his pants and socks, all he was still wearing. "But shall I start with what I promised?" He ducked his head down to Draco's lap and ran his tongue over the head of Draco's cock. He did love the way Draco responded to being sucked -- he was so verbally appreciative, and tonight was no exception, at least for the first few minutes. Then Harry felt the bed shift, and Draco fell quiet; Harry deduced that Snape was kissing him, an assumption confirmed when Snape's hand started teasing Harry's balls. He was sure it was Snape doing so because Draco was holding him by the shoulders already.
Lifting his head, he said, "Your turn to be in the middle, Draco," but Draco broke away from Snape's mouth and shook his head.
"No, it's Severus' turn. We may both need letters of reference from him soon." Draco cast a wicked smile at Snape, who narrowed his eyes but did not protest in the least when Draco climbed over him. "Let Harry suck you." Snape's hand slid away from his balls as Harry grinned and repositioned himself, feeling the bed shift as Draco reached to open the bedside table.
Harry was certain Draco wasn't worried about what sort of recommendation Snape would give him -- he had written Draco a glowing one when he applied to work as a cursebreaker -- but maybe he was trying to make Snape think about the advantages of keeping the two of them around. Sliding his hands around the backs of Snape's thighs, he bent his head to the cock that was becoming as familiar to him as Draco's. When he glanced up, he could see Snape watching him intently.
Rather to his surprise, however, Snape was using Occlumency to keep his thoughts private. Harry wondered what it was that Snape didn't want to share... or was it perhaps that he found it almost addictive, as Harry did, and preferred to refrain this time as a measure of control? A little wistfully, Harry nuzzled at the base of Snape's cock and then took the ball sac into his mouth, sucking at it gently. Snape lifted his upper leg and bent it to give both Harry and Draco better access, and groaned when Draco's fingers penetrated him from behind.
With his free hand, Draco was stroking Snape's perineum, and Harry sucked briefly on his fingers before moving back to Snape's cock, hot and smooth and pulsing eagerly under his tongue. Snape was caressing Harry's head, stroking his cheeks in a way that Harry interpreted as a request to take in as much as he could of Snape's prick, and he did his best. When Draco's motions caused the head of it to nudge the back of his throat, though, he found himself having to suppress his gag reflex and backed off. Harry's own cock was feeling neglected -- rubbing against the sheets wasn't quite enough -- and he wriggled around until he had managed to reverse himself, putting his hips near Snape's face.
A hand pulled Harry in close, and he felt one lick, then another along the other side of his cock, and then two at once. Draco was leaning over Snape's shoulder to taste Harry as well. For a moment he held still, simply groaning and enjoying it, before he once again turned his attention to the thick shaft twitching against his cheek. He felt Draco pull back, and then Snape thrust forcefully again as he was penetrated from behind by Draco's cock.
"You wouldn't really give this up, would you, Severus?" breathed Draco.
Snape spared himself from having to answer by taking Harry's cock further into his mouth and sucking quite steadily for someone who was also being sucked and fucked at the same time. Harry tried to keep pace with him, but as always, Snape's skill had him close to the edge very quickly and it took all his concentration just to keep from coming too soon. He was, however, aware of Draco's continued monologue, punctuated by grunts and gasps:
"Fuck you're tight. I don't want to stop this and neither do you. Aah... if we were all at Hogwarts we wouldn't have to. Father couldn't do a thing. C'mon, Severus, think about it... aaagh..."
Harry let out a happy whimper. Draco hadn't seemed completely convinced about going to Hogwarts himself earlier, but evidently Harry had been more persuasive than he had thought. Getting at Snape when he was most... distracted... was a very clever strategy, and it might even work. He smiled to himself around Snape's prick and sucked harder at the head, rubbing his fingers over the length of it. Snape moaned, sending quite amazing vibrations through Harry's cock, and he could hold back no longer. He released Snape lest he bite down by accident, and cried out as he spurted into Snape's mouth, his whole body shaking.
Snape stroked over his arse as he came, then licked him clean with soft swipes of his tongue. Sighing with pleasure, Harry leaned in and took Snape's cock in his mouth again.
"See, Severus... aah... how good it is? You know it's what you want. And I want. And Harry too. Fuck, come for us, come on..." Draco was almost babbling, his thrusts were coming faster and pushing Snape deep into Harry's throat, he couldn't breathe, and then Snape seized his hips and groaned deeply as thick bitter fluid spilled into Harry's mouth.
He heard Draco cry out as he swallowed, trying to inhale through his nose without choking, and then Snape's whole body shoved forward as Draco thrust in deep and stayed, convulsing.
Releasing Snape, Harry turned on the bed so that his head was up near the others'. Draco was lying on his side, still buried inside Severus' body, with his eyes closed and a blissful look on his face. Snape's eyes were closed as well, but his expression was strained, and Harry wondered at first whether Draco was hurting him. "You're very persistent, Mister Malfoy," he said wearily. "However, there is something to be said for making a fresh start. It would be reasonable for you and Harry to go to Hogwarts, but it will be difficult enough for the two of you to be discreet about your relationship without additional complications."
"Are you saying you don't even want to try?" Harry asked, stung. Snape opened his eyes, glanced briefly at him and then studied a spot on the bed.
"Severus," said Draco in outraged tones, "that's ridiculous." He withdrew and sat up, leaning over Snape. "You are not a complication."
Which wasn't true, of course, but Harry nodded even as Snape shook his head. "Don't be childish, Mister Malfoy. I would be, and you know it."
"Then suppose we don't care?" demanded Draco. Snape tensed and kept his lips tightly shut. Draco grabbed his hand. "You don't want to go back there. I know. Believe me. You know how hard it was for me to go for my last year of school, I wrote you about it over and over. And I had to tough it out alone. But it's been years now. Please. Don't let this go because you're afraid."
"I am not afraid," growled Snape, and the expression on his face reminded Harry of the night Dumbledore had died, it was so full of pain and rage. "Does it never occur to you that I might be protecting you?"
"Then isn't it our decision what to risk, too?" Harry took Snape's other hand, and reached out to Draco as well. "What we have, the three of us... I never expected this. But the idea of losing it..." he bit his lip.
"Potter, you need to make a decision between living in the past and living in the future," Snape snapped irritably. He was refusing to meet Harry's eyes. "I see no point whatsoever in continuing this discussion at the moment. Unless one of you has spoken to Professor McGonagall, there is no reason to assume a return to Hogwarts is even a possibility."
"Then let's owl her. Right now," Harry said defiantly. Rising, he pulled a piece of parchment and a quill from the desk. "I'm going to tell her that we'll all be in Hogsmeade tomorrow and we would like to take her to tea at the Three Broomsticks at three o'clock."
"It will not be possible for me to travel with you tomorrow. I have an urgent..."
"Stop making excuses, Severus. At least come with us to talk to her -- she may offer me the Quidditch position if Madam Hooch is really leaving, but it's going to take some persuasion to get her to consider Draco for any position and I don't suppose my telling her it's both of us or none will really help matters."
Snape's fingers were stiff in Harry's and looked no less comfortable where Draco was holding his other hand. Nonetheless, after a few moments, he nodded just as stiffly. "Very well. I will speak to her about the two of you. But I have no intention of bringing up any interest in returning to Hogwarts myself."
"That's fine, Severus." Glancing at the quill, Harry smiled. He had no intention of showing Snape the letter he was going to write to McGonagall... and he had no intention of telling Snape that he was going to urge her to ask the onetime Potions Master to return, either.
ch. 1 / ch. 2 / ch. 3 / ch. 4 / ch. 5 / ch. 6 / ch. 7 / ch. 8 / ch. 9 / ch. 10 / ch. 11 / ch. 12 / ch. 13 / ch. 14 / ch. 15 / ch. 16 / ch. 17